1. What are you currently reading? Mrs. Jeffries Learns the Trade by Emily Brightwell. This anthology introduces Scotland Yard's Inspector Witherspoon and his maid, Mrs. Jeffries, in the their three earliest adventures. I've barely dented the first story, but so far I'm enjoying it. Ms. Brightwell successfully creates a veddy-veddy Downtown Abbey atmosphere. And I know this will definitely be more "cozy" and less Cornwell -- meaning I expect little that's grisly in these books.
2. What did you recently finish reading? Kennedy and Nixon, by Chris Matthews. There is little new in this book. It's the way Matthews frames the contrast between these two historic men that makes this a good read. He casts Kennedy as Mozart, naturally gifted and charismatic, the one to whom everything appeared to come so easily. Nixon, then, is Salieri, hardworking but workmanlike, consumed by, and eventually destroyed by, jealousy.
Matthews treats both men with respect and compassion. It's especially evident in the passages about their deaths. I'm paraphrasing here, but JFK died as he lived -- in an open convertible, with a beautiful and loving woman at his side, charming everyone he saw. His death was sudden and fast, which he expressed more than once was how he wanted to go. Nixon died a lonely widower who lingered four days after suffering a stroke. Kennedy once famously said that life isn't fair. If he were able, Nixon might argue that death wasn't fair, either.