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

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Swan for the Money by Donna Andrews

Set in Caerphilly, Virginia, this is the 11th is a series of books about Meg Langslow and her endlessly interesting and eccentric family. Each mystery somehow involves a type of (often exotic) bird in the plot. In the latest of this charming series, Meg deserts her blacksmithing business and Llama farm to help organize the prestigious annual rose show. With both her parents competing for the Black Swan award, the highest honor, and the show being hosted on the property on a thoroughly unpleasant member of the club, it is not a job she relishes.
The hostess of the event soon appears to be the obvious victim of jealous competitors and unhappy employees at her estate, but when the body is turned over it turns out to be someone else entirely. Suspects abound as do motives ranging from jealousy to rage over animal cruelty.
Reading about the intricate details involved in prepping flowers for a professional show was eye-opening to say the least. Tiny tools and perfect timing are all apparently critical, interesting that those very things could be critical to a murder as well.
Andrews has one at least one award for every book in this series and more than one for many. They are fun to read, informative, and often the mystery is hard to solve in advance. This particular book was a finalist for the Lefty Award and the 2008 Agatha Award for Best Novel. Andrews is a member of Sisters of Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Private Investigators & Security Association. There are a total of 13 books in the series and I have only read about five, the rest are on my summer reading list.

Monday, June 11, 2012

"The Interrogation of Gabriel James" by Charlie Price

I know you aren't supposed to choose a book  by it's cover, but while browsing the YA shelves at a local book store, I found this title and liked the idea of a mystery. As some of our followers know, I am a high school librarian, I have seen that mysteries aren't currently the cool genre and I wanted to see what passes as mystery today.  The book is set in Billings, Montana where two killings have happened.  Gabriel  a local teen is sitting at the local police department in the interrogation room with two officers going through not only the event surrounding the actual crime, but what led up to it.  The book takes place over the course of that interrogation, but flips back and forth in time as the officers go through what happened. Filled with creepy innuendos that can only be described as disturbing, this book deals with racism largely about Native Americans, drugs, and other dark family secrets.  Gabriel finds out more than he bargains for including the indiscretions of his parents. Gabriel unwittingly over the interest of a girl, is drawn into the remnants of a former Hippie type commune with a checkered past.  Gabriel is stunned to find out who is doing the bidding of this former cult leader and the people whose agenda is no longer love but hate.  The back woods of Montana is a great back drop for the secrets. I don't want to be a spoiler.  The book has an extensive interview with the author and I found it a great way to get into his mind and why this particular story.  The questions are posed to intrigue the teen reader and enrich the story after the fact and it does.   If you follow the reviews on the book, you will find them greatly mixed.   The innuendo about incest is pretty creepy no matter what your age, but you may find kids drawn to the story through it's taboos.  Over all I think this is a good story and I would recommend to my older teen readers that want a psychological book with a crime thrown in for good measure.   My only criticism might have been a bit more forensics thrown in.   As a person who developed their love of mysteries as a teen, I think that a book based purely on the psychological angle might not have been enough to make a teen what to read more in the genre.  But  I  found Price a good author with a true understanding of teens and I would definitely order more of his books and place them on the shelves for my teen readers.