Tag Archive | Mystery

Book Review: The Moai Murders by Lyn Hamilton

Book Review: The Moai Murders by Lyn Hamilton

Anyone who knows me, knows I am seriously addicted to library book sales. They are for me an opiate addiction. Very deadly. So it’s not surprising that at one of those things held somewhere in the Lower Mainland, I picked up a copy of The Moai Murders by the late, Canadian author, Lyn Hamilton. FYI Moai is pronounced Moe-Eye.

This is the first book I’ve ever read by Ms. Hamilton, but I can tell you, it certainly won’t be the last. I’m glad she wrote several before her untimely death. It had all of my favourite story contents in it: humour, action, adventure, history, mystery, a great plot and a well written storyline.

Hamilton had a nice, dry sense of humour which was sprinkled liberally throughout the story. The editing was pretty good, though there were a few typos missed. And you know I’m a stickler for typos. It kept me stumped right to the very end. And that, is a rarity where I am concerned. I love to profile books, TV shows and movies. I honestly couldn’t figure this one out, but then neither could the heroine, so I don’t feel so bad. Lol!

The only slow part of the story happened at the very beginning. The forward, titled Veri Amo—presumably named after a relatively famous woman from Easter Island who lived from 1830 to 1936, according to Stephen R. Fischer’s work Rongorongo: The Easter Island Script: History, Traditions,Texts—got me thinking and I had to read it twice. When Chapter One jumped into the present, I had to go through it twice as well to get the ball rolling. Once the characters started on their adventure, it was a great read. There were a lot of characters, but each was important to the plot. If you get momentarily lost, go back and check it again until you are caught up. It’s worth it.

Here’s a brief outline of the story from Amazon.
From Booklist:
“Antiques dealer Lara McClintoch and her friend Moira Meller head to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) to celebrate Moira’s return to health. When they reach their hotel, they find it’s the site of the Rapa Nui Moai Congress–an academic conference to exchange information on the moai, giant stone carvings that populate the island. After the two join the conference, planning to attend the lectures and field trips, one of the attendees is found dead, thought by police to have been trampled by wild horses. Lara disagrees with the verdict and begins her own investigation as further participants die. Fascinating details about the island’s history and the moai enhance this ninth adventure in the archaeologically rich series.” Sue O’Brien of the American Library Association.
Here’s a couple of links to interviews with her.
http://poesdeadlydaughters.blogspot.ca/2008/02/canada-calling-lyn-hamilton.html
http://typem4murder.blogspot.ca/2009/01/sundays-guest-blogger-lyn-hamilton.html

http://www.writerswrite.com/journal/oct03/a-conversation-with-lyn-hamilton-10036
I thought it was important to include some of Lyn’s obituary in this. If you read it, you will see she was an amazing woman who made a huge impact on a lot of people. We should all be so lucky.

“LYN ELIZABETH HAMILTON August 6, 1944 – September 10, 2009 Smart, funny, creative, strong, loyal and brave – Lyn was all these and more. Beloved daughter of John (deceased) and Gwen Hamilton and cherished sister and sister-in-law of Cheryl Hamilton and Michael Cushing. She is also fondly remembered by the Collins family, her uncle Harris (aunt Elizabeth is deceased) Collins and cousins Peter, Kelly and Nicki. Lyn had many friends. A group of the closest helped her celebrate her 65th birthday last month with a party filled with laughter and love. Lyn kept her battle with cancer private, but the few friends who knew provided wonderful support during her illness. She had a great career, moving back and forth between public service and the private sector, working in public affairs, communications and program management. Then at the age of 50, she decided to add a writing career, using her lifelong interest in archeology to create a mystery series. The first of 11 novels, The Xibalba Murders, was published in 1997 and was nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award for best first crime novel in Canada. The eighth, The Magyar Venus, was nominated for an Ellis for best crime novel. These books feature feisty heroine Lara McClintoch, who owns an antiques store in Lyn’s hometown of Toronto and travels the world for her business, solving murders along the way. Lyn managed to write and promote most of her novels during vacations, unpaid leaves and weekends. The books reflect her passion for heritage and culture, her sense of humour and her love of travel. She was Director of Public Affairs for the Canadian Opera Company, where she worked with many others to bring a new opera house to reality, an accomplishment that gave her much joy. Before that, she was Director of the Cultural Programs Branch in the Ontario government. In her earlier days in the government, she worked on women’s issues and was particularly proud of a ground-breaking public awareness campaign on domestic violence. She was involved in education and mentoring of new writers. Over the years, she worked with over 100 authors on their manuscripts. She was writer-in-residence for the public libraries in North York and Kitchener. She taught a mystery and suspense writing course at the School for Continuing Studies at her alma mater, University of Toronto.”

