Emilie and the Sky World

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Emilie & the Sky World (Emilie Adventures #2) by Martha Wells

So Emilie is back in another adventure.

Her previous journeys brought her into the center of their world and introduced her to things she never imagined would have existed.

Emilie has finally been able to reach her cousin and gives her all the news, just as their interviews and adventures are published in newspapers all over. But before they can enjoy it, Professor Abindon, an old colleague of Professor and Lady Marlendes, warns them he she has come across something strange and deadly in the sky. There is a disruption in the air aether current.

But as they look into it, they realize it is another ship!

Could it be the one that was lost up there years ago? But impossible, there is no way they could still be alive.

Emilie is going to join the crew again and as they all prepare for the expedition they discover a surprise. Emilie’s uncle has come to take her away. As he screams ugly accusations; Emilie is defended by all.

They leave, but when they’ve started their journey they discover that they have a stow away. It is Emilie’s younger brother Efrain. It must run in the family.

Ugh

When they arrive on the ship it is absent of all people. Strange like the bermuda triangle.

They then find a flower-like creature and the whole group is transported to another world or dimension.

Now Emilie, her brother, and this plant like creature have to find the rest of the crew, return somehow to their ship, and battle a creature who is trying to posses a host and take over the galaxy.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it. I thought it was compelling, interesting, and well put together.

The only thing that bothered me was that Emilie goes on and on about her older brother Erin, but he doesn’t appear in the book. It would have been perfect of he was a part of the stranded air crew and that was why he never come back.

So far there isn’t another book, but I would love to see a third installment.

For more Emilie Adventures, go to Emilie & the Hollow World

For more books centering on disappearances, go to The Missing Housewife

For more steam punk, go to Ticker

For more science-fiction books, go to The Falling Machine

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The Madwoman Upstairs

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The Madwoman Upstairs: A Novel by Catherine Lowell

Samantha Whipple hates the Brontë sisters.

As the last remaining relative, she has found herself hounded by journalists, bombarded at every turn, and told time and time again about their genius and to further study their writings.

The only item that makes Brontë bearable is that the novels give her a connection to her deceased father.

Samantha has just started at Oxford University and hopes that this will be a way to move out of the past and into a new future. However, things do not go according to plan. Her tutorial involves a very attractive, yet unattainable, professor who is intent on having her study every bit of literature she hates and criticizing everything from her thoughts, to her writing style, and even down to her use of commas.

Really?

She is also being harassed by a writer for the school newspaper, finding her name in print every day; along with her father’s arch nemesis, Sir John Booker.

And to top it off, Brontë books that were believed to be burnt in the fire of her childhood home are mysterious reappearing in her room; along with a dead friend being revived. As Samantha finds herself not only on an extensive treasure hunt to discover her inheritance, but studying and reading Brontë more than ever before; will she find all the answers she is looking for? Will she be able to understand her father’s cryptic messages? Will this cause her to grow to love the Brontë work instead of abhorring it?

Thoughts After Reading:

This has been one of the hardest reviews I have had to write as I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand I enjoy the irony of the main character hating Brontë, yet at the same time reenacting the same features she complains about. For instance falling in love with her professor, James Orville; who is not only tall, broody, and arrogant; having the temperament of Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre; but also as unattainable as Mr. Rochester.

Although in this case the issue keeping them apart is not a mad wife, but the college’s code of conduct between student-teacher relationships. Or when Samantha is stranded in her room from a big storm and starts breaking down similar to the ill governess in Villette.

Hmm…

At one point in the novel, Samantha finds her journey barred by a huge storm and having to reside in the house of her father’s most hated person, Sir John; which is reminiscent of how the narrator in Wuthering Heights finds himself forced to remain with the inhospitable Heathcliff.

The character of Samantha is also very unusual. On one hand we have a very intelligent, sarcastic, logical, and thoughtful person. However, the pendulum swings back with her also being neurotic, anxious, awkward, impulsive, and fanciful.

Not that it isn’t realistic to have a character express so many traits, but for the reader it feels inconsistent, contradictory, and a bit scattered.

Samantha’s love interest Professor Orville is lacking depth within his own character, along with his relationship to Samantha being weak and having no chemistry. Professor Orville is shrouded in mystery as to his history and background; with the reader never really seeing as to who he is, but just him as the Professor or Brontë-like hero. Part of this has to do with the fact that he is a Professor and distances himself Samantha, not revealing much of his personal life, so the quick wrap up the author provides in the end when the two have married seems strange and too quickly sewn up.

After all, most of what we see in the novel between them is Samantha’s fantasies and crush on her professor, hardly anything in the novel showed that he seriously reciprocated.

On the question of the Brontë sisters the book gives quite a lot of information into their individual backgrounds and each of their novels; along with some very thought provoking analysis. Out of all the Brontës, the author spends the most time on the youngest, Anne; with a new viewpoint and direction.

However, as the book so truthfully points out, the novels we read become a part of us. The characters and stories become an active part of our reality, memories, and sometimes even family. So when a character or story is taken in a different direction than the one that you as a reader have perpetuated it can be hard to accept. There are a few ideas surrounding the Brontë‘s leading men, that depending on your own view and relationship with the books, you will find either inspired or idiotic.

The writer has a good voice and the ability to capture one’s attention and maintain it strongly through out the pages; but because I found it lacking in other areas I would have to give this book two and a half out of fives stars.

For more mysteries involving a treasure hunt, go to The Sign of the Four

For more mysteries that take place at Oxford University, go to Decked

For more mysteries that take place at a college, go to Murder at Oklahoma

For more mysteries involving a relationship with a Professor, go to Good, Clean, Murder

For more stand alone mysteries, go to Whistling in the Dark

The Missing Housewife

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The Missing Housewife (Steven Wade Mystery #2) by Iris Wynne

When a women long believed dead is spotted in China by an old friend on holiday, it opens a real can of worms. If she is indeed the woman believed murdered, than her drug dealer has been falsely imprisoned and there is a dead body who’s identity still needs to be discovered.

With the sister of the accused pushing for involvement to free her brother, and the family of the “deceased” wanting the dead to remain dead, it turns out to be a real muddle.

With such uncertainty there is only one thing to do, hire someone who can look into the matter: a private investigator Steve Wade.

On the case!

Since Wade solved the case of “the missing mah jongg player”, he has become a hot commodity and is asked to check out the case. But is the deceased, Patricia, really alive, or is it just a look-a-like in China? And if she isn’t dead, who died in her place? Did the drug dealer murder this Jane Doe, or was it someone else?

Thoughts After Reading:

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series, The Missing Mah Jongg Player, which gave me high expectations for the sequel. Wynne didn’t disappoint with a cleverly crafted mystery that takes murder into mistaken identity and even further into assassins and a cover up.

We also have a return of the characters we enjoyed from the first novel; such as the intelligent, imaginative, analytical, and methodical Steve Wade; Candy the stripper turned private investigator, who is still coming to terms with her insecurities and the shadow of the past; and sweet Sarah, Steve’s secretary, who finally gains confidence and the ability to assert herself.

The only problem I had with this novel was that the secondary characters were not as well done as in the first book. In The Missing Mah Jongg Player, the other mah jongg players created a more personal connection to our missing person causing the viewer to see her as a person rather than a “victim”. Their different personalities also balanced well with Wade’s logical approach.

All of you

In this book our new cast of characters were interesting and developed, but not as fun or colorful as in the first.

On a whole I enjoyed this novel and give it a four out of five stars.

For more Steven Wade Mysteries, go to The Missing Mah Jongg Player

For more novels centering around a disappearance, go to The Sign of the Four

For more mysteries with private investigators, go to C is for Corpse

For more mystery reviews, go to Triple Six

The Sign of the Four

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The Sign of the Four (Sherlock Holmes #2) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

**Contains Spoilers**

So the second book of Sherlock Holmes has us go on as equally an interesting adventure.

We begin the case with a Miss Morstan coming to Sherlock to get assistance with a problem. And immediately Watson finds himself attracted to her.

“In an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents, I have never looked upon a face which gave a clearer promise of a refined and sensitive nature. “

Miss Mostan comes on the recommendation of her employer, a Mrs. Cecil Forrester, who Sherlock Holmes helped before. Her father was an officer in an Indian regiment, and sent her to a boarding school in Edinburgh after her mother died. She stayed there until she was seventeen, when her father took 12 months leave and planned to come home. He telegraphed her in London than he was safe and to meet him at the Langham Hotel. When she arrived she couldn’t find him, and the manager told her he was there but left.

Since then no one has seen him since and the police have been unable to discover anything.

