Blog

Mimi

Chinatown (1974) R

chinatownIt is 1933 and private detective Jake Gittes is hired by a socialite to investigate her husband’s extramarital affair. Jake doesn’t know what trouble he is about to find and what is really going on. Pre-war southern California is the setting for murder, treason, political graft, deceit, and more.

Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway are at their best. This film noir movie was written for the big screen and was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. The American Film Institute rated Chinatown the second best mystery movie.
Lora

The Invisible City by Julia Dahl (2014)

index.aspxRebekah Roberts is a stringer reporter for the New York Tribune. Growing up in Florida and raised by her father, she is scarred by the absence of her Hasidic mother, who left when Rebekah was a baby. Her parents never married and met while Rebekah's mother was questioning her faith. When Rebekah is at the scene where an ultra-Orthodox woman is found dead at a scrap yard, she finds herself trying to understand a faith she doesn't know that well. She is also working on the case with a policeman named Saul who knew both her parents all those years ago. Saul wants justice for the murdered woman, Rivka Mendelssohn, but believes that the police are not investigating thoroughly and leaving it to the Hasidic community to dictate what's done, such as not performing an autopsy on Rivka. Will Rebekah be able to put her personal issues aside and put her journalist skills to good use?

Julia Dahl’s Invisible City is the first book in the Rebekah Roberts series and features an intriguing main character along with interesting story. It would appeal to readers who enjoy the Kate Burkholder books by Linda Castillo.
 
Jennifer

Veronica Mars Season 1 (2004-2005)

Veronica_Mars_season_1_DVDAfter hearing about this cult classic and the groundswell of fan support to make a movie, I finally watched season 1 of Veronica Mars. I can see the appeal. The title character (portrayed by Kristen Bell) is a likable yet troubled high school student in Neptune, California.

After her best friend Lilly (Amanda Seyfried) is killed and her dad Keith (Enrico Colantoni) loses his job as sheriff over the handling of the murder investigation, Veronica uses her PI skills to discover the truth behind Lilly’s death. This arc lasts the entire 22 episodes, as does Veronica’s quest to discover what happened to her at a party last year. In the meantime, she’s solving mysteries big and small for classmates and community members, plus dealing with the typical high school angst. A smart, addictive show.
IPPL Staff

The Witch Doctor's Wife by Tamar Myers (2009)

index.aspxIn the waning days of Belgian control of the Congo, enthusiastic young American Amanda Brown arrives to manage a missionary guest house. But can Amanda's enthusiasm survive living in a very different culture where witch doctors have power, everyone is named for their own worst deformity, and Belgians control every means of wealth? Amanda, called Ugly Eyes because Africans are disturbed by her blue eyes, proves up to the task since she is open to the beauty and strangeness of the country. Tamar MyersThe Witch Doctor’s Wife is for lovers of Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, but with more emphasis on the interactions of peoples of different cultures.
IPPL Staff

The Whiskey Baron by Jon Sealy (2014)

In the early 1930s, when Prohibition was the law of the land, small time and big time bootleggers and distributors fought for control of the market. In rural South Carolina, Larthan Tull controls both. When small timer Mary Jane Hopewell tries for a cut of the business, murder ensues. As circumstances and bad judgment collide, Sheriff Chambers tries his best to prevent the worst. Jon Sealy’s The Whiskey Baron is a dense, multi-charactered historical novel.
Joan

Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming (2004)

index.aspxOut of the Deep I Cry is another suspenseful installment of drama in the small town of Miller's Kill. This mystery spans decades and Julia Spencer-Fleming skillfully goes back and forth naming her chapters - Then and Now. Having this advantage, the reader begins to piece things together even before Rev. Clare and Russ crack the case. Jane Ketchem, mother of Mrs. Marshall from St. Alban's vestry, is still supporting the local clinic thirty years after her death. When Mrs. Marshall decides to give the money to the church, a series of events is put into motion that uncovers family secrets that have been hidden since before her birth.

As Rev. Clare and Russ work closely to uncover the truth and bring the proper people to justice, they find their friendship and their mutual attraction growing stronger. Soul mates is the only term that comes to mind as Spencer-Fleming describes the depth and pureness of their love through beautifully written dialog. The scripture passages and details of the religious ceremonies serve to solidify the morality of the characters.
Hugh

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (2012)

Louise Penny’s fans might try The Beautiful Mystery (eighth in the series) to find Chief Inspector Gamache in a venue other than Three Pines. The Chief Inspector, assisted by Guy Beauvoir, travels to a remote monastery hidden deep in the Quebec wilderness to find which (if any) of the 24 brothers has murdered the choir director. The Brothers all have beautiful voices and are totally committed to performing the Gregorian chants in each office of the day.

A recently released trial CD has brought in good revenue but also conflict among the brothers as to whether or not to pursue commercial success. One group of Brothers welcomes the new revenue while others are afraid notoriety will interfere with their devotions. Other complications arise as Guy is distracted from the hunt by his secret relationship with the Chief Inspector’s daughter and his chemical dependency developed while he was recovering from previous wounds.

