- Jungle Up, Nick Pirog
- The Deepest of Secrets, Kelley Armstrong
- Where They Wait, Scott Carson
- The Janus Stone, The House at Sea’s End, A Room Full of Bones, Elly Griffiths
- Risen, Benedict Jacka
- The Maid, Nita Prose
- Left You Dead, Peter James
- The Book of Joy, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Nick Pirog’s Jungle Up is one of a series about Thomas Prescott, a modern-day hero who carries off great feats with a jaunty air. Thomas gets a phone call from a girl friend he hasn’t seen in years, Dr. Gina Brady. It’s an extreme appeal for help. She’s been kidnapped in Bolivia, and she is sure he can rescue her. That’s exactly what Thomas sets out to do. Though the tone of the book is surprising at first, it’s a real pleasure to read about a resourceful and knowledgeable protagonist with a heart.
I’ve enjoyed Kelley Armstrong’s Rockton books from the get-go. The Deepest of Secrets is last book in the series, at least with Rockton in its original incarnation. The remote settlement is for people who have a lot of money and must vanish. They can stay two years before deciding whether to re-up . . . though sometimes that’s not an option, if the powers that be vote against a longer stay. Casey Duncan, a former homicide detective, has thrived in Rockton, and has found the love of her life, Rockton’s police chief. Even though the settlement is winding down, there are murders to solve, and Casey risks everything to stop the killer from going back into the world.
“Scott Carson” is the pseudonym for a bestselling author, and Where They Wait is an able and frightening horror novel. Down on his luck war correspondent Nick Bishop takes a job significantly below him, that of writing a profile of the developer of a new app which is supposed to promote relaxation. The version Nick gets does help him sleep, but it also gives him terrible nightmares. Nick can’t stop his drive to investigate the company and its founder, but his terrible dreams just may come true.
As you can see I read three of Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway mysteries in the past few weeks. I love Ruth. She’s nobody’s fool, she has her weaknesses, but she’s a woman with a mind of her own . . . and now a baby, too. Ruth is a forensic archaeologist who teaches at a not-very-prestigious university. As a single mother, she’s constantly stressed between keeping her daughter entertained, keeping her work up to date, and being a consultant on murders in the time she can spare. I really, really enjoy the characters in these books and the complex juggling act Ruth has to continue to keep her life going.
Risen is the last Alex Verus novel by Benedict Jacka, which makes me sad, because these books have been something I looked forward to reading every year. Alex Verus, former proprietor of a magic shop, has assumed his rightful position as a powerful mage. But his adored, Anne, is still trapped in the bargain she made with a demon, and she stands a good chance of being killed in the last phase of the war between the dark mages and the light. Alex’s allies may kill him before his enemies do, and then Anne will be lost forever.
Nita Prose’s The Maid was just a joy to read. Molly Gray is a maid at a prestigious hotel. In fact, she’s the best maid. She loves her job, she loves her uniform, she loves excelling. Molly, who is clearly on the autism spectrum, is misunderstood by many people, taken advantage of by others, and treasured by a few. Molly comes into one of “her” rooms to clean and finds the body of an unpopular guest – and since she’s very detail oriented, Molly notices a great many inconvenient things. Though there’s a lot she doesn’t understand about the goings-on in the Regency Grand, Molly keeps getting caught up in them. This book is a gem.
Peter James’ Left You Dead is a Detective Roy Grace novel, so if this one hooks you you’ll have plenty more to read. A husband and wife stop by a mega-store to get some cat litter. The wife goes in . . . and she never comes out. Did she die earlier? Did she die later? Where is her body? Husband Niall Paternoster seems too stupid to have created such a tangled web, but he’s under arrest. Where is his wife Eden? Is she dead or alive?
The Book of Joy is a group of interviews with besties the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (who passed away not too long after this book was published). If you are in search of joy, this book is a valuable tool in finding it and keeping it. The connection between the two holy men is deep and rich, and you really can’t go wrong reading their reflections on joy.
I’m waiting for change for the better. It seems to me I used to be happier, I used not to worry so much. Maybe it’s my age that is making me gloomy? Maybe it’s the long list of things that have a downturn.
The division in politics has never been deeper or more rancorous. I used to believe when the person I DIDN’T vote for got elected, that things might go pretty well after all. I never expected the country to take a downturn, for the knives to come out . . . knives that must have been there all along, unsuspected by me.
Air travel used to be merely boring and tedious, not dangerous and fraught with incident.
Viruses were something you caught if you were unlucky, and you stayed at home for a few days and then struggled back to work. Maybe you felt a bit under the weather for a week after that. But you recovered. You didn’t know the name of the virus.
Worst of all, when there was a shooting in a church, a synagogue, a mosque, it was horrifying. Now it’s just . . . another one.
Probably all my sadness is partly from the restrictions of COVID, and possibly from the impact of the virus itself on my system. I hope I will return to my previous optimism. I hate being gloomy, I hate expecting the worst, and above all I hate being angry with my fellow Americans. We need to forget the divisiveness of the past presidency and concentrate of healing. I want us to be one nation, indivisible! Especially with liberty and justice for all.