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Posts Tagged ‘book review’

No Man’s Land (John Puller Series) by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Allen Hott

No Man's LandMr. Baldacci has brought John Puller back and really tangled him up in a super woven story. Puller, and Army Special Agent and son of a retired three
Star general, is involved in finding out whom or what caused the disappearance of his mother some thirty years ago.

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His father, now suffering from dementia, is fading fast and Puller takes some time off from his military career to track down the clues in the old mystery.

It started because a former friend of the family sent the father a letter basically accusing him of doing the dirty deed to his wife. Puller doesn’t believe it and sets out to find the truth. Read the rest of this entry »

Pretty Little Girls: A Novel by Karin Slaughter (Review #3)

Pretty Little GirlsTwenty years ago a beloved, young woman disappeared without a trace, tearing her family apart. Julia Carroll’s vanishing has never been solved and after her father, Sam, tries in vain to find her he commits suicide. Her mother, Helen keeps her bedroom exactly how she left it in hopes that she will return home. Her two sisters, Lydia Delgado and Claire Scott, grieve in different ways and eventually become estranged from each other. Lydia turns into a drug addict, although she is clean now, and Claire is put on parole after physically harming a friend.

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The recent disappearance of another young girl brings up memories of their sister. Then tragedy strikes the family again. Claire’s wealthy husband, Paul, is brutally murdered after they celebrate the ending of her parole and removal of her ankle bracelet. She is devastated and tries to put her life back together after the unexpected death of her husband.

While using Paul’s computer to find some files for his work partner, she stumbles across some photos and videos. Photos and videos he has kept a secret from her. She finds very graphic and shocking pornography on his computer. She had no idea that he looked at this sort of thing. As she studies them closer, she believes that the girl in one of the videos is the missing girl. She takes the hard drive to the cop investigating her husband’s murder. He tells her it’s fake, but she has her doubts.

She soon discovers more horrific videos and pictures with Paul in them and sets out to discover why he has kept them. During this time she reconnects with her sister Lydia, and they begin to sift through the layers of everything that the fastidious Paul kept hidden for many years. Evidence is uncovered that could help solve the recent vanishing of the young girl and also lead to discovering what happened to Julia. What other horrifying things will the sisters learn about Paul Scott?

Karin Slaughter writes an excellent novel with lots of surprises and more twists and turns than a curvy road. She grips the reader with a great mystery and keeps them wanting to read more. I caution anyone who does not like to read explicit violence as some of the scenes are very graphic, but the book is definitely worth delving into.

The Burial Hour (A Lincoln Rhyme Novel) by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Burial HourGreat start to another good Lincoln Rhyme story. This time a young girl sees a man grab a man and put him in the trunk of a car. And while doing so the culprit leaves a mini-noose on the ground. The little girl gives it to her mom and the story begins!

Lincoln and Amelia Sachs, his investigating assistant and about to be wife, get dragged into the case right when they are planning on taking a trip to Europe or somewhere to get married! However with Thom, the great assistant-do-everything-guy will be along wherever they go since Lincoln is a paraplegic pretty much confined to a wheelchair.

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First off they have to find not only the culprit but the guy who was kidnapped. Turns out the victim is all trussed up with a specific type noose that is hooked up to a bucket of water. As more water fills the bucket the noose get tighter and tighter. Can they get to him in time?

But this is only the beginning because next that same culprit turns up in Italy and pulls the same type of stunt. Clever, eh what? At least Deaver didn’t have him turn up in India or somewhere that Lincoln and Sachs would have to go and mess up their wedding plans.

However as the story progresses the reader finds out much about this particular criminal. Also the reader finds out especially about his phenomenal ability to hear sounds and particularly musical sounds at least to him. Quickly he is dubbed the Composer and he is becoming a world-wide entity since he posts videos on something like YouTube to show off his victims.

These mysterious kidnappings also somehow seem to get involved with refugees. Italy like many other countries is so overwhelmed with them that one of their politicians says it is The Burial Hour since there are so many of these refugees that they will eventually bury all the true citizens of the country or countries. Read the rest of this entry »

Live by Night: A Novel by Dennis Lehane (Review #2)

Reviewed by Laurie Weatherlow

LIve by NightLive by Night by Dennis Lehane is a 2012 William Morrow publication.

At the age of thirteen Joe Coughlin began his ascension of the organized crime ladder. He was born the third son of Thomas Coughlin, a well-respected Boston police captain. Joe’s life of crime began by knocking off paper stands with the Bartolo brothers.

