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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Wrecked by Joe Ide and The Last of the Stanfields by Marc Levy

 Although I still haven't read the first in this series, NetGalley offered Wrecked, which is the third, and after enjoying Righteous, I decided proceed.

The violent prologue almost made me abandon ship before really setting sail.  Prologues have become de rigeur in recent years, and I'm finding fewer and fewer that I appreciate.  

The plot is pretty much a given early on and not so much mystery as suspense.  The CEO of the bad guys didn't seem smart enough to have pulled off all of the situations and his crew (back from his Abu Ghraib days) dislike him and taunt him.  But perhaps, like in business and politics, sometimes the least capable make their way to being in charge.  The whole mess of villains feel like a dark comedy of sinister and corrupt screw-ups--capable of despicable acts and carnage, but little else.  Do these folks exist?  Without question, we've seen this over and over.

What I did enjoy was the secondary characters:  Dodson, Deronda, and T.K.  The sub-plots associated with these characters are the most enjoyable, but the romance element with IQ and Grace fell short for me.

I still want to read the first book, and I will give the next book a chance before deciding whether or not I want to continue the series.

NetGalley/Mulholland Books
PI/Suspense.  Oct. 9, 2018.  Print length:  352 pages.



The Last of the Stanfields by Marc Levy (translated by Daniel Wassermand) was my first book by Marc Levy, but I hope to read more.

From description:  A mystery, a love story, and a search through a shadowy past. Two strangers unite in this novel of family secrets by international bestselling author Marc Levy, the most read contemporary French author in the world. 

Why did I choose to read this one?  I couldn't resist the names of the protagonists (Eleanor-Rigby Donovan and George-Harrison Collins); anonymous letters sent to the main characters (I love anonymous letters that send characters into researching the past); a plot with three time periods that aren't confusing; and the family relationships (especially with the Donovans).

Although there are some dark moments, the overall narrative is ultimately upbeat.   Strange and somehow comforting, the investigation into the past reveals all of the shortcomings and flaws in human nature in ways that are understandable.  

Kindle First Reads
Mystery/Family drama.  Jan. 1, 2019.  Print length:  384 pages.

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I've been scheduling reviews for some of the books that aren't due out for several months.
Here are some of my favorites.

The Plotters by Un-Su Kim
The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths
Who Slays the Wicked (Sebastian St. Cyr) by C.S. Harris
Turning Secrets by Brenda Chapman

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

The Boy by Tami Hoag and Broken Ground by Val McDermid

Tami Hoag's The Boy is the second in a series featuring Nick Fourcade and Annie Broussard.  I haven't read the first in the series, but it wasn't necessary as the book works as a standalone. 

A murdered child, a severely injured and grieving mother, a missing twelve-year-old.  Complicating the investigation(s) is a dubious crime scene team and a sheriff whose image is more important than anything else.

Fourcade and Broussard try to resolve the conflicting elements in the murder, but complications continue to pop up.  Kelvin Dutrow, the new sheriff, overrides Fourcade's attempt at a crime scene perimeter, exacerbating a personality conflict that already was detrimental to the sheriff's department and only gets worse and more personal.

At the heart of the case, when all is said and done, is the damage, psychological and physical, that results in a ripple effect from a destructive and controlling personality.  Hoag cleverly weaves the strands together to what initially would seem a surprising outcome.

Nick Fourcade doesn't really resonate with me, but the byways the novel takes concerning cheating, spousal abuse, and bullying provide food for thought, and the plot is intricate and well written.

I really want another Sam Kovacs and Nikki Liska novel, which is my favorite Hoag series.  

NetGalley/Penguin Group

Mystery/Crime.  Dec. 31, 2018.  Print length:  496 pages.  


Broken Ground by Val McDermid returns to cold case detective Karen Pirie.   It is hard to pick a favorite among McDermid's series, but I do like Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie, Jason, and the Historic Cases Unit.  

Karen Pirie is sarcastic and often brash, and her dislike for her boss creates a problematic atmosphere--especially when her boss assigns a snitch to her unit.

When a young woman searching for the WWII motorcycles her grandfather buried in a peat bog after the war discovers the body of a man who has been missing for years, Karen's investigation into the cold case of a rape victim is interrupted.  In addition to these two cases, Karen overhears a conversation in which a woman tells her friend that she intends to confront her abusive husband.  Stepping in to warn the woman that she might be putting herself in danger, Karen hopes she has kept the woman safe.  Uh oh.  Best laid plans and all that.