Luggage was left at the hotel with nothing missing. Her father had only one friend lived in London, Major Sholto, but he didn’t even know that Captain Morstan had returned to the country. That was December 3rd, 1878, ten years ago.

But then six years ago, on May 4th, 1882; as advertisement appeared in the newspaper asking after a Miss Mary Morton, saying it would be to her advantage to answer.

When she did s small cardboard box came to her containing a large pearl, but no note.

Since then every year on the same day, May 4th, a similar pearl arrives. She took them to an expert and they were pronounced rare and valuable.

But this morning she received something different; a note that troubles her.

London, S.W.

July 7

Be at the third pillar from the left outside the Lyceum Theatre to-night at seven o’clock. If you are distrustful bring two friends. You are a wronged woman and shall have justice. Do not bring police. If you do, all will be in vain. Your unknown friend.

I wonder…

Sherlock agrees to take the case, planning for Dr. Watson and him to accompany Miss Morstan on her meeting.

Holmes looks at the note, studying it and leaves to find the answer to what pricked his mind.

While he is gone Watson can’t get Miss Morston out of his mind, but tries to move past it, Who could want an ex-army surgeon, with a weak leg, and weaker bank account?

Holmes returns much later than planned with some news. Major Sholto died on April 28, 1882. Within a week of his death a pearl arrives for Miss Morston and follows every year? A letter talks about a wrong that has happened to her. What other than her father’s disappearance could be the wrong? And why presents, unless Sholto’s heir knows something about the whole thing.

Miss Morston comes in the carriage, and they start away. She can’t believe Major Sholto would do anything, as he was her father’s best friend. However, she has a new clue to throw in the mix. A piece of paper found with his belongings that no one could quite figure out what it was. She gives it to Sherlock.

Sherlock examines it and  sees that it is from India, part of a blueprint for a large building, with a + and “3.37 from left” written in red ink. In the left hand corner, a symbol that looks like four crosses in a line with the following

++++ The sign of the four- Jonathan Small, Mahomet Singh, Abdullah Khan, Dost Akbar.

I wonder…

Sherlock can’t see how it relates now, but asks Mary to hold onto it.

They head to Lyceum Theater where the crowds are thick. Before they even reached the destination point, they are approached  by a coachman. They are invited into a coach and travel to an unknown location, a house that appears to be the only one on the block that is occupied. They are met by an Indian servant, who lets them know that the sahib is waiting.

The sahib is Mr. Thaddeus Sholto, Major Sholto’s son. The house on the outside may look worn and neglected, but in this room are riches. After they introduce themselves Thaddeus asks Watson to examine his heart, as he worries about it.

He reveals that Miss Morston father is dead, that he died of a heart attack. (But then why wasn’t the body found?)

He wants them to help settle this matter, to be a united front against his brother Bartholomew. He then tells his story. Major John Sholto was a part of the Indian army but retired 11 years ago and moved to Pondicherry Lodge in Norwood. Thaddeus and Bartholomew lived in luxury with many Indian servants. However all was not happy. Their father was afraid to go out alone and hired ex-prize fighters as body guards. He avoided men with wooden legs, and shot at one once; who was later revealed to be a harmless tradesman. In 1882 he received a shocking letter, that nearly caused him to faint. He suffered previous medical conditions and by April was reaching the end.

Major Sholto then shared his guilt at never helping Miss Morston and asks his boys to give Mary her share of the Agra treasure, but not until he died. Morston and Sholto had come into a large treasure and brought it over from India to England.  When Morston came from India he meet with Sholto and wanted his share of the treasure. Sholto and him argued about what was fair, with Morston becoming angry and his weak heart gave out, making him fall, crack his head, and die. Major Sholto then told his son to make sure that Mary received the father’s share and that the treasure was hidden…

After asking them to promise that, Major Sholto started to yell and scream “keep him out”. The two brothers turn to look and see a bearded man with a wooden leg. They try to get him, but he escapes. The next morning the whole house was searched and one message left behind.

The sign of the four

Their father died and then the two brothers dug everywhere searching for the treasure. Bartholomew didn’t want to part with the pearls, but Thaddeus sent them as they was his father’s last wish. The two argued and Thaddeus left to set up his own home. Yesterday, Thaddeus received word that the treasure was  found, and valued at half a million.

The group sets out to talk with Bartholomew, Watson a little saddened ay he state of affairs as to how could a millionairess ever want him?

When the reach Pondicherry, they find a strange state of affairs. The servants will let Thaddeus in but no others. To make things even stranger, Bartholomew hasn’t been out of his room all day.  And even though he is in there and expecting them, there is no light in the window. Strange.

Thaddeus goes in while the rest wait outside. Mary is frightened and grabs Watson’s hand.

Inner squeal!

They don’t wait long before Thaddeus comes running back out. He knows something is wrong but not what, they all rush indoors and up the stairs to his room.

He and Watson break down the door and see Bartholomew with a hideous smile fixed upon his face. Bartholomew is dead.

Above him there was an opening large enough for a person to pass through. A piece of rope on the ground and a brown, close-grained stick, with a stone head like a hammer. Beside it a note

The sign of the four

By his ear was a long dark thorn stuck into the skin. A poisoned one according to Sherlock. Watson grows grim at them ever figuring things out.

“On the contrary,’ [Sherlock Holmes] answered, ‘it clears every instant. I only require a few missing links to have an entirely connected case.”

Meanwhile, Thaddeus has discovered that the treasure is gone. Yesterday they lowered it into the room through the ceiling and locked it up at ten last night. What happened since then? Holmes sends Thaddeus  to tell the police of the death and assures him he will figure this out.

Holmes deduces it was the one-legged man aided by another, a sailor; and they dropped one of them in through the hole in the ceiling.

The police arrive and suspect Thaddeus of killing his brother, just what Thaddeus feared. Sherlock urges the police to follow his lead. The first man was a Jonathan Small (one of the original four). He’s small, poorly educated,  with a wooden leg. The other, too little info yet to determine who he is.

Watson takes Mary home and then heads to a home near the water’s edge to pick up Toby, a dog with the best nose for hunting down criminals.

When he returns he discovers that not only has Thaddeus been arrested, but the gatekeeper, housekeeper, and Indian servant.

The two examine the house closer, seeing the path that the one-legged man took. They also find his thorns dropped in his hurry to leave. They then set Toby upon it and head out after him.

Watson is still mystified as to what happened but Sherlock sets him right. Two officers were in command of convicts and learned an important secret about where the treasure was buried. Jonathan Small drew a map, putting his name and his associates in the corner. The officers took the treasure, one bringing it over from India. Jonathan Small couldn’t get it himself as he was a convict and in jail. What had upset Major Sholto, was that he had received a frightening letter, a letter about Small’s escape. He then tries to protect himself from the one-legged man. Small tried to get the treasure, but his presence interrupted Shlolto from revealing it to the sons. He searched the whole house but found nothing.

Smalls kept watch and when the brothers finally found the treasure he and his associate broke in and killed Bartholomew, escaping with the treasure. Toby takes Watson and Sherlock down to a wharf, where they discover that the one-legged man and his associate have gone in the water.

The two head home while Holmes employs his street urchins to root out some info. He does figure out more about the assistant. He turns out to be a cannibal from the island Andamand.

Watson heads over to Mary to give her an update and stays for most of the day. When he  returns home nothing has come to pass.  That night Sherlock dresses up as a sailor and heads out to the river to try and find some answers.

It was a long day with no answers as Watson waits for Holmes’ return. Athelney Jones, the inspector joins them and soon an old man arrives, but it turns out to be Holmes himself.

That night they head out to the ship Aurora and capture Smalls. He reveals all that Sherlock Holmes surmised is true, even Tonga, the islander, having killed Bartholomew.

Watson brings the box to Mary and tells her of the good news, The two break it open but find it empty.

Where is the treasure?!

But this gives Watson the courage to tell Mary how he feels. And she responds the same.

Yay!

They return to Smalls but he won’t reveal a thing about where the treasure is, other than he has hid it where none shall find it. They never discover its whereabouts, Smalls goes off to jail, and another case closed for Sherlock.

It ends with Watson sharing how he is engaged to Mary, soon to be married. So ends this story, but many more are right around the corner.

Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it. I thoughts it had great action, drama, mystery, everything you could want.

I highly recommend it for any Sherlock fan.

And I’m pretty sure that this story is what The Great Mouse Detective writers took a lot from when creating their story. The peg-leg, dressing up as a sailor, Toby, missing father, etc.And I love that film so it definitely already set the foundation for how much I would enjoy this.

But whether you are  Sherlock or Basil fan, you should definitely take a look over this book. It was fantastic.

