Monday, December 29, 2008

More Reading

Christmas ... and now I have more to read. I've read some of the authors and now I have more: Last Rights by Philip Shelby; After Dark by Phillip Margolin; Murder Most Maine by Karen MacInerney. Where do I start? Just add them to my list. Yes (to JenningsJunk) ... I have a list too!!! To all the readers of my blog (sounds a little like a song) ... hope your Christmas was good to you. See you next year!!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

About Reading ...


"That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment."

This is a quote from the latest book I read. This came from a book with the title The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Talk about an interesting title. I probably would not have read the book but when J.A. Jance indicated in her interview that she enjoyed this book I decided I would try it. By the way … I was NOT disappointed.

There were several things I liked about this book. As you can tell from the quote, one of the underlying themes is “It’s All About Reading” - a favorite theme of mine. The story is a collection of communications (mostly letters) between the characters. It was definitely an interesting way to tell the story. I just want to touch on a few of the highlights in the book – to get the full emphasis you have to read it.

One of the main characters is a writer. Her name is Juliet and most of the letters are written by her or to her from another character in the book. One of the letters she gets is from another character named Dawsey. The reason he writes her is an interesting one. He has a book that was previous owned by Juliet and he is looking for more information about the author. Through subsequent letters we learn about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was a book discussion group – but not at first. The story of how they came into being was an interesting story. One evening they got together for an illegal meal at somebody’s house. When they were leaving, it was past curfew time and they got caught by Nazi soldiers. When asked why they were out after curfew, one of the ladies (Elizabeth) explained they were discussing books and lost track of the time. They were to report in the morning and from then on had to keep up with the act from then on. Not only did they keep up the act but they developed closer relationships among themselves. This was an important bond that lasted during the war and the years to follow – even caring for the daughter of Elizabeth who was taken away by the Nazis.

Why was Potato Peel Pie part of the name of the group? Well, there was an interesting reason. One of the members of the group did not want to be a part of the group unless they had desserts. Potatoes were the only crop that was readily available during the occupation by the Nazis.

Another interesting thing about the group, not everybody had a habit of reading. This habit developed after the group was formed. Each member developed different interests in reading. One member of the group was only interested in cook books. Another member of the group would only read one book over and over.
Oh ... the thing about reading. Each person has a different perspective when reading a book. In fact, when you read something a second time, you may pick up something different. I can not say anymore about the book that would do it any justice. Again I say, YOU JUST HAVE TO READ IT FOR YOURSELF.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's Not A Mystery But ....


I read about this book on another blog Bloggin' About Books http://blogginboutbooks.blogspot.com/. It sounded like it would be interesting so I thought I should read it - and I was not disappointed. The Uncommon Reader is written by Alan Bennett. Like I said in the title of the post, it is not a mystery but according to another review this is a political and literary satire. It's All About Reading and this is what it is about.

The queen of England stumbles upon a mobile library. Feeling duty bound, she checks out a book from the library and reads it. She becomes interested in reading and starts checking out books on a frequent basis.

Rather than tell any more of this short story (it is a Novella), let me tell you some of the things that impressed me about the book. This book has a lot of witty comments in it - comments similar to comments made by Mark Twain. Since reading is a major theme in this story, there were a lot of comments about reading. Here is one of those comments:

"Of course but briefing is not reading. In fact it is the antithesis of reading. Briefing is terse, factual and to the point. Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting. Briefing closes down a subject, reading opens it up."

It was interesting to see how reading consumed the queen. It was funny!!! It was great light reading. There are some references to homosexuality in the book but I only found one comment by a character that might be objectionable. Otherwise it was a funny story.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

On Participating In A Virtual Book Tour...

The virtual book tour for Blood Island / H. Terrell Griffin has been completed. This was a new experience for me. I enjoyed being a part of it - especially since my part included reading the book and doing a review on it. But my participation did not end there.

I also visited the other sites included in the tour. I got to read other reviews of the book and see how their styles differed from mine. I also got to read the interviews of the author on the tour - each having their own technique. It is interesting to be able to get some answers from the authors to learn more about them and the books they write. Finally I got to read each of the guest posts by the author himself. I think the tour was a success in introducing the book and the author to other bloggers. I know I would be very interested in reading other books by the author myself.

So thanks for letting me participate. If you enjoyed the virtual book tour, you may want to check out this blog - Mystery Book News at http://www.mystery-books.com/ . They had a lot to do with the tour and they have a lot of other interesting features as well.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Virtual Book Tour - Blood Island


Welcome to this stop on the virtual book tour for Blood Island . The book was written by H. Terrell Griffin who is a retired lawyer. It is the third book in the Matt Royal mystery series.

Terrell Griffin is giving away a signed copy of his book, Blood Island , to one lucky tour visitor. Go to Terry’s book tour page, http://h-terrell-griffin.omnimystery.com/, and enter your name, e-mail address, and this PIN, 8463, for your chance to win. Entries from Mystery Reader Discussion will be accepted until 12:00 Noon (PT) tomorrow (Saturday, December 6). No purchase is required to enter or to win. The winner (first name only) will be announced on Terry’s book tour page next week.

This virtual book tour goes through Saturday, December 6 and there are a few more stops on it. For a list of other sites included in this book tour, click here.

Talk about a book that starts off running - this is one of those. In the first chapter, our sleuth discovers a dead body at a bird sanctuary in Florida. And this is only the beginning. Matt Royal is a retired lawyer now living a relaxed life of a beach bum.

Little did he know what he was getting involved with when his ex-wife came and asked him to look for her missing stepdaughter. As one of the characters put it, it is as if Matt has stirred up a hornets nest when he starts his investigation. People he talks too get murdered. He and his friend get shot at. Somebody is after him and there has to be more to it than his wife's missing stepdaughter - Peggy.

Matt has friends and he is going to need their help in finding Peggy. But he is also going to need the help of some other questionable people as he does his investigation. His investigation leads him to a religious cult lead by Reverend Simmermon. His group seems to have connections in all kinds of things - a massage chain (front for prostitution), drugs, guns, and explosives. When Matt finds Peggy, he learns of a plan to use terrorists-like attacks in order to stir up retaliation against terrorists groups. He and his friends will have to uncover the specifics in order to prevent these attacks on churches in Florida.

I will stop with my brief summary of the book here. I thought the book was full of action and surprises. Not only was it a good story, but I found it interesting because the author did a great job including background describing the area. He also introduced some history about the Seminole Indians in Florida. So do I recommend this book? Yes -- I give it a thumbs up!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Author Interview: J.A. Jance


J.A. Jance is one of my favorite non-Texas writers. She has a new book coming out in December called "Cruel Intent". She is about to go on tour for her book and I was pleasantly surprised to discover her book tour schedule includes the Dallas, TX area. I am looking forward to meeting her in person. If you are interested in her book tour schedule, you can click here. I was also pleasantly surprised when she agreed to my request for an interview on my blog. The interview follows.

MR: "Cruel Intent" is the fourth book in the Alison Reynolds series and I have read 13 books in the Joanna Brady series. What makes Alison Reynolds different from Joanna Brady?

JAJ: Ali was quite a bit older when her books start. She's lived a far more sophisticated and lavish existence than Joanna even though they both have small town roots. Both come from strong family structures with loving if complicated parents.

MR: Joanna Brady and J.P. Beaumont were in some books together where there stories were merged. Are Joanna Brady and Alison Reynolds likely to share a book together?

JAJ: Joanna and J.P. can share the same book, as they will in next summer's Fire and Ice because they share the same publisher. Ali and Joanna have different publishers and, as a consequence, are unlikely to be in the same book.
MR: This certainly makes sense. When I read the first book with Joanna and J.P. in it, I decided I wanted to go back and start reading the J.P. Beaumont series as well.

MR: How did your idea for this book / story evolve?

JAJ: I think we all assume we have a certain amount of privacy on the Web. The problem is, that ain't necessarily so. And the fact that some of those Internet predators are. . . well . . . predators shouldn't come as a big surprise.
MR: I am definitely looking forward to reading this book now.

MR: What has been your biggest challenge in writing?

