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

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Land of a Hundred Wonders by Lesley Kagen

This inspiring story of a young woman with a traumatic brain injury may very well turn out to be my favorite book of 2010. Yes, it is a mystery. In fact, although the main mystery involves a murdered man, there are many other mysteries such as how old the main character is, what happened to her parents and many more. The biggest question is asked by Gibby, herself, will she ever change from NQR (Not Quite Right) to QR? The process she goes through is quite amazing and frequently humorous. Her misuse of words both aloud and in print would put Mrs. Malaprop to shame. Every single character inspired an emotional response, some positive - I was really routing for Gibby and her friend, Billy but disgusted by the sheriff and others and could certainly empathize with Grandpa who was caring for his injured granddaughter. The struggle with racism in the1970s also plays a big part in the events. Perhaps the overriding theme of the story is "change" in many ways while good vs. evil is also a major player. I was drawn to the book as it was advertised as being about a young girl with intellectual disabilities who has her own weekly newspaper. And, it is that, but it is so much more, I find myself practically begging my friends to read it - just so we can share ideas. I got my copy from paperbackbookswap.com. Amazon has it. Since Kagen is a best selling author I am sure most libraries can obtain copies. Try it!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"The Cold Dish" by Craig Johnson

If you read enough mystery novels you are well acquainted with the phrase "Revenge is a dish best served cold," from "Les Liaisons Dangereuses." Many novels use this ploy in some facet of their mystery novel. This is the starting point for Craig Johnson's first mystery novel featuring Walt Longmire. The character has been sheriff in Absaroka County in Wyoming on the outskirts of a Cheyenne Reservation. When you read the plot on the back of the book you find what might be taken as a predictable story. Native American girl is raped by a group of white young men and the justice is not seemingly meted out fairly. As the story begins, one of the young men has been shot dead and there the story begins. The cast of characters are humorous but also tragic. The setting truly incredible and Johnson has the writing ability to make you smell the campfires and see the beautiful mountain vistas and feel the cold of an early season snow storm. I was thinking throughout the book that maybe this was a 'guy' story and while it was good, I wasn't sure I'd want to read another. But then the story hit a twist. (no I won't give it away). I am now a believer. This is a series worth checking and I really got lucky just choosing a "J" book from a book store shelf. Johnson has won awards for his writing and you can readily see why. After finishing the book I plan to look for more and also recommend for a mystery book group choice. The paperback version comes with reading questions in the back. Examination of Native American culture and American West culture as it interacts in the American Justice system would be food for much discussion. Fans of Tony Hillerman, James Doss and others that write for similar audiences would love this book.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Handful of KIngs by Mark Jacobs

As spy mysteries go, this one was rather imaginative with a female protagonist. Vicki who has had enough of the foreign service tries to leave her job and her lover, fellow agent, Wyatt. She is drawn into the mystery of a writer who contacts her before she leaves Madrid and from there the twists and turns the story takes are frequent and sometimes confusing. Author Mark Jacobs has penned other mysteries and takes the reader through a maze of possibilities. This type of story is not my favorite but I stuck it out as I felt that the spy mystery had to be part of this blog adventure. Truthfully, I did not care much about the characters but the setting and activities in the book rang true. The question, of course, is does she live, does she get out of her job, does her lover survive, do they get back together and so on. It was an okay book but not particularly thought provoking.