Monday, March 24, 2014

March Madness

Yes, it's that time of year. A time when New Year's resolutions, despite everyone's best intentions, begin their inevitable march into madness. (i.e.: my intention to NOT fall behind on my blog posts.) So, in honor of my very own March Madness, here's a different kind of bracket for you...

The Two Mrs. Abbotts vs. The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton

D. E. Stevenson is one of my favorite authors, and she doesn't disappoint with The Two Mrs. Abbotts. The third in the charming Miss Buncle trilogy, Barbara Buncle Abbott is now the mother of two young children, and she is finding it hard to concentrate on much else. Luckily, her niece Jerry, (the other Mrs. Abbott), is the perfect partner-in-crime, and between the two of them romance is nurtured and thwarted, families are reunited and German spies are flushed out. It is a perfect time capsule of WWII in a quaint English village.

The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton by Elizabeth Speller cannot be called charming, but it is definitely riveting. This is the author's second "Laurence Bartram Mystery", again set in post WWI England. While researching the unique architecture of the manor and church of Easton Deadall, Laurence finds himself drawn into the mysterious 1911 disappearance of five-year-old Kitty Easton. One night she simply vanished from her bed, no body was ever found, and this limbo of unanswered questions has haunted the Easton family ever since. Everyone has a theory, but will Laurence be able to "dig up" the solution? You'll have to read to find out!

RESULT: I can't pick a winner between these two. It's a tie.

The Baker Street Translation vs. Moriarty Returns a Letter

I am a fan of anything Sherlockian, so this is going to be a hard one.  Both of these books are by Michael Robertson, who started this clever series with The Brothers of Baker Street, followed by The Baker Street Letters. Here is the premise:  When brothers Reggie and Nigel Heath move their law offices to 221-B Baker Street in London, they don't realize the implications of a small provision of the lease. Namely, that they are obligated to answer any and all letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes. Yes, people all over the world seem to believe that he is real and still alive. Reggie finds the letters an absolute nuisance, but Nigel finds them fascinating and takes it upon himself to delve deeper into certain mysteries, inevitably involving his brother in all sorts of trouble. What else is a brother for?! In The Baker Street Translation, Reggie reluctantly finds himself tracking down a terrorist in the London sewers, rescuing his rival for the affection of the beautiful Laura Rankin in the process. In Moriarty Returns a Letter, Reggie and Laura are supposed to be on a leisurely drive to her aunt's country manor, but nefarious villains are found around every twisty turn in the country road. Oh, and Moriarty really does make an appearance. Sort of.

RESULT: Postponed due to indecision on blogger's part.  Blogger is a wimp.

Takedown Twenty vs. A Secret Gift

Janet Evanovich never fails to delight, and she has done it again with Takedown Twenty. Stephanie Plum is in big trouble. Her boss is demanding that she bring in local mobster "Uncle Sunny" Sunucchi, or the bail bonds office will lose a passel of dough. The problem is that almost everyone in Trenton, NJ loves Uncle Sunny, and they're more than willing to hide him from the law. This includes Stephanie's almost-fiance Joe Morelli's scary grandmother Bella, who is just waiting for an excuse to throw a curse Stephanie's way. Meanwhile, little old ladies are turning up dead in dumpsters, a giraffe is on the loose in the neighborhood, and Grandma Mazur has a new beau. What else can go wrong? Plenty, and it's a ton of fun as always!

A Secret Gift by Ted Gup is as different from Takedown Twenty as you can get. It's a true story about the author's grandfather, a story he did not uncover until 28 years after his grandfather's death. It was Christmas of 1933 in Canton, Ohio. The depression hit Canton hard, and by 1933 people were desperate. A small ad in the local paper offered an anonymous gift of $10 to seventy-five distressed families. All they needed to do was write an account of their circumstances to Mr. B. Virdot, who promised complete anonymity on both sides. This secret benefactor received so many replies, that he decided to give $5 to 150 families. This was still a generous amount of money for 1933. No one ever knew who B. Virdot was, and his gift was forgotten until Ted Gup's mother gave him an old suitcase. It contained the letters from the 150 families, and many thank you notes for the $5 checks. Yes, B. Virdot was Ted Gup's grandfather. Ted just happens to be an investigative journalist, so he set out to investigate this amazing gift of his grandfather's, and in doing so discovered his own family's long lost secrets.  

RESULT: Although I loved A Secret Gift, I have to give this one to Takedown Twenty.  No matter how you spin it, the Depression is depressing. This was probably an unfair matchup, but that's the way March Madness goes! (Go Arizona!!) TBC


  1. For the record, blogger is not a wimp! But you did make me laugh with that comment. Another great group of books to look into.