Saturday, March 31, 2012

"We should not be so taken up in the search for to neglect the ..duties of life." Marcus Cicero

Elvis Cole is hired by a woman, Nita Morales, to find her daughter, Krista who was with her boyfriend when she was kidnapped.

Nita is skeptical and wonders if the kidnapping was a ploy so Krista could obtain some money to elope. Even though Krista is ambitious and highly inteligent, Nita tells Elvis that even intelligent girls do stupid things when they think a boy loves them.

Krista and Jack were at a popular spot in the desert and were kidnapped by 'bajadores' -bandits who prey on other bandits and anyone else they find. They find immigrants who are crossing into the U.S. and hold them for ransom. If these poor people's family doesn't have money, the immigrant is killed. These bajadores believe that Krista and Jack are from families who would be able to pay a good fee to get their children back.

Elvis and his partner, Joe Pike, work together with Elvis posing as a dealer in human contraband who wants to meet the leader of the bajadores and pay for the release of the captives.

Elvis and Joe don't know it but the bajadores are heartless and think nothing of killing their captives if they can't extract money.

Will Elvis reach the prisoners on time? Will he succeed in his pose as a contraband dealer?

There is a high level of suspense in this dark novel. We find the plight of the immigrants, most of whom only want a better life in the U.S.

This is a well written, smoothly plotted mystery with excellent character growth as we learn more about Elvis and Joe, who combine to make this a memorable read.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Crimes sometimes shock us too much; vices almost always too little." Augustus Hare

Two corporate bombings cause the Minnesota Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to call in Virgil Flowers to investigate.

There is animosity toward Pye Mart, a Wallmart type of corporation. Many people in Butternut Falls, Minnesota are bitter about. They fear that if the corporation moves in, it will cost many town residents their jobs and replace them with low paid employees. Others dislike the corporation because they feel it is adding pollutants to the water.

As the story unfolds, we have access into the mind and philosophy of the person setting the bombs. We don't know who he is but are told of his desire to beat the cops and the federal government.

Virgil is a somewhat nonchalant investigator. He brings up many discussions with the type of fishing equipment they use and compares it to his own. He is also humorous and easy to like.

The list of suspects is established and grown as Virgil, in his down home manner, attempts to find people who may have animosity toward Pye Mart or its owner, Willard Pye.

The many reasons that residents would dislike a major corporation coming to town is well described as is the people who would have benefited from it. This includes members of the town council who have passed an ordinance permitting the corporation to build without having popular support.

This is an enjoyable read, packed with colorful characters, and sure to entertain.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Alone, so alone that I could cry, I want to be wanted." Song Lyrics


This moving novel takes place in Sweden. The reader tries to understand who would carry out a horrific deed and then observe the authorities as they seek to identify and apprehend the guilty person.

A parent's worst nightmare happens when a mother gets off the train to make a call and the train, carrying her six-year-old daughter leaves without her. When the train arrives at the final station, the child is missing.

After the police interview the mother, their first thought is that it is a domestic fight and attempt to locate the child's father.

The mother's history of abuse makes the father seem like a likely target. However, investigative analyst, Fredrika Bergman, who is new to the team of investigators and not fully appreciated in a male dominated police hierarchy, has other thoughts. She begins looking into the possibility that if the child's father is not the kidnapper, who might be.

With excellent dialogue and psychological insight into the investigators, their thoughts and family life, the reader observes their reaction when their investigation takes a new turn. This makes the characters more sympathetic and for us to want them to succeed in their search for the kidnapper.

"Unwanted" is a literary sensation in Sweden and provides the reader with a compelling story that is literate with characters who come to life as we read.

Giveaway rules: (There will be two copies of this book in the giveaway)

A: Be a follower of this blog
B: Use above link and see the Amazon review. At the end of the review, indicate the review was helpful.

C: Leave email and indicate above two steps are completed

D: U.S. and Canada

E: Ends April 8th.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Mrs. Jones you've got a lovely daughter."

North Carolina in the 1970s still had strained relationships between blacks and whites. Opinions about gay lifestyles were something that weren't talked about.

In May of 1977, two workingmen find the body of a murdered woman and her small child who was still alive.

In 1990, defense attorney Deborah Knott sees legal injustice by a judge in his courtroom. His prejudice against blacks was so obvious that Deborah decides to run against the judge in the upcoming elections.

