Mystery3

Cradle and All                  James Patterson            June 2007     Audio Book
Wild Justice                      Philip Margolin            June 2007     Audio Book
Shadow Man                    Cody McFadyen          Sept 2007     Audio Book
The Blight Way               Patrick F. McManus     June 2007
Avalanche                        Patrick F. McManus     June 2007
Blow Out                         Catherine Coulter         June 2007     Audio Book
Transfer of Power            Vince Flynn                 Sept 2007
Memorial Day                  Vince Flynn                 Sept 2007
Consent to Kill                 Vince Flynn                 Sept 2007
Executive Power              Vince Flynn                 Oct 2007
Dead Wrong                     J. A. Jance                   July 2007
Lying in Wait                   J. A. Jance                    July 2007
Justice Denied                  J. A. Jance                    Sept 2007
Web of Evil                      J. A. Jance                    Sept 2007
Damage Control               J. A. Jance                    Nov 2008
Hand of Evil                     J. A. Jance                    Feb 2008
Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea   Nancy Atherton        July 2007
Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday             Nancy Atherton        July 2007
Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter            Nancy Atherton        Sept 2008
Aunt Dimity Goes West   Nancy Atherton            Oct 2008
Aunt Dimity Slays the Dragon            Nancy Atherton        Aug 2009
Forests of the Night          James W. Hall               Jan 2009          Audio Book
Spare Change                   Robert B. Parker           Aug 2007         Audio Book
Rise to Rebellion              Jeff Shaara                    Jan 2009           Audio Book
Speaking in Tongues        Jeffery Deaver              Aug 2007         Audio Book
Brimstone                         Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child      Aug 2007     Audio Book
The Book of the Dead      Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child      Dec 2008     Audio Book
At Risk                             Patricia Cornwell          Aug 2007         Audio Book
Orchid Blues                    Stuart Woods                Sept 2007         Audio Book
Dark Harbor                     Stuart Woods                Oct 2007
Mounting Fears                Stuart Woods                June 2009        Audio Book
Second Shot                     Zoë Sharp                     Sept 2007
Always Time to Die         Elizabeth Lowell           Oct 2007         Audio Book
Daddy's Girl                     Lisa Scottoline              Oct 2007          Audio Book
Killer Weekend                Ridley Pearson              Nov 2007        Audio Book
Hard Truth                       Mariah Stewart              Jan 2008          Audio Book
Midas                               Russell Andrews           Mar 2008         Audio Book
Innocent in Death            Nora Roberts                 Mar 2008         Audio Book
Strangers in Death           Nora Roberts                 Nov 2008         Audio Book
Back Stabber                   Tim Cockey                   Apr 2008         Audio Book
Lost City                          Clive Cussler w/Paul Kemprecos    Jan 2009   Audio Book
Dark Watch                     Clive Cussler w/Jack Du Brul         Jan 2009   Audio Book
Dead Watch                     John Sanford                 Apr 2008          Audio Book
The Quickie                     James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge     Apr 2008     Audio Book
Bare Bones                      Kathy Reichs                 Apr 2008
S Is for Silence                 Sue Grafton                   May 2008          Audio Book
Conviction                       Richard N. Patterson      June 2008          Audio Book
Shadow Men                   Jonathon King                July 2008           Audio Book
White Hot                        Sandra Brown                July 2008           Audio Book
Hornet Flight                   Ken Follett                     Dec 2008
Assassin                          Ted Bell                          Apr 2009            Audio Book
Born to Run                    James Grippando            Apr 2009            Audio Book



Cradle and All               James Patterson      June 2007     Audio Book

Two young girls, one 16 in New England and one 14 in Ireland, are pregnant and there is no sign that they are not virgins.  Since they are both Catholics the local priests and the Vatican both get involved.  The book goes downhill from there.  If you are into Catholic mysticism it might be OK.  If you are somewhat knowledgeable about the origin of the Bible and the origin of Christianity it is a little silly.  The opening points of the story (epidemics, droughts, famines, floods, etc.) are almost completely ignored.  When the "real" virgin (the religious descendant of Mary) is finally revealed my response was, "Hasn't he pulled enough stupid tricks, why do we need one more." He needs to stick with Alex Cross and Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer.  He can tell a good story, he just needs to stick with situations he knows about and doesn't have to do any research on.

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Wild Justice                    Philip Margolin             June 2007       Audio Book

Lawyers and Surgeons, add in a cop or two.  Add in the complication that one of the group (probably a surgeon) is a long time serial killer and it gets a little confusing.  Until the very end we don't know who the killer is and almost everyone is a suspect for a while.  A very good book to listen to on a long journey by auto.  

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Shadow Man                  Cody McFadyen          Sept 2007     Audio Book

Smoky Barrett is a super woman FBI agent but her husband, child, and almost Smoky herself is killed by a a madman.  In therapy for months she is getting close to coming back to work when a deranged killer calling himself Jack Jr., a supposed descendant of Jack the Ripper starts killing supposed prostitutes.  However they have closer and closer relationships to Smoky.  As Smoky's team gets closer and closer to the killer it seems that he has disciples and the relationships get weirder and weirder.  

If you are really into descriptions of torture and really screwed up murderers this is the book for you.  If so you probably won't mind the cliches for characters, the confusions regarding CD vs. tape technology, and the total improbability of the main bad guy.  The author could use a good editor and a few swift kicks in the creativity.  She could also use a partial extirpation of the gritty or gross-out organ, it is hyperactive.  Some might answer that part of this is due to problems with the abridgment.  If so the deconstruction engineer needs to go back to school for some reeducation.  The author shows some promise, I just hope the promise is kept and a little more professionalism is cultivated.