The Beautiful Mystery is the winner of the 2012 Agatha Award for best novel, the 2013 Anthony Award for best novel, and the 2013 Macavity Award for best novel.
Lora

A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante (2014)

Palo Alto police detective Samantha Adams is assigned to investigate the suspicious death of plastic surgeon John Taylor. Even though Taylor had a heart attack, he has a puncture wound on his shoulder. The police are also tipped off that Taylor had not just one wife, but three. He had been married to wife number one, Deborah, for over thirty years and they had three children. Wife number two, MJ, is an accountant, with whom he lived in Los Gatos. Helen, a pediatric oncologist, was much younger than John--they met when she asked him to consult on one of her patients.

In Alice LaPlante’s A Circle of Wives, the reader observes the unfolding murder investigation and has a front row seat as all the secrets of each of the four women's lives are laid bare. An engrossing novel that keeps you guessing right up to the end. A great readalike for Tana French's Broken Harbor and A. S. A. Harrison's The Silent Wife.
 
Hugh

Refusal by Felix Francis (2013)

Although Dick Francis died in 2010, his legacy of English horseracing mysteries continues under the very capable pen of his son Felix Francis. Refusal, his third novel without his father as coauthor, fits nicely into the genre. The principal is an ex-jockey who reluctantly takes up his prior vocation as a private eye to sort out blatant corruption that clearly would give a bad name to the racing sport. The novel keeps the reader in suspense wondering how the principal will keep himself and his family safe as he confronts the bad bullies attempting to fix racing results.

 
 
IPPL Staff

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (2013)

After hearing rave reviews of Louise Penny’s mystery series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, I decided to try her latest one, How the Light Gets In. The audiobook is beautifully narrated by Ralph Cosham, who captures the quaint essence of the village of Three Pines perfectly. This is the ninth book in the series and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is investigating the murder of the last remaining Ouellet quintuplet, Constance Pinot. Gamache is surrounded by a rich cast of characters from the little village that includes an eccentric poet with a duck for a pet.

Despite not having read any of the previous books in the series, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I would like to go back and start at the beginning. A great novel with a cozy winter setting that draws you in.
Mary

Haunted Ground by Erin Hart (2003)

Haunted Ground is the first title in the Nora Gavin/Cormac Maguire mystery series by Erin Hart. The stories are set in modern Ireland, but often weave in Irish history. Nora is an American pathologist who travels to Ireland to study “bog bodies”—dead bodies from hundreds of years ago that are preserved in the peat.

Nora and archaeologist Cormac Maguire are thrown together as they investigate the decapitated head of a woman whose body is found in a peat bog. Soon they find themselves involved in solving a recent crime involving the disappearance of a wealthy landowner’s wife and son. Could these bodies also be buried in the bog?
Hugh

Inferno by Dan Brown (2013)

In Inferno Dan Brown and Robert Langdon again take us on a tour of Renaissance art and literature while spinning a thrilling tale of danger and escape. One should see Amazon.com for pictures of some of the classic sights described along the way. Also current issues like overpopulation and bioterrorism appear with some suggested solutions you may not like but you may be startled by the stark predictions.

I enjoyed this run around from Harvard to Florence to Venice to Istanbul with interludes on a large sea vessel named Mendacium. Although at first I could hardly put my tablet reader down, towards the end I became weary of the game and wanted it to end.

 
IPPL Staff

First Frost by James Henry (2013)

Have you enjoyed the Touch of Frost mystery DVDs? Frost’s exploits first appeared in a series of books by R. D Wingfield in the 1980s. This year, Frost’s story is continued in a prequel by James Henry entitled First Frost. Frost is just as rumpled, irascible, and brilliant as in the original books and TV series as he solves crimes on the perpetually understaffed Denton Police Force.

 
Jennifer

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (2013)

When the news broke the J. K. Rowling had released a mystery under a pseudonym, I (like millions of others) rushed to see what The Cuckoo’s Calling was about. The premise sounded interesting: a disabled veteran turned PI investigates the alleged suicide of a supermodel in contemporary London.

This was the only book I read on my weeklong vacation. It was engrossing with sympathetic characters, a fascinating mystery with twists and turns, and those fabulous descriptions that Harry Potter fans will recognize. Robert Galbraith garnered great reviews even before the Rowling connection was revealed. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series (due in 2014) featuring PI Cormoran Strike and his very capable assistant Robin.
Hugh

Mandarin Gate by Eliot Pattison (2012)

In this seventh of the Inspector Shan series, we have culture, politics, and a compelling mystery to keep one reading another page when it is time to turn off the light and go to sleep. In Mandarin Gate, neither the reader nor Inspector Shan (now demoted to irrigation ditch inspector) can see a reason for the terrible triple murder but can only speculate as to a possible cause. Beijing wants the crime solved without international ripples and Inspector Shan is very concerned that the recent suicide of his friend, an unregistered Tibetan monk, may have implications in the case. Readers concerned about China’s dismantlement of Tibet’s culture and religion will find much to think about while reading Eliot Pattison’s compelling novel.