Mystery2

Bleeding Hearts                        Susan Wittig Albert    Aug 2006
The Hard Way                          Lee Child                   Aug 2006
Without Fail                              Lee Child                   Aug 2009
The Lincoln Lawyer                 Michael Connelly       July 2006
Predator                                     Patricia Cornwell       July 2006
Evil Under the Sun                    Agatha Christie          Aug 2006    Audio Book
The Seven Dials Mystery          Agatha Christie          Aug 2006    Audio Book
The Good Die Twice                Lee Driver                  Sept 2006    Audio Book
Booked to Die                           John Dunning            Aug 2009
Sign of the Book                       John Dunning            Aug 2009     Audio Book
The Bookman's Promise           John Dunning            Aug 2009
The Bookwoman's Last Fling   John Dunning            Sept 2009
The Bookman's Wake               John Dunning            Oct 2009
Term Limits                              Vince Flynn                Oct 2006
Ten Second Staircase                Christopher Fowler     Sept 2006
The Bishop Goes to The University        Andrew M. Greeley     Aug 2006      Audio Book
The Curious Incident of the Dog   Mark Haddon     Oct 2009   Audio Book
Dead Days of Summer              Carolyn Hart              Aug 2006
Mr. Paradise                              Elmore Leonard         Aug 2006   Audio Book
Edge of Evil                              J.A. Jance
Trial by Fury                             J.A. Jance                   Sept 2006  Audio Book
Injustice for All                         J.A. Jance                   Oct 2006    Audio Book
Until Proven Guilty                   J.A. Jance                   Apr 2007
Fire and Ice                               J.A. Jance                   Oct 2009
Gone                                         Jonathan Kellerman    Aug 2006  Audio Book

Thunder Bay                             William Kent Krueger  Oct 2009  Audio Book
Uniform Justice                         Donna Leon                Oct 2006   Audio Book
Ambler Warning                        Robert Ludlum           July 2006
Vendetta                                    Fern Michaels
Hide and Seek                           Fern Michaels             Nov 2008  Audio Book
The Afghan Campaign              Steven Pressfield        Dec 2006   Audio Book
Fire Sale                                    Sara Paretsky              July 2006
Burn Marks                               Sara Paretsky              Oct 2009   Audio Book
Tyrannosaur Canyon                 Douglas Preston         Oct 2006
Fleshmarket Alley                      Ian Rankin                 Oct 2006    Audio Book
Break no Bones                         Kathy Reichs              Oct 2006
Cross Bones                              Kathy Reichs              Oct 2006
Deadly Decisions                      Kathy Reichs              Nov 2006
Death du Jour                            Kathy Reichs              Nov 2006
Grave Secrets                            Kathy Reichs              Nov 2006
Sullivan's Justice                       Nancy Rosenberg       Audio Book  March 2007
Are You Afraid of the Dark?    Sidney Sheldon           Audio Book
Kill Me                                      Stephen White



Bleeding Hearts                Susan Wittig Albert       Aug 2006

It is nearing Valentines Day in Pecan Springs, Texas.  China and her friend and business partner Ruby are busy with their stores and starting up a new catering business with a new partner.  Her teenage son and his (girlfriend?) are secretively talking and the high school principal asks her to conduct a sensitive investigation.  China's time is getting severely pushed.  When she starts her covert investigation of the very popular high school football coach she discovers disturbing stories of possible sexual abuse.

All of the disparate threads of the story start coming together around this investigation.  Unlike many murder mysteries she devotes only a portion of her time to the actual investigation.  A large part of the book describes the ins and outs of running small businesses in the Texas Hill Country.  You feel more like a member of the community than the fly on the wall watching a murder go down.  Another difference with Albert's mysteries is the timing of the murder.  Usually the murder occurs very early in the story.  With her it may occur 20 year earlier or perhaps not until the last few pages.  She does a good job of changing the rules and still ending up with an interesting and compelling story.

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The Hard Way                          Lee Child                   Aug 2006

A Jack Reacher novel.  Reacher is in New York having an espresso in a café, he sees a man walk to a car, unlock it, get in, and drive away.  No big deal.  He comes back the next day because it was a very good espresso.  A man comes in, talks to the waiter, and comes over to talk to Reacher.  Reacher recognizes him as a warrior.  They discuss the car and the man invites Reacher to meet with his boss.  It seems that "the boss" is the commander of a small group of mercenaries.  His wife and her daughter have been kidnapped and the man who walked to the car was picking up a ransom payment but the wife and little girl have not yet been returned.  Reacher is hired to find the kidnap victims and possibly find the kidnappers based on his expertise as an ex-military police officer.  He makes some progress and starts to suspect that he doesn't have all the relevant facts.

Reacher finds an ex-mercenary who once worked for the boss, he had been left behind and while imprisoned his legs had been cut off.  He had the motive but not the capability of kidnapping the woman and daughter.  Following a lead uncovered by an ex-FBI agent, the agent and Reacher travel to England and find the kidnapper, the woman, and her daughter.  After suitable amounts of violence and gunfire the case is solved quite satisfactorily.  


