Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Death is the golden key that opens the palace of eternity." John Milton

This is a story that tells of the growth and maturation of Lipshaw Morrisey.
Lipshaw, son of June Kashpaw and Gary Nanapush, is summoned back to the reservation by his grandmother, Lulu Lamartine. The method of summons is by sending him a wanted poster with his father's photo on it.
This is an effective wake up that makes Lipshaw stop and take a look at his own life and the direction he was going. He thought of the drugs and his dead end job and his future. After considering his life, he packed his car and headed back to the reservation.
When Lipshaw was a child we learn that "..spirits pulled his fingers..." He finished high school and scored well on the North Dakota college tests but became another reservation statistic.
We experience what life has in store for him when he returns. He gets a job as a night watchman at the Bingo Palace. An immediate result of his return is seeing Shawnee Ray again and falling in love with her. However, she is also being sought after by Lipshaw's boss, Lyman Lamartine.
The writing is rich with description and imagery. When Lipshaw and Shawnee Ray are together with friends and she asks if he wants to kiss her, Lipshaw answers, "Not here, our first kiss has to be a magic moment only we can share."
Louise Erdrich possesses a unique talent for creating characters who have an individuality that makes the reader want to learn more of their lives.
With Lipshaw, we see his early promise but like many members of the Chippewa Nation he seems content with a meager existence. In this case, his position of night manager which is supplimented with his bingo winnings.
There are streams of hope in Shawnee's future goals but we learn that many goals are just dreams that fade away.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." Victor Hugo

Ex-con Parker Harrison pesters PI Lincoln Perry until Perry agrees to look into a case for him.
Harrison had gotten into a home for paroled murderers run by wealthy Alexandra Cantrell and her husband, Jushua. Harrison feels grateful for the chance that Alexandra gave him. Now, after being missing for twelve years, Joshua's body is found, buried in the woods.
Mrs. Cantrell is the sister of Dominic Sanabria a powerful Mafia figure.
Linc is asked to find what happened to Alexandra. Soon after he begins his search he's visited by Sanabria who tries unsuccessfully, to see who hired him. Later, Ken Merriman, visits Link.
Merriman is a PI who had been hired by Joshua's parents after he went missing twelve years before. Merriman, from Pennsylvania, asks Link if he'd work with him since Linc was a former cop, seemed to have connections with the local police and Link has a certain street sense when dealing with homicides.
Quinn Graham is a police detective in Pennsylvania who is working on the case concerning Joshua's death. He's a stern law enforcement official who demands that Link go through him in any investigation.
As the story progresses, the reader sees the frustration investigators have in working a cold case. Link wasn't anxious to take the case to begin with and with the lack of success and another tragedy, Link puts the case on back burner and goes on with his life. However, something makes him change his mind.
The novel is a good study of man in turmoil and provides an interesting view of how paroled men attempt to adjust to society. The plot is complex, with numerous plot twists to keep the reader guessing about the outcome. There wasn't as much suspense as in the author's "Tonight I Said Goodbye" but maybe it was more factual in the manner in which Private Investigators deal with some of their cases and the misfortunes that can occur.

As a case study in criminology, it was an enjoyable read.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

"Monuments are the grappling-irons that bind one generation to another." Joseph Jaubert

The setting is Aurora, Minnesota, during the winter. There are as many people who travel by skis and snowmobiles as by cars.
Judge Robert Parrent is found dead, a possible suicide. The newspaper delivery boy, Paul LeBeau, is missing. All of Paul's deliveries were made up to the Judge's home.
Cork O'Connor, once a cop in Chicago, and former sheriff, feels compelled to take action when there is a need to solve a crime.
Cork is undergoing a time of turmoil, himself. His wife, Jo, wants a divorce and he is separated from his three children. Painful indeed, just as the Christmas season is upon him. He takes emotional refuge with Molly Nurmi, a kindly waitress at the local coffee shop.
One winter day, he gives a ride to an old Indian wise man, Henry Meloux, who tells him that the Windigo has called Harlan Lytton's name. This is an Indian sign of a "...giant ogre with the heart of ice." It is a prediction of imminent death. When Cork goes to Harlan's home to warn him, he's attacked by Harlan's dog and is forced to kill it. Not long after, Lytton is found dead and it is learned that he has been spying on the residents and more.
Cork doesn't believe that the Judge committed suicide. He thinks that the Judge may have had something that the killer wanted. Cork also learns things about his own family that shake his well being.
Despite personal issues, Cork continues the investigation while pondering his own faith and his relationship with his children.
This is a fine debut novel that won the Anthony and Barry Awards for best first novel. The author can certainly write a captivating story full of memorable characters, set in the frozen countryside of Minnesota. With his use of Indian folk lore, he places himself as a successor to the legendary Tony Hillerman.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Clear conscience never fears midnight knocking." Chinese proverb

