Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths

Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway is called to a building site in downtown Norwich because human bones have been discovered. When the bones turn out to be from a child (missing the head), the police-- specifically DCI Harry Nelson--are called in. Later, bones from a cat, also without a skull, are found. Nelson and his team trace the property's ownership to wealthy Edward Spens and look up previous occupants of the home being demolished—a children's home run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, with Father Patrick Hennessey in charge. Father Hennessey reveals that a brother and sister did go missing in the 1970's and were never seen again. The police focus on finding out more about Martin and Elizabeth Black, the children who disappeared, and test the bones to see if they're from the right time period. Ruth, meanwhile, becomes more comfortable with her approaching motherhood, but discovers that someone is trying to scare her to death. Another enjoyable entry in the Ruth Galloway series.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

Dr Ruth Galloway is a professor of forensic archaeology at the University of North Norfolk. DCI Harry Nelson asks her to look at some bones found near Saltmarsh to figure out how old they are. Ten years ago, a young girl named Lucy Downey disappeared and the case has haunted Nelson ever since. He has even been receiving letters from the possible killer over the years. When Ruth carbon dates the bones as being from the Iron Age, Nelson is disappointed, as he thought he could finally bring Lucy's parents some closure. Ruth, single and nearing 40, is happy with her life and the isolation of her cottage near the Saltmarsh with her two cats. After meeting Nelson, however, she finds him in her thoughts even though he's married. When a girl named Scarlet Henderson goes missing and one of Ruth's cat is killed and left on her doorstep, Ruth and Nelson find themselves drawn together to catch a killer. The Crossing Places is the debut of a new series that has a great sense of place and an interesting main character in Ruth. I thoroughly enjoyed it. For readers who like Erin Hart, Gail Bowen, Julia Spencer-Fleming, and the Loretta Lawson mysteries by Joan Smith.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

In the not-too-distant future, Hannah Payne wakes up in the “Chrome ward” with red skin because she had an abortion. Her skin color reflects the crime of murder and she spends thirty days in the Chrome ward with television cameras watching her every move. While on trial, Hannah refused to name the father of her baby--the married man she is in love with, her pastor Reverend Aidan Dale. After leaving the ward, Hannah goes to the Straight Path Center and suffers through extreme humiliation and prejudice and decides to escape. But with “Chromes” marginalized in American society and everyday life fraught with danger, how will Hannah survive? In this contemporary retelling of the The Scarlet Letter, Jordan has written an absorbing novel about identity, religion, and love. If you enjoy When She Woke, try The Things That Keep Us Here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith

Geiger is in the business of information retrieval. His job is to torture people until they tell the truth to his clients. His biggest rule is that he doesn't work with children. When he is mistakenly given a boy named Ezra to try and extract the whereabouts of Ezra's father, David Matheson, Geiger rescues Ezra from his client and goes on the run. The client, though, and his henchman, Hall, Ray, and Mitch, will stop at nothing to retrieve Ezra. Geiger, meanwhile, with no memory of his childhood, begins to slowly remember it. The Inquisitor will appeal to people who liked The Cleaner and books by Lee Child. It will be published in March.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear

In 1933, private detective Maisie Dobbs is hired by five men who knew her when she was a girl to find out if the death of Eddie Pettit at Bookhams, a paper factory, was an accident or murder. Eddie worked with the horses at Bookhams and did errands around the place. As Maisie delves into Eddie's life, she finds not everyone liked him, despite his gentle, kind nature. When Maisie's assistant, Billy, is viciously attacked and put in the hospital, she feels personally responsible, since he was questioning factory workers. She also wonders what information someone is trying to keep secret. Against the backdrop of Hitler's rise to power and how it affects England and the rest of the world, Winspear has written another mystery that's hard to put down. With its combination of intriguing characters and interesting historical backdrop, Elegy for Eddie is another winner. It will be published in March.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Silence by Jan Costin Wagner

When a teenage girl named Sinikka goes missing in the same place that another girl disappeared and was found murdered thirty-three earlier, the authorities, especially recently retired police detective Ketola, believe the cases are connected. The death of Pia Lehtinen always weighed on Ketola's mind and he uncovers from the police department's basement the model he created of Pia's murder scene. He gives all this old material to his colleague, Kimmo Joentaa, who is in charge of the new case. Joentaa speaks to both Pia's and Sinikka's families, trying to find some connection between the girls. While Joentaa's investigation moves forward, real estate agent Timo Korvensuo slowly becomes unsettled when he hears of Sinikka's disappearance. It turns out he knows who killed Pia... Silence is the third book in the Kimmo Joentaa series and is most similar to the mysteries of Karin Fossum.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis

