12-17-2017 Give a Book, Inspire a Life
Gift-giving season is here, which always makes me consider the perfect gift, a gift that is not only thoughtful but sets the imagination afire. Not like handkerchiefs or ties or socks or shirts that nail you to the ground and don’t produce even a spark of an idea.
Books. That’s the ticket. Books have changed my life, and I’m sure they’ve changed yours. Books are my favorite gift to give and to receive. The two gifts I remember most from my childhood, other than my bike, were the first series book I read, Cherry Ames, Student Nurse, which I couldn’t put down, and a nonfiction book called Lost Treasure Trails by Thomas Penfield. I pored over it and then read every book I could find on pirates, lost mines, sunken treasure and buried treasure. I was intrigued by Oak Island fifty years before The Curse of Oak Island became a TV series.
The Nancy Drew books also had a profound effect on me, giving me a lifelong love for learning. They also inspired the cozy mystery series I write featuring the 90s Club at Whisperwood Retirement Village who turn up clues like tricks in a bridge game to catch the culprits at Whisperwood.
Inherit the Bones by Emily Littlejohn is well-written, engrossing and intelligent. Even the title works in several ways to define the book. The author is from Southern California and now lives in Colorado.
Detective Gemma Monroe, six months pregnant, has a partner she doesn’t trust and colleagues who know more than they’re saying. In fact, everyone in this small Colorado town knows more than they’re saying, and each one holds a small piece of the puzzle. Gemma is called to investigate the gruesome death of a clown in a traveling circus. When the body is identified, it turns out to be that of a teenaged boy who disappeared over a cliff three years before and was presumed dead. Where has he been? Why did he disappear? And why is his face tattooed and pierced to be unrecognizable?
The boy is the son of the town’s most powerful family. His father is the mayor who plans to run for Congress. His mother is a cold Scandinavian. His twin sister, the aunt who raised the twins, and the boy’s grandfather all have secrets. When the boy’s death is linked to the murder of two other boys thirty years before and to the rape and murder of a young woman, the lies tear the town apart.
The Accidental Lawyer by Kim Hamilton is humorous and quirky. Jessica Snow was hired out of law school by a personal injury law firm not for her superior legal mind but because she is attractive and young and just right for her boss’s advertising campaign. Her name and face appear on billboards and buses throughout the city of Baltimore. As if that’s not embarrassing enough, she’s also scheduled to promote the law firm in television commercials. Meanwhile, she and her assistant Kari trip over one personal injury after another, competing with the underhanded tactics of a competing law firm to sign up clients and agonizing over her own scruples about being an “ambulance chaser.”
When independent financial advisor Harvey Metzger is murdered, Jessica’s employer, Dawson Garner, becomes the prime suspect because of trumped up charges made by their competitor. Jessica confronts phony clients and negotiates contracts with genuine ones as she tackles a mob boss and a drug dealer to track down the killer. Along the way, she develops respect for her own profession when she saves family and friends from a toilet with a major manufacturing defect – it explodes.
Jessica lives in an old row house in Fells Point that’s rented from the widow, according to legend, of a mob boss. She carries a gun in her housecoat pocket and smokes Tiparillos on her front porch. The book is full of other quirky characters and recognizable Baltimore neighborhoods.
So now, thanks to Jessica Snow, I also have gained some respect for personal injury lawyers while enjoying a humorous trip around Baltimore in an engaging mystery.