Monday, May 31, 2010

"If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?" Shakespeare

Jackie Fullerton's "Revenge Served Cold," opens Elliott Spruce leaving a restaurant and being run down by a car and killed.

Elliott's wife, Kathy has been drinking recently. Before she fell in love with Elliott, she was romantically involved with his friend Ross Craig. She became pregnant with Ross' child and she terminated the pregnancy. Medical complications resulted and her drinking is due to that.

Soon after Elliott's death, Kathy is awakened and, eventually accused of running down her husband while drunk.

Ross sees her drinking and thinks it is that she is sorry she isn't back with him. He appears at her door confident Kathy really wants him. When she orders him out, he is furious. She tells him that he has ruined her life.

When Ross calls Kathy's old college roommate, Alice, she tells him about Kathy's aborting his child. Now Ross wants to make Kathy suffer and Alice really wants Ross.

The police think that they have their suspect so they don't have to look any further. However, Kathy's friends don't believe that she is guilty.

Anne Marshall is a court reporter and law student. She is also an amateur sleuth. Her father, a respected attorney, died of a heart attack two years ago. Now, he returns, as a pipe smelling spirit, to help Anne with her investigation. Other authors, notably Charles Todd, have used a spirit to question and assist the investigator but it is still enjoyable.

Anne is in a study group who helps in the investigation. We have a homicide detective, an accountant and apart from the study group is Ann's boyfriend, an assistant district attorney.

Anne is the star of the novel and reminds me of Evanovich's Stephanie Plum. She's gutsy, intelligent, persistent and a delight to read.

Since the reader knows that Kathy is not guilty, there are only two possibilities, Ross, Alice or both of them. Fullerton does a good job of keeping the reader guessing. A fun read and perfect for the summer vacation.
No book to post, just wish everyone a happy Memorial Day.
We had a wonderful weekend babysat for Madison 26months and Molly 2 mos. as our son, Kevin and wife Claire got last minute tickets for the Dave Matthews concert.

Goal in writing this week is to send out at least three queries on "Splattered Blood," and get over the plot block on "Three Strikes and You're Dead."

Finishing Lee Child's "The Hard Way," tomorrow and working on my review of Jackie Fullerton's "Revenge Served Cold"

Have a peaceful day and check back soon.

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Long, long and lonely nights, I cried my heart out over you." Song lyrics

Things were swinging in London in the 60s.
This is the story of Harry Starks, a gangster and club owner, who is also gay.
As the story unfolds, he meets a young man named Terry. Terry narrates how he was won over by Harry's assertiveness and generosity. Soon after meeting, Harry asks Terry to move in with him as his lover.
Harry has a reputation as a mobster and has a following. Not only does he own a nightclub himself, he brings his entourage to other clubs and mingles with celebrities.
Terry learns about "the long firm" from another of Harry's cronies. "The long firm" is a scheme that gangsters impose on the innocent. They obtain the name of a deceased person and create various documents, register a business under that person's name, deposit some cash into an account in order to build up credit. After that, they build up an inventory, delay payment of the bills, then withdraw the money from the business account, have a fire sale and disappear. The business is registered to a dead man so the gang gets away with the scheme.
Another of Harry's traits is that he has a strong sense of loyalty but when crossed, he can be cruel. This is something Terry finds out first hand when he tries to hide some money from one of Harry's schemes.
The story continues as Harry wins favor of a member of parliament and uses him to further his con games, this develops into an international scope when they meet John Ogungbe from Gambia and attempt to set up a con by using him.
The story is a light hearted romp through the British mob scene. Harry is a chameleon; he's generous but dangerous when crossed, most of the time he's in good spirits, but when crossed, he can be deadly as a poisonous snake.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Death was afraid of him because he had the heart of a lion." Arabian Proverb

In this amusing story by a talented writer, Detective Inspector Peter Shaw and veteran officer, Detective Sgt. George Valentine are sent to look for containers of toxic waste on a Norfolk, England beach. While they are there, they discover a dead body in a raft, washing up against the shore. The weather is terrible and blizzard conditions prevail.
Not far away, someone has placed a sign on the main highway that due to flooding motorists should detour to the coastal road. A tree has been cut and is across the road and eight cars are trapped on the road. In addition, someone has killed the driver of the first car in line, Harvey Ellis.
When Shaw and Valentine get to the scene, what perplexes them is that, although Ellis has been killed in a violent manner, there are no footprints in the snow.
D.I. Shaw followed his father, Jack, into the police department. He is currently the youngest Detective Inspector on the job. He's teamed with the tough, no nonsense, veteran, George Valentine. What adds possible tension between the partners is that Valentine had been Peter's father's old partner. Twelve years prior, Jack Shaw and George Valentine made a mistake with the evidence on a case, ending Shaw's career. Now, as Peter Shaw is investigating the highway case, he surprises Valentine by asking him to tell him about the old case and to take him over the scene of the crime.
This is a well done, extremely interesting novel. With only those cars on the highway, it is a variation of the locked door mystery. The author's literary style was a pleasure to read and Shaw and Valentine are an enjoyable team to read, the crusty old vet, under the supervision of the young Chief Inspector, who has a talent for forensics and in dealing with suspects.
My dilemma was the I wanted to get to the end of the story to discover how the novel ended and yet the book was such an enjoyable read that I didn't want it to end.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Dear Lord above can't you see I'm crying...take me to paradise." Song lyrics

Jake Hamrick is 19 and has a fascination with the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. He meets a girl named Robin and after showing her his copy of Audubon's "Birds in America," he tells her he wants to travel to Louisiana to The Big Woods, where the woodpecker was last seen. Robin is as obsessed as Jake and tells him that she wants to join him.

