DeeBrief review: Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves by Dave Lowry

In this light mystery romp, restaurant critic Dave Lowry doles out an extra big helping of foodie flavour.

Chinese Cooking

“‘And you,’ she said, ‘the aforementioned white guy from Andover, Massachusetts, waltzed into the Eastern Palace here, and they turned over kitchen—wok, stock, and spatula, so to speak—to you?”

Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves, Dave Lowry

Tucker is not your average white, upper-middle-class college dropout. He’s obsessed with Chinese culture, speaks passable Mandarin, cooks traditional Chinese food with the best of them, and his chivalrous instincts have gotten him embroiled with Corinne Chang, who may or may not be involved with diamond thieves. In this light mystery romp, restaurant critic Dave Lowry doles out an extra big helping of foodie flavour.

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DeeBrief review: Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey

Eighty-two-year-old Maud knows her friend Elizabeth is missing, but because Maud is elderly and suffers from dementia, no one takes her seriously.

Elizabeth is Missing

“‘Oh, Maud,’ she calls out as I leave the shop. ‘I asked for coffee and you’ve given me tea!’
I walk back through the park. There’s a plank for sitting on, a long sitting plank, by the bandstand that looks toward Elizabeth’s road, and I have a rest, watching a man top up a compost heap. It’s cold and it looks like rain, but I don’t feel like going home yet.”

– Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey

What do you do when no one will believe you on a matter of life and death? Eighty-two-year-old Maud knows her friend Elizabeth is missing, but because Maud is elderly and suffers from dementia, no one takes her seriously. After all, she doesn’t remember that she’s been to the shop to buy tinned peaches twice today, or that the man on the phone is angry because she called him but forgot why. But she does know that Elizabeth is missing, and she must gather her failing memory about her to find out why in Emma Healey’s heartwrenching, humourous debut novel. (I had the chance to see her read from and talk about Elizabeth is Missing at IFOA in June.)

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DeeBrief review: The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals, by Wendy Jones

On a sunny day in a Welsh village in 1924, Wilfred Price finds himself so beguiled by the lemon-curd yellow dress worn by his charming date, he proposes marriage to her—quite by accident.

Wilfred Price

“‘He looked at her fingers which were already purple and bloated, and wondered if Howard Carter had had this problem with Tutankhamun.
‘There was a tomb that Tutankhamun had!’ he remarked to Mrs. Howell-Thomas. ‘Absolutely magnificent!’
“what are you talking about in there, Wilfred?’ said his da, who was sitting on the flowerbed wall, drinking his tea. ‘Are you talking to a corpse again?'”

– The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price,
Purveyor of Superior Funerals, Wendy Jones

On a sunny day in a Welsh village in 1924, Wilfred Price finds himself so beguiled by his surroundings, his picnic lunch, and the lemon-curd yellow dress worn by his charming date, he proposes marriage to her—quite by accident. Though Wilfred tries to take it back, events conspire against him. Grace Reese, it turns out, is secretly pregnant and the proposal is a godsend that will save this doctor’s daughter’s reputation. Word gets out immediately of the proposal (and the pregnancy), and she can’t bring herself to tell her anyone it was a mistake. Wilfred, meanwhile, is a newly minted undertaker, trying to establish himself as a trusted name and grow his business. He can’t afford to tarnish his reputation with rumours either. And when the lovely Flora calls on him to bury her father, he finds himself drawn into a triangle that is deceptively complex.

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DeeBrief review: The Accident by Chris Pavone

Set in the publishing world, The Accident goes from the slush pile to a Bourne Identity–style chase through New York. But are the stakes really that high?

The Accident

“‘You think that has something to do with the manuscript?’
‘I do. Isabel does.’
‘What? Why?’
‘Because it can’t be a coincidence that the morning after the girl finishes reading the bombshell, someone shoots her in the head. In her own apartment.’

– The Accident, Chris Pavone

What if one of the most powerful men in the world had a secret, scandalous past? And what if that man could be brought down by a single manuscript? Literary agent Isabel Reed and editor Jeff Fielder are about to find out—and they could pay with their lives—in Chris Pavone’s thriller The Accident. Set in the publishing world, The Accident goes from the slush pile to a Bourne Identity–style chase through New York. But are the stakes really that high?

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DeeBrief review: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

This is foremost a ghost story, a chilling tale about loved ones who have died—but maybe not permanently. McMahon excels in creating taut situations set against the spooky backdrop of unforgiving east coast mountains and forests

The Winter People

“‘Because you are the closest I will ever come to a child of my own, the secret will go to you. I will write it all down, everything I know about sleepers. I will fold up the papers, put them in an envelope, and seal it with wax. You will hide it away, and one day, when you are ready, you will open it up.’
‘How will I know I am ready?’ I asked.
She smiled, showing her small teeth, pointed like a fox’s and stained brown from tobacco. ‘You will know.'”

– The Winter People, Jennifer McMahon

Today I’m introducing my blog’s second new feature of the year: DeeBrief reviews. I review far fewer books than I read, often because of time constraints, job, life, having finished too many books at once, or simply not having quite as much to say about a particular title. Often books that I would love to recommend or discuss with you get left in the dust. DeeBrief reviews will be concise snapshots, running about 500 words in length (my regular book reviews are usually 1000-1500 words). Hope you enjoy this new feature! It’ll certainly let me get to more books on my blog.

Something’s going on in the woods outside West Hall, Virginia. The sleepy little town is home to more than just a charming farmers’ market and a quirky history. What really happened to Sara Harrison Shea, whose body was found skinned alive after the death of her only child in 1908? And in the present, where has Ruth and Fawn’s mother gone? In Jennifer McMahon’s atmospheric ghost story The Winter People, three women across a century will discover the truth about “sleepers” as they search for missing loved ones.

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