This is a five star *****read. Purchase or borrow it with confidence.
Have a great day!
Lynne

Book Review: The Hardy Boys Book 3, The Secret of the Old Mill by Franklin W. Dixon et al

Book Review: The Hardy Boys Book 3, The Secret of the Old Mill by Franklin W. Dixon et al

A Trip Down Memory Lane

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When I was young, just about every kid I knew was reading either a Hardy Boys Mystery or a Nancy Drew Mystery. I used to get one for every birthday and Christmas. If I was really good, there was the occasional one in between. By the time I was grown up, I had almost the complete set. When I moved away from Ontario, I gave the set along with all my encyclopedias to a family of five little girls. Sometimes I think about that action and mourn slightly, but, of course, it was the best thing to do at the time. You can only have so many books. I have enough for three lifetimes or a small village library.

Since the day I gave up my Nancy Drew set, I have been slowly buying them back again ( yeah, so I missed them. Don’t judge me.), plus the occasional Hardy Boys Mystery. The other day, it was lousy outside; rain, snow, darkness, you know a typical British Columbia winter day. I looked at the bookshelves where my short and sweet books are and lo and behold, there sat The Secret of the Old Mill by Franklin W. Dixon. A Hardy Boys Mystery!

So who was this Franklin W. Dixon fellow? I decided to check online and see what came up.

http://www.answers.com/Q/Who_wrote_the_Hardy_Boys_book_series)

According to missy7  on answers.com  a heckuva lot of ghost writers were Mr. Dixon, either that or the guy had the worse case of multiple personalities known to man. There were so many that I couldn’t bother to be as thorough as Miss missy7 was.  Wow! We are talking a whole pile. The series was the brainchild of the Stratemeyer Syndicate ( no we are not talking organized crime here) later bought out by Simon and Schuster in the 1980’s. So nowadays, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys are being pumped out by the ghost writers of Simon and Schuster. So there you have it—Franklin W. Dixon in a nutshell! Quite a guy.

This particular book is number three in the series, but already it had labelled the brothers as young detectives, and they were just taking after their Pa, a real life (or fake life….or well, just a fictional real life…) private eye. Yup, daddy was a detective too. So they were just taking after the old man.

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During this story they drive around in their buddy Chet’s ( real name Chester Morton, wow, which today would just mean a whole load of misery, and a kid in his thirties who ends up completely covered with tattoos and on death row) bright yellow, souped-up jalopy named Queen. Oh wow, those were the days. I remember naming my first car. They were always French names and male. My current Dodge Caravan (be nice) is named Anton; not quite Antonio as in Banderas, but in my mind he looks almost the same as we whisk along the highway, with our hair blowing in the breeze from the passenger windows open slightly at a safe level and the only rear window which works, open to get a little counter breeze.
I have, in my youth, driven in a few jalopies, which were fun and required no doors to open. You simply hopped in! Over the existing, seemingly always shut, door. Back then, I hopped. Today, it only happens in the kitchen when I step on something. Or in the bathroom when Mr. Lloyd Kitty has been particularly flamboyant with his cat litter.

