Three Picks for March

Run Away Cover ImageRun Away by Harlan Coben: A few months ago, Simon Greene and his wife Ingrid made the difficult decision not to go after their drug addicted daughter Paige when she ran away to her abusive boyfriend Aaron. One morning Simon sees Paige in Central Park, a shadow of her former self, playing guitar for tips, but when he tries to talk to her Aaron intervenes. Countless cell phone cameras are there to record their encounter, and the resulting video of a privileged white man who tries to accost a young woman and then beats the homeless man who comes to her aid quickly goes viral. A few months later Aaron is dead and Paige is missing, and Simon is drawn into the dark underbelly of the New York drug scene to try to find her. You just can’t turn the pages fast enough. – Meike

 

A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself Cover ImageA Friend Is A Gift You Give Yourself by William Boyle: The incredibly funny yet tough novel follows a mob widow and retired porn star thrown together through fate involving family dysfunction, bad men, and stolen mafia cash. Boyle works the humor toward the characters instead of the other way around and never lets it mute the danger these ladies are in or the people they are. Instead it serves as a way to explore female friendship. Major actresses over forty should be fighting over the film rights. – Scott

 

 

 

The American Agent: A Maisie Dobbs Novel Cover ImageThe American Agent by Jacqueline Winspear: When a young American correspondent named Catherine Saxon is found murdered in her London apartment, Maisie is called in to investigate her death. She’s asked to work with Mark Scott, an American agent from the US Department of Justice–and the man who helped Maisie get out of Hitler’s Munich in 1938. While the blitzkrieg rains terror and destruction on London, Maisie is torn between the need to find Catherine’s killer and the need to love and protect her young ward Anna–and the pull of her feelings for the American agent. – Meike

MysteryPeople Review: JOURNEY TO MUNICH by Jacqueline Winspear

Jacqueline Winspear has just released her 12th Maisie Dobbs novel, Journey to Munich. Below, event staffer and mystery enthusiast Meike reviews Winspears’ latest. 

  • Review by Meike Alana

9780062220608In Journey To Munich (Jacqueline Winspear’s 12th installment in the Maisie Dobbs series) it is 1938 and Maisie has just returned to London after 4 years abroad—most recently in war-torn Spain, where she worked as a nurse while recovering both physically and emotionally from the sudden death of her beloved husband and the loss of her unborn child. British Secret Service agents Robert McFarlane and Brian Huntley recruit her to help them with an important mission—one that involves extracting a British businessman and inventor from Germany. The German government has agreed to release the prisoner from Dachau under the condition that he is handed over to a family member. The man’s wife is deceased and his daughter is gravely ill, but Maisie bears an uncanny resemblance to his daughter and it is believed that she will make an appropriate substitute. On the eve of her departure for Munich, she is contacted by Canadian newspaperman John Otterburn—the powerful man whom she holds responsible for her husband’s death—with a request that she locate his runaway daughter Elaine, who is believed to be in Germany.

Maisie undertakes both missions—publicly she liaises with the British Consulate to negotiate the release of her “father” from the Nazis at Dachau; surreptitiously she also tries to locate Elaine Otterburn. The presence of Hitler’s “brown shirts” in public areas, and the observance of the German citizens’ unease with the Nazis’ rise to power, sets Maisie on edge—she feels she is in the presence of great evil, and faces down both implied and overt dangers. As she watches two young girls—one of them Jewish—secretly playing together, we come to understand what a powerful force fear was in creating the Hitler phenomena.

For British mystery fans who haven’t yet discovered Jacqueline Winspear, this is a great jumping off spot for the series. Although it’s number 12 in the series, it represents a bit of a departure in that Maisie is working largely alone and many of the characters in previous novels aren’t involved. But be forewarned—you’ll want to go back and read the rest of the series. Maisie Dobbs’ eponymous debut was a national bestseller and received a slew of prestigious awards. Ms. Winspear’s subsequent novels have all received award nominations and most have become immediate national best sellers.

You can find copies of Winspear’s latest on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

The 7% Solution Book Club To Discuss BIRDS OF A FEATHER by Jacqueline Winspear

birds of a feather

On Monday, March 2, at 7 pm on BookPeople’s third floor, the 7% Solution Book Club discusses Jacqueline Winspear’s second Maisie Dobb’s novel, Birds of a Feather. All book clubs are free and open to the public, and book club picks are 10% off at the registers the month of discussion.


