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The Twelve Clues of Christmas: a Royal Spyness Mystery by Rhys Bowen

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - well actually, my true love is spending a feliz navidad tramping around South America. Meanwhile, Mummy is holed up in a tiny village called Tiddleton-under-Lovey with that droll Noel Coward! And I'm snowed in at Castle Rannoch with my bumbling brother and sourpuss sister-in-law.

So it's a miracle when I contrive to land a position as hostess to a posh holiday party. The village is like something out of A Christmas Carol! But no sooner have I arrived than a neighborhood nuisance, a fellow named Freddie, falls out of a tree, dead....Dickensian, indeed.

She may be thirty-fifth in line for the throne, but Lady Georgiana Rannoch cannot wait to ring in the new year - before a Christmas killer wrings another neck.

Click on the tabs below to discover what Library staff is reading, listening to and watching.

The White Garden by Stephanie Barron
A suspenseful mystery that suggests what could have happened to Virginia Woolf in the weeks between her disappearance and the day she was found in the river Ouse. Six decades after Woolf's death, a landscape designer comes to Sissinghurst to study the White Garden and to recover from the shock of her grandfather's suicide. A journal she finds in a gardener's shed leads her to discoveries about both.

The Merlot Murders by Ellen Crosby
Someone wants to buy the 500 acre farm and vineyard located at the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains which has belonged to Lucie Montgomery's family since colonial days. And they are apparently willing to commit murder to get it. When Lucie's father Leland dies under questionable circumstances, the vineyard passes to his three children. But Lucie, who has been living in France for several years, quickly discovers that her brother and sister can't wait to nail up the "For Sale" sign while she is the lone holdout for reviving the ailing winery. All too soon it's clear she's the new target of whoever wants her family's land. With a growing list of suspects - including the new cut-rate vintner her father hired shortly before he died - Lucie must act quickly to uncover the identity of a killer who seems disturbingly close to home.
Set in the historic heart of Virginia's horse and hunt country, "The Merlot Murders" is filled with fascinating detail about the science and alchemy of winemaking. Crosby has woven in some interesting historical tidbits about Thomas Jefferson's (unsuccessful) efforts to establish a wine industry in early Virginia as well as giving us the first in a series of intriguing mysteries.

Tell No One by Harlan Coban
For Dr. David Beck, the loss was shattering. And every day for the past eight years, he has relived the horror of what happened. The gleaming lake. The pale moonlight. The piercing screams. The night his wife was taken. The last night he saw her alive.

Everyone tells him it's time to move on, to forget the past once and for all. But for David Beck, there can be no closure. ... 

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Flavia de Luce is the youngest of three sisters and so, naturally, gets picked on.  But instead of short-sheeting her sister’s bed or putting frogs in it, she gathers poison ivy, distills the oil from the leaves and mixes it into her sister’s lipstick!  Not your ordinary 11 year old, Flavia is doing chemistry at a high school, if not university level and solving crimes, to boot.  Finding a dying man in the cucumber patch doesn’t faze her and she knows just where to look for a priceless stolen object.  Spunky, inquisitive, brave and downright daring at times, Flavia is someone you can’t help wanting to know better.  I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen
The book was translated from the original Danish and takes place in Copenhagen. The main character, Carl Morck is a not well liked police detective and is forced to run his own department....which only consists of him and his Syrian born assistant, Assad. I really enjoyed this mystery because of the relationship between the main character and his assistant, plus the way the story developed piece by piece and clue by clue made it a most enjoyable read 

Deception Point by Dan Brown
When a new NASA satellite detects evidence of an astonishingly rare object buried deep in the Arctic ice, the floundering space agency proclaims a much-needed victory...a victory that has profound implications for U.S. space policy and the impending presidential election. With the Oval Office in the balance, the President calls on skills of White House Intelligence analyst Rachel Sexton.
Once I started reading this, I couldn't put it down. 

L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy
In the tradition of Raymond Chandler's crime fiction comes this story of three tortured souls in the 1950s LAPD: a clean-cut cop who lives shivering in the shadow of his dad, his colleague who busts movie stars for payoffs from a sleazy magazine; and a detective haunted by the sight of his mother's murder. Intensity mounts as the novel's various plots intertwine more and more tightly, yet the narrative never veers too far from its core theme of cops competing with crooks to see who can be more corrupt and violent.