McDermid never disappoints.  Her characters feel genuine and her knowledge of forensics goes a long way to giving her plots a sense of realism.

Read in August.

NetGalley/Grove Atlantic

British Detectives/Cold Cases.  Dec. 4, 2018.  Print length:  432 pages.  

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The garden has been put to bed, the Christmas crafting has begun.  Last year, I was all about making snow folks and a Christmas cat, this year mice are in progress.


Two were gifts for our daughters last Christmas,
one was for me.


The cat was for granddaughter Bryce Eleanor,
the latest incarnation of the "cat lady." 

I intended to get started on Christmas crafting early.  Of course, I say that every year, but don't feel like making for a holiday until close to the actual month.  


Friday, November 30, 2018

He Is Watching You by Charlie Gallagher and Dear Laura by Jean Stubbs

From description:  "A young woman’s body is left in a metal container in a remote location. The killer is careful to position her under a camera that links to his smartphone. He likes to look back at his work."

I liked the two main characters, DI Blaker and DS Maddie Ives, in this new series.  Blaker is the older more experienced detective; Maddie, whose undercover role in Manchester has been exposed, is the unhappy new member of the  department in Lennockshire.

A hit and run, a missing person's case, and a serial killer--how are these three connected?  Well, the reader is knows, but the detectives have to figure it out.

Harry Blaker is a bit of a curmudgeon; Maddie Ives is the wild card.   I enjoyed the characters--who are both interesting-- more than the plot.  

NetGalley/Joffe Books

Detective Fiction.  Nov. 20, 2018.  Print length:  317 pages.



Dear Laura is a Victorian mystery that introduces the engaging, but shrewd  and perceptive Inspector Lintott. 

Surprisingly, Detective Lintott doesn't really make an appearance until about half way through the book.  The first half of the book introduces the characters in the house hold of Theodore Crozier.  Crozier, his wife, his brother, and the household servants are presented in both current situations and situations which provide background for the characters.

Initially, Theodore Crozier's death is thought to have been caused by an aneurysm, but anonymous letters imply something else.  Suicide?  Murder?

When the cause of death comes into question, Scotland Yard's Inspector Lintott is called in.  He has an interesting interview method and good insight into character, but he also finds himself reconsidering some of his opinions as he learns more.  He doesn't stick with first assumptions, but alters his investigation with new information.  

What I particularly loved about him is when he made a comment completely in keeping with Victorian values, but later, despite his initial response, begins a deeper understanding of the situation.   Even today, men have opinions about women and their place, and many are incapable of seeing past the views they have adopted.  Lintott is no feminist, but he allows a change in his attitude and convictions because he examines his opinions.  He may not approve, but he comes to understand certain situations.

The twist at the very end is not exactly a surprise, but I was never certain  that it would end as I sometimes expected.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical mystery and Inspector Lintott and was surprised to realize when I finished that the book was first published in 1974.  One advantage to any historical novel is that it is less likely to feel dated.  :)

NetGalley/Sapere Books

Historical Mystery.   1974.  Nov. 1, 2018.  Print length:  267 pages.
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And a list of five most under appreciated crime writers.  I haven't read any of these authors, but I did see and appreciate Winter's Bone, the film based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell.   Have you read any of the five authors?


Sunday, November 25, 2018

Righteous by Joe Ide

In this hotly anticipated follow-up to the smash hit IQ, a New York Times Critics' Best of the Year and winner of the Anthony, Macavity, and Shamus Awards, Isaiah uncovers a secret behind the death of his brother, Marcus.

I haven't read the first in this series, but IQ or Isaiah Quintabe is still trying to find out who killed his brother eight years ago. One plot line continues his investigation into his brother's death;  the other has Isaiah and Dodson on a trip to Las Vegas to rescue a couple whose gambling addiction has put them in big trouble.  They owe money to a loan shark, and in order to pay him, they have hacked the accounts of a Chinese triad.  Frying pan.  Fire. 

What I liked:  The characters. There are many interesting characters including Dodson, Deronda, and TK; I.Q. is the center that holds the diverse group together.  I enjoyed the  allusions to Sherlock Holmes and there is plenty of wit and humor and amusing banter amid the danger and darker elements of the story.  

