Thursday, September 24, 2015

Don't get caught in the Cypress Trap

As I've been going through some medical procedures, I've been searching for a book to get my mind off health issues and burying myself (figuratively) in a good book.

In this well written gripping story, a wife and her husband are having a difficult time with their marriage. He is about to go on a fishing trip and she persuades him to allow her to accompany her.What she had been unaware of is that he had already asked to bring one of his buddies, so there is a threesome.

The story moves right along and something about the husband's past catches up with him.  The party is crashed by a group of murderous teenagers who claim that Owen, the husband, has something that belongs to them and they demand getting it back.

There is no help to be found and things get dicey fast.

Not to give away segments of the plot but just try to imagine a deserted Florida waterway where where an innocent group of fisherman are stalked with no one to ask for help.

The characters are well described and are sympathetic. They find themselves in a dire predicament where the reader could see themselves with a little imagination. The reader becomes engrossed and will find it difficult to put the book down.


There's a Tree in the Meadow

Monday, September 21, 2015

Strangers in the Night

"Taking Lives" by Michael Pye is a complex story of a serial killer who murders people and then assumes their identity.

The story begins slowly as Martin Arkenhout kills his first victim, finds it's an easy thing and gives him an appetite for murder..

John Costa is the story's narrator. He's a keeper at a museum and is searching for a Professor John Heart.concerning some missing papers.  By the time this portion of the story gets under way, John Heart has become Martin Arkenhout's victim and Arkenhout has taken over Hart's identity. Arkenhout has had a narrow escape  from one of his false identities and thinks that pretending to be a professor would be easy.

As a museum keeper, what was so important about why he was searching for Heart wasn't very well explained. I would have enjoyed knowing what was so important and why it was stolen. I've enjoyed the novels of Preston & Child and their descriptions of the goings on at the New York Museum of Natural Art.

The reader does get to know about John Costa while dealing with Costa's father's demise. The story takes the reader to many places and much is set in Portugal which is interesting.

Another point I was interested in is that the book has been made into a movie, starring Ethan Hawke; Angelina Jolie, Kiefer Sutherland and Gina Rowland. Imagining those stars acting out their roles in the movie added a fun element to my reading experience. I also feel that the victims of the killer could have been described more thoroughly so the reader might come to be interested or sympathetic to them.

There were times when I was reading the story and didn't know if the character was one of the serial killer's victim or the actual character.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Never allow yourself to be made a victim

Anton Mackey is a man on a path to success. He has a lovely wife and child and  he has a promising career in the legal industry. But something occurred in his past and a person is attempting to bring his past into light in a manner that will change his life forever.

Eric Matheny ensnares his readers in an intricate web of mystery that will have the reader turning the pages anxiously to see if Anton is innocent.

Matheny does a diligent job in defending other people accused of crimes and it is difficult to imagine that he did what a woman is accusing him of doing.

Mackey is a character who could be taken from one of John Girsham's excellent novels. He stands out in the world of those attempting to bring justice into a world packed with people who have been wronged.

Overall, the book is a fast paced read and recommended. It's a thrill to find a new author who stands out and Eric Matheny is an author with a bright future.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Devil or angel, whichever you are

John Corey is with the Diplomatic Surveillance Group as a kind of break after his harrowing experiences in Yemen.
He's monitoring the activities of Col. Vasily Petrov who is with the Russian U.N. Mission.  As  Corey and his team of anti-terrorists follow Petrov and a group of Russians to a party thrown by a wealthy Russian in Southampton, Long Island, Petrov disappears.

Corey has the feeling that there is something up and set out to find Petrov and discover what he's up to.

The reader learns that Petrov is an ego maniac and his plot is to strike a major blow against New York and America. Not to reveal plot, the item he's shipping is a bomb and he uses a luxury yacht to get the bomb to New York.

There is a race to save New York and as the second tick by, suspense mounts which culminates in a chilling confrontation.

What was of particular interest to me is that the last book I've read was "Finders Keepers" by Stephen King. The protagonist of that book is Bill Hodges who was in action in the "Mr. Mercedes" murder. Comparing Hodges to John Corey, I found that King provided more background so the reader learned more of the antagonist's motivation and that of Hodges. Both heroes were in a life or death situation but there was more to lose in 'Radiant Angel."

