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.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast
November 16, 2019 at 18:46 #27329
MONSTER by Steve Jackson
While not the best written book I’ve ever read, nor the best written of true crime books I’ve read, it wasn’t bad and the story made it well worth reading. At that, it was disturbing to say the least.
I enjoy true crime though I haven’t read nearly as much of it in the past several years as before. I’ve read about one off crimes and I’ve read about serial killers. Like many, serial killers fascinate me. So do venomous snakes but that doesn’t mean I want to make friends with either.
I had never heard of Tom Luther but the title of this book aptly describes him. His suspected kills outnumber his known kills. At that, his downfall was not following his own rule enough; the rule of don’t leave a body to be found.
Cher Elder was a young lady who, though she lived a clean life herself, associated with those who weren’t so clean both as to drugs and to crime. That’s how she came across Luther; he was the friend of her somewhat boyfriend. Luther was an ex convict who had served 11 years for his brutal beating of another young lady and who should have served more years save for a lazy prosecutor and a judge who accepted a plea bargain that never should have been offered. The short sentence allowed ample time for Luther to be released to perform heinous acts upon more young women.
And he made use of that time.
In addition to the murder of Cher Elder he was convicted of the attempted murder and assault of another woman in Denver plus the assault and rape of a woman in West Virginia who survived in all probability by jumping out of his car as he was driving her to his remote cabin.
This book was hard to put down. It was fascinating to read about Luther but also about those who fought to bring him to justice including the detective that would not let the case go cold and the woman who loved him but honored the truth more. We meet a few of his victims and we meet a few of his friends.
I was not familiar with Jackson before this book and this was his first true crime book. There are other authors that I am more likely to read but this was certainly one that I’m glad I read. So maybe I’ll add more of Jackson’s works to my To Be Read list. If you like true crime this was certainly a good read.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastNovember 20, 2019 at 19:34 #27569
TEAR IT DOWN (Peter Ash #4) by Nick Petrie
Not ever work by a writer can be his best. Of the 4 books I’ve read featuring Peter Ash, this is not the best. But not the best doesn’t mean bad and this book is far from bad.
Ash is a veteran of the fighting in the Middle East. It left him with a, to date at least, lasting case of PTSD, a problem with claustrophobia that he has learned to deal with to an extent.
His service has also left him with a lasting sense of needing to do the right thing, to help protect those that need help and he will do all he can to provide that help.
In this instance the people with problems are in Memphis, Tennessee. One is Wanda, a civilian combat photographer who has her own PTSD to deal with. Another is Eli who lives on the mean streets of Memphis, the son of a crime lord now serving time, the brother of an aspiring crime lord who now is occupying a grave. Eli is young and is being watched by the current crime lord of Memphis. Meanwhile, Wanda is occupying her new house. . . well, the house isn’t new, she’s just the new owner.
Wanda has received anonymous threats followed by her house being rammed by a large dump truck. And it gets worse from there with the house being sprayed with machine gun fire from an improvised armored vehicle. And it gets even worse. But you have to read the book to find out what that is.
Ash isn’t alone. He has June, his lover, Lewis, his friend, and a local cop who is more than understanding.
The Ash series is violent, humorous, filled with pathos. Petrie is not a vet and makes sure the reader understand that, if they read the acknowledgements at least, but he has great empathy for any vet with PTSD and what they’ve gone through. His novels are something anyone who enjoys the action genre should enjoy. He writes with attention to detail whether it’s the environment around his characters or the feelings of those same characters.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastNovember 23, 2019 at 21:17 #27752
KIND OF BLUE (Ash Levine #1) by Miles Corwin
After reading The Killing Season, a true life account of Corwin’s ride along with two LAPD detectives I was anxious to read his works of fiction. I can sum up this book in one word; silly.
A note about LAPD: The Los Angeles Police Department is arguably the most famous, or infamous for some, of all American police departments. The only one that might come close is New York City’s NYPD. I would guess that the LAPD is almost as well known in fact and fiction as is the FBI.
Ash Levine is a Felony Squad detective; an elite unit which is given the tough cases, the political and news worthy ones. But Levine in a fit of self pity after losing a witness who was murdered quit the force until he’s called back by his former rabbi – a term used for a senior member and usually high ranking mentor and protector and with some irony in this case as Levine is Jewish. His ethnicity, though not his religion, offers more opportunities for self pity as he often feels slighted as a Jew and mourns over the Holocaust. (The Holocaust is without a doubt a horrible, horrible event in the history of mankind but though I’ve spent a lot of time with Jews I’ve yet to run across one that grieves over the Holocaust as does Levine.)
