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Monday, June 28, 2021

Movie Review - Wait Until Dark



Wait Until Dark, a psychological thriller, started as a play before becoming a movie.  The original 1966 play starred Lee Remick and Robert Duvall.  Lee Remick was nominated for a Tony award for Best Actress in a play for her performance.  In 1998 the play had a successful revival with Marisa Tomei and Quentin Tarantino in the cast.

The Movie

In 1967, just one year after the play debuted, it was made into a movie starring the legendary Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, and Efram Zimbalist Jr.  Rotten Tomatoes rated it a rare 96% with the consensus saying "Nail-bitingly tense and brilliantly acted, Wait Until Dark is a compact thriller that makes the most of its fiendishly clever premise."  Metacritic gave a weighted average score of 81 out of 100 saying it had universal acclaim.  Bravo included the movie in their 100 Scariest Movie Moments based on its climax (which was the only time I have ever screamed in a movie). The American Film Institute ranked it #55 in its top one hundred thriller movies.

Description

Recently blind urban wife Susy is adapting to life without sight when her photographer husband, Sam, unwittingly becomes a drug mule.  A woman in the airport convinces Sam to take her antique doll until she can collect it from him.  She had stolen Heroin and hid it in the doll.  She is later killed by the men she stole from.  Sam takes the doll home and waits for the woman to return and collect the doll. Sam is contacted for another photography job and must travel, leaving Susy alone with the cheated drug dealers after the doll.  Realizing she is blind, they try to trick and con her out of the doll. 

My Thoughts

This movie is certainly a nail biting thriller that ratchets up the suspense like Hitchcock.  The climax truly was the only time in my entire life I screamed - not from any gore but the wound-tight tension and surprise in the scene.  It is clearly dated with its mild drug traffickers when today's audiences are used to more violence and gore, but the masterful building of tension is timeless.  It reflects a more trusting time as well for Sam to take the doll in the first place.

I contend that this was Audrey Hepburn's absolute greatest acting, hands down.  This is more than a "woman in jeopardy" thriller.  It is a cat and mouse game in the plot.  But at its core it's about a blind, fearful woman learning she is stronger than she ever imagined and that her "disability" can be her strength.  If you haven't seen this movie at all, or recently, treat yourself to this well directed and acted thriller.  Let me know if you have a reaction to the climax, even a little!

Here is a short movie trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNWNJYRVKsk





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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Review - Danger at the Cove

 I didn't read the first book (Death at High Tide) in this series, but I jumped into this second book in the series that goes on sale August 17, 2021.


Author:
Hannah Dennison

Copyright: August 2021 (Minotaur) 304 pgs

Series: 2nd in Island Sisters Mystery series

Sensuality: very mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy mystery, amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Evie Mead, recent widow and overseer of a remote hotel  

Setting: Contemporary, Tregarrick Rock, one of the Isles of Scilly off Cornwall (SW England).

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Book blurb: "Renovations on Tregarrick Rock Hotel are coming along, and Evie Mead thinks they just might be done by opening day. Then one of her sister Margot’s old Hollywood friends, Louise, arrives unannounced—and expecting VIP treatment.

Evie has half a mind to tell Louise to find other accommodations, but Margot pleads with Evie, saying that Louise—despite her upbeat and demanding attitude—is grieving her recently deceased husband. Evie pities her, and besides, the sisters need help. A simple rewiring project has resulted in a major overhaul of the hotel, and they’re way over budget. The small life insurance policy left to Evie by her own husband is gone, and they are desperate for funds. Margot believes that Louise, a marketing guru, can put the hotel on the map and give it the boost it needs.

But when a member of the hotel staff is found dead, and then another murder follows, the sisters’ plans crumble before their eyes. Who would do such a thing—and why? In a rollicking adventure involving a shipwreck filled with buried treasure, a dashing and mysterious Australian named Randy, and old rivalries stretching back to far before Evie and Margot ever set foot on the island, it’s all hands on deck to find the killer—and save the hotel."

Evie Mead is a gentle person, observes a lot, and is easy going. Her sister, Margot, seemed aggravating to me since she discounts Evie a bit. Louise, Margot's old California friend, is neurotic, simpering, and manipulative.  Louise's boyfriend is an Australian named Randy and he doesn't seem that interested in her. Then there are the employees and renovation workers.  I really want more of the cat, Mr. Tig, who is an Instagram sensation. Apparently the owner of the hotel, Mr. Cador, is hinted to like Evie but doesn't get but a couple pages at the end.   

