Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lottery by Patricia Wood

Perry Crandall is mentally challenged, lives with his Gram, and works at Holsted's Marine Supply in Everett, Washington. People close to him consider him lucky, especially when he wins twelve million dollars in the lottery. Soon, his relatives who usually want nothing to do with him--his mother and two older brothers, John and David--start coming around because they want his money. It is up to Perry's friends, Keith (a Vietnam vet and Perry's best friend), Gary (Perry's boss at Holsted's) and Cherry (a cashier at the local mini-mart and object of Perry's affections) to be there for him. Lottery is the story of Perry's journey through life after becoming rich and how his life changes in unimaginable ways. Perry and the rest of the characters in the novel are quirky and memorable. The book reminded me of Ron McLarty's The Memory of Running and a bit of Jim Kokoris' The Rich Part of Life, one of my favorite novels, which is also about a lottery winner.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Indian Bride by Karin Fossum

Gunder Jomann is a man who keeps to himself in the small town of Elvestad, Norway. One day he gets the idea to travel to India and come home with a bride. Gunder arrives back in Elvestad with his bride to join him later. Unfortunately, the day he's supposed to meet Poona at the airport, his sister, Marie, is in a terrible car accident. Gunder rushes to Marie's bedside. However, on her way to Elvestad, Poona is brutally murdered. Who would want Poona dead? Several people in town seem to be keeping secrets about that fateful night. Will Inspector Konrad Sejer and his colleague Jacob Skarre be able to break through and find the killer? This is Fossum's fourth police procedural featuring Sejer and Skarre. I read the first book in the series, Don't Look Back when it came out in 2003 and thought it was ok. The Indian Bride was much better and I look forward to going back and reading books two and three.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Water's Lovely by Ruth Rendell

Twentysomething sisters Ismay and Heather Sealand live in the bottom flat of their childhood home, while their ill mother and aunt live on the top floor. When they were teenagers, their stepfather, Guy, drowned in the family's bathtub. Ismay has always felt that Heather killed him to protect Ismay from his advances. Ismay has never confronted Heather about her belief but grows concerned when Heather has her first serious adult relationship with Edmund. Should she warn Edmund about her suspicions? Meanwhile, Edmund has his own family issues--mainly, his clingy hypochondriac mother, Irene, who doesn't like Heather. Also featured in the book are sister and brother Marion and Fowler Melville. Marion looks for older people to exploit, hoping that they'll leave her money in their wills. Fowler spends his time living on the streets. Slowly, the Melville siblings' lives intersect with the Sealand clan's to form a story of psychological suspense. I loved The Water's Lovely and could not put it down. While it's not fast-paced, Rendell creates such interesting characters and situations that you don't want to stop reading. You want to find out where the story is going to go. As good as her recent books, Thirteen Steps Down and A Sight for Sore Eyes, despite a few coincidences in the story.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Cleaner by Brett Battles

Jonathan Quinn is a "cleaner". He works for the Office--investigating or cleaning up messes (disposing of bodies). He's called to Colorado to check out a possible arson case in which a man died. Soon after, most of the members of the Office are killed and Quinn and his apprentice, Nate, are on the run. They hide out in Vietnam with an old female colleague of Quinn's named Orlando. While there, Quinn is trying to figure out who wants him dead and why. Soon, he stumbles upon a threat from a very formidable adversary and he realizes he must organize a mission to take him down. The Cleaner is a non-stop around-the-world adventure that is reminiscent of the novels of Lee Child.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dead Connection by Alafair Burke

NYPD detective Ellie Hatcher has been working robbery cases when she's asked to assist on a homicide investigation. Someone has been murdering women who all seem to have a connection to an online dating site. Ellie is put on the case by detective Flann McIlroy because he feels that her past--being the daughter of a Kansas policeman who died while trying to catch a serial killer--could be an asset with the press. Then an older murder pops up that is related, but the victim was not an online dater. Ellie and McIlroy try and trace the killer's movements through the computer, but he always seems one step ahead of them. Will they succeed in finding the connection between all the cases and find the murderer before he possibly kills again? In Dead Connection, Burke departs from her Samantha Kincaid series to write about Ellie Hatcher. The book starts off promisingly and I do like the character of Ellie, but part of the way through, the book loses it focus on the main plot. I would try another book featuring this character, though. City of Fire by Robert Ellis is similar.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Innocence by David Hosp

