In Northern Spy, Tessa – a producer for the BBC – claims to be largely non-political. Like everyone living and working in Northern Ireland she is impacted by conflict between Irish republicans and British loyalists, but she herself has never been involved. Then one day she looks up to see news footage of her sister Marian pulling a ski mask over her head and participating in an armed robbery. Tessa insists her sister must have been kidnapped or coerced into participating in the heist, but eventually comes to realize the sister she thought she knew so well has been secretly working for the IRA for years. When Marian tells her she may have a path for peace Tessa has to decide where her loyalties lie and how far she will go protect everything that is dear to her. This book is a fast read. The chapters are short and the plot moves quickly. This is a great read for anyone who likes mysteries and political thrillers.
Say Nothing is also about two sisters, Dolours and Marian Price. While the fictional Tessa and Marian in Berry’s book were not raised to be political, the real Price sisters were raised in a well-known republican family. Marian and Dolours were participants in several high profile bombings in the UK in the 1970’s. Both sisters spent time in jail, both were subjected to force feedings when they tried to go on hunger strikes, and both received widespread press coverage. Keefe’s investigation also turned up audio recordings, interviews Dolours Price gave to oral historians at Boston College that seem to implicate one or both sisters in the murder of Jean McConville, a single mother of ten children in 1974. Keefe’s book is wonderful at examining 400 years of conflict through the lens of a handful of IRA members and one murder. There’s a surprise twist at the end that is guaranteed to leave you with goosebumps. Say Nothing is perfect for fans of Erik Larson who want a fast-paced, well researched look at the ongoing struggle in Northern Ireland.
I recently finished a collection of stories by the Swedish author Helene Tursten called An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good. The book contains five short stories about a the life of a very elderly matron, Maud, and how she deals with people who step into her sphere. These stories got my attention with their dark humor, mystery, and insight into how other cultures look at life (and murder) in a more raw and crude manner.
The first story, An Elderly Lady Has Accommodation Problems, introduces Maud in her apartment when a young art graduate. Jasmin is seeking to take over Maud’s apartment because of its roomier size and prettier view of the skyline. When Maud gets sense of the young lady becoming too friendly, things begin to change. After multiple visits to see Maud and her dwelling, Jasmin invites Maud to come look at her apartment decorated with phalluses in multiple shapes and sizes. Read on.
In An Elderly Lady on Her Travels, Maud visits Sardinia to unwind and take care of family. While there, she reminisces about various excursions to Cairo and the South Pole. In this one story you come to understand how Maud continues to be the one family member who takes care of others before herself. She even does so through many challenges, such as taking care of her mentally ill sister.
Other tales include a tale of Christmastime in Sweden with a twist of mystery when she hears loud voices next door and learns of an “accident” to her neighbor. Maud senses there is a bigger story behind the accident than what was told and is determined to get to the real truth.
Do you like reading Mysteries? Do enjoy discussing what you’ve read but can’t find anyone to discuss them with? Then come to the Mystery Book Discussion Group at the Main Library where we discuss a different mystery every month.
We meet on the third Tuesday of the month from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm in the Boardroom on the second floor of the North Building.
Dates and selections for the first six months of 2019 are:
What would you do if you discovered a skull while working in your garden? Well, that’s what happens to Julie Hamill in The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen. Finding that skull causes a whole of drama for Julie when the forensic team finds the rest of the skeleton. But there’s good news the skeleton according to the forensic anthropologist has been there for at least two hundred years; meaning Julie garden and yard isn’t a crime scene. However, this discovery leads Julie on a quest to find a relative of the previous owner. Once she meets him she gets sucked into trying to solve a two-hundred-year-old mystery surrounding her house and the family of the previous owner.
What Julie discovers leads her to another mystery in 1830’s Boston, this time a series of murders. When Irish immigrant Rose Connolly witnesses a murder not realizing that it is tied to her own sister’s death in childbirth. That seems eerily like Jack the Ripper has crossed the Atlantic. A group of medical students including Oliver Wendell Holmes and the fictional Norris Marshall realizes that Rose could be the next victim, Norris does everything he can to protect her. After “meeting” Rose Julie is determined to find out what happened to her as well as solving the mystery of the skeleton in the garden.
Tess Gerritsen does an awesome balancing both mysteries the murders in the 1830’s and the mystery of the skeleton and the house in the present. Each mystery is given the right amount of book time, and unlike other novels, with dual time periods, The Bone Garden doesn’t switch time periods with every chapter. They switch when the narrative needs the switch and it just flows into the next time period. She blends the historical characters such as Oliver Wendell Holmes in with fictional characters allowing them to co-exist in a fictional mystery.
Fans of Tess’s other books – as well as fans of the history, science, and mysteries in general – will enjoy this tale.
Formats Available: Regular Type, Large Type, Paperback, Audiobook, eBook