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Content by Shirley Schwartz
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Reviews Written by
Shirley Schwartz "romonko" (alberta canada)

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A Highland Christmas
A Highland Christmas
by M. C. Beaton
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 6.93
68 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars I Have a new favourite Christmas story., March 8 2004
This is a wonderful little Christmas novelette. I didn't enjoy it any less because I was reading it in March rather than in December, but it will be a wonderful addition to my holiday favourties. I am a huge Hamish Macbeth fan and this book is Hamish at his very best! It's Christmas in Lochdubh and Hamish is feeling blue - there are no Christmas lights and decorations in strict Calvinist Lochdubh and his old flame Priscilla is in New York, of all places (so far away, so very far away he thinks). But all of a sudden Hamish is very busy with some crimes in his patch. He has to deal with the village grumpy lady over her lost cat, he is confronted with a lonely little girl, and someone has taken all the fairy lights and the Christmas tree from a neighbouring village of Chnothan. Hamish pulls out all the stops on his charm and his detective ability to set things right in his little world.

The Vault
The Vault
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Entry in the Peter Diamond Series., March 8 2004
This review is from: The Vault (Paperback)
I love Peter Diamond. In this book he seems to be a little less edgy (almost mellow), and that's a bit of a disppointment, but this is still a good story. Mr. Lovesey effortlessy weaves two separate story lines and somehow manages to maintain an interesting plot. The book is deceptively low-key, but as you get into it the sense of urgency surfaces when it appears that a 20-year old murder, a modern murder and an assault and a two-century old puzzle all have something in common. In typical Lovesey fashion, this book appears simplistic at times, but then he masterfully introduces another thread that gets Peter Diamond after the scent like a bloodhound after game. Wonderful!

Seven Up: A Stephanie Plum Novel
Seven Up: A Stephanie Plum Novel
by Janet Evanovich
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.87
114 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars You'll Never Look at Senior Citizens in the Same way, again, March 6 2004
Seven Up is another wild Stephanie Plum ride. In it we get to catch up with our old friends and we meet some really zany new ones. Most of the new characters in this book will neve see 60 again, and that makes it a lot of fun. In this book Stephanie is trying to bring in Eddie DeChooch, and he keeps giving her the slip. It doesn't matter that he's seventy and can't see and hear very good, he can sure keep out of Steph's grasp. While tracking him down, Stephanie and her crazy friends keep getting into scrapes and people keep vanishing. We also see Steph and Ranger and the ultimatum that he gives her. How is she going to handle that one? Ranger is the best character in these books, and it doesn't hurt that he's gorgeous and so hot he sizzles. Does Steph make up her mind between him and Joe? You'll have to read to find out.

The Squire's Tale
The Squire's Tale
by Margaret Frazer
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Not my favourite., March 3 2004
This book is not my favourite Sister Frevisse story. I found that the clash of personalities that occurs in the book took away from my enjoyment. Lady Blaunche is a very difficult personality and it's hard to get through her scenes. She is a "drama queen" in the true sense of the word. In this book Sister Frevisse and Sister Claire are away from their nunnery during Lent. Lady Blaunche has taken a liking to Dame Claire's treatment (she is expecting a baby). Dame Claire and Dame Frevisse go to her home with Lady Blaunche in order that Dame Claire can provide her with medical help for the return journey. Once there both sisters discover so much animosity and hate in the Lady's family that is very upsetting to them and to others of the household. Dame Frevisse is caught up in the powerful machiniations for power and supremacy, and before you know it a death occurs. Sister Frevisse sets out to find a killer, but not unfortuately before another death occurs.

Death of an Addict
Death of an Addict
by M. C. Beaton
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.91
48 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Arguably My Favourite Hamish Macbeth story., March 1 2004
I loved this story. I look forward to each new addition to this wonderful series and this one did not disappoint! In it we see Hamish at his most exasperating and endearing best. When a young recovered(?) drug addict is found dead in his rented chalet, Hamish feels that something doesn't add up. Although Strathbane writes it off as another dead junkie, Hamish thinks the young fellow was murdered. While trying to pursue this theory on his own, he is thrown into the drug buying and selling scene in Scotland. One thing leads to another and it turns out that Hamish is put undercover with a rather fetching Detective Inspector to expose a big drug ring in Strathbane. Hamish finds himself in hot water, and is exposed to all manner of nefarious people, but you can bet he triumphs in the end. He also determines just what happened to young Tommy Jarret. Lots of fun.

