Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Butcher's Boy by Peter Hawes, Farewell, Amethystine by Walter Mosely, Pitch Dark by Paul Doiron


The Butcher's Boy by Peter Hawes wasn't what I was looking for. I wanted The Butcher's Boy by Thomas Perry, but I wasn't paying attention.  

Nevertheless, I enjoyed it--although there were some uneasy moments.  Garen Gerard is a retired assassin, having given up his "career" after an incident that scarred him emotionally.

Past: Garen, son of a butcher, was living with his father and little sister, but when he was ten, corrupt police ruined his father, abducted his sister, and left Garen with his broken father, who shortly thereafter killed himself.  

Present: When a neglected young girl in the apartment next door catches his interest, Garen begins packing her lunches wanting to protect her as he was unable to protect his little sister. When an overdose leaves one man dead and her father jailed, he takes her under his wing.

The story moves back and forth in time, revealing how Garen became an assassin in the past and how he is drawn in again in the present.  This time, in addition to his other problems, Garen is the target.

Entertaining.  If you are a fan of Orphan X, you might enjoy The Butcher's Boy.

I read this in April or early May, and just noticed there is a new cover that doesn't appeal to me.  I like this one much better than the new one.

Assassin.  Print length:  306 pages.  Feb., 2024.

This is my first book by Walter Mosely, although I've been familiar with his Easy Rawlins books through others.  Farewell, Amethystine is the latest installment in the series and provides an interesting introduction for me.

Since I had never read anything by Mosely, there were plenty of times I knew that I was missing background information and characters.  Nevertheless, I liked Easy Rawlins, his strong family dynamic, and his friendships.

The novel opens in the 1970's with many references of a time gone by that amused me.  From mentions of songs and incidents, to Easy's reminiscences of his role in WWII, to the lack of cell phones, the small details give atmosphere.

Easy is now 50 and beset with two cases at once.  Amethystine Stoller comes to him for help in finding her ex-husband and Easy's friend with the LAPD Mel Suggs is also out of contact and in trouble.  Easy has his hands full.

If I can find time, I might want to try the first book in this classic series.

Thanks to NetGalley and Mulholland Books
Private Investigator.  June 4, 2024.  Print Length:  333 pages.  

Another book that I haven't read any of the previous books in the series, Pitch Dark is the 15th Mike Bowditch mystery.  Mike is a Maine game warden investigator who (since this is the 15th book) manages to have a great deal to investigate.

In this case, he's curious about a man who has gone missing after inquiring about a reclusive builder in the north woods and his young daughter.  Easy enough to get lost in the north woods of Maine, but something about the man's search for Redmond and his daughter bothers Mike.

Redmond is building a cabin for bush pilot Josie Johnson, a friend of his father-in-law, Charlie.  Mike and Charlie decide to visit Josie and see if she will fly them to the location of her new cabin.  Things go terribly wrong, and Mike ends up hunting Redmond and young Cady, afraid that she is in danger.  

The novel works fine as a stand-alone, but I found Mike a little too full of himself, often seeming juvenile and, although brave and committed, not entirely likable.  There is a twist that you may or may not suspect earlier in the book.  There is a lot of suspense as Mike tracks Redmon and Cady up to the Canadian border and beyond.  

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this fast-paced adventure through the woods of Maine.

Suspense/Mystery.  June 25th, 2024.  Print length:  304 pages.

Monday, May 27, 2024

At the River by Kendra Elliot, Cover Fire and Fire and Ice by Dustin Stevens, and A Stranger in the Family by Jane Casey.

 I haven't been reviewing, but I've been reading a lot.  Now, it is time to cut down on the gardening, and start some reviewing.  (Today is predicted to be 95 degrees, and the heat index has made it feel 7-10 degrees warmer for the last week.  I'm taking those heat warnings seriously now.)

I'm a fan of this series featuring FBI Agent Mercy Kilpatrick and her husband Police Chief Truman Daly.  The murder of a true crime podcaster investigating a twenty-year-old murder sucks both Mercy and Truman into the puzzling case.  Five teenagers went camping, one was murdered; one survived, but is damaged; and three were never found.  Twenty years later, the questions remain--what happened to the three missing teens and what did the podcaster discover that led to his similar death?

I thoroughly enjoyed trying to figure out the twists, but the conclusion felt contrived and less believable.

However,  nothing that distracted me from the pleasure of revisiting these characters again.    

Suspense/Procedural.  353 pages.  2024.

I chose not to read the first book in this series because it started with the murder of former DEA agent Hawk Tate's wife and child.  Decided to skip straight to the second book, which deals with a young photographer who inadvertently witnessed a cartel human trafficking transaction in the desert.  DEA agent Mia Diaz seeks out Hawk to protect the young woman, who is now a target.

The plot is full of action and suspense, as Hawk tries to keep the young woman safe.  A bit predictable, but you know that if it is a series, the MC is going to be around for a while.  I then went on to the next book.  