For more Sherlock Holmes, go to A Study in Scarlet

For more classic mystery novels, go to The Murder at the Vicarage

For more mysteries with a treasure hunt, go to Lemon Meringue Pie Murder

For more mysteries revolving around a disappearance, go to Emilie & the Hollow World

For more mysteries involving poisonings, go to Catering to Nobody

Emilie & the Hollow World

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Emilie & the Hollow World (Emilie Adventures #1) by Martha Wells

Emilie is living in an 19th century-esque world. She has decided to run away as her aunt and uncle are extremely controlling and always insinuating that she is a wanton women, ready to “whore” it up.

Seriously!

She is going to visit her cousin who runs a school, and work there. Only problem, she doesn’t have enough money to sail there.

But Emilie is of plucky stock and decides to stowaway on a boat. Unfortunately, she ends up stumbling upon a thief ring and a group of sabotagers. She saves the ship she was going to stowaway on, one belonging to Lord Engal.

As the ship sails away, it turns out that they are leaving the country and heading to the center of the Earth. The ship is lead by Lord Engal and Lady Marlende as she is searching for her missing father, Dr. Marlende, his ship damaged inside the Earth.

Also on board is Kennar, a Cirathi which is a creature from inside the planet but traveled out to seek aid for Dr. Marlende.

When they go inside the Earth, they encounter all kinds of strange creatures, get involved in an underearth war, and find themselves caught in betrayal and sabotage.

Emilie is going to have to use every ounce of nerve she has to overcome these obstacles and survive.

Hopefully…

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Thoughts After Reading:

I thought this book was fantastically written. For those who are a fan of steam punk, Jules Verne, and fantasy stories, will love this book.

I thought the characters were all well written and fun. Emilie was a normal girl, who was thrown into incredible situations and able to overcome and work with them.

I loved her interactions with one of the sailor/sorcerer Daniel and hope more develops from them. They were hilarious and fun.

Aw, how cute.

I only had two issues with this book:

1) I hate when books have the character Emily spelled Emilie. For some reason my brain keeps reading it as Emil. It’s not the author’s fault, but just a pet peeve of mine.

2) I wish the author gave more background as to Emilie’s world (the non-hollow part). The author just drops us into it, but we never get a lot about the culture. I mean I assume it is similar to our earth, but I don’t know. I think the book would be stronger if they gave us more on that aspect.

Otherwise, I loved it and recommend it.

Read it today!

For more fantasy books, go to Just Because You’re Paranoid, Doesn’t Mean a Demon’s Not After You: Storm Front

For more steam punk books, go to Ticker

For more mysteries involving a missing person, go to B is for Burglar

For more mystery reviews, go to Gingerbread Cookie Murder

B is for Burglar

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B is for Burglar (Kinsey Millhone Mystery #2) by Sue Grafton

Kinsey has recovered from her shooting experience in the previous novel and is back in business. Never knowing what adventure the next client will take her on.

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Beverly Danziger is looking for her sister, Elaine Boldt, in order to have a document signed so they can get their inheritance. It is only a few thousand dollars, but until they can get the signature no one is getting anything. Beverly wishes for Kinsey to track down the sister, one no one has seen in months.

On the case!

On the case!

Yes, it is very strange as she typically heads off to Florida, but no one has seen or heard of her.

She just disappeared.

She just disappeared.

Supposedly, Elaine is renting her apartment out to her friend Pat Usher, but Kinsey senses something is fishy about her.

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As Kinsey continues to investigate it turns out that a neighbor was murdered and that no one actually saw Elaine leave. They saw her $12000 mink go into a taxi, but was she wearing it?

Something is not right!

It is looking more and more to Kinsey that someone killed Elaine and pretended to be her? But who?

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Kinsey also meets Detective Jonah Robb, who works Missing Persons. She’s attracted to him, but he’s in a complicated relationship with his estranged wife. Will things work out for them? Or should she stay far away?

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Thoughts After Reading:

The end was fantastic.

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The killer was a real psycho!

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I loved it.

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For more Kinsey Millhone mysteries, go to A is for Alibi

For more mysteries with private investigators, go to Snagged

For more mysteries featuring a female private investigator, go to Decked

For more mysteries on disappearences, go to The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Thoughts Before Reading:

Goodreads has been pushing this book on me non-stop since it was published. It kept recommending it, had all these ads I would accidentally click on (I think Goodreads did it on purpose), I think they might have even run a contest for it.

I mean they wouldn’t leave me alone.

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So I added it to my to-read list, but we all know what that is like; am I right?

Agatha Christie, surrounded by some of her 80-plus crime novels.

Times a million

But then I saw the movie is coming out Friday and decided I should read it before I watch it. Here goes, but don’t worry I won’t reveal any spoilers.

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Plot Synopsis:

So the book is told by three different female narrators, through a series of flashbacks and present time. It can get rather confusing, but that’s the tool Hawkin’s chooses to fog over the book and leave you guessing.

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1) Rachel

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Rachel Watson was married to her husband Tom for five years. He had an affair with a younger woman, Anna, got her pregnant and divorced Rachel. Rachel is still incredibly in love with him and hasn’t gotten over him, wishing they were together still.

Every day she rides the train from the house she is renting a room from to her work in a public relations firm in London. As she looks out the window she watches this couple she thinks is absolutely perfect; one she calls Jack and Jessie.

I wish I had that.

I wish I had that.

It reminds her of how she and her ex-husband Tom used to be.

Aw...

Aw…

Speaking of Tom, every day she passes their house, her old house! Tom moved his new wife in there, and they have a little girl. Everything about it upsets her and makes her so furious how he left her.

It's not fair.

It’s not fair.

Rachel is also an alcoholic, and when she drinks she completely black out losing that time and never recovering it or knowing exactly what took place.

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She continues to drink and ends up losing her job. She tries going into London to the library to find another, but instead spends more of her time just riding the train back and forth and watching “Jack and Jessie”. Wanting that life.

Aw, how cute.

Aw, how cute.

But on one Friday she looks out and Jessie isn’t with her husband. Instead she is kissing another man.

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Already thick with drink, Rachel continues on and becomes more and more angry. So furious at Jessie’s betrayal as it is so:

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It reminds her of her own betrayal and she starts thinking about how she would like to go over there and hit her or tell her to stop, like she should have done to Anna at the time. Instead of continuing on to her destination, she gets off on that stop and…

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The next day Rachel wakes up bloody and vomiting. She has a giant bump on her head and some of the blood on her is not her own. And she can’t remember anything.

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It turns out that late that night Jessie, who is really Megan, has vanished. No one knows where she went. Of course the police are looking at her husband (the one Rachel named Jack but is really Scott). Rachel can’t believe Scott would do such a thing and injects herself into the investigation and Scott’s life.

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She tries to tell them about the affair and what she saw, but soon she is thrust out, her alcoholism labeling her unstable and her obsession with the couple making her a person of interest. Maybe she killed Megan because of her anger? Maybe she thought she was Anna, they do look similar, especially at night and in a drunken state?

I wonder...

I wonder…

Rachel realizes that she doesn’t really know Scott or Megan, just the people she made them up to be; and that she has nothing helpful about that night. She starts going to therapy to help her figure out her life and maybe shed light on what happened. But does she really want to know?

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2) Anna

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Anna Watson was a real estate agent when she meet Tom Watson. She instantly liked him and decided he was the one for her, not caring that he was married.

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She loved being the other woman and never cared about Rachel’s feelings. Rachel was a real witch anyway. She was abusive; always getting drunk and embarrassing, manipulating, or trying to hurt Tom. And man he was such a saint, taking care of her that long. Thank goodness they had a baby and Tom was finally able to free himself from her.

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So everything is blissful in the new Watson home; except they are living in her (Rachel) old house with all her things, the baby is driving her crazy with all it crying, and Rachel won’t leave them alone. She calls all the time, she comes by, and even at one point she got in the house and took the baby out; probably trying to kidnap her!!

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Anna wants the police involved, a restraining order, something! Anything! But no, Tom always goes and talks to Rachel promising that it will be the last time. But it never is.

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In fact, it has gotten so bad that Anna is feeling completely paranoid and unsafe. In fact she saw Rachel the night that Megan disappeared and is completely sure that she is involved, why else would she be hanging around Megan’s husband Scott.

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Anna knew Megan as she just lived down the street and used to nanny for her. Megan quit suddenly one day, saying she got another job; but where in their tiny suburban town?

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And then as people search more into Megan’s life a lot of skeletons come out of the closet. Megan wasn’t the person Anna thought she was, maybe she was lucky she quit.

