Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Palm Beach Nasty by Tom Turner

Charlie Crawford was a top-notch detective in New York City.  He brought down several famous killers, including a serial killer and the newspapers loved him.  But he burned out and has moved to Palm Beach where crime is not so brutal.  His partner, Ott, is another career detective who has moved down from Cleveland.  They enjoy their easier jobs and the great weather but do miss a good murder now and then.

That is quickly changed when they find themselves facing two murders.  One is a young man who is found hanged in the park.  The other is a woman in her forties who works at the most prestigious country club in town.  Could the two murders be connected?

There are also two possible suspects.  One is a billionaire who enjoys using his money to control everyone around him while he does whatever he wants.  The other is a con man who uses his charms and good lucks to get what he wants from those he meets.  Which of them is responsible?

Tom Turner has written an engaging mystery that will keep readers turning the pages.  Readers get a look into the lifestyles of the rich and famous and how crime works when those involved have millions to protect or lose.  Crawford is interesting without being overly quirky.  The crimes are believable and the partners work well together.  Palm Beach Nasty is a debut novel in the series with two others already written.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Booksie's Shelves, January 24, 2015

It's been a busy week in reading at the Booksie household.  I'm halfway through the second enormous book in the Song of Fire And Ice series by George R. R. Martin.  Even more exciting, I got a gift certificate to Amazon and picked up some books I've had my eye on.  I got a couple by William Vollmann, who is one of my favorite authors, and the next biography of Michael Jordan.  Add in some new ones sent by publishers and I'm set for the next few weeks.  On Sunday, January 25th, I'm headed with a friend to an author event where a different author comes to your table every ten minutes or so for a meet and greet and Q&A.  We went last year and had a blast so I'm excited to go this year as well.  Here's what's come through the door lately:

1.  The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Strout, literary fiction, purchased
2.  Last Stories And Other Stories, William Vollmann, anthology, purchased
3.  The Royal Family, William Vollmann, literary fiction, purchased
4.  Throw Like A Woman, Susan Petrone, literary fiction, sent by author
5.  Michael Jordan, The Life, Roland Lazenby, biography, purchased
6.  The Long And Faraway Gone, Lou Berney, mystery, sent by publisher
7.  West Of Sunset, Stewart O'Nan, literary fiction, sent by publisher
8.  Plus One, Christopher Noxon, literary fiction, sent by publisher
9.  Those Rosy Hours At Mazandaran, Marion Grace Woolley, historical fiction, sent by publisher
10.  The Impossible Lives Of Greta Wells, Andrew Sean Greer, literary fiction, Paperbackswap
11.  Black Diamonds, Catherine Bailey, nonfiction, sent by publisher
12.  Crazy Love You, Lisa Unger, mystery, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  The Innovators, Walter Issacson, Kindle
2.  Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter, paperback
3.  A Clash Of Kings, George R. R. Martin, paperback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, hardback
7.  The Rise And Fall Of Great Powers, Tom Rachman, paperback
8.  The Illusionists, Rosie Thomas, paperback
9.  The Black Country, Alex Grecian, paperback
10.  Mrs. Poe, Lynn Cullen, paperback
11.  Palm Beach Nasty, Tom Turner, paperback
12.  The Orchid Affair, Lauren Willig, hardback
13.  The Killer Next Door, Alex Marwood, paperback
14.  Rescue, Anita Shreve, hardback
15.  Traitor's Blade, Sebastien de Castell, paperback
 16.  The Skeleton Crew, Debrorah Halber, Kindle Fire

Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Father's Wives by Mike Greenberg

Jonathan Sweetwater is the son of one of America's most famous and beloved Senators, Percy Sweetwater.  Not that he'd ever found it an advantage.  Percy left Jonathan and his mother shortly after Jonathan's ninth birthday, and the two didn't have a relationship after that.  Percy went on to marry five more times before his death.

Jonathan grew up determined to never be anything like his father.  He is a successful businessman.  His marriage to Claire and his two children make up his life and he is the quintessential family man.  At least, that's what he thought until a chance encounter makes him wonder if he has been fooled for years.

Jonathan sets out on a quest to determine what is important to him.  He is determined to put his feelings for his father to rest, and decides to go meet each of the wives to get a fix on what Percy Sweetwater was really like.  There is a doctor, a secretary, a dancer, a model and a psychiatrist.  They are all very different and live all over the world.  As Jonathan travels from place to place, he learns more about his father and more importantly, more about himself.

Mike Greenberg has written a novel that explores the question of what we're here for and what is important in our lives.  We are all shaped by our childhood experiences, and the relationships we form with our parents are essential in determining our adult lives.  Greenberg has created a character in Jonathan that readers will be interested in, and his quest leads to an end each of us can relate to.  This book is recommended for readers of family fiction and those interested in coming of age stories, no matter how long it takes to come of age.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lost And Found by Brooke Davis

Millie Bird may only be seven years old, but she knows some things.  She knows that kindness takes you farther than meanness.  She knows you judge people by how they treat you, not by how they look.  And she knows about dead things.  She's seen dead bugs, birds and pets and most recently, her dad.

Karl the Touch Typist is eighty-seven.  He's broken out of the nursing home where he was sent and is out on his own, although the police are searching for him.  He used to type love notes on his wife, Evie's skin, but now that she is gone, he types them into the air.  He finds Millie and becomes her champion.

