Sunday, September 29, 2019

One Bear's Opinion on: Date with Death

Date with Death
by Julia Chapman

Date with Death, and in fact the whole Dales Detective Series, was recommended to me by a Twitter friend. And then when I got the book and posted about it on Twitter, the author was lovely and responded. All of which made me want to read through the book quickly, but not too quickly. As it happened, life kind of got in the way and my reading time was interrupted so I had plenty of time to read and consider the book.

First off, let me say I know very little about English geography. For example, I’m pretty sure Manchester is on the coast near Liverpool, unless it’s really over where the maps say Newcastle is. And I was sure that Leeds was a quick drive from London, 90 minutes tops. So the book was a challenge for me from the beginning, at least in figuring out where places really are. Thank heaven for the atlas!

And while I’m here, let me mention the very nitpicky thing I noticed about the book. I couldn’t decide whether Tolpuddle was a Greyhound or a Weimaraner. He was referred to as both, which was difficult because they are not really similar looking dogs to me; their faces and heads are quite different. The illustration on the cover of my edition features a Weimaraner, so I think that’s what he is, but I’m still not really sure (illustrations are not always accurate). As I said, it’s nitpicky, but it is one of those things that bothered me reading the book.

Anyway, to the book. I instantly liked Delilah and I think I like Samson, but I’m not sure. Much of that will depend on what might or might not be revealed in later books in the series. I’m hesitant to really like him because I don’t want him to turn out to be a first-class jerk when the backstory is finally explained. So for now, Samson is nice enough to talk to in the Fleece, but I’m not going to be anywhere alone with him just yet.

The mystery itself was interesting. I was on the right track through the book, but I was not quite right in the end and that’s the best kind of mystery for me to read...the ones where I’m almost correct in my guess, but still not exactly right. It was a fun read, a bit more harrowing than most of the cozy mysteries I read, but certainly nothing that would give me nightmares or keep me awake if I stayed up too late to finish it.

The gang in Bruncliffe is a friendly bunch of characters, even though I might need to deck one or two of them if I met them in person. But most seem really nice and would be fun to have over for a game night. I am looking forward to the other books in the series. I hope they are just as good as this one.

One Bear’s Opinion:  Five Cups of Strong Tea, and a big slice of only slightly squashed cake

Happy Reading Everyone,
Oliver

Sunday, July 14, 2019

One Bear's Opinion on: Murder on Trinity Place

Murder on Trinity Place
by Victoria Thompson

Ahh, I've caught up with the series. It's always a bit sad to finish the last book in a series and have to wait for the next one to come out. The wait is so much longer when there is not a book to read in between. I try to set the series up so that I am one book behind so I always have one to read while waiting for the next, but I was so excited by having two new books in this series that I read them both back-to-back. It meant a nice long visit with Sarah, Frank, Maeve, and Gino, but now there will be a long time between visits.

The Century has turned in Sarah's world (or has it?) and someone got murdered during the festivities. That's the set up for the book and it was a fun ride to the end.

I had the murderer picked out pretty early, but it was fun read along and discover how and when Sarah and the gang figured it out as well.

The information on "swill milk" was interesting, and I wish the author have done an epilogue to follow up with that plot point.

But the real star of this visit with the Malloys, et al. was the sub-plot. No spoilers here, but it's a fun and rewarding part of the story. Read this for the sub-plot if nothing else.

One Bear's Opinion: Five glasses of brandy and a plate of funeral potatoes

Happy Reading Everyone,
Oliver

One Bear's Opinion on: Murder on Union Square

Murder on Union Square
by Victoria Thompson

Sarah Brandt Malloy and Frank Malloy are some of my favorite characters. I always enjoy my visits with them. This one was a fun outing with them. Saying too much will spoil it for readers who have not read the rest of the series, so I won't say too much.

It was obvious this mystery was crafted specifically to plug a plot hole from earlier books in the series, but that does not make it any less enjoyable a read. It was a fun visit to the world of turn-of-the-century Broadway theaters with all the sniping, jealousy and grease paint that brings with it.

This is one series where it really is important to read them in order, so if you haven't started from the beginning, I think it's best you check out Murder on Astor Place and come back to this review when you have read the intervening 19 books. You won't regret it.

One Bear's Opinion: Four Cups of Tea with some popcorn at the theater

Happy Reading Everyone,
Oliver

One Bear's Opinion on: Over My Dead Body

Over My Dead Body
by Rex Stout

I had seen an adaptation of this book as part of the Timothy Hutton Nero Wolfe Mysteries series before I read it. That is both good and bad.

