Friday, November 30, 2012

P.I. Charlie Parker is living in Maine with his lover, Rachel. Rachel is happily pregnant with Charlie's child.

Charlie is asked by Elliot Norton, an old friend, to help in a case in Charleston, South Carolina. Elliot is defending a black man accused of the rape and murder of his white girlfriend. She also happens to be the daughter of one of the richest men in the area. Elliot is afraid that his client will be taken out of custody and murdered before he can come to trial.

Elliot wants Charlie to help protect the man and gather evidence of his innocence.

Charlie is joined by his friends Louis and Angel. One thing they discover is that the girl's family and the man's family have a hatred and rivalry that predates the Civil War.  Two women from the man's family have been missing for years the the investigation reveals evidence of wrong doing among a surprising group of men.

John Connolly is an excellent storyteller who knows the way to his reader's heart and mind. There is enough of legend and history of racial tensions in the South so that the reader is immediately captivated. In addition, Charlie Parker is a wonderful character who tries to find truth and defend the innocent, even if they are beyond the grave.

The novel is skillfully plotted and is a first rate thriller.

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Roses are red, my love." Song lyrics

Sometimes a book is so well written that it is easy to review.

Debbie Macomber's plot is well conceived and executed. "The Inn of Rose Harbor," is the story of healing as much as anything else.

Jo Marie Rose comes to Cedar Grove, Seattle, after the death of her husband while on active duty in Afghanistan. She is deep in grief but when the insurance money arrives, she feels that her late husband, Paul, was giving her a sign to start over.

Jo Marie purchases a B & B and renames it The Rose Harbor Inn. When she gets to know her first two guests, she can tell they both are missing something in their lives.

Joshua Weaver's reason for returning to Cedar Grove was because he was notified that his estranged step-father, Richard, was near death. Although Richard shows only disdain for Josh, Josh's former high school friend and neighbor, Michelle, has been looking after Richard and is able to intercede.

Abby Kincaid hadn't been back to Cedar Grove since a car accident in which she was driving, ended in the death of her best friend. Now Abby's brother is getting married and she is in the wedding party.

The story shows how all three people meet others who appreciate them for who they are and are sympathetic for things in their past.

Debbie Macomber makes the reader care as she helps each of these three people come to appreciate life and what they love about it.

The characters are enduring and the story is one that the reader will remember with fondness.

Friday, November 23, 2012

"Humor is the pursuit of a gentle grin, usually in solitude." Frank Muir


This is the 4th Steve Berry novel to profile Cotton Malone. He's a former Justice Department agent who is said to have retired and is now a bookseller.

Cotton had known that his father, Forrest Malone, died when the experimental sub he captained, sunk in Antarctica with no survivors. Now Cotton calls on a favor and gets the records of that ship so he can learn more.

In a quick succession of events, with numerous deaths, Cotton ends up working with twin sisters whose father was also on that sub and they want to know what happened. These attractive, middle aged sisters have been given a challenge by their mother, who governs the family wealth with an iron hand. Since the son of one of the sisters died in an auto accident, there is no male heir to the family fortune. The twins' mother has promised to bestow the family money on the sister who can learn what happened to their father, first.

There is an excellent sub story of the other person interested in the last mission of that sub. This man has high influence with the Department of the Navy and will do whatever he can, including murder, too keep the truth of that mission secret.

There is a puzzle that must be solved and ancient history comes into play. From that point of view, it can be compared to the "Da Vinci Code" and "The Rule of Four." However, this is a more exciting book with real drama. I like Cotton as a character, he gets out of trouble and yet seems like a regular guy, he fits the image of a book dealer very well. The twin sisters are also well described but their mother is a psycho and it is hard for me to imaging that she could do the things she does.

There are many things to like about this book and for the reader looking for an exciting read and a trip through history, I definitely recommend it.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir are alerted about a dead body found in a cloistered monastery.

In a departure of the Armand Gamache mysteries, this novel doesn't take place in the area of Three Pines where most of his mysteries are centered. Instead, the monastery is in a wilderness area of Quebec.

One of the monks has been murdered and a complication is that the monks have taken a vow of silence, except for when they do their chanting. This chanting has been recorded and brought a welcome income to the monastery.

Armand and Jean-Guy meet the leader of the community and he shows them the body.  It's a good example of a locked room mystery where all of the suspects are in this wilderness area and one of them must be the killer.

