Monday, December 26, 2022

Back To the Garden: A Standalone Thriller by Laurie R. King

This is the third novel by Laurie R. King that I am reviewing.   The other two were Dreaming Spies and Island of the Mad which are books in King's Mary Russell series.  The reviews are at the hyperlinked titles.   The genre of Back to the Garden  may be best described as contemporary/historical thriller, but the historical scenes don't feel very historical to me since they took place during my lifetime.  Yet there may be readers of this review who weren't born yet during the 1970's.   So whether a period feels historical can be very subjective.



Bones had been found underneath a three headed triple Goddess statue by a fictional artist named Miriam Gaddo, who is supposed to have worked with the real artist, Judy Chicago .  Gaddo is referred to in the book and the investigating officer has a conversation with her, but she can't be said to be a major character in Back to the Garden.

The identification of the bones continues to be an ongoing issue because the lab that is doing the identification is behind in its work.  

There are numerous local missing women and it's assumed by law enforcement that the bones may be one of these women.  When the bones are finally identified, it really is a shocker.  The book changed for me.

The story line led us "down the garden path", so to speak.  When we find out the truth, the entire focus of Back to the Garden changed.  There is a suspenseful climactic scene at the end.

There could conceivably be future books involving Raquel Laing, who was investigating this case, but I was glad to know that Laurie R. King is working on a new novel in the Mary Russell series.  I will look forward to it.


Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Crooked Little Pieces Book Two: The Lives of Two Sisters Continue

This is the review of the sequel to Crooked Little Pieces Book One.  I posted the review of the first volume here

I received this book from the author Sophia Lambton, who is also the publisher.  She founded Crepuscular Press in order to release her work.

 I learned that crepuscular means like the twilight.  Twilight often refers to when the sun is sinking and the light is fading, but it isn't completely dark yet.  It has a liminal status, which is about being betwixt and between. 



   The two sisters, Isabel and Anneliese, find themselves in careers which are compatible for them.  Although Isabel has a tragic loss and considers her career temporary, Anneliese has incredible good fortune.                                  
Isabel is teaching music at the girls' school that she and her sister attended.  One of the students came to England with her mother illegally.  The school wants to keep this student safe. Her name is Margot. She speaks German.  Isabel is expected to teach her English. In class, Isabel repeated what she said in English in German for Margot.  She also arranged to teach her English on Tuesdays and Thursdays during lunch.  Isabel revealed that she once spoke German herself, and her sister spoke their father's language, Dutch.  To show the similarity of the languages, Isabel had Georgia, who spoke Dutch, speak some Dutch to Margot.  Margot understood some Dutch.  Isabel asked Georgia to make sure Margot wasn't all alone in school.

Isabel was having the students try to define what is modern in music.  She asked if something was modern because Beethoven never composed that sort of music.  She also asked if they were living in a darker age because there had been two world wars.

An old man who was one of Anneliese's patients griped about being picked on for being left handed. (Me-I'm left handed myself and have never been picked on for it.  I think that was still happening in my mother's generation, but it stopped in my generation.)

We learn that the girls' school was going to have a new headmaster instead of new headmistress.  Isabel was upset that the new headmaster is Jewish.  Anneliese is no angel either.  She stole transcripts from the library  because she didn't have the time to make her own copies of the transcripts.

I assume that the author is showing that the sisters are flawed to humanize them.   It seems to me that Isabel can be humanized without offending a segment of the audience.

This book ends with Benjamin asking Anneliese to accompany him on a housecall on a nine year old suffering from schizophrenia.  We don't learn anything further.

I would have ended it with the school's change from headmistress to headmaster.  It would have seemed more like a stopping point.  Ending with an invitation to join a housecall seems rather abrupt.

Despite this second volume's flaws, I'm going to give this book four stars on Goodreads.   I'm hoping to like the next book better.