Friday, August 4, 2017

Shadow Girl: An Afton Tangler Thriller No. 2 by Gerry Schmitt

Shadow Girl: An Afton Tangler Thriller No. 2. Gerry Schmitt. Penguin Publishing Group. August 2017. 320 pp. ISBN #: 9780425281789.  

This old-fashioned mystery opens with the reader discovering that a woman packs a long-range missile and proceeds to calmly shoot down a helicopter, an act that not only obviously kills the pilot and his assistant but also causes numerous injuries when the pieces fall on the streets of Minneapolis.  What’s more important, however, is that the helicopter was carrying a brand-new heart that was supposed to be put into Leland Odin, the magnate owner of a home shopping network. Without it, Leland’s hours to live are dwindling rapidly!

Afton Tangler is the family liaison officer for the Minneapolis Police Department.  She and her partner proceed to investigate what starts as a crash and then evolves into a murder.  The pace is quick and the number of suspects grows with each turned page.   Is it the wife who seems normally concerned about this event but whose responses occasionally seem contrived?  Is it the strangely unconcerned daughter whose middle name could be “Frosty?’ Perhaps Leland’s partner, Bart, who is courting a buy-out of another home shopping network, has bigger plans that just might not include Leland?

While we discover who is the perpetrator half-way through the novel, that doesn’t spoil anything as more murders and a truly exciting search and find mission keep the reader’s adrenaline pumping.  Add to that we want to know the why of the crime as well as how it will all evolve! 

There’s an international espionage component to this story and it turns out that Afton Tangler is one hell of a great investigator, a fact that just might wind up with her being moved officially into the Police Department, that is if she survives being a target as she and her partner get closer to the enemy!!!

Fine, fine mystery that is a great read!!!! Highly recommended!

Pieces of Happiness: A Novel of Friendship, Hope and Chocolate by Ann Ostby

Pieces of Happiness: A Novel of Friendship, Hope and Chocolate. Ann Ostby. Carole Baron - editor. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. August 2017. 320 pp. ISBN #: 9780385542807.  

After Kat spent years traveling around the world with her husband Niklas on humanitarian missions, he dies and Kat is a bit lost.  So she invites her Norwegian high school best friends to live with her on the island of Fiji.  Ingrid, Maya, Sina, and Lysbeth agree and the reunion and aftermath is wonderful and stunning!

Age shapes all of us but sometimes a different circumstance propels a person into change. Each chapter is narrated by one of the five friends. Deciding to abandon one’s staid images, jettison a leech of a son, permit one’s sensual side to emerge, engage in leading the initiation of a “chocolate” enterprise, becoming a trusting child, abandoning one’s judgmental standards and so much more fill these pages.  These women cooperate with, challenge, and learn from each other. 

Atetha is a native Fijian who teaches them all about the rich culture of this land where people learn to find joy in life, no matter what problems exist, and share that richness with each other in dance, food, art, language and more.  A friend helps the women when they decide to produce a chocolate business from the cocoa trees on Kat’s property.  Many latent gifts begin to grow in each character during this time.

Secrets are a surprise that initially shock the reader but how these characters interact about these secrets is phenomenal, almost unreal but delightful!

When people think of the tropical islands, the relaxed, lush background induces one to relax and live a “vacation” style.  This is true but there is so much more that the islands have to teach these women and Anne Otsby has captured it all in a highly recommended, delightful read!!!!!