Monday, December 13, 2010

From my Daughter's Collection - ILL WIND

It is nice sharing an interest in an author with my daughter. She likes Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon series and so do I. I wanted something else to read so I just asked her about a book she just read - Ill Wind. She let me read it.

This was one of the earlier books in the series. This one occurs in the Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. It is an interesting place where there are ruins from an ancient civilization that disappeared. Where they went is an unanswered question with a lot of speculation. Archaeologists and tourists alike come to visit the park and it's ruins.

Because of the disappearance of this mysterious civilization, construction and excavation is restricted - to preserve the site. In addition there is a lot of lore about the missing civilization and the occasional appearance of spirits in this place.

An unexplained death of a teenage tourist followed by the death of a temporary park employee lead to an investigation by Anna Pigeon and an FBI acquaintance. Could these two deaths be related? Some other unexplained incidents suggests these acts may be the result of spirits trying to discourage continued development in the park. Anna and the FBI acquaintance have to consider other non-spirit suspects and possible motives as well.

Of course I loved the mystery but I also like the way the author describes the park - it's physical description as well as it's operations. In addition she introduced some intersting characters as part of the story. Some in fact continue playing a part in the series and Anna's further adventures. I look forward to checking more out from my daughter's collection. I have not been disappointed yet!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mystery Choices

One thing about mysteries ... there are a lot of choices. And when I say a lot of choices, I am not just referring to authors but different types of mysteries as well. Maryglenn at Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity asked me if I wanted to read a mystery that was not so serious and I said ok!!!

You can see the title of the book in the picture - Don't Sweat The Small Stuff. It is the 4th book in the Stuff Series written by author Don Bruns. It features amateur private investigators Skip Moore and James Lessor who in spite of officially becoming licensed PIs are pretty much still amateurs. This is a mystery mixed with comedy. I mean think about it - the name on the license is for More or Less Investigations. And to continue with some of the humor, their license was issued through the Department of Agriculture.

Like I mentioned before, these two have just become licensed and this is their first gig as professionals. They have been hired (undercover) to investigate a series of accidents that occurred at a carnival. But somehow the fact they are undercover seems to get out way too easily and there are a lot of people suspicious of them.

They have to rely on a little help from their "friends" in order to survive this case. At times it looks like they are going to bungle the case when it seems they do not know what is going on. They have three days to investigate and much happens including a murder, their trailer is broken into, and they get several warnings to leave.

This certainly is no dynamic duo but in spite of everything they are able to solve the case. I do not intend to give away much more of the book because if you are looking for a "fun" read, then this is what you are looking for. Check it out!!!!

In case you are interested in more info about the author and his books, check out his web page at http://www.donbrunsbooks.com/ .

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Texas Thanksgiving Traditions

There are a lot of Thanksgiving traditions and watching football is just one of them. How about another Thanksgiving tradition - reading? I took advantage of the extra free time and did some extra reading.

The latest by Texas writer Livia Washburn was released earlier this month. It is called The Pumpkin Muffin Murder. As you may realize from the title of the blog, this cozy takes place around Thanksgiving. Our retired teacher Phyllis Newsom once again finds another body. This time it is the body of a community real estate leader and his wife is arrested for his murder. His wife is another teacher and was helping out with a community project to gather food for the needy. Needless to say. Phyllis finds it hard to believe she is guilty and becomes involved in her own investigation to discover the truth. This was a nice easy read and on top of that if places focus on things important to remember this season - being thankful and helping others with basic needs.

I also took the opportunity to read another book I got recently - Murder To Mil-Spec. It is a collection of short stories - A Crime Fiction Anthology to Benefit HOMES FOR OUR TROOPS. Each one of the stories had a connection to the military. I have to admit I enjoyed each one of these interesting short stories. It was interesting to see how each story was told in just a few pages. In case you are interested, the book can be obtained from Amazon and a portion of the sales benefits a good cause.

Finally, I got the opportunity to read another book I have called American Assassin written by Vince Flynn. My wife already had the opportunity to read it and she enjoyed it. Did I mention we are both big fans of the author and this character in his books - Mitch Rapp? This particular book takes us back in time and shows how and when Mitch Rapp became involved in the clandestine operations. Previous books have eluded to it and Mitch has gotten older in them so I think Vince Flynn did a great job going back in time to recount his start.

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving doing what you like to do. To end this I have to once again refer to a bumper sticker I have seen in the past - If you can read this, thank a teacher.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Texas Connection with Dismissed with Prejudice

I certainly was excited to find this Texas connection with the book Dismissed with Prejudice. The author Fletcher Cockrell lives and works in the Houston Texas area. Thanks to Lindsay at Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists for connecting me with this book. By the way, this is another Texas connection - Phenix & Phenix is located in Texas as well. If you are interested, you can find out more about the book and author at this link.

As you may be able to tell from the title - this is a legal drama / thriller. Did I mention Mr Cockrell was an attorney? So that means he would have an understanding of legal stuff based on his background. Well .... now for a brief review of his novel.

Craig Frazier is an assistant basketball coach in the LSU program. He works under Coach Tom Boyd and has been one of the reasons the school has been able to recruit a lot of good talent into it's program. Under the direction of his boss he has at times done some things that are minor infractions under NCAA rules - but these are only a portion of the infractions going on behind the scenes.

At the urging of one of the basketball's program supporters - Vic Banelli - Tom Boyd agrees to get rid of Craig Frazier. He understands it is better to get rid of Craig for the minor violations and reporting them rather than remain open to scrutiny which could bring out some of the other major violations he and Vic Banelli are involved in.

By agreeing to quit, Craig could get paid for the remainder of the contract period. If he does not quit, he will be fired and he will lose a whole lot more. Craig refuses to quit because he feels he was only doing what he was told to do and he does not want to take the whole blame - even though he knows publicly the blame will be leveled on him.

This is not the first time Tom Boyd has dismissed one of his assistant coaches in order to shift the scrutiny from himself. When Landon Duhon, a lawyer, hears about the latest firing, he suspects something fishy is going on so he approaches Craig about representing him in his case. He and Craig realizes they will not only be going against a popular coach but also a powerful institution in the form of LSU. What they do not know is how far this case will reach and who else stands to lose from it. If they had an inkling of an idea of what some of the measures that would be taken, they may have decided to drop it. As a matter of fact, at one point Duhon is on the verge of dropping the case when he experiences a personal loss - one he knows is a result from pursuing this case.

This story is indeed a thriller. It is not something I would have been interested in initially but I have to admit I am glad I read it. Of course I felt some personal connection to the story when he mentioned a recruiting trip to San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas - a junior college I attended before -AND- I know they had a good basketball program there. I think the background of the author as both a lawyer and his personal connections to sports were definitely assets he used well in writing the story.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My First Read From Iris Johansen

There was a comment on the back of the Advance Readers' Edition of Catching The Night I got from Ann-Marie at http://www.areyoured.com/. It said, "Dear Reader, If you've never read Iris Johansen before, CHASING THE NIGHT is where to start." This describes me to a tee. And I did not know what I have missed. This book was definitely worth reading!!!

There is a lot to this story and it would be hard to give you a good feel for it. There was certainly a lot of interesting characters in this book and I would like to briefly introduce you to some of them.

First there is Eve Duncan who became a forensic sculptor after her daughter turned up missing. Now she tries to help other people get closure when an unidentified skeleton turns up by reconstructing the face from the skull. Occasionally the spirit of her daughter shows up and encourages her to continue.

Catherine Ling is one of the CIA's top talents. She is highly driven to find her son who was kidnapped when he was just two. Over nine years have passed so she convinces Eve Duncan to do an age progression from the only photo she has of her son when he was two.

Joe Quinn is a cop and is Eve's love interest. He came into her life after she lost her daughter and has been with her since. In this book you learn a lot about his former life - especially with the service.

Kelly Winters is a 14 year old gifted kid who is rescued by Catherine Ling from a drug lord and all out bad guy in Columbia. She and her dad were both prisoners but he was killed before Catherine Ling got there. Her gifts and young age play a significant part in the overall story.

Venable is another guy in the CIA and Catherine works under him. She has been trying to get him to give up information on the man who took her son.