Two other stories are interwoven into the mystery. Jean-Guy is in love with Armand's daughter, Annie and plans on asking Armand for her hand. Also Chief Superintendent Francoeur arrives at the scene. He is a rival of Gamache and seems intent on causing harm to Gamache's career.

Much of the story after Francoeur's arrival comes from his antagonism for Gamache and Jean-Guy's defense of his future father-in-law.

This novel is very well done and one of the few books I've read where loyalty and brotherhood take such a role. The cast of characters are well developed and the author does a fine job describing the monastic life and how that was changed when the public learned of the monk's Gregorian chants.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

In a fast moving, noir, crime novel, the action begins with a dance hall girl having a romantic meeting with Sir Alex Bolton. Sir Alex is a wealthy politician who might be the next leader of his political party.  Kinky sex occurs and only later do we learn that someone was taking photos in order to blackmail Sir Alex.

Bella is the dancer and her boyfriend is Martin, they take the photos and deliver them to a woman named Mona Chapman, who learned of Sir Alex's perverted sexual ideas by sneaking a look into Margot Peterson's files. Margot is a shrink who Mona was having a sexual encounter with.

In a world dominated by evil people and escaped cons, we learn that Bella's husband. Joey,  just ratted on the two men he robbed a bank with so that he could get out of jail sooner.

Now these men have a grudge against Joey and break out of jail to even a score.

The story reads in a realistic manner and is certainly imaginative and has a unique plot. The setting in the London area is well done and the police officer attempting to put all of this together is Detective Chief Inspector Preston who is a knowledgeable  forceful character and yet has a vulnerable side. It is easy to feel empathy for him and hope he can put all the pieces together.

I had to shake my head at some of the things that went on in the story but still felt that it was worth reading, if dark, sexual packed stories are your taste.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Four strong winds" song lyrics

Tom Sullivan is about to graduate from Princeton. He has an obsession inherited from his father about the book, "Hyperotomachie Polyphile" which was published in 1499.

Tom and his roommate Paul are both extremely interested in finding the secrets of the book. Tom couldn't understand the effect of the book on everyone who read it.

This is a very analytical book that is advertised as being similar to the "Davinci Code" The book is coded in seven languages and the text is a passionate love story and a mathematical labyrinth.

The authors went to a great deal of work doing the research for this book. However, I found the reading dry and although there was a great deal of work establishing the characters and their personalities, I didn't find them interesting.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Neil Cross is the creator and writer of the BBC crime series, "Luther."

"Luther, The Calling," is the first book in a series that stars no nonsense Deputy Chief Inspector John Luther.

As the story opens, of of Luther's friends on the department has been roughed up by  two thugs who work for a desperate property developer who is on the downside of his career. He needs one more person to sell his home so the developer can  have the area developed. Luther's friend has taken the side of the home-owner, an old sailor living alone.

The central part of this compulsively readable story involves a killer who murders a young husband and wife and steal their infant.

Luther is a workaholic who puts himself so much into the investigation that it's affecting his marriage. His wife sees that he's acting irrationally and not sleeping. She wants him to take time off...but there's always another victim to save.

The characters are described to perfection with Luther being easy to feel empathy for and hope he can solve the case and save his marriage. The antagonist is a sociopath who doesn't care what the effect of his crimes on others. Seeing him in action would make most readers check the locks on their doors.

The plotting is clever and this is an extremely enjoyable read.

"Swannie, how I love ya" song lyrics.

Henry Swann is a skip tracer which would mean he finds people who have jumped their bail.

A wealthy attorney hires him to find his rebellious daughter who he hasn't seen or heard from. She's living someplace with her boyfriend. The attorney believes that the boyfriend is of questionable motives and is after the attorney's daughter's money.

Swann decides to take the case and becomes more and more suspicious of the boyfriend as Swann finds of the boyfriend's activities as a graduate student. He seems like a very clever, thief and makes profits by selling well done imitations of classic books.

I enjoyed the story and found Swann to be refreshing as a character but found significant resemblance in the plot to "Gone," by Randy Wayne White.

In "Gone" a fishing guide who learned detecting from her uncle, is hired by a wealthy man to find the man's daughter who is with her boyfriend who the client feels is unscrupulous and dangerous. Although the daughter  cashed a monthly check, the client hasn't seen or heard from her.

