“Northland” by Porter Fox

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A Maine native, who spent his childhood on the Norther US border from Maine to Washington State by road and waterways. His journey highlights the history of the porousness of the border, the many attempts to map it, the plight of those who were there before the explorers, its pristine beauty, the ugliness of the pollution and oil spills that mar the wilderness. A fascinating and thought-provoking read.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

“I See Life Through Rose-Colored Glasses” by Lisa Scottoline

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In a complicated, even distressing world, humor enables us to endure and relax a little. The authors follow in Erma Bombeck’s footsteps, sprinkling warm humor and observations about life, from a female point of view. Riffing about aging, dating, sagging, breaking up – we recognize our own life in their stories and laugh at our common foibles. I especially enjoyed the stories about Lisa’s dogs, Francesca’s dog Pip, as a dog-lover myself, and Lisa’s story about her garden as I have one like it.

Evaluation: 4 out of 5

“My Twenty-Five Years in Provence” by Peter Mayle

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It seems impossible that it’s been 25 years since Peter Mayle wrote “A Year in Provence,” a delightful look at his move from England to Provence and the culture shock that accompanied it. This book is a fond overview of his years and experiences since, and attests to his love of the land, the people, and the culture. It mirrors my own feelings as I have explored the area myself, and highlights the reasons that La France Profonde, as natives call it, is such a magical and beautiful place. All Francophiles will appreciate the author’s perspicacity and wit.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

“A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder” by Diane Freeman

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Fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy this mystery involving American-born Lady Harleigh, who may have murdered her husband, the Count, found dead in their home in his lover’s bed. Or did she steal a bracelet from his former lover? When her sister arrives in London for the “Season”, is one of her suitors the thief or a murderer? Reading this book is very much like a new episode of the dearly missed Downton Abbey.

Evaluation: 4 out of 5

“The Word is Murder” by Anthony Horowitz

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What a strange coincidence – a few hours after a woman preplans her funeral, she is viciously murdered. Was the reason revenge for an accident she caused which killed a young child? The book is a novel within a novel, ingeniously plotted and intriguing from start to finish. The author writes a supposed crime procedural as well as a murder mystery. The book was riveting from the first word to the last.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

“The Shadow Killer” by Arnaldur Indriðason

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Set in Iceland during World War II while the native population is coping with the massive influx of the British and American soldiers and sailors, a brutal murder takes place. The Reykjavik detective is paired with a military policeman who speaks fluent Icelandic, though born in Canada. Was the killer military, since the bullet came from a GI gun, was he/she an undercover German spy, or was it a victim of a Nazi-inspired experiment on children which went terribly wrong?

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

 

“Murder at the Grand Raj Palace” by Vaseem Khan

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One learns a lot about India and its history while enjoying this unusual and enjoyable mystery pursued by retired police detective Chopra and an engaging and quirky cast of characters, including a sensitive baby elephant. Enjoyable as well as thought provoking!

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

“The Killing Habit” by Mark Billingham

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Thorne and Tanner are forced to work together again on two difficult cases, one of which leads to their almost deadly confrontation with the criminal. In one case, an unknown cat-killer escalates his crimes to killing women who sign up on a dating website. In the other, drugs are smuggled into prisons by an elderly lady visiting prisoners.

Evaluation: 4 out of 5

“After Anna” by Lisa Scottoline

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When her estranged daughter reappears in her life, Maggie feels that her life is now complete. Soon her daughter has been murdered, her husband is the accused and her stepson is fatherless. How did her perfect life fall apart so quickly? As her story unfolds, the reasons for her daughter’s estrangement and the breakup of her first marriage cast her perfect life in a new light.

Evaluation: 4 out of 5

”The Other Woman” by Daniel Silva

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This is the latest book in the Israeli super spy Gabriel Allon series, and I’ve loved every one of them. Allon is now chief of the Israeli intelligence agency known as the Office. In this novel, he searches for a mole in the British intelligence agency MI6. As always, Silva’s plots are full of action and interesting twists.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5