Friday, December 27, 2013

The Paris Architect

The Paris Architect
Charles Belfoure
Sourcebooks Landmark
Naperville, Illinois
ISBN: 978-1402284311           
$ 25.99
364 pages      
During World War II, life in France had to be immensely difficult especially while being occupied by the German troops. Whether waiting in long lines for basic food supplies or the fear of being questioned by the Gestapo. had to make life intense, stressful, and challenging. For many people it was a “no-win” situation. If you assisted the Germans, you were often entitled to more of the everyday goods that were scarce but your neighbors would think of you as a traitor. If you did not help the Germans, you were frequently harassed, sometimes arrested and questioned and had difficulty obtaining the basic necessities that were needed for daily survival.
Given the situation for those unfortunate Jews living in Paris at this time, they were either killed or shipped off to a camp.
What if you knew a Jewish family or helped this family? If the Germans discovered this charity, it usually meant death for both.
For Lucien Bernard, life is hard but not overly stressful. As an unemployed architect, he has lived somewhat comfortably from his money inherited by his wife. Life is not the way he planned or wanted but all that is about to change.
Lucien is asked to examine a residence and to create the perfect place to hide people. He doesn't want to be involved with the hiding of any Jews, but the money is definitely enticing. If anyone is caught who knows that he designed the undetectable hiding space, he knows that even without direct involvement, he would be killed. The less he knows about the who and the why of his brilliant hide aways, the better.
By excelling in this challenge, he also finds himself being recommended to the German hierarchy to build factories to supply the needs of the war. At the same time, he continues to map out the perfect hiding place for Jews who are being pursued by the Gestapo. Can anyone handle being on both sides of the War? Both sides consider his designs to be brilliant.
The Paris Architect perfectly mixes history and architecture into a novel of historical romance. This addictive page-turner flows from one dangerous situation to the next with sometimes overlapping the events. The strength of the novel is the ethical situations for Lucien and how he chooses to approach these questionable activities. The writing is so descriptive that the reader can actual see the building, the hiding places, as well as the people and their clothes. This gives the reader the feeling of actually being beside Lucien in the story.
Author Charles Belfoure is an architect. He has written many architectural histories as well as working with the Baltimore Sun and the New York Times as a freelance writer. His specialty is historic preservation.
The Paris Architect is for anyone who enjoys a historical fiction novel with some architectural challenges. I will never even consider now to build a hidden room in the back of a closet , behind a bookcase, or around a fireplace after reading this novel. So where can I find a secret room?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

When Christmas Bells are Ringing

When Christmas Bells are Ringing
Back to Omaha Adventure
Jewell Tweedt
Amazon Digital Services
ISBN: 978-1492348009
138 pages

Being a widow during 1878 was not easy for anyone, especially for those who were living in the frontier town of Omaha, Nebraska. Connie Simonson is attempting to successfully operate two cafes and is discovering that sometimes you can't be in two places at once while being a single parent raising a son.
Dr. James Connor is the only doctor in the town of Omaha. He can't keep up with the needs of the city as it is quickly growing. When an outbreak of influenza descends on the residents of the town afflicting the youngest citizens, how will he keep up without the town developing an epidemic?

It is almost as if the town needs a miracle. Where are those guardian angels when you need them?
This short novel is a refreshing voice in today's literature. The underlying themes of doing the right thing and treating people with dignity and fairness are invigorating in a romantic story with a Christian basis. The story is short but well-organized with likeable characters who have to make difficult choices decisions in what seems like no-win situations.

"When Christmas Bells are Ringing" is the fourth and final book in Jewell Tweedt's "Back to Omaha Adventures" following Faith of the Heart, Still Faithful, and Faith and Hope – Grace's Story. Because this story depends on the characters and events of the previous novels, I highly recommend that at least you read the first two books in this series before reading this one.
Jewell Tweedt hails from Omaha, Nebraska even though she currently teaches American History to middle school students while she resides in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

All of Jewell Tweedt's books are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Also all of this series of books are available from the author who can be contacted at .

Jewell has recently signed with Prism Book Group who will work with her on her future novels.
"When Christmas Bells are Ringing" is for those people who enjoy a well-written Christian historical romance story with characters who have in-depth characters from these "Back to Omaha Adventures" about our own metropolitan area.



