Mystery, Suspense, etc.

Dead Man’s Bones Susan Wittig Albert
The Tale of Hill Top Farm Susan Wittig Albert
The Tale of Holly How Susan Wittig Albert
Aunt Dimity: The Next of Kin Nancy Atherton
Aunt Dimity: Snowbound Nancy Atherton
Coyote Wind Peter Bowen
Specimen Song Peter Bowen
Thunder Horse Peter Bowen
Hot Target Suzanne Brockmann
Plan of Attack Dale Brown
Act of War Dale Brown
Come into my Parlor Marilyn Campbell
One Shoot Lee Child
The Enemy Lee Child
The Poet Michael Connelly
Lost Light Michael Connelly
The Narrows Michael Connelly
State of Fear Michael Crichton
Double Shot Diane Mott Davidson
The Chairman Stephen Fry
Gone Lisa Gardner
By Order of the President W.E.B. Griffin
The Broker John Grisham
The Sinister Pig Tony Hillerman
Savannah John Jakes
Breach of Duty J. A. Jance
Day of the Dead J. A. Jance
Long Time Gone J. A. Jance
Monster Jonothan Kellerman
The Bourne Legacy Eric von Lustbader
Hark! Ed McBain
Weekend Warriors & Payback Fern Michaels
Killing Orders! Sara Paretsky
Roses are Red, Violets are Blue James Patterson
The Lake House James Patterson
3rd Degree James Patterson and Andrew Gross
The Hanged Man's Song John Sandford
The Guernsay Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Devils Corner Lisa Scottoline
The Intelligencer Leslie Silbert
Fury Robert K. Tanenbaum



Dead Man’s Bones  Susan Wittig Albert

China Bayles is still doing her thing, running her herb shop, helping run her tea room and keeping up with the activities of her husband, teenage son, and all of her friends in Pecan Springs in central Texas.  It’s just that murders seem to happen quite regularly, even if one happened about 30 years ago.  She just can’t seem to avoid becoming involved in all of the sordid details.  If you have read one of her books you have a pretty good idea of what goes on in all of them but they are all well written and fun to read.

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The Tale of Hill Top Farm   The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter    Susan Wittig Albert

The first book of a new series by Albert where we meet Dimity (Ok, I am confused - I thought that Nancy Atherton was the Aunt Dimity person, do we have two authors having fun or something else?) as a younger woman and Beatrix Potter after she has written her first six books.  Potter's fiancè has just died and she buys a small farm in the Lake District where she has happy memories.  She is also trying to escape London where she feels smothered by her parents.

As befitting a book with Beatrix Potter, it contains numerous talking animals who unfortunately cannot be understood by most humans.  As befitting a book by Susan Wittig Albert there is a mystery.  Both the animals and humans "collaborate" in the solving of the aspects of the mystery.

A fun book.  Suitable for children as well as adults.  Younger children would not pick up on a lot of the nuances.  A light, fast read.

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The Tale of Holly How   The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter    Susan Wittig Albert

The story starts off with a mystery to be solved but the plot has several more twists and turns.  The animals have their own story and the plot lines intermingle.  We meet a few additional major characters.  A continuation of Hill Top Farm as Beatrix Potter comes back to Sawrey for the second year.  Again a quick, fun book for those perhaps 10-12 and over.

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Aunt Dimity:  The Next of Kin   Nancy Atherton

Lori Shepherd befriends an old and very ill lady.  When the old lady dies it is up to Lori to find and notify her missing brother – as well as solve a lot of problems along the way.  Nancy’s books are all cute and light enjoyable reading.

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Aunt Dimity:  Snowbound   Nancy Atherton

Lori Shepherd ...

