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.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Rules are meant to keep a person safe, what happens if they fail?

Second chances are often rewarded beyond expectation.

Colin Hancock is a young man who had difficulty keeping his temper under control. Now, at age twenty-six, he's attempting to leave his past ways behind. Where his history of violence and bad choices have almost landed him in jail, he's been trying to walk the straight line.

He's attending college and working as a bartender and doing well at both endeavors.

One night, on a windy, rain slicked road, he comes across a car that is disabled. He's sees a young woman trying to fix a flat tire and offers to help. This led to his meeting Maria Sanchez. She is a young attorney from a Mexican family.

As their lives interconnect, he learns that Maria is being sexually harassed by her boss and that Maria has been receiving threats that indicate that Maria would "know how it feels."

While Colin wants to help, he is being scrutinized by a local detective who feels that Colin should be in jail due to his violent past. He knows that the judge has given him a last chance to turn his life around.

How can this couple overcome their situation?  This romantic suspense thriller not only provides a good story, it deals with a number of important issues such as dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace and the views some have of Mexican Americans.

The audio book is read by Christopher Ryan Grant who adds his skills to an excellent story by Nicholas Sparks.
The characters are well described. Colin and Maria are the kind of character that the reader will enjoy following and root for their success.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Many Tears Have to Fall but it's all in the Game." Lyrics

Having enjoyed Catherine Coulter's FBI thriller, "Nemesis" I wanted to read another of her stories.

In "The End Game," Nicholas Drummond and his partner Michaela Caine investigate COE. This is a group led by Matthew Spenser. He is a scientist/terrorist and anti Muslim zealot.

At the start of the action, he is assisted by Vanessa who makes bombs for the organization. COE which stands for Celebrants of the Earth.  Their goal is to stop America from importing oil from the Middle East.

Vanessa had agreed to assist the organization by making bombs. She believed Matthew when he told her that his goal was to stop the importing of oil from the Middle East without the loss of life.

Nick and Mike get a tip about the Beltway Refinery in New Jersey. They're told that a man in a bar overheard an intoxicated man bragging that there would be a bomb at this site. They rush to the scene just before the bomb explodes and are lucky that they didn't have major injuries.

Following the activities of the terrorist group, we learn more about Vanessa and her true identity.

With the bombing in France and other terrorist acts recently I thought that the story was very timely. The action was fast and furious and I liked Nicholas and Michaela having some romance in their lives.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Only the shadow knows the truth

"X" is the story told in numerous parts.

The central part has Kinsey investigating a serial killer. She's unaware that as she gets closer to building enough evidence to nail the killer, she becomes a target.

The second layer of the story has Kinsey dealing with her landlord's elderly neighbors. At first they seem worthy of Kinsey's sympathy but there is something beneath their outer personae.

The final segment of the story is where the "X" comes from. It covers a woman of Greek heritage who recently divorced. She is still embittered about her husband's philandering when she discovers an art work in her husband's basement's basement that could be worth millions. But she has to smuggle it out of his basement to get it appraised in London.

The book is good but tends to jump from one story line to another too much. The characters are old friends by this 24th installment of Kinsey's actions.  I look forward to their antics but found the conclusion unfulfilling,  perhaps it was a prelude to a future story.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Now wait a minute for this dandy

What appealed to me about "Minute Zero" was the idea that the story combines political diplomacy with national security.

With current events and the presidential election debate, a book about election would be of interest even if the nation is Zimbabwe.

State Department crisis manager Judd Ryker is sent to Zimbabwe to attempt to quell a developing emergency. Ryker is to stop an emergency and provide a solution before the situation gets out of hand.

In the 1980s thousands of civilians in Zimbabwe died during an operation and no one was held accountable.

Now President Winston Tinotenda known as Tino is set to have another term as president in an election that he has rigged.  He as a corrupt security adviser and gets money from illegal diamond mines and elsewhere.

Ryker brings in the CIA and some old friends to stop the bleeding and allow to elected president to assume her rightful office.   How he does this and what he must overcome is the basis of the story.

I enjoyed the story and compared the situation to what is going on in certain countries today and it also gives the reader the idea that it might have been useful if Ryker had done his magic to prevent other countries from going to rebels or illegal dictators.

Mike's Health 11-16-2015

Health report:
Began a new clinical trial two weeks ago. It has had an immediate positive effect. My sight has improved, the pain is reduced and overall feeling of improvement. I still have a way to go on my sight and I do have lower back pain at night and pain in my right elbow but it's only the beginning of the trial.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

All's not fair in love and war

 In an inspiring story of love and war, Martin Fletcher has written "The War Reporter."

