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Nancy's Notes - August 13, 2015

"The Novel Habits of Happiness" by Alexander McCall Smith, “Brush Back” by Sara Paretsky, “The Hand That Feeds You” by A.J. Rich.


         It’s been a busy summer but it is quickly coming to an end. If you’ve been busy traveling or running after the kids this may be a great time to come in and get a book and relax for a few minutes. The following three books might be of interest to you.
        Alexander McCall Smith, author of the popular Ladies No. 1 Detective agency series, has now written number 10 in his Isabel Dalhousie series. Edinburgh philosopher and amateur sleuth Isabel Dalhousie returns, taking on a case unlike any she’s had before. This one has paranormal implications.   Isabel is introduced to a six-year-old boy who has been experiencing vivid recollections of a past life, which include a perfect description of an island off the coast of Scotland and a house on the island where he claims to have lived. When the boy’s mother asks Isabel to investigate, Isabel feels inclined to help, and so she, her husband, Jamie, and their son, Charlie, set off for the island. To their surprise, they actually locate the house that the boy described, which leads to more complicated questions, as Isabel’s desire to find rational explanations comes up against the mystery unfolding before her.
        Sara Paretsky’s, “Brush Back”, is another of her A.V. I. Warshawski novels.   Warshawski finds herself in a fight with Chicago political bosses when she responds to Frank Guzzo’s plea for help. For six weeks back in high school, V.I. thought she was in love with Frank. He broke up with her, she went off to college, he started driving trucks for Bagby Haulage. She forgot about him until the day his mother was convicted of bludgeoning his kid sister, Annie, to death. Stella Guzzo did twenty-five years in jail for her daughter’s murder. Newly released from prison, Stella is looking for exoneration, so Frank asks V.I. for help. She hesitates to get involved. Stella hated the Warshawskis, in particular V.I.’s mother, Gabriella. But life has been hard on Frank so V.I. agrees to ask a few questions. Those questions lead her straight into the nest of Illinois politics she’s wanted to avoid.
        If you like suspense, “The Hand That Feeds You”, by A.J. Rich, might be the ticket.   Morgan Prager, at age thirty, is completing her thesis on victim psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. She is newly engaged to Bennett. She returns from class one day to find Bennett mauled to death, and her dogs, a Great Pyrenees and two pit bulls she has rescued, covered in blood. Devastated that her dogs could have committed such violence, she worries that she might suffer from one of the syndromes she studies: pathological altruism, when selfless acts do more damage than good. When Morgan tries to locate Bennett’s parents to tell them about their son’s death, she discovers he was not the man he said he was. Everything he has told her, where he was born as well as where he lives and works, was a lie.
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