 Joe Ide is a Japanese-American who grew up in the neighborhood he describes.  From an interview with Ide:

"Growing up, Mr. Ide lived in two worlds: At home, his stern grandfather collected samurai swords and spoke no English; outside he had mostly black friends. He was never completely at ease in either place, but the experience taught him how to decipher people and how to blend in."  (Raised in South Central, Joe Ide Expands the Territory of L.A. Noir)

The interview gives an intriguing view of a man who grew up in contrasting cultures.

I need to read IQ, the first in the series, but Righteous (book 2) was offered through NetGalley, and after reading Kay's review, I decided to dive in.  

NetGalley/Mulholland Books
Detective Fiction.  2017.  Print length:  336 pages.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Something Hidden by Kerry Wilkinson

Something Hidden (Andrew Hunter #2).

Andrew Hunter, a private investigator, ends up investigating a variety of cases--from missing cats to far more serious circumstances.  He's a bit of a push-over and doesn't always get paid for his work, but it doesn't bother him as he doesn't really need the money.   Jenny,  Andrew's assistant, is actually the more intriguing character.  

Jenny has a lack of empathy; she is unable to understand the emotions of others and therefore, unable to empathize.  She is trying to learn and mirror behavior, and it isn't clear whether she is actually developing an ability to empathize or simply trying to seem normal.  She is bright and funny and fearless.  The fearlessness (also a part of her inability to feel  things the way others do) can be dangerous.

Two separate cases confront the two in this book, the search for extremely expensive Bengal cats (a breed developed to look like their more exotic cousins in the wild) and the search for answers for a young woman who doesn't want to believe her father murdered two people and killed himself.  The second case takes both Andrew and Jenny into a treacherous and unexpected waters.  

More of the backgrounds of both Andrew and Jenny come to light in this installment. Details of Andrew's marriage and divorce get more focus and hints about events in Jenny's past and a twist concerning Jenny at the end.

I particularly enjoyed Jenny's interactions with Andrew's eccentric Aunt Gem; they seem to have formed a connection that is outside of Jenny's emotional range.  Is she genuinely expanding her narrow emotional confines or is it part of her attempts to behave like others?

I still prefer Wilkinson's Jessica Daniel series, but Andrew Hunter and Jenny's opposing personalities are involving.  No romantic relationship here, Andrew is still in love with his ex-wife, but Andrew and Jenny make an interesting pair.

Review scheduled for Nov. 22.

NetGalley/Bookouture

Mystery/PI.  Dec. 10, 2018.  Originally published 2016.  Print length:  353 pages.

  

Monday, November 19, 2018

An Assortment of Mystery, Fantasy, and Thriller

This is the 13th (or strangely, according to one source the 23rd) installment of the Posada County Mysteries, and I probably would have enjoyed it more if I'd read the previous entries and had a connection with the characters.  Lies Come Easy does function as a stand-alone, however, with the plot contained within the pages of the book, but I suspect that many fans of the series have developed a relationship with the characters.  I know I feel that way about quite a few of my favorite series.

 A short-staffed Sheriff's Department, a toddler left on a highway in frigid weather, a murder or two, an interesting setting near the border of New Mexico.  

Read in August.  Blog review scheduled for Nov. 19.

NetGalley/Poisoned Pen Press

Mystery.  Nov. 20, 2018.   



Recently, Wendy reviewed The King Slayer and noted that the first book was The Witch Hunter.  A witchy novel suited my reading goal so I tried it...and liked it.

The Witch Hunter is a YA novel set in a fictional England in which magic users were persecuted and burned at the stake.  Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Grey has proven herself to be one of the best of Lord Blackwell's elite group of witch hunters...until she is accused of witchcraft, thrown in jail, and awaiting her own burning.  Of course, she is rescued, but by a wizard--the highest target on the Inquisitor's list!

It isn't complex and is definitely a YA novel, but I enjoyed the adventure.  Despite the lack of depth (and forget any comparison to Game of Thrones),  TWH was a fun, fast-paced adventure suitable for the 8 grade recommendation.

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

YA Fantasy.  2015.  Print length:  380 pages.