This riveting thriller begins in 1994 with Tom Layne - an American TV journalist, reporting from Sarajevo. He's teamed with his cameraman, the lovely translator, Nina, and English journalist, Nick Barnes.

Always on the look out for the nest inspiring story, Tom visits the nearby hospital and notices a small boy. The boy is left alone and doesn't speak. He was being taken to the hospital for an operation on his harelip. However, he was separated from his mother in a bombing incident and he's left alone. No one knows his name or his mother.

Tom and Nick discuss how finding the boy's mother could be a great story and decide to risk the shooting in the mountains to find the boy's mother.

They succeed in doing so at great cost. One of their members is killed and Nina is attacked after she reacted to a man who stole her family's land.

Battle worn, Tom returns home and returns 12 years later.

The story tells of the horrors of war. The cruelty inflicted and the love that develops between Tom and Nina. It grabs at the reader's heart to witness what these two brave people go through.

Winner of a Jewish National Book award for good reason.  The author describes Tom becoming traumatized after the death of a friend and experiencing the hopeless feeling as he hears his love screaming for help which he can't deliver.

The strong story will linger in the minds of the reader long after reading the book.


Monday, November 9, 2015

"Johnny is a joker, he's a bird dog." Song Lyrics

Philip Reed has written a book about the hazards of dealing with an unscrupulous auto dealership. His first novel is titled "Bird Dog."
    Most of us have preconceptions of dealing with a car salesman and with "Bird Dog," the actions of one car salesman definitely takes a downward step.

Harold Dodge is familiar with the tricks of a car dealer. He has worked in that industry and written a book about it. although his present job is as an engineer.

He's an overweight man who has a problem with his image. However, he's flattered when a pretty co-worker named Marianna asks for his help.  She purchased a car from a dealer and traded in her own car for it. After reading the contract and what was supposed to be included in the purchase price, she feels that she was taken advantage of. Now she wants to reverse the transaction.

When Harold and Marianna get to the return to the dealership, her car is no longer on the lot. The flashy salesman wonders is Harold might be an investigator from the DMV so is careful and asks them to let him research it and return again.

Marianne tries to finish the transaction and returns on her own to unwind the sale. However during this time, she unwittingly takes a document that would incriminate the man who runs the dealership.

During this time, the central office of the dealership sends representatives to examine the operation and take steps in removing the shady manager.

Reed describes the action well as the criminals vie for power and attempt to bluff their way out of the predicament This allows the reader to see the hypocrisy and conniving that goes on..

Harold's heart is won by Marianne and he puts himself in danger in working with the unscrupulous salesman.

The action at the auto dealership and the situations that the characters find themselves in reminded me of the writing of the great Elmore Leonard.

I was drawn to the story and seeing the action unfold even though I wasn't drawn to any of the characters.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Second mystery by J. K. Rowling

In "The Silkworm" private investigator Cormoran Smith and his ambitious assistant, Robin, search for a missing author.  Robin is a tall, young woman with a goal of becoming a private investigator herself.

Cormoran is an intelligent, kind hearted investigator who lost part of his leg in a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

The captivating story begins with a scene that makes the reader root for his success.

When Leonora Quine comes to Strike's office requesting his help. Strike is about to start a meeting with an arrogant client. Strike was a bit late for the meeting and when the client gets huffy, Strike tells Robin to give the man his file. When the client isn't sure of what is transpiring, the client who had been waiting,  Leonora gloats, "He's sacking you."

The author paints a picture of how difficult it is to be a successful P.I. It is explained when Strike explains to Robin that dedication to an investigation is more important than financial benefits.

The missing author had written a novel, "Bombyx Mori" which is a parody of man of his compatriots in the literary world.. It's a demeaning novel that gives many of these literary notables  enough reason for wanting him, Owen Quine, dead. 

Strike's heroic action in Afghanistan included him reaching across the back seat of a military vehicle and pulling another soldier out of the auto as it exploded. The end result cost Strike his lower leg, the man he rescued had some facial scars but the driver was mortally wounded.

I also enjoyed the way the author described the difficulty a person missing part of a leg, would have attempting to get around London in the Snowy surroundings.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Silken Prey

Lucas Davenport gets mixed up with politics when he's asked to investigate the accusation of child porn on a wealthy political candidate.

Even though the governor is on the opposing party, something about the convenience of the discovery of the accusation so soon before the election doesn't seem right.

The race for the US Senate is a toss up and one of the participants is a wealthy young woman with a campaign staff that doesn't hesitate when asked to perform dirty tricks.. However one of the characters wants more money for his deeds and then goes missing.

The plot is tight and the story is fresh and since it is election time, the story is very timely.

