Posts Tagged ‘literary mystery’


A Man of Genius – “Wright, Not Done Wrong”

April 14, 2016

A Man of Genius by Lynn Rosen

FL Wdownload

John and his dog, Spanky, review books, movies, DVDs, etc.

JOHN: Emotional conflicts of historic characters are not necessarily true, but, as humans, we know they are there. Rosen creates a fictional character that looks, talks and acts like Frank Lloyd Wright (“a small man with the mass of hair, clothed in a cape, and odd hat, who, when out of doors, was always holding a walking stick in a gloved hand. He presented a dramatic, dynamic figure, never at rest.”).

SPANKY: Of course he’s an architect who acknowledges a symbiotic relationship between man and his environment.

JOHN: His attorney friend writing this, is in italics and says stuff like, “It is generally accepted tat the past controls the pathway to our understanding of the present…I’ve now sat for many weeks refining Carlyle’s tale with my memories filling in the voids.” I think this is an elaborate way for Rosen to tell a fictionalized tale of a real event and a real man.

SPANKY: Which becomes very confusing because of the many characters she presents.

JOHN: Yes, but it does provide a longer time frame, and added suspense at the end.

SPANKY: The architect falls in love with a young mistress who looks like his wife once did. The wife confronts the mistress and one of them is murdered (along with two sisters who die in the architect’s fire to cover things up.

JOHN: We aren’t sure which person the survivor is (thanks to the general confusion you mentioned earlier. So after his death we are left with the dilemma of the man’s public reputation and personal indiscretion.

SPANKY: As we are with Frank Lloyd Wright. The supposed author says: It is the rare person who has the capability to explore down to the heart of the matter.

JOHN: But that is exactly what Lynn Rosen does in this book.

SPANKY: I give it fiver barks out of five.

JOHN: And I, five rosebuds.




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



San Francisco Secrets – “A Foggy Time”

June 2, 2013

30901890_thbSan Francisco Secrets

by Gret Messel

Atria Books

450 pages, $15

I like this book, because I was in San Francisco in the early sixties and the author does a great job of capturing that time and place. There are dual plots which keep us curious, though both tend to be resolved a little too conveniently. I like the “1958 Cost of Living” chart. Gas was 24cents a gallon; a postage stamp, 4 cents.

The reference to Dashiell Hammett, one of my favorite writers, reminds us, painfully, that the private detective Sam Slater is not Sam Spade. Read the rest of this entry ?


Dog on it: A Chet and Bernie Mystery – “A New Game”

May 12, 2013

My old dog, Kafka.


Dog on it: A Chet and Bernie Mystery

by Spencer Quin

Atria Books

305 pages, $15

Right from the beginning of this series, I though Quin was on to something. A literal-minded narrator, the dog Chet, who tells us more than his human partner knows thus creating real suspense. I love them both, but this is the first book that builds a dramatic arc, that pays off in a terrific finish. There is also a very sophisticated mirroring of Bernie’s relationship with his young son (Bernie is divorced and the son has material things with the ex that make Bernie feel inadequate) and the case, a missing teen-aged girl also of divorced parents. Emotionally this reaches a new level.

Not that we don’t already love Chet: “Bernie grabbed the rubber bone and flung it through the open window. I dove out after the bone, raced across the backyard, snagged it, spun around, and jumped back inside. A new game, and what a game, indoors and outdoors, running and leaping—this one had it all.” I felt worse when, after escaping being captured by the villains, Chet was scheduled to be put down by an animal shelter, than I did later when Bernie was taken prisoner

This is a fully realized novel that will keep you turning pages well into the night (I read it on my Kindle). As much as I enjoyed the previous books, with this one Spencer Quin, Bernie and Chet have arrived. My number one, stranded-on-a-desert-island choice.

5 out of 5_edited-1

Buy directly from Amazon for $11.50. Click: Dog on It: A Chet and Bernie Mystery (Chet and Bernie Mysteries)


A FULL RICH DEATH – “The best mystery ever.”

October 7, 2010

A Full Rich Death

by Michael Dibdin

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard

 204 pages, $12 

This is an astonishing book that will leave you reeling. On the cover is a blurb by Ruth Rendell claiming, “Dibdin has a gift for shocking the unshockable reader.” That is dangerous because it gets us imagining all of the farfetched possibilities. But then wham! Something we not only didn’t anticipate, but a surprise that makes new sense of the whole book including the title. Each chapter, and especially the last few pages, will take your breath away.  Read the rest of this entry ?