JAJ: I've written more than 40 books. Published books. I need to meet deadlines while at the same time keeping a fresh outlook on the characters while also making them consistent from book to book. I need to write the books and promote the books. (Two a year at the moment.) In other words, I think the biggest challenge is juggling.

MR: Do you have a favorite kind of book you like to read?

JAJ: No big surprises there. Mysteries. My favorite book this year is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. That book is about a lady writer just after WWII, and the beginning of the book (letters written while she was on a book tour) actually made me laugh aloud.
MR: Once again, thanks for letting me have this time with you.

It's All About Reading!!!


Libraries are community treasure chests, loaded with a wealth of information available to everyone equally, and the key to that treasure chest is the library card. I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card. ~ First Lady Laura Bush

In case you can not tell, one of my favorite things to do is to read. Knowing this, you probably would not be surprised to know that some of my favorite places are the public library, Barnes and Noble, Half Price Books, and the Book Cottage. Of course these places are just means to an end because the books (and your imagination) are really what take you places.

As you may know, I have a particular fondness for mysteries. I remember reading mysteries as a kid like the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Sherlock Holmes. But there is so much other stuff I read as well. I enjoyed reading Mark Twain, Will Rogers, and J. Frank Dobie. I liked reading about people like Helen Keller, Abe Lincoln, Davey Crockett, and Daniel Boone.

I started this blog (Mystery Reader Discussion) because I liked to read. I became a member of the Friends of Sachse Library. I joined a mystery discussion group at Barnes and Noble. Let’s face it – it’s all about reading!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thought Provoking - The Price of Death

Most people have heard the phrase “I’m a lover – not a fighter”. Well…, I want to use a little different variation on that phrase and say “I’m a reader – not a writer”. I like to read – especially mysteries. A little over a year ago, I decided to start this blog and write about what I read – the mysteries, the characters, and the authors.

My last post was on “The Price of Death” by S.J. Robinson and I had a real tough time with it. The difficulty was not because I did not like reading the book - I did enjoy it. My difficulty was because I had a hard time knowing what I wanted to say and how I would say it. In my previous blog, I mentioned this was a fictional account addressing a serious issue. This was an AWESOME task for the author to take on. It was very thought provoking!!!

Our main character is Jessica Lamm – a attorney that does medical malpractice. Most people have their views of attorneys and those that do medical malpractice. Basically what we know is limited. They have these cases with huge settlements and they get a huge percentage of the settlement. Our writer uses her book (and the character) to teach us more about what is involved. I will only highlight some of these lessons in this blog because you should really read the book to see how the author reveals these lessons.

Why are the settlements so huge? There are several reasons. One reason is the cost of producing the case. In most cases, expert witnesses are needed to testify in the case. There are risks – especially monetary – in testifying against your colleagues. Then there are the current and future losses by the victim(s) of the case.

And if you think it is easy to have a case of medical malpractice, think again!! In order to bring a case of medical malpractice, you have to have grounds. Plus you have to provide proof. The author (who by the way was a previous nurse and a previous attorney) shows the thought and time that goes into making a case.

Granted not all malpractice attorneys are like Jessica Lamm but there are attorneys who actually care about what they do and the people they help. By writing this book, S.J. Robinson has given us some food for thought and she has definitely stirred up my "grey matter".

Monday, November 17, 2008

"The Price Of Death


Do you remember the phrase “the names have been changed”? That was from Dragnet – and yes – I may be dating myself. Well, I just completed another book recommended to me by Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists. The title of the book was “The Price Of Death” and it was written by S.J. Robinson. It is NOT a cop thing like Dragnet was, but I thought about Dragnet because this book is a fictional account addressing a real issue.

Speaking of “names being changed” our main character is Jessica Lamm. She used to be a nurse who went to law school and became an attorney. This sounds a whole lot like our author – S.J. Robinson!!! Jessica Lamm’s practice also sounds similar to that of the author – she deals with medical malpractice.

Jessica Lamm has taken on a case involving a death during an emergency room visit. The man who died was a young man in the prime of his life with a wife and kid. Although he went into the emergency room with a problem, it did not seem to be sufficient cause for his death. The emergency room doctor was from Iraq. In his initial confusing conversation with the wife, he indicated the death should not have taken place. The CEO for the hospital showed up and spoke with the wife after he sent the doctor away. The wife requested an autopsy be done on her husband and has decided to get a lawyer – Jessica Lamm.

But this is no simple case of malpractice. Do you think a simple case of malpractice would not lead to a break-in, bugging, attempted murder, and murder? Hardly!!! On the other hand, a business involving counterfeit drugs could. To discover how the connection is made, you need to read the book.
One thing I will say about the book, it was interesting to read what is involved in a lawyer's investigation. The lawyer has to think about different things uncovered in the investigation and how to proceed from there.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

FOLLOWUP - Mystery Reading Group

We had our discussion group meeting tonight at Firewheel Barnes and Noble and I wanted to followup on a couple of things.

First - this months selection "Booked To Die" by John Dunning was a big hit. 100% of our group (12 out of 12 attending) gave it a thumbs up. Each person seemed to like something different about the book / author.

Second - I want to give some credit where credit is due. As a result of being a part of this group I have come across some authors I may not have come across. I have to say these have been some interesting books. THANKS to each member of the group. One of our previous selections was "The Fifth Vial" by Michael Palmer. I was thrilled to discover a link to my blog on Michael Palmer's website (http://www.michaelpalmerbooks.com/blogs_and_reviews.html). Again I have to credit the group for selecting such good books.

Our group takes a break in December but will be starting up our meetings again in January (2nd WEDNESDAY in the month). You are welcome to come join us. - Misterreereeder.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Discussion Group Selection For November

November’s book for our Mystery Discussion Group is “Booked To Die” by John Dunning. This is the first book in a series that introduces Denver homicide detective Cliff Janeway. This is a detective who has an interest in collecting books – especially old valuable books. Before I do my review, our reading group has a custom – thumbs up or down for the book. I give it (let the drums roll...) a thumbs up. I enjoyed the book and will be inclined to read the other books in the series. Now onward…..

This book starts with the murder of a book scout. This murder definitely will make a difference in our sleuth’s life (as well as others's in the book). Janeway is one of the detectives responsible for investigating this case and it has some similarities to some previous murders. They also have a suspect in those previous murders but the thug has escaped conviction for those murders. One of the first things to do in investigating this murder is to go talk to this thug. It turns out the thug has an alibi for the time frame of the murder – he was with a girl. Janeway rescues the girl from the thug during the investigation. But the girl refuses to press charges even though Janeway warns her that the thug will be coming after her again. It isn’t long afterwards until he has to rescue her again. This will lead to a legal suit and Janeway has to retire from the police department.

When he leaves the police department, he decides to open a book store. He had learned a lot over the years and during the investigation about the business. His life has taken a professional turn and the case of the murdered book scout it now police business. He sets out to open and operate his new business hiring a young girl from out of town to help run his business. Things are going well until his employee is murdered. This brings Janeway back into his personal investigation of the murders of his employee and the book scout.

I want to leave the review here because it is a worthwhile book to read. I know it is short but there is just to much to miss if you do not read the book for yourself. One thing I will mention is I think the author expertise in the field he is writing about makes the book especially interesting. The author - John Dunning actually owned and operated a book store much like the ones used in this story. And to the person in our group who suggested reading this book - GREAT SUGGESTION!!!!

Note From Misterreereeder: An opportunity for a book giveaway is coming soon - stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Author Interview: Walter Krumm

My last blog review was on a book by Walter Krumm author of "Diary of A Dead Man". Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists (http://www.phenixpublicity.com/) arranged for an interview with him. Here is the interview.

MR - When did you decide to write this book?*
WK - The plot had been brewing in my mind since early 2000. Several years ago, I woke up one Saturday morning and simply started writing. It was as if I had already been working on it for years. I started slow, not writing every day, and after six months has passed I had written half of the first draft. It was then that the characters took over and I finished the second half in the next 60 days.

