Friday, January 29, 2010

"With God, what is terrible is that one never knows whether it's not a trick of the devil.' Jean Anouith

This is the 11Th book featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. We learn of a plumber uncovering a secret room in a home he was remodeling. He finds bones, feathers and signs of what might be devil worship. The skull of what turns out to be a teenage girl is found at the center of this shrine.
Temperance is called in to see if the skull is from a murder victim. While working on this case, with detective Erskine, "Skinny" Slidell, she is also investigating the circumstances around the headless body of a teenage boy found by a man walking his dog. This body is marked with satanic symbols.
Kathy Reichs takes her reader on an adventure where we learn of devil worship, meet a Wiccan and learn how this is different from a witch and read of the superstitions in the black community and their practice of Voodoo medicine.
Reichs provides plenty of action in the story, it is fast paced and Temperance is an interesting character about whom we learn of her love life and the politics of her job. Very entertaining.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Shall we make a new rule ...from tonight: always try to be a little kinder than is necessary." John Matthew Barrie

Investigator Wayne Weston is found dead, an apparent suicide. His wife and daughter are missing. Officials believe that it is a case of murder - suicide. Wayne's father, a gutsy WWII vet, hires Lincoln Perry and his partner, Joe Pritchard, to investigate.
Michael Koryta takes the reader on the trail as the investigators accept the case and are surprised that Weston doesn't seem to have any current cases. He does seem to have been working for wealthy Jeremiah Hubbard. However, when they visit with Hubbard, Hubbard doesn't admit anything and immediately offers them a bribe to drop the case.
This makes the investigators more suspicious and intent to find out what was going on.
This is Michael Koryta's first novel and a well done job. He uses dialogue to get to know the characters and the reader becomes almost an interested participant as the case develops. Koryta gives the reader a number of surprises and keeps the action going throughout the story.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"I decided that once and for all I was going to make it or die trying." John Johnson

Jack Reacher is walking down a city street when he sees a woman with a cane, struggling with her dry cleaning. As he attempts to assist her, three men approach her with weapons drawn and abduct her, bringing Reacher along also. The men are part of a separatist group who bring the prisoners to their enclave in Yorke, Montana. They are holding the woman, FBI agent Holly Johnson as a bargaining tool for a plan they have in motion, against the government.

Reacher shows the reader his many talents in the story. We see him as the lone man against seemingly insurmountable odds. He's highly analytical, and possesses keen intelligence. He's able to rationalize what the captors are planning and figure out a possible escape. He also shows that he is very human and develops feeling for this young woman. His compassion and strength are two of the reasons readers enjoy Reacher as a character and are able to sympathise with him.

The plot is original and logically laid out. It proceeds nicely towards the confrontation that readers expect.

Child's theme seems to be that when oppressed, do not give in and with Reacher as the author's voice, it tells that even one person can do great things against impossible odds.

Friday, January 22, 2010

"The deplorable mania of doubt exhausts me. I doubt...everything, even my doubts." Flaubert

Nick Wilder is a crime scene photographer. His older brother Sam is the success of the family and Nick resents this, even when Sam offers him money, Nick has an attitude about it. Then, one night while walking together, a man dressed in rags, runs from the shadows, kills Sam and runs away. Nick is left with blood on his clothes and not much memory of what happened.
The reader views the past, by flashbacks, to the time before the killing and we learn that Nick was at a coffee shop, looking at the photos of one of his crime scenes, when Sara Garland approaches him, begins a conversation and suggests that Nick take her out. Sara seems starstruck with Nick but why this is, is a mystery. However, Nick and Sara begin a relationship.
Nick isn't a very interesting character. The reader sees the nightmares Nick has about his past and learns that homeless men have killed two other people in other cities and Nick wonders what is behind it all. At this time, Nick is a suspect because of Sam's blood on his clothes and other things.
This lengthy novel was hard to finish. There were some surprises and interesting segments but as a whole, with no characters that the reader could care for, the conclusion didn't matter and was predictable.
However, the author does show talent. With a more concise story and characters with whom the reader can sympathise with, this writer may be more successful in the future.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Fire is a good servant but a bad master." English 17th Century

Det. Lena Gambrel is given the lead investigator responsibility on a case of a young woman who was murdered. The victim's body was left in a position that looked like it was a stage prop.