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3) Megan

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Megan is a beautiful, vivacious, blonde. She looks perfect, her husband looks perfect, her life looks perfect…but this woman has an intense past.

plotthickens

Megan was traumatized over the death of her brother Ben and ran away from home. She was picked up by an older boy and lived with him; drinking and getting high. Eventually she left that and moved on working at a gallery, and later managing that. She meet Scott and married him, ever since feeling lost in Suburbia. Especially after the gallery she opened closed.

Aw...

Aw…

She can’t sleep, and all she does is spend her life in her head. After her husband’s nudging, she begins to see a therapist, Dr. Kamal Abdic.

After seeing him, she becomes attracted to him. The two pushing the boundaries of the doctor-patient relationship.

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This hasn’t been Megan’s first affair, (whether emotional or physical). She loves her husband but at the same time doesn’t feel as if it is enough. She has been with lots of men, always covering her tracks as to what she is doing behind her husband’s back.

gotthis

She has many, many secrets hidden inside her; but which one is the reason she has been killed? And who did the act? Rachel? Scott? Dr. Kamal Abdic? One of her lovers?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was very well written although it reminded me a lot of Gone Girl.

GoneGirl

In Gone Girl you had a hard time figuring out fact from fiction, because the first narrator, the husband, introduces himself  having a face that makes himself always look as if he is lying. As you read you start wondering if he is a liar, otherwise why is he so defensive? On the other hand, the second narrator, his wife, tells her story through writing a journal. But is it the truth? After all a journal is where you release your emotions. It is just a moment and selective in memory.

I wonder...

I wonder…

Hawkins does a similar thing with her narrators. First we have Rachel, who is unreliable. She drinks far too much, and a lot of her memory is broken, uncertain, fuzzy, or unknown. Besides that she has an overactive imagination and the things she has seen might not have even occurred. They could just be in her mind.

HMMM

Anna is biased against Rachel, discussing how she does feel her a threat (to her body and marriage) and is planning on doing anything necessary to hold on to Tom. Could she lie or make things up to try and get Rachel out of their life? Will she lie or hurt others to ensure Tom stays with her and her only?

IndianaJonesHmmMaybe

And then there is Megan. She talks a lot, but most of it is shallow things. The deep she keeps tucked away with us not knowing the whole story. Or if she does allow the reader to glimpse her innermost parts, she still keeps key things buried. How will we ever know if her account is correct or whole?

paris-whenitsizzlesaudreyhmmHepburn

I thought it captured your attention, kept you going, and was very enjoyable.

I did figure it out:

I'm that good

I’m that good.

But was still enjoyable and recommend trying it out. The end was really good. I promised no spoilers so I’m only going to say this one thing and try to be very vague.

With each of the characters, especially Rachel, there is a label of untruthfulness or liar; due the lies they tell, giving half-truths, or withholding by keeping secrets. While I figured out which character was the killer early on, I never thought the author would take those themes of lying/liar as far as she did; giving us an interesting twist. Plus that very last part with how the killer is stopped was completely unexpected.

cluelesstravistwothumbsup!

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For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Winter People

For more mysteries that involve a disappearance, go to Cookie Dough or Die

For more mystery reviews, go to Sleeping Beauty

The Winter People

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The Winter People: A Novel by Jennifer McMahon

Thoughts before Reading:

I received this book in a contest, my only payment being an honest review.

Read it today!

Let me just start off and say that I found this to be a phenomenal book. Absolutely amazing. I started reading, intending to only start the novel, but found myself buzzing through it I just had to find out the end.

Cantstopreadingupallnight

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Plot Synopsis:

So the story is split between two different times. First we have Sara Harrison Shea from the turn of the century, living in West Hall, VA. Young Sara is raised by her father and Auntie, a healer, who teaches her things others, including the minister, would not approve of.

Not-Good

Everything changes one day when her husband goes hunting.

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Since then West Hall has been a strange, spooky place.

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Disappearances are common in the town, along with myths and legends.

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The most mysterious being the tragic death of Sara Harrison Shea, who was found disturbingly dead just a few months after the death of her daughter.

Horrible!!!!

Horrible!!!!

In present day; Ruthie and little Fawn live with their widowed mother Alice on a country farm. Much to Ruthie’s disgust and dislike, Alice has always forced them to live their lives off the grid, no internet, no connections, etc.

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One morning Ruthie wakens to find her mother gone.

What'sHappening?BigBangTheory

Just disappeared out of the blue, something her controlling and protective nature would never do.

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As she searches for clues to where she might have gone to, Ruthie discovers Sara Harrison Shea’s secret diary.

Obsessed

Katherine has recently lost her husband when he died in a car accident.

Aw...

Aw…

Already saddened over the death of her child, she is even more distraught to discover her husband had a secret.

What?

He’d been coming to West Hall, VA for a while, but why? No one he knows is out here and why would he lie about it?

Idon'tthinkso Idontseeit

As she moves to West Hall to investigate, she discovers a connection between her husband, Alice, and Sara.

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There are others who are after the diary Ruthie holds, and its great secret.

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It was a great book.

Read it today!

Read it today!

Incredibly well written, superb storytelling, fantastic characters and incredible suspense. I just loved it.

fantastic

I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to ruin it, but aw! So great!

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For more supernatural mysteries, go to Grave Peril

For more on disapperances, go to Cookie Dough or Die

For more widows looking for answers, go to The Italian Wife

For more historical fiction mysteries, go to Ticker

For more not-in-a-series mysteries, go to Sleeping Beauty

Cookie Dough or Die

cookiedoughordie

Cookie Dough or Die (Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery #1) by Virginia Lowell

After Olivia Greyson’s divorce to a renowned surgeon, she moved home to Chatterley Heights, Maryland. While she was trying to figure out what to do next with her life Olivia was befriended by Clarisse Chamberlain, entrepreneur and businesswoman, who encourages her to buy the historic Gingerbread House and follow her dream to open a cookie shop.

cookies

Since then she and her best friend Maddie have been running the shop together. Olivia runs the numbers and planning; while Maddie is the creative one who is in charge of the baking and making fantastical creations.

cookiessabrinatheteenagewiitch

Olivia is catching up on her beauty rest when she hears something downstairs. It’s not a robber, but Maddie coming over to create something fun and wonderful for Spring. After her, the hunky Sheriff Del comes with a a sad message for Olivia; Clarisse was found dead, and it looks like suicide.

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Olivia knows that Clarisse would never kill herself and sets off to discover who murdered her.

KeepCalmSleuthOn

The suspect list is long and complicated. There are her two dueling sons; Hugh and Edward; that have always wanted to inherit the full power of the business. Could they have killed her for the inheritance? Before one was written out of the will?

HMMM

Tammy, Olivia’s old best friend from elementary school, also has a strong motive. She has been in love with Hugh for as long as she can remember. They dated at one time, but Hugh was distracted by another, Jasmine, and Clarisse was set against Tammy from that day on. Even when Jasmine left the picture, Clarisse hated any girl that wanted Hugh. Could Tammy have killed Clarisse in order to marry Hugh?

Very fishy

Hmmmmmm?

And what of Jasmine who just mysteriously disappeared? Is she somehow involved with this?

I wonder...

I wonder…

When a local postman hints that he knew Clarisse received some information from a private detective; he ends up on the hit list.

coincidenceithinknot

It turns out he was poisoned by one of Olivia and Maddie’s cookies.

You know what that means...something is about to happen

Now it is clear that they are the next target. Can Olivia solve the murder before she is killed too?

Uh-oh-dexter-9352138-275-155

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Thoughts After Reading:

I didn’t really care for this book. I was a bit disappointed too, as I waited three months for the book to come in from a sister library to read but it wasn’t as good.

IDon'tlikeit

The mystery itself was good, but the way it was carried out was seriously lacking.

Not-Good

The story was okay except there is a lot of information about the characters that we aren’t given which make it a bit confusing. For a first book, it is best to not confuse the reader.

What'sHappening?BigBangTheory

I didn’t like the mom character as  felt she was far too cliché and boring.

A character like this again?!

A character like this again?!

The end wasn’t all that good either. The mystery was intriguing, but the resolution was too quickly wrapped up. It was very murky mysterious, and then all of a sudden crystal clear. I felt they need more leeway time, steps leading it up to the resolution.

seriously

It was also weird to have a mystery book that features dogs instead of cats. I’m not against dogs or anything, I like them too. But cats and mysteries just seem to go hand in hand. Having a mystery book without one and a dog instead is just so unusual. After all, cats are just so amazing.

loveofacat

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For more mysteries involving a cookie shop, go to Cream Puff Murder

For more Southern mysteries, go to Bloom and Doom

For more suicides as a cover for murder, go to Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters

For more death by poison food, go to A Pinch of Poison 

For more Charles Dickens quotes, go to Gorgonzola Cream Cheese Log

For more mystery reviews, go to Sleeping Beauty

Decked

decked

Decked (Regan Reilly Mystery #1) by Carol Higgins Clark

Thoughts Before Reading:

So the first book I read in this series, Laced, I had picked up for free and thought I would try it out. I loved the characters and the buildup, but was a bit disappointed with the ending wrap up. It was just too neat for me.

