Sunday, September 30, 2012

"You set yourself on fire, you're still not as hot as me." Song lyrics

In 1914, newspaper war correspondent Christopher Marlowe Cobb "Kit" goes to Mexico to report on that country's Civil War.

President Woodrow Wilson had sent U.S. soldiers to Mexico and interest in the war by people in the United States increased.

This is a time in Mexico that things are exciting and Kit comes across other dignitaries such as journalist and novelist Richard Harding Davis.

The Germans seem to be helping the Mexicans who have a number of people trying to take over the government.  Poncho Villa was the best known and Kit is trying to write a story about Poncho Villa.

After a coup by Huerta, Poncho Villa formed his own army to oppose him.  He was originally a bandit and still robbed trains to get the money to fight the war.

Kit spots a spy and learns something about the German's wanting to support Villa and hope that he might invade the United States.

Kit is a swashbuckling type of person, he thinks nothing of grabbing a gun to help his cause and falls in love with a Mexican woman who was originally a laundress.  While Kit is not trying to get information about his stories, he tries to get closer to this woman.

The story is written in a literary manner with good descriptions and keen dialogue. The short history about the Mexican Revolution is informative and the plot is compelling and the conclusion is highly satisfactory.

Friday, September 28, 2012

"Moody River, your muddy water took my baby's life." Song lyrics

Set in a time around the Great Depression, with many people dissatisfied with their lives, there is great movement of people in the country. Perhaps the people are looking for a better way of life and lower the pain that has existed in their lives.

The story opens with two teenagers fishing with one of the teens father and the man's brother. They come across a body which turns out to be another teenager who was a friend of these teens. May Lynn was age sixteen and murdered.

The central character and narrator, Sue Ellen, lives by the river with no communications to the outside world and few friends. However, the two close friends she does have, Jinx, a sixteen-year-old colored girl, and Terry, the same age, decide to make May Lynn's wish come true. She was beautiful and dreamed of going to Hollywood.

The three teens dig her body up, cremate her and place her ashes in a jar. While they are digging up May Lynn, they find something that was hidden in a grave. Sue Ellen's brother was a robber and must be where he hid something.

The beauty of the writing is with the characters who are very memorable and with the story and its pain.

The three teenagers try to travel down the Sabine River to get to a town with a bus stop so they could travel to Hollywood.  Their travels reminded me of two of the great stories that had a similar theme.

In "Lonesome Dove," Captain Gus McCrae is dying from gangrene poisoning. He persuades his best friend, Captain Woodrow Call, to bring his body back to a place on the San Antonio River where Gus had the happiest moments of his life.

In "Cold Mountain," after being released as a Confederate prisoner, Inman sets out on a search to find Ada through the mountains and back roads of the south.

Both stories as well as "Edge of Dark Water," have obstacles in the path of the travelers, it is the determination and the desire to do bring happiness to another, that keeps them going.

The concluding moments in "Edge of Dark Water," enable the reader to catch their breath and nod in agreement that this is the only way that the story could have ended.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"We were more than friends." song lyrics


This is a pleasantly surprising story. I read that it begins with the killing of Bin Laden and thought it would continue with that theme but it is a psychological novel that goes into the thoughts of the two men who gave the U.S. the information on the compound and their ideas of living in peace.

After a U.S. Naval SEAL team killed Bin Laden, members of al-Qaeda discover a detailed map of the inside of the compound where Bin Laden had been living.

This could only mean that there was a traitor in their group and al-Qaeda became intent upon finding out who it was and then punishing them.

The story moves to London whee we meet the two idealistic Palestinians. Malik and Chaudhry. Their handler in British Intelligence is Dan "Spider" Shepherd.

Malik and Chaudhry how terrorism is hurting Pakistan and the worldwide image that people have of Muslims. Both Malik and Chaudhry have dreams, Chaudhry wants to be a physician and help others while Malik intends on going into the restaurant business. In other words, these two young men are very similiar to others at college campuses in England and the United States.

The center of the story is that al-Qaeda intends on a major operation in England. The young men are nervous after Bin Laden's death and wonder if they are suspected of being traitors to al-Qaeda. Shepherd is aware of the danger but feels that he needs them to stay in place so authorities can learn the details of the terrorist operation.

There is a side story where M15 is also working undercover on a group of right wing fanatics who want to purchase guns in some sort of movement to rid England of Muslims.