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At the age of twenty, Joe met Emma Gould during the robbery of a speakeasy owned by Albert White. Joe’s boss Tom Hickey and White were heated rivals in the bootlegging business. This was the turning point to Joe’s intensification into the gangster world. A world that was fueled by prohibition and the underworld of bootlegging. Joe was an excellent business man with a compassion seldom seen in a gangster. During this time, criminal gangs were rampant and ethnic prejudices ran high. Rumrunning prospered from the streets of Boston, Massachusetts, crawling with Irish and Italians, to the backwaters of Ybor City and Tampa Florida, with Cubans and Latino’s. Joe’s bootlegging and cigar businesses of Ybor became his life. But the mob bosses make the decisions and give the orders of how you live and if you survive. Read the rest of this entry »

Most Dangerous Place: A Jack Swyteck Novel by James Grippando

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Most Dangerous PlaceFrom a fairly simple easy beginning this one grows into a tremendous legal battle and finger pointing plus repetitive denials.

Jack Swytek, the legal whiz, is picking up his friend Keith Ingraham at the Miami airport. Along with Keith making the flight from Hong Kong is Isa Bornelli (his wife) and their young daughter. The daughter is the reason for the return as she has some very difficult surgery to be performed which is to help her recapture some amount of hearing since she was born with none.

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However right from the get-go the story line switches from the daughter to the mother as two police officers stop the group as they are leaving the terminal. They place Isa under arrest for the murder of Gabriel Sosa. This murder had taken place many years ago when Isa was in college but even when it had first worked its way up into the Judicial system Isa was never in the States. She lived with Keith who worked as a high powered banker in Hong Kong but they traveled all over the world with his job. So Isa had never been back to the states for any period of time. This time however the Miami-Dade Police Department knew of her arrival (don’t you wonder how??) and they put her into custody. Read the rest of this entry »

Tightening the Threads (A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery) by Lea Wait

Reviewed by Teri Davis

A true friend is there when you need them.

Tightening the ThreadsSarah Byrne is in a situation where she needs the friendship of Angie Curtis. The two have discovered their mutual love of antiques and needlepoint.
Sarah recently found her real heritage. Since a single-mother in Australia raised her, she valued her short time with her. When her mother died, she moved in with her grandmother in England. It was wonderful for her to be in a loving relationship again. Fortunately, her grandmother also shared the information leading her to her silent father in Maine. This was the first time his identity was revealed to her. Her plan was to again move to another continent to meet her father. Unfortunately, he died just months earlier.

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Sarah discovered a love for her new home, Haven Harbor, Maine and decided to open her antique business in her new home, the home of her father.
How does anyone inform the surviving members that she is also part of the family?

Finding her uncle without revealing her true identity was difficult, but Ted Lawrence quickly figured out her true identity. Ted wisely insisted on a DNA test as proof for the rest of his family. This wasn’t for either Ted or Sarah but the expected disbelief and doubt from Ted’s children.

Ted has cancer and knows that he does not have long to live. He has called his children together. Ted plans a family reunion including each of his three children’s families. His hope is to mend fences, reveal then new relative and to discuss his intended changes to the will. His expectations quickly become an impossible task.

Ted’s father, Robert Lawrence had been an outstanding artist. Teaching many of the techniques to Ted as he grew. Ted is now a reputable artist but will never be the legend of his father.

Sarah is apprehensive about meeting Ted’s three grown children. She knows that the do not get along and their lives take them in varying directions. For support, her friend Angie agrees to go along and assist in any way she can. So how would you react to a new will that is now going to include a new cousin? Apparently, this means that each of them will now receive less inheritance.

Surprisingly Ted dies from possibly eating a bad clam. Did one of his children purposely give him a clam from a restricted area? Did Ted complete the new will? What will happen to the paintings he gave to Sarah?

Lea Wait writes from what she knows. She lives on the Maine coast and is a fourth generation antiques dealer, much like her characters. Her mystery series, Shadows Antique Print have been nominated for the Agatha awards.
Tightening the Threads is a fast-paced cozy mystery that is fun to read. The story is viewed through Angie’s eyes as she unweaves the complex lives of Ted and his children. As an outsider, she does not have the long history of their animosity towards each other.

Tightening the Threads is a fun, quick, and enchanting mystery woven into a marvelous tapestry.

The Cold Moon by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Cold MoonMr. Deaver has put a full load into the works this time for Lincoln Rhyme. Rhyme is the paralyzed former New York Police officer now working as a homebound investigator for the NYPD. He works with his female aide, Amelia Sachs, who is still employed by the NYPD and several other aides. Most of their work is centered around Rhyme’s meticulous and very observant style. He uses those assets from his wheelchair while the others patrol the various crime scenes and feed him info as they probe.

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This time he is locked in with the Watchmaker, a very sharp bad guy, who is also deeply into clocks and watches. These he uses in his crimes and usually leaves one of some sort at the scene of the crime.

