Monday, December 26, 2011
Sinister Pigs, Navajo customs, drug dealing, exotic hunting and a stalled love affair made this book by prolific author Tony Hillerman a real education as well as entertainment.
Although the characters and some parts of the plot (Navajo customs and love affair) are part of a continuing saga, the book is perfectly understandable as a stand alone. Set in New Mexico on the Mexico border, everything about the setting adds to the interest of the story. Drug running in Mexico is a big story in the news as is the violence associated with it. The Navajo customs and personality traits, make the characters believable.
Hunting for fun and profit is not an American Indian trait and secrecy about a ranch specializing in the sport draws the attention of at least one border patrol officer, to the detriment of her personal safety. While her former boss becomes more and more convinced of the danger faced by his almost love and former fellow officer, scoundrels abound from as far away as Washington, D.C. Add to this a variety of corpses, unlikely retirees returning to work and it sums up to a great adventure and the mystery of who exactly the villain is remains a secret to the end.
But it was the pigs that amazed me the most. These are not the type of pigs that grace many a dinner table, but rather those that in mechanical form are threaded through pipelines to ensure the line is clear. Enough said. More details in this high adventure tale, will explain how this is critical.
Author, Tony Hillerman, has won every possible award in the mystery genre. The shear number make it impossible to list them all but a visit to Harper-Collins website will tell the story. Hillerman has published 29 books, 17 featuring Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn. To read the series in order, visit http://www.stopyourekillingme.com/ click on “H” on the author tab and the books will be listed by year. These books are readily available in most libraries and at locations such as Amazon.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
The victim and all around nasty guy was not a sympathetic character, the most obvious suspect almost as bad. The remaining cast of characters were interesting and well developed with two lead characters particularly well done. Clues to the case were numerous and sometimes contradictory but led to continuing interest in the story. Here we are 35 or so years later and still classic novels are being removed from libraries and extensive acrimony exists between the would-be censors and First Amendment defenders. The sense of shock at the existence and talent of a young and attractive librarian reinforced the usual stereotypical picture of a librarian. The local thrift shop was as popular for clothing as for gossip, not too different from today. The most amazing thing was the description of smoking in a hospital – unheard of today. This was an interesting mystery with a heroine who was a widow with very human thoughts and deeds. I quite liked her and would read another in this series.
Hildegarde Dolson, 1908-1981 was a prolific and writer and self declared spinster who was often quoted as being in favor of the single life (a characteristic shared by the heroine of the story). Dolson left Pennsylvania and arrived in New York City on Black Friday. That fact did not stop her from becoming a writer and she was published in numerous magazines. 1935 saw the publication of the first of 15 novels and non-fiction. In 1965, she married another suspense writer, Richard Lockridge , giving up spinsterhood.
This book and others by Dolson are available through Amazon both hardcover and paperback versions.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Set in present day, New York, at the tip of the Adirondack Mountains, the story is based on every parent’s nightmare: a child disappearing with no trace. This was a riveting story right from the first sentence. One sister devastated and gone for ten years returns to her home to cope with her mentally ill mother and rebellious teenage sister and a healthy helping of guilt. She no sooner arrives on the scene then disappearances begin again.
There are numerous red herrings and mysterious unanswered questions: mysterious men on the street, missing food, strange smells of food cooking, and sightings by mother, a mysterious nun or two. Just amazing clues or non-clues make this a real page turner even though I missed the missed one of the most obvious.
Character development of the women in the Connolly family made sense. All three grew as the story continued. The dilemma of the new neighbors next door was also believable and their reactions to events made sense. Once it became obvious that something creepy was happening in their house, it was impossible to stop reading either when there was a babysitter or the baby was sleeping in his room.
Some reviews compared this author to Mary Higgins Clark in style. Although I can understand the thought, I have read both an find Staub to have more plot lines going on and better developed characters.