Davenport and his team are working hard to identify the person who committed the dirty trick. When murder is added to the mix,  the reader is in hope that they can be stopped prior to the responsible winning an election they didn't deserve.

Davenport is a top notch and with each story we learn more about him and his family. He's a man of integrity but his primary job is to catch those responsible for the dirty tricks and to reveal what happened to the man who has a reputation for being political. He's been a bag man and Lucas believes he's come to a bad end but there's no proof. Then, there is another murder...

"Silken Prey" is one more story from one of the masters, John Sandford. This story kept my attention and I was sad when I had to put the book down to do something else.

The Legend of Vince Flynn Lives On

This action packed suspense novel picks up where "The Last Man" leaves off.

I was sad to learn of the death of Vince Flynn.  Kyle Mills picked up on the Mitch Rapp adventures and did a nice job in carrying on his legacy.

In this episode, CIA Operative Mitch Rapp and his team are called to action to stop an intelligence leak that could become a disaster for the CIA and the USA.

Disgruntled star agent Joseph "Rick" Rickmann stole an information file with the leading US agents and their international contacts.  He has been killed after his treacherous past comes to light, but instructs his contact to release the deadly information one at a time to heighten the damage and embarrass the CIA.  Mitch has to find where the information is being leaked from and stop it.  He also needs to learn who is disseminating the information.

Well done and lots of action.   And the conclusion is satisfying.

You've Gotta Have Heart" Song lyrics

"Blood Work" by Michael Connelly is one of my all time favorite books.  The plotting is excellent and the central character, retired FBI agent Terrell McCaleb is sympathetic and the story is addictive.
McCaleb is enjoying retirement while living on his fishing boat.  A woman approaches him and requests his help to find her sister's murderer.
When he tells her he can't because of his heart transplant, she responses, yes, it is my sister's heart.  It is keeping you alive and I think you'd want to find her killer.
He agrees and begins a search putting pieces of an intricate puzzle together that leads to the killer.
Nothing is straight forward in Connelley's novels.  Along the way police receive an anonymous call and suddenly McCaleb becomes the main suspect.  The evidence he was collecting is viewed as evidence of the crimes.
The book starts off with a bang and continues to a strong conclusion.
Highly recommended!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother

Billy and Ray Johnson were brothers that had the usual brotherly spats but also suffered abuse.

When Billy is found, the reader assumes that it was by someone who watched him crawl down the road by his house. The misery is described but Ray's reaction seems cold and matter of fact.

This sorrowful picture and writing style reminded me of Erskine Caldwell's "God's Little Acre." That book chronicles a family in rural Georgia. "Billy Dead" takes place in the country back roads of small town Michigan.

The Johnson family are unsympathetic. They were hellions and were disliked.

Ray continues with his life as sheriff Keith McCutcheon investigates the murder. We see the reaction of other family members to Billy's death but there isn't any display of sorrow.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Roses aren't always red

Luther Ewing, aka, Five O brings his unique b  background to his job as a cop on the Baltimore County P.D. narcotics  division. This is a contemporary location with the controversy in Baltimore recently after the shooting of a black man by the police.

Luther an ex-Special Forces sharpshooter with experience in Bosnia. In "Red Rain" Luther is working with his crew in narcotics and he comes across evidence that something is different on the streets. It's a feeling that experienced agents tend to get.

Vasilly is a Russian who is bringing vast amounts of drugs into the Baltimore area and ready to begin selling the drugs on the street. His drug cartel begins making headway and Luther's life and routine changes.

There is good dialogue in the story in what the reader can imagine  taking place. There is also realistic descriptions of what life must be like on the streets. 

It might be the way things are but many of the characters had nicknames and with this I had difficulty in determining who was who and what side they characters were on.

The bodies mount up and there are a number of plot twists that keep things unpredictable. I liked the suspense in a story of people at the edge of society-many who have little to redeem them.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A look at old time Brooklyn

From the writer of "Second Street Station," comes a new adventure of Mary Handley who was the first female police officer in Brooklyn.

Mary wants to become an official detective instead of only being called on for certain cases.  She gets her first case when Emily Wortham believes that her uncle was murdered and wants Mary to look into it.

Once again, the reader has the enjoyment of seeing Mary rub shoulders with such notables as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. She attends a lecture by Benjamin Franklin and shares experiences with John D. Rockefeller and George Vanderbilt.

There are discussions of the political events of the time, concerning New York and Brooklyn. In this regard, I was impressed that at this time, Brooklyn was one of the largest municipalities in the United States.

A woman is murdered and Mary investigates this case which became personal to her when her brother was accused of the crime.

There are lots of historical references and a gutsy protagonist in Mary. As I read the story I considered what some of the TV female detectives like Beckett on Castle or the female detectives on shows like Law and Order owed to a character like Mary, who started it all.