The couple find a bare home to rent and enter the bayou to search for the bird. After searching without results, Robin dresses up as a bird to attract the Woodpecker. She covers herself with white mud, puts crow feathers on a cloak and wears that, then she dyes her hair bright red. Jake calls her "The Lord God Bird" the nickname for the Woodpecker.

Deep in the bayou, they are discovered by hunters and an incident occurs. The hunters return to pursue the couple deeper into the bayou where an elderly black man named Robert, hides and helps them.

The story is told with picturesque style. It is obvious that the author has written poetry as the words flow beautifully, i.e. "The scent of the lilac bush permeated the air and it was a perfume that women wore and drew hummingbirds."

The author seems to be telling his readers about a time gone by and how humans destroy the beauty of nature but a few people search out and attempt to preserve that beauty. A very timely story in view of the Gulf oil spill and the damage that it is causing to the Louisiana coastal areas.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"He took a hundred pounds of clay, and then, ...he created a woman." Gene McDaniel, lyrics

"Given the choice of groping after something in the dark or hoping to find it easily in the light, people pick the light ninety nine times out of a hundred."
Young, Mobile Alabama Police Detective Carson Ryder is the rare man who searches the dark places to find the necessary answers. He and his partner, Harry Nautilus are called to the scene when a headless body is discovered in a park in southwest Mobile.
Both Harry and Ryder are part of a newly formed Psycopathological Sociopathological Investigative Team, which goes by the acronym, PSIT and by a more colorful phrase by other cops.
Captain Terrence Squill is an ambitious autocrat. When he sees the body in the park, he dismisses it as a homosexual meeting that ended in murder.
A second, decapitated body is found and where Squill was highly skeptical about the unit, he is ordered to incorporate it in his investigation team. Resenting their presence, he does as little as possible to assist them.
There is an interesting subplot as Ryder goes out of his way to help another character who is an alcoholic. As Ryder attempts to assist her, the author does an excellent job in describing the horrors of that disease.
Another subplot concerned the childhood events that led to Ryder's brother Jeremy being incarcerated in a mental health facility. Jeremy takes an interest in Ryder's case and seems to have the ability to give Ryder insights into the killer's reasoning and identity. This was reminiscent of Thomas Harris' Hanibal Lecter, in "The Silence of the Lambs."
The narrative is packed with unpredictable action and the characters are different enough to be both interesting and appealing. Carson is compassionate and engaging lead character. The story is a great reading experience.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"If worry were an effective weight-loss program. Women would be invisible." Nancy Drew

On a steamy summer morning, Martin Gregory rushes to Calli Clark's home. Martin's daughter, Petra, hasn't been home since early morning. He wonders if she's with her friend, Calli. Then, when Calli's mother, Antonia, checks, she's shocked to find that Calli isn't home either. In panic and fearing the worst, a search is begun and this grabs the reader's interest and locks in on the events until a resolution arrives.

Calli is a sweet, seven-year-old who suffers from selective mutism due to an incident when she was a toddler. Her father, Griff, is an abusive alcoholic who seems to doubt that he's really Calli's father, since Antonia and Deputy Sheriff Louis had been seeing each other around that time.

Calli's brother Ben, is a twelve year old who tries to take care of his little sister.

In the incident when Calli was a toddler, Griff fought with Antonia with the result that she lost the baby she was carrying. As Calli witnessed the abuse and began to cry, Griff screamed at her to "shut up."

We learn about the events of the story from the characters' point of view. This gives a more personal knowledge of events and allows the reader feel what the character must be experiencing, while being in the scene of the action.

I enjoyed the spunkiness of Calli and the courageousness of her twelve-year-old brother, Ben. Calli's mother, Antonia was a rather submissive character, perhaps symbolic of an abused wife.