The victim had recently had sex and DNA showed that it wasn't with her husband. Wanting to show initiative, Lena finds information in the home with the number 7. This makes her look into similar cases and she finds the DNA matches two other murders where other men were convicted.

The author does an excellent job of letting us know about Lena's background and see her personality, such as the way she does crossword puzzles in ink, and the part of her history when she lived at the home of her brother, David, who was murdered. This lets the reader understand Lena's actions and her relentless pursuit of the killer.

The writing captivates the reader's attention and holds it throughout the heart pounding story as Lena discovers the killer and resolves the case.

In addition, the author provided a plot twist as things were winding down, this change in direction of the plot was outstanding and totally unexpected. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Highly recommended.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Truth often suffers more from the heat of its defenders than from the arguments of its opposers." Wm Penn

Georgia Parish is in Nulgarra, Australia for her grandfather's funeral.
She meets two people who get stuck in a river while driving to the airport. They are on the same plane to Carins when the plane crashes. It turns out to be sabotaged. Who was the target? Could it be Ronnie Chen who never showed up for the flight and was later found dead, murdered?
Another man on the plane was Lee Denham, supposedly, a person who smuggled Chinese people into Australia. Lee is a former police officer who is searching for Jon Ming, a scientist who left China with a valuable formula, and entered Australia illegally. In addition, other members of the Chen family want Jon, in order to take him, and his formula back to China.
Georgia is a character who is fun to read. The action never stops and Georgia is in the middle of everything. Some detail is a bit hard to believe. At one point Georgia's finger is chopped off in order to get information from her. She is still able to use her hand and attempts to fight with her hand wrapped up in a bandage.
The setting is well done. The reader feels the stark Australian bleakness and gets to know the feelings of the people. We also learn of the many Chinese who have been smuggled into the country and the consequences these people face if they are found and returned to China.
The plot develops in a logical manner and we share with Georgia, the search for Jon Ming and the attempted evasion of the Chen's. However, when the author provides one plot twist, I felt that it was not logical and made the reading of the story in disbelief.
Some good parts, a nice leading character and support by one secondary character but disappointment in the story's conclusion.

Mysteries and My Musings: Dec Mystery/Crime Fiction Blog Carnival

Mysteries and My Musings: Dec Mystery/Crime Fiction Blog Carnival

An excellent blog that enables readers to view various blogs in mystery, suspense, cozy and thriller genres.

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Man may have discovered fire, but women discovered how to play with it." Carrie, Sex and the City

Lisbeth Salander is accused of killing three people. There is strong evidence pointing to her. She doesn't wish to be found so she goes into hiding. Newspapers have a field day, accusing her of the murder. They go into her past and make her look like an out of control, sexually depraved mad-woman. The tables seem stacked against her but Mikael Blomkvist and a few loyal friends are not swayed by the public view. They decide to take their own steps to help their friend.
The reader learns that the magazine "Millenium" was about to publish a story about the abuse of prostitutes in Sweden. It was going to point to a number of influential men who were using the services of these prostitutes.
In a strong, plot driven novel, the reader follows the bashing Lisbeth receives, the official investigation by the police, Mikael's research into the case and the steps that Lisbeth takes to clear her name and find the real killers.
Lisbeth Salander continues to be one of the finest female protagonists in literature. The manner in which she is described shows her multi-dimensional qualities. Lisbeth is a gutsy, relentless and extremely intelligent character. Since she appears to be bi-polar, her actions are unique.
The author provided some well thought out plot twists which added to the reader's surprise and interest. The plot did become overly complex and with the many characters whose names began with the letter "B" it was confusing. We have Blomkvist, Bjurman, Bublinski, and Berger, who is married to Beckman.
Otherwise, this was an original plot with unique characters and provided an enjoyable reading experience..

