The Friends and Family


Twelfth page. List starts with the most recent at the top.  Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Joy read: LISTEN TO THE SILENCE by Marcia Muller
Sharon discovers that the foundations on which her life was built were false. She probably couldn't have invented a better resolution to her story -- a delight to read. Review.

Joy read: A WILD AND LONELY PLACE by Marcia Muller
In this puzzle about what makes the Diplo-bomber tick, the mesmerizing parts for me are of Sharon as pilot. There are several other threads to the competition to be the first to find whoever is blowing up ambassadors and consulates in the United States. The issue is diplomatic immunity: the apparent main target of revenge committed rape and murder and the US government couldn't do anything about it.
   As always, Sharon meets fascinating people. The way Muller writes, we share Sharon's feelings about them. The crisis was almost more than I could wait out.

Joy read: DOUBLE by Marcia Muller & Bill Pronzini
This collaboration between Marcia Muller and her husband Bill Pronzini didn't work for me the way the rest of the Sharon McCone series does. Normally the continuous Sharon viewpoint plunges me into her feelings and relationships and doesn't give me a moment to resurface. With the chapter-by-chapter viewpoint tradeoff, between Marcia Muller's Sharon and Bill Pronzini's Unnamed Detective aka "Wolf," at the halfway point I still hadn't gotten particularly involved with any of the characters. I even paused in DOUBLE to reread two favorites. By the end, as the mysteries converged, the momentum picked up and I finished it in one read.

Joy read: BREAKING DAWN by Stephenie Meyer
Book 4. This one includes my favorite section in the series.

Joy read: ECLIPSE by Stephenie Meyer
Twilight aired on TV and got me back into this world. This time, for the first time, I jumped right to the 3rd book in the series. I can't describe how surprisingly enjoyable it always turns out to be.

Carla read: THE SIXTH WIFE by Suzannah Dunn
In 1547, Katherine Parr, widow of Henry VIII, marries her old love, the dashing Thomas Seymour, much to the puzzlement of her closest friend, Catherine Duchess of Suffolk (Cathy).  Soon these three will find themselves entrapped in a (fictional) love triangle that can only end in betrayal Ė but of whom?  This fictional love affair, told in aggressively modern prose from Duchess Cathy's point of view, is racy and quite attractive (once I convinced myself it wasn't a Dynasty script), though after a while it became frustrating to see only Cathy's side of the story.  The overall effect reminded me of being buttonholed in a bar by a glamorous but pushy acquaintance whose conversation isnít quite as sparkling as she thinks it is. Review.

Joy read: A WALK THROUGH THE FIRE by Marcia Muller
Hawaii's dark side. Sharon is summoned to Kauai, to find out who is trying to stop her friend from filming a documentary based on a wealthy man who disappeared from the islands. Hawaii brings out Sharon's less disciplined side, creating conflicts that interfere with her reasoning. A sexy helicopter pilot doesn't help her thinking, either. The dysfunctional Wellbright family put me off. All in all, this is my second-least favorite of the series (so far).

Joy read: BOTH ENDS OF THE NIGHT by Marcia Muller
The book lives up to its wonderful title. Sharon and Hy have lost a close friend, and they might find themselves just tempted enough to kill the killer when they catch up to him. Matty, with her outgoing, downright, energetic approach to life, her deep caring, is a huge loss for the family she has created for herself. Between the brilliant flying scenes and the backwoods where it all comes to a head, this is a book that I won't be able to forget.

Joy read: THE BROKEN PROMISE LAND by Marcia Muller
After a few hints here and there in earlier books, Sharon's brother-in-law, country music star Ricky Savage, bursts onto center stage. Ricky is being stalked, dangerously. Fan or old girlfriend? Everything points to it, except that whoever it is has to be close to Ricky. Sharon and her lover Hy take on Ricky's protection, and Sharon's assistant Rae finally comes into her own, in a way that I found especially satisfying. Impossible not to care about Sharon's friends and family.

