Mailbox Monday is on tour! That's right-- my favorite weekly meme is out and about. For the entire month of October you'll be able to find Mailbox Monday on she reads and reads. If taking a look at the books other people discovered in their mailboxes intrigues you, and if you'd like to participate, this just might be the meme for you. Thanks for hosting, Avis!
If golfball-sized hail, high winds and torrential rains are what thrill you, you would've loved being at Casa Kittling last week when The Storm hit Phoenix. That main cloud looked like pure evil, and some of the television weather forecasters were referring to it as The Mother Ship. Although our yard and pool were flooded and the roof over the family room leaked, damages were very light here compared to many others. But you didn't stop by for the weather report, did you?
Last week I sent 7 books to new Paperback Swap (PBS) foster homes and received 13. Thirteen? Yup. That's because the wagon threw me off. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it!) Here's the rundown on the books I found in my mailbox:
- Wild Penance by Sandi Ault (PBS). "The fourth Jamaica Wild mystery finds the New Mexico Bureau of Land Management agent digging into an ancient religious cult that might not be so ancient after all. The story begins when Jamaica, out for a run one morning, sees a man falling into the Rio Grande Gorge—a man on a cross. Coincidentally, Jamaica happens to be working on a book about Los Penitentes, an old sect that practiced ritual crucifixion. And when a well-meaning but rather spooky priest suggests that Jamaica should stay far away from Los Penitentes, and when it looks like someone is trying to kill her, she figures the only way to put a stop to the weird goings-on is to plunge headlong into the investigation."
- Last Act of All by Aline Templeton (PBS). "After serving time for the murder of her TV star husband, Helena Fielding returns to the isolated village of Radnesfield-a hateful place where her selfish, philandering, and now dead husband settled out of spite. Her current husband, a village native, throws a welcome-home party, but murder arrives as an uninvited guest."
- Blood Ties by Lori G. Armstrong (Alibris). "Julie Collins is stuck in a dead-end secretarial job with the Bear Butte County Sheriff’s office, and still grieving over the unsolved murder of her Lakota half-brother. Lack of public interest in finding his murderer, or the killer of several other transient Native American men, has left Julie with a bone-deep cynicism she counters with tequila, cigarettes, and dangerous men. The one bright spot in her mundane life is the time she spends working part-time as a PI with her childhood friend, Kevin Wells. When the body of a sixteen-year old white girl is discovered in nearby Rapid Creek, Julie believes this victim will receive the attention others were denied. Then she learns Kevin has been hired, mysteriously, to find out where the murdered girl spent her last few days. Julie finds herself drawn into the case against her better judgment, and discovers not only the ugly reality of the young girl’s tragic life and brutal death, but ties to her and Kevin’s past that she is increasingly reluctant to revisit."
- Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols (Alibris). "Published in 1951, this example of "garden literature" relates how author Nichols constructed a massive garden on a run-down estate. Not a straight 'how-to,' Nichols's text also includes humorous portraits of the locals who both assist and frustrate his efforts. The text is buttressed with numerous black-and-white drawings."
- A Back Room in Somers Town by John Malcolm (Alibris). "As an art dealer, Tim Simpson doesn't have the luxury of thinking only about aesthetics; he may have an artist's heart, but it had better be covered with a businessman's pinstripes if he s going to turn a profit. With that skill-set, Simpson's new job seems ideal: He's been hired by a London merchant bank to buy art -- as an investment -- for its obscenely wealthy clients. The first painting he sees, though, won't make anyone rich. It has a real appeal, but the artist -- a one-time protegee of Walter Sickert's -- has no collectible value. However, it seems somebody wanted the painting; within hours of Simpson's first viewing, the painting's been stolen and the dealer killed. Simpson pokes around to little effect -- sleuthing is not part of his skill-set -- but it isn't until the bank sends him to Brazil, on apparently unrelated business, that he solves the riddle."
- Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace (Alibris). "Based on the true story of a lady pitcher who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in exhibition play, this debut novel from nonfiction author Wallace is a diverting sports tale. In 1923, 18-year-old New Yorker Ruby Lee Thomas is forced to raise her two small nieces, Amanda and Allie, after the 1918 Spanish influenza devastates her family. Blessed (or cursed) with elongated arms that make for blazing fastballs, the southpaw is hired by the Fantasyland Circus Sideshow as Diamond Ruby. The Jewish pitcher draws the violent attention of the Klan, but also the admiration of Babe Ruth (a pitcher early in his career), who teaches her a few new throws, and boxing champion Jack Dempsey. The Brooklyn Typhoons eventually sign Ruby to pitch, where her amazing feats stir trouble with a charismatic gangster angling to fix her games; subsequent clashes and close calls with Prohibition-era hoodlums generate as much drama as her distinctive baseball prowess. Sharply sketched, convincing historical characters like Ruth and Dempsey add to the considerable appeal of Wallace's gritty but fun period baseball tale."
