Posts Tagged ‘Sophie Hannah’



Well, March arrived in Vermont like a lion and honestly appears to be leaving as one as well. The political news is still divisive and disturbing. And, for a variety of reasons, both Book Jam Lisas have been reading a lot of serious books. So to break out a bit, today we review a bunch of mysteries/thrillers in the sincere hope that reading some “just for fun” books will help us all smile more often as March becomes April. Enjoy!


August Snow Cover ImageAugust Snow by Stephen Mack Jones (Feb 2017) – I so hope that in real life there is someone like August Snow – a half black/half Mexican, ex-cop with a strong sense of justice and neighborhood  loyalty – looking out for Detroit. The hope this book expresses for Detroit weaves throughout the narrative, and Mr. Jones’s descriptions of Detroit’s decline and partial resurgence make the city an actual character in this thriller. Yes, Mr. Snow makes many mistakes, and wow, by the end of this tale, his body count is way too high for my tastes. However, few books take place in today’s Detroit; please enjoy this one! ~ Lisa Christie

The Bat Cover ImageThe Bat by Jo Nesbo (2013) – Somehow, we missed the first Detective Harry Hole mystery. Luckily, we rectified that last week. What fun!  Even if you have enjoyed the other novels in this detective series already, going back to the first mystery and watching him solve the murder of a lovely Norwegian ex-pat living Down Under, is somehow the perfect antidote for healthcare news. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie 

IQ Cover ImageIQ by Joe Ide (2017) – This debut features a great protagonist and a great sidekick whose incredibly complicated lives combine for a great plot.  Set in modern day LA and following a man whose amazing brain lay dormant for awhile but has awakened as a solver of others’ problems — a la Sherlock Holmes (who the author recognizes in this acknowledgements), this book marks the start of a great series. We are ready for book two and thank Carin Pratt for pointing us in the direction of Mr. Ide. ~ Lisa Christie 

Closed Casket: A New Hercule Poirot Mystery Cover ImageClosed Casket by Sophie Hannah and Agatha Christie (2017) – Agatha Christie writes again. OK, so someone else writes for her, but the oh so British atmosphere and Hercule Poirot are pretty much the same. Have fun! ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie 

The Whistler Cover ImageThe Whistler by John Grisham (2016) – Sometimes I just need the comfort of a reliable storyteller, and with Mr. Grisham I almost always get that. But, I always get a tale of people trying to do the right thing in spite of the odds against them. And honestly in 2017, I really, really need more of that. So, read this for a page-turner, but then think about it as a way to begin working for and fighting for what you believe is important. We can all use more of that lately. (Oh yes, the plot — in this Grisham Lacy Stoltz, an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct, gets in trouble when taking on corruption on the Florida bench.) ~ Lisa Christie 

FC9780312426132The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin (2006). Take a trip back in time to Istanbul  circa 1836 to meet intriguing Investigator Yashim. Filed under the category of “How The Heck Did We Miss This Book?”, this mystery (the first in a  series) is full of obscure historical references, complex characters, and wonderful food imagery. The reader is transported back to 19th century Ottoman Empire and can truly feel her/himself walking by the donkey carts and spice vendors of Istanbul while she/he works alongside Yashim to solve a mystery involving a series of murders that threaten the sultan’s political court. Besides being a talented detective, Yashim is also an excellent cook. He is also a eunich. Utterly fascinating, this book is perfect for history buffs, fans of literary mysteries, or the traveler looking for the perfect book to take on an upcoming trip to Turkey. If your curious about the cookbook that Jason Goodwin published in 2016, listen here: Yashim Cooks Istanbul ~ ~ Lisa Cadow  

In This Grave Hour Cover ImageIn This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear (2017) – Another Maisie Dobbs mystery finds Maisie on a case involving Belgium refugees just as Prime Minister Chamberlin declares Britian at war with Germany. Ms. Winspear has definitely gotten Maisie out of her “please get on with it already” phase of incredible self-analysis to again using her honed introspection to help others. Enjoy this look at the UK as WWII begins. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie 





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“Oh what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive.”  ~Walter Scott, “Marmion.”

Here in our small Vermont village we accept each other at face value. Townsfolk know the family trees of residents who’ve lived here for generations, those who move here to work and raise families – sometimes referred to as “flatlanders” – are accepted for whom they purport to be. We greet each other with a friendly wave in the local general store or  talk about kids growing up fast while waiting at the circulation desk at the library, secure in the knowledge they we’re leading our lives alongside people who are what they say they are, or are who we think they are.

But this past week, amidst the snowstorms of early January, we found ourselves tangled up in books that rocked our comfortable assumptions a bit. The female protagonists in these two engrossing reads were leading normal lives, one in a contemporary English town, the other in a 1975 Paris, when suddenly they picked up clues that their realities weren’t at all what they appeared.

The literary deception and confusion was just enough so that when we picked up our heads and emerged from the reading webs we’d woven by the wood stove and took a trip to our friendly general store, our neighbors – and even ourselves – looked just a little off kilter, just a little less familiar, even if only for the blink of a spider’s eye.

9780143121510The Other Woman’s House by Sophie Hannah (2012).  Another great psychological thriller emerges from the British Isles to join the ranks of those written by Ireland’s Tana French and England’s Rosamund Lupton. One night Connie Bowskill is having trouble sleeping and decides to go to the computer to take a virtual tour of a house that is the object of her obsession. What she sees on-screen, in addition to the kitchen and dining room, is a dead body in the den lying face down in a pool of blood. (Sound like a game of Clue? Well, hang on to your hats and see if you can solve it.) When she returns moments later with her husband to show him this gruesome image, it has disappeared. The story then leads the reader into the confusing maze that is Connie’s life to try to determine why things seem so disorienting. This is the sixth book written by Sophie Hannah – though the first we have read and reviewed on The Book Jam – that features the detectives Zailer and Waterhouse. If you haven’t read the previous stories, their relationships might be a tad bit confusing. Nevertheless, this is a mystery worth reading for a mind bending trip to answer the questions “Is Connie Bowskill crazy?” and “What really happened in that house?”  ~Lisa Cadow

9780143121565The Confidanby Helene Gremillon (2012). Set in Paris in 1975 but exploring the events in a small French town at the onset of World War II,  this is an excellent piece of  historical literary fiction that reads like a psychological thriller. When Camille’s mother dies in an accident, condolence letters start pouring in. One, however, arrives from a man named Louis written on thick white paper, smelling slightly of tea, and is seemingly misaddressed, as Camille doesn’t know anyone by that name. This letter, and the ones that follow faithfully each week in installments, tells the story of Louis and Annie’s intense first love and the complicated relationships and tragedies that surround it. But why is someone sharing it with Camille? What is the connection to her life and family? “The Confidant” was a bestseller in France in 2010 and was translated by Alison Anderson, the same woman who masterfully delivered readers “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”.  ~Lisa Cadow

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