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As I enjoyed Laced, I picked up another free book from the series, Iced. As I read this I felt the same way. The character and build up were good, but the end was just too neatly tied up. And the end conclusion…wait I’ll stop there. After all I am saving it for my countdown to Christmas.

to be continued

So when I checked out the book Decked from the library, I have to admit I was blown away.

wow

First I loved the cover with it’s Art Deco style, just beautiful; loved the characters, the build up, conclusion…I could go on, but let’s get back on track.

Read it today!

Read it today!

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Plot Synopsis:

Regan Reilly is the only daughter of Luke Reilly, wealthy mortician, and Nora Reilly, famous mystery novelist. Regan decided to embark on a career path unlike her parents, private investigating, and choosing to live on the west coast in California, rather than her home state of New Jersey.

Private Investigating!

Private Investigating!

As Carol Higgins Clark’s mother, Mary Higgins Clark, is also a writer, I have always wondered how much of the characteristics of the characters are autobiographical and how much is fiction?

suspicious Hmm

Anyways, Regan is returning to Oxford for the 10th reunion of her Junior year abroad. As she goes back to the campus it reminds her of her old roommate Athena, from Greece. Before the year ended, she came into her trust fund and ran off without saying good-bye or even writing them a note.

How rude

At the reunion Regan asks after her, but it is not just Regan who has lost contact; apparently Athena had run away from home and never contacted anyone else again.

Very suspicious

Very suspicious

Other shocking news is that Professor Phillip Whitcomb is to be married.

What?

Often sought after by the female students; Professor Whitcomb always seemed more interested in his flora and fauna, rather than females. However, to celebrate, Lady Veronica Exner, Phillip’s wealthy aunt, has invited the whole reunion over to her home, like she used to, to celebrate.

1920sparty

Regan and her best friend Kit agree, as the two have always liked the eccentric woman. Now she is even more so, as she has ditched her bun for permed locks, and neutral colors for bright ones; and taking all kinds of trips. It appears she had a heart attack not long ago and has a whole new lease on life.

While the party is in full swing, they are interrupted with the news that a body was found. Athena’s.

Murder

As Regan and Kit head to bed they discover a note by Phillip Whitcomb for Regan. It urgently requests her to call.

whatsthatsupposedtomean

When she does she discovers that Lady Veronica’s traveling companion has had food poisoning. They tried to dissuade Lady Veronica from going on her cruise to New York from England, but she won’t listen saying she will be perfectly safe. Phillip’s fiancé came up with a solution of asking Regan to join her and take care of her.

Its-Not-Going-to-Happen-Mean-Girls

At first Regan is not willing, but then Phillip offers to pay her double. Double pay and five nights on a luxury cruise ship?

thiswillbeeasy

Unfortunately, it just so happens that this cruise ship is the same one that her parents are taking a trip on. And they are trying their hardest to avoid Lady Veronica as she insists Nora is the perfect person to write her autobiography.

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As the two set off on their journey they sail right in the middle of a murder plot. The person who killed Athena wants Lady Veronica dead as well, and doesn’t care if Regan gets caught in the wake.

thenannygasp

As Regan is busy with Lady Veronica and all her activities she wants to try out, she always keeps a fraction of her mind on Athena’s case. Who killed her and why? Regan won’t stop until she discovers the truth.

calledcuriosity

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Thoughts After Reading:

As always, the Clark books are filled to the brim with a multitude of characters, changing narration throughout. While with some books this can be messy or too extravagant; I enjoyed every single one in this novel.

loveitSupernatural

I thought the book was very well written, and the mystery, while not a brain numbing mind bender, had quite a few well done twists.

You_know_thats_right

I enjoyed the character of Regan a lot and eagerly await to read the next book in the series.

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In fact, this is one book I wouldn’t mind adding to my collection.

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For more mysteries with a female private investigator, go to A is for Alibi

For more mysteries with private investigators, go to Grave Peril

For more mysteries involving a person who has gone missing, go to Where Are You Now?

For more reviews, go to The Book of Madness and Cures

Where Are You Now?

Mothers-Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

So I wasn’t originally planning on posting anything today, but then I came across a book that just fit the theme and decided:

whynot

So first thank you to all the moms out there. It is hard job and you are not honored enough.

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1629007

Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark

Charles “Mack” MacKenzie Jr. was your average college student. He came from a rich family, had a loving mother and father; a great little sister, good friends, a nice apartment; everyone who meet him liked him, he was studying to be a lawyer–i.e he has it all.

Lordoftherings LifeisGood

Then one day he walks out of his apartment and is never seen again.

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For the past ten years he hasn’t come back, the only contact the family has had is Mother’s Day. Between 12:00 a.m and 11:59 p.m. every Mother’s Day he calls, says a few words, and then hangs up.

phonecall

His parents have tried going to the police (they weren’t very helpful); have hired private investigators (who netted nothing); and questioned friends (they had nothing to add); but it all ends up with a big zero-nothing.

Not-Good

Even when his father is killed during 9/11, Mack refuses to change his procedure.

Come on, Mack

Come on, Mack

But now his younger sister, Carolyn, has decided she has had enough of this. She is tired of feeling hurt and betrayed. She is tired of always wondering why he left. And she is tired of seeing how destroyed her mother looks.

Stop this stupid love triangle!

She is going to search for Mack.

lets-do-this-ucas-gif

When Carolyn tells Mack that she is on the case and is determined to find him; she is surprised to find a note from Mack placed in the collection plate of her uncle’s church.

Interesting

Interesting

This note tells her not to look for him, but besides the warning Caroline is intrigued with its delivery. Is Mack still in New York? Had he never left?

Smirkity smirk smirk

Hmmm. Maybe she is on to something.

Carolyn decides to devote the next three weeks to searching; if she doesn’t find Mack then she will finally move on with her life, but if she does then she will finally have the mystery solved.

gotthis

She begins requestioning people from her brother’s past and happens upon some strange things. His old landlords are cagey, their statements contradictory, and they are all around reluctant to talk about that time. Could they possibly be involved with Mack’s disappearance?

suspicious Hmm

One of Mack’s old roommates, who is married to Mack’s old girlfriend; also doesn’t want to speak to Carolyn at all. And when he heard that Carolyn was asking questions he whisked his wife and kids out of the city. Very suspicious.

I've got my eye on you

I’ve got my eye on you

As Carolyn continues to investigate, she discovers that Mack was taking drama lessons and would record himself. When she tries to reach out to his former teacher she is told that the woman was killed while being mugged and that her house was broken into.

coincidenceithinknot

The only items stolen being Mack’s tapes.

Very fishy

Very fishy

Meanwhile, the police are swamped with a disappearance of a girl, Leesey, who lives right next door to Carolyn. She is the third in a series of such disappearances, the girls or their bodies never being found. As the cops are racing against the clock to find her, one detective looks through older evidence and discovers that Mack was at the same club the first girl disappeared from. Could he be involved with this vanishing? Or did he know who was and then disappeared because he was afraid.

urkelgif interesting hmm

With the press and police out to hang her brother for the crimes; and Carolyn starting to doubt his innocence as well; she knows more now than ever she must find him. But where is he?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I’ve only read a few Mary Higgins Clark: this book, Daddy’s Gone A Hunting, and Let Me Call You Sweetheart. For me I’ve noticed that her books are either a hit;

loveitSupernatural

Or a miss:

stupidestthingever

No in-between.

You_know_thats_right

This book was definitely a miss for me.

IDon'tlikeit

At first I loved the book, it had a very strong premise; the characters were interesting, and was written so well I had a hard time keeping my hands and mind off of it.

don'tneedsleepneedanswers

Mary Higgins Clark likes doing multiple narrations, and I really liked how she incorporated the killers mind. It was only a few times it really added to the book.

fantastic

However, the ending to this book just fell flat. The person they choose and the reasons behind it were kind of boring. You know same old same old.

blahblah

In fact the villain was so much something you have seen countless times I had no  trouble figuring out who he was.

im_bored_himym

The end was a bit of a letdown after all the action.

movingOnsherlocknotinterested

I also didn’t like the way she portrayed the police officers. They were mean and a bit stupid. They concentrated more on making the facts suit their theories rather than the facts speak for themselves.

bigmistake

All in all I thought it was only okay. Good for maybe one read, but not worthy to add to your permanent collection.