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The Blight Way                Patrick F. McManus    June 2007

A Sheriff Bo Tull Mystery.  A new venture for Pat McManus - he is now writing humorous mystery books instead of just plain humorous books.  It restricts his set of characters some but he has more chance to develop them.  Bo Tully is the painting sheriff of Blight County, residing in Blight City.  Evidently everything was named after the founder, Delmore Blight.  My partially educated guess is that is a pseudonym for Grangeville, Idaho but substantial artistic liberties were taken.  We have a number of dead bodies, a beautiful new medical examiner, and Pap, his 75 year old father who used to be sheriff.  The mystery revolves around an abandoned mine, a marijuana growing operation and turf wars (the guys from LA lost).  It is harder to put together a humorous mystery story than independent chapters as it all has to be linked together but McManus does a very good job.

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Avalanche                Patrick F. McManus    June 2007

A Sheriff Bo Tully Mystery.  The second  book of the series.  Sheriff  Tully and Pap go up to a local resort lodge to check out a missing person, the lodge owner.  On their way up they are almost caught in an avalanche, they rescue a young couple and then discover that the avalanche was deliberately started.  Considering that Bo's date with the medical examiner didn't go so well, Bo, Pap, and friend Dave (pseudo Indian) tracker thought that a few days conducting an investigation would be a great diversion.  With the avalanche and all things aren't turning out quite as well as Bo hoped.  The book however turns out very well.  McManus was already a good author and he is turning into a good if a little off-beat mystery author.

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Blow Out
                         Catherine Coulter         June 2007     Audio Book

A Justice of the Supreme Court is killed, then one of his clerks, then another.  His step-daughter, a Washington DC cop, and two FBI agents lead the investigation.  Why his step-daughter?  Because she is an investigative reporter and threatens to investigate on her own and because she knows most of the people close to the investigation and and offers to help pick up on nuances that the professional investigators might not.  Not a bad book, a little overblown in some cases, a little heavy on the romance (is Catherine Coulter a known romance author - perhaps - I don't read many and I haven't come across her as a mystery writer before).  A few interesting twists at the end that don't add (or really subtract) to the novel but OK.

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Transfer of Power        Vince Flynn                Sept 2007

A new series to me.  Starring Mitch Rapp.  The year is 1999 (or thereabouts) - and this book was published in 1999.  The CIA has just captured a Hezbollah leader and just as the capturers learn that he has been planning an attack on the President the attack takes place.  Due to the warning the President is neither captured nor killed but the terrorists capture the White House.  How do we get the President out of the bunker in the sub-basement of the White House before the terrorists break into the bunker?  Thats easy - we just call on the SuperMan who just captured the Hezbollah leader.  He, with the help of a retired White House employee and a brand new (and beautiful) White House correspondent infiltrate the White House, hide in the secret rooms and passages, spy on the terrorists, and aid the Seals and Special Forces units who stage a daring raid on the White House.  The President and his Secret Service staff are rescued, the terrorist leader escapes but then in an afterward he is in turn killed by the SuperMan.

If you like Super Heroes who can perform any military maneuver perfectly and never get killed or injured no matter how many bad guys are in their way, stalwart military personnel who support him, venal and stupid politicians, old and wily CIA chiefs with beautiful yet brilliant assistants (and about six more cliche's that I left out) then this is the book for you.  Flynn is a fairly good writer and overall I enjoyed the book.  I just get tired of books that have such an obvious political agenda.  I don't expect textbook accuracy in a novel but with so many of them pitching the same party line I begin to wonder just who is paying them.  Flynn has a reasonable amount of talent as a writer.  Now how about trying to use some of that talent to actually read something on both sides of the political fence.  

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Memorial Day                  Vince Flynn                 Sept 2007

It is just before Memorial Day and the Inaugural of the WW II Memorial.  A problem, the CIA has been picking up some strange money transfers and there seems to be a gathering of al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan.  Mitch Rapp heads to Pakistan to coordinate the attack on the al-Qaeda leaders.  In the attack they find documents and maps indicating that al-Qaeda is planning on attacking Washington DC with a nuclear weapon.  After the appropriate numbers of tortures, killings, etc. the bomb is discovered and neutralized.  However there are still some terrorists missing and soon indications start to show up that there may be another bomb.  

My comments on the previous book still hold.  

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Consent to Kill                 Vince Flynn                 Sept 2007

Mitch Rapp has been in the face of al-Qaeda for too long.  Some of their money men are mad and let a contract on Rapp's life.  We follow the killers from the initiation of the contract through to the attempt on Mitch's life.  Mitch survives the attempt but he is injured.  He is enraged by the attempt and its aftermath and swears revenge on those who tried to kill him.  He is a superman so obviously everything goes as planned.

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Executive Power              Vince Flynn                 Oct 2007

Mitch Rapp gets involved in the kidnapping of an American family, the murders of several UN ambassadors, more than a few Palestinians and a few others.  Mitch finds out who the main bad guy is an kills him.  The world is safe from bad guys for a little while.

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Dead Wrong                     J. A. Jance                   July 2007

Sheriff Joanna Brady is very pregnant, but that doesn't stop crime.  The body of an ex-con is found, then one of her officers is attacked and left for dead.  Obviously when somebody tries to kill a police officer a lot of effort is going to be put into finding the perpetrator but also the more Joanna learns about the ex-con the more certain she is that something strange is going on.  Two major crimes and both are personal, a woman officer and a murder that her father investigated and made the arrest.