That man is called Rakovic. Catherine almost destroyed his life of crime years before she had her son. He has recovered and is a massive force in the crime world and the thing that drives him is destroying Catherine. His first step was in the kidnapping of her son years ago and he keeps reminding her he has control over her through her son.

This is just a handful of significant characters in the book but their stories play important roles in the overall story. One might think there are too many important characters in this story but I think each one brings something to the story. It would be difficult for me to explain how - that is why I suggest you check it out yourself.

Should you find yourself enjoying this book, there are plenty more written by the author. You can check out her website at http://www.irisjohansen.com/index.php.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

About Nov Selection For MRD Group

The November selection for Firewheel's B&N Mystery Reading Group was by the author Dick Francis. The title of the book was Whip Hand. It featured Sid Halley who was once a winning horse jockey. However an accident in racing caused him to lose one of his hands and a portion of the arm. Now he is working on being a private investigator.

In this story he finds his hands full. First he is approached by a horse owner who suspects foul play in regards to promising horses she owns. The last three were highly regarded and were favorites in their last big race. Instead of winning they fell short and later were found to have heart problems. She has another horse that is highly ranked and does not want a repeat of her last three contenders. She wants Sid to look into this and make sure it does not happen again. Yet she does not see Sid much more than a former jockey.

If that is not enough, Sid's ex father in law wants him to help investigate trouble Sid's ex wife has gotten in with a conman who has disappeared. While he is sure Sid can help, his ex wife still berates him.

Finally, one of the horse track board members wants him to investigate one of the security members at the track. There is suspicion that there might be a problem in the security at the track. Does he really expect to find something wrong or is he trying to divert attention elsewhere?

There is a lot going on in this book and sometimes it seemed there might be toooooo much going on. But this book was hard for me to put down and it was not just because I needed to have it read for our discussion group.

So how did our discussion group feel about it? There were six members present tonight and the vote was four thumbs up (with one wavering) and two thumbs down. Some of the other members had read the author before and said it was typical Dick Francis style. Would I be willing to give the author another try? Perhaps - we shall see. I understand his son is now writing the books since Dick Francis passed away.

In case you are wondering, Dick Francis was once a horse jockey and he has written a lot of mystery books around the horse racing industries. Kind of goes with the adage - you should write about what you know.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bridge Works Books Teams With Elliott Sawyer

This is an interesting discovery!!! I had not heard about Bridge Works Books before. They are an independent book publisher. You can check out their website at Bridge Works Publishing. They teamed up with first time author Elliott Sawyer - or was it vice-versa???

So what does Bridge Works Books brings to the joint venture? They have a list of other successful authors under their belt. And what does Elliott Sawyer have to contribute? This book benefits from his personal experience in the military and his duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. For more information on the author, check out his website.

Thanks again to Maryglenn for bringing this book to my attention.

Jake Roberts has been assigned to lead the Kodiak Platoon on missions in Afghanistan. His men are not exactly the cream of the crop - they all have problems of some sort and have been placed here to do the dirty jobs.

Part of the book's story involves a mystery involving "the severance" but there are a lot of pieces that make up the story.

So what is "the severance"? Well..., on one of the missions the Kodiak team came into contact with 4.6 million American dollars. The money was sent to Afghanistan for reconstruction purposes. It was stolen by an Afghan contractor. While the Kodiak team was on a nighttime mission, they ran into this money. Once they discovered the money, their plans were to keep the money as "severance" when they leave war.

Somebody finds out about the "severance" and is threatening to take it from them. Who is it and how dis they find out about it? There are several possibilities to take into consideration and it is only by reviewing incidents leading up to the discovery of the money and since then that it becomes clear.

At times when reading the story, I thought some of the details were just filler for the story. I was surprised how a lot of it actually came together to make the story. It certainly helped the author had some background in what goes on over in Afghanistan.

Monday, November 1, 2010

New Miles Corwin Release!!!

You heard it right. There is a new release of a Miles Corwin book. It is called Kind of Blue and it was published by Oceanview Publishing. It was released on November 1st of 2010. Thanks to Maryglenn McCombs for giving me a heads-up on this book.

There is an elite group of detectives in the Los Angeles Police Department belonging to the Felony Special unit. These are the best of the best and when an ex-cop is murdered, the case is sent over to this unit. But this case is very important to the chief of police and he wants it handled by the best detective in the unit. The problem is the best detective in the unit quit 11 months earlier when he was upset suspended from a case he was working on. In that case, a potential witness was murdered and the detective Ash Levine was upset over it and made it personal in order to find the person responsible. Lieutenant Frank Duffy was the one who suspended him and now he must convince Ash to come back and work on this case.

A little background is revealed about detective Ash Levine - he is Jewish. Before he became a cop and later a detective - much against the wishes of his parents - he went to Israel and served in the service over there. His family was affected by the holocaust years before he came along and so he harbors some emotions because of that. When he came back to the states he became a cop and was brought up the ranks by now Lieutenant Frank Duffy.

Ash agrees to come back on this case and even though Duffy has told him he has to leave the past case along, he wants to work on it on the side when he gets the chance. Of course not everybody is happy about having him back on board. And there is at least one bigot in the group who Levine finds it hard to work with. But he gets to working on the case and starts digging stuff up. As we are to find out, even though there are those who want the truth about the murder of the ex-cop to come out, there are those who want to cover it up. Can this case be related to the case Levine was involved in investigating when he was suspended almost a year ago? This is something you can look forward to discovering when you read the book.

What are some of the things this book offers? Although I am not a part of the California and specifically LA culture, I think it offers a lot of information about this as part of the story. Not only is our investigator Jewish but he likes to surf. He also a variety of foods from different nationalities which is due to the diversity available in LA. Of course there are several levels of the society available and portrayed in the stories. Of course this a story of the cops and detectives and the criminals involved in gangs and drugs but sometimes there can be a fine line between the good and bad. And while differences can be sources of conflicts, sometimes those differences just don't make that much of a difference.

In general here are some things I found interesting about the story. When the story started out in the Prologue, the story was told on the outside. But when detective Levine was introduced into the story, it starts to take on the first person point of view. I think this is important in telling this type of story.

Another thing I like is how the title is tied into the story. Obviously Kind of Blue ties into the law enforcement aspect of the story. But it is also tied into another aspect of our detective - his musical taste and how it relates to his moods. Kind of Blue is the title of a song by Miles Davis and Levine likes to listen to the jazz by him. As a side note, I think it is interesting that the author shares the same first name as the jazz artist.

I was impressed by this book. Does it sound like something you would be interested in reading?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Finding New Author David Harry

Have you heard about the Southwest Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America? They have a website: http://www.mwasw.org/. I discovered the website a couple of years ago and I learned they had monthly meetings in Dallas - the first Saturday of the month (except January - I think). The meeting will have an interesting speaker and /or workshop for a particular subject. And the nice thing is that you do not have to be a member to go to these meetings. It was at the last meeting I heard about this new author David Henry and his new book The Padre Puzzle. David Henry attends some of these meetings too. The immediate attraction for me was that this is a Texas author (and if you know me - I like Texas authors) and this mystery occurs in Texas - another thing I like.

So I ordered the book through Amazon.com. It was published by hotray.com and is only available through a limited outlets currently. Before I go any further I will say it was well worth it.

If you like mysteries involving Texas Rangers (the law enforcement group not to be mistaken for the NEW American League Champions), the Coast Guard, drugs, and terrorists, then I think you will enjoy it as well. I also heard this is the first in a series involving the main character Jimmy Redstone - the Texas Ranger - so if you like it you can look forward to more.

As mentioned above, Jimmy Redstone is a Texas Ranger. He has been sent on leave to Padre Island to recover from a gunshot wound he got while on duty. His recovery involves some rehab with a physical trainer and physical activity.

While on Padre Island he visits with the son of one of his former partners in the Rangers. Little did they know they were fixin' (that is one of those Texas words) to become involved in something big. The son of his former partner is in the Coast Guards and he has to go out on an emergency call. Since he is shorthanded and Jimmy is visiting, he invites Jimmy along for the ride. When they reach the place of the emergency, they are turned away - starting this big puzzle. When they are returning to the station, they hear about the recovery of a body on the beach. Redstone learns later that this body was actually a murder - the murder of a fellow Texas Ranger who was undercover.