Agatha Pantha is eighty-two and a hermit in her house since her husband, Ron, died seven years ago.  There's nothing that can lure her out of her isolation, not until she notices Millie and realizes she needs a friend.

When Millie's mother decides she needs a new life and leaves Millie behind in a department store, the three unit into a team, determined to reunite Millie with her mother.  Their adventures expose them to interesting people and help them through the grief each feels.

Brooke Davis has written an interesting novel that deals with grief, but not in a heavy manner.  The prose is light and cheery and the reader soon realizes that they are cheering on this unlikely trio.  This book is recommended for those dealing with life changes and readers of literary fiction.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Game Of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Is there anyone left who hasn't heard of this novel; the first tome in the massively successful Song Of Fire And Ice series by George R. R. Martin?  This first novel was released in 1996 and I read it shortly thereafter.  I have all five novels but stopped reading after the third, as I wanted to wait and read the entire series.  As with most Martin fans, I've given up on that happening and decided I needed to read the series now before the HBO screen adaptation overtook my progress.

For anyone who doesn't know, The Land Of The Seven Kingdoms is the world that Martin has created.  Various Houses vie for power.  There is the Stark family of Winterfell.  It is ruled by Ned and his wife Cat with their five children; Robb, Sansa, Anya, Brandon and Rickon.  The King is from the Baratheon family, and King Robert is Ned's old friend.  He has two brothers, Stannis and Renly and is married to Cersei.  Their son Joffrey will inherit the throne after Robert's demise.  Cersei is from the Lannister family.  Tywin Lannister is the richest man in the world and his three children are Jaime, Cersei and Tyrion.  Daenerys is the last heir of the once powerful Targaryens, now in exile.  Then there are the Rangers of the Wall, who serve to protect all houses and men from that that lies beyond.  Stark's bastard son, Jon Snow, serves at the Wall.  There are other houses, less influential than these main ones and pledging allegiance to one of them.

The houses clash and war erupts with the death of Robert Baratheon.  There is betrayal and stunning acts of violence, treachery, lies and layer upon layer of secrets.  The reader is continually surprised and shocked at what occurs as the story unfolds.  It is even harder to read as a reread, as one knows the horrible things that will happen and reading slows as the individual gets closer and closer to various tragedies.  This series is an amazing achievement, one of the landmark series that all fantasy must be compared to and recommended for all fantasy readers and any reader willing to suspend time and enter the Game Of Thrones.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Perfect Stranger by Wendy Corsi Staub

Every cloud has a silver lining.  The women who've come to know each other via their blogs often think of that saying and agree.  They are very different women; middle-aged and young, from all over the country, stay at home moms and career women and those without children.  But they all have something in common:  breast cancer.

Each has discovered the lifesaving support group of breast cancer survivors and those making the journey.  They share their stories, their emotions, tips for surviving the various treatments, and all the things they never tell their families and friends who aren't in the breast cancer club.  No one who has not walked in their shoes will ever understand exactly their journey and how it makes them feel.

There is Landry, a stay-at-home Southern belle living in Mississippi, with her lawyer husband and two teenagers.   Meredith's children are grown but that means she has the joy of grandchildren who visit often.  Kay never married and made her livelihood as a prison guard.  Elena is a thirty-year-old kindergarten teacher from Illinois.  No one is exactly sure where Jaycee lives or what she does, but even those who don't share everything are welcome to join the club and take solace there.

Then tragedy strikes.  Not the tragedy they are used to when one of the club loses the battle and dies of illness.  Meredith is struck down in her own home by a murderer who leaves her dead body behind.  The women are horrified and can't believe the fates would allow such a thing to happen.  They come together to attend the funeral and in the process meet each other for the first time. 

They feel an instant connection, although there is always a little nagging voice that tells them that they really don't know anything about each other.  Has everyone told the truth or is one of them hiding back gathering intimate details about the women's lives in order to target them?  The police don't know who may have killed Meredith, and the women aren't sure who to trust.

Staub has tapped into the fear of strangers that we all feel along with a portrayal of how personal issues can make someone in the virtual world seem like a long-lost friend.  This fear is somewhat overblown as many have met friends and mates that started out as virtual friends with no ill effects.  I found the book interesting as I've made many friends in the virtual world and later met them and added them to my friends list.  I'm also a breast cancer survivor so that part of the story also resonated with me.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Booksie's Shelves, January 10, 2015

It's cold here in N.C., which of course isn't the same as saying it's cold here in Minnesota, but then again, one lives in the South so they don't have to say the things those surviving Northern winters say.  This is the first Booksie's Shelves of 2015.  I've been reading a lot, but then again, it's also playoff season for the NFL and college basketball is in full swing. I've been reading a lot of my personal library books as well as mixing in newly published books sent for book tours and review.  One of my reading goals for 2015 is to read some of the big fantasy series I've got here but never had time to read.  I'm starting with a reread of George R. R. Martin's A Game Of Thrones series, as I never got to book four and five since I was waiting for the rest of the series.  Since I'm not sure when those books will arrive, I'm immersing myself back in the series. 

