September 6, 2018 at 00:20 #435
BROKEN PREY #16 In The Prey Series
Sometimes it pays to be lucky rather than smart. Well, actually I’m not sure what smart would have to do with it but. . .
I had finished the last but one of books on my nightstand and I started that one but just couldn’t get into it. So I went to my bookshelves and looked over several assuming that I had read them all. I kept coming back to Sandford and finally reached up and randomly selected Broken Prey. It turns out that I hadn’t read it! Therein is the luck.
I don’t remember when I first began reading the Prey series or what book I started with, I know it wasn’t the original, Rules of Prey. (Interesting fact; Dennis Rader, the BTK killer of Wichita, Kansas used Rules of Prey as a guide when he began killing.) I do know that I became an instant fan and nothing has changed in my fandom since.
Broken Prey is one of the best of the Prey series and I hesitate to say that for fear that it denigrates others in the series. Perish the thought! Sandford writes with an attention to detail and a bam, bam style that continues through his novels. You never get a chance to catch your breath until you put the book down. Nor do you want to. Each paragraph leads you into wanting more, and so you don’t put the book down until you fall asleep and it falls onto your face. (Why yes, I do read in bed, how did you know?)
Lucas Davenport, the protagonist of the Prey series, starts out as a Minneapolis cop, leaves the force for a bit and then rejoins it on a consultant basis, leaves it again and joins the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the law enforcement arm of Minnesota. There he is a big wig, a supervisor with a team of detectives and a couple who are more adept at enforcement than detecting.
In this novel Lucas is faced with a serial killer; one who tortures his victims before cutting their throats and Lucas knows he has to find and stop him before he kills again and again.
One of the things that I appreciate about Sandford’s writing is his attention to details large and small. He uses small details the way a cook will add a spice to enhance a dish; his details may have nothing to do with the story but they do enhance. One example from this book is when he pulls into a trailer park and a cat comes out from under one of the trailers and pauses with one paw raised (a very cat like pose if my cat is an example). It has absolutely nothing to do with the story and once it’s mentioned the cat disappears from any further involvement. But it has added that touch of spice, that flavor, a distant bird painted in a landscape, a making it whole and especially making it real. That’s John Sandford and one reason why I am a fan.
If you are squeamish, don’t read Sandford because his crime scenes are not for the faint of heart. If you prefer dull, stories in gray instead of vivid colors, pass him by. If the mundane is to your taste. . . well, leave him to those of use who enjoy a tale filled with wit, reality, action, familiar characters, because that’s what Sandford writes. And he’s damn good at it.
OBAMA is not a foreign born, brown skinned, anti war socialist who gives away health care. YOU'RE THINKING OF JESUS.
March 17, 2019 at 19:20 #12205March 17, 2019 at 19:42 #12210
The second time you’ve made such an erroneous assumption based on what I can only assume is your animosity toward someone that can read while you can only spew posts about hate.
Your theme song should be. . .
OBAMA is not a foreign born, brown skinned, anti war socialist who gives away health care. YOU'RE THINKING OF JESUS.March 17, 2019 at 20:44 #12227March 17, 2019 at 20:54 #12231
When one repeats stupidity it compounds the stupidity displayed. Ergo, you are a stupid fucking fool by your own posts.
OBAMA is not a foreign born, brown skinned, anti war socialist who gives away health care. YOU'RE THINKING OF JESUS.March 19, 2019 at 16:21 #12375
THE BLIGHT WAY (Sheriff Bo Tully #1) by Patrick F. McManus
This book was OK. Yes, OK, but not very good, or great, or fantastic. I have over 150 books on my To Buy list and I don’t have time for mediocre, fair to middling, middle of the road books. I am a reader and I want high quality!
Arrogance? I really don’t think so. We have thousands upon thousands of authors from horrible to great and most of those will fall somewhere in between. I don’t mind the in between. Not every author can be John Steinbeck, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, but they can be very good, better than average and as I’m the one paying to read those books I demand higher than average.
Gee, I didn’t mean to go on a rant but oh well. . .
McManus gives us characters that are more than 2 dimensional but fall short of being fully 3 dimensional. The scenes are choppy as is the dialogue and narrative. I will admit that the manner of the motive for the crime in this story is fairly unique and interesting, it’s not quite enough to make me say, “Hey! I want more!”
