Posts Tagged ‘murder mystery’


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



Hounded – “Proof”

July 19, 2015

Sherlock Hound

Hounded by David Rosenfelt

The narrator is an amusing defense lawyer whose good friend, a policeman, has been arrested for murder. So why is there a dog on the cover—to sell books, the picture of an attorney wouldn’t.

But I think a trial, and preparing for it, is the perfect way for an author to give and hold back information and keep the curious reader, curious. And there is a very emotional subplot involving the son of the dead man and, yes, the boy’s dog.

There is also some technical data people should know: “If we write an email. or a tweet, it is permanent. If we visit a website the world of law enforcement, to say nothing of the world of advertising, knows we have been there, what we did once we were there, and how long we have spent.  And then there are the ubiquitous GPS devices, in rental cars, in our own cars, and most notably in our cell phones.” 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


Deviations – Unexpected

May 25, 2015


Deviations by Mike Markel

Usually I can tell without looking if a book is written by a man or a woman. But this one starts with a female narrator on the skids. Fired, an alcoholic. Sleeping around. Only when she is rehired and goes after some neo Nazis does the plot move from emotional to cataclysmic. The police and political procedures are credible. I particularly liked the behind-the-scenes university stuff. And at the end Detective Seagate does go beyond the primary crime’s solution.

I knew a neo-Nazi when I grew up in Chicago (a real jerk) and just wanted that part left buried anyway.

A male writer isn’t afraid to trash his main character (and her Mormon partner), but though this is part of a series, I would have liked to see more of a personal resolution for the female narrator (a female author would have provided that). But I guess that is what keeps us going to the next book. Anyway, I am out of Montana for awhile.

3 out of 5_edited-1


Let Us Prey & Textual Relations – “Gotcha”

September 2, 2013

308281_1807852855351_1810837911_1233484_2028871383_n Let Us Prey & Textual Relations

Jamie Lee Scott, 2011
Kindle Editions, $4.99

I read these books in tandem (the box set was a special on Kindle) and am glad I did. For one thing, one plot is as contemporary as the other and, also, the characters subtly develop from their interesting introductions to the reader into people we care about and the dynamics which reveal the values that have formed them.

Let Us Prey concerns the killing of an assistant to a woman who writes a vampire novel series. I found it an interesting backdoor entrance to a world of contemporary role-playing that up to now I felt was off-putting.

The second book, Textual Relations, deals with pedophile Internet predators (a difficult subject, but because of our involvement with the first novel, one we are willing to explore―at least from a distance).

The narrator heads the Gotcha Detective Agency, but is vulnerable because she has a long-time crush on the homicide detective involved in both cases. Outside the constraints of the legal system, but susceptible to human frailty, she proves to be just the right reader stand-in.

I was left both satisfied and looking forward to reading more.

4 out of 5

Order directly from Kindle: Gotcha Detective Agency Mysteries Boxed Set (2 Books)


THE QUEEN ANNE FOX – “Life Changing”

September 17, 2012

The Queen Anne Fox

by Jerol Anderson

Whiskey Creek Press

256 pages, paperback $14.99

This book has affected how I feel about my parents, both dead nearly twenty years, and how I feel about myself. On one hand it is a page-turner who-done-it, on the other it is a profound experience you will never forget. Here is the voice of one of the nurturing principle characters:

I think the secret of growing up is to create a nurturing mother and father inside your own soul. Takes away a lot of the neediness of the child within us. Then you can react to life and those around you as an adult.

I came across this book by accident. My wife had it from the library and read a few pages. Not a fan of crime stories (a young boy and a prostitute are killed months apart and their bodies left in the same Seattle location) she gave it to me. In the first few pages I discovered the narrator had been called in by the police to help solve the murders because of her ESP powers. Give me a break”

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ONE STEP BEHIND – “When a book is better than TV.”

August 10, 2011

One Step Behind—A Kurt Wallander Mystery

by Henning Mankell

Vintage Crime / Black Lizard

440114 pages, 2011, $13.95

Reading this book I am reminded of a poem by Richard Brautigan about Sidney Greenstreet (of the Maltese Falcon).

The Sidney Greenstreet Blues 
I think something beautiful
and amusing is gained
by remembering Sidney Greenstreet,
but it is a fragile thing.
The hand picks up a glass.
The eye looks at the glass
and then the hand, glass and eye
  fall away.

Enjoying these Kurt Wallander books as opposed watching the excellent PBS series with Kenneth Branagh is worth stopping a minute and thinking about. The novel has the excellent plot points that television capitalizes on. But it’s the breathing spaces between them and some glimpses of subtext that allows the reader to add his own experiences—Kurt standing in his father’s house for the last time (up for sale two year after his dad’s death) and realizing he’ll never be there again, his coming down with a medical condition (diabetes) he doesn’t want to tell his fellow workers about, having questions about a colleague’s hidden sexual orientation and consequently the man’s trustworthiness. Read the rest of this entry ?