Some Die Nameless brings focus to the private security and military defense contractors like Black Water.  (Also interesting is that Erik Prince, Blackwater's founder. is the brother of Betsy DeVos.)

Some Die Nameless is an intense thriller in which the past comes back to haunt members of a team of men who worked for a security-for-hire corporation.  Working as a defense contractor, the company sends mercenaries to train others for war.  Ray Devlin, now retired, was part of three-man group sent to a South American country to help  the opposition overthrow a dictator.  Of course, the replacement is equally corrupt and brutal.

The wealthy head of the corporation, seeking more political power and wealth through the reelection of a certain senator, decides to eliminate the men involved in the South American paramilitary operation.  Although these men don't know all of the machinations involved in the operation, they are a weak link in the chain.

Ray escapes an attempt on his life and visits  Colin Roarke, one of the other men involved in the operation, to see if he has any idea of what was going on.  Roarke is short on answers, surprised that one of their former friends had tried to kill Ray.  Shortly after Ray leaves, Roarke, along with several innocent victims is murdered.

Tracy Quinn, a journalist, is already investigating a story that involves a murdered man who also has a connection to the Latin American fiasco.  The two team up and both are in danger.

Ray Devlin, trying to see how the past has influenced the threat to his life, and Tracy Quinn, the committed journalist in a dying profession, make an interesting pair as they work to stay alive and make headway against an assassin and the man who sent him.

The plot is fast and furious, the use of private corporations to fight wars the U.S doesn't want to be connected to, and the effect of profit and corruption in the political arena are all worth thinking about.


Wallace Stroby is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven novels, four of which feature Crissa Stone, the professional thief labeled "crime fiction's best bad girl ever." 


This one was recommended by James Thane, and I am now interested in reading about Crissa Stone. 

NetGalley/Mulholland Books

Mystery/Thriller.  July 10, 2018.  Print length:  341 pages.  

Have you read any of these books or authors?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Interesting Bookish Articles

The Best Recent Crime Novels--review roundup  The only one I've read is The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths, which kept me uncertain the entire time.  I didn't  know whodunnit until the end.  Suspense and great literary allusions and an eerie Gothic vibe throughout.  

9 Ways of Looking at Sherlock.
    Beyond helping us feel better about our own status as outsiders, Sherlock is also a figure that brings the whole mystery community together. Conan Doyle’s work has been appreciated by generations of crime and mystery fans, in a variety of ways specific to those generations and universal to fans through time. We decided, as the year draws to a close, to gather a variety of these interpretations of Sherlock together, to showcase the vast breadth of Sherlockian fandom. 

As a fan of any good Sherlock pastiche and of several of the authors of the various essays, I'm all over these.    :)

 Adding to the Espionage Canon.  Recommended fiction and nonfiction for the espionage genre.  I read and enjoyed Leo Marks' Between Silk and Cyanide:  A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945  several years ago and recently saw a reference to Marks in a biography of the SOE agent Odette Sansom.  Leo Marks' father owned 84 Charing Cross Road, the bookshop made famous by Helene Hanff.  


Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Police Procedural and Two Fantasies

DS Gemma Woodstock has moved to Melbourne after the harrowing experiences in Sarah Bailey's previous novel The Dark Lake.

Unfortunately, her attempts to start fresh are stymied by her troubled personality.  Drinking too much, one night stands, lonely in a new city, and guilty for leaving her son Ben with his father, Gemma has brought her problems with her.

Despite having really liked The Dark Lake and expecting to feel the same about this one, I didn't have the sense of involvement.  Into the Night doesn't have the same absorbing quality that made her first novel stand out for me.

Read in September.  Review scheduled for Nov. 15.  

NetGalley/Grand Central Publishing

Police Procedural.  Dec. 4, 2018.  Print length:  416 pages.


Hmmm.  Didn't realize I never reviewed Mirror Gate, the second in the Harbinger series by Jeff Wheeler.  I didn't read Storm Glass the first in the series, which is a bit strange as I've read everything I possibly could by Wheeler and eagerly awaited the next.  I went through the King Fountain series with bated breath because I loved the characters and the plots were so compelling.

Anyway, I didn't feel any loss at not having read the first book, as I quickly settled in with Sera and Cettie, the setting, and the plot.