I enjoyed the story and reading about a protagonist like Mary.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Blue Monday How I hate Blue monday" Lyrics

Detective Jeremy Perez of the Shetland Islands Police Department believes he is coming to the Fair Isles to introduce his fiancee Fran to his parents and friends. .

There is a celebratory atmosphere until a woman's body is discovered by the Fair Isles Bird Observatory.

It's a small island and everyone knows the victim but no one can believe that anyone would want to harm her.

Jeremy questions many people people looking for clues and the reader experiences a murder mystery set among the bird watching community.It's a good juxtaposition of a living hobby and a murder.Then the body of another woman is found.

I enjoyed the audio book read by Gordon Griffin and his Scottish accent and calm description of the action.

Ann Cleeves keeps the reader guessing.  She does a good job in describing the scenes and the characters.

I felt myself trying to imagine what I would do if I was in a similar situation and trying to guess who the killer might be.

There was good suspense in the story and a surprising twist when discovering the killer.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Take me Back to my Red River Valley" Lyrics

"Redye Fulda Cold" tells of another military adventure of the likable Bill Fortin who
served in the U.S. Army 3rd Armor Division from 1968 to 1970.

Fortin and his unit take part in a little known conflict pitted against an invasion force from Russia.

As a reader of military action stories, I've enjoyed a number of excellent military adventures.

After enjoying the singular accomplishments of Dewey Anderson in a modern day conflict against the Russian Mafia in "Independence Day," then read of Scott Harvath in action in the Republic of Congo in "Code of Conduct."

"Redeye Fulda Cold" provides a good change of pace for the reader of military adventure who enjoys action in the 1960s to 1970. As I was in active service from 1967-1970, I felt something in common with the solciers in this story. I tried to imagine myself in the same circumstances as Fortin and wondered how I would have acted.

The story is described realistically and was an enjoyable read.

Tell me why

Dr. David Beck lost his wife eight years ago. Her body was discovered by the roadside and serial killer Elroy Kellroy was arrested for her murder.

During the following eight years, Beck tried to get on with his life and his medical practice. Then, officials reopened the case and Beck became the main suspect.

Harlan Coben does a fine job in setting the scenario and creating believable characters. Beck is a good man and we want to root for him but he's faced with some very evil opponents.

Beck takes some steps during the story that result in previous supporters turning against him. Eventually, he's left with few people totally supporting him.

It is easy for the reader to imagine what they would do in similar circumstances as Beck was faced with. There is also a secondary story being told at the same time. Then, just when it seems the reader can figure out what is happening, there is a surprise that Coben adds to increase the interest and keep us guessing.

This is an excellent story that was also made into a movie.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Make Me, Just Try It

Lee Child has a talent for creating nail biting suspense. In this psychological novel, Child demonstrates a nail biting story sprinkled a touch of romance.

Jack Reacher is traveling around the countryside - just for the experience. After his days in the military, he gets satisfaction by traveling around America and helping people in need, when necessary.

He comes to a town Mother's Rest. It's a desolate town set among the wheat fields with nothing much to offer other than a train station.

Reacher meets Michelle Chang a former FBI agent, now a private investigator. She's looking for her partner who had been hired to look into some secret of Mother's Rest but has now disappeared.

The story unfolds out as if it was written for Alfred Hitchcock. The town is hiding something and Jack and Michelle team up and retrace the steps of Michelle's missing partner to learn about the person who hired them.

The townsfolk they encounter are unhelpful and closed mouth. It was as if Jack and Michelle ran into a mid-western version of "The Valley of the Dolls"

As Reacher and Michelle peel back the hidden layers of the story, the suspense mounts and the secret being hidden comes to a frightening light.

This is a well told story with well described characters placed in a situation where the reader can relate to and wonder what they  might do if they were ever in a similar situation.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Along came a spider and sat down beside her...

Written by David Lagercrantz and narrated by Simon Vance
Here again is Lisbeth Salander, hacker, from a sadistic father and yet, heroic and brainy beyond imagination.
She's asked by her old friend Michael Blomkvist to help with a child who is a savant.  He's witnessed a murder, but the killer allows him to live because the killer didn't think he could communicate.
However, the boy had an outstanding ability to draw and Lisbeth brings out his skill -  thus displaying an image of the killer whose boss now wants the boy dead.  (Because he's a witness.)
There are other hackers at work and a mole within the government service.
Blomkvist is trying to write a story about the killers at work including a mysterious woman.
This is one of the most suspenseful books I've I've enjoyed this year.  And Salander is one of the best protagonists.