In the beginning the Watchmaker and his accomplice are targeting a group of people who have a strange sort of relationship. He appears to be killing them, and then after leaving various clues moves on to the next. With the help of Sachs, other investigators, and Kathryn Dance they are able to solve the first Watchmaker case or so they think. Read the rest of this entry »

Kale to the Queen: A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery by Nell Hampton

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Kale to the QueenThe basic plot of Kale to the Queen is this. The protagonist, Carrie Ann Cole, has an incredible bit of luck and meets the Duchess of Windsor in New York. Because of this meeting, Carrie Ann is offered the position of personal chef for the royal family in Kensington Palace. When Carrie Ann arrives jet lagged, late and soaking wet from a down pour, she finds that she is in charge of food for a children’s party that very day. So Carrie Ann is off and running in he new career without having time to catch a breath little lone settle in. Not the greatest of beginnings. Things get considerably worse when she finds one of her assistants dead in the kitchen green house and is questioned by the police. Because Carrie Ann is the protagonist, of course she starts nosing around the investigation and finds out some things that others would like to remain hidden. In the end, things work out for Carrie Ann and presumably we’ll see more of her each Spring for the foreseeable future. This is is a good thing. For while the book and Carrie Ann fall into some of the traps of cozy type mysteries, for the most part this is a solid first book leaving at least this reader wanting more.

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Kale to the Queen is the first mystery the author has written. This is an important point because there are a lot more things that can go wrong in writing mysteries versus other types of fiction. For the most part, Hampton was up to the task. In a mystery the characters, even the minor ones, need to be fairly well developed to make them believable as witnesses and potential suspects. This was done quite well. The plot needs clues for the readers to follow. The author needs to “play fair” with the readers. This was done well. Going right along with that, the plot needs some unexpected twists to keep the readers on their toes and again, this was done, though this could be improved on. Also there were red herrings, but not really enough to camouflage the solution. This left the reader with a good puzzle but maybe not a great one to solve. Hopefully, now that Carrie Ann and the supporting cast are established, there will be more details to the mystery in following books. The one truly troublesome aspect of this book is that Carrie Ann falls into the “cozy mystery trap” of telling too much to too many people. Not only could this have gotten her hurt or possibly killed, in the real world would probably have resulted in her being fired. As for the standard elements of cozies, yes there are recipes, but just three and at the end of the book not sprinkled throughout the story. I personally MUCH prefer the recipes at the end. No Carrie Ann does not have a pet. Yes, there is a potential love interest-both a boyfriend left behind in Chicago and some potentials in England.

I assume I will not not the only reader who from the first page of the book looks for comparisons to Julie Hyzy’s delightful White House Chef books with Ollie Paras as the protagonist. And indeed, there are some easy comparisons to make. Both chefs cook in very high profile positions and are surrounded by tight security measures. Both have some issues with fellow staff members feeling like the chef is not quite up to the position-in Ollie’s case because she is a woman, in Carrie Ann’s case because she is an American. Both protagonists have high demand jobs so much of the action takes place in and around their jobs unlike many cozies where the protagonists seem to be free to treat their jobs more like hobbies than a professions. Also, both protagonists tend to rush into things and share information that perhaps should be given only to the police. By the end of the book though, Carrie Ann has established herself and her series. I look forward to reading many more adventures of Carrie Ann Cole.

The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Forgotten ManCops are called to a crime scene in Temecula, California where they find a man, his wife, and teenage son all appeared to be beaten to death with something like a baseball bat. A very young girl appears to have hidden in a closet and was not touched in the horrific murders of her family.

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Years later Elvis Cole, one of Crais’ favorite private investigators is called by a Los Angeles police officer who had found a dead man in an alley. The police officer Detective Kelly Diaz called Cole to ask him to please come and identify the man as he was carrying paperwork that identified him as Cole’s father. At first Cole is completely against even going because he has not seen his father since he was a very young boy when his father took off leaving Cole pretty much alone since his mother was somewhat mentally unstable. As Cole tries to tell Diaz that he isn’t interested she also says that when she found the man he was still alive and he stated that Cole was his son. Read the rest of this entry »

Mississippi Blood by Greg Isles

Reviewed by Laurie Weatherlow

Mississippi BloodThe conclusion of Greg Iles’ Natchez Burning trilogy is spectacular. He weaves a tale of destruction and revenge at the hands of the Double Eagles and it has hit the Cage family relentlessly. In order to survive they must stand strong and find the truth to what has happened not only in recent months, but also forty years ago.

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Mississippi Blood is everything an exceptional southern novel should be. In-between the covers, there burns mystery, murder, deceit, racial tensions, adultery, violence, crimes and a trial that is not to be missed. You will be captivated by the excellent interconnection that Greg Iles has set before you. A story teller of the highest regard.

I am devastated that this in the final book in the Natchez Burning series. I have come to know and love all the characters in Natchez, Mississippi. This quote is the heart and spirit of each character that Isles’ has breathed life into.

“Mississippi blood is different. It’s got some river in it, Delta soil, turpentine, asbestos, cotton poison. But there’s strength in it, too. Strength that’s been beat but not broke. That’s Mississippi blood.”

All three of the books in the trilogy are long. Don’t let that intimidate you. I suggest starting with Natchez Burning, then The Bone Tree. The conclusion in Mississippi Blood will moor you to Natchez and you will not want to leave. Now, the withdrawal begins.