Self pity seems to be Levine’s main motivation in this book. He is dogged in his attempts to solve cases and in the murder that he’s hired back to investigate he falls into a trap three different times.
There is one scene where Corwin seems to borrow from Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot as the bad guy sits and confesses all to Levin, pointing his gun at Levin before he intends to shoot him. Two other times Levin is ambushed and captured after going to confront a suspect without any backup. Both of those times the miscreant does a lot of talking, a device used to explain the inexplicable of the cases Levin is trying to solve. All three times there is a miraculous escape.
If you like good action stories, cop shop crime novels but you demand a believable scenario then you may want to pass this one by.November 29, 2019 at 19:03 #28089
A STOLEN SEASON (Alex McKnight #7) by Steve Hamilton
This novel starts off on a cold winter’s night when. . . wait, it isn’t winter, it’s the 4th of July, but it’s cold none the less. Not snow cold but with the wet fog it feels like it, or maybe the fact that it’s summertime and no summer is to be found, maybe it’s worse.
It seems the yoopers (look it up, it’s the colloquial term for the denizens, the human ones that is, that live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, or, staying with colloquialisms, the UP) value their summer all the more for its shortness. It comes but once a year and it’s fleeting and therefore, precious. And this year it doesn’t seem to be coming at all.
Alex McKnight reflects on this as he stands outside, trying his best not to shiver because once he starts he won’t stop, looking out over Whishkey Bay.
And so the story of a lost season starts.
Alex has a knack, one that he doesn’t wish on his worst enemy. Well, maybe his worst. He attracts trouble. In fact if Professor Harold Hill knew about him he might well revise his popular song about trouble to include McKnight. It would be appropriate were he to do so.
But all is not dark in Alex’s life. There is Natalie and Natalie is a beautiful part of his life indeed. As long as he has Natalie. . . ah, but I’m getting ahead of the story and you need to read the book to find out more about that.
Steve Hamilton does something I admire in a writer. He has great characters who have thoughts that I can believe in. Additionally he makes the land around him part of his stories, and as the UP can be quite harsh, then so too. . . but you catch my drift.
Mr. Hamilton has given us a story about love and life and loss. Friendship and danger are quite well represented also. This story doesn’t lack for action.
Reading the book, I was uncomfortable at times with the amount of melodrama, or was it that I, too have lost and felt the pain of that loss and reacted with much the same feelings and this book reminded me of that? Maybe that’s it.
If you like the things I mentioned, the love the loss, the action, the land and you aren’t familiar with Alex McKnight, then let me urge you to pick up a copy of A Cold Day In Paradise, the first of the series. If you are familiar with the works but haven’t read this one yet, then the advice remains the same. If you’ve already read it, aren’t you lucky!November 29, 2019 at 19:05 #28090
SCOURGED (Iron Druid Chronicles #9) by Kevin Hearne
Game of Thrones was an excellent series and people were disappointed with the ending episode. The same was true of another HBO series, The Sopranos.
I’ve come to the end of this series and the term that Mr. Hearne used was ‘bittersweet’. While I don’t necessarily agree with those who judged GofT’s last episode so negatively or The Sopranos either, I wasn’t all that happy with this last book. In Kevin Hearne’s defense I think that writing the ending of a book must be the most difficult part of the process and this would be even more true when it’s the last book of a series.
We say goodbye to many characters in this, the final chapter of the chronicles. Some we expected and deserved to be gone; others we will mourn. There are still others that we say farewell to (well we say farewell to all of the survivors of the battle of Ragnarok but I mean some are said farewell to within the story) with regret or more.
This series is a mix of fantasy, adventure, love, religion (not in the sense of trying to convert) and more than a bit of philosophy. It is very well written and you find some dear characters; some of them are even human.
Thank you Mr. Hearne, it’s been a hell of a ride.December 10, 2019 at 09:34 #28384
NIGHT OF THE HAWK (Patrick McLanahan, #2) by Dale Brown
God knows how long it’s been since I read Fight of the Old Dog, the 1st of this series but it’s been at least one and probably two decades or more. I don’t remember a lot of the details of that book but I do remember I enjoyed it.
This one not so much.
Dale Brown brings us a tale filled with technology from the early 90s and then one must consider it old enough to be declassified for him to include it in his book. Yet that technology is the saving grace of this book.
Brown did poorly with relationships in this story, going from the melodramatic to the absurd at times. People and thoughts were often stereotyped; the vicious ex KGB operatives, the mindlessness of field grade officers, the laughable antics of General Elliot to name a few.
