How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Reviewed by Mary Alice Gorman

No surprise here but my summer was spent reading a bunch and trying to breathe thru the humid soup of Pittsburgh weather with a broken nose. But that’s another story. I did have some great books to share and a few clinkers.

Seeing gal pal Lisa Scottoline this Summer at Mystery Lovers was the cherry on top for me after gulping down the latest wonderful Mary DiNunzio adventure. In Damaged, Lisa again explores how family court issues can be murder! Now a partner at the law firm Rosato & Dinunzio, Mary finds herself helping an elderly man with a special needs child as he tries to navigate the school system that doesn't serve the child as the law allows. When the man turns up dead, the bride to be finds her professional and private life turned on its head. With the characteristic scrupulous research, Lisa reveals the tough times for families wanting and needing fair and caring support from the educational system. A warm and welcome support system of family, friends, three Tonys and her true love aid in the battle with a local attorney named Machiavelli…..for real! Another winner here that you do not want to miss and share with a friend. This is also a good book for a book group as it is sure to generate much discussion about schools, elderly parents and weddings!

Louise Penny always delivers the goods even when the subject of the latest adventure for retired Surete du Quebec Inspector Armand Gamache is very sad. In A Great Reckoning the Three Pines gang gathers around the fireplace at the Bistro where a found map poses an intriguing puzzle for the group and the cadets at the Surety Academy where Ganache is acting director. A delicate path through lethal bullying, corruption, Orienteering maps and murder is forged by the gifted Canadian writer that we have come to know. Exquisite! It also helped that it was a wintery mix that kept me cooling my heels as I turned the pages on a hot summer night.

The Last Good Girl by Allison Leotta takes the issue of campus rapes and struggles of Title IX with her experiences as a federal prosecutor to the page in a compelling mystery. A Michigan college woman goes missing and the suspect is a member of a secretive Frat known as “the rape factory”. This is a very fine example of an author conveying the real life experiences of women who are victims of the University systems and then the legal systems. A smart, real and powerful storyteller with real gifts

What can I say about the #32 Sharon Cone mystery from the flawless Marcia Muller? I have been with her through All Souls Legal Clinic and a killing, through single life and a hot love affair turned into lucrative adventure business corporation, through friends and family, thru fire and loss……and she will still surprise me with another delicate plot twist. Someone Always Knows places the professional sleuth in peril, an old partner of husband Hy returns from the dead and an abandoned house unearths secrets. Vintage McCone and Muller march on…..this one for fans.

Another vintage thriller can be found in the National Park Service company of Ranger Anna Pigeon with number 19, Boar Island. When dear friend Heath Jerrod finds her adopted teen daughter suicidal over online bullying and harassment, getting out of town seems the best solution. With Anna soon to work in Acadia National Park in Maine, the whole extended family flees the rumor mill for some R&R on a coastal Island. The twisted stew of stalkers and murder soon threaten any peace and bolt Anna into high gear in another wild adventure cooking with sensory details. Always a page turner and a best bet for an all-nighter.

Killer Look by the always terrific Linda Fairstein paints the fashion industry in New York City with all the glitter and drama of any magazine slick. Beit backstage of a runway, on racks of designer duds, in Museums and catwalks you can find murder. This time Alex is finding work a battle and sorting through the secrets and lies a balm for PTSD she suffers.  I loved the book but am wondering where we are going with the work and heart of the able Assistant DA Alex Cooper and her cop pals. There is a real cliffhanger for fans to mull over when the sun comes up after whipping through this one.

I did not like the creepy You Will Know Me by Meg Abbott which I read during the Summer Olympics. I think raising five teens who had friends obsessed with the worlds of gymnastics, ballet, band, swimming and more…..the folks in this book were just not the real deal to me. Let me know if you liked it as it is the big bestseller of the Summer of 2016 and I would like to hear your thoughts.

Ditto for another bestseller, The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. A travel writer on a cruise is the subject here but as a reader who loves character driven fiction, this one fell short for me. time I will share the great and nearly historica lnovel I read recently.