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Sharon Tucker

by Sharon Tucker


St. Patrick’s Day approaches on March 17 and those of us of Irish descent can justifiably dance a little, drink Guinness, Jameson, or Bushmills, and dance some more. Happily too, this year I discovered the Sister Fidelma novels of Peter Tremayne (a.k.a. Peter Bradford Ellis) so will enjoy reading all the series and probably Tremayne’s Irish history works as well.

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by Sharon Tucker


Of course, it doesn’t hurt that author Barry Lancet had years of publishing experience behind him, as well as years of living in Japan before he began writing his Jim Brodie thrillers. He had an insider’s advantage navigating the choppy waters of approach letters, choosing a literary agent, and a clear knowledge of what worked on the page. This and his deep appreciation of Japanese arts and culture must have presented an irresistible formula for writing novels to anyone so inclined.

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by Sharon Tucker


Had a little trouble letting go of this past Christmas season? Me too. One of the ways I’ve eased myself on into this uncertain New Year is by reading C.C. Benison (aka Doug Whiteway), the Canadian author of Twelve Drummers Drumming (2011), Eleven Pipers Piping (2012) and Ten Lords A-Leaping (2013). They didn’t make my wish to hang on to the Christmas season come true, since none in the series so far have been set during Christmas, but Benison’s Fr. Tom Christmas is such a gentle, intelligent soul that I felt I would be safe with him newly settled in the small town of Thornford Regis in England’s West Country as he heals himself and his daughter by becoming a part of the life of the village. Ironic really since Fr.

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by Sharon Tucker


My university has a ten day to two week holiday between Christmas and New Year’s which gives us all a chance to unwind from the previous semester and ‘gird up our loins’ for the next. Although it is lovely to have time to relax, I find that I get a bit restless and anxious between the two holidays to get back to tasks I know are piling up—not to mention all the emails—and to hear about how we all spent the holidays. Everyone has at least one lurid anecdote to delight us all.

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by Sharon Tucker


Spending time in Provence was a favorite part of the European vacation I took a few years ago. This beautiful southernmost portion of France has had so much written about it and has been the setting of so many films, many of us feel like we have not only toured Provence, but even lived there. I know I felt like a long time resident after reading and seeing Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence and certainly so after reading all five of M. L. Longworth’s Verlaque and Bonnet mysteries.

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by Sharon Tucker


The most pleasing element in reading Agatha Christie is spending time in her world. It’s an orderly place full of rather complacent, pleasant people suddenly faced with the inexplicable: murders are discovered, friends go missing, or incongruities mushroom in either their village or whatever closed community her detectives happen to be in or called to at the time. Her best loved characters, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, are essentially likable, despite one’s occasional flightiness and a touch of narcissism in the other.

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by Sharon Tucker


Let’s face it, there are few things Isaac Asimov didn’t write about. In the five hundred plus books he either wrote or edited, it’s no surprise that two mystery novels and six volumes of mystery short stories are among them. In fact, his robot novels including Caves of Steel (1953), which is the only one so far I have read, are couched in mysteries to be solved so it’s reasonable to suspect that mystery is a major element in his fiction.

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by Sharon Tucker


Of the four Queens of Golden Age Mystery, Margery Allingham has been the least easy read. I suspect it’s because her Albert Campion comes across on the page in some of the early novels as so free of intriguing quirks that, to the uninitiated, he seems rather a milquetoast. However, he seldom fails to come across as arch, annoyingly omniscient, and he doesn’t even use his own name in his adventures due to hush-hush royal connections.

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by Sharon Tucker


The lives of the Tudors populate literature frequently but rarely are the lives of their record-keepers and of court functionaries set down. These are intriguing stories, providing insight into everyday life—all the sights, sounds, and smells, as well as revealing history’s unfolding around them. Enter Matthew Shardlake, Lincoln’s Inn lawyer, who is C. J. Sansom’s record-keeper the last decade of Henry VIII’s reign.

