Joanne’s Mystery Picks

A Dance of Cranes Dance of Cranesby Steve Burrows

Burrows creates fantastic momentum in this 6th novel in his Birder Murder Series by having a death occur at the beginning of each of chapters 1 and 2.  They are each profoundly disturbing in their own way. We are treated to three different story lines in two different countries (Canada and the U.K.) and we are hard-pressed to keep up with the pace that Burrows has created.  

Jejeune is back in Canada, estranged from his girlfriend Lindy who remains in the U.K.  When he is informed that his brother Damien has gone missing in Wood Buffalo National Park while conducting research on Whooping Cranes he sets out to search for him. Back in the U.K., Lindy has gone missing, and Danny Maik fears that she’s been kidnapped.  The sense of place that Burrows has created in this novel is so real and atmospheric that we’re right there whether it’s in the Canadian wilderness or in Jejeune’s former home in Saltmarsh.

As the story lines converge and the whys and hows are answered the peril faced by Jejeune and Lindy is palpable.  Their fate lies in the hands of so many.

4 Daggers
Joanne gives this “4 daggers out of 5”

Weekend Picks

Best Indie Films of 2019 Vol. I

The Farewell

Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi reluctantly returns to Changchun to find that, although the whole family knows their beloved matriarch, Nai-Nai, has been given mere weeks to live, everyone has decided not to tell Nai Nai herself. To assure her happiness, they gather under the joyful guise of an expedited wedding, uniting family members scattered among new homes abroad. As Billi navigates a minefield of family expectations and proprieties, she finds there’s a lot to celebrate.

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Booksmart

Told from a wildly original, fresh, and modern perspective, this is an unfiltered comedy about high school best friends and the bonds they create that last a lifetime. Capturing the spirit of the times, it is a coming-of-age story for a new generation.

 

Biggest Little Farm

John Chester chronicles the eight-year quest he and Molly Chester went on when they traded city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature. Through dogged perseverance and embracing the opportunity provided by nature’s conflicts, the Chesters unlock and uncover a biodiverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm, its seasons, and our wildest imagination.

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Joanne’s Mystery Picks

drowned livesDrowned Lives
By Stephen Booth

As a fan of Booth’s Cooper and Fry series, I was looking forward to reading this standalone mystery .  However, disappointment lay between the pages of this much-too-long tome. I can only wonder how lengthy this book was before the editor whittled it down because there was so much more that could have been deleted without losing the tone of the story, which was poor, at best.

Chris Buckley, a not too likeable character, has recently lost his parents, is facing redundancy and has entered into a business partnership in a rather dubious endeavor.  He is approached by an elderly man, Samuel Longden, who states that 

he is a distant relative of Chris’ and is writing a book about their family history and could use Chris’ help.  Chris is not at all interested in any collaboration with Longden and decides to forego a pre-arranged meeting with him only to later learn that Longden has been killed in a hit and run accident.  

Longden has left Chris a legacy in his will but only if Chris completes the book.  With his finances being severely strained, Chris decides to take on this task. With the introduction of Chris’ extensive family, I found it very confusing as to where to place each person on the family tree and how they were related to one another.  In some cases a character would appear briefly, interacting with Chris, and then drop out of the story for another hundred pages, leaving the reader to wonder what their importance was and how they fit into the mystery.

Reading the last page of this book was more of a “thank goodness that’s over” than “what a good story”.   I expected more of this author.  

2 Daggers
Joanne gives this “2 daggers out of 5”