Quote of the Week

"The key is to commit crimes so confusing that police feel too stupid to even write a crime report about them."
Randy K. Milholland, Something Positive Comic
10-30-03. Web Comic Pioneer

Friday, January 22, 2010

"The Body in the Record Room" by Joe Barone

It's interesting when an author takes his or her past and incorporates it into a riveting story. New mystery writer Joe Barone does just this in "The Body in the Record Room," his first book. The child of a medical doctor, Barone grew up on the grounds of the Nevada, Missouri State Hospital and lived among people that are very similar to characters and the setting of the book which is the early 1950's. The mystery surrounds the finding of a body in the record room by a resident of the mental hospital who calls himself 'Roy Rogers.' Roy is a bright man with a fascination for the record room of the institution. He suspects that the body he finds is connected to a murder that happened in the mid 1920's and he sets out to find the answer. What Barone does is change your image of the mentally ill. There are people who surprise you with their intellect but also their frailties. The intertwining of characters and motivation will surprise you as you see how often the mentally ill are taken advantage of by people seemingly in a position to help them including Catholic clergy. I found I chose this book because it was a first for Barone and I had a personal fondness for the memory of Roy Rogers and the thread that carries throughout the book. I think Barone has potential in his cast of characters and hope he will continue to write more books. Check out the publisher website for more information about Barone and also his blog which is full of great mystery suggestions. This book is available for loan through CWMARS system.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"B" Book satisfying, easy read and intelligent

"Verdict in Blood" by Gail Bowen is the sixth in a popular series featuring Joanne Kilbourne along with assorted family members and friends. Kilbourne, a political science professor at a Canadian University, also dabbles successfully in crime solving. The setting near Saskatchewan is unusual in that the weather is blistering hot and humid. The victim has changed her way of life in the last year from hard nosed judge to making amends to some of those she tried. This change leads to questions of senility and of course, control of money. Aside from the usual mayhem and murder, issues such as treatment of the elderly people and indigenous peoples are addressed in a realistic fashion. Author Gail Bowen uses vocabulary very well to round out her characters, describe scenes and set up some interesting red herrings. I was able to read the book in less than 8 hours and enjoyed every minute. I plan to read more of these books to learn more about the people of Canada and Joanne's life. The characters were realistic and most were quite likable. I found this book along with many others in the series in the Thompson Library so they are available through bibliomation in Connecticut and they are also listed with CW Mars for Massachusetts readers.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Some other "A" authors

Before moving on to my "B book, I wanted to comment on two other "A" authors that I really like. One is Rosemary Aubert who has a five book series featuring Ellis Portal. The protagonist is disgraced Canadian judge living literally in a cardboard box in the Don River Valley in Toronto. The series is very different and stories are not particularly violent. With Canada in the news, they would make an interesting read. Check out http://www.stopyourekillingme.com/ for proper sequence of books. My other favorite is Susan Wittig Albert and her China Bayles mysteries involving the owner of an herbal business. They are easy reading, good stories and also seldom particularly violent. Great recipes as well. Happy reading. Wendy

Friday, January 15, 2010

Book give away @ Stop You're Killing Me

The "Stop you're killing me" website has more than just lists of authors, titles, & characters. They also run a bi-monthly give away for free titles that are usually the newest in a series. Please check out this http://www.stopyourekillingme.com/Giveaway.html for a chance on a free book. This month's offerings are: "Mixed Blood" by Roger Smith & "Veil of Lies" by Jeri Westerson.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Old movies for mystery fans

Over the Christmas vacation I watched an old Erol Flynn movie from 1941 called

"Footsteps in the dark." It's about an investment broker who moonlights as a mystery writer. Of course his wife and mother-in-law are convinced his mysterious actions mean he is cheating on his wife, so also set out on a plot of their own. I find that often early on Saturday mornings the cable channels that run old movies especially Turner Classic movies will run great old mystery theme flicks from the 40's and 50's. I have seen some gems. Also check out the Internet Movie database for background on old mystery genre movies.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

"A" Book

"They call us the spring people." So opens, Dive Deep and Deadly by Glynn Marsh Alam. Set in the swamp country south of Tallahassee, Florida near the Palmetto River, this mystery in the first in a series of seven with an eighth due out in 2010. The protagonist, Luanne Fogarty, is an adjunct diver for her local police department. Having grown up in that area, she is very familiar with the springs and underwater caves where bodies and other things can be effectively hiden or even stored on a short-term basis. Having lived briefly in Florida, I found the descriptions of the unrelenting heat, humidity and bugs quite realistic. I have never read any mysteries set in this area so the habits and issues facing the natives were a new lesson. There were red herrings although I did figure out "whodunit" before the end. Fogarty, was well developed through the bookas were other characters who are sure to show up in future novels. I was entranced with a middle aged heroine and her love interests (yes, more than one) also in the 50ish age group. Alam is from this area and, like Fogarty, a former linguistics teacher and diver. Also, she had a career in the National Security Agency and is probably familiar with mysteries overall. I plan to read more of this series although it appears I may have to find some on Amazon, or at local book sales, as they don't seem readily available in the Massachusetts and Connecticut library systems.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Painted Lady by Peter Abresch

I began my A to Z mystery journey by reading "Painted Lady" by Peter Abresch which is self titled "an elderhostel mystery." This is a series with lead character James P. Dandy who takes elderhostel trips and solves murders along the way. Ironically, the story begins in a hotel that is hosting an annual Bouchercon which is the largest convention of mystery readers and authors in the world. So it seemed fitting to begin here. Jim Dandy and his lady love Dodie Swisher are preparing to attend an elderhostel trip that will take them to the Santa Fe Trail. They almost immediately witness the death of a local shaman or medicine woman who falls from a hotel roof. Ths story continues from there with many twists and turns. The author puts in a whole host of characters that they meet on the trip for many red herrings. Abresch also gives a flavor of what one might experience in taking an elderhostel program. If you want to know more about elderhostel programs nationally and world wide, it is now called Exploritas. This is a light enjoyable series. I like an author who writes a good story but also gives you things to learn about and experience. I would definitely read more of these books. The character names are a little cornball, but the story is strong enough to get over that part. The author seems to have researched his background well and the book held my interest throughout. As I will share in the future, I am terrible at figuring out 'whodunit.'
I hope you all will check out Peter Abresch as a mystery series author. I found that CWMARS.ORG in MA and Bibliomation in CT both carry these books, so go to your local library and check one out or order through interlibrary loan. Thanks for reading!