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For more mysteries revolving around a disappearance, go to The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

For more mysteries not in a series, go to Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters

For more holiday posts, go to Wookie Cookies

The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

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Ready for our last Christmas mystery review? Here you go.

EdwinDrood

The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens

*Contains Spoilers*

Background:

This book is known as the unsolvable mystery due to one reason, it is unfinished. Charles Dickens began writing this in the summer of 1869, when he was sick and ailing, dying a year later and leaving his last mystery unsolved.

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It has stumped and angered people for over a hundred years as no one knows what happened. Did something bad happen to Edwin? Did he leave of his own free will? Was he murdered? Kidnapped? If murdered who is the killer? It can be very frustrating.

arghfliptablesangry

In fact many people have tried a hand at solving the “unsolvable crime”.

  • In 1870, Robert Henry Newell published his version of the story, transporting the tale to America and more a parody than anything else.
  • 1871-1872, John Jasper’s Secret: The Sequel to Charles Dicken’s Mystery of Edwin Drood, was published by Henry Morford. In this version John Jasper tries to kill Edwin, but he escapes.
  • In 1873, Thomas Jane wrote his version of the ending and was praised as the “true version” for a long period of time as many believed him when he said that he had channeled Dickins’ actual spirit in writing.

Very suspicious

  • In 1935, Universal came out with the film Mystery of Edwin Drood, starring Claude Rains as John Jasper and David Manners as Edwin Drood.
  • In 1980, The Mystery of Edwin Drood was published by Leon Garfield. In his book every loose end is wrapped up by his introduction of several new characters.
  • In 1985 the musical Drood, aka The Mystery of Edwin Drood, came out. In this the audience is able to vote on who they think the killer should be. It was revived in 2012.
  • In 1992, Peter Rowland wrote The Disappearance of Edwin Drood, in which years after the incident a very old John Jasper asks Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to solve the case.

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  • In 1993 The D. Case or the Truth About the Mystery of Edwin Drood by Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini was published with the most famous literary detectives attempting to solve the mystery. It features Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, and more.
  • In 1993, A&E distributed the film The Mystery of Edwin Drood, starring Robert Powell as John Jasper and Jonathan Phillips as Edwin Drood.
  • In 2005, the Doctor Who episode, The Unquiet Dead, has Dickens and the Doctor fighting aliens, causing him to end the novel with the Gelth being the murderer.
  • In 2012, The Mystery of Edwin Drood: Part II, The Solution, by David Saunders was published. He believes that not only is John Jasper a red herring, but that there is another murder that has been overlooked.
  • In 2012, BBC produced a two episode mini-series that took a lot of liberties with the book in it’s portrayal. It made Ned and Helen Indian, John Jasper secretly Edwin’s brother not uncle, and Ned & Helen the half siblings of both Edwin and John Jasper.

So as you can see there is a lot of what other people wanted the book to be like, but what is the actual story? Let’s take a look.

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Now let me say before we begin, I HATED this book.

thenannygasp

I know!!!! I can’t believe it either. I LOVE Charles Dickens. I LOVE everything he has written. It pains to to even think about writing these words, but this book sucked. Really sucked. So what went wrong? Let’s review what made this Dickens’ fan upset.

Hate this.

Hate this.

Synopsis:

So the first problem I have with this particular edition, not with Dickens’ actual book, is the introduction by , who tells the reader that the killer is John Jasper.

What?

Hello this is A MYSTERY!!! You just don’t tell someone the end unless you say spoilers ahead. I mean HOW COULD YOU!!!

That be like if in Bones, they decided that instead of you trying to use the hour to figure out which of the people is the killer, they just told you in the beginning. Heck no. You do not do that. That is beyond horrible. How could you!!!!

arghfliptablesangry

Screw you Peter Ackroyd! And may all your writings be filled with typos for the pain you have caused!!!!!!!!!!!!

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So from now on, anything in the review will be on Dickens work. Let’s get started.

So any of you who have read a Dickens’ book, you know the basic formula. We are given a group of characters, and as they develop we end up discovering that they are somehow all more closely related than we could ever think. Lots of great scenes, memorable lines, and extremely lovable characters.

This book is not like that at all.

Not-Good

So we start of with John Jasper, choirmaster in a small Cathedral town (based on Rochester), who is at the moment residing in an opium den.

What?

Yeah, that’s some serious commentary for an opening. I didn’t see that coming, that’s for sure.

wow

Anyways, he had this vision of murdering his nephew, Edwin Drood. Edwin and Jasper are very close in age, only about five years apart. When his parents died, Edwin was sent to live with his grandparents. After their deaths, he was sent to his uncle Jasper’s. As the two were close in age, they became more of a relationship of brothers rather than uncle and nephew. Edwin is the only one to call Jasper “Jack”, and Jasper the only one to call Edwin “Ned”. And why would Jasper wish to kill his nephew/almost a brother; keep reading to find out.

suspicious Hmm

So Jasper is a huge opium addict, but no one notices. They all see his shortness of breath, sallowness of skin, tired eyes; but they all accept his explanation of not sleeping well. I think part of it is the fact they would never consider a gentleman, especially one who is employed in a church, could be on drugs.

impossible

Anyways, Edwin is now residing in London, learning the engineering trade as he inherits his father’s business at the age of 21. He will also be getting wed to his father’s best friend’s daughter, Rosa “Pussy” Bud (I know what a stupid name to give a child). He is currently visiting the town to see Jack, and visit with Rosa as it her  birthday.

Now Rosa is not only the fiancé of Edwin, but is also being given music lessons by Jasper. He keeps a sketch Edwin made of her over the mantle, leaving me to guess that there is more than singing that Jasper wants from Rosa.

Smirkity smirk smirk

Smirkity smirk smirk

I know in Emma, Mr. Elton took the picture of Harriet Smith because he liked Emma, and she painted it; but in this case I don’t think the reason he hangs Rosa in a place of honor has anything to do with Edwin being the artist.

Edwin is being kind of sarcastic about his upcoming nuptials with Rosa as he doesn’t want to marry her and he doesn’t really want to become an engineer. When his father wrote the will, he put in it about the business and getting married to Rosa, of which Rosa’s father did the same in his will. Edwin doesn’t hate Rosa or engineering, he just hates the fact that his life has been written out for him.

Hate this.

Hate this.

Jasper gets very angry at him treating Rosa that way, that she is too good for him. Edwin apologizes and agrees.

We then meet Rosa.

Hate her that's so raven

I have disliked a few literary characters in my time but none as much as Rosa Bud. Ugh. She is just so horrible and infuriating. I dislike her more than words can describe.

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So Rosa lives in a school for young ladies, residing there ever since the death of her parents. She very much does not want to get married to Edwin, and because she’s not adult enough to talk to him about her feelings, she just whines the whole time and tries to hurt Edwin in every way she can. Instead of acting like the 18 years she is, she acts like a five-year old having a tantrum.

likeachildpsych

She goes on about how absurd the whole engagement is, calls Edwin ugly, that she never wants to dance with him, and tells him that she’s tired of him. Now what about this character is so charming that everyone would fall in love with her.

heath

She’s just jerk to me.

jerk-gif

Now this character would work if she was innocent and naive in not knowing how this hurts or affects him, in a sense having no filter but just saying anything she thinks of feels. But that is not how the character is written. In this she is upset and unhappy and is purposely striking out against him. She knows what she is doing. I mean think of Brave. Merida was someone you loved because she was just being herself. She didn’t understand, until the end of the film, that being an adult means you have responsibilities and that every choice you make will have an outcome that you have to be ready for. When she shoots the arrow at the bullseye, “winning her own hand in marriage”, she’s not doing it on purpose to snub her family, culture, and say that her suitors are unworthy; she just is thinking as a child. A type of ” I want this so I’m going to do this”. Rosa knows she is purposely being cruel to Edwin, and instead of being an adult and either accepting the marriage, making the best out of it: or choosing to say no to her fortune an not marry Edwin; she decides to make his life Hell.

you're evil

So they go for a walk and Rosa tells Edwin they are going to play a game. In this game Edwin is engaged to someone else and she is engaged to no one. Edwin doesn’t really want to play, but she constantly pushes him, until he gives in. He starts describing his “fake fiancé” making her appearance the opposite of Rosa. The “girl” is nice, charming, has a big nose, likes engineering, and is happy to have to move to Egypt with Edwin when he inherits the company. And Rosa gets Jealous.

really?