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Coyote Wind    Peter Bowen     Audio Book

A Montana Mystery with Gabriel Du Pré.  The first book in the series.  We meet Du Pré, his family, his environment, his culture, and his job.  He is called to investigate an old but unreported plane crash.  He finds two skeletons and and extra skull.  This greatly upsets the other authorities.  The sheriff manages to get himself killed, the FBI gets involved, and Du Pré gets dragged in to a very old murder investigation that links his father and the family of a new friend that he meets.  Great characters and interactions between them.  I really recommend Bowen's books.

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Specimen Song    Peter Bowen

A Montana Mystery with Gabriel Du Pré.  Second book in the series.  Du Pré goes to Washington DC to participate in a Folk Life Festival,  a young Cree woman is killed.  He then gets invited to a canoe trip in Canada.  He doesn't really want to go but he does.  Some strange things happen on the trip.  He gets home, winds down some and starts driving home.  He meets Benetsee, old Indian, medican man, drunk, shaman, prophet, and pain it the ass.  Benetsee says, "Take me to Stuart's Rock."  The old man climbs up on the rock and takes out a Bullroarer and whirls it around and around facing east.  Later that night he gets a call, a young woman anthropologist has been killed in Washington DC at the same time a Benetsee was on the rock.  A couple of days later he is sitting on Madelaine's porch when all the local coyotes began singing, Benetsee again, he speaks coyote fluently.  The telephone rings and another woman has been killed in DC.  Du Pré goes out to talk to Benetsee, three Cree women killed.  How does Benetsee know this stuff?

Du Pré goes back to DC.  He confronts the prime suspect, not him.  5 months later 2 little girls are killed.  Du Pré goes back up to Canada to help build canoes and travel to Hudsons Bay.  Someone burns the canoes.  But they have replacements and they complete the trip.  Later another person is killed in DC, a man studying the Cree language.  Du Pré goes back to DC again, he finds the killer, looses him,  tracks him to upstate New York an Du Pré and his daughter find him again and they solve the problem.  More of a traditional mystery but the characters and setting are very good.  Very strong female characters.

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Thunder Horse    Peter Bowen    Audio Book

A Montana Mystery with Gabriel Du Pré.  A friend of Gabriel is doing some excavating work for some Japanese investors.  A major earthquake hits the small town of Toussaint, Montana.  The earth is thrust upward by the quake revealing a number of ancient human skeletons and a T rex bone.  Then an archeologist of questionable ethics is found  (with a T rex tooth in his backpack) shot next to his wreaked and stolen snowmobile.  Du Pré follows his investigations from the Museum of the Rockies, to the Japanese investors, to rather strange archaeologists, and to Indians struggling to protect their heritage.

A very different, intelligent, and interesting mystery.  Du Pré is a Brand Inspector and part time Deputy Sheriff.  He is a Métis (pronounced met-e) ancestry - French voyageurs and Native American or First Peoples.  His lifestyle and attitude are very different from your average literary gumshoe.  I definitely plan on reading (listening to) more of Peter Bowen's books.  

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Hot Target   Suzanne Brockmann  Audio Book

Navy Seal Cosmo Richter is in the Middle East rescuing three Nuns who have been captured by terrorists.  While writing his report he is notified that his mother fell and injured herself.  He takes some leave to help take care of her but as she is recovering rapidly Cosmo takes a short term job with a private security firm protecting a beautiful movie producer who has been receiving death threats.  Well, the expected happens, boy meets girl, after a suitable amount of angst on both sides they finally find a bed.  The FBI agent is having troubls with his boyfriend.  Not a bad plot but there were too many flashbacks and sexual encounters.  I also get a little tired of having all domestic Nazi’s always based in Idaho.  Maybe next time a little more intellegence and less predictable, well probably not.

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Plan of Attack   Dale Brown     Audio Book  

This book is as bad as State of Fear by Crichton.  Very preachy, populated by totally venous and stupid superior Air Force Generals, an insane Russian President, and our true blue, apple pie, all american boy 1 star general.  In typical Dale Brown fashion we get the full model number and specs for each and every airplane and weapon.  Mercifully he left of the serial number most of the time.  