I understand McManus’ aversion to foul language but his method of inserting it in an opaque manner just comes across as silly to me. You’ll have to read the book in order to see what I mean but I can’t say that I recommend the book. No, I won’t say you shouldn’t read it, that’s up to you. But I expected more from the blurbs and reviews that I read about this book and I come away disappointed. I expected humor and maybe I cracked a smile or two but little more than that. I expected mystery and the inner workings of the solving of that mystery and I got a bit of mystery and little of that inner working.
I had hoped for a cozy mystery a la Cat Who but was left wanting. I can’t fault McManus for not living up to Ms. Braun but I had hoped he would have come closer.
Oh well, beside the list of 160 something titles in my To Buy list (I actually have them on a spreadsheet, color coded as to which I want more) I have 8 waiting to be read on my nightstand. I won’t be disappointed for long; I’m already into an Owen Laukkanen book and history tells me that this book won’t disappoint me.
One last note; if you are a fan of Patrick McManus and Bo Tully, good for you. There is nothing wrong with liking something that isn’t high on my list. Some of us love onions, others, like myself, hate them. Who is right and who is wrong regarding onions? Right and wrong don’t enter into it, nor does it matter regarding what authors and genres you enjoy. As Maurice Chevalier sang so well, vive la différence. True, he sang those lines in an entirely different subject but the sentiment remains.
Happy reading one and all.March 22, 2019 at 17:14 #12722
GALE FORCE by Owen Laukkanen
I had finished The Blight Way and found it to be adequate, which means that I found it lacking if not overall, at least for me as I want more than mediocre, adequate, OK. (If you’re really that interested in my thoughts on the subject then go to my review of that book.) I looked forward to a book by an author that I knew and found far more than adequate. . . alas, only to be disappointed.
I first encountered Mr. Laukkanen in his first Stevens & Windermere novel shortly after it first came out. Though I have only visited the state once I have found several Minnesota based crime novels that I really enjoy, especially those of John Sandford and PJ Tracy. When I saw that Stevens was a Minnesota BCA agent and Windermere, an FBI Special Agent in Minneapolis I made sure to read that first novel straight away. I was not disappointed. Unlike this novel.
One of the first red flags was the name of one of the protagonists; Court Harrington. When I see an author name a character like that I immediately think SOAP OPERA! I am not a fan of soap operas; oh yes, I remember watching some episodes when I stayed home in the afternoon and my grandmother would turn on one of her few minor vices, The Days Of Our Lives. But I was 8 or 9 then and I think my tastes have matured, or at least changed since then.
There was quite a bit of action but several things that bothered me about this novel. There was a lot of technical information that I had a problem following completely. I got the gist of it but would have preferred to understand it more. Then parts of it read like a romance novel. There are those that enjoy romance novels and that’s fine. . . for them, but I don’t care for them. I find them melodramatic and silly – MY opinion, you’re entitled to yours. (I laugh whenever I see an ad for the Hallmark Channel’s When Calls The Heart, to me the name is pretentious and silly.)
This book had far too much of that soap opera theme and lacked depth at times. There were interesting situations but there were also things that bothered me, such as a salvage captain that harbored a fugitive but that tidbit is dropped. You’ll have to read the book to see what I mean.
If Mr. Laukkanen turns this into a series I’ll probably read the next one in spite of this less than (in my opinion) stellar beginning. The Stevens & Windermere started off better than this novel but they did improve. I will read the next in this series, if there is one, to see if that has happened again.
I very much look forward to the next Stevens & Windermere novel if there is one and other novels by Laukkanen.March 25, 2019 at 16:40 #12847
NINE PRINCES OF AMBER (The Chronicles Of Amber #1) by Roger Zelasny
I am coming late to Roger Zelazny’s work but better late than never, and this is far better than never.
I have heard of Zelazny over they years but never picked up one of his works until now. I have finished the Nine Princes and am embarking upon The Guns Of Avalon which promises to be at least as good as Nine Princes.
