Sunday, September 30, 2018

All I Ever Wanted, by David Neth (author), Drew Malone Nienhaus (narrator)

David Neth, 2018

Leo and his mother have faced some challenging times, struggling to make ends meet, since Leo's father left. With very little money, Leo is looking for the perfect Mother's Day gift, when he finds a gravy boat in a local shop. It looks a lot like one of the family heirlooms they had to sell for money to get by on, and he hopes his mother will really like it.

It turns out to be a genie's lamp.

The genie, whose name is Felix, of course offers him three wishes. Well, not so much offers. He needs Leo to accept and use those three wishes.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Death Unholy (DI Tremayne #1), by Phillip Strang

Phillip Strang, September 2017

This is the first of the DI Tremayne murder mysteries. Tremayne is in his fifties, an older cop accustomed to older ways, not entirely comfortable with the changes--but not ready to retire, much though Superintendent Moulton would like him to. His partner is DS Clare Yarwood--young, eager for a career in homicide, and very comfortable with computers, the internet, and what they can do.

For both good and ill, she's also not old, hardened, and cynical, like Tremayne.

This case starts with what doesn't at first glance appear to be a murder, just a strange and unexplained death, apparently by spontaneous human combustion. But Tremayne doesn't believe in unexplained deaths, especially not the kind that leave no evidence of the cause.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Little Red Rodent Hood (Hamster Princess #6), by Ursula Vernon (author), Eva Kaminsky (narrator)

Recorded Books, September 2018

Ursula Vernon is, as always, a delight.

In this case, she takes the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and turns it inside out and sideways, with wonderful results.

Princess Harriet Hamsterbone and her friend Wilbur respond to a plea from a very odd young hamster girl, dressed all in red. and mount their riding quail to go to the aid of her grandmother. Grandmother's cottage in the woods is surrounded by weaselwolves of nefarious intent...

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Tuscan Child, by Rhys Bowen (author), Jonathan Keeble (narrator), Katy Sobey (narrator)

Audible Studios, February 2018

Hugo Langley, English airman, son and heir of a baronet, is shot down over Italy in 1944. Sofia Bartoli, young mother, and wife of a soldier fighting in North Africa, finds him, and hides him in the ruins of a monastery bombed by the allies after the Germans had occupied it and turned it into a military strong point.

Thirty years later, Joanna Langley returns to her father's home to arrange his funeral and settle his estate, such as it is. Most of it was lost to death duties when Hugo returned home at the end of the war, his father dead, the estate occupied by British troops for most of the war, and his wife and son departed for America. Joanna is the daughter of his second marriage, and her mother died when she was eleven.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Malice at the Manor (Penny Summers #2), by J. Marshall Gordon

Taylor & Seale Publishing, April 2018

Penny Summers, a former Navy public affairs officer now out of the Navy and starting her own landscape design business, has traveled from Maryland to North Carolina with her friend and teacher, Madison Lerrimore. They're there to visit Brantleigh Manor, the (fictional) last garden designed by Frederick Law Olmsted before his death. A secondary goal is for Madison to meet and reconcile with her former stepfather, Wayland Morgan, who has become a Civil War enthusiast and reenactor, and who works as a docent, impersonating Olmsted, at Brantleigh Manor. They're staying with Penny's great-aunt, Zelma Porter. Penny doesn't really believe in her aunt's claimed psychic abilities, despite the fact that she (Penny) has her grandfather, Zelma's late brother, Jack, in her head making comments and suggestions.

That sounds like a lot going on. It only scratches the surface. Madison's goal in meeting her former stepfather again isn't reconciliation. She's got a serious and legitimate grudge, regardless of what one thinks of her method of resolving it.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Benjamin's Bride (Lawmen's Brides #2), by Natalie Dean

September 2018

Mary-Lee Jameson's father, Texas Ranger Aurelius Jameson, left some crucial papers with her and rode away from the home she lived in with her nanny and the housekeeper, when she was twelve. It was not long before, her father missing and presumed dead, her uncle, Augustus, arrives to take her from Oklahoma to Kansas. He has no time to waste from his criminal activities on raising his brother's daughter, so he sends her to school.

Eight years later, he still wants the papers he suspects her father gave her, and which he still hasn't found. At twenty, she's working as a teacher, but he figures he can force her to marry Lance Townsend, who'll beat out of her the papers' hiding place and split the wealth with Augustus Jameson.

