Book Review: A Bouquet of Rue by Wendy Hornsby

A Bouquet of Rue
A Maggie MacGowen Mystery #12
Wendy Hornsby
Perseverance Press, April 2019
ISBN 978-1564746078
Trade Paperback

If you’ve never been to France, Hornsby’s A Bouquet of Rue will prove a good substitute to getting a passport. Maggie MacGowen, a documentary filmmaker, has joined her fiancé, Jean-Paul Bernard, to prepare for their wedding, as well as make films for a French TV company. Maggie has contacts and family in France, so she is not without means, and Jean-Paul is an important person as well. Within a few days of Maggie’s arrival, however, it seems a teenage girl has gone missing, and a Muslim refugee is being not only bullied at school without the girl, Ophelia’s, support, but is being blamed for her disappearance. Maggie and Jean-Paul become involved because their semi-permanent house guest, Dr. Ari Massarani, also a Muslim refugee, teaches Nabi and comes to his defense.

I found most of the book dealt with French customs, their food, their drink, their lifestyles⏤not so very different from their American counterparts. Perhaps they are even more concerned with money⏤or the lack thereof. And  both their family and their national attitudes are maybe more closed than Americans often are. The food and drink parts are a little overwhelming to one for whom food is fuel.

Was there a murder? Yes. Did I care? Not so much. More interesting was the spotlight shown on racial profiling and school bullying, apparently a world-wide problem with no resolution in sight.   But I would say this book takes a good hard look at it. Read, think, and learn.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, July 2019.
Author of Five Days, Five Dead, Hereafter and Hometown Homicide.

Book Review: Stone Cold Dead by James W. Ziskin

Stone Cold Dead ZiskinStone Cold Dead 
An Ellie Stone Mystery #3        
James W. Ziskin
Seventh Street Books
ISBN: 978-1-63388-048-1
Trade Paperback

Ellie Stone is a girl reporter, hanging tenuously to her job on a small town newspaper in upstate New York. Its winter, 1961 and girl reporters are rare and unusual creatures. Ellie Stone is an unusual young woman in the bargain. In her early twenties, she has few scruples about hopping into bed with attractive males, regardless of how involved they might be with her current assignment. She also drinks heavily on occasion.

Her current assignment is to explore the disappearance of a local teen-aged farm girl, Darleen Hicks. Has she been murdered, or run off after disagreements with her parents, teachers at school and a couple of reform school meatheads?

The novel is replete with odd and unusual characters from parents to cops to teachers to colleagues at the newspaper and the narrative is enlivened by conflicts at the newspaper and among other characters. Apparently there’s little to do in the town of New Holland except drink and have sex and squabble. But it is a cold winter and the author makes sure readers are kept aware of it. There are a number of scenes that will stretch readers’ credibility, but idiosyncrasies aside, and in spite of considerable sexist pressure, Ellie struggles on.

I particularly like the way this author handles clues as the investigation proceeds. Some information is discovered, processed and eliminated or stored for later analysis. Other facts seem to jump at one. The variation adds to reader enjoyment. Logical development, slow at times, is always brought eventually to bear on the main plot until we all reach a satisfactory conclusion, if a little too sedately.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, June 2015.
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.