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!!!