The Madness of Crowds [Book Review]

September 14, 2021

The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny

The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny (cover) Image: white and light blue text over the background of the graphic silhouette of a pine tree with sunburst of various bright colors behind the tree

Genre/Categories/Setting: Contemporary Fiction, Crime Fiction, Mystery/Detective, Police Procedural, Canada, post Pandemic

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

The Madness of Crowds is the seventeenth installment of the Inspector Gamache/Three Pines series. Although I recommend reading the series in order, this particular book is easily read as a stand alone.

As the New Year’s celebration approaches and the residents of Three Pines enjoy snow sports and hot chocolate in the bistro, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is asked to provide security for a visiting professor who is giving a lecture at a nearby university. At first glance, it seems like an easy enough assignment, but then he realizes that the professor has a repulsive agenda that Gamache can’t endorse. He urges the university to cancel the lecture, but they cite academic freedom and the event proceeds. When a murder occurs, Gamache and his team will need to set aside their personal convictions and find the killer.

My Thoughts:

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The Thursday Murder Club [Book Review]

November 13, 2020

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (cover) Image: red and black lettering

Genre/Categories: Crime Fiction, Cozy Mystery

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Quirky Characters meets Cozy Mystery meets Retirement meets Waiting For God

In an upscale, peaceful retirement village, solving cold cases is favored over jigsaw puzzles…..at least for our four lively, interesting, energetic, and brilliant protagonists who meet every Thursday. Elizabeth (leader, organizer, and previous spy?), Joyce (retired nurse), Ibrahim (retired psychiatrist), and Ron (a retired union boss) call themselves The Thursday Murder Club and enjoy pouring over files and discussing unsolved crimes. One day, there is a real murder nearby which leads to another murder even closer to home. The club lends its expertise, opinions, and energy to two professional detectives, Donna and Chris. These six form an investigative team of sorts. Guess which group is the most innovative?

My Thoughts:

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Force of Nature [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

(***This post is republished from earlier because of a publishing glitch in the previous post which I cannot fix #bloggingproblems sorry for the duplicate)

October 1, 2020

Force of Nature by Jane Harper
#throwbackthursday

Force of Nature by Jane Harper (cover) Image: white text on a background of hills and trees

Genre/Categories: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Detective, Suspense, Australian

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Force of Nature by Jane Harper, an atmospheric whodunit…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“Five women go on a hike in the Australian forested wilderness and only four return. As the women grab their backpacks and reluctantly set out, not one of the five women attending this three-day, mandated, corporate, team-building retreat is thrilled about the prospect. When four of the five women emerge from the woods battered and bruised, an investigation is launched to find the fifth woman. Federal agent Falk returns to help the investigation, and the story alternates between the present day investigation and the women’s experiences as the hike unfolded a few days earlier. Was the fifth woman murdered?”

Continue here for my review of Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Lost in the Australian Bush….what would you do?

QOTD: Have you read Force of Nature by Jane Harper or is it on your TBR?

Force of Nature [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

October 1, 2020

Force of Nature by Jane Harper
#throwbackthursday

Force of Nature by Jane Harper (cover) Image: white text on a background of hills and trees

Genre/Categories: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Detective, Suspense, Australian

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Force of Nature by Jane Harper, an atmospheric whodunit…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

‘Five women go on a hike in the Australian forested wilderness and only four return. As the women grab their backpacks and reluctantly set out, not one of the five women attending this three-day, mandated, corporate, team-building retreat is thrilled about the prospect. When four of the five women emerge from the woods battered and bruised, an investigation is launched to find the fifth woman. Federal agent Falk returns to help the investigation, and the story alternates between the present day investigation and the women’s experiences as the hike unfolded a few days earlier. Was the fifth woman murdered?”

Continue here for my review of Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Lost in the Australian Bush….what would you do?

QOTD: Have you read Force of Nature by Jane Harper or is it on your TBR?

All the Devils Are Here [Book Review]

September 1, 2020

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny (cover) Image: an Eiffel Tower sillouetted against a blue Van Gough style painted sky

Genre/Categories: Mystery, Detective, Family Drama

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks, #netgalley @macmillanaudio for a complimentary audio ALC of #allthedevilsarehere …. All opinions in this review are completely my own.