Former Philadelphia police officer, Max Freeman, is in his canoe on a river in South Florida and sees something that doesn't look right. It turns out to be the body of a dead six-year-old girl, Melissa Marks.

Max has been living with the memory of a child he shot in self defense while on duty in Philadelphia. His motivation for being a cop ended with the remorse he had by taking the life of a twelve-year-old. Now, seeing the girl's body brings back all the memories.

He knows that the police always look closely at the person reporting a crime and is ready for any tough questions. He learns that there have been other children who have been abducted, killed and their bodies left in remote areas like where he lives.
Max has an attorney, his friend, Billy Manchester, who advises him not to say anything to the police but his obligation as a former law enforcement officer obliges him to disclose what he knows. Then, when another child is abducted, police don't hide their suspicions that there are too many coincidences and he becomes a possible suspect.
The author maintains the tension at a high level as we see Max attempting to investigate the abductions but at the same time, looking to authorities that he could be an accessory. He visits remote areas in the Everglades in hope of finding the killers but in so doing, places his own life in danger.
A well plotted novel with intriguing characters and a believable story. Max is easy to sympathise with after his bad experiences in his past come back to haunt him again. He's honest, intelligent and determined in his search for the people who are guilty of the crimes against the children.
It was also interesting to meet characters like Nate Brown, a man who lives by nature and wants to do the right thing. I could visualize him in the days of the old West, leading wagon trains through a path to avoid being attacked by Indians.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"The most dangerous moment comes with victory." Napoleon Bonaparte

Police dispatcher, Winnie Sinclair, gets off on the wrong foot with FBI agent Kilraven at a police department Christmas party. She gives Kilraven a secret present of a painting she had drawn, of a raven surrounded by colorful beads. Kilraven's reaction to seeing the drawing was to leave the party in anger.
Little did she know that the raven was Kilraven's daughter, Melly's favorite, even more so, when decorated with beads. Ever since Melly and Kilraven's wife had been murdered, seven years ago. The memory of those days was just too sad for him to bear.
Later that night, Winnie is surprised by a visit by her mother. She hadn't spoken to her mother since her mother had run off with Winnie's uncle, a drug dealer. Winnie's father never forgave his former wife and, when he drank, he used to beat Winnie because she looked so much like her mother.
Kilraven realizes that he had to explain his unexpected reaction to Winnie and invites her to his home where he shows her a drawing that his daughter made. It was the last thing she did before her murder. The raven in the drawing is so much like Winnie's drawing that Kilraven thought she had seen it before.
Still working on the case where his family was murdered, Kilraven finds a connection to Senator Sanders and the Senator's brother, Hank. He learns that the Senator has a home in Nassau where his wife stays. The Senator has a thing for young girls so his wife won't stay with him but doesn't want a divorce. When Kilraven learns that Windy's family owns a home that borders the Senator's, he thinks of a plan.
There's not a lot of action or suspense in this novel but for the reader looking for interesting characters, this book is a treat. Kilraven reminds me of Clint Eastwood's character, Rowdy Yates, in TVs "Rawhide." When a character named Matt enters the story, get ready to have your heart won over.
I recommend this story for those who enjoy romantic mysteries, with an emphasis on "romantic."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversries are insane." Mark Twain

An extremist desires to change the direction that the United States is going by wiping out the Supreme Court.

Washington is in disarray with high unemployment and budget deficits. The government wants to tax overseas accounts and this can devastate certain politicians.

Senator Josh Root is highly concerned with how he and a number of his political friends will explain the wealth they have accumulated in foreign banks through bribes and kick backs. Additionally, his health has begun to decline and someone is blackmailing him for actions he took when he was a member of an underground movement. His actions in this group were under an assumed name and, unfortunately, they resulted in the death of a security guard.