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"The virtues are lost in self-interest as rivers are lost in the sea." Francois La Rochefoucauld

It is 1921, England is still recovering from WWI and war wounded are visible throughout the land. What cannot be seen is those who are psychologically wounded and in need of help.

Colonel Fletcher and his wife and two staff members are murdered in Surrey, England.

The local police believe that this was a case of robbery and violence. Inspector John Madden is brought in from Scotland Yard. He sees the scene and knows it is something more. He's spent time in the trenches and knows that this is the crime of a psychopath who will probably strike again.

John Madden is a well developed protagonist. He's knowledgeable and determined to find the killer. His personal history is brought in nicely so that the reader gets to know him and sympathise with him as a character. The respect in which he is held by his assistant, Billy Styles, gives credibility to his keen knowledge both of people and of crime.

The setting is rural England, which is nicely described and realistic. In fact, the author could be writing a screen adaptation because his descriptions are so vivid.

As is the case with many soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan today, I believe that the author is telling his readers how little post traumatic syndrome is known and what psychological impact it can have on a person.

A most enjoyable read.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"The people have a right to the truth as they have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Epictetus

The story takes place a few days after the events in "Extreme Measures," when Mitch Rapp and Mike Nash stopped a group of terrorists before they could destroy the National Counterterrorism Center. 185 people were killed but it could have been much worse.
Three of the terrorists who helped plan the mission have escaped. However, these three men have cut off ties to al Qaeda centers overseas. Working as an independent unit, it will be difficult to find the information to stop them before they can kill again.
In addition, Mitch finds that he has to explain his actions to politicians who don't seem to realize what is necessary to maintain the nation's defense.
The series with Mitch Rapp has provided many enjoyable reading moments. This story is packed with adventure. However, Rapp must take the time to explain his motives and means of carrying out his mission. Many people disagree with the methods he uses, such as terror and intimidation. His adversaries feel that he is a "lose cannon." In defending himself, Mitch must take time out to philosophize and this isn't the action protagonist that we are used to. When Mitch must even convince his close associate Mike Nash that his actions are just, it takes away from the action and complete confidence that he's doing the only thing possible to save the nation.

An enjoyable read but not quite up to his past work.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Jump into the middle of things, get your hands dirty...then reach for the stars." Joan L. Curcio

Lemar Pye, his mentally retarded cousin, Odell and a third man escape from McAlester State Penn, a maximum security prison. With nothing to lose, they go on a killing and robbery spree in Oklahoma.
One of their stops is a ranch belonging to a WWII veteran named, Bill Stepford, who lives there with his wife, Mary.
State Police Sgt. Bud Pewtie and his young partner, Ted Pepper, happen to stop at the ranch when Bill doesn't show up at a restaurant where he has coffee each morning. Not suspecting that they are approaching two cold blooded killers, the troopers are ambushed. Pepper is killed and Pewtie is wounded.
Stephen Hunter gives an excellent, well plotted story of the escape, the horrors that the fugitives commit and the relentless pursuit.
There are no real heroes in this story. Bud Pewtie is a self centered egotist who is having an affair with his young partner's wife. His lieutenant is an alcoholic and Lemar Pye has no redeeming traits. In fact, it is Pye's evilness that leaves the reader with a haunted memory that will last for a long time. With someone like Pye, who has no hesitancy for the taking of anther's life, I was totally wrapped up in the chase to bring him to justice before he could kill again.
An enjoyable reading experience.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"I wish we could chat longer, but I'm having an old friend for dinner." Hannibal Lector

Joe Gunther is investigating the death of two men who appear to have nothing in common. However, after researching their history, he learns that they had both been using internet chat rooms. The men possessed child pornography on their computers. Joe and his unit of Vermont Special Investigators suspect that the men may have been lured to the area by someone seeing retribution for a past sexual attack.

