Sunday, November 30, 2014

A story that's more than worthy

Phillip Margolin is one of those special authors who, when a reader picks up their book, they know they are in for an entertaining experience.

I was sent this book from Amazon vine, in return for my review and I couldn't be happier that I picked this book.

The time is 1860 and Oregon is really beginning to grow.  Matthew Penny and his wife decide to move west from Ohio and travel by wagon train. However, Matthew losses his wife when a wagon is swept down a river crossing.

With this burden behind him, he moves to Phoenix, Oregon where he's appointed to defend a man accused of theft.  When he wins the case, another man approaches him and tells him that this man has information that Matthew can use to win another case he was preparing for.  All this man wants is the promise from Matthew that if the information helps, Matthew would promise to return the favor. (For just a bit, it seems like the devil in Damn Yankees).

Matthew wins the new case and what the man wants is Matthew's help in getting his daughter who is being kept as a slave by a wealthy but unscrupulous man.

It's difficult not to give away plot but the story moves along swiftly. The characters are vividly drawn as is the setting of the early days of Portland, Oregon. We see such things as the first steam locomotive in that part of the country.

This is one of the best books I've read this year. My heart was beating faster and faster as I approached the conclusion. High Recommendation!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Cold Dish

Four white high school students lure a female American Indian high schooler to a meeting and rape her in a cruel and brutal manner. The woman, Melissa Little Bird, suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome and her reasoning powers are impaired.

The trial ends with a ridiculous sentence of two years suspended and then probation. The Indian community is incensed with the light sentence.

Two years later, the ring leader is found dead. Sheriff Walt Longmire is attempting to make sense out of the killing of one of the rapists when another of the boy is killed in the same manner. Now Walt knows he's dealing with a revenge killing and wonders why the killer waited two years and if he can protect the other two boys.

We follow the story with interesting characters and crisp dialogue. It is an interesting start with very colorful characters led by Longmire and his undersheriff, the foul language using Vik.  It is easy to see why this character was the central character in the TV drama "Longmire." 

Walt is a boozhound living in a home he built years ago but stopped when his wife died. The home is unfinished and doesn't even have a door to the bathroom.  As a Vietnam vet, Walt must be in his  sixties so is a hero for many senior citizens. His friend, Henry Standing Bear is trying to fix him up and encourage him to begin dating. We also learn that there are other women in town interested in Walt as a partner.

The conclusion is long in coming.

All in all, there were many well done scenes and the description of the countryside was well done. It is easy to see why this author is having success with his future works.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Christmas giving

Walt Longmire is listening to Christmas music and getting ready for a quiet Christmas when he has an unexpected guest.

The woman appears to know Walt and asks about his predecessor, Sheriff Lucian Connally.

Walt tells the girl that he has been the sheriff in Absaroka County for almost a quarter of a century and that former Sheriff Connally is a resident at Durant Home for Assisted Living.

When the girl asks where it is, Walt takes her there since he was going to visit Lucian anyway.  When she sees Lucian, he doesn't remember her and then she whispers "Steamboat," and the story comes back.

In 1988 there was a terrible car accident with only one survivor, a young girl who was flown from the accident scene by a lifestar helicopter. However, she needed more medical care immediately and there was a raging storm with most of the roads closed.

Walt get Lucian away from a card game and they find an old B-25 airplane at the local airport. It's the only plane that could make it trough the storm to medical facility near the Stapleton - Salt Lake airport.

A crew of brave people, including Walt, Lucian, a co-pilot and medical officer brave the storm and icy conditions to get the girl to the medical hospital and save her life.

There is good drama in this novella. Craig Johnson details the heroic actions as the crew makes its way.

An enjoyable story with good descriptions as we get to know the whiskey soaked Lucian Connally and learn of Walt's wife and young daughter at home.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

How much fear can a man take before he strikes back?

"The Executioners" has been sitting on my bookshelf for ages. Something made me pick it up for a new reading. It was such a big hit and the basis for the thrillers, "Cape Fear," in 1962 and 1991.

I anticipated a good read and the novel delivered. There is reason why the book is on many lists of the top 100 mysteries to read.

Sam Bowden was a young officer in the navy when he witnessed a rape during WWII.  He testified against Max Cady and Bowden's testimony was the main reason why Cady was found guilty and sent to prison for life.

Years later, the court decides to lower his sentence and Cady is freed. Suddenly, he appears in Bowden's small town and begins to harass Bowden.

Bowden is an attorney and believes in the law. He has a wife and three children. As Cady begins tormenting Bowden, Bowden goes to the sheriff, the city attorney and others, looking for a solution but they can't find anything.

Cady's threats become more intense and something happens where Bowden fears that Cady plans to hurt him by hurting his family.

What would cause a man of the law to disregard the symbol he has believed in for his whole life?
Bowden becomes desperate as Cady begins making innuendos about Bowden's fourteen-year-old daughter and Bowden's wife.

This is a well written drama and re-reading it was like visiting with an old friend, definitely enjoyable and a highly regarded author from our past.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A person's actions can have long lasting consequences

Looking for a good read, I found "The Reckoning A John Madden Novel" by Rennie Airth. I've enjoyed that author's books since his "River of Darkness."

This story turned out to be just what I was in the mood for.  The plot was interesting in the manner in which the investigation went about to discover a killer's motive and then to identify and arrest the perpetrator.

Rennie Airth conceived this story where the investigators are senior officials of Scotland Yard and bringing out of retirement, John Madden. Madden has been enjoying his retirement and is active in the operation of his country farm. His gladly accepts when his friend, Det. Inspector Billy Styles, asks for his assistance.

