Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cat Striking Back

Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Harper Collins
December 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-112400-6
340 pages

Do you really know your neighbors? They appear agreeable and helpful but are they honest or are they
Just waiting for the moment when they can rob you?

What would you do if you had a spat with your spouse and the person fell, killing them self? O.K., you
might have pushed them a little, but you had no intentions for their being hurt in any way. After all,
your mate started the argument, so it was their own fault. Will the police view it that way? If you go to
the police, will they discover that you are really a thief, or will they accuse you of murder, or both?

Ed and Francis Becker fit in well to their California community. They babysit the neighbor’s children and
join the other neighbors for the occasion meal or barbecue. What they do not realize is the influence of
the cats in the area. They are extremely astute and seem to be communicating and assisting adults.
Isn’t that strange?

How does all this fit together? That’s the puzzle to solve in Cat Striking Back.

It has to be difficult for any experienced author to continue a successful series of books. The author has
to respect their loyal followers who do not want too much review in reestablishing characters but then
they also need to encourage new readers to their series and need to somehow allow the character
development to continue while allowing the reader to envision the action.

That was my concern about Cat Striking Back. I had not read any of Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s
previous books so the beginning attachment to the characters was a little slow for me, especially the
cats. However, once the characters were embedded in my brain, the book flowed.

The cat community was fun and delightful to read about their daily challenges and triumphs. The book
was well-balanced between the human and the cat lives and discoveries. Both were interesting,
especially when they overlapped.

Shirley Rousseau Murphy has won numerous National Cat Writers’ Association Awards for the Best
Novel of the Year, naturally featuring cats. She also has written many children’s novels and resides in

I look forward to reading her next cat adventure.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Outwitted: A Sadie Witt Mystery
Beth Solheim
Echelon Press
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-59080-666-1
280 pages

It seems like each one of us has at least one person in their life that just irritates them. Sadie Witt has a few of those people in her life. One of them is a local judge who seems desperate to buy one particular cabin from Sadie who with her sister owns a resort in northern Minnesota. No, they do not intend to sell one of their cabins. It really doesn’t make sense why anyone would want to buy it.

Sadie also has a few other jobs to supplement her income. One of them is assisting the local funeral director and the other one is being a death coach. You don’t make money being a death coach; you just help those who are recently deceased in making peace and finishing up their earthly life to finding the light.

Sadie is a sixty-four year old twin. She likes her hair colored in bright colored spikes while wearing a tube top to show off her tattoo. Her sister, Jane, dresses like one would expect for someone that age. Added to that is Nan who runs the nearby mortuary. Irritating her is her ex-husband, Clay, who just happens to be temporarily living in the cabin the judge wants to buy. Bernie, a recent resort resident, seems to have his eye on Jane. Added to this crew is Aanders, Clay and Nan’s son, who is also a death coach and is just learning what to do. There also are two recently deceased souls who are only seen by Sadie and Aanders, Jed who is looking for his sister who has been missing for fifteen years, and Sally who is a young child recently died.

Outwitted is light and fun. This is a cozy mystery with likeable and believable characters that are eccentric enough to be your family members. The story is well-organized, even if somewhat predictable.

Beth Solheim works in human resources at a hospital for her real job and at night is a writer. She resides in Minnesota.

I look forward to more Sadie Witt stories.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

This Body of Death

This Body of Death
Elizabeth George
Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-06-204485-3
976 pages
$ 9.99

Death is seldom simple. When investigating a murder, it unravels the victim’s life and usually leaves the faults of the individual with any possible negative choices being blatantly exposed for the investigators.

A woman is found brutally murdered in a cemetery. Apparently she chose to meet someone there. Why would anyone meet someone in a graveyard? That is the question that Scotland Yard is asking. With no identification, the only clue the investigators have is the oddity that she has eyes that are two different colors, one blue and one brown.

At this same time Meredith Powell decides that old grudges are not worth the cost of a friendship. For her previous friend’s birthday, she baked a cake. However when she went to deliver the gift, the business her friend owned was empty and she could not find her. She even went to her friend’s brother, who also could not find Jemima Hastings.

Investigating this crime are many characters from George’s previous novels, Thomas Lynley, Barbara Havers, and Winston Nkata. Lynley is returning after the death of his wife. Barbara Havers, the mistress of dowdiness, is having style conflicts with the new acting superintendent, and Nkata still follows the rules and tries to smooth over the awkward situations.