Don’t get me wrong; I love melodrama in its place. Dudley Do-Right and Nell were perfect in the old and wonderful Jay Ward cartoons, but on the stage of human conflict in the face of a nuclear conflagration, not so much. (Oh god but I love all of those Jay Ward cartoons – I’d marry Natasha Fatale in a New York minute!) But I digress, as is my nature.
I have too many good authors to read to peruse any more of Brown’s work but I do wish him well.December 15, 2019 at 13:28 #28521
FLY BY NIGHT (Jammer Davis #2) by Ward Larsen
Ward Larsen tells a good story with a mix of technology, drama, action and just a tad of romance in the mix.
Jammer Davis is a pilot who now works for the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board), the federal government organization tasked with investigating airplane crashes. He’s an ex fighter pilot, a retired major in the USAF, a widower with a late teen daughter. His boss was his commanding general in the Air Force.
And he is. . . well, to put it mildly, an asshole. Oh, he’s a nice enough guy but as an employee, even when in the Air Force, he was difficult to say the least. Jammer Davis sees what should be and works toward making it what is, protocol be damned.
In this, the second in the series, Jammer is sent to the Sudan ostensibly to investigate the crash into the Red Sea of an old DC-3. His real job is to determine what is going on with a missing experimental drone and why the cargo airlines that lost the DC-3 seems to be more than a bit shady. Oh, the name of the airlines? FBN, or more widely known as Fly By Night.
Jammer finds himself in strange climes where the heat is high and dry. He finds that the pilots of the plane that went down in the Red Sea didn’t really go down in the Red Sea, but you have to READ THE BOOK to find out more about that. He finds himself as the defender of a desert aid clinic. Doctors Without Borders isn’t mentioned but that’s much of how that aid clinic is. He also finds himself in the middle of a coup, but again, you’ll need to read the book to find out more about that. But rest assured, Jammer does not destroy one of the Great Pyramids. Yes, once again, you’ll have to read the book to know what that’s about.
Jammer is not totally believable. He’s very good at what he does without using any super powers but even if he’s hard to believe at times he’s quite readable and fun to read at that.
If you like action, a bit of technology, a protagonist that fights for the right way then you’ll like this series.
I read Larsen’s David Slayton series and if anything that series is a slight tick above this one. Still, either are thumping good reads.December 19, 2019 at 16:30 #28595
MURDER PAST DUE (Cat In The Stacks #1) by Miranda James
This book was recommended to me by Joanne Friday of Goodreads as a suitable replacement for Ms. Lillian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who series.
Joanne, thank you very much for the recommendation but alas, it didn’t begin to live up to Ms. Braun’s series in my opinion. That is not to say that Joanne is wrong, just that our tastes are a bit different.
This is set in the genteel south of Athena, Mississippi. This was the first thing I didn’t care for. I think that this idea of a genteel south is far more myth than reality and yes, I have lived in the south; Alabama, South Carolina and Kentucky. I found far more bigotry than I did genteelism. (Is there such a word? If not there should be.)
The second was Charles Harris, the protagonist and narrator of the story. Charlie was genteel to the nth degree yet still found time to be condescending to his black housekeeper and her daughter who was investigating the crime as the only black person in the sheriff’s department.
Third was Justin, the 18 year old boarder in Charlie’s house who displayed all of the maturity of a 14 year old at best and treated Diesel, the Maine Coon cat as a teddy bear more than a pet. His mother, though she let her son leave home to board with Charlie was certainly a helicopter parent.
Everyone was a gossip and how there could have been any secrets in the small town I don’t know.
I found the characters to be superficial, 2 dimensional at best, and that Charlie took Diesel with him just about everywhere – including a memorial service – to be less than believable.
I could go on but it would be piling on and to a certain extent, mean.
So, you ask (or well you might whether you really ask or not) what is the difference from this series based on reading but one book, and the Cat Who series?
Ms. Braun wrote much of her stories with what seemed like a tongue in cheek attitude; a melodrama written as melodrama whereas this was melodrama written, it seemed to me, as drama/mystery.
To those that enjoy this series; good for you and good for Ms. James. There’s nothing wrong with that; but it isn’t my cup of tea.December 20, 2019 at 14:54 #28617
RESCUED (Andy Carpenter #17) by David Rosenfelt
It has been maybe a couple of years since I last visited Andy Carpenter and his cast of zany sleuths. Well, not all of them are zany but Andy certainly is even as he is a cracker jack lawyer.
For those of you not familiar with this series; Andy Carpenter is a defense lawyer who hates to practice his profession even though he’s very good at it. He would much rather work at the shelter he supports along with Willy, a former client. Andy is married to an ex cop and private investigator who for reasons unknown puts up with Andy’s antics and wisecracks. She has a heart of gold and the patience of Job to be sure.
