Monday, March 20, 2017

Coffin Road

I had already read Peter May's Enzo Files series when I saw this book at the library. I was hoping it would be another Enzo File novel but it was not.  It is better. Coffin Road is the best novel that I have read in a long time.  It had me spell bound and I could not put it down.

The story takes place on the Isle of Harris in Scotland's Outer Hebrides. The setting is central to the story.  The characters react to the flora and fauna of the scenery and the stormy weather patterns are part of the plot.  Since the author is a Scotsman he is an expert on the geography of this location.

The main character washes ashore on a beach on the Isle of Harris with amnesia. He has no idea who he is or why he is on the island.  He learns a few things about himself from other characters, including where he is living and eventually his name, but begins a search into his identity after finding a map of the island that leads to a path called Coffin Road. He feels led to this part of the island and begins his search there.

A rebellious teenager Karen Fleming stops attending school after her mother decides to let her boyfriend move in.  She feels her mother is betraying her father who has been dead for 2 years and determines to find out more about him.

Homicide detective George Gunn travels to a remote island to investigate the death of a man in an abandoned lighthouse where a century earlier 3 lighthouse keepers disappeared.

The stories of these 3 characters merge together in a tightly woven plot.  There is a lot of suspense in this book which turned out to be an eco-thriller.  I was not expecting the story to go there but it added an interesting aspect to the plot. An amazing read.  Highly recommended!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Shogun's Daughter

I read The Shogun's Daughter for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.  It is the 17th installment of a series with samurai Sano Ichiro as sleuth.  This is the first book of the series that I have read and it works great as a stand alone novel.

Tsuruhime is the shogun's daughter and she has succumbed to smallpox.  The mystery is whether she died of natural causes or was murdered.  She was the only person who could have produced an heir for the shogun.  After her death the shogun is told that he has a son named Yoshisato that he never knew about from one of his concubines.  Sano is tasked with finding out who killed Tsuruhime and gets caught up in the politics of feudal Japan in the 1700s.  

I enjoyed this novel immensely.  I have never read any historical mysteries set in Japan and learned a lot about life in this place and era.  In the beginning I had some trouble getting used to the Japanese names and expected it to be a long read.  Since the dialogue was modern the read went pretty fast.  It seemed , however, that most of the plot was about political intrigue instead of being about the solving of a crime.   The political intrigue, while fascinating, made the book seem longer than it needed to be.  

All in all this was a great book and I look forward to reading the entire series.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

My Kind of Mystery 2017 Reading Challenge

I am joining this challenge which runs from February 1, 2017 through January 31, 2018.  There does not appear to be any rules for the challenge so I assume you can read any number of books in any sub-genre of the mystery genre.  I sort of like a challenge with no required number of books.  It makes me feel more relaxed knowing I don't have to push myself to read x number of books per month.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Champagne Conspiracy

I read Ellen Crosby's The Champagne Conspiracy for the Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge.  This book is the 7th installment of the wine country mystery series. The author took a break from the series a few years ago so I was pleased to find this book in the library last week.

The main character is Lucie Montgomery, a disabled vineyard owner in Virginia. Her winemaker/boyfriend is Quinn Santorini and together they have decided to create a sparkling wine.  This aspect of the book takes a second seat to the family history of Quinn.  Quinn's California cousin Gino Tomassi arrives at the vineyard to find out who is blackmailing him over what happened to his grandfather's first wife Zara Tomassi. Zara died in 1923, the day after President Warren Harding died in California while on his way back home from a trip to Alaska.  Amateur sleuth Lucie delves into the Tomassi family history to help Gino get answers.  She finds the story begins in Prohibition era Washington, DC, travels across the pond to England and ends in California.

There were several subplots that made the plot a little confusing.  However, I loved getting to know the characters again and the subplots did all come together at the end.  The pace was fast and there were some interesting historical facts blended into the story which made it a fun read.  Of course, there was alot of information on the wine making process which I loved reading about.

Highly recommended!

Silk Tether Book Review

I read Minal Khan's Silk Tether for the 2017 New Authors Reading Challenge.  I had to read a few reviews to understand the title.  As one Goodreads reviewer bamed Beth stated "a tether is a rope or chain tied around an animal to restrict movement.  A silk tether can be slightly stretched..."  This makes sense in a novel about the bonds of family and society for 2 young girls who live in wealthy families in Karachi, Pakistan and who have been friends since the 3rd grade.

The story begins with a Prologue taking place in 2008 with a woman being questioned by TSA officials as she tries to enter the United States.  The story then moves to Karachi, Pakistan with a teenaged Ayla trying on clothes for an upcoming wedding and later at the wedding where Ayla becomes fascinated with the bride who does not seem happy. Next Ayla is off to school where a new student is introduced, Alia.  At first they do not like each other but soon become best friends.  When Ayla's mother invites some friends over to their house Ayla meets that bride, Tanzeena.  They soon become friends after an awkward start. As they grow both Ayla and Alia are pressured by their families to be traditional women and marry young. Both want to go to college, however.

I loved this novel.   The friendships among the women and their thoughts about the changing society that they lived in was eye opening for me.  The culture of a traditional Islamic country was on display here as well and was educational for me as well.  I highly recommend this novel to all who want to understand the world of Islamic countries.