This story involves a crime within a crime. Numerous topics are addressed such as juvenile delinquents, the apprenticeship for roof thatchers, the government’s secrecy program for those in systems like the witness protection programs, buried Roman treasures, mask making, agisters who protect the ponies on the nature preserve that William the Conqueror founded in the eleventh century, and paranoia are all combined into this cohesively interwoven mystery.

The one problem I found disturbing was when a violinist was hurt, no one cared about his violin. Musicians feel that the instrument is an extension of them, especially professionals.

Even though the novel was lengthy, there was not one time when I was not wondering about how this story could conclude. If you have not read previous novels by Elizabeth George, I would not recommend that you start with this one. Read some of her much earlier works to really attach and understand these characters. For those of us Elizabeth George fans, I was pleased that this novel is returning to her previous style and not as depressing as her other recently published mysteries.

To keep a story interesting and engaging for almost a thousand pages is an immense task. Elizabeth George succeeded and excelled with This Body of Death.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Yellow House

Patricia Falvey
Irish Books
Hachette Book Group
February 2010
ISBN: 978-1-59995-201-7
352 pages

Ireland is known for its longtime conflicts especially between its Catholics and Protestants as well as the Nationalists and the British. During the early 1900s, Eileen O’Neil grew up with loving parents in a family that managed to get by financially. When her little sister became ill, the family could not afford the needed care for her and were faced with the possibility of placing her in the Fever Hospital, which was essentially a poor house for the extremely ill to die. Eileen’s mother returned to her estranged home, to her wealthy father, to ask for help. He agreed with the condition that she leave her husband and move her family back into her childhood home. She refused. This defiance molded Eileen’s life.

In a few years, Eileen finds herself working at a clothing mill where she befriends Theresa Conlon. Her brother, James, who is studying for the priesthood is the center of their family. As Eileen marries him, she discovers what it means to be an Irish nationalist and a leader in the fight. She also begins to understand her own internal civil war with having people that she cares for on opposite sides.

The Yellow House is a historical romantic novel dealing with the early twentieth -century and going through the World War I. The story if fluid, the characters believable, and the real events are historically correct. For me, the story was enjoyable and enthralling until I figured out that this is a basic romance novel. The ending is a predictable romantic fairy tale with all the threads neatly tied up.

Patricia Falvey as a child lived in Northern Ireland and then moved to England. As a young adult she immigrated to the US and worked for the Job Corps. Eventually she enrolled at Suffolk University in Boston. She now resides in Dallas.

The Yellow House is wonderful romantic and historic adventure into the previous century in Ireland.

A Passionate Engagement: A Memoir

Ken Harvey
Pleasure Book Studio
November 2010
Trade paperback
ISBN: 978-1-929355-68-60-307-26986-7
208 pages

Change is difficult for everyone individually. For society, change is never fast enough and an extremely lengthy and threatening process. In this country, we have had tremendous social change in the past century beginning with women’s right to vote, to civil rights, to now the acceptance of same-sex marital partners.

A Passionate Engagement is the story of Ken Harvey who knew most of his life that he was different. He discovered fairly early in his life that he was gay. This is his story about his trials and triumphs and finally finding contentment with his life partner as he continues his fight for equality of marital partnerships.

This memoir brings the issue of same-sex relationships to a personal connection. The author passionately explains his thoughts, choices, and actions with numerous integral decisions about his life. From the political high of a roller coaster ride of acceptance for same sex marriages to the plunge when laws are repealed through the justice system, A Passionate Engagement accurately reports the developments across the nation as society still struggles with the subject of same-sex marital relationships.

Ken Harvey previous published the novel, If You Were with Me, Everything Would Be All Right which is a collection of short stories centering around the gay community. He has spent many years as a teacher and working with the political system for improving gay rights.

This memoir reads easily and quickly. The time periods are evenly balanced and are connecting all the readers to understand his point-of-view. For those who do not understand the issues, A Passionate Engagement is an excellent resource for viewing the issues from all perspectives. With many states questioning the issues of same-sex marriage, this is a wonderful memoir to better understand the reasons for change in our country’s future.