Secrets of Shakespeare’s Grave, Deron R. Hicks
Colophon Letterford, age 12, overhears a conversation about a mysterious family treasure, and sets off to find it and (she hopes) save her family’s publishing business. With her eccentric cousin Julian, she visits the church where Shakespeare is buried, trying to tease out the Bard’s connection to her ancestors. This is Hicks’ first novel and the writing is a little clunky, but the (enjoyably bookish) plot has potential and I’m curious to see where he takes this middle-grade series.
A Letter of Mary, Laurie R. King
Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell team up again, trying to find out who killed a friend of theirs, just after she left an old and possibly valuable piece of papyrus in their keeping. The writing and plotting in this series are brilliant, and this book explores the potential for flare-ups in the church over newly discovered documents. (More relevant than King could have known, writing in the mid-90s.) It also includes a gorgeous paean to Oxford.
The Hound of the Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are called to Devonshire to investigate the death of a baronet, ostensibly caused by the sight of a huge, demonic hound and a family curse. This was my first genuine Conan Doyle and it was great fun: well plotted, darkly evocative, wryly witty. I’ll be reading more of the originals as I continue spending time with Holmes and Russell.
I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory, Patricia Hampl
This book of essays was a mixed bag. Some of them (including the title one) contain lovely, lucid images and musings on writing memoir. I was also fascinated by Hampl’s experience reviewing a “definitive edition” of Anne Frank’s diary, and the essay on how Augustine invented autobiography. But some of the other essays were rather dull and tangential. Still worth reading.
The Moor, Laurie R. King
Holmes and Russell return to the terrain of Baskervilles (see above) to investigate strange happenings on the moor. The action ratchets up slowly; King carefully builds up the gray, moody setting (and Mary’s reaction to it). The death of a wandering moor man, plus sightings of a carriage allegedly made of bones and (of course) a supposedly demonic hound form an interesting case for the pair. Not my favorite in the series, but still evocative and fascinating.
Sapphire Blue, Kerstin Gier
I loved this sequel to Ruby Red, following the further adventures (and feuds) of a secret circle of 12 time travelers in London. Gwyneth Shepherd, a modern-day teenager who just discovered she carries the time-traveling gene, is still trying to figure out how to manage her new life (and a handsome, moody time-traveling boy). Gier piles on the details concerning time travel and the Circle, which can be a bit confusing, but the plot is intriguing and Gwen’s voice is fresh and fun. I also enjoyed the talking gargoyle ghost and a few bits of clever wordplay. (I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, but I was not compensated for this review.)
What are you reading lately?
This post contains IndieBound affiliate links.