A Circle of Wives

9780802122346_p0_v2_s260x420Who killed the plastic surgeon with three wives?  Alice La Plante’s latest who-dun-it expands the likely suspects beyond the obvious possibilities in A Circle of Wives to sustain the mystery until the end.

When Dr. John Taylor, the altruistic plastic surgeon who saves children’s lives, is found murdered in a hotel room, his reputation suffers some tarnishing when his three wives appear at the funeral.  La Plante alternates the action among the three: Deborah, the long-suffering and calculating first wife who holds the ten million dollar life insurance policy and orchestrated her husband’s life; MJ, the seedy accountant who loves to garden and has an abused brother who needs money; and Helen, the ambitious doctor who is pregnant with his child.  The fourth voice in the story belongs to the young detective, Samantha Adams, who pursues the murder, and has her own personal problems, not the least of which is her lack of self-confidence. As she interviews each wife, her own story weaves into the drama and nothing is as it seems.

With La Plante’s style of short sentences and steady dialogue, the story clicks along at a steady pace, and will hook you into solving the crime as you read.  As she slowly reveals the possible motivation that each wife has to kill, La Plante manages to distract and foil the reader through a series of viable possibilities.

Sam Adams solves the case and confronts the murderer, in a scene worthy of Agatha Christie – all questions are answered, all loose ends resolved – yet the story ends on ambivalent note – will the murderer be punished or held accountable?  Unlike Monk or Columbo, Sam Adams seems satisfied without the “admissible evidence to convict.”  You can decide if justice is served.

 

Posted in authors, book review, books, mysteries, reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

9780385753548In an afternoon, Karen Foxlee’s Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy carried me off to a magical world of good and evil, involved me in an adventure to save the world, made me laugh and cry, and restored my faith – in a way only a good children’s book can.  Coping with the recent death of her mother, Ophelia inadvertently becomes a major character in an updated version of the Snow Queen fairy tale three days before Christmas.

The story opens with a prelude describing the evil Queen who has captured and imprisoned the Marvelous Boy; centuries pass and Ophelia discovers the Boy locked in a room in the museum where her father, the world’s greatest expert on swords, is staging an exhibition that will open on Christmas Eve.  Through wonderful scenes of mannequins coming to life, giant birds eating sardines, and a wolf chase, Ophelia searches for the missing sword that will destroy the evil Queen who would plunge the world into misery and grief forever.  Of course, Ophelia is successful as she finally listens to her heart (and the advice of her mother’s memory) and finds the courage to help her father and sister begin their recovery from grief.

When reading this, although those analogies of inner demons freezing out hearts and the discovery of the heroine inside,  floated between the lines to my adult brain, I ignored them and thoroughly enjoyed the story as a real fairy tale.  Throughout the tale, Ophelia’s dead mother whispers advice, and I couldn’t help think how much my own dead mother’s advice is still very much there – she is still in my head too.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in authors, book review, books, children's books, children's literature, fantasy, reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making the List

k0091272Although I faithfully note new books I want to read,  I can never be number one on the library wait list.  It doesn’t help that the book is not yet listed when I log in, anxious to find it.  It doesn’t help that the library “wish list” can only include books in cataloguing.  Mostly, it doesn’t help that I forget about the book until I see another ad or review – usually weeks later.  By then, other more diligent readers have already ordered the book, and I am number 198 for the new Jeffrey Archer, or 20 for Donna Leon’s new mystery, and still holding at 14 for The Luminaries.   Is it any wonder that my electronic book bill has soared?  Sometimes, I just can’t wait.

A friend recently sent me an article from the Washington Post about the slow-reading movement and the effects of digital reading on the brain – Serious Reading Takes A Hit from Online Scanning and Skimming.  It struck me as I “skimmed” the article that library users may be promoters of this movement, sometimes forcing me to revert to digital text that may be eroding what is left of my brain.  Michael Rosenwald writes in the Post:

Before the Internet, the brain read mostly in linear ways — one page led to the next page, and so on… Reading in print even gave us a remarkable ability to remember where key information was in a book simply by the layout…We’d know a protagonist died on the page with the two long paragraphs after the page with all that dialogue.

The Internet is different. With so much information, hyperlinked text, videos alongside words and interactivity everywhere, our brains form shortcuts to deal with it all — scanning, searching for key words, scrolling up and down quickly. This is nonlinear reading…

Will we become Twitter brains?”

I worry that books will disappear – like bookstores.  I happily still prefer holding the pages and flipping back to remember who died – harder to do on an e-book, even with those red bookmarks.  But when the wait is long, and the price is right, those electronic books fill my need every time.   How about you?

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in books, classics, humor, news article, reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments