Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Oh, the ...joys of living...the cool silver shock of the plunge in a pools living waters." Robert Browning

Boundary Waters is a canoe area on the Canadian/American border.
Cork O'Connor, the former sheriff of Aurora, Minn. is asked to find a young country and western singer who has disappeared.
Shiloh is the daughter of William, "Arkansas Willie," Raye, a former country and western singer who is gay and now manages Sholoh's record company. Shiloh had been sending weekly letters to Willie but they suddenly stopped. He tells Cork that she had been depressed and wanted a place of seclusion but a winter storm is coming and Willie's worried.
Federal police are also looking for Shiloh because she may have been a witness to her mother's murder by an Italian gangster, Vincent Benedetti, who owns a casino in Las Vegas. Apparently, Shiloh had a type of amnesia and couldn't remember the details of her mother's murder but now, Shiloh's memory is returning.
A studio musician named Elizabeth Dobson, claims that she has letters from Shiloh with some valuable information in them. Dobson told a reporter. Now, Dobson has been murdered and police think that it's because of the letters.
The federal police seem suspicious but maneuver a young Indian American boy and the boy's father to help find Shiloh.
We see one of the author's themes at play with members of the federal government taking advantage of Native Americans by threats and intimidation.
The plot driven novel gives the reader the chance to see the resourcefulness of Cork O'Connor as he leads the search party.
Also in the search party is a ten year old American Indian, Louis Two Knives, who is a well mannered boy, learned about the wilderness area from his grandfather. Louis is actually the trail leader and relates stories about the Indian history and traditions to pass the time as the group searches for Shiloh.
I enjoyed the story and gave it a higher rating due to the descriptions of the area and Indian history.
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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

This is a novel examines the lifestyle of the wealthy, carefree, society members and a greedy financial advisor who places his own greed before his client's interests. Although the story is fiction, it could be taken from the financial section of today's newspaper.

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.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

"I see the bad moon arising. I see trouble on the way." Song lyrics

In one of their first cases, investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro found missing four-year-old Amanda McCready. They returned Amanda to her mother but her mother was of dubious character and the investigators wished that they were bringing Amanda back to a better home. Now, Amanda is sixteen-years-old and her aunt, again, asks their help.

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.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Anybody who plays the stock market not as an insider, is like a man buying cows" Daniel Drew

The subject matter of this novel is as timely as getting the information from the six o'clock news.
Will Connelly, a corporate attorney, comes to work early to work on a project. He's busy at his work when he sees the body of senior associate, Ben Fisher, plummet past his window on the thirty-eighth floor.
Will is still dwelling on his grief when managing partner, Dan Rubinowski, informs him that even though it's a sorrowful time, business must continue and announces that Will has been made a managing partner.
Wanting to celebrate, Will stops at a bar on the way home. He meets a Russian woman and they begin talking about work. She gets him to admit that he's working on a merger for a client, Jupiter Software. This company is a world leader in encryption software.
No sooner does he tell her this then he realizes that he has broken a number of securities laws, divulging a possible merger of a publicly traded company. If Katya bought stock in the company, he would also be guilty of insider trading.
Katya is persuasive and invites him to her apartment where they spend the night. The next morning, two Russian men bang on the door. Yuri and Nikolai enter the apartment, rough Will up and demand more information on what Will is working on.
Naively, Will is afraid for Katya as much as for himself. Then, after using physical force, Yuri tells Will that he wants early information on the merger so that he can invest and earn some money. Again, implausibly, Will doesn't go to the authorities but knows that he's in trouble and has broken security laws.
At the firm, Claire Rowland, is the due diligence officer. Her job is to make sure that the proper laws are followed. In a cost cutting move, she is fired against Will's vote. That night, Claire asks Will to join her for a drink. At her apartment she tells him that something is going on at work. There is a government program to hide a computer chip in the encryption software so the government will know what's going on and decrypt the data in every encryption program.
The story is a bit technical but Reece Hirsch is a strong writer and has put together an interesting and timely novel. The plot moves swiftly and the final confrontation adds an unexpected surprise. The author has developed a sympathetic character in Will and I enjoyed seeing Will maneuver his way out of an impossible situation.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

"A truth that's told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent." William Blake

Ryan James, a promising minor league baseball player is playing the last game of the season when he gets the word that his wife, Chelsea and daughter, Ainsley, have been in a car accident. By the time he arrives at the hospital, his world collapses when he's informed that Chelsea died on the operating table.

Three years go by and Ryan is a morning talk show host on a local radio station. He's left baseball, suffers from insomnia and is raising Ainsley on his own.
Emma Carlisle is a bright, young trial lawyer in Providence, Rhode Island and couldn't put the Chelsea James case out of her mind. The case had gotten significant publicity in the area, due to the young mother dying and her husband's promising career.
As the third anniversary of Chelsea's death arrives, Emma finds a note on the windshield of her car. There is a newspaper story about the car accident in which Chelsea died and someone attached a note, "I know who did it."
Complications arise. Chelsea's younger brother, Babes, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrom, and is a naive, childlike man, goes missing. Emma believes that she sees him at the scheduled rondezvous where an informant will reveal what they know of Chelsea's accident. When Emma makes a motion to approach Babes, he runs away.

