Daily Archives: July 29, 2011

The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo (Review #2)

The Devil's StarReviewed by Gina Metz

Oslo Detective Harry Hole is back in Jo Nesbo’s fourth novel in The Devil’s Star. Harry has lost himself in alcohol again but pulls himself out of it when a young woman is found murdered in her flat. Harry is assigned to work the case with dectective Tom Waaler whom Harry hates and believes is responsible for the death of his partner although he has been unable to prove it.

The woman’s finger is removed and a tiny red star-shaped diamond is left on her body. When another woman disappears and her severed finger is delivered with a red star-shaped diamond ring Harry believes a serial killer is at work in Oslo.

A Faint Cold Fear by Karin Slaughter

A Faint Cold FearReviewed by Allen Hott

Suicides or murders? That is pretty much way that A Faint Cold Fear evolves as a small town police chief (Jeffrey Tolliver) and the medical examiner (Sara Linton) begin their investigations. A student at the local university is found dead next to a bridge on campus and is assumed to have leaped to his death. However while Tolliver and Linton are examining the scene Linton’s pregnant sister who had tagged along with Linton is attacked on a trail going through the nearby woods.

Tolliver and Linton were once married and though now divorced are quite friendly in their off duty hours. It is an on again off again arrangement and doesn’t prevent them from working together as an investigative team.

However this investigation really appears to be getting the best of them and all others concerned. Being a small town many ties that bind are familial and these tend to always bring in other complexities. There are also natural feuds between the different factions as the story moves along.

Members of the college staff are both directly and indirectly involved in many of the happenings. These happenings include another couple of deaths again somewhat clouded as to whether they are suicides or murders.

Lena Adams, a former member of Tolliver’s police force, who now works on the college campus security force, is often on the scene. She appears sometimes to be an investigator and at other times she appears to be a suspect. Part of her problem stems from having been abducted and raped in the recent past. People in the town are sympathetic to her feelings but also somewhat concerned about her current activities.

So It Begins (Defending the Future, Book 2) by Mike McPhail

So It BeginsReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Where can you go to find the best of the best in MilSF? For great MilSF short stories by the top authors of today, look no further than the anthology So It Begins (Book Two in the Defending the Future Series) edited by Mike McPhail, who just happens to have an entry in this collection himself, the inimitable and way cool offering “Cling Peaches.”. There are sixteen short stories in the anthology, if you include the superlative “Surrender Or Die,” a bonus story by David Sherman, written by fifteen authors. Charles E. Gannon has two stories in So It Begins (as I’ll call the anthology from here on out through this review), both very good ones, “Recidivism,” which opens the book, and “To Spec.” One of the features I really like about the anthology is that there is a section called Author Bios at the end of the book, before the Bonus Content story, so you can read about the authors and what they’ve written and learn more about them if you’re unfamiliar with them.

I can’t get super in-depth and give a detailed analysis of each of the short stories unless I make this review prohibitively long, but I truly enjoyed reading each of the MilSF short stories in the anthology, so I will mention at least a little bit about a few of the tales, to give you a taste of the literary banquet you have in store for yourselves when you read this collection. I’ve briefly mentioned four already, and in just one paragraph, so I’m doing fairly well…except for this expository paragraph, anyway. But, there’s “brief” mentions of short stories, and then there’s brief mentions–which means nothing, except that I’m going to go back to the four I’ve already mentioned, write a few more sentences about each, then cover a few of the other tales.

MilSF novels and stories with lots of blood, guts, and action are kickass, and I generally rank ones with tons of these three elements in them as my faves. But, I likes me a good story that zigs when you think it should zag, or funny or quirky ones, also. That’s why “Cling Peaches,” is one of my favorite tales in the anthology. The title alone made me wonder what in the world it could be about and made me want to read it. Then, the search by the two main characters of the story, Chief Engineer William Donovich and a tech called Patterson for an alien stowaway who has a liking for cling peaches in heavy syrup, was tense and at times humorous and held my rapt attention throughout its entirety.

Charles E. Gannon’s two short stories were also impressive. “Recidivism,” is a gem about Dan, “a data entry clerk with no reasonable hope for advancement,” who in his doctoral proposal dared to suggest that aliens might one day try to take over his planet and possibly even sterilize its inhabitants, should they not cooperate peacefully. Nobody believes him, until one day when…. “To Spec,” Gannon’s second tale, involves a soldier in the ExoAtmospheric Corps who guards a Big Secret without knowing what it is, and he’s eaten up with curiosity to find out what it is he’s risking his life for. He starts putting two and two together, and…well, math was never my strong suit, but I know that, in this case, “two and two,” add up to a great story about one of the many ways that could potentially spell Doomsday: CME, or: “A coronal mass ejection.”

The Boy in the Suit Case by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis

The Boy in the Suit CaseReviewed by Teri Davis

Doing the right thing is not always easy. For Nina Borg, her daily struggles with balancing her family and work are not always smooth or easy. Working as a Red Cross nurse often conflicts with being available for her family and a husband who does not understand when the family takes second place in her priority list.

