Friday, December 31, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
This is an extremely well plotted and suspenseful novel that the reader will enjoy. Virgil is a wise cracking character who is also dedicated to finding wrongs and correcting them, however, he doesn't mind some extra curricular activity with the attractive sheriff.
Friday, December 24, 2010
In this instance a $500,000 life insurance policy was taken on the life of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jack Spears. The beneficiary is Senorita Consuelo deV.
Now the agent is found murdered and Stone is asked to find out more about this Mexican woman.
The novel is advertised as a travel mystery so, as Stone drives from Massachusetts to Mexico, we get glimpses of various places such as Carlsbad Caverns, San Antonio and others. Initially, I found this distracting and wished that the author would just get on with the story.
Coincidences abound. As soon as Stone crosses the Mexican border and goes into a bar, Consuelo, "Connie" is sitting there. She approaches him and sets up a meeting with her boss, Eduardo Silva. At that meeting, Silva informs Stone that he attended mining school at the University of Nevada. It just so happens that Stone has an old friend that is in charge of the mining school there. Silva tells him that Stone's friend was a major influence on his life.
The dialogue is stilted, at the border patrol, Agent Collins states she has "Everything you want to know about the brutal attack...on Spears." Later, Connie is chasing Stone and Collins. She has them pinned down behind a rock formation. Connie comes after them with a gun and yells, "You have dishonored my life and family, Mr. Stone and as for that red haired agent, she deserves the same kind of death as Jack Spears...I plan to carry out a more complete ritual of revenge with her." I don't think that someone would have a discourse when they are trying to shoot someone and call her intended victim "Mr." Also, every time anyone speaks of Spears death, it is referred to as "...the brutal attack."
There is word that Spears may have been a rogue. When Connie is with Stone, she admits that Spears was saved from being killed by a Tribal Elder in Afghanistan. When he was fighting Al Queda and now, Spears is trying to get arms to the Tribal Elder so that he and his village can defend themselves against Al Queda.
I enjoyed the story but felt that it wasn't realistic that the two women in the story immediately fall for Stone and want to go to bed with him. In addition, while Stone and Agent Collins are driving back to Boston, they are too naive to take precautions against reprisals from shooting Connie.
The author can tell a story and the plot is compelling enough to keep the reader interested but I didn't find Stone sympathetic or likable. The author is working on a new novel with this character and I think that with some editing and realistic dialogue, the next novel will be an improvement.
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Thursday, December 23, 2010
"A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise...where to plant vines." Frank Lloyd Wright
Monday, December 20, 2010
Just prior to the report of the murder, Alex's teenage daughter, Lacy, created a near riot at a beauty pageant when she removed two cylinders from beneath her gown and told the audience that they were destroying the environment. Believing that the cylinders contained some kind of poison, the crowd panicked. Lt. Delillo and other police calmed the crowd and Lacy admitted that the cylinders only contained insecticide. Alex is furious and wonders how her daughter has changed so quickly from the daughter she knew, six months ago, who was most comfortable in jeans and T-shirts.
With Alex's partner injured, she begins working with Detective Dylon Harrison who was in the bomb squad. Maybe it's a needed quality to have in the unit he is in but Harrison is a calming influence on Alex. As we will later see, he also has this beneficial quality with victims.
Soon after, a body is found in a remote area and identification shows him to be a member of the Mexican army. Los Angeles officials speculate that he may have brought bomb making equipment to the area.
Lacy goes missing and Alex and Harrison search the home of a part time employee at the florist. Here they find that a man is strapped to a chair with bombs set to explode via a motion detector if the man moved. Harrison is able to disarm the explosives and the mad admits that Lacy has been kidnapped.
The novel is packed with action as Alex attempts to find the mad bomber and her daughter. We learn that the bomber wants to set the explosives in a place where the TV camera will catch the explosion live and he can become famous and feared.
All of the exciting action in the book seem realistic and the author, Scott Frost draws the reader into the action and to become deeply concerned with the story and Lt. Dilillo's attempt to stop the bomber and save her daughter.
Please check out my amazon review and if possilbe, indicate that the review was helpful.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Our first view of Tommy Bedford is when a prison guard is escorting him, at age thirteen, to see his mother before she's executed after being found guilty of murder.
The actual story begins in 1959 when Tom is eight-years-old. He lives in a world where his heroes are the stars of Western TV shows. He owns a photo of Flint McCullough, star of "Wagon Train," which he cherishes.