You just can't go wrong with a Jance novel.  I can (rarely) pick up on a minor mistake but they just prove that she is human and is capable of a minor error.  Don't make a major error of not reading a book of hers.

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Lying in Wait                        J. A. Jance                    July 2007

An older J. P. Beaumont book, published in 1994.  Beau's grandfather has just died.  The next morning as Beau is about to head to work his Sergeant calls, a fishing boat fire has resulted in a fatality and Beau and his new partner, Sue Danielson, have been assigned to the case.  A particularly nasty case, it seems that the captain of the boat had been chained to a table with hand cuffs before the fire had started.  This is obviously a little more than a simple accident aboard a boat.  It involves several people that Beau knew in High School, Nazi gold, an alleged Nazi hunters looking for the gold.  As I said before in the above book, Good Book!

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Justice Denied                  J. A. Jance                    Sept 2007

A recent Jance book, published in 2007.  JP Beaumont is working on the staff of the Special Homicide Investigation Team, the SHIT squad for the State Attorney General.  He has met Mel (Melissa) Soames and they are now a team - both professionally and personally.  The Attorney General has discovered that certain convicted and then released felons - especially sex offenders - have been dying much before their time.  He asks both Beau and Mel to investigate specific aspects of this mystery.  Unfortunately they are not to tell the other what they are working on which causes a certain amount of tension.  With the assistance of the person who discovered this statistical anomaly they of course solve the case which involves misconduct in the AG's office - the State Crime Lab.  As could have been predicted from the first chapter, Mel and Beau get married at the end.  Just one more Jance book, she hasn't lost a thing, very good, I would recommend it.

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Web of Evil                      J. A. Jance                    Sept 2007

Another recent Jance book, published in 2007.  She is primarily a series writer, Joanna Brady and JP Beaumont with a few off-series books.  It would appear that this is the second book of a new series, the Ali Reynolds Mysteries.  In the first we follow Ali after getting fired from her TV anchor job and her leaving her 2- (or 3 or 4 or more) timing husband and in this second book she is settling the divorce proceedings from her husband when he is rather gruesomely murdered and in the investigation that follows there are links to massive drug trafficking.  Ali and a friend work together in solving the case and catching the bad guys.  Is this friend destined to become a very special friend?  A lot of hints but no explicit steps yet.  

Jance seems to need a character she can really work with.  Beau and Joanna are two, Ali just doesn't seem to be working for her yet.  Beau and Joanna seem to really live and you get caught up in their adventures, Ali just hasn't seemed to come alive for me yet.  I hope if she continues this series that Ali can really find her own voice.  If she doesn't, just don't bother - write more with Beau and Joanna or try adding onto one of her other books that are independent.  Definitely not up to the standard she has set in her major two series.

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Damage Control               J. A. Jance                  Nov 2008

A Sheriff Joanna Brady Book  An elderly couple drives off a cliff, a trash bag containing a body is washed up by a thunderstorm, and a handicapped man is burned to death in a trailer fire.  A fairly normal weekend for Joanna - but she also has a newborn baby, a teenage daughter, a husband getting started as an author, and a mother and father-in-law who are having problems.  One at a time please!

It all comes together but we have new respect for Joanna's ability to multi-task and maintain sanity as well as Jance's ability to write a great novel.  

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Hand of Evil                    J. A. Jance                      Feb 2008
            The third book of the Ali Reynolds Mysteries

A man is drug to his death by a car.  Ali is preparing to start her blog for the day when the doorbell rings, it is a message from Miss Arabella Ashcroft inviting Ali for tea.  Arabella's mother had provided the scholarship that enabled Ali to attend college and become a successful newscaster.  This is a must-attend.  Later Dave, Ali's cop friend shows up with a very worried expression on his face.  His daughter, a 12 year old has run away from his x-wife and her new husband.  Ali tells him to drop everything and help search for his daughter.  And exactly what do all of these have to do with each other?  My question precisely.  

The technical answer is that not all of them relate, except through Ali.  She has been under a great deal of stress ever since her broadcasting job and marriage both fell through.  She has had dear friends get killed and several of her friends and family self-diagnose her with post-traumatic stress disorder.  They seem to be right.  They get together and provide the support she needs to work her way through her problems.

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Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea   Nancy Atherton    July 2007

Bill Willis, the husband of our heroine, Lori Shepherd, has just received a death threat aimed at him and all of his family.  Lori and the boys are shipped off to an island off the coast of Scotland to live with an acquaintance of Bill's until Scotland Yard can find the person making the threats.  There Lori finds a mysterious castle, tales of gruesome murders, and an economy that just doesn't make sense.  Lori suspects the inhabitants of the island of running a smuggling operation.  

After sufficient sub-plots and strange happenings the boys are kidnapped, Lori rescues them, the kidnapper meets his doom, and the reality of the smuggling operation is revealed.  Aunt Dimity doesn't play a large role in this story.

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Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday             Nancy Atherton    July 2007

Lori's best friend walks into Lori's house furious, her husband is not the man she thinks he his.  It turns out that instead of just being a contractor specializing in restoring historic buildings he is the heir to a large and rich estate, and a viscount.  Lori offers to help prepare for the family reunion and then her husband Bill tells her that they will be going also, he is a lawyer assisting with the affairs of Lord Elstyn at Hailesham Park.  Lori will also be going to the reunion and the probable confrontation.  Aunt Dimity will also be attending via her little book to assist with protocol and fashion requirements.

