Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a true crime classic and I don't know why it's taken me so long to read it. I will say it reads more like a novel than non-fiction, in part because the author inserts a fictionalized version of himself meeting the people of Savannah long before he actually arrived in town. He gives us a front-row seat to the characters and events leading up to the day Jim Williams shoots Danny Hansford and what follows. The first third or so of the book is meandering in a good way. We meet some of the people of the city, from the old money folks to the "upstarts," from pianists to drag queens. Some characters are so over the top that knowing they were true is fun. We also learn some of the history of the place and the historical figures associated with it. After the death (murder?) of Hansford, we see how old rivalries,...
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A Rather Dastardly Death by Anthony Slayton

A Rather Dastardly Death by Anthony Slayton

A Rather Dastardly Death is the second of the Mr. Quayle Mysteries and the Lord Unsworth and his family are on vacation in the French Riviera, trying to get some distance from the events of A Quite Deadly Affair. Of course, it's not long until someone is murdered, a woman Lord Unsworth knew decades earlier, and the family gets caught up in another investigation. Mr. Quayle, at Lord Unsworth's request, agrees to assist in solving the mystery and protecting the family's reputation if possible. This is a fun old-fashioned murder mystery with plenty of suspects and possible motives. The dead woman, Lady Rosaline Barrett De Marchi, Widow of Treville-Sur-Mer, was surrounded by "admirers" and hangers-on, any of whom could have killed her. We also have a side plot regarding a jewel thief who may be in the Riviera and a statuette from Lady Rosaline's collection is missing. All of the characters are notable, but Quayle is what makes this series work...
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A Canadian Werewolf in New York by Mark Leslie

A Canadian Werewolf in New York by Mark Leslie

A Canadian Werewolf in New York is a fun book. Michael Andrews is a best-selling author living in New York who is also a werewolf. He's just back from a night roaming the city as a wolf when his ex-girlfriend shows up at his apartment, asking him to help find out what her fiancé is involved in. Michael has heightened smell and strength, thanks to his wolf half, which is helpful when it comes to tracking down the fiancé and the bad guys he's dealing with. This is a light book - some adventure, some humor, some bad guys, a potential love interest that knows he's a werewolf and is okay with that. I was looking for a werewolf book that wasn't a romance or horror and maybe had a bit of a mystery. This was a perfect pick. ...
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The Antique Hunter’s Guide to Murder by C.L. Miller

The Antique Hunter’s Guide to Murder by C.L. Miller

I'll admit, the whole Agatha Christie/ Antiques Roadshow/ Indiana Jones vibe is what drew me to The Antique Hunter's Guide to Murder. When Freya learns that Arthur Crockleford, her aunt's best friend and her own mentor, is dead, Freya Lockwood heads back to her hometown. When she gets there, she and Aunt Carole become suspicious of the events surrounding Arthur's death and become convinced they can find answers at an antique retreat Arthur arranged for them to attend before his death. I wanted to like Freya. She's middle-aged, and recently divorced from her negative, controlling, husband. Decades ago, she had been an antiques hunter, repatriating stolen antiques and antiquities, but she left that world due to "what happened in Cairo," which she dwells on a lot. Now that she's single and her daughter is studying in America, maybe it's time for her to rediscover herself. I enjoy her when she's tough and uses her skill and knowledge, but she spends...
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Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

Motherless Brooklyn is at heart a take on the classic detective story, but with an unlikely hero in Lionel Essrog who has Tourette's syndrome. I listened to the audio on this one and I have to believe that hearing the verbal tics and outbursts worked better than reading them in print would have. Lionel was rescued as a teenager from the orphanage by a small-time crook, Frank Minna, who hired Lionel and three other boys to do odd jobs and staff a questionable car service/detective agency. When Minna is stabbed to death, Lionel decides it's up to him to find the murderer. The plot is put together well, with some of the usual suspects - two old time Mafia men, a hired goon, a potentially evil Japanese corporation, and the dead man's wife, but there are a few interesting twists too. The star, though, is really Lionel. He's funny, both intentionally and unintentionally, and trying to follow the clues the...
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The Plaza by Julie Satow

The Plaza by Julie Satow

The Plaza was a fascinating look at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, its history, its owners, and some of the people who lived here over its history. The original hotel opened in 1890 and then reopened as the luxurious hotel we know in 1907. We follow its story from the Gilded Age, through the Jazz Age and Prohibition, two World Wars, to 2018. I loved the people's stories, from the construction workers to the rich and famous, even the fictional little girl, Eloise. It's a little bit like reading the society papers over the years. I didn't care quite as much about the real estate deals in more recent years. I listened to the audio though and the narrator, Jefferson Mays, kept me engaged throughout. The book is well-researched and I enjoyed it. I do think it might have been a bit tedious in print for me, but mostly because I cared more about the anecdotes and less about the...
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