Thursday, March 01, 2007

Prizes for Northern Lights comments

Lots of interest in Northern Lights, although most of it took place weeks ago. Keep talking.

Since I still have some terrific stuff left over from last month (Opal selected one of the Amelia Peabody books), I am leaving the leftovers in the prize pile for a while longer. Please look below to refresh your memories. The new additions to the prize selections are:

A Field of Darkness, by Cornelia Read. Madeline Dare, a newspaper reporter trapped among the "garbage blanc" of Syracuse, New York, becomes enmeshed in the 20-year-old unsolved murder of two young women. Madeline's preppy cousin, Lapthorne Townsend, is among the suspects when his army dog tags are found at the scene of the crime. Read has a venomous wit and accurately portrays both the rural folk of upstate NY and the decadant monied class of Long Island. She is much more sympathetic to the Syracuse natives. I loved this book and think it was one of the best mysteries of 2006. It has been nominated for an Edgar for best 1st novel by an American author.

Black Maps, by Peter Speigelmann. This is the first John March book, and with the 3rd coming out next month, this series has legs. Protagonist March has left law enforcement after the murder of his wife and is working as a PI in Manhattan. The collapse of financial giant MWB (Merchant's Worldwide Bank) and the subsequent federal investigations in detail. March's friend, lawyer Michael Metz, hires him to help a client, an officer at a major investment bank. It appears that fallout from MWB's failure has prompted a blackmailer to use information seemingly derived from MWB documents to threaten Metz's client with exposure that would ruin his career. A series of deaths indicate that more than money is at stake. Spiegelmann, the author, worked in the NY financial business for 20+ years, and this book is rich in both local color and business detail. Good characters, a little romance, decent mystery, and lots of action. This is the British hardcover edition, gently used.

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith, unabridged audio cassette. If you haven't read this series yet, you have missed real treats, and this is the first of them. Precious Ramotswe, alone in the world after the death of her father, establishes the only female owned detective agency in Botswana. The books in this series barely fit the mystery genre guidelines, but are wonderful common sense tales of a wise and compassionate woman. You will be charmed! If you have read them but not listened, you have not really experienced them. Reader Lisette Lecat, with her exquisite South African accent, invokes the music of the language, and sounds like Africa itself. Sorry, I don't have CDs, but I bought the tapes myself ,and although I loaned them a couple of times, they remain in excellent condition.

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