Thursday, January 26, 2012

Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

'It was the coldest winter for forty-five years.  Villages in the English countryside were cut off by the snow and the Thames froze over.  One day in January the Glasgow-London train arrived at Euston twenty-four hours late.  The snow and the blackout combined to make motoring perilous;  road accidents doubled, and people told jokes about how it was more risky to drive an Austin Seven along Piccadilly at night than to take a tank across the Siegfried line.'
First paragraph of Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

It's funny that I usually don't care for spy novels, but I have really liked every Ken Follett book I have ever read and this one was no exception. Set during the last days of WW II, Die Nadel was Germany's top spy. The Needle was living in England under numerous identities while ferreting out all the British secrets he could. When he uncovers the biggest secret of all, the one that will make all of the difference in Germany winning the war, he must get this secret intelligence back to Hitler.

David and Lucy Rose were in a terrible accident the night of their wedding that ended David's career as an Army pilot and severed both of his legs. David and Lucy went to live on a remote Scottish island where David's dad owned a house and sheep farm, the only other inhabitant being Old Tom, the sheepherder.

These four lives intertwine in passion, treachery and absolute bravado. You will fall in love with Lucy Rose and will find yourself turning pages late into the night. Wonderful!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

An Absence So Great - Jane Kirkpatrick

An Absence So Great (Portraits of the Heart, #2)An Absence So Great by Jane Kirkpatrick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'A photograph, like life, often reveals as much about who's absent as who's there.'
~First paragraph of An Absence So Great by Jane Kirkpatrick

Another wonderful book by one of my favorite authors! An Absence So Great carries on where A Flickering Light left off in the life of Jane's grandmother, Jessie Gaebele. Jessie is now eighteen and living and working in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has gone away from her family and hometown of Winona, Minnesota as a punishment to herself for the longing of a married, much older man; her boss and mentor Fred J. Bauer. In Milwaukee, Jessie is working for Suzanne Johnson, a woman who has lost her husband so is now running his photography studio. She is living with the Harms family who are actually relatives of Mr. Bauer and in the course of time it comes out that Mr. Bauer is paying them for Jessie's room and board. She does not at all want this support, so begins to take photographs at the local dances in order to tuck away enough money to pay Mr. Bauer back and be once again out of his debt. When word gets to Jessie that one of the studio's in Winona is up for sale, she goes back home only for a short visit to approach the bank manager for a loan to secure the studio. Turned down on the basis that she is a woman, Jessie instead goes to work for this same studio to prove her abilities to the owner. She does so and the banker has a change of heart and gives her the loan. But all is well only for awhile and circumstances have Jessie once again leaving her family and hometown for the wide open prairies of North Dakota. Will painful memories ever leave Jessie behind? Will she come to terms with the pullings of her own heart?

Another historical novel beautifully written. Jessie Gaebele will grab your heart.

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Don't I Know You? - Karen Shepard

Don't I Know You?: A NovelDon't I Know You?: A Novel by Karen Shepard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

'August 1976
It was a Tuesday.  Steven's key worked like it always had.  His mother was lying between the living room and the front hall.  He saw her feet first.  They were bare, and at first he thought she was doing her yoga.'
                                First paragraph of Don't I know You? by Karen Shepard

This was a really interesting murder mystery written first from the perspective of the murder victim's 12 year old son, then wrapped around other lives in the neighborhood.

Gina Engel was brutally murdered in her New York City apartment in the summer of 1976. Her son, Stephen, coming home from a day playing with friends, finds his mother's body lying in the hallway of their home. Could the murderer have been Gina's current boyfriend, Phil; Stephen's abscent father; an ex-boyfriend? It's determined only that it was someone that Gina knew. Stephen caught only a glimpse of a man in green Adidas tennis shoes leaving through an open window. The story stays with Stephen throughtout the first week of the investigation and up until the time when his father comes to take him to San Diego and a whole new life.

Next, two years later with the murder still unsolved, we meet Lily Chin. Lily is engaged to Nick, a wealthy landowner. A strange woman brings it to Lily's attention that her fiance' may have a secret life that was once tangled up with Gina Engel's. Is he a dangerous man or the man that Lily thinks she knows?

Fast forward ten years to the fall of 1988. Louise Carpanetti and her son, Michael, live in the same building that Gina was killed in years ago. Michael is a slow, emotionally-disturbed man who used to water Gina's plants when she was away and had a relationship with her son, Stephen. Louise had recieved a phone call from Gina as she had lain dying. She has always had suspicions that she has kept to herself about her own son. Is it time to come forward?

I thought this book was done quite well, but was left a little disappointed with the ending. All three voices were done well and we got to know the people involved intimately, but the very last chapter that held the answer was too short and lacked the depth of the rest of the novel. I felt that it ended very abruptly.

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