The first person killed had been in the process of writing to Madden about an incident which happened in WWI.  As Madden begins helping with the case, he has no recollection of the man or an incident that might be worth killing for.

The writing is literary, speaking about young soldiers going to the front lines in France during WWI, "They all looked like that when they came out to France...they were determined to do their duty. They had no idea what was waiting for them."

We learn about a number of men who are killed in the same manner and with the same weapon. The investigators are tenacious in the manner in which they attempt to stop the murdering as the bodies pile up and newspapers criticize their effort.

It was also interesting to see Madden when he was not an investigator. We watch him help his wife's elderly aunt with her home renovations and see ourselves in similar situations.

Overall, a book I recommend and a story I will tell others not to miss.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Do not forsake me oh my Darlin'

In a novel that takes place in Jericho, Mississippi, there were occasions when I felt that I was reading a John Grisham story.

Ace Atkins has talent for dialogue and description that goes together to give his readers a real feel for the action evolving before us. I've enjoyed his Robert B. Parker novels and was highly entertained with his new novel.

A shootout takes place before the action of the story gets underway and Sheriff Quinn Carlson and his chief deputy are under investigation for their roles in it.

The central story involves a teenage girl, Diane Tull, who is raped - along with her teenage girlfriend. Then the rapist, a black man, shot both girls, killing Diane's friend. Men from the community became enraged and searched for the criminal. Then, they took the law into their own hands.

However, a number of weeks later, Diane saw the real rapist in town. When she tried to let others know, they didn't want to listen.

Now, thirty-seven-years later, Diane tells Quinn what she knows and asks him to reopen the case.

We've all read stories where the wrong man was accused and made to pay for another's crime. The manner in which Ace Atkins writes makes the reader see how this could happen and wonder if it could be resolved.

Very entertaining story with good characters and a fine plot.

"Three Strikes and You're Dead" book signing

Enjoyed the book signing for "Three Strikes and You're Dead" at Breakwater Books in Guilford today.
It was a cozy setting and it allowed friends to visit and discuss the publishing process and the story.
What great fun to have something I created discussed and enjoyed!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down

If "Blood and Ashes" was a cold cereal, it would be called snap, crackle and pop, pop, pop.

Ex-soldier, Joe Hunter, is asked for help from a former colleague, Don Griffiths who worked with Hunter in the past. They had taken down terrorist groups and stopped domestic terrorists before they could execute their schemes.

No sooner does Hunter arrive at the Griffiths' home then the action begins. He's forced to use close combat ability to dispose of two men who were watching Griffiths' home and decide to challenge him.

Later, Griffiths' family is attacked by a Neo-Nazi group who were supporters of a terrorist believed to be dead. Griffiths was instrumental in the trial and jailing of the leader of this group.

After a Rambo type display, Hunter rescues Griffiths' family.  Afterwards, a new saga begins where Hunter must help stop a plot by the survivors of the Neo-Nazi group. They plan an action against Manhattan.

We learn little of the background of Hunter. He had been a member of a clandestine group and now, the groups part in the plot begins to come clear.

I would have liked the story to end sooner than it did. Also, instead of giving background of Hunter in the story, the author provides a description of him in a postscript to the novel.

I enjoyed the story but expected more.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The History of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge

In a recent visit to New York, I had the pleasure to join the multitude of people who were strolling back and forth over the Brooklyn Bridge. I wanted to learn more about the bridge and what it meant to New York.

David McCullough's richly detailed account of the inception and  building of the bridge is an expertly compiled history.

Not only does the reader learn what the Bridge meant to New York but also, we experienced the history and the politics around it.

McCullough takes his readers through the difficulty in engineering the project. John Roebling and his Brooklyn Bridge team had to get Albany's blessing and then Congress had to approve the project since they were concerned that it might affect the navigation of the East River and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

As the building went along, McCullough also takes his readers through newspaper accounts praising the project and we see Mark Twain in the group expressing his support.

Before the Bridge, New York City was landlocked. The only way to reach Brooklyn was the ferries which could be dangerous in rough weather and with navigating the busy East River.

We see a man with a vision in John Roebling. When age and ill health prevented his seeing his dream to conclusion, his son, Washington Roebling took over as the Chief Engineer.

This history unfolds like a tv documentary and the author takes his readers through the corruption and patronage of Boss Tweed and his gang.

This is a sweeping saga that is among the wonders of the world and sharing it as I did recently, made me feel I was a small part of its ongoing legend.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Silent night, Holy Night, all is not bright

"Silent Joe" tells the story of fatherly love and admiration mixed with a strong desire to be accepted and to succeed.

Joe's face was scarred as a baby when acid was thrown in his face. His birth mother deserted him and his father of record ended up in jail for this crime.

As we see Joe, he is the driver and bodyguard for his father, Will. He's also a sheriff at a local jail.

This is a psychological novel in which we see Joe as an extremely polite, mild mannered man. He states that the happiest day of his life was the day Will and Mary Ann Trona adopted him.

One night, while driving Will, tragedy occurs. In what was to be Will's rescue of an eleven-year-old kidnap victim, Will is shot down before Joe's eyes.  Joe kills two of the shooters but the leader escapes. Through the remainder of the story, Joe attempts to piece together the events leading up to the shooting and to bring to justice those involved.

There is a connection to gangs operating in Orange County, County politics and the details of the missing little girl.

The story is well told and entertaining. Joe is a well developed and unique character. There are a number of surprises along with well written dialogue."Save your friends, spend your enemies." was one of Joe's father's favorite sayings.

Through it all, Joe finds love and acceptance and a place in the reader's memory as an entertaining character with a story to tell.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading
Broken Promise