MR - How did your idea for the book / story evolve?*
WK - I tend to think in terms of “dramatic moments.” My first vision was a man opening an email from an anonymous sender. Inside are incriminating pictures that take his breath away. I really allowed myself to feel the moment – his heart pounding, his breath getting short, and the cold sweat that comes when you realize your secret sins have been exposed. Cameron quickly became a real person to me. Then I asked myself one question. What led to this moment? Emily came to life as the other woman in the pictures. His wife Julie and his children quickly followed. Then I simply let my mind wander and imagine all the possibilities. I did this for months before I ever wrote a sentence. By the time I started writing, I knew exactly how Cameron ended up in those pictures. But that was only the beginning of the story. From there, I simply let the characters “show me” how they were going to respond. It was a lot of fun to write that way because I didn’t know how it was going to end.

MR - *How did you choose the place for the story? *
WK - I once read some great advice from Stephen King. He says to write what you know – you have to be true to who you are. I wanted to be able to have a really good grasp of the locations so I could clearly picture each one in my mind. I was born and raised in Columbus, OH. This made it the obvious choice for most of the action to take place. My parents have lived in Naples, FL for more than 20 years. And the Cayman Islands will always hold a special place in my heart because my wife and I were married there. So, those three locations were very familiar for me. It was important to choose places where I could really “feel” the scenes.*

MR - What has been your biggest challenge in writing?*
WK - The obvious answer is time. My preference in writing is to write 3 pages a day, every single day. But life seems to get in the way and it’s hard to find time to write with that kind of commitment. Beyond that, I find it challenging to write with creativity and purpose at the same time. It’s a very fine line to walk. I would never want to hit people over the head with my own agenda, but I would like there to be some kind of redeeming message within the story. Sometimes this conflicts with my own creative freedom. Ideas can be “fenced in” a little if I’m too concerned about a particular message. In _Diary of a Dead Man_, it was liberating to find that the characters chose the message for me. So, I just let my mind go anywhere it wanted. The message came naturally.*

MR - Have you written anything else?*
WK - I’ve been writing Christian drama sketches since I was in college. I’m 43 now, so I’ve written a lot of scripts. When I was in my twenties I published a book called _God Even Uses Lefties_ which is a collection of short sketches. Of course, sitting in my desk drawer is a manuscript for another book. It is a young adult fantasy fiction called _Out of the Valley of Shadows_. Someday I hope it will be in print, but it still needs some work. And currently, I am working on a new novel to follow _Diary of a Dead Man_.*

MR - Do you have a favorite kind of book you like to read?
WK – I enjoy mysteries, thrillers, and suspense novels. I’m pretty much like the rest of the masses who love the escape of a good thriller. Michael Prescott’s writing is right in my wheelhouse. In fact, it’s probably his books more than any other that inspired me to focus on suspense writing. But, I enjoy most of the mainstream fiction authors as well. I also read a lot of nonfiction books that are spiritually enlightening.*

MR - Would you like to tell us anything else?*
WK - The blackmail scheme detailed in this book is most certainly possible. I have said to many people that I believe I could pull it off myself. Interestingly enough, I have found that crimes such as these are happening today – to the tune of billions of dollars. I have not read of a specific operation exactly like the one in my book, but there are thousands of online dating scams reported each year. I can only imagine how many of them go unreported.

WK - I would also like add that while the topic matter in _Diary of a Dead Man_ is somewhat “spicy,” I think your readers will find it to be a clean book and hopefully it will provide a message of hope for those who have ears to hear.

WK - Finally, I would just like to say thank you for your interest. I truly enjoyed the thought process in answering your questions. And after reading your review of my book, I wanted to commend you on the fact that you “get it.” I would never have guessed someone would have begun by quoting the “monkey story.” That tells me that you have ears to hear. I admire that.

WK - Thanks so much,Walter Krumm

http://www.walterkrumm.com/

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mystery With A Moral


In certain cultures of Africa, they used to catch monkeys by using a long-necked gourd. They would pour rice down the narrow neck into the large bottom of the hollowed out gourd and then tie it to a tree. After catching the scent, the monkey would run its little hand down into the gourd to grab a handful of rice. That was all it took for the capture – not because the monkey couldn’t pull its hand out, but because it wouldn’t unclench its fist and let go of the rice.

The above was just one story used within the book “Diary of a Dead Man” written by Walter Krumm. I was introduced to this book and author by somebody who read one of my postings. They suggested I might like the book so I took a chance. Let me say to start off that I was glad I read it. There were several things I found interesting about it – including the use of stories like the one in the above paragraph. I enjoyed the style of the author, how the story was written, and the twists and turns. The title of the book tells a little about how the story is told. A lot of it is told from the personal view of the character – Cameron (Cam) Taylor.

This book tells a story that starts as an “innocent” encounter in cyberspace. Cameron Taylor had no idea where it would lead when he started chatting with Emily online. It turns into an online affair and he is about to break it off. If only he would have stopped.

The story starts with the day that could have made a difference. Cam was prepared to put an end to the online relationship. He had a wife and kids who he loved. But once again he got drawn in by his own desires – he was going to meet the woman he had been chatting with intimately. They had exchanged pictures over the months and the picture he got today was the way he was expecting to see her. They had plans to meet at a motel. He was high with expectations when he arrived there and was told she was already there. His expectations continued to soar when he opened the door and saw the atmosphere was set for their encounter.

Things quickly change when he noticed the body in the red dress on the bed with a bag over the face and the hands tied. Now his regrets really start. If only he would have quit earlier. Everything will become public now. But those bad decisions put him in this place and he continues to make bad decisions. He comes up with a plan to dispose of the body - he did not murder the lady after all. Once this is done and things are cleaned up, he can return to his normal life.

The story does not end here because somebody saw what he did and they had pictures. They contacted him and threatened to expose him if he did not cooperate. Now he not only had to deal with his guilt but he also had to deal with fear – what would happen to him and what would happen to his family? Again it came down to choices – either he would do what they asked of him -or- they would release the pictures to the public and he would go to jail. What choice would he make?
Rather than go on with the story, I think I will stop here. There are so many twists I think you would enjoy it best by reading it for yourself.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reading Group's October Selection - Returning To Texas

October’s discussion group selection is “Big Red Tequila” by Rick Riordan. I have read this book before but have re-read it for our group discussion. I enjoyed it before and liked it the second time around. Now, as is custom for our reading group, I give it a “thumbs up”.



Tres Navarre is returning to Texas with his cat Robert Johnson and he has some memories from back then. Big Red and Tequila is one of those memories. He also remembers the death of his father a little over ten years ago. His father who was a sheriff was murdered in front of him in a drive by shooting. This was one of the reasons he left and he wants the mystery of his murder to be solved. Some things have changed since he left.

He is also returning because of the girlfriend he left years ago. Will things return to the way they were before he left? He has changed and he learns things have changed between them as well. Shortly after he returns, she disappears and so Tres now has two mysteries to solve. Can these two mysteries be linked? You will be surprised.

It is interesting to find out who does not want him to be around and who is there to help him. You also get a little taste of the San Antonio and Austin areas. Should I say more? Was the mob involved in killing his father? Well, sort of. Was the disappearance of Tres' old girlfriend linked to his father's death? Yes - but not necessarily in the way you might think of.

I suggest you find the answers for yourself by reading this book. Rick Riordan did great and he continued this series with several later books.

Sometimes it is just hard to decide how much to say about the book.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Not Just A Gentleman

You see a woman with a crutch in one hand, hangers with clothes in another hand, and she is pushing open a door. So what does a gentleman do but stop and give her a hand. This is exactly what Jack Reacher does but he is not just a gentleman. In fact what happens next is not expected and most likely would be handled differently by any other "gentleman". The name of the book is “Die Trying” and this is the second book in the series by Lee Child.

When he takes the clothes from the lady and turns around, there are two men with guns in front of them - and another by a car on the street. This is not something you would expect in the middle of the day on a busy street. Being a thinking man, Reacher considers his options of what to do. Either he does nothing at this time and waits for another opportunity or he reacts and possibly some innocent person on the street could get hurt. He decides to wait for another opportunity.