Nurse Nina Borg is reluctant to help her friend, Karin, when asked to get a suitcase from a train station locker. After retrieving the suitcase, Nina is stunned to discover an unconscious three-year-old inside. When she starts to report the incident to the authorities, she witnesses a muscular, angry man bashing in the locker from which she took the suitcase. Not confident that the boy would be safe if she turned him in, Nina decides to keep him with her and try and find out who he belongs to. The reader follows Nina on her dangerous journey to make things right. In the novel, the points of view of the boy's mother (Signita) and Jucas (the man hunting Nina and the boy) are also explored. The book reminded me of The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham. For readers who enjoy Scandavian mysteries by Sara Blaedel and Liza Marklund.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Innocent by Taylor Stevens

Vanessa Michael Munroe is asked by her best friend, Logan, to rescue his teenage daughter Hannah from a cult in Argentina. Years ago, Hannah was kidnapped by her mother's boyfriend and taken back to the cult (after a series of escapes). Hannah's days consist of menial chores, praying, and being the plaything of a powerful local man, Mr. Carcan. She has hardly any memories of her real parents. With help from Munroe's friend, Bradford, they pinpoint the cult's locations around Buenos Aires and set up listening devices. Munroe then goes undercover within the cult. But suddenly, Munroe's plans have to quickly change and she has little time to rescue Hannah... The Innocent is the second book in the Munroe series and, while good, can only pale in comparison to the first, The Informationist, which is one of the best books I've read this year, because of its originality and fast-paced storyline. It will be published later this month.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Murder Season by Robert Ellis

When LAPD detective Lena Gamble is called to the murder scene at a hot Hollywood club, she knows that both the media and her colleagues will be watching her closely. When the victims turn out to be the owner of the club, Johnny Bosco, and a man named Jacob Gant, the pressure on her increases considerably. Gant was recently found not guilty of killing his sixteen-year-old neighbor Lily Hight, but the public sentiment was that he was guilty. Many are still emotional about the verdict and what they see as the city's mishandling of the case. When Lena discovers that Gant and Bosco were working together to find Lily's murderer, she realizes that she must go back to the beginning, delving into Lily's personal life and death to solve her case. Murder Season is the third book in the Lena Gamble series and is a great read-alike for Michael Connelly and Robert Crais because of the L.A. setting, pacing, and characterization.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

When Kinsey Millhone alerts a store associate about a shoplifter, she has no idea that she will end up with a broken nose on her birthday. As a private detective, Kinsey feels it's her duty to report the woman. But when the woman, Audrey Vance, ends up dead in what the authorities believe is a suicide, Kinsey is hired by Audrey's fiancee to find out about her past. Kinsey finds herself entangled with an ex-con whom she considers a friend, a crooked cop from her past, and the mob. In V is for Vengeance, Grafton has written another mystery that's hard to put down. In using multiple points of view to tell the story, she has made the characters multi-layered and interesting. Kinsey's personality shines brightly.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Knit One Pearl One by Gil McNeil

Jo is now the mother of three. The youngest, her daughter Pearl, is fifteen months old. Jo's also opened up a tea shop next door to her knitting store, with her Italian friend, Connie. Juggling her businesses along with being a mom, she's helped by her Gran and Connie's niece, Cinzia. Her love life is still in flux--she's finding it hard to carve out time to spend with Martin (nicknamed "Dovetail" because of his love of woodworking). Her relationship with Pearl's dad (famous photographer, Daniel) is also unresolved. In Knit One, Pearl One, the stories of Jo and the residents of the seaside English town of Broadgate continue with the series' typical tones of humor, warmth, and togetherness. My only complaint with this third book in the series is that it could have had more of a plot. It will be published next month.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Killer's Christmas in Wales by Elizabeth J. Duncan

It's Christmastime, and the small Welsh village of Llanelen welcomes a newcomer, American Harry Saunders. Wealthy widower Evelyn Lloyd is smitten, and even though several friends try to warn her about Saunders, she puts 20,000 pounds into a joint account with him. He and the money go missing and he is then pushed to his death at Conwy Castle. Local amateur sleuth and spa owner Penny Brannigan is asked by Mrs Lloyd to try and find out who murdered Saunders, since Lloyd is a suspect. With inside information from her boyfriend, DCI Gareth Davies, she might just be able to do that. A Killer's Christmas in Wales is the third book in the Penny Brannigan series, and I throughly enjoyed it, even though I guessed the murderer very early on. For readers who like the mysteries of M.C. Beaton, the Evan Evans series by Rhys Bowen and Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Season of Darkness by Maureen Jennings