Because the papers are the deeds to gold mines. Mary-Lee knows that now, and that she's rich if she can hang on to them--and a dependent victim if she allows herself to be forced to marry Townsend.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Single Malt Murder (Whisky Business Mystery #1), by Melinda Mullet (author), Gemma Dawson (narrator)

Audible Studios, June 2017

When the uncle who raised her dies, Abigail Logan inherits a highly regarded whisky distillery in Scotland. Unfortunately, Abi is a photojournalist experienced at doing her work in war zones, not a distiller, or even much of a whisky drinker. With her friend Patrick, a writer for Wine & Spirits, and her Irish terrier, Liam, she heads off to  Scotland, expecting to attend her uncle's funeral, settle the estate, and put in motion plans to sell the distillery to someone better qualified to run it.

That lasts until, on the one hand, people start telling her that women can't run distilleries, and on the other hand, the threatening notes start arriving.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Hiding With the Billionaire (Billionaires of REKD #1), by Donna K. Weaver

Emerald Arch Publishing, September 2018

Billionaire romances are not usually my thing; they often feel especially artificial. I can't necessarily claim this one is grounded solidly in reality, but I like the characters. They, including the four billionaire friends, seem like real, credible, likable people.

The basic background: A few years ago, some Harvard students, while still in grad school, created a game which hit it big, and sold it for millions. With that money, they started their company, REKD, and created a new game, a competitive arena type game, and went big into esports. Our first billionaire, Rafe Davis, is the CEO of the company, and persuaded his friends to locate in his native North Carolina, to be near his mother, stepfather, and younger siblings. Another of the friends, Kayn, has a sister, Ahri, who got married three years ago, to a guy Kayn never approved of.

For the past year, their marriage has been getting steadily worse. Then one day he comes home, tells her he's leaving, and oh, by the way, she needs to get out, too, because otherwise she'll be in real danger. Go to her mother, or her brother.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Dark Tide Rising (William Monk #24), by Anne Perry

Random House/Ballantine Books, ISBN 9780399179914, September 2018

Businessman Harry Exeter comes to Oliver Rathbone, who summons old friend and Thames River Police Commander William Monk, on a nasty, wet, cold evening.

Exeter's wife Kate has been kidnapped. The kidnappers are demanding a large ransom--one he can, with some difficulty, raise. He's ready to pay, in order to get his beloved wife back. Yet it has to be delivered on Jacob's Island, less an island than a slum built on a swamp and sinking into the river. He needs knowledgeable and trustworthy escort to even get to the right spot.

Of course Monk agrees. It's the only think to do. (Even the US was still decades away from the events that led to today's now long-standing Never Pay Ransom policy on the part of law enforcement.) He carefully selects a small team of his most trusted, reliable men, and escorts Exeter when the time comes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Captive on the Fens (DI Nikki Galena #6), by Joy Ellis (author), Henrietta Meire (narrator)

Tantor Audio, September 2017

DS Jospeh Easter's daughter, Tamsin, is about to marry Niles, a young detective constable with the Greenborough police force. Freddie Carver, a vicious criminal boss formerly based in London and more recently hanging out in Spain, is apparently in Greenborough and planning to stay. Joseph and DI Nikki Galena are determined to  catch him before he becomes a fixture in their district. Two dead young women have turned up, both apparently held prisoner and tortured for some time before being killed and dumped.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Lost Carousel of Provence, by Juliet Blackwell

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780451490636, September 2018

Orphan Cady Drake grew up in Oakland, in foster care and group homes, until, finally, stealing something from an antiques shop, or trying to, throws her into the path of Maxine, the antique store owner. Now Maxine has died, Cady has lost her unborn, accidental baby to a miscarriage, and even finding new photography assignments seems too much.

Her only other friend, Olivia, is unwilling to leave it at that, though. Cady has an antique carousel rabbit Maxine gave her, believed to have been made by French sculptor and carousel maker, Gustave Bayol. Cady is fascinated by its past and by carousels, and suggests she go to France to photograph French carousels for a book on the history of carousels in France. And as it happens, she's already pitched the idea to a publisher her magazine works with. It's approved; Cady just has to agree.

Cady is not initially enthusiastic, in part because she finds coping with people challenging in the best of circumstances, never mind in a foreign country where she knows no one, and her mastery of the language is imperfect. But she has no other plans, and has to do something...