One of the best aspects to this mystery is the setting of the island Scilly. The tides and storms add an element of danger and isolation. I look forward to seeing how that is further utilized in future books.

 An employee goes suspiciously missing, an old shipwreck filled with buried treasure that is now accessible, and Margot's old friend insisting on visiting before the resort is even ready to open and brings with her a boyfriend acting suspiciously.  That is the setup and it develops from there. There was plenty going on to keep my interest.

 It had a tense killer reveal, which I always appreciate. The wrap up is the official opening of the island hotel, paving the way for future mysteries.

I knew the killer early on as it seemed obvious to me. But the book took a winding path around with several misdirections. The cat, Mr. Tig, is featured on the cover, but usually just gets talked about without actually being part of the story.  Evie's romantic interest didn't show up until the final pages, I guess with her being a widow that aspect is really on the slow burner.  This is a light escape, perfect if you just want a break from the world without a demanding or complex story.

Rating: Good - A fun, entertaining read.

Here is a short video of the real Isles of Scilly 

(pronounced silly)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6rqkqVRTUg





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Monday, June 21, 2021

Character Guest Post: Julienne LaMere




     Hello there, this is my first guest post. Thank you so much for having me on your blog! I must say I’m surprised to be given such freedom. What if a character went wild in their post, dissed the writer, told all the little town secrets that would spoil a future story? Don’t worry, I couldn’t bring myself to do that.

      I guess you would like to know more about me? To really understand me, I should start with the event that shaped my life the most. My mother died when I was only thirteen. Well, two months before I turned thirteen. She had breast cancer and had the mastectomy surgery and then it was a year of treatments and medications. She wasn’t the same mom I had grown up with, and yet she was. It was a battle everyday for her to even get up some days. One in every eight women is diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I get my mammogram every year because of my mother and walk in the Susan G Komen Race in honor of my mom. At home, I always have an extra place setting at the dinner table in honor of my mother. Something my father started.

      Dad grieved and dealt with depression for months. When he came out of it, he poured himself into me. He was probably trying to make up for my loss or keep his sanity. He made sure I was involved in school activities and helped me with homework. My Aunt Regina stepped in to provide the womanly influence and I love her dearly for that. As I got older and started dating, dad became nearly obsessed with seeing me married to a man who could financially secure my future. I wanted a career in resort management so I could see the world. Not long ago, I got dad to confess that he wants grandkids now and since I’m an only child he has high expectations. I think I’m too much like my dad, we are both headstrong.

      I’m not into having children. I never played with baby dolls or felt those stirrings, even a teensy bit. I had to put my foot down with both my father and my former boyfriend. Speaking of Brandon, he is the best friend of my cousin Loring since high school. He treated my career dreams like a childish fantasy and expected me to stay in town and have his babies. Four children and a wife to share the load were his idea of heaven, but my idea of hell on earth. We broke up the night he proposed and laid out his plan for my future.

      That’s when Mason, my new neighbor at the time, swooped in for his chance with me. I’ll be honest, I nicknamed Mason "Bond Jr." because he was a casa nova. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m not into dating a lot and I shied away from Mason. But he made his intentions clear when he claimed he wasn’t a playboy anymore but was ready for a quality relationship.

      I have worked hard at the five-star Colorado Springs Resort. I started as a Customer Relations Agent at the reception desk and worked my way up to a management training program. It is my dream to manage resorts around the world so I can travel and experience the cultures and history of the world. Mason understands and respects that. He says he can take photographs anywhere in the world and pursue that dream while I pursue mine. My dad is still trying to adjust.

      That is pretty much the story of Julienne LaMere in a nutshell. Nothing special, just a girl with a dream and a boyfriend I still pinch myself over. Oh, and occasionally a murder happens at the resort and I help reveal who dunnit!

Arrowed: Resort to Murder IV




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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Review - The Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

#1 A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder (review-click here),  #2 A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder I read but didn't do a review, and now we are on #3 in the series which was an Agatha Award nominee!  The 4th in the series is due out this July 27.

Author: Dianne Freeman

Copyright: July 2020 (Kensington Books) 245 pgs

Series: 3rd in Countess of Harleigh Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy mystery, amateur sleuth

Main Characters:  Frances Wynn, the wealthy Countess of Harleigh- recently widowed

Setting: Victorian era, London and countryside, England

Obtained Through: Library

Book Blurb: "London is known for its bustle and intrigues, but the sedate English countryside can host—or hide—any number of secrets. Frances, the widowed Countess of Harleigh, needs a venue for her sister Lily’s imminent wedding, away from prying eyes. Risings, George Hazleton’s family estate in Hampshire, is a perfect choice, and soon Frances, her beloved George, and other guests have gathered to enjoy the usual country pursuits—shooting, horse riding, and romantic interludes in secluded gardens.

