Monday, March 10, 2008

From Patricia

Cleverly, Barbara. Tug of War (Delta, $13) Apr 29, pbo Esteemed police detective Joe Sandilands obeys orders to go to France and prove which of four claimants is relative to a shell-shocked amnesia victim in 1926. Perhaps he is an Englishman. Acting escort to his niece Dorcas on her way to the south of France is no burden. Being daughter to an artist gives Dorcas an ease with languages and nuance that makes her an asset as the plot unwinds. What Joe uncovers at the widow's vineyard, at a family business missing its heir and in the parlor of the absent man's mistress makes a reader shudder at what festers in human hearts. His discoveries cause him to relive the horrors he saw during the war. Cleverly recreates the atmosphere of the shattered world rebuilding in the area near Reims, Champagne country, with vivid detail.
Last Kashmiri Rose, Ragime in Simla, Damascened Blade, Palace Tiger, Bee's Kiss.

Falcones, Ildefonso, Cathedral of the Sea (Dutton, $26) Apr Translated from the Spanish. A victim when his cruel lord exercises his feudal rights from raping the bride on her wedding day to abusing an infant son later, the peasant Bernat escapes with his child Arnau to Barcelona to earn freedom if he can hide for a year and a day. The homeless boy Joan who becomes a second son gets a church education and enters the Dominican order in time to be an inquisitor adept at torture, while Arnau loads ships and carries stone blocks to build a cathedral for the Virgin Mary, then goes to war to evade a married woman in lust with him. The suffering he causes for ordinary people to realize the schemes of kings and cardinals follows him home to Barcelona where the plague scourges rich and poor alike. The fortunes of the two brothers unfold for decades as the cathedral rises, a frame for the affairs of men in its shadow. Spanish events among the lower classes and in the Jewish quarter during the 1300's come alive in these pages. The author forges a chain with links as strong at the beginning as they are at the end. He deserved the best book awards in Spain and Italy and a place on the bestseller lists there for over a year.

Swanson, Denise. Murder of a Chocolate-covered Cherry (Obsidian, $7) Apr, pbo School psychologist and consultant to a small town police force outside Chicago, Skye Denison learns her mother submitted a recipe in every category of Grandma Sal's cooking contest with a different family member's name. Under duress, Skye agrees to cook the chicken casserole she "entered". The discord that erupts among the sponsors , judges and contestants results in death by drowning in chocolate. Since Skye's prowess for solving murders exceeds her ability to follow a recipe, she assists her police chief boyfriend under the granite countertops. Winniing recipes included. The tenth Scumble River mystery.

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