Nancy's Reviews

After working in several word-related fields: copy writing, editing, freelance voice talent and theatre--followed by a long career as a stay-at-home mom I started working at the bookstore almost nineteen years ago, and was fortunate enough to be the manager for eighteen years. From my first day at work I had a sense of being home among the books and fellow book-junkies and that feeling only grew with the ensuing years.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such a terrific team of booksellers and customers, and I am especially indebted to my fantastic family who supported my choice of jobs despite work hours that were definitely not conducive to family and social activities. I'm just now learning what all the fuss about weekends is all about!

My thanks to all of you who supported the store, who mourned its closing, and who asked us to establish this forum so that we can continue our tradition of exchanging opinions and ideas about books.

Fifth to Die                                        

 Author:  J.D. Barker                   Fiction                        

The first body, improbably encased in ice in a lake that, according to recent temperatures, couldn’t have frozen until three weeks after her remains had been left staring sightless at the sky, had one thing going for it: she wasn’t a victim of 4MK, the serial killer who disappeared after his murder spree that culminated in serious injuries to Detective Sam Porter. 4MK invariably began his torture of his victims with the removal of various body parts which were mailed to the victims’ families, one by one. This girl isn’t missing any pieces as far as Porter can see, and Anson Bishop, the 4MK killer, hasn’t surfaced since Porter received the ear of the man who shot and killed Porter’s wife: a “gift” from Bishop.

Despite his conviction that Bishop isn’t responsible for this death, or the ones that follow, Porter hasn’t stopped his pursuit of Bishop, using the details in Bishop’s diary to find him. While the death toll mounts at the hands of the latest killer, Porter is ensnared in the twisted plot designed by a man as cerebral as he is deranged.


Clock Dance                                                         

 Author:  Anne Tyler                             Fiction       

Willa Drake, at eleven, is much more like her quiet father than like her volatile mother who has, not for the first time, left. Although there’s no telling what precipitated this latest abandonment, it definitely appears to be more serious than previous times since she’s never been gone all night before. In the face of her mother’s flamboyance, Willa has learned the value of insignificance, a trait that will define her as she allows others the freedom of emotional expression while she denies herself that right. Willa’s life becomes a reflection of the expectations of others until, at seventy, she receives a phone call from a stranger a continent away and Willa, for perhaps the first time in her life, makes an emotional decision of her own: to abandon her careful insignificance for the chance to matter.

Tyler’s Willa may well be everywoman who loses herself in being the invisible spotlight that makes it possible for everyone else to shine.


Dear Mrs. Bird                             

 Author:  AJ Pearce                     Fiction                           

Emmy’s dream of becoming a world renowned war correspondent seems possible when she sees the ad from Launceston Press, which owns the top newspaper in London. It’s 1940, and the daily blitz by Germany underscores the demand for reporters, especially with most of the men away fighting the Nazis, as Emmy’s fiance is. Buoyed by the enthusiasm of her best friend Bunty, Emmy is thrilled when she is not only asked for an interview, but hired! Her excitement turns to dread, however, when on her first day at work she finds that she has been hired not for the newspaper division of Launceston, but for Woman’s Friend, the weekly magazine full of helpful hints, recipes, and advice for women as they keep the home fires burning. Convincing herself that at least she is one step closers to the job she really wants, Emmy becomes assistant to Mrs. H. Bird, author of Henrietta Helps, although it quickly becomes obvious that because of Mrs. Bird’s lengthy list of Unacceptable Topics, very few of the requests for her help receive much more than a cursory “Chin up.” Miserable that so many women are struggling, Emmy decides to take matters into her own hands.

Reading Dear Mrs. Bird is like watching a forties film fest! I thoroughly enjoyed it.



Noise Downstairs                               

 Author:  Linwood Barclay                     Fiction                     

So, the first reaction Paul Davis has when he notices the stacked taillight on the car in front of him is to wonder why his friend and colleague Kenneth hasn’t has the light fixed; his second is to wonder why Kenneth is out so late, and why he’s behaving so oddly. First, there’s the stop to dump a large, heavy object in a deserted dumpster, followed by a meandering drive, as though Kenneth is searching for a specific address. After the two cars pass a cop, and Kenneth pulls over on the shoulder, Paul stops to make sure he’s okay. He is, but that’s more than can be said of the two plastic shrouded bodies Kenneth is hauling around. Kenneth clangs Paul Over the head with a shovel, the police arrest Kenneth, who confesses to murdering the women after having them type out, on an old manual typewriter, their apologies for making him kill them.

Flash forward eight months: despite frequent memory lapses, Paul is beginning to get his life back with beautiful Charlotte, his wife, who is just ever so helpful in the way she reminds him of things he’s forgotten. And then, being ever so supportive when Paul mentions that he’s going to write about his experience, by buying him a manual typewriter (and it doesn’t sound weird to anybody that this is a totally disturbing gift)? The next occurrence really shouldn’t come as any surprise, but just in case you decide to waste hours of your life that you will never get back in reading this mess, I won’t give it away.

Oh, Mr. Barclay, what has happened to you that you’ve resorted to writing this? Sigh…