Seeing it first meant I knew the plot and whodunit before I read the book so the denouement was not as surprising as it would have been otherwise. But it also meant I could pick out the parts the adaptation chose not to include. And I understand that tv adaptations cannot include every minute point in the book, but the parts that were left out or adjusted left me scratching my head.

Seeing it before reading it meant that I had someone's idea of what the characters should look like before I could meet them and imagine them on my own. Having seen the Timothy Hutton productions before we started reading the series did influence my mental image of Archie and Saul, though my image of Nero Wolfe and other other characters does not necessarily match the casting director's.

Anyway, about the book. Over My Dead Body filled in some background on Nero Wolfe before the reader meets him in Fer-de-Lance. That portion of the story is interesting but secondary, or even tertiary, to the main plot. That teaser bit of information just serves as the impetus to get the story moving. I am hopeful that it will come back around in future books, but I am not sure it does.

The mystery was quite interesting, and if I had not already seen the production, it would have been clever. But knowing the ending going in meant I read it on the lookout for information that led to the ending, rather than trying to solve it along with Nero and Archie.

On the whole it was an enjoyable read, and much better than the television production made it seem that it would be. Nero Wolfe mysteries are always worth a read (or a watch), and this one is no different.

One Bear's Opinion:  Five Bottles of Beer and followed by one of Fritz's dinners, including a chocolate cake

Happy Reading Everyone,
Oliver

Sunday, June 30, 2019

One Bear's Opinion on: The Road to Granschester

The Road to Grantchester
by James Runcie

The story of how Sidney Chambers got to be Sidney Chambers, this is a prequel to the Grantchester mysteries. And I am glad I read it, but disappointed by the fact that there were no mysteries in this story. I can see how mysteries might not have worked in some parts of the story, but I did miss the mystery aspect of the other Grantchester books.

What appealed to me about the Grantchester books was the mysteries. It was fun to try and solve them along with Sidney. This book tells the story before Sidney got to Ely and it was an interesting tale of becoming the Sidney Chambers I know from the other books, but there was still the disappointing lack of mysteries.

I'd like more adventures with Sidney Chambers and friends, though it seems now as though the author has written the stories from beginning to end. Re-reading is an option, but still, I'm greedy enough to want new adventures and visits with Sidney.

The Road to Grantchester is definitely worth reading, and it's always nice to get "the rest of the story," but be warned, there is no mystery element to this so while it's the Sidney we know from the Grantchester mysteries, it's not at the same time.

One Bear's Opinion: Four Glasses of good white wine over dinner with Amanda

Happy Reading Everyone,
Oliver

One Bear's Opinion on: Poirot's Early Cases

Poirot's Early Cases
by Agatha Christie

This volume was a collection of short stories, including my all time favorite Poirot story, The Affair at the Victory Ball.

Visits with Poirot and Hastings are always fun and worthwhile, and this visit was exceptionally satisfying. There are 13 short stories, 3 of which I had read previously as stand alone volumes. It was a nice mix of plots, including current cases and Poirot relating earlier cases to Hastings.

I like short story collections because they are easy to dip into and out of, especially for when you have just a little bit of time to read, like when you are standing in line, or in a waiting room. The quick stories are perfect for limited attention spans.

I definitely recommend this volume for any Poirot fan. Downloading it to your Kindle App on your phone would be an excellent idea, so you always had some Poirot handy for those moments when you need a quick visit with friends.

One Bear's Opinion: Four Cups of Tisane and a big box of chocolates

Happy Reading Everyone,
Oliver

Sunday, June 23, 2019

One Bear's Opinion on: Sleeping Dogs Don't Lie

Sleeping Dogs Don't Lie
by Chloe Grace

I did not like this book.

Let me repeat, I did not like this book.

I realize it was a short story to fill in the back-story for the characters in a new series, and in that, it did fairly well. But I did not like the story. And the way this short story finished, I have no real desire to seek out the new series, despite liking the main character.

On paper, this book had everything going for it for me to like it: a lovable canine detective character with an owner who loved him, a set up for a murder, and a good number of suspects. And then, the story took a turn and I did not like it. All the good things that drew me in were wasted or not used to the best of their ability to advance the story. And in the end, I did not care one bit what happened to any of the characters with the exception of the dog.

The set up for the first-in-series book was not intriguing enough and I just don't care. For that I'm sorry, because I wanted to like this series. I wanted to find a new series with friendly animal characters. But alas, for me, this is not the series.

One Bear's Opinion: Two Glasses of Lukewarm Water and a couple of bland, boring, mass-produced, generic cookies

Happy Reading Everyone,
Oliver