Even though parts of the story had flaws, I was entertained by reading it. Reading the dialogue of the moderate men of the Muslim faith made me glad that there were people such as this who are striving for peace and friendship between people of different religious faiths.


Giveaway rules:
1. be a follower of the blog
2. use above link and see the Amazon review and at the end of the review, please indicate "YES" helpful.
3. leave email address and indicate steps 1 & 2 are complete
4. giveaway ends October 10th.
5. U.S. and Canada only-sorry, postage
6. Good luck.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"I'm back in the saddle again." Sony lyrics

Ramsey Hunt is gunned down outside his home in San Francisco. As a judge, he was in the early stages of a murder trial for Clive and Cindy Cahill but things were delayed when the prosecuting attorney disappeared.

Ramsey is a close friend of FBI husband and wife team, Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich.

In this taut and stimulating plot, a back story is created when someone delivers a message to the FBI headquarters, addressed to Savich, "For what you did, you deserve this." No other explanation was enclosed.

FBI officials assume that this is in the relation to the shooting of Judge Hunt but, to be sure, go back to the records for the criminals that Sherlock and Savich have been responsible for convicting to see if these people recently finished their sentences and were released from prison.

 The central part of the story continues as the FBI tries to break down Clive and Cindy for their crime but the back story explodes and sets up the last part of the story in passionate suspense as one exciting and unpredictable scene follows another.

I enjoyed the story and found the characters and plot to be appropriately portrayed. There were a number of clever surprises that were entertaining and added to the pleasure in reading the story.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Song about a girl up to a point" Song title

Val McDermid has written a number of psychological novels with characters so memorable that they could be studied as examples of writers should consider in writing literary novels.

"The Vanishing Point," opens with the kidnapping of a child at the busy O'Hare Airport in Chicago.

In a dreaded scene that parents traveling with young children can relate to, the adult accompanying five-year-old Jimmy Higgins, Stephanie Harker, has a number of pins in her leg from an accident and knows she'll set off alarms with airport security.

She informs Jimmy that he'll have to go through a different line but then sees him go off with a security agent. When Stephanie shouts about her child and makes a commotion, she's looked on suspiciously and no one listens.

An officious TSA agent continues to confront her but she finally gets the attention of an FBI agent who looks at footage and sees the boy walking away with a man dressed up in a TSA uniform.

We learn the back story of Stephanie being a ghost writer and working with a TV reality star named Scarlett and how Stephanie came to have Jimmy.

The author creates suspense with a story and characters who are so real, it is easy for the reader to place themselves in the character's position. I felt for Stephanie and breathlessly followed her path as she explains to the FBI and tries to find what happened to the child.

The unique quality of McDermid's books is that she creates a superior thriller with excellent dialogue and memorable characters.

The conclusion to the story brings everything together nicely and is something that readers will want to discuss while reliving the excitement they had with this book.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

James Lee Burke writes another excellent story, reasserting his literary belief that wealthy individuals often take advantage of the less fortunate and government agencies do little to help.

Dave Robicheaux is recovering from a near fatal gunshot from action in a prior story.

He's been given morphine for the pain and as an alcoholic, he's having trouble with the medication. One night, a young woman named Tee Jolie visits and brings an i-Pod so he can listen to music. She tells him he's pregnant from a man who isn't divorced.

The next morning, Dave wan't sure if the events of the evening were a dream but the i-Pod is beside his bed. When he's well enough to leave, he learns that Tee Jolie has disappeared. Dave moves his recuperation up to high speed and is soon back to work, full time.

A professional killer comes to New Iberia. Her name is Gretchen Howowitz. As certain people threaten Dave's friend, Clete Purcel, Gretchen takes reprisal and Clete comes to feel that she is his daughter from a woman he hasn't seen in years. Gretchen doesn't admit this and the reader doesn't know for sure if she is the killer.

The story of why Gretchen is in town and Dave's search for Tee Jolie combine as a wealthy group of individuals seem to be behind a number of deaths and perhaps there is a connection to oil or art.

Burke's writing is always imaginative and eloquently descriptive. For example, "There was a Japanese tulip tree by the edge of the water...wind blew and a shower of pink and lavender petals on top of the water that slid in with the tide."

Dave and Clete are still haunted from events in Vietnam and the mere mention of a Vietnamese woman's name sets Clete off. Then we learn that this is the name of a woman he loved in Vietnam and was the only woman he really loved. These emotions seemed to make Clete a bigger person who could carry a love for so many years.