Joy read: TILL THE BUTCHERS CUT HIM DOWN by Marcia Muller
Sharon has struck out on her own. No longer working for All Souls Legal Cooperative, she needs clients, even "Suitcase" Gordon, a seedy hanger-on from her youth. Suitcase has blossomed astonishingly into a high-priced corporate troubleshooter -- but Sharon can't help but be skeptical. At first she doesn't even believe in the death threats. Then Suits introduces her to his wife, and the poignant side of his life. It's amazing when we come to sympathize with this ruthless, detached client, but Muller performs wonders in the end.

Joy read: WOLF IN THE SHADOWS by Marcia Muller
A biotechnologist is kidnapped. Hy, sent out by his mysterious old associates to exchange the ransom for the victim, also disappears. Sharon is forced to shuttle back and forth across the Mexican border in ways that become more and more dangerous as betrayal looms larger. Extremely atmospheric, both inwardly and outwardly.

Joy read: WHERE ECHOES LIVE by Marcia Muller
Sharon is summoned to a desert lake, dying from misuse of the land. An environmentalist group is trying to save Tufa Lake from its final death at the hands of a mining company. Both sides show the potential for violence, including the man who attracts Sharon more than she could have thought possible. Hy Ripinsky is another fascinating character, and so is the desert country, with its misanthropic "desert rats," ghost towns, and tufa towers.

Joy read: TROPHIES AND DEAD THINGS by Marcia Muller
A series of sniper killings culminates in the death of a client of Sharon's boss. None of the deaths seems to be related to any of the others until Perry's strange will is read. Back into time goes the history of each of these disparate characters, to the Vietnam War -- but then it continues farther back. The violent protests of the 1960s stirred a pot that didn't boil over completely until 25 years later. Some figures are sheer tragedy, others despicable, and some a fascinating combination of the two.

Joy read: THE SHAPE OF DREAD by Marcia Muller
Sharon sees big holes in the case against Bobby Foster, on Death Row for the murder of a rising young comedian who had befriended him. Digging into the life of Tracy Kostaskos, rich girl determined to be a star, Sharon finds a ruthlessness that would make Tracy's parents miserable if they knew. Someone else was even more ruthless, but who -- and against whom? THE SHAPE OF DREAD has many unlikable characters, but the plot twists, and twists again, and leaves Sharon at a crossroads.

Joy read: THERE'S SOMETHING IN A SUNDAY by Marcia Muller
Sharon's client is dead in his apartment, and as Sharon arrives there a beautiful woman is trying desperately to get away. Domestic violence shadows the families in Sharon's current mystery, but who is source of it all? Again, character is the strongest element of Muller's book.

Joy read: THE WOMEN'S WAR by Lynne Cantwell
West Virginia is hardly the most congenial place for a Women's Studies college program. The professor has her own agenda, but her basic class text takes on a life of its own and changes the directions of several lives. I found this hard to put down -- we are delighted to be able to publish it.

Joy read: EYE OF THE STORM by Marcia Muller
Sharon's sister is trying to start a luxury hotel in the Sacramento delta, but someone is sabotaging it. The atmospheric environment upstages every person on the island, even the white-knuckled historical characters. I used to live not far from here, so this meant even more to me than the exciting story ordinarily would have.

Carla read: THE BLACKSTONE KEY by Rose Melikan
In 1795, England is at war with Revolutionary France, and young Mary Finch stumbles on a set of coded documents that may hold the key to a ruthless ring of spies selling the military secrets of England to the enemy.  Can Mary break the code?  And which of the two men in her life can she trust?  A mix of lightweight espionage mystery, slightly gothic romance and mild social comedy. Review.

Joy read: LEAVE A MESSAGE FOR WILLIE by Marcia Muller
Sharon could have turned down this case, because it involves helping a fence, but there's something about Willie. By the time Willie's stalker is found dead in Willie's garage, Sharon thinks she knows him well enough to be sure that he didn't commit murder.
   LEAVE A MESSAGE FOR WILLIE takes us into the colorful world of the San Francisco flea markets, with a dash of survivalism. As always, this Sharon McCone mystery is highly readable and human. My main personal reaction? I like Willie.

The one that was touted as "someone major dies". It's so much more than that. Harry is learning values and leadership, sometimes painfully, sometimes by good example. The movie tries but doesn't do it justice. Read the book. Read all the books.