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Back to the story…Chet is described as plump and constantly eating junk food, a description today which would have led to cyber bullying indeed. His buddies tease him in a good-humoured way because back then we just teased people out loud and to their face, not online—since there was no online. (Well, that’s not exactly true. I loaded the line every other day with the wash and my mother regularly asked, “What’s on the line? Did you bring everything in?” So yes there was “on line” but not the online we mean today. Whew!) Back to Chet. Chet is a constant homey in the Hardy Boys’ crib. He and Tony, their other buddy, show up here and there throughout the story and near the end help them jump a bunch of guys and get in a fight. Not quite your sweet little angels now, eh?! Heh heh heh.

Eighteen-year-old Frank and his one-year-younger brother, Joe, who is described as “blond and impetuous” (in other words, some little punk kid who probably gave his mother all the grey hair on her head) get involved with a boy on a bicycle who nearly gets hit by a car. One thing leads to another and the next thing you know they are involved with counterfeiters and Mill Wheels, and tracking paper at the local stationary story ( can you imagine walking into Staples and saying, “Can you tell me who bought this piece of paper?” ) wandering through tunnels, getting trapped in trucks, and having their dad get sort-of blown up and stuff like that. All the things which would put hair on the chest of a young lad in the 1950s!

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Throughout it all, they interact peacefully with the local sheriff who has no trouble telling them everything that’s going on in the rich underbelly of crime in their little berg. Today, if the cops know you by name when you walk into the station, it’s not because they respect your dad and want to give you an award or have you help them solve a crime. Nope, no way. We will leave that one there.

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So of course, they solve the mystery and their last words are nice and corny and no one ever swears, not even the bad guys. It was a nice time back then. Post WWII when the world was shiny and bright and mom was at home all day (not working like Rosie the Riveter in the munitions factory anymore and sitting out back smoking cigarettes, chewing gum and drinking beer with her buddies after work)

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cause the war was over, and dad smoked a pipe constantly (not worrying about his future lung cancer or emphysema) and sat in an easy chair and was home to listen to your troubles and give you good advice which rivalled the advice God gave Moses in the Bible.

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Man, I love the Hardy Boys. I think I’ll check the second hand store and see if they have anymore of the old ones. I don’t want to read the new ones in case Chet’s car is now a Jaguar XK XKR-S GT convertible which does zero to sixty in 4.9 seconds, and instead of having twenty bucks in his hand, he thinks nothing of popping a hundred in the tank every other day.

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And Mr. Hardy is smoking pot in the garage and rhyming off clever little gems that sound more like a Cheech and Chong rerun.

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Mrs. Hardy has just returned from drug rehab and had a couple of fentanyl scares. And Frank has piercings everywhere which occasionally get painfully ripped out in a fight or while he’s crawling through a tunnel underground somewhere chasing Columbian Drug Lords. And Joe, dear little Joe, has green and pink hair; no sweet little blond-headed moppet is he anymore, no he’s got muscles like the Rock,

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and mimics Vin Diesel on a good day.

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No, give me the old Hardy Boys. I like those guys. I’ll just sit in my rocker and daydream.

You can buy the Hardy Boys mysteries all over the place and especially at second hand book stores. Enjoy!

Have a nice day!

Lynne

 

Book Review: A Christmas Secret by Anne Perry

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Book Review: A Christmas Secret by Anne Perry

First of all, Merry Christmas, or as my British friends would probably say, Happy Christmas!
I hope everyone has had a jolly time so far this holiday season.
Yes, there have been a few things happen which are so sad, from the death of George Michael to the plane crash which killed sixty-four members of the Alexandrov Ensemble a.k.a. Russian Army Choir (formerly the Red Army Choir). As a longtime fan, I am stunned. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandrov_Ensemble

Our prayers go out to the families and to the country of Russia, as a whole, on the loss of so many members of this iconic ensemble. A true tragedy.
And to the friends and family, and the many fans of George Michael, I offer my deepest condolences.

