Sunday, December 27, 2015

Still, though I loved you so. Lyrics

"Still Life" is my book club's pick for the month.

In the story, Chief Inspector Armand Gamauch of the Surete and his team are called to the rural Canadian village of Three Pines.

There, seventy-six Jane Neal had been walking in the woods by the village when she was shot and killed by an arrow. Is this an accident or murder?

The incident took place on the Sunday of Thanksgiving and the investigation takes on a festive air as the team searches for answers amongst stores and buildings decked out of the holidays.

The reader is given the full imagery of Louise Penny's imagination as the scene of Jane Neal's death is described as seeing her fall on her stomach and making snow angels before her death.

Gamache investigates the murder in a way that reminded this reader of what Alfred Hitchcock would have done. The dialogue is well versed and the characters are imaginative and become like old acquaintances to the reader.

During the story, Gamache shows himself to be a keen investigator and teacher as he attempts to teach a new member of the team during his steps in finding answers.

The book has won multiple literary awards and brings the reader into the story as if they were a member of the village.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

I'll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams

My wife, Diana, recommended this book to me after reading it in her book club. She thought I would enjoy the Civil Was portion of the book.

As often the case, she was correct.

In the days leading up to the Civil War, the battle that was soon to be fought was a central topic. However, in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's home in Massachusetts, there were also discussions of the arts and other notable figures of the time.

Wadsworth is against the war from the point of view that his eldest son, Charlie, is of an age where youth only sees the glory of battle, not the pain and suffering.

In South Carolina, Maj. Anderson and his command begin settling in for a long siege at Ft. Sumter.

Interspersed in the above story is that of Sophia, a music teacher whose program will be eliminated due to budget cuts.

At her church, she is the choir director and features "Christmas Bells" based on Longfellow's poem, as her next project. With each chapter told from a different pint of view, it is an interesting way to see the picture of current time from various aspects.

I enjoyed the Civil War portion of the book quite a bit but felt too much repetition in the current time portrait of the story.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Life is really simple but is made to look complicated

This is Alex Berenson's 10th novel featuring John Wells. His novel, "The Faithful Spy: won the Edgar Award in 2007 for the best first novel.

"The Wolves" follows the action in "Twelve Days," where billionaire Aaron Duterman tried to get the U.S. and Israel to invade Iran. Needless to say, this would be a moneymaker for Duterman. In that novel, Wells works with Vinny Duto and Ellis Shaffer.

In "The Wolves" Wells is again helped by Shafer who is now the CIA director. Duterman is now in Hong Kong and still wants revenge against Wells.

Wells decides to go after Duterman.

Prior to his trip to Hong Kong, Wells visits with his son, Evan and they talk about Evan going into the Company when he finishes college. It seems like Wells wants to tie up loose ends before changing careers to something less threatening.

Alex Berenson is a skilled story-teller. He creates realistic scenarios and his stories are suspenseful and compelling.

I'm anxious to see what John Wells does in his next adventure.

Friday, December 18, 2015

I Promise to Remember

There were so many people requesting "The Promise" at my library that I was impatient to have my turn.

Robert Crais is one of my favorite authors. I truly enjoyed "Suspect" with Scott James and his K9 Maggie.

In this story, P.I. Elvis Cole is asked to find a missing woman but has to keep the search quiet and has other restrictions in locating the woman.

We witness a drug deal in L.A. suburb Echo Park. It gets rowdy and someone calls the police. K9 handler Scott James witnesses a suspect leaving the house but because it's a residential area, he can't let Maggie off the leash and the suspect escapes.

Cole had been watching the house because he had information that his subject was there. He sees the police chase after the suspect and tries to help but is mistaken for another criminal and ordered to stop.

The confusion is corrected and James thanks Cole for his attempted assistance but the suspect escaped and a body was found in the house and a stash of explosives.

From that time, we learn that the person Cole was after had a connection with the escapee and it had something connected to explosives.