Stiff News
Stiff News
by Catherine Aird
Edition: Paperback
9 used & new from CDN$ 12.52

4.0 out of 5 stars Clever and Sharp, Feb. 29 2004
This review is from: Stiff News (Paperback)
As in all her books, this one is cleverly and wittingly written. No one quite has Ms. Aird's style. It is truly unique in the genre of British detective fiction. She has sharp dialogue and carefully drawn characters, and her books almost make the reader feel they are partaking of a guilty pleasure because of her sly wit and slightly naughty "tongue-in-cheek" writing. In this book Sloan and Crosby are called out to a Senior's manor. No one seems surprised that a sick old lady has died, except the lady herself. She had made arrangements to have a letter sent to her son saying that she was afraid of dying not a natural death. By the time Sloan and Crosby are on site at the manor it appears that something very wrong has been going on there. It's one of the most puzzling cases of Sloan's career, and he finds that he has to delve into the past to unmask the murderer.

Cursed in the Blood: A Catherine LeVendeur Mystery
Cursed in the Blood: A Catherine LeVendeur Mystery
by Sharan Newman
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A So Real Interpretation of the 12 century., Feb. 26 2004
Sharan Newman's series is so real that it is sometimes terrible to read. She paints a true picture of what medieval life was like and no punches are pulled. The era and the characters come alive for the reader. We see a realistic picture of the "Dark Ages". Not only that, but she weaves an interesting mystery into each of her stories. This book is one of her darkest and in it Catherine and Edgar and their small son, James go to Scotland after Edgar's terrible father has summoned them. It is a country that is torn asunder with civil wars. The people are barbaric and superstitious. Catherine feels totally lost there, and it doesn't help that her and Edgar are separated from each other for most of the book. They both face their own dangers and overcome them in order to be reuinted again at the end. In this book we see a true villain in Edgar's father Waldeve. Catherine wonders how her gentle Edgar can be related to this monster. There's a lot of hate, and from that hate real revenge that makes Scotland a dark and ominous place. Really, the mystery in this book is secondary and not much of a one since it's easy to figure out, but this is a great historical novel and this is a cracking historical series. It seems to get better with each entry (as well as bloodier).

Gruel And Unusual Punishment
Gruel And Unusual Punishment
by Tamar Myers
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
34 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars A Little Better Outing for Magdalena, Feb. 23 2004
This tenth installment in the Magdalena Yoder series is a bit better thatn some of the more recent additions to this series. There is still an editing problem that is apparent in the books, but I found that there wasn't as much repetition and even less "wailing". That is an improvement. But there is still the "off the wall" plot and unbelievable occurences (a car lands in a tree when shoved off the road?) Still I found the book amusing and there is a possibility of another interesting character - young Allison holds promise. In this book Magdalena is asked by Melvin to help him find who has poisoned one of his prisoners in his jail cell. Magdalena goes off in hot pursuit of some really strange female suspects. Anyway, we found out "who done-it" in the end.

The Humphrey Bogart Murder Case
The Humphrey Bogart Murder Case
by George Baxt
Edition: Hardcover
19 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Not Too Bad a Story, Feb. 22 2004
Although there were some glaring errors in this book, I didn't find it that bad a story. Bogie comes across pretty realistic, and the sneak peaks that we get at big names is always fun in these books. This book's time frame is supposed to take place around the time that Bogart was filming the Maltese Falcon, and the story runs a parallel storyline to that great Dashiell Hammett story, only in this case they're looking for a missing cornucopia filled with priceless jewels. The stakes are high and before the missing artifact is found, three bodies are found. One of the killed was Bogie's and his wife Mayo's housekeeper so Bogie feels he must get involved in order to solve the mystery of who killed her in his house.

Black Notice
Black Notice
by Patricia Cornwell
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
102 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Too Many Coincidences is almost the undoing of this book., Feb. 21 2004
There are a number of very glaring coincidences in this book and I think that this is the biggest problem with the book. For example, how could a case that Kay's Lucy is working for AFTA in Miami have anything to do with a homicidal maniac in Kay's town of Richmond? But in spite of this glaring inconsistency, I still enjoyed the book. We see Kay at her most vulnerable here and to those of us who have followed her story from the beginning, it is understandable. This book takes place a year after Kay's lover, Benton was killed in the line of duty, and in typical Kay fashion, she has really not dealt with her feelings about that. She has been burying herself in her work as usual. The killer that is stalking Kay's city forces her to deal with some "unlaid-to-rest" issues surrounding Benton's death. This is quite a dark book, but an edge-of-your-seat thriller that keeps the reader guessing until the end. We also see some real character development in some of the main characters; particularly Marino and Kay herself. It is so important that this series be read in order, and unless it is I don't think readers get the true scope of the series, and they certainly can't see the character development that occurs in each subsequent book.

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