Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Easy reading family intrigue

In this tender story, Eva has been married to Jackson for a short time when they travel to Dorset. Jackson decides to go fishing on a windy day and is swept off the jetty and his body isn't recovered.

After a period of mourning, in England, Eva decides that she wants to travel to Tasmania to meet Jackson's family. She believes that she could learn more about Jackson's past and perhaps  mourn together.

Although Jackson's father never returned her calls, she goes to his home. His reception is cold and he explains that his son is dead and that it would probably be better if she left. Not giving up, Eva travels to Jackson's brother's home on Wattleboom Island.

After meeting Saul and getting to know him, she learns that the man she had grown to love was not the man he claimed to be. At first, Saul is aloof but eventually he begins to care for Eva and through him, she learns that her marriage was built on lies. The history that Jackson claimed was his own, was actually that of Saul.

We see her sadness at the loss of her husband and the destruction of the man she thought she knew.
Eva stays in a small cottage near Saul's home. He teaches her about freediving and she is transported into the love of the deep sea and the tenderness who works as a marine biologist.

The story remains intensely readable as we hope that Eva can find happiness and the power to deal with past lies.

There are numerous surprises as she learns more of Jackson's life in Tasmania. The more she learns about Jackson, the more deceitful he seems but Saul, whose life Jackson was describing is more the man she thought she was marrying.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Here kitty kitty

Superintendent Richard Jury of the New Scotland Yard is assigned to investigate the death of a young woman whose body was found on the grounds of a pub called the Black Cat.

The woman was well dressed but had no identification. As Jury investigates, he learns that the woman was Mariah Cox who was a librarian but had a secret life as an escort in London.

A side story tells of the young ward of the woman temporarily managing the Black Cat. The girl, Dora, is searching for her black cat named Morris.

Looking for suspects, Jury is told that there was a big party at the home of a wealthy couple on the night Mariah was murdered. On the guest list was Harry Johnson. He's a man Jury has been after for a long time. He's a suspect in a number of crimes but Jury could never get enough evidence to arrest him. Johnson has a quick wit and enjoys a friendly banter with Jury.

Another young woman's body is found, shot in the same manner as Mariah. This woman was also an escort and Jury tries to link the two women to see if they had anything other than their occupation in common.

The story takes a bizarre turn as the reader begins to learn of events through the communication between Harry's dog, Mungo and Morris, the lost cat. This is a most amusing diversion from the professional investigation Jury is conducting.

Jury enlists the help of his friend Melrose Plant and we view the world of English aristocracy. In a humorous scene, Plant arranges to meet an escort in order to see if there were any connections between the two slain escorts. The image of the escort arriving with alluring clothing and the elderly members of Plant's club look of amazement when she arrives was memorable.

This was an easy read and I felt moved by the discussion of Jury and another character about care and attention toward an ill friend or relative. This was something that made me think.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Explosive Intensity

This excellent story takes place in Atlanta in 1974. It is the time of racial unrest. Kate Murphy has joined the Atlanta PD and the reader experiences her first days on the job.

The mayor has appointed a new police commissioner who is doing everything he can to break the white power structure of the department.

Kate is the widow of a man killed in Vietnam. She keeps her Jewish heritage and family wealth to herself. Right from the start, she is harassed by the male dominated police department. Black cops and whites stand apart during roll call. Women aren't accepted as police officers and black women treated even worse. The other cops feel that women should only be able to be secretaries and not allowed on the road.

The heated intensity Kate faces comes from the fact that a cop killer has just claimed his fifth victim. It is Jimmy Lawson's partner. His sister, Maggie, is one of the field officers. She is teamed up with Jimmy as he tries to get leads on his partner's murder. Then, when he wants to do things privately, Kate is switched to ride along with Maggie. Maggie tries to teach Kate the ropes but wonders if she is just too pretty and too soft to make it on the job.

We view the story through Maggie's and Kate's eyes and also through the eyes of the killer. Maggie is from a blue collar family and lets the harassment roll off her back. Even her brother Jimmy doesn't try to protect her but joins in the taunting and innuendos of his beer drinking friends.

Maggie and Kate get caught up in their attempts to try to find the killer and something happens to Jimmy. Again, we see the action through the eyes of the killer who is making moves and stalking Kate as his next victim.

The dialogue is intense and the action burns with speed. Maggie tries to take command but her uncle, a sergeant on the police, is one of the leaders of the cops taking the law in their own hands.

Karin Slaughter is a heavyweight writer who is at the top of her form with this thirller. The reader feels sympathy for Kate and Maggie while dreading that they might become victims of the killer or of the maniacal philosophy of many of the seasoned cops.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The serial arsonist is difficult to apprehend...the evidence is burned up


After working with a humanitarian agency in Africa for fifteen years, Frankie Rowley returns to her parents' home in Pomeroy, New Hampshire.

On her first night home, she observes a car speeding down her country road and later learns that a neighboring home was burned to the ground.