However on arriving at Hailesham Park it seems that someone is unhappy with the situation and several serious incidents occur that don't seem to be accidents.  The split between father and son is repaired, healing will take some time, and the future of Hailesham Park seems assured again.

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Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter            Nancy Atherton        Sept 2008

Lori's sons have been telling stories at school.  Lori goes in to talk to the teacher and confirms that several of the stories are absolutely true but the final story, of seeing a vampire is new to her.  A quick search of the area where the sighting occurred turns up nothing.  Not one to give up easily, Lori asks Kit, a good friend, to help in a more detailed search.  They find some definite clues but no answers.  Lori notices a large building and then on the way back they see a smoke.  It is coming from a small camper where they find a somewhat disheveled man camping out in an old gypsy campground.  

Lori talks to a very old recluse, a woman who tells a very strange story of the people who live in the large building.  Unable to leave a good mystery alone, Lori and Kit visit.  From this point on the plot thickens considerably.  Kit meets his uncle, finds out who is father really was, and the disheveled camper is really a rich Australian come home.  Lori's boys really did see something - it just was a problem with identification and the countryside gains a happy household.

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Aunt Dimity Goes West   Nancy Atherton            Oct 2008

This story follows Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea and precedes Vampire Hunter.  Lori still has bad dreams from her near death in Deep Blue Sea and her husband suggests that she and the boys have a complete change of scenery.  He has secured a very nice home in the mountains of Colorado for them for the summer.  Lori is unwilling but she goes.  The home is magnificent.  However some people seem to think that it is haunted.  Who better to sniff out ghosts than Aunt Dimity?  The ghost is found, it is the g-g-great grandson of the original owner of a mine on the property who is more than a little mentally unstable.  Lori and Dimity meet one of the original settlers of the area and reunite him with his love (Lori gets two sets of messages in her little book!).  Lori's PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is cured.

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Aunt Dimity Slays the Dragon            Nancy Atherton        Aug 2009

It is may and time for the Spring planning meeting in Finch.  Lori and most of the other attendees are bored to tears when a local resident asks if his nephew can make an announcement.  Then in comes King Wilfred's retinue along with the King himself.  The nephew, King Wilfred, announces that he will be staging King Wilfred's Faire on weekends during the summer just outside of Finch.  This announcement is to inform the local residents what will be happening.  The residents are suitably impressed.  After several weeks of preparation the Faire begins but at the opening ceremonies there is either an accident or an attempt on King Wilfred's life.  The Faire continues running but there are several more possible attempts on the King's life.  The attempted perpetrator is found out, true love finds its way, and the King offers financial and mental assistance to the perpetrator and decides that running a Faire by himself is more than he wants.  The book follows Vampire Hunter.  

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Forests of the Night          James W. Hall               Jan 2009          Audio Book

Parker and Charlotte have a deeply disturbed daughter who does not like taking her medication.  Then they are visited by a young man who claims to be Parkers son from a summer dalliance when he was a teenager.  His parents ran a summer boys camp on land that local Indians had contested ever since many were driven out on on the Trail of Tears during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson.  It turns out that the young woman he was involved with was a direct descendant of one of the principles and several local politicians are direct descendants of another.  These two groups have been in a blood feud with each other ever since - but all of the killings have been committed by the white side.  Using their authority the white groups have placed the blame for the recent killings on this young man.  In reality he has been trying to warn the victims.  Many of the principles are killed but Parker, Charlotte, and their daughter are saved.

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Spare Change                   Robert B. Parker          Aug 2007   Audio Book

Sonny Randall is working with her father, retired police Captain Phil Randall, on a serial murder case that he started many years ago.  Then the murders stopped for 20 years and just started up again.  Sonny and her father set up a dragnet to capture the killer after the next killing.  Sure enough, the trap works, and now they have about 150 suspects.  After narrowing down these potential suspects they interview the rest.  Sonny is deeply suspicious of one person and after an additional interview she is convinced that he is guilty.  Now the problem becomes one of collecting sufficient evidence so that the court system will convict this person.  Here the book really begins.  A straight forward tale of how a complex investigation with its legal (and a few not so legal) procedures all combine to collect sufficient evidence to convict the "Spare Change Killer".

Sonny is an interesting protagonist, sometimes weak, sometimes tough, always bright - a fun story.

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Rise to Rebellion              Jeff Shaara                    Jan 2009           Audio Book

This historical novel takes place between the first shots fired by the British in 1770, quite possibly by accident, in Boston (The Boston Massacre) and the signing of the Declaration of Independence which was finally ratified on July 4, 1776.  It does discuss a few events both before and after these dates but they only needed to proper place into perspective events in the story.  Shaara is a very good writer and he brings into the discussion of the motives and feelings of those on both sides of the conflict.  I would strongly recommend this book.

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Speaking in Tongues        Jeffery Deaver             Aug 2007     Audio Book

Tate Collier, a superb prosecutor, suddenly quits and goes into private practice - non-criminal.  In a seemingly unrelated event, he walks out on his young daughter and wife following the suicide of his brother-in-law.  Now, a number of years later his daughter, a troubled 17 year old teenager is acting out, presumably in response to the lack of attention from her parents.  Then the daughter is abducted.  Tate and his ex-wife begin a frantic search for their daughter.  The search shortly turns to the reasons why Tate quit his prosecutors job.  A partial solution to the abduction is found when Tate tells his daughter why he and her mother broke up.