The one where Harry finds himself a Triwizard Champion. The one that won a Hugo. A reread that never runs dry. I watched the movie and then had to read this again.

Joy read: THE PEOPLE: NO DIFFERENT FLESH by Zenna Henderson
An earth couple save a baby fluttering lost among the trees. After baby Lala is reunited with her father of the People, Johannan and his friends share some of their stories with the couple. Here we learn why the People love so much the memory of their lost planet Home, why they are so careful of exposure, yet all the things the People and earthmen of good will can do for each other.
   The People books are deserving classics for their deeply felt and beautifully written explorations of humanity.

Joy read: PILGRIMAGE by Zenna Henderson
Lea has no more wonder in her life, no hope. Until she is taken home by Karen of the People. Faith, hope and charity are hard to accept when you are afraid to believe. The People have kept all these alive and beauty too, in a world where they must hide their special abilities. Frightened people are dangerous, and earthmen have been terribly frightened by People who fly, heal, and share thought. Only in recent years have a few special Outsiders been given the opportunity to share the secret.

Joy read: HUNTER, COME HOME by Richard McKenna
The men of Mordin come of age if they survive a battle with the dinothere of their home planet. They have nearly run out of dinotheres on Mordin, and they are determined to clear this new planet and stock it with dinotheres so twenty-somethings like Roy Craig aren't permanently stranded in boyhood. The scientists of Belconti aren't completing the job fast enough for Mordin, so crews of Mordinmen are sent in to kill the beautiful local phytos no matter what the cost. And the cost is going to be very high indeed.
   This short story provides us with glimpses of an idyll that Mordinmen are incapable of seeing. A high school favorite,
Hunter, Come Home has been tapping at my mind lately until I succumbed.

Joy read: WOLF TO THE SLAUGHTER by Ruth Rendell
The sister of artist Rupert Margolis has disappeared, probably with some man or other, it is thought at first. Then a big, unexplained patch of blood is found in a hire-by-the-hour room, after an amorous pair was seen staggering out of the same house. Anita Margolis appears to have been murdered by a Geoff Smith. But the policeman on the case has fallen hard for a young girl near the police station, and his powers of observation have deserted him.
   The key to the mystery is identity -- who was doing what? It is not a simple puzzle, and again in this Rendell mystery, the climax is powerful. Rendell doesn't need gore to create a riveting mystery, her characters do it for her. I have read this book many times.

Joy read: SHAKE HANDS FOREVER by Ruth Rendell
Ruth Rendell was an autobuy in the 70's for me. This Inspector Wexford mystery, like many others, requires the unraveling of a relationship, and the key, revealed, is a powerful concept. So a husband brings his mother home to reconcile her with his wife and they find her dead. That's only the barest surface.

Joy read: A GRAVE DENIED by Dana Stabenow
I first read this less than a year ago -- see blog page 11. The beginning of this book seems to be a natural stopping place in the series for me, before I get past Johnny's journal and plunge back into Kate's life. I do so love Kate and her friends.

Joy read: THE CHOSEN by Chaim Potok
Two 15-year-old New York City Jewish boys meet as opponents in a baseball game, and become supportive friends through the trying times that bring them to maturity. World War II and the founding of Israel are the background for an exploration for the gulf between the conservatives and liberals of American Jewry, but never do we look at it from anything but the viewpoint of these young men and their friendship. Deeply, wonderfully human.
   To quote the Chicago Tribune: "It makes you want to buttonhole strangers in the street to be certain they know it's around... It revives my sometimes fading belief in humanity. Works of this caliber should be occasion for singing in the streets and shouting from the rooftops."

Joy read: THE MOVING FINGER by Agatha Christie
Someone in a small English town is spilling over hate into anonymous letters. There is sure to be trouble if one of the wild accusations hits home. Injured pilot Jerry Burton and his sister Joanna move into the neighborhood in time for the first of the deaths. Megan Symmington, closely struck by the ensuing tragedy, is a most appealing young woman. It is the main characters who make THE MOVING FINGER a never-failing comfort read.

