Category Archives: Mary P.

Alex by Pierre Lemaitre (2013)

alexThis 2013 Crime Writers International Dagger Award winner will stun you first and shock you later. A thrilling race against time story told from multiple points of view is worthy of its award.

Alex Prevost is kidnapped, beaten, suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse in a tiny cage, and left for rats to feed on. Will she die before the rats are satisfied?

Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven has nothing to go on: no leads, no family or friends of the victim, no suspects, so he tries to find out more about her or her history. Alex by Pierre Lemaitre is a very graphic and emotionally wrenching, wholly unpredictable story. A lot of twists and turns make it an unforgettable experience.

Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal (2014)

dollbabyIt’s New Orleans during the Civil Rights movement. Eleven-year-old Ibby Bell has just lost her beloved father. Her mother unceremoniously dumps her on the doorstep of her Grandmother Fannie (with her father’s urn) and quickly disappears. Fannie and Ibby have never met and each has a lot of adjusting to accomplish.

The black cook Queenie and her smart mouth daughter Dollbaby take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South. But the traditions lead to dark secrets and things that were hidden in the past. Forgiveness and redemption come into play in this touching coming of age story. Check out Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal today.

Not All Tarts are Apple by Pip Granger (2002)

NotAllTarts_UK_largeSeven-year-old Rosie, who lives with her aunt and uncle in the Old Compton Street Café, is the darling of their Soho neighborhood.  Her low-class neighbors are made up of con men, thieves, shady lawyers, fortune tellers, pimps and prostitutes.  One day, a girl at school tells everyone that Rosie’s mum is a tart.

Rosie’s world is turned upside down and she fears her secure life with her aunt and uncle will come to an end.  What transpires is a hilarious tale of good guys and bad guys told from a little girl’s perspective.  Pip Granger’s Not All Tarts are Apple is a charming and entertaining story.  The British vocabulary just adds to the good old humor.

Four Souls by Louise Erdrich (2004)

foursoulsLouise Erdrich’s Four Souls is a beautifully written, fascinating installment in the ongoing story of Fleur Pillager, a Native American Ojibwe. She travels to Minneapolis where she plans to avenge the loss of her family’s land to a deceptive, wealthy white man, but instead finds herself entangled with a complex relationship.

Check out Tracks (1988) to see where Erdrich first introduces Fleur.

Making Masterpiece: 25 years behind the scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! on PBS by Rebecca Eaton (2013)

I have watched Masterpiece since it first was broadcast on TV. Masterpiece Theatre and its sister program Mystery! were outstanding productions of British classics. Rebecca Eaton has been its executive producer for the past 28 years. She shares what that’s like, plus a lot of her own personal story. There are interesting anecdotes about many famous actors, including Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, and Kenneth Branagh.

But what I found fascinating is the way programs are created, sponsored, sold and finally aired. Eaton goes into detail about having to change with the times and how social networking has affected her job. If you have loved watching Masterpiece, you will find this “behind-the-scenes” story interesting.

Find an audio or print version of Making Masterpiece.

The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig (2006)

“Can’t cook, but doesn’t bite” attracts widower Oliver Milliron to the job advertisement of a for a housekeeping position in 1909 Montana. What follows is a delightful story about the family of father and three sons, their housekeeper and her brother, who takes the job as the school teacher in the one room school. Doig’s language is breathtaking, his descriptions of eastern Montana a delight, and the reader learns a little about homesteading in the early 20th century.

Check our catalog for The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig.

Spotlight: Social History of the Edwardian Age

With the popularity of the series Downton Abbey, you may enjoy books telling the stories life during the Edwardian Age. First, explore these tales of servant life: Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired “Upstairs, Downstairs” and “Downton Abbey” by Margaret Powell (1968) and The Real Downton Abbey: An Unofficial Guide to the Period which Inspired the Hit TV Show by Jacky Hyams (2011)

Then catch a glimpse into the world of the aristocracy with these titles. The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes (2011) and Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by Fiona, Countess of Carnarvon (2011)

These books examine the social history of two ways of life during the Edwardian age in England. They examine the difficulties, the behaviors, advantages, of both classes. In the 1800s, large families were the norm. Many children of the lower class were sent into service to earn money to help their struggling families. The labor supply was cheap and plentiful.

With the advent of World War I and the slaughter of millions of men both lower class and aristocracy, more higher paying jobs opened for both men and women. The servant class numbers began to shrink and a way of life unique to the times started on its way to extinction.

The Blood Royal by Barbara Cleverly

The Blood Royal by Barbara Cleverly (2011)
In this post-WWI period story, Irish rebels have murdered two prominent politicians in London. Scotland Yard worries that the Royal Family is the next target. Inspector Joe Sandilands recruits Lily Wentworth, a London policewoman, to work under cover protecting the Prince of Wales. What unravels is a group of Russian aristocrats laying a trail of red herrings for Scotland Yard.