Here's a list of the new physical books I've added:

1.  Love By The Book, Melissa Pimentel, mystery, sent by publisher
2.  The Rosie Effect, Graeme Simsion, literary fiction, sent by publisher
3.  Changing The Conversation, Dana Caspersen, nonfiction, sent for book tour
4.  Dying For The Past, T.J. O'Connor, mystery, sent by publisher
5.  Last Words, Rich Zahradnik, mystery, sent by publisher
6.  The Orphan Sky, Ella Leya, historical fiction, sent by publisher
7.  The Forgetting Place, John Burley, mystery, sent for book tour
8.  My Father's Wives, Mike Greenburg, literary fiction, sent for book tour
9.  The Like Switch, Jack Schafer, nonfiction, sent by publisher
10.  Unbecoming, Rebecca Scherm, literary fiction, sent by publisher
11.  The Last Breath, Kimberly Belle, literary fiction, sent for book tour

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  The Innovators, Walter Issacson, Kindle
2.  Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter, paperback
3.  A Game Of Thrones, George R. R. Martin, paperback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, hardback
7.  The Rise And Fall Of Great Powers, Tom Rachman, paperback
8.  The Illusionists, Rosie Thomas, paperback
9.  The Black Country, Alex Grecian, paperback
10.  Mrs. Poe, Lynn Cullen, paperback
11.  The Perfect Stranger, Wendy Corsi Staub, paperback
12.  The Orchid Affair, Lauren Willig, hardback
13.  The Killer Next Door, Alex Marwood, paperback
14.  Rescue, Anita Shreve, hardback
15.  Traitor's Blade, Sebastien de Castell, paperback
 16.  The Skeleton Crew, Debrorah Halber, Kindle Fire

Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Iris Fan by Laura Joh Rowland

The last four years have been disastrous for Sano Ichiro, a samuri in the 1709 court of his shogun, the ruler of Japan.  During this time, he has been demoted from the court's chief investigator of crimes to a lowly foot patrol soldier, as his enemies manage to foil his attempts to reveal their crimes.  Each time he fails to bring the truth forward, his livelihood is reduced again.  Even more wrenching, he sees the discord his stubborn insistence on the truth has brought to his family.  His wife, Reiko, formerly a partner in his investigations, is furious with him and the poverty he has brought to the family.  Their children are blocked from good jobs or advantageous marriages, and one false step can mean that the whole family will lose their lives.

Then an unimaginable crime occurs. Someone slips into the shogun's sleeping chamber and stabs him with a fan, a fan with razor-sharp folds.  Who could have done such a horrible crime?  There are two contenders for the shogun's position when he dies.  Yanagisawa and Lord Ienobu are rivals for the position, Ienobu for himself and Yanagiasawa for his son.  Unfortunately, both are Sano's enemies, as he has tried to bring their crimes over the years to light.  They form an uneasy alliance and are both displeased when Sano is brought back to the castle and restored as the Chief Investigator.  Can he solve the crime before the shogun dies?  If he doesn't find a way to reveal the assassin, one of his enemies will ascend to power and the first act will be revenge on Sano and his family.

Laura Joh Rowland has written a series of feudal Japan that has enthralled readers for many novels.  This is the eighteenth book in the series and the ending one.  The cruelty and constantly shifting alliances and betrayals that make up the court are stunning.  Everyone seems to be out for themselves, yet profess to follow the Bushido way of honor.  This book is recommended for both mystery readers and readers of historical fiction.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Things can't get much worse for A.J. Fikry.  He married his college sweetheart and they opted out of graduate school to open a bookstore on a New England island.  Their life was satisfying, but that all ended when Fikry's wife is killed in an auto accident, leaving him to run the bookstore while grieving.  He barely makes it through the days, going home to drink himself into oblivion at night.  While drunk one night, his prize possession, a first edition of Edgar Allen Poe's book of poetry, Tamerlane, is stolen.  This is a real blow as it was his nest egg, a book worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Then something surprising and unlikely happens.  A.J. returns to the bookstore one day to find that someone has left a small child in the bookstore with a note saying that the mother can't raise her and thinks being raised in a bookstore would be the best thing ever for a child.  A.J. has no interest in having a child, but agrees to keep the little girl for a weekend since the social service representative won't be able to get over to the island until the next week.  By the time she comes, A.J. has changed his mind and ends up adopting Maya. 

The book continues to chronicle A.J. and Maya's life together over the following years, as they learn to live together, Maya starts school, A.J. comes out of his introversion and becomes a community member.  The bookstore starts to do well as Fikry becomes more entwined in the island's life. Throughout the years, A.J. writes about his favorite books and tells Maya which ones he believes she will like as she grows as a reader and writer.

Gabrielle Zevin has written a heart touching novel made for readers.  It celebrates the reading life and attempts to demonstrate the large part that books play in the lives of readers.  As the book progresses, one finds oneself cheering for A.J. and Maya and the lives they are building.  This book is recommended for readers and those who enjoy literary fiction.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Cabinet Of Curiousities by Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child

Nora Kelly is surprised to come into her office at the Museum Of Natural History and find a stranger there.  She is even more surprised when he introduces himself as FBI Agent Pendergast and states that he needs her help.  During construction, an old tunnel has been found under a building.  The tunnel is full of bricked up skeletons; thirty-six of them. 

Kelly and Pendergast go to the scene and examine the remains before the construction owner has them thrown out and removes all the bodies so that his new building can proceed on schedule.  Each is the body of a young man or woman from at least a hundred years before.  Each has been operated on, with the excision site being the lower back and spinal cord.  Each has been murdered.