Love and Marriage go together like a horse and carriage

Meg Langslow's summer plans are filled with summer engagements.  She returned to her small Virginia hometown to be a bridesmaid for three weddings: her mother, her brother and for her best friend.
Early on she meets Michael Walterson, Professor of Theater, at a nearby college.  He was managing his mother's dress making shop.  Michael and Meg hit it off immediately.
There's not much controversy in the story except dealing with Meg's best friend Eileen complaints that her fiance Steven complains about including the Native American heritage purification ceremony in the wedding.  I can just imagine reacting to something like this in Virginia.
Then one of the characters if found dead and the sheriff comes to investigate and suspicion spreads.
The family relationships were interesting to view and how their personal connections can become upset.
Meg was resilient and interesting as a main character who can be respected.
The murder is a minor detail and the character who murdered is a bit obnoxious and unlikable.  Not much of an affect on the main part of the story or the three weddings.

One Not To Miss

In a change in literary direction Tess Gerritsen has written an enchanting historical novel.
The story is wrapped with the kind of characters who are interesting, and have a tale to tell, one that the reader will enjoy.
Julia Ansdell is a beautiful woman, she is an accomplished musician and purchases a piece of music at an antique store in Rome.
While playing the music at her home, there is an incident between her 3 year old daughter and the family cat.  This puts a scare in Julia and sets the tone for the remainder of the story.
Thereafter, the story is told in two parts, in current time and around WWII in Italy.
In Italy there is a family of musicians with a love of music, and of Italy.  There is a competition upcoming and they are preparing for it, but are concerned if they will be allowed to perform due to questions about their heritage.
Julia feels drawn to the music of the composer.  She begins investigating the origin of the music and the family.
We follow the Brownshirts and the family encounters with them and a particular Colonel who has a private agenda.
Gerritsen writes with an intimate flourish as if revealing parts of her own family.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Friction is stranger than Fract

This complex story opens dramatically with Texas Ranger, Crawford Hunt, at family court. He hopes to gain custody of his five-year-old daughter, Georgia. Georgia had been under the custody of her maternal grandparents, Joe and Grace Gilroy.

Conrad took the death of his wife Beth very hard and knew he needed help with his daughter at that time but things have changed. However, Joe Gilroy is fighting for maintaining custody because he feels that Crawford is reckless.

A man dressed to cover his face bursts into the courtroom and attempts to kill the judge, Holly Spencer. Hunt is able to kick the assailant but not before another man is killed. Then there is a shootout on the roof of the courthouse and the gunman is killed.

This powerful start sets the tone of the story. Judge Spencer and Crawford are drawn to each other in an irresistible manner. Crawford is heroic in his actions and it seems as if there will be an easy transition to have Georgia moved to his custody.  Then there is a major discovery and the plot shifts.

Another killer is sought and authorities question any possible motives.

The plot is well written and both Crawford and Judge Spencer are characters who the reader can identify with and imagine consider what would happen if they were in a similar situation. The setting seems realistic but Some of the minor characters could have used more development but overall a good story with good chemistry between the major characters.

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?

Friday, August 28, 2015

"Oh the weather outside is frightful, let it snow, let it snow" Lyrics

Perhaps it's because I've been diagnosed with a serious health issue but I've found that I just don't want to spend time with a story or characters that I don't particularly care for.

Although I've enjoyed Jo Nesbo's writing in the past and shared good comments about his novel "The Son," with my book club, "Blood on Snow" left me cold. (Get it?)

Olav is an extremely talented fixer for one of Oslo's most powerful crime bosses. He does his job until his boss, Daniel Hoffman, assignes Olav to kill his "Hoffman's) wife.

Olav shows empathy for the people he is asked to "fix."  He tells the reader that there are certain assignments he just doesn't accept. He can't work with drugs or the people using them. He doesn't work with prostitutes and, unusually, he doesn't work with communists.  I guess he gives his subjects a little political questionnaire before pulling his gun out???

When Olav sees Hoffman's wife, his feelings are moved and he rescues her from what would have been her fate. Then he must take steps to avoid his powerful boss and find a place to hide

I thought Olav was well described but not likable. The description of his childhood and his abusive father was one of the interesting sections of the story. I would have enjoyed more of the descriptions about Oslo so I could picture it more completely.

Another part of the story that bears discussion is that on one occasion, Olav listens to his heart instead of his brain and he kills the wrong person. This was a man who was abusing his wife. Olav probably went back to his early adulthood with his own father when Olav turned the gun on the abusive person instead of the woman being abused.

Where I do enjoy Jo Nesbo's writing and will look forward to the next Harry Hole novel, I expected more from this novel.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Day by Day, Oh Dear Lord these things I pray

Two of my reviewer friends recommended this book highly and we've usually had the sam opinion on mystery novels so I decided to read this.  Thank you Tom and Bobbewig, you were both right on the mark.