Stephen King and Nelson DeMille are tow of our best mystery writers. There is a bit more edge-of-seat action in "Finders Keepers" but both books are excellent stories, the books have realistic action scenes and excellent dialogue with a damsel in distress.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Finders Keepers Losers Weapers

"Finders Keepers" is the second book in a planned trilogy Stephen King began with "Mr Mercedes"

John Rothstein is a famous writer who has created the character Jimmy Gold. John hasn't written anything in a long time and lives a secluded life in rural New England.

Morris Bellamy is a deranged fan of Rothstein's character, Jimmy Gold. Bellamy feels that Rothstein let his fans down when he had Jimmy Gold sell out to the adverting industry.

We learn that Bellamy is going to be released from prison after 35 years for the rape of a woman. The woman had attended his parole hearing for years and helped convince officials to leave him in prison.

Prior to his imprisonment, Bellamy and two of his goons robbed Rothstein and stole a large amount of money and number of his handwritten, unpublished manuscripts. Then Bellamy hid the money stolen and the manuscripts. The story to this point reminded me of the reclusive J.D. Salinger and a premise if someone had robbed him and stolen his unpublished manuscripts.

During the time Bellamy was in jail, one of the victims of Mr. Mercedes is having a hard time, being forced with his family to a home in a poorer area and living a life of constant struggle. His son, Pete, happens to stumble on the hidden notebooks and cash and gradually diminishes the money, sending in anonymously to his parents. He hopes to easy his parents life and have a happier home with his sister.

As Pete continues his schooling, he is interested in English literature and studies the works of Rothstein. The money has run out and he's told he wouldn't qualify for a grant so he gets the manuscripts out and begins dealing with an rare book dealer to sell the manuscripts.

The story moves swiftly as, Pete is dealing with the book store owner, Bellamy is out of jail and is looking for the money and manuscripts, while Pete's sister, Tina, mentions to a friend that Pete might be in trouble, Bill Hodges, Jerome Robinson and Holly Gibney who works as Hodges secretary tries to find Pete before Bellamy reaches him.

The characters are well drawn and Hodges and Pete are the kind of character who the reader hopes for their success and worries about their failure.  Well done, a fast and suspense filled read.

Friday, September 11, 2015

"Just because you found somebody new" Chuck Berry

This story will appeal to fans of the small town life and of legal dilemmas.

Written in 1942, I felt as if the novel was as if the author took the cast of the old Andy Griffin show and scattered them in and around the courthouse of a town named Childerstown.

We read of a judge who knew the various characters and could tell of their histories, as if Andy Griffin was right there on the judge's seat. After the events of the trial end each day, we then observe what is going on with the families of the attorney and other characters, even that of the accused.

There was a murder of a man who dealt in drugs. Two suspects are immediately caught and we revisit the crime through their eyes and that of one of their friends. The reader observes the family of the suspects and how that relates to the community.
Intermingled with this we have the story of an attorney who took advantage of a well off young widow and abounded with her money. The woman actually moved in with the judge's family and the husband and his wife spent much of their time attempting to track down the missing culprit. In this manner, we see how history and justice come together.

The characters are well drawn but I felt that it was the town itself and the simple life of the townsfolk that was the main character. How could people of such faith in their fellow man, do such a mean hearted acts to a widow..

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

If you stand straight, do not fear a crooked shadow. Chinese proverb

I enjoyed "Shadows on the Rock." The story tells of life in Quebec in 1697. The historical story opens as a supply ship leaves Quebec and Euclide Auclair, the apothecary sees the shadow of the ship against the rocks of Quebec, knowing that the ship and supplies wouldn't return until spring.\

Reading about an apothecary so many years ago and his dispensing medicine and advice was interesting. As the son of a doctor, it is hard to imagine this man in ancient Quebec and the people relying on him.

Auclair's wife died of lung disease a number of years prior to the events in the story and he is left with his twelve-year-old daughter, Cecile. The reader pictures her getting Euclide's dinner ready and providing food to Binker, a simple man who lived on charity. She reminded me of some of the child stars of old time literature.

Life in Quebec is described and the manner in which Auclair came to Quebec which was through his patron and mentor Count de Frontanc. I wonder if he considered what would become of him when the count became sick later in the story.

There were also touching scenes when Cecile reacted to a young boy named Jacque. How life has changed from that time is something that Willa Cather describes very well.

