Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Something in the Blood by J.G.Goodhind

Hannah “Honey” Driver runs a hotel in Bath, England. She is roped into being the liaison between the Bath Hotels Association and the police with the promise of more bookings coming her way. When an American tourist who was staying at a local bed and breakfast disappears, Honey has her first case. It seems that the tourist was using a fake name and also left behind his passport and luggage. Honey tries to figure out why Elmer Maxted, the American, was in Bath in the first place. At the same time, she is fending off suitors her mother has lined up for her, making sure her 18-year-old daughter, Lindsey, stays out of trouble and discovering her attraction to two men—Detective Sergeant Steve Doherty and bookseller John Rees. The book reminded me of Ann Purser's Lois Meade and Veronica Heley's Ellie Quicke, both British cozy mysteries series featuring female main characters.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Tessa is sixteen and has leukemia. She's been given a few months to live and decides to make a list of ten things she wants to do before she dies. Have sex, learn to drive, say yes to everything for a day are some must-do's. Tessa lives with her father (who attempts to keep her alive with alternative medicine) and her younger brother, Cal. Her mother left the family a few years ago and is distant with Tessa, never telling her that she loves her and not really knowing a lot about Tessa's condition. The rest of Tessa's support system is her reckless best friend, Zoey, and the new boy next door, Adam, who has suffered a loss of his own. The reader follows Tessa on her journey to really live before losing her life. Before I Die is a memorable young adult novel full of sorrow, humor, and love. I really enjoyed it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Kissing Christmas Goodbye by M.C. Beaton

It's October and Agatha Raisin longs for some excitement in her life. Her detective agency has been taking on the usual cases of lost pets and cheating spouses. She decides to start planning a spectacular Christmas party and to invite her ex-husband, James Lacey. Agatha then hires teenager Toni Gilmour as a new detective in her firm and gets a letter from senior citizen Phyllis Tamworthy saying that someone in her family is trying to kill her. She takes Mrs Tamworthy's case herself, traveling to the village of Lower Tapor (which Mrs Tamworthy owns, in addition to a large manor house). When she's poisoned by hemlock in her salad, there are loads of suspects ranging from her children (whom she was cutting out of her will) to the villagers (who feared for their livelihoods if Mrs Tamworthy went through with her plans to build a technical college on her land). Agatha is determined to find the murderer even though the police tell her to butt out, as usual. The Agatha Raisin books are still one of my favorite mystery series. I always look forward to the new one.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Memory Game by Nicci French

Architect Jane Martello is working on an addition to her soon-to-be ex-husband's family home when a skeleton is unearthed. The bones turn out to be from her missing sister-in-law and childhood friend, Natalie, who disappeared in her teens, twenty-five years ago. Finally knowing Natalie's whereabouts after all this time has uncovered all sorts of feelings in Jane. She decides to start seeing a therapist. In sessions, Alex Dermot-Brown takes Jane back to that summer of 1969 and Jane wonders if she is suppressing facts about Natalie's death. She also does some investigating on her own interviewing various family members. Will Jane find Natalie's murderer or is her doctor helping implant false memories in her brain? The Memory Game is Nicci French's first novel, finally published in the United States after many of her other books. French's later novels usually feature a woman in jeopardy and are suspenseful. This book is more of a straightforward mystery focusing on who killed Natalie. I did enjoy it and kept turning the pages.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris

Harper Connelly and her stepbrother, Tolliver, are called to Doraville, North Carolina so Harper can locate the bodies of six teenage boys who have disappeared over the last five years. After being struck by lightning as a teen, Harper has been able to locate corpses and give the cause of death. Harper has made a career of her skill, and she and Tolliver travel around the country to her jobs. In Doraville, Harper finds the boys easily, but is unsettled because she's never found so many bodies at once. It also means that there is a gruesome serial killer running around the small town. Unfortunately, she and Tolliver can't go home because the police insist that she must stick around to help with the investigation. Will Harper and the authorities be able to capture the killer before anyone else comes to harm? An Ice Cold Grave is the third book in the Harper Connelly series. The book had a nice combination of an interesting main character with a past coupled with a mystery that you want solved. For cozy mysteries readers who don't mind some sex and depictions of violence.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Midnight Rambler by James Swain

Jack Carpenter, an ex-cop estranged from his wife, makes a meager living helping find missing children in south Florida. Carpenter used to be the chief investigator of the Broward County Missing Persons Unit until he beat up a serial killer named Simon Skell aka the “Midnight Rambler.” Now it looks like Skell will be released from prison because the police have found the body of one of Skell's alleged victims in someone else's backyard. Carpenter is livid because he knows Skell is guilty and wonders what he can do with limited funds and resources. He dedicates himself to finding out the truth and keeping Skell behind bars because he knows he won't be able live with himself if he doesn't. Swain, the author of the Tony Valentine series, writes a page turner similar to Michael Connelly and David Rosenfelt's Play Dead. I'd love to see Jack Carpenter make another appearance.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta

Ruth Ramsey is a sex education teacher at a high school and causes controversy during one of her classes by stating that some people enjoy oral sex. Ruth’s actions lead the administration to order her to teach an abstinence-based curriculum. She is uncomfortable with this, but continues teaching. Tim Mason is a born-again Christian who coaches Ruth’s daughter’s soccer team. Ruth’s and Tim’s worlds and views collide at a game and they find themselves as opponents, yet oddly intrigued by each other. The novel explores their beliefs, lives and discontents. Little Children, Perrotta’s last book, was one of my favorites the year it was published. The Abstinence Teacher has much in common with it, but I enjoyed Little Children more because it offered fuller descriptions of numerous characters, while this book offer only two (Ruth and Tim).

Friday, October 5, 2007

Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch

I don't usually read non-fiction, but was intrigued by Service Included because I've eaten at Per Se's sister restaurant, French Laundry. Phoebe decides to get a job as a waiter at Per Se which is opening up in New York City. Chef Thomas Keller is known as one of the best American chefs and French Laundry is considered by some to be the finest restaurant in the U.S. Per Se promises to be just as good and so the reader is taken along on Phoebe's journey--being trained in the art of great service to customers (dance lessons and all) and learning about fine food and wine. The author also dishes on customers and their habits (without naming names, unfortunately) and her attempts at love. For foodies and people who liked Kitchen Confidental and Wife of the Chef by Courtney Febbroriello.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Voices by Arnaldur Indridason

It’s Christmastime in Reykjavik when Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson is called to a hotel with news that their Santa has been murdered. The Santa, Gudlaugur Egilsson, was also a doorman at the hotel and lived in the basement. Erlendur then discovers that Gudlaugur was a child star who had a beautiful voice and produced two albums. Since then, he’s lead an isolated life estranged from his family and without any friends. Who would want him dead? Erlendur and his colleagues, Sigurdur Oli and Elinborg, investigate the hotel staff, guests, and people from Gudlaugur’s past in order to find the killer. Erlendur, meanwhile, is distracted by worrying about his daughter, Eva Lind, who is still fighting drug addiction, and his own ghosts about his brother’s disappearance when he was a child. Voices is a solid addition to this mystery series which is as good as Henning Mankell’s or Helene Tursten’s (two other Nordic authors I really enjoy).