Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Rule of Nine by Steve Martini (Review #2)

The Rule of NineReviewed by Vickie Dailey

Steve Martini delivers again. The Rule of Nine does rely heavily on characters from Guardian of Lies, but can be read without the background.

In Guardian of Lies Paul was involved in a nearby nuclear explosion in Coronado. Forced by the government to keep quiet. Paul Madriani is approached by Joselyn Cole, a weapons expert, who thinks he needs to go public with what he knows to stop future threats.

The Sixth Man by David Baldacci (Review #2)

The Sixth ManReviewed by Allen Hott

Once again, David Baldacci calls upon Sean King and Michelle Maxwell to solve a crime involving national politics. The Sixth Man is their fifth adventure together and all have been somehow involved in that area. And as usual their adventure turns into a win-win for the reader. A lot of action, suspense, and plot twists and turns without a lot of profanity or out and out sex. Baldacci knows how to write to please most readers.

The Sixth Man is actually a type of savant. Edgar Roy, the Sixth Man, has a photographic mind and he does not forget anything that he has ever seen or heard in his entire lifetime. With this tremendous ability he is also able to basically foresee what may come next. He has so much stored information that he is able to call upon as reference points that very few happenings are completely new to him.

Peter Bunting, the founder and head of one of the country’s largest intelligence groups, has been using Edgar Roy to keep not only up with the happenings around the world but to even predict with some certainty future events.

However Roy was recently charged with the death of six men whose bodies were found in his barn. Consequently he now is imprisoned in Cutter’s Rock, a super security Federal prison for the criminally insane.

Tabloid City by Pete Hamill

Tabloid CityReviewed by Julie Moderson

One winter night in the world’s greatest city, New York City, a wealthy socialite and her secretary are found murdered. This is a newspaper’s idea of “murder at a good address”. A young reporter chases the scoop while a NYPD detective investigates the killings, a disgraced hedge-fund guy decides to flee the county, an Iraq disabled veteran seeks payback, a desperate immigrant turns to her last resort and an angry extremist plots a deadly attack.

33 Days: Touring in a Van. Sleeping on Floors. Chasing a Dream by Bill See

33 DaysReviewed by Allen Hott

Most of us go through a stage in our life where we really want to do or try something but most of never take that step. 33 Days tells the story of a group of southern California rock band members who did take the step. Three of the four members had never been on their own on July 29, 1987 when they climbed into a rented van and left LA for a national tour. They had no idea of how they would be received nor what affect the trip would have on each of them. They did know that their tour would not be that of a highly successful band yet! They expected to do their own promoting, beg from the stage for a place to sleep after that concert, and basically “jam econo”.

Bill See, the author of the book and the singer/leader of the group, felt the urge to break away from an unhappy home life and believed at the age of 22 he was ready to let his music help others break away from their own problems. For three years his band, Divine Weeks, had been playing around in the LA area. They had been received well enough that Bill knew they could become a national name.

His closest friend, Rajesh Makwana, was the guitarist in the group and was having an extremely hard time leaving his Indian family. Their culture did not joyfully accept his band association. Raj had been subject also to much taunting both in England before the family moved to the states and then in this country. Bill was the closest and best friend he had ever had. So Raj was definitely in on the idea of the tour since music had been the best release from his somewhat unhappy life.

Loco Motive by Mary Daheim (Review #2)

Loco MotiveReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Loco Motive is the latest entry in a very long running series by Mary Daheim. For twenty-four previous books, readers have followed Bed and Breakfast owner Judith McMonigle and her somewhat zany cousin Renie as they have become involved in and solved numerous murders. As with many popular series, there are some books that are stronger than others. Sometimes a series just needs a change in setting-to take the characters on the road, to pep things up a bit. That is apparently what Daheim intended to do in Loco Motive.

The book begins with one of Judith’s guests, a stuntman, taking a flying leap from her roof and leaving in an ambulance. Realizing life was bordering on insane at home, Judith readily agreed to accompany Renie on a train trip to Boston. But the madcap action just keep on rolling for the pair as it turns out that the stuntman and his entourage are also on the train, as well as an assortment of other oddball characters. The train is involved in an accident in Montana, but the aftermath of sheriff pursuit carries over into North Dakota and the two women may well have (briefly) stolen a car!

