- Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Follett whisked me back to the twelfth century to teach me what life was all about in those times: how the church owned and rented the lands, how knights were financed to go to war, how wool was processed, how monasteries were managed, and how the flying buttresses came to be the standard for the great cathedrals of medieval England. The interactive story is told by the characters. It’s fodder for the curious and fun to read such an engaging story about the people who lived there in those times.
- The Eight by Katherine Neville. Starting with the Moorish invention in the time of Charlemagne, Neville weaves the history of chess and the roles it played into a modern adventure-suspense and quest story. You are taken to the times and places so seamlessly: France, Italy, Turkey, and North Africa—the Atlas mountains, and all the time stops in between. It was one of the most memorable rides through history I’ve ever experienced. I commend her on her research.
- Shogun by James Clavell. What an adventure—a British ocean-navigator stranded in seventeenth-century Japan, land of strange laws, customs, rituals, and ideas. A militant people, who viewed the stranger from the West as unclean and uncultured, gradually learn that he has value and something can be learned from him to the point where they can’t release him to go home. The book reveals so much about a top-down feudal/Samurai system that I had a hard time putting it down.
- Uhuru by Robert Ruark. How about a trip into Kenya where humbled African families are subjugated by a harsh, white-supremacist society? Now travel deeper into the jungle, where a secret Mau Mau reactionary group imposes a tortuous ritual to ensure fealty to the group. Follow the young man, who is torn between his oath to the Mau Mau uprising and his entree into freedom, love, and a place in black society. The book helped me to begin to understand the cruel plight and unfair trials facing these people. Uhuru, meaning freedom in Swahili, remains unforgettable, right along with Ruark’s Poor No More.
- The Source by James Michener. I enjoyed the way Michener peeled back the layers of the earth like the much-clichéd onion and created a fictional story for each layer. A character, a relic, a plot for each layer made me feel that I was in Israel for the archaeological dig at this tell—being surprised along with the fictional discoverers. I especially appreciated the story of the deformed man who engineered the tunnel between the besieged fortress and the wadi source of drinking water. I got a sense of what it might have been like had I been there.
- The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. In 1962 a French secret army organization sets out to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle—in revenge for him granting Algerian independence. The most unlikely assassin is chosen: an obscure, blond Englishman. Breathlessly, we follow this sophisticated killer, dubbed “the jackal,“ on the way to his mission. Forsyth’s command of detail—strategies, murders committed along the way—took me inside the killer’s head and kept me up half of many nights. But it was worth it!
- Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. A successful but naïve young architect meets a friendly fellow named Bruno during a long train ride and reveals more of his unhappy marriage than he means to. But friendship is hardly Bruno’s intent. He proposes a sinister exchange of actions, trapping the architect in a psychological web fraught with deceit and violence. This astonishing novel is so compelling that I keep re-reading it and getting myself sucked in over and over again.
- The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. I love reading about monumental arrogance taken down, This novel portrays the rise and fall of Wall Street’s top bond trader, who considers himself a “Master of the Universe.” In truth, he lives in luxury at the mercy of his wife, who “hemorrhages money.” Wolfe opened my eyes to the real New York City of the 1980s: a hungry prosecutor in the Bronx; ruthless politicos and judges; gold-digging mistresses, and justified outrage in Harlem.
- Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. In class-conscious seventeenth-century Holland, Jan Vermeer’s wife hires a young penniless maid, who quickly becomes a source of fascination for the painter. That fascination turns into an obsession. The novel was meticulously researched. I felt like I was walking the streets of Delft, then spying on the painter in his studio. Best of all, it delves into Vermeer’s bewitching, mercurial personality and the havoc he wreaks on his family as he paints the now-world-famous “Girl With a Pearl Earring.”
- A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton. This exquisitely written book is set on a serene farm in Wisconsin. Alice’s biggest problem that morning is her five-year-old’s temper tantrum. But catastrophe strikes; the impossible happens. The story is told first by Alice, and then by her husband. What I loved about it are the insights and observations, told in language remarkably simple, but pin-point fresh—couched in a gripping plot with hold-your-breath suspense.
ROSEMARY AND LARRY MILD, cheerful partners in crime, coauthor mystery, suspense, and fantasy fiction. Their popular Hawaii novels, Cry Ohana and its sequel Honolulu Heat, vibrate with island color, local customs, and exquisite scenery. Also by the Milds: The Paco and Molly Murder Mysteries: Locks and Cream Cheese, Hot Grudge Sunday, and Boston Scream Pie. And the Dan and Rivka Sherman Mysteries: Death Goes Postal, Death Takes A Mistress, and Death Steals A Holy Book. Plus: Unto the Third Generation, A Novella of the Future, and three collections of wickedly entertaining mystery stories—Murder, Fantasy, and Weird Tales; The Misadventures of Slim O. Wittz, Soft-Boiled Detective; and Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i.
ROSEMARY, a graduate of Smith College and former assistant editor of Harper’s, also delves into her own nonfiction life. She published two memoirs: Love! Laugh! Panic! Life With My Mother and the acclaimed Miriam’s World—and Mine, for the beloved daughter they lost in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. On her lighter side, Rosemary also writes award-winning humorous essays, such as failing the test to get on Jeopardy; and working for a giant free-spending corporation on a sudden budget: “No new pencil unless you turn in the old stub.”
LARRY, who was only called Lawrence when he’d done something wrong, graduated from American University in Information Systems Management. In 2019 he published his autobiography, No Place To Be But Here: My Life and Times, which traces his thirty-eight-year professional engineering career from its beginning as an electronics technician in the U.S. Navy, to a field engineer riding Navy ships, to a digital systems/instrument designer for major Government contractors in the signal analysis field, to where he rose to the most senior level of principal engineer when he retired in 1993.
Making use of his past creativity and problem-solving abilities, Larry naturally drifted into the realm of mystery writing, where he also claims to be more devious than his partner in crime and best love, Rosemary. So he conjures up their plots and writes the first drafts, leaving Rosemary to breathe life into their characters and sizzle into their scenes. A perfect marriage of their talents.
THE MILDS are active members of Sisters in Crime where Larry is a Mister in Crime; Mystery Writers of America; and Hawaii Fiction Writers. In 2013 they waved goodbye to Severna Park, Maryland and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where they cherish quality time with their daughters and grandchildren. When Honolulu hosted Left Coast Crime in 2017, Rosemary and Larry were the program co-chairs for “Honolulu Havoc.”
Over a dozen worldwide trips to Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Great Britain, France, Italy, Israel, Egypt, and more have wormed their way into their amazing stories. In their limited spare time, they are active members of the Honolulu Jewish Film Festival committee, where Larry is the statistician and recordkeeper for their film ratings.
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