Wheeler has a particular aptitude with characters, both the main protagonists and the secondary characters emerge with depth and dimension.  He also excels at world-building, especially the cultural and political elements of the worlds he creates.  

Sera, a princess, and Cettie, a homeless waif, are both lonely girls who end up together at a school for the "mysteries."  Their friendship develops although their dreams, abilities, and goals are different.  

In Mirror Gate, Sera's difficulties with her father take a turn for the worse when her grandfather the king dies, and her father is determined to take the reins and eliminate any competition from Sera.

As Sera and Cettie are preparing for their tests in the mysteries, Sera makes a serious misstep that will result in consequences that will change her perspective.  Cettie continues to grow stronger in her abilities and must face a supernatural foe.

NetGalley/47 North

YA Fantasy.  Aug. 28, 2018.  Print length:  348 pages.

Iron Garland continues the adventures three years later; the war with King Fountain has been calamitous.  Both girls have developed into stronger versions of their personalities.  Sera has learned to bide her time and control her impulses; Cettie, whose skills are crucial in the war with King Fountain, has learned how to handle those who would pressure her.

The possibility of a negotiated end to the war has been floated and will require a sacrifice on Sera's part.  

Fully fleshed characters and engrossing plots make Wheeler's work stand out, and I'm glad to see the connection with King Fountain becoming a significant part of the story.

Read in September.  Review scheduled for

NetGalley/47 North

YA Fantasy.  Nov. 13, 2018.  Print length:  352 pages.  

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

The Gods of Gotham (Timothy Wilde #1) by Lyndsay Faye 

From description:  1845. New York City forms its first police force. The great potato famine hits Ireland. These two seemingly disparate events will change New York City. Forever. 

Timothy Wilde, a young bar tender, has saved his money and hopes to eventually be worthy of asking Mercy Underhill to marry him.  A devastating fire burns his dreams to ash.  His money is gone, his imagined future destroyed, his face disfigured.

Now jobless and homeless, his brother Valentine signs him up with the newly created "copper stars," and a reluctant Timothy becomes part of what will become the NYPD.  The idea of a police force is anathema to many and distrusted by more.  

Political corruption is rife, and Timothy's brother is deeply involve in political high jinks; the setting is largely in areas of extreme poverty, crime, and debauchery; religious and racial divides are extreme, bitter, and dangerous; the immigration problem of the time was the influx of the detested Irish.

Chapters are preceded by excerpts from political and religious tracts of the time and letters excoriating Catholics and Irish.  The Gotham that Faye creates is rich in historical (and often extremely unpleasant) details: homeless children, poverty, corruption, drug use, sexual exploitation, and violence.

Plot:  During one of Timothy's rounds a young girl of about ten in a blood covered night gown runs into him.  Bird's presence will change everything for Timothy and leads to an investigation involving murdered children.  As it turns out, Timothy's strength is his persistent compulsion to solve crimes. 

While the mystery plot is interesting and twisty, just as intriguing is the look into the past in which so many of the problems present nearly 175 years ago are still prevalent today.  Faye's language and atmospheric creation of 1845 New York immerses the reader in an environment that feels genuine.  I will be reading more in this series.

Lyndsay Faye's Jane Steele, a fascinating re-imagining of Jane Eyre is also wonderful, evocative, and darkly funny.

And don't miss Faye's The Paragon Hotel, a stand alone that will be published in January.  Reader, I loved it.  

Purchased.

Historical Mystery.  2012.  Print length:  408 pages.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Orphan X Series by Gregg Hurwitz

I read Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz in July and really liked it so I continue the series.  My review of Orphan X.


A little background from a description:  As a boy, Evan Smoak was taken from a children's home, raised and trained as part of a secret government initiative buried so deep that virtually no one knows it exists. But he broke with the programme, choosing instead to vanish off grid and use his formidable skill set to help those unable to protect themselves.


The Nowhere Man proved to be less interesting.  Evan has been drugged, kidnapped, and imprisoned in luxury in an isolated location.   The majority of the book is one ingenious (failed) escape attempt after another.  Evan must escape in order to continue his mission to save a young girl, but the plot became repetitive with one escape attempt after another.  Of course, in the end he does escape and save the day, but while I wanted to believe events in the first book, The Nowhere Man was just too far-fetched for me.   