Hilary Fields
Hachette Book Group
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0316277389
November 2013
$ 16.00
352 pages

When your lover is your boss, life can be challenging. For young newcomer to the world of gourmet competition and master chefs Serafina Wilde is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with a famous chef. However, when the best is your boss and partner, life can be crowded when the ego and temperament are included in the package.
Yes, he values her desserts especially when customers are thrilled. No one can create a wedding cake like Sera but it is her boss who receives the recognition, not her.

Unfortunately, his ego needs to be constantly uplifted and he seems to delight in humiliating Serafina. She turns to alcohol. Naturally she is fired and looses her lover, forcing her to find her own place to live. Now that she is blacklisted, who will hire her as a chef?

A phone call from Sera's aunt, Pauline in Sante Fe changes everything. Her aunt has lost her partner and needs help. Could this be a blessing in disguise?The business owned by her aunt turns out to be “Pauline's House of Passion”, Pauline would like for Sera to take over the front of the store featuring her delicious desserts with the backroom still remaining as the sensuality lessons. Life will be interesting with Sera selling desserts out of the front and her aunt selling sexual toys in the back room. How will this combination of a store be successful?
Bliss is a romantic comedy for those who enjoy chic lit with books like Bridget Jones and The Devil Wears Prada. Unquestionably, the intended audience is for the up and coming females in their twenties and thirties. The story is well-organized, laughable, and delightful. The story moves quickly and does deal with lesbian relationships and sexual topics rather openly and bluntly.
Hilary Fields is a New Yorker who currently makes her home in Sante Fe, New Mexico somewhat similar to her character Serafina Bliss. She has written three historical romances as well as working as a copywriter and web editor.

Bliss is a humorous page-turner for those who enjoy a fast-paced romp.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Sarah Pinborough
Jo Fletcher Books
Quercus Publishing
Random House Publishing
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-1-62365-086-5
January 2014      
320 pages      
Most people have heard about the legendary serial killer of the late 1800s in London, Jack the Ripper. Part of his fame was due to his letters to the media, However at the same time and also in London and during this same time in the mid-1880s another serial killer was active who also preyed on women who were on the streets.
His manner was different from the notorious Jack the Ripper. Known to Scotland Yard as The Torso Killer, he dismembered his victims after killing them and tossed the remains into the Thames. He did keep one souvenir of his victims, their heads.
Dr. Thomas Bond, as police surgeon, begins to investigates these killings. He is one of the first to notice that there are two separate killers even though both are brutal. With the usage of opium, he begins to make connections to the identity of the killer that seems to elude the police.
The opium dens happen to be where the doctor connects with a priest and a hairdresser who believe they know the identity of The Torso Killer. The doctor though is a friend of this man's family and does not want to believe it. Could someone of his social class be this type of murderer? What could cause such an evil to possess any person? Are his family and friends safe?
Mayhem has the reader viewing these killings through the eyes of the forensic doctor, Dr. Bond as he investigates both the brutality of Jack the Ripper and The Torso Killer. You feel his triumphs and his frustrations as well as the investigation continues.
In “Mayhem” you even experience life in London in the late 1800s during this time of the brutal killings and feel the fear of the residents. The historical descriptions are phenomenal especially the sights, smells, and sight of being inside an opium den.
The story is paced through Dr. Bond's perspective and deals with his guilt, fears, and thoughts throughout the investigation. Because of this, the pacing is sometimes erratic, but so is the doctor. Sarah Pinborough perfectly matched the character as the investigation developed even sometimes leaving the doctor exhausted.
The capturing of the setting in “Mayhem” from the varying residential and business areas of London to the prostitutes and the area around the river, allows a window into the past to view what is difficult for us to actually experience.
Sarah Pinborough is a British author, teacher, writer, and screenwriter specializing in horror and the supernatural. Using the name Sarah Silverwood, she has written fantasy novels for children. Sarah's books were finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the World Fantasy Award. She has won the British Fantasy Award for the Best Short Story in 2010.
“Mayhem” is a brilliant story encompassing Jack the Ripper and The Torso Killer in a well-organized hypnotic tale.


Shadows of the Alchemist

Shadow of the Alchemist
Jeri Westerson
Minotaur Books
St.. Martin's Press
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-1-00030-9
October 2013
$ 25.99
305 pages

According to Shakespeare, Richard II was a memorable and fickle ruler of England. That was part of the reason that eventually he was deposed. While he ruled, those he did not favor, were frequently executed. Fortunately for Crispin Guest, he only lost his riches, land, and life of privilege. However, how does someone who has only lived the noble life adjust to living on the streets?
Crispin Guest discover that he possesses a natural gift of being a tracker. He logically views the evidence of a crime that leads him to the culprit. Basically, a tracker is a private investigator for hire during the Middle Ages. Frequently, this places him in opposition to the local law enforcement being the Sheriffs.