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Mistress of Pennington's, by Rachel Brimble

Aria, July 2018

It's 1910, the women's suffrage movement is in full swing in the UK, and Elizabeth Pennington, daughter of Edward Pennington, owner of the finest shop for men's and women's clothing and accessories in Bath, is determined to succeed her father as the store's head. Unfortunately, Edward Pennington doesn't believe women, including his daughter, are capable of being competent business people. He has grudgingly made her head of the women's department, and she's doing well, but what does that prove?

Joseph Carter is a glove maker in Bath. He and his father run Carter & Son, making and selling gloves and hats for women. Yet the time of the small, independent shop is passing, the elder Carter is approaching an age where he should be retiring, and Joseph has a vision of making his gloves known, admired, and wanted on a much larger scale. Pennington's is, potentially, the key to that.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Bloodlines:Cove Point Manor, by William B. Taylor (author), Bill Nevill (narrator)

William B. Taylor, March 2018

Alex Tinsdill takes a Y-chromosome DNA test, hoping to learn more about his paternal family prior to his great-grandparents. Not long after uploading his results, he's contacted by a New York City lawyer, telling him he is the long-sought heir to a fortune and a large estate on Long Island.

With little to hold him in Toronto, he figures it can't hurt to go to New York and check this out. Having learned the truth about his ancestry--his great-grandparents made creative use of the truth, though what they said certainly wasn't all lies--he goes to Long Island to see his new property. There he meets Maggie, the property manager who has maintained the property for years, having inherited the job from her father and grandfather.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Leverage in Death (In Death #47), by J.D. Robb (author), Susan Eriksen (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, September 2018

Dallas, Roarke, Peabody, and the rest are confronting a nasty pair of killers, smart, capable, but definitely not pros, engaged in a bizarre and deadly form of market manipulation. The very first victim is a man who walks into the meeting where the luxury airline he works for and an economy airline are going to finalize their merger, and blows himself up with a suicide vest, killing eleven other people and injuring more.

He had absolutely no discernible motive to do this. He was heard to say to the president of his company, right before he detonated the bomb, "I'm sorry, I don't have a choice." He had plans for celebrations after the meeting, first with his own staff, and then with his wife and daughter.

The wife and daughter are found, alive but somewhat battered, and bound with zip ties, at home.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Coming Storm, by Michael Lewis

Audible Studios, July 2018

The age of Big Data is upon us, and mostly what we hear are the troubling and potentially terrifying consequences of business and government having easy access to all of our data. That's a real problem that we have to devote time and attention to dealing with.

Yet Big Data can do many other things, many of them very beneficial. The misnamed Department of Commerce collects enormous amounts of data about, among other things, the weather. Before the growth of the internet into its modern form, that data mostly sat on paper, and later on tape, and eventually some of it on servers, in the bowels of NOAA--the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, inside the Commerce Dept. Then a grad student with the foresight to see how useful vast stores of data could be went looking for weather data to test out a theory for his research, and stumbled upon a hole in the Commerce Dept. systems that let him download that data and work with it.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Restriction (The Rise of Magic #1), by C.M. Raymond (author), L.E. Barbant (author), Michael Anderle (author), Kate Rudd (narrator)

LMBPN Publishing, July 2017

This is the first book of a trilogy, set in the already  well-developed fictional universe of the Kurtherian Gambit, which is founded on (Arthur C.) Clarke's law, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

I haven't read any of the previous Kurtherian Gambit books, so some of what I say that relates to previous events may be imprecise or just wrong.

The invention and escape into the wild of nanotechnology caused major changes in humanity, changes which allowed some people to attain powers not easily distinguishable from magic, some became vampires, ore werewolves, and others to just go completely mad and turn into cannibals. This is called The Age of Madness, and it lasted entirely too long. There was a long-ruling vampire named Michael, and faces with yet another attempt to overthrow him, he recruits Bethany Anne. She becomes, among other things, one of the major mythic figures of the world that will follow her. I think this is when humans start to get real control of the "magic" that is now inside every single human.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Hunter's Revenge (The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries #2), by Val Penny

Crooked Cat Books, September 2018

DI Hunter Wilson, of the Edinburgh police force, iis called to the home of crime scene investigator George Reinbold, who has been murdered. He was shot in the forehead once, and killed instantly, to be found not long after by a young woman delivering a package he'd ordered.

