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Topic: 2010 H/F Challenge #1 - Whodunit?

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Subject: 2010 H/F Challenge #1 - Whodunit?
Date Posted: 11/26/2009 6:04 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Discuss the book you read for the Whodunit? category.

Read a historical mystery. Sample authors include Deanna Raybourn, Iain Pears, Sarah Waters and Charles Todd.

Subject: A Chorus of Detectives by Barbara Paul
Date Posted: 12/24/2009 4:28 PM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2008
Posts: 772
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I had to take a break from 2 other challenge books today because they're kicking my butt around the block, so I grabbed my mystery one (see subject line). It reads fast since it's a cozy, and the murder plots in Barbara Paul's 2 other opera mysteries always take a back seat to the cast of egos of the Metropolitan Opera. I've had this last book for quite a while and hadn't gotten around to reading it. It's no more than what I would expect, plotwise, but it's kinda sad. It's definitely a curtain closer on her very short series, as Enrico Caruso is coughing up blood during performances and the remainder of the singers (Farrar, Amato, Destinn, Scotti) have declining vocal powers and they see the new crop of stars (Gigli & Ponselle) performing in roles they had originally monopolized and they're feeling their mortality. It's all rather depressing!

So much for a breezy cozy, though I can count on the resolution being one of the ploys Lionel Twain derides in "Murder By Death." :-P  Mystery isn't my preferred genre - I can barely ever make it through any type: hardboiled, British, cozy, historical, cop, pulp, you name it - so this is just a nice tossaway book to read about the lovely singers I've collected on 78rpm throughout the years. Nice way to spend Christmas!

Though the last page will be saved for Jan 1st  ;)

Date Posted: 12/27/2009 7:13 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
Posts: 6,035
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I officially began the 2010 challenge today by starting The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin. It took me a while in Mistress of the Art of Death to get into the quirky, dry humor, but now that I recognize it, this one is starting off much quicker for me. The descriptions of Henry II early in the book quickly bring back to mind his appearances in the earlier book, which was just about the best part. I haven't raed any other books about Henry and Eleanor, so I think i might have to go look for a good one.



Last Edited on: 1/1/10 1:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/1/2010 1:26 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
Posts: 6,035
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Finished A Serpent''s Tale this mornig.  Oh how I love Henry II! 

Date Posted: 1/1/2010 4:43 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Christa - Doesn't Franklin do a good job with Henry II?  I just love the way she created his character.  I also liked her Eleanor.  I don't know how accurate they are, but they sure add a comedic element to the book. 

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 12:28 AM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2009
Posts: 134
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I actually ended up changing my choice for my "Who-dun-it" book.  Letty recomended I read the Sharon Penman series, so I started with The Queen's Man and I thoroughly loved it!  I thought the plot was well thought out and fairly unpredictable.  Yes, they seemed to have and easy time of finding (or running into) their suspects but the story moved along at a good pace and I did not expect the ending to be what it was.  So now I am very interested in what happens next, and I am going to change my "continuing saga" choice as well.  I am going to read Cruel As The Grave next to see what adventure the hero lands himself in next.

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 1:07 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,174
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Christa, I am reading the Mistress Of The Art Of Death and am nearly finished,  I have decided I have to read the others, so between you and Jeanne I am glad to hear that others like them too.

 

ETA..  I finished and I truely loved this book,  and I will look forward to the other books.



Last Edited on: 1/9/10 3:18 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/9/2010 9:20 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,393
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Sharon Kay Penman's Queen's Man mystery series is one of my all time favorites! I adore her Eleanor. As much as I want her to continue to write her full-length novels, I sure wish she could squeeze enough time to give us a fifth book in this fun & interesting series.

Kelly

 

Hey, Linda here - Just wanted to add that I think the books in this series get better and better.  Really enjoyed the fourth one, which makes me, as well as Kelly, wish for a fitth book.



Last Edited on: 1/9/10 10:55 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/9/2010 2:03 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,174
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Kelly,  On Face Book Sharon Penmans fans have started a Justin De Quincy group and it looks as if we all might get our wish!  I believe the title is The Serpants Tooth, she says she is having a hard time finding a publisher for her mysteries! 

Date Posted: 1/13/2010 11:02 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,294
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I changed my choice for this category. I read "River of Darkness" by Rennie Airth which takes place in the shadow of WWl in Britain. Originally I chose this book for the mystery/thriller forum challenge, but realized that it qualified for the HF one as well. This book has been on my shelf for almost 2 yrs and I am so sorry that I haven't read it before this. It is not a book for the faint hearted but the characters develop nicely; riveting plot; protagonist has issues of his own; a little romance; a little humor. All in all, I thought it was a well written book and a page turner!

Date Posted: 1/13/2010 5:29 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
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Hey Jeanne -- since you didn't steer me wrong with I Kill, I went ahead and reserved a copy of Airth's book at the library -- I'm counting on your good taste in mysteries!

Date Posted: 1/13/2010 6:04 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,294
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Uh oh - I'm on the hot seat again! Well, Deb, at least you didn't BUY this book, so let me know what you think after you get into it!