Living a hand to mouth existence is difficult with always being on the edge of survival. Due to the brutal circumstances of life, Crispin also as a young apprentice who previously had been an orphaned and survived by thieving. Jack Tucker feels fortunate to be able to learn from the legendary tracker, Crispin Guest.
Nicholas Flamel, famed alchemist, hires Crispin to rescue his missing wife who has been kidnapped. However, the ransom is the famed Philosopher's Stone, the legendary stone created from lead and turned to gold and immortality. Does the stone really work? Does Flamel have the knowledge of immortality?   This is "Shadow of the Alchemist" by Jeri Westerson.

Jeri Westerson's writing is magical in that she literally transports you into a different time and place. She is masterful with all the small details of a setting establishing the sights, sounds, and smells of London in the late 1300s for the reader without the dangers of actually being there.
In “Shadow of the Alchemist”, the characters are believable intermixing with real historical people making these people come to life. Especially for someone like Nicholas Flamel is daring since he was a real alchemist of the late Middle Ages even though he is also known for being in the Harry Potter series. Jeri Westerson's story shows a deeper insight into the person while adding depth and a deeper understanding to the problems of the time within the story.
“Shadow of the Alchemist”is the fifth book in the Crispin Guest series by Jeri Westerson following "Veil of Lies", "Serpent in the Thorns", The Demon's Parchment", "Troubled Bones", and "Blood Lance”. Each of these books is rich in the history of the late Middle Ages with life in England during Richard III. All of these books can be read as stand-a-lone novels. With Jeri Westerson's writing style, once you begin any of these books, you will want to read all of them. Warning, once you begin any of her books, you will want to read all of them. Her books are addictive.
Coincidentally, I was watching the video, "The Hollow Crown" about Shakespeare's Richard II while reading this book. It was fascinating how both helped me to visualize the events and to better understand this ruler in the DVD and the novel.
Anyone who enjoys historical fiction, will be mesmerized by “Shadows of the Alchemist”.
Personally, if I had to return to London in the year of 1388, I would want Crispin Guest to be my guide and am delighted to view the story through his eyes and not to have to experience it myself.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Growing up, most people vividly remember a family from their neighborhood that they probably avoided. This family usually was poorer and had developed survival skills that were not always socially acceptable. There usually was at least one bully in that family, and sometimes every member of that family was a bully.
Charlie knew this family well. In fact, Charlie knew them so well that he loved going to church. He loved going to church because that was the one safe place. None of the Herdman children had ever stepped a foot into a church. Then Charlie's choice of words changed all that.
He happened to mention all the good things about church. He mentioned the cakes, donuts, and all those wonderful sweet joys of church that were too appealing for them to resist.

Unfortunately, the week the Herdman children decided to visit the church was also the week that parts were being assigned in the annual Christmas pageant. For years, the same people had owned their roles but things were about to change. The fearless leader of this pageant had fallen and was unable to lead this year. Who would lead it this year?

That is "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" which is being performed as a readers' theater this weekend at the Chanticleer Theater located at 830 Franklin Ave. in Council Bluffs.
Charlie, portrayed by Nolan King, is a delightful character with his constant worry about the Herdman children and his concern about is being a shepherd, again. As his sister, Beth, Rachael Schnitker demonstrated a mature stage presence in leading this production. Other children participating are Wyatt Sargent, Emma Chvala, David Wright, Chase Sargent, Natalie Simons, Emily Umphreys, and Jacob Umphreys.
Unquestionably, Denise Putnam stole the show as the Mother who is burdened with being in charge of the church's Christmas pageant and dealing with the Herdman children who had no previous knowledge of the Christmas story, the boredom of the previous participants, and a threat to burning down the church.
With the Christmas songs, Terry DeBenedictis sang a beautiful descant in one while Jerry Gray added wonderful harmony.
The show lasts about an hour and continues Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Ticket costs are $ 25 for adults and $ 10 for students with a donation to the food bank. For reservations contact the theater at or call the box office at (712) 323-9955.
For those who enjoy a lively and short show, this is the perfect event this weekend for the entire family.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Priests

Last Saturday at the Holland Performing Arts Center was a rare experience for area music lovers, The Priests made their Omaha debut to a full audience in the Kiewit Concert Hall.
Members of this group are three Irish priests who began to sing together about forty years ago when they were in school together. For the past four years Frs. Martin O'Hagan, Eugene O'Hagan, and David Delargy have joined to share their musical gifts with the world. Although well-known in Europe and Australia, this was their first exposure to America with Omaha being their last stop before returning to Ireland.