McNally's Alibi by Vincent Lardo
When Lawrence Sanders died a few years ago and Vincent Lardo took over the McNally franchise, this reviewer howled about another series of lite books. Several novels later, this reviewer still howls that Mr. Sanders would have been proud to claim the Lardo books as his own. The latest MCNALLY'S ALIBI is a strong novel containing an intriguing investigative story line and three women making Archy's life miserable in different ways. Fans of Mr. Sanders, McNally, or a strong private investigative novel will want to read Mr. Lardo's latest take and like this reviewer demand early release of another Arch book ASAP. If you are a fan of “Dime Store” novels then this is the series for you! Fun, intriguing story lines and a character that you can’t wait to visit!!

The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart by Lawrence Block
One of the Bernie Rhodenbarr comical mysteries . Bernie Rhodenbarr is a New York City-based thief who excels in lockpicking and breaking and entering, and who is addicted to the thrill it provides. He served time in prison in his youth, and since then has resolved to avoid getting caught again.
Bernie's burglary operations are usually well-planned and tidily executed, from the initial surveillance of the target site to the escape route afterwards. However, during the course of some of these burglaries Bernie encounters a dead body, usually just before the police arrive to investigate a called-in murder.   

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
I’m not typically a mystery genre reader BUT I love the Sookie Stackhouse series. It’s fun chick-lit at its best! Sookie is a cocktail waitress in a small Louisiana town where vampires are openly part of society. With Sookie’s unnatural ability to read people’s thoughts she finds a fresh respite to the silence of vampire minds, but quickly falls to trouble when she becomes smitten for one of them! Charlaine Harris will embark you on a funny, romantic and hilarious adventure keeping you up into the wee hours of the night to finish the entire series.

Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz
Jimmy Tock comes into the world on the very night his grandfather leaves it. Josef Tock suddenly sits up in bed and speaks coherently for the first and last time since his stroke. With his bestselling blend of nail-biting intensity, daring artistry, and storytelling magic, Dean Koontz returns with an emotional roller coaster of a tale filled with enough twists, turns, shocks, and surprises for ten ordinary novels. Here is the story of five days in the life of an ordinary man born to an extraordinary legacy--a story that will challenge the way you look at good and evil, life and death, and everything in between.

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
Lou Ford is the deputy sheriff of a small town in Texas.  The worst thing most people can say against him is that he's a little slow and a little boring.  But, then, most people don't know about the sickness --the sickness that almost got Lou put away when he was younger.  The sickness that is about to surface again. An underground classic since its publication in 1952, The Killer Inside Me is the book that made Jim Thompson's name synonymous with the roman noir.

No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
This is the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to “help people with problems in their lives.” Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witchdoctors.

Still Life by Louise Penny
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called to the scene of a death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead, the victim of a tragic hunting accident. But Gamache suspects something more sinister. With this award-winning first novel, Louise Penny introduces an engaging hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces—and this series—with power, ingenuity, and charm.

 

 
 

Trapeze by Simon Mawer
At the age of 19, fluent-French-speaking Briton Marian Sutro is recruited for service in the Special Operations Executive during World War II, only to find that another secret organization wants her to infiltrate Paris to persuade a research physicist to join the Allied war effort. A name from Marian's past suddenly reappears, forcing her to call into question her first love, her dangerous mission, and how far she's willing to go for the cause.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Award-winning, bestselling author Patchett returns with a provocative novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazon rainforest. This novel is a gripping adventure story and a profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name of discovery and love. Thrilling, disturbing and moving in equal measures.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Like "Twilight" for adults, with a scholarly twist. The first three sentences drew me in: "It begins with absence and desire. It begins with blood and fear. It begins with a discovery of witches." Deborah Harkness creates a fascinating world filled with witches, vampires and other worldly creatures living alongside humans. The discovery of a bewitched alchemical manuscript sets off a chain of events as the manuscript's secrets are uncovered.

Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Harry Dresden is listed in the Chicago phone directory under "Wizards." He doesn't grant wishes and he doesn't make love potions. When Harry is asked to locate a missing husband, he finds himself in deeper water than even he could have imagined. James Marsters brings Harry to life in Butcher's fantasy murder mystery and creates quite a character that leaves you longing for more.