Suspense/Thriller. 2015.  Print length: 374 pages. 

From blurb:  "In the middle of a rare mid-April blizzard in eastern Montana, a young emergency room doctor steps outside to help the occupants of a truck that arrive in the middle of night appearing desperate and in dire need of aid.

Only once she is too far removed from the safety of the building does she realize their true intentions, the entire incident just beyond the scope of the front door cameras, everybody disappearing into a swirling storm of wind and snow."

More of the same action/suspense as in Cover Fire.  This time Hawk must rescue Dr. Yvonne Endicott from a meth operation gone wrong.

Sometimes this is all I want--a fast read with lots of action.  This kind of suspense doesn't require much of me and lets me relax.  Sounds strange to think of it that way, but like watching an action movie, I know the hero will survive, so I don't have to worry.

Suspense/Thriller.  2016.  Print length:  326 pages.  

I've followed the Maeve Kerrigan series for several years, but I must have missed the previous one, which left me at a bit of a loss on a current situation.

When Bruce and Helena Marshall are found dead in their beds in what looks like a murder/suicide,  DS
Maeve Kerrigan questions the scene.  The scene has been staged, and both Bruce and Helena have been murdered.

Sixteen years earlier, their adopted daughter disappeared and tore the family apart.  Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent can't help but wonder if the murder has anything to do with the missing (presumed dead) Rosalie.  The "perfect" family was not perfect even before Rosalie's disappearance and details not previously available make that clear.  

 As usual, the plot and plot development is right on target; however, having missed the previous book, both Maeve and Josh feel...different.  I must go back and pick up The Close.

Jane Casey is one of my favorite writers, and I'm looking forward to book 12.

Police Procedural. March 14, 2024.  Print length:  463 pages.

May Garden

 All I've been doing this month is reading and gardening.  Not keeping up with much else.  I'm taking a day off of working in the garden today.  Almost everything I have the energy to do is done--plants divided and replanted, and now it's just rooting and potting left overs, weeding, deadheading, watering, etc.  I say "just" but when the heat index says 101 degrees and you sweat when you open the door, and you're 75, well, things take longer than they used to.  I take more and more frequent breaks as the day goes on and read because that takes no energy and relaxes me.

Today's forecast is supposed to be 95 with the humidity making it feel SO much worse.  Our overnight lows have been mid to high 70's with high humidity, but after today, things are supposed to be back below 90 degrees.   Little miracles do happen. 


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Deep Beneath Us by Catriona McPherson

 Deep Beneath Us is the sixth book I've read by Catriona McPherson, all but one of which I gave 4/5 stars.  McPherson excels at psychological mysteries.

When I started this one, I wondered if I'd finish it because the beginning was so confusing.  Dealing with mental illness IS confusing and trying to follow the "logic?" difficult.

Then as Tabitha returns home, the plot becomes more and more interesting.  Clearer?  No.  This is one of those books in which you truly do not know what to expect next.

The characters are interesting, and the reader quickly becomes involved with the lives of Gordo and Barrett and their support of Tabitha.  The suspicious death of Tabitha's cousin Davy unites them, and the multiple plot twists are provocative.  

The background of a dysfunctional family is revealed slowly with each twist throwing the reader off again.  Barrett's girls Willow and Sorrell, and Tabitha's son Albie, and eventually, another teenager become a lighter, positive element as the Muire family secrets and lies gradually surface.

I don't know how the author kept up with all of twists; there were points when I just had to accept them because they came so fast and thick.  You aren't going to be able to predict them all even when you think you can.  

I couldn't put it down.

Thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for this one.

Read in April.  Blog review scheduled for May 22.

Publication date:  June 4, 2024                                                                                                         341 pages. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Long Time Gone by Charlie Donlea

Years ago, I read The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea, and was intrigued by the character Dr. Livia Cutty, who was at that time a fellow in forensic pathology.  I was excited to learn she makes a cameo appearance in Long Time Gone

The MC in Long Time Gone is Sloan Hastings, a fellow in forensic pathology under Dr. Livia Cutty, who is now Chief Medical Examiner.   Sloan's research  assignment is the field of forensic genealogy, and her first step is to contact a genealogist, who advises her to submit her own DNA to a site to better understand the process.  

A little hesitant because she was adopted and had never been interested in finding out about her birth parents, Sloan submits a sample of her DNA.  The results are shocking.  Her profile indicates that Sloan is actually Charlotte Margolis, a two-month-old infant who went missing in 1995, along with both of her biological parents.  The case made national news, but no trace of Preston, Annabelle, or baby Charlotte was ever found. 
Sloan and her adoptive parents are confused, to say the least.  They contact the police and the FBI gets involved.  Then Sloan gets a message from the genealogy website from Nora Margolis, who has seen the Sloan's DNA profile and wonders if Sloan could possibly be Charlotte Margolis, missing for nearly 30 years.