Staub who is a veteran author with more than 70 published novels. She also writes women’s fiction under the name, Wendy Markham. She is a nominee for the Mary Higgins Clark award for “Live to Tell”. She won the 2008 RT Award for Career Achievement in Suspense and numerous other awards. For additional details, visit wendycorsistaub.com.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Now we are off on a new venture: mysteries from every state. Follow us as we travel around our country, meeting some new authors and revisiting some old favorites. See how long it takes us to complete our countrywide adventure.
We have to thank our local librarian, Alison Boutagh, Thompson Public Library, for the idea and always, the website, Stopyourekillingme.com for valuable resources.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
I mined this book from my stack of "going to read" books piled on my bookshelf. Since I desperately needed a "Z" author to complete this challenge, I didn't both checking reviews or even the inside cover.
The "Prophesy of the Sisters" by Michelle Zink is certainly NOT one of the currently popular feel-good sister stories. In fact, these two 16-year-old twins are adversaries in a battle even they do not fully appreciate. One is good and one is evil; both have allies. A recently discovered and very scary book, tattoo-like markings, and becoming orphans and all clues to the mystery regarding not only the girls' fates but also their past. Even though set in the 1800s, it was easy to relate the story to present day problems. Teenage rivalry, angst, drama and outright hysteria not to mention jealousy and quest for power are all part of the plot. Even the end of this book is not the end of the story as the sisters' struggles have now turned into a trilogy. All books are available through Amazon and other booksellers.
Although published in 1988, this suspenseful and disturbing mystery has characters and issues that are just as believable today. I hadn't read any of Yorke's books for quite awhile but knew I would when I finally reached the letter "Y" in our blog challenge. "Speak for the Dead" lived up to my expectation completely. Carrie, the protagonist, is a hostile and belligerent criminal from the time she hits 16. Stealing and prostitution are justified by her somewhat convoluted mental processes. She is not a likable character yet many men fall under her spell. While the story of Carrie is woven on one hand, it is the machinations of fate being woven by Yorke on the other direction in which Carrie, herself, becomes a victim.
I am encouraged to continue to read some of Yorke's many other mysteries. The Yorke style is crisp and uncluttered with unnecessary adjectives. Her descriptions of British lifestyles and clothing are never-the-less right on. Although this book is several decades old, it could just as easily have been written today. The motivations and deceptions could happen anywhere as the theme of man versus society plays out to a surprisingly gratifying ending.
Margaret Yorke was born in 1924, had her first of more than 20 books published in 1957. Yorke served as chairman of the Crimefighters Writers Association in 1979-80. She was awarded the Crime Writers Association Cartier Diamond award IN 1999; Golden Handcuffs Award, in recognition of her popularity within the UK library service and its borrowers in 1993 and the Martin Beck Award from the Swedish Academy of Detection in 1982. I found my copy at the Thompson (CT) Public Library which has an extensive collection of both books and audiotapes which means that both are available throughout the Connecticut Library System as well as on Amazon and other sources.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
First in a series of four novels, this book is so much more than just a mystery. It is an introduction to life in modern day China, more specifically Shanghai. Det.Chen Cao is not your typical crime fighter. Instead, he is an intellectual with degree in literature who has been chosen by the party hierarchy to serve with the police. Discovery in a lonely canal of the body of a “model citizen” set Chen off on a case which brings him into conflict with some of the highest party members. How he manages to pursue his case in spite of numerous setbacks, threats, and bureaucracy at its worst makes for a wonderful and engaging story. Red Heroine is liberally sprinkled with quotes from poets both ancient and modern, insights into real Chinese cuisine, lifestyle, architecture and perhaps most important politics. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and educational book. For more about Det. Chen read my co-blogger's description of the second book in the series.
Qiu Xiaolong came to the United States in 1988 to do research for a book on T. S. Eliot. In the aftermath of the Tienanmen Square riots, it was discovered that he had donated money to the Chinese students and he was forced to stay in this country.
Death of a Red Heroine won the Anthony Award for best first novel in 2001.