All of England is shaken by the events of Dunkirk during World War II. When land girl Elsie Bates is murdered in the small rural village of Whitchurch, the relationship between the townspeople and the German nationals who are imprisoned at a camp outside of town becomes even more uneasy, even though the men are mostly intellectuals and don't seem to have Nazi ties. DI Tom Tyler of the Shropshire constabulary works with his colleagues to find out who would want Elsie dead. But when someone else is killed, a mild panic sets in. It soon becomes clear that there is a connection to the camp and maybe even a killer in its midst. Season of Darkness is the first book in this mystery trilogy. I really liked the characters and the setting of a English town in 1940. If you like historical mysteries, give it a try.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chelsea Mansions by Barry Maitland

After visiting the Chelsea Flower Show, American tourist Nancy Haynes is pushed in front of a bus and killed. With cameras all around London, DCI David Brock and his colleague DI Kathy Kolla are able to trace the movements of the murderer right after the crime. But who would want Nancy dead and would go to the trouble of committing the crime while she was on vacation? Then wealthy Russian expat Mikhail Moszynski is found stabbed to death near his home, which is near the hotel at which Nancy was staying. This leads Brock and Kathy to wonder if the cases are connected. Kathy delves into the pasts and lives of both Nancy and Moszynski in order to solve both cases. Chelsea Mansions is the latest book in the Brock/Kolla series and would appeal to people who like complex police procedurals such as Peter Robinson, Deborah Crombie, Peter James, and Elena Forbes.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Shadows in the Street by Susan Hill

Someone is murdering prostitutes around Lafferton, and the police, including DCS Simon Serrailler (just back from a sabbatical), are at a loss for suspects, even though good samaritan Leslie Blade and one prostitute's abusive boyfriend are being looked at. Meanwhile, Simon's sister, Cat, is still in mourning for her husband, Chris, who recently passed away. Cat is worried about how Chris' death is affecting their three children and wonders how she'll cope without the strong support system of her father and stepmother, Judith (who plan on spending a year in the U.S.). In The Shadows in the Street, Susan Hill has written another police procedural that will appeal to fans of Deborah Crombie, Ruth Rendell, and Elizabeth George.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bad Moon by Todd Ritter

In 1969, on the evening of the moon landing, ten year old Charlie Olmstead disappeared. Now, forty years later, Nick Donnelly, a former police investigator, is looking into the case. Charlie's younger brother, Eric, a best-selling novelist, has moved back to town and discovers that his recently deceased mother believed that Charlie was kidnapped and not killed when he fell into Sunset Falls (as the police assumed). Kat Campbell, the Chief of Police --and involved with Eric when they were teenagers--also aids in the search. The group finds that the Olmstead's neighbors on their cul de sac at the time all had secrets and that other boys also disappeared in the years around 1969. In Bad Moon, Ritter continues the series that he began with Death Notice, I thoroughly enjoyed both the characters and the engaging storyline. I look forward to going back and reading the first book.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

As the Pig Turns by M.C. Beaton

Policeman Gary Beech has been making enemies, giving tickets for questionable offenses. When private detective Agatha Raisin and her friends attend a festival in the small village of Winter Parva, Agatha notices that the pig on the spit is sporting a tattoo with the word "Amy" which leads to the discovery that it's not a pig, but the body of Gary Beech. Agatha is then hired by Beech's ex-wife, Amy, to find out who's responsible for his death. But when Amy is found murdered, Agatha and her employees (Toni, Patrick, and Phil) and her friends, Roy, Charles, and even ex-husband, James band together to find out the truth even if it means putting their own lives in danger. As the Pig Turns is the latest mystery in the long-running Agatha Raisin series, which is always a treat.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Small Death in the Great Glen by A.D. Scott

It's 1956 and the memory of World War II still looms large for residents of the Highlands. Married Joanne Ross has taken a job as a typist at the local weekly newspaper, the Highland Gazette. She works alongside editor-in-chief McAllister, subeditor Don McLeod, and young reporter Rob McLean. When a young boy, Jamie, is murdered and the last people to see him alive are Joanne's two girls, Joanne finds herself immersed in the crime and investigation. Joanne's colleagues are determined to find justice for Jamie, especially when the police botch the case by arresting a recent Polish immigrant. Joanne is also struggling to make the best of a bad marriage for her children's sake. While a little long, A Small Death in the Great Glen's strength lies in the portrayals of the relationships between Joanne and her co-workers and the sense of place in 1950s Scotland.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Hand that Trembles by Kjell Eriksson

Sven-Arne Persson disappeared from Uppsala, Sweden twelve years ago and has been living under a false name in Bangalore ever since. His secret existence is about to come to an end when someone from his hometown comes into contact with him. Sven-Arne, however, has no desire to be found and has been declared dead by his wife back home. What was he running away from? Meanwhile, police detective Ann Lindell is in charge of finding out why a foot has washed ashore in a small community outside of Uppsala and who it belongs to. The Hand that Trembles is the fourth book in the Ann Lindell series and is leisurely-paced. It reminded me of the mysteries of Helene Tursten and Yrsa Sigurdardottir.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Drop by Michael Connelly

