Haven’t We Met Before?

“Haven’t We Met Before” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

William Koenig was arrested for attempted murder of a young woman named Emily Winters. He chose her because in past life she was Kate Fallow and wanted to marry his past self Simon Guinness. When Koenig/Guinness refused she ended up murdering her husband, framing Koenig/Guinness and had him hanged.

Y’all know what that mans. Someone is going to end up DEAD!

Koenig tried to get his revenge but was foiled. Now he resides at the Haviland Hospital for the Criminally Insane. He is visited by Westchester County Assistant District Attorney Jack Carroll. Carroll believes that he is responsible for a string of unsolved murders and is trying to get him to confess.

Carroll os also dating Emily and is doubly interested in keeping Koenig behind bars.

Koenig is just baiting the two. He speaks to Carroll and the psychiatrists, but inside has plotted a way to get out and get Emily.

Koenig has murdered before. He won’t admit it to Carroll, he’s a very smart man, but he is responsible for the unsolved murders.

  • Fire in Rosedale that killed an elderly woman eight years ago? In Koenig’s eyes she was a witch from Salem who had him killed.
  • Murder of a cashier at the York Cinema in Mamaroneck five years ago? In Koenig’s eyes he was a 17th century pirate who set him adrift in 1603
  • Jeffrey Lane a real estate broker in Rye? In Koenig’s eyes his younger brother in Glasgow in 1790 who murdered him for the estate.

The time ends and Carroll concentrates on Emily. Emily lives in White Plains, housesitting and waitressing-putting her way through college. She actually had herself regressed and saw that she was Eliza Jackson Southern Belle during the Civil War. Carroll is deeply in love with her, but understands she’s busy and needs her space at times. He calls her, but doesn’t see her as she has a long day and wants to head home.

That night Koenig breaks out-strangles the guard, escapes in the orderly’s outfit, and is out a half hour before they even realize he is gone.

This time he gets to Emily before she can press the panic button to call the police. This time he will have her.

It is the end of the line, or is it? Eliza Jackson just might make an appearance-and she’s one tough Southerner.

Hmm…

Thoughts after Reading:

Was good but I’m not really into past lives mysteries. However, Clark always knows how to tell a tale and does it well.

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to I’ve Got You Under My Skin

For more stories from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go to The Man Next Door

For more short stories, go to A Much Expected Murder

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

Death Threads

So I know today is Pi/Pie day

I was going to make one and post it and switch with Friday’s post, but Friday is Saint Patrick’s day and I wanted to post a Saint Patrick’s day recipe. I went back and forth on this…

Then I finally decided, book review today and recipe Friday, a pie recipe to tie in with this day & Saint Patrick’s Day. So here we go with our book review:

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Death Threads (Southern Sewing Circle #2) by Elizabeth Lynn Casey

So I read this book and was planning on reviewing it, but then I couldn’t remember what happened other than I didn’t like it.

So I had to reread it in order to review it. Let’s see if my views changed.

So after a disastrous discovery of her fiancé cheating on her, Tori decides to move to Sweet Briar, South Carolina. There she found herself the victim of horrible pranks, a ton of residents upset with her replacing their favorite librarian, and a suspect in a murder.

But that’s all in the past. Now Tori is doing well at the library, has been accepted as a member of the town, dating a handsome teacher, and working hard on her sewing-grateful for her new friends and community.

But then things take a dark turn…Colby Calhoun: handsome, local author, newspaper reporter, and husband of Tori’s friend and sewing circle member–reveals that the town has been perpetuating a lie. The story is that the town was burned by Yankees in the Civil War, the Sweet Briar people coming together and rebuilding on the ashes, but Colby reveals that the town was really burned when a moonshine distillery caught fire.

Obviously Colby has never seen the film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance or else he would know:

Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?

Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

The town becomes furious at Colby, all talking about how they would like to hurt him. His wife and kids are bullied or treated as pariahs. Even in the sewing circle Debbie isn’t accepted.

Tori is the only one who sticks up for her. Later when she checks on Debbie, the two discover the house ransacked, a threatening note, blood in the area, and a missing Colby.

Tori sets out to discover what happened to her friend’s husband and tries to catch whoever is doing this, because:

Also in this book, Tori meets an eccentric older woman who made up a boyfriend the past five years. But now it looks as if the man is real as they are getting married. Who could he be?

Thoughts after Reading:

Let’s see how did I feel?

The first one was much better. This one was boring.

It took a looooong time to get the characters moving.

And the mystery was easily solved. As soon as they brought the characters in it was clear what was up.

For more Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries, go to Sew Deadly

For more Southern Mysteries, go to Cookie Dough or Die

For more mysteries, go to The Itsy Bitsy Spider