Officially, Redstone is on leave but unofficially he is placed on undercover duty to learn what happened to his fellow Texas Ranger. He learns there is something big going on that involves a lot of law enforcement agencies including the local and county police, the Coast Guard, DEA, and Homeland Security.

There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle and there is a lot going on to keep some of this puzzle quiet. Redstone is partnered with a local South Padre policewoman in part of the investigation. They are attacked during their investigation and Redstone's Ranger friend is sent to the hospital in a coma after an attack is made on him as well.

I hope this has sparked your interest a little because there is a lot going on in the story. It is best to become a part of the story by reading it for yourself. There may be some things that were left unexplained in the story but I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Louise Penney With Another Chief Inspector Gamache


Author Louise Penney has another one with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. This is called Bury Your Dead. Mostly we have seen him in Three Pines - a small community in Québec. Now he is in Quebec City. He is on vacation but it is not all fun and games. He has recently come off a case where he was unable to save a team member and he and other team members were seriously injured. He is here to recover - both physically and mentally. He is spending time doing research at the Literary and Historical Society - a library. (This is an interesting library as he is allowed in the library with his dog - a German Shepherd.) The library research and late night walks provide a little distraction for the inspector but thoughts about his previous case still bother him. In addition he is getting letters that raise doubts in his mind about another case he investigated and whether they prosecuted the right man.

When a local historian is found murdered in the Lit and His, Gamache is asked to assist with the investigation. This murder can cause some conflicts between two communities in Quebec - the francophone and the anglophone. Historically these two communities have been on the brink and this murder could be a catalyst fueling the bad blood between them.

Gamache has his hands and thoughts full with this local investigation and what went wrong with the last case he was involved with. So he asks another member of his team – Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir – to return to Three Pines and quietly recheck the case and their original findings.
The story shifts back and forth from the investigation in Quebec City being conducted by Chief Inspector Gamanche and the investigation in Three Pines by Inspector Beauvoir. It also shifts between local / historical history involving Samuel De Champlain – the recognized founder of Quebec – and the personal memories of the disastrous case that has put both inspectors in rehabilitation. This helps demonstrate how ‘human’ our inspectors are.

I think the author has demonstrated again just how versatile she is with her story-telling. She has made this story so appealing in so many ways - including blending history lessons in to make it believable as well. This is definitely a MUST READ!!! Be sure to check it out.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Little NOOK Achievement

Yes ... some times the little things in life DO bring a little pleasure in life!!! I went to one of the NOOK user meetings at the Firewheel Mall Barnes and Noble to learn about one of the features - lending books. I also got online and saw a brief tutorial that included the feature. It was not until I actually did it that I really understood how to do it. I was able to "lend" an ebook to a friend with an Apple Ipad.

Following are the steps I took to "lend" the ebook.


First, on the bottom color touchscreen menu I selected MY LIBRARY.

Then from the list of books in MY LIBRARY I selected the book I wanted to Lend. NOTE: The book has to be LEND ABLE. If it is it will show LEND ME out beside the name of it on your list of books.

When you select the book, there are options on the bottom color touchscreen. Use the option - View Item Detail And Options.

Once you select the option to "View Item Detail And Options", one of the options will be "Lend" - provided it is a lend able book. Then you can select who you want to lend the book too. NOTE: You have to setup the person before you go through the lending process.

PS - At the NOOK user meeting, I also learned another way to turn the page. I was familiar with the "page turning buttons" on the side of the NOOK. But I learned you can also use the color touchscreen to turn the pages of the book. This is great because I would hate to wear out the page turning buttons on the side.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Gonna Read List

It would be nice to read whenever I wanted to read but I do not always have that luxury. Other things sometimes get in the way. But I want to mention that there are some books on my "Gonna / Wanna Read List". Here are a couple of the books I learned about from some authors I met in Mystery Writers of America South West / Dallas Chapter.

The first is a book by author David Harry. It is called The Padre Puzzle. I have not read this yet but it automatically has two things going for it in my opinion. One, the setting is in Texas and two, this is a Texas author.

The second is a book called Murder To Mil-Spec and it is a collection of short mystery stories. Two things about this interested me. First, a portion of the sales goes to benefit Homes For Our Troops. Second, one of the stories in the collection is by one of the members of the MWASW Dallas Chapter. Her name is Janis Patterson (one of her pen names) and the story she wrote sounded interesting. On top of that - she is a Texas author!!!

Both books are available through Amazon.com.

When I have my opportunity to read the books I will let you know what I think of them.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

MRD Group Reads Anne George

Our Firewheel Mall Mystery Discussion Group selected a cozy by Anne George to read for the October selection. The title of the book was Murder on a Girls' Night Out. This is the first in the Southern Sisters Mystery Series by the author. There are nine books in the series. If you are interested in more information about the author, here is a link to a web page for her - Aunt Sister and the Mouse.

This is a murder mystery set in the Alabama area which (if you have not figured it out already) yet involves two sisters - one in her mid sixties and the other older. The story is told from the first person point of view by one of the sisters whose name was Patricia Anne but her sister referred to her by her nickname - Mouse. The other sister was Mary Alice but she was referred to a lot as Sister. Boy ... was it hard keeping up with their names. I can't tell if it was a cultural thing or a generational thing.

In the story Mary Alice has been going to a club called Skoot 'n Boot. When she discovered the club was for sale, she decided to buy it. She convinces her "younger" sister to come along and check out the club. It certainly looks promising but the next day things start to go haywire. The guy she bought the club from ends up brutally murdered. And things do not stop there. A day later the club is ransacked inside. Why was the guy murdered and how was the murder connected to the ransacking of the club? Patricia Anne's husband and daughter warn her to keep away from the club but her "sister" keeps dragging her back into it.

So ... how did our little group feel about the book? First I will give you the "straw" / thumb vote. It came down to this - five thumbs up, two thumbs down, and one thumb that could not make up it's mind. The overall feeling was that the book did not get high marks for the mystery per se. What was generally liked about the book was the humor and the character development.

As far as the thumb that could not make up it's mind, that was mine. I'd say the book was OK but that reminds me of a story. One night years ago my wife tried a new recipe. She was disappointed in the recipe and asked how I felt about it. I said it was OK ... and I had a second helping of it. She asked again - what do you think of the recipe? Again I said it was okay. Then she asked a different way - do you want me to make this again? I told her not really but I would eat it.

Now I will not say I would not read another book by the author, but I might. There were things I liked and there were things I had a problem with. I am not sure if this type of writing is my "cup of tea" or not. Only time will tell!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hardcover Mysteries TV Show

I got an email about a tv series starting on the Investigation Discovery cable channel starting on October 11th. It is called Hardcover Mysteries and "each episode of Hardcover Mysteries pairs an author with a real-life case close to their heart, whether it inspired one of their own creations, mirrors the themes presented in their bestsellers or resonates with their personal life story" .

The episode on Monday October 11th will feature author David Balducci. And here is a short synopsis of the program.

In 1964, Mary Meyer, a DC socialite married to a CIA director, was found murdered on a path near her home. ... Mary kept a secret diary, which detailed an affair with President Kennedy, and lead to many conspiracy theories implicating the CIA. It also formed the partial basis for David Baldacci's first best-seller, "Absolute Power".

Future authors to be featured in the series include: Harlan Coben; Sandra Brown; Kathi Reichs; Linda Fairstein; Sarah Paretsky; Linda Scottoline; and Joseph Wambaigh.

These should be interesting!!!

Another interesting link about the series:
http://press.discovery.com/us/id/programs/hardcover-mysteries/

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Latest By Patricia Gussin

Triplets. When two of the three nine year-old girls turn up missing at a theatre / mall, it makes the news. And Then There Was One. This is the latest by author Patricia Gussin. I read another one of hers a little while back and it was called The Test. So when I heard about this one I definitely wanted to read it. The latest book is different from the other one. While it is different it demonstrates the ability of the author to tell a multi-faceted story.

