Thursday, February 16, 2017

February 1st Through the 15th

A woman of my word, here are brief reviews of the books I read in the first half of February.  I hope you all had happy Valentine's Days.  I spent mine at the doctor's and then in bed with a stomach virus.  Fortunately, I had my Valentine to take care of me.  Much better now.

I usually don't read modern books that continue an older series, but the two books I've read by Guy Fraser-Sampson that continue the Mapp and Lucia series are well done and capture the flavor of the originals.

Mapp (not very wealthy) and Lucia (wealthy) are continuously trying to outdo each other socially.  Lucia and her husband, Georgie, decide to vacation in the lakes section of Italy.  Mapp finds out and, lucky for her, one of Benjy's old India friends, a very wealthy man, asks Benjy if he'll escort his son on vacation until he is free to take him  -  all expenses paid.  So Mapp connives to go to the same little town and stay in the same hotel as Lucia.  All I can say is that pandemonium and laughter ensue.

I've read a few of the Judge Dee mysteries and this one wasn't one of my favorites.  It dragged and I didn't like the theme.  Judge Dee stops at a festival at which a young man is poisoned.  And a woman is found murdered.  There's much talk about the Emperor's Pearl, a valuable pearl stolen years ago from the royal jewels, thought to be a myth by many.

Judge Dee must solve the mystery.  What he finds is a sadist and a surprise.

This book was disappointing, too.  I like Amy Poehler.  I don't think you can beat her and Tina Fey for laughs when they get together.  But this book felt forced, disjointed, didn't make me like Amy more, and maybe even a little less.  I thought it would be funnier.

Another celebrity memoir, but this one was more enjoyable.  That is, despite the fact that much of the book is about Cumming's horrible father and how he beat Alan and his brother and made them feel that they were worthless.  When Alan was 45, his father called and told him that he wasn't his real father.

Alan, in the middle of the British show Who Do You Think You Are? is devastated.  Elated to think that he's not the blood of a monster, but having to reevaluate his life and family.  So, simultaneously, he investigates the truth of his father's declaration and the story of his mother's father, who elected to leave his family after the war and who died in a mysterious shooting incident in the Far East.

And, finally, an old mystery by a well-regarded mystery author.  During a dinner with his neighbors, a man complains of stomach pains.  One of the neighbors, a doctor, opines that it's an ulcer and advises him to lay off the booze and rich food for a while.  He sends over some medicine.  The next day, the man is much worse and he dies a few days later.

The dead man's estranged brother arrives and demands an investigation.  They find that the man died of arsenic poisoning.  There is much speculation about how he ingested the arsenic:  in the medicine is the first supposition, but he also could have committed suicide (his finances are tanking), or it could have been accidental (he's been experimenting with different washes for his fruit trees), or, his brother's favorite, his younger wife could have done it because she wanted to leave him for another man.  The revelation was a surprise to me.

So, there you are.


  1. I've enjoyed one of those Lucia updated books and enjoyed it so I'll look for this one too.

    1. I read Major Benjy, but I haven't read the other one, Au Reservoir. They're fun and light, like the originals.

  2. Sorry to hear you were ill on Valentine's Day, but good that you have someone to take care of you. The Alan Cummings memoir sounds interesting. Also the mystery, I don't think I have read anything by Berkeley.

    1. Yes, well it certainly was a memorable Valentine's Day!
      I like Alan Cumming, have loved him on The Good Wife, as well as the introductions to Masterpiece Mystery. I found his memoir quite startling, not at all as I imagined his life to be.
      This last one is my third Berkeley. I have an awful memory for things I don't have to remember and, unfortunately, plots fall into that category. I must enjoy the Berkeleys, though, since I keep reading them!

  3. Sorry about your virus! I am glad you are feeling better now!

  4. I thought I had commented on this before, but I see its not here. I've been having trouble signing in with my Wordpress account. It doesn't work for some reason. I saw that episode of Who Do You Think You Are! Alan Cummings is like a force of nature and I'm drawn to him for some reason. I love him as the host to Masterpiece Mystery!

    1. He is a force of nature! I like him, too. There's just something about him.
      Do you have to sign in to leave a comment on my blog? I don't like that. You should just have to click on the leave a comment button. Let me know if you keep having trouble.