Fifteen years ago, cop Madeline Steele was viciously attacked and shot in a Boston alley. She identified illegal immigrant Vincente Salazar as her assailant and he was convicted. Now, young lawyer Mark Dobson comes to Scott Finn, an attorney with his own private practice, and tells him that Salazar is innocent and asks Finn for his help. At first, Finn is reluctant to take on the case. But soon people's lives are put in danger and it seems that there is a police cover-up. Will Finn and his associates--former police detective Tom Kozlowski and law student Lissa Krantz-- get Salazar out of prison? Innocence is a legal thriller that might work for readers who are looking for someone who writes like John Grisham or Lisa Scottoline. My only complaint is that the characters of Finn, Kozlowski, and Lissa could have been fleshed out a bit more. At times, they weren't that likable, which I think is a problem for a thriller. Scott Finn was the main character in Hosp's first novel, Dark Harbor.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Satisfaction by Gillian Greenwood

In 2004, Londoner Amy Marsham visits a psychologist. She explains that she's suffering from too much happiness. The story then travels backwards to ten years earlier, when her husband, James, went to the same psychologist. The novel, mainly set in 1994, concerns Amy and James, along with James' best friend, Archie, who might have cancer, Amy's twin sister Thea, returned to England after a few years abroad and their younger sister, Grace, a famous television star. As Satisfaction progressed and their lives intertwined, I thought that there would be more plot development, because the character development at times was slight. Overall, I thought it was an ok read.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham

Alisha "Ali" Barba, a detective with the London Metropolitan Police, is almost recovered from injuries suffered on the job when she gets a note from her estranged high school best friend, Cate, asking her to attend their school reunion. Ali meets up with Cate at the reunion and Cate asks for her help. She tells Ali that someone wants to take her baby (she's eight months pregnant). Before Ali can learn more, Cate and her husband are killed in a car accident. Ali also learns that Cate was faking her pregnancy. Ali's allegiance to Cate and their lost friendship provide Ali with the drive to find out what exactly Cate was involved in. In addition, Ali's search leads her into danger and to question if she's done more harm than good with her investigation. Ali, a thirtysomething woman from a Sikh background, is an interesting main character and the plot is intriguing enough that you'll keep turning the pages. In The Night Ferry, Ali gets help from her retired superior, Vincent Ruiz, who was featured in both of Robotham's previous novels, Suspect and Lost.

Origin by Diana Abu-Jaber

Lena Dawson works as a fingerprint examiner for the city of Syracuse. She is haunted by dreams of spending her toddler years in a jungle and the fact that the foster family she was placed with when she was three never adopted her. When a woman barges into the lab demanding to see Lena, claiming that her own baby was murdered and did not die of SIDS, it puts Lena in the middle of a media firestorm and causes her to think even more about her childhood. The woman's visit leads to the discovery that there are more than the usual number of SIDS deaths recently. Could there be someone who is murdering children in their cribs? Origin is an atmospheric novel (set in the cold Syracuse winter) that mixes a character's search for the truth about her past with the elements of a mystery. The pacing is slower than most thrillers, but I could not put it down. A great read.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand

Sisters Vicki and Brenda decide to spend the summer on the island of Nantucket in the house they inherited from their aunt. Vicki has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer and has two young sons. Brenda had an affair with a student, Walsh, and lost her job at a university in New York City. They are joined on Nantucket by Vicki's friend, Melanie, who is pregnant and upset over her husband Peter's affair. Into their lives comes local boy, Josh, home from college for the summer. He agrees to babysit Vicki's sons on weekday mornings so Brenda can take Vicki to chemotherapy. These four characters' lives are interwoven into a story about survival, support, and learning where you belong. I've enjoyed all of Hilderbrand's previous novels and Barefoot is one of her best. If you like books about women's relationships (and as a added bonus--a great sense of place on Nantucket), give her books a try.