As an American who didn’t grow up with guns in the house most of my exposure to guns has been through stories. Movies, television shows, books and articles portray guns as dangerous weapons. The obvious leap in logic suggests that gun owners must also be dangerous people. This is clearly a fallacy but a hard one to overcome nonetheless. Modern media is filled with stories of gun accidents and shootings which naturally force the reader to question: what is at fault? Handguns and automatics used in wars and combat can easily be blamed for these deaths and injuries but blaming all collectors of dangerous things is foolish and leaves little room for nuance. This book gives a good look inside the minds of multiple gun collectors and enthusiasts as a backdrop to a compelling murder mystery. If I were the NRA, I would recommend this book to help people comprehend some motivations for gun ownership.
Lane Flemming’s accidental death was always suspicious. The idea that this old gun collector would accidentally shoot himself was silly at best. A samurai doesn’t accidentally wound himself with his sword because he is trained in the safe handling of the weapon. The same is true for the gun owner. Private detective and amateur gun collector Colonel Jefferson Davis Rand is hired to appraise Flemming’s gun collection and sell it to the highest bidder. As Jeff attempts to catalog the weapons, he gets dragged into the mystery. How did Lane Flemming really die and where are the missing guns from his collection? Put on your bulletproof vest and read Murder in the Gunroom.
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Murder mysteries make death engaging and amusing. That is an amazing feat. Death especially in the states is almost a taboo thing. It has deep emotional and religious ties which make it hard to talk about seriously. If death is difficult, murder should an impossible conversation piece. One could reasonably argue that murder is the worst form of death. Murder exist in a dark cloud of resentment, revenge and fear. Yet I declare that murder mysteries are fun and entertaining. Somehow by focusing on the means and motives of murder we create the illusion of a puzzle and obscure the actual macabre nature of the killing. I have no doubt that a personal brush with murder would leave me confused and drowning with fear. Why then do books featuring brilliant detectives excite me? My hypocrisy is fascinating.
Antony Gillingham accidentally stumbles into a murder the same way you might accidentally step in a puddle coming home on a rainy night. A man is killed in a locked room without any indication of suicide or motive. The brother of the murdered man is missing and so is the revolver. Antony decides in a flippant way to try his hand at detecting. Convincing his friend Bill to play Watson while he channels Sherlock the pair attempt to get to the bottom of The Red House Mystery.
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We’ve all imagined ourselves acting courageously in dangerous circumstances. Everyone of us likes to believe that we could keep a level head in a time of panic and make decisions that would save lives. Stepping out of the daydream and back into reality I humbly admit that I don’t believe I am capable of that level of heroism. My mind is not quick and precise. Instead, my mind plods along slowly and comes to conclusions by the process of elimination. There is a high likelihood that the shock of those dangerous circumstances would freeze me in my tracks making it impossible to help myself let alone others. Taking ownership of those split second decisions would also be difficult. I prefer to live life “hands off” and taking responsibility over the situation would give me nightmares for years after. On second thought, those nightmares would likely haunt me regardless. Penny Parker does not have these same fears. She instead acts first and worries about the results afterwards. She steps towards the unusual noise, I step away from it. For this reason she has my respect.
When Penny Parker sniffs a hint of a mystery, she can’t help but pursue it to the ends of the earth. This time her curiosity takes her to a small town with rumors of a headless horseman. She soon realizes that the town has another more credible fear; the local dam is need of repairs. As rumors swirl around the dam and the horseman, Penny and Louis put on there Sherlock cloaks to find out the mystery of the Hoofbeats on the Turnpike.
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free ebook download: http://gutenberg.org/ebooks/34691
Present in multiple Penny Parker mysteries is Penny’s charitable nature. Most people are unable and unwilling to drop everything without a second thought to help someone in need unless they are already acquainted. In this book, Penny helps out Rhoda, a new school transfer, and Mrs. Marborough who used to live in Riverview as a younger woman. If I witnessed this level of generosity in everyday life, I might become defensive but by reading it I want to emulate that kindness. This is the power of books. The characters are not viewed as competitors and so they can more easily act as role models to our future actions. Just a thought.