Despite having had problems with The Nowhere Man,  I was inclined to hope for more with the latest installment.  And Hellbent proved to renew my interest in the series.

Hellbent provides a little more background on Evan's relationship with Jack Johns, the father-figure and mentor who took the young boy and trained him as an assassin for the black ops, but also taught Evan to remain human.  Jack has recognized the corruption of the original Orphan Program and the attempt to terminate all of the Orphans.  Jack wants Evan to save his last protege.  

Joey, a sixteen-year-old girl and gifted hacker, is the current target of Charles Van Scriver, the Orphan in charge of terminating all traces of the program.  Joey is a handful, but she becomes a useful partner in this novel and a means for Evan to develop more emotional depth.  


In Out of the Dark, Evan (Orphan X) is prepared to go after the head of the snake--Jonathan Bennett, the man who originated the Orphan Program and has since decided to eliminate all of the Orphans and their trainers to protect himself.  The problem?  Jonathan Bennett has risen to the highest, most powerful position in the country.  Taking him down will not be easy.

To be successful, Evan needs help and gets it from the most unexpected place, an old enemy turned ally.  Candy will presumably appear in future books; she is a distinctive character with her own agenda.  Also interesting is Joey's appearance at her school in Switzerland--not exactly where you would expect to find her fitting in as seamlessly as she does, but all Orphans have a chameleon-like ability.  :)

I look forward to the next book, which will hopefully go back to the original mainstay of Evan helping those who find themselves in precarious situations.   The idea of each victim that "the Nowhere Man" helps giving his name to the next person in need of help allows a variety of settings, adventures, and characters.  

These are violent books that fit in the Thriller genre.  Orphan X is not realistic, but the plots are intense and with the exception of The Nowhere Man, I've been engrossed in each book.  My thanks to NetGalley for providing many hours of exciting plots and a variety of good and bad characters.  

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Interesting Article

What Does Immersing Yourself in a Book Do to Your Brain?
an excerpt from the article:
The unsettling reality, however, is that unbeknownst to many of us, including until recently myself, there has begun an unanticipated decline of empathy among our young people. The MIT scholar Sherry Turkle described a study by Sara Konrath and her research group at Stanford University that showed a 40 percent decline in empathy in our young people over the last two decades, with the most precipitous decline in the last ten years. Turkle attributes the loss of empathy largely to their inability to navigate the online world without losing track of their real-time, face-to-face relationships. In her view our technologies place us at a remove, which changes not only who we are as individuals but also who we are with one another.
and another excerpt:
These studies are the beginning of increasing work on the place of empathy and perspective taking in the neuroscience of literature. The cognitive scientist Keith Oatley, who studies the psychology of fiction, has demonstrated a strong relationship between reading fiction and the involvement of the cognitive processes known to underlie both empathy and theory of mind. Oatley and his York University colleague Raymond Mar suggest that the process of taking on another’s consciousness in reading fiction and the nature of fiction’s content—where the great emotions and conflicts of life are regularly played out—not only contribute to our empathy, but represent what the social scientist Frank Hakemulder called our “moral laboratory.” 

I don't think it comes as a surprise to most readers that reading and placing oneself in the role of another person, with all that entails, creates understanding from a perspective different from our own.  That it works on the brain, creating new networks shouldn't be a surprise, after all, athletes know that "imagining" their performances is as important as practice in producing a result.

I don't think that this decline is limited to young people, however.  Fear of  "the other" has risen in the last couple of years and fear often results in a lack of willingness to put ourselves in another's situation.  

However, it perhaps more incumbent than ever to choose books that are both interesting and thoughtful for our children and to encourage them as they grow to read books that will give them insight into lives that are quite different from their own.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Debris Line and The Moscow Sleepers

Debris Line is the latest in Matthew Fitzsimmons'  adventures of Gibson Vaughn.  I loved The Short Drop and was entertained by Poison Feather, Cold Harbor, and Debris Line, but the first book was definitely the best in this thriller series.  

Debris Line finds Gibson Vaughn, Jenn, Hendricks, and George  in a small coastal village in Portugal.  Their host?  A drug smuggler who owes George a favor and is willing to harbor the fugitives for a time.

Then a drug shipment is hijacked.  Not taken, but threatened with destruction, and Vaughn and his team must repay the privilege of having enjoyed the kingpin's sanctuary.  Or else.