The first part of the program featured classically religious music such as "How Great Thou Art", Schubert's "Ave Maria", Franck's "Panis Angelicus", Karl Jenkins' “Ave Verum” and Vivaldi's "Laudamus Te". A new selection which was written by a friend of the three, "Ring Out Your Praise" was sung and enthusiastically received. The second half of the program focused on Christmas favorites including "O Holy Night" as well as "Silent Night" which unquestionably showcased how well these three voices beautifully blended into one and even a few secular selections such as "White Christmas" and "Silver Bells".

What makes The Priests special is their beautifully blended voices. Even though each voice has its own personal texture in tonal quality, together these voices blended as one with perfect diction, unified breathing, and artistic expression.

Also singing was Council Bluffs' resident and U.N.O. professor, Shelby VanNordstrand. She sang four selections focusing on her outstanding talents as a leading soprano in this metropolitan area.
Accompanying both were Keith Plenert and Jeffrey King playing violins, Thomas Kluge with viola, Gregory Clinton playing cello, and Stacie Haneline on keyboard with The Priests' musical director playing the piano. Alone, this group played "Nocturne" which won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1995 by Secret Garden. This selection was wonderfully hypnotic.

Part of the formula that made their songs so outstanding were the written arrangements and the musicians who were the background foundation. These arrangements were a little unusual in that the two violin parts did not just harmonize with each other, but actually were playing counterpoint to each other and to the singers. This created more depth and interest with each selection.

The Priests presented a program of music featuring those well-loved songs of the classical religious tradition mixed with the Christmas melodies of old.


What place is always winter but never Christmas?

For readers of C.S. Lewis, "The Chronicles of Narnia" the answer is obvious, the mythical land of "Narnia" which is currently onstage at The Rose Theater. Narnia is a musical adaptation of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". This musical is very loyal to the book, does involve fighting, violence, loyalty, betrayal, death, sacrifice, and ultimately grace and forgiveness. "Narnia" has a phenomenal cast.

In the 1940s as London prepared for the upcoming war, many families chose to keep their children safe from the bombing by sending them to the country. The four Pevensie children are sent to a distant relative's large estate in the country. Their uncle is not accustomed to children, neither is his staff. Out of boredom, the youngest children enter an old wardrobe, completely filled with clothing hung up, and discover a world unknown to the adults.

The four children were outstanding. As Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie wonderfully portrayed by Kevin Mikuls, Laura Davis, Max Hauze, and Emma Dougherty were the ideal British children complete with British accents exploring the house. All perfectly embrace their parts complete with styles and hair directly from the 1940s. However, Laura Davis unquestionably sings beautifully with a voice that would rival any trained adult singer.

Wai Yim was a superb Tumus. As a faun, he balanced the demand of being both a mythical character with artistry. Walter Shatley was outstanding in his multiple roles as the uncle, Father Christmas, and Aslan. Kirstin Kluver doubled as both the Queen of Narnia and the head housekeeper. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, Patrick Wolfe and Nicklaus Knipe, were humorous while providing comfort and guidance for the children.

The rest of the cast and crew were outstanding in this show. With the clothing representing the 1940s, the costumes, makeup, and hair design, every element was outstanding. The difficulty of recognition of a mythical or real creature while remaining human was mastered. With the sets, props, scenic design, lighting, and sound, all were artistic and beautifully reflective while unfolding the story.

The music literally encircled the story with musical director, Jerry Brabec, former Council Bluffs teacher and musician, leading on the keyboard with John Bennett playing the piano. For me, the outstanding acapella song, "Lay Him in a Field of Flowers" was gorgeous. The harmonies and blending of the children and adult voices was almost hypnotic.

Also, the heartfelt conversation between Aslan and Edmund discussing healing from the inside out rang of the wisdom and the message of loyalty and the love of this legendary tale.

