Review: Bury Your Dead: A Chief Inspector Gamache novel, by Louise Penny

This is the sixth Chief Inspector Gamache novel, of which there are now ten. There are several plots unfolding in this one. Gamache is staying in Quebec City with his long time friend and mentor as he recovers physically and mentally from a hostage rescue mission gone wrong that resulted in the deaths of four of his team and the wounding of several others. We learn about this in flashbacks occurring throughout the book. Secondly, Gamache has sent his colleague Jean Guy Beauvoir back to the village of Three Pines to re-investigate his last case on the fear that the wrong man has been convicted of murder. And last, a murder occurs while Gamache is in Quebec City. An amateur historian obsessed with finding the remains of Samuel de Champlain is found murdered in the basement of the English language Literary and Historical Society and the local police ask for his help. The “Lit and His” really exists and you may visit it or take a tour on your next trip to Quebec City. This volume was the winner of several mystery awards. I listened to the audio book which included an author interview.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good

Reviewed by: kh

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Review: Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson

I liked this book more than I thought I would. Isaacson covers Jobs’s personal and pre-Apple life but the focus is on his role in developing Apple, Pixar and NeXT as companies and the beautifully designed products he and his team were responsible for. As a person Jobs certainly had significant shortcomings with mean, unfeeling behaviors toward his subordinates and temper tantrums regularly thrown when things didn’t go his way in such matters as time lines for new products. However on the business-computer side Jobs did grasp the significance of breakthroughs like the graphical user interface, the desktop we are all familiar with today that was originally developed by Xerox at their Palo Alto Research Center. I enjoyed this book that recounts the personal computer history of our times and the way that computers and other electronic devices (like the iPod, iPad and iTouch) have transformed our lives.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good

Reviewed by: kh

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Review: The Diva Wraps It Up: A Domestic Diva Mystery, by Krista Davis

This is the eighth Sophie Winston Domestic Diva novel in her cozy mystery series. “Cozies” are great when you want to veg out and relax. They are not scary, bloody or violent although there is a dead body, Christmas wrapped yet, in this book. Davis describes Sophie’s fetching outfits and the fabulous meals she makes for friends and family and serves by her kitchen fireplace. She does manage to pull amazing ingredients from her refrigerator seemingly without the need to ever go to the grocery store. All in all, fun, not too filling, with recipes at the end.

RATING: * * * A good read

Reviewed by: kh

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Review: Saints of the Shadow Bible, by Ian Rankin

In this nineteenth Inspector Rebus mystery Rebus is working on two cases, a car accident where the details don’t jive with the victim’s account, and also a 30 year old murder cold case that DI Malcolm Fox is investigating for police internal affairs. Rebus is torn between loyalty to his aging colleagues and his concern that a murderer will go unpunished. Lots of Edinburgh atmosphere, lots of characters for the reader to keep straight. Rankin also works in a subplot on the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence from Great Britain and where local politicians stand on that question. Rebus listens to music while he drinks and smokes his way through another well written case.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good

Reviewed by: kh

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Review: Mattimeo, by Brian Jacques

In this book from the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, Slagar the evil fox kidnaps several of the young of Redwall Abbey. Mattimeo, a mouse, son of Matthias, hero of Redwall, his friends Tim and Tess, also mice, Auma the badger and Jube the hedgehog are among the prisoners that Slagar captures and intends to sell as slaves to the evil Malkarris, a polecat, of the underground rat kingdom. Matthias is joined by several Redwallers as well as Orlando the Axe, a badger, and a band of shrews led by Log-a-log to pursue Slagar and return the young ones to Redwall. I listened to the audio version narrated by the author with various actors voicing the characters which also included delightful musical interludes. Put a visit to Redwall in Mossflower wood on your to-do list this autumn.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good

Reviewed by: kh

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Review: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski

I read this book for my book club but did not finish it. This is the author’s first and so far only book and it received uniformly glowing reviews from many sources as well as being an Oprah Book Club book. Unfortunately this one was not my cup of tea. Set in remote northern Wisconsin, the book has a plot modeled on Shakespeare’s Hamlet with a lot on dogs, dog training and dog breeding thrown in. Edgar, the main character is mute and uses sign language which one of my book club members thought was an unnecessary plot device. Try it for yourself and see if you think I missed the boat on this one.

RATING: * * OK

Reviewed by: kh

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Review: Mission to Paris, by Alan Furst

Set in Paris in late 1938 and early 1939, this novel has the same ominous, foreboding tone as the nonfiction In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. Furst’s main character is Hollywood leading man Fredric Stahl, originally from Austria but now making films for Warner Brothers in California. Stahl is in Paris because he was lent to Paramount France to make a swashbuckling French film. The German Reich Foreign Ministry has its eye on Stahl and tries to pressure him into participating in their campaign of political warfare against the French to weaken French morale and see eventual conquest by Germany as inevitable. Library Journal calls this author “a master of historical espionage” and compares him to Graham Greene and John Le Carre.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good

Reviewed by: kh

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