Fast-paced with twists and betrayals and a new protagonist/antagonist? hacker group responsible for the heist.   The spokesperson has a great deal of knowledge about Vaughn.  Whoever these people are, we can expect to hear more about them in the next book.

Read in July.  Blog review scheduled for Nov. 1.

NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer

Thriller/Suspense.  Nov. 13, 2018.  

Stella Rimington's latest espionage thriller Moscow Sleepers kept me engaged throughout.
 Dame Stella Rimington, DCB is a British author and former Director General of MI5, a position she held from 1992 to 1996. She was the first female DG of MI5, and the first DG whose name was publicised on appointment. Wikipedia

I've read one other book by Rimington and was pleased that I enjoyed this one as well.  The story begins in Vermont with a dying university professor in a hospice.  When a visitor finally arrives, the nurse notifies the FBI, as she has been instructed to do.

From Vermont, to London, to Brussels and Berlin, to a school in rural England--the plot involves the unraveling of the importance of the dying Vermont academic to a conspiracy involving immigrant children and computer hacking.  Liz Carlyle is back on the job with MI5.  

As a result of Stella Rimington's nearly 30 years of experience with MI5, her plots have a realistic feel.  Rimington's work is more concerned with putting together puzzle pieces than the more violent works of other espionage writers.   I enjoyed the puzzle and the characters.

Read in August.  Blog review scheduled for Nov. 1.

NetGalley/Bloomsbury USA

Espionage/Mystery.  Nov. 13, 2018.




  

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Couple to Watch For and Three Others

Books that I have really liked, but that won't be published  until 2019.  I will mention them again closer to publication.

Watcher in the Woods (Rockton #4) by Kelley Armstrong.  I wasn't sure how I felt about the first book in this series, but after feeling more at home with the characters, I have thoroughly enjoyed each new addition.   

Description:  The secret town of Rockton has seen some rocky times lately; understandable considering its mix of criminals and victims fleeing society for refuge within its Yukon borders. 
When a US Marshal shows up demanding the release of one of the residents, but won't say who, Casey and her boyfriend, Sheriff Eric Dalton, are skeptical. And yet only hours later, the marshal is shot dead and the only possible suspects are the townspeople and Casey's estranged sister, smuggled into town to help with a medical emergency. It's up to Casey to figure out who murdered the marshal, and why someone would kill to keep him quiet—before the killer strikes again.


I enjoyed the introduction of April, Casey's sister and the way Isobel and Kenny make a difference in the way we see her.  The book takes up right after the events in the previous book, but still can be read as a stand-alone.  There are changes taking place in Rockton and in the Council.  No cliffhanger, but a direction that was indicated in earlier books is obviously about to come to a head.  

NetGalley/Penguin Group
Mystery/Police Procedural.  Feb. 5, 2019.  Print length:  368 pages.


The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye.  I more than really liked this one.  The writing is wonderful and the characters are even better.  From description:

The year is 1921, and "Nobody" Alice James is on a cross-country train, carrying a bullet wound and fleeing for her life following an illicit drug and liquor deal gone horribly wrong. Desperate to get as far away as possible from New York City and those who want her dead, she has her sights set on Oregon: a distant frontier that seems the end of the line.

Full of well-drawn characters, I found The Paragon Hotel absolutely riveting.  So many books and characters are entertaining but quickly forgettable, Faye's plot, characters, and prose will remain with you.  One of my favorite books of the year.  I read it in August, and I loved the book and Alice, Max, all of the Paragon Hotel employees, and most especially, Blossom Fontaine!  

NetGalley/Penguin Group
Historical Mystery.  Jan. 8, 2019.  Print length:  432 pages.

I'll mention these again closer to publication date, but if you are a fan of the Armstrong series, I think you'll enjoy her latest.  As for Faye's The Paragon Hotel--highly recommended!

------------Other recent reads
Cold Winter Sun is the second in a series, but I haven't read the first one.  

A missing man. A determined hunter. A deadly case.