A fast moving, riviting story.  Hard to stop.  The story is of the battle of words and wit between an insane psychiatrist and a lawyer.  I found the both the words and the wit of both a little improbable.  Both the author and the jacket writer find themselves confused as to the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist.  An interesting book if you don't mind ignoring some incompatible "facts".

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Brimstone          Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child      Aug 2007     Audio Book

Rather odd FBI agent Pendergast, ex-New York policeman Vincent D'Agosta combine forces to solve several very strange murders.  Several men are found dead presumably because their bodies have cought on fire.  The clues seem to point to the Devil returning to Earth to claim the souls of the men but our investigators suspect that there is a more mundane explanation.  As with other Preston and Child books it is very wierd, strongly hinting at Dark Forces but finally resolving itself into rather strange Science Fiction.  

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The Book of the Dead      Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child      Dec 2008     Audio Book

Again, FBI agent Pendergast, and New York policeman Vincent D'Agosta.  Pendergast has been convicted of killing several people including some of his friends.  D'Agosta is facing police charges.  What is going on?  It seems that Pendergast's brother has come back (he is mentally unstable) and he is out for revenge - against everybody.  

The evil brother has framed Pendergast, infiltrated the Museum in New York City, and booby trapped a new exhibit.  However with the help of friends Pendergast escapes from prison, joins up with D'Agosta starts the counter-attack.  The attendees at the grand opening are mostly rescued, the evil brother escapes but is almost killed by Pendergast's ward.  He then escapes to the Island of Stromboli but is tracked by Pendergast as well as his ward.  His ward is successful and is then rescued by Pendergast and all is well.

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At Risk               Patricia Cornwell         Aug 2007     Audio Book

A murder mystery NOT involving Dr. Kay Scarpetta.  The scene is Boston and Tennessee, Knoxville but mostly in the country.  A veteran Boston cop is being jerked around by his boss, a beautiful and super "A" personality who WILL win.  He is sent to Knoxville to go to a school and investigate a very old crime.  Then he is called back to Boston.  While he is investigating the leads of crimes in Boston a new friend is investigating the leads around Knoxville.  After the obligatory harrowing experiences he wins, the bad guys are put away - both in and outside the law - and he and the new friend may have something more going.  

Either Cornwell's writing is continuing its slide downhill or my tastes have changed.  I am getting close to not recommending her books anymore.

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Orchid Blues                    Stuart Woods                Sept 2007         Audio Book

Holly Barker, local Chief of Police is waiting at the alter but her husband-to-be never shows up, he is killed in a botched bank robbery.  With the help of her father, a retired chief master sergeant and a "sort of" friend in the FBI, Holly sets out to find out "why" and to put the "who" behind bars.  She finds out the "why", a group of semi-religious, über-patriot, thugs robbed the bank to support their cause and one got over zealous  and killed her intended, he was later executed by the group as an example.  To find these things out her father allows himself to by invited into the group because of his skill with long-range sniper rifles.  He quickly finds himself involved in a plot to kill the President.  

Some of the bad guys are killed before and during the attack on the President and the chief "bad guy" gets himself killed in a spectacular way after Holly's father foils the plot on the President.  Do we have a possible script for a TV movie here, especially after Holly gets to appear in a bikini?  Then it appears that the terrorist group (may we call it that?) disappears, leaving their compound behind - perhaps a mini-series or more?  

Well written, a little over-blown at times.  A good book for a long auto trip.

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Dark Harbor
                Stuart Woods                Oct 2007

A Stone Barrington novel.  This book takes place perhaps several years after Orchid Blues (above).  Stone learns that his cousin and family are dead.  He and friends travel to Maine where his cousin was living to take possession of the house.  He learns that his cousin was a high official in the CIA.  At first it was thought that they were all killed in a murder-suicide, the suspicions were changed to unnamed foreign parties and then to more local causes.  

An OK book but thats about all.  His written concept of love and sex approximates the dreams of an adolescent male, lots of beautiful women jumping into his bed but no concept of tenderness or commitment.  The sex plays no real role in the story, just a few sexy passages to prove that he knows the plumbing.  My other problem was the trite stupid local cops, brilliant CIA personnel.   Statistically I am sure that CIA people are of higher intelligence than small town cops but why does the difference have to be about 100 IQ points.  I have heard it before and all it does is reinforce a political point - it doesn't reinforce the story line, it detracts.

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Mounting Fears           Stuart Woods                  June 2009      Audio Book

President Will Lee is running for re-election and everything starts falling apart. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban capture several nuclear warheads, his Vise-President dies, his new Vice-Presidential appointment has some very serious womanizing problems, and a rogue ex-CIA agent who has assassinated several right-wing politicians and was thought dead has reappeared.  The book has at least one character we have met before, Holly Barker from Orchid Blues.  The book has a problem with continuity.  Things happen, you are not sure why.  Time passes but you have no feeling for how much or if anything happened.  I refer you to my comment about his treatment of sex to his book reported above, Dark Harbor, purely physical, bounce in and out of bed - strictly adolescent male dreams.   The cover said that it was unabridged but it "listens" like a poorly abridged novel, how did he ever get to be a "New York Times bestselling author?"  I was just not impressed.