Kelly isn't sure why this is so important to Pendergast but starts to understand quickly.  A copycat killer has emerged and is killing modern victims in the same manner that the older bodies were killed.  As they research the case, a strange motive emerges.  Apparently, both the older murderer and the younger believe they have found a way to extend human life which requires the sacrifice of humans.  Can Pendergast and Kelly, along with reported William Smithback, solve the mystery before more bodies are found?

This is book three in the popular Agent Pendergast series.  The authors work together to provide a tale that is strange but believable with overtones of paranormal events.  The interplay between Kelly and Smithback and the revealing of Pendergast's mysterious family background and unorthodox methods keeps the reader turning the pages.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Book Of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

What would it take to make you leave everything you know and love behind to start over somewhere else?  Your family, your friends, your house, your language, all you know and love and that makes up your identity.  It must be either overwhelming difficulty where you are or the hope of an amazing opportunity somewhere else.  In The Book Of Unknown Americans, Cristina Henriquez introduces the reader to characters who have made this decision.

There is the Rivera family.  Arturo is a business owner in Mexico.  When his daughter is injured and needs special schooling, he gives up his business and moves his wife and daughter to the United States, where he is now a mushroom picker, spending his days in a dark room, thrusting his hand over and over into the dirt to search out and retrieve mushrooms.  He daughter Maribel slowly starts to get better as the months go by and her school helps her retrieve her former skills.

The Toro family lives in the same apartment complex.  They came from Panama and the dad works as a breakfast cook in a diner.  Mayor is the youngest son, always trying to live up to the reputation of his big brother, who won a soccer scholarship to college.  When he sees Maribel in the local Dollar Tree, he is struck by her beauty.  As the families become friends and the two teenagers get to know each other, Mayor and Maribel fall in love.  Their families do not approve and attempt to keep the two apart.  This relationship and the fallout from it make up the mainspring of the novel.

Henriquez has written a book that will open readers eyes to the lives of our most prevalent minority, that of the Hispanic population, although their immigrant stories ring true from those who come from other countries as well.  She deftly outlines the difficulties of starting over in a land where you must struggle to support yourself, to even make yourself understood.  The incredible hope in a better future it takes to start over is demonstrated, along with the difficulties.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and those interested in the changing population in the United States.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Sign Of The Book by John Dunning

Life is different these days for Cliff Janeway.  He gave up his career as a police detective and has reinvented himself as a bookseller, a trader and seller of rare books.  The book store is humming along as is his love life with his girlfriend, Erin D'Angelo, a lawyer.  He's about as content as he can remember being.

Then Erin comes to the bookstore, obviously upset.  When she decides to tell him what's wrong, he hears a story about betrayal and first love.  Erin had been engaged to a man, Bobby Marshall.  The engagement ended when Marshall and her best friend, Laura, had an affair.  Erin cut them both from her life and the two married.  She hasn't had any contact for over a decade when Laura's lawyer calls.  Bobby has been murdered and Laura has been arrested.  She wants Erin to come and defend her. 

Erin is torn.  Laura is planning to pay for her defense with the rare book collection Bobby had amassed and Erin asks Cliff to drive to Laura's town, check out the collection and see what the facts are in the case.  Once he reports back, Erin will decide if her former friendship is an obligation to defend Laura and dredge up old memories.

Janeway drives to the small Colorado town where the Marshalls have been living.  He encounters a small town mentality that has already convicted Laura, antagonistic law enforcement and a book collection that surpasses all his expectations.  There are already unscrupulous book dealers circling around.  Erin decides she must come to Laura's rescue.  Can she save her old friend?

This is the fourth in the Cliff Janeway mystery series.  Cliff is an interesting detective, mixing knowledge of legal investigation and books.  The mystery moves along quickly with interesting twists and turns.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Times are difficult in 1922 England.  Many of the nation's young men have been killed in the World War and its trenches, leaving their families to carry on as best they can, holding on to lifestyles from before the war with reduced incomes.  That is the case with the Wray family.  The two sons have been killed and the father dies of grief and illness, leaving Frances Wray, 26, to look after her widowed mother and support them.  Gone are the days of servants, and Frances spends her days scouring the floors, figuring out bills, cooking meals and trying to entertain her mother.  She sees nothing ahead but more years of this.

Finally, their monetary reserves are gone and something has to be done.  They do a bit of renovation and advertise a suite for rent in their upstairs.  This is a drastic step, as they are very private people but money must be found somewhere.  A young married couple, Len and Lillian Barber, take the rooms.  They are not the kind of people the Wrays would have ever chosen to associate with; young and full of life, boisterous and louder than they expected.  Soon their upstairs suite is filled with furnishings that are cheap and a bit tawdry. 

Yet, as the weeks go by, a friendship emerges between Frances and Lillian.  As they get closer, Lillian reveals that all is not well in her marriage to Len.  It was a hasty arrangement that doesn't have much love in it, yet Len is jealous of anyone who pays attention to Lillian.  She socializes only with her family and Frances, yet the jibes and sarcasm from Len is unrelenting.  The tension in the house mounts between Len and Lillian and the Wrays and the Barbers.  When something horrendous happens, it seems inevitable.

