Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Department of Lost and Found by Allison Winn Scotch

Natalie Miller is riding high--living in New York City as a top aide to a senator. She's then diagnosed with breast cancer and her boyfriend, Ned, picks this as the time to announce he's breaking up with her. Now on her own, facing chemotherapy, she spends her days watching "The Price is Right" and trying to help with the senator's re-election campaign, even though she's supposed to be focusing on getting better. With a lot of time of her hands, she decides to track down her former boyfriends and try to find out why their relationships failed. She specifically thinks a lot about Jake, who's now the lead singer for a successful rock band. Natalie also finds herself spending time with her gorgeous gynecologist, Zach, who seems to be as attracted to her as she is to him. But is it really the best idea to start a relationship when you're battling for your life? The Department of Lost and Found is a sometimes funny, sometimes touching look at how a major event can change your outlook on the type of life you want to live.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Lost Witness by Robert Ellis

Detective Lena Gamble is on the outs with LAPD brass following her last big case (detailed in Ellis' last book City of Fire). After eight months of working only on "Officer Involved Shooting" cases, which to Lena are time consuming and boring, she gets a call to investigate a murder in Hollywood. The death of the young woman is particularly brutal and Lena is to report her progress on the case to LAPD Chief Logan and his subordinate, Lt. Klinger. This directive and their abrasive manner towards her leads Lena to wonder what their angle is--are they setting her up for a fall since they can't fire her? Luckily, Lena has a few friends on the force who are willing to help her on a case that has more questions every day. Will Lena be able to hold on to her job, sanity and life while trying to catch a killer? The Lost Witness is another unputdownable thriller which is reminiscent of Michael Connelly and Robert Crais. I hope Ellis continues to write the Lena Gamble series for a long time. It will be published in February.

Monday, December 15, 2008

All the Colors of Darkness by Peter Robinson

DI Annie Cabbot is called to the scene of a hanging in Hindswell Woods in Yorkshire. The man, Mark Hardcastle, appears to have committed suicide. The investigation becomes a bit more complex when Hardcastle's lover, Laurence Silbert, is found dead in his home. To the police, it seems to be a murder-suicide, although Annie and DCI Alan Banks are not as ready to close the case as their superiors are. They find out that Silbert is retired from M16. Are police higher-ups being pressured to move on? Is it possible that someone gave Hardcastle a "gentle push" to be a jealous lover, which led to Silbert's death? Alan and Annie work secretly to uncover the truth--at times putting their careers and lives on the line. Another solid police procedural in this long-running series. All the Colors of Darkness will be published in February.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin

Julia Davidsson has been living her life in a fog ever since her young son disappeared twenty years ago, while they were staying with her parents on the Swedish isle of Oland. When Julia's estranged father, Gerlof, calls and tells her that he's received one of Jens' sandals and that he needs to see her, she agrees to go. Gerlof is, at times, cagey about what he thinks he knows about Jens' disappearance (and after all this time, death), but he is slowly tenacious in finding out what happened to him. Julia, staying on the family's land in Stenvik, is doing her own investigating. Gerlof's and Julia's stories are interpersed with that of a local man, Nils Kant, who supposedly died years before Jens disappeared. Nils grew up in the area and was a violently impulsive man. How is his story connected with that of the Davidsson family? Echoes from the Dead is a leisurely-paced mystery with rich characters and a great sense of place. People who like meatier mysteries, especially Scandavian and British ones, will enjoy this.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian

Retiree Ella Robina decides to take a road trip with her husband, John, in their Winnebago, from their home outside Detroit to Disneyland. Going along as much of Route 66 as is left, it will probably be their last vacation together, since Ella has stopped her cancer treatment and John is suffering from advanced Alzheimer's. While on their journey, Ella recounts memories of their life together and guides the reader through the Route 66 tourist traps along the way. With John as the driver and companion, the trip is, at times, scary and stressful for Ella, who has to make sure he doesn't wander off. Other times, we see the love and tenderness between the couple. While my description might make the book seem to be a downer, it's not. The Leisure Seeker is a heartfelt, at times humorous, look at what it's like to get old with the one you love. If you're looking for another road novel featuring older characters, try The Widows' Adventures by Charles Dickinson. Also, I'm glad to see that Zadoorian is still writing. I loved his first novel, Second Hand. The Leisure Seeker will be published next month.