A Slight Trick of the Mind, by Mitch Cullin

Set in 1947, this well reviewed novel features a 93 year old Sherlock Holmes as imagined by Cullin in Holmes’ declining years. There are three intertwined plot lines. The first centers on the detective’s friendship with his housekeeper’s 12 year old son and their mutual interest in Holmes’ apiary on the Sussex Downs. The second, his trip to occupied Japan after World War II, hosted by a Mr. Umezaki who looks to Holmes for answers to his father’s disappearance in 1907. The third is a case that Holmes solved many years before involving the glass harmonica lessons and subsequent mysterious absences of a young wife. Holmes suffers from physical frailties and memory loss which gives this story a melancholy cast.

RATING: * * * A good read

Reviewed by: kh

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Filed under General Fiction, Staff Picks

Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire, by Andrea Stuart

The author uses her own family story to trace the history of Barbados and the other Caribbean islands over the last 400 years. George Ashby was Stuart’s maternal ancestor who emigrated from England to Barbados in the late 1630′s. Though of modest means, he managed to buy a small amount of land and started off as a tobacco farmer. Due to economic and agricultural conditions, George and most of the Barbadian plantation owners soon switched to sugar cane which was a labor intensive crop and lead to the importing of slaves from Africa. Stuart’s own family background mixes black and white and follows the story of New World history from the seventeenth century to the present. This book, with its wealth of detail, made me realize all I don’t know about Caribbean history!

RATING: * * * A good read

Reviewed by: kh

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This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett

Patchett has wanted to be a fiction writer since she was a child, but after her college education and her stint at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for grad school she supported herself with writing magazine articles for several years. The articles she chose for this essay collection add up to a sort of autobiography. I especially enjoyed her account of training for and taking the entrance exam, written and physical, for the Los Angeles police department, as police officer had been her father’s career. The happy marriage of the title was achieved after seeing her parent’s marriage break up and Ann’s reluctance to undertake a second marriage after the failure of her first. I listened to the book on CD which is narrated by the author.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good

Reviewed by: kh

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Filed under Audiobooks, Biographies and Memoirs, Non Fiction, Staff Picks

New Book Club for Adults!

new booksThursday, March 27 at 7:00 p.m. — Step out of a “reading rut,” and be introduced to a variety of works and new people! The club will meet monthly to read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, across genres and varying topics.

Our first meeting will be an opportunity to discuss our goals and develop a list of titles to read. Please come prepared to briefly discuss one of your favorite books and share where your reading interests lie.

The purpose of this group is to have fun and enjoy the company of others who appreciate reading and sharing ideas. No RSVP is needed! All are welcome. We’ll meet at the back of the third floor, in the apse area.

Questions? Contact Catherine in Reference at  617-796-1380, or  bookclub@newtonfreelibrary.net

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The Hit, by David Baldacci

This was a great read. The author brings the reader into the book almost immediately. Amazingly much of the action could happen today, who knows? I don’t want to give away the story so it is up to you to give it a read.

RATING: * * * * * One of the best
Reviewed by: pfh

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Filed under Mysteries and Thrillers

The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax, by Dorothy Gilman

I had listened to Mrs. Pollifax’s 6th adventure (Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station) and liked it enough to try this third installment, originally published in 1971. Mrs. Pollifax is off to Bulgaria for another secret mission for the CIA, smuggling eight false passports in her specially constructed new hat. Gilman really captures the sense of dread and foreboding that was life in many ways behind the Iron Curtain before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Spies, secret police, underground patriots and overbearing government employees abound in this story but Mrs. Pollifax, aided by an American flower child and the Bulgarian underground pulls off her assignment and more. I listened to the book on CD and the narrator, Barbara Rosenblat, really created radio theater with her excellent performance.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good
Reviewed by: kh

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Filed under Audiobooks, Mysteries and Thrillers, Staff Picks, Uncategorized

Bad Monkey, by Carl Hiaasen

This is the first Carl Hiaasen book that I have read and it was a lot of fun. Andrew Yancy is a former Miami police officer and is currently suspended from the Monroe County sheriff’s office (Florida Keys area) for publicly assaulting his girlfriend’s husband with a vacuum cleaner attachment. He is now assigned to restaurant inspector or “roach patrol” which he loathes. Andrew ends up in custody of a human arm snagged by a charter fishing boat and he see this as a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of the sheriff and he suspects foul play was involved. The rest of the plot is far too convoluted to relate. The monkey, a former costar of Johnny Depp, is indeed very, very bad. I listened to the book on CD narrated by Arte Johnson, who gave an excellent performance.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good
Reviewed by: kh

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