Harry Lipkin, Private Eye by Barry Fantoni – Book Review

Harry LipkinPrivate Eye by Barry Fantoni
Published by Doubleday, an imprint of Random House

Only in Florida does one find an 87 year old Jewish private detective. Harry Lipkin is no Sherlock Holmes, but he generally gets the job done – at least the investigating job, he can’t quite get around to fixing the tiles that keep falling off his roof. His latest client, Norma Weinberg, is having valuable items disappear out of her house, and it must be someone from her staff. Now Barry must discover which servant is stealing from Norma before the stress of the situation becomes too much for her.

Harry Lipkin, Private Eye is a fun and quirky novel, full of shady characters. Every one of Norma’s staff has a good motive to steal her nearly belongings. Less convincing are the reasons that Harry crosses him off his list of suspects – he seems to jump to conclusions much too quickly, and not consider full implications of other possible motives. I did find this frustrating, from the mystery angle, but luckily Harry is an engaging  main character, and you want to root for him despite his sub-par detective skills.

Harry Lipkin, Private Eye isn’t going to stick with you long-term, but it is a fun, light summer read.

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Jack 1939 by Francine Mathews – Book Review

Jack 1939 by Francine Mathews
Published by Riverhead, an imprint of Penguin

At the beginning of 1939 Jack Kennedy is a 22 year old Harvard student, FDR is in his second term as president, and Hitler is preparing to change the face of Europe. Although he is frequently ill, Jack plans to travel across Europe for his senior thesis during the spring semester – he isn’t about to let either Hitler or his own body stop him. For FDR, Jack represents the perfect opportunity: he is a smart and savvy young man with a reason to talk to nearly anyone in Europe and a diplomatic passport, thanks to the fact that his father, Joe Kennedy, is the US ambassador to England. Since the US has no spy service in 1939, FDR is handpicking a few select men to help keep him informed on what is happening in Europe. He recruits Jack, who quickly finds himself much more personally embroiled in what he is investigating than he could have ever expected.

John F. Kennedy is a figure who continues to loom large in the American psyche, but primarily as an adult who would be president, and less as a young man still in school. The existence of his university thesis, Why England Slept, which chronicled England’s failure to stop Hitler, is fairly well known, but I personally had no knowledge of his journey across Europe just as Hitler was beginning to launch what would become World War II.

Mathews’s version of Jack’s trip across the continent mostly follows his real itinerary, although some creative license is taken to fit her storyline. The story Mathews concocts to go along with Jack’s travels is both interesting and exciting. Jack is caught up in espionage and both he and his family are being threatened by an extremely dangerous man, a Nazi. The stakes couldn’t be higher – Jack’s life, family, and country are all in danger – and the tension keeps the pages turning.

Jack 1939 is an extremely engaging historical thriller, made all the more engaging for being set against a backdrop of real events

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Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Murder for Choir by Joelle Charbonneau – Book Review

Murder for Choir by Joelle Charbonneau
Published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin

What Paige really wants is to be touring Europe with an opera company. She’s come close in the past, but it just isn’t happening right now. Really, she should be glad to have a job at all right now, even if it is just coaching a glee club in suburban Chicago. At least she’s coaching the best singers at Prospect Glen, even they don’t all necessarily have much faith that her operatic experience will translate int o a win for them. It isn’t long, though, before everything begins to fall apart. School hasn’t even started yet, Paige and the kids are still at choir camp when the much-loathed glee club coach at the rival high school is found dead and one of Paige’s students is suspected of murdering him. Although she has only very recently met the kid, Paige is certain that he cannot have been the culprit and is determined to clear his name, even if it does put her in danger herself.

A glee club-based cozy mystery is the perfect fit for Charbonneau, an always funny and entertaining author with a background in music and voice coaching. Murder for Choir is definitely a change from her Rebecca Robbins series, adhering closely to the conventions of a cozy mystery, but it also has many of the hallmarks of her Skating books, such as an endearing heroine and the eccentric older relative.

Murder for Choir follows the basic cozy outline without seeming formulaic, and Charbonneau’s humor ensures that it is always a joy to read. Pick it up, then when you thoroughly enjoy it, go back and read the Rebecca Robbins books as well.

For more, see my review for SheKnows.com.

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* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Book Review

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Published by Crown, an imprint of Random House

Once upon a time, Nick and Amy were happy. or at least they seemed to be. By the time they both lost their jobs and left Manhattan to move to Nick’s hometown of North Carthage, Missouri and take care of his ailing mother, that happiness was gone. There were a couple good years, but half of their five year marriage has been more or less miserable. Then, early afternoon on their fifth anniversary Nick gets a call from a neighbor that his front door is sitting wide open. When Nick returns home, he finds his wife missing and signs of a struggle. Amy is just…gone.

There is not much that can be said about Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl without spoiling it, but it is an incredibly engaging roller coaster of a book. Flynn has written a book full of twists, turns, and suspicious behavior. Nick and Amy both have secrets, and the reader can never quite completely figure out what is happening, and even if you do happen to guess correctly, motivations will still shock.

Gone Girl is deliciously twisted, and I can’t wait to explore Gillian Flynn’s backlist. Highly recommended.

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Source: Publisher, via Netgalley.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Grace Among Thieves by Julie Hyzy – Book Review

Grace Among Thieves by Julie Hyzy
Published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin

The third book in the Manor House Mystery series, please see my review of the previous books in the series, Grace Under Pressure and Grace Interrupted.

Life at Marshfield Manor is always eventful – at least since Grace has been there. The latest thing she must contend with is a series of small thefts, which coincide with the film crew which is shooting Marshfield for a promotional video. Grace has been warned by a former professor who also works at a private museum that they had similar small thefts, followed by a devastatingly large one, but as of now nobody at Marshfield has any real concrete clues as to who might be responsible. That something is very wrong can no longer be ignored, though, when two guests are shot during a tour, after being lured into a stairwell by someone dressed as a museum employee. The female guest is killed, but the man, Mark, is only injured, and something of a romance sparks between him and Grace as she attempts to rectify the situation and solve the mystery – a mystery that seems to have placed her directly in danger.

In Grace Among Thieves, Grace has just the perfect amount of romantic drama in her life, to balance the work drama she has at Marshfield. Jake is still out of the picture, after the drama at the end of Grace Interrupted, and the town rumor mill suggests that he is dating an ex-girlfriend. Of course, Grace now has Mark, but he’s from Colorado, and only in town temporarily, however attracted to her he seems to be.

The mystery of who is behind the thefts and shootings at Marshfield is also perhaps the best of the Manor House Mystery series. For the first time in this series, I was fairly certain of at least one culprit well before the end of the book, but in this case that was actually instrumental to the thrill of the book. Grace and her inability to see the danger around her put me on the edge of my seat more than once, and caused me to read the last 1/3 of Grace Among Thieves in a giant gulp.

This series continues to be strong, as well as fun. Recommended.

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Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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