All the Devils Are Here, #16 in the Inspector Gamache Series, is set in Paris. The death of Armand Gamache’s godfather is made to look like an accident, but Gamache and his family suspect it is a deliberate murder. Soon the entire family is involved with searching for the truth, unraveling a web of lies and deceit, and facing danger from many directions. Can Gamache trust his beloved godfather? His son? His instincts? His past?

My Thoughts:

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#throwbackthursday Glass Houses Review and Inspector Gamache Series Overview

March 26, 2020

Glass Houses Review and Inspector Gamache Series Overview
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Glass Houses and an Inspector Gamache Series overview. Enjoy!

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Glass Houses by Louise Penny (cover)

Genre/Categories: fiction, mystery, detective, suspense, Canadian

My Summary:

A mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day. Even though Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are curious at first, they soon become wary. The figure stands unmoving through the fog, sleet, rain, and cold, staring straight ahead. Chief Inspector Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec, suspects the mysterious figure has a unique history and a dark purpose. However, Gamache’s hands are tied because the figure hasn’t committed a crime, so he watches and waits. The villagers are tense hoping that Gamache will do something. The figure’s costume is historically tied to someone who acts as a “conscience” and comes to put pressure on an individual to pay a debt. Naturally, people in the village, including Gamache, start to examine their own consciences and wonder if the figure has come for them. Suddenly, the figure vanishes overnight and a body is discovered, and the investigation commences. This story is told in two timelines: the November timeline when the murder took place and later in July as the trial for the accused begins. In typical Penny style, more is happening on a larger scale than just the trial. Gamache wrestles with his own conscience, the decisions he has made, and the personal consequences he will pay.

Click here to continue reading my review of Glass Houses and a series overview….

QOTD: Have you read Glass Houses or is it on your TBR?

A Better Man: A Review

August 30, 2019

3 pines

A Better Man by Louise Penny

A Better Man Review

Genre/Categories: Mystery, Detective

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

A better man or a bitter man?

In #15 of the Chief Inspector Gamache series, A Better Man, a dangerous spring flood causes the river to rise, social media displays its cruel side, and the search for a missing woman intensifies. Meanwhile, life is complicated for Gamache who returns to the Surete du Quebec as second-in-charge and reports to Beauvoir.

Typical of Louise Penny’s stories, the setting of Three Pines is a safe haven, cases are complicated and sometimes morally ambiguous, and the character of leaders is explored and tested. Will Gamache return as a better man or a bitter man?

My Thoughts:

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1st Line/1st Paragraph: A Better Man

 August 27, 2019

1st Line/1st Paragraph: A Better Man by Louise Penny

I’m linking up this week with Vicki @ I’d Rather Be At The Beach who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter/First Paragraph of the book you are currently reading.

First Paragraph

I’m pleased to share a passage from a book that’s been one of my highly anticipated August reads: A Better Man. This is #15 in the Chief Inspector Gamache Series….are you a Three Pines fan?

3 pines

From Amazon: Catastrophic spring flooding, blistering attacks in the media, and a mysterious disappearance greet Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as he returns to the Sûreté du Québec in the latest novel by New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny.
In the next novel in this “constantly surprising series that deepens and darkens as it evolves” (New York Times Book Review), Gamache must face a horrific possibility, and a burning question: What would you do if your child’s killer walked free?”

A Better Man by Louise Penny

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

A Better Man

Genre/Categories: Mystery, Crime Fiction

Selected Passage From Chapter One:

“Clara gave Myrna her phone, though the bookstore owner already knew what she’d find.
Before meeting Clara for breakfast, Myrna had checked her Twitter feed. On the screen, for the world to see, was the quickly cooling body of Clara’s artistic career.
As Myrna read, Clara wrapped her large, paint-stained hands around her mug of hot chocolate, a specialite de la maison, and shifted her eyes from her friend to the mullioned window and the tiny Quebec village beyond.
If the phone was an assault, the window was the balm. While perhaps not totally healing, it was at least comforting in its familiarity.
The sky was gray and threatened rain. Or sleet. Ice pellets or snow. The dirt road was covered in slush and mud. There were patches of snow on the sodden grass. Villagers out walking their dogs were clumping around in rubber boots and wrapped in layers of clothing, hoping to keep April away from their skin and out of their bones.”