While the idea of having Judith and Renie take a trip was good, the execution was a bit rough from a couple of different points of view. Mostly there is just TOO MUCH of nearly everything-too many characters to keep straight, too many plot threads going on to follow and too much activity to keep up with. The whole book is just plainly over done.

A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block (Review #2)

A Drop of the Hard Stuff Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Matthew Scudder is back once again in Lawrence Block’s latest engrossing novel, A Drop of the Hard Stuff. It’s his most personal case ever, as it involves the death of a childhood friend, “High- Low” Jack Ellery. Ellery took a much different route than Scudder took in life, turning to a life of crime rather than becoming a cop, like Scudder. Jack, though, joined AA and at the time of his death, had been trying to make amends for all of the wrongs he’d committed by going to everyone on a list he’d written out to apologize to them and do whatever he could to make up for whatever wrongs he’d done. Scudder is also a member of AA, coming up on his one year anniversary. In the time since they were children, Scudder had only seen Jack a couple of times, once at a police lineup he was viewing. He’d committed the crime, but the witness identified someone else. In Jack, Matt sees the hard-won sobriety he hopes to achieve, and in Mat, Jack sees the moral man he might have become.

Jack’s death is a gruesome one, as he’s been shot once in the mouth and once between the eyes on his forehead. Was someone sending the message that they didn’t want him to talk, or that he’d seen too much, or both? Ellery had been a burglar, and drug addict as well as being addicted to alcohol, and before becoming a member of AA, Scudder had lost touch with Jack. Not that they would have had much to do with each other, anyway, unless their paths had crossed because of Jack getting busted by Matt, but that never happened. Still, Jack had been trying to turn his life around, and to make amends for his past, and when his sponsor Greg Stillman offers Matt $1,000 to discover if anyone on Ellery’s list was the one responsible for killing him, Scudder takes the case.

In A Drop of the Hard Stuff, Matt Scudder faces personal challenges and demons as well as investigating his boyhood friend’s murder. He deals with his own alcoholism, and we get to learn intimate details about his life and what AA’s 12 Step Program is about. His romantic relationship with Jan, who is also a member of AA and who had wanted nothing to do with him while he was still drinking for fear of setting back her own recovery, develops, though it goes through some rough spots. Scudder is a character who is easy to identify with, someone maybe like Sam Spade, if he ever got off of the “hard stuff” also. He’s a man with problems, but he doesn’t let them get in the way of his investigation.

Hangman by Faye Kellerman (Review #2)

Hangman by Faye KellermanReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

In any police officer’s career there are a few cases or people who stick with the officer through the years. It may be an unsolved case. It may be a heart wrenching victim. It may be an innocent man convicted. In Hangman, Kellerman uses the last scenario to set up one of the plot threads. Years ago, a friend of Peter’s confessed to a crime he didn’t commit the save someone else the ordeal of a trial. Eventually the truth came out and he was released from prison, got married, changed his name and became a hired killer. Peter has maintained contact with his wife over the years and now, she turns to Peter for help. The other plot thread follows a well liked nurse who goes missing only to be found hanging from at construction site. As it turns out, the nurse had a second life-a life on the wild side that few of her colleagues knew about.

This book takes a long time to set up and get moving. There is really not a lot of action until well past the mid point of the book and even then there are long passages of dialogue that do nothing to move the plot forward. This series isn’t read as thrillers anyway, so the slower pacing might well be fine for readers who are primarily interested in the procedural angle to the series. But for people who want more of a moving storyline or are primarily interested in Rina, the family drama and the inclusion of the Jewish Orthodox religion elements of the series, there is bound to be some disappointment. Rina is trying to plan a sixtieth birthday celebration for Peter and Hannah is preparing to leave for Israel to study, but overall, Rina, the family and the religion play a fairly minor role throughout Hangman.