Andy is well off due to an unforeseen inheritance from his father who was also a lawyer though on the other side of the fence; dad was a prosecuting attorney.
Laurie, Andy’s wife has an ex and that she still cares for that ex, even if platonically, is obvious when the ex is accused of murder and needs a defense lawyer. Andy, being the insecure individual that he is, is reluctant to defend the man who used to be in Laurie’s life, but he has a hard time saying no to her. So Andy says yes.
Then the fun begins.
Like all of Andy’s cases this is hardly straight forward and before it’s over there are dirty ex cops involved, the FBI and even the air force steps in, Pete, Andy’s best friend in spite of the fact that Pete is a captain on the police force and doesn’t like defense lawyers (it helps that Andy pays his bar and burger tab), 70 dogs, and a few others. No, this is hardly a clear case of self defense.
The Carpenter series are well written with laugh out loud moments inspired by Andy’s remarks at times, with danger and action, with a major amount of sleuthing and courtroom scenes that keep you on edge or at other times, you’re back to laughing.
Why I’ve had such a hiatus from Mr. Rosenfelt’s books I’m not sure. I’m putting a couple of newer ones into my To Buy list. I do find it ironic in a way that the previous book to this was also somewhat animal themed (a Maine Coon) but very disappointing and then along comes Andy and the dogs and I couldn’t put the book down.
If you like mysteries especially ones that involve animals and specifically dogs, if you like your mayhem mixed with a good dose of humor and you enjoy feel good endings then you can do a lot worse than Andy and friends.December 26, 2019 at 01:04 #28764
LIFELIK3 (Lifelik3 #1) by Jay Kristoff
It is the day after Christmas (well actually the wee hours of the day after Christmas) and I’ve probably finished my last book of the year, though maybe not. I have what I would call a standard length novel waiting to be read and I may choose that over a long Stephen King novel, The Outsider. I do want to read and finish that King book before the mini series comes to Netflix in January.
Lifelik3. . . wow! 5 stars. I don’t often do that but damnit, Kristoff’s work deserves it.
I first read Mr. Kristoff in The Lotus War trilogy; a series of Japanese steampunk novels that was just excellent. Then, because there were so many good books to choose from (and one or two not so good books that I erred in adding to my To Read list) I put him on a back burner.
Oh the folly.
But I’ve finally atoned for this literary sin and have finished Lifelik3, the first of another trilogy. And oh wow indeed.
Lifelik3 isn’t nearly as long as were any of the Lotus War books but it packed as big of a punch as any of that series. The characters were as real and believable (yes, I can be made to believe in a young girl riding the back of a tiger/eagle that flies and communicates with the girl he loves) as any of those in The Lotus Wars.
In TLW we had steampunk; a pre dystopian world if you will. In Lifelik3 we have very much a dystopian world where, due to the hubris of one man who would be god, Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are rendered moot.
Here are Asimov’s laws:
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws..</i>
First, mankind has created a dystopian world through the tragic and stupid use of weapons of mass destruction on a global scale rending large parts of the earth uninhabitable. The dystopia is compounded by the man who would be god. Oh, his motives were good, just not well thought through.
First we have Eve, or Ana, or, well, we aren’t sure who she is. The there is Lemon Fresh, a young girl with sass and secrets and god help me I’m in love again. Add Ezekiel, a lifelike, or, as Eve (using that name for simplification) who dubs him Braintrauma. Cricket calls him Stubby due to his having lose an arm. Cricket is known for tact. Lem calls him Dimples.
Oh, Cricket? He’s an android of diminutive proportions but do not call him little!
Evie has a power, or so she thinks. Like so much in this book you’re not sure what is where or when it’s how. This power makes her a target of a large corporation who thinks she’s a danger. She also has a group of lifelikes who want to use her to advance their destruction of mankind agenda. Eve’s in the shit!
I could tell you more but frankly it would just confuse you. Best you read the book.
So who would like this book? Those with an imagination who enjoy action, intrigue, mystery (sort of like intrigue but not quite) and even a little romance. (Little romance. . . why am I reminded of “The Lady in Red” a beautiful love song by Chris de Burgh? Well, it is one of the lines of the song so I guess that explains it and I just listened to that song on Christmas Eve thinking about. . . well never mind and I’m digressing to the nth degree again.)
In addition to all of those things listed above, this book is well written. The words flow and are easy to read and each sentence leaves you ready and wanting to read the next.