Detective Harry Bosch and his partner, David Chu, are given the case of the 1989 murder of college student, Lily Price. They work as part of the Los Angeles police department's Open-Unsolved Unit and are asked to delve into this case again because there's been a recent DNA hit from the lab. The problem is that the DNA is from a man named Clayton Pell, who was eight years old at the time of Lily Price's death. Knowing that Pell can't be the killer, they wonder if the lab messed up the results. If so, it could cast a pall over cases decided by DNA in Los Angeles County. Bosch is then surprised when his former department nemesis (and now L.A. councilman) Irvin Irving requests that he head the investigation into Irving's son's death at the Chateau Marmont. It first looks like suicide, but Bosch isn't too sure. By featuring two interesting cases, having Bosch battle the bureaucracy and politics of the LAPD and giving insight into his personal life, Connelly has made this one of the best books of the series. It will be published next month.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet

Wanda Batton-Smythe runs Nether Monkslip's Women's Institute with an iron hand, so it's not so surprising that she's found dead in the village hall during the Harvest Fayre. While allergic to nuts, it seems she's been poisoned by them. The local vicar, Max Tudor, formerly with MI5, is asked by the local police to assist them in their inquiries. Max, knowing the residents of his small village well, finds it hard to believe that one could be a murderer, but questions them, nonetheless. With details of English small town life and its inhabitants, Malliet has written a read-alike for readers of Caroline Graham, M.C. Beaton, and Rhys Bowen's Evan Evans series.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Burning by Jane Casey

A serial killer nicknamed "The Burning Man" is the talk of London. Already claiming four victims, it looks like the fifth is beautiful Rebecca Haworth. DC Maeve Kerrigan is assigned to look into the murder and starts by interviewing Rebecca's friends--Louise, Tilly, and ex-boyfriend, Gil. She also delves into Rebecca's past, including her time at Oxford, where a fellow student died under mysterious circumstances. Soon, Maeve begins to wonder if Rebecca's death is the work of a copycat. The Burning is told through the eyes of both Maeve and Louise and is similar to Tana French's and S.J. Bolton's masterful, Now You See Me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

Jennifer White is a former hand surgeon who is slowly descending into demetia. She lives with a caretaker, Magdalena, but has trouble remembering who she is and what happens from day to day. Jennifer is also the police's prime suspect in the murder of her best friend, Amanda, who had several fingers removed from her hand. Of course, Jennifer can't help the authorities at all when they question her because of her condition. The book details Jennifer's day to day life though her unreliable eyes. The reader meets her overachieving daughter, Fiona, and son, Mark, who has a drug problem. As the novel progresses, one is immersed in Jennifer's murky world and wonders what is true and imagined. An absorbing read...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Leopard by Jo Nesbo

Inspector Harry Hole is reluctantly persuaded to come home to Oslo from a self-imposed exile in Hong Kong to aid in the case of a suspected serial killer. Two women have been murdered in a similar way and Harry's expertise is invaluable. Kripos, the NCIS, is officially running the investigation, so Harry and his two colleagues have to keep their actions secret. In addition, Harry's father is dying and he's developed a fondness for opium while on his sojourn. As he tussles with Mikael Bellman from Kripos and more bodies pile up, Harry tries to find a connection between the victims while struggling with the chaos in his personal life. The Leopard is the eighth book in the Harry Hole series and is much too long. It suffers from plot twist after plot twist, diluting the mystery. The Redeemer and The Snowman are better books.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

One day, people all over the world just disappear, never to be seen again. The residents of the town of Mapleton are affected by the event, called the "Sudden Departure," in different ways. Nora Durst lost her husband and two young children. The Garvey family had no one disappear, but teenager Jill lost her best friend. Now three years after the event, lives are still in an unsettled state. Kevin Garvey, father and husband, is now mayor of Mapleton. His wife, Laurie, has left the family to join the Guilty Remnant, a group that dresses in white, smokes constantly, takes a vow of silence and breaks ties with their loved ones. Tom, their son, has dropped out of college and is following a "healing prophet" called Holy Wayne. Jill has lost all interest in academics and is hanging out with Aimee (a bad influence), who has moved into the Garvey home with Kevin and her. Meanwhile without her family, Nora struggles to move forward with her life. Perrotta explores the choices people make when faced with a possible life-changing event. I enjoyed The Leftovers more than his last novel, The Abstinence Teacher, but not as much as Little Children which I loved.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams

