New mystery

   

The Desert Flowers Detective Agency is at it again. This time Tanya Cook, pretending to be a home health care aide, is fleecing her clients. Detective Poppy Harmon poses as a weakened elderly widow needing assistance and hires Tanya as her aide. It is a trap. Tanya and her two partners are arrested. Someone does not want Poppy to testify in court and attempts to kill her. Sadly, her neighbor is killed when the woman borrows Poppy’s car, and it goes over a cliff. Poppy’s new air conditioner unit explodes after a phony technician supposedly repairs it. Most people assume Poppy died in that explosion

Poppy masquerades as Matt Flowers’ advisor, his elderly Aunt Bea, when he appears on a reality show titled “My Dream Man”. Matt and Poppy fear that Jesse, the bachelorette on the show, is the stalker’s next target.

These quick cozy mysteries are fun to read.

Desert Flowers Mystery series

Poppy Harmon Investigates – 2018

Poppy Harmon and the Hung Jury – 2019

Poppy Harmon and the Pillow Talk Killer – 2021

Poppy Harmon and the Backstabbing Bachelor – 2022

~Emma



  
   

New Fiction

In November 2016 three momentous things happened. Donald Trump was elected president; the Chicago Cubs won the World Series; and Bud Sullivan died. Bud and Rose Sullivan were owners of JP Sullivan’s, a restaurant and bar in Oak Park, Illinois for decades. Three generations lived and breathed the restaurant. After Bud dies, the extended family is particularly concerned for Rose as she enters assisted living. Without Bud, the restaurant is floundering. Teddy would love to take control, but no one seems to listen to him. After Rose’s death it is suggested that the grandchildren invest their inheritance to update Sullivan’s. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be interest in that. Gretchen, Jane, and Teddy have other plans for their money and not everyone agrees.

I was curious about the title of the book and was unfamiliar with the phrase. A bittersweet story full of family drama.

marrying the ketchup

~Emma

New Historical Fiction

The Manhattan Girls: A Novel of Dorothy Parker and her Friends

It is the Jazz Age in New York City when Dorothy Parker and three other prominent professionals form a bridge club. Jane Grant is the first woman reporter at the New York Times. She is determined to launch a new magazine she calls The New Yorker. Winifred Lenihan is a beautiful and talented Broadway star. Peggy Leach is a magazine assistant at Conde Nast by day and a brilliant novelist by night. These four women form a firm friendship and part of their friendship includes keeping Dottie safe from herself. She attempts suicide twice.

Name-dropping and drama are important parts of this novel. Wild drinking parties despite Prohibition and infidelity also play a main role in this fast-paced book.

~Emma

New Historical Fiction

Pilot Ward Millar makes a last-minute decision to bail out over North Korea. Unfortunately, even with a parachute, Ward breaks both of his ankles and is easily captured by the North Koreans and Chinese. Ward needs medical attention which his captors provide haphazardly if he shares information, mostly false information, with them.

At home when Ward’s wife, Barbara, receives notification that her husband is missing in action, she believes he still alive. Barbara is a woman of deep and sustaining faith and refuses to believe that Ward is dead despite what family and friends have to say.

North Korean soldier Kim Jae Pil is a Christian. He and his family have kept their faith secret to survive. Kim is forced to serve as a solder but wants to and plans to escape from the army and reunite with his family. Ward and Kim eventually meet and together plan their escape.

This novel is based on the true story of an American POW during the Korean War and a North Korean soldier who became unlikely allies. They were united in their shared faith in God during a daring escape to freedom. The novel is a story of courage, determination, unlikely friendship, and enduring faith.

~Emma

A Cozy Mystery from 1993

Lori Shephard is having a tough time. She is recently divorced and working a temporary job for minimum pay. Her mother has just passed away. Lori receives a letter from Willis & Willis, a prestigious Boston law firm, informing her that Dimity Westwood has left her a large inheritance. Lori thought that Dimity was a figment of her mother’s imagination when sharing bedtime stories making Aunt Dimity the hero.

The stories have been compiled into a book and Lori is given the assignment to write the introduction before being submitted for publishing. Lori must travel to Dimity’s Cotswold’s cottage in England and has a month to complete the introduction. Bill, the younger partner of the law firm, is her traveling companion. Upon arrival, the pair discover the ghost of Dimity haunts the cottage, and she is willing to communicate only with Lori.

Lori discovers 40 years’ worth of correspondence between her mother and Dimity. The women met by pure happenstance in London and became fast friends and confidants. There is a mystery to the story Lori attempts to uncover surrounding Dimity and a pilot during WWII.

The book is more than a mystery or a fun ghost story. It is the beginning of a tender romance. The first book in the Aunt Dimity mystery series was published in 1993. Since then, there have been twenty-five titles in the series.

~Emma

New Historical Fiction

The Unkept Woman: a Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery

Both Iris and Gwen love working at the Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Gwen Bainbridge, a war widow, is seeking to regain custody of her young son and to regain control of her finances. In 1944 after Gwen’s husband was killed, she attempted suicide and was committed to an asylum. Her in-laws were given custody of Ronnie, Gwen’s son. Iris Sparks, a former spy, is happy to have left her old life behind but cannot totally escape it.

It is 1946 when pregnant Helena Jablonski, a Polish widow, shows up at the Right Sort Marriage Bureau to make a connection with Iris. Helena needs help and was told Iris could help her.

Sadly, Helena is killed in Iris’ apartment. Even though Gwen had been warned by her attorney and psychiatrist that being involved with another murder investigation could jeopardize her ability to regain custody of her son, both Gwen and Iris become involved in solving the murder.