Sounds like a good premise but Cole's usual humor and wit wasn't  at it's normal level. Many of the crooks in the scheme went by nicknames and it was somewhat confusing to me.

The connection to the woman who hired Cole and the chase for the missing woman went on too long and the excitement of the story lost some steam. The missing woman's motivation for her actions could have been written in a stronger manner.

I liked the characters but wished for more.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Don't be afraid of the Dark

This novel grabs your attention from the start.
Tim Blake has his 17 year old daughter, Sydney, staying with him during the summer. She never comes home from her job in a local motel. Tim goes to the hotel and asks the management about her. They don't know her and inform him that she never worked there. 

Blake tries to keep his life going and barely succeeds until the police tell him that they've found his daughter's car in a local parking lot.
What would you do as a parent?

Tim becomes a modern "Everyman." He's not Special Forces or a U.S. Marine. Tim is a used car salesman, a relatively unheroic occupation.
However, when it comes to finding the one person who means everything to him, his daughter, he is not to be stopped. He doesn't let his job get in the way, or even his own safety. "Whatever it takes" should be his motto.

There is a tip that his daughter might be in another place and when Tim arrives there, he finds that it was a hoax but someone wanted him out of town for a reason. Tim must find out why.

Barclay is a literary symphony conductor with this novel. The suspense begins slowly, think of Ravel's "Bolero" but they he picks up the momentum and becomes John Philip Sousa and "The Stars and Stripes Forever."

The plot is believable and the description of the Milford, Stratford area of Connecticut is perfect. The author lives in Toronto but tells this reviewer that he was born in Darien and even though he lives in Canada, he would travel back to this area to see family for many years.

Highly recommended.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

When the white blossoms bloom again

There were many families like the Serrano's. They lived in an immigrant community. The mother had died but the father was a hard working man, attempting to do his best for his three children. A police raid, looking for drugs, mistakenly came to their home instead of the next block. They found no drugs but found that Mr. Serrano was undocumented. He was taken for a hearing on being sent back to Mexico.  The children, fourteen-year-old Luna and her younger siblings were placed in the care of a wealthy Spanish family.

In an upscale community of Lake Holly, New York, Det. Jimmy Vega is assigned to investigate the situation of a newly born infant left to the elements to die. Later, the body of a young woman is found.

Det Vega needs the help of his girlfriend Adele, founder of La Casa Community Center. Many of the residents are undocumented and don't trust the police.

The story is told with passion and good imagery. "Luna tried to help Dulce with her (bag) but she was carrying too many things. The terra-cotta flowerpot slipped from Luna's hands and cracked in two on the bare floor. Dirt scattered everywhere. Mami's beautiful plant lay sideways on the clay shards.

I thought the image of broken plant and a broken family was well portrayed.

As the story continues, the fear immigrant community to come forth to the police is heart brokenly described.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Tonight You're Mine, Completely" Lyrics

Investigator Wayne Weston is found dead, an apparent suicide. His wife and six-year-old daughter are missing and officials believe that it is a murder-suicide. Wayne's father, a crusty WWII vet, hires Lincoln Perry and his partner, Joe Pritchard, to investigate.

With excellent dialogue and interesting characters, Michael Koryta takes the reader on the trail as the detectives accept the case and look into the details. The investigators are surprised at the start. It seems that Weston doesn't have any current cases. He does seem to be doing some work for wealthy Jeremiah Hubbard, a real estate developer who is attempting to purchase waterfront property in Cleveland and create a riverfront that will be even better than New Orleans'. When Perry and his partner visit with Hubbard, Hubbard won't admit anything and then attempts to bribe them to drop the case.

This makes the investigators more suspicious and intent to find out what was going on. The search has some unsuspected turns when they find a connection to a group of Russians who are underworld figures.

This is Michael Koryta's first novel and a well done job. He uses dialogue to get to know the characters and the reader becomes almost an interested participant as the case develops. Koryta gives the reader a number of surprises and keeps the action going throughout the story.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading
Broken Promise