Wednesday, March 7, 2018

2018 Reading Challenge: Week 10

This week I've finished up 2 books.  First up, The Seduction of Water by Carol Goodman, for week 28's topic - one of the 4 elements (water).


Summary:  Iris Greenfeder, ABD (All But Dissertation), feels the “buts” are taking over her life: all but published, all but a professor, all but married. Yet the sudden impulse to write a story about her mother, Katherine Morrissey, leads to a shot at literary success. The piece recounts an eerie Irish fairy tale her mother used to tell her at bedtime—and nestled inside it is the sad story of her death. It captures the attention of her mother’s former literary agent, who is convinced that Katherine wrote one final manuscript before her strange, untimely end in a fire thirty years ago. So Iris goes back to the remote Hotel Equinox in the Catskills, the place where she grew up, to write her mother’s biography and search for the missing manuscript—and there she unravels a haunting mystery, one that holds more secrets than she ever expected. . . .

My Rating/Review:  4/5 stars.  I enjoyed this book quite a bit.  I loved the tie-in between the fairy tale Iris's mother has written and the back story that slowly unfolds about who her mother really was.   A sort of hybrid historical fiction and historical mystery, but one with lots of little details that kept me engaged.  I think I had mostly figured out the details of the whodunit by the end, but I liked how the story was wrapped up and it wasn't too easy to figure out.  Recommended for mystery lovers.  (It's not a cozy mystery, but not much violence or suspense either.)

I then picked up The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser at the recommendation of my new friend, Lance for week #23's topic - a medical or legal thriller. 


Summary:  One museum, two thieves, and the Boston underworld—the story behind the lost Gardner masterpieces and the art detective who swore to get them back.  Shortly after midnight on March 18, 1990, two men broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and committed the largest art heist in history. They stole a dozen masterpieces, including one Vermeer, three Rembrandts, and five Degas. But after thousands of leads, hundreds of interviews, and a $5-million reward, not a single painting has been recovered. Worth a total of $500 million, the missing masterpieces have become the Holy Grail of the art world and one of the nation's most extraordinary unsolved mysteries.  

Art detective Harold Smith worked on the theft for years, and after his death, reporter Ulrich Boser inherited his case files. Traveling deep into the art underworld, Boser explores Smith's unfinished leads and comes across a remarkable cast of characters, including the brilliant rock 'n' roll art thief; the golden-boy gangster who professes his innocence in rhyming verse; the deadly mobster James "Whitey" Bulger; and the Boston heiress Isabella Stewart Gardner, who stipulated in her will that nothing should ever be changed in her museum, a provision followed so closely that the empty frames of the stolen works still hang on the walls. Boser eventually cracks one of the biggest mysteries of the case and uncovers the identities of the men who robbed the museum nearly two decades ago. A tale of art and greed, of obsession and loss, The Gardner Heist is as compelling as the stolen masterpieces themselves.

My Rating/Review: 4-1/2 out of 5 stars.  I read a fiction book (The Art Forger) last year about the Gardner Heist so when Lance recommended this as a good read, I decided to grab it for week #23.  An interesting, in-depth look at the possible suspects and motives behind the theft of priceless artwork from the Gardner Museum in Boston.  Still unsolved, the author cites numerous primary sources and lays out some theories culled from many years of research into the theft about who was behind the original heist and where the artwork might be now.  How the thieves managed to keep the theft a secret and the myriad of possibilities where the artwork might be make for a compelling read - that almost sounds like fiction, except it's true.  

Book Review - Challenge Update - August 10, 2018

I finished up 2 books over the last week.  The first was Lud-In-The-Mist by Hope Mirrless. Book Summary:   Lud-in-the-Mist, the capital...