October 25, 2023

The Shadows in the Street


The Shadows in the Street by Susan Hill
Simon Serrailler #5
2010 Chatto & Windus
Finished on October 22, 2023
Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Publisher's Blurb:

Simon Serrailler has just wrapped up a particularly exhausting and difficult case for SIFT – Special Incident Flying Taskforce – and is on a sabbatical on a Scottish island when he is recalled to Lafferton. Two local prostitutes have vanished and are subsequently found strangled. By the time he gets back, another girl has disappeared. Is this a vendetta against prostitutes by someone with a warped mind? Or a series of killings by an angry punter? But then one of the Cathedral wives goes missing, followed by another young married woman, on her way to work.

Serrailler follows lead after lead, all of which become dead-ends. The fear is that more women will be killed, and that the murderer is right under their noses; meanwhile the public grow more angry and afraid. It is only through a piece of luck, a chance meeting and a life put in grave danger that he finally gets a result…

Susan Hill has a genius for evoking atmosphere and suspense, and her characters are so real that the reader is caught up not only in the mystery but in the drama of their lives.

It's been ten years since I read this fifth installment in the Serrailler series, but after a decade, most of the details were long forgotten. I thought it was very good, and almost gave it the same rating as I did in 2013, but in comparison to some recent 4.5/5 reads, it wasn't quite as good so I bumped it down to an even 4-star rating. I don't have much new to add to my original review, so I'll simply share that below. 

2013 Review (4.5/5):

I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery, which kept me on the edge of my seat (and reading late into the night) for most of the second half. Hill kept me guessing and it was only at the very end that I finally sorted out the clues, threw out the red herrings, and worked out the identity of the killer. I rarely ever read a series out of order, but I had this book in my stacks and decided to give it a try without realizing there were four others leading up to this one. My only complaint is that the lack of substantial backstory forced me to flip back and forth between the early chapters, trying to piece together the relationships among the main characters. The introduction of new characters throughout the mystery also added to my confusion, making me stop and question their importance to the narrative. As I’ve discovered in other crime novels I’ve recently read (especially those set specifically in Great Britain and Ireland), I came upon quite a few abbreviations (PC, DCD, DI, DS, DCS, DCI, CID, OIOC), but eventually was able to sort them out, pretty much in time to realize their lack of importance. However, initially their presence disrupted the flow of the narrative. I guess that’s more than one complaint, but they’re very minor quibbles and I’m quite anxious to read the other titles in this series, as well Hill’s stand-alones.

On life after loss:

Ordinary things, Cat thought gratefully. Washing up the coffee cups. Making a lamb stew. Chopping vegetables. Ordinary life. That’s what saves us.

Final Thoughts: Susan Hill, where have you been all my life?! I loved this mystery! Readers who enjoy Tana French and Mo Hayder will likely concur.

2023 Additional Thoughts:

Of course, now that I've read the earlier books in the series, I'm familiar with the main cast of characters and wasn't confused by their relationships or the lack of backstory. An extensive backstory would have revealed too much should someone read the books out of order, as I did originally. I'm very happy that there are seven more books in this series (as well as four novellas) to look forward to. 

October 22, 2023

Fellowship Point


Fellowship Point by Alice Elliott Dark
2022 Marysue Rucci Books
Finished on October 10, 2023
Rating: 5/5 (Excellent)

Publisher's Blurb:

Celebrated children’s book author Agnes Lee is determined to secure her legacy—to complete what she knows will be the final volume of her pseudonymously written Franklin Square novels; and even more consuming, to permanently protect the peninsula of majestic coast in Maine known as Fellowship Point. To donate the land to a trust, Agnes must convince shareholders to dissolve a generations-old partnership. And one of those shareholders is her best friend, Polly.

Polly Wister has led a different kind of life than Agnes: that of a well-off married woman with children, defined by her devotion to her husband, a philosophy professor with an inflated sense of stature. She strives to create beauty and harmony in her home, in her friendships, and in her family. Polly soon finds her loyalties torn between the wishes of her best friend and the wishes of her three sons—but what is it that Polly wants herself?

