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portsmouth book & bar

Strong Poison, Dorothy L. Sayers
My Harriet Vane kick continues. This book introduces Harriet – on trial for poisoning her lover – and begins Lord Peter Wimsey’s quest to get her acquitted and make her his wife. Since Harriet is in prison for most of the book, she plays a much more minor role than I remembered. But I loved watching Peter (and his elderly accomplice, Miss Climpson) solve the mystery. They figured out whodunit quickly, but the why and the how are more interesting and complicated.

Owls in the Family, Farley Mowat
A fun, topsy-turvy story of one boy’s life in Saskatoon, on the Canadian prairie, and the high jinks that result when he adopts two owls (christened Wol and Weeps). Recommended by a Canadian friend and picked up at the charming Argo Bookshop in Montreal.

The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Margot Livesey
Orphaned and unloved after the death of her uncle, Gemma Hardy (born in Iceland but living in Scotland) must learn to make her own way in an unfriendly world. A beautifully written homage to Jane Eyre, Gemma’s story follows some of Jane’s: a stint at a miserable school, a position as a governess (this time on the Orkney Islands), a love affair with an older man. Like Jane, Gemma refuses marriage, but there her story turns off the path – toward her Icelandic roots. I wanted more of Iceland, but I loved Gemma’s fierce yet vulnerable voice and followed her adventures with great interest.

Whose Body?, Dorothy L. Sayers
After a brilliant book club discussion about Gaudy Night, I went back to the beginning – this book marks Lord Peter’s first appearance. A body is found in a London bathtub; in the same week, a wealthy financier disappears. Are the crimes connected? (Of course they are.) Wimsey and his policeman friend Parker investigate. Fun, light and elegant – with an interesting glimpse into Lord Peter’s experiences in World War I and their aftermath.

United We Spy, Ally Carter
I tore through this sixth (and sadly final) installment in Carter’s Gallagher Girls series, which I love. Cammie Morgan, her boyfriend Zach and her band of loyal friends (and spies) must rescue a friend from prison, track down the leaders of the secret society who are hunting them, and dodge Zach’s mother, a former Gallagher Girl who is out for vengeance. Fast-paced and mostly satisfying, with a sweet happy ending. (Though I hoped for a little more self-awareness from the narrator and a bit more resolution for her on life after graduation.) Carter’s books are so much fun.

The Sound and the Furry, Spencer Quinn
Bernie Little, PI, and his canine partner, Chet (who narrates), head down to Louisiana to track down a missing man. Down on the bayou, they find family feuds, stolen shrimp, a gang from Houston and a massive alligator who’s always hungry. Told in Chet’s trademark style, this is a tricky little case in a new and different setting for our team. I love Chet’s voice and it was so much fun to hang out with him again.

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