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Second Shot                     Zoë Sharp                     Sept 2007

Charlie is assigned by her firm to protect a woman who has just won over 13 million pounds.  Yes, she is an English writer.  The job quickly escalates from the simple on of protecting the woman and her child from the ex-boyfriend and father.  It becomes obvious that it is not so simple.  Who wants to kidnap the young girl?  Who wants to kill whom and for what reason?  Who can be trusted and who is a mortal enemy hiding behind a smile?  

The book is oddly arranged.  The first chapter, which constitutes the critical link between the first half of the book and the second half, is presented with no explanation.  You really don't know what is going on but it certainly grabs your attention.  The author as talent.  I will probably read more of her work.

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Always Time to Die        Elizabeth Lowell            Oct 2007         Audio Book

Senator Quintrell of Taos, New Mexico has just died and Carly has been hired to write the history of the women of the family.  Unfortunately Governor Quintrell (the Senator's son) does not approve of this literary endeavor.  Soon people begin dying.  Carly meets a somewhat mysterious man, the brother of the local newspaper publisher).  Sparks begin to fly between Carly and Dan.  Between them they begin to uncover both a new chapter in their lives and old facts of horror surrounding the men in the Quintrell family.   A very nice book, well maybe not nice - but well worth listening to.

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Daddy's Girl                    Lisa Scottoline               Oct 2007          Audio Book

Nat (Natalie) is a young law professor.  She doesn't feel that she is reaching many of her students.  She accepts the help of another young, but tenured, faculty member and she accompanies him to teach a class at a local prison.  In the middle of the class a riot breaks out, an inmate attacks her and in escaping she runs into a room where a prisoner is dead and a guard is dying.  The dying man gives her a cryptic message.  Thus begins a wild ride involving an escape attempt, a number of deaths, her arrest on suspicion of committing one of these deaths, and a betrayal that breaks her heart.  

This book is much better than the previous novel of Scottoline's that I read.  It does push levels of credibility a bit but it is fiction.  I kept listening to the end even after I got home from my trip and it was getting late.

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Killer Weekend                Ridley Pearson              Nov 2007        Audio Book

Eight years ago local policeman Walt Fleming rescues the vacationing New York State Attorney General from a deranged knife wielding killer and is almost killed in the process.  We skip forward to the present.  We skip forward to the present.  Walt is now the Sheriff.  The attorney general is about to announce her candidacy for the Presidency at a communications conference in a posh Sun Valley resort.  Walt has to coordinate her protection and the FBI, Secret Service, and resort security do not want to share responsibility with a small town western sheriff.  Then Walt receives several notifications that an assassin is possibly on his way to the conference.  

Although the author indicates that he has spent considerable time in the west and at Sun Valley there are several things about the people and the setting that just don't ring true.  The story itself has a number of problems.  The motive for the person behind the attempted assassination is never made clear.  A fictitious protest group was invented.  This group was supposed to have been responsible for the protests at the Seattle world trade and monetary meeting.  From the brief mention of the politics of the Attorney General it appears that they would have been more likely to support her than oppose her.  The Seattle protests were about monetary policy and worker exploitation.  The conference in this book was about communications, an extremely high tech and first world issue.

Other than the failure to learn about the setting and getting the politics wrong the book was well written and enjoyable.  With a little more work on reality the author could do a good job.  

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Hard Truth                 Mariah Stewart              Jan 2008          Audio Book

Lorna is back home to carry out her mothers final wish, to scatter her ashes in her favorite places on their old farm, and then prepare the property for sale.  After she has been home for a couple of days she notices police lights across one of her fields.  She finds out that a backhoe has dug up the remains of a teenage boy.  It turns out that the bones were that of a boy who had disappeared when Lorna was 9.  

With this as a starter the book turns into a full blown murder mystery.  There is a romantic interest but it is subtle and well done.  A very nice book and a great reader.  The reader was stretched a little bit to create believable male characters, one in particular was a push but all in all I very much enjoyed the book and the performance.

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Midas                               Russell Andrews           Mar 2007         Audio Book

For quite some time now I have been mentally complaining that most of the adventure books are written by right-wing authors.  Some of them are so far right that they fall completely over the edge, these are Empire by Orson Scott Card and and State of Fear by Michael Crichton.  Well, I finally got my wish, unfortunately Russell Andrews cannot write very well.  I am a hard science fiction reader.  We don't like blatant errors in the science.  When the author has blatant errors in physics, biology, and neurology in the first chapter I get skeptical really quick.  

The book is a very obvious take-off from the Bush administration starring Cheney and Halliburton.  I doubt that the real life versions of these characters would use the techniques used in the book.  Most of them are brighter than to commit these type of crimes in the US with our multiplicity of law enforcement agencies and inability to keep secrets.  Would they do it overseas, like in Iraq?  You bet they would,  they have.  One episode in particular is totally unbelievable.  A young, bright but with several years experience, law enforcement official is told to go in and kill a person in a public office.  The official does this and does not cover the crime or establish a believable alibi.  Even dumb small town police officers would know better than to accept such an order and if they did they would cover their tracks.

If you want a self-described "thriller" from a liberal point-of-view and don't care about a good book, go for it.  For anything else, don't bother.  It may have been damaged in the "Abridging" process but I doubt it.

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Innocent in Death            Nora Roberts                 Mar 2008         Audio Book

Lt. Eve Dallas is called to investigate the death of a teacher in his school room.  Shortly thereafter the prime suspect is found dead, also in the school.  Then to confuse the issue, an old flame of her husband, Roarke, shows up with designs on him.  With the suspect list shrinking Eve finds herself narrowing the suspect down to a very unexpected serial killer.  The would-be competitor for Roarke's heart is dispatched in a rather unpleasant (to her) manner.  The suspect is tricked into confessing - case wrapped up.

