Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The older I get the more I distrust the theory that with age comes wisdom

This suspenseful thriller was recommended to me by my reviewer friend, Tom McGee. Tom's literary tastes are usually on the money and with his review, he hit the nail on the head.

Livy Jackson has dealt with her sister's death for almost twenty years.

Currently, she comes to her best friend, Julia's, flat for lunch and finds her dead which is ruled a suicide.

Livy doesn't believe it but her husband isn't being supportive. He thinks she's being paranoid.

In the midst of dealing with her friend's death, Livy's husband is given an assignment in Paris. Not only must she bear her grief alone but she learns that a colleague of her husband with whom he had an affair with in the past, is accompanying him on the Paris assignment.

Livy feels an added burden of guilt because Julia had left a number of urgent messages on Livy's phone, asking Livy to call her.

In the hands of a lesser writer, the story might have been a typical melodrama but Sophie McKenzie draws Livy out so that the reader feels her pain. When she learns something new about her husband, she faces everything by herself.

The drama increases as she meets Julia's mysterious boyfriend and seems drawn to him. However, the reader isn't sure of his intentions.

The story is done with panache and McKenzie's characters come to life before our eyes.

I can't wait to read the next novel by this exciting author.

I received a free book in return for my honest review.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Blue Monday, how I hate Blue Monday

I'm sure I won't be the only one who compliments this book on the intricacies of the plot and cleverness of the characters.

Special Agent Pendergast  is one of the most original characters in mystery today.

In this story, his estranged son Auban has been murdered and his body left on Pendergrast's door.

When police officials arrive, it is clear that Pendergrast wants to look into this investigation himself.

The story is in two parts, one being a death at the Museum of Natural History in New York. In an autopsy, a blue stone is found and Pendergrast follows leads that show it came from a disused mine in Colorado.
Something happens as he finds an old mine and begins exploring it, even though he knows it's a trap.
Pendergrast and another man are gassed and Pendergrast barely survives but is weakened by the gas he was exposed to.

Cleverly, the story moves to South America and the trail of Auban Pendergrast. Even though Auban had done some terrible things, there is a secret that Pendergrast learns.

Not only does the reader have a plot that Alfred Hitchcock would dream of putting to film but the dialogue is wonderful. Characters are rich and well described. The sarcastic manner that some of the officious characters have and the manner in which Pendergrast takes them down a step or two are just as amusing as the story.

The reader has to read this slowly to appreciate everything that is going on, it's like a fine meal that shouldn't be hurried.

Pendergrast and Constance Green appear in the concluding scenes at the New York Museum of Natural History and I could only imagine how much fun it would be to see this action live.

I listened to the story with Audible and found it a delight to savor.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

I can smile when things ain't funny

"Laughing Boy," published in 1929, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1930. Oliver La Farge 1901-1920 is the writer.

The story is a good depiction of Navajo life and the coming of age of "Laughing Boy," a young Navajo Indian who meets Slim Girl at a ceremonial Indian dance. They fall in love and marry against his family's wishes.

Laughing Boy is an innocent and loves horses, tribal dances and competition of all kinds. After he wins events at the ceremonial dance when he met Slim Girl, he is coerced into gambling the money and his horse away.  When chided by Slim Girl, Laughing Boy tells her that it doesn't matter because winning and loosing were the source of his pleasure.

Slim Girl went to an American school and was given the school name, Lily. The central conflicts in the story deal with Laughing Boy and Slim Girl's dealing with American culture.  At one point, Laughing Boy and his friends arrive at an Indian trading post. He brags to his friends that he could get the owner to give them free coffee. Then he pretends that he is going to make major purchases from the trader, who offers the coffee as he totals the bill. After getting the coffee, he smiles and tells the owner that he changed his mind, then wonders why the owner became angry.

What Laughing Boy doesn't realize is that Slim Girl is leading a double life. She spends time as the married wife of Laughing Boy and also with an American.

I found the story to be entertaining as depicting a segment of American life but never became too involved in the story. With the different ways that Indians behaved and lived their lives, it was difficult to empathise with their dilemma. Also, with all of the Indian names, there were times that I couldn't tell if the characters were members of Laughing Boy's clan and if the names were real names or nicknames.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Redemption Key, a good place to avoid

I hadn't read the previous books by S.G. Redling and was surprised with the action and the predicament that the protagonist, Dani Britton, found herself in.

Dani is attempting to get away from a past where she was almost killed by an assassin.

