Monthly Archives: July 2013

Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Arruda

Mark of the Lion

When Jade del Cameron is unable to save a dying friend she becomes determined to fulfill his dying request. She goes to Africa to find her friend’s missing brother and the truth behind a man’s death. The quest goes from hard to dangerous when she runs afoul of an evil and powerful enemy. It will take all the determination and intelligence that got her through the war to survive let alone fulfill her quest…

Jade draws the reader by being fiery, just and choosing to be fearless. The cast of supporting characters also makes this book an entertaining read: the attention grabbing Henry, the naïve but helpful Thompsons and others. The atmosphere of the story is another reason to choose this mystery. The British and native African characters give a look how life might have been in Africa after World War I. Africa itself is very well described: vibrant, beautiful, stark and dangerous. The plot engages the mind by having clues in plain sight which challenges the reader to correctly solve the mystery. Mark of the Lion is a good read for its determined heroine, look at World War I and Africa and the challenge of a puzzle potentially involving the supernatural.

Interested in books sharing elements of Mark of the Lion?

Gary Gabelhouse’s Dreams of the N’dorobo is another mystery with a supernatural component taking place in East Africa.

Tony Hillerman’s Skinwalkers also features a strong sense of place, in this case the U.S. Southwest, and a villain calling on the supernatural to cause murder.

Mark of the Lion takes place in East Africa. Books like Robert M. Maxon’s East Africa: An Introductory History provide more information on the history before, during and after Jade’s adventures there.

Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs features another heroine who served in the World War I solving mysteries after that conflict.

 

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The Hunt for Atlantis by Andy McDermott

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When Nina Wilde discovers a probable location for Atlantis she is targeted for death by a murderous brotherhood. To save Atlantis, and herself, she will have to face down killers, pass ancient tests and go on a dangerous quest across the globe. If she finds Atlantis the secrets it contains might change the world forever…

The Hunt for Atlantis features a fast moving and action packed plot. If you want to travel across the globe and face various dangers including an explosive train chase and a perilous fight on an airplane this is a good choice. The action is supplemented by touching on the atmospheres of various locales: cultured Paris, a humid Brazilian rainforest, beautiful but isolated Tibet and others. The reader’s attention is further kept by the duo of Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase. Academic Wilde doesn’t let inexperience keep her from adventure and bodyguard Chase interjects wisecracking humor. The Hunt for Atlantis is a good read for its fast moving plot, globe-trotting atmosphere and fun characters.

In a mood for The Hunt for Atlantis?

Atlantis by David Gibbins also features heroes battling a ruthless villain who has his own reasons for wanting the secrets of Atlantis…

The Atlantis Prophecy is another fast paced story involving the hunt for Atlantis and consequences for the present…

Want to learn more about Atlantis? Check out books like Imagining Atlantis by Richard Ellis.

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Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

Nine Coaches Waiting

Linda Martin leaps at the chance to return to her beloved France as governess to heir to an estate. She arrives to find the leader of the household has a dark side, the heir is afraid of him and that the son of the household is all too appealing. When dangerous events occur she might be all that stands between the heir and death…

Nine Coaches Waiting reads like a Gothic Romance in a more recent time. There is the remote house, frightening leader of the house -he should not be called master for the household truly belongs to the heir- and sinister undercurrents which suggest dangerous events are going to occur. The plot makes the reader wonder who can be trusted and if Linda will be able to save the heir and herself from ruin. Linda’s relationship with the beguiling Raoul adds romance into the mix and further keeps the reader turning the pages. Stewart’s way with words enhances suspense, or romance, while making the reader also want to savor some of her phrases. For instance,

If any other creature moved in the forest that night, we never saw it. The only eyes that glittered at us were the stars, and the million drops of stardew that shivered on the fallen boughs. The breeze was failing, and in its pauses the breaking of the dead stuff under our feet sounded like thunder. I found myself, absurdly, with a quick over-the-shoulder glance at Leon de Valmy’s remote little light, trying to tread more softly, and eying in some dread the gaunt black shadows that the moon flung streaming behind us down the open ride (234).