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Without Fail                              Lee Child                   Aug 2009

Jack Reacher is contacted by the woman in charge of protecting the Vice-President Elect.  She asks him to evaluate their performance over a short period.  Reacher hires a past colleague and together they find three definite places where they could have killed the Vice-President Elect and one possible.  Following his report she offers him the real job.  The Vice-President Elect has been getting death threats and they have been unable to catch the person responsible and they believe the threats are credible.  Jack and his colleague begin working with the Secret Service.  They begin developing some leads but none are definitive.  They increase the protection but there is an attempt on the Vice-President Elect and two Secret Service agents are killed including the woman in charge who dies in Reacher's arms.  Following this Jack begins to zero in of the suspects and they set a trap for them at the funeral for the dead Secret Service agent.  Jack and his colleague manage to kill the two suspects.

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The Lincoln Lawyer      Michael Connelly     July 2006

A Lincoln Lawyer is a criminal defense attorney who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car.  Mickey Haller's client list is not at the top of the social register and he is on a first name basis with many of the bail bondsmen in the area.  It is not a great living but it is a living.  Haller gets a call from a bail bondsman, he has a possible franchise case.  A franchise case is a potential goldmine for small lawyers and bail bondsman.  It is a defendant who has enough money to afford an expensive defense and a possibility of being found innocent by a jury.  It looks good and Haller takes the case.  The preparation for trial is going well but then minor little things start cropping up.  Haller thinks he can win but he doesn't like the client.  Then major things start to happen, the worst is that his long time investigator is killed while investigating an aspect of the case.  Without going into plot revealing details the only thing that I can say about this book is that I enjoyed it.  It keeps you engaged with a number of sub-plots that mostly work themselves into the main plot.  Another one of those books that keeps you up late because there are only 50 pages left.

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Predator                  Patricia Cornwell     July 2006

A Dr. Kay Scarpetta book.  Scarpetta is running the National Forensic Academy in Hollywood, Florida.  Things are not going well.  She and Benton Wesley are not happy with each other, Pete Marino is acting more like a jerk than usual, her niece Lucy is distant and only shows up once in a while, she has a small tumor in her brain and the medication and stress is getting too her.  And to top it off a forensic pathology fellow who is supposed to be helping is proving to be more of a hindrance than anything else.  It seems that everyone gets involved in a rather nasty series of cases, kidnapping, torture, and murder.  There is an excess of gratuitous violence, even for a Kay Scarpetta book.  It is a fairly long book, over 400 pages.  If the excess violence (it is a murder mystery, some seems to be required), and all of the angst ridden emotional details were deleted it might shrink down to a reasonable size.  When I read a mystery novel I want bad guys, good guys, and how the good guys find out who the bad guys are and bring them to justice.  I do not want to read all about the emotion laden psyches and how one dysfunctional guy relates to another dysfunctional guy.  Sorry, but I have read Psych books, I was planning on reading a murder mystery, not a psych book by an amateur.  Definitely not up to Cornwell's earlier standards.

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Evil Under the Sun                        Agatha Christie          Aug 2006    Audio Book

A Hercule Poirot mystery.  Hercule is on vacation at a small island resort on the coast of England.  A beautiful actress is found murdered.  Hercule joins up with the local police to find the murderers.  This may have been the abridging but I was not happy with the book.  It was only a 2 cassette book so it may have been just cut too much.

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The Seven Dials Mystery          Agatha Christie          Aug 2006    Audio Book

Another 2 cassette book.  Again it may have been abridged too much.  The heroine and her friends are all fairly young people and the book may have been designed as a juvenile book.  Whatever the case much of the audio book is just plain silly.  Much of British society between the end of the Victorian era and the start of World War II was rather silly but too much is too much.  I kept hoping for the tape to end.

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The Good Die Twice
               Lee Driver                  Sept 2006    Audio Book

A Chase Dagger Mystery    (http://www.booksinmotion.com)

Your basic murder mystery - jewel theft mystery.  What sets this book apart is the vague reference to Native American culture and fantasy and science fiction themes of shape shifting and telepathy.  Unfortunately the Native American themes weren't developed enough to become interesting.  The shape shifting wasn't handled very intelligently, no conservation of mass and only passive use.  The telepathy was used very few times, never practiced, and not used at all during periods of maximum need.  Why have telepathy mentioned at all and then agonize over the lack of a cell phone when you have it built-in?  A rather pedantic mystery, some rather lame tricks pulled out when imagination failed.  Perhaps the author will learn how to write in the future.

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Booked to Die                           John Dunning            Aug 2009
            A Cliff Janeway Novel

Cliff Janeway is a Denver cop who has a "thing" going with a punk, they would both like to see each other dead, but no one has gotten mad enough to actually do it.  A small time book dealer is killed and Janeway "knows" that the punk did it but he can't prove it.  Then the punk beats up his girlfriend.  Janeway entraps him into violence and Janeway wins.  Bad thing for a cop to do, he is forced out of the department.  Janeway opens up a bookstore but then his assistant is killed.  Janeway is back on the job as an amature, solves both crimes (the punk didn't do it), and the book wraps up in a rather satisfying manner.

Dunning is a good author and as an ex-bookseller is very aware of the book business.  An enjoyable book and I learned a fair amount about the used book trade.