As mentioned above, the disappearance of the two girls makes the news and the story blends just enough of this into the story - mostly by the use of headlines at the beginning of each chapter. But the story goes beyond the news angle of the story. It also blends the investigation process in the story. The process takes into consideration a variety of different suspects. In light of other disappearances of children the parents (Katie and Scott Monroe)and other family members are considered potential suspects.

Other suspects are considered based on their occupations. Katie Monroe was a forensic pediatric psychiatrist and has testified in cases involving other children. Scott is with the Yankee ball system and has made decisions that affect other people. This opens up the possibility of somebody wanting revenge on either of them.

Another possibility involves the possibility of a racial motivated crime. Katie and Scott were a mixed-race couple and the disappearance occurred in an area where there was a highly prejudiced group.

Without a lot of clear evidence it was hard to pin down a motive for the taking of the girls.

Beyond the news and investigation process considerations of the story, there is also the personal level of the story and how it affects several people. Katie who is a professional finds it difficult to deal as a mother on the other side of the coin. Jackie who is the one of the three not taken winds up in a coma induced by all the concerns she is dealing with as the one left behind. The agent in charge Streeter reflects on the possibilities if his kids were the ones involved in the disappearance.

There is so much to this story that I cannot do it justice in this little review. It is a story you can not make your own decision about with out reading it for yourself. I strongly recommend you try it out for yourself. To use a phrase similar to one I've heard before - try it, you'll like it!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Pawn by Stephen James

Here is one of the books I read from my NOOK. I mention this only because the NOOK, as another resource. has opened me up to reading different books. The book / ebook is called The Pawn by Steven James and I probably would not have picked it up to read - if not for the NOOK. It is called "A Patrick Bowers Thriller".

Who is Patrick Bowers? In this series, he is in the FBI and uses geographic profiling to learn more about serial killers. This was a concept I was unfamiliar with. The author did a good job introducing me to this through Patrick Bowers and his investigation. In fact, Patrick was able to point out through his geographic profiling that two of the murders in the string of murders - even though they were so alike - were actually by a different person.

If I had to pick one word that describes how this book made me feel, it would be uncomfortable. It was very intense and not like some of the mysteries I read. The focus shifted between the investigator and the murderer(s). One of the murderers saw himself as an 'illusionist' - leaving clues and always able to steer his 'audience' in a different direction. To him - the murders were just a part of the game he enjoyed. It was the illusions he created and the game he was playing that really thrilled him.

But even the illusionist was a "pawn" in a bigger game. I can not give anymore of the story away. It is something you need to experience from your own point of view.

Finally, there was another reason why I enjoyed the book - even though it made me feel uncomfortable. The author used Patrick Bowers to speak directly to the readers through some of his comments. For example when he was talking to another agent, he says, "Jurors love motives. So do people who read mystery novels and thrillers. Without a motive we feel cheated. The plot needs to make sense." As uncomfortable as I felt, the plot indeed made sense.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Interested in True Crime?

If you are interested in True Crime, you might enjoy this post. The title of the post is 10 Books About Real World Crimes. Here is a peek into the books you will find in this post: Truman Capote, In Cold Blood ; Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry, Helter Skelter; Corey Mitchell, Savage Son; Terry Sullivan and Peter T. Maiken, Killer Clown; Dr. E. R. Milner, The Lives and Times of Bonnie and Clyde; Kathryn Harrison, While They Slept; Dave Cullen, Columbine; Pat Brown and Bob Andelman, The Profiler; Paul LaRosa, Tacoma Confidential; and Dr. Robi Ludwig and Mark Birkbeck, Till Death Do Us Part.

The website (Forensic Colleges) is also the place to go if you are interested in more information about a career in Forensics. Check it out!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

This Saturday: SMART Car Rally For A Cause

"Part of reading is education."


I learned from a friend about this SMART Car rally for a cause. It is the Texas Discovery Garden Butterfly Rally. This car is called Junebug and she willed be joined by others to help promote the Dallas Green Festival on Saturday, September 18th. Part of the rally will involve the release of Butterflies. Money raised will help support the programs at Texas Discovery Garden.

Here are some of the goals of the program: teach math in nature, the study of botany and insects, the science of soil, composting and how to lead “greener” lives in the real world through direct, hands-on experiences.

To learn more about the event and make a pledge to support this organization check out Texas Discovery Gardens . org .

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Confessions of a NOOK Newbie

It's Wednesday night and I am at my local Barnes and Noble for a meeting. There is a group of other people here with their NOOKs. Some have their fraps which is a favorite of my wife and daughter but I just have a soda - I never acquired a taste for coffee and other coffee products. Then it is my turn so I stand up and say, "Hi!! My name is ... misterreereeder and I'm a NOOK newbie"

Does this sound similar to one of those television portrayals of an AA meeting?

Well ..., seriously, I am a NOOK Newbie but I have not gone to any "NN" meetings yet - they are scheduled Wednesday evenings at the local Firewheel Barnes and Noble. And I do not really intend to make lightly of them because I know I can learn something there I do not know. But I can tell you what I have learned from personal experience.

It took me a while to decide to get a NOOK - it was not a hasty decision. I like to read but I am the type of person that likes to hold the book in my hand and turn the pages. This is one of the reasons I had a hard time deciding to "take the step" but also ended up being part of the reason I ended up getting the NOOK.

Sometimes I borrow books from the library but I have a lot of books that I bought or were given to me. Every once in awhile I have to go through my books and weed them out - and donate them to my favorite local public library - to reduce the clutter. If you know me you may recognize this trait in me - always seeming to have a clutter.

Since the NOOK is so small it does cause much a clutter - no matter how many books I have on it. And I have so many books at my fingertips in the NOOK.

Back to non-ebooks, whether I borrow them or not, I HATE to mark up the book or dog ear places in the book when I want to remember a place - it just does not seem right. Well ..., with the ebook and the NOOK, I have no problem bookmarking pages to return to later and highlighting in them. The highlighting feature is great. The only disappointment here is this feature is not available for My Documents.

Oh ... you do not know about My Documents on the NOOK? Whenever I get an ebook / PDF file from another source, I can sideload (kind of like download) it to my NOOK into My Documents folder. Then I can read it like I would any other ebook but the highlighting feature is NOT available.

These are some of the observations I have made on my own. I am sure if I ever go to any of the NN meetings I could learn other fascinating stuff about the NOOK. In the meantime I will just "KEEP ON READING"!!!

PS. - Another great feature is I can download some free books from Barnes and Noble into the NOOK. I just got a collection from one of my early favorites - Sherlock Holmes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

MRD Group Reads Henning Mankell


The September selection for our Mystery Reading Group was an author from Sweden - Henning Mankell. The title of the book was Faceless Killers. This is the first in a series - A Kurt Wallander Mystery.

Kurt Wallander is the detective in this mystery occurring in Sweden. He is called into an investigation of an uncommon murder in this community. An elderly farmer is murdered and his wife dies shortly thereafter. When Kurt starts his investigation he discovers there are secrets the murdered farmer had that his neighbors (and his wife) were not aware of. There are very few clues leading to the motive and reason for such a brutal attack but Kurts investigation examines any potential clue - even if they lead no where. That was one of the things that was both frustrating and interesting about this book. It was frustrating because a lot of potential clues lead no where. But it was interesting because you see how an investigation goes.

The other thing nice about the book was the refreshing change in the type of character. A lot of times the character is somewhat of a "super hero" - with no flaws. Kurt Wallander was just a guy - one with problems - a "normal" / "real" person.

So ... you are wondering how the group felt about the book? Well ... when we took a vote - it was six thumbs up and one thumb down. Several members of the group liked it so much that they have already started reading more books in the series. There was also talk about the Kurt Wallander mystery series on public tv.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Discovering More Texas Mystery Writers

That's right!!! I found another resource for finding Texas Mystery Writers. There is a group called the Mystery Writers of America and the Southwest Chapter includes mystery writers from Texas. A listing of the members can be found on their website http://www.mwasw.org/members.html. It provides where they are located and sometimes their websites and one of their latest books.

This is how I found out about this writer and her book. Rachel Brady is a Texas writer originally from Ohio. That is OK because we can't all be born in Texas.

Her book Final Approach for the most part takes place in Texas - this is where the investigation takes place. The sleuth is Emily Locke - also from Ohio. She is asked to come and assist in an investigation in Texas for several reasons.

