4-star review of Sanditon by Jane Austen
This unfinished novel stops abruptly just when it was becoming most interesting. I read it because I’m enjoying the dramatization and expansion of the story on PBS Masterpiece, although I doubted Miss Austen would be that racy. The interesting characters Charlotte meets when she agrees to spend an undisclosed amount of time with Tom and Mary Parker at their home in Sanditon paint the usual story of the rich, those who want to be rich, and those who don’t care. Charlotte has her eyes opened even in this short section. She’s astute enough to wonder at Tom’s insistence that Sanditon will become a high-end seaside resort, complete with therapeutic bathing, and to see the relationships among Tom and his brothers and sisters, three of whom are hypochondriacs. I expect Jane Austen would have continued the story very differently from the TV version. The version I read is accompanied by several sets of questions to use in readers groups, not just for this novel, but for any.
4-star review of The Basle Express by Manning Coles
Reading this old-style spy/thriller novel reminded me why I used to read these. Tommy Hambledon, of British Intelligence is headed to Switzerland for a vacation, but when the man sharing his sleeper on the train is killed and Tommy is left with his book, an assortment of men are after him. They think he has papers the dead man stole and had planned to hand over. Tommy’s joined by an Austrian and together they find the papers and catch the bad guys. A quick read.
5 star review for The Names of the Dead by Kevin Wignall
This was one I couldn’t stop reading from the moment I started. Great characters were consistent in their behavior throughout. Driven by a need to find the son he didn’t know about until his ex-wife was killed in a suicide bombing in Spain, James ‘Wes’ Wesley travels from a French prison with Mia, a high-functioning autistic woman, throughout Europe. Wes’s back story and why he was serving a prison sentence are integral to the plot. In the end, Wes shows how decent he is by making a self-sacrificing decision.