So that’s who would like this book. If that’s your cup of tea sit your cup and saucer on the table beside you, sit back and enjoy. Oh, and maybe, just maybe depending on your imagination and compassion you will shed a tear or two. I’m not saying I did. No, not saying that at all.
sniff sniffDecember 29, 2019 at 17:12 #28898
DEATH ROE (Woods Cop #6) by Joseph Heywood
Grady has a plethora of women. Or maybe it’s a plethora of women problems.
Two are fellow COs (conservation officers), one is a strange duck of an IRA investigator, another is a woman helping him with his investigation, another is his daughter-in-law (well not technically but in spirit if nothing else), yet another is the newborn granddaughter and one is a ghost. You’ll need to READ THE BOOK to understand that ghost reference.
Oh, Grady is Grady Service, an old timer conservation officer for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources who is just coming into the realization that he is indeed an old timer and is not all that happy with the thought.
Joseph Heywood writes about the DNR and the U.P. – the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as if he knows it; and he does. He’s passionate about it and the denizens of the U.P. both human and otherwise. I don’t think he’s a tree hugger; I think he would rather step back and admire the beauty of that tree and it’s fellows in the woods. I believe he is an advocate for conservation and part of that includes reasonable culling in herds through hunting. I don’t think he’s a trophy hunter but would enjoy a good venison steak. I don’t know this, it’s just what I gather from his words.
Snagging is a method of fishing that is outlawed in many if not most venues. It isn’t baiting a hook and using your skills to lure the fish to the bait and then bring it in. Rather it is when you throw a hook into the water on the end of the fishing line and snag the fish in the body. It’s hardly in the area of sporting.
Grady catches a team of snaggers in the act, a father he’s dealt with before, and the man’s 3 daughters. The man does it to earn money to support his family. Still, it’s against the law and Grady is all about enforcing the law, especially as it pertains to hunting and fishing. But maybe the man has something to trade?
And so Grady, whose title is detective more than conservation officer builds a case against a man and his organization that is selling death in contaminated salmon roe; hence the name of the book.
Heywood writes with passion, humor, knowledge of the area and the subject. His characters are believable, the action realistic. The stories are filled with action and I love that I learn things from reading his works. I love being out in the woods with Grady or any of the other COs. And I can do that in this series.
This is the 80th book I’ve read this year.January 1, 2020 at 21:12 #29054
BOGEYMAN – HE WAS EVERY PARENTS NIGHTMARE by Steve Jackson
This is my second book that I’ve read by Jackson and probably my last. The editing was certainly less than professional and I felt a very Christian bent to the writing. Lots of credit was given to “divine inspiration” for the solving of this case. Frankly, I felt that the case was less than solved and if divine inspiration were instrumental in bringing the perpetrator to justice in any way then why in the hell did divine intervention not take place to prevent the crimes in the first place?
I feel myself about to go on a rant and I’d rather not do that.
Suffice to say that a very bad man did very bad things to very innocent young girls and with one exception there was no real punishment, resolution, and that elusive aura of closure. This book has 3 stars for the simple reason that the story of these girls was told and I feel that it needed to be told; if for no other reason than to keep up aware of the evil that exists in this world.January 6, 2020 at 21:29 #29394
THE OUTSIDER by Stephen King
Stephen King is the patriarch of a family of writers. If you read fiction at all then you have heard of Mr. King and quite possibly his family. Owen, his oldest son is a solo author and collaborated on Sleeping Beauties with his dad. Joe is recognized in his own right and began writing under the name Joe Hill so as to earn his chops on his own and not on the coat tails of his father. Naomi is a Unitarian minister and a published author as well. Tabitha, Stephen’s wife is also a published author and we have her to thank for pulling the manuscript for Carrie out of the trash and insisting that Stephen submit it to a publisher. The rest, to use a worn cliche, is history. God bless you Mrs. King – and that’s coming from a devout agnostic!
The Outsider is as good as it gets. (I’m full of cliches today it would seem; 2 paragraphs and 2 cliches so far.) We have a man who seems to have been in two places at once; very publicly in the eye in a city some distance away from his home in Flint City, OK as he asks questions of an author promoting his latest novel and it’s caught on TV. Meanwhile, he’s back home horrifically murdering and sodomizing a young boy. He’s seen by multiple witnesses who know him (he is, after all, well known in his small community) wearing bloody clothes, his fingerprints are all over the van used to abduct the boy and then there’s the matter of his DNA that is found on the boy’s body.
So it should be an open and shut case considering all of the witnesses and the supporting and overwhelming forensic evidence, except for that bit about his being in a different town along with associates who know him well and on video for the whole world to see.
But it’s impossible for someone to be in two places at once; right? Except how do you explain away all of that condemning evidence?
The only way you can find a solution to the puzzle is through the wonderful if weird imagination of Mr. King, and thus we have The Outsider.
