Skip to main content

Book Review - The Black Cane (Eileen Harris)

Book: The Black Cane (Dowager Diaries: Book 1)
Author: Eileen Harris
Genre: Fiction (Mystery)
No. of pages: 336

66 year old, Amelia Armstrong, a widow, is living a life of leisure. Her weekly bridge game at a restaurant, with a group of friends of similar age group, is her only source of amusement. Her curiosity over a snuffling sound that she hears from a dark alley, changes the course of her life, and also the life of her friends.
She rescues a kidnapped boy, Marc. As the friends and a few friends of these friends, come together to solve the mystery of Marc's past, their lives take unexpected, exciting turn. If the women are going to save the boy and stay alive, they are going to have to use skills that have been dormant way too long.
Amelia carries a ruby-studded, eye-catching black cane. The cane was the last gift from her husband and she carries it even though she doesn't really need it.
When giving it to her, he had said, "This is for you. I may not always be around to catch you if you fall. This may help you if the need ever arises."

Amelia, a little too conveniently, has an ex-cop, an ex-social worker, a doctor, a detective, a mysterious bodyguard-like housemate, computer hacker, a childless couple, etc. among the people she knows or happens to meet through the course of the book.

The book has a sub-title - 'Dowager Diaries: Book 1'. Clearly it is supposed to be the first in a series of books.
But the story of this book itself, actually, has a number of short stories in it. There are a number of mysteries solved in this one book, because of which the first mystery gets dragged along for too long.

In this book, there is a reference to Nancy Drew. And that is when I realised that reading this book, felt like reading Nancy Drew. It has been years (many years...) since I read my last Nancy Drew, so I would have to go back to be sure, but there was a simplicity to the mysteries that it reminded me of the teenager detective. The only difference is that in this case, it is a group of dowagers who get together to solve these mysteries.

Some parts of The Black Cane are interesting. I found certain parts of The Black Cane a little too verbose for a mystery.
It just so happens that I read this book after 'Private India' - a fast-paced thriller. This book is milder in comparison.

Certain things in the books are not convincingly explained. An old woman living with a man she knows nothing about, just because he seems trust-worthy and has been around for long, makes me question the decisions of this old woman.

But then, I guess, a group of old women cannot become detectives (Dowager Club) and be central characters of a mystery book without being foolhardy, which they certainly are.

One thing that I found amusing was that there is lots of cooking in the book. Every meal has been planned, in a way that the boy, Marc gets exposure to a variety of cuisines by the time the mysteries are solved.

The characters in this books are Grey and White. Most of the characters are good. The others either become good, or at least become a lighter shade of grey than they were before.

The Black Cane (Dowager Diaries: Book 1) is good for light reading. There are mysteries solved, but there is no blood-chilling gore.

About the Author:
From living off the grid in the Arizona desert, Eileen has moved to the woods of the upstate New York. She has authored a standalone adventure novel called Desert Shadow. She is also the author of Alicia Trent Series. The Black Cane: Dowager Series Book 1 is her latest release.
Blog I Facebook I Goodreads I Amazon 

Book Links:
Goodreads :
Amazon :

Wings e Press :

Reviewed by me as part of the Review Tour by


  1. Nimi I like the way you have subtly mentioned the shortcomings of the book

    1. Thanks, Davinder :)
      The reason I didn't highlight the shortcoming is that I enjoyed parts of the book. I don't want the reader of my review to get a negative impression.. Balance is important.

  2. Great review...its most enjoyable! I liked the cover and the fact that it is not having blood and gore....
    i agree that when you read a book after a certain other , it affects the liking .Its plain that a group of old women at the core would have been a stark contrast from Private India :)
    I was put off after your pointing out the fact about the old lady living with that man without questioning but due to your rest of the review, I'll like to give it a try :)

    1. Thanks Kokila.
      As I said in the review, certain situations and characters in the books are too convenient, this man and his background (when it is finally revealed) are one of them. I wish the author had put in the effort to make these things more believable.

  3. That is a very thorough commentary on the book. I will read it Nimi

    1. Thanks Anupam. Do tell me how you find the book, if you do read it.

  4. Sounds like a good read. Thanks for Nimi

    1. Thanks a lot for reading and commenting. Keep visiting :)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Absurd, yet so good (Book Review - David S. Atkinson's Not Quite So Stories)

Title: NOT QUITE SO STORIES Author: David S. Atkinson
Publisher: Literary Wanderlus LLC
Pages: 166
Genre: Absurdist Literary Fiction
The stories of David S. Atkinson's Not Quite So Stories are, for want of a better word, weird.
They are not your typical short stories and they are certainly not what I had expected.

So, the 'not quite so stories' are weird, atypical and unexpected. And I enjoyed reading them. Read between the lines and you'd be surprised by their depth.
Read them superficially and they are 'absurd'.

The author's dedication for this book is
"For Shannon, who graciously puts up with my absurdities and loves me anyway.
Also for every third person named Fred."

When I re-read the dedication after having read the book, it held more meaning. Thus my use of the word 'absurd'.

The stories are very well-written.
The humor, the emotions, the terror - it is all subtle.
The paradox is that everything is exaggerated and yet the underlying message is sub…

Blogging, Parenting, Nutrition... lots of fun - Blogger's Meet

#CatchUpOnGrowth - the Indimeet that launched Horlicks Growth+, discussed parenting issues, clarified many nutrition confusions, and as is common with all Indimeets, pampered bloggers and celebrated blogging.

The session started with a discussion among Dr Rajiv Chhabra (HoD of Pediatrics at Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon), Ms Satinder Kaur Walia (a psychologist), and Dr Jyoti Batra (Head Dietician at Batra Hospital). This discussion, moderated by blogger Natasha Badhwar, about nutrition for children and parenting in general was a very informative.

There was much to learn from the session. Here are lists of a few things I brought back with me...

Malnutrition has remained the same over the years, but obesity has increased. Worse still, parents are in denial.
Obesity is not only a health/medical problem. It leads to psychological issues for the child too, such as being bullied, teased, etc.

The many tips I am taking home on nutrition. Most of these are relevant, not just for children, but for ever…

The right and wrong of choices #WriteBravely

"You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both" - Brene Brown
And it is ok to choose comfort. 
This is my first instinct when I read this quote. Not because I don't feel that choosing courage is the wrong choice, but because it is implied that one should choose courage.
Ideally, we would all choose courage and lead perfect lives. 
"Life is unfair" - such a clichè and so very true. As true as the facts that the world is imperfect, the destiny is not in our control, and that life is uncertain. "You get what anybody gets - you get a lifetime" - Neil Gaiman
I think my instinctive reaction of 'it is ok to choose comfort' comes from my being a mother. I have spent years counseling my kids that at times, you choose what is right for you. 
Many a time I feel happier waiting rather than taking any immediate action. And waiting takes a lot of courage.
So, yes make the choice between courage and comfort. Choose courage even.  But decide for…