Jack does not know who this lady is and she does not know who he is. She knows with her bum knee she is unlikely to escape from these men. She suggests Jack take the opportunity to escape when that opportunity presents itself. Jack will not leave this feisty lady to fend for herself. She is an FBI agent but this is not the reason she has been taken. Even the connections she has (her father is a general and her godfather is the president) are not the only reasons she has been kidnapped.

The lady learns very quickly that Jack is not just any ordinary guy. He displays his skills in dealing with these kidnappers in several different ways. For one, he gets the kidnappers to provide the lady with some comfort – mattresses to lay on and sit on. he realizes mistakes made by the kidnappers. He also manages to protect the lady in the middle of the night when one of the kidnappers try to take advantage of her – even though he is changed to a barn wall. She realizes he is not going to leave her alone in this situation.

The reader also learns a lot about Jack and his skills. A great example is how he conditions himself when firing at a long distant target. This description is very impressive and demonstrates the control he has. It is also interesting how he determines that there must be somebody inside the FBI who set up the lady FBI agent. He also figures out the plans this paramilitary group has behind the kidnapping. After thwarting their plans and rescuing the lady he rides off into the sunset.

Many of Reacher’s qualities make him the kind of character I like to read about. I plan to continue reading more books in this series.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A National Parks Mystery

!!!NOTE: I had a hard time writing this blog - not because I did not enjoy the book - because I did. I wanted to write this blog / review in a different way but just could not come up with the proper way. It has also been hard since when it comes to reading a book and writing my review in the blog, I do not start another book until I am finished with the review. FYI: I enjoyed the book (and character) and intend to continue with other books in the series!!!

I have finished reading Nevada Barr’s “Track of The Cat”. It is the first in the Anna Pigeon mystery series. Who is Anna Pigeon? She is a Law Enforcement ranger at a national park of the Guadalupe Mountains in Texas. The author Nevada Barr also worked for the national park services at one time and was stationed in the Guadalupe Mountains. This contributes to her knowledge of the area where this story takes place. I can only assume she also has a first hand knowledge of some of the characters in the story as well. Does her Anna Pigeon character share some characteristics with her?

Among Anna’s duties are protecting the wildlife, making sure people are safe inside the national parks, and when necessary enforcing the rules within the national parks area. She left city life in New York about two years and she prefers the solitude she gets with her job out here.

She has been out looking for signs of cats when she runs across the body of another ranger. It appears the ranger was killed by a cat. Anna realizes there are problems with the clues that point to the ranger being killed by a cat. She also realizes there is a problem with where she found the body. Her suspicious mind considers several possible suspects. Those suspicions grow after she is involved in an accident on the trail and after another ranger is found dead – apparently as a result of his interest in collecting snakes.

After carefully considering all the evidence and following up on clues, she learns the motive behind the deaths and her “accident”. This motive involves the cats she is keeping track of and the money that is paid by hunters to bag these cats in the National Park where she works. She catches the person responsible in the act – a rich rancher. But his justice is not to come in the courts – his justice is to come in the wild – maybe even at the “hands” (paws) of those cats he was making the money off of.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Camel Club is Back

The Camel Club is back - in The Collectors by David Baldacci. Oliver Stone and the other members of the Camel Club are searching for the truth. Following are some of the questions that have to be answered in this book.

The U.S. Speaker of the House has been murdered and a terrorist group has reportedly claimed responsibility. Is this the truth?

The director of the Library of Congress ends of dead inside the rare book collection vault. There is no apparent cause for his death. Could his death have been murder? Is there a connection between his death and the murder of the U.S. Speaker?

Caleb Shaw has been named as the executor for his deceased boss’ personal rare book collection. He discovers a rare book of the Psalm’s in a hidden safe in the vault. Where and how did this book come to be in this collection?

The neighbor to the director of the Library of Congress is a crooked defense contractor. He is considered a suspect in the deaths of the U.S. Speaker of the House and the director of the Library of Congress. He is shot and one of the members of the Camel Club becomes a suspect. Why is he killed and who killed him?

A con artist is introduced. She comes to DC and helps the Camel Club. What is her connection? Will she hang around?

These are just a portion of the questions the Camel Club are looking at. The best way to see how they do is to read the book – and I think it is worth it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

MDG September: The Fifth Vial-A Medical Thriller

Mysteries are like ice cream - they come in different flavors. This is not surprising. I bring this up because I was asked while reading this month’s Mystery Discussion Group book selection whether it was better than the last book I read. The book is called “The Fifth Vial” and it is by Michael Palmer. Palmer is a M.D. and this is a medical thriller – that in itself places it in a different category from the other book I read. Overall I would give it a “thumbs up”.

It has an interesting premise for the story. The mystery revolves around a business in which people are kidnapped and body parts are taken from them. For what? To be transplanted into other people. And the complete business operation is a complex one. Who runs the business? Why do they? How do they?

There is a secret / worldwide organization based on some of Plato’s philosophies. As a matter of fact, each chapter opens with a quote from Plato. This organization identifies who they determine to be best deserving candidates for transplant surgery. Then they locate potential donors based on matching criteria. These donors are unaware they are being considered for these secret transplants. The “fifth vial” is the key to the selection of these donors and uncovering this is what breaks the mystery in this book.

The first donor introduced in this book is a man who seems to be mentally challenged. He was kidnapped and we do not know the reason why until after he is killed by a semi-truck. While doing an autopsy on the unidentified man, a pathologist discovers fresh incisions that lead to the discovery that he was a donor of bone marrow. A watchdog organization brings in a PI named Ben to learn the identity of the man and if possible, what happened to the man. At first he does not have any luck. But he learns the identity of the dead man and finally gets a lead on what happened to him. Following up on his investigation he learns about a laboratory that does blood tests for doctors. He also learns about a fifth vial of blood taken and supposedly kept for backups – in case retests are needed. These vials are shipped for “storage” to a facility in Texas. He learns the secret that these vials of blood are actually tested / screened for transplant compatibility.

Another person to become involved in this mystery is a female medical student named Natalie. She was a serious ex-track athlete. She does not realize it but she is chosen to become an unwilling lung donor. When she makes a trip to Brazil to make a presentation at a transplant conference, she is kidnapped and drugged. What she remembers is being kidnapped and getting shot when she is escaping. She awakes later and is told her lung was damaged by the bullet and had to be removed. She feels lucky to be alive and is making a good recovery with a single lung. Her healthy lung however gets damaged when she rescues her mother and a handicapped niece from a fire. Being a medical student and working in the area of transplants, she realizes her chances are not very promising. She is contacted by an insurance rep who is trying to pay for her medical bills. No bills have been submitted by the doctors or hospital in Brazil. The mystery deepens when Natalie contacts the hospital and they cannot find any records of her or her surgery. She decides to go down to Brazil to get to the bottom of this. Little did she know that she would find out a totally different story than what she remembers. She will find out she was an unwilling lung donor.

The other person who becomes involved in this investigation is actually a medical scientist. His name is Dr Anson and he is involved in research developing a promising miracle drug. Whitestone Labs is funding his research. They are waiting for him to complete his research and release his secrets to them for mass production (and marketing). But patience is running thin and Dr Anson has a physical problem that could strike him down before he releases his secrets. He has pulmonary fibrosis and has not consented to having a transplant to correct the problem. A close colleague arranges to have him drugged to make it imperative for him to consent to have a transplant. He consents to have a transplant from a matching donor in India who supposedly is being kept alive on machines for the transplant. He gets the transplant and does well. To get him to release his secrets, his colleague agrees to arrange a meeting with the “deceased donor’s” wife and family. During this meeting, he realizes this is a staged meeting. Afterwards he learns the truth about some of the lies they tried to pass off on him. He has a meeting with his colleague where he threatens to destroy his work unless he learns the truth about who his donor was. Finally he gets to the truth and learns the lung actually came from the medical student Natalie – she was NOT a random donor.

In Brazil, Natalie learns the truth about her lung from a tip from a nurse. When she plans to meet the nurse, she learns the nurse has been murdered. Natalie is almost killed by a crooked member of the military police while traveling to the place where her operation and recovery occurred. There she meets the brother of the nurse who was murdered. He agrees to avenge the death of his sister by helping Natalie get to the truth. They learn more of the truth when they save our PI from being killed. (You will have to learn about how he came to be here by reading the book yourself.) And she finally learns that her mentor – a transplant doctor is involved in this secret society making these transplant decisions. Another potential and live donor is in place to have her heart taken and given to a more “deserving” recipient.