If you have read any of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy you will be familiar with Holly Gibney. She’s quirky to say the least but smart and with a dogged determination to get at the truth no matter how improbable. Holly is brought into the case by the defense attorney who was first hired to defend Terry Maitland, the man accused of the horrible murder of the boy and then later to restore his reputation. If not for Holly the others; a detective responsible for the public arrest of Maitland and who feels responsible for. . . but I’m getting ahead of the story here and no spoilers! Oh, but back to those others; a private investigator, a state investigator, a prosecuting attorney, the wife of the accused and the wife of the man who so publicly accused him. . . well none of them would have found a resolution to the case on their own. Holly was the catalyst that brought truth, if not into the light of day, at least prevented that truth from. . . ah, but there I go again almost letting a spoiler rear it’s head. (Another cliche it seems.) You’ll have to READ THE BOOK to get the answers to what was prevented.
This book is filled with good people, some who make horrible mistakes. It’s also filled with horror, not just The Outsider who is indeed a horror, but at the results of The Outsider’s work, the horror of what was done to that young boy, and then also, we find out, to two young girls, not in Flint City but in Dayton, OH. And there are countless more it would seem, but we are given a dose of the macabre in the deaths of those three. God knows that’s enough.
This is a page turner from beginning to end. It is classic King which is to say, it’s great reading. Well, you have to like the macabre, the horrific, the sadness that he infuses into his stories, the intricacies, the mystery. There is all of that in spades. . . to use yet another cliche.
This is made into a mini series that will air on January 12 on HBO. I wanted to finish the book first. It has been on my nightstand waiting to be read. I sometimes hesitate to start a King book because I know once I do I’m going to be useless until I finish it. I will be buried in the prose racing to the conclusion to find out the answers to the mystery and yet disappointed that it’s over when the last page is read. Oh, but what a journey.January 13, 2020 at 09:34 #29761
THE HUNTRESS by Kate Quinn
4 Stars reluctantly
I was hard pressed to give this book the 4th star and were it not for the history I would have given it 3 stars. The plot was good but the writing was mediocre in my opinion. Nina Markova was a very intriguing protagonist but Anna as the antagonist was very flat, one dimensional.
The title seems to be wrong in my opinion. This story was less about the Huntress than the hunt for her as well as back stories of the hunters, primarily Ms. Markova, she of the Night Witches, a very real and effective force for the Soviets during WWII.
At times this read almost like a romance novel and I was tempted to put it aside, but I slogged through. Overall I’m glad that I did but I will bypass Ms. Quinn’s works in the future. There are, for me at least, better stories to be read.January 17, 2020 at 09:26 #30038
LIAR’S PARADOX (Jack & Jill #1) by Taylor Stevens
It has been awhile since I’ve spent time with Vanessa Michael Munroe, the protagonist of Ms. Stevens previous series and frankly I miss her. I don’t know if I’ll spend anymore time with Michael but if I do I am sure I will enjoy it.
But, as those early morning infomercials on cable TV shout out to us “But wait! There’s more!”
And more indeed in Jack and Jill and Claire. . . or whatever the hell their names are. I think I know but I’m not sure, which is how Ms. Stevens has told this story, the first of a series and #2, Liar’s Legacy is on my To Buy list. In fact it has a blue mark on it. Yes, I color code my books to buy; leaving it blank, red, magenta or blue with the wanting to buy in ascending order, blue being the most wanted. Why yes, I am a bit OCD; how did you guess? I’m also retired and have a lot of spare time on my hands.
But, as is often the case, I digress.
Jack and Jill are indeed a paradox. They love each other though you would be hard pressed to tell that from the way they treat one another; Jack with his intellect often guiding Jill where she doesn’t necessarily want to go and Jill with her martial skills often making Jack pay for that with well placed blows. And as for how they act toward one another, that pales compared to the relationship they have with their mother, Claire.
This book is filled with background telling us how this loving family (yes, that’s sarcasm) became the picture of familial bliss and that is required to get us to the point of any near understanding of who these three are and what they are. The what is more relevant than the who.
From an early age Claire has trained the twins in ways that appear harsh. She has made them cry and made them hurt mentally and physically. I’m sure there’s enough analysis that could be done to keep Freud busy for decades and possibly drive him up his own wall. Well, except that Freud has been long gone some 80 plus years, but you get what I mean I hope.
And then amidst all of this turmoil and a huge family crisis that includes a kidnapping and deaths. . . lots of deaths. . . we add Christopher.