The Amateurs by Marcus Sakey

The AmateursReviewed by Patricia Reid

Three guys and a gal call themselves The Thursday Night Drinking Club. Jenn, Alex, Ian and Mitch meet every Thursday night for a few drinks and good conversation including some silly games. However, one Thursday night their conversation turns to a game that is not so silly and very dangerous.

Jenn works for a travel agency. She is single and has no big problems in her life but longs for a little excitement. Alex is a bartender. He is divorced and has a little girl that he is crazy about but has a few problems keeping up his very high child support. Mitch is a doorman at a hotel and is secretly in love with Jenn. Ian is a broker and has made some good money in the past but has fallen into a life of gambling and drugs and is very hard up for money.

When the Thursday conversation turns to money and a chance to make a lot of it each are very interested with the exception of Mitch who has doubts about getting involved. Mitch thinks the plan to rob Alex’s boss is foolhardy but finally consents to be involved because of his feelings for Jenn.

Quest for the Nail Prints by Don Furr

Quest for the Nail PrintsReviewed by Cy Hilterman

The author describes his book, “A fictitious account of an actual event”. This fictitious account is of the times of Jesus and actually has the reader traveling with Jesus, his disciples, his followers, and those that oppose Him towards the end of the last three years of His life. “Quest” begins as it introduces us to Dr. Elizabeth Stewart, a young hospital resident who worked on emergency flights as well as in the hospital; Professor Leonardo Van Eaton, an elderly professor, and Reverend Paul Ryann who pastored a church in Memphis. Rev. Ryann is married to Laura and the two of them have a very good life together. When the possibility of a trip to Israel becomes a possibility for Paul, he is not sure if the circumstances would permit such a trip around the Easter holiday but he has always dreamed of going there much of his life. At the same time, Dr. Stewart and Professor Van Eaton also had plans to travel, Dr. Stewart to Israel and the professor to New Delhi, but the three of them had never met and were thrown together by circumstances while traveling to almost the same destination.

While traveling on the same airplane, the three met and many discussions occurred with only the professor being the doubtful one about faith. Paul and Elizabeth were of the same mindset but Van Eaton always had a hard time being a believer. When the professor’s flight to New Delhi was cancelled, he decided, reluctantly, to join the others on a tour of Israel. Paul and Elizabeth became close friends especially since their beliefs were similar but not a close romantic type friendship, just enjoying each other seeing what they always had dreamed of seeing. The professor joined them on the tour also since he had nothing else to do. After finishing the tour, they decided to walk around to see more of the area. While walking they thought they heard a call of distress from down an alley so Paul thought they better investigate. They found a young woman being attacked by two soldiers at the end of the alley and, knowing they were caught, the soldiers started chasing the group. No matter where the trio went the soldiers were close behind since they knew the city and the trio had no idea where they were. Suddenly the three were traveling through very old buildings, falling through floors and dropping into the cellars, and seemingly lost with no direction known to be safe.

The Bayou Trilogy: Under the Bright Lights, Muscle for the Wing, and The Ones You Do by Daniel Woodrell

The Bayou TrilogyReviewed by Teri Davis

It is rare to read a series of three novellas within one cover, but that best describes The Bayou Trilogy. Each short novella features Rene Shade, a policeman from the swamp area of Louisiana known as St. Bruno. Rene’s family has an eclectic background as he has one brother who owns and runs a bar and the other brother is a successful attorney. The relationship between the three is as varied as their chosen occupations.

Rene Shade grew up becoming a boxer and finally becoming a policeman. Unfortunately, Rene dishes out his justice through using knowing of the people and families from his life in St. Bruno. Through
understanding the people, who or what is important to them, he solves the criminal investigations through his own version of justice frequently not having the approval of his superiors.

In Bright Lights which was first published in 1986, the investigation is about a black city councilman’s murder. Muscle for the Wing from 1988 is about a group of paroled convicts who are on a spree of robbing and killing anyone who gets in their way. In The One You Do from 1992, Rene’s father who has been absent for years, appears back in St. Bruno with his ten-year-old daughter from another woman. Being that his father was a former pool hall hustler, no one is surprised that someone wants the father dead.