Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category
The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York (Thorndike Crime Scene) by Deborah Blum
No, I hope I never need the information in this book. The Poisoner’s Handbook is really the development of forensic science from the view point of New York City’s medical examiner, Charles Norris, toxicologist, Alexander Gettler and many others at the beginning of the twentieth century. In many respects, this book is the evolution of science as the processes for identifying chemicals with humans was developing. As our society became more industrialized, more poisons were created and either misused accidentally or purposefully. Unfortunately, few people before these scientists really studied these poisons and knew how to identify and differentiate each.
Parallel to the actual poisons is the history of famous cases where the poisons were found or suspected and how the investigators discovered what poison what used. With viewing the cases first through law enforcement and then through the scientific evidence was fascinating. Before this time, even securing a crime scene was not standard procedure. Read the rest of this entry »
Another Sun, set on the French Colonial Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe, gives readers a chance to do a little armchair traveling while enjoying a fine mystery with an interesting twist. The island with its history and diverse culture, contributes as much to the plot as any of the characters do. The justice system on the island has the judge as the investigator leading to a most unusual set up for the plot.
When the police pull the body of Raymond Calais from a pond and it is determined he was murdered, the first and really only suspect is Heggesippi Bray because he had threatened to kill Calais over a land deal gone wrong. When the judge, Anne Marie Laeaud begins her investigation, she finds that victim was not well liked and was mourned by no one aside from his widow so there were many others who are perfectly happy Calais is dead. And although Bray had a grievance with the victim, he was mostly known as a hot head, not necessarily a murderer. When Laveaud speaks to the widow, she insists her husband was murdered by a terrorist group supporting the island’s independence from France. Laveaud becomes convinced Bray is not guilty but is hampered in her effort to free him because he will not cooperate since she is a woman and Bray does not believe women should be judges. And the accused lack of help in his defense is not her only problem. Laveaud, not native to the island, struggles with her investigation in part because she does not know or understand the complex social structure rooted in the long history of the island. There are old secrets that are exposed over the course of the investigation that many wish to leave buried. Read the rest of this entry »
This is quite a book. It is all about police work in Scotland and features Inspector Logan McRae and his cohorts in law enforcement. The entire story features much of the bantering and playful digging into each other by these members of the force. McRae’s boss is Chief Inspector Steele who is a Scottish lady beyond compare. Her constant banter and capping on McRae while he is doing his work is really enjoyable. According to her he never gets his work done on time and in reality it appears to be because she keeps piling more on him since he is without a doubt the “best cop” on the beat.
The opening of Close to the Bone describes a scene being shot in a movie that shows a man with a tire wrapped around his head and shoulders. The tire is also being set on fire to add to the agony right before he dies. The director of the movie is a former police inspector who at one time worked with McRae. The reader’s first touch of what will become the story line.
As if on cue the first call in the story for McRae is one in which a real person has indeed had a tire wrapped him and he also has been set on fire. McRae is somewhat unnerved anyway by the time he gets to the scene because again on leaving his caravan (Scottish for trailer) he has found some more bones in a small bag hanging on his door handle. This isn’t the first time as it has happened several times lately. Why? Read the rest of this entry »
When Shirley Peters is found strangled, it initially appears to be an open and shut case when the police arrest her common-law husband, Tony Macliesh. He has a history of violence, a police record, is insanely jealous and they’ve been split up for eighteen months. Shirley also had a restraining order against him.
However they soon find out that Tony is not guilty when the second woman is murdered while they have Tony in custody. As they dig deeper into both murders they find that the only things the two women have in common is that they had shared an interest in the local newspaper’s Lonely Hearts column. Read the rest of this entry »
Patricia Cornwell writes novels dealing with forensics and that is exactly what the Bone Bed is about. Actually the bone bed is a place where bones of prehistoric dinosaur type creatures have been found and it turns out that one of paleontologists working in the area has come up missing.
However as the story moves along it turns out that it is not just this one lady who is missing but another is missing and also one is fished out of the river in Boston. Kay Scarpetta, the Chief Medical Examiner, has the honor of fishing the body out of the river and it is not an easy task. It seems that a huge endangered species sea turtle has somehow gotten wrapped around the body and some other fishing line. It is all entangled and Kay has to figure out how to get it untangled. However as she gets closer she finds that the body has been tied in at the neck and the feet. If not done correctly and carefully either the head will be pulled off the body or the entire body will sink to the bottom of the river bed. It looks like someone didn’t want the body recovered in good condition.
