Monday, July 28, 2008

Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain

The action in Sweetheart picks up several weeks after the events in Heartsick, Cain's first novel featuring police detective Archie Sheridan, vicious serial killer Gretchen Lowell, and reporter Susan Ward. Archie is called to investigate a homicide in a Portland, Oregon park with his partner Henry Sobol. He's back living with his estranged wife, Debbie and their two young children. He has also stopped visiting Gretchen in prison. Archie, however, is still a shell of a man--he has addictions (to pills and Gretchen) and a death wish. Susan, meanwhile, is trying to break the story of a senator's affair with his underage babysitter. When Susan's mentor and the senator are in a deadly, suspicious car crash, her path and Archie's cross again. Then Gretchen escapes from prison and several lives are in danger (especially Archie's family's and Susan's). Will Archie be able to recapture Gretchen or will her damaged, sick hold over him be his undoing? Also, will Susan and the police be able to uncover who's behind the park killing and the car accident? Sweetheart is a page turner with some gruesome depictions of violence. For people who are looking for a new author who writes about serial killers. The books comes out in September.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Shining City by Seth Greenland

Marcus Ripps' life is on a downslide. He's just lost his job, his mother-in-law has moved in and the family is sinking deep into debt. Then his estranged older brother, Julian, dies and leaves Marcus his dry cleaning establishment, Shining City. It turns out that Shining City is actually a front for a prostitution ring. Still, Marcus doesn't take long to decide to take over. He becomes Breeze the pimp, offering "his girls" a retirement plan, health insurance, and even a book club. Marcus vows to stay in business long enough to get back on his feet financially and provide a nest egg for himself and his wife, Jan. But when Jan joins him in the business (that they've renamed Smart Tarts) and Marcus is threatened by a local madam, will he quit the life sooner than he anticipated? Shining City is a quirky novel about family, happiness, and the American dream.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Still Waters by Nigel McCrery

DCI Mark Lapslie is on medical leave from the Essex Police Force when he's called back to work on a case. As the result of a car accident, a body has been unearthed with injuries that bear a resemblance to those seen in a previous case that Lapslie worked on. Lapslie has a condition called synaesthesia that causes him to taste sounds. It has gotten so severe that he had to separate from his wife and children. Now, called back to lead a murder investigation, Lapslie tries to keep his synaesthesia in check while working with DS Emma Bradbury. For some reason, someone is following their investigation very closely and Lapslie has been told by his superior not to spend too much time of the case. Despite these odds, Lapslie is on the trail of a killer who preys upon and poisons older women. Will he be able to catch her before she strikes again?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sleeping Arrangements by Madeleine Wickham

Chloe, a designer, desperately needs a holiday. She and her partner, Philip, are taking their sons Sam and Nat for a week at her friend Gerard's Spanish villa. Hugh Stratton is looking forward to his own vacation for a chance to bond with his two young daughters and his wife, Amanda. Chloe's and Hugh's hopes for relaxation turn to bewilderment and slight tension when both families realize that Gerard (their common friend) has invited them for the same week. Chloe and Hugh also share a secret--they were a couple years ago. With both Chloe's and Hugh's relationships on the rocks, will they be tempted to become involved again? In Sleeping Arrangements, we get the points of view of a variety of characters--Chloe, Hugh, Philip, Sam, and the nanny, Jenna. This is one thing that differentiates these books from those Wickham writes under the name Sophie Kinsella. I quite like getting inside various characters' heads, so I have enjoyed all of Wickham's books that I've read (The Gatecrasher, Swimming Pool Sunday, and The Tennis Party). Sleeping Arrangements was a light, at times humorous read--perfect for vacation or a day at the beach.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly

Defense attorney Mickey Haller hasn't practiced law in a year but he's given all of colleague Jerry Vincent's clients after Vincent is murdered. Vincent was working on a huge case--defending Walter Elliot, a movie studio head accused of killing his wife and her lover. Mickey is catching up with his workload when he discovers that Vincent's computer and current files are missing and he learns that Elliot wants to proceed with his own trial as soon as possible, in order to clear his name. Mickey also has to worry about the fact that Vincent's killer is still at large and that his work for Vincent's clients might put him in harm's way. LAPD Det. Harry Bosch (and Connelly's main series character) is the lead investigator on Vincent's murder, so his path crosses Mickey's frequently, especially since Bosch feels Mickey knows more than he's telling. The book is told from Mickey's point of view, so we only see Bosch through his eyes. Jack McEvoy, the protagonist of The Poet, also makes an appearance. Mickey Haller first appeared in Connelly's book The Lincoln Lawyer. While I always enjoy Connelly's writing style and the way he presents the story, I had figured out who was behind Vincent's murder quite early on. Harry Bosch is also one of my favorite series characters, so I prefer him to Mickey Haller. The Brass Verdict comes out in October.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Without a Backward Glance by Kate Veitch

The four McDonald siblings have grown up, but their lives are still effected by their mother abandoning the family almost forty years ago. Oldest child Deborah became the caretaker for her brothers and sister when their mother left and now is in a less-than-perfect marriage. Robert lives happily with wife Vesna, but suffers from compulsive tendencies. Younger brother James, now a painter, has always been handsome and easygoing, but when he is put in touch with Rosemarie, their long-lost mother, he has his own crisis of conscience. Meanwhile, Meredith, the baby of the family, is very close with her father, Alex (who may be suffering from demetia), yet drinks too much. In and around Melbourne, they all struggle with their present and past lives--individually and as a family. Without a Backwards Glance reminded me of The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer

Minneapolis TV reporter Riley Spartz is looking for the next big story when a source tells her about two women named Susan who were murdered a year apart over a decade ago. Their killers were never found and Riley's source, retiring homicide detective Nick Garnett, figures she might be able to succeed where the cops failed, especially since he feels the cases are connected. Riley soon finds other Susans who were possibly murdered, but has several suspects and not a lot of concrete evidence to narrow the list down. In her personal life, Riley is recovering from losing her husband so early in their marriage. Riley is trying to juggle grabbing great ratings for her stories while mending her broken heart. Stalking Susan is more of a mystery than a thriller and, while not quirky like Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, it does have the same feeling--female amateur detective but not really cozy.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Gentleman's Guide to Graceful Living by Michael Dahlie

Arthur Camden's life is a mess. His wife of more than thirty years has left him and the import-export business that his grandfather started one hundred years ago has collapsed. Alone for the first time, Arthur wonders about the next chapter in his life. Comic trouble, however, seems to follow Arthur wherever he goes--his exclusive fly-fishing club, visiting a friend in France, and a family gathering on Nantucket. Arthur also searches for romance with a friend's help while learning to make choices for himself. He is a fumbling, yet endearing man in this charming, laugh out loud novel.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

No One You Know by Michelle Richmond

Twenty years ago, Ellie Enderlin's sister, Lila, was murdered and her killer was never found. At the time, Ellie had confided in one of her college professors, Andrew Thorpe. He then wrote a best-selling true crime book about Lila's death, even though Ellie begged him not to. Years later, Ellie is in Nicaragua for her job as a cupper (a professional coffee taster and buyer), when she runs into Peter McConnell, who was involved with Lila. They were both promising mathematicians at Stanford. Peter left San Francisco after he was named in Thorpe's book as the killer. After talking with Peter, Ellie believes he's innocent. Their meeting makes Ellie recall her life since Lila's death and how her sister's absence has affected her family. Ellie then decides to delve into the past to try and find Lila's killer. No One You Know is similar to the books of Jodi Picoult, but a bit more densely written.