I have to admit that mysteries were my "thing" for a long time - as well as history. Quite frankly, when I was younger and reading a lot of what is now known to me as HF - I didn't think of it as HF -just good books!! Hah, I just thought of it - when I was younger, that WAS history!! Oh how time does go by.



Last Edited on: 1/13/10 6:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: My Whodunit Read
Date Posted: 1/15/2010 8:55 AM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 2,877
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The King's Bishop by Candace Robb: Enjoyed this tale. Owen Archer, the hero, struggles to help his friend, Ned Townley, who is accused of murder after murder. Ned makes several poor decisions as he copes with the death of his sweetheart, the second murder. Ned survives but is banished by the king and the murderer identified but never brought to justice. I assume the saga continues in the next Candace Robb book. Robb does a great deal of research to make her books historically believable, describing her efforts to do so at the end of the book. I love this type of insight.



Last Edited on: 3/15/10 10:48 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 1/15/2010 4:40 PM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
Posts: 39,644
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Glad you liked the book. I know you would Candace Robb is very good. I really l ike her first one a lot The Apothacary's Wife.

alice

Date Posted: 1/15/2010 5:07 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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I, too, am reading Mistress of the Art of Death for this challenge. I'm about half way through, and I like it a lot.  It's looking like a keeper.

Date Posted: 1/15/2010 6:49 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,174
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Sharla,   I already ordered the next 2 books in the series, and #4 should be out this year.  I really liked it.

Date Posted: 1/15/2010 11:15 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,294
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The fourth book by Ariana Franklin is due out in April, 2010 and I can hardly wait!!!

Date Posted: 1/16/2010 12:26 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,174
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Jeanne,  April that's good to know, Now we have Susan Higgenbotham's book in March, this one in April,  and Elizabeth Chadwick's in May.  Can't wait for spring!

Date Posted: 1/18/2010 12:36 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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I just finished The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra, and I must say, I didn't really like it.  I should've bailed on it, but around 40-50 pages I kinda' got into it, so I kept going.  I never did get beyond the semi-interested state with it.  I didn't like any of the characters, really. It was somewhat confusing.  There was absolutely no humor in it whatsoever (I don't expect to be rolling in the aisles when I read HF, but I do like moments that make me chuckle from time to time), and when the mystery and the "bad guy" were revealed, it was pretty much anti-climatic.  Eh. 

Date Posted: 1/21/2010 10:55 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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I read The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova. I neither loved it nor hated it. My reaction, posted here, is lukewarm.

Recommend for those who love art history, psychological mysteries without much suspense, and haunting love stories. But not too highly.

Date Posted: 1/21/2010 11:03 AM ET
Member Since: 8/31/2007
Posts: 482
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I studied Art History in college and live in DC, visit the National Gallery all the time. So I'm going to keep this on my WL for now.

Date Posted: 1/21/2010 11:12 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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I finished Mistress of the Art of Death over the weekend.  I did like it, but not enough to be a keeper, after all.  I'll give it a 4/5.  About 2/3 through the book, it lost me.  This main character is just way too freaking modern and knew too much medicine that just wasn't known in the 12th C.  Initially, it was set up well enough that I bought into it for the first 2/3 of the book.  Sicily had such a mix of cultures, and with her unique background, I could accept a few attitudes and beliefs that weren't typical of the time period.   And I was thinking, well, maybe in Sicily, a little more of the Greek medical knowledge survived for a while longer.  It seemed justified ... maybe ... at first.  But about 2/3 or so through, the cumulative effect overflowed and I could no longer suspend disbelief.

Still, I did enjoy the story, both for the vivid portrayal of medieval Cambridge and for the story itself (and I'm no mystery fan--for example, I adore SKP, but have read only her first mystery, and have no plans to read the rest.)  I liked Henry II, what little bit we saw of him in this book.  And if there's more of Henry and Eleanor ... yes, I think I'll continue the series.  Worth reading once, but not worth keeping (for me) because the "too modern" flaw would only irritate me more in a re-read, without the story to pull me along anyway.



Last Edited on: 1/21/10 11:14 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/21/2010 11:34 AM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2008
Posts: 772
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Sharla - well, that's good to know about the book because a character having "modern knowledge" is one of my big peevs. It just smacks of Mary Sue Speshulness. I have the second book in the series and will leave it at that.

Date Posted: 1/29/2010 10:49 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,456
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I finished Death and the Chapman by Kate Sedley this morning; first in a series of books about a wandering peddlar (chapman) with an ability to solve puzzles or mysterious events.  The main character, Roger, is an ex monastic novice who doesn't feel the calling to a religous life but uses his God-given talents to charm customers and ferret out secrets.  I enjoyed this first book very much and will certainly be reading more about the chapman's further adventures.

Date Posted: 2/26/2010 4:37 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,393
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I had lots of mystery series already started that I could choose from, but decided to try a new one. Crocodile on the Sandbank, the first of the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. Very enjoyable story about an independent, forward-thinking English woman, interested in ancient Egypt. I'll read more of this series. Humorous, with just a bit of romance.

Linda

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