Our hero is right and blunts the Russian attack, is broken from 2 to 1 star, then successfully predicts all of the details of the Russian attack on the US.  He is relieved of duty and suspended awaiting court marshal just before the Russians attack.  He plans a counter attack and leads it, completely defeating the Russians using the last 10 or 20 undamaged American planes.  He is the hero of the century, his opponents are either killed in the attack or disgraced, and he is appointed a presidential advisor while his girlfriend has just taken to oath of office to be the Vice President.  Evil has been vanquished and truth, justice, and the American Way have been upheld.  A little sappy, a lot stupid, and one way of passing the time while driving from the SW Oregon coast to NE Washington after Thanksgiving.

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Act of War    Dale Brown  Audio Book

Dale Brown wrote a very good first book, Flight of the Old Dog.  He seems to be running out of ideas, or maybe it isn’t ideas - it could be stories to go with the ideas.  Our hero, Jason Richter, he could be the bookish brother of Cosmo Richter in the previous book on CD by Suzanne Brockmann, is in charge of a military high-tech team developing a war robot - augmentation device.  He may be smart but he shows no evidence of this.  The bad guys seem to be a militant eco-terrorism group.  Now just how many eco-terrorists have you known who use nuclear weapons?  The President (who shows no signs of intellegence or morals has a best friend who is the worst example of “The Ugly American” that I have seen in a long time.  Between the two of them I find myself rooting for the Russian terrorist (who we find has taken over the eco-group) and hoping they “terminate” the President and his good buddy so that we can get a new one who is perhaps somewhat intelligent and knows what the word "morals" means.  There are a number of good guys, all mid level military except for a beautiful female scientist, but most of them manage to get themselves killed or seriously wounded.  I will probably read one more Dale Brown book before I completely give up on him.  Again I was lucky, it was a library book on CD.

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Come into my Parlor  Marilyn Campbell

Sort of a cross between a romance novel and a murder adventure.  No mystery who the killer is, just how is the heroine going to escape and live happily ever-after with her lover.  If you really need a word fix this will do, if you want a really good book, don’t bother.

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One Shoot   Lee Child

Five people are killed by a sniper within about 5 seconds on a midwestern street.  The accused askes for Jack Reacher.  If you have read any of the books by Lee Child that he is in you will know that the superman has arrived.  He leaves a few women behind in true James Bond style.  A few necks are broken, a throat or two is slit, the usual stuff.  The not so innocent man (sort of), is released, the really bad guys are eliminated (see above), the bad cop is caught, the corruption will be cleaned up and Reacher is outa here.  If you like violent big guys who are on the side of Justice! you should like this and the other Reacher novels by Lee Child.

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The Enemy        Lee Child           Dec 2006

I don't know the the publishing history of Lee Child's Jack Reacher books but this one takes place very early in Reacher's career.  He is still a Major in the MP's.  A general is found dead in a shabby motel room.  His billfold and brief case are missing, generals always have briefcases - what was in it? did the hooker take it?  Lots of little questions, not vary many good answers.  The Berlin wall is being torn down, strange things are going on and people are not being very helpful.  Reacher's Bull Shit antenna is beeping loudly and he is not getting many straight answers.  I like this book better than the "later" books.  Reacher is less the Superman and more the suspicious Cop who is going to get to the bottom of the mystery ASAP.  A much more believable character.

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The Poet   Michael Connelly

Jack McEvoy is a crime repotter for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver.  Then his twin brother, a homicide detective in Denver, commits suicide.  It is hypothesized that a particularly brutal and still unsolved murder that he was working on has sent him over the edge.  Jack finds this very hard to believe.  He investigates further and discovers evidence that it was a murder.  Upon further investigation, Jack discovers a similar case in Chicago.  This too has evidence of murder and not suicide as originally thought.  Jack then goes to the FBI in Washington D.C. and with their resources and reluctant help finds a number of similar cases.  Through a number of twists and turns, betrayals, double crosses, and stonewalling the criminal is identified and almost brought to justice.