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by Sharon Tucker


One of the pleasures of reading Golden Age detective fiction is living for a time on pages where beautiful manners are celebrated. Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh dress the literary stage with detectives whose elegance is a byword to this day. True, Christie’s two detectives, Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot, are a bit less conventional than Marsh’s Alleyn, Sayers’s Wimsey, and Allingham’s Campion.

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by Sharon Tucker


It can be most comforting to sit back in your easy chair with a hot beverage and buttered scones as late winter changes to early spring, picking up a St Patrick’s Day mystery to welcome the season. Sr. Carol Anne O’Marie’s Murder at the Monk’s Table, Leslie Meier’s St. Patrick’s Day Murder and Isis Crawford’s A Catered St. Patrick’s Day will all nicely fit the bill for just that.

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by Sharon Tucker


CAUTION: Spoilers abound.
Having had a bit of time to think about and see the latest Moffat and Gatiss Sherlock a time or two, I have to admit I like it now much better than I did initially. Somehow I had developed an unrealistic yearning to spend the whole action of the story in Conan Doyle’s era, enjoying Holmes and Watson exclusively in their original setting, but I was ignoring the essence of what Moffat and Gatiss always do with Conan Doyle’s characters and plots.
They turn the stories around.

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by Sharon Tucker


Prior to reading Hazel Holt’s Mrs. Malory mysteries, it hadn’t particularly occurred to me that literary critics would make first rate detectives. It does make sense though if you consider that critics “pluck out the heart” of a writer’s mystery as a matter of course. Critics have a discerning intelligence that would prove invaluable to the police and private detectives as would understanding motivations, analyzing character and making logical inferences.

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by Sharon Tucker


While we ready ourselves for Benedict Cumberbach and Martin Freeman in Arthur Conan Doyle’s nineteenth century London adventure, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride on PBS January 1, 2016, you are probably in the mood to start your holiday early by reading a Christmas cozy. The Mrs. Jeffries and Inspector Witherspoon series by Emily Brightwell (AKA Cheryl Lanham) is just the ticket. It’s murder most Victorian in Mrs. Jeffries and the Yuletide Weddings (2009), Mrs. Jeffries and the Mistletoe Mix-up (2011) and Mrs. Jeffries and the Merry Gentlemen (2014).

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by Sharon Tucker


Goldy Bear was living in a dream when she fell in love with and married a handsome OB-GYN, looking forward to a life of love, security and comfort. Then to her horror, husband John Richard Korman, devolved into “The Jerk,” prone to rages that devolved into physical abuse. What’s a woman to do when her fairy tale doesn’t come true?

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by Sharon Tucker


As Halloween draws near, a good ghost story is just the thing to read. Of the ghostly tales out there, Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic (1995), Kate Ellis’s Watching the Ghosts (1979) and Paull Gallico’s Too Many Ghosts (1959) appealed to me this fall largely because, of all the ones I looked at, each of these is unusual in style and approach.

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by Sharon Tucker


If I could use magic to modify the hot summer weather that’s back now as September begins, I’d raise my wand at once. However, lacking the skill to conjure weather, instead I’ve avoided thinking about my skyrocketing electric bill by reading three mysteries set in worlds where altering the weather would be but a minor accomplishment. The Shotgun Arcana by R. S. Belcher, Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep, and The Last Apprentice by Joseph Delaney may vary widely in location and era, but all three take place in worlds where “mundane” flew out the window long ago.

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by Sharon Tucker


The August weather may still be stiflingly hot, but schools everywhere are preparing to gear up for fall and the start of a new school year–exciting times, yes? K-12 students are bracing themselves! University students are excited if they are freshman and blasé if they are upperclassmen. Teachers everywhere will head back to school two weeks early to prepare for the upcoming term, but the rest of us will be footing the bills or limp with relief that we are not footing the bills for books, new clothes and school supplies.

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