We enter Mr. Zelazny’s world and meet Corwin, one of the Princes vying with his brothers for the crown of King Of Amber. When we first meet him he’s being kept a prisoner while a patient in a private clinic. He escapes and meets his sister who, it seems, has been responsible for his status at the clinic. Ah, but not all is as it seems. . . but then we’re not the only ones confused. Corwin has no memory of who he is or where he is at or the sister or his several brothers or Amber. And it all comes back to Amber.
As a Prince Of Amber, Corwin is endowed with unnatural strength and abilities. He also has inherent abilities far beyond that strength but is unaware of them nor if he were aware of them, any idea how to use them. But he knows he must regain his memory.
And he does. Little by little, through talking with his brother and two of his sisters but then regains it all when he walks the pattern. What is that you ask? Well read the damn book and you’ll know!
Corwin does find that his siblings like to keep in close touch with one another; all the better to be able to reach their back with dagger in hand. No, this is not the Walton’s, not a loving family at all. Alliances are made and broken and deaths happen and some unhappen in a manner of speaking.
This book is filled with prose, with exquisite use of verbs, adverbs and adjectives . . . well, the other parts of speech as well but it’s those verbs et al that are the icing on the literary cake. We go into battle and underwater where we can breathe. We meet the beautiful and the profane, see acts of kindness and utter betrayal, and we visit a magical world filled with wonder and horror and wonderful horror.
We meet several of the nine princes, some in depth and some in passing and some barely mentioned. We meet the sisters as well. (Oberon, the king and sire of this band of sibling cutthroats was rather prolific.)
I have been captured by this series known collectively as the Chronicles Of Amber and I am quite the willing captive.
Bloodthirsty, magic, horrors and beauty, action and drama; if that’s to your taste and you haven’t met Corwin as of yet then do yourself a favor, read this 50 year old book and enjoy.March 28, 2019 at 11:44 #12969
THE GUNS OF AVALON (The Chronicles Of Amber #2) by Roger Zelazny
After reading Nine Princes In Amber I immediately went to this book and having just this moment finished it, I feel breathless.
Zelazny gives us deception, action on a grand and smaller scale, he gives friendship and human emotions such as lust, fear and bravery. We have humans and super humans and we have demons and mythical beasts and grasses that entrap and. . . but read the book.
Corwin continues his quest for the crown of Amber and still must deal with his brothers, some who would just as soon take his head from his body as see that head wear the crown.
Eric, his brother the usurper stands in his way of the throne and considering his previous lost battle and subsequent imprisonment and worse, Corwin knows he must have an overwhelming force, or maybe a secret weapon in order to take what is his.
But there are other forces, dark forces at work as deadly if not more so than Eric.
Zelazny tells his tale with a beautiful prose. This is never more true than when describing Corwin’s hellride. . . yes, you’ll have to read the book to know what that’s about.
I’m looking forward to the three remaining books with Corwin and then there are five more with Corwin’s son, Merlin.
I can curse the fact that it took me far too long to discover Zelazny but then I would rather rejoice that I found him at all.April 2, 2019 at 23:35 #13205
RAGDOLL (Fawkes and Baxter #1) by Daniel Cole
When King tells a tale of horror you have chills. Why? Because he weaves that tale with words that allow you to believe the most horrific of things, be they ghost, aliens, the mentally ill, the possessed. They all become real within our imagination and we lovers of horror are delightfully frightened by what we imagine at his prompting.
Hogwarts exists. We know this because Rowling makes us believe with her prose, the description of events and atmosphere, the physical identified through her words and we are charmed. Well yes, it exists in our imaginations but it does exist.
The events in Ragdoll not so much. Cole doesn’t do a bad job so much as a mediocre one. He doesn’t make me believe that an organization such as Scotland yard would allow someone like Wolf to return to duty after his actions in the opening sequence of this novel.
This isn’t a bad book, it just isn’t a good one. Mediocrity is it’s own failing.
When I first began to read the book I thought “Well that’s not so good but maybe, as this is a first novel, Cole will improve with practice.” And maybe he will but he will do so without my knowing. The more I read the less believable it became. At my age there isn’t enough time left for me to waste it on so-so books when there are so many out there that I know are good. King, Connelly, Deaver, Sandford, even Evanovich.
