Barbara L's Book Reviews

An Elderly Lady is up to No Good by Helene Tursten

An Elderly Lady is up to No Good by Helene Tursten

Meet Maud. She’s a spunky octogenarian you don’t want to annoy. Her solution to being annoyed is to get rid of the offender. She is diabolically clever, thorough, and completely untroubled by a conscience. Maud is a classic example of a murderous, sociopathic, narcissistic little old lady. Very spry (able to climb the scaffold outside […]


Father Brown TV series [seasons 1-6]

Father Brown TV series [seasons 1-6]

Golly, there are a lot of murders in Kembleford! And if it weren’t for clever, observant and somewhat nosy Father Brown of St. Mary’s Catholic church, played by the perfectly cast Mark Williams (Mr. Weasley from Harry Potter), not a single one of them would be solved. Charm and period quaintness (early 1950s) abound in […]


Moonglow by Michael Chabon

Moonglow by Michael Chabon

Highly acclaimed author Chabon can certainly turn a phrase, stretch out a cliff hanger escapade, and craft a metaphor that tips into the poetic. I wish he had restrained himself a bit in this semi-autobiographical novelization of his fascinating and enigmatic grandfather. The book could have been a good 25% shorter. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the […]


Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles

Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles

I so enjoyed Jiles’s more recent book, News of the World [2016], that I was eager to read one of her earlier works. This one is a good read though not a great one. It’s a coming-of-age story centered on young Jeanine Stoddard, the middle sister of three girls in a Texas family during the […]


Improvement by Joan Silber

Improvement by Joan Silber

Silber’s lively writing style is a pleasure to read in her patchwork novel about how actions of others and acts of fate can improve us, or, in some cases be disastrous. Rayna, single mom, loves Boyd, a good guy with a record. Rayna’s aunt Kiki has a colorful past but now settled, worries about Rayna’s […]


kaddish.com by Nathan Englander

kaddish.com by Nathan Englander

Larry is the fallen-away son in a very Orthodox Jewish family. When his father dies, the clan gathers at his sister’s house to sit shivah, the seven-day mourning period. The whole scene is just torture for poor Larry, who professes no patience for what he considers mere superstition. When he is informed that as the […]


The Preacher by Camilla Läckberg

The Preacher by Camilla Läckberg

It’s a very hot summer in the Swedish vacation town of Fjällbacka. Campers, golfers, boaters and tourists flock to the town to enjoy the short, sunny season. When the body of a young woman is found buried near some coastal rock formations, and then two more skeletons are found buried just below her, the tiny, […]


The Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Jane Harper has again offered American readers another gripping and complex tale of life in the Australian outback. The harsh Queensland outback is almost a character in this story of the outwardly happy family no one really knows about. Harper’s recurring motif is how treacherous and unforgiving this environment is. The land is populated with […]


The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel

The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel

Denmark’s “Queen of Crime” offers a tense, well-paced novel set in a forested region populated mostly with vacation cabins and a few permanent homes. Detective Louise Ricks has been newly appointed to head the Special Search Team–a missing persons task force that also handles cases with unidentified victims. Her first case turns out to be […]


The Library Book by Susan Orlean

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Don’t be fooled by the title. This is not a book about a particular library book. It’s a book about a particular library and libraries in general. Orlean, critically acclaimed for “The Orchid Thief,” has re-opened the case of the catastrophic fire of 1986 that immolated most of the contents of the large Los Angeles […]


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