 But the bucolic setting harbors a menace, and it’s not simply the arrival of Frances’s socially ambitious mother. Above and below stairs, mysterious accidents befall guests and staff alike. Before long, Frances suspects these “accidents” are deliberate, and fears that the intended victim is Lily’s fiancĂ©, Leo. Frances’s mother is unimpressed by Lily’s groom-to-be and would much prefer that Lily find an aristocratic husband, just as Frances did. But now that Frances has found happiness with George—a man who loves her for much more than her dowry—she heartily approves of Lily’s choice. If she can just keep the couple safe from villains and meddling mamas.

 As Frances and George search for the culprit among the assembled family, friends, and servants, more victims fall prey to the mayhem. Mishaps become full-blooded murder, and it seems that no one is safe. And unless Frances can quickly flush out the culprit, the peal of wedding bells may give way to another funeral toll. . . ."

Frances Wynn is enjoying her life for the first time in her life.  Her sister, Lily, is about to wed for love but must move up the nuptials because of a bun-in-the-oven.  Frances' mother is one of those characters you love to hate, she is hell bent on her daughter's marrying titles, or at least big money.  Neighbor and a friend's brother, George Hazelton, is Frances' love interest and best sidekick. This shows what sort of man he is when his brother's servants show him tremendous respect.  

The main plot of accidents happening and Frances piecing together that there is more to them is supplemented with the family dynamics and undercurrents. Leo's sisters are handfuls and everyone works to keep them separated to avoid constant squabbles, both Frances and Lily attempt to dodge their mother because she is single minded about who each should marry and that doesn't include either Leo or George.  This gives a very real feeling of juggling a house full of people while there is something wrong taking place. This also kept my interest as accidents kept happening amidst the hub-bub.

 This had my favorite killer reveal, exciting and a little nail-biting suspense. Frances does figure it out, just in the barest nick-of-time to save a life.  The wrap ties up all loose ends and left a smile on my face.

Many of the historical mysteries have a slightly darker edge to them.  This is the exception with its more breezy writing style. It has a strong element of light-hearted humor, particularly between Frances and George. I have come to look forward to each new release of this series as a pleasant respite from the world. I highly recommend.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list

Interview with the author:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbKquGJTxH8




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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Edgar Allan Poe Awards



The 75th Annual Edgar® Awards were celebrated on April 29, 2021 where they celebrated the 212th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, and the nominees for the 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2020.

The winner in each category is denoted with double asterisks. 


BEST NOVEL

** Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara 
-- Before She Was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney 
-- Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman 
-- These Women by Ivy Pochoda 
-- The Missing American by Kwei Quartey 
-- The Distant Dead by Heather Young 

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

-- Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March 
** Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen 
-- Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas 
-- Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden 
-- Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel 

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

** When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole 
-- The Deep, Deep Snow by Brian Freeman 
-- Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey 
-- The Keeper by Jessica Moor 
-- East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman 

BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL

-- Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the
Detection Club edited by Martin Edwards 

** Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock by Christina Lane 

-- Ian Rankin: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Erin E. MacDonald 

-- Guilt Rules All:  Irish Mystery, Detective, and Crime Fiction by Elizabeth Mannion & Brian Cliff 

-- This Time Next Year We’ll be Laughing by Jacqueline Winspear 


BEST JUVENILE

** Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce 
-- Me and Banksy by Tanya Lloyd Kyi 
-- From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks 
-- Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor 
-- Nessie Quest by Melissa Savage 
-- Coop Knows the Scoop by Taryn Souders 

 BEST YOUNG ADULT

** The Companion by Katie Alender 
-- The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 
-- They Went Left by Monica Hesse 
-- Silence of Bones by June Hur 
-- The Cousins by Karen M. McManus 


 ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD

“The Bite,” Tampa Bay Noir by Colette Bancroft 


MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD

-- Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks 
** The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart 
-- The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day 
-- The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan 
-- Cold Wind by Paige Shelton 


SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD

-- The Burn by Kathleen Kent 
-- Riviera Gold by Laurie R. King 
** Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht 
-- Dead Land by Sara Paretsky 
-- The Sleeping Nymph by Ilaria Tuti 
-- Turn to Stone by James W. Ziskin 

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners.  There should be something from everyone in this listing to read.




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