Barbara Watkins

Vertigo 42 by Martha Grimes

Vertigo 42 by Martha Grimes

Martha Grimes’ Vertigo 42 unfolds with Detective Superintendent Richard Jury meeting with a man who wants him to look into the long-ago death of his wife Tess. At the time, it was ruled an accident, but he has always wondered, and Jury agrees to help him. In the course of his investigations, another death takes place—that of a young woman beautifully dressed and found at the bottom of a tower. Piece by piece, the plot evolves, and the two separate cases become one. In fact, they both turn out to be linked to a still earlier case, a child’s death at a party given by Tess. Was that an accident, too?

Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

What would you do if you knew that a large asteroid would be hitting the Earth on a specific date just a few months in the future, with no way out, no place to hide? Would you keep working? Would your children go to school? What about food and fuel? What kind of existence would it be while everyone waited for the inevitable end? This is the terrifying dilemma facing the entire world in Ben Winters' novel Countdown City.

The Ballad of Tom Dooley by Sharyn McCrumb

The Ballad of Tom Dooley by Sharyn McCrumb

This is a work of fiction that is actually closer to the truth than not. Sharyn McCrumb’s careful research has resulted in an exciting and informative book about the well-known story of Tom Dooley. You may remember The Kingston Trio's hit song called Hang  Down Your Head, Tom Dooley.  His actual name was Tom Dula, pronounced Dooley in the local dialect of the North Carolina mountain residents of the 1860s. Many of us know the story--or think we do, but Sharyn McCrumb’s research has revealed a slightly different story, well-backed up by her evidence. This in itself makes The Ballad of Tom Dooley worth a read.

White Heat by M. J. McGrath

White Heat by M. J. McGrath

White Heat, an intriguing and well-researched book about life on an island near the cold, cold, cold Arctic Circle, has been a real treat this summer for this reader who doesn’t like enduring 100-degree temperatures. Thank you, M. J. McGrath! I appreciated the icy coolness and the great story.

The star of this excellently-plotted mystery is Edie Kiglaluk, a divorced, recovering alcoholic who hires out as a hunting guide to those from the “south” who want the experience of roughing it in a tough terrain. Edie is a tenacious young Inuit woman who just can’t seem to be a go-along sort of person in her community. Her closest friend is her stepson, Joe.

The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert

The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert

Do you like to read about small towns and quirky characters--places where everyone knows everyone else? If so, The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert is the book for you. It has lots of odd characters and follows several simple storylines, one concerning a missing child. Well, perhaps that story is not so simple after all. You see, the missing child may never have existed in the first place. This may give you a hint about Mr. Schaffert's style of writing. He has written a multi-level novel with a complicated plot and subplots.

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan

Little Princes by Conor Grennan

Sometimes life takes us in a direction that unexpectedly changes everything and alters all our future plans. Happily, this is just what happened to Conor Grennan, the author of Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal. It is necessary for me to state now that I know Conor and my daughter and her husband play the smallest of roles in Conor’s memoir. Perhaps because of this I took particular pleasure in reading this book, but I think personal interest was quickly overtaken by the value of his touching story.

Conor planned a long, world-wide trip after working in Prague for a couple of years. His adventure begins in Nepal at the Little Princes Children’s Home, where he volunteered to help the “orphans." The children turned out not to be orphans, but victims of child traffickers.