Joy read: DUNE: HOUSE ATREIDES by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
Leto I in his teen years. He is sent to Ix for an education, sees his father slain before his eyes, meets heroic young Duncan from Geidi Prime, and proves his honor and stature to the Landsraad. Jessica is still an infant here; Leto's friends are the young heirs of Ix. Now that I have finished reading this book I'll go on to the sequel, but I didn't feel any momentum at all for the first two-thirds of the book. Choppy, with too little time spent with each character to feel an emotional connection with most of them -- Duncan is the exception.

Joy read: GAMES TO KEEP THE DARK AWAY by Marcia Muller
An in-vogue photographer has mislaid his roommate, and is urgent for Sharon to find her. The situation doesn't make sense, especially when Abe takes Sharon off the case as soon as Jane is discovered murdered. Sharon refuses to give up. Not only has she gotten her teeth into the case, she has also met Jane's charming ex-boyfriend. I made one connection sooner than Muller intends for us to, but was still completely surprised by the murderer.
   One of the things that make the Sharon McCone series so enjoyable is that she meets people she really likes, and makes us like them too. It's a warmhearted style.

Joy read: THE CHESHIRE CAT'S EYE by Marcia Muller
Sharon's friend Jake paints houses in psychedelic style. The way Muller tells it, his houses are beautiful but so unorthodox that they make enemies for him. When he is found murdered there is a surprisingly large cast of enemies. This book evokes more of the atmosphere of San Francisco than the previous ones, and includes some fascinating inanimate characters.

Joy read: ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE by Agatha Christie
Jacko died in prison before being exonerated by Dr. Calgary, the man who should have provided Jacko's alibi for the murder of his mother. To Dr. Calgary's surprise, Jacko's family is distressed not because he died when he shouldn't have, but because the case is now reopened. Almost everyone in the family had a motive to kill the dominating Rachel Argyle. Now no one knows who to be afraid of.
   One of Christie's best, ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE leans on character to provide a mystery that doesn't cheat, behave improbably, or hide the necessary clues.

Joy read: ASK THE CARDS A QUESTION by Marcia Muller
The dice have come up snake eyes for Sharon McCone's apartment building. Sharon has taken in a divorced friend, only to have her turn into a destructive drunk. The first of the murders points to that friend as Sharon's most obvious suspect. The victim's husband is connected to an institute for the blind, which houses several interesting characters. Those residents are all too clearly connected to the next victim, another murder in Sharon's building. The only way for Sharon to stay out of the clutches of an angry cop is to bring him the killer, dead or alive.
   The book's title comes from Madame Anya, hatchet-faced fortune-teller with a cache of bird charms and an all-too-alive crow.

Joy read: EDWIN OF THE IRON SHOES by Marcia Muller
I went back to the first Sharon McCone, EDWIN OF THE IRON SHOES. It's hard to believe it's the beginning, Marcia Muller's first novel according to her website, because the writing and Sharon are both maturely developed. Muller relies on her characters from the start, instead of on fear and fireworks. (Both exist, but as support for the plot, not as sensationalism.)
   Sharon McCone is dismayed when the loveable and whimsical antique dealer Joan Albritton is killed in her shop. That whole section of the neighborhood has just been condemned, conveniently for several groups who are competing for the land. It will become valuable once the existing buildings are razed. Did Joan die to advance the rebuilding project, or due to a crime ring which has been cleverly hidden in the area, or because she rejected the man who loved her? Muller steers us clear of a thriller plot while dodging explosions and a mean cop.

Joy read: LOCKED IN by Marcia Muller
I loved this book even more than I had expected to from a friend's comments. I took my pristine copy to bed with me to sample as I settled in; and ended up finishing it at about 1:30 AM, sore eyes notwithstanding. Moving and intelligent, at one spot it had me laughing and crying at the same time.
Sharon McCone, free spirited owner of a San Francisco detective agency, is shot in the head. A bullet at the base of her brain leaves her paralyzed but fully conscious. Her crew rallies around, forced to solve several murders to find Sharon's assailant, with Sharon still the center of their teamwork.
   More Sharon McCone coming up -- I'm not stopping reading about her now.

