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Who We Are
Years ago a person who was thought responsible for spreading a disease was referred to as a "typhoid Mary" – a derogatory term. In 1899 there was a real "typhoid Mary." She was Mary Mallon, a recent Irish immigrant who worked as a cook for wealthy families in New York City. In 1907 it was determined that she was the source of typhoid outbreaks through her cooking in those households effected, even though she had never had the disease. This is a fast-moving story about the first person identified as a healthy carrier of typhoid fever, her subsequent flight and then internment. The old cliché "typhoid Mary" holds a very human story.
It's the summer of 1920 and Inspector Ian Rutledge of Scotland Yard is confronted with an apparent murder or maybe it's not murder. A hit and run? A drunk lying in the road unseen by a driver? No ID on the body but the case progresses and becomes more and more complex. Two missing brothers - wealthy exporters of Madeira wine, a jilted fiancee, suspicion and circumstantial evidence are not proof of guilt, and Rutledge keeps digging for answers. This is the 15th novel for Charles Todd (a mother and son writing team) and this is a challenging case to be sure.
There must be something about the long Nordic winters that inspires authors to come up with some stupendously good crime fiction. My attention never wandered from The Snowman and I finished this 400-page book in two days. A serial killer is murdering women in Norway, always at the first snow of the year and leaving a snowman at the murder scene. Harry Hole, an Oslo police investigator who has problems of his own, is on the case. The book, like Stieg Larsson's trilogy probably isn't for the faint-hearted but this is a very talented author and I recommend it highly.
Years ago before Julia Child was a famous chef, she and her husband, Paul Child worked for the OSS- the Office of Strategic Services, which morphed into the CIA. A Covert Affair is a fascinating account of the World War II years, undercover assignments in the Far East and the McCarthy hearings in the 1950s which destroyed the careers of more than a few of their close friends in the OSS. Julia Child is better known for her cookbooks, but I liked the OSS part better.
This is the fifth book in the Annika Bengtzon series by the author who is described as the "Scandanavian queen of crime writers." In the middle of a freezing winter, a journalist is murdered in a northern Swedish town. Bengtzon, a crime reporter, traces this killing back to a deadly act of sabotage on a military base in 1969. The killer then, is back in town and a series of shocking murders follow. Present-day politicians in Sweden who were young and idealistic in the 1960s become implicated. I liked this suspenseful tale and I liked Annika, doing her best to handle a career, a straying husband and a chaotic household.
Ernest Hemingway was a man of many facets and several wives. Hadley Richardson was the first of his four wives and seems to have been the great love of his life. They spent much of their married life as expatriates in 1920's Paris. It was a marvelous time with the likes of Gertrude Stein, the Fitzgerald's and Ezra Pound but too much was going on and there were other diversions for Hemingway. The marriage didn't last. Hadley Richardson went on to find happiness and lived to be very old. Hemingway didn't. The book is beautifully written and I loved it!
Americans do seem to go through a lot of trials and tribulation with raising their young ones. The art of a baby sleeping through the night, learning to like grown-up food and behaving in public seems to have been mastered by French parents. No Tiger Mother here but a common sense book well worth reading by parents-to-be and grandparents.