William Shaw mysteries

              Image result for a song of the brokenhearted


She’s Leaving Home/The Kings of London/A Song for the Brokenhearted by William Shaw

Bloody brilliant.

That’s what I think of these three recent mysteries by William Shaw. And you do want to read them in order of their publication date (as above), as it’s very much an evolving plot line.

The books feature an odd couple: old school copper DS Cathal “Paddy” Breen and his new partner, brash and outspoken Helen Tozer.

The stories are set in London, England in the late 1960s, a time and place so vividly evoked that it becomes almost like a major character. So you get drug use and drug overdoses and drug busts. Groovy art dealers, “happenings,” and fans hanging round the Beatles’ Abbey Road recording studio.

Shaw also manages to introduce some tough subjects into his books. In She’s Leaving Home, part of the plot revolves around Biafra. If you are not sure what–or where– that is, then you should google it. It’s one of the great, largely forgotten tragedies of the twentieth century.

The third title, A Song for the Brokenhearted, neatly ties up the plot line. But I found it maybe a little less enjoyable than the other two. For one thing, a lot of the action takes place on an English farm, less exciting a location than London. Also, the violence was a little too graphic for my taste. That said, I still really enjoyed the book.

William Shaw is a British pop culture journalist. His writing is so sharp and spot-on. If he is writing any more Breen and Tozer books, I’ll be first on the list to read them.

– Penny D.

What to Read Next? We can help!



Recently I was waiting for a movie to start on our TV and I noticed an option that said something like “if you liked ____________ you might like ______________” and it reminded me of so many services that we see with a similar line.  It seems like everyone is offering to tell us about something else we might like while here in the library we’ve been doing this for years.  We can help you find books, DVDs, and music to suit any mood or need and we can do this magic for customers of all ages.  Kids, teens, and adults come here to ask us for help in finding material that helps them through home improvement projects, getting through long days when they have a sick toddler, large print material for a grandmother who has failing sight, or action movies for a friend who just broke up with his girlfriend.. and we can find them all.

We have the things that people need to get them through tough times and make good times even better, like the best audiobook choice for a 5-year old, a teen and two parents to enjoy on the drive to the cottage, the nicest novels to read on a long flight to Japan, music for an Oktoberfest party, inspiring quotes to use in a retirement speech, and recipes for a wedding shower brunch.  It’s all here on our shelves and staff have the experience, databases, and passion to sift through those shelves to help you find exactly what you are looking for.

Sometimes customers come to us with very specific requests and we have to dig really deep.  These are the queries that we love the best and occasionally share between staff members as it will be a question that takes the knowledge of more than one person to crack these tough cases.  It’s almost like we need a deerstalker cap to find the best answer but we are determined to find it.  When someone comes in, approaches the desk, and says “I’ve had a really long week and need _________ for the weekend” and we sort through all of the books we know, really dust off the cobwebs of memory and come up with 2 or 3 great choices for that customer to take home so they forget about their hard week; that is the most satisfying query to answer.

Often the things we suggest are ones we have read or watched, sometimes they are books we have read on a blog post, or we know it from the attention it has been receiving in the news.  We know who writes books that can make you cry or those that can always make you laugh and sometimes that is exactly the type of book a customer needs for a particular day.  I think that one of the best parts of our work and what is really missing from the sentence “if you liked ____________ you might like ______________” is that there is no follow up available.  If a customer isn’t content with the first list of books we suggest we can always go back to find more or delve deeper into the question.

Let’s try it.  Let’s say you asked us for a fabulous book that featured a lighthouse because you were in the mood for something nautical.  We might give you The light between  oceans from 2012.  It hasn’t stayed on the shelf for more than a week since it was published and has been a steady book club favourite.  It’s the story of an Australian lighthouse keeper and his wife who find a baby in a boat and raise it as their own.

What if you like books about beekeepers (and, really, who doesn’t?) then we could find you Hannah Reed’s sensational cozy mystery series about Story Fischer and her quaint little town.  Or, The wedding bees which is about a New York City beekeeper who has beehives in her rooftop garden.  We have a nice selection of books that feature beekeepers as main characters and you could spend a fair bit of your summer learning about the life of an apiarist.  Maybe you would even venture to our Non-Fiction shelves and learn more about bees and how to attract them to your garden.

Thinking about honey naturally leads a reader to thoughts of cooking and baking and if you were to search our shelves for books about those topics you would be reading non-stop for months.  A quick trip through my memory makes me think of Ruth Reichl’s absolutely perfect novel Delicious!, or a terrific behind-the-scenes look into running a restaurant through the eyes of three brothers in Bread & butter from 2014.  Wonderful novels that feature bakers, chefs and people who cook are on the shelves here just waiting to be enjoyed.

Now, what if you were in the mood for a book that prominently featured a lighthouse, a beekeeper and a baker?  Where would you go to find this kind of lighthearted, entertaining read?  Not to some automated service on the Internet, you would come right here to the Waterloo Public Library, of course.  We have great suggestions for you, and many more, because if you liked Summer at little Beach Street bakery (which just happens to feature a baker, a lighthouse and a beekeeper) we know what else you might like.  It’s what we do best.

Penny M.


Arthur Pepper is Charming

Have you ever found an unexpected item, whether in your own home or perhaps a favourite thrift store or antique shop, and decided to try and trace the history of the item? This is what happens to Arthur Pepper when, almost a year after his wife Miriam’s death, he decides it’s time to clear out her wardrobe. Arthur finds a charm bracelet tucked away. It’s a piece of expensive jewellry which he did not purchase for her and which he never saw his conservative wife wear.

Intrigued, Arthur studies the little charms dangling from the gold bracelet. One has a tiny engraving on the back…a phone number. Daringly, quiet, reserved Arthur dials the number and finds himself speaking with a doctor in India who declares Miriam was his former Nanny. Poor Arthur, who thought his wife of 40 years had never left the UK, is shocked but also fascinated.

Thus begins a journey where Arthur tries to discover the meaning between each charm and, at the same time, discovers more about his wife’s hidden life. A rather exciting life led before she became a wife and mother.

From an up close and personal meeting with a tiger to sleeping in a hostel with young women from Germany to visiting a bridal boutique in Paris, Arthur’s quest takes him from one adventure to another. He soon casts off his regimented, solitary life (and his mustard-yellow vest) and is leaving his house and his fern Frederica, meeting new people, learning something new every day, and moving forward in life.

The-Curious-Charms-of-Arthur-Pepper.jpgThis is the first book by Phaedra Patrick and it is humourous, touching and indeed, charming. But this book should come with a warning. I had plans for my day off, which ended up being postponed as, once I picked up “The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper”, I could not put it down. Let’s hope Patrick is a quick writer and doesn’t make us wait too long for her next novel.

Arthur’s good-hearted neighbour, Bernadette, is always dropping off delicious baked goods at his door. Here’s a recipe of mine worth sharing with a neighbour.

Croissant Bread Pudding

3 extra large whole eggs
8 extra large egg yolks
5 c. half-and-half cream
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
6 day-old croissants
1 c. raisins

Preheat oven to 350F.

In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks, cream, sugar and vanilla. Set aside.

Slice croissants in half, horizontally. In a 10″ x 15″ x 2 1/2″ baking dish, make a layer of the croissant bottoms. Sprinkle raisins on top. Cover with croissant tops. Pour egg mixture over croissants. Allow to soaks for 10 minutes. Press down gently.

Set baking dish in a larger pan. Put 1″ of water in the larger pan. Cover both pans with foil, tented so that the top doesn’t touch the croissants.

Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil, and bake another 40 minutes or until custard is set. Cool slightly and enjoy!