But life goes on. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like it can, but miraculously the sun comes up the next day even if we don’t want it to.
We’ve had our shares of ups and downs this year and over the last few, but our lives are going on.. And I am diving into reading again. I found I was spending so much time working on editing other people’s books, not only wasn’t I writing, but I also wasn’t reading. So that has changed. It’s my biggest New Year’s resolution. Read for fun!!!

So I grabbed one of Anne Perry’s Christmas Mystery books off the shelf where it had been sitting for a couple of years, and thought, I should read THIS!!!
I love Anne’s writing. It satisfies all my needs to my core. Nice historical settings. The ones that resonate with me—the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s. I think that must have been the time period of my most recent past life. I have never really felt totally comfortable in this era. I’ve met Anne at the Surrey International Writers Conference ( http://www.siwc.ca ) in years past. I’ve even sat with her for lunch. And, of course, there are the inevitable meetings in the bathroom, during the conference. We are all the same.

During lunch, we chatted and her concerns were just like the rest of us, dietary. I have to order special meals because of serious allergies. We seemed to be a table of food concerns that day.
I missed seeing her this year. I hope she shows up in 2017. She is one of the figureheads of the conference—along with our beloved Jack Whyte ( http://www.jackwhyte.com )and Diana Gabaldon ( http://www.dianagabaldon.com )—and such a lovely person.

Of course, I started with the second one in the collection, A Christmas Secret, which is number four in The Christmas Stories. A Random House publication, it was published on November 7, 2006.

Here’s a brief description off Amazon.com.

“Dominic Corde is thrilled to “fill the robe” as substitute vicar in the village of Cottisham, while the Reverend Wynter is away on a three-week Christmas holiday. Glad to escape his dreary London flat and a less-than-satisfying job as church curate, Dominic and his beloved wife, Clarice, set off for what they hope will be a lovely winter getaway.

Upon arrival, in the midst of a frigid, exceptionally snowy season, Dominic and Clarice are welcomed by warm, hospitable neighbors and enchanted by the cozy, inviting vicarage. Everything seems almost too perfect. Dominic’s only concern is how he will be received by the congregation, who hold the Reverend Wynter in such high regard. But as Clarice soon discovers, she and Dominic have much more dire matters to worry about. It turns out that the Reverend Wynter isn’t on holiday at all–and that something very sinister has transpired.
As a blizzard leaves Cottisham treacherously snowbound and the isolated village swirls with unsavory secrets, Dominic and Clarice suddenly find themselves in deadly danger.”

I love Anne’s descriptive style. You can almost taste her verbal pictures of the weather and landscape. Here’s an excerpt.

“Dominic remained another fifteen minutes, and then took his leave out into a fading afternoon, now even more bitterly cold. Some of the clouds had cleared away, and it had stopped snowing. The light was pale, with the amber of the fading sun low on the horizon. Shadows were growing longer. The edge of the wind cut like a blade, making his skin hurt and his eyes water.
His feet slipped a little as he trudged down the icy drive. Other than the thud of the mounded snow on the evergreens overbalancing onto the ground below, there was silence in the gathering gloom.
Beyond the trees, the village lights shone yellow, making little golden smudges sparkling against the blue-gray of twilight. Someone opened a door onto a world of brilliance. A dog scampered out then back in again, and the light vanished.
Dominic’s hands and feet were numb. Hunching his shoulders from the cold, he stopped for a moment to retire his scarf.
That was when he heard the footsteps behind him. He swung around, his breath catching in his throat from the icy air in his lungs. The figure was there, crossing the village green only a few yards away. She was bent, shivering, and very small. She stopped also, motionless, as if uncertain whether to try running away.” Page 309 of the two book collection.

As a Canadian, who grew up in Ontario, and was born in one of the worst snowstorms in January of 1952, I can tell you this winter description is dead on the money. I can taste the cold. I got pneumonia, one year, from running to school, breathing through my mouth, without a scarf over my face. I know what icy cold feels like in your lungs. I know the wind of winter can take your breath literally away and make you think you are suffocating.

