THE EAST BAY MYSTERY READERS GROUP -
5th June 2007 - Meeting Recap


Corona, Linda and I met tonight and had a small, but spirited, discussion:

Books for June 5th were:

THE PATIENCE OF THE SPIDER (Police Procedural-Insp. Montalbano-Sicily-Cont) – 8th in series – Andrea Camilleri Set once again in Sicily, The Patience of the Spider pits Inspector Montalbano against his greatest foe yet: the weight of his own years. Still recovering from the gunshot wound he suffered in Rounding the Mark, he must overcome self-imposed seclusion and waxing self-doubt to penetrate a web of hatred and secrets in pursuit of the strangest culprit he’s ever hunted. A mystery unlike any other, this emotionally taut story brings the Montalbano saga to a captivating crossroads.

LJ - As opposed to Donna Leon, whose books I love, it is interested to read Camilleri; a native Italian. Sartarelli, the translator, does a good job in translating and it’s amusing to read how he handles different dialects. I suspect because this is the 8th book, you don’t get a lot of character development and I did wish there were more. Because some of the names were similar, I had a bit of trouble remembering who was whom. Even so, Montalbano is an interesting character, a very good detective and completely cowed by his thoroughly unlikable girlfriend. There is some very good humor which would catch me off guard and make me laugh out loud. The investigation was interesting although I identified the villain fairly early on. Overall, it was good read.

IN A TRUE LIGHT (Suspense-England-Cont) – Standalone – John Harvey A stunning, stand alone crime novel about Sloane, an unsuccessful painter but a successful forger who is reunited with his daughter, Connie, only to find that she has become locked in a highly charged relationship with Vincent Delaney, a man whom police believe has killed once and will not hesitate to kill again. Sloane must decide whether to walk away or stay and fight for Connie.

Corona – VG – Very easy to read. Good plot line except he brought in a character within explainer her. Other than that, she really liked the characters. It was so absorbing; she felt she was just really getting into it when it ended.

Linda – Ex – Linda rarely rates a book as excellent, but she loved this. She loved the characters; found them interesting, flawed by likable. The hardest character to like was the daughter, but Linda was even rooting for her. Harvey did a good job of not making the daughter a stereotype. She loved all the details of the ‘50s art scene. There was very good attention to detail. Loved the character of the female artist. Found it fascinating. Liked the immigrant guy and his daughter. This was one of the best mysteries Linda’s read in awhile.

LJ – Ex - Harvey has an almost understated quality to his writing. His characters are flawed, but likable and his dialogue is excellent. Being a big fan of his Charlie Resnick series, I was a bit hesitant beginning this stand alone, but his writing holds true.

STILL LIVE (Traditional Mystery-Canada-Cont) – 1st in series – Louise Penny Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

LJ – Ex – This was one of my 2006 Top Ten - Penny’s debut book is a true, classic traditional mystery. Penny has a wonderful writing voice full of introspection and humor. The captivating opening sentence “Miss Jane Neal met her maker in the early morning mist of Thanksgiving Sunday.” sets the tone for the book. The characters are interesting and well-developed. Gamache, and his side-kick, Jean Guy Beauvoir are ones I definitely felt I want to follow through subsequent outings. Gamache was ethical, even to his own detriment, and his four sentences that lead to wisdom are ones everyone should keep mindfully. The secondary are a wonderful microcosm of people everywhere. The plot was interested taking me along as story unfolded and there is a subtle depth in Penny’s writing that kept the story with me long after the last page. I loved this book, highly recommend it and am already signed up to receive her second book.

Books for July 3rd are:

DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE (YA Mystery-Ingrid Levin-Hall-Echo Falls-Cont) – 1st in series – Peter Abrahams Ingrid is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or at least her shoes are. And getting them back will mean getting tangled up in a murder investigation as complicated as the mysteries solved by her idol, Sherlock Holmes. With soccer practice, schoolwork, and the lead role in her town's production of Alice in Wonderland, Ingrid is swamped. But as things in Echo Falls keep getting curiouser and curiouser, Ingrid realizes she must solve the murder on her own -- before it's too late!

VIRGIN OF SMALL PLAINS (Mystery-Nebraska-Cont) – Standalone – Nancy Pickard (moved from being a June selection) While rounding up newborn calves during a 1987 blizzard, Nathan Shellenberger, sheriff of Small Plains, and his teenage sons, Rex and Patrick, discover the naked frozen body of a beautiful teenage girl. Later, Nathan and Dr. Quentin "Doc" Reynolds bash the girl's face to an unrecognizable pulp, since they know who she is and fear that either Patrick or Rex's best friend, 17-year-old Mitch Newquist, is her killer. Witnessing this terrible scene is Mitch, hidden in Doc's home office supply closet where he's gone for a condom to use with Abby, Doc's 16-year-old daughter. Mitch's father, a judge, forces Mitch to leave town after the boy admits what he saw. In 2004, Abby and Rex—now the sheriff—find another blizzard victim, Mitch's mother, dead near the marker commemorating the still-unidentified "virgin."

THE LOST VAN GOGH (Police Procedural-Det. Clay Ryder-NYC-Cont) – Standalone – A.J. Zerries From Booklist: As the "Art Cop," NYPD detective Clay Ryder doesn't get much respect at headquarters. Not only does he appear to have a cushy beat, but he's also considered stuck-up, when, in reality, he is filled with remorse over the death of his wife. Not that he has time to brood once two priceless paintings are stolen from a Central Park penthouse, and a previously unknown Van Gogh shows up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This smart, emotionally loaded, and strongly anchored art caper is the work of first-time wife and husband coauthors. The Zerries have made powerful use of the always-alluring stolen-masterpiece motif and also cleverly, and affectingly, linked it to the Nazi pillaging of Jewish-owned art treasures, conjuring up an especially barbaric SS officer believed to have escaped to Argentina, the clever Mossad agents on his trail, and the heir to the Van Gogh portrait, Rachel Meredith, a fetching and all-too-trusting film-history professor.

Books for August 7th are:

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (Traditional Mystery-Hercule Periot-Europe-1930s) – 9th in series – Agatha Christie

THE LIZARD’S BITE (Police Procedural-Dec. Nic Costa-Italy-Cont) - 4th in series – David Hewson

THE ART OF DETECTION (Police Procedural-Kate Martinelli-San Francisco-Cont) – 5th in series – Laurie R. King

Happy reading,

LJ

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