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Sign of the Book                    John Dunning                Aug 2009      Audio Book
            A Cliff Janeway Novel

Janeway's girlfriend and bookstore co-owner comes in to the store and immediately goes in to dust the back room.  OK, fine, she has something on her mind.  It finally comes out that her old girl friend is accused of killing her husband and has asked Janeway's girlfriend to defend her (she is also a lawyer).  It turns out that her husband was girlfriend's first "true love".  A potentially valuable personal library involved so Janeway is asked to evaluate it and also to evaluate the case from the cop perspective.  There are several interesting and plausable side-plots and the book was well worth listening to on a trip to buy a new car.  I have already got the next book by Dunning.

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The Bookman's Promise           John Dunning            Aug 2009
            A Cliff Janeway Novel

Janeway travels to Boston to buy a very expensive book by Richard Burton.  While there he is interviewed on NPR and he reads the inscription by Richard Burton.  After he returns to Denver he gets many calls and letters concerning the book including one that sounds like it comes from a crazy old lady.  After several weeks he is visited by a very old but not crazy lady who claims that the book once belonged to her and it was stolen along with the rest of her library.  She has another book with what appears to be a very similar inscription by Richard Burton.  She asks Janeway to find the rest of her books and then she dies.  This leaves Janeway in a serious quandry.  Janeway starts working on the case but quite rapidly things get very sticky.  Jameway gets beaten up.  He beats up a few bad guys, threats are made, one of his friends dies.  It is a real mess.  The mystery gets solved but nobody is very happy.  Well I guess there is somebody who is happy, the readers.  A really riveting book.  It was very hard to put down.

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The Bookwoman's Last Fling   John Dunning            Sept 2009
            A Cliff Janeway Novel

Janeway is hired to travel to Idaho to appraise a library.  An elderly man has just died and the butler, companion, assistant hires Janeway to appraise the books.  The elderly man was an extremely talented horseman and his wife was very rich and a book collector.  She was also allergic to peanuts and died many years earlier.  There are three sons from a prior marriage and a daughter from the last marriage.  The sons are all a little or a lot strange, the daughter is quite normal and helpful.  The book quickly turns to why the wife died, did she commit suicide, was she murdered, was it an accident?  A number of presumably very valuable books in the library have been replaced by much cheaper reprints.  Depending on the cause of death and who did or did not kill her leads one down one of several possible motives for stealing / replacing the missing books.  Janeway goes undercover for a while and works for a horse trainer who worked for the elderly man.  The mysteries just keep piling up.  A very nice book.

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The Bookman's Wake               John Dunning            Oct 2009
            A Cliff Janeway Novel

Against his better judgment Janeway travels to the Seattle area to bring back a young woman wanted by the law in New Mexico.  Janeway gets to Seattle, finds the young woman, befriends her, pumps her for information, and decides against taking her back to New Mexico.  Then things start to get interesting.  He meets her parents and the survivors of a fire that killed the printers and presumably all of the stock of a well-known printer of what are now very expensive books.  To solve the mystery, to know how to find the young woman, and to find the extremely expensive book that she is supposed to have stolen, Janeway has to solve the mystery involving the 1969 fire at the print shop and figure out the relationships among the interested parties since the 1969 fire.  

I just finished Fire and Ice, a J.A. Jance novel about Joanna Brady and JP Beaumont and it also takes place in large part along the I 90 corridor east of Seattle and I kept expecting one of them to pop up.  I was getting tired of the dreary wet Seattle weather and the pessimism of this novel was starting to get to me.  Perhaps it was this or just this story but I didn't enjoy this book nearly as much as the other novels.

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Term Limits                              Vince Flynn                Oct 2006

The book opens with an assassin planning a "hit".  He was a professional, he had killed many people overseas but this was to be his first on American soil.  We switch to the White House where the Chief of Staff is busy trying to arrange everything just so.  The President is trying to get his budget passed and is a few votes short in the House and he is pulling out all the stops, deals, pressure, and a few compromising photo's.  The President calls a young first term congressman to apply pressure, the congressman hangs up on him.  A few minutes later an Aide from the Speaker of the House barges into the congressman's office and threatens him.  The congressman almost breaks the Aide's wrist and tells him to never come back - it seems the congressman is a very recent ex-marine.  The next shift is to late that night and we view the very quick and professional assassinations of two powerful Senators and the Speaker of the House.  All three are described as being extremely corrupt.

As the facts come out the young congressman fears that he knows who the assassins are.  The story bounces back and forth between him and his efforts to determine what is going on and the Presidential Chief of Staff and the National Security Adviser as they attempt to put the "proper spin" on the news and make sure that they come out on top.  When I got well into the book I started thinking that this author really doesn't like the current administration.  Then I checked the copyright date, 1997.  Now as I rethink the entire book I don't know which party the author doesn't like.  I couldn't find any evidence for either party.  He just doesn't like corruption and self interest and is writing a sort of cautionary tale suggesting that you had better watch out who you train to do your dirty work, they might take their training seriously and decide that they know who the bad guys really are, and they might be really close to home.

I really enjoyed the book, I found myself bouncing back and forth between cheering on the assassins and stepping back and thinking, "No, this isn't right - don't glamorize ex-military personnel who kill Senators and Congressmen, even though they sort of deserve it."  I will read more of his books.

