Sunday, February 26, 2012

Death of a Kingfisher by M.C. Beaton

The small town of Braikie has seen an influx of tourists to a place called Buchan's Wood, which has been renamed the Fairy Glen. One of its main attractions is a family of Kingfishers--who meet an untimely demise when they are mysteriously poisoned. Soon after, several people are murdered, and policeman Hamish Macbeth and his colleagues have something more sinister on their hands. Throw in a group of eccentric residents, a bit of romance, humor, and you have another enjoyable entry in this long-running cozy mystery series.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Darlings by Cristina Alger

At the height of the financial crisis of 2008, after losing his job, lawyer Paul Ross takes a position at his billionaire father-in-law's hedge fund firm, Delphic. Paul, while not from a privileged background, has become used to the Darlings' way of life—expensive clothes and weekends in the Hamptons. He also has a very solid marriage with his wife, Merrill, the daughter of Carter and Inez Darling. When Morty Reis, who managed a majority of Delphic's assets for many years, is presumed dead after jumping off the Tappan Zee Bridge, the Darling family is plunged into scandal and possible prosecution. The novel follows the Darlings, their lawyers, SEC employees, and journalists as the story plays out over the Thanksgiving weekend. But at the center, is Paul, who has to decide whether to stick with his father-in-law or go it alone. The Darlings is a compulsively readable novel with interesting characters and an insider's view of the financial crisis. Really, really, good...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Heart of a Killer by David Rosenfelt

Lawyer Jamie Wagner isn't one for hard work. At the large law firm where he's employed, he is given the Legal Aid case of Sheryl Harrison. Sheryl was convicted of murdering her husband six years ago and now seeks a lawyer to help her die. She wants to give her heart to her teenage daughter, Karen, who needs a transplant. Jamie is not sure that he's the right person to help Sheryl, but decides he'll do it to spite his parents. What follows is a suspenseful ride that reveals a mother's love for her daughter, even in the face of a great evil. Heart of a Killer is Rosenfelt's fourth standalone novel. It's a great read-alike for Harlan Coben.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Cold Light of Mourning by Elizabeth J. Duncan

Londoner Meg Wynne is about to marry wealthy Emyr Gruffydd when she disappears after getting a manicure from Penny Brannigan, owner of Happy Hands Nail Care. Penny is stunned to discover that she was the last person to see Meg, according to DCI Gareth Davies and DS Bethan Morgan. With her new friend, Victoria, Penny delves into Meg's and Emyr's lives to find out what happened to her. In her personal life, Penny starts dating Davies and mourns the loss of her good friend, Emma, who passed away recently. The Cold Light of Mourning is the first book in the Penny Brannigan mystery series and is an enjoyable cozy with a nice sense of place for small-town Wales.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

When Yasuko Hanaoka's ex-husband, Shinji Togashi, shows up at her workplace one day, she feels a mixture of fear and dread. In the past, Togashi has harassed her and she's given him money to leave her alone. But this evening ends with Togashi dead in her apartment after a tussle with Yasuko and her teenage daughter, Misato. Yasuko's next-door neighbor, Ishimagi (a brilliant mathematics teacher who has a crush on Yasuko), offers to help them with their situation. He concocts alibis for them and gets rid of the body. But Yasuko is Detective Kusanagi's prime suspect from the start. Yasuko's alibi seems solid, but the case takes an unexpected turn when physics professor Manabu Yukawa becomes involved. He's friends with Detective Kusanagi and consults with the police on cases. He also knows Ishimagi from college, even though they've lost touch. Soon the old friends Ishimagi and Yukawa are locked in a battle of the minds to either hide or find the truth. An engrossing book for fans of psychological mysteries like Karin Fossum. I hope more of Higashino's books are translated into English.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Londoner Poppy Wyatt is frantic after she's lost her engagement ring while having tea with friends at a hotel. The ring is a family heirloom of Poppy's fiance, Magnus and she doesn't know how she's going to tell him about what happened. Things go from bad to worse when her mobile phone is stolen while she's outside the hotel. Seeing a cell phone in the garbage, she decides to grab it and use it as her own. Poppy figures she can't be without a phone right now because she's given out her information to everyone, in case they come across the ring. The phone actually belongs to the assistant of businessman Sam Roxton, who's quit her job. Poppy convinces Sam to let her keep the phone for a while, as long as she forwards all his e-mails. But keeping Sam's phone isn't as easy as Poppy thought. Slowly, Poppy becomes involved in Sam's personal and professional lives--and he in hers. And when both have personal crises, they realize it's only the other that can really help them. Another enjoyable novel by Kinsella.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Surrey State of Affairs by Ceri Radford

