Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category


Wipeout – “Paying the Price”

October 26, 2015


Wipeout  by Chip Hughes

I don’t know why I like these books so much. I’m not a surfer (I live in Southern Wisconsin for godsake) but find the Hawaiian backdrop exotic and accessible.

This story does have an involved plot though. A surfer, who is supposedly dead, in reality has taken up with another woman leaving his pregnant wife. But equally intriguing the surfer detective she hires sleeps with the missing husband’s new woman despite his having a pregnant girlfriend who he believes wants a commitment of marriage.

I can’t remember a book where we distrust and disapprove of the actions of the narrator. It all turns out OK in the end, plus the love of surfing, as opposed to making money, one way or another, comes across in a very real, very cathartic way.

I don’t know if I feel like facing 30 foot drops myself (I do know: I wouldn’t), but somehow reading about them as I look across the corn-filled fields of Wisconsin, seems exciting.



Death of a Dapper Snowman – “Hang in There”

October 13, 2015


Death of a Dapper Snowman by Angela Pepper

The first two chapters set the scene but, other than being a bookend for the story, have little to do with the very original mystery.

The real narrator is daughter of a retired policemen away getting a hip replacement. She has been a big-city financial investor and now finds herself in the small town where she grew up. Nice. That is until the top of a snowman rolls off revealing the head of a dead next-door neighbor.

But it is the subtext that proves almost as interesting. A girlfriend of her father (who he has broken up with, but she has been ashamed to tell others). A cat, thought to be female but really is male, who takes on the name of the woman’s imaginary friend (when she was a small girl). And, of course, the prejudice small town people have against moneyed outsiders.

I wasn’t sure why the murderer did it, or why the author began with the two chapters she did. But there is a lot of territory to be covered and I look forward to the books of the rest of the series to do that.

4 out of 5


Windy City Blues – “My Kind of Town”

September 22, 2015


Windy City Blues by Sara Paretsky

I usually read through introductions quickly, but the one to this book, about Chicago (the background of the story and its characters) is a masterpiece. And, it adds to each of the V. I. Warshawski pieces.

I have read Sara Paretsky before but never appreciated all that she brings to her work. These are not clever twists, but real life―hospital staff rivalries, tennis tournament coaching screw-ups, missing classical music scores.

I particularly liked the first 2/3 with “Grace Notes” and “The Maltese Cat.” “Settled Score” proved disappointing, but the nice thing about short stories is that you can always move on to the next.

And at the heart of them is a Polish, female, PI who gets things done. She lets us, as readers be part of the action in a real, Chicago way.

4 out of 5



Trick question – “You’ll Eat It Up”

September 9, 2015

Bourbon street neon

Trick question –  by Tony Dunbar

There’s something appealing to an outsider about New Orleans and a narrator named “Tubby.” He is a lawyer who owns a bar and finds himself defending a black guy who practices voodoo and works at an experimental clinic that develops new medications by killing mice and rats.

There are subplots, of course, Tubby’s daughter is pregnant, his son is arrested for stealing and Tubby’s ex wife is dating the attorney who was married to his ex girlfriend.

This is a lively, surprising, fun, hard-to-put-down book that makes you appreciate your simple life (even if it doesn’t include gumbo shrimp, turtle soup and chicory coffee).

4 out of 5


The Girl on the Train – “Contemporary Masterpiece”

August 31, 2015


The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

This piece is a contemporary classic. A thriller from three different perspectives (sometimes confusing to follow) that ultimately finds parallels and a theme (we want to accept lies that confirm our beliefs) that is there from the beginning – who doesn’t want to believe scenes we observe from  train windows are of people with better lives than ours – to the surprising ending of who kills the murderer.

I’m not one to follow dates on chapters and the narratives become complicated the more we see how these different women end up with lives parallel to each other. But this is profound, disturbing and something that you can’t put down untill the final page.

Oh yeah, there’s lust, love, marriage and divorce, too.

  • J. Lehman5 out of 5_edited-1

Goodey’s Last Stand – “The Real Thing”

August 5, 2015


I thought this would be stereotype, hard-boiled detective stuff. It’s not. Starting with the narrator shooting an innocent Polish night watchman by mistake, a cop losing his job and then being promised to get it back if he solves a rather involved murder as a PI.

Sure, there is the expected wise-guy patter, but in this case it seems heart-felt and there are settings (a cemetery outside of San Francisco, for example) and characters that are genuine (“Let me give you some advice: No matter how much you don’t like your job, it’s better than being retired. When the time comes that somebody wants to retire you, you take that gun of yours and blow your brains out first.”) Read the rest of this entry ?


Conspiracy of Silence― “that Echoes”

August 1, 2015


Conspiracy of Silence by Martha Powers

Some stories, especially mysteries, get you thinking about half way through, who done it. The culprit is not someone introduced at the 11th hour, but usually the most unlikely member of the cast.

Here we have a narrator who finds out, as an adult, that she was adopted. She not only wants to find out who her mother was, but also why her father murdered the woman.

She has only her own childhood dreams to lead her to the answers, but there are twists and turns she, and the reader, never foresee.

Read the rest of this entry ?