The Woman in the Water by Charles Finch

In 1850 London, Charles Lenox, second son of a Member of Parliament, thinks he wants to be a detective.  This is an occupation looked down on by his peers as an “unsuitable” occupation for someone of his social station and wealth.  But Charles also has considered world travel as an option, to keep himself and his thoughts away from a “forbidden love.” 

When an anonymous writer notifies one of the local tabloid newspapers that he’s already committed a perfect murder, AND that he’s doing to commit another, Lenox hopes he can begin to prove his worth to Scotland Yard.  Though he was unable to prevent the second murder, he did actively help Scotland yard with his insights into the psyche of the killer and got close enough to discovering the identity of the killer, that both he, and those he holds most dear, end up in the murderer’s sights. 

Very engrossing!

Place a hold on this title.

21st Birthday by James Patterson

A Woman’s Murder Club Book

San Francisco “Chronicle” reporter Cindy Thomas is put on the spot by the hysterical ravings of a mom crazed by her daughter and grand-daughter’s disappearance.  The mom accuses the husband, Lucas Burke, of murdering her daughter, Tara, and grand-daughter, Lorrie.  But she has no proof to support her allegations.  Despite her hysteria, this grandmother seems credible to Cindy, so she refers the woman’s concerns to friend and San Francisco Police Detective, Lindsay Boxer.  Unfortunately, Lindsay, a homicide detective, can’t do much about this missing person’s case.  But when baby Lorrie’s body is found, then it’s all hands on deck, including Lindsay’s partner, Richie Conklin whose girlfriend is intrepid reporter Cindy Thomas, Lindsay’s boss, Jackson Brady, who is conveniently married to Assistant DA Yuki Castellano.  Medical Examiner, and Women’s Murder Club member Claire Washburn, gets involved with the case too. 

This is typical Patterson – fast-paced and engaging, but ultimately – for me – a bit disappointing.  I felt some timing issues were a bit odd.  For example, Lindsay seemed to be in multiple places at the same time on occasion.  The ending was somewhat unsatisfying, leaving me with the question – did they catch two murderers, or just one?  Don’t let this dissuade you from picking this up – it was an enjoyable book to read.

Place a hold on this title.

Fortune & Glory: Tantalizing Twenty-Seven by Janet Evanovich

Fugitive apprehension agent – AKA bounty hunter – Stephanie Plum is at it again! 

Grandma Mazur’s new husband died on their wedding night and left her his lazy-boy and keys to a safe containing a treasure and Stephanie is trying to help Grandma find the safe.  Accompanied by her friend and co-worker, Lula – a full-figured gal with a unique sense of style – Stephanie brings in the bad guys despite being shot at, blown up and kidnapped all the while wreaking havoc and wrecking cars as she follows clues left by Trenton, New Jersey’s “wise guys” to the treasure.  And hunky police detective Joe Morelli and mysterious and sexy Ranger are in the mix as well. 

Place a hold on this title.

A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz

Successfully mixing reality and fiction, author Anthony Horowitz plays Dr. Watson to former Detective Inspector Daniel Hawthorne’s Holmes.  Because of the two prior works written by Horowitz about their partnership (The Word is Murder and The Sentence is Death) the duo has been invited to a literary festival on the tiny Channel island of Alderney.  This tiny island had been occupied by the Germans during World War II and used as a concentration camp, and many dead English prisoners had been buried there.  Meanwhile the islanders are in a heated debate about a power line that would cross the island, and disrupt.  So, when the major financial sponsor of the festival is murdered, Hawthorne and Horowitz take the lead in the investigation until the police arrive from a nearby island.  Suspects are plentiful, and include islanders and visiting authors alike, and then another murder occurs . . .

Suspenseful and fun!

Place a hold on this title.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Bernadette is a stay-at-home mom to Bee, a miracle child, born with a heart defect that required multiple (like six) open heart surgeries before she was five, but now successfully navigating middle school at Galer Street Day School.  Hough Bernadette had been a world-renowned architect and recipient of a MacArthur Grant, she has become “allergic” to dealing with the other school parents (who she calls gnats) and other people to the point that she’s hired a virtual personal assistant – from India – to help her with her daily tasks.  Meanwhile her husband, Elgin Branch, is a superstar at Microsoft, but so busy with work that he doesn’t realize the depths to which Bernadette has fallen.  Things come to a climax as she is planning – with assistant Manjula’s help – a family trip to Antarctica to celebrate Bee’s perfect report card, when a feud erupts with a neighbor over blackberry bushes, one of the other gnats becomes Elgin’s personal assistant and a Galer Street Day School fundraiser goes seriously awry.  So . . . Bernadette disappears and everyone, except Bee, thinks she is dead.

