Monday, May 28, 2007

The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Matthew King is one of Hawaii's largest landowners, but his life is falling apart. His wife, Joanie, is in a coma after a boating accident and he's perplexed by and distant from his two daughters, 17-year-old Alex, and 10-year-old Scottie. Alex has had problems with drugs in the past and is in boarding school, while Scottie is troublingly precocious. Matt then finds out that his wife had been having an affair and wanted to leave him, which complicates his family's life even more. He also has to decide whether to sell his family's large swath of land to real estate developers. With the action to take Joanie off life support (she has a living will), Matt struggles to do right by his daughters. The Descendants is a novel filled with humor, sadness, and healing. It also has a interesting setting in the islands of Oahu and Kauai.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Play Dead by David Rosenfelt

There's not a lot in the world that lawyer Andy Carpenter loves more than golden retrievers. When he tries to save one from being put down, he is plunged into a case involving a man named Richard Evans who is incarcerated for murdering his fiancee five years ago. Richard's dog, Reggie, was presumed dead then, but now that's he turned up alive it has cast doubt on his guilt. Andy and his team work hard on Richard's case and find even more evidence for his innocence. When Andy's life is threatened, he knows he must do all he can to get Richard a new trial and released from prison. Play Dead is the latest book in the long-running Andy Carpenter series set in Paterson, New Jersey. Rosenfelt writes a light mystery full of wisecracks, but also crafts a story that makes you want to keep reading until the end. Head Games which I blogged in January is similar to this series.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

It's winter in the village of Three Pines, south of Montreal. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called to the town when new resident CC de Poitiers is electrocuted during a curling match before a crowd of onlookers. Gamache is familiar with all the townspeople since the previous book in the series, Still Life, also took place there. Gamache and his band of interesting subordinates try to uncover the murderer even though clues are elusive. Penny creates a leisurely-paced book with a great sense of place for a small French-Canadian town and its inhabitants.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Pure in Heart by Susan Hill

DCI Simon Serrailler comes home to the cathedral town of Lafferton from Venice because his severely handicapped younger sister Martha is near death. The Serrailler family are divided about Martha's quality of life since she can't speak and has the mind of a baby. Soon after returning, David Angus, a local boy, goes missing while waiting for a ride to school. Besides his sister, David's disappearance is Simon's top priority. It doesn't help that he's being stalked by women he was once involved with. Aided by DS Nathan Coates, he struggles to find out what happened to the boy. Susan Hill writes another fantastic police procedural with a twist. I wrote about the first book in the series, The Various Haunts of Men earlier this month.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child

Jack Reacher is back! In Bad Luck and Trouble, Reacher receives an SOS from an army buddy. She tells him that a colleague from their old MP unit, hand-picked and run by Reacher, was murdered--dropped 3000 feet from a plane. Being a steadfastly loyal guy, Reacher agrees to regroup the special investigators, disbanded ten years ago, to find out what happened to their friend and to avenge his death. Again, Lee Child creates a book with non-stop action and ripe with intrigue. Unputdownable.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

City of Fire by Robert Ellis

LAPD detective Lena Gamble is called to investigate the murder of a young woman. Initially, the police believe that her husband is guilty, but it soon becomes evident that there is a serial killer on the loose who they nickname Romeo. The case then hits closer to home for Lena when her brother David's friend is found dead. Could the case have some connection to her brother's own unsolved murder five years ago? In this mystery, Ellis has created a page turner with an interesting main character. His descriptions of Los Angeles and the LAPD and the unfolding of the story are like Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Learning Curve by Frances Paige

Fifty year old Kate Armitage takes early retirement from a London publishing house and retires to the village of Mellor. She's getting used to having more time on her hands and meeting everyone in the village. At the same time, Kate is working on a book about her father who died when she was young. These writings are interpersed throughout the book. Kate also has never married and, at times, finding love is on her mind. The Learning Curve is a light, enjoyable novel in the tradition of Maeve Binchy.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Dinner Club by Saskia Noort

Karen has recently moved with her family to a village outside of Amsterdam. Feeling lonely, she's grateful when she becomes part of a group of female friends called the dinner club. The well-to-do women get together chat, eat, and drink--sometimes with the husbands along. Then one of the husbands sets fire to his house while he and his family are inside. Soon after, Karen's best friend in the group, Hanneke, takes her own life. Karen is stunned by all the tragedy around her especially when it appears that the recent events point to murder rather than suicide. Karen struggles to maintain her life while uncovering the secrets of her friends and being tempted into adultery. The Dinner Club reminded me a bit of the novels of Nicci French.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill

DS Freya Graffham has recently transferred to the town of Lafferton from London CID. Her first case is investigating the possible disappearance of middle-aged Angela Randall. Freya along with DC Nathan Coates try to find a break in the case, but their boss DCI Simon Serrailler doesn't want to invest a lot of man hours because Angela could have left town of her own accord. Then when a young woman goes missing, Freya realizes that something sinister is going on, but with no clues could it possibly be murder? The Various Haunts of Men is a great start to a new series (two more have been published already in England). This is an engaging police procedural told through multiple points of view. I can't wait to read the next book. Hill writes a mystery similar to Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford, Deborah Crombie, and Peter Robinson.