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

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

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

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.