First, she has a previous connection with a former police detective now turned private investigator. His name is Richard Cole. The second reason she was asked to assist was because of her hobby - sky diving. And finally the other reason she was asked is because the investigation involves a missing kid. This has to be the most driving reason for her involvement in the case.

She was previously involved in helping to locate the missing son of friends of hers. Richard Cole was involved in the case as a police detective at the time as well. They found and returned the missing boy to his family.

The author successfully blends the current situation with things that happened in the previous situation. As a matter of fact we learn a lot about what has happened prior to this story and now that are entwined together in more ways than one.

Even though the boy in the past case was found and returned successfully, justice was not satisfied and the person responsible was never prosecuted. We also learn that Emily feels the reason the person responsible did not get prosecuted was somehow because of then police detective Richard Cole. We also learn that Emily lost her husband and daughter in what was ruled as a boating accident.

Emily comes down to Texas to do some skydiving at Gulf Coast Skydiving. While she is there she is looking for any connections to the latest kidnapping to follow up on a possible lead by the PI. He had discovered some unused tickets for skydiving close to the position where the missing kid was last seen.

This story for the most part is seen and told as a first person narrative by Emily. It is interesting what she learns and who she suspects during her part of the investigation. I can't say much more about the story because the story is best told by Emily.

I have to say I enjoyed the book and it's Texas connections. And it was more than just the Texas connections that made the book interesting. As I learned from the author's website - Emily Locke will be returning in the 2nd book this December. STAY TUNED!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Another Chance Read

The Ovary Wars by Mike Hogan. This is not something I would typically pick up to read. It has an interesting title and an interesting cover. But those alone would not have gotten my attention. What got my attention was the blurb at the top of the book - How does a terrorist kill four million people? He stops them from being born. Now ... that got my attention!!!

How does something like this start? Well, it starts as a think tank type project tackling a growing problem - a population that is growing too fast and living too long. And when certain rules are thrown out - like morals - it can lead to problems. That is what happens here.

An American mathematician comes up with the idea and takes it overseas to get developed in an atmosphere not as restricted as in the USA. When the project shows success it is used by unscrupulous people to attack the USA. The results - women of child-bearing age are no longer having children - their ovaries have actually dried up. Also as a result, the economy goes haywire - starting with the medical staff who work with pregnant women, then doctors who deal with pediatrics, and industries dealing with baby products. This also causes a lot of new cases of depression and suicides.

But how did this happen? The President of the US has his staff trying to determine what the cause of this phenomenon is - a fluke or a terrorist attack. Agents Emily Chandler and Pete Vangard are on the job and their motives are entirely different. Emily Chandler is driven by additional anger because she will not be able to have the children she has been putting off because of the job. Their investigation keeps leading to dead ends when key people in the investigation die. When it becomes apparent that prechild bearing aged females were NOT affected by this unknown attack, more emphasis is placed in the investigation to discover and prevent additional attacks.

This is something you will have to read. It is more than a story about the investigation. It also follows the lives of a family - the family of a good-hearted doctor and how it affects his practice, family, and ultimately his death.

Is there hope? READ and check it out!!! (HINT: Revenge is sweet!!!)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Announcing September Workshop for Dallas MWSWA

DALLAS MWA SOUTHWEST


September 4th Workshop: Critiques

For our September workshop, we'll break out into small groups that will include at least one experienced writer. Anyone interested in a critique should bring 5 copies of any 5 pages from your WIP (work in progress,) which you will read out loud to your group. Some of you will choose to read, others will only critique, but everyone will learn something.

The Dallas MWASW group meets the first Saturday of each month at Texas Land & Cattle, 812 South Central Expressway, Richardson , TX 75080 . Meeting time is 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. There is a $5.00 door fee, cash only. All who attend are invited to remain for lunch. Contact information: rebecca@rebeccarussell.com.

Personal NOTE (by misterreereeder): I am not a writer but I am definitely interested in finding out about what some of the local writers are writing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Political Thriler - The Hornbrook Prophecy

I am again challenged to read a book different from what I typically read. This one is a political thriller by Robert Wickes and it is called The Hornbrook Prophecy. This is from a review I read that caught my interest - In this taut, tense, uncompromising novel of suspense, author Robert V. Wickes deftly blurs the lines between fiction and reality leaving readers to wonder whether The Hornbrook Prophecy is fiction, or prediction. From its ominous Prologue set in ancient Rome to the shocking final scenes in the nation’s capital, The Hornbrook Prophecy reveals an uncomfortably and terrifyingly-real plot that will leave readers captivated until the final, explosive pages.

One thing for sure, this certainly presents some things that would be of interest for anybody who likes political thrillers. It does not matter what your views are and you may have similar (or dissimilar) views. There are some things I could see as I read that I certainly could identify as being too familiar with right now.

You have those politicians who are simply incompetent but keep getting reelected because they have been able to convince their constituents that they need them in office. You also have some politicians who are trying to do their best for their constituents. You also have some groups who are simply being mislead and do things that are not productive for society.

After reading this book, I can only say I hope things do not get this bad here in America. I have faith there are enough intelligent and caring people that things will not go this far bad before things have to be fixed like they had to be in the book.

Why read this book? One thing for sure, the book gives some food for thought. What are likely to be the results of reading this fictional account? Some will definitely dismiss it as fiction. Others will use it as a catalyst to become involved or more involved politically.

There were things I enjoyed about the way the author wrote. He used various references to different people and characters like Will Rogers and some of his quotes. He also referred to Don Quixote through his characters. And there were characters in the book I liked.

Elgin LaGrande was a Lieutenant Governor in Alabama and in spite of his position in the state government was very interested in doing things outside of the political arena to improve the lives of his constituents.

Also interesting was Senator Hornbrook - a respected independent. While his ideas were not always shared by me, his interest in not just his constituents but his country were something I liked.

There were also those persons who were not directly involved in politics. Their interest was in keeping their freedoms and control of their lives. At the same time they were still willing to help others in need.

There was a quote in the book that I liked. It was made by Albert Jay Nock. He said, "There are two methods, or means, and only two, whereby man's needs and desires can be satisfied. One is the production and exchange of wealth; this is the economic means. The other is the uncompensated appropriation of wealth produced by others; this is the political means." This is a provocative thought. Is there some truth in it? Yes ... but I think both methods are needed - with balance!!! What do you think???

Sunday, August 15, 2010

MRD Group Goes "Over The Pond" for August Selection


You heard it right!!! Our Mystery Reading Discussion Group went "over the pond" for our August Selection. Not literally - but the book we read by Peter Lovesey is called The Circle and it takes place on the other side of the ocean in a place called Chichester. It was recommended for our group to be read by our informal leader - Mary Anne.

The mystery in this book seems to revolve around the circle - a group of aspiring writers who get together and meet once a month. It starts with the murder of one of its guest speakers - a book publisher. The method of the murder is arson. The first suspect the police have for the murder is the chairman of the group who was supposed to have a book published by the mans company. Several of the members and the newest (not yet a member Bob) sets out to prove the chairman is not guilty. Things get somewhat complicated when there is an attempt at murder of Bob and murder of another circle member - these were done through arson as well. This causes the police to reconsider their investigation since their primary suspect had been in jail. The question is - why are members of the "circle" being targeted and is the person responsible a member of the "circle"?

Our "group" / the Mystery Reading Discussion group at Firewheel Mall did the typical rating of the book. There were 10 of us who got together to discuss it. One person abstained from the vote since she did not get a chance to read it. Of the other nine, the vote was unanimous - 9 thumbs up. What were the reasons it was given these thumbs up? I suspect part of the reason was the British humor in the book. It is the dry kind of humor - not the joke kind. Another thing that was interesting were the variety of characters / members of the circle - and their involvement in the mystery. One of the characters started writing a blog about the mystery. Some of the information released in the blog showed there was a leak in the police department.

As far as our group is concerned, some figured out who the person who was responsible earlier than others who were surprised. All in all though the group enjoyed the mystery and some are anxious to read more by this author. For more information about this author you can check out his website at http://peterlovesey.com/.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

New Profile Photo


Have to show it off!!! My daughter did it for me using Photoshop!!! It was a surprise!!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Acknowledging Educators

It is that time of the year. Preparations are being made for the start of the new school year. With this in mind I want to -again- acknowledge and say thanks to educators and teachers like a previous blog from last year: Reading Brought To You By.html.