Doc: a novel by Mary Doria Russell
Fact and fiction combine in this wonderful story of Doc Holliday, the legendary gunman and gambler. John "Doc" Holliday leaves Atlanta in 1873 hoping the dry air and sunshine of the West will help keep his tuberculosis at bay. Highly educated and trained as a dentist, he plans to open a practice in the far reaches of the frontier. All the major players of the famous story are here including the Earp brothers, Bat Masterson and Kate Elder. The wild West comes alive in unexpected ways - you can almost hear the spurs jingling on the boardwalks of Dodge City. As an added bonus you'll be inspired to listen to Beethoven's Emperor's Concerto when you finish this marvelous read.

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
This is a story of baseball and mathematics that will surprise you. Narrated by the Housekeeper, it is an elegant tale about a brilliant mathematics professor who lost his short-term memory in a car accident. The Professor comes to adore "Root" the Housekeeper's 10 year old son and shares with him mathematical theorems and baseball stories. The lives of all three are enriched by their relationships. This is a simple satisfying story, beautifully written and thought provoking.

Lamentation by Ken Scholes
This award winning author takes readers on an epic journey that starts with the destruction of the world's greatest city, including its prized library and keepers of knowledge. Intrigue, plots, political machinations, magic and love will keep you enthralled not only with the world Scholes has built but also with the depth and breadth of his characters.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
The Major leads a quiet life in a quintessential English village. Along comes an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship developing into something more. But will their fellow villagers accept a relationship between the local gentleman and the permanent foreigner? This is a love story about race, religion and real estate, funny and charming.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Frank Wheeler seems to have everything perfectly in order in suburbia: two kids, a good job, a fine house and a wonderful marriage to a beautiful wife. Underneath this façade, Frank and his wife April are haunted by a nagging sense that their youth is being squandered. Their search for excitement, action and purpose propels them to take extraordinary steps in their struggle for meaning and to separate their lives from the lackluster banality that surrounds them.

The 19th Wife: a novel by David Ebershoff
This is the tale of Ann Eliza Young who was "the 19th wife" of Brigham Young. It is a compelling story about polygamy, the Church of Latter-day Saints, and Ann Eliza who would become a catalyst to end polygamy. There is also a concurrent fiction thread that interweaves the story of Jordan, who is born into a modern-day fundamentalist LDS group in Arizona. He too is working to break free of the overpowering religious sect. I enjoyed the way the author blends non-fiction and fiction in this book

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
The first book of a series, "The Spellman Files" is a hilarious take on a slightly unusual and dysfunctional family. For even more hilarity, try listening to it as an audiobook. Narrator Christina Moore gives life to the Spellman clan and leaves you asking for more.

City of Thieves by David Benioff
This novel takes place during the Seige of Leningrad in World War II. Fate has thrown two very different young men together to accomplish an almost impossible task in order to avoid a death sentence. They have many adventures along the way. The book is well written with some ironic plot twists. Highly recommended.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
This fantasy fiction delves into the mysteries and intrigues of kingly ambitions in a medieval setting with hints of magic along the outer realms of the kingdoms. The author writes superbly from many different characters' perspectives adding to the adventure, the politics and romance. If you like epics you will love Martin's first book in this Song of Ice and Fire series.

 

Malled: my Unintentional Career in Retail by Caitlin Kelly
When unexpectedly laid off, Caitlin Kelly gets a job at a North Face retail store and begins her startling journey in retail. "Malled" examines the hidden lives of retail associates and gives us a private look at what really goes on behind the counter. Using her personal experience and current statistics, Kelly paints a detailed portrait of retail life that is less than perfect."Malled" is an insightful look at customer service and the lengths to which we are willing to go to offer our service.

My Year with Eleanor: a memoir by Noelle Hancock
After being laid off from her job, Noelle Hancock takes Eleanor Roosevelt's advice to "do one thing everyday that scares you" and transforms her life. This book is a wonderful reminder that life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. Hancock's experiences inspired me to challenge myself and even though I may not take a trapeze class or swim with sharks like Hancock, I discovered that even the smallest challenges can be very rewarding.

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
Mary Roach explores the not-so-glamorous lives of astronauts, their training, and the quirky experiments performed in the name of space science. The New York Times Book Review describes it best, "With an unflinching eye for repellent details, she launches readers into the thick of spaceflight's grossest engineering challenges: disposing of human waste, controlling body odor without washing, and containing nausea - or, if containment fails, surviving a spacewalk with a helmet full of perilously acidic upchuck." It is hilarious and informative.

