submitted by Georgann
I have thoroughly enjoyed these mild-mannered detective stories from the No. 1 Ladies Detective series, set in the country of Botswana, Africa. The characters are engaging, coming from a world-view different from my own, and a society with a somewhat different set of mores. Still, it is easy to identify with them and a delight to read about their adventures. The characters struggle with a rapidly changing Africa, and with changes that are good and not-so-good. Their cases are interesting, often solved with intuition and plenty of footwork. In Morality for Beautiful Girls, detective Precious Ramotswe investigates an alleged poisoning, and checks the moral character of the four finalists of the Miss Beauty and Integrity Contest.
For me, the best part of the books is the philosophizing, of which there is plenty, for a detective must understand human nature. How often it makes me smile or even laugh out loud. With 10 books in the series, I expect to be entertained for some time!
I always feel a little like Marty McFly when I listen to old-time radio shows on my iPod or computer. Here are several websites that give free downloads and/or streaming of a variety of programs:
Wizzard Radio hosts about 85 different podcasts relating to old Radio Broadcasts including:
Radio Lovers allows listeners to revisit the listening experience of hundreds of vintage radio programs such as western hero Hopalong Cassidy and comedy classic Amos & Andy.
My favorites are the Agatha Christie Radio Mysteries. Unfortunately, the site no longer produces new feeds, but you can still download old episodes from the website.
Those Stimulus dollars are raising the hopes of train-loving Quad-Citians; they are starting to dream of riding the rails to Chicago and Iowa City, and perhaps to even more exotic lands.
Trains are very cinematic and are excellent vehicles (ha!) to further the plot of mysteries and novels. In Falling in Love, DeNiro and Streep meet and, of course, fall in love, on a commuter train. The Station Agent, a great indie film, is about a loner who inherits a train depot. Against his will, he develops friendships with those he meets at his station.
Novels made into films include Michael Crichton’s The Great Train Robbery , John Godey’s The Taking of Pelham 123 and Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train – turned into a wonderfully funny and creepy Hitchcock movie.
Here’s hoping you find love and romance rather than crime, terrorism and murder on your next train ride.
Lounging in the back yard with your pup? Pick up Play Dead by David Rosenfelt to while away the afternoon. Lawyer Andy Carpenter is a smart aleck, with the redeeming quality of his love for dogs (he used a windfall to found the Tara Foundation – named for his golden retriever).
A trend in mysteries is the deployment of pets as an integral part of the plot. There’s long been a tradition of cat mysteries (Lilian Jackson Braun and Rita Mae Brown) and now man’s best friend is catching up. Try The Dog Who Knew Too Much by Carol Lea Benjamin or one of Susan Conant’s many (such as New Leash on Death ). After reading about their crime-solving skills, you may look at your dog with new respect.
Do you like to visit the National Parks? Do you like murder mysteries with a little romance thrown in? Check out the Nevada Barr mysteries. Her heroine is Anna Pigeon, a National Park Service Ranger who runs away from Manhattan after the death of her first husband. Each book deals with a murder in a National Park as Anna moves from post to post. Her descriptions of each park are great, making you want to visit. Flashback takes place in the Dry Tortugas National Park which is seventy miles off Key West. The story includes a current murder as well as the history and lore of the island, which is the site of historic Fort Jefferson. Anna’s sister Molly finds letters written by their great-great aunt who lived at the fort during the Civil War. With the letters providing the history of the fort and Anna’s description of her current posting at the park, you feel you are really there. After I read the book I had the opportunity to visit Key West and take a catamaran trip to Fort Jefferson; Nevada Barr’s vivid descriptions were right on the mark..