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Archive for January, 2020

Mystery Monday Review – The Case of the Buried Clock

Monday, January 20th, 2020

The Case of the Buried Clock by Erle Stanley Gardner

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

In the 22nd novel starring the lawyer with super-powers and his trusty sidekicks Della Street and Paul Drake, Gardner shows that he’d mastered his way with punchy dialogue. Plenty of clues make the plot elaborate but not bewilderingly complicated: a clock set to sidereal time; the “truth serum” scopolamine in the vic’s body; an uncertain time of death; and finally Gardner’s trusty old “two revolvers” confusion.

The Mason novels that Gardner published during WWII make passing references to war-time culture, such as blackouts, tire rationing, frugality with gasoline, and internment of Japanese-Americans (it was California, after all).

Also, readers who’ve read many of his novels will recall that Gardner tended to look at reality with no illusions. For instance, in this one Gardner tweaks home-front pieties when the returning veteran says that instead of giving a “flag-waving” speech at a luncheon, he bluntly told them that winning the war was going to take a lot of hard work and that the US could be defeated in the conflict. Even more shockingly, Mason bluntly asserts that there are no ethics when dealing with the police.

Perry Mason fans regard this 1942 mystery as one of their favorites. The plot is crystal clear, and for once, he plays fair with the reader, laying out all the clues.

 

 

 

Fiction Review- Your Perfect Year

Friday, January 17th, 2020

Your Perfect Year: A Novel

Your Perfect Year by Charlotte Lucas (translated by Alison Layland)

Review by Mirah W (mwelday)

I recently received news that would impact my career and I was feeling a bit discombobulated. It wasn’t news I was wanting, and I found myself going through the stages of grief over the change…and not necessarily in the correct order. I was angry one day, in denial the next, just all over the place.  I went to find a book that I thought could give me a new perspective on things.  I found Your Perfect Year.

A bestseller in Germany, Your Perfect Year is about how we can get so stuck in our routines and expectations that we fail to see what is happening around us.  Jonathan has been living a regimented existence without any joy. Hannah has been thrown for a loop with her boyfriend’s recent decisions.

One day during a punctual and structured outing, Jonathan finds a daily planner complete with activities for every day of the next year.  Why was this diary left for him?  And how can a diary written for someone else really make a difference to him?  Jonathan tries to find the real owner of the diary but when he finally admits to himself that maybe he needs some change in his own life, he decides to embark on a new life using this diary as a guide.

I am giving Your Perfect Year 3 out of 5 stars for ‘I liked it’. I found the characters a bit difficult to connect with, but the storyline was a good one. I am not sure how much of my lack of ‘spark’ was a translation issue (originally written in German) or a story/character development one, but I still liked the book and the overall theme.  Sometimes life deals us uncertainty and confusion and how we react can truly change our lives. This was the message I needed during my own time of confusion and frustration with the changes being thrown my way. If you’re in the same boat, go on this adventure with Jonathan and see the difference an open mind can make.

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction Review – Leaving Time

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

Leaving Time: A Novel

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

I have long been a fan of Jodi Picoult. Her take on current social and ethical dilemmas make for heartbreaking and heartwarming fiction. I recently read Leaving Time and I was, once again, struck by Picoult’s ability to create a story that captivated me.

Jenna has been searching for her mother Alice for years. Alice was an elephant researcher and disappeared in the wake of a tragic and mysterious event at the elephant sanctuary where she worked. Jenna joins online chat groups and forums and searches Alice’s journals for any clues to explain her disappearance. Jenna refuses to believe her mother would abandon her without a word.

On Jenna’s journey for the truth she joins forces with two others: Serenity, a psychic, and Virgil, a private detective. The three of them slowly pull back the layers of family drama that led to the tragic event leading to Alice’s disappearance. But in true Picoult form, when the truth is revealed I was left stunned with the outcome and precision and depth of the story.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Picoult novel and this was just the right one to reintroduce me to one of my favorite writers. Complex relationships and grief impact each of the characters in compelling ways and I found Leaving Time a truly enjoyable read. I give Leaving Time 5 out of 5 stars for heart, emotion, and imaginative story-line.