Mailbox Monday is one of my favorite ways to find new books to add to my wish list. Hosted by Marcia on her blog, The Printed Page, I've been known to have way too many browser windows open to locate new-to-me books as I visit the participating blogs. If you'd like to take a look for yourself, just click on that redhead to the left. She'll take you right to the heart of the action!
I'm glad I'm not a mail carrier. I've been able to sit in the pool with a good book and relax while it's 113°F. (45°C.); not so the poor mail carrier!
This past week, 6 books left my house on their way to new Paperback Swap (PBS) foster homes while a staggering 13 found their way to my mailbox from various sources.
Here's the rundown on my sizzling summer bounty:
- This Night's Foul Work by Fred Vargas (Bookcloseouts). "Paris Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg is convinced that the two narcotics dealers recently found with slit throats weren’t the victims of business rivals, relying largely on his intuition and the unexplained presence of dirt under the dead men’s fingernails. Adamsberg’s dogged pursuit of small details leads him to a series of unusual mutilations of wild deer as well as to a serial killer who targets virgins and may be seeking the ingredients to an elixir for eternal life. While the final twist will be less than shocking to some readers, the immensely enjoyable prose, seasoned liberally with humor, should help the author gain the larger American audience she deserves."
- The Hundredth Man by Jack Kerley (PBS). "A body is found in the sweating heat of an Alabama night; headless, words inked on the skin. Detective Carson Ryder is good at this sort of thing -- crazies and freaks. To his eyes it is no crime of passion, and when another mutilated victim turns up his suspicions are confirmed. This is not the work of a 'normal' murderer, but that of a serial killer, a psychopath. Famous for solving a series of crimes the year before, Carson Ryder has experience with psychopaths. But he had help with that case -- strange help, from a past Ryder is trying to forget. Now he needs it again. When the truth finally begins to dawn, it shines on an evil so twisted, so dangerous, it could destroy everything that he cares about!"
- A Clue for the Puzzle Lady by Parnell Hall (PBS). I've been watching Parnell Hall's videos on Youtube, and I just had to get my hands on one of his books. "Imagine Miss Marple as a promiscuous lush, and you have Cora Felton, known to crossword puzzle buffs around the country as "The Puzzle Lady." Cora and her niece, Sherry Carter, have moved to the small town of Bakerhaven, Conn., hoping to protect Sherry from an abusive ex-husband. The body of a young girl is discovered in the Bakerhaven Cemetery, and Police Chief Dale Harper investigates, though he wishes the body had been found in someone else's jurisdiction. An enigmatic clue in the victim's pockets takes Chief Harper in search of assistance, and he gets more than he needs from Cora, who's determined to help solve the puzzle. A second murder complicates the case, and overly zealous cub reporter Aaron Grant spills the news to the public about the cryptic clues. In addition to his trademark zippy, witty dialogue, Hall provides a dandy puzzle, congenial secondary characters, plenty of laughs and a true original in Cora Felton, the Puzzle Lady."
- The Rosary Bride: A Cloistered Death by Luisa Buehler (PBS). "During the 1940's the women attending Regina College insisted a beautiful young woman wearing a 'fancy dress' haunted the halls near the chapel. Many claimed to see the apparition often entering, sitting, and softly crooning a mournful melody. Stories of the 'Rosary Bride' continue from generation to generation. Fifty years later, during the renovation of the college library, workers expose a skeleton. Grace Marsden, present at the discovery is drawn into the search for the victim's identity, fearing the remains will lead to skeletons in her own family closet. Against her husband, her best friend, and her own common sense Grace determines to find the truth. Her involvement grows beyond her control when the dead woman reaches out to her. Complications arise when the investigating police inspector dredges up more old secrets and betrayal. Ignoring her husband's theory that the Inspector's motives are less than honorable, Grace continues her quest to solve the decades old homicide. Desperate to know the truth, Grace enlists the help of Sister Andrew, a nun who lived at Rosary during the 40's and has chronicled the college's history. But all too soon the treachery of the past meets the future and once again lives are lost."
- The Contrary Blues by John Billheimer (PBS). "National Department of Transportation investigator Owen Allison, a West Virginia native, is assigned the unwelcome task of completing an audit begun by a colleague who met with a fatal "accident" in the little town of Contrary, W.Va. Contrary, Owen quickly discovers, has been the recipient of unintentional governmental largess: an extra zero on a grant application turned Contrary's initial request for two buses into a request for 20. The mistakenly awarded grant, with continuing funding for support, has turned Contrary into a contented town?except for Hatfield McCoy, a disabled citizen who keeps firing off disgruntled letters about Contrary's bus service. Contrary's attempts to retain the funds are guided by its folksy mayor, Purvis Jenkins, and his sister, town belle Mary Beth. Well-developed subplots include Mary Beth's coal-mining ex-husband's battle with alcoholism and black-lung disease, Owen's struggle with his political boss and a sheriff with a yen for Mary Beth and nasty plans for Owen."
- Howling Bloody Murder by Sue Owens Wright (PBS). "In Howling Bloody Murder, her first book, Sue Owens Wright introduces half-Washoe Indian Elsie "Beanie" MacBean and her basset hound Cruiser. Land disputes at Lake Tahoe between developers and the Washoe turn deadly, and it's up to Beanie to clear a Tribal Elder's name."