Merchants of Doubt  by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway
The authors tell an important story about the misuse of science to mislead the public for political and commercial purposes. Oreskes and Conway do an excellent job of bringing clarity to a complex topic, providing historical perspective and political insight.

The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn by Nathaniel Philbrick
We all know it ended badly. This is the story of how it happened. The author reveals the lives of Custer and Sitting Bull, the in-fighting and backstabbing among the senior officers, the stories of  the inexperienced troops, some of whom barely knew how to ride a horse, and the geography which played such a big part in the battle. This is also the story of the last stand for the Sioux and Cheyenne nations. The maps throughout allow you to follow the story as it unfolds.

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain  by Oliver Sacks
Fabulous journey of the role music plays in our inner lives and thought. The story is made even more interesting by the many case study stories.

Making Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa, M.D.
Dr. Dosa's account of a seemingly clairvoyant kitty is much more than a cat story. It is a sensitive look into the lives of several Alzheimer patients, their families, and the loving staff caring for them. Oscar is one of several cats providing comfort, laughs, and companionship to the residents of the Steere House nursing facility. What sets Oscar apart from the other felines is that he has a gift for knowing when a patient is close to the end of life. It is during this time that Oscar epitomizes the wonders and beauty of the human-animal bond, as he maintains a vigil next to the dying patient.

While reading "Making Round with Oscar," keep a box of tissues handy because in between laughing at cat antics, tears will be shed.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
When a poor African American woman died of cervical cancer in 1951, her family didn't know that researchers had taken samples of her tumors without permission. These cells have played a hugely important role in scientific research all over the world as they grow and thrive with very little encouragement. This is the story of Henrietta Lacks' family who didn't know for 25 years about their mother's role. Poor and uneducated, they benefitted in no way from one of the most important things ever to happen in medicine.

The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: a Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer
Planning a trip to Medieval England? This book has all the information you need. Should you wear weasel or rabbit fur? Do you stay at an inn and sleep with strangers or try a monastery with the lepers? And how do you avoid famine and plague? Mortimer takes you on a fascinating journey through the tumultuous and complex century.

48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
This is the perfect gift for the budding tyrant or ruler, blending Machiavellian advice with abundant historical examples illustrating the 48 laws of power. This book provides an excellent overview of how rulers have attained, held, and used power and of others who lost their heads because they didn't understand the importance of rules such as "Crush Your Enemy Totally" and "Keep Your Hands Clean."

The Places in Between by Rory Stewart
In 2002, just after the fall of the Taliban, Rory Stewart set off to walk the entire length of Afghanistan - alone. With clear, thoughtful prose, he brings to life the landscapes, people, and villages he encounters on this epic journey. It reads like the best travel writing while shedding light on a particularly relevant region.

Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel
The distribution of food across the world is so out of whack that there is an obesity epidemic and widespread starvation at the same time. This book explains how we got there and what we (as individuals and as a society) can do to remedy the situation.

This is Water: some thoughts, delivered on a significant occasion, about living a compassionate life by David Foster Wallace
A reprint of a commencement speech the author gave at Kenyon College in 2005, this slim volume is direct and wise and deceptively simple in its advice for living. Should be required reading for anyone interested in living a meaningful life, recent graduates or not.

The Gift of Fear: Survival Signs that Protect us from Violence by Gavin de Becker
Gives practical advice about how to trust "gut instinct" in order to avoid being physically victimized.

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan
If you looked at human desire from the plant world's point of view, what would you see? Michael Pollan shows us in this eye-opening examination of four species that evolved to satisfy our yearnings. Explore the history of the apple, the tulip, the marijuana plant and the potato and their corresponding human desires of sweetness, beauty, intoxication and control.

 

 

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
The famous food writer remembers her years as the restaurant critic for the New York Times. While details about this dream job are delicious (she got to wear disguises!), Reichl's warm personal style and sharp sense of humor make the book one you'll want to share.

Stitches: A memoir by David Small
David's troubled childhood is told through powerful illustrations in graphic novel format. This is an excellent book and a great introduction to graphic novels for the uninitiated.

Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl
Wonderful stories from the former restaurant critic of The New York Times and the editor of Gourmet magazine. Begins in a Berkeley commune in the 1970s. Funny tales about food and life.

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: an African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller
The author gives an honest, moving portrait of her family's struggle to survive during the Rhodesian civil war of the 1970s. Alexandra Fuller recalls her African childhood with candor, sensitivity and humor.

 

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