From Elaine Pasquali
Title: How It All Began
Author: Penelope Lively
Charlotte was mugged while walking along a London street. Her mugging resulted in her breaking her hip and convalescing at her daughter, Rose’s, house. In a dominos effect, a marriage almost ends in divorce, one affair ends and another almost begins, an immigrant learns to read and to live life, and an elderly historian gets a new lease on his life. Ms. Lovely brings the reader along this intricate and interesting journey about “how it all began” as well as how it all ended. We really are all separated by six degrees. An engaging read.
From Andrea Kalinowski
Author: Thomas Emson
I was drawn to “Pariah” by Thomas Emson because the back cover mentioned Jack the Ripper, and by the time I realized that he was not the main focus, I was too far in to drop the book. A mix of fantasy, murder, and religious fiction, it was an odd read. Certain aspects reminded me of another unusual book, entitled Mister B. Gone, which was told from the Devil’s viewpoint. “Pariah” alternates between the year of 1888 and the year of 2011 in London, England. The year 1888 is when the Ripper was actually active among London’s prostitutes and the police were unable to definitively name and/or apprehend a suspect. This book has, as its base, reality, but a whole new motive for the murders is woven around the victims being seers (psychics). The seers are individuals who are both prey and predator. They see the evil coming and, as a result, are the prey of the evil. The evil, known as Jack, needs the evil in the hearts of man, to be reborn and to fuel his plan of world dominion. Without enough blood sacrifices, evil will not triumph and the balance will remain intact.
From Eileen Effrat
Author: Anne Perry
Dorchester Terrace : a Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novel
I am a long time fan of Anne Perry’s Thomas and Charlotte Pitt historical mystery series. In fact I have read the previous 26. This is the latest, and it certainly does not disappoint. Pitt has moved up the ranks of London’s Metropolitan Police Force and is now the newly appointed Head of Special Branch. The year is 1896 and revolutionaries and anarchists are causing havoc. An obscure Austrian Duke is scheduled to visit his English royal relatives and assassination rumors abound. Pitt’s department steps up surveillance to avoid a possible international scandal. For an authentic feel of Victorian England and a good mystery, the Pitt series is a good choice.
From Rosemarie Jerome
Author: N.M. Kelby
White truffles in winter : a novel
This literary gem needs to be shared. It is a quiet, intense portrayal of a man who loved two women but whose passion was food. This man is the great French chef Auguste Escoffier and this is his elegant “memoir in meals.” Like his magnificent culinary creations, there is a complexity to this story that evokes the spirit of the time and captures the essence of the man. His was a life of extremes: suffering and captivity during the Franco-Prussian War; wealth and splendor communing with royalty, high society, the powerful, and poverty in his declining years. The cornucopia of images and feelings bombard the senses and creates a rich realism that you could almost touch and taste. Escoffier did not want to be forgotten, this story makes you want to know more about the man who was an epicurean genius yet a sad, idealistic romantic.
From Catherine Given
author: Lupton, Rosamund
Sister : a novel
Authors of mysteries often employ flashbacks, but Rosamund Lupton doesn’t stop there in her debut novel. Two young Londoners, sisters Beatrice and Tess, remained close despite pursuing careers an ocean apart. Upon learning that Tess is missing, Beatrice, the story’s narrator, rushes in from New York. Much of Sister is written in the form of Beatrice’s present-day imagined letters to Tess. But a great deal of the story takes place in the murky past, as Beatrice recounts her investigation to “Mr. Wright,” a CPS Lawyer. Retracing her sister’s steps, the normally retiring and polite Beatrice, badgers the London police and medical community, questioning everyone connected with Tess’s last-known words and actions. She soon realizes that she can trust no one. Beatrice’s guilt and anxiety-ridden “letters” to Tess trap the reader inside her constant torment. Suspense builds powerfully to the story line’s dramatic final twist. Sister shares John LeCarre’s distrust of the MedicoPharma Industrial Complex as expressed in his acclaimed novel, The Constant Gardener. It’s a great summer read.
From Erik Schmid
author: Stroud, Jonathan
The Bartimaeus trilogy. Book one : the Amulet of Samarkand
Bartimaeus is a Djinni, one of many demons in the world of this trilogy. He is not evil; he just is what he is. Djinni and their ilk are treated like slaves by the human Magicians in this story, set in a fictional London where Magicians have overthrown the non-magical governments and are the lords above all other people. Bartimaeus’s new master is just a boy with a chip on his shoulder who is out to prove to his aging master that he is special. Along the way in this action packed and well written tale we meet other Djinni. Bartimaeus knows and uncover a secret resistance while dealing with a mysterious challenger to the prime minister. This is truly a great fantasy series, using Harry Potter as a muse while not stealing from the former series. It also doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the Potter series; not being overlong; not dwelling on minute details as much. This volume is followed by The Golem’s Eye and Ptolemy’s Gate.
From Jackie Cantwell
author: Fielding, Helen
Bridget Jones’s diary
I saw the movie before reading the book. This is the classic book that spawned Chick Lit. It holds up well (it was published in 1996). Some of the British-isms take getting used to: such as “fag” for cigarette and “flat” for apartment. Each diary entry is prefaced by how many cigarettes she smoked, how much she weighs, the circumference of her thighs, how much alcohol she drank, calories consumed, and in parentheses if it was good or bad, and any mitigating factors leading to such behavior. In later entries, she also adds number of lottery tickets purchased, how many panic attacks or negative thoughts, and how many times she dialed 1471 (the equivalent of *69).
Bridget is a winsome, bumbling heroine. She goes to dinner parties attended by Smug Marrieds, who say all sorts of derogatory things to her, a Singleton, such as ” Your biological clock is ticking”; and “You still don’t have a boyfriend, Old Girl?.” She works at a publishing firm reading manuscripts. She starts an affair with her boss, Daniel Cleaver. All along, she keeps running into the son of her parents’ friends, Mark Darcy, a human rights lawyer (or barrister, as they say. Interestingly, the text mentions the actors Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, who play Daniel and Mark in the film, respectively. The book is funny and relatable; I didn’t want it to end.
from Rosemarie Jerome
author: Will Thomas
The Black Hand
This is the fifth book in the Barker & Llewelyn series which includes: Some Danger Involved, To Kingdom Come, The Limehouse Text, and The Hellfire Conspiracy. Set in Victorian London, the series contains all the elements for an enjoyable read; it has action, romance, humor, intrigue and quirky characters that you just love reading about. Each book deals with a different ethnic group, so you discover a part of London society that is not often covered in historical thrillers. Thomas Llewelyn gains more shocking insights about his elusive employer with each book, so that adds to the fun. The Black Hand takes you into the mirky world of the Mafia. Baker & Llewelyn, who are private enquiry agents, are asked to assist the Thames Police with their murder investigation. When it is discovered that each victim received a cryptic Black Hand message prior to their death, the Mafia becomes a suspect and our heroes become a target.