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p29_n80_Clipart__of_A_Murder_of_MagpiesA Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders. Martin’s Publishing Group 2014. 277 pp.

This book is a mystery about a missing man who may have been murdered and while this is taken seriously, there is a lot of humor and even a romance in the story.

The main character is Samantha “Sam” Clair. She is an editor at a publishing company and rather successful at what she does, but a constant thorn in her side is her extremely successful mother who is a lawyer and often finds fault with Sam. This is the source of much of the humor.

Her friend Kit has gone missing and it seems this may be because of the book he has written, which is soon to be published, may expose a crime that has been committed. There are many threads running through the book. There is the missing friend, police involvement which includes an interesting detective, activities at her office and, of course, her mother.

It has good writing, an interesting plot, although sometimes a little confusing , (at least to me) and is a lot of fun to read.

— C.M.

p29_n80_Clipart_of_Three_Come_HomeThree Came Home by Agnes Newton Keith. Little Brown and company l947. 3l6 pp.

This is a book I read many years ago and have just read again. It is the middle book of a trilogy about British North Borneo. Agnes Keith, the author, an American, married an Englishman who was conservator of Forests in North Borneo. The first book of the trilogy tells of life in the small town of Sandakan, a place with an interesting population of Chinese, Philippinos, Malays, and a few Europeans. It also describes the trips the author and her husband took through the jungle, visiting the different tribes and observing how they lived. The book was widely praised and translated into several languages.

Three Came Home begins in the spring of 1940, just after George, the Keith’s baby son, was born.   

At that time people in Borneo felt sure the Japanese would soon move toward the South China Sea, and they dreaded what would happen. After Pearl Harbor it was inevitable.

In January of 1942 all Europeans in Borneo and other suspect persons were imprisoned on a nearby island. Men and women were in separate camps. Later they were moved to camps in Kuching, a town to the south. They were finally set free in September of 1945.

Soon after their imprisonment, Major Suga, who was in charge of all Borneo prison camps, called Keith to his office. He had read her translated book Land Below the Wind and had liked it. He told her she should write articles about her life as an internee. She demurred but he commanded. She did so and entitled it “Captivity.” But she wrote the true story of imprisonment on scraps of paper which she secreted away, and this book is the result. Although the book is painful to read at times, Keith was an excellent writer and it is a very worthwhile book. I should add that she was also an artist and her drawings appear throughout all her books.

— P.M.

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