Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Carnegie's Maid

This story takes place in the years 1863 through 1900. Clara Kelley is sent across the Atlantic from Ireland to America by her parents. She is to go to Pennsylvania to live with a cousin and find work, so that she can send money back home. Upon landing in New York, no one is waiting for her as she sees other passengers fall into the arms of waiting relatives. She walks on. She hears her name being called out. She follows the voice. IT belongs to a tall man wearing a bowler hat and topcoat finer than she has ever seen. "Clara Kelley, are you?" he asks. "Yes, sir," she replies. He informs her that he is to take her to Mrs. Seeley, who trains young girls to be hired out as maids.

The "Clara Kelley" for whom the man was looking never made it off the ship. Clara knew she had a choice to make in that moment. She could tell the man the truth, or she could become that other "Clara Kelley," get a ride to Pennsylvania, and have a job waiting for her. As you might guess, she chooses the latter. Once in Pennsylvania, she meets the mistress, Mrs. Carnegie, to whom she will be a lady's maid.

After several months she becomes very good friends with Carnegie's oldest son, Andrew, who is a very successful businessman. As their friendship grows, they also become silent business partners.  Clara becomes very wealthy from her understanding of the business.

I really enjoyed reading this book for its history of immigrants and the establishment of the first Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh. Andrew Carnegie went on to fund more than 2,500 libraries in America, one of which is the Delphi Public Library!


Monday, January 15, 2018

Sunday Silence

Nicci French is the pseudonym of Nicci Gerard and Sean French, a husband and wife writing team from Suffolk England.  This  is their seventh Frieda Klein novel and follows Dark Saturday.  Frieda is a psychologist and resides in London where she has a strong group of friends whom she considers her family and she often gets involved in helping the police with murder cases.  Since the beginning she has been literally haunted by a murderer named Dean Reeve.  Dean is supposedly dead, but Frieda believes he is still alive and is aware of her every move.  He has committed arson and murder against her enemies and to stop her from searching for him.
This novel begins with the murder of a private detective she had hired to find Dean Reeve.  He must have gotten close, because Dean killed him and buried the body under her floorboards in her home.  Shortly thereafter, her niece is kidnapped, drugged and held for a weekend in an unknown place, and then her friend, Ruben is beaten almost to death.  She blames Dean Reeve for these incidents.  When her friend Josef's son is briefly kidnapped and then returned unharmed, he repeats several times to Frieda "This is me look somewhere else".  She finally realizes, this is a message from Dean and he is saying he is not responsible for the the kidnapping of her niece or the beating of Ruben.  This can only mean that a copycat is involved.
A new detective is assigned to the case but fails to find the perpetrator.  Frieda must do what she can to protect her friends and family.  This was supposed to be the end of the series, where she deals with Dean Reeve.  Cleverly the writers instead send her on a quest to find a copycat who is as ruthless and murderous as the murderer he is enthralled with.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Changeling by Victor Lavalle

When he was four years old, Apollo West’s father vanished without a trace. Shortly after, Apollo began having a terrifying and recurrent nightmare. The dream never varied until, on an evening in his junior year of high school, a cardboard box labeled Improbabilia turned up on his doorstep. Inside were keepsakes, obviously collected by his father, Brian. Among these treasures was Maurice Sendak’s children’s book, Outside Over There, a tenuous link to a father he barely remembers. From that moment onward, Apollo devours every word he can lay hands on; magazines, books, the backs of cereal boxes, etc.   Starting in high school, reselling the waiting room cast-offs brought home from his mom’s office, he is able to parlay his new passion into a career as a “book man.” Nearly a decade later, on the heels of a fortuitous find, he meets Emma, an adventurous librarian.  The two marry and are soon happily expecting their first child.  Despite a headline-making delivery, the little family seems to be settling in well. Apollo, determined to be the father he always wished for, is over the moon with little infant Brian. However, things may not be as they appear.  Emma seems to change shortly after returning to work. Drawn and haggard she begins acting strangely.  She never seems to call Brian by name, incensing Apollo by referring to baby Brian as “it.” Over the next few months she enlists the help of an online community of “wise ones,” whose advice will dramatically alter their family’s life forever. What follows is an Odyssean journey that spans centuries and oceans without ever leaving New York.  

Jennifer Wilson

Monday, December 25, 2017

I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott

  I, Eliza Hamilton is a spell binding historical read.  Nia Vardaloss famous quote: The man may be the head of the household. But the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head whichever way she pleases, describes the theme of this book very well. 
 Elizabeth Schuyler is the daughter of a well-known and respected general.  She is full of grace, devotion, and intelligence.  She was twenty when she first met Alexander during a party at her familys home, and knew then that Alexander had the ambition of a thousand men, and to top it off, he is fiercely handsome.
                Alexander and Eliza Betsy fall in love and marry.  She becomes his loyal supporter and soul mate, but  heart-breaks, scandal, and tragedy follow poor Eliza.  With her head held high she continues to move forward, and always, even in the darkest moments, stands by her husband.  If you are obsessed with American History, pick up this book and step into the time of the Hamiltons who had a hand in helping to shape our country.  

Love is not easy with a man chosen by Fate for greatness.
-Daniela Green

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Insidious Intent by Val Mc Dermid

This is a new Tony Hill/Carol Jordan mystery following Splinter the Silence.  Carol has been appointed the head of ReMIT (Regional Murder Investigation Team), a new division dedicated to cracking the toughest cases.  Carol has handpicked her team, which leaves detectives from other squads angry as it insinuates they are not worthy and hinders their advancement.  They engage in mudslinging and the team is again being hounded by the press, who are interested in finding out the details behind Carol's release from her DUI charge.
They are handed a case of a woman found fatally burned in a car parked in a lay-by.  At first thought to be an accident, the forensics team finds the cause of death is strangulation. The efforts of the fire department to put out the flames, removes any fingerprints or other forensics.  It isn't until the second murder that they begin to piece together the movements of both victims and realize that the single unescorted women are being picked up at weddings by a man who has crashed it.
The team finds themselves pushed to find this monster before he strikes again.  Tony Hill is busy with trying to piece together the motive behind the crime, as neither victim knew her assailant before being "dated" after the pickup.  Paula and her partner are dealing with internet blackmail involving their foster son.  Carol is dealing with enormous guilt over the dropped DUI charge, and feels responsible for the deaths of her brother and his wife. Tony has convinced her to completely abstain from alcohol, which she uses to deal with stress, which this case provides a lot of.  The tension ramps up as they race to uncover the perpetrator before he kills again.  Carol has a complete breakdown and Tony tries to save her, which leads to an unexpected and surprising ending.