As I read I got the distinct feeling that our Mr. Cole is not a fan of strong women. The ex wife is mercenary. The ex partner, though the best of the group of women in this story, is heavily flawed, a secret she keeps from her colleagues. The chief honcho is a woman more concerned with covering her arse (hey, it’s a British book after all so arse is more appropriate than ass) than getting the job done. There is the fiance who is either super hormonal due to pregnancy or a bitch, we’re never told which nor what makes her partner love her so much when she treats him so meanly. Ah, we can’t forget the therapist who wants to keep Wolf from working, which he is convinced he needs to do.
To find out what I’m referring to you need to read the book and I cannot recommend that you do that. I cannot say you shouldn’t read the book, just that I spent 378 pages on this book where I could have spent it with Harry or Lincoln or Lucas or any number of much more intriguing protagonists whose unbelievable exploits are made believable by the power of the pen (or word processor as it were).April 6, 2019 at 11:11 #13364
THE BIG REAP (The Collecter #3) by Chris F. Holm
It’s been 6 years since The Big Reap was published and I think that’s a fair indication that we’ve read the last of Sam Thornton. Out loss, I assure you.
I mention regarding some books about how complicated they can be and not all authors can pull that off. Mr. Holm can and does.
In The Big Reap we have lycanthropy, vampirism, The Creature From The Black Lagoon – one of the first horror movies I saw as a kid at the theater and later saw that same creature in a totally different light in the Oscar winning The Shape Of Water – and Frankenstein’s monster.
If you’re not familiar with the series; Sam Thornton died somewhere around the end of WWII. In fact, his soul was collected (read the book to find out what that means) and after a period of time in an unnamed limbo he too was made a collector under the guidance of Lilith, an immortal who it seems, takes delight in titillating Sam.
Mr. Holm gives us a lot of dialog but he gives us a lot of action also, and further, he gives us things to think about regarding gods and demons and devils and what is right and wrong.
Sam inhabits the bodies of both the freshly dead or the living, whichever is convenient. If they are living beings when he possesses them they usually are the worse for wear after he uses them, but not always.
If you like fantasy mixed with horror mixed with philosophy mixed with a bit of history you should like this series, but be warned, it’s not for the squeamish. There is ample gore coming from Holm’s pen. But if you can deal with that or, even more, you enjoy that, then this series is for you.
Of the three books this was the best. I wish there were more.
Oh, and that movie I mentioned, The Shape Of Water? I gave it 5 stars also.April 8, 2019 at 07:53 #13430
HOLY GHOST (Virgil Flowers #11) by John Sandord
WARNING! Some language may be NSFW.
Say it ain’t so! That Fucking Flowers is going to be a father? Well there’s always the possibility that given the odds he may already be one without knowing it, this time he knows. Oh he knows! And will it be a boy, a girl? READ THE BOOK!
And what does this have to do with people being shot and killed in a small hamlet visited by terror from an unknown assassin? Oh, and also visited by The Virgin Mary herself. . . sort of. Well, the answer is little but it’s an overall important part of the man who is know far and wide as That Fucking Flowers.
A typical John Sandford book. That means typically good. Nay, good is damning with faint praise. Let me rephrase; that means VERY GOOD.
No one can mix mayhem and humor like Sandford does. The interactions between Flowers, Jenkins and Shrake seem quite real, gallows humor at times like I imagine real cops would have. No, they don’t laugh at a woman’s corpse lying bloody in the street in front of a church after she’s been shot from afar by a sniper. No, they don’t laugh at a woman who has been beaten by her ex boyfriend. But when one of their own is wounded remarks are made that could be classified as irreverent or, more likely, far worse. And that’s to be expected. Were he killed, not so much, but wounded, yes.
So the gist of this story has the Virgin Mary appearing to parishioners of a small Catholic church in the small town of Pinion, MN. And by small we mean 700 population and growing smaller with each murder.
Virgil, one of the more colorful but effective agents of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is sent to the town to sort things out and who can blame him for feeling he’s in over his head. Every clue seems to lead to a dead end. No one will come forward with a reasonable name that he can add to the list of suspects, a markedly small list.
Virgil calls for help in the form of Jenkins and Shrake and for all their join efforts . . . nothing. That is until Flowers is shot in the heart with an arrow (thank god for tactical vests) and Shrake is shot across his back with an arrow that passed under his vest. Then things heat up.
