Monday, November 26, 2007

First-Hand View of Sheriff Joanna Brady

Partner in Crime is the latest book I have read in the Sheriff Joanna Brady series by J.A. Jance. This book brings another character from another of Jance's series into it - J.P. Beaumont. I have not read books in the other series yet but I probably will now.

It is interesting how Jance uses Beau (one way he prefers to be called) in this book. We get a view of Joanna Brady from Beau in a first-hand account. In other words, we hear what Beau thinks about Joanna. He visualizes the way Joanna looks in her uniform. He also compares her to one of his teachers.

At first he sees her as a woman trying to keep him from doing his job. Later in the book, his view of her changes. He begins to see the way Joanna does her job professionally as well as intelligently. Joanna also realizes how good J.P. (another way he prefers to be referred to) is.

I have not really discussed the story in this book and there was a part I was uncomfortable with at first. Close to the end Joanna and Beau embrace (and kiss) with some passion. They realize this should be a one time thing and move on from there. Joanna thinks how important Butch - her new husband - is to her. Beau doesn't want to be the cause of turmoil in Joanna's life. This brief "affair" points out how "human"/"real" the characters are. And the way they move on from this incident, we see they have "real" character.

I imagine I will go back to the beginning and read the J.P. Beaumont series now that I have been introduced to him. I wonder??? Could this be the reason these two characters were put together in this book - to get crossover readers?? Smart move!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Discovering A Buffet

I love buffets. There is always a variety to select from at a buffet. You can sample several things from the buffet and determine which items you like and which ones you want seconds on. I discovered a book that is like a buffet – a buffet of Texas sleuths. The title of the book is Lone Star Sleuths – An Anthology of Texas Crime Fiction.

This book is a buffet in several ways. First it is a buffet by the way it is organized. Instead of having entrees together, vegetable dishes together, desserts together, etc. , it has divisions by the Texas regions the writing takes place in. These groupings include: El Paso and West Texas; Austin and the Hill country; Houston and the Gulf Coast; Dallas, Fort Worth, and the Panhandle; San Antonio and South Texas; Small Town Texas; and (not a region) End of The Road. The selections in each of the sections give you the feeling of the area.

It is also a buffet in the sense it gives you a taste of the style of the represented writers. These are not complete stories. They are only a piece of the story. They give you a taste of the author and you can decide which authors you want to read more from.

The selection also introduces you to the sleuths. You learn a little about them – their backgrounds, their jobs, their personalities. This is another factor that helps you decide which sleuths you want to read more about.

I was familiar with and have read some of these authors/sleuths represented in this book. I have enjoyed reading Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles (a herb shop owner); Ben Rehder’s John Marlin (a game warden); Rick Riordin’s Tres Navarre (a part time professor); and Bill Crider’s Dan Rhodes (a sheriff in Blacklin County).

I discovered a few more author and sleuths in this collection I want to read more about. Some I have heard about before but have not read before. For example, I have heard about Kinky Friedman before. The book had a small excerpt from one of his books in it and I thought it was a good enough sample that I want to read more from him. I was introduced to some writers (and their sleuths) I have not heard or read from yet that I also intend to read more of. Some of these include: Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon (a park ranger); Jeff Abbott’s Jordan Poteet (a librarian); Paula Boyd’s Joleen Boyd (a newspaper writer); and D.R. Meridith’s Charles Timothy Matthews ( a sheriff).

There are several other of these authors I would like to read more from – given the time. This book has given me an introduction to what I like best – Texas Authors, Texas Sleuths, and mysteries in Texas locations. It is not hard to see my interest in reading Texas literature.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Intervention (?) in Black Cherry Blues

This month our mystery book discussion group chose to read James Lee Burke’s Black Cherry Blues. This is the third book in the Dave Robicheaux series. Did intervention of spirits help solve this mystery?

To learn more about this neighbor (Robicheaux is from Louisiana) I started with the two previous books in the series. Robicheaux is a Cajun raised in Louisiana with his brother by his dad. He was raised with a Catholic background. His father died in a oil rig accident.

In the first book, we learn the following about him. He is a New Orleans cop to start the series. After some trouble he leaves the force at the end of the first book. We also learn he is a Vietnam vet. His experiences in Vietnam have affected him. Finally we learn he is a recovering alcoholic.

More of life’s experiences affect him in the second book in the series. He met his to be wife in the first book and started a new life with his wife and a boat and bait shop. He finds and rescues a little girl from a downed plane. He and his wife take the little girl in as their own. The downed plane brings him more trouble which results in the murder of his wife.

In the third book of this series, Dave finds himself in more trouble after his “adopted” daughter is threatened. He beats up the guys who threatened his daughter and one of them ends up dead. He ends up being charged with the murder.

In order to overcome the charges, he goes to Montana to find something about the guy who would be the witness against him – that guy murdered two Indians in Montana. The sister of one of the two indians gets murdered when it appears Dave is on to something.

Dave suspected this but had a problem being able to prove it. He learns some things about the guy but does no put it all together until three spirits intervene to point him in the right direction. These spirits – his deceased father, his deceased wife, and the murdered girl friend of his former partner – give him the clues to break the case. But the question is did spirits really give him the clues? I think this is how his mind worked to solve the mystery. The visions were creations of his depression and previous problem with drinking. But it was his desire to protect his adopted daughter that helped him to prevail.

James Lee Burke has a website at .