A somewhat dark novel.  It starts off a little slow but rapidly accelerates.  It ends in several totally unexpected plot twists.  Twice I was convinced that the novel had ended and was wondering what was in all the rest of the pages.  Then we hit the wild ride of a new plot twist.  The requisite number of brutal murders but I didn’t have the feel of gratuitous violence for its own sake.  I will read more of his books.

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Lost Light   Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch is a retired LA Police Detective.  When he left he took a box full of his unsolved case files.  He gets a call from another ex-cop about one of these cases.  In the process of his investigation he gets multiple warnings to back-off culminating in his being detained by a rogue group of FBI agents.  In the process of solving the original murder, he ends up by curtailing the illegal activities of the FBI agents, getting most of the bad buys killed, and solving the mysterious disappearance of another FBI agent.  Not a bad book but a little too preachy for my taste.

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The Narrows   Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch (Lost Light) gets a call from the wife of a recently dead FBI agent who had been Harry’s friend.  At about the same time agent Rachel Walling is called from Quantico telling her that “The Poet” is back.  Through a series of misadventures they manage to capture and be present at the death of “The Poet”.  Connelly seems to delight in telling the stories of emotionally in intellectually challenged police and ethically and emotionally challenged FBI agents.  It gets a bit old after a while.

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State of Fear   Michael Crichton    Audio Book  

I was disappointed, he is a much better author than this book suggests.  The premises were very weak and improbable and the book is very preachy.  A few speaches are OK but his were excessive.  A bunch of “save the earth” greens are holding a convention.  A major donor has become disenchanted and drives off and kills himself.  With not a lot of evidence a “military-industrial-governmental” presumed bad guy takes two of the donor’s friends on an around the world search and destroy mission to stop a bunch of eco-terrorists.  The presumed bad guy is an MIT professor who works for a government agency.  They, with no backup, travel to Antarctica, Arizona, and Borneo or wherever and stop the “real” bad guys at every turn.  In his ending sermon, Crichton explains the problems of the world and how to solve it.  He completely ignores the academic specialty of the revealed government hero which is risk analysis.  There are risks and benefits on both sides of any equation and both the risks and benefits have to be assessed for each possible outcome.  He completely fails to do this, casting all blame on the eco-terrorists.  This is a little hard to accept in the aftermath of Katrina and her friends.

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Double Shot  Diane Mott Davidson

Why do I keep reading these murder mysteries by female authors about middle aged women with a small business, a son, a cop husband, and who solve mysteries?  Could it be that they are well written and fun to read?  This particular embodiment of the genre doesn’t have a particularly arresting plot but is a very enjoyable way of spending a few hours in the company of Goldy Schultz and her kitchen.  Her ex-husband, the Jerk MD is released from prison and manages to get himself rather messily killed.  The police consider Goldy a “person of interest” and Goldy must fend them off as well as dealing with the complications resulting from the misdeeds of the Jerks ex-partners while discovering the identity of the murderer.  Also don’t forget her recipes, they are really good (from an eaters point of view).

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The Chairman    Stephen Fry   Audio Book

High finance, take no prisoners politics, several murders, just another day at the office.  A very fast paced, riveting, novel.  I really enjoyed it.  The old chairman had died (under somewhat suspicious circumstances), the new young turk is elected, and he is having a few difficulties in consolidating his empire.  Luckily he is good at ducking bullets.  My only criticism is that such brilliant people sure have a blind spot when some clues are presented so obviously.  

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Gone    Lisa Gardner    Audio Book

Ranie, ex-cop, child advocate, moderate alcoholic who has yet to admit it, has been kidnapped.  Her husband, ex-FBI Profiler, doesn't think the local and state cops are handling the case properly.  Lots of little sub-plots.  Fast-paced, holds your attention.  Some of the coincidences are a little improbable but this is fiction.

