Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shadows on the River

by Linda Hall,
Steeple Hill, 2009

The third and final book in Hall's Shadows series tells the story of Ally Roarke, a single mom in her late 30s who carries a deep wound from her childhood. After witnessing the murder of her best friend at age 13, and identifying the attacker, the son of the town's richest family, Ally is victimized herself when the incident is swept under the carpet and her accusations are not believed. Forced out of the town a year later, Ally abandoned her faith in God, and sees her life as evidence that God is not there or He doesn't care.

Now living, working, and mothering in Halifax, Ally focuses her attention on work and her profoundly deaf daughter, Maddy. Larry Fremont, the murderer of her childhood friend, lives in the same city, but it's a big enough place that they haven't run into each other.

That changes the day Larry's colleague is found in a hotel room, dead of blunt force trauma. Ally is sure the disreputable businessman is responsible, and this time she's going to prove it and show everyone that she didn't make up her long ago story. This time, too, she'll have help. Mark Bishop, a new colleague, has just as much reason to hate Larry as she does.

But can Ally really trust Mark? Or is he just using her? And what, if anything, does the mysterious Zacchaeus Plan have to do with this latest death? Hopefully Ally will find out the answers before she becomes the killer's next victim.

A quick read, with characters you'll care about and enough twists and turns in the plot to keep you wondering how it'll all pan out.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


by Dr. Warren Wiersbe,
David C. Cook, (updated and revised) 2009

Dr. Warren Wiersbe, associated with the Back to the Bible radio broadcast for many years, and a former pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, has penned a series of 50 useful books starting with the word "Be". These include: Be Comforted, Be Daring, Be Determined, Be Dynamic, Be Free, Be Patient, Be Real, and (the one I have) Be Hopeful.

Easily accessible for both pastors and lay people, these study guides can be used in personal Bible study or with a group. Be Hopeful consists of twelve chapters, each of which concludes with questions for personal reflection or group discussion - a typical format for the guides.

In Be Hopeful, Wiersbe addresses, among other things, the fact that where there's Christ, there's hope; how it is possible to stay clean in a polluted world; what we can learn from Noah; and how each of us can be a good shepherd.

As I get deeper into my study of God's Word, I look forward to using other titles in the "Be" series to assist me along the way. I believe you will find them a blessing as well.

(Note: This book was provided for review by David C. Cook)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Too Many Crooks Spoil the Broth

by Tamar Myers,
Doubleday, 1994

A Pennsylvania Dutch mystery with recipes.

An avid mystery reader, I am always on the lookout for a new cozy series to enjoy. Especially while I wait for the next installments from M.C. Beaton (Agatha Raisin), Joanne Fluke (Hannah Swensen), Jill Churchill (Jane Jeffry - I think I've read the last one, actually), and Robin Hathaway (Dr. Fenimore and Dr. Jo Banks).

This is not a bad beginning for what I believe is Tamar Myers' first book. It's certainly first in this series. Her main characters, straight-laced, never-married, Amish woman Magdalena Yoder, and her flamboyant, divorced, free-spirited younger sister, Susannah Yoder Entwhistle, provide delightful counterpoints for each other. Magdalena, the primary heir of their parents' estate, has turned the family property into a Bed and Breakfast establishment, with temperamental Aunt Frini as its on-again off-again cook, and Uncle Mose as its steady behind-the-scenes jack-of-all-trades.

When Magdalena messes up the weekend's reservations by allowing a group of deer hunters and a group of animal rights protesters to share space at the inn, all hell breaks loose. It isn't long before one of the guests is found at the bottom of a steep staircase and Magdalena fears a possible lawsuit. After she is shot at in the woods, she fears more than that. It doesn't help when another guest is found dead, clutching Mama's best Dresden Plate quilt.

What are the real relationships between the guests? Does one of them have a motive for murder? Can Magdalena piece the story together before there are any more fatalities?

While I was a little disappointed in the ending (the who-dun-it), I found much to enjoy in this book. The interactions between the main characters are hilarious, and I was amused by the author's inclusion of her husband and herself in the story (as good-as-gold police chief, Jeff Myers, and his mule-mouthed wife, "Tammy"). There are also delicious Pennsylvania Dutch recipes to dry. I look forward to reading the next book in the series and expect the mysteries to get better as Myers' gets more experience in the genre.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vanishing Girl

by Shane Peacock (Canadian author)
Tundra Books, 2009

The boy Sherlock Holmes cracks his third case, following Eye of the Crow and Death in the Air.

Still smarting from the lack of recognition accorded to him after solving his first two cases, Sherlock is determined to outsmart Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard and get the attention and appreciation he is due. When wealthy Lord Rathbone's daughter is abducted in broad daylight, Sherlock is soon on the trail of her kidnappers. But his initial deductions appear to have been wrong when, four months after Victoria's apprehension, she is returned to her family. It isn't long, though, before Lord Rathbone's home is picked clean by thieves. Soon Victoria disappears again. Who is holding her, and why? Can Sherlock piece the clues together in time to save her life, and that of a little workhouse blind boy? Who can he trust, and will he get his just reward or be thwarted once again?

Peacock writes this series very much in the style of 19th century author and Sherlock Holmes creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He has obviously studied the character minutely, and has a sound grasp of 19th century England and the London of Holmes' youth. This is a riveting mystery that ends on a note that will surprise, but not likely disappoint fans of this intrepid detective.