So, yes, a typical Sandford tale filled with twists and turns and humor and mayhem and more than a bit of philosophy. And also typical, all of that very well done.
If you like action and mystery then read just about any fiction novel by Sandford will keep you satisfied.
Am I a fan of Sandford? Let me explain it like this; I have 4 books on my nightstand and ready to start one of those for my next read when the postman delivers a single book of the 12 I’ve just ordered. When I open the package with all of the anticipation of a child at Christmas I find that of all the books of that 12 that I wanted the most, that is the one that came. Those 4 books remain on my nightstand and I will start one of those later today. I wasn’t about to have a Sandford work laying idly by on my nightstand even though 3 of those 4 are authors I know and enjoy.April 11, 2019 at 11:50 #13592
THE SHADOW WOMAN (Inspector Winter #2) by Ake Edwardson
I remember my daughter as a toddler, blond hair, mostly straight but with just a bit of poof to it, a wit far beyond her years, mostly unintentional, a love for Ariel and most other things Disney. And when I read this book, the loneliness, the fear that this little girl felt I cried.
This, the second book by Edwardson I’ve read, the first being the initial novel with Erik Winter, Death Angels, confirms what I felt about the first; Edwardson is damn good! I will add the next in the series – Sun and Shadow – in my TO BUY list
A corpse of a woman, around 30, is found lying in a ditch, discarded as if trash. No identification and no one is calling in a missing persons report that resembles her. The autopsy shows no sign of sexual assault but it does reveal that she has given birth.
And so begins the quest to identify her and then her killer and to find a child. Thus begins a twisted tale that takes Winter to various parts of the west coast of Sweden; the coast itself, farmlands, the forests and even to Denmark to investigate a bank robbery from some 25 years back that went unsolved.
This journey weighs heavily on Winter’s mind as he has become obsessed with the murdered woman and her child, a daughter around 4 or 5 years old. Also, his girlfriend is pressuring him to make a bigger commitment of their relationship and both his sister and his mother are pressuring him to become more involved in family.
The group of detectives under Winter’s command is diverse; a Swedish born black woman; a pig headed, though good detective, semi racist; several senior members who are considerably older than Winter who is their superior.
Amidst all of the confusion of an investigation that seems at times to go nowhere are an attack on one of his detectives which leaves her with a broken jaw and a shoot out among possible rival biker gangs where a uniformed officer was severely wounded.
As complex of a story the Edwardson has written, he has made it more than intriguing. It was difficult at times to put down. . . so I usually didn’t.
I’m not sure what it is about Scandinavian mysteries and cop shop novels that makes me enjoy them so but I do. I’ve enjoyed Icelandic novels, several from Norway (Jo Nesbo is fantastic) and of course, Sweden. I look forward to many more.April 13, 2019 at 03:04 #13665
VICIOUS CIRCLE (Joe Pickett #17) by C.J. Box
For those few of you who follow my reviews you may remember that from time to time I will find an error in Mr. Box’ stories and point it out. I do it not out of malice but simply for fun. The errors I find are minor in the extreme and do nothing to detract from the overall high quality of his work. In Vicious Circle Box has made a somewhat large error though it still doesn’t reflect badly on the story.
At one point in the book one of the characters is trying to get a shot on a pronghorn. The character is from the panhandle of Texas and the comment is made that there aren’t pronghorns in that area. WRONG! While the population isn’t as dense as it once was the panhandle of Texas is home to a native population of pronghorn as are other parts of West Texas.
But on to more germane thoughts regarding Vicious Circle. . .
And a very vicious circle it is.
Remember the Cates? In Endangered we met Dallas Cates and his ne’er-do-well family led by the matriarch, Brenda. Eldon, the father operates a cesspool cleaning company and fits all of the images that might come to mind of a man who works with. . . well, to be delicate as possible, feces. The union of Brenda and Eldon produced 3 sons, the youngest being Dallas who is as narcissistic as certain politicians.
At the end of Endangered we. . . oh but that would be spoilers. Hmmm, let’s just say that there were 3 less members of that family and both Brenda and Dallas are sent to prison. Now they are out for revenge and want to take out not just Joe but his entire family.