I can’t be- I mean seriously, seriously. She gets SUPER JEALOUS of a IMAGINARY FIANCE of a guy SHE DOESN’T EVEN LIKE. Like what is wrong with her? She is incredibly crazy. As Edwin goes on to describe “the fake girl” Rosa says the most horrible things. That his “dream girl” is gawky, with gigantic nose that is incredibly red, so ugly skinned she has to use powder, that is supremely stupid, etc. She then goes on to make fun of engineering and Egypt.

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Like what is her deal? Why does everyone fall in love with her? I mean this is a common character in Dickens’ work, there is always a female that every guy is crazy about. But in his other books, they actually have an appeal about them. In Great Expectations, Estella was cruel and cold, yes, but not all the time. As she was trained to be a heartbreaker, her adoptive mother’s weapon upon men, she at first made the men fall for her, only to after crush every bit of them afterwards. In A Tale of Two Cities, Lucy was loved by all, as her father was the only male character not interested in marrying her, but she was sweet, kind, and caring. Rose Maylie in Oliver Twist; sweet, kind, gentle, and pure. I could go on, but I think you get the point that Rose sucks.

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So I was kind of done with this novel at this point. The plot was extremely boring thus far. Jasper is a jerk trying to scam on his nephew’s fiancé and a tad deranged by opium. Rosie is obnoxious, cruel, and extremely annoying. The only character I care  for is Edwin, but even he can’t carry the whole book.

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But I didn’t give up. I continued on, and you want to know why? Why I bothered to continue reading something I knew I would not love no matter what? All because I purchased the book The Disappearance of Edwin Drood by Peter Rowland at a library book sale, and knew I could not read it until I had finished the original. So I pushed on.

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So Edwin and Rosa argue some more, Rosa stupidly with Edwin not winning no matter what he says. However, this whole time Jasper is spying on them (further proof he is in love with Rosa) and Rosa tells Edwin to take her back to the house.

Durdles, the stonemason for the crypts & graveyards, is talking with the Mayor about his late wife’s tombstone. Jasper runs into to them, and goes off with the mayor. He returns that night to speak to Durdles about the “mysteries of the crypts”.

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Reverend Septimus, the minor canon, is taking in twin orphans, Neville and Helena Landless. Neville will stay with the Reverand, while Helena will move into the school that Rosa resides. The twins’ ages are not stated but they are around the ages of Rosa and Edwin (18-21).

The two are from Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka, island off the coast of India) but it is not stated whether they are of that descent of if their family was British. It describes them as dark, but do they mean tanned “dark”, dark coloring as in hair, or dark as in Indian? I guess it doesn’t matter that much.

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Their mother remarried when they were young, and died when they were still children. They had been living with a cruel stepfather who used to starve them, not give them any clothes, beat them, etc. He’s lucky he died before Neville decided to kill him.

Because of this upbringing, Neville has a quick temper, sees faults and injustice in almost everything, and can be sullen and rude.

Hate this.

Hate this.

So the Landlesses join the Reverend and his mother for their Wednesday get togethers; with Edwin, Rose, and Jasper joining them like always. Ned sees Rosa and falls for her instantly, ( I can’t imagine why). Jasper sets out to play while Rosa sings like usual. This time, Rosa can’t be in Jasper’s presence and completely freaks out, throwing another tantrum. Helena recognizes that Rose is five-year-old in a woman’s body and carries her away to lie down on the sofa.

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Edwin tells everyone that Rosa was nervous in such a large crowd (two extra people). He kids with Jasper about him scaring her, and Jasper leaves. The Rev. decides that the night is late and the party ends. Rosa and Helena go home in which Helena asks about her and Edwin. Rosa complains about it to Helena. And all I can think is Helena is a saint. If I had been through all she had been through (plus if she is Indian, then she has not only experienced emotional and physical abuse but also prejudice), and then heard the sob story of rich Rosa being so upset because she has to get married to a nice guy; I’d be like girl please. Shut up and come back to me when you have a real problem.

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But Helena says nothing of the sort, just asks Rosa to be her friend.

Helena then shares her observation that Jasper is in love with Rosa. Rosa is utterly disgusted by Jasper as he scares her, haunting her thoughts; proclaiming his words of love not in words but in the melody he plays, etc. Now this part confused me. I mean WE the reader know Jasper is bad. He is an opium addict and contemplating killing his nephew; but why does Rosa think so? We aren’t presented with anything he has done to scare her. It just doesn’t make sense. Why is he so villainous?

What?

Anyways, the boys have done their duty of escorting the girls home. Edwin finds himself attracted to Helena, and I have to admit for a moment I thought “maybe he and Helena will get together instead of him and Rose”. Then I realized that was a stupid thought as the book is called The Mystery of Edwin Drood. He must die or disappear.

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Neville tries to congratulate Edwin on his upcoming marriage, but Edwin is not that excited. This makes Neville angry as he doesn’t know the way Rosa treats Edwin. The two get into a fight with Jasper coming along and breaking it up. He brings them in for a drink to smooth things over, but unfortunately, it doesn’t help. Neville is jealous of all he thinks Edwin has and remarks that he would be better of he had experienced hardships in his life instead of having things “easy”. Now I know Edwin has money and his life mapped out, but things haven’t been exactly easy. He’s had to go through the death of his parents and grandparents; both being people who have raised him. That’s a hard loss. He also has a shrew of a fiancé. It may not be the same as Neville’s experiences, but it is far from “easy”.

Neville and Edwin get into another fight. Neville calls Edwin common, and Edwin retorts that he “may know a black common fellow…but you are no judge of white men.” Ah, so they are most likely Indian.

Uh-oh

Oh

Sorry, back to fight. Neville is offended and flings his drink at Edwin. He is about to send the glass, but Jasper stops him and he sends him home.

The next day, Jasper comes to see the Rev. and tells him he must send Neville away, as he is crazy and fears that he might hurt Edwin. The Rev. defends Neville and says that he will stay.

Rumors start flying about the attack, each time painting Neville as eviler and eviler. It does not look good.

Not-Good

So now we switch to my least favorite character, Rosa, who is having a meeting with her lawyer Mr. Grewgious. Let me say, I love this man. Favorite character of the book. He is so awesome and adorable. Awerable. Adorsome.

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He gives Rosa a copy of her father’s will, and is planning on giving one to Jasper, as he is Edwin’s guardian. Rosa pleads to give it to Edwin instead, and Mr. Grewgious agrees to. Rosa asks him about the will and what would happen if she and Edwin were not to get married. Mr. Grewgious says, absolutely nothing.

What?

It seems as if everyone has misunderstood. Whether or not they will marry, both were inherit all of their family’s wealth. There was never any setup betrothal by the parents, they just hoped and wished the two would fall in love and marry.

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The Rev. speaks to Neville, telling him he must leave Rosa alone as she is engaged and not free to be anything to him. You may not like Edwin or approve of how he treats her, which to me I saw no big tuzzle, but he is her fiancé and will be her husband. So back off and back very far away.

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Jasper comes to see the Rev. and speaks more of his fears that Neville will do something. He shows him the journal entries he wrote about how scared he is and how he feels evil coming out of Neville. The Rev. convinces him to give the boys another chance to be friends. A couple days later he comes back with a note from Edwin, who agrees with the Rev. He asks Jasper to invite Neville to Christmas Eve dinner.

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Back in London, Mr. Grewgious has asked Edwin to come by so that they may clear up a few particulars. We are introduced to his paralegal, a Mr. Bazzard who does not wish to be a lawyer and is mopey and rude.

How rude

Anyways, Mr. Grewgious pulls out Rosa’s mother’s ring. Her father gave it to Mr. Grewgious for safekeeping, to be given to the man who was to be Rosa’s husband. He tells Edwin that when he places the ring on Rosa’s finger it will it an unbreakable seal that they are to be married. If Edwin has any doubts at all about the marriage, the two should break their “pre-engagement” and Edwin should return the ring to Mr. Grewgious.

Jaspar and Durdles meet up for Jasper’s tour among the tombs. They see quick-lime along the way, something used to decompose the body quickly. While they are doing that, Jasper sees the Rev. and Neville walking and spies on them. He can only hear his name, Christmas, and that this is all in confidence. It doesn’t take a genius that the Rev. is discussing the dinner, and Jasper’s fears; trying to convince Neville to be calm.

Jasper gives Durdles a bottle of liquor, which quickly knocks him out. When Durdles wakes up, his key is next to him, not in his pocket. You know what that means, Jasper purposely brought the alcohol because he knew Durdles would drink to excess, and then he could still the key and unlock a door to a crypt.