While Kay is trying to pull this off there are many boats in the area circling around to see what is happening and strangely enough a large helicopter appears above the scene and is taking movies of the procedure. Kay is very concerned with getting the body not only to shore but to her morgue so that she can investigate what caused the death before the body goes from its semi-frozen state to a condition unacceptable for autopsy work. Read the rest of this entry »
Detective Inspector Sean Corrigan is in a bind. A brutal killer is slaughtering innocent people in South London. No two murders are alike and the victims appear to have little in common. To make matters worse, the crime scenes are forensically barren. As the investigation moves forward, Corrigan realizes that he’s dealing with a person of superior intelligence. When the evidence starts to point to an executive of a local investment firm, Corrigan isn’t convinced that they have the right person. The question is, can the real killer be found before they slip back into the shadows? Read the rest of this entry »
An extremely interesting book about the most powerful drug lord in the Mexican drug world. Benjamin Armenta is the leader of the Gulf Cartel and in his powerful position he has built a fantastic hideaway in the Yucatecan lowlands. There are several things about him that are not common with everyday criminals. First off he cares about those who have helped in the past and because of this he shelters a leper colony in his Castle. Secondly and very importantly he is an accomplished musician and has put together a top flight recording studio in his hideaway with the best equipment and musical instruments that money can buy.
The story is built around Armenta’s love of music and his hatred of those who oppose him now or have in the past. One of those is Bradley Jones, a corrupt Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy. Jones’ wife, Erin McKenna, is a beautiful singer/songwriter with a tremendous following that is growing and growing as is her belly which is carrying a newly created child.
Armenta kidnaps Erin with two purposes in mind. He holds her for a million dollars ransom (although he has no need for that money) and more importantly he wants her to record “the greatest narcocorrido of all time” which would be the story of his life. However after he has her in his Castle and watches her create music he decides that he wants to also perform with her on several recordings.
After Erin had been kidnapped Bradley begins to gather together a group of well-trained lawmen and even a few well-trained men from the other side of the law. He plans to stage an assault on Armenta’s castle but realizes that this would not only be very dangerous but perhaps impossible. Armenta also has the help of many of Mexico’s law enforcers who work for whoever is paying them at the time or whomever is least threatening to their lifestyle. Read the rest of this entry »
A shootout in a New York City condemned apartment building uncovers an apartment with dozens of guns. Guns that were once in the protective custody of the evidence room of the NYC Police Department. Guns that have been used in homicides over the past 20+ years. Who is this mass murderer that has been terrorizing the city? What is the connection between these murders? IS there a connection or is this just random acts of violence? How is the killer getting these weapons? Read the rest of this entry »
DCI Andy Gilchrist became a new favorite for me just a few pages into “Hand For A Hand“. A dismembered hand is found on the golf course in St. Andrews, Scotland. The hand grips a note addressed to Andy. This first note is only the beginning of the terrors that Andy must face as the body parts and the notes with the strange messages continue to make their appearances.
Andy is divorced with two grown children, Jack and Maureen. It is a puzzle as to why the murderer is targeting Andy with a personal note. Andy realizes that the victim could be someone close to him. He leaves an urgent message for his daughter Maureen requesting that she contact him immediately. When he reaches his son, Jack, Andy learns that Jack had a disagreement with his girlfriend, Chloe, and doesn’t know where she is now.
To make matters even worse, Ronnie Watt is assigned to the case. Because of an incident in the past involving Ronnie and Andy’s young daughter Maureen, Andy despises Ronnie, doesn’t trust him, and feels that Ronnie will be a detriment rather than an asset in the investigation. Although Andy complains to his superior, he is told that Ronnie will remain on the case in spite of Andy’s feelings. Read the rest of this entry »
Devil-Devil: Introducing the Sergeant Kella and Sister Conchita Series Set in the Solomon Islands by Graeme Kent
Many times it is better to read about another place and time than to actually experience it yourself. That sums up my feeling in the Graeme Kent novel Devil-Devil.
Devil-Devil takes place in the 1960s in the Solomon Islands. Two unlikely characters, Sister Conchita, an American nun, who has just arrived on the islands and Ben Kella, who is a sergeant in the Solomon Island Police Force join together to solve the problems, crime, and mysteries of the area.
Sister Conchita attempts to bury a skeleton that was recently discovered. Since the skeleton is of a tall man, there is an assumption that this could be the missing white man from years ago. She wishes to bury it to prevent further problems regarding ethnicity and race. Sister Conchita strongly has her own way of doing things and does what she believes is the right thing to do, even if it is against the wishes of the local priest.
Being that Ben was born on the islands and has lived there all his life, he brings an insight into the white police force that is unusual for this time. Also Ben is an aofia which is a hereditary spiritual peacekeeper of his native Lau people. Pleasing the local police department and his people seems to be impossible since both seem to want opposite things in almost all matters. The police somewhat accept the customs of the people, but they do not always agree with it.
Devil-Devil thoroughly immerses the reader into the culture of the 1960s on the Solomon Islands. As the people transition from their tribal customs to the white man way, life is not always smooth or easily explained. With Ben being both with the police and the people, he is viewed frequently with mistrust rather than acceptance in his dual role. Even though it is a little difficult at first to get into the rhythm of the writing, it is well worth the journey. Read the rest of this entry »