Monday, April 18, 2011

The troubled man

This is Henning Mankell's last Kurt Wallender book. I won't give away the ending but Kurt does acquire one of his greatest yearnings. Suffering from memory problems that lead to his suspension from the Ystad police, he takes on a case that is part mystery and part spy novel. His daughter's future father-in-law unexpectedly disappears and she asks him to look into the case. Hakan von Enke was a former naval commander who is obsessed with an incident which involved a Russian submarine in Swedish waters during the Cold War. Kurt pursues the idea that this led to his disappearance, but after Hakan's wife also disappears, he has to rethink his strategy. As this is the last book, Mankell brings the reader up to date on many of Kurt's colleagues and friends. His daughter Linda is very prominent in the story and Kurt has a grandaughter named Klara. This is a bittersweet and emotional story. Kurt wrestles with his old demons and a new monstrous one. The last 2 paragraphs of the book will break your heart.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark

What Secrets Lurk Deep Inside Harmony Grove?

Philadelphia advertising executive Sienna Collins learns she is under investigation by the federal government for crimes she knows nothing about. Suspecting the matter has something to do with one of her investments, the Harmony Grove Bed & Breakfast in Lancaster County, she heads there, only to find her ex-boyfriend dead and the manager of the B & B unconscious. As Sienna's life spins wildly out of control, she begins to doubt everyone around her, even the handsome detective assigned to the case.

As Sienna searches for the truth and tries to clear her name, she is forced to depend on the faith of her childhood, the wisdom of the Amish, and the insight of the man she has recently begun dating. She'll need all the help she can get, because the secrets she uncovers in Harmony Grove threaten not just her Bed and Breakfast, but also her credibility, her beliefs, and ultimately her life.

Overall, this book was a really good mystery and suspense novel. It has great build up and lots of suspense about what was really going on at the bed and breakfast. Well written and enjoyable to read. If you are in the mood for a good mystery, with a touch of history, this is the perfect read for a Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Mothers and Daughters...and Fathers, Too

Joyce Maynard has written another winner. Her novel The Good Daughters features two families whose lives interact in surprising ways. The Planks are farmers, living and working the land on a New Hampshire farm that has been in their family for generations. The Dickersons are more of a fly-by-night family, who drift from place to place depending on their moods, dreams, and the next big idea. We learn at the beginning of the novel that Ruth Plank and Dana Dickerson were born on the same day in the same hospital, so Ruth Plank's mother Connie calls them "birthday sisters." She makes sure that the families stay in touch after the Dickersons move away, and at least once a year drags her family to visit the Dickersons wherever they currently have taken up lodging. This is a strange thing for Ruth and Dana, who don't have much in common and don't care much about each other at all. In alternating chapters, we hear from Ruth and Dana as they live their separate and different lives, and see how the strands that weave their families together are tangled and significant. Maynard is a sensitive, smart writer, and provides multidimensional characters and beautiful descriptions of the landscape in which all of the characters live. The result is a wonderful book. Read it.