Tom is a quiet boy who is attempting to cope with a nighttime bed wetting problem. His parents are understanding and sympathetic but they are much older than the parents of his friends.
He's sent to Alhlawn Prep, boarding school, to toughen him up. The school, an imposing Gothic mansion had been a mental hospital and is a cold, frightening facility for this little boy. There is similarity to Tom Brown in the novel by Thomas Hughes, which took place at an English boarding school in the 1830s.
At Ashlawn Prep, Tom undergoes such bullying by other students and sadistic behavior by one faculty member that he smuggles a letter out to his sister, Diane. He thinks that his sister is the only one who would understand and he pleads with her to find a way to get him out of the school.
Upon receiving the letter, Diane is brought to tears with compassion but she's not in position to help. She's a young actress on the brink of success.
It's not for another year that Diane has become a successful actress. She has moved to Hollywood where she met actor Ray Montane, who is famous for his cowboy character, Red McGraw. Diane rises in success while the cowboy movies of the times diminish in popularity and he begins to feel somewhat jealous of her success.
Imagine the effect of a little boy, now age nine, when his actress sister, and her famous boyfriend come to the school. Tom's esteem soars but then Diane admits that she's not his sister but is his mother. But at the same time, she and Ray are able to provide a home for him in Hollywood.
The story is interlaced between events of the past and what is happening currently. We see how sixteen-year-old Diane became pregnant and how Tom, in his fifties is now a divorced filmmaker and writer. The emotional abuse he had growing up has led to his escape into alcohol which ruined his marriage and changed the rest of his life.
A powerful character driven novel by the author of "The Horse Whisperer." The pacing of the story and of Tom's life make him and Diane memorable and sympathetic characters.
Check out the link to my amazon review, and at the conclusion of the review, please indicate that it was helpful.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The author provided a subplot in the form of flashbacks as we learn of Dodge and Caroline's romance, thirty years prior. While this had some interest, the movement back and forth in time, distracted from the plot. By the time the novel ended, I found that I couldn't care less what happened to the characters or what caused Starks to become what he was.
Sandra Brown is one of the legends in mystery writing and I've enjoyed her past novels but this novel disappointed.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
"If the devil does not exist, and man has created him, he has created him in his own ...likeness" Dostoyevsky
Det. Cassie Maddox works in the Dublin Police domestic violence unit. Years ago, she worked undercover, posing as a college student at the University of Dublin. For that assignment, she made up a name and documents as Alexandra Madison.
Currently, her boyfriend, Det. Sam O'Neill calls and tells her to drop whatever she's doing and come to a murder scene.
Upon arrival she's shocked to observe how much the victim looks like her. What's more astounding is that the victim is carrying identification identifying her as Alexandra Madison.
Because of the uncanny resemblance to the deceased, Frank Mackey, Cassie's former boss in the undercover operation, sees a unique opportunity. Since no one else knows of the victim's murder, he asks if Cassie would go undercover again and return to the home the victim shared with other graduate students.
Cassie agrees but first she must learn all she can about the victim, who was referred to as Lexi. She must become an expert on the victim and the other housemates.
The novel proceeds in a leisurely manner, with a fascinating portrait of how someone might react if they could come back to life and was returned to the setting with four others, one of whom might be her killer.
Cassie plays her role well and there seems to be no indication that any of her housemates doesn't think she is Lexi.
The is good character portrayal. One standout was when one of the housemates relates how he informed his parents during a Christmas vacation, about his sexual orientation. The parent's reaction and the character's reaction was cinematically done and memorable.
I enjoyed the novel although thought that the leisurely pace was a bit overdone. The reader sees the other housemates and attempts to identify who Lexi's killer could be. Adding an additional element is that the people in Glenskehy, Ireland, do not like the residents of the home where Lexi and her fellow grad students live. Could the murderer be one of the town's unhappy residents?
The novel progresses realistically and we watch the character of Lexi attempt to identify her own killer.
Readers who enjoy reading of stories set in Ireland will enjoy the realism and characterization provided by the author.
Please see my amazon review and after reading, indicate that the review was helpful.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
"Oh, the ...joys of living...the cool silver shock of the plunge in a pools living waters." Robert Browning
Friday, November 26, 2010
"Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man." Ronald Regan
At age sixty-eight, Matthew Wirth is tired. He's ready to retire from his investment advisory firm. He's been moving in that direction for years and giving up the day to day functions of the job to his partner, Morrie Clay.