In "Swann Dives In" the skip tracer is asked by a wealthy attorney to find the man's daughter who is with her boyfriend who is after her money and the client hasn't seen or heard from her.

There was excellent parts of the "Swann Dives In" novel" that goes into book collecting and this was very interesting but I thought the plot too similar to "Gone" to catch my interest.

Friday, November 9, 2012

For a photo, she would do anything

Photographer Cassie Cassidy goes to a rendezvous where she hopes to get photos of American Indians in action.

Unfortunately, she meets a reporter who gets into an argument with her. Cass had proven that a photo used by the reporter had been doctored.

Soon after, Cass comes upon the body of a man killed with a tommy hawk.

When she gives her statement to the deputy sheriff, she can tell by the man's aggressive behavior that he sees her as a suspect in the murder.

The writing is colorful as we learn of Indian traditions and the realism that re-enactors feel about the rendezvous and their outfits.

Cass has few friends who take her side and we follow her attempt to prove her innocence.

The setting is picturesque and I compliment the author on an original story filled with historical images. In addition, the author gives a good example of a female character, in a male dominated society, bravely fighting to prove she isn't a killer.

I enjoyed reading this story and hope that it serves to give the author a wider following.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Death mirrors art


Sometimes it's obvious that the author is having fun with a particular story. Such is the case with "The Death Dealer" by Heather Graham.

The Ravens are members of a society dedicated to reading and studying the works of Edgar Allen Poe.

When one member of the society is murdered and another survives a serious auto accident, Genevieve O'Brien asks her friend, P.I. Joe Connolly to investigate.

Genevieve knows about horror and killing since she survived being held prisoner by a crazed killer.

The newspapers refer to the case as the Poe Killings and Genevieve fears that her mother could be the next victim.

To add fun to the story, the author uses phrases and titles of Poe's works as she takes us through the story. In one scene, a psychic tells of imagining a man who caused the auto accident and concludes her statement to the police. A word came to her, "Nevermore."

Joe works on the case and also gets help from a number of people who had died, including his cousin and his cousin's fiance.

The story is a quick read and doubly entertaining due to the author's play on words, telling a story that mirrors Poe's story and weaving together interesting characters.

There isn't much suspense but the story is well written and worth reading.

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

"Night Blind" by Michael W. Sherer

Bravo!  I loved this book.

This excellent story begins with enough information to solidly grab the reader's attention. Then, the tension grows with the exquisitely developed plot with interesting characters acting in ways that make the reader want to learn more.

The story opens in France where a French rogue agent knows it's time to leave the country. He wants to go someplace where he is unknown and make a big score.

In Seattle, Blake Saunders was a public affairs official but lost his job and family after a financial scandal. He's haunted by the suicide of his son and subsides by delivering newspapers.

Normally, a person would be crushed by the magnitude of his misfortune. In Blake's case, it seems to have given him more empathy for others. His part of the story begins with him talking a woman from taking her life by jumping from a bridge.

The last stop on his newspaper delivery route is an elderly woman. Blake often stops in and has tea with this woman, who seems lonely.  This night, she is murdered and the killer attempts to set Blake up.

There is a side story of a bequest to an order of nuns and mineral rights to a piece of land. Seattle is now building a tunnel and there is a connection to what is under the land that is owned by the sisterhood.

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

Readers looking for an excellent story and well written literature will be rewarded with this edge of seat thriller.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bill Kaiser is a man motivated by social justice. He also possesses a unique set of skills from computer knowledge to chemistry and explosives.

Bill has a particular love for the historic Carnegie-Hayden Center in New York. This was one of his favorite places when he was a boy and his mother would tell him that this was a building that was meant for the people. However, now there is a chance that the building might be turned into one of the first nor profit prisons.

When Bill breaks into a building housing influential people, he's caught and brought to a psych hospital where he meets Sharon Blautner, a psychiatric nurse who is assigned to evaluate him.

Sharon works with Bill and when he's removed to a police psychiatric unit, she unwittingly helps him escape.

Edward Mackinnon is the corrupt exec of the company that wants 'for profit' prisons. He earns Bills's resentment for this and for his past actions against Sharon's father who was a business partner.

This is a finely crafted story with sympathetic characters, good pacing and excellent descriptions of old New York and the building of the Carnegie-Hayden Building.

I was drawn to the characters of Bill and Sharon and became more and more absorbed with the story as it played out.

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