Mary Daniels Brown

Mary Daniels Brown learned at an early age how to read people, and she’s been doing that ever since. Combining advanced education in both literature and psychology, she reads and reviews novels that explore identity, the search for meaning and purpose in life, and the varieties of human experience. She’s been blogging about books at Notes in the Margin for more than 25 years. Mary believes that her focus on Life Stories in Literature has made her both a more astute reader and a happier, more human person.

“Palindrome” by Stuart Woods

Woods, Stuart. Palindrome (1991)   Harper, 447 pages, $5.99 paperback   ISBN  0 06 109936 8 A woman staggers into a hospital emergency room so badly beaten she’s unrecognizable.  The patient is Liz Barwick, professional photographer and wife of pro football player Baker Ramsey.  After receiving a hefty divorce settlement from Ramsey ,thought of obtaining […]

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“Hornet’s Nest” by Patricia Cornwell

Cornwell, Patricia. Hornet’s Nest (1996)   G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 377 pages, $25.95 hardcover   ISBN 0 399 14228 2 I hoped that a break from Dr. Scarpetta might rejuvenate Patricia Cornwell’s writing. It didn’t. This is among the worst novels I’ve ever read. Most books this poorly written would end up in some editor’s wastebasket.

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book review

Review: “Dead by Sunset” by Ann Rule

Rule, Ann. Dead by Sunset Simon & Schuster, 1995Hardcover, 429 pagesISBN 0-684-80205-8 In this true-crime book Ann Rule tells the story of Cheryl Keeton, who was bludgeoned to death and left in her Toyota van on the highway so that an accident would cover her murder, in September, 1986, in Portland, Oregon. Rule also tells the

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“Under the Lake” by Stuart Woods

Woods, Stuart. Under the Lake (1987)   Avon, $6.50  paperback  ISBN  0 30 70519 2 In this excellent supernatural thriller, John Howell, former newspaper reporter and recipient of the Nobel Prize, is approaching 40.  Having burned out on newspaper work, he is now supposedly working on The Great American Novel;  actually, he spends his days

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“Cause of Death” by Patricia Cornwell

Cornwell, Patricia. Cause of Death (1996)   G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 340 pages, $25.95 hardcover   ISBN 0 399 14146 4 This book opens with a powerful image:  “On the last morning of Virginia’s bloodiest year since the Civil War, I built a fire and sat facing a window of darkness where at sunrise I knew

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“From Potter’s Field” by Patricia Cornwell

Cornwell, Patricia. From Potter’s Field  (1995)   Scribner, 412 pages, $24.00 hardcover   ISBN 0-684-19598-4 In the few days surrounding Christmas, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino (now a police captain), and FBI agent Benton Wesley pursue Temple Gault, a serial killer who has appeared in earlier Scarpetta novels. Scarpetta’s niece, computer whiz Lucy, now age

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The Best Books I Read in 1996

Listed alphabetically by author Burke, James Lee. Black Cherry Blues Irving, John. A Prayer for Owen Meany Margolin, Phillip. The Last Innocent Man O’Brien, Tim. In the Lake of the Woods O’Connell, Carol. Mallory’s Oracle Sandford, John. “Prey” series (I admit this is cheating since it’s more than one book) Shields, Carol. The Stone Diaries

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book review

Review: “Studying the Novel” by Jeremy Hawthorn

Hawthorn, Jeremy. Studying the Novel: An IntroductionEdward Arnold, 2nd edition (1992, reprinted 1996)Paperback, 146 pages ISBN 0-340-56403-2 This slim volume is a good choice for book-discussion group members who appreciate good books but want to sharpen their reading and discussion skills. The premise of Hawthorn’s book is that “in the course of studying novels we must

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book review

Review: “A Bomb in the Brain” by Steve Fishman

Fishman, Steve. A Bomb in the Brain: A Heroic Tale of Science, Surgery, and Survival Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1988Hardcover, 318 pages ISBN 0-684-18706-X Recommended Journalist Steve Fishman was stalking a story in Central America when a bomb in his brain exploded. His book leads the reader through that experience and through the brain surgery necessary to prevent

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