You need to read the book because there is so much more going on – before, during, and after. It was very interesting how the author used his medical knowledge to make this mystery story. After the story, he gives a little information about becoming a transplant donor.

Incidentally, I mentioned about mysteries being like ice cream earlier. You have your favorites but you like to try something different every once in a while. This was not something I would typically have read but I will plan on reading other books by this author in the future.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"A Dirty Business"

A friend of mine (also another blogger- Meadowview Thymes) and I both love to read. She has read books I have suggested and I have read books she has suggested. As a matter of fact, she was the one to suggest "Pushing Up Daisies" by Rosemary Harris. It is the first book in the Dirty Business Mystery Series with Paula Holliday as the sleuth.

Who is Paula Holliday? Well ... I learned she is in some ways like the author. She was a tv exec who left the business to pursue her interests in gardening. She does not have a lot of business right now so when a friend tells her about a possible opportunity through the local historical society, she goes after it. She got the job but little did she know what she would dig up - literally!!! When she was getting soil samples to test, she dug up a chest that contained a mummified baby. Boy..., does this open up a can of worms? You bet. This was just the start of the mysteries she would become involved in solving – in this book alone!!!

One question leads to another. Who was the baby’s mother? Were one of the sisters the mother? Was a missing girl the baby’s mother? What happened to the missing girl? Who murdered the nursery owner and why? Between tackling these questions and getting the garden ready for the showing, Paula had her hands full. And she relies on help from several angles. There were a number of potential suspects - and a number of interesting characters.

Needless to say she comes up with the answers and solves the mysteries. And as a result, she gets more business in town to keep herself going.

I know this review is short and not full on details, but it was a good read and you just have to read it. I will be looking forward to more by this author about this character.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Honor Walk


I just finished book number 13 in the Sheriff Joanna Brady series – “Damage Control” by J.A. Jance. Actually I finished it more than a week ago. I did not know how to write my review of it - it was incredible!! I have enjoyed all of the books in the series. This is not my typical review. Instead I want to focus on one episode / a subplot within the book.

This part of the book started with the murder of an officer who was guarding a scene – a scene important to a criminal investigation. The author does a good job of including a description of a law enforcement tradition. This is a tradition of honoring an officer who has been murdered in the line of duty. In this book it is called an honor walk. Officers from several jurisdictions show up at the scene of the murder. They line up the path from outside the scene to the vehicle taking the body away from the scene. Each officer has a black ribbon over their badge.

This was a “moving” description in the book. The turnout for Sheriff Joanna Brady’s fallen officer not only touched her but it touched me as well. This is just one example how the author includes what I call “extras” that help make the story an interesting read.

As I have said before, there is “so much to read and so little time to read’. But I look forward to more by this author.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Blue Cheer

Author Ed Lynskey sent me an email and asked me to review his book – The Blue Cheer. When I looked into it, I discovered it was not the first book in the series and I typically like to start with the book in the series. I found out from the author that his newest book (Pelham Fell Here) is actually the earliest in the series for Private Investigator Frank Johnson. Since I was able to get a hold of the Blue Cheer, I went ahead and broke from my routine of reading the first book first.

Here is what I gathered about P.I. Frank Johnson. He is a licensed P.I. in Virginia but not in West Virginia – which is where we find him in this book. He came to West Virginia to get away from it all and has made friends with his closest neighbor – Old Man. It was hard for me at first because Frank referred a lot to other characters in the book by descriptions rather than names.

An explosion occurs in the air above the woods where he lives and this sets up the rest of the mystery. He has plans to go investigate in the morning with his friend Old Man. But during the night he decides to go take a look for himself. In his past he has worked with military equipment and he finds a piece of a stinger in the dark. Next thing he knows he is clobbered on the head. When he wakes up, his friend has found him but the piece of the stinger is missing.

Old Man convinces him to report it to the local authorities. While in town at the local mini mart, he see some tee-shirts that say “The Blue Cheer” on them. He starts asking questions about them and things seem to go sour from there. They get shot at and Old Man’s handicapped wife is murdered. When he decides to investigate for himself (and later for Old Man), he gets roughed up by a deputy and gets thrown into jail.

After he is released on bail, he learns his cousin who was on death row for murdering his wife has escaped the prison in Virginia. He has been asked to come up there and speak with the warden. So he and old Man make the trip there. The warden tells him he is a person of interest and if he does not help locate his cousin, he will be thrown in jail. He and Old Man check in at a local motel and plan to start looking in the morning. Before morning comes however, two men bust into their room and kill Old Man before Frank can shoot them. Now he is on the run because he has to be able to discover the reason for the murder of Old Man and his wife.

He enlists the help of another friend who is a bounty hunter to continue his search. They learn there is a connection in the death of Old Man’s wife and The Blue Cheer so they start looking for this organization. They discover another murder – the pastor at Old Man’s wife’s church – and a connection to The Blue Cheer. They learn the pastor was outspoken against The Blue Cheer and they learn where they are located.

They call for some backup and go out to the location. Before their backup can arrive though, everything breaks loose and they must defend themselves. Frank chases after the leader and catches up with him.
After breaking up the gang and going to the funerals of his friends, Frank has decided to return to his life in Virginia. It would be interesting to learn about his life before The Blue Cheer fro

Sunday, August 10, 2008

August Selection for Our Mystery Discussion Group

The selection for our mystery group discussion in August is called "Murder on Astor Place" by Victoria Thompson. When I looked at the cover prior to reading it, I had some reservations about the book. The cover says "First In The Historical MysterySeries" and translated to me it means it is a period piece. One thing my wife knows is that if a show on tv is a period piece, I will fall asleep. You might be able to see the reason I was concerned. But let me spill it here - I did NOT get bored or fall asleep. Every month we cast our vote for the book our group read so I will go ahead and cast my vote - thumbs up. Following is a very sketchy review of this first book of the series.

In this "Gaslight Mystery", our two sleuths meet at the scene of a murder. They are Sergeant Frank Malloy of the New york City Police and Sarah Brandt - a midwife. Their meeting is not a pleasant one. And when Sarah realizes the young lady who was murdered is the sister of an old friend, she becomes determined to see to it that the case is solved. Apparently she does not trust the police to do the job. We learn she is a widow whose husband was murdered and the police never completed the investigation into his murder.

Our police sergeant does not exactly trust her either. She could be a suspect, or a meddling old lady (even though she is not old), and because she is a midwife. Now how does being a midwife contribute to his feelings towards her? Well..., he is a widower and his wife died in childbirth - with a midwife involved. And his son born at the time will never be able to grow up normal.

Initially prompted to followup on this case by Sarah, Frank Malloy becomes more interested in solving this case when he is taken off of it. He helps Sarah (who can not be thrown off the case) by confirming some of the actions she takes throught her investigation. Through each one of their unofficial investigations, they both wind up at the murderer's house. The suspect is the father of the murder victim who got his younger daughter pregnant. But when they confront him, he denies murdering his own daughter. Instead it was the sister who murdered her - and she is really the mother. She wanted her father back to herself.

When the book leaves off, we find Sarah and Frank have a better understanding of each other. Will it lead anywhere? Who knows? Stay tuned. There are nine more books in the series. Of course you may want to check them out for yourself.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Love Your Library


The topic of my blog today is not a typical topic for my blog. I am not discussing a mystery book, an author, or a character in a mystery. No - today I am excited about our public library growing.
On August 21st, a new branch of our library will be opening. The picture shows where the branch will be housed. This will be Small Business Library.
As a member of the community AND a member of the Friends of Sachse Library, I am excited this resource for our business community will be making it's debute soon. The public library (and the librarians at the library) is one of the places where I usually get introduced to the books and authors I read. And the library provides so much more than just the books to read.
Check out the opportunities your local library has to offer. Not only that but think about what you can offer to your library as well. LOVE YOUR LIBRARY!!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Blanco County - Back in Texas

"Holy Moly" is the sixth and latest book about Texas Game Warden John Marlin. According to one review I read, it may be the last in this series. "Word is that Ben Rehder might drop the curtain on his snarky Blanco County mystery series. If so, the Austinite goes out on a high note with this screwball tale. For those suffering Carl Hiaasen withdrawals (the master of comic crime last put out a novel in 2006), Holy Moly might be the perfect poolside fix come summer."— Texas Monthly. There was no explanation as to why it may be the last but it has been a funny series and our sleuth John Marlin will be missed.