- Jewels: A Secret History by Victoria Finlay (Alibris). "Inspired by the engagement ring she'd received from her fiance, Finlay set off on a journey that literally took her around the world intent on uncovering the history behind some of the planet's most valuable gems. Her investigation of amber takes her to a much--diminished mining town in Russia, where Stalin once had a gulag full of people to work the mines. Finlay visits with former pearl fishers in Scotland who used to search the rivers for mussels before they became endangered. In Egypt she discovers the truth about Cleopatra's legendary emerald mines, while in Burma she goes on a more personal journey to trace the roots of a sapphire her father bought for her mother. She lays out the myth of the supposedly cursed Hope diamond before debunking it as a tall tale made up by Pierre Cartier to make a sale. Part personal journey, part historical anecdote, this rich, comprehensive book will no doubt appeal to jewelry lovers curious about the story behind the sparkle."
- Desert Lost by Betty Webb (Alibris). "Webb's sobering sixth mystery to feature PI Lena Jones further explores the abuses of polygamy first exposed in 2003's Desert Wives. Late one night, while staking out a Scottsdale, Ariz., storage yard in the hope of catching vandals, Lena hears suspicious sounds just outside the yard. She soon discovers the still warm body of a dead woman wearing a long calico dress—an obvious sister-wife (i.e., a woman who shared her man with numerous other women). With the nearest polygamist compound a five-hour drive away toward Utah, how did the victim wind up in Scottsdale? Lena, who suffered a troubled childhood as an orphan, gets on a trail that leads her to lost boys, surplus male teens expelled by the older men who run the polygamist cults. Clear-cut characterizations help a complicated plot flow smoothly. As Webb points out in a note, polygamy still spawns many social ills, despite the recent, well-publicized conviction of Mormon fundamentalist prophet Warren Jeffs."
- The Fitzgerald Ruse by Mark de Castrique (Alibris). "At the start of de Castrique's winning second Sam Blackman mystery, the former U.S. military CID officer and his lover, Nakayla Robertson, are setting up a detective agency in Asheville, N.C. Their eccentric first client, Ethel Barkley, wants them to retrieve a lockbox she claims contains a purloined F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscript. Soon after Sam and Nakayla take possession of the sealed box, someone steals it from their office, killing a security guard in the process. The theft may be part of an attempt to maintain secrecy of an American fascist organization that flourished in the 1930s—or it may be rooted in the immediate past, as rogue Blackwater mercenaries (who cost Sam a leg in Iraq) come after the loot they imagine he stole from them. Ethel's subsequent murder raises the stakes."
- Burial Ground by Malcolm Shuman (PBS). "From its laid-back cities and sleepy towns along the Mississippi to its picturesque yet treacherous bayous, Louisiana is a place rich in history--and history is Alan Graham's business. A contract archaeologist located in Baton Rouge, Dr.. Graham and his associates authenticate finds, preserve the riches of the past, and protect the historic sites of the South. A wealthy oil man hires Graham's firm to search for a possible Tunica Indian burial site that might be located on his newly acquired Louisiana plantation. To lend credence to his story, the client gives Alan a handful of ancient trinkets that were found on the land by a friendly yet evasive tenant. Alan accepts the assignment, but within days, the client is dead and the tenant is missing."
- Let the Dead Lie by Malla Nunn (PBS). "It is 1953. A former police detective sergeant, Emmanuel Cooper is now working undercover on the docks of Durban Harbor to document police corruption for his old boss, Major van Niekerk. When Emmanuel comes across the body of a white slum kid, who ran errands in the port area, with his throat slit, he observes that the notebook the 11-year-old boy used to record orders is missing. The authorities regard Emmanuel as the prime suspect in this crime as well as in the subsequent murders of a landlady and her black maid, whose throats are also cut. Van Niekerk manages to get Emmanuel out of jail, but with a strict two-day deadline to find the real killer. Nunn deftly balances suspense and deduction as she offers a revealing glimpse into South African society under the segregation laws promulgated by the ruling National Party."
- Feint of Art by Hailey Lind (PBS). "The first in a new mystery series starring art-forger-gone-good Annie Kincaid. Annie breaks the news to her curator ex-boyfriend Ernst: his museum's new $15 million Caravaggio is a fake. Then the janitor is killed, Ernst disappears, and a dealer makes off with several Old Master drawings. If she breaks the case using her old connections, Annie can finally pay the rent. But doing so could also draw her back into the underworld of forgers she swore she'd left behind."
- The Hangman's Row Enquiry by Ann Purser (PBS). "Ivy Beasley, the beloved cantankerous spinster from the Lois Meade mysteries, has found a silver lining in her golden years as an amateur sleuth. She teams up with Gus, a mysterious newcomer to the small English village of Barrington who can't resist a little excitement even as he strives to keep his past a secret, and her own cousin, a widow with time on her hands and money in her purse. Together they're determined to solve the murder of Gus's elderly neighbor."
Have any of you read any of these titles? Would you recommend them? Did any of them sound good enough to put on your own wish lists? Do tell-- you know how nosy I am!
Now comes the fun part--- wandering the Internet looking at the books all the other participants received in their mailboxes!