Dewey Anders a former Deata working as an agent for the CIA is still not himself after the shooting death of his fiancee. Time doesn't stand still and he's needed for another mission, this one could save the lives of many Americans, perhaps more people would die from this nuclear weapon as did in Hiroshima.

A derranged but brilliant hacker has gotten his hands on a nuclear weapon and he wants to have revenge on the United States from his parents murder. This was done by two U.S. agents right in front of the boy, Pytor Varagarian who is now a grown man and skilled hacker known as Cloud.

Cloud has gotten this nuclear weapon from the leader of the Mafia in Moscow. Now Cloud sets up a plan to get the weapon to the United States and blow it on Independence Day at the Statute of Liberty.

Dewey Anderas is one of the excellent action packed heroes. These days he's move in front of Jack Reacher in my list of great characters in suspense novels.

The plot moves as swiftly as hot butter pouring out of a popcorn machine. First Dewey has to be convinced to go on the operation. Then we learn some of the obstacles he has to overcome. We also learn of his childhood and upbringing in Castine Maine where he was a local hero. As a runner, I really enjoyed Dewey's participation in a holiday fun run sponsored by his town.  He ran along with a nephew and a teenage niece and their give and take was heart warming to read about.

Codes must be broken, there is a corrupt politician who tries to smear Dewey. We learn more of what Dewey is currently going through but also the history of Cloud and why he turned out the way he did.

There are gun battles, motorcycle chases, characters diving off helicopters onto high rise buildings,  we also have the memory of Dewey's past romance. In fact, what separates Dewey from many of the other thriller heroes is his humanity mixed with his bravery.

The secondary characters are well described and the setting is visual. A few times I turned to the back page to see if the book might be in the midst of being filmed.

Highly recommended and thanks again to my reviewing friends.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

King Pawn

I went out of my normal reading realm for this book and I'm glad I did.

For a while, I've felt that I didn't know enough of what was going on in Syria. When I read about the battles of Aleppo and Homs, they were just words and I didn't have anything that would make the participants more personal.

Reading "King Pawn" changed that for me. It provided an enlightening read and a good story. For my part, I had my computer handy and refreshed my memory by going over accounts of the battle and somewhat of their meaning.

"King Pawn" basically tells the story of Robert Frost who, we are told, has two enemies, the U.S. Army for unfairly dismissing him and the Syrian regime for destroying his mother's family during the 1982 Hama uprising.

There are a number of people who use various aliases and politicians who seem to have one agenda but that is just for show and they really want something else.

Robert Frost becomes Iftikar and then someone else. He's a highly paid mercenary sent to Syria to destabilize the Syrian regime. He makes friends with a number of people who are idealists and for a democratic government. He also uses people as in one case, his people kidnap another man's child and hold her hostage until the man agrees to do Ifkar's bidding.

I had thoughts of some novels I've read where it was difficult to pick the good guys or the bad guys. It would seem that the people fighting for democracy would be who a reader would root for but in fact, situations were staged so that it would seem that government forces were doing something wrong, like destroying a temple of historic value. All the time it was Ifkar who had become Louai who had rebels under his command who he knew would be beaten but it would look good to the world press as if the Syrian government didn't care about historical artifacts.

I made a list of the characters and have to admit that I referred back to my list a number of times to see who was who. But I felt rewarded for my efforts and feel that I've learned more of Syria and Aleppo and Homs and had the benefit of a good story in the meantime.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

History of a brave young woman in WWI and shortly thereafter

This is a wonderful story for many reasons. Maisie is a woman ahead of her time, she's gutsy, ambitious and smart as a whip.

Maisie Dobbs began her first job at age thirteen. Her parents wanted to send her to college but the unexpected death of her Mum changed that and her father found a job for her in a suitable position.

Maisie became a maid in an home of Lord and Lady Rowan Compton. Lady Compton was a suffragette and was for the advancement of woman in general. In Maisie, she noticed her in her library and Maisie told her she wanted to read books and learn. Lady Compton was impressed and kept her eye on Maisie. Later, when Maisie became an investigator she sent Maisie customers.

Later, as WWI began, Maisie took nursing training and went to France to help care for the soldiers who were being injured in many ways with gas, shrapnel, bullet wounds and psychological injuries. While overseas, working with the soldiers she was drawn to one.

After the war, Maisie uses some skills learned from one of Lady Compton's connections. Dr. Blanche was a trained psychologist and detective. He taught Maisie deductive thinking and since she had good common sense, he told her to trust her instincts and to beware of coincidences.