Lots of good pictures, but they can't compare with the living, breathing people I watched on screen yesterday. The movie gave tantalizing glimpses of the lively sense of family felt by both the Cullens and the werewolf pack. Pictures just don't recreate those heartwarming scenes.
   A detailed account of the filming would have been enjoyable, but Vaz and Summit Entertainment have withheld the most interesting stuff. No vignettes, mostly generalities. I gave it 3 stars because even the generalities are interesting to this Twilight fan.

Joy read: SANDWORMS OF DUNE by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
Most of this book is deus ex machina. Character development to support the ultimate quisatz haderach is entirely lacking. As in HUNTERS, the disconnection caused by the chapter-by-chapter switches in storylines results in a book that is as easy to put down as it is to pick up. Too bad, because those storylines could have had momentum if given the chance. One example of crying neglect is the development of Leto II. Several of the main characters from DUNE are regrown from ancient cell samples, and oh, so much more could have been done with them. One of the most powerful threads is the attempt of one of remaining Bene Tleilax to regrow his god.

Joy read: HUNTERS OF DUNE by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
Duncan and Sheeana make their escape in the no-ship with a collection of dissidents, and begin decades of wandering universes looking for a new home. Back at Chapterhouse, Mother Superior attempts to consolidate the Old Empire to face the Enemy when they arrive.

Joy read: CHAPTERHOUSE: DUNE by Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert's last Dune book. The Bene Gesserit Sisterhood are sacrificing their own refuge planet to create another Dune. Sheeana, the girl who can talk to worms, has succeeded farther than anyone else in transplanting the great worms of Dune. Duncan Idaho, doubly imprisoned, cannot leave the no-ship stolen from the Honored Matres, but participates in the intrigues as best he can. Mother Superior Odrade, one of the few people who remembers Dune from its last days, tried to guide together the opposing groups of the Old Empire to face the terrible Enemy, who originally set the wild Honored Matres to flight.
   This story was left incomplete at Herbert's death, but he left the plans where his son finally found them. Reading on to those...

Joy read: HERETICS OF DUNE by Frank Herbert
The Bene Gesserit sisterhood have waited for more than a millennium for a girl who could talk to the great god-worms of Dune. In the meantime, they keep trying to train a Duncan Idaho revenant for service on Dune, and each of their Idaho gholas is murdered. In HERETICS, they have finally found their worm communicator, and during that same time period they have managed to keep alive a Duncan Idaho. Then all hell breaks loose, propelled by the Honored Matres, wild women from the frontiers. The Honored Matres don't care who they have to go through to kill Duncan.
   Except for Duncan, this is a totally new cast of characters. Several are Atreides descendants, in fact the Bashar Teg is nearly the image of Leto I. Herbert uses their ancestries to tie us into his new era. The cliffhangers in HERETICS provide the impetus to move us immediately on to CHAPTERHOUSE: DUNE.

Joy read: CHILDREN OF DUNE by Frank Herbert
The twin children and heirs of Muad'Dib, Leto and his sister Ghanima have powers even stronger than their father's. Before they can grow up the plotters around them go into overdrive: Muad'Dib's sister, the Abomination Alia. His Bene Gesserit mother Jessica. Farad'n, the heir to the Padishah Emperor who was displaced by Muad'Dib. The Harkonnen family may yet have its revenge, too. The intricacies require and reward the reader's close attention.

Joy read: DUNE MESSIAH by Frank Herbert
I watched "Frank Herbert's Children of Dune," and just had to reread the two books it was based on. I'm drawn to compelling series right now.
   It took several readings over the years before I came to appreciate this one, but it was the stepping stone to the later books, so I had to keep reading it. I'm glad. I just needed to mature enough to understand it.

Carla read: THE CRIMSON PORTRAIT by Jody Shields
Billed as a literary thriller in the jacket copy, this may be literary but I did not find it thrilling. Disappointing narrative with no discernible plot, set in a military hospital in the First World War. Review.

Joy read: A FINE AND BITTER SNOW by Dana Stabenow
A fatal attack on a pair of aging conservationists, beloved in the Park, stirs up Kate's friends in Niniltna and creates new patterns for future books.

