Ford, G.M. Black River. William Morris, 2002.
Reason read: to continue the series started last month in honor of New Jersey becoming a state.
This mystery continues to feature hard nosed Frank Corso. He’s a stoic reporter who happens to be a imposing tough guy. This time he is the only writer allowed into the courtroom during the murder trial of Nicholas Balagula, alleged gangster accused of killing 63 people. It’s the crime of the century in the form of faulty architecture of a hospital. At the same time, a murdered man is discovered buried in his truck by the side of a river. Is this murder related to Balagula’s trial and if so, how? The dead man was paying for his son’s expensive medical school on a blue collar salary. How? Was he on Balagula’s payroll? Corso only gets involved when his former lover, Meg Dougherty, has an accident so life threatening Corso doubts it was an accident at all. Someone wants Meg dead. All clues lead Corso back to Balagula in round about ways.
Author fact: the G. M. stands for Gerald Moody. I have to wonder if he is related to the Moody family in Maine. You know, the ones with famous diner?
Book trivia: You could walk around Corso’s world just by taking note of the real-life landmarks Ford uses: Elliott Bay, Bainbridge, 7th Madison, Portage Bay, Montlake Cut, Union Bay, Lake Washington
Playlist: Chopin, Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”, Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”, Ricky Martin, Sarah McLachlan, Heart, and Barry Manilow.
Nancy said: Pearl did not say anything specific about Black River.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Living High in Cascadia” (p 148).
Scarmuzzi, Don J. Day Hikes in Washington State: 90 Favorite Trails, Loops and Summit Scrambles.
Reason read: I am a member of the Early Review program for LibraryThing.
Day Hikes in Washington State is a follow up to Day Hikes in the Pacific Northwest. Having not read the Pacific Northwest guide I had no idea what to expect from the Washington State guide. Even more so, since I am on the East Coast and have never been to Washington State, this seems like an odd book to request as an Early Review. I am an avid hiker and wanted to review a book based solely on its information. I feel I would review a guide differently if I was intimately familiar with the area.
In truth, I can only find one thing to criticize. Scarmuzzi is uber current by talking about social distancing. Hopefully we won’t always be in this Covid predicament and that information will become obsolete. The good news is I can imagine this book dog-eared, sun-faded, and well-read in the back of some car’s back window. There is a good deal of valuable information and all of it is incredibly organized. The photography is gorgeous. The maps are clear. What is unique about Scarmuzzi’s book is each trail is intimately detailed all along the route. He includes more turn by turn descriptions than your standard guide book, going beyond just stating level of difficulty and elevation.
I enjoyed this guide so much I may have to make a trip to Washington just to hike the trails, loops and summit scrambles Scarmuzzi recommends. In the meantime, I urge him to visit Monhegan Island and write a book about their coastal trails. It would be fantastic!
Book trivia: This book is a little oversized to be carried in one’s day pack. It would have be awesome if it had smaller dimensions to allow for portability.
Author fact: Scarmuzzi has three books to his name according to LibraryThing’s catalog.
MacDonald, Betty. Onions in the Stew. Philadelphia: JB Lippincott, 1954.
Reason read: to finished the series started in April in honor of Humor Month.
In truth, Onions in the Stew can be read independently of any other Betty MacDonald memoir. All three are very different from one another. Onions in the Stew tells of the period in MacDonald’s life when she and her children, with her second husband, buy a house on Vashon Island in Puget Sound. It starts off as a humorous commentary on island living but morphs into the trials and tribulations of raising two teenager daughters who just have to rebel against everything you want for them. By the end of it, the reader can’t help but sigh. MacDonald blends just the right amount of laugh-out-oud funny with sweet poignancy. This was my favorite of the three memoirs by far.
Author fact: MacDonald might be better known for her Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories for children, but Onions in the Stew was delightful.
Book trivia: Onions in the Stew is another memoir about Betty MacDonald’s life. The Egg and I and The Plague and I are two others. These do not necessarily need to be read in order to be fully enjoyed.
Playlist: “Tangerine,” “Rock of Ages,” “You’re Mine, You,” “Embraceable You,” “Sweet Lorraine,” “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home,” “Paper Moon,” Frank Sinatra, Frankie Laine, Billie Holliday, and King Cole.
Nancy said: Pearl mentioned Onions in the Stew as one of those books that will be so funny you will fall off your chair from laughing.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Tickle Your Funny Bone” (p 218).
Guterson’s fall back on the descriptions of mildew and a soggy wetness happened enough times that I felt like I had to wring myself out periodically. Snow Falling on Cedars (for those of you who haven’t seen the movie) is about a Washington state coastal community rocked by scandal. A fisherman is found dead in the water. Evidence at the scene points to foul play and incriminates an obvious suspect: a man who has had a well-known, long-standing family grudge against the victim. The most alluring characters are the accused’s wife and a winsome reporter covering the case. Of course, there is history between them and that only complicates the case.
Aside from being “damp” I thoroughly enjoyed Guterson’s novel (liked it better than the movie, of course). The characters are intricate enough that I felt like I was progressively getting to know them as I would in real life. Coming from a close-knit, teeny-tiny fishing community I could relate to the drama and intensity the trial brought to it. Of course, no love story would be complete without a heart wrenching love triangle and this one lives up to the drama.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “What a Trial That Was!” (p 244). Oh! And also from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Living High in Cascadia” (p 153).