The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

I went to Half Price Books when my daughter was visiting and picked up a few books. Having no idea what this book was about, I chose it because of its title.

Arthur is a widower of a year and stuck in a rut. His adult children have drifted away. Each day consists of his very strict routine. Arthur never varies it because the routine helps him feel in control.

One day he bravely faces the task of going through his wife’s things and in the bottom of a boot he finds a mysterious gold charm bracelet which belonged to his deceased wife. This bracelet with exotic and beautiful charms sends Arthur on a journey which ultimately changes his life.

A warm and inspiring tale, this book made me laugh and cry. While I am not a widow, I have found myself divorced after 30 years of marriage. And this unexpected event in my life forced me on a journey which until recently has been very rocky, so I’m so many was I identified with Arthur. Set in England, Arthur questions his 40+ year marriage and asks himself, ‘Was my wife happy in our marriage?’ He finds his answer but it isn’t an easy journey.

5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

A Test of Wills by Charles ToddΒ 

Dear Detective Inspector Rutledge,

I hope I may call you Ian. When I first read your story, my heart broke. The war to end wars failed because in 2016, we still have wars. Yes, almost 100 years since your war ended, war still rages. Shell Shock is now referred to as PTSD and it sadly still rips men and women’s souls apart. I am sure you are surprised by women being soldiers but a lot has changed for women since 1918 but in some ways we are still defined by our sex.

 Hamish, the Scottish soldier you were forced to severely discipline resides in your head and his voice is so loud at times you believe others can hear him.  Faced with the heartbreak when the woman you loved abandoned you in the face of a mental illness, you persevered. Saved by your sister’s love, you returned to Scotland Yard. I know you worry you’ve lost your ability to discern the truth, the sixth sense you had before the war. You seek solace in your work and escape from the horrors of war. But Ian, can any of us ever escape the wounds we suffered in life? Learning to live with them is the best I’ve been able to do.

Your boss, Chief Inspector Bowles is a man hungry to move up the ladder. The English society of class bears down on him and he resents your education and higher societal rank. You take it all in stride as you grapple with life after war. He likes to remove you from London and send you on what appear to be cases which can not be solved. You always surprise him though and come through in the end.

Bowles has sent you off to Warwickshire to solve the murder of Colonel Harris. Here you encounter a suspect who is close friends with the Prince of Wales, a catatonic girl, a talented female artist and the uniquely beautiful Lettice Woods. Can Hamish stay quiet long enough for you to solve the case? Will you be pushed over the edge and forced out of Scotland Yard? You know Bowles would be happy to see you gone. 

There have been so many changes Ian. We no longer open our doors to strangers. Cars and horses no longer battle for the road, for the auto won. Telephones are now carried in your pocket and you can call someone halfway around the world, but the love of country, family, friendship and loyalty are still of tantamount importance in our lives. I can picture myself sitting along side you in your auto touring the lovely English countryside.

Ian, will your skills as a policeman return? Can you solve this murder and keep Hamish a secret? Or will all your carefully placed shields fall and expose your secret to the world? Will you confide in Frances, your sister? Will she see through your carefully protected soul and discover Hamish? If she does, will she still love you?

One last thing, have you met Maisie Dobbs an attractive private investigator who was a nurse in the war? She lives in the mind of Jacqueline Winspear. 

Daphne. A five star book.