Saturday, November 4, 2017

New for November

Murder in the Manuscript Room by Con Lehane
Raymond Ambler, the curator of crime fiction at the New York Public Library’s grand 42nd Street Library, has solved a crime or two in his day.  He is trying to gain custody of the young grandson he just learned of, as his son is serving time in state prison.  Ambler is approached by former NYPD cop and mystery author Paul Higgins who wants to donate his papers to the library, but wants some of the papers to be kept under wraps.  Shortly after, a young woman who has just started working with Ambler and his colleague, sometimes date, Adele Morgan is found murdered in Ambler’s office.  Ambler assumes that his pal homicide detective Mike Cosgrove will investigate the case, but soon the Intelligence Division takes over and an Islamic scholar who has been studying at the library, and with whom Adele has struck up a friendship, becomes a person of interest.  At the same time, Ambler is contacted by a childhood friend who took the rap for the murder of a trucker’s union boss, he believes his brother to have committed.  Now that the brother has died, Ambler’s friend wants to clear both their names and maybe find the real murderer.  All of these events don’t seem related, but Ambler keeps an open mind and before he knows it, pieces start to fall into place and his life is once again at risk as he chases a killer.  There are so many disparate pieces to this mystery, it is hard to believe they will all fall neatly into place, but neatly they do with plenty of library lore and New York City history along the way; intelligent, thoughtful characters add to this enjoyable mystery.

The Secret, Book, and Scone Society by Ellery Adams
Nora Pennington has come to Miracle Springs, North Carolina to escape her previous life and to heal.  Living in a converted caboose and helping visitors to her bookstore Miracle Books, select books to help them heal, Nora has achieved a sense of satisfaction if not peace. The owner of the Gingerbread House, Hester, can bake comfort into her custom-made scones, while June works at the spa with hot springs, and Estella has her salon to pamper visitors.  Shortly after a visiting businessman has a consultation with Nora, her is found dead on the train tracks, a death the police quickly rule a suicide.  Though Nora knew Neil only a short time, she cannot believe Neil committed suicide and turns to the three other woman, as damaged as she, to band together in order to figure out what really happened to Neil, bring a killer to justice, and in the process, learn to trust each other, and to heal from the past, and forgive themselves.  This first book in a new series will welcome readers to the world of Miracle Springs and the warm, caring women who live there.  There are very few surprises to the murder investigation, though one revelation at the end is startling, adding a little more interest.  It is the setting and the four main characters that add charm and warmth to this mystery.

Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper
Chicago event planner Margot Cary has been fired after one of her society galas goes spectacularly wrong control.  Out of work with no hopes of getting an event planning job in the country thanks to a viral You Tube video, Margot is surprised when her great aunt Tootie invites Margot to the family compound in Lake Sackett, Georgia to work in her estranged family’s funeral home/bait shop.  Margot has had no contact with the McCready’s, including her father, since her mother moved from Lake Sackett with Margot when Margot was a toddler.  Overwhelmed by her extended, gregarious family, and their small town Southern ways, such as carbs, pork, and deep-frying everything, or knowing everyone’s business before they know it themselves, Margot vows to lick her wounds and get out of Lake Sackett as quickly as possible.  Slowly and surely, though, Margot realizes things aren’t all bad in Lake Sackett: she likes her family, is getting to know her father, and has caught the eye of the most eligible bachelor, elementary school principal Kyle Archer, who as a widow with two young daughters, comes with his own set of issues.  This first book in a new series welcomes readers to Lake Sackett with eccentric, loving characters, and invites them to sit and stay for a spell with a tall glass of sweet tea.

The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy
Hanna Casey returns from London to her hometown on Ireland’s West Coast peninsula of Finfarran after more than twenty-years of marriage, which she has just learned has been a farce, with her teenage daughter Jazz in tow.  Working as a librarian in Lissbeg, Hanna remains embittered five years later, still in her childhood home under the scrutiny of her nagging mother, Jazz now living in France, a flight attendant who visits from time to time.  Determined to take her life back, Hanna decides it is time to restore the rundown cottage left to her by her great aunt Maggie.  Upon hearing that the town may close Hanna’s beloved library, she finds herself fighting a battle on a second front to keep what she considers the center of the town and to convince the naysayers that a town without a library is a town without a heart.  Driving around the coast in her mobile library gives Hanna plenty of time to think and plenty of encounters with people who often irk and irritate her, but whom she comes to realize depend on Hanna and her mobile library not just for reading materials but for companionship and community. This heart-warming novel is perfect for book groups or anyone who adores libraries and recognizes that they are more than a collection of books…they are a collection of community.

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser
Using land records, letters, and diaries, this book provides a detailed historical account of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the time during which Laura Ingalls grew up and wrote about in her famed autobiographical novels.  This fascinating book provides context for many of the events described in the Little House books and Wilder's writings as well as dispels any myths that her daughter Rose was a ghostwriter for the beloved series.  Told in great detail is the story, so often left untold, of Laura as a young bride, then young mother, and a woman who moved her family around to survive, and who suffered many great losses during her lifetime, but somehow managed to turn these near defeats into something cherished by generations to come.  This is a masterful tribute to the legendary author as well as the gripping historical account of America is sure to have wide appeal. 

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