Review: The Lure

The LureThe Lure by Felice Picano

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A really good mystery from the oh so ancient 1970's. The immersion factor is high in this one, both for the protagonist and the reader. I thought it was littered with a few too many characters who were perhaps supposed to be red herrings but read more like ambience. Enough time has passed since this was published that it no longer reads as dated but more like historical fiction.

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Review: The Last Nightingale: A Novel of Suspense

The Last Nightingale: A Novel of Suspense The Last Nightingale: A Novel of Suspense by Anthony Flacco

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

What a sad waste of a great setting. Truly a waste, because post earthquake San Francisco all but disappears from the last third of the story when a new disaster is introduced - Black Plague. The book did make me curious enough to want to read more about the 1906 earthquake, maybe in a book that wasn't populated with comic book villains and Keystone style cops.

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Review: Wildthorn

WildthornWildthorn by Jane Eagland

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Interesting look at a Victorian asylum, but beyond that it's a paint by the numbers coming of age/strong girls save themselves plot.

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Review: The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber TreeThe Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree by Susan Wittig Albert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Once upon a time, I began working my way through Albert's China Bayle's series. I have an interest in herb gardening and I like a good mystery, so it seemed a good match. I made it through #6 and then tossed in the towel. In my opinion, she's exhausted her setting and her ability to create a good mystery in that setting. When I saw this was a new series, set in 1930s Alabama, I suspected it would be a good, quick read, junk food for my reading mind. I was right. Albert digs out loads of historical information for an era that I think is under-represented in American Historical Fiction. But it's more than just fun facts, she writes interesting characters that are real enough within the confines of a cozy mystery. This book actually has three mysteries and a small ghost story going, and I had only one of them solved long before the book ended. That's a strong enough pulll that I'll give the next book in this series a try, once it's published and I'm looking for a reading snack.

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Review: A Red Herring Without Mustard

A Red Herring Without Mustard (Flavia de Luce, #3)A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The third book in this cute little series, and I think it's starting to show some wear and tear. There's still plenty to enjoy here: Flavia is still clever but not supernaturally so, she hasn't turned into an adult in a kid's body and Bishop's Lacey continues to be quirky without being farcical. Flavia's family faces a real world problem that Flavia hasn't taken on as her own, and new characters come into the story in a sensible way, or at least in a sensible pattern. It's the mysteries that are becoming a bit of a stretch, with murders building on top of each other because if any of them stood on their own they'd have been solved in one chapter. This book took more suspension of disbelief than the previous two, and I hope that's not a new pattern that Bradley is incorporating into this series.

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Review: Rodin's Debutante

Rodin's DebutanteRodin's Debutante by Ward S. Just

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Four and a half stars for the setting - North Shore, South Side, Gold Coast, Hyde Park, even a name drop for Gary, all so alive that they are the characters that kept me reading this book. Two stars for the real characters, the main ones so flat and bloodless that they can move in and out of the story arc without being noticed. There's some beautiful writing in this book, but honestly, there's not a lot of story. Several small stories that would have made a great short story collection, but as literary fiction, it's only so-so.

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