This year I want to share a couple of more experiences. First, it was several years ago - more than 10 years ago. I was in between jobs and doing work with a temp work company called MANPOWER. On a couple of my day assignments, I was placed in schools - one was a new school about to open and another was a school that had been remodeled. My job varied and included moving and setting up new equipment and furniture in the classrooms, etc.

While I was there, some of the teachers were coming in to set up their individual classrooms. I was amazed at the ages of some of these teachers. I could not remember having such "young" teachers when I was a student (I will not say how many years ago)!!!

Fast forward to this year!!! I attended a meeting where time was dedicated to service awards for educators - some teachers and other administrators in the school district. At one point I thought I heard them recognize an assistant principal at an elementary school for 25 years. When she walked up to get her pen, I told myself I must have misheard and they must have said 5 years because surely she must have been in elementary school 25 years ago. Well ... there were several others recognized just like this and I could not believe how young they looked.

Granted I was sitting in the back and I did not get a close up view of the people being recognized - not to mention my eyesight is not always the best!!! But this just confirms one of the things I have learned about most of the people in the education field - they are DEDICATED!!! So once again, I would like to say THANKS to those who care enough to help educate our kids.


PS. For those of you educators checking my spelling and grammar to see how well you have done, **grin**, let me apologize if all my I's are not dotted and all my t's are not crossed. I may even have a few hanging participles (?). I really DID learn but may be a little sloppy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Oceanview Publishing Presents ... Book of Nathan

Oceanview Publishing is introducing a new novel that is the work of two authors - Curt Weeden and Richard Marek. It is called Book of Nathan and it is an interesting collaboration of the two authors.

The prologue of the book introduces two characters who play a very important roll in the story.

The first person is Rick Bullock. He had been an advertising executive and his wife had worked with the homeless. As a result of her influence and her untimely death, he left his job with the advertising company and became the director of a homeless shelter.

The second character introduced in the prologue was "Zeus". Rick knows "Zeus" from his work in the homeless shelter. Zeus was a big, unsightly man who was under developed mentally. His role in the story is mainly as a catalyst - to get Rick involved in an investigation. You see, "Zeus" is thrown in jail because an extreme evangelist is murdered and he is the suspect.

This book is a mystery that uses a blend of comedy to tell the story. Rick has put together an unlikely team to help him investigate and defend Zeus. First there is Maurice Tyson - a resident of Gateway 0 the homeless shelter where Rick works. He is the only one who can truly understand and communicate with Zeus. Then there is Doc Waters. He is a down on his luck very intelligent professor who is out of sorts with the mafia. Speaking of the mafia, Manny Maglio, a civic minded mafia boss, is helping to finance the investigation. It isn't that he is really interested in the investigation but there are strings attached. The strings attached come in the person of his dead brother's daughter - Twyla Tharp. She is in prostitution and Manny wants Rick's help getting her into a reputable business. She has an interview with Disney in Florida and this is where Zeus is being held. Finally there is a little known Jewish lawyer named Yigal Rosenblatt. He and his firm took on the case for the attention this big time case will bring to them. His interest quickly shifts when he becomes aware of Twyla.

Another source of support (and influence) quickly becomes apparent - tycoon Arthur Silversteen. Rick learns he is more interested in finding the Book of Nathan - a lost book of the Bible. He also learns the murder of the evangelist may be connected to this book as well. The evangelist was preparing for a TV rally in which he was going to reveal the secrets from this find. It was possible this find might be contrary to the views of some of the extreme religious groups.

Rather than let on to any more of the story, let me mention one of the humorous situations in this story to whet your interest / appetite. It relates to a weinermobile look-alike and the headquarters of Johnson & Johnson. (Hey ... wasn't one of the authors of this book a retired from Johnson & Johnson?)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Announcing August Workshop For Dallas MWASW

Dallas MWASW Meeting

First Saturday of each month
Texas Land & Cattle
812 South Central Expressway
Richardson, TX 75080


Next Meeting: August 7

Packing the Wow in Your First Five Pages
Award-winning author Gretchen Craig believes that in order to convince an overburdened agent or editor to ask for the whole manuscript, we have to write a sparkling first five pages. Using excerpts from successful novels (handouts), Gretchen will survey and analyze how the authors incorporated setting, tone and so much more in their first five pages—and how we can do it, too. Gretchen Craig has two mainstream novels with Kensington Zebra and enjoys sharing her knowledge about the craft of writing with others who share her passion.

The Dallas MWASW group meets the first Saturday of each month at Texas Land & Cattle. Meeting time is 9:30-11:30 AM. There is a $5 door fee, cash only. All who attend are invited to remain for a chance to network and eat lunch. For more information, contact Rebecca Russell at rebecca@rebeccarussell.com.

We've begun a few fun traditions geared toward honoring accomplishments, both big and small. Members with sales, please contact Rebecca Russell at rebecca@rebeccarussell.com with the release date, name of publisher and title of the book. She would also appreciate future workshop suggestions.

P.S. You do NOT have to be a MWA member to attend.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Surprise Introduction to Another Texas Author

I was completely surprised when this book was "dropped" in my lap. Well..., it did not actually drop in my lap - it was "dropped" in my mailbox. It was sent to me by Amy Currie at Phenix and Phenix Literary Publicists. There are several reasons this book was a surprise. First reason is the book is by a Texas author - Barbara DeShong. Another reason is because the sleuth in the book Too Rich & Too Thin is a Texas sleuth. Her name is Jessica LeFave. Not only is she from Texas but she is also a Texas History Buff. And of course the book and mystery is set in Texas. If you know anything about me, this is a winning combination in my "book".

Just a little more about Jessica LeFave. She is a psychologist and the book / "story" is told from her "first" person point of view. The reason I mention this is because the point of view tells a lot about the person telling the story. At first it is a little difficult following the story but this is one way the author reveals a little about the character's personality.


She is a profiler for the police and this is how she first becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of a porn movie producer and her husband. She has other reasons to be interested in this murder. The porn movie producer was a client / patient of Jessica's husband. He died recently in what was ruled as an accident but Jessica does not think it was. She believes there must be a connection with one of his patients. She pursues this investigation feeling she will discover the connection that lead to the death of her husband.

The story is a mystery with a mix of humor. The sleuth uses her knowledge of Texas History, her experience with showing horses, and a little luck to solve the mystery. Plus she gets help from a few of her friends - including former and current possible love interests.

If you enjoy a light murder mystery, you should try this one out. Plus if you want to learn more about the author, check out her website at http://mysteryshrink.com/.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Texas Mystery - Texas Memories

That's right!!! I picked up the next book by Kathryn Casey and I am continuing to get familiar with Lieutenant Sarah Armstrong of the Texas Rangers. I am also learned a little more about what I suspect is the author's style.

The title of the book (in this case Blood Lines) plays an integral part of the story. It is introduced in a manner that seems unrelated to the mystery itself but one can see how it plays out later in the cases Sarah is involved in. Blood lines is introduced in relation to Maggie's horse. (Just a reminder, Maggie is Sarah's daughter.) The horse is early in it's pregnancy and has become sick. The doctor / vet suspects a bacterial infection in the blood. This infection not only threatens Maggie's horse but the baby the horse is carrying. Some of the possible consequences of the infection include crippling the horse and its baby through possible loss of sight and even death. It is interesting how this concept also applies to the cases Sarah will work on in this book.

After the last book in which her daughter and her mother were taken and almost murdered by the serial killer, Sarah took time off to reevaluate and spend time with her family. It has been about a year!!! Her time at work has been limited to a few hours at home reviewing some case files.

At the urging of her boss (and with some support from her mother and daughter) she has decided to return to work. She is immediately drawn into two separate cases. The first involved what appeared to be a suicide of a well off oil company business executive. But the sister of the victim insists that this was in no way a suicide. The second case involves a teen music idol who is being stalked and threatened by an unknown assailant. This has in effect crippled / disrupted her during her life - both on stage and off stage.

