I have to admit, I almost like the books more for the relationship building between Chloe and Roelke than I do the murders. I still love the connections I can make to people and places that I know about here in the Midwest (Chloe stopped for pie at the Norske Nook!) The one bone I have to pick with the books is that the murder (or culpritS, in some instances) are, IMHO, really difficult to put together from the clues that Chloe is gathering. When the big reveal finally happens, it is generally so out in left field that I have no idea how Chloe figured it out (and sometimes she doesn't figure it out). One thing I really like about murder mysteries is gathering the clues along with the main character and seeing if I can come up with "whodunit". I will say that I did figure out the villain in Heritage of Darkness, but not why that person was the murderer. So I'll keep reading (of course)--maybe you'll have an easier time chasing down the bad guys!
This first book of the series follows Chloe as she starts her new job as curator of collections at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, where we quickly pick up snippets of Chloe's backstory--an abruptly-ended romance in Switzerland, a bout of serious depression in North Dakota. At the same time, we are introduced to the OTHER major character in the series--Roelke McKenna--part-time police officer for the Eagle police dept. Roelke is dealing with his own issues, and he crosses paths with Chloe almost immediately. What blossoms is a decidedly prickly relationship between Chloe and Roelke, with his cousin Libby stepping in to watch out for the both of them. I thoroughly enjoyed this first book, with a number of twists and turns, and I did not figure out "whodunit" ahead of the big reveal. The ending definitely leaves you ready to grab the next book in the series!
I raced through this one, because it was Stephen King at his best. Characters that I wanted to spend time with, unexplained phenomena, definite shivers up the spine. King spends time exploring mob mentality, the consequences of being proven guilty in the court of public opinion, and redemption (in the character of Claude Bolton). Also, no spoiler here but a definitely surprise--an "old friend" turns up to help out, and it was so nice being able to spend time with her again! Though it was a satisfying ending tied up with a bow, I wouldn't mind having Ralph and police officer Yune Sablo (not to mention our "old friend") turn up again in another King novel. Don't stop writing, Mr. King. Just keep givin' us the goods, please!
Just as Jacks starts to come to grips with James' death, another plot twist had me reading to the end. There was
a HUGE clue that I totally missed earlier (and clearly so did Jacks, so I don't feel so bad). All in all, a satisfying beach read!
Treasure in a Cornfield: The Discovery and Excavation of the Steamboat Arabia : an Adventure by Greg Hawley
When we visited the Arabia, we were lucky enough to have David Hawley at the museum that day, so he was able to answer questions directly after we viewed the introductory movie. His brother Greg does yeoman's service in turning days of wading through mud into a fascinating read, and we can't wait to discover the treasure to be found in the next barrel or cask. I highly recommend the book and THEN a trip to the museum in Kansas City!
While the most of the story unfolds from Trudy's point of view, the narrative is framed by Jane, the youngest of the Crawley children, returning to the lighthouse in her 80s. That's when we learn that this is really Jane's story, the story of an old woman coming back to her roots and finding her origins--at the edge of the earth.
I found the book a fast read, and Trudy is an independent, compelling character for the most part. Oskar's ability to constantly get his way and never take anyone else's feelings into consideration begins to rankle as the book goes on, and the big reveal at the end of the book is really not much of a mystery if you've been paying attention. Still, I admire Trudy's ability to soldier on in the face of adversity, especially with the help of stoic Euphemia Crawley. Truly a novel where the setting stays with you.
The real tragedy of Rosemary's story was that of a family which could accept nothing but perfection. Rosemary could have had a wonderfully productive life, but a combination of the time's lack of understanding of people with developmental disabilities coupled with a level of society which could not tolerate flaw or deficiency combined to make this poor girl's life one of constant worry and frustration, and then one of total debilitation as her mind was destroyed. The latter chapters discussing President's Kennedy's championing of legislation to support the developmentally disabled and the family's founding of private organizations for their aid was a poor substitute for the care that they should have shown to their own flesh and blood. A sad but very worthy read.
The plot--Harley Jackson's cow Tina Turner gives birth to a calf on Christmas Eve, with the likeness of Jesus Christ himself played out in spots on the calf's side. The rest of the events spool out from here, with Harley first trying to cover up the miracle birthmark, then trying to manage the fall out when the "calf is out of the bag," so to speak. The explosive climax is achieved thanks to the aforementioned quirky characters, and all ends happily (spoiler!), but not in the way I was envisioning. The overall effect is a sweet stroll through rural Wisconsin, with some bumps in the road, ending on the top of McCracken Hill at dusk. Curtain.
|Books You Gotta Read||
Books You Gotta Read