In keeping with my new minted tradition (second posting like this, first one is here) I come to you with a report on how the Lakeview Mystery Book Group's recent discussions have gone.
In April we read The Late Show by Michael Connelly. You may know Connelly as the author of the Harry Bosch series or perhaps the Micky Haller series or perhaps the Bosch/Haller series. Bosch and Haller are absent in this first with a new character. Instead we meet Renee Ballard, a detective in Hollywood who's been sidelined to the night shift because of a sexual harassment complaint she brought against a former supervisor. Now any case she gets has to be handed over to the day shift detectives. So she's effectively spinning her wheels night after night. Until she catches a case she just can't give up. She's determined to help a prostitute who was beaten and left for dead as she fears the case will quickly go cold if left to her daytime colleagues. Renee is a great new addition to Connelly's LA cast of characters, she's tough and smart and interesting. Our group had a good discussion about the personal boundaries we all set and when it's okay to cross them in pursuit of a good end.
In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen was our May title. Bowen, like Connelly, has a number of mystery series, but In Farleigh Field is a standalone historical set during WWII (mostly) in a rural village in England. Farleigh Place is the ancestral home of the Earl of Westerham and his wife and four daughters all of whom are struggling in one way or another due to the privations of war. Although each of the daughters has a part in the story, the focus is primarily on middle daughter Pamela who has gone to work at Bletchley Park where she's doing far more for the war effort than she can tell her family. When she discovers that there is a plot in the works to perhaps derail the government's efforts, she pairs up with her childhood friend Ben Cresswell to save the day. This one, while enjoyed by the majority of us, was a bit more spy caper/historical fiction then crime thriller, though it did allow us to delve into some "what would you do" discussion about some of the character's choices.
For June we just discussed The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne last week and I think I can safely say this has been our favorite of the year, both in how much we liked the book and how well it worked for a discussion. Helena Pelletier has a good marriage, two young daughters she loves and a nice, quiet life in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. But that's her life now. It's not at all how her life started. You see, Helena is the daughter of a man who kidnaped a teenage girl and kept her captive for almost twenty years. Helena was born of that captor/captive relationship and for the first twelve years of her life she lived with her father and mother in a remote marsh away from all other civilization. When her father escapes from prison, Helena is torn. She loved her father as a child but as an adult she understands what a bad, bad person he is. Can she let it be? Or will her father come back for her and her family? There's a lot to unpack in this novel and I think it would work as a great choice for any book group.
Up next for us is a classic, Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time. I'll let you know how it goes in a few months.