When Falcons Fall — C. S. Harris

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On the whole, the group enjoyed this book.  A lot.  Only one of us didn’t finish it and that was because she forgot when the meeting was, while another member plowed through it with little enjoyment, just to “get it done.”  It wasn’t her favorite type of book.

Our initial conversation dealt with the pronunciation of “St. Cyr” and Joan has feelers out to find out what’s right — “Sincere” or “Saint Sire.”  It made for an interesting discussion.

We enjoyed it for the multiple mysteries, the historical research, and the mixed motivations.  There were a lot of characters, but in a many-layered story such as this, it was to be expected.

Sebastian was a fascinating character as was his wife, Hero.  Not only was there relationship very modern-feeling, but Hero’s modern point of view was intriguing.  The mysteries were compelling and the setting was very atmospheric.

We did have a few issues with the amount of walking around that was done and we got a bit bogged down with the family tree stuff, but on the whole we liked the historical bits, pulling in smuggling, Napoleon, and that parliamentary act that ruined so many villages and people’s lives.

Joan was glad that Sebastian’s search for his father made a small step forward.  It would have pissed her off if he’d just been spinning his wheels on that for the whole book.

Favorite Characters – Sebastian, Hero.  Lovely, lovely people.  Dapper, upstanding, yellow eyes, empathic.  Charles Bonaparte.  What a fun boy.  Archie Rawlins, Reuben (a true detective), Emma (the victim).

Least Favorite Characters – Creepy guy married to Liv, Major Weston and the aristocracy as a whole.  The horrible woman who owned the school, Rowena LaMont.  “To coddle the fruits of sin is to condone the act that created them, and I believe we must never be lured into such errors by the temptations of misplaced kindness.”  Special, just special.  Reverend Benedict Underwood.  Yuck.  His wife was pretty awful, too. Jude Lowe, Lady Seton, the coroner Higginbottom

 

Windigo Island — William Kent Krueger

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Those in attendance were Darla, George, Pam, Tom and Bruce

With Joan’s unfortunate absence, we missed out on a review of William Krureger’s life as an author.

With some ambivalence, we sort-of liked the book. It did give reader’s insight into the western Great Lakes area and the lives of the Native Americans who live there. It also highlighted the problem of sex trafficking, although we did not know how accurate it was in regard to Native Americans specifically.  Unraveling the mystery of the missing girls was compelling and well portrayed (at least until the end).

There were a number of dislikes expressed.  We agreed that the ending was pretty formulaic and the weakest part of the book.  One objection was the book’s seeming alignment with current efforts of making women be the heroes.  Another objection was the portrayed investigation being ‘by committee,’ although given the wide geographic and political area covered in the story, it would be necessary to work with many different jurisdictions.  The heavy emphasis on the mystical beliefs of the Native Americans got somewhat tiresome and seemed a bit stereotypical.  We also thought that running with an axe down a pant leg with only a slight limp was improbable!

The book did generate significant discussion of the plight of Native Americans.  Topics discussed included the reality of poor treatment by the government, even up to recent times; lack of good education and lack of employment opportunities on reservations; the reality of families being disrupted by children forcibly sent to government boarding schools, which affected an entire generation; and the general difficulty of subsistence cultures transitioning into a cash based economy.

Characters we liked:  Henry, Daniel, Cork, and Louise (added by Joan).

Characters we disliked:  Cork, Windigo, Manny, and Jenny (added by Joan)

(We didn’t discuss her, but we might also include Louise, who was a terrible mother but became a little more sympathetic by the end).

(Many thanks to Bruce for providing this report ~ Joan)