A client, Mac McAllister, with eighteen million dollars invested in the firm, wants to move his account to another firm. Though he has been a client for years, his wife, Rene, is pressuring him to make the change.
Morrie storms out of the office when he hears the news. He's put almost $750,000 of Rene's money into a risky hedge fund and borrowed over $600,000 by using $4,000,ooo in assets in her account as collateral. This was done without Rene's authority and Morrie had his secretary sign Rene's name to the papers.
Matt, Morrie and McAllister all have homes by the lake. Another neighbor, Tom Sherman, and his wife, are also having problems. Tom's son, Jamie, by a former marriage, is a known drug dealer and is under investigation.
Things turn ugly with Rene's body is found floating in the water, the morning after Matt Worth's annual July 4th bash.
The sheriff knows how influential these wealthy people are and wants the case closed quickly as an accidental drowning. However, Detective James Raker disagrees with his boss. He convinces the sheriff to give him some time to see if there's more to it.
Then the Sherman's son Jamie is found dead in his boat. The sheriff wants this case closed too but Raker thinks that the cases are related.
The author is presenting a number of areas for his readers to consider. The stock market has made millions for some people but there is still greed and people want to take advantage of it.
Also, how are the retirement plans of a person affected by their employees misdeeds? We question how quickly a dream can be turned into ash and the result on a person's marriage.
Are some of the wives of these wealthy men as conniving as their husbands? Are they the cause of the greed and corruption?
The author, John J. Hohn has put together a contemporary, suspenseful story. Formerly, this would be called a morality play. The characters of the story are engrossing as are their motives and changing loyalties.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
The setting remains the streets of Boston with the homeless, the abandoned, shuttered homes and for many, lost hope.
The economy in 2009 is hurting and unemployment is soaring. Many people who once had decent jobs and could support their families, are now on the streets. Angie is at night school and Patrick's income is barely enough to keep the family in their home.
Amanda's aunt, Beatrice McCready, discloses that Amanda's mother, Helene, isn't providing a good home. Helene is often neglectful and often drinks to excess. Beatrice thinks that Amanda is missing and Helene is hiding the fact.
At first, Patrick didn't want to become involved but now he and Angela have a child of their own, Gabriella, who is four-years-old. When Patrick and Angie talk about rescuing Amanda from her kidnappers but then returning her to an unfit, substance dependent mother, they decide to take the case.
They find that Amanda is an honors student in high school and a Harvard scholarship is hers if she just finishes her courses. They also learn that her friend, Sophie, disappeared along with her.
The story follows the path of the two girls and a black market baby selling operation. Amanda is on the run and has two items that the leader of an eastern European gang, wants. Kirill is as ruthless as they come. He's a meth user and not totally balanced.
Dennis Lehane is a new father and at a recent mystery conference panel discussion, he stated that he wanted this novel to make a statement about parenthood and the economy of 2009.
He accomplished his goals with an excellent addition to the legend of Kenzie and Gennaro.
Please see my amazon review and if you agree, please indicate that the review was helpful.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
"Anybody who plays the stock market not as an insider, is like a man buying cows ...by...moonlight." Daniel Drew
Monday, November 15, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Nell Calder wasn't born beautiful, a fact that even her unfeeling mother informed her about. How she was able to grow normally in an home with an unloving mother was a tribute to an inner strength she didn't know she had.
She married well but at a party on an island in the Aegean Sea, her husband, Richard, a banker, and her precious four-year-old daughter, Jill, were murdered. Nell fell from a balcony during the struggle with a killer and was so badly injured that she needed plastic surgery.
After the reconstructive surgery, Nell's appearance changed to that of a lovely woman but inside, she was still a shell. When she learned that her family had been murdered, she went into a depressed state.
Nicholas Tanek was at the party and felt somewhat responsible for the killings. He tells Nell that the man responsible for the tragic killings is Philippe Gardeaux, and that the killings were carried out by Gardeaux's man, Paul Maritz. Gardeaux is a criminal and attempting to gain prestige and position with the Colombian drug lords. After learning of the man who ordered her family murdered, Nell has a new reason to live, revenge.
The author does a nice job in describing Nell's progress into a woman possessed with the need to seek revenge from the killer of her family. We also see Nicholas bring out a softer side of Nell, as an artist. However, she keeps this in the background as she is undergoing physical strengthening and learning offensive skills to use against the killer.
Nicholas is a criminal of sorts and a rival of Gardeaux but he doesn't deal in drugs. He brings Nell to his ranch to train and admits that he is an adversary of Gardeaux and will continue to pursue him for Nell but she insists that she wants to be part of the revenge, with his help.
