Books & Blog: July 25, 2016

Books & Blog: July 25, 2016


Let’s talk about something wonderful. It’s about time, huh?

This past weekend was Clear the Shelters weekend. NBC Universal sponsored it, in coordination with more than 680 animal shelters. Applicants could adopt a pet (dog, cat, iguana, rooster) for a greatly reduced adoption fee, and a waived or reduced spay-neuter fee.

And how did people respond? More than 45,000 animals were adopted. In Texas, the lines were long to get inside facilities housing potential pets.

I live in Texas. At least eleven shelters in Texas were empty after Saturday, including one in nearby Glen Rose. Empty! I’m rejoicing in the positive side of this. I’m rejoicing in seeing the pictures of shelter workers standing in empty dog cages.

I know, you’re thinking . . . Some of these people won’t be good owners. Some of them will abandon or mistreat the animal they adopted. But that’s always the case. Terrible but factual.

I am gobsmacked by the reality that many, many people turned out to stand in the hot sun to wait their turns to pick a forever pet. I am delighted by the fact that lots of shelter workers get to stay home today. I love seeing this great instance of the good side of human nature.

I hope it makes you happy, too. I was drawn to write about this by our own two rescues, Colt and Abigail. Our daughter found Colt wandering around a parking lot, and we discovered Abigail in our local shelter. We have never been sorry they are part of our family.


Books of the Week:

  • Feint of Art by Hailey Lind
  • League of Dragons by Naomi Novik
  • The Hog’s Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts
  • A Dark and Stormy Murder by Julia Buckley

Feint of Art by Hailey Lind is really what traditional mysteries are all about. The writing is excellent, the characters are interesting, and Annie Kincaid does not do anything remarkably stupid. Kincaid’s background is, to say the least, unusual. Her grandfather was a noted forger of paintings, and Kincaid’s talent qualifies her to be his heir. But she’s turned to honest ways of making a precarious living. She obliges a former boyfriend by coming into his museum at night to tell him whether or not a fifteen million dollar painting is a forgery. It is, and the troubles start to roll in.

Naomi Novik’s League of Dragons is the last book in a wonderful series, and it’s a great ending. Novik’s books are not always even in tone, but League is one of the best of the series. Captain William Laurence and his dragon, Temeraire, are following Napoleon’s retreat from Russia to harass the French troops, but as a result they are suffering the same privations. In a smart move, Napoleon has offered the unaffiliated dragons of the world the things they want the most, rights. Even the English dragons are not immune to this lure. There are lots of battles, and a happy alliance between two interesting characters. Novik has written a wonderful end to a wonderful series.

Martin Edwards, whom I had the pleasure of meeting, has written this introduction to a golden age mystery that has been put aside for many years. And thanks to Poisoned Pen Press, some of the mysteries are in front of the eyes of readers for the first time in decades. The Hog’s Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts, is wonderful relaxation and a well-constructed mystery. It seems impossible that Dr. Earle should disappear from his parlor in his slippers at night. And yet it happens. Inspector French of Scotland Yard, who seems to be the mildest detective on record, thinks his way through the knotty problem (and along the way, two other deaths).

A Dark and Stormy Murder is the first book in a new series by Julia Buckley. There’s a lot to recommend this book. Budding novelist Lena London lands a plum job as the assistant of her favorite writer, Camilla Graham. She goes to live in Camilla’s house, and meets the people of the village in which Camilla lives. She gets first crack at Camilla’s manuscript, and generous pay. The fly in the ointment? She and Camilla find a body on the beach, of course. Lena’s character seems changeable and erratic, but Dark and Stormy is a lot of fun.