With this many twists and turns, with this many characters who could be expected to keep up with what’s going on? And for many an author this would be an impossible task but Taylor Stevens does a fine job of confusing us and letting us see the light at the same time. (How’s THAT for a paradox?)
The story is told in the 3rd person and each chapter is from an individual’s viewpoint. It may be 2 in a row for Jack or Jill is the next chapter or maybe Claire or Rob (you’ll have to read the book to find out who Rob is) or Christopher. That would be confusing in itself but Ms. Stevens makes it work.
If you haven’t read the Vanessa Michael Munroe series and you like action, intrigue, if you like a woman of the world who knows her way around a knife or gun or just her hands and feet as weapons then by all means read that series. And while you’re at it, find a copy of Liar’s Paradox and get set to sit and read and read and read. You’ll be glad you did.January 20, 2020 at 12:26 #30239
WOLF PACK (Joe Picket #19) by C.J. Box
19 books about Joe. Wow! And not a bad one in the bunch in my opinion. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything Mr. Box seems to support in his stories but those are minor overall and don’t detract from the fine writing, the intricate and interesting plots that he devises or the rare bloopers – and it disappoints me when I don’t find any in a story. No, not that I care to belittle Mr. Box’s work, just that they are fun and considering how much pen to paper (well, more likely fingers to keyboard) C.J. performs, minor errors are bound to happen. Think of a Starbucks cup in a Game of Thrones scene. It was a funny blooper in a multi million dollar production and though much was made of it, it hardly detracted from the story.
But as I often find myself doing; I’m off track, digressing, taking the wrong fork in the road. But then there are dinner forks, pastry forks, fish forks, cocktail forks, salad forks, serving forks to choose from. I’m bound to commit my own bloopers, some of which I find before I post and . . . damn, there’s that silly fork again.
Joe got his job back after being fired and blamed for bad events in The Disappeared. Once more he has won out over an oppressive government entity and this time comes out much the better, which is not always the case. His seniority restored, a new house/station that is larger, nicer than the one that burned down and a new truck! It’s about time Joe got lucky and I’m not talking about a date night with Marybeth.
This story, as so many of the Picket novels do, deals with that oppressive government mentioned above but also a band of killers from the Sinaloa Cartel. People dear to Joe come to an end at the hands of this band and yet there is new life. No details; you’ll have to READ THE BOOK to find out who we lose and what that new life is all about.
There is one thing that I’m not sure I would call a blooper. Toward the end Nate Romanowski (is it safe to say the most beloved criminal, or ex criminal since Block’s hit man, Keller?) is given credit for influencing the actions of the black wolf. However; that wolf has come into contact, though distant, with Joe in the past. So were those actions influenced by Nate, Joe or maybe a combination of the two? There is no answer to that except what you wish it to be.
No matter what C.J. Box thinks of wind turbines (he may be right, it’s just that I’ve never found anything credible to support views he’s expressed through characters in his stories and found much to discredit them) I love his books and look forward to both Bitterroots, which is a Cassie Dewell novel, and Long Range, the latest Picket novel. Wild west in a modern setting to an extent; and if that’s to your liking and you haven’t read a Joe Picket novel, or any of Mr. Box’s works then hie thee down to your closest book store or contact Alibris.com or Amazon on line and sit back for some self induced pleasure (get your mind out of the gutter!) as you sip hot chocolate or tea or maybe even a hot buttered rum with the cold weather outside. Just don’t expect to get much done after you begin reading.January 22, 2020 at 19:18 #30412
ORPHAN X (Orphan X #1) by Gregg Hurwitz
The first book of a series and I thought it was really good.
Mr. Hurwitz introduces us to Evan Smoak, a man raised from a young age to be an assassin, smart, adept at fighting in many disciplines and with an ability to think like the ones he’s hunting.
And sometimes that’s not enough.
Evan is not a superman but, as Peter (you’ll need to READ THE BOOK to see who Peter is) says, he’s like Batman; no superpowers but very good at his job.
Evan resigned his job as a covert government assassin. The only problem is that no one is supposed to do that, but it’s been many years since that happened and he has a calling now; he helps those who cannot help themselves. He doesn’t do it for money; he’s got plenty of that, nor does he do it for power. He does it because he can and they can’t. His solutions to the problems of those who need his help is often lethal.
And then he, the hunter, becomes the hunted.
Action, drama, philosophy; the story is filled with it and well done. If you like the action genre you should do yourself a favor and find one of Gregg’s books. I’m about to put a couple more of this series on my To Buy list and maybe one of his stand alone novels as well.January 24, 2020 at 15:32 #30509
THE INSIDE RING (Joe DeMarco #1) by Mike Lawson
It was probably 5 or 6 years ago that I first read a book penned by M.A. Lawson, Rosarito Beach. That was a 3-book series with Kay Hamilton as the protagonist and I was disappointed that the series was so short. I liked her.