Unfortunately Gardner seems to be a city girl writing about the country and she brings her prejudices and lack of knowledge with her.  She makes several biological errors - ponderosa pines very seldom grow in swamps, country cops very seldom get stuck in the mud, at least not after the first few months on the job and all the razzing they get, this sort of stuff.

By Order of the President   W.E.B. Griffin  Audio Book

An old 727 has been hijacked and the pilots killed, There has been speculation that the airplane could be used for a 9/11 type of directed terrorist crash.  After getting nothing helpful from the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc., the President has turned to the Special Assistant to the Secretary of Homeland Security to determine exactly what is going on.  Major Carlos Castillo, a true hero, son of a Medal of Honor recipient, and all-around superman, starts by flying to Africa.  We follow his exploits across Europe, America, Central America, and the Caribbean.  He is extremely successful, both in covert war and overt sex.  He demonstrates that the CIA and FBI are more interested in their own agendas and turf wars.  Armed forces Special Forces personnel are always available, accomplishing their mission without and missteps, and provide valuable backup to Major Castillo.  A lot of action, a little simplistic and too black and white for my taste.

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The Broker    John Grisham

The “Broker”, knows everyone, and knows where all of the skeletons are buried in and around Washington DC.  Then he is caught with his hands in the till.  It seems that three Pakistani students discovered, broke the security, and reprogrammed a very sophisticated, very sensitive, and very, very secret spy satellite.  The three then proceeded to try to sell access to the satellite to the highest bidder.  The “Broker” was contacted as the sales agent.  Then it all went to hell.  Two of the three students were killed, the third disappeared – presumed dead.  The “Broker” was arrested, disgraced, and put in solitary.  One of his partners was murdered.

Six years later, he is still in solitary and the President has lost his reelection bid, carrying only 1 state and thereby loosing in the Electorial College by a total of 3 to 535.  In the final hours of the failed presidency the Director of the CIA comes to the Oval Office to request that the “Broker” be pardoned.  Why?  He will never talk, but perhaps when we leak his location to the Israelis, the Russians, the Chinese, and the Saudis, we will watch and see who kills him.  Then we will learn something.  The proposal is accepted.  The “Broker” is released from prison, whisked off to Italy, and given a pressure course in Italian and a new identity.  Then an attempt is made to capture / kill him is made and the “Broker” escapes both the assassins and his CIA handlers.  He makes his way back to the US.  He then makes a very well publicized grand entrance back in Washington DC, confounds his enemies, meets his grandchildren, and disappears.  Your basic, average, run of the mill John Grisham novel – Really Good.

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The Sinister Pig  Tony Hillerman

Another Navaho mystery.  If you don’t know about this series by Hillerman you really should.  Jim Chee, Joe Leaphorn, Cowboy Dashee and others combine to bring justice to the drug dealers.  Most of the Fed’s come off rather badly but that is pretty normal.  As you might guess, I really like Hillerman’s work, buy it, check it out, whatever, you are missing a very good author if you don’t.

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Holmes on the Range       Steve Hockensmith

1893 - Montana  Two cowboys, Old Red and Big Red, brothers, are a little down on their luck so they sign on as hands with a cow outfit that has a poor reputation.  The rest of their family died several years before of smallpox, floods, etc. and they have been hangin together ever since.  Old Red left school very early and Mama wanted at least one of her children to get some learning so Big Red, the baby of the family despite his size, always had books stuck at him and was excused from most chores if he would read and go to school.  Since they have been cowboying together Big Red has been reading stories aloud to Old Red from Harpers Weekly.  Old Red's favorite stories are about Sherlock Holmes.