Once again John Marlin has been asked to help in an investigation. This investigation is into the death of a local back hoe operator. Initially it appeared as an on the job equipment accident but it became apparent that it was actually a murder. What is not obvious is the reason or motive behind the death. This leaves a long list of suspects and subplots. In order to keep these all straight, be prepared to sit down and read the book in as few sessions as possible.

Our victim (Farley) is doing some pre-construction work for a mega church. There are not a whole lot of people in Blanco County happy that this mega church is coming to their county. So it is difficult to rule anybody out as suspects without a clear cut motive. Also suspect are the owners of a deer ranch where deer are raised and sold for huge amounts of money. Farley (in the past) had reported some suspicious discrepancies in the number of deer being raised and sold by the owners.

During the investigation additional motives turn up when it is reported that Farley had discovered a rare dinosaur skull on the construction site. This opened up the list of suspects. Now the list includes the church officials who did not want a delay in the building of the church. They do not want this find to become public for two reasons. First, it gives environmentalists who oppose their project a reason to stop it. Second, dinosaurs do not fit in the literal understanding of the six days of creation.

The reported discovery of the dinosaur skull gives motive for other suspects as well (and additional subplots for the story). The professor who reported the finding indicated there were collectors who would pay huge amounts of money for this find (or do anything to get it). And sure enough we have one who is trying to find it.

And if you think these are enough motives (or not), you will just have to read the book. Besides..., there is so much more in this book it would be impossible to know unless you read it for yourself. Who knows? Maybe you will even uncover the reason this might be the last book of the John Marlin series. If you do, let me know.

P.S. John Marlin gets married at the end of the book. Does this have anything to do with the reason this might be the last book in the series?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Continuing with Sheriff Joanna Brady


What is one thing an author like J.A Jance does that makes a mystery series good - like the series about Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady? Continuity!!!! I just finished reading the next to the last book in the series - "Dead Wrong" - and the continuity is there. This book picks up after Joanna Brady has been re-elected to be Sheriff of Cochise county. In the last book she was in the middle of the campaign for re-election. In this book she is still pregnant - I imagine it is close to eight months later than the previous book. In the previous book, she was dealing with the responsibility of Animal Control and it's personnel being under her department's responsibility. they still are in this book. And while there are a couple of mysteries being dealt with in this book, there are other issues that are dealt with at the same time.

A body is discovered close to the border. The body turns up to be an ex-convict who works as a counselor in the prisons. And to make it more interesting, this convict was arrested years ago by Joanna Brady's father who was a deputy at the time. The man went to jail for 25 years when he confessed to killing his wife and unborn child while he was in a drunken blackout - in spite of the fact the bodies were never found.

It just so happens that Joanna's father kept some private journals and at this stage her mother decides to get rid of a lot of stuff - giving them to Joanna to go through. The journals were supposed to be disposed of but were brought to Joanna as well by her father-in-law. Joanna checks the journals to learn if there is anything about the old case. She learns her father did not feel right about the conviction and felt it was "dead wrong" as the title infers.

To top things off, one of the animal control officers who was introduced in the previous book gets beaten up pretty bad and almost dies. In spite of being pregnant and being short-handed with staff, Joanna must deal with these and other issues that come up.

She and her staff track down leads that explain why the ex-convict was murdered - and lead to the truth about his missing wife and unborn child. They put together the reason her ACO was attacked and during the investigation uncover a puppy mill raising pit bulls for dog fights in her county. The owners of this operation are discovered dead and a problem of what to do with 75 vicious dogs and their puppies surfaces for Joanna to deal with. Some of these dogs have to be put down but a solution for the puppies is proposed by the local vet involving some of the inmates at the county jail. The nightmare of what to do with all these dogs turns into a good public relations event for the county and the department.

Sheriff Brady is working right up to the end when her water breaks and it is time to have her baby. I am sure there is more to continue in the next book. I will definitely be reading it soon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Catching Up With Sheriff Joanna Bradey


I have just gotten book number 13 of the Sheriff Joanna Brady series by J. A. Jance - I am so excited. I have been waiting for this new book to come out. I realized a couple of weeks ago however that I had not read books number 11 or 12 in the series yet. So to start to "catch up", I have just finished reading number 11 - "Exit Wounds".
Now "catching up" with Joanna Brady is not easy to do. She is the Sheriff of Cochise County - an elected position. She is running for reelection and has scheduled appearances she has to make. On top of this, she is also a mother of a teenager involved in other interests. So Joanna finds herself in a position trying to balance her professional and personal life. To top it off, she learns she is pregnant and is having morning sickness.
A clash of her duties occurs when a woman turns up dead in a trailer along with 17 unlicensed dogs. The woman was shot so being sheriff it is obvious why this would be her concern. The county has made cutbacks and placed the Animal Control department under her as well making the death of these dogs her concern as well. So she has a murder to investigate as well as the operations of the Animal Control department.
To make things more complicated, she has to deal with problems at the jail when the air conditioner goes out right before the 4th of July. She deals with this and everything is going well until one of the inmates turns up dead. Now she has to deal with whether this death was a result of the breakdown in procedure or not.
Oh ... and this is not all. There is an accident involving a van loaded with illegal aliens in her county. All the passengers died and only the smuggler's driver survives. Joanna is determined to do what she can to see that the smugglers are brought to justice.
Joanna deals with all of these professional duties in a manner that impresses some her colleagues. There are more twists and turns in this book than I will mention. But hey..., the book was definitely worth reading and you need to read it to see for your self. One book down and two more to in order to "catch up".

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Surprise From Pecan Springs

It was a double treat. Susan Wittig Albert's latest book in the China Bayle's series is called Nightshade. As usual I enjoyed this mystery but there was a twist in this book in the series.

Usually China is the sleuth of the book and she gets help from her friend Ruby. And for the most part the story comes from China's point of view. A different point of view was added to this story - that of McQuaid.

In a previous book China learned she has a half brother and her half brother wants help investigating their father's death. China is having a hard time with this and does not want to be involved in the investigation. Since McQuaid is a private investigator, China's half-brother hired him to help in the previous book.

In this book, McQuaid is trying to get China involved in her half-brother's life and specifically this investigation by telling her what is going on. China reluctantly listens to McQuaid about the investigation and gives him some information about her father - but only half-hearted. But when her brother ends up dead from a hit and run, China goes through a flood of emotions and becomes a more active participant in the investigation.

Some of the chapters are from McQuaid's line of investigation. He speaks to an old partner from the department to get information on the original investigation. He also follows up on a link to the automobile China's father was killed in. It is through his investigation that he learns in fact that China's father was murdered. Other chapters are from China's line of investigation - and following up on the little family left behind by her half-brother. China becomes convinced her brother was not merely killed by an accidental hit and run but was intentionally killed.

Both McQuaid and China come to the same conclusion about the murders of her father and brother. Each comes up with pieces when put together point them in the direction of the killer. The motive for the murders was to conceal a scandal that took place involving some partners of china's father. McQuaid and China (with help from a local cop) set out to confront the killer - China is the bait. Fortunately the end result turns out ok.

As with the other books in the series, there were a lot of other things going on besides this central mystery. So it was more than a story of this one case. This is another one of the ways the author makes the books in this series interesting.

Of course, the location in Texas and the tie to events that occurred in Texas and the political connections made interesting as well. I look forward to more surprises from Pecan Springs.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Another Bookstore Mystery

I referred to this as "another bookstore mystery" but it is actually the first in a new series. The series is "a booktown mystery" and takes place in a small town (Stoneham, NH) with a lot of specialty book stores. It is a book written by Lorna Barrett and is called "Murder is Binding".