No one does setting and characters like Sarah Waters.  She has created a stifling atmosphere in which the smallest turn of phrase or gesture is magnified, and in which the brooding resentments that arise rush headlong to disaster.  This book gives insight into the aftermath of war that is often overlooked and into the social structure of the country that held individuals in a straitjacket of conformity.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mantel

Where were you when the world changed forever?  Kirsten Raymonde was eight years old and a child actress.  She is on stage in a production of King Lear when the main character, played by legendary actor, Arthur Leander, collapses and dies.  Jeevan Chaudhary, an EMT in training, is in the stage and attempts to give Arthur CPR.  Arthur's best friend, Clark Thompson, has sold out his artistic yearnings long ago and is now a management consultant.

What changes the world?  A disease with an innocent sounding name, the Georgia Flu.  But it's not mild and sunny; instead it is the most virulent strain of flu seen.  The survival rate?  One percent.  In a matter of days, ninety-nine percent of the world's population is gone.  Then everything else goes.  Flight, the Internet, communications, grocery stores, everything gone, gone, gone.  All that is left are the survivors, attempting to find ways to manage what life is left to them.

Kirsten joins a group of artists who move from settlement to settlement, called the Traveling Symphony.  Jeevan is now a settlement's nearest thing to a doctor, although the rigors of post-antibiotic and pain medicine surgery is daunting.  Clark was one of a group of people who were on the last flights, diverted to a small airport where they have been living for twenty years now.  In addition to being survivors, they are connected by a small comic series, Station Eleven, created by Arthur's first wife, about the rigors of living in a post-trauma world.  Once entertainment, the series is now inspiration.

The three come together to fight a threat, a Prophet who believes only he is right, and that everyone else must do what he commands.  As they do so, they continue to struggle towards a new life that can replace the one they lost.

Emily St. John Mantel is one of the best of the new novelists, and this is probably her breakout book.  Her writing is calm, moving on inevitably, taking the reader along.  Not a word is extra and the pace moves the story along quickly.  Her vision of what the world would look like after a disaster and how the survivors would interact and build something new is inspiring as well as chilling.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction as well as science fiction fans.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Year's Best Science Fiction And Fantasy, 2012 Edition, edited by Jonathan Strahan

Jonathan Strahan is known for his ability to select and collect the year's best stories in the genres of science fiction and fantasy.  He has done several of these volumes, and the 2012 edition is one of his best.  This is a long work, at 643 pages.  It includes established authors as well as new voices.  There is a good mix of male and female voices, as well as authors from diverse cultures.

The authors are: Jonathan Carroll, Neil Gaiman, E. Lily Yu, Caitlin Kiernan, Karen Joy Fowler, Catherynne Valente, A.N. Owomoyela, Geoff Ryman, Hannu Rajaniemi, Paul McCauley, Peter Watts, Nalo Hopkinson, K.J. Parker, Kelly Link, Cory Doctorow, Michael Swanwick, M. Rickert, Ken Liu, Dylan Horrocks, Maureen McHugh, Peter Beagle, Jeffrey Ford, Stephen Baxter, Robert Reed, Robert Shearman, Bruce Sterling, Margo Lanagan, Libby Bray, Nnedi Okorafor, Ian McDonald, Kij Johnson and Ellen Klagesti.

In addition to diverse voices, Strahan has included an interesting mix of fantasy and science fiction.  Some is science fiction written for the engineer and mathematician reader; some are dragon stories for fans of fantasies.  Some stories are very short while others are novella length.  My personal favorite was the one by Libby Bray in which a group of wild women banded together as thieves similar to Sundance and the Kid.  Every reader in these genres will find a story to love.  This book is recommended for readers of science fiction and fantasy as well as those who enjoy anthologies and discovering new authors.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Booksie's Shelves, December 22, 2014

It's the last post of books received for 2014! It's hard to believe another blogging year has come and gone.  Here's to all the great books of 2014 and the great books yet to come in 2015.  The following have come through the door:

1.  Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel, literary fiction, sent from Paperbackswap
2.  Principles Of Navigation, Lynn Sloan, literary fiction, sent for book tour
3.  Border Songs, Jim Lynch, literary fiction, sent from Paperbackswap
4.  The Iris Fan, Laura Joh Rowland, historical fiction, sent for book tour
5.  So Much For That, Lionel Shriver, literary fiction, sent from Paperbackswap
6.  The Wednesday Group, Sylvia True, sent by publisher
7.  The Devil You Know, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, mystery, sent by publisher
8.  The Body Snatchers Affair, Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini, mystery, sent by publisher
9.  At The Water's Edge, Sara Gruen, historical fiction, sent by publisher
10.  The Reawakening, Aric Carter, fantasy, sent by author
11.  The Secret Wisdom Of The Earth, Christopher Scotton, literary fiction, sent by publisher
12.  Fifty Mice, Daniel Pyne, mystery, sent by publisher
13.  The Gods Of Second Chances, Dan Berne, literary fiction, sent by publisher
14.  The Year Of Dan Palace, Chris Jane, literary fiction, sent by author
15.  Saving Grace, Jane Green, literary fiction, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  The Innovators, Walter Issacson, Kindle
2.  Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter, paperback
3.  Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel, hardback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  The Book Of Unknown Americans, Cristina Henriquez, paperback
6.  What Has Become Of You, Jan Watson, hardback
7.  The Rise And Fall Of Great Powers, Tom Rachman, paperback
8.  The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters, Kindle Fire
9.  The Black Country, Alex Grecian, paperback
10.  Mrs. Poe, Lynn Cullen, paperback
11.  The Perfect Stranger, Wendy Corsi Staub, paperback
12.  The Orchid Affair, Lauren Willig, hardback
13.  The Killer Next Door, Alex Marwood, paperback
14.  Rescue, Anita Shreve, hardback
15.  Traitor's Blade, Sebastien de Castell, paperback
16.  The Sign Of The Book, John Dunning, hardback

