Books & Blog: January 12, 2019

  • The Lady from the Black Lagoon, Mallory O’Meara
  • Lies Sleeping, Ben Aaronovitch
  • Sweet Pea, C.J. Skuse
  • Transcription, Kate Atkinson
  • Go to My Grave, Catriona McPherson
  • The Book of M, Peng Shepherd
  • The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Ruth Ware
  • Murder on Millionaires’ Row, Erin Lindsey

Mallory O’Meara has written an extraordinary book about the woman who created the Creature, Milicent Patrick. As O’Meara reveals in the way she writes about The Lady from the Black Lagoon, they are both women in Hollywood who have been treated shamefully, though at least O’Meara can see the light on the horizon. Lively and swift moving, this well-researched book will hold your interest and give you food for thought during and after the hours you read it.

Lies Sleepingis Ben Aaronovitch’s latest book about magically-gifted Detective Constable Peter Grant. I read it in manuscript form, but I wanted to be sure to bring it up again now that it’s actually on the shelves. Peter is an outsider in every sense of the word – a black man on a mostly white police force, a magic user in a world of norms, and above all, a caring man in a world of indifference. 

C.J. Skuse’s book about an enthusiastic killer, Sweet Pea, achieves the almost impossible feat of making a truly horrible person somehow sympathetic. Rhiannon (you only call her Sweet Pea if you want to die) wants so much that she hasn’t attained: she wants her boyfriend to be faithful, she wants her book to be published, and she wants so many people to die. Rhiannon’s list at the beginning of each chapter of people she would like to kill might weirdly resonate with thoughts you’ve had while you were in line at the grocery. 

Kate Atkinson is simply a great writer. Transcription is set in the early days of World War II when Juliet Armstrong is recruited to a secret job in espionage. Far from being exciting, Juliet’s task is to listen in on the secret conversation in the apartment next to hers and transcribe them all. Since Juliet is not a passive or stupid young woman (though she is naïve), her job does not turn out to be boring. Juliet has at least two other identities by the end of the war, she is a proficient liar, and she is well able to look after herself. She radiates life. 

I’ve known Catriona McPherson for several years, and I am still astonished when I pick up one of her books, this time Go to My Grave. She can keep you wrapped up in a complex plot, she can make her people leap to life, and she can keep you guessing up until the end. When Donna Weaver agrees to book a private group at her new guest house, she doesn’t know they’ve all been there before . . . on a weekend visited by death. This weekend will be, too . . . and Donna wants to stay alive.

The Book of Mis a great what-if book. What if people began to diminish when they lost their shadows? What happens when the world is divided between the shadowless and the shadowed? This is a pretty scary book, and I could never guess what was going to happen. 

Ruth Ware had a big hit with The Woman in Cabin 10. I have to confess that it passed me by. But at least I have read The Death of Mrs. Westaway, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Harriet Westaway, very young and very broke, gets a dream letter which advises her to come to the country house called Trepassen, since her grandmother has died. Harriet has no idea she has any more family than her recently-deceased mother, and though she’s sure it’s a mistake she’s desperate enough to show up and see if she can get some money. I’m not even going to attempt to tell you what happens next; this book is surprise after surprise.

Murder on Millionaires’ Rowhas a spunky heroine (Rose Gallagher, a lowly Irish maid). Rose is stung to action by the disappearance of her boss, Thomas Wiltshire. Lowly Rose has had a crush on Wiltshire for some time, and though she knows her affection is ridiculous, she feels compelled to search for him when he goes missing. Her stubborn quest will change her life, and the lives of several other people, too!

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All our Christmas decorations are put away. Our wonderful lights guy took the outside lights down, too. By this time of the New Year, I’m glad to get back to normal, especially since we had such a busy Christmas. Our tiny granddaughter was in the Nutcracker, our daughter got engaged, and we had the wonderful day itself, with all our family. It was a great ending to a so-so year.

Looking at 2019, I see a lot of excitement. There’s The Wedding. It’s in November, so we have months of prep time. The happy couple has already planned a lot of it. Next weekend, Daughter-in-Law, Prospective Bride, and myself are going wedding dress shopping, which has the potential to be delightful . . . or not. We have Appointments. 

Also in 2019, A LONGER FALL will be on the shelves. At this point, we’re believing that will be October. 

The church our congregation is building will also be open for business this year, God willing and weather permitting. This is another thing we have planned and anticipated for months and months. 

I have more good news that I can’t share right now, news I’ve been sitting on since last October, but we’ll be talking about it soon. 

Books I’m looking forward to: new novels by Anne Bishop, Patricia Briggs, Rachel Caine, Lee Child, Vivian Shaw, Benedict Jacka, Ben Aaronovitch, Jodi Taylor . . . and so many more. I know I’ve left out someone important, someone who may tackle me at the next convention to say, “You hurt my feelings! You don’t love my books?” And I’ll deserve it. Look at it this way; I verified all the writers I did list, and I kind of ran out of steam. 

Anyway, we’ll all have lots of good things to read. So lift a glass to 2019, and let’s hope it turns out as well as it bodes.

Charlaine Harris