In case you need an excuse to pick up a new mystery series, I’ll give you two. First of all, Rosalie Knecht’s sleuth Vera Kelly is a smart, cynical New Yorker and CIA-trained sleuth who must navigate life in early to mid-1960s–an interesting time to be a spy and challenging time to be a woman. Secondly, it’s PRIDE month, and Vera is a lesbian, and is also forced by the times (and clauses in her employment contracts) to lead a double personal life in addition to her professional one.
In her first outing, Who is Vera Kelly?, Vera is approached and trained by the CIA. Her surveillance mission to Argentina to infiltrate local student revolutionaries and wiretap government offices for potential coup information comprises most of the novel’s action. Along the way, flashbacks into Vera’s youth show her struggles to get close to others, to fit in, and to build healthy relationships.
Book two, Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery, takes place a year later. Vera is done with the CIA, fired from her latest job because a co-worker outed her, and dumped by her girlfriend Jane. Desperate to make a living and keep her apartment, but without references to get hired, Vera opens her own private detective agency where she struggles to be taken seriously. When a Dominican couple finally hires her to track down a boy, Vera uncovers much more than a missing persons case and ends up, yet again, in another foreign country with a fake passport, reexamining her priorities.
Both books in this series are part spy thriller, part character study, and part historical fiction and will check all the boxes if you like introspective slow-burning mysteries with plenty of international action and a bit of tame romance. What’s truly great about Knecht’s two-fer (and my fingers are crossed that there will be more) is that Vera is vulnerable and unsure of her self–at work, in life and in relationships. Vera has personal problems and regret. She’s not sappy, but it’s hard for her to change. Vera Kelly is just like us.
Will she solve her cases? (Spoiler alert) Yes. Will she find true happiness? I sure hope so. Read her story and I think maybe you will, too. ~Carol
It has been nice to be able to continue with exercise classes online during the quarantine, but it was not so nice when I overdid it a couple days ago during such a class and felt an ouch. Bummer! Nothing serious but my routine is thrown and now my body is insisting that I need a few days off. I’ve been icing the swelling, elevating and resting and feeling a bit better, but it’s hard not to be discouraged– I had a schedule and a plan and life instead told me to slow down.
Pretty sure many of us had to swallow a truth sandwich as a result of the pandemic and the need for sheltering in place. Vacations were cancelled and postponed; graduations are being held remotely; and some of our really big events have turned into intimate ones. None of this is by choice.
But as I was recouping over the weekend with a Downton Abbey marathon, I’m determined to focus for a silver lining. Perhaps though fictionalized, Downton Abbey provides an excellent example of how humans are capable of growth and change. Along with all the scandal and drama that make compelling television, the Crawley family of Downton face the real-life challenges of surviving first World War, the Spanish Flu, and changes to their Aristocratic way of life. Generations before us have learned to play by new rules. It’s not easy but humans are resilient. We rest, evaluate and then, adapt. We’ll get through this–it’s human nature.
And meanwhile, let’s look at the silver lining. For me, today, the windows are open, the birds are singing, Downton is on and a copy of Denise Mina’s latest mystery Conviction is available for me on Overdrive. It’s going to be a fine day. Thanks, Universe!
This week I’ve not only made my way through a whole novel, I loved it! Oh, and I am currently reading and enjoying a second. I don’t want to jinx it, but maybe my “cold” stretch of picking duds of books to read (and/or not having enough staying-with-it-ness to, well, you know) is over…but I sure hope so!
The book I loved was Tuesday Mooney Talks To Ghosts by Kate Racculia. Tuesday is 33-year-old researcher who lives in Boston. To the outside world, Tuesday is an antisocial weirdo who got stuck in her goth chick days, but in her head she has ongoing conversations with the ghost of her best friend Abby, who disappeared when they were 16-year-olds in Salem. Tuesday breaks out from her solitude when a dead eccentric billionaire’s will is made public, inviting the citizens of Boston to participate in a macabre search around the city to compete for his hidden treasure. She can’t resist going in and neither will you. This book has it all: mystery, madcap adventure, Oujia board-wielding teenagers, mistaken identities, witty banter, intelligent writing–not to mention some heart-rending examinations of grief, guilt, friendships and romance.
Are you convinced? Place a hold in our catalog here
The book I’m reading now, All Adults Here by Emma Straub is brand new. I’ll keep you posted, but so far I can’t put down this novel about the flawed family of Astrid Strick and her adult children.
All this book reading has me sitting a bit more recently, much to the delight of our two cats, who I’ve decided are indeed the best of coworkers (no disrespect to my husband who is pretty good at sharing a workspace too). The cats, though, are excellent lap warmers and are the perfect partners in crime for when I’m looking for an excuse to stay seated and read just one more chapter. Thanks furballs!
Have a good week and if you’ve got one, give your own furry coworker a head scratch for me.
Schoolwork has been taking up most of my time this year but as soon as finals are over I plan to catch up on some reading. Here are the one’s I plan on starting the year with:
The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
Camino Island by John Grisham
Heartbreak Hotel by Jonathan Kellerman
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
The Breakdown by B. A. Paris
Time of Death by Lucy Kerr is a debut mystery with a hospital setting. For fans of Jayne Anne Krentz and Julia Keller. ~Ann
MY FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2016
Descent by Tim Johnston
Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm
Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon
Cruel, Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt
The Widow by Fiona Barton
Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets
Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore
To Cleanse the Palate
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Dessert (the best for last!)
The Trespasser by Tana French
*With your Christmas Eve Hot Chocolate
Oliver, the Cat Who Saved Christmas by Sheila Norton >’.'<
It’s here-TODAY, October 4th!!
The new book by Tana French!
And if you haven’t read her previous books they are available in the Mystery section here at Rocky River Public Library.
IN THE WOODS
THE SECRET PLACE
“Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle. They read it to get to the end. If it’s a letdown, they won’t buy anymore. The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book.” MICKEY SPILLANE
My 2015 list this year includes Mystery, Suspense, and Thrillers!
Thereby Hangs a Tail by Spencer Quinn. Chet the Dog is so famous he has his own website- http://www.chetthedog.com/
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. The “good girl” runs into a bundle of trouble.
Last Words by Michael Koryta. He didn’t know it at the time, but they were the last words he spoke to her.
Little Black Lies by Sandra Block. Black lies are definitely worse than white lies.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. No doubt this will be on many best lists!
The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham. This ferry will take you on a wild ride.
Orient by Christopher Bollen. Strange things are occuring in the town of Orient on Long Island.
The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo. Some parts of this book are “unbearably grizzly”!
One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis. A twisty, psychological thriller debut novel.
The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain. Another winner from author Chamberlain.
When private investigator Bernie Little and his partner Chet return home from their trip to Washington, D.C., they find a hole in the wall where Bernie’s safe used to be. And, Chet’s nose tells him his best friend Iggy, the dog next door, has been in the house. Then Mr. Parson, Iggy’s owner is in trouble for having a stolen Saguaro cactus planted in his front yard. To top things off, the ranger investigating the stolen cactus has a puppy that looks just like a Chet mini-me!
In Scents and Sensibility, the seventh adventure for Chet and Bernie, Chet’s point of view is spot on, and, despite his doggie ramblings, he is Bernie’s partner first and foremost. How could you not love Chet?
-by Evelyn Janoch