Time once again for my favorite meme, Mailbox Monday, which is hosted by Marcia on her blog, The Printed Page. I keep browser windows open to Paperback Swap and Amazon as I go from blog to blog discovering the books that came into each participant's home. If you'd like to see everyone's goodies and perhaps even join in yourself, click on that redhead over to the left. She'll take you right to the heart of the action!
Last week, I sent 5 books to new Paperback Swap (PBS) foster homes, and I received 5. Outgoing and incoming seldom ever balance that nicely!
- The Black Flower by Howard Bahr (PBS). "Howard Bahr compresses this moving Civil War novel into 48 hours--two short days filled with grim deaths and the prelude, at least, to a love story. First issued by a small Baltimore press in 1997, The Black Flower was nominated for four major awards, including one from the Academy of Arts and Letters, but failed to garner the attention paid to Cold Mountain. Civil War buffs will rejoice in Bahr's vivid retelling of the November 1864 Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. More to the point, The Black Flower transcends its historical fiction niche and deserves a wider audience. Confederate rifleman Bushrod Carter, the novel's protagonist, is wounded during the battle and taken to a nearby house. In this makeshift hospital, he and two childhood friends huddle together, 'shivering with cold and exhaustion, ignoring the ghostly shapes still shuffling through the coiling smoke around them, calling the names of men who would never answer.' Bahr has poured 20 years of research into his novel, but this haunting portrayal of suffering and death is the product not merely of historical diligence but also an impressive literary imagination."
- Secrets on Saturday by Ann Purser (PBS). "Entrepreneur, wife, mother, and inveterate snoop--that's Lois Mead. Owning a successful cleaning business provides Lois with the perfect opportunity to do what her long-suffering husband calls 'ferretin.' Her ability to learn her customers' darkest secrets has earned her a position as unpaid police informant and the undying gratitude of Inspector Cowgill, who harbors a secret crush on clever, outspoken Lois. Her latest adventure begins when a shady-looking character employs Lois' firm to clean his uncle's house. Seems the poor old gent has gone a bit ga-ga and been put into care. This is news to Lois, since the elderly man seemed fine a few days earlier. Then Lois learns that a badger-baiting ring, in which men torture and kill the poor animals for sport, is operating in the village. Shocked to the core, she vows to put a stop to this cruel activity. Naturally, the two story lines turn out to be related in this entertaining entry in Purser's series. The indomitable Lois is something of an updated Miss Marple."
- Behind the Moss Curtain And Other Great Savannah Stories by Murray Silver (PBS). The title says it all!
- The Winter Widow by Charlene Weir (PBS). "San Francisco policewoman Susan Donovan moves to Hampstead, Kansas, when she marries the small city's police chief, Dan Wren, only to become a widow within six weeks. Shocked and enraged, Susan gets herself appointed Hampstead's temporary police chief and vows to find Dan's killer. When a reporter, daughter of the area's leading family, is strangled while investigating Dan's death, the mayor responds to local pressure and threatens to fire outsider Susan before more citizens die. She wins a five-day reprieve but must survive various assaults, from humans and animals, before she can solve the cases. Weir skillfully guides readers through a treacherous Midwest winter, the multimillion-dollar bull-sperm business, the covert search for a toxic waste dump and a college town's accumulated secrets--all observed by a city cop who refuses to be charmed by anything far removed from asphalt and neon."
- The Taken: A Hazel Micallef Mystery by Inger Ash Wolfe (Amazon Vine). "Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef is having a bad year. After major back surgery, she has no real option but to move into her ex-husband’s basement and suffer the humiliation of his new wife bringing her meals down on a tray. As if that weren’t enough, Hazel’s octogenarian mother secretly flushes Hazel’s stash of painkillers down the toilet. It’s almost a relief when Hazel gets a call about a body fished up by tourists in one of the lakes near Port Dundas. But what raises the hair on the back of Micallef ’s neck is that the local paper has just published the first installment of a serialized story featuring such a scenario. Even before they head out to the lake with divers to recover the body, she and DC James Wingate, leading the police detachment in Micallef ’s absence, know they are being played. But it’s not clear who is pulling their strings and why, nor is what they find at the lake at all what they expected. It’s Micallef herself who is snared, caught up in a cryptic game devised by someone who knows how to taunt her into opening a cold case, someone who knows that nothing will stop her investigation."
How about you-- have you read any of these books? Would you recommend them? Do any of them look good enough to put on your own wish lists? Do tell!