The story, the description of early Quebec and the characters are all things that were pleasant to read and will be remembered by the readers.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

"Ragtime" A classic:

"Ragtime" is an American classic. It describes America in the beginning of the 20th century. Scott Joplin music is a favorite, Harry Houdini is a leading celebrity as is Henry Ford and Sigmund Freud.

The narrator tells the story of a family in New Rochelle, New York. Father is the head of the family, he joins Commander Parry on his trip to discover the north pole.

Coalhouse Walker is a successful black man at a time that a black man looking at a white man in the wrong way can lead to trouble. He's driving to New York when he becomes involved in an accident with the local fire department and tries to handle it correctly by going to a local policeman to report the accident.

Unfortunately, the accident was with a fire department and Will Conklin of the Emerald Isle Club was in charge. He was also the stepbrother of the Judge of the City Court and younger brother of the city alderman of white plains.

Wonderful character descriptions of the various characters as Coalhouse seeks justice but is held back by politics. His girlfriend, is pregnant and marriage is planned but Coalhouse insists that the wedding wait until his problem with the fire department is resolved.

A number of the characters are idealistic and tragedy results when Sophie, Coalhouse's pregnant girlfriend tries to pead the case to the visiting president. Unfortunately this results in a tragedy.

The setting is very visual, the music of Scott Joplin played in my mind as I read the story and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Love is strange, finances are stranger taken together possible disaster

What fun to read a Sue Grafton novel.. The reader always knows what to expect, a gutsy protagonist, a clever plot and some down to earth humor.

"P is for Peril" is right in there. The mishmash of a story could be taken from an old episode from "Payton Place."

Kinsey is hired by the angry ex-wife of a man in his late sixties who has been missing for nine weeks. Yes, you read it correctly, it's his former wife who is concerned and hires Kinsey. His current wife is forty years younger than the missing doctor, Dr. Purcell.

I've enjoyed reading the alphabet stories not only because of the gutsy actions of Kinsey Millhone but also the accompanying cast of characters. Where Kinsey is in her mid thirties in this story, the missing doctor is in his late sixties and runs a nursing home.

As the story progresses, the reader learns of the billing difficulties at the nursing home, the questions that authorities have as to medicare billing and follow up. Also, the current wife of Dr. Purcell has been draining his bank account and spending time with her personal trainer.

The story made me think of Beverly Hillbillies as the current wife, Crystal, invites Kinsey to the house to talk about her (Crystal's) missing husband. During that time, Crystal's daughter is home from her boarding school in Malibu and demanding more freedom.

Kinsey goes to the Pacific Meadows Nursing Home and learns of the mismanagement there and Dr. Purcell's' last day of work prior to his disappearance.

I enjoyed the story but found it a bit technical for me and with over 350 pages, I found the story lengthy and lacking in suspense which I thought odd with a title of "P is for Peril" I didn't think Kinsey was in any peril in the story.

As I am in treatment at a local hospital, perhaps my concentration isn't what it used to be but I was hoping for more from one of my favorite authors.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Me and my shadow" Lyrics

Beecher White has an ordinary job as a staffer at the National Archives. He has some powerful friends and when the First Lady finds a buried arm in the White House Garden. The dead body is clutching something in his fist, what is the message entailed? The First Lady needs help and the Gulper Ring is there to be of assistance. The Culper Ring is a 200 year old secret society  founded by George Washington to protect the President. In this crisis, Beecher White is the man they call upon.

President Wallace was never a fan of the Culper Ring but now he needs their help. The first question is who buried the arm and how did it get there? In addition, whose arm is it? The Secret Service check back to who might have been able to place the arm there and a connection is made with the Marine Band and someone with a name that connects to Lee Harvey Oswald and a fake ID he had on the day of Kennedy's assassination..

An excellent puzzler, Beecher investigation aided by Marshall Lusk, Beecher's oldest and closest friend who is a flawed but excellent character..

The story goes back and forth in time to when an experiment was under way at Fort Still. Beecher is included in the investigation because there in something that was in the hand of the buried man that connects with Beecher's own father's death.

This story follows the action in "The Inner Circle" and "The Fifth Assassin." The series is best read from the start and follow a map or list of just who the characters are. I enjoyed the story and seeing what was happening with the characters. One character who was Beecher's first girlfriend in grammar school and gave him his first kiss, this girl is dealing with a serious illness and since I am too, it was hard to go through the parts and attempt to keep a reader's distance. The conclusion of this book had me wondering and trying to guess if there were better ways to end a book. But, who am I to say?

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