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Ten Second Staircase                Christopher Fowler     Sept 2006

A Bryant and May Mystery   Arthur Bryant and John May are the leaders of the London Peculiar Crimes Unit.  This unit, separate from the regular London police is charged with the investigation of high-profile cases which have the capacity to compound social problems in urban areas.  It was set up in the early days of World War II and Bryant and May were original members.  The date of the story is undefined but it is the very recent past, late 1990's or early 2000's.  Bryant and May are obviously quite old, way past normal retirement age, set in their ways, and some of their ways are more than a little unorthodox.  They sometimes struggle to follow current police procedure and sometimes they don't.  Sort of, but not really, Up Yours, CSI.  This book would never make it as an American crime series on TV, much too intellectual.  A very good read, I really enjoyed the book.

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The Bishop Goes to The University        Andrew M. Greeley   Aug 2006     Audio Book

Someone has killed a Russian Orthodox monk at the Divinity School in The University (of Chicago).  Bishop Blackwood (Blackie) Ryan investigates the crime.  The "locked room" aspect of the mystery is almost trivial compared to the international aspects.  The Russian mob, the Sicilian mob, the CIA, upper reaches of the Vatican, and splinter Catholic societies all combine to challenge Bishop Blackie.  The Divinity School, the Catholic Rectory of Chicago, and several people are shot up, a number of mobsters are deported before Blackie solves the mystery, forces the Vatican into abrupt action and rescues ...

A very nice little story to listen to.  The only time it slowed down is when we investigated the secret writings of the monk.  That part, although essential, was a little long and covered elsewhere.  It was abridged down to 3 tapes and it moved well while retaining the features of a good story.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time   Mark Haddon  Oct 2009   Audio Book

The subject of our story is a 15 year old boy outside of London who has Asperger's Syndrome which is similar to autism.  He doesn't like to be touched or to meet new people, he cannot make small talk and he hates the colors brown and yellow.  He loves math and solving puzzles with definite answers.  When he discovers is neighbors dog lying in the yard with a garden fork stuck in its body he knows that he will have to solve this mystery just like Sherlock Holmes would.  The story follows his efforts which completely turn his life upside down.  A fascinating book.

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Dead Days of Summer              Carolyn Hart              Aug 2006

This is a Death on Demand mystery.  Max Darling is planning on a special present for Annie.  Annie Darling is planning a special birthday present for Max.  They are keeping a few secrets from each other.  Max gets a walk-in client - a young woman who is searching for her brother.  She hires him to accompany her to somewhat disreputable night spot where the brother has been spotted.  She gives Max drugs in a beer and he wakes up about a day later with a splitting headache, severe nausea, and blood on his clothes.  The young woman is found dead.  Max is found staggering down an isolated road and is arrested for her murder.  Annie and her friends from her Death on Demand bookstore swing into action.  Each friend does the thing that they do best and they marshal evidence from a number sources and confront the real killer.  He is promptly arrested and Max is freed from jail.  As with the other Death on Demand mysteries it is not a very demanding book but it is fun and makes for an enjoyable several hours of reading.

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Mr. Paradise               Elmore Leonard         Aug 2006   Audio Book

Two roommates, Kelly, a Victoria's Secret model and Chlȫe, a some-times prostitute and currently paid companion to an 84 year old retired lawyer in poor health, go to the lawyer's house to cheer on the home team while the lawyer watches Michigan win a recorded football game.  Chlȫe topless in a blue and yellow skirt and Kelly in a Michigan sweater and skirt.  However the evening doesn't go down exactly as planned.  It seems that a "hit" has been put out on the lawyer but Chlȫe was there so we have to dispose of the witness.  The story is the tale of Kelly, the police detective Frank Delsa, the man who paid for the "hit", and the two hit men.  It is also the story of a bunch of overworked, foul-mouthed cops who do a pretty good job and are lucky, a beautiful, sharp, and sometimes stupid model, and a whole bunch of extremely violent, sociopathic criminals who are extremely stupid.  Good for keeping you mostly awake while driving but not much else.  The minor detail that the team Michigan was beating was WSU and I have been associated with WSU for most of my life had absolutely nothing to do with my evaluation of the book.

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Edge of Evil    J.A. Jance

Allison is leaving the studio after completing the 11 o'clock news.  She is informed by the news director that she is to clean out her personal belongings and leave.  She is being replaced by a younger news reporter.  She went home and told her husband, he already knew but had not told her.  Allison was not pleased.  She told her son and he starts a weblog in her name, cutlooseblog.com.  Then she hears that her best friend from high school is missing.  She decides to sue the station for age discrimination and then hears from her parents that her friend has been found, killed in an auto accident.  She drives to Sedona, Arizona where she grew up, her parents run a diner, and her friend and her family live.  On the way her husband calls, he tells her to drop the suit.  Her son, who is driving, tells her that her husband has a couple of girlfriends on the side.  She decides to divorce him.

In Sedona the investigation determines that her friend committed suicide because of despondency on hearing that she had ALS.  Allison doesn't agree.  Her blog continues with the two topics: discrimination against women in the workplace and ALS.  Most of her replies are supportive but some are not, one in particular is threatening and after the service for her friend that person attacks her in hopes that she can lead him to his escaped wife.  Allison escapes, the attacker is killed but Allison is beaten fairly badly.  After spending a little time in the hospital she continues her investigation.  She discovers a significant sounding clue but on the way to check it out ...