When Mike Lynch is contacted by his ex-wife about the missing nephew of her new husband, he offers to help find the young man with the help of his friend Terry Cochran.
Arriving in LA to try and track down the young man, the pair are immediately torn away when the missing man’s car shows up, abandoned on the side of a deserted road in New Mexico.
When two fake police officers cross their path, Terry and Mike know there is more to the case than meets the eye, and soon they find themselves asking exactly who it is they are really looking for…

This is one of those books that I didn't want to put down, but didn't love.  Reasonably likable, if stereotypical characters in Mike and Terry, but the plot didn't work all that well for me.  I notice most reviews are quite positive, so maybe I was expecting something a little different.  

NetGalley/Bloodhound Books

Thriller.  Nov. 1, 2018.


The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager 

From description:  Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she--or anyone--saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

I love that little excerpt from the description. I did have trouble swallowing some of the circumstances, but The Last Time I Lied certainly had a creepy vibe, plenty of twists, and a boatload of red herrings.  Maybe it was trying a bit too hard, but I was OK until the ending which was implausible.  

According to reviews on Goodreads, most people loved the book, so take my opinion with a couple of grains of salt.  Despite wanting to like it, I mostly felt the author was manipulating too many circumstances.

NetGalley/Penguin Group

Mystery/Suspense.  July, 2018.  Print Length:  384 pages.



While I haven't read all of the books in this series featuring Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewellyn, I've read quite a few and enjoy the historical elements as well as the characters.

Thomas Llewellyn was very young and fresh out of prison  when Cyrus Barker hired him originally.  He is now twenty-six and has gained much experience and confidence during his years working with Barker.  When the current plot begins, Thomas is looking forward to his marriage.

Cyrus Barker is a bit mysterious, but through the books we have learned a little more about his past.  In Blood Is Blood, we meet his brother Caleb, and the brothers may be cut from the same cloth, but the resulting garments are quite different in style.  

When the office of Barker & Llewellyn Private Inquiry Agents is bombed, Cyrus is seriously injured and the brunt of the investigation is shifted to Thomas with the newly arrived Caleb taking an often questionable hand.  As Thomas attempts to interview some of the enemies who may be responsible, it appears that someone is taking his suspects out.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Historical Detectives.  Nov. 13, 2018.  Print length:  320 pages.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Past Tense by Lee Child

How Jack Reacher always manages to find trouble is a mystery.  In Past Tense, Reacher starts out with a plan to travel from Maine to California, but only gets as far as New Hampshire before taking a detour.   

Finding himself near the town where his father grew up, he decides to check out a little family history and discovers that some of the history is apparently not there. 

Not far from the little town of Laconia, a young couple's car breaks down, and they follow a sign to a motel in the middle of nowhere to see about the damage and contact a mechanic.  From the minute they hit the reception desk, the sense of wrongness is apparent.  In spite of having an idea about where this is going, the tension I felt was enormous.  Spoiler: (Think Bates Motel and The Most Dangerous Game)

In the meantime, Reacher continues to check public records for information about his father's family.  Oh, yeah, he also stops a young man from forcing himself on a woman, inviting retribution from a mob family and protects an old man from other bullies.  

This isn't my favorite of the Reacher books (of course, there are 23 novels in the series), but I wouldn't have missed seeing what he was up to for anything.  My favorite part was finding out what was in the suitcase!

Read in July; blog review scheduled for Oct. 22.

NetGalley/Random House

Crime/Suspense/Mystery.  Nov. 5, 2018.  Print length: 400 pages.
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An interesting article in The Guardian:  How thrillers offer an antidote to toxic masculinity.  Excerpt:

The hero myth is most powerfully embodied today in thrillers. These books tend to feature men with shoulders broad enough to carry responsibility, responsibility they often don’t want to bear. They’re not afraid to pick up a burden and hold on to it. They’re not afraid to help others. They live by a code: protect the helpless; follow your own moral compass; employ minimal necessary force (which is different to abstaining from violence). This code is the thread that connects Beowulf and Gilgamesh, Marlowe and Spade, Reacher and Bourne. My own hero, Evan Smoak, aka Orphan X, is derived from this same tradition.

The take-away is mostly that we need heroes who may be violent men but who will stand up for individuals and communities who are being victimized.  I've read all of these characters in both the epics and in novels,  and was surprised to see Orphan X here, because I only recently read and reviewed it.  I think John Connolly's Charlie Parker fits in here as well since Charlie Parker is always battling against supernatural evil.  I'm not sure about "minimal necessary force" with any of these characters, but otherwise, I agree that they do protect the helpless.