Agnes’s designs are further muddied when an enterprising young book editor named Maud Silver sets out to convince Agnes to write her memoirs. Agnes’s resistance cannot prevent long-buried memories and secrets from coming to light with far-reaching repercussions for all.

It's been a couple of weeks since I finished reading this marvelous novel, and while it took me over three weeks to read, I'm still thinking about Agnes, Polly, and Maud, wishing I could return to Fellowship Point and their stories. Fellowship Point is a literary work with a strong sense of place and unforgettable characters. It took me several chapters before I was fully immersed in the story (and I didn't care for a few of the men), but I loved the friendship (80 years long!) between Agnes & Polly. Friends and neighbors their entire lives, this is an epic friendship, though not without its faults...

I guessed one of the plot twists, but not most significant one, which was a lovely surprise and almost had me shouting, "No way!" Alice Elliott Dark is a new-to-me author, and I plan to jump into her backlist as soon as possible with hopes for a new novel in the coming years.  

Some random passages that spoke to me:
Rarely did she have to compromise for anyone, a privilege she did not take for granted and refused to squander. She was eighty, but she had not slowed down. Just the opposite. Her remaining work was urgent, and she was well aware of working alongside the specter of the unknown moment of her last breath.


The world through the looking glass, the parallel universe where life is as it should be, so close to us yet impenetrable except when we accept the graces and the love offered to us. What I have learned is the grace and love are offered all the time, in every new moment, at every glimpse of the sky, or dawn of a day that has never before existed, or squirrel skittering along a branch, or a conversation with a sister or a friend, or the sense of time suspended when reading a good book. We are free, always, to accept what is offered; it is we who don't recognize this. This is our free will. The result is what we call our experience, which in turn forms our beliefs. There are a lot of bad ideas in the world. I have less and less patience with any ideas at all. Animals, flowers, the sea. Friends. Children. Art. The end.

Is it too soon for a second reading? Perhaps on audio? Fellowship Point may just be my favorite book of 2023.

I have to include this photo from my neighborhood. It reminds me so much of the cover art for Fellowship Point!

October 2, 2023

A Month in Summary - September 2023

Strait of Georgia
Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
September 2023

We are currently on the road, or should I say we're on "Van Isle" as the locals call Vancouver Island. We began our trip two weeks ago and are currently in Nanaimo for the next few days. We've been to Victoria, Saanichton, Campbell River, Telegraph Cove, Black Creek, as well as a few spots in Oregon and Washington. We have two more weeks of fun as we head over to the western side of the island, then down to Port Townsend and the Seattle area before we head home. This trip has checked several items from my bucket list, most notably: three black bear sightings (across a small river from us!), more humpback whales than you could count, and two orcas! I also saw four eagles and several kingfishers, but those weren't new-to-me sightings; just fun. I also conquered my fear of driving our 26' motorhome onto the Black Ball Ferry, which took us from Port Angeles, Washington to Victoria, British Columbia. Thank goodness for the awesome parking crew who helped guide me into our space on the ferry!

I haven't done much reading while we're exploring the island, but I am enjoying another big novel and should finish in the next week or so. I had another wonderful month of reading before we left Oregon, wrapping up a very long audiobook that turned out to be a great listening experience. I also read two new novels that I can recommend highly. 

Books Read (click on the title for my review):

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton (5/5)

Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur (4.5/5)

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (4/5)

Good Harbor by Anita Diamant (3/5)


Sister by Rosamund Lupton

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Movies & TV Series:

The Fall - Starts out very dark and disturbing, but I'm glad we stuck with it through the end of the third (and final) season. The conclusion was somewhat anticlimactic, but overall a very good show.


Pippa, Nathan, Mom and Meghan

Ana and Mark

Proud Moment:

Our daughter, who is a fashion influencer (Fashion Jackson), launched her clothing line on September 7th! We couldn't be more proud of all she's achieved in the past decade. You can read more about the launch here and check out the latest arrivals on the website (MAYSON the label ).


As mentioned, we are currently on another road trip through Canada. I'll blog about in the coming months, but for now, here are some highlights from our trip.

Victoria, B.C.

Telegraph Cove, B.C.

Prince of Whales excursion

Sunrise over the Strait of Georgia

My favorite travel companion

For more photos of our journey, follow me on Instagram.