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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Summer and August

"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

"The Case of the Missing Books" by Ian Sansom

This book is a quirky mystery surprise. No dead bodys, no bloody crime scenes, no forensics...just a simple mystery. Where are the library books of Tumdrum? This is the first book in what is called "a mobile library' mystery series by Ian Sansom. Israel Armstrong is hired by the town of Tumdrum in Ireland to be the town librarian. What he does not know until he arrives is that the 'library' is a decrepit mobile library that is hidden in a barn. The mobile van has been kept from destruction by crafty citizens that want to keep the town library from being dismantled by the town. Israel meets a host of interesting characters and takes more than his share of knocks as he tries to find out where all the books went. This has a feel of Nancy Drew about it. Although a very simple plot, it was charming and not predictable. It is comical at times and ultimately you realize the lengths that people with a passion for reading and books will go to save them. This is an ongoing series with the enxt book called "Mr. Dixon Disappears." These are available at area libraries and book sellers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"A Judgement in Stone" by Ruth Rendell

This story begins with the murder. You get a graphic narrative of the crime and who is murdered and by who. Then the author takes you back in time and begins the story of the Coverdale family and how Eunice Parchman come to be their family servant. The back of the novel calls this crime fiction and I think that is a better descriptor than a real mystery. Rendell is known for mysteries and I chose this book for the "R" author because this was a stand-alone in her writing career. I am a fan of crime stories and crime on tv and found this more of a criminal morality tale. The story of Joan and Eunice, the two main characters could be set in any time and place in the world, their story is so universal. If you are a fan of a true character study, this is for you. This is the spoiler part. The notion that someone can be illiterate and still function in society is compelling. But ultimately, the misplaced religious fervor of Joan derails Eunice and her chance to better herself. In the end, the family who did not deserve what happened to them, wound up dead. This is a sad but riveting look at what can happen to someone who has problems reading and writing and becomes sucked into hopelessness and a reluctant vulnerability that lead to a mortal crime.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Cranefly Orchid Murder by Cynthia Riggs

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, cynthia@cynthiariggs.com, she welcomes notes from readers. Why not send her one? I did.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn

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.