It is June of 1944 in Camp 133, the German POW Camp in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Sergeant Neumann and his assistant, Corporal Klaus Aachen, have just found the body of Captain Mueller. His body has been hung in a corner to make its discoverers think they are dealing with a suicide.
In the prisoner of war camp, nothing is that simple. The communist sympathisers, French Legionnaires, SS members and regular soldiers of the Wehrmacht who are thrown in together and under the watchful eye of their Canadian guards, develop a culture of their own.
It is up to Sergeant Nemann to maintain peace and investigate anything untoward. Before long, Neumann and Aachen realize how complex the murder is . Their investigation takes them into danger and lets us have a peek into a time and place not commonly discussed.
This is historical fiction, a murder mystery and it's set in Alberta. The plot is intriguing and just when it seems that the mystery is unravelling, the unexpected occurs. I enjoyed Sergeant Neumann and Corporal Aachen. Wayne Arthurson has created a fascinating look into a POW camp in Alberta. I hope to see Sergeant Neumann again soon. The cover says this book is A Sergeant Neumann Mystery so I should get my wish.
1850's rural Ireland is a hard place. The people are poor and often hungry. Many of them are devout Catholics and as such, could use a miracle to lighten their dark and joyless lives.
Anna O'Donnell appears to be that miracle. She has lived for months without taking food, surviving on manna.
A committee is struck and Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to come and observe the girl to verify or falsify the miracle. Her job is to, in 12 hour shifts, make sure that Anna doesn't eat anything. She inspects the girl's room thoroughly and takes physical measurements everyday. A nun is chosen as her co-worker, to take the shifts when Lib is resting.
Is Anna a miracle? Her very life is at stake as Lib tries to unravel the mystery of her survival. Once the women are employed to observe, Anna begins to fail physically. Her nurses try to shield her from curious tourists and predatory press. Lib vows to save her, but how?
For me, The Wonder, started slowly but still drew me in. Then at about 2/3 of the way through, there was more drama and revelation of secrets.
Short-listed for the Giller prize, The Wonder, is good bit of historical fiction.
Darby Swank, 21 years old, is the unlikely heroine of this tightly written story of family secrets, small town insularity and rural life. In one of the most effective openings to a mystery that I have read in a while, Darby finds the body of her aunt floating in Brightsand Lake in northwestern Saskatchewan.
Sophisticates who read Vogue will know that Saskatchewan and Manitoba are "vaguely exotic" and on a list of places to visit. Lisa Guenther perfectly evokes the environment of Brightsands Lake and the nearby communities of St. Walberg and Turtleford. The murder is central, of course, but there is a forest fire, a cattle round-up and of course, romantic intrigue.
Friendly Fire exposes the horror of family violence and explains why a woman, in this case Darby's aunt, would stay in such a dangerous environment. It explores the heart of the abuser and looks below her Uncle Will's superficial charm to the tortured man who is compelled to strike out.
Wainwright and District Family and Community Services is hosting Ms. Guenther at the Wainwright Public Library for a reading from Friendly Fire. The reading begins a 6:30 PM and goes to 8:00. November is Family Violence Prevention Month and Ms. Guenther's book, although a novel, reveals how violence may be a secret and how this secrecy allows it to escalate until something so tragic as Aunt Bea's murder occurs.
William Pinkerton and Adam Floode seem polar opposites. William is a big, white man who works, of course, for the famed Pinkerton Agency. His father was its founder. Adam Floode is a small, mixed-race man, an orphan. He is part of the 1880s flash or loose association of thieves and scam artists.
Alan Pinkerton binds William to him by blood and family, Adam Floode by giving him a life-saving opportunity during the American Civil War. Charlotte Rickett and her cousin Martin supply some of the mystery.
This 700+ word tome alternates between 1860s American Civil War and 1880s London, England. William Pinkerton is in London on a mission of his own. He must find the elusive Edward Shade who may be a ghost but one that haunted William's father his whole life. Charlotte Reckitt is a part of the puzzle. When she is murdered, both Pinkerton and Floode work to find out what really happened. Floode because he loved her and Pinkerton because he thinks she may know of the mysterious Edward Shade. The point of view travels with William and then with Adam. There are twists and turns aplenty, the romance of the Pinkerton Agency and the horror of 1880s London with its opium dens and destitute thousands. It takes some reading but it's a hard book to put down.
This is Canadian poet, Steven Price's second novel. The language is rich and paints a vivid picture whether it is in the sewer systems of London or on the Battlefields with the Union Soldiers. Price's novel is complex and satisfying.
I am an avid reader and like to share some of my "finds" with others.