Review of the latest Molly Murphy mystery: “Hush Now, Don’t You Cry” by Rhys Bowen

If you read me, you know I read all the Molly Murphy and Her Royal Spyness cozy mysteries from Rhys Bowen. I was excited to see on the new release shelf at the library the latest Molly Murphy story. This time Molly and Daniel are married and on their delayed honeymoon, visiting at a mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. They’ve hardly arrived when their guest, whom they haven’t seen yet, is found dead at the bottom of a cliff. Their host is lying where his young granddaughter was also found dead four years earlier. Daniel then becomes deathly ill with pneumonia and Molly is left to unravel the mystery, which includes all sort of twists, subplots, and suspects.

I always enjoy a Molly Murphy historical mystery, and I especially liked the setting for this one: beautiful Newport. Did I guess the murderer? Yes. Did I guess a motive. Yes, once I guessed the murderer. But I enjoyed it nonetheless. I have to say, though, that I still find the character of Daniel irritating. He’s so focused on Molly as “the little woman” that one must wonder if their marriage will last (and if it does, will this series?). He always seems a little out in left field to me in regards to the mysteries, too. If I was writing this series, I just might kill him off.

Anyhow, if you like these stories, I think you’ll enjoy the latest!

YA Review: The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon

I downloaded “The Twisted Thread” from Net Galley last month. I would have loved reading this book as a teen: beautiful and popular senior girl found dead in her room at prestigious private boarding school, and – gasp! – she had been pregnant! Who killed her? Where is the baby? What secrets are being hidden behind those ivy covered walls? Junior faculty member Maddie Christopher becomes embroiled in untangling the threads of this mystery.

I enjoyed this well-plotted YA suspense novel. I can be a hard critic of stories set in private schools since I worked in one for so many years. Too many times the depictions of boarding school life are fairly outrageous and ridiculous with wealthy, privileged kids running willy-nilly and ignorant adults being conveniently absent. I give Ms. Bacon credit for giving an accurate portrayal  of life in an independent school. I thought her depiction of Maddie as a young faculty member was particularly well-done and believable. In fact I would bet money that Ms. Bacon has either taught in or attended boarding school herself. The strength of this story, in my opinion, lies in Ms. Bacon’s depictions of the various relationships portrayed.

Thanks, Net Galley and Hyperion Voice for my copy!

Quick Review: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

I grabbed this last week from the new release shelf at the library. I found the length – over 800 pages – completely daunting, but figured my love of King’s writing would see me through.

This tome follows the adventure of Jake Epping- single, high school English teacher- as he warps through time in an attempt to save the life of John F. Kennedy on that fateful day in Dallas.

Oh, how I love the concept of time travel! Ever since I was a little girl I have been fascinated with the construct of parallel worlds and moving between them through time and space. I always thought it seemed logical that if you could just go fast enough – and backwards – you could revisit something that had already taken place. Anyhow, when Jake’s dying friend Al shares his secret with him (there’s a “rabbit-hole time warp” in the basement of his diner), he entrusts Jake with the task of going back and changing history, presumably for the better.

This story brings up the question of the butterfly effect again and again, and the most basic questions: if you change one thing in the past, how does it affect the future and how can you know it will affect it for the better?

Loved, loved, loved this book!

Quick Review: January First by Michael Schofield (Releasing in August)

Through Net Galley I received an ARC download of this novel, whose full title is: “January First: A Child’s Descent into Madness and her Father’s Struggle to Save Her”. I had heard about this book – I think on NPR – and was intrigued to read this true story.

January Schofield is a brilliant and precocious young girl with a vivid imaginary life. As January develops, however, her creativity and genius is occluded by what is finally diagnosed, at age six, as childhood schizophrenia. January’s case is marked by severe violence and almost constant hallucinations. Her doctors struggle to understand her and to find medications that will effectively treat her, while her family struggles to keep her (and her little brother) safe.

I found this novel to be an incredibly compelling read. I started it one evening and read through until 2 AM in order to finish it. I think one of the things that drew me to this book was how incredibly human the parents were. You could just feel how they were struggling and how they were willing to do whatever they could for their child (actually children), even if it meant living apart. Their painful journey is described in detail through the father’s voice.

Thanks, Net Galley and Crown Publishers for my copy!

Quick Review: The Lost Years by Mary Higgins Clark

On a recent trip to Target, I noticed that Mary Higgins Clark had a new book out that had escaped my attention. It wasn’t very lengthy, so I grabbed it on sale.

“The Lost Years” deals with an ancient letter, supposedly written by Jesus Christ to Joseph of Arimathea, that was hidden away centuries ago by a monk and surfaces in the possession of a professor who then promptly gets murdered. His wife, who has Alzheimer’s, is a witness to the crime. His daughter Mariah – who has been a bit estranged from him since he has openly been having an affair with a colleague – is determined to figure out where the parchment is and who the murderer is. There is no paucity of suspects: her father’s four closest friends and colleagues, along with his mistress, are the prime ones. Additionally there is a thief who, while robbing the house next door, conveniently gets a good look at someone running from the house the night of the murder. There’s also a family friend who is a priest. And good old Alvirah and Willy are there to help solve the mystery.

Bottom line: it’s a quick beach read and fun and easy. Is it “classic MHC”? I’d say no. I miss the thrilling novels of the past – the ones that kept me up at night reading. In fact, MHC’s first novel “Where Are the Children?” might just be her best, in my opinion. I’ve been a bit disappointed in Mary’s work as of late. However, considering she has written over 30 books, I’ll cut her some slack. 🙂 Also – just me – as a Catholic, the whole “his wife has Alzheimer’s so he’s having an affair and as soon as she’s in a nursing home he’ll divorce her and marry that younger gal” plotline bothered me. Mary’s characters, more often than not, are Catholic. And this family actively attends church in the book and has a parish priest as a friend. It just seemed kind of unsettling that this guy brought his paramour home for dinners at his house with his wife and friends. But anyways…

If you’ve read this book, let me know what you think. And if you’ve read all of MHC’s books, like I have, tell me if you think it’s up to her old standards.