After a couple of months working for this cow outfit a thunder storm came up and spooked the cattle into a stampede.  The next morning the foreman came around asking if anyone had seen the manager.  Nobody had so a search was organized.  One of the cowboys found what was left of a man - in the managers clothes.  Old Red volunteers the brothers to bury the remains, the perfect opportunity to use his Holmes-inspired deducifin' skills.  And so begins an enjoyable Holmesian romp through the Montana plains.  Old Red, with the none to happy assistance of his Watson er. younger brother, Big Red, track down clues, get in trouble, but in the end persevere and collect the evidence they need to find the truth of the matter.

A fun book, hard to put down, lots of local color - both Montana cowboys and English owners.  I hope Hockensmith writes more about the adventures of Old Red and Big Red.  I will be looking forward to the books.

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Savannah or A Gift for Mr. Lincoln   John Jakes

Thanksgiving – 1864.  12 year old Hattie and 14 year old Legrand are discussing Sherman’s impending capture of Savannah.  In the weeks that follow, Legrand joins the Southern Army, is wounded, and recovers in Savannah.  Hattie and her mother flee the Northern troops to Savannah.  The house of a friend they are living in is being looted when an officer steps in and stops the process.  Shortly thereafter Hattie and Legrand are out walking her pet pig when one of a group of Union officers make an unfortunate remark and Hattie ends up kicking General Sherman in the shin.  An so goes another John Jakes novel, unusual people, doing unusual things, and uncommon “common” people interacting with them in rather strange ways.  If you have read any of Jakes’ previous novels, such as the Kent Family Chronicles, you will recognize the technique.  A little unlikely but Jakes’ novels are always a good read.

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Breach of Duty   J. A. Jance

J.P. Beaumont’s last case as a Seattle cop.  The old captain retires to spend time with his sick wife.  A jerk takes over the position on a temporary basis.  Beau’s partner is having problems with her ex.  Not a good week.  One of their cases involves Native American culture, a possible link to the southwest culture of the Joanna Brady series.  Beau’s partner, Sue, is killed and Beau resigns from the Seattle police.  Beau is offered a position on the attorney Generals Special Homicide Investigation Squad.  A somewhat depressing book but like everything that J.A. Jance has written, well worth reading.

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Day of the Dead   J. A. Jance

This novel by Jance is not in one of her two popular series, J.P. Beaumont or Joanna Brady.  It deals more with Native American culture of the southwest, similar to the setting of the Tony Hillerman novels.  30 years ago a local Papago girl was brutally murdered and butchered.  Brandon Walker, ex Sheriff who is working on a Cold Case investigation organization run by Ralph Ames, who we know from the J.P. Beaumont novels, is asked to investigate the case.  At almost the same time another young girl is found in the same condition.  The two cases converge in a final shootout.  Walker’s adopted daughter, Lani, appears in a minor but significant role.  Both Lani and Walker could well appear in a future novel or two.  I hope so because I would like to read them.

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Long Time Gone 
  J. A. Jance

Jance has come back to JP Beaumont.  It’s been a long time, thus the title.  She, and Beau, have been missed but it was well worth the wait.  A number of years ago a young girl saw a woman killed, she recently started remembering the crime.  Beau is now working for the State Attorney General’s Special Homicide Investigation Team, called the SHIT squad.  He was assigned the case.  He also gets involved in a murder case involving his best friend’s ex-wife.  The two cases of course become intertwined.  Beau of course solves both cases.  The book ends on a gentle hint that Beau is interested in a potential romantic relationship.

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Monster      Jonathan Kellerman

Dr. Alex Delaware and his friend Detective Milo Sturgis are investigating the death of a therapist at an institution for the criminally insane; also there are reports that one of the inmates is predicting brutal murders.  A complex novel full of little twists and turns.  Kellerman is a good author who brings everything together.  A little dark but what are murder mysteries about?

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The Bourne Legacy   Eric Van Lustbader    Audio Book

Lustbader uses the Robert Ludlum character, Jason Bourne.  Bourne is shot at but the sniper misses.  Then his two best friends are killed and Bourne is implicated.  A clue is left behind and Bourne follows it to Belgrade while avoiding the assassin and CIA killers.  Over many dead bodies we run across a plot to kill numerous world leaders.  As with any good super hero, Bourne and his long lost son kill all the bad guys, save the world leaders, and hold the hand of the beautiful terrorist as she repents and dies.  Ludlum did it better.