I was also entertained by the excellent characters and noted that as Burke ages, so do his characters. Not only are Dave and Clete older but two other major characters in the story are grandfathers.

A novel not to miss. It adds to Burke's legend as one of our greatest writers.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"I thought happiness was...Texas in my rear view mirror." Song lyrics

"Texasville," is the sequel to "The Last Picture Show." It picks up 20 years after the events in "The Last Picture Show." Now, the town of Thalia is getting ready for their centennial celebration.

Duane Moore is an oil man with huge debts. The town of Thalia exploded in wealth and growth after years of prosperity of the oil business.  Then OPEC cut prices and as we learn when Duane describes one of his friends, "Luther owns a small drilling company and is growing broke like everyone else.

Duane enjoys the easy life for himself and his family and does little to remidy the problem he has with the money he owes. The story opens with him in his hot tub, shooting holes in his dog house.

With the centennial celebration coming up, some people wonder who the town should select as special citizens to honor.

While little is happening other than planning for the centennial, Duane spends much of his time reminiscing about his high school days and the glory of small town football.

To top matters off, his old high school girlfriend returns from an acting career in Europe and things get complicated.

The characters are well described and easy to picture. The author has written many stories that have been made into film and he has a knack for describing events as if they were already on the screen.

I did enjoy the characters but never got excited about the book and found it was not up to the level of "The Last Picture Show."

Friday, September 14, 2012

"It's not the criminal things that are hardest to confess but the ridiculous and shameful." Rousseau

My blood pressure must have risen to dangerous levels as I read the terrifying sequents of events in "Criminal."

The action takes place in Atlanta, Georgia with much of the story taking place in 1974-75 and interspersed with scenes of the present day.

Two courageous female police officers, Amanda Wagner, daughter of a police captain, and Evelyn Mitchell, are at the heart of the story.

It's a time of racial unrest. Atlanta's first black commissioner of public safety is appointed. He replaces senior white Atlanta police officers with black police officers.

The white officers sue and while this is going on, Amanda, Evelyn and other women on the job were ridiculed and denigrated by their male counterparts who don't hide their feelings that women should be doing administrative things but not trying to solve crimes..

Amanda and Evelyn are sent to a case in a black dominated slum area where white women don't dare to go to. They learn that a number of prostitutes have gone missing. The missing women's bodies have not been found and it's difficult to get any help because no one cares what happens to prostitutes.  While at the scene, a pimp almost rapes Amanda but is eventually subdued by Evelyn and Amanda after they had been beaten by him.

In present day, Amanda is Will Trent's supervisor at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Someone is released from jail and soon after, a co-ed goes missing. Will learns something about his childhood and looks into the history of a children's home where he grew up.

I can't say more without revealing plot but get ready for a ride through scary city and be prepared for meeting characters who are gutsy, realistic and have one heck of a story to tell.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Help me understand, currency is a fistful of tears I can afford." Song lyrics


In a story involving a popular detective team, canine narrator, Chet, and his human companion, Bernie  have an adventure involving Hollywood film making and babysitting bad boy stars.

The mayor of the Valley, wants to generate income for his community. He and a group of backers persuade Hollywood bad boy, Thad Perry, to film Wild Horseman in the Valley.

With Perry's history of extra curricular activity, one prerequisite is that private eye Bernie Little and his dog Chet, watch over Perry and keep him out of trouble.

As Chet is the narrator, it's entertaining to be aware of his thoughts and senses as he tries to interpret a person's body language or observes actions that people aren't afraid to display in front of a dog.

One scene I particularly enjoyed was where Bernie and Thad decide to box each other. At the conclusion of the match, Thad's assistant asks if he can help him up. Thad is embarrassed by the beating that he took at Bernie's hands and shrugs off his assistant, snarling "...don't look at me as if I'm some kind of candyass." Chet believes that this would be an interesting idea.

This is a well written mystery. There are well placed plot twists and Chet's dog insights to human behavior were insightful as was his relationship with Bernie. Their communications with each other was so precise that there were times when I wasn't sure that I was reading the dog's thoughts.

Definitely recommended.

Giveaway rules:
1. There will be two winners, one hardcover copy, one review copy
2. Must be a follower of this blog.
3. Use above link and see the Amazon review, at the end of the review, indicate "YES" it was helpful.
4. Leave email address and indicate steps 2 and 3 have been completed.
5. U.S. and Canada
6. Giveaway ends Sept 28th

Good Luck

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"Where have all the Flowers Gone?" Song lyrics


Hannah Smith is a fishing guide in Florida. She inherited the business and a home from her uncle, Doc. Ford. He was the father Hannah never had and Hannah was the son that Doc never had.