You surely didn't expect me to say Who dun it! did you?  It's not quite happily ever after, but it is a satisfying conclusion.  The book doesn't have an exceptional plot and some of the characters are a little too predictable but I had a lot of problems in putting it down.  My tummy got the best of me and I stopped for dinner.  Then I finished it.  Even though the book didn't have Beau or Joanna it is well worth reading.

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Trial by Fury                             J.A. Jance                   Sept 2006  Audio Book

A J.P. Beaumont Mystery.  JP and his partner Peters are called to investigate the murder of a nude well built black man found in the garbage behind a Seattle grocery store and when the coroner states that he was lynched they think that they have a real problem on their hands.  Then when they find out that he is the very successful coach of a local high school basketball team they are sure of it.  There are several possible suspects, cheerleaders acting badly, a number of high school teacher who are morally challenged.  The guilty party pays the price for crime, numerous others are damaged along the way.  This is the book in which Peters is injured.  This is the third book in the series.  Every time I read (listen to) a Jance book I am amazed how much better her books are than so many others of this genre.

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Injustice for All                         J.A. Jance                   Oct 2006    Audio Book

A J.P.Beaumont Mystery.  JP is vacationing, he hears a woman screaming.  A woman is trying to pull a man out of the water.  Beau runs down to help and they pull him out but he cannot be saved.  Beau is catapulted into a murder mystery involving several members of the State Parole Board.  This is the second book of the series in which Beau has not yet gotten over Anne Corley.  Beau falls in love with the screaming woman.  There is an "obvious" killer but Beau senses something wrong.  A very clever, but quite mad, candidate for a major political office is somehow mixed up in the affair but Beau has to track him down all over Washington.  Jance started out as a good writer and has only gotten better.  She only made one bo-bo and that wasn't bad, it is not that easy to get a tube down into someone's stomach and get a liquid down it.  Minor point, she did better research in her later books.

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Until Proven Guilty                   J.A. Jance                   Apr 2007

A J.P. Beaumont Mystery.  Beau is investigating the murder of a 4 or 5 year old girl, she had been thrown in a clump of blackberry bushes.  Beau and his new partner Peters find that the mother is a member of a small cult.  While attending the funeral Beau spots a stunning woman putting a single scarlet rose on the coffin.  He rescues her from the "clutches" of his nemesis, Maxwell Cole.  Peters reveals that his wife and two daughters have gone off to live with another small cult in North Central Oregon.  The romance between Beau and Anne Corley is progressing nicely when the mother and the leader of the cult are found murdered.  Peters becomes somewhat suspicious of Anne but when confronted Anne reveals the truth about herself and Beau is convinced.  Anne and Beau get married after a week.  Another man is killed, the same gun that killed the mother and the cult leader killed him.  Beau follows Anne to Snoqualmie Falls where she dies.  Beau asks Ralph Ames to stop by the cult compound in Oregon where Peters little girls are to try to help him regain custody.  

The first book of the Beaumont series.  Every time I re-read a Jance book I realize again how much I like her writing.  

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Fire and Ice                     J. A. Jance                     Oct 2009

JP Beaumont is working on a case where young women's bodies are wrapped in tarps and burned.  Joanna Brady is working on a case where the caretaker of an ATV recreation area has been run over and killed and the security system has been destroyed.  The farther we get into the story the more they become related.  It turns out that a drugs, sex, etc. smuggling gang has been importing drugs, girls, etc, from Mexico into Arizona and shipping them to the Northwest.  The girls that don't "work out" are disposed of discretely.  The story ends up involving many members of the Cochise County Sheriff's office, JP and his new wife Mel, Feds, and several other law enforcement agencies in Washington, Arizona, and California.  

The book is written in a rather odd fashion, it jumps back and forth between the settings without any warning and when you are thoroughly engrossed it can be a little confusing until you realize what has happened.  There is very little interaction between JP and Joanna but considerable between them and other members of the law enforcement community.  Jance keeps getting better and better.  

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Gone            Jonathan Kellerman     Aug 2006     Audio Book

Two "students" from an acting "school" are abducted.  It turns out to be a hoax and the woman is sent to Alex Delaware for evaluation before trial.  The case is later dropped which is what Alex expected.  Later she is found dead.  Alex tags along when Milo investigates.  The case is unsettling, a lot of things just don't make sense.  The owner of the school is clearly wacky, one of her brothers is marginally retarded, the other brother seems reasonable but still things are a little off and they are going nowhere in their investigation.

Instead of giving up they decide to further investigate the three siblings and the business they own.  Other unsolved murders with similar MO's are evaluated, their most obvious suspect is killed but when his sister arrives to take the body she sheds a whole new light on the case.

We end up with several dysfunctional people doing crazy things but I guess that is to be expected when the main character is a clinical psychologist.  Of course they solve the very gory and unusual crimes (they solve a number of previously unsolved crimes).  Not a bad book, not great but OK for a 6 hour road trip.

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Thunder Bay                             William Kent Krueger             Oct 2009       Audio Book

Cork O'Connor runs a small diner in Aurora, Minnesota.  He as been a Chicago cop and a small county sheriff.  He gave them both up for the joys of a slower life.  However with his daughter ready to go to college Cork needs another outlet.  So he took out a license as a private investigator.  His first client is an elderly Ojibwe medicine man who needs help in locating his son whom he had never seen in the 70 years since he last saw his son's mother.  