Joy read: THE SINGING OF THE DEAD by Dana Stabenow
Kate has a new mouth to feed, so she takes a high-paying job. Protecting a Native candidate for the Alaskan Congress turns out to have historical implications. Kate is as irresistible a character as ever.

Joy read: BREAKING DAWN by Stephenie Meyer
I especially like the section when Bella has found her place in life.

Joy read: ECLIPSE by Stephenie Meyer

Joy read: NEW MOON by Stephenie Meyer
The movie comes out in less than a month!

Joy read: TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer
This series is one of the best ways I know to forget my surroundings.

Joy read: CONFLICT OF INTEREST by Jayne Castle
Madam Vice President is pursuing an inventor in the robotics field. Her company wants to hire him for their research department and buy his patents. Icy, manipulative business woman versus primitive, undisciplined buccaneer. Considering the limitations of formula romance, this is actually quite good.

Joy read: MIDNIGHT JEWELS by Jayne Ann Krentz
A martial arts master and a hopeful bookseller combine to track down a master criminal, helped by the criminal's need for an old erotica book. Fun light romantic suspense.

Joy read: STROKES OF GENIUS by L. Jon Wertheim
While moving I am cut off from my Tennis Channel. It was just as satisfying to read this account of the 2008 Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, with all the background Wertheim provides. It wasn't just the supremacy over men's tennis that was at stake. Federer was battling his own vulnerabilities in his chase after a record number of Major titles, and Nadal's years of developing his explosive skills were about to bring him equal to Bjorn Borg's feat of winning the clay and grass surface finals one after the other. It was an extraordinary, stunning match to watch and rewarding to relive with Wertheim's insights. My complaint about the book is that it didn't last long enough.

Carla read: PENDRAGON'S BANNER by Helen Hollick
Second in a trilogy telling the King Arthur story without magical or supernatural elements. After the political and military struggles of The Kingmaking, Arthur is now Pendragon and High King of Britain, and married to his beloved wife, the feisty Gwenhwyfar. But his first wife Winifred wants her son Cerdic named heir, his uncle Ambrosius yearns for a return to the Roman Empire, numerous chieftains fancy themselves as High King, and far in the north the evil queen Morgause plots his downfall. Arthur and Gwenhwyfar face political storm and personal tragedy that threaten to destroy their marriage. Review.

Joy read: MY FRIENDS GEORGE AND TOM by Jane Duncan


Joy read: MY FRIEND SASHIE by Jane Duncan
Wonderful reread -- I go back to this Jane Duncan trio every few years.

Joy read: HIS KIND OF TROUBLE by Vivian Leiber
This romance was cool. High level intrigue complete with military coup. The pregnant heroine is engaged to Vladimir Romanov, heir to an eastern European country, but the father is Vladimir's best friend. I enjoyed the sense of culture and patriotism to this non-existent country. I was also irritated by the main couple's determination to force their misunderstandings on each other, but not enough to spoil the suspense and glamour.

Joy read pieces of: MIDNIGHT WISHES by Carla Cassidy
After reading the blurbs (heroine is accused of murder, she thinks she is going crazy, it looks like her family is going to lose the ranch) I decided not to put myself through it. Just read the last few chapters.

Joy read: DO WAH DIDDY ... DIE by Pauline Baird Jones
I discovered that I had to reread this before I discarded it.

Joy read: GRACIOUS LADY by Carole Mortimer
This is one of those romances I won't have to pack. What is Sophie, Jennie's paid companion, doing getting the hots for Jennie's harsh, neglectful dad? Nothing Sophie can say (scream at him) seems to make him listen to her good advice. The book's title turns out to be the name of a horse.

Joy read: DO WAH DIDDY ... DIE by Pauline Baird Jones
My idea was, the more romances I read the fewer I'll have to pack. Then I almost changed my mind and kept this funny romantic suspense.
   A mad caper centers around the Seymour women, who are happily out of touch with the real world. Mickey, long-suffering detective, is trying to protect Luci Seymour, who drives him out of his mind with fury and lust. Tickled, we follow the middle-aged hit couple who have contracted to kill Luci, Mickey and his partner Delaney who falls in love with a woman he can never have, at least two con men, and a trail of one dollar bills. Bodies keep surfacing around the Seymour property.
   Finally the whole house of cards comes tumbling down, without the old Seymour ladies particularly noticing. I went back to the beginning and started over, to straighten out in my memory some of the people who were introduced early, and enjoy some giggles again.