While Sarah has some suspects early on in her investigation, it requires more investigation to actually pin down the cases with proof. The process she takes in doing this is one of the other things that makes this mystery interesting to read.

Of course there is another thing that makes this interesting to me - the memories it stirs up. Built in the story, there are descriptions of pre-rodeo and rodeo events that bring back memories. Also there are descriptions of places (Rice University, the Medical Center, the underground downtown, and roadways to name a few) that also bring back memories.

These are just some of the elements in her style that I've come to expect and realize after reading the second book in this series. Have you seen any others? Let me know. I can't wait to check out book number three when it comes out in the fall.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Reading A New Texas Author

Disclaimer: The term "new" is relative. Kathryn Casey is an established author but she is a new to me since this is the first time I have read her. She is a journalist who has written true crime books and two books (with the third coming out in fall of 2010) in a mystery series featuring Sarah Armstrong - a profiler with the Texas Rangers. Her web site is http://www.kathryncasey.com/.

Now ..., let me tell you about the book I read - Singularity. It is the first in the series and introduces Sarah Armstrong. As I mentioned before, she is a profiler with the Texas Rangers and works out of the Greater Houston area. For those who know me, you can imagine how excited I was since I love Texas mysteries and my original stomping grounds was the Houston area. Anyway ... back to Sarah. She was married to another Texas Ranger who died before this book takes place. She lives with her daughter and her mother on a small ranch.

The term "singularity" was first introduced in the book by Sarah's daughter Maggie. She is doing a science fair project and it is on "singularity". As she describes it in the book, it is "the center of a black hole - the vortex." "Some scientists think it rips apart stars and gobbles them up. But others think the stars get caught in the vortex and it crunches them down to space dust and spits most of it back out. But it's destruction for any star that gets too close."

Now you may be wondering what stars and vortexes have to do with a Texas Ranger in this story? It is the concept!!!

The book opens with a murder in Galveston for which Sarah is called into to investigate. Some other influential people want to tie the murder to the wife of the man who was murdered but Sarah sees it differently. She does not see it as a murder for hire situation but the work of somebody with a truly evil mind. She even believes this is the work of a serial killer and starts her investigation with this in mind.

It isn't long before she finds similarities in a previous murder of an older lady in the small town of Bardwell. When another similar murder of a doctor occurs in Fort Worth, she is certain of a connection. And it isn't too long afterwards that a leak of information to the press about her investigation leads to letters from the killer to her at her office. This is where the concept of singularity is related - as she gets closer to the truth, she gets drawn into the killer's attention.

I do not want to let on how far it goes because that could take away your incentive to read the book for yourself. One thing I will tell you is that I am definitely going to read more by this author. What can I say? This definitely meets my criteria for the kinds of mysteries I like to read - Texas author, Texas Sleuth, and Texas mystery location.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

MRD Group Selection For July


As you may know, there is a group of us who meet at Barnes & Noble - Firewheel Mall to discuss a mystery book we preselected. This month's selection is called Alone and was written by Lisa Gardner. I have to admit I lost track and showed up a week early for our discussion. Was it because the book was so good that I got in a hurry? Or was it because I just was not paying attention and did not realize the 7th was the first Wednesday of the month and not the second Wednesday of the month? I will let you decide. I will also let you know what the group thought about the book later in this post.

To review this book, I will acquaint you with some of the characters. The title word - alone - has a lot to do with more than one of them.

Bobby Dodge is a law enforcement officer - specifically a State Trooper for the state of Massachusetts. In addition to this he has been a member of the Massachusetts State Police Special Tactics and Operations (STOP) Team for over six years. This is their version of a SWAT team and he is a highly skilled sniper.

His team is called out to a house where shots have been reported as fired. Part of the team has not arrived and he is doing what he is supposed to do as a sniper when he sets up his scope and rifle to observe. As he observes he sees a man with a gun and a woman holding her son close to her. The man takes the kid away from the woman and points the gun at the woman. Being alone, Bobby Dodge makes a judgement that the man is going to shoot the woman and he shots the man before he does. Although he feels justified in his decision to shoot, he is second guessed and criticized for it. The man he shot is the son of a very prominent judge who threatens him unless he testifies the lady was responsible for the fight at the house.

The woman who was threatened by the man with the gun was a previous victim as a child. She was kidnapped and raped over a period of time. She was also left alone in the woods - in a hole during this time. Although she was finally rescued, she never seemed to recover completely. She finally got married to this guy and they had a baby. She had a hard time dealing with her son and he had some undiagnosed physical/medical problem that also contributed to her sense of helplessness.

Her feeling of helplessness increased after her husband was killed because his parents are trying to get their grandson away from her. They suggest to others that the kids' medical / health problems are caused by her in some way. The judge uses his powers to isolate her in as many ways as he can.

There are several more instances of "aloneness" mentioned in the book and there is a whole lot that happen as well - including murders. In my opinion, if what I have mentioned above "sparks" any interest, you would be losing out if you do not read the book for yourself. And a police detective in the story - D.D. Warren - is a repeat character in other Lisa Gardner books. I know I am likely to read more.

Speaking of reading more, let me give you the vote of our Discussion group on this book. There were nine in attendance. Six people gave the book a thumbs up (of which 5 said they would read more by this author). Two of the others were not comfortable giving the book a thumbs up but could not give a thumbs down either. The last person did not read the book and abstained from the vote.

Oh incidentally ..., I recently read a book by Tami Hoag called Bad Acts. If you liked that book I think you will like this one too.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Author Signing - Patricia Springer

Patricia Springer will be signing her book "Lethal Charmer" at Legacy Books (an Independent Book Store) 7300 Dallas Pkwy in Plano, Texas on Tues., July 13th, 7pm.

This is a True Crime Mystery. If you would like to see my review of the book check out http://misterreereeder.blogspot.com/2010/06/walk-down-different-path.html.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Following Up With Anna Pigeon

As you might know, the first book I read by Nevada Barr was Track of The Cat - a mystery occurring in Texas featuring Anna Pigeon. Since then my daughter has developed an interest in the author (and the character). As a matter of fact, when I came home today, I learned that my wife and daughter went to the book store today. Guess what my daughter picked up? More Nevada Barr / Anna Pigeon books. She really likes this author and character.

A little over a week ago I was in between books and my daughter said here - and handed me her copy of Borderline to read. When I finished the book she told me to come to her room and she picked out Blood Lure for me to read. Judging from the collection she is gathering I suppose you can we share an interest in the same author - Like Father Like Daughter.

Chronologically I am no longer following the books in order but that is OK. Borderline occurs in and near the Big Bend National Park. Anna is sort of on a vacation with her husband. It was kind of forced on her after her latest assignment at Isle Royal National Park where she was helping with a study of wolves - my daughter's favorite animal. Anyhow, their plans are to go down the Rio Grande. As they go down the river there are a few things that happen they were not planning on. First was an attempt to rescue a stranded longhorn. Next was the wrecking of the raft they were going down the river on. As a result of the misfortune with the raft, they discovered and rescued a near death pregnant woman from the river. They were unable to save the woman but Anna performed an amateur C-section on the dead woman in order to save the baby.

Follow so far?? Well ..., their need to get out of the gorge has increased with the addition of the baby to their group. The guide for the trip decides to climb out and phone for help. Before she can get help however, Anna and others in the group see her fall after she is shot. It is unclear why she is shot but the shooting doesn't stop there. One of the other members of the group is also shot as she is carrying the baby. This definitely causes some confusion.

In case you are wondering, the theme Borderline comes into play in several different ways. It is interesting how the author uses this theme. See how many ways you can see it playing out when you read it.

The other book I read - Blood Lure - actually occurs earlier chronologically. Anna is helping with another study - this one on Grizzly Bears at Glacier National Park. Whereas the other book occurred near the border on the south side of the states, this one occurred near the border on the north side of the states. While out doing their studies, their campsite is attacked by a bear, one of their team disappears, and while they are trying to find him, a murdered lady's body is found.

Most of the manpower in this park (little as it is) have been put into action somewhere else so Anna is asked to help out with the investigation. The murdered lady is identified as the (step) mother of the team member who was missing (but found later). There are lots of questions but the answers are few and lacking. In addition some of the things occurring are hard to explain. There are a few theories as to who committed the murder but proof is hard to come by.

