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2008-2009 Book Club Reads

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2009 Selections

Dec 2009

The September Society by Charles FinchManna From Hades - Carola Dunn

This is the first book of the Cornwall mysteries. Eleanor Trewynn is a widow living in a small fishing village in Cornwall. She had traveled the world with her husband, but now he was dead. She is retired and volunteers at the local charity shop that occupies the first floor of her cottage. Eleanor's niece, Megan Pencarrow is a Detective Sergeant with the Cornish police. Her boss, DI Scumble, doesn't approve of women policepersons, and he disapproves of her Aunt Eleanor whom he considers a thorn in his side. One day after collecting donations in the countryside, Eleanor finds the dead body of a scruffy youth in the stockroom of the charity shop. Then one of their valuable donations turns out to be linked with a violent robbery in London. To add to the confusion the corpse doesn't look like any of the robbers. The case continues with a daring theft, a double cross, and delightful characters as well as a murder most foul. Carola always delivers a great read! AMAZON


Nov 2009

The September Society by Charles FinchDark Matter - Philip Kerr.

(Private Life of Sir Isaac Newton) ) In 1696, Christopher Ellis is sent to the Tower. He is not a prisoner, but rather the clerk to Sir Issac Newton, the Warden of the Mint. The Nine Years War is on, and Britain is in the midst of the Great Recoinage. Clipping and forgery are everywhere, and Newton, who appears every bit the misanthropic, heretical, brilliant natural philosopher and alchemist, uncovers a desperate plot to bring down the government. AMAZON

(For additional information, see Thomas Levenson's NEWTON AND THE COUNTERFEITER, a nonfiction accout of Newton at the Mint; it appeared six years after Kerr's novel.)

Oct 2009

The September Society by Charles FinchSeventy-Seven Clocks - Christopher Fowler

Please note that this book does not fit a strict definition of the historical mystery genre. The PCU (Peculiar Crimes Unit) is presented with a mysterious stranger in outlandish Edwardian garb who defaces a Pre-Raphaelite painting and then a guest at the Savoy Hotel is fatally bitten by a marshland snake. There are several more dark occurances over the next several days and there is not a single suspect in sight. The killer they are chasing has a dark history, a habit of staying hidden, and time on his side. Detectives May and Bryant are racing the clock and the bell may be tolling for them. AMAZON


Sept 2009

The September Society by Charles FinchMan's Illegal Life - Keith Heller.

(1st George Man Mystery) In this first appearance of the London watchman, George Man, the reader voyages through dirty, poor, and crime-infested central London of the early 18th century. Amidst the parade of prigs, tarts, beggars, gin sellers, pettifoggers, and orphans, a fellow watchman finds a man bound and gagged in his own home. Is it a traditional and proper response to a visitation of the plague, brought from France? Or is it murder? Man, a level-headed fellow, favors the latter explanation and investigates despite official opposition. AMAZON

Aug 2009

The September Society by Charles FinchBilly Boyle - James R. Benn

This is the first book in this series. Billy Boyle is an Irish Boston cop who has just made detective. His family is rabidly anti-English and they call on his distant cousin Mamie, whose husband is a general, to try to get him a safe desk job. Instead he ends up in London during the blitz and his "Uncle Ike", Dwight D. Eisenhower who is taking command of the Army forces in Europe. Uncle Ike has decided he wants Billy to become his personal investigator. Billy isn't sure how good a detective he will be. First assignment: go to Beardsley Hall, home of the Norwegian government is and catch the planted spy. AMAZON


July 2009

The September Society by Charles FinchDeath in the Valley of Shadows - Deryn Lake

(John Rawlings #9) John Rawlings really was an apothecary in mid-18th century London, who had his shop in Nassau Street. Lake has given flesh to historical bones and tied her character further to reality by placing him within the orbit of Sir John Fielding, the magistrate in Bow Street also known as the Blind Beak, and his Bow Street Runners. Rawlings is quite proud of his connections and is always anxious help to help Fielding. As usual, Rawlings goes beyond his instructions and untangles a convoluted plot-even as his wife is about to give birth to their first child. AMAZON


June 2009

The September Society by Charles FinchThe Library Paradox - Catherine Shaw

(Vanessa Duncan, No 3) First U.S. edition; Combines strong place and time--Victorian England at the time of the Dryfuss affair--pulls together mathmatics puzzle with history, with Victorian England and anti-semitism, with unusual female sleuth, author lives in UK, is an academic in mathmatics. AMAZON

