Saturday, May 18, 2013

Leaving Everything Most Loved: A Maisie Dobbs Mystery by Jacqueline Winspear

The blurb:

London, 1933. Two months after the body of an Indian woman named Usha Pramal is found in the brackish water of a South London canal, her brother, newly arrived in England, turns to Maisie Dobbs to find out the truth about her death. Not only has Scotland Yard made no arrests, evidence indicates that they failed to conduct a full and thorough investigation.
Before her death, Usha was staying at an ayah's hostel alongside Indian women whose British employers turned them out into the street—penniless and far from their homeland—when their services were no longer needed. As Maisie soon learns, Usha was different from the hostel's other lodgers. But with this discovery comes new danger: another Indian woman who had information about Usha is found murdered before she can talk to Maisie.
As Maisie is pulled deeper into an unfamiliar yet captivating subculture, her investigation becomes clouded by the unfinished business of a previous case as well as a growing desire to see more of the world, following in the footsteps of her former mentor, Maurice Blanche. And there is her lover, James Compton, who gives her an ultimatum she cannot ignore.
Bringing a crucial chapter in the life and times of Maisie Dobbs to a close, Leaving Everything Most Loved marks a pivotal moment in this remarkable series.

I'm a staunch fan of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series and was very excited to review her latest novel, Leaving Everything Most Loved.  

This particular book is one of my favorites for these reasons:
-more time spent on the romance between Maisie Dobbs and James Compton.  The relationship seems quite modern insofar as Maisie puts a premium on her independence and puts off James's  repeated proposals of marriage.  Now that Maisie is financially independent, she is slow to exchange her life for the obligations and luxuries that come with marriage to one of the wealthiest men in Great Britain. Maisie plans to travel in the hope that this will help her "come home to herself" and allow her to be ready to build a life with James.
-the novel addresses issues of race, cultural difference, and colonial ties - as Maisie investigates the death of the beautiful young Indian woman, her interviews and interactions with Londoners gives us a better sense of the level of prejudice and isolation that existed at that time.

Jacqueline Winspear delivers another beautifully written mystery with strong characters.  I'm looking forward to the next Maisie Dobbs adventure.

ISBN-10: 0062049607 - Hardcover $26
Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (March 26, 2013), 352 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program.

About the Author:
Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Among the Mad and An Incomplete Revenge, as well as four other Maisie Dobbs novels. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha, Alex, and Macavity awards for the first book in the series, Maisie Dobbs. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday 56: The Second Rule of Ten: A Tenzing Norbu Mystery by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay

 Welcome to this week's Friday 56 - this Friday 56 comes from The Second Rule of Ten: A Tenzing Norbu Mystery by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56 or 56% on your e-reader/
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions 
on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
Post a link along with your post back to this blog and to Freda's Voice at
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

But that dude? He was nothing but bad news.

The blurb:
Be on the lookout for the unconscious beliefs. They are blinders that prevent you from understanding what is actually happening.

That's the second rule of ten.   Ex-Buddhist monk and ex-LAPD officer turned private eye Tenzing Norbu is back with a new case, a new love, and a whole new set of problems in this fresh installment in the Tenzing Norbu Mystery series.

In The Second Rule of Ten, Norbu investigates the unexplained death of his former client Hollywood mogul Marv Rudolph and searches for the sister, lost during World War II, of wizened Los Angeles philanthropist Julius Rosen.  With two cases and an unforeseen family crisis that sends him back to Tibet, Ten finds himself on the outs with his best buddy and former partner, Bill, who is heading the official police investigation into Marv's death.  Cases and crises start to collide. When Ten mistakenly ignores his second rule, he becomes entangled in an unfortunate association with a Los Angeles drug cartel.  As he fights to save those he loves, and himself, from the deadly gang, he also comes face to face with his own personal demons.  Working through his anger at Bill, doubts about his lady love, and a challenging relationship with his father, Ten learns to see the world in a new light -- and realizes that in every situation the truth is sometimes buried beneath illusion.

About the Authors:
Gay Hendricks is a best-selling author with more than 30 books to his credit.  The Tenzing Norbu Mystery series, which began with The First Rule of Ten, is Hendrick's first foray into fiction.