Now, she is in a little fishing camp, village in Florida, Redemption Key.
What exactly happened in her past left me a bit confused. However, this story moves swiftly with a wide array of characters. Most of those characters aren't very likable but the mixture of the group in this out of the way bar and cabin area is interesting and the setting is picturesque.

Dani gets involved in another nerve catching event. She's appreciated by the bar owner but something is going down and the owner wants Dani to be his extra set of eyes and ears.

The plot is basic and the reader attempts to determine what crime is being planned but then the author proves her imaginative skills and packs a conclusion that will have the reader shaking their head and rereading the last segment of the story to be sure they understood what was happening and what was going to occur.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Little Big Man in Action

Thomas Berger is a serious storyteller. His novel, "Little Big Man," was both an excellent novel and movie starring Dustin Hoffman.

In the story, we read the reminiscences of Jack Crabb, plainsman who dictated the story when he was age one hundred and eleven.

Jack Crabb was captured by Cheyenne Indians and raised by them after they massacre the members of Jack's family's wagon train.  In a humorous manner, he describes being raised by the Indians and meeting many famous people that populated the west. He is the narrator who stands apart when Indians are being massacred by Union Cavalry, when the Civil War occurs and in great detail, the Battle of Little Bighorn where Gen. George Armstrong Custer met his end.

Jack returns to white people after a battle between soldiers and the Cheyenne. He marries a blond haired German named Olga,  and they have a son, Gus. After a time of happiness, another raid kills people around Jake but Olga and Gus are taken by the Indians.

In one humorous and entertaining segment, Jack assumes that Olga and Gus are lost and marries an Indian named Sunshine.  They have a son and come to believe that a child should be able to choose their own name. While out walking, their son made a motion toward a certain scene and was given the name, Frog Lying on a Hillside.

Jack meets and befriends such famous historical figures as Wild Bill Hickok and Wyatt Earp.

He also details the last days of Gen. Custer and the Company G of the 7th Cavalry.

Jack also meets a bar girl who introduces her to a younger woman who worked at the bar. She convinces him that she is his niece and he sends her to a school for young ladies and marries a wealthy man.

I enjoyed the reading and was sorry to see the story conclude.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Compuslive

When I first saw this title available for review, I immediately jumped on it. I enjoyed the last Max Revere novel and felt that this would be more of the same. I was correct.

Maxine "Max" Revere, investigative reporter is covering the murder trial of serial killer Adam Bachman.

Max pulls some strings and gets a pre-trial interview with Bachman. From what he says and her own experience in dealing with serial killers, she feels that Bachman has a partner. He's too smooth and Max feels someone must be helping him.

Max has also been asked to try to find the missing parents of a family who had gotten in touch with her. The parents were in New York from their Ohio home for a little vacation but they never returned.

David Kane is Max's assistant and body guard, Riley Butler is her new protege and office assistant. Together they are able to find links to the missing parents and more about Bachman's past.

What Max doesn't know is that much of what she learns has been staged. Someone is gunning for her for some mysterious reasons and as these people appear in the story, the suspense mounts like the downward ride of a ski jump.

As a hard core mystery fan I found the mixing of Max's prior cases and early life with the facts of this case refreshing and entertaining. I would rate this as one of the more compelling novels I've read this year.

Monday, February 9, 2015

She's a devil in disguise

"The Devil's Redhead" will entertain readers by the unusual actions of the protagonist.

Danny Abatangelo is a freelance photographer and also a smuggler. He has an entire crew bringing in drugs to the west coast area.

One night he is celebrating in Las Vegas and meets Shel Beaudre a redheaded card dealer with a magnetic personality. The two hit if off immediately and eventually end up back at the west coast. He explains his life to Shel but promises yes for marijuana but no to guns or gangsters.

On what was to be his last run, he gets caught and when he won't give up his crew, he's sentenced to ten years. Agents still try to get him to turn on his partner and use Danny's sick mother as a promise to see her if he'd rat on his friend but Danny is true to his friends so does the entire ten years.

Shel seemed so terrific but she gets out of prison after five years and eventually meets another man, Frank Maas. Frank is a needy person and is into drugs and robbery. He suffers a tragedy about his former wife and child and Shel feels that Frank relies on her and she can't see past him.

The first part of the story is interesting and suspenseful. Part two deals with Frank working with a group of Mexicans against a biker gang.  Frank is in the middle of this and when Danny arrives to rescue Shel, the Mexicans want to use her as a hostage.

Danny is an ethical man and his unfulfilled love makes a good story line. The warfare between the Mexicans and the biker and his gang is a bit of a stretch.

All and all, a story with action and suspense that provides a good read.

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Pulitzer Prize winner 1930