Archer Mayor always adds other investigations to the investigators activities. In this manner, it seems that the author may have been influenced by the great Ed McBain and his police procedural novels.

In "Chat," Joe's brother is in a car accident in the beginning of the story. Joe's brother knows cars and he tells his brother that it wasn't his fault but something was wrong with the car. Joe's brother was with their mother when the accident took place. Joe's mother isn't badly injured, but his brother goes into a coma and the outcome is uncertain. While his brother is in the hospital, Joe and his unit investigate the auto mechanic and find that there is illegal activity going on there.

The plot moved along nicely and kept my attention throughout. The author provides a taste of life in Vermont. This is refreshing and always enjoyable.

Joe Gunther is a terrific protagonist. He's savvy, brave and a good administrator. He is also human and falls in love. He's surprised that a woman can find him desirable but appreciates the attention.

The other characters are equally well drawn and interesting.

The series never fails to entertain.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A nice part of living in a small town is that when I don't know what I'm doing, someone else does." Unknown

Sixteen year old Sally Anders seems to have a normal life. She sings in the church choir, babysits, and has the occasional arguments with her younger brother. However, when she doesn't return home from baby sitting one night, a search is made. She is found raped and murdered by the home of the family that she was babysitting for.

The story is told in brief sequences of people's thoughts and reactions to Sally's murder. A common reaction after the grief and shock is "how could something like this happen in a town like ours?"
It tells a picture of life in a small town which has a factitious name but is actually Guilford, Connecticut where the author had lived and served office.

Waugh gives the reader a step by step account of what people were doing and how they relate to the murder. This approach doesn't give the reader any insight into Sally's thoughts and so there is no sympathy developed. It is more like reading the information in a newspaper account. In addition, there isn't much suspense in the book but it serves as one man's view of small town life.
The book was written in 1989 and that was the year that Hillary Waugh was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America.

Monday, January 4, 2010

There is no witness so terrible and no accuser so powerful as the conscience ... within us." Sophocles

Lena Gamble, L.A. detective is given the case of a dismembered body found in a dumpster. Lena is disliked by her superiors because of the way in which she handled her last case in which a police officer was involved. The result of the bad publicity the department received was to place Lena on administrative duties. Now she wonders if she is being set up with the new case.

As she investigates the murder, she is sent a driver's license identifying the Jane Doe as Jennifer McBride. Unfortunately, when she attempts to notify the next of kin, the woman tells her that her daughter, Jennifer, died two years ago. Now Lena must find out who the Jane Doe really is and why she was hiding under another person's identification.

Lena and Detective Rhoades follow the leads to a doctor who made a number of calls to the victim. The doctor, Joseph Fontaine, has something to hide, but they can't tell what. Since the doctor has friends in high office, the detectives are ordered to tread lightly.

The hunt for the killer goes through various trails with the author providing surprising plot twists that add to the enjoyment. During the investigation, Lena finds that there is corruption and deceit within her department and she believes that she may be the next target of those attempting to keep the facts of the case from becoming public.

The story was unique and the gradual manner in which Lena figures out what is happening was well described and allowed the reader to sympathise with her plight and root for her success. She is a good protagonist, ready to stand alone, if necessary, to find the answers. I was entertained by the novel and strongly recommend it.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"If you love someone, put their name in a circle instead of a heart because hearts can break, but circles go on forever." Source Unknown

When a review copy of "The Edge of Forever" was sent to me and I saw that it was about an event which might be the end of life as we know it, I was skeptical.

As I began reading and I was struck with the cliches "baring her soul" "spit it out," "spilled her guts to me," I felt that what I was reading was an amateurish attempt at writing a suspense novel. However, when I put that aside and concentrated on the story, I was greatly entertained. After all, that is a central purpose of writing.