It was interesting to learn about the cause of the murder (?) towards the end of the book. Again ..., this is something you should not miss.

Both of these books are definitely GOOD fiction but you would be surprised to see some of the issues brought up.

I know I am psyched up for more by this author. I am glad my daughter has the interest too - we can share books. And to think - another Anna Pigeon mystery should be coming out next month.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Expectations - Pray For Silence


It was not long ago when I read Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo. I was eagerly awaiting the release of the next book in this Amish mystery series featuring Police Chief Kate Burkholder. Well ... Pray For Silence was just released and the wait is over!!! Now that I have read it I have to say it was not exactly what I expected.

And that is how the story starts off - not according to expectations. Here is why! When you think of an Amish community, you think of the simple life - almost a paradise. (I do anyway.) There should be few distractions and none (or little) of the typical English stresses. By the way, in case you do not know, the English is how the Amish refer to those outside of their faith / community.

Anyhow, the story starts off with the discovery of an entire Amish household being brutally murdered. The big question is why? And the related question is who did it? There is little to point to the reason or who did it. The investigation goes slow but little by little possible clues come up.

The chief of police, Kate Burkholder, has been on both sides - she was raised in an Amish family but she left the Amish community when she came of age. Now she is back serving both parts of the community - the English and the Amish. This presents some challenge since she is now outside of the Amish community but is still seen as an outsider by the other part of the community as well. The Amish part of her struggles with the murder of the family and complicates the law enforcement side of her.

In addition to this struggle, she has a struggle with personal feelings she has for John Tomasetti - an investigator with the state who helped in the previous book. Both have their share of problems and neither of them feel comfortable sharing their personal feelings with each other. Put them together with a case to solve, they both try to concentrate on the case and avoid their obvious feelings for each other.

There are a number of possibilities they have to examine to determine the reason for the murder. At first it was thought to be a murder/suicide which seems so unlikely within the Amish lifestyle. This was quickly ruled out when it became apparent the suicide was staged.

I think it best for you to see all the possibilities as they are being considered in the story so I will not give any more. These are parts that make the story different than what was expected. Even so (and maybe because of this as well), I really found the story interesting - you might too!!!

In case you want to check out more on this author, she has a web page. It is located at http://www.lindacastillo.com/.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Announcing July Workshop for Dallas MWASW

DALLAS MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA --SW

July 3rd Workshop: Books on Writing—Review and Recycle

Bring your favorite resource books and share with the group how they helped improve your writing. We're also giving you the chance to recycle the resource books that for whatever reason failed to inspire. We all have unique learning styles, so what didn't work for you might be the perfect fit for someone else. Pass it on!

The Dallas MWASW group meets the first Saturday of each month at Texas Land & Cattle, 812 South Central Expressway, Richardson , TX 75080 . Meeting time is 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. There is a $5.00 door fee, cash only. All who attend are invited to remain for lunch.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Second Chances


Second Chances!!! No ... it is not the name of the book. As you can see to the right, the title of the book is Prior Bad Acts by Tami Hoag. However you may recall our Mystery Reading Discussion Group at Firewheel Barnes and Noble read an earlier book by this author and I did a blog on it. There were mixed opinions on the other book and my wife said we should have read a later book by the author. In my opinion the other book was okay so I decided to give Tami Hoag another chance. Why not - my wife has all her books and I was needing something to read at the time. So I took a second chance!!!

But if you think about it, this book kind of addresses some second chances in the story. I do not want to give away the story because there was too much to miss if you do not read it. (Incidentally, I highly suggest you read it for yourself.) The accused in a horrible triple homicide gets a break / second chance when the judge declares "prior bad acts" cannot be introduced in the upcoming trial. This unpopular decision ticks a lot of people off and she becomes a victim of an attack because of it.

A detective is assigned to investigating the attack and he thinks the decision by the judge was a lousy one as well. But he decides to give the judge a "second chance" as well. Of course his partner "sees" that the case has become personal to him but this is only a small part of the story.

The man accused of the triple homicide escapes through a series of chaotic circumstances and mistakes. He too has an opportunity / a second chance. Of course he messes up his chances through actions he takes while on the run. I will not say more about this but it just shows that in some cases "prior bad acts" do lead to others. What is interesting is what is learned by the end of the book about the attack on the judge and the triple homicide. There are a lot of theories that pop up in the book. If this has piqued your interest - GOOD!!! You will just have to read the book for yourself. See how many second chances you can find.

It's All About Reading!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Walk Down A Different Path


One type of book I do not usually read is the True Crime genre. Lethal Charmer is a book that belongs in this category. It is written by a Texas author - Patricia Springer - so I figured I would give it a shot. In fact (and that is a characteristic of True Crime stories cause they are not fiction), this book is set in the north Texas area.

The story centers around murder that occurred in Fort Worth in Feb 2005. In fact it was a multiple murder of a pregnant woman, her unborn child, and her young son. It made the news not only here but all over. Maybe you heard some of the names of people involved in the story. Stephen Barbee? Lisa Underwood? Jayden Underwood? Detective R. A, Gallaway? These are just a few of them.

The book starts off with a description of what happened that night.

The rest of the book is full of information including a look at the early life of the murderer, what happened leading up to the murder, the investigation of the murder, and the trial for the murder. It also delves into the lives of other persons involved in the story. So why did the murder occur? The murdered woman claimed the unborn baby had to belong to the murderer. Later tests revealed the baby was NOT. The tragedy could have been prevented had there been a paternity test. But since the murderer did hot want his new wife to know, this test probably never would have been made.

Overall I thought the book was a good read. I am not a typical reader of this genre but I would read more by this author.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Other Things I've Read


I read for the fun of it. When I started blogging, I started it for the fun of it as well. Part of my intent with the blog was to have a place showing everything I read - mysteries that is!!! I wanted the reviews I write to be a little creative. Sometimes it is hard to be creative and it is those times it is hard / not fun to blog about what I read. So today's blog is just going to be a chronicle about some of the books I read lately.

My daughter recently picked up a book by an author I enjoy and I was happy to learn she enjoyed it too!!! The book is called Winter Study and it is written by Nevada Barr. The thing about the book that attracted her was the wolf on the cover - she has a thing about wolves. Well ... I finally picked up the book from the stack she read and read it. I enjoyed it as I have others in the Anna Pigeon series. Anna Pigeon is a National Wildlife Services (NWS) worker and she runs into these mysteries at different parks she is working at. This time it is at the Isle Royal National Park in Lake Superior. She has been chosen to be the NWS representative on this wolf study team and she learns just how cunning one of the animal species (man) really is. This is the 14th book in the series of 15 - with number 16 coming out this summer. (Oh ... by the way ... my daughter has since started reading other books in the series and enjoys them too!!!)

I recently let my mom read a couple of books by Cindy Daniel in her Death Warmed Over series. They are good, clean mysteries. She recently returned the books and brought me some to read. One of the books comes from Heartsong Presents Mysteries series. It is called Down Home and Deadly - a Sleuthing Sisters Mystery. It is written by Christine Lynxwiler, Jan Reynolds, & Sandy Gaskin. It involves some sisters who get drawn into solving mysteries / deaths / crimes much to the chagrin of the local law enforcement officer. Jean Stafford quits her job at a health club and starts her sister (Carly) start her restaurant business. On opening day she discovers a body in a car by the dumpster behind the diner. Needless to say she becomes involved in this investigation in spite of the objections by the local lawman. This book is similar to the Death Warmed Over series in that it is a good, clean mysteries. It features a family who has been brought up with some good Christian morals. Each chapter starts with a little old saying.

Finally, I also read the latest book in another series by an author I enjoy. It is called Monster In Miniature by Margaret Grace. Retired teacher Geraldine Porter continues her interest in miniatures and falls into another murder investigation. It is around Halloween and while looking at Halloween displays with her granddaughter they discover a "real dead body" in one of the displays. Geraldine along with the computer assistance from her granddaughter investigates the circumstances surrounding this murder. This is another one of those ez read mysteries and it is good.

KEEP ON READING!!!