Heads Will Roll by Joanie Chevalier

I’ve been reading mostly children’s books lately (visiting the grandkids) so this was quite a shocker! The premise for this book is fascinating – “body” transplants, moving a patient’s head to a new, healthy body.  The ethical considerations are fascinating.  You have to wonder whether vain and shallow people would pursue such extreme measures to remedy non-medical issues like obesity and aging? And where WOULD all those bodies come from?

I think the author really pegged the likely public reactions as well, speaking through the main character of Dr. Farkis: “Every organization with an acronym, an abbreviation, or an initialism will be after us in mobs. Think witch trials.” She also did a wonderful job of portraying the father of the Japanese family featured throughout the book: “It wasn’t a secret that in Japan women ruled the households. Aiko was a company man and had been all his life. He’d always handed over his paychecks to his wife. He was a pussycat at home, but a lion at work…” If was this attention to detail on the surroundings, not just the plot, that really held my attention throughout.

Definitely recommended!

The Photograph by Grant Leishma

This is a somewhat off-the-wall novel – not at all what I expected.  It begins decidedly British and somewhat stiff – “Oh sure, the cut-price, generic whisky’s, or even a cask of supermarket wine; Chateau de Cardboard, will get you pissed, but if you want to do it in style and with a modicum of aplomb, you can’t beat an eight-year-old or more, single-malt, true Scotch and that was exactly what Glenfiddich was.” The dialect is apparent throughout. At one point, the wife of our comic relief complains, “Bloody hell, he’s gone and gotten himself pissed again, she thought. God, he really is turning into an old sot.”

Quite frankly, the main character Tony is a bit stodgy. I found him a bit stilted.  But the supporting cast is a hoot.  The “girl friend” is sassy but believable with endearing dialogue like, “Get off your knees you silly, old bugger, you’ll get arthritis or something. Of course, I’ll marry you.”

But the best character by FAR is the snotty brother-in-law, Frank. This is a character with so few redeeming qualities you’ll simply LOVE to hate him.  He’s a caricature within a caricature you’ll find impossible to turn away from. First, he begins as Mr. Burns from the Simpsons.  “As Frank often did when faced with a situation outside of his control or knowledge, he closed his eyes and began to count pound notes in his head.”  But he goes on to put Walter Mitty to shame. He begins the book with a legitimate possible promotion, but mid-point he’s “day-dreaming about his future illustrious position, as Chairman of the Bank and of course, his exalted knighthood to come. There was a smile creasing his face as he fell into a deep sleep, filled with dreams of royalty, tiaras, morning suits and corgis.”

All vestiges of stodginess are far gone by a third of the way in, and the priest and housekeeper definitely put the book out of PG-13 territory. In fact, the further you get, the faster the twists and turns come. Be prepared to be surprised!

Definitely recommend!

– Read via Kindle Unlimited.

Dead of Winter by Billy McLaughlin

This fast paced and unpredictable mystery about a missing infant has more inappropriate relationships and bizarre characters than a Mexican telenovela. The mentally challenged man child with a temper and a deadly history. The shallow, self centered cheerleader with the spineless “friend”. The close minded cop, the judgmental neighbors, a good number of characters who judge themselves for one fault or another… and an appallingly large number of parents with “situational” ethics. Highly recommend!

196 pages

Betrayal by Sharon Brownlie

This books crawls before it flies. I found the first chapter a bit stilted and wordy. But by Chapter 2, the action starts to flow and before I knew it, I’d finished the novel.

The characters are realistic and complex. In weaving their tales together, Ms. Brownlie presents a villain both vile and pathetic, disgusting and sympathetic, hardened yet fragile as new glass.

I can’t wait to see what the sequel brings!