The untiring busybody, Penny Parker, is back at it with another mystery. A club field trip to a local wishing well turns into a multilevel conspiracy. Why are lights shining around the well at night? Why won’t Mrs. Marborough invite anyone into her fancy house? Why are two ancient rocks covered with Native American writing found within days of each other lying around town? As the coincidences keep piling up Penny and her friend Louise prowl around in search of answers. Only time can tell the mystery of The Wishing Well.
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There is a weird hypocrisy with detective novels. They are frequently dangerous and sometimes morbid yet that danger doesn’t seem to ever directly affect the detective. You can read about any detective from Sherlock to Miss Marple and arrive at the same conclusion. Any danger the detective finds themself in is only temporary and merely a distraction from the overall case at hand. All readers of detective fiction know this to be true. At the same time, we read quickly through the dangerous areas as a small part of us still hopes that the main character will once again solve the case and escape unscathed. To summarize: fiction is weird.
Teenage sleuth and adventurous busybody Penny Parker gets wrapped up in another local mystery. A chance meeting at a bridge brings an unusual case to Penny’s attention. Her attempts to publish an account of the mystery are foiled by the school paper so she decides to start a citywide paper with only a few friends for help. Skeptical readers find the story fantastic and assume that it has been exaggerated to sell more newspapers until she receives a threatening note. How will she run a newspaper, go to school and solve the mystery of The Secret Pact?
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Every time I read another book in this series I envy Penny’s courage and quick thinking more and more. If only I had those qualities as a teenager… oh well! I was surprised to find that I had some previous experience with this mystery. The discussion of fake mediums and spiritualists is a topic I’ve explored in my own plodding way. Usually the discussion of spiritualism glosses over the methods and focuses on those being duped. People who believe in the frauds are frequently described as stupid in a very demeaning way. That’s not quite fair. This novel accurately describes both the mechanics that manifest “spirit phenomena” and the psychology that makes an individual susceptible to these scams. To me the psychology is most fascinating. Belief usually manifests not from stupidity but from desperation. Those most likely to visit mediums are people who have recently experienced death in the family. Factoring in their emotionally difficult state, the closure temptingly offered by mediums can be hard to turn down. Curious readers will find many old and dusty volumes happily expose the methods used by fake mediums at the time this book was published.
Mrs. Weems, the Parker’s housekeeper, receives happy news in the mail. A distant cousin has died leaving her a fortune of $6,000. Dreams of a vacation to the Grand Canyon seem finally realized. On the other hand, a medium performing a seance at friends house informs Mrs. Weems that her cousin would rather she invest in safe securities than go traveling out west. Mrs. Weems finds herself caught between the Parkers and the medium. Should she believe the medium who knew so many things about her cousin or instead believe the skeptical Parker family? Penny is suspicious of the medium and decides to investigate. The whole case might rest on the Clue of the Silken Ladder.
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free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/34591
I don’t know why I’m surprised when I love a classic. I should probably expect it. This small book was big time resulting in the phrase-“jekell and hyde” meaning a person with varying moral character. The moral separation of self is a concept I don’t believe in personally. The good, the bad and the ugly must be accepted as parts of yourself. Maybe that is an excuse I use after some new inexplicable evil committed at my hands. All in all I find it puzzling people can define themselves according to their best qualities instead of a smattering of good and evil. That would seem the difference between painting entirely with one color and using the entire color palette.
In this book, you meet the friends and acquaintances of one Dr. Henry Jekell who has been acting strangely of late. He has been keeping dangerous friends and staying out at odd hours. What could compel him to change his habits in this way? Two of Dr. Jekell’s oldest friends find themselves wrapped up in this dark mystery. Ponder the ways of good and evil by reading the Strange Case of Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde.
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