Jed Whitehead was a childhood friend of Deborah's and of her brothers. She and Jed had dated a few times. Now, at a political meeting, he tells Deborah that his daughter, Gayle wants to look into her mother's killing. It was her mother, Janie who was found murdered eighteen years ago and since Gayle is age 18, she has the money from a trust fund so is able to hire an investigator.

Since Deborah is a friend, Gayle pleads with her to run the investigation and mix it in while she is running for office.

The setting of North Carolina is so well detailed that it is as if the reader was seated on a park bench in Colleton County and observing the action as it unfolds before them.

With Deborah running for office, the reader is treated to intimate descriptions of political rallies and Church picnics where Deborah gossips about the life and times, as she looks for voter support.

Deborah is a character to whom we are easily drawn. Her father is a famous bootlegger and with her extended family we learn about the country folk in detail.

A very enjoyable novel, and well deserving of the multiple literary awards it received.

Friday, March 16, 2012

"A civilization is destroyed only when its gods are destroyed." Emile M. Cioran


Not many novels have probed my feelings and left me raw as that of "The Gods of Gotham."

It's 1845 and we are taken to the poverty stricken Sixth Ward of New York City.

The potato famine in Ireland brings thousands of emigrants to New York. Soon embers begin to simmer between the Democrats who want the Irish vote and the Whigs who are often people who don't get their hands dirty. They live to see their riches grow. They increase tariffs and would like to deport the Irish to Canada.

As an example of the fiery surrounding, a major fire burns down a large part of downtown Manhattan.

Timothy Wilde was a bartender until this fire wiped out the bar at which he worked while it was devastating the area.

With few alternatives, Tim joins the newly formed police department. He's assigned as a patrolman in the Sixth Ward and is given a copper star as a badge.

There are horrors all around him with people living in squalor, with more people dieing of starvation daily.

He finds a young girl about ten years old, covered with blood and learns that there are Irish children who work at a brothel. There is also a man with a black hood who comes there and cuts up children.

After questioning the girl further, she admits that she followed the man one day and knows where he buried the children. Tim informs his superior, Justice George Washington Matsell, who had become the first person to lead the New York Police Department.

Not to reveal too much in this suspenseful story, but the police find the grave site and Tim is assigned to finding the responsible person.

This is a literary novel that details some gruesome parts but as a historical novel, it seems to paint a more accurate picture of what was going on.

Not many literary novels show such character development as that seen in Tim Wilde and Mercy Underhill and Tim's brother, Valentine. Together, they show growth and development that could be a symbol of what was going on in New York in 1845.

A: Be a follower of this blog
B: Use above link to read Amazon review and indicate "YES" review helpful
C: Leave e-mail address and indicate you have completed steps A and B
D: Giveaway ends March 29th
E: Giveaway is for an advanced review copy
F: U.S. and Canada only

Sunday, March 11, 2012

"When you have a shattered heart, God is watching you." Song Lyrics

Some authors have that special talent for making the reader interested in their characters and story from the first page. James LePore is one of that talented group.

Matt DeMarco is a prosecutor for the Manhattan District Attorney's office. At the start of the story he leads the prosecution into finding a nineteen-year-old man guilty for mudering his fifteen-year-old sister. His reasoning seemed to be that his sister was becoming too westernized and had an American boyfriend.

Years later, Matt is at home with his son Michael, who is a grad student in Boston. Michael is accompanied by two friends who look and act suspiciously. They are surly when he asks about them and then they leave. Michael tells his father that the two men work for Michael's step-father, Basil.

Police arrive at Matt's home with a search warrant for Michael's room and arrest him for the murder of his girlfriend, Yasmine Hayek, a student at Columbia.

As we read, we observe an undercurrent of foreign involvement. Michael tells the police that the two men he was with are house sitting for a home on Long Island.
Suspense mounts as the police set up a stake out on that home.

The author writes in a professional manner and is a polished story teller. The reader is already interested in the story and wondering where the action will lead with all of the foreign characters.

One clue after another is peeled away and we find that there is much more to the story than originally suspected. There are surprises and plot twists that take the reader in a totally unexpected direction.

I found the story greatly entertaining. The one thing that stood out in the story was friendship. Matt had made friends with a number of members of the New York Police Department and these friends went beyone the normal call to duty in order to determine the guilty parties and correct any injustice.

