Monday, December 22, 2014

Paw and Order (Mystery Novel)

When I fall in love with a series, I am disappointed when I finish a book in it and say that “I liked it a lot.” I expected more from Spencer Quinn’s Paw and Order, the seventh book in the Chet and Bernie Series. (See my reactions to The Sound and the FurryA Fistful of CollarsThe Dog Who Knew Too Much and To Fetch a Thief.)  I enjoyed the fact that the novel branched out from the earlier books. The setting is Washington D.C., and the mystery to be solved involves politics and has some international intrigue. I liked that the climax of the plot did not follow the same formula as some of the earlier books. I’m glad that Quinn turned his attention to the relationship between Suzy and Bernie. Some of my favorite moments were when Chet professes his love for Suzy, but at the same time resents giving up the “shotgun seat.”

What I did not like about Paw and Order is that it did not totally feel like a Chet and Bernie book. (I will allow that the year since I read the last novel may have clouded my memory a bit.) Chet is not an integral part of solving the mystery. While the story is told from his point of view, I felt that it could have happened without him. And, the story contained too many instances where Chet is hyper and Bernie tells him to calm down. While Bernie has always been a very macho character, he seemed much more violent than I remembered him. He has been known to have a soft side, but it didn’t seem to come out until almost the end of the novel.

I’m not giving up on Chet and Bernie (and Suzy). Paw and Order was still a good story. But, my anticipation for the next novel is not as high as it has been in the past.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café (Mystery Novel)

Kindness. What are books in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Series by Alexander McCall Smith about? Why have I read all fifteen books in the series and look forward to reading more? Kindness. In my darkest moments, I need to know that there is kindness in the world. When I am tempted to act sarcastically or snap at someone, I need to be reminded to take a deep, deep breath and to do my very best to be kind. The books in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Series remind me to do just that. The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café, the latest novel, continues on the path of kindness.

The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café is really Grace Matekoni’s novel. While Precious Ramotswe remains the main character, Grace is the one who truly grows in the novel. She decides to open a Café that caters to “handsome men,” which reveals so much about her character. She ignores the warning of her shoes, which almost ends in disaster. But the real story is the kindnesses that Grace bestows to the every wayward Charlie and to the daughter of a man working on the café. After fifteen novels, Grace faces her 97% and acts with incredible poise and generosity. (The moment was so beautiful that I was almost in tears.) Grace must also swallow her pride and take the help offered her by a woman who has irritated her in the past.

Yes, Precious has a mystery. She takes on a case where the client claims that an unknown woman, who has no memory of who she is, appeared at his door. He asks Precious to uncover her identity. In the meantime, Precious and her husband try to do what is best for Charlie.

A few weeks ago, in response to some pictures and links that Alexander McCall Smith posted on his Facebook page, I thought “I would love a t-shirt that reads ‘My favorite author wears a skirt’ (kilt).” Maybe those of us who are fans need to wear pins shaped like kilts to signify that we do our best, day by day, to be kind.  In truth, AMS somehow wraps up kindness and finds a way of putting it in a novel.