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Hark!    Ed McBain    Audio Book

A novel of the 87th Precinct.  The Deal Man is back.  The book starts with The Deaf Man killing a fellow thief because of a double- double-cross.  He and a new partner then begin sending cryptic Shakespearian notes to Detective Carella.  A cat and mouse game ensues that ends with a stolen violin, a botched double-cross, and The Deaf Man being shot but escaping the police, leaving only some of his blood behind.

My wife and I listen to audio books when we travel.  During this book she was driving and I went to sleep at least twice.  A little too slow and too much local ambiance and psychological byplay to keep me awake.

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Weekend Warriors & Payback 
   Fern Michaels

Two short books, hardly novellas, packaged in a single paperback cover.  Three women are having dinner.  The daughter, the adopted daughter, and the mother are celebrating the mothers 60th birthday.  The daughter goes back to the car to grab a camera to record the occasion.  In doing so she is struck and killed by a driver in a car with diplomatic credentials.  The mother goes into an emotional tail-spin.  16 months later the adopted daughter comes to visit and they see a woman shoot the man who killed her daughter on the TV news.  Her mother comes alive.  “That’s what I should have done, I should have gone after the bastard who killed Barbara.”  She asks the adopted daughter (a lawyer) to defend the woman and keep her out of jail.  They set out to avenge women who have been wronged by the law and punish the men who attacked them.

The first book really starts when we meet 5 women who have been wronged by the legal system.  They learn about each other and one of their names is picked out of a hat to be first.  The first woman is a trucker who was gang raped in front of her husband (suffered from MS and parkinsons) by members of a motorcycle club who drove Indians.  Because of her husband she did not go to the authorities until after the statutes of limitations had run out.  She decided that an appropriate punishment would be the castration of the three men.  So they did.  Their second mission was for a surgeon who was infected with aids by her husband, a US Senator.  It was also for a friend of hers, many of whose patients and been refused by a HMO with corrupt management who were big supporters of the Senator and other politicians. Without going into details they extracted all the money from the HMO owners and shipped them and the Senator of to obscurity.  A few little side plots but sort of cute stories of revenge.  Not too believable, a surgeon should know that men can still perform sexually without testicles and kidnapping and disposing of a US Senator without killing him and leaving a body would be more than a little difficult.  A lot of artistic license here.

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Killing Orders   Sara Paretsky

A fairly old (1985) reissue of a V.I. Warshawski novel.  It was her third novel of the series and it explains much of the baggage that V.I. carries around with her.  It goes into a dark side of the Catholic Church which I find somewhat prophetic of the current Catholic problems in Boston, Spokane, and elsewhere.  I found it one of the best V.I. Worshawski books that I have read.  I am definitely going back and read more of them that I previously missed.

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Roses are Red, Violets are Blue  James Patterson

Alex Cross takes on the Mastermind.  The Mastermind kills or hires killers for lots of innocents and not so innocents.  Cross, the FBI, and numerous police departments have no luck until Cross figures it out 60 pages from the end of the second book.  The strange part is that the reader is told at the end of the first book.  A whole lot of gratuitous violence.  I get rather disgusted with too many scenes of the butchering of beautiful women.  Why do most mysteries have to be gory brutal murder mysteries?  He is a good writer but he and others are driving me away.

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The Lake House   James Patterson

The second, and hopefully last, of the series started with, “When the Wind Blows”.  It stars Max, Oz, and the rest of the flock including their “parents” Frannie and Kit.  The flying bird children are the experimental results constructed by mad scientist Ethan Kane.  The children are hunted, treated horribly, Oz is killed (we think), but they finally win as Max kills Kane.  A pitiful book by a reasonably good author who thinks that he can write science fiction without actually knowing any science.  If Kane had discovered the Dark Side or something there would at least have been some magic to allude to.  It was sort of like telling the story of a logger who straps on his lathe and skill saw as he goes out to kill trees.  It had been a dry year, the current bushes were only putting out 105 volts, but he had his power conditioner, it would be OK.  Patterson’s story just lacks any credibility.