Happy Reading!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Murder At The Book Group by Maggie King

When Hazel and Carlene become unhappy with the library's bookgroup, they decide to start their own.  They start a book group focusing on mysteries, taking turns hosting the club at the member's houses.  Most of their members are close friends or relatives and the group is a big success.  But this evening is different.  For some reason, Carlene is worked up, tearing a book to shreds.  That kind of attitude is one of the reasons the members didn't like the other group, so everyone is surprised and put off. 

The moment passes and the group moves on to a discussion of poisoning in books, specifically cyanide poisoning.  During the refreshment period, Carlene seems fine, serving the members food and drink, having her own special tea.  She asks to speak to Hazel in her office so the two leave for a moment.  Or so Hazel thinks.  Instead, Carlene collapses and dies before Hazel's eyes.  The verdict?  Cyanide poisoning.  Who did it?  The police believe it is suicide, as a note is found.

Hazel decides that she is in the best position to find out what really happened.  She and her cousin Lucy start to talk with everyone at the meeting and everyone who knew Carlene.  They quickly discover that she was not the reserved woman she seemed to be, but a woman who loved sex and who was not choosy about partners, taking husbands and boyfriends regardless of who else they were with.  She had affairs with co-workers and sons of friends, with strangers, with almost anyone.  Can Hazel and Lucy find out who was mad enough to take revenge?

Maggie King has written a mystery that seems more realistic than most mysteries.  The novel would be in the cozy category, with a cast of characters who each have a secret to hide.  King captures the inter-relationships that arise when people marry multiple times, and the way that a mystery can tear apart a social group.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Mabel Dagmar is sure someone has made a mistake.  She's a dowdy, scholarship student at her East Coast college, her parents and their dry-cleaning shop thousands of miles away back in Oregon.  Somehow she has ended up with Genevra Winslow for a roommate.  Genevra, or Ev, is gorgeous, smart, popular and very rich.  She knows how to handle any situation and cares not a whit for the rules and regulations of society.  Needless to say, the two girls have nothing in common.

But living together tends to eventually lead to friendships.  After Ev has a situation in which she needs a friend, the two girls become close.  So close that at the end of the year, Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at the Winslow summer enclave; a family tradition that goes back more than a century.  Mabel is entranced and excited; she falls headlong in love with the entire Winslow family and all the tradition and entitlement that huge family wealth seems to bring with it.

But as the summer goes on, Mabel starts to question the pleasant life into which she has landed.  There are family secrets that are kept by everyone to insure that life goes on as it always has.  Family comes first and everything else is a distant second.  When Mabel discovers one of the biggest family secrets of all, she must choose between what she knows is right and what her heart desires.  She discovers that doing the right thing could even expose her own secrets and she must decide what is most important to her in life.

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore has written an intriguing family saga, one that draws the reader into the privileged world of the wealthy.  There is love, sex, intrigue, art, secrets, family relationships, betrayals and the realization that one is never an adult until they put aside the childish view of the world we grow up with.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and those who enjoy family sagas.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Hidden Ones by Nancy Madore

Nadia Adeine seems to have it all as the CEO of a rescue organization devoted to helping those whose lives are ruined by disasters.  On top of her work, she is beautiful and well off financially.  But none of those things mean much when Nadia finds herself kidnapped by a secret society, one that stretches back centuries to that of the Essenes.

The men who kidnapped her believe that Nadia is the embodiment of evil.  They believe in the Biblical stories of the angels set to watch the earth, and the children they sired, the Nephilim, when they couldn't resist the women of Earth.  The Nephilim were giants, much more powerful and intelligent than those around them.  They were able to advance the lives of ancient civilizations.  But like many powerful individuals, over time their good turned to evil as they insisted on remaining in control.  The angels were sent to find and destroy all the Nephilim.  The Nephilim didn't want to go, and as they were killed, their souls did not move on, but roamed the Earth, searching for bodies they could inhabit.  They became known as djinn or demons.

The kidnappers believe Nadia is the human embodiment of a famous, strong djinn named Lilith.  They also believe that Lilith and others like her are about to launch a terrorist attack that will decimate the West.  Can Nadia convince them she isn't who they think she is in time for them to work together to foil the attack?

The Hidden Ones is the first book in a planned trilogy by Nancy Madore.  Her interest in history and mythology has led her to write this series.  The book is compelling as well as interesting, making it difficult to put down.  The reader is drawn into the world inhabited by the Nephilim, and unable to leave without finding out what happens next.  This book is recommended for readers of Christian literature, and fans of mythology.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sold For Endless Rue by Madeleine E. Robins

Life is hard in thirteenth century Italy, and especially for women, subject to the whims of any man in their orbit.  Laura is a slave girl, captured and enslaved by the men who killed her family.  Breaking free, Laura finds refuge with a woman healer who lives alone.  Crescia takes in Laura and acts as her mentor while shielding her from the slaver who searches for her.