Then Emma talks to Ryan and inadvertently tells him that the suspect in the drunk driving is a political figure currently running for reelection.

The characters are what make this good feeling mystery interesting. Ryan, Emma and Babes are all characters that the reader gets to know and becomes drawn to so that we become curious to know what happens to them.

The author is very talented and just when the reader thinks that they might have an idea of the direction of the story, something is revealed and the story changes direction.

Readers will enjoy the story as we see a character's hopes for the future, dashed and later, when hope is turning to despair, there is an uplifting as if there was a greater power seeing that such love and life will have some meaning.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Down the way where the lights are gay...I took a trip on a sailing ship." Song Lyrics

In Elmore Leonard's new novel, he writes of Somalia pirates and life in the Djibouti area.
Dara Barr has been an award winning filmmaker. She reads about the Somalia pirates becoming more brazen and decides to do a documentary about them.
She is accompanied by a philosophical cameraman and confidante, Xavier LeBo, who stands six foot six and is a virorous seventy-two years old.
Dara and Xavier travel to Djibouti, in Northeast Africa, a country bordering Somalia. She views the pirates as the underdogs. These people have an average income of under $1,000. and have high malnutrition and mortality. However, they are brave enough to attempt to stop the massive tankers crossing their waters.
In their search, Dara and Xavier meet various people, none of whom seem to be what they appear, at first glance. There is a wealthy Texan, Billy Wynn, who lives on his yacht. His companion is Helene, a former model, who he promises to marry if she's proven acceptable by not becoming seasick or restless on the yacht. Billy has another side to him in reference to his dealings with the pirates and al Qaeda terrorists.
Xavier introduces Dara to her first pirate, a likable man named Idris. Idris is now retired and drives his Mercedes as a status symbol. He tells Dara that he can introduce her to other pirates and one of his friends is Jama, an African American al Queda Muslim, who becomes a cold hearted killer and wants to make a statement by setting off an explosive bomb.
The story was interesting and the characters were certainly different. It was bothersome how Dara could be so accepting of people who were going around killing others. Xavier is a colorful character and one who would remain in the reader's mind into the future.
I think that readers will enjoy this story telling a part of the Somalia philosophy that is not highly publicized. The pacing was well done and the dialogue masterful.
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

"Broken hearted melody won't you bring him back to me." Song lyrics

The title of this novel could represent the status of the characters and the situations in which they find themselves.

Officer Lena Adams of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrives at the scene where a suicide note is left at a lover's lane spot, popular by area teens. The spot is at the side of Lake Grant. When divers recover the body of a young woman, Lena sees a stab wound to the rear of the girl's neck and knows she's not dealing with a suicide. The girl is identified as Allison Spooner, a college student and waitress at a nearby restaurant.
Lena accompanies acting chief, Frank Wallace, to Allison's apartment. On route, Lena smells alcohol on Frank and then observes him drinking from a flask. At the apartment, they are met by Brad Stevens, a young detective on the police force. When Brad looks in the apartment window, he sees a person they believe must be Allison's boyfriend, Tommy Brakam. He has a mask on and his holding a knife.
In the attempt to question Tommy, he becomes out of control and stabs Brad. Then Tommy is caught and jailed.
While the other officers accompany Brad to the hospital, Tommy commits suicide in the jail. In looking at his background, we learn that he was a flawed, or broken individual. He was just nineteen-years-old and had an i.q. of around eighty.

Dr. Sara Linton arrives at her parents' home for Thanksgiving. She had been married to the former chief of police and blames Lena for her husband's death. Sara was also the former coroner. Prior to Tommy's suicide, she had been asked to come to the jail and speak to Tommy.
When she finds that Tommy had committed suicide, Sara learns that Lena had interrogated Tommy. Thinking that this is another case of Lena failing to do her job, Sara calls in Special Agent Will Trent to investigate a possible case of police neglect.

Of the characters, Lena is a broken or flawed person due to her guilt over the former chief's death. Although she had been cleared, she still felt responsible.

Acting Chief Wallace appears to be an alcoholic and overreacts to the situation.

Sara's flaw is that she cannot forgive Lena and wants her to pay for causing Lena's husband Jeff's death.

In an interesting plot, we see the police investigate Allison's murder and Tommy's suicide. Will Trent is an appealing character. He is dyslexic and had grown up in a foster home. He has overcome his dyslexia to a point but has difficulty reading police reports.
There is an interesting portrayal of the town and the university. The university doesn't want any bad publicity and often covers up crimes.

I enjoyed Lena's characterization. She's easy to sympathise with and is a sincere person and wants to do the correct thing, even if it costs her job or her freedom.

The novel was very interesting and the story seemed as if it could have been taken from the local newspaper of a city that has a large university in it.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly." Miguel De Cervantes

This is a story that shows a woman's transformation from an unattractive, submissive wife into an assertive and lovely woman who knows what she wants and how to go about it.

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.

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