Tricia Miles is the owner of the mystery book store. She like the other book store owners in this community caters to tourists who come to buy rare and new books. She is the new kid on the block having been in business for just six months.

She has a few things she has to deal with as a new business owner. Somebody is sneaking nudist brochures into the books in her shop. Another bookstore owner wants her to join forces to get the owner to stop raising leases. Now her older sister is coming for a visit. And if things could not get worse, the bookstore owner next store gets murdered and a fire is started there. Tricia and her sister were the ones who discovered the body and the fire.

Murder in this town has been unheard of - until now. Tricia has been labeled as a jink in the town. And in the eyes of the sheriff, Tricia is the most likely suspect since she is an outsider. Since the sheriff is not pursuing any other suspects, it is up to Tricia to look for the guilty party.

One of the likely suspects is the real estate owner of the book store properties. He was scheduled to meet with the murdered woman on the evening of her death. But "his alibi" was "some other business" he was attending to that evening. In spite of the fact Tricia's sister becomes involved with him, she still suspects him.

Another likely suspect is the twin sister of the murdered book store owner. She shows up a couple of days after the murder and says she and her sister were going to do business together.

Another possible suspect is a local political candidate who Tricia was initially attracted to. She learns he is trying to sale off his mothers books and other stuff to pay for the home she is in with Alzheimer's.

Despite this list of possible suspects, the sheriff is not pursuing any of those seriously.

Tricia learned of another recent death (automobile) that she suspects may be connected. This was the death of a local woman who bought stuff from tag / estate sales and resold them to the local businesses. She had sold a valuable cook book to the murdered shop owner. That valuable cook book was missing when the body was found. A few days later this valuable cook book showed up in Tricia's book store further implicating her. Somebody wanted to hang the murder and theft on Tricia. If Tricia was going to escape this rap scotfree, she would have to discover who the responsible party was.

As part of her investigation, she went to visit the mother of the political candidate in the nursing facility. While she was there she leaned the lady seems to have improved miraculously. She is suspicious about the circumstances that put the lady in the facility in the first place. The mother tells her that her son has stolen from her in the past and asks Tricia to help her.

After some more investigation she takes her concerns to the sheriff who dismisses them. Now she must pursue other measures to protect herself and the mother of the suspect. She goes to the mother's lawyer office to get herself a lawyer and to ask the lawyer to follow up for the mother.

That night after the shop is closed, the local politician and the sister of the murdered book store owner break in. The local politician is angry about the accusations made to the sheriff. In his angry comments to Tricia and her sister, he lets it spill out that the sister of the murdered book store owner was not actually the book store owner but actually the sister. The book store owner was having a hard time making things meet and her sister was a well off business woman who was dying. The motive for the murder was clear. Tricia and her sister were the next candidates for murder and they were going to be disposed of where they would not be found for a long while.

Tricia had to take some drastic measures to protect her sister and herself. She wrecked the auto before they got to there final destination. In the process, the local politician died and her sister almost died.

Afterwards, it became public about what actually happened in the murder. And Tricia's sister became the new owner of the book store next door.

My recommendation - this is a good book and enjoyable reading. I will look forward to more in this series. Oh by the way... this author also writes under another name - L.L. Bartlett and has another mystery series featuring the sleuth - Jeff Resnick. I think I will try out that series soon.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Triple Delight

Sounds like an interesting dessert ... right? Could of been but since this is not a dessert blog it probably is not. I have been on vacation for the 4th of July week and have had some extra time to read. During this time, I have read three very interesting books.
PART I
The first scoop was the first book in a series by Lee Child. It is called "Killing Floor" and it features the sleuth Jack Reacher. This is NOT the first book I have read about Jack Reacher but according to the Lee Child website, you can read these books in any order.
Jack Reacher is a drifter - now. He grew up in a military family and then he joined the military. He was in the military police up until he was discharged six months ago. Now he is traveling and he decides to stop in a town called Margrave (Georgia) in search of information about an old musician.
His first morning there he gets arrested for suspicion of murder. He gets sent to the state prison over the weekend and gets attacked by two separate groups. When his alibi gets checked out, he is released and he is just about to leave town when he learns the person who was murdered was his brother. He is now determined to learn who murdered his brother and why. The police chief and his wife are brutally murdered and things in this town do not add up. During his investigation, an attempt is made on his life - twice. The family of another character and a female deputy disappear.
Reacher learned the reason his brother was murdered is linked to a counterfeiting case he was investigating. He learned who most of the players who were involved in this town. And he learns an FBI man is also involved. This was an almost perfect counterfeiting case because the paper used to make the counterfeit one hundreds was actually real one dollar bills collected from all over the country. With some help from another detective in Margrave, he is able to blow the case. And although he has some feelings for the lady deputy, he must move on.
PART 2
The other part of this delight was two scoops of J.A. Jance and her sleuth J.P. Beaumont. They were the 2nd and 3rd books in the series. "Injustice For All" opens with Beau on vacation - a vacation to get over the loss he experienced in the first book of the series. A man is murdered at the resort where Beau is staying and is discovered by a lady who was a colleague of the man. As a detective, he becomes unofficially involved in the murder. As a man, he becomes "involved" with this woman - the wife of a political candidate seeking a divorce. She ends up dead in an apparent DWI accident but Beau finds it difficult to believe this was an accident.
Beau has to return to work and must balance his unofficial investigation of these murders with some other official cases he is involved with. An attempt is made to implicate him with the murder of the wife of the first victim. And then the case is "officially" closed when a suspect is found dead and a suicide confession is found. Things do not add up so Beau continues his unofficial investigation. He learns the political candidate (and his father) both had opportunity and motive for the murders. He gets taken at gunpoint by the political candidate and ends up in a walk in freezer with the candidate's father on election night. Here he learns the whole story and he escapes with the older man to go and take custody of the political candidate. In the melee that occurs, the old man is killed. Beau chases the other person and gets shot at but the candidate ends up falling to his death.
PART 3
The second book with J.P. Beaumont in it was called "Trial By Fury". It was another good book picking up later. Just a note - these reviews do NOT include some side stories that make the books interesting reading as well. In this book, a murder victim is found near a sports stadium. The murder victim turns out to be the coach of one of the high school teams who played in the stadium the previous night. His pregnant wife becomes one of the suspects when a photo of the coach and a cheerleader in a motel room are discovered. But the list of suspects expand to include the father of the cheerleader and the principal at he school.
It is not until Beau's partner disappears that the real suspect is learned about - a counselor at the school who is also the faculty advisor for the cheerleaders. Beau frantically searches for information about this lady and discovers where her mother is in the hospital. From information he gets from the hospital, he followups his investigation to discover the house where the suspect is. He gets there to find the suspect leaving with his "drugged" partner in a van.
The van crashes and the suspect dies. Beau's partner is left in critical condition. Beau learns more about a relationship of the first murder victim and the suspect from letters recovered by the wife of the first murder victim. They apparently had a relationship that was torn apart when the suspect learned about the photo of the cheerleader and the coach.
The book ends with Beau on leave - taking care of his partner's two daughters. This is an interesting story initially introduced in the first book of the series that develops further in the second and third books of the series.
I would suggest all of these books as good reading materials.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Murder By The Book

"Murder By The Book" is another mystery by D.R. (Doris) Meredith. This is the fifth with Megan Clark and the mystery book discussion group in the Murder by the Yard series. I have enjoyed each one of them. I have not been able to find anything else by this author. And I have been unable to find any contact information for her either.

This book has the same sleuth in it and there is a similar thread as the other books. Each book has offered something different. The series has been a mixture of telling the story from a third person and from a first person point of view (Ryan). In this book we now have another first person point of view by a mystery person - somebody involved in a depression-era mystery brought to light when a car is discovered in a lake drying up. This is one of the mysteries our sleuth wants to investigate but is finding little support from the other members of the book club. Ryan who typically does not support the investigations Megan undertakes is one of the few who supports this investigation because it does not involve a body - until a skeleton is discovered when a laundry building is being demolished.