Joy read: MIDNIGHT COME AGAIN by Dana Stabenow
I meant, this month, to read books that won't distract me from work. Instead, I dropped everything to finish this reread. A splendid character study centering around Kate and Jim, but of course, their world is part of them.
   How long can Kate run from grief? As soon as she gathers her courage and turns to face it, she runs smack into the solution, a moving plot twist on the last page. Don't you dare look!

Carla read: THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS by Anita Amirrezvani
A young woman comes of age and learns to make an independent life for herself, set against the background of craftsman carpet making in 17th-century Iran. Review.

Joy read: WHAT THEN IS LOVE by Emilie Loring
Patricia comes home to support her father in his disgrace. Judge Langston was accused of taking a "huge" bribe -- ten thousand dollars, which dates the book. Pat is determined to clear his name, so she has to sort through the relationships among the people of her small New England town. She also has to choose who to marry, her childhood friend or the glamorous stranger. Written mostly in the 1950s, Loring's serial romances are notable for a sense of old-time honor, but their characterization isn't particularly smart.

A short story that left a twinkle in my eye. Set in Prohibition days on Key West, a professional gambler gets his come-upance.

Joy read: EVEN MONEY by Dick Francis & Felix Francis
Ned Talbot, small-time bookie, rediscovers his long-lost father, and as a result is pitted against a big betting chain and a ring of crooks switching horses. The honesty of his own assistant is iffy. Ned finds a clever solution to all his problems at once -- almost all. Review.

Joy read: SILKS by Dick Francis & Felix Francis
Mason, barrister, was more relieved than not that his client was declared guilty. Julian Trent, charming youngster from an ideal family, loves violence. Then Julian's conviction is overturned. Obviously the witnesses against him have been terrorized into reversing their testimony. Geoffrey becomes a target of the released Julian, who lost his case, but there seems to be more going on than revenge. Geoffrey finds himself landed with the nearly hopeless trial of a celebrity jockey.
   I delayed reading this because I didn't want to read the story of a hero who was as badly trapped as Geoffrey. Once I got going on it the momentum of the story kept me reading, even though SILKS doesn't have the heart of some of Francis's other books, for example BANKER.

Joy read: THE MIND-MURDERS by Janwillem van de Wetering
Beelema's cafe is the place to meet colorful characters in the old section of Amsterdam. Police Adjutant Grijpstra and his aide Sergeant de Gier are looking for something to do over the weekend when they are attracted by a semi-riot. A man in the river is trying to hit a constable over the head with his crutch. By the time de Gier pulls him out of the river Grijpstra has learned that the seeming culprit bears the ironic name of Fortune, and there is a missing wife in the case. A fat German grumbles into the picture, disliking everything, especially the fact that a Columbian has died in the trunk of his car. Beelema, known in the neighborhood as "the second son of God," would rather straighten out everything himself, without police interference.
   The staple characters of this series are captivating. Each has his own quirks and problems, which are presented with such humorous understatement that I would spend a lot of time chortling if I weren't so busy watching what was going on. If there is such a thing as spiritual existentialism, van de Wetering has found it. He uses it to bring his people to life.

Joy read: DEAD HEAT by Dick Francis & Felix Francis
A case of mass food poisoning threatens the restaurant of chef Max Moreton. With Max's guests barely recovered, he meets some of them again the next day when he caters for a high profile sponsor's group at the 2000 Guineas Stakes. This dinner ends in the death of 19 people. If only trouble only came in threes. On remarkably few clues, Max tracks down a crime lord while protecting his family and his new love.
   I picked this up at bedtime, just to get a taste of what it was going to be like. I ended up reading half the book before falling asleep. The pacing and the likeable Francis voice kept me going well into the small hours. For me the only wrong note was the occasional obtrusive recipe. That's because I'm not a cook. I picked these author' books again because I've been offered EVEN MONEY to review, and I want to be caught up for it.

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