The fourth entry in the Sparks & Bainbridge mystery series is a fun quick read. (Their matchmaking business is less important in this entry in the series.) I heartily recommend reading them in order.

The Right Sort of Man (2019)

A Royal Affair (2020)

A Rogue’s Company (2021)

The Unkept Woman (2022)

~Emma

New Historical Fiction

During WWI General Pershing needed reliable efficient telephone operators in France. The men assigned to that task were too slow for communication needs at the front. Pershing decided to allow women to join the US armed forces for the first time. These women became part of the Army Signal Corps. In 1917, Grace Banker from New Jersey, Marie Moissec (a French vocalist) from France, and Belgian-born Valerie DeSmedt from Los Angeles became members of the Signal Corps. Those who joined the Signal Corps had to be fluent in French and English. (The nickname for these women were “hello girls” and they far outpaced their male military counterparts.) The women underwent rigorous training and were often stationed close to the front. In addition to the dangers of war, they also battled the Spanish flu pandemic.

After the war these women were not official recognized as military veterans until more than 60 years after their service. They were denied the benefits male veterans received until that time.

Grace Banker
(1892-1960)

The character of Grace Banker is based on Grace D. Banker who was an AT&T switchboard instructor before being recruited. She served as Chief Operator of telephone for the AEF (American Expeditionary Forces) and led thirty-three women telephone operators. She earned a Distinguished Service Medal for her work during WWI.

The author does a wonderful job of bringing a rarely emphasized part of American history to life. I learned a lot. ~Emma

New Historical Fiction

It was 1942 in Bergen when Rumi Orlstad’s future husband Magnus drowned at sea. He was part of the Norwegian resistance movement along with Rumi. Resistance duties included smuggling British agents, supplies, and fugitives across the North Sea into Scotland (nicknamed the Shetland Bus, a permanent link between Mainland Shetland in Scotland and Norway). Rumi’s fisherman father Peder, her almost-brother Rubio, along with her best friend and neighbor Marjit assist in their own ways with the goal of ridding Norway of the Germans.

Rumi helps rescue two SOE (Special Operations Executive) agents, and Jens Parks was one of them. He and Rumi eventually work together to free Anya, who was date raped by a German officer. She lived at one of the Lebensborn maternity homes. Hitler wanted to enhance Aryan genes and Norwegians matched his ideals. Many Norwegian women had consensual sex with Nazis or were raped. Some of those women were housed in a Lebensborn location until they gave birth. Those babies were given to childless German families to raise as their own.

I was unaware of much of the above information regarding the occupation of Norway. I was also unaware of Lebensborn which was begun by Heinrich Himmler. (There were multiple Lebornsborn locations in Germany, Norway, and occupied northern Europe, including Poland.)

An interesting story for historical fiction readers! (The Nazi German occupation of Norway began on April 9, 1940 and continued until May 9, 1945.) .

~Emma

A Clever Little Story

The village of Prometto, Italy (population 212) is in big trouble. It will cost 70,000 euros (nearly $71,000) to repair the town’s failing water system and their treasury is depleted. Signor Speranza, a vacuum repairman and the town’s part-time mayor must come up with a plan to save their beloved town.

Speranza starts a rumor that the Italian movie star, Dante Rinaldi, is coming to Prometto to film a movie. He convinces the local butcher, Signor Maestro, to give him most of 70,000 euros as long as at least one of his 15 sons gets a part in the movie. Thanks to social media, the rumor spreads quickly. Everyone wants a part. Speranza decides to start filming the movie with no knowledge and little equipment while waiting for Dante to arrive. He employs his assistant, Smilzo, to provide the screen play, help with auditions, and film the movie. Unfortunately, all of the above is a lie and Signor Speranza gets buried deeper and deeper with all his lies.

The debut novel by Christine Simon is a quick fun read.

~Emma

New Historical Fiction

With vastly different backgrounds Lizzie and Sophie settled in Huntsville, Alabama in 1950. Their husbands were part of the rocket program sponsored by the U.S. government.

Sophie’s husband, Jurgen, became part of “Operation Paperclip” which was a secret US intelligence program that employed former Nazis after WWII. (1,600+ Nazi German scientists, engineers, and technicians were taken from former Nazi Germany to the U.S. for government employment after the end of World War II in Europe between 1945 and 1959.) Sophie was left in Berlin with their children for 5 years before she was able to come to the United States. The transition to the United States was difficult. Learning English was hard, customs were different, and local citizens were suspicious of the Germans even though the U.S. government went to great lengths to hide the pasts of the scientists they brought to America.

Lizzie and her brother Henry grew up on a farm during the Depression. To survive, they were forced to abandon the farm after their parents died. They were accustomed to fending for themselves. Henry served in the military in Europe and came home a different man. Lizzie married Calvin, a wealthy widower, who gave her everything she could ask for and more. She quickly became bored with her pampered life. As a newlywed Lizzie had to suddenly become someone who was interested in clothes, hair, makeup, and her fancy home. She wanted to be back on the farm.

Early in the novel a picnic took place to welcome the German families to Huntsville. There Sophie and Lizzie quarreled Over time, their encounters continued to deteriorate.

This is a terrific book for fans of historical fiction with a lot of drama. I love it when I learn something new, namely “Operation Paperclip.”

~Emma

Historically Dr. Wernher von Braun and his team of rocket scientists transformed Huntsville in the 1950s into a technology center. Today it is home to the second largest research park in the United States and to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) with its world-class educational program, Space CampĀ®.