Ex-FBI profiler Keye Street has gotten her life mostly back together after losing her career because of her drinking. She now owns an investigating agency and spends her time serving summons and capturing bail jumpers. Keye is asked to lend her professional expertise to her friend, Atlanta police detective Aaron Rauser. Rauser is heading up the investigation in the case of a serial killer that the media has nicknamed the Wishbone Killer. The authorities know that he's committed at least four murders and Keye is helping them to try to figure out what ties the murders together and to come up with a possible profile of the killer. But when the killer starts to communicate directly with Keye and Rauser, they wonder if their lives are in danger, too. Will they be able to nab the person responsible before harm comes to them or someone else? The Stranger You Seek is the first book in the Keye Street series. The character of Keye, combined with the Atlanta setting and the suspense of hunting for a killer made this book an absorbing read. Similar to the Jo Beckett series by Meg Gardiner and the excellent Sarah Pribek series by Jodi Compton.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Copenhagen homicide detective Carl Morck survives a shootout, but his two partners aren't so lucky. One ends up dead and the other, Hardy, is paralyzed. The episode gives his superiors the chance to push him out of the department because of his difficult ways. They banish him to the basement of police headquarters to head Department Q, which will be responsible for revisiting old cases that were never solved. Carl is given an assistant, Assad, who helps him with his first case, the disappearance of politican, Merete Lynggaard. She went missing five years earlier while on a ship with her younger brother, Uffe. The reader follows Merete's imprisonment by unknown assailants and wonders if she'll still be alive to be rescued if Carl can trace her whereabouts. The Keeper of Lost Causes is the first book in the Department Q series and its strength lies in the partnership of Carl and his colleague, Assad, who it appears is not merely the Syrian refugee he claims to be.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman

Can a childhood secret stay buried forever? In The Most Dangerous Thing, late 1970's life in western Baltimore's Dickeyville is vividly realized through the eyes of members of three families. Gwen, Tim, Sean, Go-Go, and Mickey are the kids who explore the wilds of Leakin Park without parental supervision. There, they befriend a man they call Chicken George. One day something horrible happens that they try to put behind them as they grow to adulthood. Their parents, Tally, Clem, Doris, Tim, and Rita recount their lives as parents and involvement in the episode. In the present, Go-Go crashes his car into a wall, which intertwines the families' lives yet again. While the first third of the novel is very leisurely-paced, it soon builds up into an unforgettable story of the complicated relationships between parents and their children, between friends, and between husband and wife. I would rank this right below Lippman's standalone masterpieces, I'd Know You Anywhere and What the Dead Know.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Angelina's Bachelors by Brian O' Reilly

When life hands Angelina D'Angelo the double whammy of widowhood and joblessness, she wonders how she'll survive. In her Italian neighborhood of South Philadelphia, she finds an answer by cooking breakfast and dinner in her home for some local bachelors. There's Basil Cupertino and his nephew, Guy, who live across the street. Johnny, who finds himself living alone after his grandmother moves to a home for the elderly. Jerry Mancini, a childhood classmate. Don Eddie and his driver, Big Phil who have loose mafia ties. Finally, Mr. Pettibone, a connoisseur of fine food. Over time, the group becomes like a family, bonding over meals. As a result, Angelina finds herself healing and moving forward without her husband, Frank. Angelina's Bachelors is a light, cozy novel with touches of humor and mouthwatering descriptions of food.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Outrage by Arnaldur Indridason

Detective Erlendur is away on vacation and his colleague Elinborg is assigned to investigate the murder of Runolfur, a young man found with a large amount of Rohypnol (a "date rape drug") in his system. A woman's shawl is also discovered under his bed--it appears that he's probably been drugging and raping women. With that in mind, did one of his victims get revenge? Might someone else have had a problem with him? In Outrage, Elinborg's personal life is explored (mainly her strained relationship with her teenage son, Valthor). With Erlendur being the main character of the series, it was nice to see Elinborg more developed. On the other hand, I missed Erlendur's tortured soul.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Accident by Linwood Barclay

Contractor Glen Garber gets worried one evening when his wife, Sheila, hasn't come home yet from the business class she's been taking in the hopes of landing a high-paying job. He is stunned when the police tell him that Sheila caused an accident while driving drunk that took her life and two others. Left to be the sole parent to their 8-year-old daughter, Kelly, Glen is bereft and flummoxed because he never knew Sheila to be a reckless driver. When a friend of Sheila's is found dead and the police find her death suspicious, Glen tries to make sense of what's going on, but finds only more questions and people evading the truth. He also finds his life turning into an emotional and financial nightmare. In The Accident, Barclay has written another thriller that explores the dark underbelly of domestic suburbia. Suggested for people who like Harlan Coben.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

In Girls in White Dresses, the reader meets a group of female friends who went to Boston College together. Most of the scenes follow Isabella through her twenties as she moves to New York after university and tries to find fulfillment in her career and love life. Her friends Lauren's and Mary's lives are explored also. With humor and honesty, Close explores the interconnectedness of women's friendships and their individuality as they progress through life. It reminded me of Melissa Bank's The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Where the Shadows Lie by Michael Ridpath

