Normally on Fridays I tell you about books that I've just added to my wish list. This Friday I'm doing something a bit different. The books I'll be telling you about have all been on my wish list for a long time, and I recently bought them. Since they didn't appear in my mailbox, I can't include them in my weekly Mailbox Monday post.
My friend from the Seattle area was here last week soaking up as much sun and warmth as he possibly could, and whenever he's down here, we usually find ourselves at my favorite bookstore, the Poisoned Pen. This visit was no exception.
As Mike found his own books to purchase, I took my Wanted List and began systematically prowling the shelves. For once I didn't need a forklift to take my purchases to the car, but I'm very happy with them all the same:
- Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Wall. "Someone is killing wolves on Olivia Harker's Kentucky property for sport, and Olivia aims to find the culprit. Meanwhile, Olivia recounts her childhood with an adored father and a mad mother in the brutally segregated Depression-era South. In quick succession, Olivia finds and loses love, gives birth, marries an unloved suitor and becomes a widow. Olivia's daughter, wild and ambitious, hands Olivia her own out-of-wedlock baby to raise, a boy named Will'm. When the probable persecutor of Olivia's wolves sets his sights on her beloved Will'm, Olivia clarifies a decades-old mystery, unwittingly bringing danger to the impoverished local community of blacks who've been her guardian angels. As the action moves inexorably to its explosive conclusion, Olivia must come to grips with past betrayals, thereby earning a second chance at love, redemption and long overdue justice."
- The Drop Edge of Yonder by Donis Casey. "One August evening in 1914, a bushwhacker ended a pleasant outing by blowing a hole in Bill McBride, kidnapping and ravaging Bill's fiance, and wounding Alafair Tucker's daughter Mary. All Mary knows is that the crime had something to do with the Fourth of July. Or is there more? The answer seems to be working its way through the fog of Mary's shock and grief and floating to the surface of her consciousness. Several malicious acts suggest that Bill's killer is still around and attempting to cover his tracks. Can Mary remember the crime before the murderer manages to eliminate everyone who could identify him?"
- Seeking Whom He May Devour by Fred Vargas. "A series of savage attacks on sheep leaves the countryside near the French Alps gripped in superstitious fear, as locals suspect that an unnatural creature resembling the legendary Beast of Gévaudan is responsible. Chief Inspector Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg , keeping a low profile to protect himself from a would-be assassin, is drawn into the mystery after the killer turns to human prey, starting with a woman who has suggested that a werewolf was at large."
- Carte Blanche by Carlo Lucarelli. "In the final year of WWII, while opportunism, desperation and resistance run rampant, Rehinard Vittorio, a well-connected Fascist, drug dealer and philanderer, is stabbed to death and castrated, leaving behind no dearth of suspects for the tortured insomniac, Commissario De Luca, to investigate. Was the murderer Rehinard's boss, the foreign affairs minister who's collaborating with the British, or the minister's morphine-addicted and sexually compromised daughter? How about the minister's political rival, whose wife and son are trying to buy their way into neutral Switzerland with drug profits? De Luca's a complex man who believes the police shouldn't be used as political goons, even as his investigation draws him deeper into the seedy underworld of a crumbling regime. His astutely rendered inner turmoil makes him an intriguing protagonist...."
- Murder in Mykonos by Jeffrey Siger. "Soon after a woman's bound body turns up in a remote, abandoned church on the island of Mykonos in Siger's impressive debut, a score of other bodies surface—all, like the first, female travelers whose disappearances over two decades have been overlooked or ignored. Police chief Andreas Kaldis, recently transferred from Athens, teams with older homicide cop Tassos Stamatos to investigate the crimes, but even the wily veteran struggles with the plethora of suspects and local pressure to hide a peril that threatens the tourism the island lives on. Only when a new abduction occurs does their search gain official sanction, leading to a resolution that shakes Kaldis professionally and personally."
- Effigies by Mary Anna Evans. "In Evans's intriguing third mystery to feature archaeologist Faye Longchamp, Faye and her Native American assistant, Joe Wolf Mantooth, leave Joyeuse Island, Fla., for a dig in rural Mississippi at the site of a proposed highway. They arrive during the Neshoba County Fair, a weeklong celebration during which residents put aside their differences to honor the area's mixed-race heritage. But when the archaeologists discover another important site on the property of Carroll Calhoun, a racist with ties to the KKK, he not only refuses to let them excavate but tries to bulldoze what might be a sacred Choctaw burial mound. In the ensuing clash, racial tensions hit the boiling point over who has rights to the mound. Calhoun is then found dead, his throat slit with an ancient Indian blade, and Faye investigates after suspicion falls on Joe and other area Native Americans. Though Evans has been compared to Tony Hillerman, her sympathetic characters and fascinating archaeological lore add up to a style all her own."
- Death by the Book by Lenny Bartulin. "Bartulin introduces irrepressible Sydney, Australia, used-book dealer Jack Susko in this tight hard-boiled whodunit, the first of what one hopes will be a long series. Susko's business is slow until he gets an odd request from a well-to-do businessman, Hammond Kasprowicz, who offers him $50 for every copy he can locate of the works of an obscure poet, Edward Kass. Needing the cash, Susko suppresses his curiosity about the motive behind his client's request. As he begins to track down copies of Kass's books, Susko is unable to avoid getting emotionally entangled with Kasprowicz's daughter, Annabelle. After a few dead bodies crop up, the bibliophile becomes the object of unwelcome suspicion by a shady cop who knows about Susko's unsavory background."
- Lady of the Butterflies by Fiona Mountain. "A lady lepidopterist may seem an unlikely real-life subject for historical romance, but Mountain makes it work in this first-person account of the life of Eleanor Glanville, the late 17th-century naturalist accused of madness because of her devotion to studying butterflies. Daughter of a landowner, Eleanor grows up not just admiring the natural beauty of the marshy moors around her but also observing and collecting specimens according to the latest scientific methods. Butterflies become her passion even as she marries Edmund Ashfield, to whom she must cede control of her land, and it is Edmond's lack of passion that drives her into the arms of his dashing friend, Richard Glanville, whom she later marries, though neither husband proves as steadfast as the London apothecary with whom she corresponds about science. In later years, Richard and Eleanor's eldest son join forces to have her declared insane in order to gain control over her property so they can drain the wetlands. In fact, drainage—battles over it, the implications of it—is a huge piece of the novel and provides the most original passages of a lush and confidently plotted historical."