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Friday, December 30, 2016

Passings of 2016

Here is a listing of writers who passed away during 2016.
Richard Adams was a British novelist best known for Watership Down, a novel that developed from stories that Adams would tell his daughters when they were children. He wrote in the fantasy genre, for both adults and children; his novels often were told from the perspective of animals. Some of his other works include Shardik and The Plague Dogs.
Pat Conroy wrote novels about life in the southern United States. His fiction included Beach Music, The Great Santini, and The Prince of Tides. He also wrote the memoir My Losing Season, about how basketball influenced his life, and A Lowcountry Life: Reflections on a Writing Life, a collection of his letters, interviews, and magazine articles.
Umberto Eco was an Italian novelist, literary critic, and university professor. His most famous works were the novels The Name of the Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum, and The Island of the Day Before. He also wrote academic textbooks, children’s books, and essays.
Carrie Fisher, an actress whose most recognized film role was that of Princess Leia in the Star Wars series also was the author of several books, including Postcards from the Edge, Wishful Drinking, and most recently The Princess Diarist. She also worked as a “script doctor” in the film industry.
W.P. Kinsella was a Canadian novelist and short story writer whose most famous work was the novel Shoeless Joe, on which the film Field of Dreams was based. His other written works mainly dealt with two separate themes: baseball and life on the Canadian Indian reservations.
Harper Lee was an American novelist best known for the book To Kill a Mockingbird, a classic about attitudes about race and class held by members of society in the 1930s Deep South. It has been read by generations of American students. Lee never published another work until 2015 when a manuscript written earlier was discovered and published as Go Set a Watchman.
Gloria Naylor was an American writer born in New York City. She obtained a Master’s degree in African American literature at Yale University. Her first novel, The Women of Brewster Place, won a 1983 National Book Award. Naylor also worked as a professor of writing and African American literature at several universities.
Elie Wiesel was a Romanian-born American Jewish writer, coming to the United States as a Holocaust survivor. As well as writing 57 books, Wiesel was a professor, political activist and Nobel Laureate. His most famous book was Night, an account of his experiences as a prisoner of the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps.

The Girls of Atomic City: the Untold Story of the Women who Helped Win World War II

           Written by journalist Denise Kiernan, this is the story of the beginning of the atomic warfare era and the women who helped make it happen. Beginning in the 1930s, the idea of atomic energy began to develop within the international scientific community. Then with the advent of World War II and its horrific cost to human life, the United States government decided to achieve the development of atomic warfare, before the enemy did. They established several worksites to conduct this mammoth project; the largest one located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee is the one that Kiernan examines.
            Using in-depth interviews of some of the surviving workers, along with historic documents, news articles, and other sources, Kiernan describes how this project influenced such sociological trends as working women, segregation of the races, mingling of the sexes, and the rapid development of a community. This mix of history and memoir is both informative and enjoyable to read. Historic photos of the worksite accompany the text.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Holiday Mysteries -- Part Two

Are you ready for some more holiday mayhem? Here it is.
            Christmas Caramel Murder, the latest in a series written by Joanne Fluke, finds protagonist Hannah preparing for the town’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. She also is supporting her friend, Lisa, who is implicated in the murder of her husband’s ex-girlfriend. The book features more than 20 holiday-themed recipes.
            In Smoke and Mirrors, written by Elly Griffiths, DI Edgar Stephens and magician Max Mephisto hunt for a killer during Brighton’s holiday season. Two children were gruesomely murdered at a crime scene resembling that of the fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel”.
            Fields Where They Lay: a Junior Bender Holiday Mystery is written by Timothy Hallinan. It features Junior, who has been hired by a murderous Russian gangster to look into a rampant shoplifting problem at the Edgerton Mall. He also uncovers two murders.
            Eggnog Murder presents three holiday-themed mysteries by three popular authors. The title mystery, written by Leslie Meier, is one in which a gift-wrapped bottle of eggnog proves to be a killer concoction for a Tinkers Cove local, leading Lucy Stone to seek out the murdering mixologist.
            Wishes for Christmas, written by Fern Michaels, is a crossover holiday story featuring favorite characters from both the Sisterhood and Godmothers series. In it, Maggie is preparing a tribute to a beloved teacher while Toots investigates a mystery surrounding a designer from an exclusive Charleston firm. 
            In A Christmas Escape: a Novel, written by Anne Perry, widower James Latterly seeks comfort in his loneliness in a small Mediterranean hotel during the holiday season where he is introduced to the island’s beauty by an orphaned teen. Then a violent murder takes place.
 A Christmas Message: a Novel is also written by Anne Perry. While on a once in a lifetime trip to Jerusalem for the Christmas holiday, Victor and Vespasia Narraway meet a fellow traveler who soon is murdered over a torn piece of ancient parchment. The Narraways risk their lives to complete the man’s mission.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas is written by David Rosenfelt. Here, Andy Carpenter defends a friend who has been reported by a cranky neighbor for fostering homeless puppies during the holiday season. Then more trouble is thrust upon him when the neighbor is found murdered. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Holiday Mysteries

            Crime never takes a holiday, even at Christmas. To prove this theory, here are some recently published holiday mysteries.
            The Bark before Christmas, written by Laurien Berenson, introduces us to Melanie Travis who is returning to her old job at a posh private school where she hopes to make the Christmas Bazaar its biggest success ever. Then a prize show dog disappears, and Santa Claus is found dead. This isn’t what’s supposed to happen at Christmas!
            Away in a Manger, written by Rhys Bowen, features Molly Murphy who steps in on behalf of two young beggars who are severely mistreated by their aunt when one is accused of stealing a purse. Molly’s investigation into the children’s background uncovers a disreputable aspect of New York upper class society.
            Deck the Hallways is written by Kate Carlisle. Contractor Shannon Hammer is trying to transform a Victorian mansion into apartments for homeless families in time for Christmas. Her work is interrupted when her father is accused of murdering a miserly bank president. Shannon must find the real killer before it’s too late.
            Harbour Street is written by Ann Cleeves. When Vera Stanhope and Joe Ashworth discover the murdered body of a woman on the metro during Christmas, they begin a search near the victim’s home. They then discover some secrets around the neighborhood and a second murder.
            Ornaments of Death, written by Jane K. Cleland, is the story about Josie who meets her charismatic distant relative Ian during the holiday season in Rocky Point. Suddenly Ian disappears! And so do two priceless seventeenth-century miniature portraits in his possession.
            Dying for Christmas, a thriller written by Tammy Cohen, features Jessica Gould, whose date with the charming Dominic leads to a horrifying Christmas celebration. Jessica is held captive by him, forced to wear his missing wife’s clothes, and open her gifts. Will he murder her or will Jessica’s secret help her stay alive?
            Purebred Dead, written by Kathleen Delaney, features heroine Mary McGill whose discovery of a bloodstained corpse and a cowering dog in a manger at Santa Louisa’s Christmas pageant leads her to investigate.

            Mystery in White: a Christmas Crime Story was originally written in the 1930s by J. Jefferson Farjeon. In this classic, a train breaks down and the passengers take shelter in a deserted country house. Then a murderer strikes.