Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Introduction to Derek Stillwater

Who is Derek Stillwater? I had no idea until I was introduced to him in this book The Fallen written by Mark Terry. I did not realize Derek was in two previous books - The Devil's Pitchfork and The Serpent's Kiss - so he has been around before.

To some, Derek Stillwater is thought to be dead. He is actually introduced in this book as Michael Gabriel - a part of the maintenance staff at a Cheyenne Resort near Colorado Springs. This is the site for a G8 Summit and Derek is undercover here. He was a member of Special Forces, a part of Homeland Security, and a specialist in biological and chemical weapons.

He is here in this time and place because of a potential threat by a previous enemy (and friend) who was also thought to be dead. His friend was a previous colleague named Richard Coffee and goes by the name of The Fallen Angel.

This was one of the things that made this interesting to read - it was hard to see a clear line between friend and foe / good and bad. Everybody on the "good" side is NOT necessarily good and everybody on the "bad" side is NOT necessarily bad. This is one of the reasons Derek is thought to be dead - in some circles he is considered an enemy and potential terrorist. Only a few know he is still alive and only a few know he is where he is at because of the threat on the G8 summit. Also interesting is how in some cases "friends" and "foes" will have to work together to get through this threat.

Richard Coffee knows how the system works since he used to be on the inside. This is how he is able to "crash" the party - that - and his ability to convince others to help him. He has recruited some on the inside and some on the "other" side.

Michael (IE., Derek) is virtually on his own. Even people on his side are not aware he is there to guard against the unthinkable. When a counterpart from the Russian side recognizes him, he must convince her he is there to help. They form a delicate alliance that will be important to the success of the mission. Saying it is delicate is putting it lightly. She must also come to grips that one of her own has become a member of the Fallen Angel's team.

The Fallen Angel and his colleagues are successful in capturing and isolating the world leaders. He makes his demands for the freedom of other terrorists. Little does anybody know just what is in stake.

The "good" guys are at somewhat of a disadvantage because they do not really know who is on their side and who is on the other side. I think the best way to experience the book is by reading it for yourself. As for myself, I plan to "go back to the beginning" - the beginning of the series that is. I am glad I got to get an early look at this book myself. I count myself as one of the new fans of Derek Stillwater but this was also great because it was not just a one man job to stop the threat - several others contributed to the success.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Mystery Theme - National Parks

If you check, you can probably find mysteries that cover about any theme you want. Here is one of my favorite mystery themes - National Parks.

My first introduction to a mystery in a National Park was by Nevada Barr. It was called Track of the Cat and it occurred in Texas - naturally!! There are plenty more Anna Pigeon (she is the sleuth) mysteries and they occur in places all over.

Another introduction to a mystery in a National Park was by Dana Stabenow. I was introduced to this series featuring Kate Shugak in a National Park in Alaska thru a Mystery Reading Discussion Group at Firewheel Mall Barnes and Noble.

Between these two authors there are a lot of books to read - see the lists below. But if you have others to suggest, please leave a comment.

Here is a list of the Anna Pigeon books -
1. Track of the Cat (1993) Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas
2. A Superior Death (1994) Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior, Michigan
3. Ill Wind (1995) Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado
4. Firestorm (1996) Lassen Volcanic National Park
5. Endangered Species (1997) Cumberland Island National Seashore of the coast of Georgia
6. Blind Descent (1998) Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico
7. Liberty Falling (1999) Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Monuments in New York City.
8. Deep South (2000) Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi
9. Blood Lure (2001) Glacier/Waterton National Peace Park in Montana
10. Hunting Season (2002) Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi
11. Flashback (2003) Dry Tortugas National Park, a grouping of tiny islands seventy miles off Key West
12. High Country (2004) Yosemite National Park in California
13. Hard Truth (2005) Rocky Mountain's National Park, Colorado
14. Winter Study (2008) Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior, Michigan
15. Borderline (2009) Big Bend National Park in Texas
16. Burn (August 2010) New Orleans, Louisiana

Here is the list of the Kate Shugak books -
1. A Cold Day for Murder (1992)
2. A Fatal Thaw (1992)
3. Dead in the Water (1993)
4. A Cold-blooded Business (1994)
5. Play With Fire (1995)
6. Blood Will Tell (1996)
7. Breakup (1997)
8. Killing Grounds (1998)
9. Hunter's Moon (1999)
10. Midnight Come Again (2000)
11. The Singing of the Dead (2001)
12. A Fine and Bitter Snow (2002)
13. A Grave Denied (2003)
14. A Taint in the Blood (2004)
15. A Deeper Sleep (2007)
16. Whisper to the Blood (February, 2009)
17. A Night Too Dark (scheduled for 2010)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Discussion Group Book For March - Death At La Fenice

This month's book was another surprise. It is called Death At La Fenice written by Donna Leon. It is the first Guido Brunetti mystery. Guido Brunetti is a commissario for the police in Venice and he is called into action when a popular conductor is found dead inbetween Acts at the opera. The conductor was poisoned and Guido must find out who is responsible. This book got an unanimous eight thumbs up from the group that met tonight. One person did not vote because they did not get a chance to read the book.

