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.
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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.
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