Phyllis Bernt

Phyllis Bernt

A quick reminder about three upcoming events in the next week. Cannon Beach Reads will be discussing “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern” by Stephen Greenblatt at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 16, at the library, 131 N. Hemlock. Participants can also join the discussion via Zoom; contact Joe Bernt,, for the link.

There will be a Story Time at noon, on Saturday, November 12, at the library. Library volunteer Peggy Thom will read books about the changing seasons. The target audience is children up to 8, though all ages are welcome.  

Also on November 12 at the library, at 2 p.m. Ellie Alexander, bestselling author of cozy mysteries, will present “Meet the Modern Mystery.” Her talk can also be watched online through the library website (

And speaking of mystery novels, the library recently added titles by two popular authors: one by Ann Cleeves, a long-time favorite of mystery fans, and the other by Richard Osman, a relative newcomer.

A new Ann Cleeves novel is always a cause for celebration. Cleeves is the bestselling author of three mystery series that have all been adapted for television: the Vera Stanhope series, the Shetland series, and the Two Rivers series.

“The Rising Tide,” the tenth book in the Vera Stanhope series, takes place on Holy Island of Lindisfarne in northern England. Fifty years ago, an idealistic teacher brought twelve students to a retreat in a former convent on Holy Island. Seven of the students formed such a close bond at the retreat that they resolved to meet on the Island every five years.

Tragedy struck during the first five-year reunion when one of the former students died after her car was washed off the causeway connecting Holy Island to the mainland. Despite this disturbing event, five of the former students continued the ritual of meeting on Holy Island every five years for a reunion weekend.

It is now the fiftieth anniversary of the retreat, and one of the five former students, Rick Kelsall, a television personality who has lost his BBC program because of allegations he has acted inappropriately with female interns, announces his plans to write a thriller based on his fellow reunion goers’ deepest secrets. Not surprisingly, Rick is soon found hanging from the crossbeams in his bedroom.

Enter Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope of the fictional Northumberland & City Police Department to solve the murder. Vera doesn’t look like the typical police detective. She is often mistaken for a bag lady because of her frumpy, wrinkled clothing and her general appearance.

Vera is a middle aged, overweight, socially inept loner who lives for her work. She is grumpy, imperious and egocentric; she is also insecure, sensitive and often surprisingly kind. But more than anything, Vera is a brilliant detective who notices details, understands motivations and trusts her intuition; consequently, she is usually ten steps ahead of her colleagues, Detective Sergeant Joe Ashworth and Detective Constable Holly Clarke.

As she follows clues, interviews suspects and analyzes the relationships among the various characters, Vera realizes how much everyone associated with the case is burdened by their past infatuations, desires, mistakes and resentments.

The constant focus on the past causes Vera to scrutinize her own life, especially her relationship with her father Hector, a cold, gruff man who showed Vera little affection while he lived, but who, she realizes, was “always bullying her from the grave.”  

As is usual with a Vera novel, Cleeves provides several well-drawn, complex characters, all of whom are plausible murder suspects. Cleeves takes Vera and her team down several blind alleys, until they arrive at the shocking and, for Vera’s team, painful solution.

Unlike Cleeves, who is an old hand at writing mysteries—the first Vera book, “The Crow Trap,” appeared in 1999–Richard Osman has only been writing mysteries since 2020, when his first mystery, “The Thursday Murder Club,” became an instant bestseller. In 2021, his second book, “The Man Who Died Twice,” was also a bestseller, and, from all indications, his latest mystery, “The Bullet That Missed,” will follow suit.

The protagonists of Osman’s novels are four retirees, all in their 70s, who live in Coopers Chase, an upscale retirement community in Kent. Elizabeth Best, despite her unassuming appearance, is a retired MI6 spy, who was a ruthless and effective operative in her day and who has maintained contact with some unsavory characters.

The widowed Joyce Meadowcroft is a retired nurse who bakes constantly and talks incessantly. Although she often seems clueless, Joyce is not as ditzy and naive as she appears. Ibrahim Arif is a retired psychotherapist who is a natty dresser, obsessively detail-oriented and a stickler for doing things properly. And finally, Ron Ritchie is a retired trade union organizer who has an eye for the ladies and enjoys reminiscing about his days on the picket lines.

To stave off boredom, the four friends meet every Thursday in the Jigsaw Room in their retirement community to try to solve cold cases on which the police have given up. One of these cold cases is the mysterious disappearance ten years ago of television journalist Bethany Waites, after she had uncovered a tax scam involving non-existent mobile phones and a missing ten million pounds.

When the woman found guilty of the tax scam is killed in prison, the four septuagenarians find themselves embroiled in a case involving an ex-KGB colonel, gangsters, money laundering, cryptocurrency, death threats and blackmail schemes.

Osman’s breezy, tongue-in-cheek writing style, the often-hilarious conversations between the sardonic Elizabeth and the clueless Joyce, the touching affection the four sleuths have for one another and the numerous plot twists make “The Bullet That Missed” an entertaining read, and explain why Osman’s books have been so successful.

In addition to books by Cleeves and Osman, the library added eight more new mysteries. These include “Next in Line” by Jeffrey Archer, “Livid” by Patricia Cornwell, “Reckoning: An FBI Thriller” by Catherine Coulter, “The Harbor” by Katrine Engberg, “The Ink Black Heart” by Robert Galbraith, “Alias Emma” by Ava Glass, “Hell and Back” by Craig Johnson and “Righteous Prey” by John Sandford.

The seven fiction books that were added were “Hester” by Laurie Lico Albanese, “The Book Haters’ Book Club” by Gretchen Anthony, “Demon Copperhead” by Barbara Kingsolver, “The Passenger” by Cormac McCarthy, “The Mountain in the Sea” by Ray Nayler, “Our Missing Hearts” by Celeste Ng and “Mad Honey” by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan.

And finally, the four nonfiction books added were “When McKinsey Comes to Town: The Hidden Influence of the World’s Most Powerful Consulting Firm” by Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsyth, “Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions” by Temple Grandin, “Brave Hearted: The Women of the American West” by Katie Hickman and “The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human” by Siddhartha Mukherjee.


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