Her first case leads her to a woman who would travel to a cemetery twice a week to mourn a young soldier. Maisie travels to a convalescent home being used for wounded and maimed soldiers.

What I liked about the book was Maisie's compassion, her desire to raise above the situation to which she was born, and her manner in working with patients and the people around her.

The scenes in France are well described and we get a look at the difficulties the young nurses faced during the Great War. They not only had to deal with soldiers wounded grievously but they had strict rules of behavior and little understanding for their plight.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

"Eight days a week." Song lyrics

Members of a mysterious cult have decided that Jane MacGuire, Eve Duncan's adopted daughter, will be their ultimate sacrifice.

Eve is a painter and one of her paintings, titled "Guilt" promotes blasphemy, according to the cult.

In this multi layered story, there is travel from such places as England,  Paris, Tel Aviv  and Scotland as Jane and her group of good people oppose Jack Millet and members of Sang Noir- a cult that deals back to the time of Christ.

There is good suspense in the story that should be read slowly in order to get the various meanings and spiritual elements. However, I did find difficulty in a couple of areas although I was reading much of the story while in the hospital so the problem may be with me. My reading difficulties were with the great number of characters, there were times when I wasn't sure who was speaking and I had to go back to an earlier time to learn the identification of a speaker.  Also, some of the characters just appeared in a paragraph without identification or background, just their name.

The forces of good vs.evil did remind me of "The Stand," which I believe is Stephen King's best novel.

I do enjoy Iris Johansen and look forward to reading more of her novels but this book just missed the mark with me.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"I'll be seeing you in all the old familiar places." Song lyrics

Kendra Michaels is attempting to convince police officials that the serial killer who helped send to his execution has escaped. Frustratingly, Kendra feels that Eric Colby staged his death with the help of the medical doctor in charge of the execution. She can't prove it because soon after the execution, Colby's body was cremated. Not long after, the doctor and his wife were found murdered.

This compelling page turner continues as Kendra is asked to consult in a murder case and sees the victim posed in a position in the same manner of Colby's other victims.

Then a reporter who humiliated Kendra is found murdered and there is DNA evidence that points to Kendra. It becomes clear that Colby's goal is to set Kendra up.

The mother and son authors Iris and Roy Johansen write with clear dialogue and the action moves along in a nonstop manner.

Kendra is an admirable character. She was blind at birth and it was only twenty years later that a medical procedure enabled her to see. Perhaps due to that, her other senses are heightened.

We follow the killer as he taunts Kendra and plays a deadly game while we await the inevitable confrontation.

There are a number of surprises and there are times that the reader wants to shout, "don't go there" or "look in the back seat" but overall, I enjoyed this novel and recommend it.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Father's Sins

Since I'll be having a number of tests at the hospital next week, I wanted to find an author I enjoy and an easy read. I was successful in both with "The Fixer" by Joseph Finder. The only problem is that it's such a good story that I kept reading and finished in a couple of days. Darn.

The novel opens with investigative reporter Rick Hoffman moving into his father's former home. His father suffered a massive stroke years ago and is in a convalescent home - unable to communicate.

Rick is down on his luck, with a break-up with his fiancee and the loss of his job. Now, he decides to renovate the house and maybe sell it for a profit. When he breaks out a wall, he finds neatly bound stacks of money at over three million dollars in value. (Have to admit that as I was reading this part, I checked out the walls in my house wondering...)

His father, Leonard, had been an attorney with a questionable clientele. With Rick's reporting background, he decides to look into his father's past, thinking that there might be a good story that he could write and revitalize his reporting career.

The idea behind the story was sound and as Rick's places the money into various banks, he changes his lifestyle and starts spending the money.

He's noticed by some unsavory characters and a group called TPB - the powers that be and something happens that I won't divulge and spoil the story.

Rick meets an old girlfriend and things begin looking up.

The pace was fast and the story kept me awake at night wanting to see what would happen next.
However, I was never drawn to the leading character and didn't have sympathy for his plight.

3.5 * but not quite 4.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Have faith in your convictions...

"Benefit of the Doubt" begins with Harlan Lee's release from prison. He served a seventeen-year-stretch and during that time his father passed away leaving Harlan angry at the world.

He murders a woman in the early part of the story and we learn that this is a step in his settling an old score.

A parallel story concerns Ben Sawyer, a big city cop in Oakland, California. There is an incident and he comes to the aide of a fellow cop who yelled that the suspect had taken his (the other cop's) gun. Ben pulls the suspect off the cop. The suspect knows he's beaten and surrenders to Ben but Ben let's his anger get the best of him. What he does next is captured by a number of cell phone cameras and Ben is forced to resign in disgrace.