This novel is filled with characters from the past; Joe and his family to be sure, Nate, Sheriff Reed, Dulcie, and Frakus. Not all of them make it to the last page and that’s as big of a spoiler as you’re going to get. If you want to know more, READ THE BOOK.
C.J. Box gave us Open Season, the first Joe Pickett story some 18 years ago and he has honed his craft since then. We’ve come to know Joe and his family including his good friend Nate over the years and when I pick up a new (to me at least) Pickett tale I enjoy meeting those characters again. Like some other series it’s a sense of coming home when I start one of these books.
I like the mystery, the wide open land as well as the forested mountains, the ever changing weather, the action, the wildlife. Whether I agree with a particular position Box voices in his books I appreciate his view point, how he says it without preaching.
Mystery, action, the wide open spaces, home life; Mr. Box gives it all to us with his Pickett novels. The next one in the series that I haven’t read is The Disappeared and that’s been added to my TO BUY list. I have no doubt that I’ll enjoy it as much as the rest.April 14, 2019 at 15:49 #13718
THE DRIFTER (Peter Ash #1) by Nick Petrie
General Of The Army Philip Henry Sheridan is questionably credited with the phrase “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” We have reached a point in our social structure in the United States where far too many people would make that same statement but substitute Muslim for Indian.
Far too many of the action books put out today are of the Mitch Rapp genre where that seems to be the case. Imagine my delight when I come across The Drifter where we have an action figure, a hero of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq but with nary a Muslim as an antagonist. What a refreshing change!
Make no mistake, I have no sympathy for radicals be they Muslim or of any religion, including Christian. I do have a problem with painting all Muslims with the same brush when the paint that brush is dipped in is made up of lies and bigotry. That is all too common in our society today and it bothers me.
End of rant, at least for the moment.
I have subscribed to the BookBub news letter with suggested titles. I take those titles and look them up on goodreads (I still think there should be an upper case G for the name but it’s not my decision) and see what others have said about them in their reviews. An abundance of 3 or less stars means I pass it by and the majority having 4 or 5 stars means I add it to my To Buy spreadsheet. Thus, I came across The Drifter and I am so glad I did.
Peter Ash, a Marine lieutenant veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan with a severe case of claustrophobic PTSD has been living rough for about a year when he hears about the suicide of one of a man who was one of his sergeants and travels to Milwaukee where Sgt. Johnson lived. There he meets Mrs. Johnson and her two sons, Charles and Miles as well as Cupcake whose real name, it turns out, is Mingus, a smelly, ugly and seemingly vicious dog of considerable size.
While working to repair Dinah Johnson’s porch which is falling apart he comes across Mingus and a suitcase filled with money and C4 explosives. And it goes down hill from there.
This book is filled with action and the esprit de corps that requires a Marine to leave no man behind. (That goes for when the man is a woman who is an Army chopper pilot shot down by insurgents which I happen to think is a good thing. READ THE BOOK to understand that comment.) It’s complicated but not so much that you cant follow the action. It has good guys and bad guys and some guys that are a bit of both.
This is a good action book. The characters are mostly well fleshed out and believable. The action is logical and has a good amount of suspense and mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed the reading and I’m adding the next Peter Ash book to my To Buy list.April 17, 2019 at 12:19 #13885
SIGN OF THE UNICORN (The Chronicles of Amber #3) by Roger Zelazny
You have to wonder about a mind that can create such a weird universe, make it so detailed and throws in a few other universes in while he’s at it. And while I might wonder I must say I appreciate it.
This book has been reviewed and commented on almost ad nauseam though I cannot say it’s tiresome but I question that I can add anything of importance.
I will say that I love Zelazny’s prose. His syntax with words that at times I find myself reaching for the dictionary (thank god it’s close at hand online, one of the few books I prefer digitally rather than a hard copy) is poetry.
If you like fantasy and want something different in many ways from the HP or LOTR series then try this. Monsters, lovers, men of honor and men without honor and men who are confused by that word. Magic and supermen and superwomen, evil and goodness and magic. Oh, did I say magic already? Well when discussing Amber you can’t mention magic too much.