Almost 80 years before, after their children had be sent to white schools an Indian couple dies.  Their son runs away from the school and comes home.  There he meets his uncle and lives with him and learns from him.  After several years the young boy is hired by two prospectors.  He also meets the daughter of one of the prospectors and they fall in love.  Then 70 years later the now old man has had a vision that his son needs him.  The rest of the story concerns the story of the trip to find Henry Meloux's son and what happens after they find him.

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Uniform Justice                          Donna Leon            Oct 2006       Audio Book

A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery.  A young cadet is found hanged in an elite military academy.  The authorities in both the military academy and the police are firmly convinced that it is suicide, Commissario Brunetti is not convinced.  Not a very pleasant book.  Both the boys father and Brunetti feel that they know the truth but they cannot prove it and the forces arrayed against them are two powerful.  A well paced book, it kept you focused and trying to anticipate events.  A very anti-military book.  It took a little while to feel comfortable with the book as the characters and setting are in Venice, Italy.  I would be happy to read or listen to another book by Leon.
 

Ambler Warning                        Robert Ludlum       July 2006

Hal Ambler is being held in a top secret government asylum for the insane of the Virginia coast.  He is being kept sedated and watched 24/7.  Each day before he is forced to take his "medication" he has a short period of lucidity.  He is very confused.  Then one day a friendly psychiatric nurse helps him, she gives him Tylenol instead of his psychoactive drugs and tells him that there will be an emergency calling for a lockdown later.  He brilliantly escapes, avoids capture, determines that all record of his existence has been erased, and finally turns to the nurse for help.  Then things get interesting.  A secret, "wet", branch of the State Department, the CIA, the Chinese, and at least one private agency is looking for him.  He makes contact with a shadowy far right group who offers him an assassination job.  Ambler is very suspicious of everyone except the nurse.  He travels to Canada, France, and then to Switzerland following the job and the clues.  He finally determines who he is supposed to kill but he refuses to do it.  The Good Guy is saved, bad guys are caught and disgraced.  Lots of double, triple, etc. crosses, many killings in various bloody ways.  The clues to the primary "bad guy" were a little too obvious but by in large a good book, if you judge a book by the body count a very good book.  A reasonable amount of political content but since I agree with the politics that helped.

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Vendetta    Fern Michaels

After her daughter is killed before her eyes a mother (Myra) goes into a decline.  Then she sees another woman on TV shoot her daughter's killer.  Her life gains meaning, "I will punish him!"  She, her other daughter, and 5 more women who have been violated but the legal system has failed them form a "Sisterhood" dedicated to punishing the men who got away with murder or torture.

This is the third in the series.  It is Myra's turn, she and her "sisters" capture her daughter's killer in China, bring him back to the US, cane him, and take him back to China.  There are a few problems with her other daughter's ex(?) boyfriend but that is taken care of quite handily.  I get a little tired of women all good, men all bad, any thing woman does is good, etc.  Her series is getting less and less believable.  I was a rural volunteer EMT for 25 years.  In that time I can only remember 5 domestic violence runs (my count, the lawyers can count it their way), of the victims, 3 were men, 2 were women.  Definitely not statistically significant but enough to convince me that women have just as much capability of this sort of violence as men.  How many men do you know who would admit that their wife (girlfriend) just beat them up?  Definitely a problem in reporting crimes here.  I certainly don't condone any such violence, but it is definitely more than just wife-beating.

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Hide and Seek        Fern Michaels             Nov 2008    Audio Book
            A Sisterhood novel.

The Sisterhood has been expanding, growing internationally, and getting more ridiculous.  This time the "bad guy" is the assistant director of the FBI.  He is running out of options when his boss, the director, is killed in an automobile accident.  He sees his opportunity, the sisterhood slightly changes their plans, and he is brought down.  Two of the members go off to a private love nest (with appropriate boyfriends) in Montana and the rest fly back to the top of their mountain in Spain


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The Afghan Campaign          Steven Pressfield        Dec 2006   Audio Book

The tale of a soldier in the army of Alexander the Great in 330 B.C.  While listening I kept wondering if it was supposed to be a cautionary tale related to our activities in Afghanistan and Iraq or was it supposed to be just a story about life in the army of Alexander as told by a soldier.  I still don't know.  Whatever it was, it was a good story.  As with all historical novels, if you are not knowledgeable in the specific area you are dependent on the author for authenticity.  If Pressfield knows what he is talking about, our future in Afghanistan and Iraq is going to be short and painful, just like it was for the British and Russians.

The story was gripping.  As with many audio books, I listen to them while driving.  It seems that most have half a CD to go when I get home.  Do you park outside the house and listen to the rest or grab it out of the car and go in and put it in a CD player and unload the car later.  Oh, the problems we face in life.  I hate good books, they cause so many problems.


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Fire Sale                Sara Paretsky          July 2006

A V.I. Warshawski Novel.  Vi's old high school basketball coach asks her to come back to her old South Chicago school to coach the girls basketball team while the old coach has cancer surgery.  At first Vi refuses but when she finds out that her old coach is probably dying, Vi says yes.  When she gets there, Vi finds a group of poorly equipped group of gangbangers, fundamentalist Christians, and teenage moms who represent several ethnic groups.  She gets involved with the girls, some of their parents, their working conditions, and especially two families.  One of the families is extremely rich but owns a series of discount stores (think Wal-Mart) whose employees and suppliers work in terrible conditions and one whose single mother works in a small factory with two teenage daughters, one with a child.