The recommend ages for “Narnia” are 6 to 13 and for those who have read the books. They will thoroughly enjoy this show. For the younger ones, the show could be long and scary if they are not acquainted with the series. The show lasts over two hours with an additional intermission.
"Narnia" is continuing at The Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam Street in Omaha through December 29th with shows at 7 p.m. every Friday and at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. On December 21st, this performance will be interpreted for those hearing impaired and an additional performance at 7 p.m. on December 26th. Tickets can be purchased at discounted prices for main floor seats at all area Hy-Vee stores for $ 20. Also, tickets can be purchased at prices from $20 to $25 by calling the Box Office at (402) 345-4849 or online at

“Narnia” was written to reassure the British children of the good in the world during bad times. This legendary tale continues be a message for all today.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
Chris Grabenstein
Random House
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-3758089-7
$ 16.99
293 pages
"A library doesn't need windows, Andrew. We have books, which are windows into world we never even dreamed possible."

In every family, each person usually thrives best with their individual abilities. For Kyle Keeley, being the youngest in a family with three boys can be a challenge. His oldest brother is gifted athletically, the other brother is the smart one. What gift does that leave for Kyle? He is the game master of board games.
Fortunately Kyle lives in a town with the world's most famous game maker resides. Since the town has been without a library, Mr. Lemoncello has funded a new library for the town. Their town has been without a library for Kyle's entire life. To celebrate, his school is sponsoring an essay contest for the privilege of being one of the first twelve twelve-year olds to compete in a game while locked inside the new library.
There will be special features this particular night turning the library into a form of a real-life board game focusing on the special attributes of this phenomenal building. Each separate part of this huge structure had a different builder so no one except the library director and Mr. Lemoncello are knowledgeable about the entire building.

Being a typical twelve-year-old, Kyle missed the deadline for the essay contest but thought there might be a possibility if he still wrote an essay and sent it directly to Mr. Lemoncello. Would it be accepted? Did he even have a chance?

Reminiscent of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is also a challenging competition between all the candidates. This challenge requires knowledge of both the games created by Mr. Lemoncello as well as well-read twelve year olds.
Chris Grabenstein is an award-winning author of young adult books with his Haunted Mysteries beginning with The Crossroads, as well as the Riley Mack series setting a mystery in Central Park. Also, Mr. Grabenstein is the author of the well-regarded mystery series for adults featuring his creation, John Ceepak (a combination of NCIS Gibbs and 007). He has also been a coauthor with James Patterson most recently with the number one New York Times bestseller I Funny. Mr. Grabenstein resides in New York City.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is intended as a young adult book.  However, any reader will thoroughly enjoy this fast-paced adventure.


The Invention of Clay McKenzie

The Invention of Clay McKenzie

Ed Teja and J. Reid Beckett

Float Street Press

Silver City, NM

ISBN: 1479378216



$ 13.99

306 pages

In the book business today, it is difficult for an unknown author who writes well to become successful. Besides having the skills to be an excellent writer, the authors of today need to be charismatic with the media to become a celebrity in order to make those best selling charts with every published book. The total package is needed for success.

Stephanie Masters works as a junior editor for Icon, a large and successful publishing firm. However, advancement is this competitive business is a matter of luck and capitalizing on any and every advantage.

Stephanie has found the opportunity of a lifetime. In the multitude of submissions to Icon, one manuscript is exceptional. She is aware that if she takes this through the ordinary procedures, this manuscript will probably not be the best seller. This could be her big break of a lifetime.

Why not check this opportunity out to take a chance?

Stephanie decides to take some time off to actually meet the author. What she discovers is a reclusive widower in New Mexico who wishes to be left alone. She knows that she is capable of working with this author to create a phenomenal novel. The problem is that the author will not and can not be the face for this book. He has no charisma and doesn't want it. However, Clay McKenzie is the author's pen name. Can a Clay McKenzie be created as a corporation? Can an actor become this fictional author? Could this work? Could you make money, real money through this corporation?

The Invention of Clay McKenzie is an intriguing tale of a fraud, or is it? Is it legal to create a public author for the general public? What problems could happen? This particular story made me question some of my favorite authors. Are there Clay McKenzie's out in the real world?

Ed Teja and Jim Beckett have created a thought-provoking, well-written novel. Their years of experience in the publishing world from their perspectives have created a unique story that utilizes the excellent writing gifts of both.
The Invention of Clay McKenzie is a book that I recommend for everyone, especially book lovers to read.

