Quote of the Week

"The key is to commit crimes so confusing that police feel too stupid to even write a crime report about them."
Randy K. Milholland, Something Positive Comic
10-30-03. Web Comic Pioneer

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

I mined this book from my stack of "going to read" books piled on my bookshelf. Since I desperately needed a "Z" author to complete this challenge, I didn't both checking reviews or even the inside cover.
The "Prophesy of the Sisters" by Michelle Zink is certainly NOT one of the currently popular feel-good sister stories. In fact, these two 16-year-old twins are adversaries in a battle even they do not fully appreciate. One is good and one is evil; both have allies. A recently discovered and very scary book, tattoo-like markings, and becoming orphans and all clues to the mystery regarding not only the girls' fates but also their past. Even though set in the 1800s, it was easy to relate the story to present day problems. Teenage rivalry, angst, drama and outright hysteria not to mention jealousy and quest for power are all part of the plot. Even the end of this book is not the end of the story as the sisters' struggles have now turned into a trilogy. All books are available through Amazon and other booksellers.

Speak for the Dead by Margaret Yorke

Although published in 1988, this suspenseful and disturbing mystery has characters and issues that are just as believable today. I hadn't read any of Yorke's books for quite awhile but knew I would when I finally reached the letter "Y" in our blog challenge. "Speak for the Dead" lived up to my expectation completely. Carrie, the protagonist, is a hostile and belligerent criminal from the time she hits 16. Stealing and prostitution are justified by her somewhat convoluted mental processes. She is not a likable character yet many men fall under her spell. While the story of Carrie is woven on one hand, it is the machinations of fate being woven by Yorke on the other direction in which Carrie, herself, becomes a victim.
I am encouraged to continue to read some of Yorke's many other mysteries. The Yorke style is crisp and uncluttered with unnecessary adjectives. Her descriptions of British lifestyles and clothing are never-the-less right on. Although this book is several decades old, it could just as easily have been written today. The motivations and deceptions could happen anywhere as the theme of man versus society plays out to a surprisingly gratifying ending.
Margaret Yorke was born in 1924, had her first of more than 20 books published in 1957. Yorke served as chairman of the Crimefighters Writers Association in 1979-80. She was awarded the Crime Writers Association Cartier Diamond award IN 1999; Golden Handcuffs Award, in recognition of her popularity within the UK library service and its borrowers in 1993 and the Martin Beck Award from the Swedish Academy of Detection in 1982. I found my copy at the Thompson (CT) Public Library which has an extensive collection of both books and audiotapes which means that both are available throughout the Connecticut Library System as well as on Amazon and other sources.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"A Nice Murder for Mom" by James Yaffe

This cozy little mystery was a random choice to fill my "Y" requirement for the blog.  I found this orphan gem in a used book store in central New Hampshire and it was a charming mystery that lead Yaffe to write a short series that began in the late 80's.  So when NYC cop Dave decides to start life over after the death of his wife, he takes a job as a chief investigator in Mesa Grande, Colorado.  Dave becomes entwined in solving the murder of a college professor.  (There are interesting cultural and racial overtones that written today might be a little cliche, but were easy to overlook for the sake of the plot.)  Dave's Mom decides to come  for an extended visit and immediately becomes involved as a sort of Jessica Fletcher-type and CSI combo that becomes embroiled in the solving of the crime..  Mom always seems to be one step ahead of cop son Dave and is constantly pitching the latest theory with much credibility.  This has a little dated material as it is set the the 80's but it's still a good story and worthy of your time if you want a quick mystery.  So check out that random orphan book that comes your way in a used book store, or library stack, or from a friend.  You may find your next enjoyable read.