Boston Sergeant Detective Magnus Jonson is wanted dead by a gang so he's shipped off to his birth country of Iceland to provide assistance for homicide investigations. Inspector Baldur Jakobsson of the Reykjavik CID isn't thrilled with the addition of Magnus, but he has no choice but to include him as part of his team. When professor Agnar Haraldsson is murdered, Magnus is plunged into the world of Icelandic sagas, folkore, and Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings in order to find the murderer. On the other side of the Atlantic, however, the gang is not about to give up their aim of eliminating Magnus. In Where the Shadows Lie, Ridpath (a British author of many other novels) begins a series that has some similarities to the other Icelandic mystery authors, Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurdardottir, but carves out a niche with his descriptions of contemporary Icelandic society and nature. Magnus is also an interesting character with his American/Icelandic perspective. It will be interesting to see how the series develops.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Affair by Lee Child

It's 1997 and Major Jack Reacher is sent to Carter Crossing, Mississippi, which is located near the Fort Kelham army base. He is to go undercover and find out if a woman named Janice May Chapman was murdered by a local resident or someone from Kelham. Reacher's cover is blown almost immediately by the local sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux, who recognizes him as a military man (she was in the Marines herself). Things get more complicated when Reacher discovers that two more women were murdered in the same manner as Chapman and that he is attracted to Devereux. Reacher's mission is extremely sensitive because of military/local relations and orders from his superiors that aren't always honest or truthful. In The Affair, which is set before all the other books in the series, Child explores the reason Reacher left the army for the wandering life he leads now. It will be published next month.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Back of Beyond by C.J. Box

Cop Cody Hoyt has begun to put his life back together after many years as an alcoholic. When his sponsor, Hank Winters, is found dead in his cabin, Cody finds evidence that it's murder, not suicide. After being suspended from work, he conducts a rogue investigation with his co-worker, Larry, and is stunned to discover than the murderer is probably on the same excursion through Yellowstone that his teenage son, Justin, is on. Determined to rescue Justin and avenge a good friend's death, Cody will not stop until apprehends the killer. Meanwhile, fourteen-year-old Gracie is on the Yellowstone trip with her divorced father and older sister and she feels apprehension about the people with her. Who among them is evil? Back of Beyond is the third standalone thriller by C.J. Box. With the main characters of Cody and Gracie, the descriptive Montana/Wyoming setting and non-stop action, Box has written a real winner.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Call Me Princess by Sara Blaedel

Assistant Detective Louise Rick of the Copenhagen police department is assigned the brutal Susanne Hansson rape case because her superiors feel it's best to have a woman as the lead investigator. Susanne met the rapist in an online dating site and, as Louise delves into the case, it becomes clear that the perpetrator has hidden his tracks well. When he claims another victim--who this time dies as a result of the attack--evidence mounts against him, even though the authorities still don't know his identity. With the help of her colleagues and best friend, reporter Camilla Lind, Louise just might catch him. Call Me Princess is the second book in the Louise Rick series (the first hasn't been translated). I really enjoyed the book, especially its Danish setting since Denmark is underrepresented in Scandavian mysteries. It's similar to Liza Marklund's Red Wolf, but a better read.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward

When Lauren Mahdian was a child, her father, Izaan, was imprisoned for murdering her mother. Lauren stopped speaking to him, but her brother, Alex, always believed that Izaan was innocent. As an adult, Lauren is unable to move forward from this family tragedy. When Alex goes missing in Iraq, she realizes that she must delve into the past in order to have a future. In Colorado, meanwhile, Sylvia Hall, forty and pregnant, decides to leave her boyfriend and go back to New York City. In Close Your Eyes, the lives of Lauren and Sylvia intersect in an unsuspected way that allows both women to find some closure. A book that explores the bonds of family relationships and friendship that is similar to Caroline Leavitt's novels.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Gallows Bird by Camilla Lackberg

A reality show has begun filming in the town of Tanumshede with six self-absorbed contestants. The police, meanwhile, are stumped by a road accident death that seems, at first, to be a DUI, but soon looks like it could be murder. Patrik Hedstrom and his team struggle to uncover who wanted shop owner Marit Kasperen dead. Then, when one of the contestants is killed, the cops are overwhelmed by the workload and unprepared for the media spotlight. Will they be able to handle both cases? On a personal note, the investigations leave Patrik little time to prepare for his upcoming wedding to Erica, while she struggles to bring her sister, Anna, out of her depression. The Gallows Bird is the fourth book in the Patrik Hedstrom/Erica Falck series and has been published in the U.K., but not yet in the U.S.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

