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Tuesday, July 27, 2010


by Tana French - available in hardcover

Set in Dublin, young sweethearts Frank Mackey and Rosie Daly plan to run away to England. They want a better life for themselves and Rosie's father hates the Mackeys, forbidding her to have anything to do with Frank. When Rosie doesn't show up on the night they plan to leave, Frank begins his own journey believing that Rosie has dumped him.

Flash forward twenty-two years; Frank is working as an undercover detective when he receives a call from his sister that Rosie's suitcase has been found. He's quickly embroiled in trying to find out what happened to Rosie as well as confronting the very destructive and dysfunctional family he left so many years ago.

Nicely written, but with a predictable ending, you could do worse than spend a hot summer afternoon unravelling the mystery of FAITHFUL PLACE.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

BURY YOUR DEAD - A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

by Louise Penny - to be released in October 2010

Louise Penny writes sweet and lovely books set in Canada. How can murder mysteries be sweet and lovely? Just try the latest from Penny and you'll see for yourself what her pacing, prose and the quiet humanity of her characters bring to her stories.

Chief Inspector Armond Gamache and Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir are both recovering from wounds sustained in a foiled terrorist plot; physical as well as emotional. Gamache is in Quebec with his long time mentor exploring the history of that city when he becomes involved in a murder that threatens to further divide the English and the separatists, the French speaking majority. Beauvoir is back in Three Pines presumably as a tourist this time, but actually to take another look at the murder of an unknown man called the Hermit.

Rich in Quebec history, centering on Samuel de Champlain, the author expertly and lyrically weaves the concurrent stories, making BURY YOUR DEAD an absolute pleasure to read.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


by Martha McPhee - available in hardcover

DEAR MONEY is more than just a nice story. Don't get me wrong, it's a terrifically nice story but it's also a serious look at the current financial crisis.

India Palmer is a writer whose books have never given her the financial success she expected. Her husband is a successful artist but together they can't produce the income for the life India aspires to in New York City. Enter Win Johns, a wealthy and charismatic financier who bets that he can turn India into a bond trader within 18 months. India's frustration with her family's financial plight leads her right to Win's office and into the crazy world of buying and selling bonds as well as mortgage backed securities in the secondary market.

Perhaps my previous employment as a mortgage underwriter during the turbulent 1980's brought DEAR MONEY nearer and dearer to my heart, but Martha McPhee has created a different type of thriller with her insight into the world of high finance. She dazzles us with LTVs, basis points and all manner of financial lingo. I have to admit that I've often wondered how our government and lending institutions didn't learn their lesson; many of the same financial formulas applied in the '80s helped to create the current mortgage crisis we're experiencing today.

You'll have to read DEAR MONEY to find out if India continues in the world of finance or returns to her first passion. This is not "chick lit"; it's much more intelligent than that. Kudos to Martha McPhee for creating such a well written and timely novel.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Many thanks to the various authors who have emailed me, left comments on the blog or linked me to their blogs after reading my reviews.

It's so nice to know that people are actually finding their way to Monarch Book Reviews and that authors actually take the time to contact me.

Dana Haynes, Danielle Evans and Bryan Gruley: Thank you and I hope your books FLY out of the stores!


Introduced and edited by Lee Child - available in harcover

As I've mentioned before, I'm not really a fan of short stories but I always buy the ones written by mystery writers so I can find authors whose books I haven't read.

FIRST THRILLS is a collection of 25 short thriller or mystery stories written by different authors and introduced and edited by Lee Child. Some of the stories are really good; i.e., THE THIEF by Gregg Hurwitz, THE BODYGUARD by Lee Child and THE GATO CONUNDRUM by John Lescroart to name a few. Some are okay and others were pretty mediocre, which is typical of this type of compiled work.

Since this volume had more good than bad stories, I think you'd enjoy FIRST THRILLS.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Summer is a really hard time to blog. The lure of warm weather and sunshine make it especially difficult to do indoor activities; unless it's so hot and humid that you feel like all you can do is escape from the heat. Since I'm not a beach person, having typical Irish skin, my summer activities seem to center on running errands that never seem to get finished or lunching with friends.

I usually bring a book to lunch, but with more people out and about, I rarely get to have those quiet lunches in the summer. Believe me, I'm not complaining since I love talking to people, especially people I don't know yet. Someone will invariably ask what I'm reading and that segues into giving out my blog bookmarks. Giving out the bookmarks gives the person I'm talking to a chance to email me and it's leading to lively discussions as well as new fledgling friendships.

We have a summer house out of state and whenever we're there, we have so much company that I never seem to be able to just settle into books like I do in the winter. So, please, if you're a regular reader of my blog, bear with me. I won't do as many entries in July and August but the reviews will continue to be enchanting and titillating!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


by Carolyn Parkhurst - available in hardcover

Octavia Frost is a novelist who has decided to rewrite the endings of her previous bestselling novels. Many of her stories reflect the loss of her husband and daughter in a tragic accident years earlier. Currently estranged from her remaining child, Milo, a musician, she learns that he has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend.

Part mystery and part reflection on the mistakes Octavia made with her son, Carolyn Parkhurst weaves the novels of Octavia throughout the book as Octavia reaches out to Milo and begins to try to repair their relationship while helping him through this terrible time.

Ms. Parkhurst has written a lovely book about loss and love and THE NOBODIES ALBUM was a pleasure to read.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

SIZZLING SIXTEEN - Stephanie Plum Series No. 16

by Janet Evanovich - available in hardcover

What can I say? The Stephanie Plum series are not intellectual mysteries but I like them. Quick and easy to read, it's like settling down with a favorite candy bar. The comical dialogue, cheap shots at my home state of New Jersey and silly characters add to the fun.

Stephanie, Lula, her plus-sized sidekick who was previously employed as a 'ho, and Connie are trying to rescue Stephanie's cousin Vinnie from mobsters who are holding him until someone pays off his $750,000+ gambling debt. The three ladies are also trying to keep the bail bonds office running until they can figure out how to free Vinnie.

The only problem I have with this Evanovich series is that no one seems to age. Stephanie is still flirting with Ranger while being slightly involved with Morelli. After so many years and 16 books, one would hope that she had made a choice. Otherwise, as usual these are fun, silly mysteries.


by Nelson DeMille - available in hardcover

John Corey is back along with his partner, FBI Agent Kate Mayfield. But so is Asad Kahlil, a Libyan terrorist aka The Lion. Kahlil is on a personal mission to destroy those who killed his family or anyone he has a personal vendetta against, including Corey and Mayfield.

Kahlil is also working with a larger group to commit a large-scale terrorist attack. John and Kate must stop him to save innocent lives as well as themselves.

I like DeMille, but this book was only okay. John Corey's wisecracking mental dialogue becomes very tiresome very quickly. The bodies kept piling up while Asad manages to elude capture way longer than would be realistic. This wasn't DeMille's best work.