I love Ellery Queen, both the books and the TV show from the 1970s. The first book I finished in March was The Siamese Twin Mystery. Ellery and his father are returning from a vacation. Ellery decides to take the scenic route back to New York City and ends up racing up a mountain to avoid a forest fire. They arrive at the top of Arrow Mountain at night to find a dead end road and a creepy house.
No one answers when they pound on the door. Eventually, a man answers. He says that they were wary of strangers arriving at their remote location at night. More people appear, some very strange. They all seem tense and Ellery and his father don't know why. One of the men is a famous retired surgeon, another is his brother. Then there's the doctor's wife, another young woman, and the servants. And a mysterious scrabbling in a dark hallway and a hidden person.
It's not fair to reveal too much when talking about a mystery. So I'll just tell you that there are two murders, some mysteries are solved, there are misdirecting clues, and that raging forest fire that puts everyone in jeopardy. It's a page turner. Ellery solves the murders after some complicated cogitating.
I tend to think that animal mysteries are often too cute for me. But this series by Lydia Adamson has a bit of heft to it. I bought several of the series in a used book store last year and have enjoyed this one and the other one I read.
Alice Nestleton is a beautiful actress of a certain age and a cat sitter. She has two of her own cats and loves cats in general. She and some friends have been gardening in a community plot, raising herbs and flowers. They plan to sell their organic catnip. They have a small party to celebrate the harvest and brewing of peppermint tea - and one of the friends jumps to her death from the balcony during the party.
Alice can't believe that the woman committed suicide. As she digs further into the woman's life, she's sure she didn't commit suicide. But she's having trouble convincing others. Alice figures out how and why the woman was killed. Her friend on the police force helps out and he and she capture the killer, who has a secret history.
These books are fast reads and are fairly short. They're a pleasant break from more serious or longer fiction and from more violent mysteries.
I must have read The Story of Doctor Dolittle when I was a child. I know the story, I loved / love animals, I couldn't have missed it. But, just in case, I read it again.
Doctor Dolittle, a kindly doctor, is always treating people for free. When his parrot, Polynesia, tells him that all animals have their own languages and arranges for him to learn them, he becomes an animal doctor. Of course, he's still kind and too generous for his own good. He becomes a poor but famous doctor.
He gets a message that monkeys in Africa are dying of a mysterious illness. The monkeys ask him to come help them. He borrows a boat, loads up his animal friends, and sets off for Africa. When they get there, they're captured by a wicked king. Polynesia helps them to escape. There are a few hair-raising episodes, with the king's men on their trail, and a wonderfully original end to the chase.
Dr. Dolittle saves the monkeys and then sets off for home. Polynesia and the other animals originally from Africa decide to stay there.
On their way home, they're belayed by an evil pirate. They outsmart the pirate and find a little boy who's lost his uncle. Jip, the dog, smells his way to a rescue. Dr. Dolittle and Jip are richly rewarded.
When they finally get back to their own country, they travel around displaying the pushmi-pullyu, who has decided to allow this to help Dr. Dolittle to earn money. The pushmi-pullyu is there at his own free will. He's a rare creature and many people want to buy him, but Dr. Dolittle refuses. By the time they get tired of touring and return to Dr. Dolittle's home, they have lots of money. As Dr. Dolittle says, money may be a bother, but it's nice not to have to worry about it.
This Dutch author has at least two books that take place in Maine. I was puzzled about that until I read his biography on Wikipedia. He moved to Maine and died there. Now it makes sense.
In The Maine Massacre, the commissaris (who is never named) goes to Maine after his brother-in-law dies in an accident. His sister can't wait to sell up and move back to Holland. A few of the people at the police station in Amsterdam where he works are concerned about him because he's been very ill and has debilitating rheumatism. They want someone to go with him. He refuses, but they send one of their men, Sergeant de Gier, as part of a police exchange program.
While there, they both realize that there have been five accidental deaths in the last three years on a small area called Cape Orca. They can't all have been accidents. There's a new sheriff in town and he's been thinking the same thing. Together they collect evidence and piece together the solution.
They have to deal with an obnoxious local gang of troublemakers and intellectuals. Plus the strange people who live in the area. They live far away from cities and towns, so they're independent and tough.
The police from Maine and Holland share techniques and experience. They bring justice to the small town of Jameson, Maine.
I'm finished. I'm done. Whatever am I going to do now?!
All Change is the final (fifth) book in The Cazalet Chronicles. I started reading the series tentatively but quickly became engrossed in the family and their triumphs (not really that many) and tragedies (more of them).
I admit that even reading the fifth book, I had to refer to my list of characters, in particular which children belonged to which couple. There are a lot of children! But the reader has the privilege of watching them grow up.
Just like in real life, I liked some characters better than others. I despised some and I wanted to shake others and tell them to wake up! I could see the mistakes they were about to make and wanted to spare them the consequences. I would like to have gone out for dinner or drinks with a few of them.
I don't want to get into much detail because I don't want to ruin things for new readers. There are marital problems for most of the couples. Some of them are worked out satisfactorily, others are not. By the end of the book, most of the adults have been married at least once and most have children.
There's nothing spectacular in this series. The stories are the kinds of stories that you might hear from your friends. Or might have yourself.
I know there are other family sagas out there, but I'm not ready to commit to any of them just yet. I'm still living with the Cazalets.