I can see the skies, and feel the air when I read her stories. Plus she knows how to pace a mystery, slowly and carefully, making you have to turn the pages and just finish the bloody book or you will never sleep. So I don’t pick up one of her books unless I know I have a few hours to read, because I’m just going to stay up through the night till it’s done. Thankfully, I’m a fast reader.

Anyway, I have now read three of her Christmas Stories, and will share bits from each over the next couple of weeks as I continue to read as many as I downloaded on my kindle. It was too ‘wintery’ outside to go to the bookstore, so I just bought the e copies. But know I am the kind of reader who likes the feel and smell of the hard copy in my hot little hands! I will never allow the tech device to replace the real thing completely. (Though I do like the ability to enlarge the print on these new fangled devices.) And I will probably pick up hard copies as I find them so I can wear them out for real. 😁
So, if you’re looking for a nice winter Mystery, here is a good one.
I give it five stars! Or six, if there was such a thing. *****(*)+

It’ll keep you in the Christmas mood!
Here’s a bunch of links:

http://www.anneperry.co.uk

https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Secret-Novel-Stories-Book-ebook/dp/B000MAH7V8/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482781308&sr=1-9&keywords=anne+perry+christmas+series

https://www.amazon.com/Anne-Perrys-Christmas-Mysteries-Holiday-ebook/dp/B001IZC3MY/ref=sr_1_16?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482781366&sr=1-16&keywords=anne+perry+christmas+series.

Forgive the long links, I’m feeling very lazy today. 😳😒

And here’s a little something extra.

All the best, and Merry Christmas!

Lynne

 

Book Review: Queen of the Night by J. A. Jance

Book Review: Queen of the Night by J. A. Jance

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First of all, I have to state without hesitation, I love J. A. Jance’s books. I’ve read almost all of the Joanna Brady series, and some, more than once.

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That being said, I have mixed feelings about this particular offering from the author.
I got lost almost immediately in the profusion of characters and opening scenes, each of which sounded like the start of a different novel. It took me awhile to determine what was going on and sort everyone out. I had to start the book a couple of times and go back and reread. Maybe it was just brain fog on my part, but even at the very end, I was momentarily confused, trying to remember who one of the characters was.

There are a lot of people in this book. Some are pretty amazing, and I can definitely see how they all fit together, but I kept praying someone would get killed off so I had fewer names to recall. Thankfully, murder mysteries usually satisfy that goal.
I also felt there were almost too many plot lines. But, they were all necessary—I think. At least everything wound up connected, somehow, in the end.

It was an interesting, suspenseful read, that’s for sure. And yes, very reminiscent of Tony Hillerman, whom the book was dedicated to. But, there were things as an editor which I would have liked to have seen changed. Too many “thats” for a fiction work, and way too much past perfect tense, plus too many characters, and plots, and openings.
Would I recommend it? You betcha. But be alert and keep your memory working. You might want to take notes or you could lose track.

I would say it’s a three star based on the confusion and editing points, and a four star based on thrill factor.

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Here’s a link to Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/hfp82bd

And Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/jogxn45

Have a great day!
Lynne

Book Review: Damage Control by J. A. Jance

Book Review: Damage Control by J. A. Jance

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Another super mystery novel by author J. A. Jance. As per all the other works in this series, this Sheriff Joanna Brady novel of suspense does not disappoint.
It’s been awhile since I picked up one of her books and I had forgotten just how excellent and fast paced they are. Damage Control is layered in plot and character development. The two main storylines twist and turn, leaving you breathless as they conclude. Jance explores levels of grief and loss in this particular one and moved me to tears with her description. A really powerful novel.
If you like anything about the southwestern United States, and you are an action mystery lover, this book is for you.
Five stars all the way. image
V. L. Murray

Damage Control is available on Amazon and where good books are sold.

http://www.amazon.com/Damage-Control-Joanna-Brady-Mysteries/dp/0060746785/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1442250550&sr=1-1&keywords=damage+control+by+j+a+jance

Product Details
Series: Joanna Brady Mysteries (Book 13)
Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (June 30, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0060746785
ISBN-13: 978-0060746780
Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 7.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
#2321 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > Police Procedurals
#4822 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > Women Sleuths
#7908 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers & Suspense > Suspense

Back Cover:

At first glance, it appears to be an accident . . .