Fifty-three and old-fashioned, Constance Harding lives with her husband, Jeffrey, in Surrey, England. Her days consist of bell-ringing practice, worrying about her two adult children, Rupert and Sophie, and fretting about her housekeeper Natalia's lack of skills. But cracks appear in Constance's life when Rupert thwarts her attempts at matchmaking and Sophie gives her fits by wearing skimpy clothing and behaving badly. As Constance's domestic life spins out of control, one wonders if her life will ever be the same. For readers who enjoy humorous, cozy British reads like No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. It will be published in March.

Friday, February 10, 2012

An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer

Edward Schuyler is in his early sixties when his wife, Bee, passes away. Never having children of their own, Bee's two children from a previous marriage, Nick and Julie, are particularly close to him, as is Bee's elderly mother, Gladys. An Available Man follows Edward on his journey into singlehood and his reluctant attempts at dating after the kids place a personal ad for him. With depth and humor, Wolitzer creates a memorable novel that's similar to Anne Tyler, Stewart O'Nan, and A. Manette Ansay's novel Midnight Champagne.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Julia's Child by Sarah Pinneo

Julia Bailey is the creator and owner of an organic company that produces and sells food for children. She's attempting to juggle her home life (with her husband Luke and two young sons Jasper and Wylie) and her ambitions to see her small company, Julia's Child, grow. Luckily, she has the help of her hard-working assistant/co-owner, Marta, to keep her on track. Julia finds that reaching her dream of being in Whole Foods is not without its sacrifices and pitfalls. Julia's Child was so much fun! It is a light and humorous look at contemporary motherhood. Pinneo really knows her audience and is able to present the story in a really enjoyable way. For readers of Jennifer Weiner and Katherine Center's The Bright Side of Disaster.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

The magazine Millennium is getting ready to publish an article about sex trafficking in Sweden, written by Dag Svensson and researched by his girlfriend, Mia Johansson, followed by a book . Then Dag and Mia are found murdered along with Lisbeth Salander's guardian, Nils Bjurman. The prints on the gun belong to Salander, and she becomes the police's prime suspect. People who know Salander, such as Mikael Blomkvist and Salander's ex-boss, Dragan Armansky, set out to prove she's not guilty. What follows is a very leisurely-paced story that delves deeply into Salander's personal life. While reading The Girl Who Played with Fire is essential if you are going to read the trilogy, there is not enough of a story to support a five hundred page book. Although the characters lives do move forward, I longed for the intriguing puzzle contained in the first book and hope that the third book is more enjoyable.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Professionals by Owen Laukkanen

Four twentysomething friends have spent the last couple of years making a career out of kidnapping wealthy businessman for small amounts rather than huge payouts, figuring that the businessmen can afford the tens of thousands of dollars and will just forget about the incident and move on. But when Pender, Marie, Sawyer, and Mouse kidnap Donald Beneteau they neglect to discover that he's the husband of mob-connected Patricia Beneteau. Knowing they're in deep trouble, they begin to panic and find themselves on the run from both the Mafia and the team of Minnesota state investigator Kirk Stevens and FBI agent Carla Windermere. With the odds stacked against them, one wonders if they'll make it out alive. The Professionals is page turner that reminds me of Robert Crais recent novels, Thomas Perry's standalone books, and The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey. It will be published in March and is slated to be a series with Stevens and Windermere as the series characters.