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3rd Degree  James Patterson and Andrew Gross

Police Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer is out jogging with her dog when a townhouse that she had always admired blew up right next to her.  So begins the next installment of the Women’s Murder Club.  It ends with one of her best friends dead, a near miss as she saves the life of the Vice President, and a new love.  A good book.

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The Hanged Man's Song     John Sandford

Carp raises the oxygen cylinder as the black man in the wheelchair turns around and tries to point the the gun,  the man in the wheelchair is too slow, the oxygen cylinder crushes his skull.  And so begins a Kidd novel.  The black man is a disabled hacker, one of Kidd's e-correspondents.  Kidd and friends find his body and so begins the search for Carp.  The trail leads to Washington DC and an unauthorized Senatorial effort to create a new surveillance system.  We end up with a couple of additional murders, a couple of Congressmen, Senators, and a National Security Adviser disgraced, but the kidnap victim is rescued and the bad guy is caught and pays the price.  Some of the computer stuff is a little over the top but the book is a good read and fun.  This is a new series for me, I have read many of his Prey novels.  I will look forward to more adventures of Kidd.

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The Guernsay Literary and
    Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows      Aug 2009
         Potato Peel Pie Society

A book that I would have never read if my daughter would not have loaned it to my wife.  It's all their fault.  A really, really delightful book.  It is just after WW II, January 1946, and the author of a popular series in a newspaper during the war is looking for a new topic.  She receives a letter from a farmer in Guernsay, one of the Channel Islands that were occupied by the Germans during the war.  He has found a book that used to belong to her which was written by Charles Lamb and wants to read more by Lamb but there are no bookstores in Guernsay any more, could she help.  She finds several and sends them to him and starts a correspondence with him and other members of the Society.  The book includes nothing but the letters surrounding this chance correspondence.  

You learn a lot about life on German occupied islands, responses of people to this after the war, and how a talented author can make it all come alive.  Unfortunately there will be no more books as she passed away just as the book was being published.  Her neice, Anne Barrows, did some necessary re-writes and completed the book.  


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Devils Corner   Lisa Scottoline

Vicki Allegretti, Assistant U.S. Attorney is going to interview a witness.  As she enters the house of the witness a gun battle erupts, her partner is killed, and the witness is found dead.  After a few more adventures my first impression was that our heroine is really dumb.  By the end of the book I was convinced of it.  Many of the other characters are equally unbelievable.  The author is not a bad writer but too many of the characters push the bounds of reality just too much.

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The Intelligencer   Leslie Silbert

Nice book, intelligent plot, intelligent characters, I hope to read more books by her in the future.  We switch back and forth between New York city in the present day and the London of Christopher Marlowe’s time, 1593.  A mystery that was started in the events surrounding Marlowe’s death and their repercussions at the current time.  Nice comparisons of the social conditions then and now.  Not particularly complementary to the cultural conditions of either time.

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Fury   Robert K. Tanenbaum     Audio Book

Return to the World of Butch and Marlene Karp.  Butch is the District Attorney for New York City and Marlene organized the Sex Crimes Unit and was in charge of it until she had children.  She now does some legal and investigative work.  A number of years ago a woman was brutally raped and almost killed and her assailants put in prison.  A dishonest lawyer has worked with the assailants to bring a suit against the city, the lawyers, and the police.  At the same time middle eastern terrorists have planted a bomb under Times Square and are planning on blowing up a "dirty bomb" (radioactive) on New Years.  A very confusing book with many separate plot elements interwoven.  It really helps to have read other books in the series.  I do enjoy the series.

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