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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



Book Notices | Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith / Watch Me Die by Lee Goldberg / The Killer by Tom Wood / The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith / Mr. Monk Helps Himself by Hy Conrad / The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell

Alexander McCall Smith, Trains and Lovers

  Amazon  

Alexander McCall Smith's stand-alone novel Trains and Lovers tells the stories of four strangers who meet on a train traveling from Edinburgh to London. The stories told (or not told, in one case) focus on love in various forms, and the stories range from heartbreaking to suspenseful. Indeed, the story told by the character Hugh--whose love interest may not be what she seems--makes me think that McCall Smith would be very successful at writing a Hitchcock-worthy suspense novel. The book is very sweet, and an easy read in the way that all of the author's books are: they go down easy and leave the reader feeling better about the human condition.

Lee Goldberg, Watch Me Die

  Amazon  

The hero of Lee Goldberg's Watch Me Die is twenty-six-year-old slacker Harvey Mapes. Harvey's pretty much just marking time with his life, idling by day and logging residents into their gated community by night. But things change when one of the residents asks Harvey to follow his wife on his off hours. Harvey takes the job and discovers that he's got a latent penchant for detecting. All those years of watching Mannix and Rockford reruns have paid off--at least to an extent: things can get a bit dicier in real life than they do on TV. Like everything else I've read by Lee Goldberg, Watch Me Die was a pleasure to read. I particularly liked Harvey's backstory. He's about as amateur an amateur detective as one get at the book's outset. There are no sequels yet, but the author informs me that there will be one day, which is good news.

Tom Wood, The Killer

  Amazon  

I've come to realize that I'm a sucker for intelligent criminals, and Tom Wood's assassin certainly fits the bill. You know the kind of guy: he's got money stashed in foreign countries and he has to perform counter surveillance measures on trips home from the grocery store and he never trusts anyone. (I always wonder, where do these guys get the time to do so much? It's hard enough getting chores done without having to take multiple taxi rides to throw off would-be followers.) This book is full of that sort of stuff, and I loved it. But after a while it became too much--the plot a little convoluted, the fight scenes a little too hard to believe. I kind of wish it had ended a bit sooner. Two other unrelated observations: 1. There were a surprisingly large number of places where the book could have used editing, at least in the Kindle edition. 2. I can't take points off for this, but I was quite shocked at what happened 76% of the way through. I thought I knew pretty well where the story was going before that, but I got surprised, and not pleasantly.

Alexander McCall Smith, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive

  Amazon  

Every now and again I treat myself and read one of the book's in Alexander McCall Smith's Botswana series. They are unfailingly good to pass the day with--sad, at times, but sweet and ultimately life-affirming. In The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, several of McCall Smith's principals attempt something different with their lives--I'll not give any of that away. Their personal stories are wrapped around the novel's pair of mysteries, paying work for the No. 1 Ladies team, investigations into a series of mysterious deaths at the Mochudi hospital and an errant husband's extra-curricular activities.

It's hard to explain to someone who's not read the Botswana books what it is that makes them special. They are in a way more than mere novels. They somehow embody a humanity, the ethos of the author, and one falls under his spell for a time while reading and views the world with different, better eyes. After Fred Rogers (a.k.a. Mr. Rogers) died, one started hearing all these wonderful stories about what a fine man he was, and how he had a tremendous impact on the people he met. The world of Mr. Rogers, one senses, was a kinder one than that which we inhabit, because he made it so. I have a feeling, from reading his No. 1 Ladies books as well as his Facebook posts, that Alexander McCall Smith is a similarly unusual person, that he makes the world he inhabits a kinder place. That all sounds a bit much, I know. Anyway, the enjoyment to be gotten from his series goes far beyond liking the stories or the mysteries or the author's leisurely prose. It's about the characters and, more, the time we get to spend looking at the world through McCall Smith's eyes.

Hy Conrad, Mr. Monk Helps Himself

  Amazon  

I'm happy to say that Lee Goldberg has left the Monk franchise in capable hands. Hy Conrad's Mr. Monk Helps Himself is the sixteenth in the series and the first to be written by anyone other than Goldberg. And it's good! Reading it, I was reminded of how much I would have missed Monk had the series ended rather than found a new author. In this outing Monk and Natalie--they're now partners, as Natalie keeps insisting (a little annoyingly)--investigate the apparent suicide of a self-help guru, someone both she and Monk's beau, Poop proprietress Ellen Morse, have looked up to. There's a good mystery, though perhaps less humor and pathos than some of the other books in the series have offered.

Henning Mankell, The Fifth Woman

  Amazon  

Henning Mankell's The Fifth Woman isn't a prose masterpiece. The sentence are choppy and can be repetitive. (This may or may not be due to the fact that it's a translation.) And I can imagine that some readers may find it over-long and dull. But I really enjoyed it. The author takes you through the Ystad police department's investigation of a series of related murders. The case, which is headed up by Detective Wallander, is quite complicated, and the work is slow. Readers are taken along to every departmental meeting and told in detail about all the methodical, exhausting police work going on. There's nothing likely to get your heart rate up anywhere in Mankell's story. Still, I found myself very interested in following the detectives' business-like approach to solving the crimes. The case was interesting enough, in fact, that I was gripped by it despite having twice watched the Masterpiece Mystery episode of Wallander that was based on this book. (I'd forgotten how it all worked out.) 

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