Laura is interested in the healing Crescia does and as the years go by, the two manage to even get her an education and entry into the famed medical school in Salerno.  Laura becomes one of the few female physicians, renowned for her skill.  Her only regret is that she has no husband or child.

Laura leaves Salerno and moves elsewhere to make her career.  When a couple moves in next door, Laura befriends the wife and shepherds her through her first pregnancy.  But her motives are not beneficent; instead she claims the baby as her own in order to shield the husband from charges of thievery.

Laura takes the baby, a girl she names Bieta, back home to Salerno.  She is determined to protect Bieta from everything she has endured and to help her to also become a physician.  But Laura forgets the lesson learned from fairy tales.  Fate will have its way, regardless of human interference.

Madeleine Robins has created a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale and set it in medieval Italy and a historical novel of women's lives.  Laura is a strong woman, sometimes headstrong in her determination to wrest a life for herself and do the work she loves.  Her major flaw is that she is blindsided by the effort it took to win her life and unable to see that each person must follow their own dream, not that of someone else.  This book is recommended both for readers of historical fiction and those interested in retelling of familiar old tales.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

Why are we so fascinated by Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. Watson?  Countless movies, television shows and books have been written about this character.  Whether it is the old atmospheric movies starring Basil Rathbone or the newer ones starring Robert Downey, Jr., the television series such as the British Sherlock starring the irrepressible Benedict Cumberbatch or the American show Elementary featuring Jonny Lee Miller as the detective, we can't get enough of this character.  There are books written studying the phenomena and even books that claim to help you 'think like Sherlock Holmes'.  We love this character.

Anthony Horowitz has been authorized by the Doyle family to continue the series and give the reader new Sherlock stories.  Moriarty is his second Holmes novel after the success of the first, The House Of Silk.  In this novel, the story revolves about what happens after the climatic scene at Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland when Sherlock and Moriarity tumble over the falls and are swallowed up by the mist. 

With the death of the two adversaries, a vacuum exists and we all know how nature views a vacuum.  Soon, another crime mastermind emerges and wrecks havoc in London.  Two detectives pair up to attempt to bring this new criminal to justice.  Frederick Chase is an American Pinkerton detective while Athelney Jones works at Scotland Yard and helped Sherlock on some cases.  Together they attempt to use the precepts they learned from Sherlock to solve the most infamous case since his fateful fall.

Horowitz has written a novel that will be must reading for Sherlock Holmes fans.  There are twists and turns and plot secrets but all along the motto remains the same; the most famous Sherlock maxim: "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."  I've always been a huge fan as are many IT employees.  Holmes' use of logic over emotion and rationality as king is a huge attraction.  This book is recommended both for diehard Holmes fans and for mystery readers new to the characters.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

A fifteen-year old teenager, Holly Sykes, runs away from home.  Her parents disapprove of her boyfriend and she is ready to chuck school and everything else for him.  When she discovers that he is not as entranced with her, she takes off to show everyone how much they will miss her.  Holly isn't your normal English teenager.  She has always been the one who knows a little too much; psychic phenomena surround her.  Holly isn't sure if the voices she hears are real, but she knows she hears them.

When Holly returns home after a weekend on her own, it is to a changed world.  Her family has been disrupted and things will never return to normal.  Holly is also changed and as she becomes an adult, she enters the life of various individuals, who are also changed by meeting her.  These individuals return throughout her life, with actions in one decade echoing and returning in later ones.  Holly is the nucleus; the focus of two groups of mystics; one who wants to help humanity while another wishes only to prey upon it.  Both regard Holly as a pivotal player in the fight for dominance.

David Mitchell is one of the finest novelists working today.  His prose is always entrancing; the reader led along only to be surprised at the destination at which they arrive.  This is his first entry into fantasy, although some would put his novel Cloud Atlas in that category.  Like that novel, this one depends on interrelated stories and relationships to advance the narrative and the reader is not disappointed at the end result.  This book has been longlisted for the Mann Booker Prize for 2014 and is a highly original work.  It is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The River Of Souls by Robert McCammon

In 1703, there is more scope in society for a man such as Matthew Corbett.  Matthew is what he calls a 'problem-solver', someone who those in need can turn to when life has thrown them a curve ball.  As the novel begins, Corbett is given an easy assignment.  A rich man in Charles Town, South Carolina, wants to hire Corbett to escort his daughter to a local ball.  Corbett, at loose ends after a difficult assignment, agrees since it seems a good break from his usual strenuous work, although he expects that the daughter must be very unattractive indeed if her father is reduced to hiring out of towners to escort her.

When Corbett meets the young lady, he is astonished to find that she is gorgeous.  They go to the ball, where he discovers the reason she needs a paid escort.  A local man, huge and unsocial, has decided that he will marry the rich debutante and challenges anyone who escorts her to a duel.  Matthew defeats this man, Magnus Muldoon, in a duel of wits as he realizes that the lady enjoys the attention way too much and there is no reason for bloodshed.

