The Whistling Season

I’ll put it up front; this book is a five-star read.

Doig has his PhD in history with years of experience on a ranch, and with newspapers and magazines. But that only begins to tell us about his writing skills. He is a wordsmith, one of those people who can turn words into music, or a painting, or a motion picture.

The story-teller and center of action is Paul Milliron, thirteen and the oldest of three sons of Oliver Milliron whose wife died the preceding year. As a dry-land farmer in 1909 Montana, Oliver scanned the position wanted ads until he saw one for a woman who, as the ad was titled, Can’t Cook But Doesn’t Bite. Soon, the four males had themselves a housekeeper and her brother as a tag along.

Brother Morrie took over the one-room school when the current teacher ran off to marry a preacher. Morrie turned the classroom upside down, just as Rose did in the housekeeping department. Throw in an eighth grade class of dull boys made of muscle and little else, a father who is a cross between the incredible hulk and Godzilla, and we have a recipe for a great story.

But Hoig is not content with that. His story lives and breathes. It walks, runs, struts, and whispers. Just when we think life has settled into a dull Montana winter…. Things happen.

Do not stop reading until you get to the last page; it ain’t over till it’s over.

Mike Lawrence

A Red Herring Without Mustard

When I want to read a story with little tension and lots of humor, Flavia de Luce has become one of my standards. Alan Bradley has created a great sleuth in 10, now 11, year old Flavia, chemistry wiz and solver of puzzles.

In this, the third of eight novels, Flavia saves the life of a Gypsy and goes on to uncover her attempted murderer. Along the way, she exposes two other crimes and wrestles with the knowledge that her father is slowly selling off parts of the decaying manor house.

For entertainment, this is a five-star.

Mike Lawrence