At first, some speculated that this must have been an accident and Frankie spends time with her parents, noticing her father's change in health and memory.

Other fires burn houses of summer residents and a town meeting is called to discuss it. We learn that the town police consists of only one man and the fire department is voluntary. It is brought up that the arsonist is taking aim and the homes of wealthy summer residents. Some of those residents are at the meeting and suggest neighborhood patrols and better security. The permanent residents seem offended and a conflict is seen about how this wealth has changed a quiet town where it didn't seem necessary to lock the doors of a person's home.

Frankie meets Bud Jacobs, owner of the local paper and they begin a romantic relationship. She moves into the house that her sister and brother-in-law were building near Frankie's parents. The house is mostly built and Frankie helps as she stays there but feels alone and often afraid.

I didn't find much suspense with the story but could relate to the description of Frankie's father and mother. We see him become confused and anxious and we see her begin to fear what it will be like to be a care giver for her husband.

The conflict of the book comes from Frankie trying to find direction in her life, knowing it probably won't be in rural New Hampshire, we also have the dilemma of what will become of Frankie's father and finally, the arsonist.  Someone is accused of this crime but most of that is handled behind the scenes.

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

When the Saints go marching in

The law of double jeopardy in England is reversed and the Solicitor General wants to reopen a 30 year old case. It involves people who John Rebus worked with when he was a new detective sergeant. These men called themselves the Saints of the Shadow Bible. This was a time when police could do many questionable things as long as they got the job done.

Rebus has returned to the job from retirement but the only opening was as detective sergeant. He accepts that and goes to work for his old friend Siobhan Clark, Detective Inspector.

The story opens when a car goes off the road and a young girl is found unconscious at the wheel. It appears that she's been moved into the driver's seat and the real driver fled the scene.

The reader follows Rebus as he travels in the Edinburgh area of Scotland. As usual, Rebus is a maverick who is difficult to work with. He often ignores what his supervisors want but he gets the job done with some exceptionally shrewd detective work.

Malcolm Fox is in charge of investigating the 30 year old case and he asks Rebus to work with him. The two men dislike each other but grudgingly go to work. Rebus doesn't want to rat on his old friends but there was a murder at that time, a man was found guilty but served no time because of tainted evidence. His old pals plead with him to leave things alone but Rebus has a strong moral ethic and feels that justice should be done.

The characters in Rankin's novel are so realistic that it seems as if the story is of people we know or might have heard about. I have enjoyed many of Rankin's novels and consider this as right up there with the best.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Children are our future. Teach them well.

In a lonely area outside of Coverton, someone finds a body on a disused railroad track. Authorities learn his name was Gavin Miller and he led a quiet almost hermit like life. However, though the man had little money and was behind on his mortgage, he had five thousand pounds with him when he died.

In a two tiered investigation, led by Det. Chief Inspector Alan Banks and his colleague DI Annie Cabbot, it is learned that Miller was a college teacher. He resigned in disgrace due to charges of sexual misconduct brought by two of his students. This took place four years ago.

Investigators also look into Miller's history and learn that he was a student at a university that was a hotbed for protests and political controversy 40 years ago.

Banks and his team look at both scenarios and the reader tries to determine which area might produce Miller's killer. But how would it tie into events of either four, or forty years in the past? Banks and his team get right to the investigation but as he is making headway, he's warned to stay away from a woman who might be a suspect. The woman's family has political connections and Banks' superiors don't want him to ruffle any feathers.

Peter Robinson does a good job in setting the mood. We feel sympathy for Miller who went from a college professor who was liked, to a reclusive man practically destitute.

I enjoyed the characters who were well portrayed. The setting of rural England was also vivid. The conclusion is masterful, making the story something that will remain in the mind of the reader.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Empty sacks never stand straight -17th Century saying

We begin with a scene that vividly sets the atmosphere and grabs the reader's attention.

A TV news reporter comes to a remote place in the desert to meet a source on what she thinks will be her 'big' story. Instead, when a man gets out of the car, he guns her down.

Her former husband, Peter Brandt, returns to California for her funeral. When the local police seem to ignore the case, Peter and his friend, Matt Banyon, retired cop, work together to find the killer.

The reader learns that the reporter was looking into the past of a character who claimed to be a Cuban exile. The story takes place in 1987 and the character claims he helped the freedom fighters in the Bay of Pigs. Now the man is wealthy and has a number of politicians in his back pocket. The TV reporter researches his work with government officials and his work with the Nicaraguan Contras.

The author has a gift for pacing and the action moves at a rapid pace followed by segments of needed background.

I did find an annoying part of the story.  In many cases a character would refer to Peter's ex-wife as his wife and each time he would correct them saying she was his former wife. After a while this was annoying and I think most people would ignore the mistake.  However, given that, this was an enjoyable book and an edge of seat thriller.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading
Broken Promise