I chose a passage from the early pages of Chapter One to demonstrate the setting that is like a character in these books. Three Pines is a safe haven for troubled souls. Does this passage entice you?



QOTD:

This series has its devoted fans. Are you a fan of The Inspector Gamache Series?

To read reviews of earlier titles in the series see HERE and HERE.



 Looking Ahead:

Return on Friday for my full review of A Better Man 
and on Saturday for my August Wrap Up.



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Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

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***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Review: Kingdom of the Blind

November 30, 2018

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

Kingdom of the Blind 2

Genre/Categories: Mystery, Detective, Crime Fiction, Canada

My Summary:

In this recent installment of the Chief Inspector Gamache series, Armand Gamache remains suspended from the Surete du Quebec, but this doesn’t stop him from searching for a murderer, serving as liquidator for a mysterious woman’s will, and hunting for missing drugs (an unresolved story line from the previous book). All the usual characters return and a few new ones are introduced. Three Pines retains its reputation and status as a safe sanctuary and caring community.

My Thoughts:

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The Widows of Malabar Hill [Book Review]

July 20, 2018

Perveen Mistry and a challenging case…

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (cover) Image: a young woman in Indian dress and holding a brief case stands in front of a gated archway

Genre/categories: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Detective, Bombay, Women’s Rights

Summary:

In this culturally rich, mystery set in 1920s Bombay, India, Preveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected family, joins her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Educated at Oxford, Perveen has a tragic personal history that causes her to be extra vigilant on her new case so that the widows of Malabar Hill are treated fairly after the death of their husband.  As she examines the paperwork, she discovers that the widows who are living in purdah (strict seclusion) have signed over their inheritance to a charity, raising suspicions that they’re being taken advantage of by their guardian. Tensions build and a murder occurs. Because the widows feel uncomfortable speaking with male investigators, Perveen takes responsibility and great personal risk to determine what really happened on Malabar Hill. Throughout the story, readers are also filled in on Perveen’s back story as readers are introduced to her family and friends and learn about her education.

Amazon Early Rating (July): 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts:

What I liked:

  • Diversity: I love reading stories from other cultures, and the setting of 1920s Bombay, India is vastly different from my own experiences. In addition, I gained more understanding and awareness of women who live in Purdah.
  • A woman and her dream: Perveen’s professional goal is to work as a lawyer, and although she is allowed to work as a solicitor in her father’s law office she is not allowed to present in court. This part of the story is historical fiction and based on the real experiences of the first woman to practice law in Bombay, India. In the investigation of the Malabar Hill murder, Perveen can speak directly to the widows who live in Purdah more effectively than the male investigators on the case. Because of her past, she’s passionate about protecting the rights of women and children and is determined to help the widows of Malabar Hill, putting her own life at risk in the process.
  • The protagonist: Perveen, an ambitious woman who courageously works toward paving the way for women in the legal profession, is feisty, smart, independent, determined, brave, thoughtful, resourceful, and respectful of her culture. I adore the character of Perveen and rooted for her to solve the murder and to protect the widows’ rights. Furthermore, she is an encouragement for women who are not willing to accept an abusive relationship (not even one time).
  • Father/daughter relationship: This is one of my favorite parts of the story! Perveen has an excellent, trusting, and loving relationship with her father (and her mother). I appreciate reading about great fathers in literature, and it was especially pleasing that the author chose to include him in the context of this male dominated culture.  He respects her person hood and as a solicitor in his practice; he supports and believes in her. At the same time he helps Perveen accomplish her goals, he is also able to respect their culture and operate within cultural and religious expectations. As well as being brilliant in her defense when she seeks a divorce, her father respects her views and passions. He is her biggest cheerleader.
  • Culture: The author creates wonderful visual images of the culture in 1920s Bombay, India, from food to religious groups to family traditions to descriptions of the city itself….so much to enjoy and learn!
  • Favorite Quote:

“The boundaries communities drew around themselves seemed to narrow their lives–whether it was women and men, Hindus and Muslims, or Parsis and everyone else.”