I have the 4th in the series, The Hand Of Oberon on my nightstand though I’m taking a short break from this type of magic and immersing myself in the magic of Michael Connelley’s written words.April 19, 2019 at 13:05 #13973
DARK SACRED NIGHT (Renee Ballard #2, Harry Bosch #21, Bosch Universe #31) by Michael Connelly
He swings, connects and that ball is outta here! Up into the top deck. Connelly hits another home run!
At least that’s my opinion and good golly Miss Molly who else’s opinion do I need when it comes to my reading pleasure? (Rather arrogant of me, isn’t it?)
Connelly is, in my less than humble opinion (I’m not stupid, I keep my opinions to myself at the Thanksgiving dinner with my relatives) one of the very best. I’m not about to attempt a list of who’s number 1, number 2 and so on. That can change from book to book and even taking into account the era. King? Sandford? Connelly? Certainly at the very top of the list, but then so are Poe and Doyle, Christie, Chandler, Maron, even on a given day, Braun. No one does crime humor better than Barry.
My god but I’m leaving out so many very, very good writers. I better stop this digression before Bingham punches me in the nose! (He’s so violent you know and he reads reviews. True, this review isn’t about him but why take the chance?)
And so to Dark Sacred Night.
In my mind’s eye Ballard is short, not quite petite, with sandy, almost a strawberry blond hair in a pixie cut. Bosch is a character actor whose name escapes me now but has been around for a long time (like Harry). Gruff, practical, stubborn and gets the job done. Maddie is Joey King. Heller is Joe Pesci (I’m not a fan of McConaughey; he reminds me of the Carole King song ‘You’re So Vain’ and is too uncool to be as cool as he strives to be). Mickey’s investigator, whose name escapes me for the moment, is a softer Danny Trejo. Hell, he’d have to be softer, no one looks as hard as Trejo nor does anyone do hard looks as well as does Trejo.
But here I am digressing again and those who hang on my every word (you are legion and I am so humbled by your adoration) may be getting antsy.
Bosch and Ballard meet up. Bosch is looking into a 9 year old cold case and his interest piques Ballard’s interest and together they investigate. All the while they work the cases they are tasked with currently; Bosch as a part timer with the San Fernando PD and Ballard as a somewhat tarnished (more than undeservedly) detective on the Late Show (the graveyard shift) out of Hollywood Station. (Another slight digression; Joe Wambaugh wrote a great series of novels, the last so far of his great writing career, about the cops of Hollywood Station.)
The plot is intricate and keeps you turning page after page wanting to see what happens next. Connelly takes us from Bosch to Ballard and from Ballard to Bosch and he does it without flair but just solid writing, never causing one to lose track of what’s going on as can be the case with other writers. He shows us that both Bosch and Ballard are human with failings and feelings and ordinary concerns about day to day life (like Ballard’s concern for her wardrobe).
As is typical of a Connelly novel he doesn’t spare us the gore but he also doesn’t make it the focus. It s a realistic part of the plot and is as one would imagine real life is. He lets us see events as they happen through the eyes of both Ballard and Bosch. The obstacles they face seem quite real, as if Connelly took them from situations he was aware of as a crime reporter for the LA Times.
I cannot imagine a fan of crime fiction not being aware of Connelly. If you are, however; be aware that he’s addictive. If you are not familiar with his works let me suggest you read the series in order. It’s not necessary but there are more than a few references to previous events in subsequent books. Oh, and if you haven’t become aware of this by now let me say plainly, Michael Connelly is a master of his craft, one of the very best. READ THE BOOK and tell me if you disagree.April 21, 2019 at 16:59 #14035
STRIKE DOG (Woods Cop #5) by Joseph Heywood
Maridly and Walter are dead. Is that a spoiler? Then if so . . . I first saw that as a blurb about this book even as I was reading Running Dark, the book previous to this. I was bothered by it. I don’t like spoilers. No, I wasn’t just bothered, I was pissed.
But there it is, on the very first page of this novel so it isn’t much of a spoiler. I still didn’t like that I had seen that blurb before I started this book.
I have given this story 4 stars but reluctantly. Conservation Officer Grady Service’s actions and thoughts regarding the loss of his lover and his son in a tragic accident (?) are quite melodramatic and some of the least believable words that I’ve read from Mr. Heywood. That theme is carried throughout the book until the very end wherever that loss is brought up but you will need to READ THE BOOK to see how that plays out.
