Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna, by Mario Giordano (2016, 2019)

Mystery | Adult

Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna, by Mario Giordano (2016, 2019)

When I was a girl delving into adult mysteries after devouring Nancy Drew et al, I discovered a series called Mrs. Pollifax, by Dorothy Gilman. (Amazing that I recall her name after nearly 40 years!!) An American widow seeking adventure in her senior years, she decides to apply to the CIA. But when dropping off her resume, she is mistaken for a real spy and is sent off on a dangerous mission. I am reminded of Mrs. Pollifax in Auntie Poldi, the sexy sixty-year-old sleuth who seduced, drank, bullied and persevered her way through the first muder on her adopted island of Sicily in Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions. Both women are resourceful and, like Miss Marple before them, keen observers of people’s hubris, frailties and quirks.

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The Red Address Book, by Sofia Lundberg (2019)

Historical Fiction
Adult

The Red Address Book, by Sofia Lundberg (2019)

How do we want to be remembered? Even close friends of many years are often surprised to learn our stories of growing up, of jobs had and lost, of paths taken and ignored. Doris is 96 years old; she has outlived all her friends and nearly all her family, and her days are spent in pain. The bright note in her life is a weekly Skype call to Jenny, her only living relative who is in America. Thumbing through her beloved red address book, given to her as a child by her father, Doris sees so many names crossed out, and remembers their stories and hers. She decides to write these stories down for Jenny, from her childhood in Sweden, modelling in Paris in the 1920s and 30s, falling in love, escaping to New York City with her sister when Hitler invaded France, and eventually returning to Stockholm where she now lives.

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Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, by Mario Giordano (2016, 2017)

Mystery
Adult
Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, by Mario GiordanoDeep down I really like old-fashioned mysteries. It goes back to my love of the Three Investigators and Trixie Belden as a girl, I suppose! I draw the line these days at restaurateurs who find bodies in the whipping cream, so finding the right balance between a cozy and too-cute isn’t always easy. But here’s a new author to follow. Isolde Oberreider, known to her family as Poldi, is grieving the passing of her husband Peppe. Drowning her sorrows – in good wine, mind you – she impulsively decides to move to Sicily for a sea view, a place where she can drink herself to death in comfort, though she is only just marking her 60th birthday. Read More »

The Fleur de Sel Murders (Brittany #3), by Jean-Luc Bannalec (2014, 2018)

Mystery
Adult
The Fleur de Sel Murders, by Jean-Luc BannalecThis is the third translated book in the Brittany mystery series featuring our cranky Commissaire Georges Dupin, exiled to Brittany from Paris some five years ago now. This time Dupin is looking forward to a relaxing weekend when he swings by a salt marsh to look for some mysterious blue barrels, acting on a tip from a reporter named Lilou Breval. Technically he is outside his jurisdiction, but it’s a good chance to get out of the office. As he is walking through the marsh, someone starts shooting at him. Read More »

Us Against You, by Fredrik Backman (2017, 2018)

Contemporary
Adult
Us Against You, by Fredrik BackmanThis is my fifth review of a book by Swedish writer Fredrik Backman, and his second title in the Beartown trilogy. I loved the first book, about the devastating impact of a young hockey star’s sexual assault on a teenaged classmate. This sequel picks up where we left off in Beartown. The hockey club is in shambles – most of the players have left for another club and it looks like the team will be closing. A self-serving politician steps in and finagles a way for the Bears to stay alive. There’s a new coach too – a woman, which goes over in this sexist Swedish factory town like a pride festival in small-town Utah. Read More »

Murder on Brittany Shores, by Jean-Luc Bannalec (2016)

Mystery
Adult
Murder on Brittany Shores, by Jean-Luc BannalecThree bodies wash ashore on a remote and uninhabited island off the French shore in Brittany after a storm. Despite the fact this is almost certainly an accident, Commissaire Georges Dupin is obliged to abandoned his beloved morning coffee and croissant at the local cafe in order to investigate. The islands fall within his area of responsibility. And to make matters worse, his boss, the hated Prefect, is using the helicopter, and so Dupin must travel by speedboat. He, a man who does not swim, who loves being AT the sea but not being ON the sea. It’s an important distinction. Robbed of his morning caffeine, Dupin heads off in full-blown cranky mode, and sure enough, gets thoroughly wet. Read More »

Cry, Heart, But Never Break, by Glenn Ringtved (2001, 2016)

Illustrated Book
4-9
Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glenn RingtvedThis is the second of two books I’m reviewing today on grief and death. They are challenging issues for any of us, and when children are involved, books can offer a way for adults to help kids grasp an understanding of death and accept the pain of loss. This tender and sensitive book offers an honest and gentle approach to an impending loss. Four children are sharing a kitchen table with Death, who has come for their beloved grandmother. Death is presented as a visitor, a kind one, whose heart is surprisingly full of a love for life. The children naturally try to deter Death from his task. Read More »