Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Place To Die by Dorothy James

Article first published as Book Review: A Place To Die by Dorothy James on Blogcritics.

A place to live with all the luxuries as well as friends at your beck and call seems to be a lofty ambition. Could there really be a home for the elderly, one that is capable of housing those who just want a nice place to finish their lives, but for others a place where they can be cared for in the last days of their lives. What happens when things do not work as planned and murder makes a stand?

In A Place to Die by Dorothy James, she takes us to a retirement home in the Vienna Woods. Here she introduces us to an eclectic cast of characters that charm or annoy. When Eleanor and Franz Fabian arrive from their home in New York to settle his mother in her new rooms, they find themselves in the midst of a murder and a mystery. When the wealthy and well liked Herr Graf is found dead the Fabians find themselves in the middle of a mystery that dates back to the history of some of the residents. Eleanor is a mystery aficionado and is interested in the process, getting involved when she should not be. Her husband however has no time and finds it all very boring. When Inspector Georg Buchner gets the case he finds more mysteries behind each clue he uncovers. The residents are not above suspicion, yet neither are the help, including the physicians and nurses.

Things take a strange turn when suddenly other residents begin dying of what appear to be natural causes and yet the abruptness and the amount of deaths seem out of place. When the Fabians mother is found dead, only more questions begin to churn. What is happening and how will it end?

I loved the characters; even the angry and gregarious ones had a place that fit in with my expectations of what such a home would be like. Eleanor was fun and Franz was just plain annoying. Georg Buchner was a wonder protagonist and kept the tension tight. As each clue unraveled into the next, he found himself in a place he was not comfortable with. His flaws made him so much more human and likable.

James was able to build a mystery using the past, bringing with the charm of the area, a history that today still rattles many cages. In the darkness of the woods, this history still carries anger and danger, and Ms. James is able to make you feel the tension in the air.

I found the story to be very well done, and hard to put down. If you love a mystery this is just the thing to keep you guessing. There are so many possibilities, and yet she sprinkles in red herrings liberally throwing even the best of mystery buffs off track.

This is a great book for your library. It would be a good book club novel or even one for a reading group. There are many potential controversies that would make good discussion fodder, but the theme and tone would also make for a fun read.

The ending will surprise you for many reasons--it was well done and interesting, actually quite satisfying in its own way.

 Rating 5/5

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Dorothy James Bio:

Dorothy James was born in Wales and grew up in the South Wales Valleys. Writer, editor, and translator, she has published short stories as well as books and articles on German and Austrian literature. She has taught at universities in the U.S., England, and Germany, makes her home now in Brooklyn and often spends time in Vienna and Berlin.

She wrote A Place to Die in her attic apartment on the edge of the Vienna Woods. She has travelled far from Wales, but has not lost the Welsh love of playing with language; she writes poems for pleasure as does Chief Inspector B├╝chner, the whimsical Viennese detective who unravels the first mystery in this new series of novels.


Price: $34.99

ISBN: 9781450082709

Pages: 436

Release: April 21, 2010


Price: $23.99

ISBN: 9781450082693

Pages: 436

Release: April 21, 2010

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Kindle buy link - $3.03

Nook buy link - $7.99

iBookstore buy link - $9.99


Tribute Books said...

Leslie, you are right - a retirement home is an ideal setting to create a rich and varied cast of characters. I'm glad you were entertained by the crew Dorothy assembled and that the mystery had you guessing until the very end.

Leslie said...

Thanks Nicole, this was a great read, well written and entertaining.

Dorothy James said...

Many thanks, Leslie, for this thoughtful review. I am very happy that you enjoyed reading the book. I have enjoyed reading your blog, and will be coming back to it. Love your account of your "first foray into bookland."