He quickly finds that George had unusually strong security for his home, which is only partly explained by insurance requirements for the valuable collection of first edition children's books his friends and colleagues also didn't know he had. Investigating George's murder is going to mean investigating George, both his present, and his past, in East Germany, which he left when he was eighteen.

Meanwhile, there's also a new supply of high-quality cocaine coming into Scotland from Peru, and the two cases don't remain separate for long. A dealer in high-end cars, now in jail for bank robbery, the drug dealer who used the car dealer's business as a distribution point, and the corrupt former head of the Edinburgh police force and father of  Hunter's second, are all locked up in the same prison.  This proves useful.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds (Barnabas Tew #2), by Columbkill Noonan

Crooked Cat Books, September 2018

Barnabas Tew and Wilfred Colby, having completed their unwanted assignment in the Egyptian Land of the Dead, have been helpfully packed off to the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology, to help Odin out with a  little problem. Loki's bowl, that is, the silver bowl that his wife, Sigyn, uses to catch the venom that a snake is dripping on the face of the bound Loki, has been stolen. Odin wants to know by who, and he wants the bowl back.

Since neither Barnabas nor Wilfred has ever studied Norse mythology they understand even less of what's going on in the Nine Worlds than they did in the Land of the Dead. Since everyone around them is treating all this knowledge as self-evident, it takes them a while to work out that catching the falling venom is essential to prevent, or at least delay, the start of Ragnarok, because with every drop that falls on Loki's face, he struggles mightily to break loose of his bonds. This causes earthquakes, and if he does it long enough, his bonds will eventually break. Then he heads off to seek revenge, and Ragnarok, the end of the world, starts.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Death in the Village (DI Tremayne #6), by Phillip Strang

Phillip Strang, August 2018

DI Tremayne is edging ever closer to accepting the inevitability of retirement, as his body gets creakier, and technology plays an ever-greater role in policing. Tremayne is an old-fashioned police officer, wearing out shoe leather tracking down evidence. Looking for evidence electronically, and filing reports electronically, is alien to him. Yet he wants Detective Sergeant Clare Yarwood to succeed him in his job, so he needs to hold on a bit longer, so she can pass exams and qualify.

He also has no idea what he'll do when he retires, since crime solving is all he cares about.

In the meantime, he and Clare have another murder to solve, this time in the village of Compton. A malicious, self-righteous gossip has been found hanged in  her own barn, and pretty much everyone has some sort of a motive. Most of them--most of the inhabitants of the tiny village--aren't especially likable either.

And, it turns out, even as the bodies accumulate, nobody wants to talk to the police, who aren't part of their incestuous little village.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Just Add Water (Hetta Coffey #1), by Jinx Schwartz (author), Beth Richmond (narrator)

Books in Motion, ISBN 9781605482064, December 2008 (original publication August 2004)

Hetta Coffey is an engineering consultant who, at the beginning of this book, is working for an American consulting company in Japan. Her fiancée, an American whom she met after arriving in Japan, is working at another company.

When he is found to be stealing from the company and using company shipments to smuggle stolen goods, he gets out ahead of being arrested, and along the way cleans out her bank account. The only thing he can't get is the key to a certain locker, that he left in her innocent keeping, which she wears on a chain around her neck.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Quiet Side of Passion (Isabel Dalhousie #12), by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Davina Porter (narrator)

Recorded Books, July 2018

Charlie is now attending nursery school, and Isabel and Jamie take turns delivering him and picking him up. Thus it happens that Isabel is there at the gate one day, to meet Charlie's new friend, Basil Phelps, Jr., and his mother, Patricia, a musician whom Jamie occasionally works with.

Patricia seems unusually eager to make friends.

That night, Jamie shares the unexpected information that Basil Phelps, Jr., is rumored to be the unacknowledged son of a prominent organist, Basil Phelps. Jamie has worked with each of them, and they are both well known in the Edinburgh music community.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

A Liaden Universe Constellation, Vol. 1, by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

Baen Books, December 2013

This is a larger collection of Liaden Universe shorter fiction. Some of the stories here I've read and reviewed in the earlier chapbooks, but some were new to me. Daav is, as a result of his very courtesy to the young daughter of a clan allied with Korval, is backed into a corner where he can't avoid a duel with that clan's heir. He can't avoid it; he can't kill the other clan's heir. He finds his solution in a very clever choice of weapons.

We also get the story, which I've wondered about, of how Ren Zel came to be expelled from his clan.