Latest Reviews - Mystery - 30th April

MCINERNY, NORA. NO HAPPY ENDINGS. DEY ST: HARPERCOLLINS. MAR. 2019. 288P. ISBN 9780062792402. $26.99; EBK. ISBN 9780062792426. MEMOIR

In this follow-up to It's Okay To Laugh, McInerny, host of the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking and founder of the Hot Young Widows Club, describes her efforts not to deny the past but make room for it. The author begins by covering similar territory as in her podcast and first book; shortly after having a child, she experienced a miscarriage and lost both her husband and father to cancer. With humor and vulnerability, McInerny illustrates the emotional toll of pretending that everything was fine. What does it mean to be a widow at 31? Is falling in love again a betrayal? Chapters on the author's blended family are the strongest and include discussions of becoming a stepmom and not liking the term, as well as raising a family with her second husband while making sure her son from her first marriage remained connected to her late husband's family. Yet, brief essays about feedback on her podcast feel out of place, interrupting the flow of the narrative, and reflections on the cultural expectations of her Catholic upbringing could have been expanded. VERDICT Spanning memoir and parenting, this supplemental purchase is best for large memoir collections; it can be read alongside the author's first book or on its own.—Stephanie Sendaula, Library Journal

PYLE, NATE. MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE: WHEN LIFE'S OVERWHELMING PAIN MEETS GOD'S OVERCOMING GRACE. ZONDERVAN. MAR. 2019. 208P. NOTES. ISBN 9780310343400. PAP. $17.99; EBK. ISBN 9780310343424. REL

Reformed pastor and blogger Pyle (Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood) is intent upon challenging sanctimonious Christian canards, such as "God won't give you more than you can handle" or "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted." To Pyle's way of thinking, suffering is not a sport with a winner and loser but a universal human experience that requires strength as well as humility. For the author, the lonely path of suffering is ultimately where one experiences divine grace. Placing wide-ranging theological ruminations against the backdrop of his family's struggles with infertility, Pyle—by his own admission—provides no explanations or assurances about suffering beyond his conviction of God's presence amid the sorrow: "God meets us in suffering." The book's intentions are thoughtful, though some of the reflections can get repetitive and meander. VERDICT At times folksy, at others sincere in its poignancy, this work's allure is Pyle's everyman approach, which is like a gentle friend for spiritual seekers to walk with.—Sandra Collins, Byzantine Catholic Seminary Lib., Pittsburgh

RAYBOURN, DEANNA. A DANGEROUS COLLABORATION. PENGUIN. (VERONICA SPEEDWELL, BK. 4). MAR. 2019. 336P. ISBN 9780451490711. $26; EBK. ISBN 9780451490735. M

In the fourth entry of this historical mystery series (after A Treacherous Curse), Victorian-era sleuth Veronica Speedwell and Tiberius, the brother of Veronica's colleague Stoker, head to a weekend house party on a remote island off the coast of Cornwall. Tiberius bribes her with the promise of a rare butterfly to add to her collection and suggests they pose as an engaged couple, to preserve her reputation. Temporarily on the outs with Stoker, Veronica agrees to the scheme, but naturally Stoker shows up. Turns out they are all really there to investigate the disappearance of their host's wife, who vanished three years earlier on her wedding day. Did Rosamund run away or was she murdered? Tiberius, who had secretly been in love with her, needs to know what happened. Veronica fearlessly dives in, as usual ignoring all the warning signs. VERDICT As there's little substance to the mystery, readers can concentrate on the slowly developing relationship between the fiercely independent Veronica and Stoker, who is still reeling from his wife's betrayal. Those new to the series should read the books in order. [See Prepub Alert, 9/10/18.]—Laurel Bliss, San Diego State Univ. Lib.

JONES-ROGERS, STEPHANIE E. THEY WERE HER PROPERTY: WHITE WOMEN AS SLAVE OWNERS IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH. YALE UNIV. FEB. 2019. 320P. ILLUS. BIBLIOG. INDEX. ISBN 9780300218664. $30; EBK. ISBN 9780300245103. SOC SCI

Jones-Rogers (history, Univ. of California, Berkeley) expands her award-winning dissertation to correct the historical record on white women's culpability in the perpetuation of the slave system. Using primary resources including newspapers and archives as well as many secondary sources, Jones-Rogers meticulously portrays how these women strived to maintain and control what they saw as their economic stability. Many white women were gifted or purchased slaves in their own right and as separate from their husbands, and there were complex laws available for women to use as a means to protect their investments. Jones-Rogers uses court cases and newspaper advertisements to show that Southern American women were not just victims of the patriarchy but that they were integral in making the slavery system work. The author uses strong evidence to convince readers to revisit what they think they know about white women and black slavery. Other works that can provide further context include Catherine M. Lewis and J. Richard Lewis's Women and Slavery in America and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese's Within the Plantation Household. VERDICT Strongly recommended for readers interested in this period of U.S. history, or who wish to expand their understanding to include a more honest view of the Southern slave system.—Maria Bagshaw, Elgin Community Coll. Lib., IL

O'CONNELL, ROBERT L. REVOLUTIONARY: GEORGE WASHINGTON AT WAR. RANDOM. APR. 2019. 400P. ILLUS. NOTES. INDEX. ISBN 9780812996999. $32; EBK. ISBN 9780812997002. BIOG

Neither a thorough biography nor a mere recap of the Revolutionary War, this work is a history of the events and experiences that shaped George Washington's ambitions, ideologies, and character, and fueled his revolutionary zeal. Military historian O'Connell (Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman) argues that despite his challenges—military amateur, inexperienced army, inflated ego, elitism, explosive temper, ill-advised decisions—Washington's passion for the Glorious Cause, his restraint, humility, decency, commanding presence, and ability to inspire loyalty made him the embodiment of the revolution. Mindful that revolutions could degenerate into tyranny and chaos, Washington vehemently disallowed atrocities (though there were many beyond his control) and vigilantly shunned displays of corruption or dictatorial tendencies. O'Connell contends that the British were doomed to lose the war because they underestimated the Patriots' fervor but emphasizes that it was solely because of Washington's restraint as the military commander, high moral standards, and fervent commitment to republicanism that the United States avoided disaster during and after the conflict. VERDICT O'Connell debunks myths and explains motives, shortcomings, and misperceptions in this historical saga that will engage both general and academic readers.—Margaret Kappanadze, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY

ROBSON, JENNIFER. THE GOWN: A NOVEL OF THE ROYAL WEDDING. 9 CDS. HARPER AUDIO. DEC. 2018. 11:38 HRS. ISBN 9781982552879. $34.99. DIGITAL DOWNLOAD. F

Oxford-trained historian Robson (Goodnight from London) braids a tale of yesterday and today by weaving together three separate plot strands: Heather Mackenzie in 2016 receives mysterious beaded embroideries from her grandmother that she traces to the wedding dress made for Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II); Ann Hughes in 1947 works for noted designer Norman Hartnell; and Miriam Dassin in 1947 leaves France for England, finding herself with Ann as an embroiderer before realizing her artistic talent. Marisa Calin's narration enriches the production, vividly bringing to life Ann's working-class origins, Miriam's French heritage, and Heather's Canadian nationality. VERDICT Fans of British royalty and that particular kind of historic fiction that is interwoven with a strand of modernity—think Beatriz Williams and others' The Glass Ocean—should consider this novel. ["Historical details about fabric, embroidery, and the royal family are well incorporated into their stories, with light romance rounding out this charming work of historical fiction": LJ 9/15/18 review of the Morrow hc.]—David Faucheux, Lafayette, LA

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