This was a Hudson Library Literary Guild book/movie selection.  It was an entertaining story of a dysfunctional family finding their way back together, and a scathing look at attitudes that can be created by privilege.  The movie followed the book fairly closely and was funny and enjoyable.

Place a hold on this title.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Historical Fiction at its finest!  Using the real-life spy network (The Alice Network created by Lois De Bettignie – one of her pseudonyms was Alice Du Bois) during World War I, the author creates a thrilling story of female courage and self-definition of appropriate gender roles.  The story is told from alternating viewpoints.  Charlie St. Clair is a young, single pregnant American on her way to Switzerland with her mom to “take care of” her “little problem.”  But Charlie breaks away from her mother to seek assistance from a drunken recluse, Eve Gardiner, in finding her French cousin Rose, who went missing during World War II.  Meanwhile Eve’s story begins during the First World War when she is recruited by the English military because of her language skills to become part of the Alice Network in France.  When Charlie starts asking questions about a man Eve had thought long dead, they ultimately join forces to find out what really happened to that man, and to Charlie’s cousin rose. 

My description does NOT do this book justice.  The author has created a gripping story using many real people and events of Works War I that should be better known – especially the women who refused to be constrained by so-called “appropriate” societal roles in a time when the didn’t even have the right to vote!  (Partial female suffrage was obtained in 1918 for British women over 30 and in 1928 for all people over 21.  In the US the 19th Amendment to the Constitution giving American women the right to vote was not ratified until 1920.)

A Reese Witherspoon book club selection.

Place a hold on this title.

From Slave to State Legislator by David Joens

This non-fiction book explores the life and political career of John W. E. Thomas.  He was born a slave to a free black man and a female slave owned by a doctor in Mobile, Alabama.  During the Civil War, his dad attempted, unsuccessfully, to buy his son’s freedom.  But Thomas bad been educated by his doctor/owner and was used to collect fees and run other errands for the doctor.  Post-War he moved to Chicago to reside with his father and continue his education.  He ultimately became a lawyer, and helped to organize African-Americans politically in Chicago, and he also remained loyal to the Republican Party – the party of Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, throughout his political career. 

When he died in 1899, Thomas had founded the city’s first private school for African-American children,, and was believed to be the wealthiest African-American in Chicago.  But his legislative legacy is more important than those personal accomplishments as he wrote, and helped to pass, the first state civil rights law, in 1885.

Though a bit dry, and confusing at times, this is an important look at 1) a little-known piece of Illinois’ history; and 2) an eye-opening look at Chicago, and Illinois’ political processes. 

Place a hold on this title.

State of Terror by Louise Penny & Hilary Clinton

Wow!  Talk about thrilling – this book is it!!!  With a combination of fictional, but very realistic and plausible events, this story was absolutely enthralling and very scary . . .

After a single-term President left the United States with few allies in the world, and loyalists (to him!) still in most high government positions, terrorists strike across the globe.  The new President has appointed Ellen Adams, a newbie to politics, but the former head of an international media empire, as his Secretary of State as a way to keep this “enemy” close and under his control.  She must scramble to try to find answers with regard to the recent unclaimed terrorist acts but as she investigates, she finds a conspiracy that – if successful – would sacrifice thousands of American lives in the name of patriotism.  Not sure who she can trust other than her best friend and counselor, Betsy, the Secretary of State faces off against world leaders in a desperate effort to avoid the cataclysmic crisis!

Place a hold on this title.

Wanted: Library-Loving Citizens

Consider running for the Library Board of Trustees in the upcoming spring election! If you live in the Hudson Area Public Library District, you are eligible. You do not need specific experience to become a library trustee, just a willingness to learn and an interest in libraries. Board meetings are on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30pm.

Candidacy packets are now available. Ask for yours at the library desk or download it here.

The Talented Miss Farwell by Emily Gray Tedrowe

You may have heard of the case of Rita Crundwell, former comptroller of Dixon, Illinois who was convicted of embezzling about $54 million over the twenty-some years she worked for the city.  Despite some obvious similarities, this is NOT that story.

Instead it’s the story of Becky Farwell, of Pierson, Illinois, still living on the family farm, working for the city of Pierson, and best friends with Ingrid, one of her high school classmates.  It’s also the story of Reba, art collector and artist sponsor, wearing designer clothes in her Chicago condo and New York galleries as she hobnobs with other wealthy art collectors.  AND, it’s a story of obsession . . . the thrill of discovering the “activity” that funds her new passion for art, the satisfaction of acquiring a new piece for her collection and the constant fear of being caught.  

Place a hold on this title.