But wait. Bodies always seem to appear where Megan discovers them. And this time she is a person of interest by the police - more than usual. Especially after she discovers the third body in this book. Each body seems to be left by a serial killer. The bodies were stabbed 13 times, then posed on it's back, and some marks made on the head. When she finally identifies the markings on the heads as letters in the Phoenician alphabet, this seems to be the final clue pointing to her as the murderer. It also let's her know who the murderer is and she has to run from the police in order to clear up these murders. She knows there was an intent in the murders and she was specifically targeted to be made to look guilty.

She is able to prove who the guilty person was in the three murders. She is also able to uncover who the mystery person is and this person tells the story about the depression-era car and the skeleton.

The only mystery unresolved is whether there will be any more Megan Clark mysteries.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Introducing J. P. Beaumont ...

J.P. Beaumont is not new – he has been around for a while. But I enjoy reading series from the beginning so I am starting off with the first book of the J.P. Beaumont series written by J.A. Jance. It is called “Until Proven Guilty”. Beaumont (or Beau as he prefers) is a police detective in Seattle.

Now I have to admit I have already been introduced to Beau. J.A. Jance writes another series that I read. It is the Sheriff Joanna Brady series. I have read that series from the beginning. In one of the latter books, Beau and Joanna Brady join together to solve a mystery. This is how I was introduced to Beau. I decided then I wanted to read this series as well and am finally starting on the series.

Incidentally, there is a new book in the Joanna Brady series coming out soon so I am looking forward to getting it. And I just read on J.A. Jance’s blog about the latest book in the J.P. Beaumont series being available. I looked and discovered I have (but have not read) the last two books of the Joanna Brady series. What happened? Why have I not read these yet? I am not sure but “there are so many books and so little time to read them.”

Now back to the current book. As I read it I started remembering bits and pieces of the information from the other book I read. As Beau says, there are some cases you do not forget and this is one he does not forget. It starts with the murder of a kid whose mother belongs to a cult. The suspects change through out the book – including the mother and the leader of the cult. Another of the suspects is the kid’s father who shows up after the burial of the kid. Shortly afterwards, the leader of the cult and the mother of the kid are murdered. Beau finds it hard to believe the father is responsible although proving this will be hard.

A mysterious and beautiful woman also showed up at the funeral for the kid. This woman becomes another reason this case is one he does not forget. She tells him she is writing a book about children who were murdered. She says her motivation was her sister’s death and funeral – she was not allowed to attend it.

Beau and this woman get involved and within a matter of days he becomes engaged with her. Despite the fact he knows little about her he will marry her within a week. On the day of his wedding he learns of the death of another man, another suspect in the murder of the kid. He also learns his “new” wife knew about this “suspect” the day before. He also discovers his gun is missing and will discover his gun is responsible for the murders of the wife, the cult leader, and this guy as well. He sets out to find her and she shoots him but he survives, pursues her and shoots her as she prepares to shoots him again. He realizes she forced his hand as he remebers her asking if he would ever shoot anybody again if he was put into that situation.

This is a case he will in no way forget. There is so much to this story I am leaving out because I think it is worth reading. I am looking forward to continuing this series by J.A. Jance.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Henrie O Mystery

This book was referenced in the book Lone Star Sleuths - An Anthology of Texas Crime Fiction. Typically I would start with the first book in the series but I started with this one instead. It is by Carolyn Hart and is called Death On The River Walk. Henrie O is the short name for our sleuth Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins. She has come to San Antonio in search of her best friends' granddaughter named Iris. Iris typically contacts her grandmother on a regular basis but has failed to do so several times in a row. Henrie O is a retired reporter. When she discovers Iris has not been to her apartment and it has been searched through, her instincts tell her there is something not right.

She checks out Iris' place of employment and learns that Iris left there abruptly as well. In spite of the explanation given by one of the employees (and Iris' male friend), that Iris went to Padre with some other guy, she does not buy it and files a missing person report. She also speaks to several members of the family who operate the shop where Iris works.

She eventually gets a note to meet somebody on the River Walk and it turns out to be Iris. At this meeting another person shows up to grab Iris but she gets away. It turns out this person wants something Iris and Rick have taken from the shop and he wants it back. Later this person turns up dead at the shop and the package Iris had gets taken away from her in the mayhem created by a fire alarm. While Iris and Rick insists the package contained drugs, Henrie does not believe this to be the truth. She remembers recent news about a robbery at a museum in Mexico and suspects this is related. She is determined to find the reason behind this and to learn the identity of the killer in order to free another person of the suspicion.

Another person is murdered at the shop but it appears simply as an accident - Henrie O knows better. She knows somebody at the shop is hiding something. She sets out to investigate the family members and a select group of special customers who might be interested in the stolen treasures from the museum.

She discovers the stolen treasures in one of the customers' room where she is caught. She talks her way out of the room and discovers the identity of the person at the shop responsible for the theft. However her main concern is getting the person responsible for the murder captured in order to get the wrongly accused brother out of trouble.

She sets in motion a plan to capture the other person. But the person she suspected of the murder is not who she expected.

Later her friend's granddaughter and Rick get married and head off on there honeymoon in Mexico. While they are there, the missing treasures mysteriously show back up in the museum.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Coincidence?


Ben Brice is a central character in this book by Mark Gimenez called “The Abduction”. He is a decorated hero from the Vietnam war but he lives alone and drinks a lot to forget things about the war. He cannot understand why certain events have happened in his life. He remembers his mother telling him God had a plan for his life but fails to see it. The only time he does not drink is when his grand daughter comes to visit with him.

One night after drinking he has another one of his recurring nightmares but there is a twist in the end of it. Instead of seeing the face of the Vietnamese girl begging for help in his past, he sees the face of his grand daughter. This seems to coincide with the abduction of his grand daughter – an abduction for which there is no apparent reason. Is this a kidnap for reward? Her father is on the verge of becoming a billionaire - but no ransom demand is made. Is this prompted by a child molester? “Evidence” seems to point to this and a convicted sex offender is taken into custody. But he professes innocence and kills himself while in jail – and Gracie is still missing. Ben sees this as a mission - to find and get her back – he has visions and still feels connections with her.

A photo of the kidnapper from behind revealed a tattoo that places a connection with Ben’s past in Vietnam. Is this kidnapping an act of revenge against him as he suspects? Or is this a coincidence? Ben does not know but follows the trail. He knows the people he is dealing with and knows it will be a difficult (but not impossible) situation to get his grand daughter back. He and his son (who has not had anything to do with him) go after Gracie.

Nothing is simple about this story / plot. There are so many twists revealed throughout the book that shed more light on what seems like unrelated events. They also reveal some surprises – like a planned assassination of the President of the United States.

I find it hard to really summarize this story – without revealing too much. At first I thought there were too many coincidences to be believable but found the theme was consistent. As Ben learns through this experience (and as his mother had told him), " God has a plan for him and this was how he discovered everything was connected. It was in my opinion a very good book. This is the second book I have read by Mark Gimenez and it was different from the first. I am impressed by his writing skills and plan to read the next book by him.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mystery in a Rural County

Sheriff Dan Rhodes of Blacklin County (Texas) hands are full again in the 15th book of this series by Bill Crider. The name of this book is “Of All Sad Words”. Some county officials are unhappy about the Citizens Police Academy he lead and some of the “vigilantes” who took it. Then, there is an explosion and fire at a trailer of “suspected” meth dealers that must have been the work of these “vigilantes”. One of these “suspected” meth dealers is also discovered dead.

On top of all of this, the county officials want the sheriff to follow-up on a delayed website for the sheriff’s office – to make sure it gets done.

Finally there are the regular (not necessarily normal) calls he gets to deal with. One widow calls him to remove some possums from her attic. Another man has problems with flying saucers stealing his electricity.

It is interesting to see how the sheriff deals with these and more problems and how he makes use of some of the recent graduates from his Citizens Police Academy.

Also interesting is how the author uses references to a character in another one of his book series – a series he no longer writes. Will he be writing another book in the Dr Sally Goode series? I hope so. Anyway, I enjoyed this Dan Rhodes book as I have the previous ones.