What I Wish:

Although I enjoyed almost all aspects of The Widows of Malabar Hill, there is one element that affected my rating:

  • Slow buildup: The mystery in the story appears at about the 50% mark, and the pace of the story picks up at about the 75% point. It’s categorized as a mystery, so I waited somewhat impatiently. even though I wished for a beginning that dropped you into the middle of the story, the character development, the relationships, and setting descriptions help keep the reader engaged during the early part of the story. Despite the slow build up, I wanted to stick with the story because of the uniqueness and because of some high reviews it has received from trusted reviewers. Some readers who love the story were not affected by the slow build up. Elements like that are certainly subjective. It’s a story I’m glad I read even though the mystery was a small part of the multi-faceted story and the beginning was slow-paced. It’s still a solid read.

My Rating: 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4 stars on Goodreads).

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Recommended:

The Widows of Malabar Hill is recommended for readers who love historical fiction, for those who appreciate a strong, determined, independent, clever, and ambitious female protagonist, for readers who want to immerse themselves in a different culture and expand the diversity of their reading, and for fans of a little mystery and intrigue. Although this is the first book in a series, it can be read and enjoyed as a stand alone.

the widows of malabar hill

The Widows of Malabar Hill Information Here

Meet the Author, Sujata Massey

sujata masseySujata Massey is an award-winning author of historical and mystery fiction set in Asia.
However, her personal story begins in England, where she was born to parents from India and Germany who began reading to her shortly after her birth. Sujata kept on reading as she grew up mostly in the United States (California, Pennsylvania and Minnesota) and earned her BA from the Johns Hopkins University’s Writing Seminars program. Her first job was as a reporter at the Baltimore Evening Sun newspaper, where she wrote stories about fashion, food and culture. Although she loved her work, she left when she got married to a young naval officer posted to Japan.

Sujata and her husband lived in the Tokyo-Yokohama area which forms most of the settings of her Rei Shimura mysteries. The eleven novel series has collected many mystery award nominations, including the Edgar, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark awards, and even won a few: the Agatha and Macavity prizes for traditional mystery fiction. The Rei Shimura mysteries are published in 18 countries. The first book in the series is THE SALARYMAN’S WIFE, and the eleventh is THE KIZUNA COAST which was listed as the most-borrowed ebook is the Self-E Library reads borrowing program for 2016. Rei Shimura mystery short stories are in MURDER MOST CRAFTY, MALICE DOMESTIC 10, AND MURDER MOST CRAFTY.

In 2013, Sujata began writing about India. THE SLEEPING DICTiONARY is a historic espionage novel set in 1930s-40s Calcutta told from a young Bengali woman’s point of view. It’s also out as a Dreamworks audiobook, and is published in India, Italy and Turkey under different titles. This was followed by INDIA GRAY HISTORIC FICTION, an ebook and paperback collection of stories and novellas featuring strong Asian women heroines throughout history. Included is a story featuring Kamala from THE SLEEPING DICTIONARY and a prequel novelette featuring Perveen Mistry. A Perveen story is included in THE USUAL SANTAS, a story anthology to be published in October 2017.



 QOTD:

Do you enjoy or seek out diverse reads?

Have you read The Widows of Malabar Hill or is it on your TBR?



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



My Summer TBR

I’ll be updating my Summer TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
(So far I’ve read about half of the list, some I’ve been more thrilled with than others, and I’ve only abandoned one)



Looking Ahead:

 I look forward to providing a July wrap up, choosing the most compelling character from July reading, and also anticipating my first blogiversary with a give away (next Friday). My next read will be An American Marriage (I’ve read mixed reviews of this Oprah Book Club selection so we’ll see how it goes).



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Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow. Find me at:
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***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

The book cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

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