The Bat

The Bat
Jo Nesbo
Translated by Don Bartlett

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Vintage Books
Random House
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-345-80709-0
Trade Paperback
$ 14.95
369 pages
Having previously read other books in the Harry Hole series by Jo Nesbo, why wouldn't I want to read the first book of the series introducing the main character, Harry? These books have been translated and available in English, but not in the order they were written or in the series.

Harry Holy is a disgraced Norwegian investigator. Being in an accident has left him battered, bandaged, and carrying feeling of guilt about the death of a fellow officer. Yes, he is an outstanding investigator and a member of the Oslo Crime Squad. His superiors have covered up the fact the Harry was intoxicated as he was driving the vehicle. Now, what do they do with him?
The Bat explains Harry's past and the decision by his superiors to send him to Australia to assist in the death of a Norwegian female. Harry is to assist and not to cause any trouble, in any way. Inger Holter hosted a children's television program for a few years making her a celebrity in her homeland. She was brutally strangled by what is appearing to be a serial killer. There is definitely a pattern to this death.

As he arrives at the Sydney airport, Harry meets his investigative partner, Andrew. Andrew, a former boxer, explains his own Aboriginal heritage as the case develops. Andrew immediately warms to Harry as they investigate every aspect of the crime while noticing that their murderer is beginning to resemble a serial killer with a preference for blonds. As their friendship and trust grows, Harry learns more about Australia and the people and possibly even begins to develop a new special relationship with a woman.

What he did not plan on was becoming too close to this case and people that he questions, quickly become victims.

Jo Nesbo has won numerous writing awards but the one that stands out is for his book, The Redbreast which is considered to be the best Norwegian crime novel of all time which was compiled by Norwegian readers.

Whenever I read an excellent book that was translated, I always wonder if the talent is due to the writer, the translator, the editors, or a winning combination of all three.

Harry Hole in The Bat is a simpler mystery without the darkness of The Redbreast. However, this novel is instrumental in understanding the flawed and fascinating character, Harry Hole.


Mary Anna Evans
Poisoned Pen Press
Scottsdale, AZ

ISBN: 978-1464201-691
Trade Paperback

$ 14.95
250 pages

Most of us think of archaeologists as people who are outside digging in the dirt searching for ancient ruins. That is not a complete picture of these historians. Frequently they are hired in the uncatalogued files of museum archives looking for that special document or picture that will give instantaneous notoriety.
Faye Longchamp Mantooth has been hired to discover proof of spirituality in the small community of Rosebower, New York. This town is proud of its numerous practitioners conducting seances communicating with the spirits of those departed and those special relationships with Tarot cards and crystal balls to predict the future with fortune telling . Realistically, Faye does not believe in the occult and is wondering how the museum owner will react en she fails to discover any evidence. Fortunately, she is able to hire an assistant and finds that this is perfect for her recently adopted seventeen-year-old daughter, Amande. This could be an opportunity for them to work more together and get to know each other better. Unfortunately, this also separates her from her husband and two-year old son.

Establishing friendships and relations with the people of the community along with their questionable practices of levitating tables, spirits speaking, and crystal ball is fascinating for Faye and Amande but immediately the two are distracted by the unfortunate death of a local soothsayer.
Rituals is unusual with its mystery of the occult inside the mystery of the suspicious death of Tilda Armstead whose "utter honesty" in readings made her a community leader. An investigator quickly discovers that the inside room in Tilda's house had been nailed shut from the outside, trapping her in the burning house. However, Tilda had escaped from the burning house and died of smoke inhalation. How did she escape the burning room? Where is the crystal ball that resided in the room? Why is it missing from the burned remains of the house?
Being near to Seneca Falls, New York, Rosebower had frequent visitors from many feminists early in the twentieth century such as Lucretia Mott. Could this town have been instrumental also with feminism?
Lurking throughout the town is Antonia Caruso, also known as Toni the Astonisher, a former magician's assistant/reporter who is searching for proof of the fraudulent ways of the town.
Rituals is a fast-read with strong human relationships complete with doubts, guilt, anxiousness, and murder. Even though this is the eighth novel in Mary Anne Evans' series which can be a stand alone novel. The character development is refreshed for those new readers and to refresh those readers of the previous novels.
Mary Anne Evans is the award-winning author of this series of archeological mysteries featuring Faye Longchamp. Trained as a chemical engineer, Mary Anne Evans integrates her multitude of interests into her stories of Faye.
Rituals is an interesting, realistically written novel that is well-organized and planned with a warm feeling from phenomenally developed characters.