Saturday, August 29, 2015

Welcome back, Armand Gamache

The Nature of the Beast, Louise Penny's 11th book in the amazing Chief Inspector Gamache series, has just been released and I was first in line at my local library.

If you are already a fan of Penny's books, I need say no more (other than I have been up past midnight the last two nights devouring this latest installment!).

If you have not yet discovered the sublime pleasure of Ms. Penny's multi-layered tales, now is a good time to introduce yourself. While the books can be read out of sequence, it's much more satisfying to start at the beginning and watch the characters and relationships in the tiny Quebec village of Three Pines unfold.

From the cover of The Nature of the Beast:

Hardly a day goes by when nine year old Laurent Lepage doesn't cry wolf. From alien invasions, to walking trees, to winged beasts in the woods, to dinosaurs spotted in the village of Three Pines, his tales are so extraordinary no one can possibly believe him. Including Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache, who now live in the little Quebec village.

But when the boy disappears the villagers are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true.
And so begins a frantic search for the boy and the truth. What they uncover deep in the forest sets off a sequence of events that leads to murder, leads to an old crime, leads to an old betrayal. Leads right to the door of an old poet.

And now it is now, writes Ruth Zardo. And the dark thing is here.
A monster once visited Three Pines. And put down deep roots. And now, Ruth knows, it is back.

Armand Gamache, the former head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec, must face the possibility that, in not believing the boy, he himself played a terrible part in what happens next.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Assault and Pepper

The one great thing about cozies (as I'm sure I've said before!) is that no matter where your interests
lie, there's a cozy series to meet that interest. I seem to lean toward culinary cozies, not because I'm a big foodie, but more because I get a vicarious pleasure reading about amateur sleuths who also cook real food. I'm even inspired to experiment with new recipes.

Anyway, I just finished reading Assault and Pepper, the new Spice Shop series by Leslie Budewitz (author of the Food Lovers' Village series) and really enjoyed the experience.

Here's the lowdown:
After a recent divorce and sudden unemployment, Pepper Reece is  making a new life for herself as the owner of a busy spice and tea shop in Seattle's Pike Place Market. Life is good until one morning when one of the local street people, a man known as "Doc," is found dead on her doorstep and one of Pepper's employees is arrested for murder.

This well-plotted mystery is set against the fascinating backdrop of Seattle and blends together all the savory and sweet sensory flavors of the Pike Place Market (if you've ever visited there, you'll know what I mean!). In addition to the delicious recipes Ms. Budewitz includes in the book, each chapter starts out with interesting bit of spice trivia or quote.

Assault and Pepper satisfied my three main criteria for an enjoyable cozy: 1. a witty page-turner; 2. it made me want to go back to Seattle and the Pike Place Market; and 3. learn something new. So if you'd like to get out of your processed food rut and add some much needed spice to your life, give this mystery a whirl.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Thanks for the Book Suggestion

Nan from Torrance, CA offers this recommendation:

I'm reading Invisible Ellen by Shari Shattuck. I recommend it for three reasons: I can certainly relate to the characters-- they feel real. Also, it's unique and it's a page-turner. It is sort of -- not subtle enough-- to be wonderful. But it's fun. Maybe it's cozy?

Invisible Ellen:  Overweight, socially challenged, and bearing a facial scar, Ellen Homes is content to live under the radar, keeping herself to herself. A night custodian at the local Costco, she spends her days sleeping in her tiny apartment. A lonely existence, but she's content. When Ellen witnesses an attempted mugging, she taps into her well of resolve and chases away the bad guy. As a result she becomes friends with the victim, a young blind woman. After their brush with crime, the two are determined to help those in need. They become involved in a number of situations, including uncovering an international crime ring at Costco.

What have you read lately?