Friday, March 9, 2012

"Killing me softly with his song." Song lyrics

Mitch Rapp breezed through the CIA training program and was unleashed on the terrorist group responsible for the slaughter of so many innocent people on the Pan Am Lockerbie attack.

He's made up a list and eliminates the terrorists one by one. Mitch works alone with Dr. Irene Kennedy as his CIA supervisor.

As he approaches the next terrorist on his list, something doesn't appear right. No sooner does he eliminate that terrorist that Mitch realizes that he walked into a trap.

The room explodes in gunfire from other terrorists who were waiting for Mitch. Mitch narrowly escapes and wonders if he was set up.

The reader feels that overdue justice is being given to these terrorists. We also learn that certain powerful members of the CIA are jealous of Mitch's success with the terrorists and he is considered a renegade, a possible threat due to his independence.

In Paris there is another group plotting Mitch's downfall and this group includes at least one highly placed French official along with other terrorists.

"Kill Shot" is a feel good story where Mitch is attempting to accomplish what no one else has, to seek out and achieve retribution against the terrorists who strike out against innocent people, many of who are U.S. citizens. These terrorists feel that they are shielded from any revenge but Mitch solves that by acting outside the law.

The story moves effortlessly along with a number of surprises and plot twists and comes to a satisfying conclusion.

Monday, March 5, 2012

"I don't know if any body can second guess what they do on Capitol Hill." Montel Williams


Some fighters use a one two punch to win their matches.

In "Capitol Murder," Phillip Margolin delivers a well executed one, two, three pronged approach to his story.

First, we have convicted serial killer Clarence Little. He murders and mutilates young women. However, one of the cases where he was found guilty, shows faulty evidence and the case is overturned. Because of this, his other convictions must be reviewed.

Brad Miller, is an attorney who was active in overturning Little's conviction. He begins getting notes from Little about the manner in which he tortured his victims and the trophies he took after his murders.

Secondarily, there is a terrorist plot to blow up a professional football stadium while packed with fans watching a Monday night game of the week. Since this game is seen around the world, it would be a blow to the U.S. and demoralize the U.S. servicemen.

The final segment of the story has to do with Brad Miller who is currently working for Senator Jack Carson of Oregon. Carson's unusual sexual behavior comes to light and he does things to keep this a secret.

The story comes together well with some interesting plot twists. Brad Miller and P.I. Dana Cutler are likable characters who are entertaining.

The ending was a bit too convenient but the story still kept my attention right up to the action packed conclusion.

Rules of Giveaway:
1. use above link and read Amazon review. At the end of review, indicate "YES" helpful.
2. be a follower of this blog.
3. leave email address and indicate steps 1 and 2 were completed.
4. giveaway will continue to March 15th
5. Item is an advance review copy
6. U.S. and Canada.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields." Irish blessing

In this timeless, contemporary novel, Chad Harbach entwines the relationships of a group of college baseball players and allows us to view the inner feelings of the characters.

This feel good story introduces the reader to young Henry Skrimshander, "Skrim."

As the story begins, Skrim is a hard working high school baseball player. He plays the most difficult position, shortstop, and does his job with an effortless grace that makes him stand out like a lone star on a dark blue sky.

His hero is Aparicio Rodriguez, a legendary baseball shortstop. Henry carries Aparcio's "The Art of Fielding" as if it was his bible.

Henry is noticed by Mike Schwartz, a player on a college team. Mike recruits Henry and acts as a mentor on the team. Mike could represent economic goal setting and the idea of college sports as a stepping stone to a more secure financial life.

Henry plays for the love of the game and is satisfied with his place in life with the knowledge that good things will eventually come to him. It's only when Henry begins to think of the baseball talent scouts watching his performance that his skills are affected and self doubt sets in.

We also follow the activities of Guert Affenlight, who is the college president. Guert has been a bachelor for most of his life but falls in love with Henry's gay roommate, Owen.

Guert's daughter returns to possibly have a second chance at life at Westish College and she develops a relationship with one of the players.

The pacing picks up as the season draws to a close and the team has a chance for a championship title, something that school has never achieved.

The reader follows the characters and sees them grow during the course of the novel. They are so well developed that readers will want to see all of the characters succeed in their goals.

I enjoyed this book and recommend it for the study of people, the lessons of life and the literary excellence of the work.

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