- Blood on the Tongue by Stephen Booth (Bookcloseouts). "It isn't the easiest way to commit suicide. Marie Tennent seems simply to have curled into a fetal position in the freezing snow out on Irontongue Hill and remained there until her body was frozen over. There's no one to observe her death but the foxes and the hares. Her body has bruises, though. Her death is tragic. Is it also suspicious? Marie's is not the only death the police have to investigate. What about the baby's body that is discovered in the burned-out hulk of a World War II bomber? And the unidentified man who is crushed by a snowplow? Snow and ice have left E Division depleted, and Detective Sergeant Diane Fry needs all the help she can get. But her colleague, Detective Constable Ben Cooper, is following a cold trail of his own. In the winter of 1945, a Royal Air Force bomber crashed on the same Irontongue Hill where Marie Tennent's body was found, killing everyone except pilot Danny McTeague, who disappeared with a large sum of money. Now his granddaughter, Alison Morrissey, has arrived from across the Atlantic to clear his name."
- My Soul to Take by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir (Bookcloseouts). "Thora returns in her second case, this time representing a client convinced that a ghost is haunting his newly acquired property, a resort on the west coast of Iceland. Thora heads out to the coast to consult, looking forward to a weekend without her children. Markedly more cozy and less macabre than the previous book, this one is also slower paced, both in the reading and the investigation. Thora does not believe in the ghost, but when bodies start turning up around the resort, she decides to poke around."
- Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo (Bookcloseouts). "Kate Burkholder grew up in idyllic Painters Mill, where many residents drive buggies, shun electricity, and distance themselves from the complications of modern life. The presence of a serial killer shatters the stillness of the town, leaving its citizenry terrified and on guard. During this time, young Kate’s life takes a fateful turn when she is sexually assaulted by an Amish man named Daniel Lapp. She shoots Lapp in self-defense and, seeing blood splattered across the floor, is certain he’s dead. (Her father drags away the body, and the family banishes the incident from their memories, never reporting it to police.) With Lapp’s demise, the area murders cease. Rattled residents rest easily once again. Fast-forward 16 years. Kate, now chief of police in Painters Mill, is faced with a series of brutal crimes in which the female victims are tortured and raped. Could Daniel Lapp still be alive? Kate battles her inner demons as she tracks down a killer who shows no sign of letting up. Can she come clean about her past without losing her job?"
- The Cold Light of Mourning by Elizabeth J. Duncan (Bookcloseouts). "Manicurist and owner of the Happy Hands Nail Care shop, Penny Brannigan is a transplanted Canadian who has been living in Llanelen in northern Wales since she came to the country as a backpacker years ago. While still dealing with the recent death of a good friend, Penny is hired to do the nails of the bridal party for the wedding of local Emyr Gruffydd to Londoner Meg Wynne Thompson. Meg Wynne disappears on her wedding day, apparently after having her nails done. Penny becomes involved when she realizes that the woman whose nails she did that day was not Meg Wynne. Penny and a new friend, Victoria, assist Detective Chief Inspector Davies with his investigation, sometimes clumsily, but they ultimately solve the mystery."
- The Messengers of Death by Pierre Magnan (Bookcloseouts). "The second Commissaire Laviolette mystery opens in the Provence village of Banon with the death of a local woman shortly after she receives a mysterious letter. Laviolette, now happily retired and ruled by his large band of cats, is only reluctantly drawn in to investigate after being repeatedly pestered by his friend, Judge Chabrand. Mademoiselle Veronique’s death is not the first; it seems all her female relations are being targeted, and Laviolette is convinced that the answer lies in the family’s tumultuous past. The story unfolds slowly, wrapped in the rich atmosphere of 1960s Provence. The landscape, with its distinctive scenery and way of life, becomes as much of a character as Laviolette. Best-sellers in France, these delightful, old-fashioned mysteries will appeal to readers who prefer their crime fiction with a strong sense of place and a heavy dose of local atmosphere."
- The Cowgirl Way: Hats Off to America's Women of the West by Holly George-Warren (Amazon Vine). "The 1840s ushered in the beginning of the largest migration in US history. People in crowded Eastern cities and Missouri River towns were feeling the pull of the Western frontier. It was the dawn of a new era of expansion, and over the next few decades, the making of a new kind of pioneer. It was the birth of the cowgirl! Welcome to the world of nimble equestriennes, hawkeyed sharpshooters, sly outlaws, eloquent legislators, expert wranglers and talented performers who made eyes pop and jaws drop with their skills, savvy and bravery. In this fascinating account of an ever-evolving American icon, Holly George-Warren invites readers to saddle up with a host of these trailblazers who helped settle the West and define the cowgirl spirit."
- City of Veils by Zoë Ferraris (Amazon Vine). "Women in Saudi Arabia are expected to lead quiet lives circumscribed by Islamic law and tradition. But Katya, one of the few women in the medical examiner's office, is determined to make her work mean something. When the body of a brutally beaten woman is found on the beach in Jeddah, the city's detectives are ready to dismiss the case as another unsolvable murder-chillingly common in a city where the veils of conservative Islam keep women as anonymous in life as the victim is in death. If this is another housemaid killed by her employer, finding the culprit will be all but impossible. Only Katya is convinced that the victim can be identified and her killer found. She calls upon her friend Nayir for help, and soon discovers that the dead girl was a young filmmaker named Leila, whose controversial documentaries earned her many enemies. With only the woman's clandestine footage as a guide, Katya and Nayir must confront the dark side of Jeddah that Leila struggled to expose: an underworld of prostitution, violence, exploitation, and jealously guarded secrets. Along the way, they form an unlikely alliance with an American woman whose husband has disappeared. Their growing search takes them from the city's car-clogged streets to the deadly vastness of the desert beyond."
Have you read any of these books? Would you recommend them? Which ones did you add to your own wish lists? Do tell!
Now it's time to open those browser windows and take a look at the other participants' mailboxes. See you next Monday!