A car carrying an elderly couple goes off the side of a mountain and tumbles into oblivion on a beautiful sunny day in the Coronado National Monument. A note pulled from the twisted wreckage suggests the tragedy may have been a double suicide—but an autopsy later suggests something different. A deadly fire and a fatal home invasion may or may not have some connection to the terrible crash. And miles away in the desert, a savage rain has revealed something grisly and terrifying: two trash bags filled with human remains.

It’s just another day in the life of Cochise County sheriff Joanna Brady, who must somehow balance the rigors of police work with a newborn, a teenager, a writer-husband, and a difficult mother. But Joanna will not allow murder to go unpunished in her jurisdiction—even if her path to the truth is twisting and dangerous . . . and leads to shocking revelations about those entrusted with caring for the helpless.

I think I will go back and read the rest again. Just love her work!

V. L. Murray

 

 

Book Review: Blood in the Cotswolds by Rebecca Tope

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Blood in the Cotswolds by Rebecca Tope
#5 in the Cotswold Mysteries series

 

ISBN 978-0-7490-0730-0
Published by Allison & Busby Limited
London, W1T 4EJ
http://www.allisonandbusby.com
2008

 

 

Five stars all the way *****

I found this book in our complex library and I must say it was a great read! Although the first chapter seemed to drag a little, I persisted and soon the plot action picked up. The main characters—of this book and the series–are Detective Superintendent Phil Hollis and his ladyfriend, Thea Osborne, who has taken a temporary job house sitting in the quaint village of Temple Guiting. Along for the ride is Hepzibah, Thea’s cocker spaniel, plus a few miscellaneous critters, including horses, fish and a python, all of whom are part of the house sitting gig.
Most of the characters are introduced pretty quickly in the story. There are plenty of quirky locals to satisfy the reader’s interest, plus some connections to the Knights Templar and dead Saints who have died in very weird ways.
Within 24 hours, what was supposed to be a holiday for DS Hollis and Thea, turns into a physical nightmare for both of them, when Phil puts his back out during a romantic interlude in a feather bed. As I lie here with my own back in spasm—mine from heaving furniture around– I can totally relate to everything poor Phil endured. Especially his criticism of the soft feather mattress that certainly didn’t help the problem. He referred to it as “lethal” and I would have done the same.
The agonizing trip in Thea’s car to the hospital, the next day, ends with Phil being told he must stay still and let his “slipped disc” heal, a process which might take as long as three months. So he will have to take some serious time off work. He is not amused. By this time we have also learned Thea is less than sympathetic and not a good nurse. Poor Phil would rather be solving murders than lying around in pain feeling rotten and sorry for himself. Thea suggests he try to see the humour in the situation. Her suggestion is answered with a snarl. (I can certainly relate.)
Thankfully, the universe steps in and a strange event involving a fallen tree uncovers a skeleton entangled within its roots. DS Hollis cannot let the officer in charge of the discovery proceed without his involvement, and so the mystery begins. Who is this person? What happened to them?And how did they get there?
What follows is a complicated, entertaining search for the truth. Phil’s back takes a series of turns for the better and then the worse. I cringed along with him.
I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series. They are available on Kindle, so I will probably pursue the e book venue; that way when one runs out, I’ll have the rest waiting.
Highly recommended. Lots of fun. Written in the British punctuation style. Plus a few words in there I had never heard before. Love it when that happens.
Enjoy!
V.L. Murray