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Strangers in Death           Nora Roberts                 Nov 2008         Audio Book

A man is killed in his own locked house.  It appears to be a case of kinky sex gone wrong.  A man is butchered in a cheap sex hotel.  A missing prostitute seems to be the likely killer.  But they occur several months apart and in different parts of town, the only similarity is that the cops can't find the killer.  Unfortunately for the killer(s?) Lt. Eve Dallas is on the job.  She, with her assistants, quickly zero in on the killers.  Two killers, one plot.  We are left with no doubts that they will be dealt with appropriately.  Someone must have told the author that she needed more sex scenes.  She obliged.  I didn't see much relevance to the rest of the book but if you got to do it, you got to do it.  

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Back Stabber        Tim Cockey                   Apr 2008         Audio Book

Hitchcock Sewell is an undertaker in business with his aunt.  He also has a number of strange friends, who sometimes get in trouble with the law and call on him to help out.  Hitch is too good of a guy to just say NO! like any reasonable person would.  Fortunately for Hitch, he is a pretty good detective, it not so good at avoiding fists coming his way.  He does get the girl - but she wasn't running very fast.

I'm not sure if this should be classified as mystery or humor, but it is a fun book whichever way you go.

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Lost City                Clive Cussler w/Paul Kemprecos    Jan 2009   Audio Book

A NUMA Files book.  A relatively standard NUMA book.  High Tech - verging on science fiction, Beautiful (and unmarried) women, strong and smart men, evil arms merchants.  Unfortunately the biology isn't up to the same level of sophistication as the weapons.  We have mutant(?) humans, elixer of life, and unrealistic archeology.

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Dark Watch                     Clive Cussler w/Jack Du Brul         Jan 2009   Audio Book

An Oregon book.  The Oregon is hi-tech spy and fighting ship masquerading as a very beat up tramp steamer.  It is a part of the NUMA universe.  The Oregon is hired to investigate disappearing cargo ships.  They quickly find and destroy a pirate ship and find a cargo container with many dead Chinese.  In the process they find a research submarine that is trapped between ocean layers about 50 feed down.  It contains the beautiful blond.  This leads them to an Indonesian company that captures ships, kills their crew, and breaks them down to scrap.  Another lead finds a Chinese "Snake Head" who ships Chinese overseas as indentured servants.  This time the destination is a gold mine in Kamchatka.  There the Chinese are slave labor.  They kill the leader of the breaking yard, a volcano destroysgold mine but the Oregon rescues the slave laborers.

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Dead Watch           John Sanford                 Apr 2008          Audio Book

Jake Winter, a contract "problem solver" working from the office of the Presidents Chief of Staff is given an assignment, find out what is happening with a missing ex-senator.  He is a Republican and he has been making nasty comments about the current Democratic Governor of Virginia but he has gone missing.  No specific problems yet, but just find out what is going on.  Shortly after this the senator's body is found, Jake discovers that he is attracted to his widow, and there are reasons to suspect that there is reason to expect criminal activity - both in terms of the ex-senator and with a potential scandal in the White House.  Not particularly rapidly - this is an unabridged book on 9 CD's - Jake moves along the path towards solving all of the mysteries - including the mystery of the senator's widow.  

A refreshing approach to a political mystery.  There are bad guys doing things for political reasons, as well as some good guys behaving a little badly.  Pretty much the baddest guys meet up with their unfortunate destiny, some of them get some punishment and a couple are set up for later possible difficulties.  The good guys turn out mostly OK - but they have to be careful.  Jake and the not-so-grieving widow -- well, it is a good book.  

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The Quickie       James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge     Apr 2008     Audio Book

Lauren is a New York detective and a lawyer.  Her marriage is suffering, she sees her husband leave is work with a beautiful blond on his arm and they head for a nearby hotel.  That night she takes up a fellow cop's offer of solace and they spend the evening together.  But then he is killed.  

Thus begins an adventure that would make the author of The Perils of Pauline jealous.  She fights with the certainty that either she or her husband (now reconciled) will be discovered and charged with the murder or whatever else is the peril of the moment.  At the last minute, each time, something not quite impossible happens, she is rescued from certain discovery (or death) and we move to the next segment.

Patterson can tell a good story if he tries and he has a new partner with good ideas.  His earlier book, Cradle and All, was a bad experiment, he has put it behind him.

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Bare Bones                      Kathy Reichs                 Apr 2008

There should be a law against people like Kathy Reichs, she is a PhD Anthropologist, a Professor of Anthropology, she is one of only fifty people certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, she is a forensic anthropologist for both the state of North Carolina and the province of Quebec, and a great mystery writer.  Most people would be satisfied with only one of these as a career, she does all of them.  

Several mysterious deaths occur.  Some recent, some several years ago.  Why are we finding bear bones and bird feathers?  The book is a somewhat strange mixture of drug smuggling, smuggling of animal parts, and smuggling of rare animals.  Each one is a serious problem but putting them all together and trying to find out how it all works is a serious mystery.  The author puts them all together in a very nice package.  Oh, did I say that she is a good writer?  She puts this all together as a very nice and hard to put down book.

