Posts Tagged ‘detective’


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


Retirement Is Murder – “Clues”

September 25, 2015


Retirement Is Murder by Susan Santangelo

This is not a book you would expect. The narrator is in her sixties and she gets her husband (unhappy with work) to plan for retirement (or so she thinks. He believes this will be a new client.)

Why would this be on Kindle (not exactly a media for older readers)? Why the subject of retirement (not something people usually plan)? And why am I reviewing this (who happily waddle through my own senior years without much direction)?

It is free. And worth thinking about. Not the plot which is kind of interesting, but what retirement means today.

I asked my 80 year old neighbor some of the discussion questions at the end of the book. If like him, and me, you don’t have a clue to your answers, read this book.

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



The Purrfect Murder – “Cats-the Book”

August 29, 2015


The Purrfect Murder by Rita Mae Brown

There are too many characters (both human and animal). The author addresses this with a two-page glossary for each at the beginning of the book. I can’t tell you how many times I had to check these.

And I’m not sure the cats seem very real either. Their dialogue feels added though the animals do play a big part toward the end of the book. I like it that Rita Mae Brown takes on the issue of abortion, and in a very real way presents both sides. I also enjoyed the small town feel.

I looked forward to this, not only because we have 10 cats, but also a corgi and some other dogs. Oh well, Ill just have to write my own cat/dog mystery. Oh wait a minute, I have (they are on Amazon under “Jack Lehman.”)


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 ?


The Miser’s Dream – “Mystery but Not Magic”

July 17, 2015


The Miser’s Dream by John Gaspard

The first half of this book is good that just gets better and better. I am a fan of magic, old movies and cozy detective stories (murder in a locked room). The author, John Gaspard, has a way of making information interesting, pertinent and best of all insightful.

I like the narrator, who has somewhat of an inferiority complex about how he compares to a visiting magician. Enjoy his relationship to his uncle and a group of his uncle’s friends who are all magicians. And Eli Marks’ girlfriend is a new-age spiritualist who adds another dimension to all this.

But, I didn’t care for the title, a magic trick. The name needs to stand on its own. Nor the theater full of people witnessing the rival, Quinton Moon, making a fool out of himself while trying to demonstrate how a monkey was part of a murder. And I thought the  conclusion. the long drawn out, Clever but far-fetched.

I think about magician Teller’s quote, “Magic is not something you pick apart with machines, because it’s not really about the mechanics of your senses. Magic’s about understanding—and then manipulating—how viewers digest the sensory information.”

I feel all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, but I’ wasn’t on my feet at the end in wonder. I wanted magic. Magic. MAGIC!

3 out of 5_edited-1


Pink Balloons and Other Deadly Things – “Popping Them”

April 29, 2015

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by Nancy Tesler

Stop! Did you ever analyze why you are sympathetic to a narrator, or not? Sherlock Holmes is a smug guy with answers he eventually reveals to us, but Dr. Watson is the narrator. And Carrie Carlin is just the opposite of Holmes.

A stress-coping counselor, her life and her marriage of eighteen years, is falling apart. Plus her husband’s girl friend is murdered. Carrie bumbles from one disappointment to the next and we are with her. Read the rest of this entry ?