Tinker Lindsay is an accomplished screenwriter and author who has written and produced a wide variety of books and films.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The View from Penthouse B by Elinor Lipman

The blurb:
Unexpectedly widowed Gwen-Laura Consadine is still mourning her husband Edwin when her older sister Margot invites her to join forces as roommates in Margot's luxurious Village apartment.  For Margot, divorced amid scandal (hint: her husband was a fertility doctor), and then made Ponzi-poor, it's a chance to shake Gwen out of her grief and help make ends meet.  To further the effort she enlists a third boarder, the handsome, cupcake-baking Anthony.

As the three swap money-making schemes and a timid Gwen ventures back out into the dating world, the arrival of Margot's paroled ex in the efficiency apartment downstairs creates not just complications but the chance for all sorts of unexpected forgiveness.  A sister story about love, lonelness, and a new life in middle age, this is a cracklingly witty, deeply sweet novel from one of our finest comedic writers.

I received The View from Penthouse B through the Amazon Vine Reviewers program. I hadn't read any of Elinor Lipman's earlier books and hadn't realized just how funny her writing can be.  I started the book a few days ago, read it while traveling to Boston for a work emergency, and throughout the night once I got to Boston.  I mention this just to emphasize that it drew me in and provided a wonderful escape!

I loved the voice of the main character, the middle sister, Gwen-Laura Comadine.  She's the newly widowed sister who had married a high school teacher and is unable/unwilling to move on.  Her entrepreneurial idea is a platonic dating service.  

Her older sister Margot is another lovable character. The divorced wife of the disgraced fertility doctor invested her divorce settlement with Madoff.  Margot's project is a website dedicated to Madoff victims that serves as a place to vent about the abuses of white collar thieves.  Margot is defined by her strong emotions, sense of humor and charm.  She opens up her home and heart - not just to her sister but to Anthony, a helpful and witty young gay man.  

The book is memorable because of the characters. The View from Penthouse B is witty, lighthearted, and fun. I highly recommend it!

ISBN-10: 0547576218- Hardcover $26
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 16, 2013), 272 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Reviewers Program.

About the Author:
Elinor Lipman is the author of ten novels, including The Inn at Lake Devine, and two works of nonfiction,  I Can't Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays and Tweet Land of Liberty: Irreverent Rhymes from the Political Circus.  She lives in New York City.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Second Death by Lydia Cooper


In Lydia Cooper's absorbing debut novel, we are introduced to Mickey Brandis, a brilliant twenty-eight -year-old doctoral candidate in medieval literature who is part Lisbeth Salander and part Dexter.  She lives in her parents' garage and swears too often, but she never complains about the rain or cold, she rarely eats dead animals, and she hasn't killed a man since she was ten.  

Her life is dull and predictable but legal, and she intends to keep it that way. But the careful existence Mickey has created in adulthood is upended when she is mysteriously led to a condemned house where she discovers an exquisitely mutilated corpse.  The same surreal afternoon she is asked by a timid, wide-eyed art student to solve a murder that occurred twenty years earlier. While she gets deeper and deeper into the investigation, she begins to lose hold on her tenuous connection to reality.


The heroine of My Second Death had been described as part Lisbeth Salander and part Dexter.  As a huge fan of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, I was eager to read My Second Death.  I admit that I didn't immediately take to the book and it was only on my third attempt that I slowly adjusted to Mickey Brandeis.  We learn early on that Mickey killed a man when she was ten.  But in a matter of fact voice we also hear that she mutilated the man's body.  This was enough to get me to stop reading the first two times. 

But on the third attempt, I kept reading and slowly grew accustomed to her unusual and honest point of view.  Mickey is removed from the world and has a problem empathizing. She doesn't understand the emotions that drive the people around her. Instead, she operates on logic and tries to keep herself from spiraling into destructive behavior.  She keeps in motion, running, working, avoiding personal contact with those around her - all to keep from misbehaving.

When she is tricked into finding a corpse, Mickey's world starts to unravel.  Her attempts to fight her compulsions make her a sympathetic character.  As she tries help an art student uncover the truth behind a suspicious death 20 years ago, Mickey shows her humanity.  it's at this point that her strange compulsions and history stop being a distraction and My Second Death becomes difficult to put down.

ISBN-10: 1440561265 - Hardcover $26
Publisher: Tyrus Books (January 18, 2013), 336 pages.
Copy courtesy of the Amazon Prime Reviewers program.

About the Author:
Lydia Cooper is an associate professor of American literature and has taught at universities and in community workshops.  She has numerous academic publications, including peer-reviewed journals, a chapter in a book, and a book on Cormac McCarthy that was recently published as part of Louisiana State University Press's Souther Writers series.