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S Is for Silence                 Sue Grafton                   May 2008          Audio Book

Kinsey Millhone is asked by Daisy Sullivan to find out what happened to her mother.  Violet Sullivan drove away from home 34 years before and hasn't been seen since.  Now Daisy wants to achieve some sort of closure.  Daisy puts down a retainer for five days of investigations.  At first it looks like a fools errand, this was 34 years ago, but there is still some information for the digging.  At first the going is slow and uneventful, but then a breakthrough.  Someone slashes Kinsey's tires, she must be making someone uncomfortable.  It is still a slow process but then Kinsey remembers some horticultural advise given by her aunt many years before.  It comes together very quickly then.

My problems with the book is that there are too many names for convenient recollection while traveling and the book takes place in 1985 and I keep telling Kinsey to just use her cell phone and call the cops, but they were not available in 1985.  A couple of nit pickey little details didn't interfere with my enjoyment of another Sue Grafton novel.

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Conviction                       Richard North Patterson      June 2008          Audio Book

I have been asking for some fiction books by someone other that a rabid conservative.  Well, I got what I was asking for and it isn't very nice.  A horrendous crime was committed 15 years ago.  Two brothers were arrested and convicted and sentenced to death.  Pro bono lawyer Teresa Paget is handling the final appeal of one of them.  One of the brothers was guilty, he is executed.  The other guilty party is killed by a potential victim, but the innocent brother looses all of his appeals to the court system.  The conservatives win.  But, he was such a damaged human that what could have been done with or for him.  Good book, I was mad most of the time I was listening to it, but that was the purpose of the novel.

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Shadow Men                   Jonathon King                July 2008           Audio Book

A Philadelphia cop accidently shot and killed a child while apprehending a criminal.  He decided to opt out and retire to the Florida Everglades.  He has a friend, a black lawyer who used him for complex investigations from time to time as well as a female cop (they are an item).  The lawyer asks him to investigate the story of a young man whose grandfather and uncles who may have been murdered on a construction project in the 1920's.  

The story involves aspects of southern Florida culture which are handled very well.  It also involves construction companies that wish the story to just go away.  It doesn't and they (as well as the State of Florida) will probably have to pay the price for past actions.  I enjoyed the book.

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White Hot                        Sandra Brown                July 2008           Audio Book

The youngest son of a wealthy southern industrialist is found dead.  Is it murder or suicide?  The estranged sister comes back (for the first time in 10 years) for the funeral.  She as well as a new deputy sheriff suspect murder.  This all occurs against a background of a small southern town, a patriarch who runs the town and the foundry still thinking that he is in the middle ages and the inevitable conflicts that occur when these attitudes conflict with the realities of modern day life.  

There is an inherently dangerous workplace, an unwillingness by the patriarch and the elder son to follow safety rules, and a headstrong daughter who is unwilling to have her life run by her father.  The name, White Hot, refers both to the hot metal and a tempestuous love affair.  Elsewhere I have complained against conservative or fundamentalist slant of several books.  This book makes up for some of that.  A sub-plot is a management-worker conflict over safety and working conditions.  The author is clearly on the side of the workers and safe working conditions.

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Hornet Flight                   Ken Follett                      Dec 2008

I thought that I had had my fill of WW II Nazi spy stories, I guess that I was wrong.  This one is pretty good.  It is June 1941 and it is a really low point for England.  America is not yet in the war and is showing no signs of helping.  The Germans are shooting down English bombers with no trouble at all and the English don't know why.  Then Harald Olufsen, a bright student whose main goal in life (other than girls) is to study physics under Max Bohr stumbles on a secret Nazi installation.  It is on the small island off the Danish coast near his home.  He knows that he has to tell someone but he doesn't know who.

His first guess is correct - a member of the Danish Resistance.  Unfortunately shortly thereafter the resistance leader is discovered by the Nazi's and he is killed.  Harald realizes that if this information is to get to England he will have to do it.  Assistance comes from the twin sister of a classmate.  The ultimate solution is a little contrived but it makes a great story.

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Assassin                          Ted Bell                          Apr 2009            Audio Book

American diplomats are being killed by beautiful women.  Our hero, Lord Alex Hawke has just gotten married when his new bride is shot on the steps of the church.  It rapidly becomes clear that all women in the story are amazingly beautiful, all of our heroes are handsome, strong, and rich and have this amazing ability to step out of the way just before a bullet passes through the area they were just in.  The villains are fat and ugly.  

The author also seems to have a problem with facts and physics.  When the bride of the hero is shot from behind by a sniper she has a small "flower of red appear on her chest".  I thought that when a bullet enters a body there was a small entry wound and a very large exit wound.  Why didn't the bullet strike the person just inches in front of her?  Our band of heroes lands on a ledge of a high mountain and in one plane the pilot suffers from lack of oxygen.  Then they get in an elevator and go all the way to the top of the mountain and people are watching a sumo wrestling match - but it doesn't seem to be pressurized and nobody has on oxygen masks - that is a neat trick.  In short the whole book is entirely unrealistic and simply not believable.

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Born to Run                    James Grippando            Apr 2009            Audio Book

Miami lawyer Jack Swyteck is getting he life together after turning 40, getting a divorce, and having some troubles with his father, an ex-Governor of Florida.  Then the Vice-President dies of a heart attack while hunting in the Everglades.  Jack's father is then selected to be the next Vice-President.  All of a sudden an incipient scandal expands to include Jack and his father.  Jack is drawn into it as both a son of a politician and as a lawyer with a client.  Numerous people are killed and threatened.  We have both Sicilian and Russian mobsters, a Greek blackmailer, and a pretty unlikely premise for a story.  It was an OK book but quite long for any trip of less than 500 miles.

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