Things are tight financially in the fishing guide business. It's the end of the fishing season and Hannah understands that she'll have to get some part time work to pay the bills.

One of her wealthy clients asks her if she'd help locate his niece-who isn't exactly missing, but might be being held under the influence of an unscrupulous man.

Hannah had also helped her uncle with investigations and she accepts this offer.

The narrative displays Hannah's growth as a new investigator and cries out in protest because people don't seem to think she can do the job, either because she's a woman or because she's not adequately educated.

There's good dialogue, lots of action, a picturesque setting and a protagonist with a strong ethical center who will speak out to the reader.  This is a good addition to the Doc Ford series, taken to the next generation.

Giveaway Rules:

1. Be a follower of this blog
2. Use above link and see the Amazon review. At the end of the review, please indicate "YES" it was helpful.
3. Leave e-mail address and indicate steps 1 and 2 are complete.
4. U.S. and Canada
5. Advanced reading issue
6. Ends Sept 23rd.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

'How am I supposed to live without you?" Song lyrics

"Live by Night" is an incendiary story, spanning the rise in power of Joe Coughlin who is about to turn age twenty as the story unfolds.

The story is addictive as we watch Joe working as a minor criminal and member of Tim Hickey's mob.

There is a scene where Joe is in the hands of his enemies at the start of the story. It appears as if these are his last moments and we read in anticipation of how he came to this situation and if there is some way that he might extricate himself and survive.

Those who have read Dennis Lehane in the past, know how memorable his characters can be.  Just consider the grieving father, Jimmy Markum and his nervous childhood friend, Dave Boyle in Mystic River.

Here, again, Lehane returns to Boston to create Joe Coughlin, a strong, resolute, son of Thomas the deputy supervisor of the Boston Police Department.

The action begins in South Boston in 1926, Mobs ruled the city and Joe is the youngest member of Tim Hickey's crew. Most of the mobsters have a cruel streak and the taking of another person's life means little to them. However, Joe is an anachronism in that he cares for his friends and those around him.

As the story moves on, Joe moves up the mob ladder and as he is a leader of his own gang, waiting for prohibition to end so he can provide rum and open a casino, he does whatever he can, to avoid taking anyone's life.

After spending time in the Charlestown Prison and being there when Sacco and Vendetti are executed,
Joe makes his way to Tampa where his goal is to destroy a man who robbed him of his first love.

I was impressed to watch Joe's rise to power and the manner in which he demonstrated his strength and leadership ability. There was something inside him that made others want to follow him.

The prose is descriptive and vivid. We know who is talking and can describe them by their words and Coughlin will take his place as one of Lehane's characters that live on in our memories.

Monday, September 3, 2012

"You're gone from me...tragedy." Song lyrics

Dusting off the cover and re-reading "Tragic Ground," I found to be an entertaining read.

"Tragic Ground" is an example of the naturalistic style of American Literature where the character is placed in a situation beyond their control and the situation dictates the story.

Written in 1944, the story tells of Spence Douthit who moved from Beasley County to a Southern community to work during WWII.

During the war, people were recruited to this area to help provide things needed for the war. However, after the war, the manufacturing plant closed and work opportunities were slim. Many of the people were so poor, they didn't have the financial means to return to their original homes. The community where Spence lived became known as Poor Town.

Spence has two daughters, Libby, age twenty, and Mavis, age thirteen. Libby has a job and a boyfriend who is about to be discharged from a military hospital. Mavis sees how bleak the situation is at her home. She becomes attracted to boys and having a good time.

Since Libby men a man with money and prospects, Spence gets an idea of fixing Mavis up with a wealthy man to marry. His idea is that this would give the family the money to move back to Beasley County and everything would be fine.

The writing is in the fashion of the day with so little to hope for and dreams which will never come true.

A social worker comes to Spence's home about Mavis living at a place that is improper for young girls and this adds to the drama of the story.

I found the story to be interesting and compare it to Theodore Dreiser's work. The story provided a different look at a time and place in American history.

Reading the plight of Spence's family and those around him, makes the reader appreciate what they have and wish that things could have been better for those less fortunate.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading
Broken Promise