He relocates to Newberg and joins the police there. His father-in-law is chief of police and Ben begins work as a detective supervisor. Ben isn't liked or appreciated by most of the other cops who feel he didn't deserve the position.

Ben does begin doing a credible work but his father-in-law has a stroke and Ben loses the person protecting him on the job.

Harlan Lee continues his revenge and in one of his crimes, Ben's wife, Alex, is made to look like the main suspect.

The story moves nicely and the writing keeps the reader's avid attention as we follow Ben's attempt to do his job and defend his wife. During this time, we also observe the corruption within the Newberg Police Department.

The novel is interesting as the author, Neal Griffin,  describes how Ben has to continue with his work on the job. There is increasing drug activity in Newberg but only one member of the department thinks Ben is doing a good job and wants to help.

The reader will feel sympathetic for what Ben is going through and wonder how he will overcome the difficulties placed in his way. There is also the question of Ben's marriage and how will that survive.

The characters are well depicted as is the politics of the police department. We hope for Ben's success and wonder if he can succeed against tremendous odds.

I received a copy of this novel in return for my honest review.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

"Will there really be a morning? Is there such a thing as day?" Dickinson

Bernie Little is a private eye and owner of Little Investigations. Chet is his canine companion and narrator of the story.

"Scents and Sensibility" opens with Bernie returning home and finding his wall safe missing and his prized possession, his grandfather's watch gone.

Bernie's next door neighbor, Daniel Parsons, is elderly and forgetful. Bernie asks him if he still has the house key that Bernie gave him but Parsons can't remember.In questioning Parsons further, Bernie learns that his son, Billy, was recently released from prison for kidnapping. Billy served fifteen years but Parsons tells Bernie that Billy is a good person who just got involved with the wrong people.

There is a new saguaro cactus plant on Parsons' front lawn. While Bernie is still at Parsons home, a representative of the Department of Agriculture arrives. She has followed the chip in the cactus and questions Parsons about how he came to receive it. Did he know it's against the law to move a saguaro cactus from public land and replanting it on private land? Parsons is brought in for questioning and hires Bernie to find out about the cactus.

When Bernie and Chet travel to the area of the desert where the Agricultural officer claims the cactus came from. They come upon a murder victim and the story moves to another level.

The story is told in a liesurly manner as Chet relates what is happening. It is fascinating to see how a dog could solve certain difficulties.  Some of this fun comes from the dog wondering what was the meaning of various statements like raining cats and dogs. Of course, Chet would love to see rain like that.

As the investigation progresses, more facts about the kidnapping come to light, other people are questioned and part of the search is for the $500,000 in ransom that was never recovered.

There is a wonderful segment when Chet gets into a difficult position but another dog, Shooter, is able to help. There is a trip back from the desert that reminded me of a scene from "The Lady and a Tramp.''

The story is told in such a manner that the reader could imagine the events to be true, stretched a good bit, but true.

I received a copy of this book in return for my honest review.

Friday, August 7, 2015

"Broken hearted melody, won't you bring her back to me." Lyrics

I've been a long time fan of Linwood Barclay. In "Broken Promise" he leads the reader up to a grand finale but the conclusion of the story leaves the reader disappointed.

David Harwood is a widowed father, raising his nine-year-old son, Ethan, on his own. He was working for a newspaper in Boston but felt he'd have more quality of life by moving back to Promise Falls, where his parents were living.

When he arrives in Promise Falls, he learns that the newspaper that promised him a job has folded. With no job in the near future, his mother asks him to look in on his cousin, Marla. Marla has been having a rough time since she gave birth to a still-born child a number of months ago.

When David reaches Marla's home, She's caring for a nine-month-old baby. She tells David that an angel delivered baby Matthew to her. Incredulous, David sees an address on the baby stroller and when he goes to that address, he sees that the woman living there has been murdered.

The story is told from David's perspective with alternating chapters from the point of view of other characters. This works well in making the reader appreciate the characters and caring for them.

Through the remainder of the novel, David attempts to find answers to the murder. A subplot involves the number 23. Twenty-three animals are killed and left in an obvious place to be discovered. There is action at a closed theme park with three mannequins on carriage twenty-three and  note stating You'll Be Sorry.There is also a man though to be a rapist at a local college with an associated number.23.

The writing is polished and the characters well described. The evidence points in one direction but the reader wonders who else might be involved and what would be there motive.

The smooth action continues until the conclusion. It's almost as if Barclay was writing for a sequel and pens "stay tuned for the next book to learn what happens." There are a number of unanswered questions around the number 23, and a woman David met who claims he set her up.

What did the officials mean when they state in concluding moments..."Our guy's come back...or maybe he never left."

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Broken Promise