Sunday, February 16, 2014

Blue Damask by Annmarie Banks

     WWI has ended. Elsa Schluss, who served at the front as a trained nurse, is working on her desertation. She intends to get her Phd in psychology and is employed under a noted Austrian Psychologist. Elsa reluctantly agrees to treat a traumatized war veteran as they travel toward Damascus where he is to perform one last service for his country. She plans to use him as a case study. This patient turns out to be the son of an English Lord, whose real father is an Arab Chieftain.  The government needs Lord Sonnenby - Henry - to influence his desert family, guaranteeing British oil interest in the area.

     This one week case study for her dissertation and treatment of Henry turns into attempted murder on the Orient Express. The entire trip becomes deadly and Elsa, Henry and assorted diplomatic men and displaced characters fight to stay alive and make sense of a world populated by persons who all seem to have ulterior motives and something to hide.

     Annmarie Banks succeeded in creating characters that I became truly fond of, afraid of or hated. Strong emotions. She also made me laugh out loud and sit on the edge of my seat as I shared, what turned out to be, a great adventure through the Arabian desert with a beautiful, smart, strong Elsa Schluss.

     I had so much fun reading this book. Escapism at its best!

     And I think I am a little in love with Henry . . .

Friday, January 17, 2014

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

    "People disappear all the time. Ask any policeman. Better yet, ask a journalist. Disappearances are bread-and-butter to journalists. 
     Young girls run away from home. Young children stray from their parents and are never seen again. Housewives reach the end of their tether and take the grocery money and a taxi to the station. International financiers change their names and vanish into the smoke of imported cigars. 
     Many of the lost will be found, eventually, dead or alive. Disappearances, after all, have explanations. 

     If by some extreme fluke you are a historical romance reader and have not read this book, do so now. This was how Diana Gabaldon began the book 'Outlander'. That easily, I (and millions of others) was hooked. Of course, there was Jamie . . . I read the entire series and cursed the author for making me wait for the next book.

   We begin with former WWII army nurse Claire Randall finding herself moved back in time to 1700's Scotland which is in the middle of border wars with the English. This book has always been more historical than romance to me, but the romance is there. Boy, is it . . . Poor Claire loves her 1945 husband, but it is hard to resist a man like Jamie. Gabaldon offers us adventure, intrigue, history and romance. What more could we ask for?

     In my youth, LONG ago in the 1960's, I was a Gothic Romance fan.  I loved all of the slightly edgy men. My first favorite was Ross from Jane Aiken Hodge's 'Watch the Wall My Darling.' I loved the mysterious 'Master of Back Tower' given to me by Barbara Michaels.  I was a little older when the Historical Romance appeared - with REAL sex. My favorite slightly 'bad' men from these books were Nicholes in Lindsey's 'Love only once' and Ian of McNaught's 'Almost Heaven.' 

     But Gabaldon's Jamie Fraser . . .  Jamie rivaled Mr. Darcy. And Claire Randall was a woman worthy of him.

     I am about to reread 'Outlander.' I want to do it before STARZ debuts their 'Outlander' TV series this summer. They claim the show will stay loyal to the books and if this is true, it MUST be good.

     I have my fingers crossed.






Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cold Killing by Luke Delaney

     British noir. Love the stuff. It was at its best in this book by Luke Delaney.

     Detective Inspector Sean Corrigan and his murder crime unit are assigned to the case of a young man found brutally murdered in his London flat.  The scene is completely clean. Not a clue, hair or even DNA is found. Cause of death is a blow to the head, but the victim was carefully stabbed with an ice pick mutable times all over his body. Then another murder, and another, but the killer changes his MO at each crime scene.

     DI Corrigan has a past that makes him strangely able to sense things about the killer and the crime scene.  This ability is respected by his fellow investigators. This ability, and his past, haunt Corrigan. He desperately tries to keep his home life separate from both.

     The killer narrates from his point of view, giving few clues and this keeps you guessing as to who the real killer is, despite a suspect. Very tense. Chilling at times. Extremely hard to put down. 

     I thought I had figured this one out - but then I wasn't so sure.

     This is Delaney's first book. Excellent crime fiction. I can not wait for the second to be available for Kindle! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

Laura Petrosian's Armenian heritage has not been of much interest to her until a friend tells her of an old picture she believes is Laura's grandmother. This takes her to a museum exhibit the picture was used to advertise, and then to a diary and collection of letters written in 1915. 

Elizabeth Endicott is a young graduate of Mount Holyoke College, living in 1915.  She has journeyed to Aleppo, Syria with her father on behalf of the Friends of Armenia to deliver food and medicine to the Armenian refugees fleeing a genocide by the Turks. Things are much worse in Aleppo than she ever imagined.

Laura tells the story of her Grandmother Elizabeth, the Armenian engineer Armen, who has lost his wife and daughter, and others who have come to help, or for other reasons, find themselves in the middle of this dark moment in history.

This is historical fiction, family history and a love story. It is a story of hopelessness, bravery and survival. Mostly it is the tale of Elizabeth Endicott becoming a woman, strong, beautiful and brave.

I enjoyed this book very much. I learned a lot. I appreciated the writer's slightly different style. Chris Bohjalian has written several best sellers and I will definitely be reading more from him.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

     Reading this  book was like watching a Hitchcock movie. There is a slow buildup, all the time you are feeling something is not right, the fear grows and then the horror hits you.  But wait! Another slow build up and the terror returns.

     Catherine has a fun life.  She is kind of a 'party girl' and sometimes presses her luck as she bar hops and parties with her friends. But it is all in fun and she doesn't expect to meet the man of her dreams one night. He is handsome, attentive, and the envy of her friends. Lee soon has all of them under his spell. Until Catherine begins to notice a change. He has become jealous, possessive, controlling. He keeps her more and more alone and isolated - and afraid. Finally, she escapes.

     But life with Lee has taken its toll.  Four years later, even though he is behind bars, Cathy compulsively checks her door and window locks - over and over again.She trusts no one and believes she will never be happy or normal again. Just when she begins a friendship with the new neighbor upstairs, she receives a phone call warning her that Lee is about to be released. She begins to see people from the past, objects moved in her apartment . . . Can she trust anyone? Is she finely going totally crazy? Or has Lee come for her?

     I had to put this book down and do something else for a few minutes a couple of times, just to relieve the tension! I'm sure the hands clutching my kindle had white knuckles. This book was everything a suspense novel should be.

    A few days ago I downloaded another book by Elizabeth Haynes. I'm hoping for the more of the same.