Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

It's two o'clock in the morning and Jack Reacher thinks he's in a New York subway car with a female suicide bomber. He tries to dismiss this fact because it doesn't make a lot of sense for someone to bomb the subway when it's so quiet. However, the woman fits an eleven-point profile compiled by Israeli counterintelligence. Reacher decides to confront her and becomes immersed in a situation full of violence, politics, war, and blackmail. Reacher, as usual, goes it alone to bring the bad guys down. Child creates a story where the layers are slowly unpeeled for Reacher and the reader to uncover the truth. He's a master at this and for this reason (plus his characterization of Reacher), he is one of the most consistently excellent thriller writers today. Quite a feat, considering this is book thirteen. Be aware that there are some scenes of intensely graphic violence, beyond what you may be used to from Child's previous novels.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Woman with Birthmark by Hakan Nesser

A mother on her death bed confides to her daughter a secret about her past. Right before she dies, the mother urges the daughter to "do something." The daughter takes it to mean that she should go on a killing spree against the men that wronged her mother years ago. The reader is kept in the dark about the woman's reason for revenge, as are Chief Inspector Van Veeteren and his team. As the woman is successful in her task, the police are trying to find out a possible connection between the men and uncover clues that might lead to the mysterious woman's identity. Woman with Birthmark is the fourth book in this Swedish mystery series. Readers who enjoy police procedurals with psychological undertones will probably appreciate this book.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Cradle by Patrick Somerville

Soon to be a first-time-father, Matt is sent on a hunt by his wife, Marissa. She wants him to find the antique cradle that she slept in when she was a baby. The only problem is that Marissa's mother, Caroline, took it with her when she abandoned Marissa as a teenager. Marissa doesn't care to know where her mother is now, she only wants the cradle for their coming child. With only the address of Caroline's sister, Matt takes a longer journey than expected in search for the cradle. His trip also causes him to reflect on his own childhood in foster homes and his abandoned search to find his real mother. Matt and Marissa's story is interwoven with that of Renee Owen eleven years later. She is a children's book author from suburban Chicago whose son is going off to war in Iraq. Renee has been writing lots of poetry and spends time thinking about her past and a secret that she's kept from her husband, Bill, for all these years. The Cradle is a short yet powerful novel about choice, abandonment, and love. I also found the midwest setting very enjoyable.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Killer Keepsakes by Jane K. Cleland

Josie's assistant, Gretchen, has always been extremely reliable. When Gretchen doesn't show up for work after her vacation in Hawaii is over, Josie knows something is amiss. She decides to go over to Gretchen's condo to see if she can find out what happened. After discovering a man's body on the couch, Josie becomes even more worried for her. A missing vase and a unique belt buckle the dead man was wearing provide some of the only clues for Josie to try and locate Gretchen. Josie knows that Gretchen is not a murderer and wants to help her clear her name. But when Josie's reporter friend Wes finds out that Gretchen has been using a fairly recent social security number, Josie wonders about Gretchen's past and who she really is. Killer Keepsakes is another solid entry in this cozy antique mystery series.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

Ellen Gleeson's life is changed forever when she glances at the missing persons card that arrived with her mail. A boy on the card named Timothy Braverman looks like he could be her three-year-old son, Will's, twin. Ellen adopted Will after his mother abandoned him in the hospital because he had serious heart problems. Now healthy, Will and Ellen have a tremendous bond, yet the reporter in Ellen knows she must find out more about Timothy's kidnapping and her own adoption of Will. When Ellen finds out that her lawyer for the adoption has committed suicide, her feeling that she will lose Will intensifies. Jeopardizing her job and perhaps her relationship with Will, Ellen continues to investigate, all the while wondering if she'll give him up if she discovers he's Timothy. Departing from her usual legal thrillers, Scottoline has written a novel that's hard to put down. Like her series, it features a strong female main character whom the reader sympathizes with immediately.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Love Stories in This Town by Amanda Eyre Ward

In this short story collection, novelist Ward explores different women's lives. The anonymous narrator of the first story, "Should I Be Scared?" becomes obsessed with ordering cipro during the antrax scare. Then there's Kimmy, who's relocating to Houston with her husband after she suffers a miscarriage. The last half of the book includes six stories about a woman named Lola who's trying to find contentment. In the first story, she's dumped by her boyfriend for Miss Montana and in the later ones, the reader finds her married to a geologist named Emmett and dealing with the dysfunctionality of her father, Fred. In each story, the author is able to delve deeply into a character's life yet leave the endings of them fairly open. This approach caused me to appreciate the stories, yet wish, at times, that they were longer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Long Lost by Harlan Coben

Myron Bolitar gets an early morning phone call from an old lover named Terese Collins asking him to come to Paris. It's obvious she needs his help, so he decides to go. Soon after arriving, he and Terese are picked up by the police because her ex-husband, Rick, has been murdered. Evidence at the scene points to Rick's daughter being present. This is perplexing to both Myron and Terese since the daughter died ten years ago in a car accident where Terese was the driver....or did she? Myron tries to stay one step ahead of the authorities to find out the truth while keeping his feelings for Terese in check. Even though I'm not a fan of the Myron Bolitar books, I throughly enjoyed his last Bolitar novel, Promise Me. It was very successful in combining the suspense of his stand-alones with Bolitar and his supporting characters. Long Lost, to me, misses the mark. The storyline isn't a strong one and the ending is too weird...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dance for the Dead by Thomas Perry

In Dance for the Dead, Jane Whitefield, a Native American guide, is trying to protect eight-year-old Timmy Phillips from men who are trying to kill him for his large inheritance. Who the hit men work for isn't known by Jane yet, but when Timmy's caretakers are murdered, Jane knows she must do whatever it takes to keep him safe. A woman named Mary Perkins also comes to Jane for help. Mary is on the run after stealing money from savings and loans institutions. In this second book of the Jane Whitefield series, Perry combines an interesting strong female main character with lots of action. The books are very similar to Lee Child's Jack Reacher series.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks

Sunny Cooper's relationship with her boyfriend, Michael, is falling apart. They hardly talk anymore and, after a tragedy which uncovers secrets he was keeping from her, Sunny unloads all her possesions and gets as far away from New Mexico as she can. Sunny has always had a love/hate relationship with New Mexico, anyway. Growing up on the Armonia commune, Sunny hated having no privacy and still resents her hippie mother, Gwen, for not giving her a normal childhood. Sunny ends up in the little town of Harmony on San Miguel Island in the Pacific Northwest. In Harmony, she makes friends and creates a new home, but the scars of her youth, especially the death of her younger sister, are never far from her mind. Will Sunny be able to accept her past and learn to live for now and the future? I loved the descriptions of life in northern New Mexico, island life in Washington State, and Sunny's love of southwest cooking. Another winner from Hendricks, author of Bread Alone. The Laws of Harmony reminded me of the novels of Jo-Ann Mapson and The Way Life Should Be by Christina Baker Kline.