Nine Coaches is worth reading for its foreboding but also beautiful atmosphere, Stewart’s skill with language and suspenseful plot with a dash of romance.

Want more reads like Nine Coaches Waiting?

Linda makes allusions to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre also features a governess drawn into a household with secrets. Linda’s first meeting with Raoul reads like Jane’s first meeting with Rochester: put a Cadillac in instead of a horse and it’s very similar. Like Linda, Jane encounters secrets, struggles with inter-class romance and risks her happiness for what is right.

Susan Howatch’s The Shrouded Walls also features a heroine who must discover if someone she shares a home with could be a murderer. In this case her new husband…

Phillis A. Whitney’s Window on the Square also features a governess who must discover if there is a threat against the child she has been brought in to care for while figuring out who she can trust…

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Canapes for the Kitties by Marian Babson

Canapes for the Kitties

Lucinda Lucas and her two cats have joined the mystery writer community in the village of Brimful Coffers. Unfortunately, their peace is disrupted when writers feud and accidents upgrade to murder. With suspects among her colleagues, and hints her fictional characters might be to blame, it will take all the efforts of Lucinda, her cats and her friends to make it to the last page…

Any mystery needs a good plot to be worth reading and this one meets that criteria. The questioning if her characters could be real, the reasoning behind the events and escalating tension of what will happen next kept my interest. Where this book also shines is in the characters. Lucinda’s dissatisfaction with her characters, exasperated but kind responses to social situations and bond with her allies -human and feline- make her worth going through a mystery with. Her human allies also keep attention: they are different from each other but mesh well together. I also liked how she presented the cats. The descriptions of them wanting food, bringing presents and being affectionate was cute. For dog lovers, one of Lucinda’s sometime allies has a pair of dogs which is also endearing. This book is a good pick for those who love writers and/or cats and want a fast paced mystery which also has an element of coziness.

Want other books with similar elements to Canapes for the Kitties?

Lillian Jackson Braun’s Cat Who series could be a good choice for those wanting to spend time with cats who take part in mysteries. Some of Koko’s actions make him seem to be almost a co-detective helping his caretaker Qwilleran to solve the various mysteries which pop up in the community of Moose County….

Intrigued by the idea of fictional characters being able to interact with the real world (and vice versa)? Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series features a woman from the real world who interacts with characters from Miss Havisham from Dickens to an evil emperor from science fiction (think Emperor Zurg from Toy Story to a certain extent). Here is my entry on another blog about the first book in the series.

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Shane by Jack Schaefer

Shane

Young Bob Starrett’s life is changed forever when he meets the mysterious Shane. When Bob’s homesteader father and others are threatened by a rancher it is Shane who risks the most. Bob will learn lessons about loyalty and when to stand one’s ground that will stay with him forever…

Shane captures the feel of a time when law is in flux: when land belongs to whoever can keep it. Cow baron Fletcher’s greed runs up against the determination of homesteaders who want lives for themselves. The reader is sympathetic to the homesteaders: young Bob, his wise and compassionate father and Bob’s genteel mother. The mysterious Shane captures the reader’s attention with his fierce but hidden energy, regret and loyalty to Bob’s family. Shane’s actions leave young Bob and the reader with thoughts about when to fight, when to stand down and when to leave. Shane is a good read for those wanting a multi-layered hero and a look at the West.

Want more like Shane?

There was a movie made in 1953.

Ralph Compton’s The Omaha Trail also someone trying to make their life in the West, but coming up a powerful foe who uses rough tactics. Here, it is a rancher who wants to own his ranch but a banker prefers otherwise…

Louis L’Amour’s Flint also features a man with a past who, like Shane, becomes involved a local conflict. In this case, a dying gunslinger and financier who wants to do some good before he dies…

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