This holiday installment of the cozy mystery series featuring society gal Lola and her companion Berta was a fun read at this time of year! I love period pieces, and this one takes place during Prohibition. Lola and Berta must discover a murderer while they are in Vermont backwaters.
A fun and easy cozy mystery! Thank you for my review e-copy via Net Galley!
Naughty on Ice is the latest in Maia Chance’s dazzlingly fun Prohibition-era caper series featuring society matron Lola Woodby and her stalwart Swedish cook, Berta.
The Discreet Retrieval Agency is doing a brisk holiday business of retrieving lost parcels, grandmas, and stolen wreaths. But with their main squeezes Ralph and Jimmy once more on the back burner, both Lola and Berta pine for a holiday out of New York City. So when they receive a mysterious Christmas card requesting that they retrieve an antique ring at a family gathering in Maple Hill, Vermont, they jump at the chance. Sure, the card is signed Anonymous and it’s vaguely threatening, but it’s Vermont.
In Maple Hill, several estranged members of the wealthy Goddard family gather. And no sooner do Lola and Berta recover the ring—from Great-Aunt Cressida Goddard’s arthritic finger—than Mrs. Goddard goes toes-up, poisoned by her Negroni cocktail on ice. When the police arrive, Lola and Berta are caught-red-handed with the ring, and it becomes clear that they were in fact hired not for their cracker-jack retrieving abilities, but to be scapegoats for murder.
With no choice but to unmask the killer or be thrown in the slammer, Lola and Berta’s investigations lead them deep into the secrets of Maple Hill. In a breathless pursuit along a snowy ridge, with a lovelorn Norwegian ski instructor and country bumpkin hooch smugglers hot on their heels, Lola and Berta must find out once and for all who’s nice…and who’s naughty.
So – you know that I LOVE Chris Bohjalian’s writing (plus he’s like the nicest and most humble guy ever!). I was so very excited when I saw that he a new book out – THE SLEEPWALKER. I was able to get it from Net Galley.
Here’s the overview:
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest Room comes a spine-tingling novel of lies, loss, and buried desire—the mesmerizing story of a wife and mother who vanishes from her bed late one night.
When Annalee Ahlberg goes missing, her children fear the worst. Annalee is a sleepwalker whose affliction manifests in ways both bizarre and devastating. Once, she merely destroyed the hydrangeas in front of her Vermont home. More terrifying was the night her older daughter, Lianna, pulled her back from the precipice of the Gale River bridge. The morning of Annalee’s disappearance, a search party combs the nearby woods. Annalee’s husband, Warren, flies home from a business trip. Lianna is questioned by a young, hazel-eyed detective. And her little sister, Paige, takes to swimming the Gale to look for clues. When the police discover a small swatch of fabric, a nightshirt, ripped and hanging from a tree branch, it seems certain Annalee is dead, but Gavin Rikert, the hazel-eyed detective, continues to call, continues to stop by the Ahlbergs’ Victorian home. As Lianna peels back the layers of mystery surrounding Annalee’s disappearance, she finds herself drawn to Gavin, but she must ask herself: Why does the detective know so much about her mother? Why did Annalee leave her bed only when her father was away? And if she really died while sleepwalking, where was the body?
Conjuring the strange and mysterious world of parasomnia, a place somewhere between dreaming and wakefulness, The Sleepwalker is a masterful novel from one of our most treasured storytellers.
Every now and then a book comes around that really blows me away and I just can’t stop thinking about it. CLOSE YOUR EYES, HOLD HANDS is one of those books.
Last year I read – and loved – Chris Bohjalian’s THE LIGHT IN THE RUINS. This book is completely different. In this novel, Emily Shepard has survived a nuclear meltdown in the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont and is now a homeless runaway. Emily’s parents worked at the nuclear power plant and people have blamed her father for the accident, so she feels shunned and hunted. Emily survives in an “igloo” of plastic bags and leaves and has a young companion, Cameron, who is also a homeless runaway. Emily gets by using her street smarts, yet she can’t stop thinking about her home, her parents (now dead), and her beloved dog Maggie. She often recites the poems of Emily Dickinson (she’s a big fan) to help calm her mind. Emily’s quest to return home – and into the dead zone – keeps her going in the face of adversity.
I was riveted to this book. I loved the tough yet sensitive character of Emily. Her story was so painful and yet the end had a sense of redemption. Emily was amazingly resourceful and her care for Cameron was genuine and intense. It felt like holding on to Cameron was a lifeline for her.
As someone who doesn’t live far from Vermont, I have to say that this book really got me thinking. It all seemed so plausible and possible. It made for a disturbing yet fascinating read. I won’t tell you where the title is from, but when I read that part of the book, it made me cry.
I really think that Chris Bohjalian is one of the best writers out there today!
So here’s the thing. This book doesn’t release until July, and while I will send an updated reminder about it at that time, I urge you to mark your calendars or pre-order your copy now!
Thank you Net Galley and Doubleday Books for my copy!
Here’s some book trailer awesomeness via You Tube —
I always enjoy browsing through my Kindle for good, cheap reads. This book was listed in the top sellers, but cost only 99 cents, so I figured it was a good deal.
“The Mill River Recluse” tells the story of beautiful Mary McAllister, an elderly woman who has not left her house high on a hill in Mill River, Vermont for over sixty years. Alternate chapters tell the story of Mary in the present (she actually passes away near the beginning of the book) and Mary in the 1940’s, when she, the only child of a horse farmer, meets and marries her charming and rich, but secretively abusive, husband. Mary, always shy by nature, has suffered a horrific abuse at the hands of her high school teacher, and she puts her faith in her new husband, though he turns mean and evil, damaging Mary irreparably. Her only friend and confidant is the town’s Catholic priest, and he stays as her anchor to the outside world until her death.
I enjoyed reading this novel, especially the years that were in the past. The ending had a bit of a twist to it and was happy and uplifting, though a bit far-fetched. I guess the question that remained for me throughout this book was: “Hello, People?! Can someone do SOMETHING for that poor abused woman who has not left her house in 60 years???”
All in all, this was a good “beach read” for me – an end of summer, positive, not-too-mentally-taxing tale that kept me coming back to see how it would end. I would have loved this book when I was in high school.