Second in a series, by White, Bailey Weggins is the heroine of this fast paced and intriguing mystery dealing with the suspicious deaths of three out of four bridesmaids for a distinctly overbearing and unpleasant bride. Bailey is the fourth bridesmaid and spends most of the book trying to discover not only the killer (there turns out to be two) but also the motive while avoiding becoming the fourth victim. The twists and turns should not be given away here but suffice it to say, there are plenty of red herrings to lead the reader astray. One thing I loved about Bailey was that she had the good sense to be afraid more that once and thereby avoid her killer. All the women in the story were strong characters, some good, some bad but all well drawn with believable motivation for their behavior. Peyton, the grasping and greedy bride, was completely despicable – a success story that people love to hate while fearing her at the same time.
Kate White is the editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine. She began her career at Glamour after being named one of the top 10 coeds in America. She went to Union College where she was a member of the first co-ed class. She has written three non-fiction books on the topic of women succeeding in business. She has received the Matrix Award for Outstanding Achievement in Communication and the Woodhall Institute Award for Ethical Leadership.
I intend to read the next book in the Bailey Weggins series as soon as I can get to the library.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Sunday, April 3, 2011
The Kill Fee by Laura Van Wormer
Sally Harrington, part-time sleuth and full-time news broadcaster is the protagonist in this ongoing series. She has the ususal broadcast anchor jealousy, boyfriend, elderly relative and even stalker issues going on. Far into the book, it also comes to light that some rather horrifying characters are in pursuit of land owned by her great-uncle. Sadly, I was disappointed in this book. I did not care at all about the any of the characters, most were incredibly selfish. The sprinkling of implict and apparently obligatory sex scenes throughout did not do a thing to liven the action. Van Wormer has had many books published, this is the fifth in a series about Harrington. I might try another just to double check my reactions, but then again maybe not.
Altered identities seem to be a theme in my latest mystery reads. "Die for You" by Lisa Unger lets the reader know before the book is even opened that one character is not who he says he is. The mystery is: Who is he? and Why did he hide? The protagonist, the unknowing wife, quickly finds clues to the deception in retrospect. Unger neatly ties together financial deception with ethical deception and wraps everything up in a bow called "love is blind" (often on purpose). Following deception, as a theme is abandonment as both the wife, Isobel, and her sister, cope in very different ways with the suicide of their father when they were very young. Suicde is, of course, the ultimate abandonment. Not asking questions in a relationship, not being financially independent or even aware are just some of the issues Unger covers while portraying Isolbel's quest to solve the mystery of just who her husband was. Isobel was a well drawn and evolving character, her husband despicable, her niece and nephew amazing. Most of the characters were well drawn to depict them is specific ways. Jealousy raised its ugly head more than once.
This book was a definite page turner and left me with the urge to read more of Unger's work. "Die for You" was featured in 2009 as a Today Show Top Summer Pick, and Parade Magazine, Good Morning America, Good Housekeeping and USA Today all picked it as a top summer read.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Monkeewrench, a first novel, by the writing team known as p.j. tracy, had my interest from the first gruesome murder. Monkeewrench is a computer design firm with five owners who are not who they appear to be or named what they say, and even though in their 30s, they have no history beyond 10 years.
The authors, a mother-daughter team, have one of the most amusing bios ever on their website pjtracy.net. I smiled as I read.Lower case letter in their nom-de-plume must be part of their routine.Read their newsletter on the same site. It is educational and entertaining. Monkeewrench won the 2004 Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Barry Award for Best First Novel, and was a finalist for the 2004 Dilys Award.
The murders are exact duplicates of ones in a new game the company is designing which has been hacked into. Who is committing the crimes? Is it an inside job? What ties these crimes terrorizing Minneapolis to others being committed hundreds of miles away in rural Wisconsin. And then, I was intrigued by Charlie, a mutt, rescued by the story's heroine, Grace McBridge. Their mutal love was apparent, causing me to worry nervously through almost to the last page that something would happen to Charlie as often serial murderers like to hurt animals. Every character in this book was well-drawn and evoked emotional responses.
The technological aspects of the plot made me a believer, in part because I am in awe of technology and those who really know how to use it. I have no doubt that something like this really could happen.
