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- A Colder Kind of Death by Gail Bower.
- Once again, I discover a new mystery series by stumbling
across the LAST book in the series so far. Why don't I ever stumble into
the first ones? Anyway, this one features "a reluctant sleuth" named
Joanne Kilbourn. In this book, when the man convicted of murdering
Joanne's husband is himself murdered, she decides things were not what
they seemed and begins trying to find out what really happened to her
husband. It was pretty good, though it got off to a slow start.
- Shiny Water by Anna Salter.
- Psychologist Michael Stone gets sucked into the murder
investigation after two little children are found strangled in their beds.
(This is the first of the Dr. Stone series.)
- Night Train by
- This is my third Amis book and it's his first attempt at a
mystery. I've never been a huge Amis fan but I've always been a huge
mystery fan so I figured, why not? Here's why not: it's not that great.
Pretty stock stuff about a detective investigating the suicide of her
boss's daughter. And his writing style, which always kind of bothered me
a bit, is really awful here. It's first person and it's
supposed to, I'm guessing, sound like the voice of this female detective
(the second female named "Mike" I've encountered this month -- must be The
Thing to Do). There are a zillion sentence fragments, which I forgive
because it's supposed to sound like her voice. But also a few times when
he starts a sentence with the word "too," as in "Too, she picked up her
gun from the counter." Yuck! Not only is that bad grammar, but NOBODY
TALKS LIKE THAT! Now it's true I start a lot of sentences with "but" or
"and" and that's technically a no-no, too. However, I'm not a famous
novelist, so it's okay. Are we all clear on the difference here? Another
annoying writing thing: the main
character kept referring to herself
as "a police" and making a big deal about how that's the proper way to
consider cops. A cop isn't a cop, he's "a police." Have you ever
heard that? Me neither. So, maybe he just made it up, novelist's license.
But whether it's true or not doesn't change the fact it sounds incredibly
stupid. This novel stunk. Skip it.
Scoop by Evelyn Waugh.
- A satire of the newspaper field in which a nature reporter
mistakenly gets sent to cover a war in Africa. Not quite what I expected,
but silly and enjoyable, though I'm sure I missed some of the jokes
because of generational differences.
A Lost Lady by Willa Cather.
- Short novel about the hard life of a woman and her husband who
were upper-class people summering and eventually living year-round in a
fading railroad town in the West. I enjoyed it, but felt like Cather got
bored half-way and didn't feel like adding any depth to the characters.
Maybe it was just a short novel in her mind from the get-go, but I've read
short novels that felt like long ones before and this one just felt choppy
and cut-off to me. But whaddo I know anyway?
The Burglar Who Painted like Mondrian by Lawrence Block
- If you don't know Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr series and you
like funny mysteries, you should look this set of books up. Bernie is a
professional thief who spends each book trying to steal something and then
invariably walking into a dead body. In this one, Bernie tries to steal a
famous painting in order to pay the ransom for his friend's kidnapped
kitty. The owner of the painting turns up dead the next day and Bernie's
accused of the murder! Not too surprising, since it happens in just about
every book, but he's a lot like Spenser, and Spenser is good.
Shakespeare's Christmas by Charlaine Harris
- This is the last (so far) book in another mystery series, this
time featuring karate expert/housecleaner Lily Bard. Lily is a tough girl
living in a small town named "Shakespeare." In this one, she goes back
home for her sister's wedding and gets caught up in a murder case and an
8-year old kidnapping.
Sleeping with the Crawfish by D.J.Donaldson
- ANOTHER mystery series I really like is the Andy Broussard/Kit
Franklyn series by Donaldson. Broussard is an overweight medical examiner
with a sweettooth for lemon drops and Franklyn is a forensic psychologist
working for Broussard as his suicide expert. The series takes place in
New Orleans, which I really enjoy cuz I've never been there. In this one,
Andy and Kit investigate a biomedical lab and get tangled up in a
city-wide conspiracy! Egads!
The Bone Collector by Jeffrey Deaver
- If you read my Boyfriend write-up for Denzel Washington, you
know this book is a gruesome mystery featuring a quadriplegic forensics
expert. Gore aside, it was an interesting book because the serial killer
is very big into old New York. A grocery store paperback would describe
it as "gripping." I describe it as "hard to take in a few places, but it
sure did scare the hoo-hah outta me."
Deadly Care by Leonard S. Goldberg
- A cheesy mystery about a forensic pathologist (Joanna Blalock)
who uncovers a deadly conspiracy after she determines the identity of a
faceless corpse. Lots of jabs at the HMO industry.
The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling by Lawrence Block
- A Bernie Rhodenbarr in which Bernie steals a rare Kipling book
and then is set-up for a murder (whadda surprise!) by someone who wants to
get it from him. Fun, as usual.
O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
- The story of Alexandra, a Swede who takes over the family farm
(set in the American West) after the death of her father. I periodically
read books like this for two reasons: one, I like stories set in the
pioneer days of the American West; and two, so does my 90 year-old aunt,
and I'm constantly trying to find more books for her to read. But I gotta
read them first in case there's anything in them that old people might
object to. I'm not sure what that'd be, but I'll probably know it when I
see it. This one is not as good as Cather's My Antonia but is
along the same lines, plot-wise.
No Mardi Gras for the Dead by D. J. Donaldson
- I don't always spend each month reading every book by the same
author, but you caught me at a really unliterary time. I got sucked into
a few series in the last month or two and you'll just have to ride them
out with me. In this one, people keep dying for no reason Andy can figure
out until he realizes they all have the same strange organisms floating
around in their brain tissue. Great, as usual.
Louisiana Fever by D. J. Donaldson
- This is another Broussard/Franklyn novel in which the two
discover a deadly virus has made its way into New Orleans. This one is my
favorite of the series, mostly because I'm a sucker for biological
Here's Your Hat, What's Your Hurry by Elizabeth McCracken
- McCracken is the author of a terrific book called The
Giant's House and it's because of that book I scooped up this one at
the library. This one is just as delightful -- it's a bunch of short
stories that are bizarre in the most wonderful of ways. McCracken is a
terrific writer, funny and crazy and romantic in all the best ways.
Fault Lines by Anna Salter
- Part of a series, but it's the first one I've read. The main
character is Dr. Michael Stone (the first of two books I will read this
month featuring women named "Michael"), a forensic psychologist. In this
one, a child molester Stone had treated in prison gets out of jail and
begins to stalk her. Kind of freaky in places (he's into torture,
physical and mental), but hard to put down.
Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
- I try to read all the Oprah books, but I'm never reading them
at the right times. Oprah's choices have impressed me in the past, but
lately, it seems to me she's been picking books that haven't been too
challenging or very stimulating intellectually. This one is a light story
more suited for teenagers, I think, about a 17 year old girl (Novalee
Nation) who is dumped at the Wal-Mart by her boyfriend when she's 7 months
pregnant. He goes on to California and she begins to live in the store
until she gives birth and becomes somewhat of a celebrity ("Woman gives
birth in Wal-Mart!"). Eventually, the small town becomes her home and she
raises her daughter Americus alongside a group of loving and bizarre
townsfolk. So cheesy in places I almost had to put it down. But there
were a few times when the writing was so good, I caught myself smiling at
the turn of a phrase. That's a good feeling.
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