May 2009

The September Society by Charles FinchClea's Moon - Edward Wright

(John Ray Horn #1) This novel, featuring the out of work B cowboy movie star John Ray Horn, won the CWA Debut Dagger for Fiction. Horn cannot work in the movies because of a controversial conviction for which he did time in a California penitentiary. He works for his old movie sidekick, Joseph Mad Crow, collecting gambling debts. That job's skills, his time in the Army during WWII, and even his time in prison become assets in his quest to find a young girl, Clea, who was once his step-daughter. Horn is a complex man who confronts his own failings and who never loses his moral compass, even in a late 1940s Los Angeles he barely recognizes. It is an LA beginning to be consumed by its own false image and by invading corruption. AMAZON

April 2009

The September Society by Charles FinchRosa - Jonathan Rabb

(Nikolai Hoffner #1) Welcome to Berlin 1919. World War I has been lost and socialist revolution has been put down, though not so one would notice in either case. Amidst the political tension, Kriminal-kommisar Nikolai Hoffner takes on the case of a serial killer who leaves the backs of his victims etched with intricate patterns. One of these victims appears to be Rosa Luxemburg, who was in fact murdered in January 1919. Things, however, are not as they appear, and the case takes on far more sinister aspects, including the interference of the Polpo, the political police, continuing social upheaval, and the arrival of the nascent Nazis. In addition to this, Hoffner is challenged--and overwhelmed--in his domestic affairs by his own inadequacies. He solves the case, but at terrible cost to himself and those around him. AMAZON

March 2009

The September Society by Charles FinchSnake Stone - Jason Goodwin

In the sequel to the Janissary Tree, Yashim, the Turkish eunuch, finds himself accused of the murder Maximilien Lefevre, a French archeologist. M. Lefevre has been asking very pointed, knowledgeable questions about some long-lost Greek artifacts. In his efforts to clear himself, Yashim uncovers a secret society, unearths sacred relics, as well as hunting a murderer. AMAZON


February 2009

The September Society by Charles FinchThe Company of Strangers - Robert Wilson.

In this stand-alone espionage novel, Wilson begins the complexities of the Cold War in the midst of the spying of the hot World War II. Andrea Aspinall,a mathematician, is recruited by MI6 and sent to Lisbon. Although her official spying days end with World War II, her ties to MI6 and its enemies remain for the rest of her life. She forges a permanent connection, not necessarily a pretty or happy one, with Portugal and its authoritarian government under Dr. Salazar. Eventually, she returns to Britain where she meets again an old love/enemy, a double agent, who is seeking a mole within MI6. This is another well-crafted, suspenseful novel that will compel attention from beginning to end. (Please note, for those in the UK, only used copies are available through sellers at Amazon.) AMAZON

January 2009

The Westminster Poisoner by Susanna Gregory The Organ Grinder - Maan Meyers

Police Detective John "Dutch" Tonneman (The House on Mulberry Street) along with his cousin Detective Bo Clancy are investigating a series of brutal stiletto murders. They began with the murder of Delia Swan a prostitute in Madame Sophie's establishment. Added to the tangle is Esther Breslau whom Dutch wants to marry. She has photographed Sophie twice and asks about her heart shaped locket. Now she is in grave danger and that is just the beginning of the tangle. Many prominent figures and organizations of the time are involved in this tangle also. Read on and enjoy. *please note UK members that this is available Jan. 5 according to my site info. AMAZON


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2008 Selections

Dec 2008

City of Silver by Annamaria AlfieriHarlem Redux- Persia Walker

A stand alone mystery, the novel is set in Harlem of the 1920s--the Movement, the poetry, the jazz, the speakeasies, the condescending white fascination with Negroes. All of these things confront David McKay when he returns home. He hadn't been there when his sister Lilian, a woman of letters, taste, and money, needed him. In fact, she'd written nothing to him about her life and asked him even to stay away. Now, she lies dead and buried. Is it suicide? Or murder? AMAZON


Nov 2008

City of Silver by Annamaria AlfieriDevil in a Blue Dress - Walter Mosley

(Easy Rawlins #1) It's LA in 1948, and life isn't easy or pretty for African-Americans. Easy Rawlins, a smart, resourceful veteran of World War II has just been fired from his job at a defense plant. Wondering how he's going to keep his life going, he becomes an unofficial PI by taking a job from a odd Southern white man who's searching for Daphne Monet. A sordid, but enthralling, story of the mean streets of South-Central LA then unfolds. Our respect and liking for Easy Rawlins increases on every page. AMAZON


