Weekend Reads: “The Long-Lost Love Letters of Doc Holliday”

The Long-Lost Love Letters of Doc HollidayThe Long-Lost Love Letters of Doc Holliday by David Corbett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When attorney Lisa Balamaro agrees to help her former client (and current crush) Tuck Mercer ensure that a friend of his gets her unusual inheritance, she’s in for way more than she anticipated.

The inheritance? A set of love letters between Doc Holliday and his cousin Mattie … letters which may or may not be forgeries.

Soon, Lisa’s up to her neck in bad guys … some of whom want the letters themselves, and other who just want to see the letters destroyed. Along the way there are subplots involving immigration, art forgery, and veterans with PTSD who also have a stake in the game.

There are abductions, fist fights, gun fights, and the kind of action most associated with thrillers. While I enjoyed the book for the most part, I found the ending somewhat dissatisfying. Still, it was a worthwhile read.

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Weekend Reads: “A Place of Fog and Murder”

A Place of Fog and MurderA Place of Fog and Murder by T E MacArthur

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ever stay up way too late reading a book, telling yourself “Just one more chapter, and I’ll turn out the light”?

Well, that was me two nights running, because this book is just that good.

Newly-licensed private investigator Lou Tanner is up to her well-dressed neck in a mess. She’s being blackmailed by a government agent, trying to find a missing woman on her very first case … and trying to be taken seriously in the man’s world of 1930s San Francisco.

Author T.E. MacArthur has created an alternate history in this dieselpunk “whodunnit,” with its unexpected forms of public transit, weapons straight out of sci-fi, and characters who would be right at home in a Dashiell Hammett tale. The story-telling is solid, the people are believable, and the mystery is well-managed.

This isn’t quite a fair-play puzzle; you don’t see all of the clues along the way, but the reveal makes sense in the end.

This book is a departure from MacArthur’s previous steampunk tales of Dr. Lettie Gantry and, frankly, it’s a brilliant one. Highly recommended.

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Weekend Reads: “Murder She Knit”

It has been a challenging couple of weeks, my friends. I had the battery replaced in my car yesterday because it was taking a while to start. Hooray for AAA’s roadside assistance, which will bring a battery to your office! Anyway, I got home … and then the car refused to turn over at all. Same AAA guy came out, and between him, my husband, and the neighbor, we determined that the starter has gone out. So, I’ll be arranging a tow this morning.

That’s on top of all the bad news in the world. Plus, I realized that lately I’ve been reading a lot of serious books. I suspect that, like me, you’re ready for something a bit more light-hearted and fun. Hence, this recommendation.

Murder, She KnitMurder, She Knit by Peggy Ehrhart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When things get a little too ugly out in the real world, time and again I find myself turning to cozy mysteries. The good friends, amateur sleuths, and inevitable adorable pet always seem to make me feel a little better.

This time, Pamela’s about to host the knitting club at her home. At the grocery, she runs into one of her late husband’s former colleagues who has just moved to town — and who is a knitter. So, Pamela invites Amy to the meeting that evening. However, Amy never turns up.

It’s because she’s dead, in Pamela’s hedge.

Needless to say, the local police think Pamela is suspect number one. However, she and best friend Bettina are determined to find out who really committed the crime.

One of the things I liked about this book is that the majority of characters are older. They are dealing with relatable issues like grief, empty-nester syndrome, and wondering whether their retirement money is going to stretch. As I get older myself, these are matters that I can sympathize just a little bit more than the issues that trouble a 20-something single woman.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book and am likely to read more in the series.

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Weekend Reads: “Why Smart People Hurt”

Why Smart People Hurt: A Guide for the Bright, the Sensitive, and the CreativeWhy Smart People Hurt: A Guide for the Bright, the Sensitive, and the Creative by Eric Maisel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to be honest; I nearly abandoned this book. Then, about halfway through, it was as though I suddenly grasped what the author had been getting at the entire time.

Author Eric Maisel, whose brilliant The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person’s Path Through Depression was a life changer for me, posits a concept he calls natural psychology. Through this framework, he explains that intelligent, creative people often have crises of meaning. Because their available personality (the one that has developed over time) may cause these crises as a perfectly normal response to awful situations, Maisel has ideas for how to find meaning … or even to choose to be what he calls “meaning neutral” for a time to recharge one’s batteries.

Maisel maintains that the concepts he describes will help people get through challenges by choosing their intent in a given situation. One example he cited hit home; one may develop meaning from a sometimes dreadful job because of the relationship one has with a supervisor. If that supervisor moves on, finding a new way to have meaning — perhaps through volunteerism — will help. I have had enough meaningless jobs with meaningful managers that it made sense.

I have to say that it seems like it would be worth trying, if I’m perfectly honest. I only took off a star because it seemed like the book took a while to make its point.

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Weekend Reads: “People of the Lie”

If you decide to pick up this book, be advised that it will take more than a weekend to read. I found that I had to put it down a few times and read something light, because it was phenomenally difficult to take. Yet, I think it’s so important that it’s worth investing the time.

People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human EvilPeople of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil by M. Scott Peck

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I said in one of my updates, this is one of the most chilling books I’ve ever read. Yet, it’s also one of the most important.

Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck is the first person to really look at evil from a scientific perspective. He ultimately concludes that evil is a combination of malignant narcissism and intellectual laziness, which he makes clear from the beginning of the book. The rest of the book shows some of the cases he used to reach that conclusion — and not just individual cases, but also examples of group evil like Nazi Germany and the MyLai massacre.

What made this book simultaneously disturbing and fascinating was how insidious evil could look, from parents who deliberately ignore a child’s needs and feelings because of how society might perceive *them,* to people who see nothing wrong with “othering” people and even murdering them without thinking they’ve done a single thing wrong.

I also saw the actions of far too many modern-day right wing politicians reflected in the words of this book; at the end of the day, that’s what disturbed me the most.

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