The novel keeps the reader's interest and the scenes are well described although the conclusion was a bit too convenient in answering one of the story's questions.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"When the undertow grasps us we will realize that we are ...being carried forward...helped as we cry for help." Neal A. Maxwell

In April 1988, a young man, Michael Sutton, tells Kinsey Millhone that over twenty years ago, he remembers, when he was six, seeing two men in the woods burying something. This happened just after a four-year-old girl was kidnapped and never returned.
Sutton hires Kinsey to help find the location in the woods and then, possibly find the killer. When Kinsey notifies the police, they don't find what they were looking for, but the publicity sets off other actions.
The story moves between events of 1988 and twenty years prior. The reader is given a number of sub plots and different view points as we view facts surrounding the abduction of the little girl. We also meet a number of interesting characters as the story unfolds.
Kinsey is still a fresh character after being introduced over twenty novels earlier. She's a saucy investigator who has the intuitive sense to research how the young boy may have seen something when it was something else. We also learn that Michael Sutton has trouble with the truth and may have told too many made up stories to be believed now.
The reader always feels a part of Kinsey's clan as she tells us of her mixed up family and group of septuagenarian friends.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Fields have eyes and woods have ears." 13th Century Saying

Three children enter the woods in a small town outside of Dublin. Something happens that traumatizes Adam Ryan so severely that he blocks out the preceding events, his two friends never return.
Twenty years go by, Adam's family moved away and he attended boarding school and started using his middle name. He enters the police force and later, becomes a detective.
He's teamed up with another young officer, Det. Cassie Maddox and they are assigned to investigate a young girl's murder in Knocknaree, the town where Adam lived and where his two friends disappeared. He doesn't inform his superiors of his past because he doesn't want to be taken off the case. However, as the investigation continues, he begins having flashbacks of the incidents surrounding his childhood friend's disappearance.
The area where the young girl's body is found is at a archaeological site. Kevin Devlin, the father of the murdered girl, Katy, is chairman for a group that wants the government to change a highway planned to pass over that site. He had been receiving threatening calls from people because their houses could increase in value if the highway went past their homes. Were any of these people capable of murder?
A literary plot driven novel that gives the reader insight to the process of investigation and suspect identification. The story is unique in that as Adam investigates the case, he begins having flashbacks about his own case.
The characters are sympathetic and easy to root for. Cassie and Adam make an excellent team, both having their own strengths and insights to the people they are questioning.
The setting is also well described and picturesque. It would be easy to imagine this novel made into film.
A well done story that won the Edgar Award.

Friday, May 7, 2010

"Character is like a tree, a reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree the real thing." Abraham Lincoln

The "General Slocum" ferry caught fire and burned in June 1904, killing over 1,000 people. One of the killed was New York Police Detective Simon Ziele's fiancee, Hannah. With so many people having friends and or family killed, Ziele moved to the village of Dobson, New York, looking for a more peaceful life.
His peace is shattered when Simon and his boss, Joe Healy are summoned to the home of Mrs. Virginia Wingate, where her niece, Sara, has been brutally murdered.
The killing was senseless. Sara had only recently arrived at the Wingate's in search of a quiet place where she could study. She was a student in her fourth year in Columbia grad school, in a mathematics program.
Simon is visited by Alistair Sinclair, a professor of law at Columbia. Alistair states that he believes that Michael Fromley might be the killer. Alistair is a criminologist and claims that Fromley has killed before. Thereafter, Alistair and his daughter in law, Isabella, assist Simon in the investigation.
Interspersed within the story are historical facts about the times. This adds realism and is an interesting side to the story. One example is when Simon gets a ride on a " Ford Model B motorcar." While in the car, he realizes that this is his first ride in an automobile. There are also interesting facts about women who are striving to have more say in politics.
The psychological novel is well told and the conclusions are logical although I felt that the conclusion was a bit orchestrated. Simon Ziele is an original and refreshing character, he is very analytical and takes advantage of the latest scientific advances, such as the art of fingerprinting, to help solve the case. The novel has been well received by critics and recently won the Edgar Award for the Best First mystery novel written in 2009.

Monday, May 3, 2010

"The supreme act of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting." Sun Tzu

With the Berlin Wall coming down in 1990, The Cold War is ending. There will be a downsizing in the military and some commanders want to be sure that their commands are not lessened.
Jack Reacher has suddenly been transferred to a new post and is the duty officer with the Military Police on New Year's Eve. He's notified that a two-star general has been found dead in a motel used for romantic lesions. When Reacher gets to the general"s home to notify the general's wife, he finds she has been murdered.
Reacher is a heroic character with a strong moral sense of duty. He finds that the general was on his way to a meeting and that his briefcase, containing the meeting's agenda, is missing. As he continues to investigate, he is ordered to refrain because it would bring disgrace to the military.
Reacher and a young officer who is assisting him, Lt. Summer, feel that it would be disloyal to the general and the general's wife's memory if they stop the investigation without finding who was guilty. At the risk of their careers, they continue their investigation.
There is conflict with a Delta Force unit when one of their men reported that Reacher, in an unprovoked manner, beat two civilians and hospitalized one of them. The report states that Reacher's actions were unprovoked. Later, when the Delta Force sergeant is murdered, the men in his unit give Reacher seven days to find the killer or they will be coming after him.
This is a page turner in the highest sense of the phrase. Reacher is one of the best characters in literature and his bravery and dedication are shown here as never before. Many readers wanted to know why Reacher left the military and this story tells the events that led to his resignation from active duty.
The story itself has excellent action scenes and Reacher's motives and his investigatory actions are properly explained and logical. It only took the first few pages before this reader was grabbed by the story's events.

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Broken Promise