We often offer book discussions in support of our public events and also for our monthly Luann Dummer Center for Women Book Club. Book discussions take place from noon-1:00 pm in OEC 103 (Luann Dummer Center for Women).
This year, in honor of our March 2013 Women’s History Month speaker Dr. Sara Paretsky, we will focus on women mystery writers. We have included in our list some classic titles and some less well-known. We are focusing on novels with female detectives.
Nancy Drew's search for a flight of 99 steps to solve the mystery of a friend's weird dream takes her to France. But before she leaves the United States, an unknown person calling himself Monsieur Neuf warns the young sleuth not to pursue her mission.
With her friends Bess and George, Nancy arrives in Paris to join her father who is working on another case: to find out what, or who, is frightening wealthy financier Monsieur Leblanc into selling large amounts of securities.
Startling discoveries convince the young detective that Mr. Drew's case and her own mystery are linked by the 99 steps, and that a mysterious Arab has a strong hold over Leblanc. Is it blackmail? she wonders.
Nancy's quest for further clues leads to a romantic chateau country in the Loire Valley, where a web of danger closes in tightly around the three girls. How Nancy unearths the exciting mystery of the 99 steps will hold the reader spellbound with suspense.
"Murder at the Vicarage" marks the debut of Agatha Christie's unflappable and much beloved female detective, Miss Jane Marple. With her gift for sniffing out the malevolent side of human nature, Miss Marple is led on her first case to a crime scene at the local vicarage. Colonel Protheroe, the magistrate whom everyone in town hates, has been shot through the head. No one heard the shot. There are no leads. Yet, everyone surrounding the vicarage seems to have a reason to want the Colonel dead. It is a race against the clock as Miss Marple sets out on the twisted trail of the mysterious killer without so much as a bit of help from the local police.
The body of a young woman is discovered on the grimy sands of Jeddah beach; soon afterwards, a strong-minded American woman finds herself alone and afraid in the most repressive city on earth when her husband suddenly disappears.
Investigating police officer Osama Ibrahim, forensic scientist Katya Hijazi and her friend, the strictly devout Bedouin guide Nayir Sharqi join forces to search out the truth in the scorching city streets and the vast, lethal emptiness of the desert beyond.
Breathtakingly fast-paced, sure-footed and thrilling, this novel paints in dazzling colours a city of veils in which more is hidden than is revealed, and nothing is what it seems.
Chicago politics—past, present, and future—take center stage in New York Times–bestselling author Sara Paretsky’s brilliant new V. I. Warshawski novel.
Chicago’s unique brand of ball is sixteen-inch slow pitch, played in leagues all over the city for more than a century. But in politics, in business, and in law enforcement, the game is hardball. When V. I. Warshawski is asked to find a man who’s been missing for four decades, a search that she figured would be futile becomes lethal. Old skeletons from the city’s racially charged history, as well as haunting family secrets—her own and those of the elderly sisters who hired her—rise up to brush her back from the plate with a vengeance. A young cousin whom she’s never met arrives from Kansas City to work on a political campaign; a nun who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. dies without revealing crucial evidence; and on the city’s South Side, people spit when she shows up. Afraid to learn that her adored father might have been a bent cop, V. I. still takes the investigation all the way to its frightening end.
“Doctors take days off—why not P I’s?” V I Warshawski demands. But when America’s hardest-working private eye goes clubbing, a stranger is shot, and dies in V I’s arms.
V I has been visiting Club Gouge, Chicago’s edgiest night spot, where a woman known as the Body Artist turns her naked body into a canvas for the audience to paint on. The show attracts all kinds of people, from a menacing off-duty cop, to Ukrainian mobsters, Iraqi war vets—and V I’s impetuous cousin Petra. A tormented young painter shows up, too, and the intricate designs she creates on the Body Artist drives one of the vets into a violent rage.
When the painter is shot, the cops figure it’s an easy collar—PTSD vet goes off the rails, stalks, then kills young woman. But the vet’s family hires V I to clear his name, and the detective uncovers a chain of ugly truths that stretch all the way from Iraq to Chicago’s south side.
The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. Since its publication in 2010, the book has been dubbed the “secular bible of a new social movement” by numerous commentators, including Cornel West, and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities, churches, community centers, re-entry centers and prisons nationwide. The New Jim Crow tells a truth our nation has been reluctant to face.
As the United States celebrates its “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of black men in major urban areas are under correctional control or saddled with criminal records for life. Jim Crow laws were wiped off the books decades ago, but today an extraordinary percentage of the African American community is warehoused in prisons or trapped in a parallel social universe, denied basic civil and human rights— including the right to vote, the right to serve on juries, and the right to be free of legal discrimination in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits. Today, it is no longer socially permissible to use race explicitly as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet as civil rights lawyer-turned-legal scholar Michelle Alexander demonstrates, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways in which it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once labeled a felon, even for a minor drug crime, the old forms of discrimination are suddenly legal again. In her words, “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”
Alexander shows that, by targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.
The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community—and all of us—to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.