This is a fast moving novel with a number of interesting characters. At one point, Nell signs up for training in a para-military facility in Florida and meets a young man named Peter Drake who had been sent there by his father so that he could become tough. Peter is a childlike person and slow mentally. Nell's relationship with him as a form of big sister, was a pleasant sub-story.
I enjoyed the novel and the plot development. The author provided a surprise toward the end that was well done but perfectly logical.
An enjoyable read.
Please check out my amazon review and if you agree, please state that the review was helpful.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
"I never assumed ...an idea was so special that ...using it would guanantee the quality of the music." R Morris
Rusty Sabich is Hogan's deputy prosecutor and narrator of the story.
Carolyn Polhemus, a prosecutor in Hogan's office, is found raped and murdered. Since Hogan is busy with his campaign, he asks Rusty to run the investigation. Nico uses the fact that a member of Hogan's staff has died and that he hasn't found the murderer to move further ahead in the race.
As Rusty continues his narration, he tells us how uncaring and cold, his wife Barbara, has become. When she finds that Rusty is to head the investigation into Carolyn's murder, she admits that she knew Rusty had been seeing her and Barbara ask Rusty to move out of the house.
As the story continues, we follow Rusty's involvement with Carolyn and how she became the dominant one in the affair but then ended it abruptly. Rusty sees her with Hogan and asks if he also was sleeping with Carolyn.
In a contemporary manner, Rusty seems like a battlefield general whose superior has let him down, perhaps there is a comparison to one of the generals who had been in charge in Afghanistan.
This section ends with a very cinematic, suspenseful scene in Raymond Hogan's office. Hogan tells Rusty that he will be vacating his office almost immediately and an arrogant Tommy Moto, who is Nico's right hand man, tells Rusty that they will be inditing him and that he, Moto, has evidence that Rusty was in Carolyn's home on the night she was murdered.
The second half of the novel revolves around the trial. Rusty's defense attorney is Sandy Stern and he becomes one of Rusty's few friends, along with an investigator named Dan Lipranzer. Stern seems like a professorial and fatherly type and does a wonderful job defending Rusty.
The pacing of the novel was particularly well done. Rusty, is a stoic character and takes a back seat while other's defend him.
A most enjoyable and visual story with court scenes that will live on in the reader's memory.
After the court case came to a conclusion, there were an additional seventy pages explaining what happened and how Rusty and Barbara, and other characters continued with their lives. I felt that this segment of the novel too lengthy and it slowed down the effect of the story. Otherwise, this was an extremely readable and entertaining book.
Please check my review on Amazon.com and if you agree, please indicate that the review was helpful. Thanks.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
The next day, Helmut Blauvelt, a German national, who is the company's fix-it-man, is found murdered and FBI agents Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich, a husband and wife team, are called to investigate.
Germany is also sending Agent Andreas Kesserling to investigate. They all coordinate with Bowie Richards, who is the New Haven agent in charge. Bowie is also close friends with Vice President Valenti.
I have enjoyed Catherine Coulter's work in the past but don't think that this is one of her better novels.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
Note: I did think that it was fun that Treven's superior is named Scott Horton and that Scott Horton, contributing editor of "Harper's" has written one of the blurbs on the back cover.
Please see my amazon review and if you agree, please state that the review was helpful.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
"The Things They Carried," tells of a platoon of soldiers and their experiences in Vietnam. It gives an interesting insight into the make-up of soldiers on active duty and serves as a comparison to today's army fighting in Afghanistan.
In the story, we learn what various soldiers carry in the field. Not only do they carry the usual equipment with which to fight the enemy but they are their own personal items and this is what makes them interesting. One man carried a sewing kit, another had a New Testament, still another carried Dr. Scholl's foot powder, men carried Malaria tablets and Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, the central figure in the story, carried the letters from his love, Martha, a college student back at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey. In a sad manner, we also discover that Jimmy was madly in love with Martha but that she didn't share his love and felt that their relationship was more like good friends.
The author also provides a picture of the activities the soldiers took part in when not in the field. We learn of Kiowa teaching a rain dance to Rat Kelly and another soldier adopting a puppy. This made the soldiers more real.
I enjoyed the book, which is made up of linked stories. However, it is more like a journal of Tim O'Brien's Vietnam experience. To me, it was more like a lesson in history than a novel and what appealed to me was the uniqueness and descriptions of the men who are my age and what they went through in the war.