Then come to find out that there was this guy writing under the name of Mike Lawson who just happened to be that same M.A. Lawson of Rosarito Beach and so I put him on my To Buy list but on a back burner. Just one of the many errors I’ve made in my life.
The Joe DeMarco series starts off with a bang.
Joe is a fixer working under the auspices of Congress but more correctly, working for the Speaker of the House. Joe isn’t a superman. He isn’t a martial arts expert nor overly proficient with a gun. If he has a major redeeming quality it’s his dogged determination to find and fix the problem. And this time the problem may fix him!
Action, intrigue, drama. It’s all in this book and quite well written in this, Mr. Lawson’s debut novel.
There has been an attempt on the President’s life and everything is wrapped up in a neat bow to solve the crime and leave no room for conspiracy theories. Or is there?
Well it looks like there’s a lot of wiggle room in the solution to this case and Joe is sent to find and fix. But the problem isn’t that simple. Some very powerful figures in the government don’t want any meddling in the case, especially by someone that can topple the apple cart as they say.
Like real life in Washington, D.C. things are not always as they seem and that includes the solution to this particular problem. But you’ll have to READ THE BOOK in order to see what I mean.
Colorful, believable characters, situations that take little effort to suspend belief and one woman who is . . . well, she is a lady of character but to put it mildly she’s kick ass! I’m speaking of Emma and if you read the book you meet her fairly soon once you begin. No, not a romance between Joe and Emma but a great working relationship.
Well written, believable, colorful characters that are also believable; this book is a winner.January 31, 2020 at 12:31 #30808
THE FIRE DANCE (Inspector Huss #6) by Helene Tursten
Inspector Irene Huss has become a favorite of mine. Ms. Trusten has developed a character in depth who uses intuitive deduction to come to a conclusion but she’s also human and subject to mistakes. In short, she has the aspects of a real individual. She’s a mother of twin girls who are now young ladies and out making decisions on their own, right or wrong, and the wife of a chef who works way too hard. (More about that in the book but you have to READ THE BOOK to find out exactly what.) She also is the loyal subject of Sammie, her terrier who usually gets what he wants. Save for one member of the squad she’s a part of Irene gets along well with her colleagues and her old school boss.
In short, Irene is a good human being, a good mother and wife, a good co-worker and a very good detective.
In this, the 6th in the series Huss revisits a case from 15 years prior when she was just starting her job. It involved the arson fire of a house in which a man died. Now that case has come back to haunt the squad as a suspect in that house arson, a girl of 11 at the time, has been horribly murdered by being burned to death.
With it’s many twists and turns I was absolutely sure I knew the culprit. Ha! Silly me. The ending was nothing like I imagined but that isn’t to say it wasn’t well done; in fact it was very well done.
Irene Huss is a detective on the police force in Gothenburg, Sweden. The town has it’s share of crime whether gangland slayings, drugs, domestic violence; in short what one would expect from an area of over 1 million people in the metropolitan area. But it isn’t a dark, dank city filled only with crime. It has cultural events that one would expect of an upscale European city. It has universities and a social support group that many of us in the anti-socialism bent of the United States would find strange. But they seem to work.
Let me suggest that you meet Detective Inspector Huss if you aren’t familiar with her and if you like strong female leading characters. There is action, drama and certainly its share of introspection in this series. More than enough to keep a mind interested.February 4, 2020 at 14:42 #31038
THE SCAM (Fox & O’Hare #4) by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
Giving this novel 3 stars is a stretch but then you have to consider the genre; ultra lowbrow comedy crime. That’s not a criticism as much as it is an acknowledgement of where on the shelf of literacy this book belongs. Others have written very good novels in this genre such as Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen. There books earn an unquestioning 4 to 5 stars.
I’m not complaining either, only acknowledging what is. When I ordered the book I knew what I was ordering. I’ve read all of this series and every once in a while I want something that takes no mental effort and is good for a laugh or two. While this one certainly met the expectations of no mental effort it fell short of the laugh or two. Oh there were a few chuckles but not as many as one would have hoped.
Nick and Kate take on a casino mogul of both Las Vegas and Macau with their usual banter of suggestive sexual back and forth. The usual crew is there to help and Jake, Kate’s dad is one saving grace of this book and the series.
While not expecting anything Shakespearean this fell a bit short of previous efforts in the series.
While I can’t urge anyone to read the book, if you enjoy this genre and you’ve read previous books in the series you may well enjoy this one, though possibly not as much.
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