Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category
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 »
23 Shades of Black, being reissued this spring, introduces readers to one of the most interesting police officers found in American fiction today. Filomena Buscarsela is a complex character with so many different facets to her personality, readers never know quite how she will react in a given situation. Even though she was born in Ecuador, and obviously fluent in Spanish, she doesn’t quite fit in with any of the Latinos on the force or in the field. She shares a language but not the culture. While she is an immigrant and was raised in poverty, she is now a member of the New York police force, not a profession that makes her welcome in most immigrant neighborhoods. She is a sworn officer of the force yet struggles with her own personal drug and alcohol vices on a regular basis. She is a Latino woman trying to make it in a white man’s profession in the East Village of New York during the Reagan Era in America.
In one shift alone, Filomena breaks up a drug sale gone bad, is called out to a chemical leak near a food stamp distribution center where she rescues a woman from the building, and lands in the middle of a rape case. The rescue at the chemical leak should have given her enough “points” to bump her up the ladder so that she could leave her dirtbag, wiseass partner behind. But no witness can be found to verify her deed and so unless she can, she is stuck. Could her partner help? Of course, but not one of the men in her unit want to do anything but ridicule and make her life miserable at every turn. She’s of color, she’s a woman and she doesn’t belong. Read the rest of this entry »
“Death, not time, is probably the only lasting remedy for hurt and even that’s just an educated guess.”
Moe Prager is the realistic protagonist in the latest book in this series by Reed Farrel Coleman, Hurt Machine. Moe is a private investigator who also happens to be Jewish, who spent years working as NYPD, but made the choice to do the right thing, rather than be promoted. His thoughts are on his recent diagnosis of stomach cancer with the upcoming surgery and having his daughter, Sarah, getting married. He doesn’t plan to tell Sarah about the cancer until after the wedding. The surgery is scheduled during her honeymoon.
A former investigative partner, Carmella Melendez, asks for Moe’s help with discovering the murderer of her sister, Alta. Alta was stabbed to death after a highly publicized incident where Alta and her
partner refused to give medical help to a dying man even though they were trained as EMTs. The press crucified the two which cost them their careers complete with public hatred. The partner was forced into complete isolation due to the public hatred. Why would two EMTs refuse to help a dying man? What logical reason could there be? What really happened? Why were there no witnesses who came forward regarding Alta’s death? Read the rest of this entry »
The Thief is a bit different than most of the titles put out under the SOHO Crime label. Generally, the books feature strong protagonists and are set in exotic locales that are so well described it leaves the readers feeling like they have traveled to the book’s setting. While this book is set in Tokyo, there is not that vivid sense of place that is found in many of the SOHO titles. And while Nishimura, a pickpocket in Tokyo, is one of the most unusual protagonists I’ve come across lately, I wouldn’t describe him as a strong character.
The basic setup for the book is Nishimura has perfected the art of pick pocketing in the busy streets and trains of Tokyo. He has become so skilled at his job that he carries on without giving the actual act even a thought. He rather goes into a sort of auto pilot when he begins assessing the marks and making his moves. Readers meet Nishimura through a sequence of pickpocket maneuvers-some while he is in a near trancelike state. In one early case, he finds a wallet in his coat pocket that he does not even remember taking. From the early pages of the book, one is struck by how disconnected to his life and isolated from the world around him the character is. The one and only real connection Nishimura makes is with a small boy who is shoplifting in a grocery store for his prostitute mother. The other character that is a force in Nishimura’s life, is his former mentor who Nishimura believes may be dead after a botched job.
The bleakness of Nishimura’s life sets the tone of the book. There are no real emotions in play here and it’s hard for the reader to really get involved with the protagonist since we are never really allowed to know him. What the disconnect of Nishimura’s life does deliver is the force that drives the book. From the opening pages when Nishimura starts his thievery, he functions at a near frantic pace leaving readers eager to find out what makes Nishimura tick-what drives him. As the plot develops and readers learn of the former mentor and the botched job that still torture Nishimura today. And then the mentor returns with another job for Nishimura and a chance to redeem himself-or is it? Read the rest of this entry »
When readers want to take a virtual trip to some other part of the world, an easy choice is to pick up one of the various series published by SOHO Crime. They have series literally set all over the world. One of this reviewer’s favorites is the Chief Inspector Silva series set in Brazil.
In A Vine in the Blood, World Cup Soccer serves as the back drop for the plot. Brazil is due to host the World Cup and fans anticipate a finals match between Brazil and arch rival Argentina. Brazil MUST win no matter what. What lengths will fans in this soccer rabid country go to in order to secure a victory? When the mother of the star for the home team is kidnapped, everyone assumes it was a plot to hamper Brazil’s chances in the upcoming match. But was it? There are certainly other people in the soccer star’s life as well as his mother’s life who might have a motive.
While the plots of the other books in the series were fairly unique to Brazil, this book could possibly take place in any locale with over-the-top avid fans of any sports team. In fact, a situation in Olympic figure skating came to mind more than once while reading this book. This took a bit off the book for me since much of the focus was on the sports community rather than uniquely Brazilian cultural issues. Still, author Gage takes readers in the Brazilian mob and offers us a look at the running of crime investigation in Brazil. Read the rest of this entry »
Just the title of this book intrigued me and it is as exciting of a book as the title.
Nina is asked to do a favor for her friend Karin, a simple favor really just get a suitcase from a locker in Central Station. Nina is a wonderful, kindhearted person who hates to see anyone hurt so she goes and gets the suitcase. The suitcase is heavy but not so heavy that she can’t handle it. When she gets to her car she opens it and inside is a small boy not wearing a thing. He is unconscious. Nina is a nurse and determines he has been drugged. Read the rest of this entry »
When Nina Borg, a nurse, agrees to do her friend Karin a favor and pick up a suitcase from a locker in the Copenhagen train station, she thought it would be a simple errand. The errand turned out to be far from simple and extremely dangerous. When Nina opened the suitcase, she found a small boy, naked and drugged. Should she call the police and turn the child over to the authorities? This is the question she kept asking herself but finally determined that the authorities might not do what was in the boy’s best interest.
Meanwhile, the boy’s mother, Sigita was frantic. Sigita woke up in a hospital with no idea how she got there but is told that she was found in a drunken state after falling down the steps from her apartment. All Sigita knew was that she did not drink to excess, she has no memory of drinking or falling and her child, Mikas, is gone. A neighbor tells Sigita that the boy’s father had picked him up but when Sigita is finally able to reach Mikas’ father she finds that he knows nothing about where his son might be.
Nina finally finds out where Karin is and goes to meet her. When Nina gets to the cabin where Karin is staying, she finds that Karin has been murdered. There is no clue as to the boy’s identity or why Karin asked Nina to pick up the suitcase. Nina is quick to realize that agreeing to do a favor for a friend has placed both her and the boy in danger. Read the rest of this entry »