Northern Spy by Flynn Berry 

A producer at the BBC and mother to a new baby, Tessa is at work in Belfast one day when the news of another raid comes on the air.

The IRA may have gone underground in the two decades since the Good Friday Agreement, but they never really went away, and lately bomb threats, security checkpoints, and helicopters floating ominously over the city have become features of everyday life.

As the news reporter requests the public’s help in locating those responsible for the robbery, security footage reveals Tessa’s sister, Marian, pulling a black ski mask over her face.

The police believe Marian has joined the IRA, but Tessa is convinced she must have been abducted or coerced …


I was impressed at how skillfully this book is constructed.

Well done, Flynn Berry.

LIBBY App – Listen to Library Audio Books

I listen to audio books pretty much every day.

Though I have an Audible account (12 books / year) I spend far more time on the Libby app. I’m coming up to 500 audio books borrowed, so far.

I can read 2-3 books a week at 150% normal speed.

Once I put a popular book on “HOLD” — wait time does seem to be increasing. So I recently added a second library to the app. Now I can put up to 60 books on hold: 30 for each library.

Bottom line … I LOVE THE LIBBY APP.

And I do donate to the libraries.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie

Murder in Mesopotamia (1936) is set at an archaeological excavation in Iraq.

Hercule Poirot happens to be close when an astonishing (far-fetched) murder occurs.

It’s typical Christie. A cast of characters all of whom MIGHT be the killer. A surprise ending.

I liked best Nurse Amy Leatheran who tells the tale.

Click PLAY or watch a snippet of a TV adaptation on YouTube.

Silent Parade by Keigo Higashino 

I’m still captivated by the unique Japanese murder mystery books of Higashino.

Surprising. And fascinating.

This is his 4th book featuring ‘Detective Galileo‘, actually Dr. Manabu Yukawa — a physicist and college professor, who is known for his intelligence. He collaborates with the police when they can’t solve a crime.

The accused in a case of murder is found not guilty. Lack of enough evidence.

He returns to mock the family knowing he cannot be charged again.

In fact, this is the 2nd time in 20 years he was accused of murder and found innocent.

DCI Kusanagi worked both cases and is frustrated that the assumed killer is free. He asks Detective Galileo for help.

Coco (2017 film)

I finally saw Coco.


The story follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who is accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead, where he seeks the help of his deceased musician great-great-grandfather to return him to his family among the living and to reverse his family’s ban on music.

The concept for Coco is inspired by the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead. …

97% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Pixar truly is the best in animation.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Book #2 in the The Giver Quartet. This was the follow-up to her acclaimed The Giver (1993).

In fact, I’d say Blue is equally good.

I enjoyed the characters more.

And the ending was not what I had guessed.

The central character, Kira, who has a deformed leg, is orphaned and must learn to survive in a society that normally leaves the weak or disabled exposed to die in the fields.

In the course of the book, she begins to learn the art of dyeing thread to different colors except for blue, which nobody in her community knows how to make.

She also learns more about the truth of her village and the terrible secrets that they hold.

Desolation Mountain by William Kent Krueger

Another excellent murder mystery in the Cork O’Connor series.

It starts when a plane Minnesota Senator, Olympia McCarthy, and her family crashes near Desolation Mountain.

Cork and his son Stephen are two of the first on the scene.

Was it downed intentionally, and if so, why?

… Could it have been the anti-assault rifle legislation the Senator was about to introduce?

What about her opposition to the proposed Manila Accord, favored by the alt-right, the rejection of which would affect the profits of arms merchants?

Or was this an action by the Lexington Brigade, a radical anti-government militia group? …

Review of “Desolation Mountain: A Novel” by William Kent Krueger

I need a MONTH in London

Once again I broke up long international travel with a stopover in London.

I enjoyed my days in June 2022. And again end of August 2022.

BUT it would take a month of dedicated research to really understand all the areas of the city. And to visit all the attractions.

This time I stayed at Wombats near the Tower Bridge so ended up spending more time on that section of the Thames. Especially in the evening.

Most of what I do is FREE — wandering the streets and parks. Something interesting around every corner.

I drop into one of the free museums most days.

There’s a lot of green space.

London is much finer with good weather.
Southwark Cathedral

There are many excellent street performers.

My favourite this time was Mex.fs, an acoustic lap tap/percussive guitarist.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Of all amazing and FREE museums in London, the V & A is perhaps my favourite.

So massive!

11 acres, 145 galleries, 7 miles of exhibits and 5 million objects.

It’s not easy to see David in Florence — but you can study an exact replica any time, any day in London. Free. No crowding.

In fact, this space at the V & A called the Cast Courts is perhaps the best. You’ll quickly be diverted from David to other astonishing replicas in those 2 galleries.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Another of my favourite exhibits is Tippu’s Tiger.

The ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore in India had made a carved and painted wood casing representing a tiger savaging a near life-size European man. It moves and makes music.

The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

I read this book because it reminded me of that great film ➙ Enemy at the Gates.

The movie features a snipers’ duel between two of the best from the Soviet Union and Germany during the Battle of Stalingrad.

The Diamond Eye is based on the true story of a Ukrainian woman sniper in WW II.

In the fictional version, bookish history student Mila Pavlichenko evolves into a lethal hunter of Nazis known as Lady Death. She becomes a propaganda tool for the Soviets who send her to Washington D.C. to try to gain support from the Americans. She is befriended by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

The plot kept me going. But, ultimately, this book was not nearly as good as Quinn’s Rose Code.