A young boy's freak accident leads TV reporter Riley Spartz to investigate a homicide in the closed religious society of the Amish. No women near the small Minnesota tourist town have been reported missing and because the victim's face is damaged, she can't be identified without the help of a forensic artist. When she finally is recognized as Sarah Yoder, a young Amish woman, the police have difficulty investigating the case because the Amish believe in forgiveness rather than prosecution, and no one in the community is talking. Because of the biblical ban on graven images, Sarah's family objects to her picture being used by the media even though the police believe the publicity might lead to tips. But when Riley finds a clue the cops miss, she uncovers a dark web of fraud and deception in the community—driven by motives as old as the Bible: sex and money.
Julie Kramer will be joining the Book Club discussion this month!
"J" is for Jaffe: Wendell Jaffe, dead these past five years. Or so it seemed until his former insurance agent spotted him in the bar of a dusty little resort halfway between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz.
Five years ago, when Jaffe's thirty-five-foot Fuji ketch was found drifting off the Baja coast, it seemed a sure thing he'd gone overboard. The note he left behind admitted he was flat broke, his business bankrupt, his real estate gambit nothing but a huge Ponzi scheme about to collapse, with criminal indictment certain to follow. When the authorities soon after descended on his banks and his books, there was nothing left: Jaffe had stripped the lot.
But Jaffe wasn't quite without assets. There was the $500,000 life insurance policy made out to his wife and underwritten by California Fidelity. With no corpse to prove death, however, the insurance company was in no hurry to pay the claim. Dana Jaffe had to wait out the statutory five years until her missing husband could be declared legally dead. Just two months before Wendell Jaffe was sighted in that dusty resort bar, California Fidelity finally paid in full. Now they wanted the truth. And they were willing to hire Kinsey Millhone to dig it up.
As Kinsey pushes deeper into the mystery surrounding Wendell Jaffe's pseudocide, she explores her own past, discovering that in family matters as in crime, sometimes it's better to reserve judgment.
After a year away from working in the field, archaeologist Cormac Maguire and pathologist Nora Gavin are back in the bogs, investigating a ninth-century body found buried in the trunk of a car. They discover that the ancient corpse is not alone—pinned beneath it is the body of Benedict Kavanagh, missing for mere months and familiar to television viewers as a philosopher who enjoyed destroying his opponents in debate. Both men were viciously murdered, but centuries apart—so how did they end up buried together in the bog?
While on the case, Cormac and Nora lodge at Killowen, a nearby artists' colony and organic farm and sanctuary for eccentric souls. Digging deeper into the older crime, they become entangled in high-stakes intrigue encompassing Kavanagh's death while surrounded by suspects in his ghastly murder. It seems that everyone at Killowen has some secret to protect.
Set in modern-day Ireland, The Book of Killowen delves deep into the mysteries of the past, revealing a new twist on the power of language—and on the eternal mysteries of good and evil.
Erin Hart will be joining the Book Club discussion this month!
Emily Pollifax has returned to her quiet, retired life in Brunswick, New Jersey. Yet her brief sojourn as a CIA courier was an exciting highlight to remember as she works at the hospital, speaks at the garden club, and attends church. She reads the newspaper one Sunday morning about a strange occurrence in Istanbul, Turkey. A woman is being sought after being kidnapped from the British Consulate.
Shortly after reading the story, her telephone rings. It is Mr. Carstairs at the CIA. She is needed for another courier job. To her astonished delight, she is swept out and off to Turkey within an hour. Her duty is to meet the same woman at a prearranged spot and hand over a passport and money to come to the United States.
Since this is only her second job for the CIA, Carstairs still has to realize that when Emily Pollifax gets involved, jobs rarely go as simply as planned. It may not be her fault, but she soon finds herself having her passport taken by the Turkish police and detained until the mysterious woman is turned in. Then she has a body dumped in her lap. Soon she has to avoid the Turkish police, the international spies, the assassins, and anyone who is threatening the escape of the woman Mrs. Pollifax is supposed to rescue.
When a mysterious letter lands in Hallie James’s mailbox, her life is upended. Hallie was raised by her loving father, having been told her mother died in a fire decades earlier. But it turns out that her mother, Madlyn, was alive until very recently. Why would Hallie’s father have taken her away from Madlyn? What really happened to her family thirty years ago?
In search of answers, Hallie travels to the place where her mother lived, a remote island in the middle of the Great Lakes. The stiff islanders fix her first with icy stares and then unabashed amazement as they recognize why she looks so familiar, and Hallie quickly realizes her family’s dark secrets are enmeshed in the history of this strange place. But not everyone greets her with such a chilly reception—a coffee-shop owner and the family’s lawyer both warm to Hallie, and the possibility of romance blooms. And then there’s the grand Victorian house bequeathed to her—maybe it’s the eerie atmosphere or maybe it’s the prim, elderly maid who used to work for her mother, but Hallie just can’t shake the feeling that strange things are starting to happen . . .
In The Tale of Halcyon Crane, Wendy Webb has created a haunting story full of delicious thrills, vibrant characters, and family secrets.