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.