Vi does her thing, gets injured several times, escapes killers, puts serious strain on the men and women in her life, and of course discovers the murderers and even though justice will have to wait a long time, puts the court system on their trail.  Things will never be perfect in South Chicago but with Vi on the case they are starting to get better.  I was a little surprised to find so much of the books in the Politics section reflected in a murder mystery novel.  I guess that Sara Paretsky has gotten fed up with our current political-economic system and just had to say something.  I enjoyed the book immensely and found it very hard to put down.  Even though it is over 400 pages it moved along very well and kept my interest up.

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Burn Marks                Sara Paretsky         Oct 2009            Audio Book
A V.I. Warshawski Novel.  

It is the middle of the night and a loud banging is heard on Vi's door.  It is her crazy aunt Elena.  She has just been burned out of her residential hotel.  Later one of her aunt's friends is found dead of a drug overdose in a building under construction.  Vi is hired by the insurance company to investigate the fire.  She notices something strange about the secretary to the owner of the burned hotel.  Then the secretary is murdered.  It would seem that the employer of the secretaries daughter is trying to purchase a number of buildings in downtown Chicago in order to buy them up cheaply, demolish them, and sell the property for new construction.  There were a number of red herrings which thoroughly confused the issue until they all either resolved themselves or were linked into the major plot.  A fairly old book, 1990, and is somewhat dated but it fits in well with her early novels.

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Tyrannosaur Canyon                 Douglas Preston         Oct 2006

Stem Weathers, dinosaur hunter extraordinarre, has made a big find, the biggest find of his life.  He has entered all of the data in his notebook and he has entered all of the data in his notebook.  He will finally be able to help his daughter like he has never been able to before.  He is shot.  Tom Broadbent (we have met the Broadbents before, in previous books) is close, riding his horse.  Tom finds Stem, tries first aid but it is too late.  All Tom can do is to promise the dying man that he will take the notebook to his daughter.

There are many contributing side plots: the effort to find the daughter, the effort to decode the notebook, the effort to find the killer, the killers effort to find the notebook, a venal researchers effort to claim the dinosaur fossil for himself, and the efforts of a covert and unmonitored government group to control (read that kill) any citizens who learn anything about some strange features found in the fossil.  Not a bad book.  Some of the plot elements are either a little hard to believe or further explanation would be required to make them realistic.  Preston, along with his sometimes writing partner - Lincoln Child, as well as a number of other writers have been attempting to marry science fiction themes with general literature,  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  Most are so-so, this is one of the so-so books.

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Fleshmarket Alley                   Ian Rankin                 Oct 2006     Audio Book

An Inspector Rebus Novel.  The book is set in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The reader evidently knows his accents very well and used them very effectively.  Unfortunately I don't know lower class Scots accents and can't translate them well.  When you are driving through the mountains of North east Oregon you can't really focus entirely on a book, and when you are listening to a CD you can't let your eye jump back to the previous paragraph.  Consequently I found the book entirely mystifying and just gave up on it.  Unless you are quite conversant in lower class Scots I would recommend that you read this, and perhaps other books by Rankin, instead of listening to them.

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Break no Bones                         Kathy Reichs              Oct 2006

Reichs is one of 56 Board Certified Forensic Anthropologists in the US and Canada.  Unlike previous books where she takes most of her inspiration from a single case, this book uses elements from several cases she has worked on.

Our heroine (Tempest Brennan, Tempe to her friends) is in Charleston, South Carolina teaching a student "dig" when one of her students uncovers a recently buried body.  Tempe contacts the coroner who is an old friend.  Together they finish the excavation, examine the remains and notice some unusual marks on the bones.  Then when several more bodies show up, all with similar marks, the investigation becomes more serious.

They have stumbled onto an "organ harvesting" operation where vulnerable and unlikely to be missed clients of a charity clinic are killed and their organs removed for shipment to a Mexican "health spa" where they are implanted into rich recipients who do not qualify for regulated organ donations.  An interesting book.  I will definitely read more of her books.  Her books inspired the "Bones" TV series.  www.kathyreichs.com

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Cross Bones                              Kathy Reichs              Oct 2006

A Temperance Brennan Book.  Tempe is called on to help investigate the murder of a Jewish man in Montreal.  She is handed a photograph of a skeleton during the autopsy.  This leads to an international mystery, bones dating back to the time of Jesus, skeletons taken from Masada which fell to the Romans in 73 AD, and a tomb which may have belonged to Jesus' family, possibly containing Mary, three of Jesus' brothers, and his two sisters.

A fun book, not too much as a murder mystery, more religious espionage and the tracking down of historical evidence with a great deal of interest to Jews and Christians.  This book is based on the research of James Tabor, a personal friend of Kathy Reichs.  His book, "The Jesus Dynasty is covered in the Book Report under Politics.

