Sunday, September 28, 2014

The house of the rising ghosts

Hannah Smith is a fishing guide and part time investigator in the Sanibel Island area of Florida. She's invited to her friend, Birdy's wealthy aunt's home.

When Hannah meets Aunt Bunny, Hannah is asked to check out a home called the Cadence House, named for the first owner of the home who died there.

Aunt Bunny is locked into a real estate investment that includes this home. Due to the owner's death in the house and other mysterious happenings, the home is said to be haunted. Thus, the home and property it's on, are difficult for Bunny to sell.

Hannah and Birdy arrive at the house and soon a nest of spiders fall on Birdy and one of them stings her. Thereafter, a string of unexplainable events occur.

There is also interest in a Civil War battle that was fought in the area. Heather finds her uncle's diary. He had been active in the area of the Cadence House during the Civil War. Hannah reads from her uncle's diary and it's as if events of the Civil War that took place in Florida are being described again.

A colorful cast of characters are introduced, from an eighty-year-old archaeologist looking for his son and civil war relics, to a number of women who claim to be witches and to a con-man who has trained two large chimpanzees to do as he commands.

The story displays Hannah's fear after dealing with one of the chimpanzees named Oliver.

There are good descriptions of the Florida swamps, lots of action and good characters.
However, the story was longer than it needed to be and there were times that the suspense lagged.
I enjoy Randy Wayne White and await his next Florida adventure story.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A mother's love

In the prosperous oil fields of Lawton, North Dakota, rapid expansion of the business had resulted in short cuts from the companies doing the oil drilling and from providing housing for the many men who arrive in Lawton looking for work.

One company in particular has been overlooking safety in the workplace and has a number of serious injuries. If an employee becomes injured, the lawyers from the company attempt to buy the person off and have them sign a letter that they won't sue. The company is afraid of bad publicity and an investigation by OSHA.

In this atmosphere, two young men disappear. Their mothers come to Lawton separately to find their sons and get answers of what caused their disappearance. The mother's meet up when the second mother arrives and with the housing shortage, she is introduced to the first mother and they share accommodations

With the company who was their son's employer stalling the women, the look elsewhere but other employees fear for their jobs and are afraid to talk. Townsfolk are happy with the employment and scoff at the mother's inquiries. They feel that they young men are probably having a good time somewhere and don't want their mother's to know.

We are introduced to a young Native American with ties to a local reservation. Eventually the mother's search and the young man make a connection.

The mother's are opposite personalities and from different segments of society but manage to work together. They are easy to sympathise with. As they search, the possibility of what happened to their boys becomes clearer but then the author provides a surprise.

I enjoyed the writing but wish the story ended sooner. The last segment of the book was drawn out and lacked suspense and wasn't compelling.

As the father of a son with a learning disorder, I felt the treatment of one of the young men who had ADD, attention deficit disorder was well brought out. The author displayed the difficulty with this condition and the results that can effect the person effected and their family.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Agents and intelligence officers at odds with each other

Matthew Dunn provides his readers with the events of an M16/CIA operative, Will Cochrane. Will goes against his orders. He shoots a number of Russian killers and saves a fellow CIA agent's life.

He endangers an important mission and the directors of the CIA and FBI want him dead.

Will shows his integrity and desire to do the right thing in saving his fellow agent's life. The agent reveals to Will that she just learned from her source that there is a Russian mole who is a high ranking person inside the CIA.

Who can Will trust?

He had to get from his current assignment in Oslo back to Washington, D.C. to get the answers. In the meanwhile, intelligence officials tell a different story. They depict him as a rogue agent who is a killer.

Will has to rely on his instincts and attempt to get the answers about a project that his superiors want kept secret. He is a well developed character. We see his bravery, resourcefulness and determination to save his life and his career and uncover the mole.

The author, Matthew Dunn, was an M16 field officer and knows his stuff. He writes a believable, engrossing story that is impossible to put down.  Well done!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Passion Power and Sin

Mike Wells has created a clever, interesting financial drama where one victim decides not to take her misfortune lying down.

Heather Bankfort is a young woman trying to find success in the public relations business in New York. Her mother's home in North Carolina is behind in mortgage payments and about to be foreclosed.

One day she receives an email from an anonymous person with a tip on a sport's event. She considers it a scam but when the prediction comes true, she acts on the next tip from the source.

In between these emails, she begins dating a handsome man from a wealthy family and considers her dreams are coming true.

Moving forward, everything turns upside down and she realises she has invested everything in a pump and dump scheme. In addition, she finds something about the man she was dating and takes appropriate steps.