For the plot, Michael Hansen helps a woman who has dropped her purse. Then, a few months later, he visits a restaurant and she is the waitress. He learns that the woman, Cassie Mc Murphy, is being abused by her husband. With concern for her safety, he follows her home and an earth tremor causes an accident. Carrie completes the ride home in her damaged car and when she arrives, her husband sees the damage to the car and begins beating her. Michael intervenes and he and Carrie leave the husband, sheriff Kyle McMurphy.

In San Diego, Spencer Montgomery informs his friend, Frank Donner, at the Black Diamond facility, that the earth's moving the way it has, might be the prelude to shomething that could be worse than the Great Dying of 251 million years ago.

With numerous earthquakes, a catastrophe is imminent.

Michael Hansen and his family must find a way to meet and find a place where they can be saved from the looming destruction.

Definitely an enjoyable read. Michael Hansen is a Rambo type character, seemingly indestructible, but tender with Carrie and all the things that a big brother should be.

Jeff Chimenti has written a sequel and that should also be an enjoyable read.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

"There are thoughts which are prayers. There are moments when, whatever position of the body, the soul is on its knees." Victor Hugo

In this dark novel, Patrick Kenzie has lost some of his enthusiasm for his job since Angela Gennaro left their partnership.
He's hired by Karen Nichols, a sweet, innocent woman, to stop a stalker from bothering her.
Patrick and his bruising buddy, Bubba, scare off the attempted assailant. Patrick is also able to get Karen's auto insurance company to pay a claim where someone damaged her car. The insurance company claimed that Karen never paid her bill and that the coverage had lapsed.
Kenzie goes on with his life, later, he gets a call from Karen but doesn't think it's anything serious and doesn't return it. Then, to his astonishment, he learns that Karen has committed suicide by jumping from a nearby high rise.
Feeling a deep sense of guilt, Patrick looks into Karen's life from the time he last saw her. He uncovers a plot which looks as if someone deliberately set about to destroy this innocent woman's life and her will to live. In despair, he contacts Angela and she agrees to rejoin him. Together, they delve into the reasons someone might have done this terrible deed and then provide their own retribution.
Dennis Lehane tells a story detailing the wickedness that a person can descend to. Similar plots have been written, but in this case, Lehane does the job well. Patrick and Angela are always interesting to read about and when they work together, they create a kind of give and take chemistry that makes them a special couple.
This was a most enjoyable, stand alone thriller.

Friday, January 1, 2010

"Goodnight you princes of Maine, You kings of New England." Homer Wells, "The Cider House Rules"

Dr. Wilbur Leach became a physician partly because of the need to give something back to his community, so when he observed two women die from botched, illegal abortions, he took a stand. He decided that he wanted to save unfortunate women like this and that he would perform medically sound abortions without charge and to educate the women to let them know the dangers of having a person who is not trained provide this service.

Later, as medical officer of St. Cloud's Orphanage in Maine, he became a legend. Women sought him out to deliver the babies they couldn't keep and then leave them in the orphanage; other women came for the free, no questions asked abortion.

Homer Wells is born there. Homer was loved by the nursing staff and by Dr. Leach. He went through a number of adoption attempts which fell through, always returning to what he considered his true home, the orphanage. He remained at that location and later became Dr. Larch's assistant.

This detailed story, tells of life in Maine in the early and mid part of the twentieth century. It tells of the mills closing, the pollution in the water and the way of life of so many of the ignorant, poor people who dwelled there.

One of John Irving's themes is that a person should be grateful for what they have and do something good to others. However, there were many painful moments, either with people adopting for the wrong reasons or the callous manner in which Wilbur performed the abortions, never seeming to attempt to persuade the young women to continue the life within them and later placing the child into adoption. Wilbur was an ether addict, in part to the gonorrhea he contracted when his father took him to a prostitute as a right of passage into adulthood. Not much is discussed of the addiction and the effect that had on the children.

The story is a classic. Homer Wells is one of the most empathetic characters in literature. He is someone the reader will remember fondly, long after the book is finished.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading
Broken Promise