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Edwin comes to see Rosa, who is enjoying her last Christmas party at school as her and Edwin are supposed to be married soon. Edwin isn’t happy as the conversation with Mr. Grewgious has really pickled his conscience and leaves him unsure as to whether or not he should marry her. The ring hangs heavy in his pocket. The two go off together and Rosa says she doesn’t want to marry him, she wants them to be like brother and sister. Edwin is a little hurt at her words, but agrees that he doesn’t love her in any other way.

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Both are happier with the decision, but Edwin is worried about Jasper. He knows how much Jasper cares for him and how heartbroken he will hear that they won’t be getting married, as he will be hurting for Edwin.

Rosa is also worried that with her and Edwin no longer engaged, Jasper might voice his attraction. She decides the best person to tell him will be Mr. Grewgious, and Edwin agrees.

It turns out that Jasper had been spying on them. Unfortunately, he was much too far away to hear anything and assumes that by their happy faces they are eager for the wedding day.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Neville Landless is preparing to take a walking tour (hike) of his new country, not only to look at it but to separate him from his infatuation of Rosa. Before he leaves that night for Christmas Eve dinner, he packs his clothes and his brand new walking stick, which is iron shod. He is ready. The Rev doesn’t like it, thinking it is extremely heavy, but Neville says it will be good for his practice as he has never hiked before. He promises to write Helena every other day.

Edwin goes to do some errands, stopping at the jewelers to get his watch fixed. The jeweler hardly ever sees Edwin as all he wears is his watch and chain and a shirt pin. As he is heading out he runs into a women who looks tired and torn up. It is Princess Puffer, the women who runs the opium den that Jasper was visiting at the beginning of the novel. She has followed Jasper to warn the Ned Jasper was trying to kill in his opium dream, but has lost him. She is begging for money to return home, and Edwin takes pity on her giving her some. She asks what her benefactor’s name is. When he says Edwin, she asks him if he is ever called Ned, warning him that that is a dangerous name to have.

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The next day Jasper goes charging to the Rev’s house demanding to know where Edwin is. The Rev has no idea what he is talking about. He tells them that Neville came over, the boys hung out, and then Edwin and Neville went off to look at the storm and never came back.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

Neville had started early that morning, and its not long after that he is accosted by eight men. They fight with Neville, him using his walking stick to brain a few. They eventually overpower him, and it turns out they set out to get him after Jasper raised the alarm.

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Jasper sees the blood on Neville and his stick and starts pointing fingers. Neville retorts that when attacked by eight people he quickly defended himself, pointing to the men in the group that he smacked.

A group of people start checking the banks for Edwin, while Jasper spreads about town his suspicions surrounding Neville.

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Mr. Grewgious comes to see Jasper and tells him that Edwin and Rosa broke off the engagement. They were worried in how Jasper would take it, so Mr. Grewgious was elected to bring the news. Jasper faints.

When he awakes he is joyful, as he now hopes that Edwin took off for fear of upsetting Jasper, and wasn’t murdered. Mr. Grewgious is a little shocked by how quick his demeanor changed and very suspicious.

HMMM

The Rev. walks about the river weir, upon which he pots something shiny. It turns out to be Edwin’s watch, chain, and shirt pin. No doubt about it. Something bad happened to Edwin Drood.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Six months have passed, and because of the mistrust the people had against Neville, he has moved from the town to London. He has an apartment next to Lietenant Tartar, who recently inherited a massive fortune and land. As he has always lived at sea, he is slowly working his way up to bigger and bigger living places, in hopes of one day being fully comfortable in his inherited home. Tartar is the best character on this whole entire book. I just love him.

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A stranger appears in Cloisterham, who has a huge shock of white hair and goes by the name Datchery. We never find out who he is, but I always thought it was one of the characters in disguise, but which one?

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Meanwhile, after waiting six months Jasper decides now is the time to make his move. He tells Rosa that he is madly in love with her. How he has hidden his affections for the love of his nephew.  When that doesn’t work he tries to blackmail her by saying he has evidence that will prove Neville a killer, marry him or else.

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Rosa is confused as why does that affect her. Neville doesn’t like her, and never said anything. Jasper tells her that if Neville suffers, so will his sister and she doesn’t wish to hurt her best friend, does she?

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Rosa takes off. She is so worried, but manages to get down to London to see Mr. Grewgious. She tells him everything along with how Jasper frightens her so.

The Rev. comes to see Mr. Grewgious, as the headmaster was worried as to what happened to Rosa. He is told the while story and also sees Lt. Tartar, who turns out to be an old buddy of his from school. Rosa stays at Lt. Tartar’s house until they can find her other arrangements. As Helena is visiting her brother, she hears Rosa and the two girls are reunited.

They find Rosa a place, of which Miss Twinkleton, one of the Headmistresses, has promised to come and chaperone her. Rosa enjoys Lt. Tartar’s company and in my reading of it, if the book had been finished the two would have married.

Wedding

Jasper returns to the opium den. When he leaves, Princess Puffer follows him. Jasper conducts his usual singing, with Princess Puffer watching from behind a column. Datchery speaks to her, and finds out who she is. He then goes home and marks the cupboard door.

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Thoughts after reading:

I didn’t care for this mystery at all. I thought most of the characters were boring or annoying. The mystery seems to point to one conclusion, that Jasper did it, which is no real mystery at all. It just was not what I expected from Charles Dickins.

And I don’t completely blame him as he was ill, and in that state he was having a hard time making things the way he usually did. But yeah, this book was just not that good.

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For more Christmas mysteries, go to Candy Canes of Christmas Past

For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Barter

For more reviews, go to Sugar Cookie Murder

The Missing Mah Jongg Player

the Missing Mah jong player

The Missing Mah Jong Player (Steven Wade Mystery #1) by Iris Wynne

In The Missing Mah Jong Player, by Iris Wynne, divorced Marilou is looking for love in online chat rooms. She has been very busy with her dates and other commitments, that she hasn’t really had a lot of time for her mah jong group. So when she misses a day after confirming she would be there, Harriet (friend and fellow mah jong player) begins to grow worried.

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She goes to her house and discovers that Marilou is missing. When the police make no headway into solving the crime and are giving up, Harriet decides to hire a private investigator.

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Their investigator, Steve Wade is an ex-policeman who at first doesn’t want to take the case. After much arm twisting and free cupcakes from Harriet’s bakery, he complies. But Marilou’s disapperance raises a lot of hard questions. Was she killed? Did she willingly leave? Was one of the guys she was dating responsible for her disappereance? Or was the criminal someone much closer to her? Not only is Wade investigating a hard case, he also has the five remaining mah jong players intent on helping him discover the truth. From staging a speed dating dinner, to questioning family and friends; these ladies and Wade are hot on the trail.

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Thoughts After Reading:

When you read the synopsis of the book it is very centered on Steve Wade and sounds like a modern Philip Marlow or Sam Spade type of detective fiction.

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I am not sure if the author changed her direction while writing, or is hoping for a Steve Wade series, but that is not the case. Instead of being solely focused on the private investigator the story is shown through the eyes of Wade, Harriet, Sarah (mah jong player and Wade’s new secretary), and Candy Kane (stripper turned private investigator). I believe this actually improves the story as it transforms it into being more than just a mystery, but also how a loss affects people and what they do to deal with their grief.

Whoa

Everyone’s reactions to Marilou’s disappearance range across the board. You have some of her friends in denial, believing she just ran away; some who don’t want to think on the issue and are intent on forgetting it as it is a matter for the police; Sarah who won’t stop crying as Marilou was a mother figure to her, and Harriet who needs closure and answers so she hires a detective. Not only does this more personal approach make a stronger story, but it really helps you connect to the characters. This also causes you to really care for Marilou, as all these personal reactions make her into an actual person instead of a “body” or “victim #1”.

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Steve Wade was a great character as well. He was intelligent, imaginative, analytical, and able to solve the mystery after a series of time. I liked that it wasn’t instantaneous but methodical, and that at times Steve would sometimes miss what was right in front of his face as he was too heavily concentrated on another aspect. He is also a perfect compliment to his surrounding characters. I hope that this will be turned into a series and that we may see more Steve Wade in the future.

Please!

As for the mystery it was pretty compelling. We at first have the question of whether or not there is an actual crime or if Marilou just left of her own accord. Then when it is established as a murder we have a long list of motives and suspects; everyone from Marilou’s cousins, friends, men she was dating, to even her children. It progresses realistically and the only complaint I have was that the end seemed a bit rushed as they present the resolution.

I thought this book is fantastic and the perfect addition to any mystery lover’s bookcase or kindle. I give the story a five out five.

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There is one thing that bothers me. It isn’t really about mah jong, in fact mah jong is mentioned maybe one or twice. It makes a great title, but that and the cover don’t really match the story.

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For more Private Investigators, go to Lane Changes

For the previous mystery, go to Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder