Murder in Moscow by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

Murder in Moscow by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

Jessica is part of a delegation of publishers and writers meeting with their Russian counterparts, first in Washington, then in Moscow. This is just after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the goal of the gatherings is supposedly to help Russian publishers deal with the change to democracy and the free market. One of the government people attached to the group is found dead in Washington, but everything proceeds according to schedule. One of the Russian publishers dies at a dinner in Moscow, later in the week. Jessica finds herself entangled in what is more of a spy story than a mystery. The story was well-written and moved quickly. There are several bits left unanswered, governments on both sides want to keep their secrets. It was not the story I was expecting though. Jessica is mostly just a pawn, one with a lot of questions but who can't get any real answers. She's in danger, but has no control over...
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Murder on the QE2 by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain

Murder on the QE2 by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain

Murder She Wrote was a tv staple when I was younger, so in the midst of all this staying at home, I thought I'd grab Murder on the QE2 off my shelf. I'm honestly not sure where I picked it up or who gave it to me, but it was enjoyable. There's a bit of nostalgia while reading it, they talk about floppy disks and VHS tapes and the internet is still pretty new. Jessica is on an all-expense-paid trip across the Atlantic on the luxury ocean liner Queen Elizabeth 2, and mind you it's a crossing, not a cruise, no matter what it seems like. She's a guest lecturer, speaking about mystery writings, and she also writes an original play that will be performed on board. Surprise, surprise, someone's murdered. The dead woman is one of the other lecturers, an aging actress trying to revive her career. And of course, she's connected with multiple people on board, each of...
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A Rumpole Christmas by John Mortimer

A Rumpole Christmas by John Mortimer

I have some books that come out every year with the Christmas decorations. Some I've read multiple times, like A Christmas Carol, and some I haven't gotten around to yet. This year I finally picked up A Rumpole Christmas from the stack and thoroughly enjoyed the stories. I'm familiar with Rumpole of the Bailey and "She Who Must Be Obeyed." I feel like I must have seen some episodes back when it was on PBS Mystery! which we used to watch almost weekly. Barrister Horace Rumpole, defender of the criminal class, loves his work. Fortunately, work finds him even during the Christmas holidays, whether it be spending Christmas at a health farm when a murder occurs, meeting former clients under interesting circumstances, or being booked into the same hotel as a judge. Rumpole character is funny, wry, and insightful, and some of his comments about terrorists and the Church could have been made now. He honestly enjoys defending his...
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Christmas Picture Books

Christmas Picture Books

I read a few books with my niece and nephew over Christmas. The Snowy Day is a sweet, simple little story about enjoying the snow. The illustrations are warm and inviting and go along with the text well. It's never been one of my favorites, but is still a classic worth reading. I like that The Biggest Snowman Ever encourages teamwork. It also encourages creativity, no two snowmen are alike, they can be traditional or a princess or a martian and they're all good. The Littlest Christmas Tree makes me tear up a little in the middle, when the tree is sad and lonely and afraid it will never get to be a Christmas tree. Thankfully it has a happy ending and the tree gets to go to the perfect home.  ...
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The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Yeah, so I'm not a fan of The Picture of Dorian Gray. I'm sorry, but it was kind of boring and I knew how it was going to end. The idea itself is interesting; Dorian doesn't age, but his portrait does and it shows all the signs of his downfall instead of him. Of course, it takes almost half the book to get to that part. it's a much more philosophical book than I though it would be. It touches on the nature of art and on society's adoration of youth and beauty. Sin is obviously important to the story  and what a person will do if they are free from consequences, but I think even more important is the dangers of truly influential people. Dorian wasn't the star for me, his "friend" Henry was. It's Henry who leads him down the hedonistic path. Henry is charming and witty, he theorizes and shocks people. He encourages Dorian, even though he himself seems to...
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Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans by Gary Krist

Empire of Sin focuses on New Orleans, 1890-1920. It's a compelling look at the politics, crime, and culture of the city. The mayhem starts with the killing of Police Chief Hennessy. The acquittal of the killers ignited mob violence that just astounded me. Around the same time, the vice-district Storyville was established. This era saw the birth of jazz, music that made some of the upper class in the city nervous. Jim Crow laws were established in the city, which, until this time, had been relatively tolerant of integration. We see New Orleans during WW 1 and prohibition. A lot happened in those years and the book is filled with names I was familiar with, especially the first generations of jazzmen. I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but books like this make me wonder why not. The people in these pages are as fascinating, absurd, outrageous and inventive as any fictional characters. The things they do, from lynchings to shootouts to somehow keeping...
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