BCL Staff Picks for 2010

Ann Rosen, Branch Manager, Bluffton Branch

In her Benni Harper mystery series, Earlene Fowler writes very entertaining and charming stories about a young widow in her early 30s who is an avid quilter and curator of a quilt museum who often finds herself a reluctant sleuth. Set in a small town in the central California coast, it seems that the harder she tries not to get involved in a local murder or theft, she ends up right in the middle of it. And when she meets the recently arrived interim police chief, Gabriel Ortiz, life becomes all the more complicated as they fall in love and marry. Her relationship with Gabe and her beloved grandmother who moved from Alabama to California are key to the stories.


Grace Cordial, Historical Resources Coordinator, Beaufort District Collection

As popular local history titles go, this one is good. Great topics: bizarre crimes, gambling, rum running, political and personal scandals, and hoodoo. But Woods didn’t just rely upon gossip. He spent hours upon hours reading newspaper archives, county records, and talking to people who knew “The Boy Sheriff” to flesh out his biography of James Edwin McTeer, Jr. Chapters read more like fiction short stories than nonfiction short essays (because “Truth is [always] stranger than Fiction.”) Solid writing. Dashes of humor. Contains occasional lyrical descriptive sequences. You can even get a little vocabulary practice. (I had to look up 2 words that I didn’t know: “chthonic” from the Greek word translated as “earth;” and “crepuscular” meaning “of, relating to, or resembling twilight.” For the non-Gullahs among us, “dayclean” means “broad daylight.”) Entertaining, yet transports the reader to a time in Beaufort’s past that really wasn’t all that long ago. Highly recommended.


Halle Eisenman, Reference Manager, Hilton Head Branch

Crooked Letter coverThis book is touted as a mystery, but I found the characters, dialogue, and small-town tensions to be the truly compelling parts of this story. In the late 1970s, a young girl disappeared and everyone blamed the town oddball, Larry Ott (Scary Larry) for the crime, despite never having any concrete evidence against him. It is now twenty years later and when another girl goes missing, all suspicions once again rest on Larry.

Franklin's prose crackles with spot-on Southern dialogue and he captures a small town's prejudices perfectly.  


Sheryl Hill, Circulation Representative, Beaufort Branch

Major Pettigrew coverThis audio version of the surprise French bestseller hits the mark as both performance and story. The leisurely pace of the novel, which explores the upstairs-downstairs goings-on of a posh Parisian apartment building, lends itself well to audio, and those who might have been tempted to skip through the novel's more laborious philosophical passages (the author is a professor of philosophy) will savor these ruminations when read aloud. Tony Award–winning actress Barbara Rosenblat positively embodies the concierge, Renée Michel, who deliberately hides her radiant intelligence from the upper-crust residents of 7 rue de Grenelle, and the performance of Cassandra Morris as the precocious girl who recognizes Renée as a kindred spirit is nothing short of a revelation. Morris's voice, inflection and timbre all conspire to make the performance entirely believable. -- From Publisher's Weekly


Wendy Allen, Youth Services Coordinator, Administration

Good Omens coverListened to on Recorded Books audio book, narrated brilliantly by Martin Jarvis. “Pratchett's wackiness collaborates with Gaiman's morbid humor; the result is a humanist delight.” This wacky book is a send-up of Armageddon. It’s played out by the unlikely centuries-old friends, the demon Alex Crowley and the angel Aziraphale, both of whom decide that the end of the world is not in anyone’s best interest, least of all theirs, since they’ve grown quite fond of life amongst human luxury. Luckily, the devil’s minions are not a very competent bunch and when it comes to planting the Antichrist in a family that will nurture his worst nature, they screw it up royally. Free will and the immortal’s machinations combine to try to stop Lucifer in his tracks – without overtly giving the appearance of giving aid & comfort to the enemy. The only person to know the ending is long-dead witch, Agnes Nutter, as laid out in her indecipherable predictions. And, of course, the reader. Maybe.