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

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Body In Blackwater Bay by Paula Gosling

Paradise Island, home to nine cottages mostly owned by generations of the same families soon becomes more of a hell for the residents when a dead body appears. Before the reader learns of that crime, even more sinister ones are described in the prologue. Red herrings abound in this tale of spoiled vacations, incorrect assumptions, tangled relationships, some outright bigotry and various modern day crimes such as spousal abuse and smuggling of one kind or another.
Every character in this book is interesting in some way and many have motives to protect their summer island retreat.  Jack Stryker, hero of another Gosling series, shows up to help local sheriff solve the crime of murder.  Swamps, storms, bug, and heat all add to the authenticity of a summer island retreat.  The description of a town meeting going terribly wrong and prying media being held off are spot on.  Most of the dynamic characters were women, some strong, some not so strong, one pretty evil although we don’t find that out until the end.  The women definitely drive the story forward and most everyone has known someone like at least one of them.
The action was possible, the emotions and actions were reasonable and the murderer a complete surprise.  I have decided to catch up with quite a few more of Goslings books as this one was thoroughly enjoyable.
Gosling, who was born in Michigan, has resided in the U.K. since the 1960s. She has received the Gold Dagger Award, the John Creasey Award for Crime Fiction. One of her works, A Running Duck, was later made into a movie starring Sylvester Stallone. Her books are available in public libraries, on Amazon, and many are available for e-readers.

Midnight Come Again by Dana Stabenow

All the typical attributes of Alaska are present in Midnight Come Again one of a series of mysteries featuring Kate Shugak, private investigator and Aleut native.
It is only too easy to believe in the possibility of taking on a whole new identity in the wilds the coastal regions of this state where disappearing on purpose seems quite easy. Kate’s remote lifestyle, frontier cabin in woods miles from nearest neighbor, let her exit go unnoticed for months. A change of career and new hairstyle finished the deception.
 The why of her departure becomes quickly obvious and then her involvement in the search for missing plutonium with former friend Alaska State Trooper Jim Chopin sets up action that includes salmon fishing, suspicious Russians, a notable number of red herrings, and some of the most intriguing characters to be met between the pages of a book.  And then, of course, there is Mutt, half wolf, half husky and 100% loyal to Kate.
 Midnight Comes Again introduced me to many aspects of life in Alaska leaving me with an appetite to learn more.  I am putting books by Dana Stabenow on my search list for local library book sales and heading to the library in search of another one.  Books can be read out of order in this series as enough of the back story is referenced to clarify details.  Refer to www.stopyourekillingme.com and click on Author “S” to find Stabenow and a complete, chronological list of her books.  The books are also available at Amazon and other online booksellers.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins

Wilkie Collins wrote "The Moonstone" in 1868 and is considered the 'father of the English detective story."  As a long time fan of mystery genre, I grew up loving police detective stories and remain a faithful fan.  I had always wanted to read this book based upon the allure of the famed old tale and getting back to mystery's roots.  The moonstone is a famed yellow diamond with a checked past. Supposedly taken from a monastery in India in the 18th century, the diamond fell in and out of possession of a variety of English families.  When the diamond is bequeathed to a young noble woman upon her 18th birthday, the valuable diamond immediately goes missing.  The remainder of the story goes step by step and voice by voice of the people who were involved with the family, the servants, the guests, and the police.  The story begins to be dissected as only a great detective would do.  The story at times gets bogged down. But that is a 21st century mind reading a 19th century book.  You often think the obvious and that for sure you know who dun it.  This book abounds in red herrings.  But Collins is masterful in creating doubt along the way.  This is considered one of his best works.  As a contemporary and friend of Charles Dickens, there are critics who think that Collins is as good a writer.  I loved the book and found a true mystery with great old fashioned police work with deduction and reasoning as the clearest path to solving the crime a refreshing change. Often in the 'old days' a mystery was not just about murder, but maybe an abduction or a masterful theft.  This book sets forth a blue print for the writers who would come after as step by step and interview after interview the story unfolds.  The other thing this book is known for is what is called the 'locked door' or 'locked room' mystery.  A murder or theft happens in a supposed locked room and there is no apparent rhyme or reason for the event to have occurred.  I won't spoil  the ending for you as this part of the mystery is revealed to the reader.  I am taking a departure from our trip around the USA to post this book for two reasons.  Reason one it is a mystery classic and ground breaking for it's day and time.  I wanted to encourage our readers and followers to also read this great book especially if you are a fan of the British mystery greats of today.  Secondly, I am taking part in the "Sarah Reads Too Much" blog challenge for classics for 2013.  Sarah has set a high bar and this fits the category of reading of a 19th century novel not only for her, but for myself.  This book remains today in many advance school curricula and is available in almost any format that you find yourself reading  today.  Also check libraries and Netflix for many versions of this story made into movies and miniseries.