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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Loved Honor More by Sharon Wildwind

Review: Loved Honor More 

by Sharon Wildwind

Published 2012 by Five Star Publishing/Gale

“Loved Honor More” is the fifth and final book in the Elizabeth Pepperhawk/Avivah Rosen Vietnam Vets mystery series, written by retired army nurse Sharon Wildwind. It takes place in and around Madison County, North Carolina in 1975.

Set immediately following the evacuation of the American embassy in Saigon, the opening chapter rapidly establishes the bewildered emotions felt by Vietnam veterans who survived their tours with deep physical and psychological scars and now believe it was all in vain.

Pepper’s longtime lover, Darcy, who was not supposed to be in Vietnam at all, is missing in the chaos. Complications arise for all the residents of Pepper’s rural homestead. Perils threaten both Pepper’s job as a nurse and Avivah’s as a police detective. Both women face personal demons and summon up reserves of strength when needed.

As the mysteries triggered by Darcy’s disappearance get tangled up with the lives, loves and families at the homestead, the author expertly unveils post-Vietnam social tensions between vets and anti-war protestors, ordinary citizens and the Vietnamese refugees who are settling in large numbers across the southern USA. This is a much a social history snapshot of upheaval in the wake of the war as it is a complex mystery of parentage, honor, and hidden identities.

With each of the previous books the relationships between the two roommates and their circle of friends deepened, yet a new reader starting with this book could get the characters straight pretty quickly and garner enough back story to be going on with. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself seeking out the earlier books. The full story of the friends’ post-Vietnam adjustment is well worth the journey.

Loved Honor More
 by Sharon Wildwind

Published 2012 by Five Star Publishing/Gale

Friday, November 30, 2012

The photo above is from the Calgary Public Library's archives. This picture was taken during "Library Hour" at a public school in the 1920s. Miss Hopkins, CPL's first Children's Librarian, started the program in 1914, bringing books to schools with no budget for books, and extolling the joys of reading. This "traveling library" was the first of its kind in Canada.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Green Place for Dying - by RJ Harlick

Last night I opened ‘A Green Place for Dying’, the fifth Meg Harris novel by RJ Harlick, just released by Dundurn.

It's five a.m. and I’m still up.

This is one seductive book. It opened on a moonlit scene by still waters, with a group of mostly native women doing a renewal ritual. Before I knew it I was thigh-deep in soggy brush looking for a missing teenager. Then confronting an angry biker. Now someone else is missing, someone even more dear to Meg.

‘A Green Place for Dying’ is set along the Ontario/Quebec border, partly in bush and partly in Ottawa. The bush town of Somerset and the neighbouring Migiskan reserve are like the quaint, albeit murderous, village in the Louise Penny novels in that everyone knows everyone else’s business, or thinks they do. But here the village store sells venison pie and other wild-based foods instead of the designer dainties of Three Pines’ bakery, and the characters are more at home in jeans and deerskin jackets than in high-end sweaters. The story revolves around a touchy social issue: missing native women for whom the police don’t bother searching. There’s also a deeply unhappy local family with a black sheep brother and a missing daughter that Meg is helping to trace. An old secret in Meg’s past is rising to haunt her just when she needs to keep a clear head.

Not noir, and definitely not a cosy despite the lack of on-page violence, this novel is a traditional, suspenseful mystery in a non-traditional setting. The bush is an integral element, its sights, sounds, scents, and textures underpinning crucial scenes and drawing the reader deep inside the tensions and joys of the half-French, half-Native, half-English community with its crisscrossing lines of culture, language, and authority. 

You don’t need to have read the other books to really get this one; references to past events are understandable in their context. Highly recommended.

Sample the opening HERE