Jules Strauss, a senior at Princeton, is desperate to get her father the help he needs to treat his addiction, so she decides to donate her eggs to a local fertility clinic. Annie Barrow, meanwhile, has a load of debt, two young children and a husband, Frank, who is continuing his schooling so he can get a better job. Thus, she decides to be a surrogate. India Bishop and her older husband, Marcus, really would like a child of their own--although Marcus has three grown children, including his daughter, Bettina. In Then Came You, the lives of Jules, Annie, India, and Bettina intersect along the path to having a baby and all four women learn that the path can have a few bumps...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer of Love by Katie Fforde

Single mum Sian Bishop decides to move out of London to the countryside to give her young son, Rory, a better life. After settling in to her rented house, she strikes up a friendship with her fiftyish next-door-neighbor, Fiona Matcham. Fiona introduces her to another mother, Jody, and includes Sian as a guest for a dinner party she's giving. The party is going smashingly well until Fiona's adult son, Angus, unexpectedly arrives. Sian is stunned to discover that Angus is actually Gus, the man she had a steamy one night stand with six years ago that resulted in Rory. Sian and Gus agreed that their encounter was a one-off because Gus was leaving on a long journey the next day. Afterwards, Sian had no way to contact him. Now, Sian still has strong feelings for Gus and wonders how she'll tell him and Fiona the truth. Complicating matters are Richard who's waiting in the wings for Sian to say yes to be with him and obnoxious Melissa, Gus' childhood friend who would like to be something more. Summer of Love is light, enjoyable English romance.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

One Dog Night by David Rosenfelt

Defense attorney Andy Carpenter would love nothing more than to spend time with his girlfriend Laurie and his golden retriever Tara--rather than take on a new client. But when Noah Galloway asks Andy to defend him against the charge that, six years ago, he set a fire that killed twenty-six people, he agrees...but only because Noah owned Tara before Andy. Noah believes he's guilty of the crime even though he has no memory of commiting it (he was a heavy drug user at the time). Now clean, he feels he should go to prison. But Andy and his team of investigators begin to find evidence that Noah was set up to take the fall. Will Andy persuade the jury to find Noah not guilty? One Dog Night is the latest mystery in the Andy Carpenter series. People who enjoy lighter mysteries--especially ones featuring dogs--should give the book a try.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen

Boston cop Jane Rizzoli and her partner, Barry Frost are called to Chinatown, where they find a woman's severed hand, with her body nearby. The next morning, while performing the autopsy, medical examiner Maura Isles finds two gray hairs on the deceased, which turn out not to be human hair. The murder seems to be connected to the Red Phoenix massacre of almost twenty years ago, named after the restaurant that once occupied the site where the new body was found. The cook at the restaurant, Wu Weimin, killed four people before committing suicide. Jane and Frost decide to take another look at the old case to try and find a possible link. What they find is a connection to the mob, missing children, glimpses of a mysterious creature, and the possibility that Wu Weimin was innocent. In The Silent Girl, Gerritsen combines Chinese mysticism along with a fast-paced story.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Betrayal of Trust by J.A. Jance

Special state investigator J.P. Beaumont and his partner (and wife) Mel Soames are asked to look into a disturbing video that was sent to the Washington governor's teenage step-grandson, Josh Deeson. They believe the girl being strangled in the video is dead and they are tasked with keeping their investigation secret until they can find out if Josh was involved. After interviewing Josh, Beaumont believes that Josh wasn't involved in the incident, but isn't being entirely truthful about not knowing her. Then Josh is found dead of a suicide and Beaumont and Mel are plunged deeper into the mystery of Josh and the girl. In Betrayal of Trust, Jance writes a mystery that's hard to put down because of the combination of a compelling story and Beaumont's likeability. It's been four years since Beaumont has had a book all to himself (the last Beaumont book also featured Jance's other long-running series character, Joanna Brady). More please...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Trespasser by Paul Doiron

Young Maine game warden Mike Bowditch is called to a car/deer accident, but when he arrives the female driver has disappeared. Despite having a bad feeling about the situation, Bowditch hands the case over to state trooper Curt Hutchins. The next morning, though, he decides to try and find the driver, Ashley Kim. That evening, Bowditch and his friend, retired warden Charley Stevens, discover her dead. The manner in which Ashley was murdered is eerily similar to the death of another woman, Nikki Donnatelli, who died seven years ago. Her killer, Erland Jefferts, is in prison. But some believe Jefferts is innocent and have been petitioning for his release. With a myriad of suspects and questions about whether there is one killer or two, Bowditch cannot stop trying to uncover the truth-- even though it's not his job and despite the toll it takes on him. In Trespasser, Doiron has succeeded in writing a mystery that's even better than the first (I was definitely lukewarm about The Poacher's Son). I'm anxious to continue with Bowditch on his journey through rugged Maine. For people who enjoy C.J. Box, Steve Hamilton, and William Kent Krueger.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