There is a man, or men, or maybe women also, killing conservation officers, game wardens or agents, however they are called in their home states. It doesn’t matter, they are just as dead no matter the title of the office they held. And there’s a list. Guess who’s on the list? Oh, but READ THE BOOK to find that out. No more spoilers from me.
Of course Grady is involved as is the FBI, Missouri Game Agents, even a CO from Indiana and several COs from Grady’s Michigan DNR, some we know and some we meet for the first time. (Will we see Dina again? I wonder.)
Outside of the melodrama mentioned above this is as good of a tale that Mr. Heywood has shared with us. We meet new people, reacquaint ourselves with former characters and deal with life, death and new life.
I love the feeling of being in the woods with Grady Service as he hikes or camps. I can see the trees, feel the wind, see how the light of the sun shakes as it’s filtered through leaves blown by that wind. I can see the trout in the stream treading water waiting until insects begin to rise so they can eat.
If you like mystery, action, the great outdoors, slogging through mud without getting your feet dirty as you use your imagination to wade a stream bed, then you surely are a fan of Joe Heywood and CO Grady Service. And if you are a fan of any of that and you haven’t read any of the Woods Cop series, let me suggest that you correct that error; the sooner the better.April 23, 2019 at 18:24 #14117
PROTECT AND DEFEND (Mitch Rapp #10) by Vince Flynn
In some ways this is a very typical Mitch Rapp book but in other ways it’s considerably different.
Ways that it’s similar to books before is in portraying so many Muslims in a very stereotypical way. They are, in that stereotype, ruthless, hate filled, ignorant in their refusal to see reality.
Ways that it’s different is that it portrays a few Muslims as reasonable, with a conscience, compassionate.
Mr. Flynn is also confusing regarding American politics. He takes ample opportunity to disparage Democrats and be supportive, for the most part at least, Republicans. He consigns attributes to either party that would, from all the evidence one can take from the news articles (I’m not talking fake news but real news) be more accurately assigned to the other party. But then in previous books he shows certain Republicans to be intractable in their inability to deal with reality and in this book he portrays many Democratic officials as quite reasonable.
Those things can affect the reading of a novel, its overall flavor if you will and it certainly does with the Rapp series. But onward and, if not upward at least . . . well, onward.
Mr. Flynn is no longer with us. If he were I would suggest to him that America has more enemies than Muslims, radical or not. Read Jason Matthews’ Red Sparrow series for one example of that. Then there are the drug cartels from Mexico and the homegrown groups that embrace Nazi symbols and the hate they represent, how some of those group members will engage in violence, mass shootings.
But overall Flynn’s writing is believable though at times Rapp is such a superhuman that it defies the ability to suspend reality. This book is filled with a lot of that and was fairly formulistic. It had little new in it and much was a repeat of things in previous Rapp books.
I have the next book in the series on my nightstand but if it isn’t on a higher level than this it will be my last of the series. There are far too many good books to settle for mediocrity.April 26, 2019 at 17:04 #14197
THE GREYFRIAN (Vampire Empire #1) by Clay and Susan Griffith
The blurb is that rousing pulp fiction and steam punk meet, and that’s true. However; this novel seemed to have more than a bit of Victorian romance and that is just not my thing. If it’s your thing, fine, there is nothing wrong with enjoying different things than I do.
The character of Greyfriar is more 2½ dimensional than a full 3. Gareth, the vampire is somewhat the same mixed with a bit of that Victorian romantic. Adele seems to suffer from dissociative identity disorder; multiple personalities. Is she a warrior princess, a swooning damsel, a Victorian romantic? Well. . . yes to all of that and more. Senator Clark is such a pompous ass that I can only think of him in the guise of a character in an olde tyme melodrama. His narcissism is akin to that of a certain current politician (sorry, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity plus it’s true) and is unbelievable. Flay is a superb villainess with depth of character; evil, jealous and quite possibly ready to commit treason.
Lots of action, a certain amount of suspense but overall this is the first book of a series that will remain unfinished for me. I have far too many books that I know are better and some others to explore that sound quite good.April 29, 2019 at 19:24 #14377
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