Wednesday, October 29, 2014

GRAY MOUNTAIN by John Grisham

GRAY MOUNTAIN  by John Grisham
This book has something for, and about, everyone – rich people and poor people, innocents and the guilty, environmentalists and clear cutters, big law and legal aid, murderers and the murdered, the cheats and the honest, those who love and those they love. Because Grisham is a good writer he can take all these disparate ideas and combine them into a cogent and quick moving novel. 
Gray Mountain used to be a primeval wonderland of pristine acreage in the Appalachian Range, but now, after the land has been taken over by big coal, it is a wasteland of detritus and denuded mud leveled into a “stump” of a mountain. Additionally, big coal is the bad guy in an ongoing dispute over black lung and the minors who suffer loss of health and loss of jobs.  The downturn of the recent recession makes its appearance and enables suddenly unemployed, but talented, big city lawyers to become  legal aid interns in backwater hamlets.
The characters are human and well developed. The conversations and situations are believable and convincing.  The good guys and the bad guys are obvious, so if you are a proponent of big coal or cutthroat lawyers you might find yourself cringing a bit.
Altogether a well written, fast paced mystery with a bit of romance and a lot of environmentalism.
5 of 5 stars

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

THIEF OF GLORY by Sigmund Brouwer

THIEF OF GLORY   by Sigmund Brouwer
Jeremiah tells his story as an old man remembering the years of World War II when his family was interned by the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies.  This is a little known part of the Japanese invasion that is overshadowed by the Burma Death March and the bridge over the River Kwai.
Jeremiah’s family is quickly separated. His father and three older brothers are sent to work as slaves for the invaders. Jeremiah, his two younger sisters and younger brother are left with their mother who suffers from an unnamed mental illness.  Laura Jansen and her grandmother and Georgie, a boy about Jeremiah’s age, also figure in the camp years as internees.
The horror of the camp and the privations are clearly shown. Camp life makes up the majority of the book with several incidents proving to affect the lives of the main characters long after the war is over.
The writing engages the reader immediately and doesn’t let go until the end.  The characters are fullu fleshed, the incidents believable, the plot and conflict are layered. 
5 of 5 stars

THE ART RESTORER by Jullian Sanchez

THE ART RESTORER  by Julian Sanchez
A mystery unfolds within this tale of art, artists, writers, secrets and beautiful scenery. The locations range around the world and are delightfully rendered.  The characters are well developed and engaging. The mystery is interesting and will keep you guessing until the end.
Because this is a translation, you will find a few awkward constructions, but persevere; this tale is well worth it.  The main characters, Enrique and his former wife, Bety, find themselves embroiled in controversy when the art restorer and writer researching  Sert  paintings disappears.  Bety and Craig, the restorer, had become friends while he studied the paintings in the museum/church where Bety worked.  Enrique, a renowned writer, is enticed to delve into his disappearance and the secret contained in the paintings.
You will learn a bit of history, a bit of art construction, and a bit of the craft of writing, all the while enjoying the intrigue of mystery.
4 of 5 stars

Saturday, October 18, 2014


A QUILT FOR CHRISTMAS   by Sandra Dallas
This is a lovely story by a favorite author.  Placed in Civil War Kansas the story follows a young wife is left behind as her husband goes off to fight for the Union. Eliza carefully makes a quilt to ease his bones and keep him warm and sends it off to him with another soldier as a Christmas gift. 
Eliza and her two children soon find themselves challenged, first by a Confederate widow and child and then by an escaped slave.  Keeping the farm producing is another challenge.  Discovering what has happened to the lovingly made quilt is a prime element of a story that contains heartbreak, danger, suspicion, wickedness, love, cooperation and redemption.
The characters are true to life, the situations and conversations realistic.  Dallas fans will discover that some of the characters are the grand parents of the characters in THE PERSIAN PICKLE CLUB.
5 of 5 stars

LADIES NIGHT by Mary Kay Andrews

LADIES NIGHT   by Mary Kay Andrews
One of my favorite “light read” authors has written a fun take on divorce and retribution with a smattering of romance.  You will laugh at the antics of wronged women compelled by a sadistic judge to attend “divorce recovery” sessions with a well meaning but slightly loopy therapist.  When one of the attendees turns out to a “wronged man” instead of woman you know you have a few laughs at his expense. 
The characters are clearly drawn if perhaps overdone, the “mystery” is solved with the perpetrators brought to justice.  The situations are believable and hilarious.  Altogether this is a pleasant way to spend a few hours.
4 of 5 stars