Birds of a Feather, Jacqueline Winspear’s second novel starring the indomitable Maisie Dobbs, begins with a missing person. A powerful grocer hires Maisie, now out on her own working as a private investigator after the retirement of her mentor, to find his missing daughter, run away again, this time at the mature age of 32. Dobbs quickly suspects there is more to the woman’s disappearance than the vestiges of teenage rebellion. The recent deaths of several of the missing woman’s old school friends only confirm Maisie’s suspicions, and she must discover what the four estranged friends – three dead, one missing – had once shared in common to make them all targets.

Meanwhile, Dobbs must conquer challenges in her personal life, including the increasing lack of communication between herself and her own father, brought to the fore by her search for the errant daughter of another. She also must figure out a way to help Billy, her assistant, as he turns to drug use to help with the pain from his old war wounds and gas-damaged lungs. She, too, must figure out a way to heal from her own wounds, psychological and physical, left by the war.

Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs may live in the mid-1920s, but her characters exist just as much in the past as they do in the present. Their paths in their current lives are still determined by the legacy of the war as much as any attempt to move past it into the future. How can they? Many of the characters in the novel no longer have a future – the war robbed them of theirs, in the form of sons, lovers, fathers, and husbands; all gone or returned irreparably damaged. The world of Maisie Dobbs is also a world of women; women who have taken over the traditional roles of men, first in the war, and then afterwards, in the post-war context of few men and many unmarried women.

Maisie Dobbs, in her work as a private investigator, uses intuition and empathy far more than deduction. Her detecting skills offer a welcome relief from the cold logic of a Sherlock or the bumbling niceness of a Watson, and she can pick a lock or interrogate a suspect as well as the next (wo)man. Jacqueline Winspear has created a believable and heroic female detective for a post-war Britain partially defined by its dearth of men, and has been justly applauded for her efforts.


Copies of Birds of a Feather are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. The 7% Solution Book Club meets the first Monday of each month. As always, books for book clubs are 10% off when purchased the month of discussion.

If You Like Laurie R. King…

-Post by Molly

Laurie R. King is one of my favorite authors of historical crime fiction, and ever since my sister finally convinced me to read The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, King’s first novel starring Sherlock Holmes and his assistant (later to be his spouse) Mary Russell, I’ve been hooked on the series. King’s appeal is certainly not based on riding the coattails of the Sherlock Holmes phenomena – instead, King uses one well-established character, Holmes, drops him in the middle of the 1920s, and creates a companion for him worthy of the change in setting. Here are a few recommendations for the Laurie R. King fan…


day of atonement1. Day of Atonement by David Liss

David Liss has been writing historical fiction with Jewish characters gallavanting about the 18th century world for some time now, and his latest, Day of Atonement, set in Lisbon around the time of the great Lisbon earthquake, is a masterpiece of historical crime fiction. Framed as a revenge thriller, Day of Atonement is a fun fact-filled and action-packed thriller. It’s either the Jewish Count of Monte Cristo or the 18th century Inglourious Bastards, take your pick.


maisie dobbs2. The Maisie Dobbs novels, by Jacqueline Winspear

Jacqueline Winspear writes mysteries starring the working class girl, wartime nurse, and amateur private detective Maisie Dobbs, who spends her time in post-WWI England solving crimes with their roots buried in the war. Recent additions to the series include A Lesson in Secrets, Elegy for Eddie, and Leaving Everything Most Loved. For those who enjoy Laurie R. King’s chosen time period, Winspear’s novels are a must-read, especially upon the 100th anniversary of World War I.


jack of spies3. Jack of Spies – David Downing

Good espionage novels set around World War I are unfortunately few and far between. With the help of David Downing, already known for his brilliant series of spy novels named after different European train stations and set during the dark days of World War II, this may change. Downing published Jack of Spies, his first novel in a new series set during World War I, earlier this year, and here’s to hoping that he writes just as many installments of his new series as of his previous John Russell series.


Copies of the above listed books can be found on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.