The story follows the action in Martini's "Garden of Lies." Parts of the story seem to follow closely the events of the earlier novel and it assumes that the reader has read that work prior to reading "The Rule of Nine."

In this story, the antagonist, who is putting the destructive mechanism in place, goes by the name of Thorn. At the same time, the FBI agent leading the investigation is named Thorpe. The similarity of names was confusing and I had to pause a number of times to make sure I had my characters correct.

Thorn uses a Mexican killer who is referred to as Liquida. He has a grudge against the protagonist, attorney Paul Madriani and Madriani's investigator, Herman Diggs. The hatred that Liquida feels toward Madriani and Diggs is only glossed over. For this degree of animosity, I think more detail would have helped.

The action was good but at times illogical. There is one person in the story who has a family member killed. This person runs his own investigation and makes public announcement who he feels his responsible. This character's ending is predictable, sadly, he should have known better.

Madriani is an interesting character but it does seem improbable that a New York defense attorney would feel compelled to stop his practice in order to chase terrorists. There was an appropriate level of suspense as the novel reached it's conclusion but the final pages made me feel like I was reading an episode of TVs "24." Still, this was enjoyable and I would recommend it for someone looking for a lighthearted read.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"In the country of the blind, the one eyed man is King." Michael Apostoulis

In Aberdeen, Scotland, Det. Sgt. Logan "Laz" McRae is investigating a series of attacks on Polish immigrants. The attacker gouges out their eyes, burns their eye sockets to cauterize the wound and leaves them in their injured state. There was also a note that the Poles have taken "...our jobs, our women and our God."
The attacker is given the nickname, Oedipus.
As this case is being investigated, a large quantity of weapons and ammunition is found. Police fear that this could be preparation for an all out gang war to take over one of the local gang's operation. This case is also given top priority.
Logan is under the strict disciplinarian, DCI Finnie, who never seems satisfied with Logan's work. Logan also works with Det. Inspector Steel, a feisty lesbian officer who curses so much she has a container to put money into every time she curses. She is currently stressed because she and her partner, Susan, want children. When they aren't approved for adoption, Steel suggests that Logan donate the sperm needed for artificial insemination.
This is a madcap police procedural. Since the police in Scotland don't normally carry guns, there are a number of skirmishes that could have involved the Three Stooges, policemen hit with beer bottles, kicked in the crotch and shot at without fear of return fire.
There's lots of action in a realistic manner where the reader gets to see the mistakes that police, who are human, can make. McRae is an excellent protagonist with a strong sense of right and wrong. He's moral, determined and as relentless as a hungry pit-bull.

Friday, June 4, 2010

"Life can be hard and dangerous; those seeking happiness may find sorrow." Unknown source

Once more, Reacher arrives at a destination where trouble and someone in a hopeless situation, asks for his help.
In this tenth episode of the Jack Reacher saga, Reacher is enjoying his coffee at an outdoor restaurant in New York. From his many years as a Marine, Military Police officer, he is fully observant of his surroundings. He spots a man cross his line of vision, get into t a Mercedes and drive away.
The next night, Reacher is back at the spot when a military looking man with a British accent, asks if he'd noticed anything the previous night. Reacher tells him about the man but states that he only saw the man's back and his car. Hearing this, the man requests Reacher to accompany him to see Edward Lane.
Lane lives at the Dakota House in New York and states that his wife, Kate, and her daughter, Jade, have been kidnapped. He tells Reacher that what he observed the night before was the man with the ransom money leaving the pickup. Lane also informs Reacher that this also happened five years before. Lane's first wife, Anne, was kidnapped but when he went to the FBI, Anne was killed. That's his reason for not wanting the police involved this time.
Even though Lane is accompanied by a group of former military men, it's obvious to Reacher that they lack investigative skills. Therefore, being a former investigator in the Marines and the hero of the oppressed, he offers to help.
The investigation proceeds slowly as the kidnappers call and increase their demand. Later, Reacher is able to be on his own and he arranges to meet with the FBI agent who was in charge of the case when Lane's first wife was killed.
The agent, Lauren Pauling, still feels guilty about Anne's death. However, Reacher sees that he can trust her and so they work together to solve the case.
This is a fast moving, constantly suspenseful story, complete with plot twists, deception and action packed adventure. Reacher, as always, is one of the most courageous, dependable, and resourceful characters in fiction.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading
Broken Promise