Oct 2008

City of Silver by Annamaria AlfieriHarper's Quine - Pat McIntosh
(A Gil Cunningham Murder Mystery) Gil Cunningham has recently qualified as a lawyer but his family still thinks he is going into the priesthood. He finds the body of a woman who turns out to be the May Day harper's mistress as well as the run away wife of a cruel nobleman. Gil begins to seek the murder and you have to read to find out the rest. AMAZON

Sept 2008

City of Silver by Annamaria AlfieriSpecial Assignments - Boris Akunin

(Erast Petrovich Fandorin #5) In these two short novels, we have an excellent introduction to Fandorin, his abilities, and his eccentricities amidst late Imperial Russia. In "Jack of Spades", we meet one seriously talented con artist who teaches everybody a thing or two about sizing up people and understanding their fatal flaws. In "The Decorator", a psychotic religious serial killer stalks the streets of Moscow during Holy Week. Erast Petrovich truly has his work cut out for him in these tales, and his creator, Boris Akunin, provides a compelling narrative to keep us up with the sleuth. AMAZON

Aug 2008

City of Silver by Annamaria AlfieriThe Chinatown Death Cloud Peril - Paul Malmont

It is the Great Depression and pulp fiction is the rage. Walter Gibson (the Shadow)and Lester Dent (Doc Savage)are churning out story after story. Suddenly however, they are thrown together to solve the murder of H. P. Lovecraft. They discover that there is real evil from China to Rhode Island. As they do they bring in a new young pulp writer named L. Ron Hubbard in on their quest. Soon both men will find the true nature of evil in their world that is beyond their fictional characters who lurk in shadows and are heroic supermen. AMAZON

July 2008

City of Silver by Annamaria AlfieriCatilina's Riddle - Steven Saylor

(Gordianus the Finder #3). For of all those who learned to hate Catiline from reading Cicero's orations against Catiline (or, Ciceronem latinemque odii), this will be a treat and a thrilling ride. Gordinaus has retired, but his friend, so to speak, Cicero, draws him into helping unraveling Catiline's conspiracy. Goridanus is not sure which side, if any, has truth and honor on its side, but a headless corpse underscores his need to get to the heart of the matter. Saylor also gives excellent notes and includes several maps. AMAZON

June 2008

City of Silver by Annamaria AlfieriRed Chrysanthemum - Laura Joh Rowland

(Sanco Ichiro Mystery) It is 1698, Sano Ichiro is the shogun's second-in-command. Sano's deputy has gone to Lord Mori's estate and found the lord murdered in his bed with Sano's pregnant wife Reiko beside him. The only clue is a chrysanthemum soaked in blood. Reiko's explanation that she is undercover investigating charges that Mori had molested and murdered young men. The plot of this thriller continues to get more twists as it goes on. AMAZON


May 2008 ---

not avail on yahoo calendar


April 2008

City of Silver by Annamaria Alfieri A Conspiracy of Paper - David Liss

Benjamin Weaver is a Jew and an ex-boxer who lives estranged from his wealthy family who are stock traders. His estrangement ends when he is asked to investigate his father's death. He steps into the world of stock jobbers,gliding between coffee and gaming houses on his quest. AMAZON

March 2008

City of Silver by Annamaria Alfieri Death of a Nationalist - Rebecca Pawel

In 1939, in Franco's Spain, we meet Carlos Tejada Alonso y Leon, an officer of the Guardia Civil, who must find the killer of a fellow officer. Naturally, he suspects a Red. In the course of his investigation, Tejada must confront corruption within, errors of his own judgment and prejudice, and his own rebellious heart. A true member of the Falange, Tejada is also a truly engaging protagonist. AMAZON

February 2008

The September Society by Charles Finch Gunpowder Plot - Carola Dunn

Daisy is at a friend's house to write about the estate's Guy Fawkes celebration. Then the viscount supposedly commits suicide and kills a guest before he does. We know that is impossible and now our Daisy and her husband Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher to find the real culprit. AMAZON

January 2008

The Westminster Poisoner by Susanna Gregory Paris Requiem - Lisa Appignanesi

In 1899, Paris is alive with fin-de-siecle glamor, technological innovation, and political viciousness. Amidst the spectacle of the turn-of-the-century city, the American lawyer James Norton arrives with orders to bring home his younger siblings. He is, however, pulled into a maelstrom of public murder and private madness. AMAZON