What Heather goes through in the obstacles she faces is exciting and suspenseful.

The story was narrated by Karin Allers and I listened to the audio as I exercised. It made my time fly by and in an enjoyable manner.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Murder and Kidnapping in South Africa


Deon Meyer provides the reader with his ninth police procedural in "Cobra."

A famous English mathematician is kidnapped and his body guards killed in the picturesque Franschhoek wine valley of South Africa. The man was traveling under an alias and tried to keep his identity unknown. He has developed a formula that will make it more difficult for terrorists and secret agencies to hide their financial transactions.

When police arrive, the only apparent clue is the shell casings from the bullets. They are engraved in such a way that the police refer to the kidnapper/killer as the Cobra, a known assassin.

Through Meyer's writing we see the rivalry between the Hawks, members of SAPS (South African Police Service" and the SIS, the government security service. It is akin to the territorial rivalry between local municipalities and our government agencies of CIA and FBI.

Detective Benny Griessel leads the investigators with his colleagues. Benny is the central character along with Tyrone Kleinbooi, a 'coloured' pickpocket who is trying to pay for his sister's tuition at the university through his thievery. He's an interesting character as we see him plan for his needs and then steal what is necessary.

Meyer tells us about Benny's past fall into alcoholism but he has been sober for over 400 days and even helped his girlfriend overcome her difficulty with the same ailment.

We also see the tensions between white and black and the attitude many have where in the University they are teaching more English than Africanis.

The action is well done and when Tyrone picks the wrong person to rob and the Cobra wants it back, it gets personal and suspense mounts. Tyrone tells the Cobra off and tells him not to mess with his sister.

This is a very visual story with good action and good descriptions.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dt. Tempe Brennan at work

I was excited when I received this book from LibraryThing early reviewers. Once I began reading the story my excitement continued to grow.

Dr. Tempe Brennan is called to a meeting of the Cold Case Unit. She's introduced to an investigator from Vermont who discovered a murder vic and found evidence that relates to two cases of Brennan's area in North Carolina.

As the story progresses, Brennan finds evidence linking the murders of young girls to a serial killer in Canada.

The premise of the story deals with the Canadian serial killer and Dr. Brennan identifying the skeletal remains of three young girls in the killer's basement. Brennan and the other investigators consider if that serial killer is at work again or if there could be a copycat killer.

"Bones Never Lie" is detailed like a police procedural in which the scientific evidence provided by Dr. Brennan adds to the investigation itself. She helps not only with her scientific examination of evidence but by her womanly instinct.

The author is a forensic anthropologist and creator of the TV show Bones.

We certainly empathise with Brennan and the crew of investigators. We also find sympathy for the victims and their parents who suffered the worst thing that could happen in the deaths of their daughters.

The people who populate the novel appear realistic and the action flows nicely. When the investigators link the deaths in Canada to the current victims in North Carolina, they surmise that the killer is about to strike again and the suspense mounts.

I appreciate the manner in which Kathy Reichs can combine forensic anthropology and story telling and do so in such a top notch fashion.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Beware if this wolf is watching you

The Wolf is a name that Mafia boss Vincent Morelli is known as. He oversees an enormous criminal world.

He's devastated when an attempted hijacking of an airline plane departing from LA ends in a gunfight. There are two air marshals and a bodyguard on the plane. Gunplay erupts and the terrorists are killed, their mission thwarted but there are civilian casualties, among them, Morelli's wife and two young daughters.

He's incensed at the activity of the terrorists and calls a conclave of the most powerful criminal leaders in the world. The International Crime Counsel includes leaders of the Neapolitan crime world, the Camorra Syndicate, the leader of the Japanese crime syndicate and others.

Terrorist activities are costing the Crime world millions of dollars and they declare war on the Russian Mob, the terrorist and the Mexican drug lords who have been working together.

The break neck speed of the action is sure to raise the blood pressure of most readers. Major characters are murdered and we learn that the Russian Mafia is paying a particular terrorist group to create chaos so the Russian Mob can take over most of the world's crime.

Even with the war, Vincent Morellis is easy to sympathise with. He's a loving father who is trying to protect his last living child, his son. He also works with a female leader of the Camorra throne and he and Angela renew a long lasting friendship.

I was thrilled with the excitement generated in this novel and found Vincent Morelli to be believable and likable. I couldn't help but root for his success.

The writing is also poetic "...I would rather people tremble in my presence than feel comfort in it."

There are surprises, traitors and romance with well developed characters. What more could the reader want?

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Deon Meyer