The Kellehers have been spending their summers in Maine for over sixty years. Beloved patriarch Daniel won land in a bet and built a cottage, which his widow, Alice, still enjoys. Their daughter, Kathleen, now living in California, intensely dislikes her mother and rarely visits. Kathleen's daughter, Maggie, though, plans on spending time in June there with her boyfriend, Gabe. July belongs to Kathleen's brother Patrick's family--headed by his wife, Ann Marie. This summer the lives of all four women (Alice, Kathleen, Maggie, and Ann Marie) collide at the Maine property and the reader gets to know each woman intimately, focusing in on how she feels about being a member of the Kelleher family. For readers who enjoy novels about family relationships. A minor gripe: the cover of the book resembles none of the characters...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand

Meredith Delinn has nowhere to turn when her husband, Freddy, is imprisoned for defrauding investors out of billions of dollars. Even though they've been estranged for a few years, Meredith's childhood best friend Connie agrees to let Meredith accompany her to Nantucket. Connie is having problems in her own life--she misses her husband, Wolf, desperately since he died of cancer and wishes she could mend the rift between her and Ashlyn, her only child. Meredith's sojourn proves difficult, since she's afraid she'll be recognized and be hounded by the press and angry people that believe she was an active participant in Freddy's misdeeds (even though she was in the dark). It becomes a waiting game to see if she'll be cleared of any wrongdoing and be able to move on. Luckily, a widower and an old flame come along to help lift Connie's and Meredith's spirits. In revisiting both women's lifelong friendship and marriages along with their daily summer routine, Hilderbrand has written another beach read that's hard to put down.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Until Thy Wrath Be Past by Asa Larsson

The body of a young woman, Wilma Persson, missing since last Fall, is found in a local river. Wilma and her boyfriend, Simon Kyro, were diving, looking for a Nazi airplane, when they were murdered. Simon, however, is not found. District prosecutor Rebecka Martinsson is drawn into the case, helping the local police, including Inspector Anna-Marie Mella. After some tests, the authorities realize that Wilma died somewhere else and was moved. The investigation's focus soon shifts to the Krekula family, especially the adult sons, Tore and Hjalmar. The story delves into the lives of all the characters in this far Northern Swedish community--including Wilma's ghost. Until Thy Wrath be Past is the fourth book in the Rebecka Martinsson series and will appeal to people who like Karin Fossum, Camilla Lackberg, and Yrsa Sigurdardottir. It will be published in August.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister

After beating breast cancer, Kate has a dinner party for her six friends (Marion, Daria, Caroline, Sara, Hadley, and Ava) who helped her through her illness. Kate is contemplating a trip to the Grand Canyon to go whitewater rafting with her daughter, Robin, but is hesitant. Marion suggests that Kate go with it and that, in turn, each of the other women do something that is different or intimidating to them. Everyone agrees, with the understanding that Kate will choose the tasks. The novel then follows each woman on her journey of self-discovery. Joy for Beginners is the second novel by Erica Bauermeister and is a real treat for readers of women's fiction, especially people who enjoy Jo-Ann Mapson, Judith Ryan Hendricks, and Sarah Addison Allen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Breaking Silence by Linda Castillo

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called out to an Amish farm because three members of the Slabaugh family are trapped in a manure pit. Unable to save them, Kate is especially upset because she grew up Amish herself and the deaths leave four orphans. The police force of Painters Mill, Ohio have also been busy dealing with a series of hate crimes against the Amish. With the Amish unwilling to press charges, Kate worries about the increasing violence. She and her fellow officers wonder if the deaths of the Slabaugh family and the hate crimes are connected. With Kate's boyfriend, John Tomasetti of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation around to help, she hopes that she will be able to find clues or witnesses that will help her close both cases. Breaking Silence is the third book in the Kate Burkholder series. It is not as violent as the first two, but just as good.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tigerlily's Orchids by Ruth Rendell

The residents of Litchfield House in London are an odd lot. There's Olwen, whose aim in life is to drink herself to death. Twentysomething Stuart Font loves to look at himself in the mirror and is having an affair with a married woman. Marius Potter is an aging hippie and classics tutor. Rose Preston-Jones is single and interested in New Age healing. Pedophile caretaker Walter Scurlock lives there with his wife, Richenda, who cleans the homes of some of the others. The most normal people are three university students (Molly, Sophie, and Noor) and married couple Michael and Katie Constantine. Taking place over eight months, the reader sees the individuals' lives intersect with both happy and tragic results. Rendell has written another novel filled with secrets, eccentricities, and psychological depth.