Wednesday, October 05, 2016

{I've Been Reading} A Memory of Muskets

Last September, I told you abut Death on the Prairie, a cozy mystery that I loved because so much of the plot involved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to get my hands on an advance review copy of the latest book in the Chloe Ellefson mystery series.  Go order yourself a copy of A Memory of Muskets by Kathleen Ernst. It is absolutely amazing! Seriously -- I finished the book at 1am and had to convince myself that immediately buying a copy of the first book and downloading it onto my Kindle might not be the best idea, but only because I had to be up in a few hours.

An unidentified man in a civil war uniform is found on the grounds of Old World Wisconsin. He doesn't belong to either of the groups involved in the reenactment that Chloe is helping to organize, but his clothes and belongings suggest that he's devoted to "the hobby." The mystery kept me guessing until the very end (my best guess was time traveler and I knew that couldn't possibly be it!) and the solution, when it came, made absolute sense.  To complicate matters further, Chloe is unable to enter the cabin on her boyfriend Roelke's family farm. The building that is supposed to be her private sanctuary fills her with a dark and heavy sense of dread. She can't explain the problem to Roelke, but she also can't bring herself to enter the building.

When I saw that Emma Donoghue had a new book out, I couldn't wait to read it. The Wonder is nothing at all like Room, but I loved it just as much. Lib Wright, a widowed nurse trained by Miss Nightingale herself, is sent to Ireland to keep watch over an eleven-year-old girl who has survived for the past four months on nothing but manna from heaven.  I had to warm up to Lib, who is very sure of her professional training and has no patience at all for the girl's family or what she sees as their backwards ways. Surrounded by those who are sure that Anna is a living miracle, Lib refuses to believe in even the possibility that such a thing could be true and sets out to discover who is sneaking the girl nourishment. The pacing is a bit slow and it took me a a while to get through the book, but it was definitely worth reading.

Author Julie Prentice and her family are glad for a new home and a new start, far away from the stalker who plagued her. She wasn't counting on the overzealous head of the homeowners association and the endless rules and regulations. When the harassment begins again, can't be sure if her stalker has found her or if it's a member of her own neighborhood.  The story is told from two different points of view and alternates between the past and present. More than once I lost track of who and when and had to flip back a few pages to get myself re-oriented. There's been a tragedy and, in the present, witnessed are testifying before the Grand Jury but it isn't until almost the last page that we find out who the victim of the tragedy was. By the very end, I feel like the author was almost doing backflips to keep the identity secret for just a bit longer. Although I wasn't satisfied with the resolution, I did enjoy the read to get there. The characters feel like real people and it's easy to care what happens to them.

Disclosure -- I was provided with advance review copies by the publishers. 

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