Bourke’s Bookshelf: The downcast and downtrodden
This week’s reads include “Resort to Murder” by various Minnesota authors, “The Dressmakers of Auschwitz” by Lucy Adlington and “Whiskey Rebellion” by Liliana Hart.
This week I’ve got Minnesota mysteries, sobering nonfiction and a hilarious wanna-be private investigator.
Page through “Resort to Murder” for some suspenseful tales and a who’s who of Minnesota mystery writers, trek through the memories of those who survived some of worst crimes against humanity, and laugh along with Addison Holmes as she struggles through everyday life, trying to make some extra cash and survive in a gossipy small town.
‘Resort to Murder’ by various Minnesota writers
I’ve been on a bit of a short story kick lately, but I think this is the last collection of Minnesota short stories on my shelf right now.
As the name implies, “Resort to Murder” is a compilation of mystery thrillers that all take place at fictional Minnesota resorts. From the shores of Lake Superior over to Kabetogama and down to Nisswa’s Bass Lake, the short thrillers use the woodsy charm of small-town Minnesota resorts as the backdrops for suspenseful, murderous tales that never seemed to end quite how I expected.
They were enjoyable reads that proved to show how much suspense and mystery can be packed into just a few short pages.
Authors included in the compilation are William Kent Krueger, Jess Lourey, Ellen Hart, David Housewright, Scott Pearson, Pat Dennis, Carl Brookins, Joel Arnold, Deborah Woodworth, Barbara DaCosta, Michael Allan Mallory, Moira Harris and Judith Yates Borger. Lorna Landvik provides a witty introduction to the collection, theorizing why Minnesota has such a plentiful stock of mystery writers.
‘The Dressmakers of Auschwitz’ by Lucy Adlington
The horrors and atrocities of Auschwitz Concentration Camp are well-documented. Accounts of torture, starvation, humiliation and mass murder live on in history books, biographies and documentaries as survivors of the World War II extermination camp have stepped forward to tell their harrowing stories over the years since its liberation.
Perhaps some of the lesser known stories are those of the dressmakers of the Upper Tailoring Studio, the primarily Jewish women and girls who survived for years in the camp by using their sewing skills to make upscale garments for elite Nazi women.
Bracha, Katka, Hunya, Marta, Irene and others sewed all day with frozen fingers, little to eat, impossible deadlines and no compensation except the right to live.
While history has never been my favorite subject and I don’t typically gravitate toward nonfiction, certain aspects of World War II and the Holocaust have always piqued my interest for whatever reason. “The Dressmakers of Auschwitz” delves not only into the Holocaust and concentration camp horrors but the fashion industry of the time and the use of clothing as a status symbol. Even though the talents of Jewish seamstresses were well-regarded in Europe before the war, that distinction was no match for antisemitic rhetoric of the time and did not save the workers from deportation, incarceration and slave labor. Though top-notch sewing skills ultimately saved many Jewish lives, hardships unimaginable to most threaded the path to safety and freedom, proving extraordinary strength and perseverance.
‘Whiskey Rebellion’ by Liliana Hart
I needed a fun audiobook to entertain me on the 10-hour round trip to my parents’ house over Easter weekend, and one my friends recommended “Whiskey Rebellion.” It turned out to be the perfect choice.
Those familiar with Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series are sure to enjoy the tales of Addison Holmes as well. A high school history teacher in the small town of Whiskey Bayou, Georgia, Addison is on the hunt for odd jobs so she can buy her dream house before getting evicted from her condemned apartment.
Her first shot at making some extra cash is as a dancer at a strip club, but nothing about the experience goes as planned. After learning she absolutely does not have a future as a stripper, Addison leaves the club only to trip over the murdered body of her school’s principal in the parking lot. And that’s not the only dead body she finds throughout the course of the book.
Suddenly thrust into the world of law enforcement through the murder investigation, Addison dives in further by taking a surveillance job with her best friend’s private investigation agency.
A hunky detective, vindictive childhood enemy, overbearing mother and dangerous criminal on the loose keep Addison’s life eventful and make for and funny and entertaining read.
Addison Holmes is the main character in a series of eight books, which means my to-be-read list just increased by seven.