The story alternates between 1995 and the present,  and eager to know more about what happened to her biological parents, Sloan, encouraged by Sheriff Eric Stamos, goes to Cedar Creek, Nevada, to try to figure out the events that led to the disappearance of her biological parents and her adoption.

The little town of Cedar Creek, Nevada holds secrets that someone does not want revealed.  Sloan meets the Margolis family--her grandparents Reid and Tilly, her uncle Ellis and his wife Norah, and other assorted family members.  She also meets with Eric Stamos who has his own concerns about what happened in 1995, as his father was investigating an incident involving a hit and run and Annabelle's car before he died.  The two of them attempt to figure out the chain of events that led to the disappearance of Preston, Annabelle, and little Charlotte.

I was thoroughly invested throughout, although the conclusion felt rushed and was a bit over the top.  Nevertheless, Long Time Gone is an entertaining mystery, and I wouldn't mind hearing more from Sloan or Dr. Livia Cutty.  So many possible plots involving forensic pathology! 

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley

Publication date:  May 21, 2024
352 pages

Friday, May 03, 2024

The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

 I first saw The Whistling Season on Jane's blog and ordered it at once.

Jane's review appealed to the same things I look for in literary fiction, and from the beginning, the Milliron family captivated me. Doig's writing inspires memories of a childhood before cell phones and the internet for those of you who remember that more innocent time.  

Even if we never experienced riding horses to a one-room school house, the visuals of the Milliron boys and others riding to school feel as palpable as if we are experiencing it ourselves.  The humor and empathy which Doig employs provides a remarkable feeling of intimacy with the characters and setting in 1909 Montana.

Falling in love with the father and his three sons Paul, Damon, and Toby happens quickly--the family dynamic is comforting and amusing despite the loss of the mother a year previously. When Mr. Milliron sees an advertisement for a maid, he stuns the boys with his decision to pay her train fare to Montana (Rose is a proficient negotiator).  When Rose arrives, she gets the house into shape with hard work, but the Milliron's dream for a cook is unsatisfied.  Rose warned them, and their hopes to  persuade her to take up the skillet fail. 

Morrie Morgan is another important character who influences the Milliron family. Having accompanied Rose to Montana, Morrie seems to have no apparent skills needed by homesteaders.  Eventually, when the current teacher elopes and leaves the school teacherless, Morrie finds himself thrust into a situation he had not expected.  Although scholarly, he has no experience teaching children.  As it turns out, Morrie is a brilliant, if eccentric teacher. Despite Paul's initial concerns, Morrie doesn't simply survive, he prospers as if it is the very role he was born to.  

Every time I read the name Rebrab, I cackled to myself.  I loved every minute of The Whistling Season: the backwards horse race Damon devises for Paul and Eddie; Aunt Eunice's snarky comments that annoy everyone but Toby; Eddie's bullying and background, Rose's willingness to clean, but not cook; Paul's cleverness and insight and ongoing battle with "Carnelia" and more.  

I will certainly be looking for more by Ivan Doig.  Highly Recommended.

Read in April.  354 pages.

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Fixit by Joe Ide


Those who follow Joe Ide's IQ series will look forward to Fixit, but the book does have an end-of-the-road vibe.  

Isaiah Quintabe is suffering from PTSD after several particularly dangerous, violent cases. The fact that his girlfriend Grace has broken up with him doesn't help his ability to heal and recover. 

 Isaiah, known as "IQ" for both his initials and his intelligence, was initially the neighborhood fixer.  Lost cat, someone threatening your mother, problems with a loan shark?  Call IQ.  Yes, he'll take live chickens or a good meal in payment if necessary.  There are, however, also cases that have proven more difficult, dangerous, and violent.

IQ has made enemies along the way, one of which has taken out a $25,000 bounty on Isaiah and the other has kidnapped his estranged girlfriend Grace.  At his lowest point, IQ is dealing with more problems than he can manage.

The first section of the book concentrates on Grace, as she does her best after being kidnapped by Skip Hanson (hitman, lunatic, and a man who loathes IQ) who is determined on revenge.  Interfering at the same time is Manzo, former gang leader who blames IQ for his humiliation.  

An important and interesting element is how Joe Ide can list all of the awful things these villains do--and still create some sympathy for them.

Back to the neighborhood--this is where I think much of the success of the series lies.  Deronda, Juanell Dodson, Cherise, TK, and others lighten the atmosphere and contribute to the community feel of the run down, crime ridden neighborhood.  

What saved Fixit for me?  The diversity of characters, the neighborhood community, and Juanell Dodson.  Not IQ, this time.  I have to wonder if this was the author's intent.  Dodson has grown into his role at the same time IQ seems to have grown out of his.   

Is this the last of the series?  I don't know, but while Fixit was not as good as the first novels, I enjoyed reuniting with the characters that have given a such a strong backdrop to IQ's various adventures.

Thanks to NetGalley and Mulholland Books.

Publication date:  May 9, 2024.