This book was a real page turner. I literally could not put it down. There are four more books in the series which I plan to read as soon as possible. To read the series in order, check out www.stopyourekillingme.com and click on letter T under authors and you can see the listing.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
"Summer and August" A Cape Cod Mystery is part of the LaRosa Chronicles by K Spirito. The fact that the owner of my local and favorite bookstore had her comments on this book printed on the back cover inspired me to read it for my "S" author. Also, I am somewhat addicted to mysteries set on the Cape and islands in New England. Any story that begins in a morgue is sure to intrigue, this one has hints of aancestrial mystery, but nasty characters and some surprising ones.
The ending reminded me of other historical novels in which babies are stolen only to almost inevitably reconnect later in life and develop romantic entanglements with dire consequences. The only character I really warmed up to was Summer and she really wasn't either strong or endearing. One villain in the story became pretty obvious through her obnoxious behavior and other clues, the other was more difficult to pin down. Imagination was used in the slaying of the victims but the narrow escape of Summer and August seemed more appropriate for soap opera fare. The was an easily read story - "a perfect beach read". Spirito has had many books published some are non-fiction historical works. The LaRosa Chronicles are a work in progress. The books are available in local book stores and in a variety of locations online. For a complete listing of her mysteries, visit www.stopyourekillingme.com
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Meeting Victoria Trumbull, 92-year-old part time sleuth and full time resident of Martha's Vineyard, was a treat that had me longing for more stories about this delightful heroine who did not let aching bones or stereotypes about age keep her from an exciting life. Even though this book was not the first in Cynthia Riggs' prolific series, it was easy to pick up who the various characters were. I loved the inclusion of small town politics and using endangered plants and animals to protect parcels of land. It seems only yesterday that a small town neighboring mine used these very tools over a 10 year period to stop a huge landfill from being built on a hill overlooking a lake. Excitement rose and fell over the course of the book. Heroes turned into villains and vice-versa leaving clues strewn around like petals from an orchid. Best line in the book: how does Victoria get around now that she has no license-she hitch hikes and gets a ride from the first car going by. The author is a 13th-generation Islander and brings her knowledge of the geography and local idiosyncracies to the book creating a real flavor of island life. On her website, firstname.lastname@example.org, she welcomes notes from readers. Why not send her one? I did.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Wendy: First in a series, this book is a definite first and absolutely delightful. Chet, the hero, is of undetermined breed, loyally and lovingly at the side of Bernie, his master. Unlike many other mysteries, this one is solved largely by the sense of smell with a huge dose of love for master. Chet admits seeing things more accurately in black and white then color and he applies that to various characters with either positive or negative results.
Chet is the narrator of the story which is told totally from his perspective with sometimes sad and sometimes hilarious results. His descriptions of riding shotgun in a Porsche and checking out various smells were enough to make the most somber reader chuckle. Chet's joy at leaping through the air and rousting the criminals is wonderful. Chet has no idea of the concept of time, lots of trouble with memory of events but a heart as big as gold. He also has one black ear and one white ear and is sensitive to comments about them.
Dog On It is the first in a series with two more already on book shelves. I can't wait. I found myself reading dog quotes out loud to other people just as if a person were talking. This book was at the Thompson Public Library, is available in hardcover, trade paper and E-Book form. I am off to get the second one as soon as the library opens.
Sue: This is the first time in our journey that Wendy & I both picked the same book to read for the alphabet author. I immediately became infatuated with Chet the Dog and the unique vantage point of a story told by a dog. Now this is no silly story with talking animals. Yes Chet talks to you as narrator, but it's a unique perspective and Chet speaks to no one else but you. The story begins as a search for a missing teen which leads Chet and his detective friend Bernie on a wild chase among a host of unsavory characters. At one point Chet is dog napped and then later rescued by a motorcycle gang who take him to a local animal shelter. The image of a wild and wooly shepherd type dog strapped to the back of a Harley is a chuckle that will stay with you throughout the book and is totally befitting Chet and his animal persona. This is a great series with humor, a view of the world from the ground up, and the sights and smells of a crime by a dog named Chet. You will not be disappointed and ready to grab onto the next one in the series.