What are some of the possible reasons it was liked by the group? This book lets you travel to Venice without actually going there. It gives a very good description of the place and you feel like you are there. Another thing that the book does, it gives a good description of the characters - not just their looks but their relationships as well. A good example of this is the contrast of the way our detective relates to a female doctor at a party and the way the female doctor relates to his wife.

This book and author are highly recommended.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Mystery Themes - Travel

Thinking about travel? Mysteries and travel seem to go hand in hand. I was asked to find some of these and these mysteries involve travel in them.

Cozy Mystery List Blog - http://www.cozy-mystery.com/blog/tour-guide-travel-mystery-books.html. This lists several authors.

Mary Hudgins, Travel Mysteries - http://members.cox.net/mhudgins1/

Shady Grove Mysteries by Jackie Lynn - http://us.macmillan.com/author/jackielynn

Candy Calvert - http://www.cozy-mystery.com/Candy-Calvert.html

I know there have to be more of these but I just haven't found them yet. I am sure I have read individual books involving Tour Buses - for example: D.R. Meredith (Megan Clark series). If you have any to add to the list, please let me know.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Legal Thriller - Frame Up

I had the opportunity to preview Frame Up by author John F. Dobbyn. It is published by Oceanview Publishing and is scheduled for release on March 8th, 2010. This is the second book in the series featuring Michael Knight and Lex Devlin. The first book in the series was called Neon Dragon. I have not had the opportunity to read the first book in the series yet.

Michael Knight and his friend John McKendrick went to law school together. After law school they took different paths - Michael went to work in the US Attorney's office and John went to work for a mobster lawyer. Michael had hopes his friend would "get out" of the dangerous position he was in as a lawyer for a mobster.

One day he was going to have lunch with his friend. He was also expecting some news from Michael as well. When he approached the car his friend was in, the automobile exploded. When he woke up in the hospital later, he learned the car exploded with his friend in it - and his friend did NOT survive.

After he went to the closed casket funeral for his friend, he returned to work. He was a partner in the Devlin and Knight law firm. His partner asked him to ride with him and they went to a church. It was here Knight learned of a curious relationship between his partner Lex, a church official Monsignor Ryan, and a mob boss Mr Devlin. In spite of their differences, they had a relationship / friendship that dated back many years ago as kids.

The purpose of the meeting turns out to be hired as a lawyer to defend the son of the mob boss. Although he has not been arrested or charged yet, they learn he will be arrested for the murder of Knight's friend. After hearing assurances that the son is NOT involved with the mob and did NOT kill John, Knight comes to an agreement to take him on as a client. Knight is determined to find out who killed John and why.

This just sets the story up so far. I do not want to give away the story but let me share some thoughts I had as I read the story.

I have heard it said that lawyers have tricks up their sleeves - kind of like magicians. In this story, Knight is not the only lawyer with tricks up his sleeve but he has something else in his favor as well - "cajones". It seems he has more than his fair share of successes at bluffing his way through situations when he is investigating.

And have you heard the phrase "we have angels watching over us"? In Knight's case, he certainly seems to have angels watching over him - like when he survived the exploding car bomb that was supposed to kill his friend. But I do not think it was angels watching over and protecting him when three attempts are made on his life. I can't see angels using guns and bullets and killing.

Finally, I enjoyed reading about some of the relationships in this book. I mentioned the relationship between Knight's partner, the church official, and the mobster boss. It was interesting how this relationship developed and evolved. There were also interesting relationships between Knight and his partner as well as between Knight and McKendrick.

Now my final "tease". It probably is apparent that the title Frame Up refers to the fact that somebody is trying to frame the mob boss' son. There is more to the title and you need to read the book to find out what it is about.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday Mystery Theme - CATS

The mystery theme for this Monday is CAT. I am not particularly a cat fan myself but have read some mystery books that feature cats in them. One of my favorites is a series by Leann Sweeney.

Here is a list of some mystery writers who write these books and their cats.

From MysteryBookCats.com http://www.mysterybookcats.com/bookindex.html

From Cozy-Mystery.com http://www.cozy-mystery.com/blog/kittens-cats-and-cozies-cat-mysteries.html

From The Readers Advisor The Readers Advisor

By the way, if you have suggestions for themes I would be open to them!!!