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Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Librarian Seeks BookNeeded quick! Great book to read.  Looking for a well-written story that contains humor, light subject matter, and well-rounded, quirky characters.  Must be able to hold my attention and keep me from binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy and various home improvement shows.  Physical book preferred, but would consider downloading a digital copy if it is the right choice.

That is how I felt several weeks ago when I found myself looking for a book to read; like I needed to write my own personal ad to help me find a good book.    

I kept starting books, but not finishing them.  Probably not so much the books fault as my inability to stay focused.  But I was getting desperate, I needed something that I could finish reading and use for my book review.  Thankfully, I work with some of the most well-read people in Joplin, so I started asking library staff for recommendations.  And, lo and behold, I found a winner, “Evvie Drake Starts Over” by Linda Holmes. 

Evvie Drake is a widow.  Not your typically weepy, I miss my husband-type though.  Evvie has a secret – one she has not told anyone – on the day of her husband’s death she was packing her car, planning to leave him forever.  What are the odds on the day she decided to leave, he would die?  

So now a whole year later, she still has not shared this secret with anyone – not her best friend Andy, not her family, not a soul.  And then Dean comes into her life.

Dean has lost something as well – not a spouse, but something just as important to him – his ability to pitch.  This is devastating for him since he has made a career out of being a baseball pitcher. However, he is now a former major-league pitcher after getting a case of the “yips” and not being able to pitch with any sort of accuracy. 

Coincidentally, Evvie and Dean are both friends with Andy, and in an effort to help both of his floundering friends, he suggests that Dean, who recently left New York City to visit him in Maine, rent the apartment located in the back of Evvie’s large house.  This will help Evvie pay her bills, since she refuses to touch her husband life insurance money, and it will provide Dean with a safe space away from prying eyes.

After Dean moves in, the two quickly make a deal – Dean will not ask about Evvie’s late husband and Evvie will not ask about baseball.

Thanks to Dean’s companionship Evvie is able to start to move forward and Dean finds a new normal, too.  The two do not end up keeping their deal, and in the end that turns out to be the best thing for both of them.  

Linda Holmes has crafted a beautiful piece of fiction, that in it’s soft, subtle way, was just what I needed.  I stayed awake late reading this one to find out what would happen and see how Evvie and Dean ended up. I was not sure I was going to like how she tied up the loose ends, but I could not have been happier.  I am glad to have found my perfect match in Evvie Drake.

 

 

Gone to Dust by Matt Goldman, Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper, Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

Lately I’ve been reading random things that catch my eye.  Some I’ve enjoyed, others not so much.  Here are some of the former.

TV writer (Seinfeld, Ellen, Wizards of Waverly Place) Matt Goldman penned his first novel last year, Gone to Dust. It features Minneapolis PI Nils Shapiro and is the first of what I hope will be a long series. Nils was a police officer for only a few weeks before being laid off. Instead of waiting for the promised recall he apprenticed with and became a private investigator.

Nils is a likeable character, a little snarky, tenacious, and hopelessly in love with his ex-wife. He is observant with a keen eye for details. He’s a little Monk-like in his ability to process what he sees and hears to make connections other don’t make.

In Gone to Dust he is called in to assist local police at the behest of academy alum and Edina officer, Ellegaard. The scene inside Maggie Somerville’s upscale Edina home is bizarre. Maggie is dead in her bed with no signs of forced entry. There won’t be much forensic evidence to offer clues so Nils and Ellegaard must search for clues in Maggie’s life and relationships. There are enough red herrings and clutter in this story to keep you intrigued.

The second in the series, Broken Ice, published in June and like the first novel has lots of twists and turns. If you’re a Robert Parker or Lawrence Block reader, try Goldman.

Novelist classifies my next book by Molly Harper as contemporary romance but I think it is family not romantic relationships that drive Sweet Tea and Sympathy. Margot Cary, an event planner in Chicago, is on the fast track to promotion when disaster strikes. Everything is set and going beautifully until Margot discovers the chef has ignored the carefully chosen menu and served shrimp. The client for the event is highly allergic and the flamingos who are there as unobtrusive backdrop love shrimp.

The ensuing calamity costs Margot her job and makes finding another position in her chosen field impossible. One step away from becoming homeless Margot gets a call from a relative she didn’t know existed. Margot’s mother left her father when Margot was only a few years old and she hasn’t had contact with the McCready family since. What Aunt Tootie offers, a job and a place to live, Margot can’t refuse.

Margot is planning her escape before she even begins her job on the funeral side of the McCready Bait Shop & Funeral Home. But life in the small Georgia town of Lake Sackett begins to grow on her as does her fondness for the McCready family, well except for her estranged father. Margot also finds Kyle Archer, a widower with two girls, hard to ignore.

The appeal of this book is the quirky characters and small town life Margot comes to know. This is a light-hearted look at a city girl changing and adapting to life with a big family in a small southern town. The library has this in both regular and large print editions.

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan also has some romance but it’s a legal thriller. Kate Sullivan is part of a class-action lawsuit against Mason Pharmaceutical.  She has just been appointed lead counsel for the group and how she does with the first trial will determine how the other litigants fare

Kate’s team is searching for the smoking gun that will show the company knew about the deadly side effects but released Celix anyway when a whistle-blower comes forward. Kate hires PI Landon James to check out the veracity of the witness. Before he can begin his investigation the witness is murdered. The death appears to be a mugging gone wrong but Landon suspects otherwise. Kate is warned off the case then attacked. Landon steps in to become both investigator and bodyguard. To complicate things Kate’s opposing counsel is a friend. She slowly realizes he is desperate to win and may be withholding crucial evidence.

This novel is fast-paced and intense but it has its quieter moments. Kate’s faith is strong but Landon feels abandoned by God. There are discussions on faith and belief flowing through the story but they don’t diminish the intensity. If you like Irene Hannon and/or Terri Blackstock books, you should try this first book in the Devoted Defender trilogy.

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