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Deadly Decisions                        Kathy Reichs          Nov 2006

A Temperance Brennan Book.  Tempe is working in the lab on a Saturday.  A new body comes in.  Her name was Emily Anne, her ears were pierced with tiny gold loops, her forehead was pierced by two slugs from a Cobra 9-mm semiautomatic.  She had been on her way to a dance class, she was collateral damage in a biker drug war, she was 9 years old.  Tempe had been trying to piece together the remains of two bikers who had gotten themselves blown up in the previous engagement of this war.  Several days later she goes out to assist in the search of a biker gang headquarters.  There had been a report of buried bodies.  The area is searched with ground penetrating radar and the bodies get found, however a smaller disturbance in the signal yields additional bones, a skull and two long bones of legs.  The bodies are exactly what they are supposed to be, two dead bikers who had been executed for offenses against the group.  The other bones turn out to be of a young girl and Tempe manages to track down her identity.  She had been reported missing a number of years earlier in North Carolina.

From then on the story gets more complex.  If you are looking for a moral I guess it would be: Bad biker dudes do bad things.  There are too many bodies to accurately say that she gets her man but the population of bad biker dudes gets reduced by quite a lot.  She receives a lesson about what she should do about personal investigation but whether or not she learns anything on it is a subject for another book.   The local library has several more of her books.  I will be busy for a while, so many books, so little time.

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Death du Jour             Kathy Reichs           Nov 2006

A Temperance Brennan Book.  The book starts with Tempe digging in an abandoned church outside of Montreal for the bones of a nun being proposed for sainthood.  Then we switch to a burned out chalet where two, then three, and finally seven bodies are found.  Next switch, off the North Carolina coast where two more bodies are found.  Then back to Montreal for the conclusion.  Tempe shows a remarkable lack of good sense in chasing bad guys and there are a few too many coincidences for my taste but it was a remarkably hard book to put down.

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Grave Secrets               Kathy Reichs          Nov 2006

A Temperance Brennan Book.  Tempe is in Guatemala helping to identify bodies dumped in a well during the civil war in August 1982.  Two of her colleagues are attacked and one is killed.  Then Tempe is asked to assist in the recovery of a body found in a hotel septic tank.  The police fear that the body is one of four young women who have recently disappeared.  We have three plot lines weaving around one another, army officers afraid of having their complicity in massacres of the 1980's discovered, current day illegal activities, and a couple of misguided girls getting in deeper than they should.  Tempe again displays her inability to keep out of harms way.  

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Sullivan's Justice                     Nancy Taylor Rosenberg     Audio Book  March 2007

Probation Officer Carolyn Sullivan is a top interviewer.  She gets the really tough cases.  This one, a serial killer who adds babies to his list really scares her.  However when her brother, her lover, and her brothers lovers, both of them, get involved in the case - things really get screwy.  10 CD's, so it is a long book, luckily it was a long trip.  I didn't particularly like the editing of the book, sometimes it tended to drag with a lot of extraneous details.  The sex scenes seemed a little forced, like the author wasn't going to put them in but the editor/publisher wanted some extra spice.  Betrayal - yes, murders - yes, but the explicit sex just didn't fit in with the rest of the book.  She also got carried away with the religious scenes.  They also seemed forced.  They just didn't fit in with the characters in the rest of the book.  One series error in fact - I really don't think that they award the Nobel Prize after the person has died.  It seriously pushes credibility when a high school math teacher solves a major unsolved problem in mathematics.  Impossible - no, likely - no.  The whole scene surrounding this episode is very improbable and doesn't add anything to the book.  

The book is OK for long boring car trips, that is about it.

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Are You Afraid of the Dark?    Sidney Sheldon     Audio Book

Four scientists are found dead, plus another several years before.  The wives of two of the men escape several attempted murder attempts and the sister of another is badly burned and left for dead.  All of the scientists worked for or were recruited by KIG, a large think tank.  After many improbable escapes and equally improbable life histories I began to wish that the performance had been the abridged version.  It was really quite sad, Sheldon is generally quite a good author - he certainly doesn't show it in this book.  Errors in facts, incorrect inferences from scientific facts, incredibly lucky escapes, totally improbable characters, police who appear quite intelligent just seem to drop off the face of the earth, etc.  I was very disappointed.  I was expecting much more from a Sidney Sheldon book.

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Kill Me     Stephen White

An extremely rich man is skiing in the Bugaboo Mountains of British Columbia and stops on what he doesn't realize is a snow cornice.  It gives way and he is almost killed.  A few minutes after he is rescued his friends hear that another friend, who was scheduled to go on the skiing trip has been seriously injured in a diving accident and it in a permanent vegetative state.  In later discussions with one of the friends who helped rescue him, he hears about an organization, he calls them the Death Angels, that will terminate someone humanely if they have a life threatening ailment and no chance of recovery.  Recalling his friend, he investigates and signs up after specifying his terms for termination.

Needless to say, this is a novel, sometime later he develops such a condition but he has unresolved personal business to complete.  This is the story of his life before his decision, why he made the decision, his feelings and actions after he learns of his medical condition, and his efforts to delay termination until he has wrapped up his personal business.  When I first realized what was going on I thought that this was a really dumb premise for a story.  After I got into it I changed my mind.  The book starts out slow and confusing but steadily builds to the rather unexpected conclusion.  I really got interested in the problems of the hero and kept wondering just how he was going to evade the next attempt on his life and complete his goals in time.  I really enjoyed the book and it kept getting harder and harder to put down.

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