Oh look, a book report! Since it’s been foggy for two days, I’ve been reading books on my beach trip. The first one is Byrne Your Bridges, by my friend, Liza Cameron Wasser, who lives in Germany. That explains the .de extension on her website, which is where you can buy this book if you would also like to read it.
Liza’s been writing ever since I’ve known her (which is since my children, who are well into adulthood, were small; we met on an email list for feminist mothers who were at home with their children, which is still going strong through all our lives’ ups and downs). I’m very happy Liza took the plunge and sent her first novel in the Byrne Sisters Mysteries series out into the world!
There’s lots to love in this book. Liza is really good with character development and dialogue. There are some funny lines you’ll enjoy, which sure sound like Liza’s clever sense of humor. You’ll get to be fond of the two sisters who are the “detectives” in the series. You will also get hungry while reading it, because nearly every scene includes cooking or eating something prepared by vegetarian chef Maggie.
There’s also an incredible amount of coffee preparation and drinking. One of my minor issues with Byrne Your Bridges is that people drink so much coffee late in the day that I wonder how they EVER get any sleep. Of course, though, Liza slips in ways to flavor your coffee with spices. Tricky. I do think they could have switched to herbal tea or something in the evenings!
The mystery part of the book was enjoyable, and if you’re a fan of mysteries, I predict you’ll want to read this and grab the future installments as well. All the characters are fun, too.
Bonus! At the end of the book, you will be happy to find the recipes for all the things Maggie Byrne cooks during the process of solving the mystery. And I assure you, Liza is a great cook and a fine recipe writer (that’s as much of an art as writing novels).
You know, I’m an editor. That’s one reason I don’t usually read things written by my friends and family. Little things irritate me. I’m happy to say that, other than all the coffee, there wasn’t much to complain about in this novel, even for me! Here are a few notes, more to show how I think than to criticize the book.
- There is a distinct lack of typos. Liza had lots of pre-readers and it shows. There were no distracting issues with this one. Kudos!
- I found one distinctive phrase that repeated. All writers have pet phrases that they like to use (me included, as any reader will agree). In this book, people shrug off their coats twice. Shrugging off is a cool phrase, but it’s so distinctive that I noticed it appearing twice. Maybe the second time, the person can shake it off, slide out of it, hang it on a chair…I don’t know, I’m NOT a novelist.
- I noticed that the characters seem to all have magical ways of obtaining money that lets them live lives of leisure. Maggie got a ton of money in her divorce, the lady across the street can afford someone to care for her household so all the has to do is play with her kids (wish I’d had that), etc. The ones who do work have inherited money or businesses or something. The book needs more poor people (OK, the dead person was deep in debt, though). Maybe that’s just how it is on the east coast.
- The writing is exactly what I like. There are occasional clever turns of phrase, but there isn’t so much descriptive exposition that I get bored, and there aren’t zillions of distracting details. I do like writing that just tells you enough to keep you interested.
I encourage you to get this book, which is reasonably priced and lots of fun. It’s digital only, but since most people seem to read on their computers, e-readers, or tablets, this should not be a problem. I’m staring at screens so much during the day that I enjoy reading physical books and magazines, but I think I’m a minority.