Nina receives an unusual request from a friend asking her to pick up a suitcase in a locker at a public train station. The suitcase is heavy and she does wonder what is inside. After struggling to get it into her vehicle, for some strange reason Nina feels the need to return to the locker. There she sees a large man opening the locker and hitting it when he realizes that it is empty. Unfortunately, he also sees her.

After frantically running to car and racing away, she finally finds a place where she can open the suitcase. Inside is a small child, naked. She is surprised to find him breathing. What do you do? She is fearful that the police will place the child in a refugee or foster care situation. Is this better for the child? Who is chasing her? What do they want with the boy?

The Boy in the Suit Case is a page-turning intense action-adventure story. The characters are realistically flawed and their personal problems obviously continue after the story ends. The plot is well-developed and organized. The system of governmental influences on a child really exist and Nina’s choices and situations are easy to understand.

County Line by Bill Cameron

County LineReviewed by Patricia Reid

Skin Kadash returns home after spending a month in a retreat called Last Homely House. Last Homely House is a bed and breakfast where Skin has been recuperating from a near-fatal gunshot wound. Skin has been following doctor’s orders but now he is back and anxious to see Ruby Jane Whittaker. Skin keeps trying Ruby’s cell phone on the way back home but he doesn’t get a response. Ruby Jane owns several coffee houses and Skin is sure he will find her at one of them but that does not happen. She has left town without telling anyone her destination.

When Skin gains access to Ruby’s home, he finds a homeless man dead in Ruby Jane’s bathtub. Skin contacts the police and gets the body removed but is still no closer to finding out what has happened to Ruby Jane.

With a gut feeling that Ruby is in danger, Skin begins a search for her. His first stop is Pete McKrall. Pete now lives in Walnut Creek, California. Pete had a relationship with Ruby Jane but that is in the past. Now Skin fears that Ruby has gone back to Pete. Pete knows no more about where Ruby Jane has gone than Skin does but decides he is going to join in the search.

Far Cry by Jonn Harvey

Far CryReviewed by Patricia Reid

One of the biggest mistakes Ruth and Simon Pierce make is their decision to let their daughter Heather accompany her friend Kelly on a camping trip with Kelly’s family. The two girls decided to wander off by themselves and it was sometime before either girl was located. Kelly had been rescued by a strange man who lived alone but he had kept her safe until she was returned to her family.

In Search of Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault

In Search of Rose NotesReviewed by Julie Moderson

Emily Arsenault captures us and we can’t stop reading until we know what happened to Rose. Eleven year old girls, Nora and Charlotte, are best friends and Rose is Charlotte’s teenage babysitter. Rose disappears one night after walking with Nora on her way home and is never heard from again. Charlotte and Nora spent the better part of a year trying to solve the mystery of what happened to Rose. Charlotte had some books that were hidden in her closet on paranormal techniques and theories. The girls loved to look at the books and had no idea how bored Rose was. Nora was sometimes frightened by Charlotte’s ideas that she thought of when looking at her books. The girls use some ideas from the books to try to figure out what happened to Rose.

Many years later when the girls are in their late twenties, Charlotte calls up Nora and says they found her; Nora knows instantly they have found Rose. Nora and Charlotte haven’t spoken since high school graduation and before that was when they were eleven. Charlotte wants to pick up their friendship where they left off and solve the mystery of Rose’s disappearance; but Nora isn’t sure. Nora left the small town of Waverly the summer after she graduated high school and has never returned.

In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff

In the Shadow of GothamReviewed by Teri Davis

Criminal profiling began in the early twentieth century in our country. In this rare look into New York City during the year of 1904, you get a chance to solve a murder with just the tools and the knowledge they actually had available to them at the time when you read In the Shadow of Gotham.

Detective Simon Ziele recently left the New York City police after the death of his fiancée with a permanent injury to his right arm. Now he continues to work with the police in the quiet city of nearby Dobson.

Sarah Wingate, a brilliant mathematics graduate student at Columbia, is murdered gruesomely. She was both stabbed and beaten to death. Why would anyone hate her so much to kill her? Sarah was a well-known feminist. Could this relate to her feminist views?

Ziele with his boss, Joe Healy, join an unlikely group of budding criminologists from Columbia University in an effort to solve the murder. This group immediately informs Ziele that Michael Fromley is the murderer. Why? How did Michael know Sarah? Where is Michael? What else has Michael done?

Releasing Gillian’s Wolves by Tara Woolpy

Releasing Gillian's WolvesReviewed by Teri Davis

How many people give up their dreams in order to support a spouse or raise children? For women, it is often expected.

Gillian gave up her dreams of being an artist when she married Jack Sach. Being that Jack wanted to enter the field of politics, Gillian was the devoted wife in helping with the campaigns and providing food for many of the meetings throughout the past thirty years. She has also had the problem of letting go of her anger towards Jack with his constant affairs.

The latest conquest is a young intern, naturally, who also showed interest in their son. After witnessing the breaking of her son’s heart because of her husband’s indiscretion, Gillian wants time to decide what to do. Fortunately, she inherited money so that makes life easier for her.

Gillian has a long-time gay friend, Edward, who has always been there when she needed a shoulder. Now Edward’s life is changing and Gillian is taking charge of her life, her way.