But blood is shed.  The daughter of a local plantation owner is murdered, and a slave is suspected.  The slave, along with his father and brother, have run away.  The plantation owner sets a reward for their return, one so high that an entire group of trackers and local men start after them.  They quickly see that the slaves have run away up the local Solstice River, which is known as The River Of Souls and is widely suspected of being cursed.  Matthew teams up with Muldoon, who he has befriended after the dance fiasco.

This starts an adventure that quickly turns Corbett's easy trip into a nightmare.  The group encounters aggressive Indians, snakes, alligators, quicksand, impenetrable bush, and a terror known as the Soul Cryer.  Then there is the human treachery and greed to content with.  Men start to drop and soon Corbett and Muldoon wonder if they will ever leave the River Of Souls alive.

This is the fifth book in Robert McCammon's Matthew Corbett series.  Matthew is an unusual man who lives by his wits but isn't afraid to get physical when needed.  Characters from the earlier books make an appearance but don't affect the reader's ability to read this novel as a stand-alone.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction or suspense. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Booksie's Shelves, December 3, 2014

December already!  It's hard to believe 2014 is almost over but it's been a year full of great reading.  For the first time I can remember, I'm not requesting any books this year.  I'm overwhelmed with the stacks already here and need to make a major dent in what I already own. At last count, I have around 6500 books in my physical library and about 1500 ebooks so it's time to start widdling the stacks down. I read and review everything I accept, but have become more selective in what I accept since the early days of blogging.  On the other hand, I have just joined the Kindle Unlimited program once I realized that some of the books were audio and that I could listen to them while I exercise.  I'd been going to the library to get audiobooks, and really, that is like setting a child loose in a toy shop so the Kindle Unlimited option will work better for me.  Here's what's come through the door lately:

1.  Grown Ups, Robin Antalek, women's literature, sent by publisher
2.  Hush Hush, Laura Lippman, mystery, sent by publisher
3.  The Kind Worth Killing, Peter Swanson, mystery, sent by publisher
4.  The Wilderness Of Ruin, Roseanne Montillo, mystery, sent by publisher
5.  The Fragile World, Paula DeBoard, literary fiction, sent by a friend
6.  Everlasting Lane, Andrew Lovett, literary fiction, sent by publisher
7.  The Barter, Siobhan Adcock, suspense, sent by publisher
8.  Well In Time, Suzan Still, historical fiction, sent by author
9.  Alphabet House, Jussi Adler-Olsen, mystery, sent by publisher
10.  Lost And Found, Brooke Davis, literary fiction, sent by publisher
11.  The Pocket Atlas Of Remote Islands, Judith Schalansky, travel and reference, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of The Year, Volume 6, various, Kindle
2.  Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter, paperback
3. The River Of Souls, Robert McCammon, paperback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  Sold For Endless Rue, Madeleine Robins, hardback
6.  The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell, hardback
7.  The Rise And Fall Of Great Powers, Tom Rachman, paperback
8.  The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters, Kindle Fire
9.  Bittersweet, Miranda Beverly-Whitemore, paperback
10.  The Hidden Ones, Nancy Madore, paperback
11.  The Perfect Stranger, Wendy Corsi Staub, paperback
12.  The Orchid Affair, Lauren Willig, hardback

 Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Maze by Catherine Coulter

The String Killer is a serial killer who walks his victims through a maze and kills them when they reach the center.  Seven years ago, he killed seven women in San Francisco, then stopped.  Now he has struck again, but in Boston this time.

New FBI Agent Lacey Sherlock has a special interest in The String Killer.  His last victim in San Francisco was her beloved half-sister, Belinda, and she is determined to track him down and make him pay for her crimes.  Although she was a budding concert pianist, she changed her major and took degrees in criminal psychology and forensics, readying herself for the task of tracking the killer.  She joins the FBI and catches the eye of the chief of a new computer division that focuses on using technology to discern patterns to catch serial killers.  She is assigned to the new division, and uses it to continue her research into the man who changed her life forever.

When the killer returns to killing, Lacey has a chance to track him down.  But this is a wily killer.  Will she be able to capture him before he captures and kills her?

Catherine Coulter has written an engaging mystery that keeps the reader interested.  The killer is diabolical, the plot fast-paced.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The French Executioner by C. C. Humphreys

Jean Rombaud is renowned for his skill as an executioner.  His services are called in when the person to be executed is shown some mercy, for his stroke is sure and strong and there is no suffering as in the many botched executions.  He is called to England to serve as the executioner for the English queen, Anne Boleyn.

Jean goes to visit Anne the night before the execution to reassure her.  He finds her stoic and ready for her death, but she has one request.  She asks that he take her hand with its famous six fingers at the same time he takes her head.  She wants him to take it to Europe and bury it at a sacred crossroads in France.  Jean agrees and with his oath, starts a journey that will take months and more from him than he ever imagined.

For this is no easy mission.  There are other forces who want the hand for themselves and the magical powers they believe it contains.  Jean assembles a group of friends who bind to each other and fight together to reach the goal.  There is Fuggar, the son of a famous German banking family, exiled from them in disgrace.  Haakon is a Norse mercenary who has fought with Jean on other battlegrounds.  Januc is a Muslim fighter who has survived many battles.  Beck is a Jewish youth who is determined to rescue her father from the courts of the evil religious Cardinal, Cibo.  Cibo wants the hand for its magical powers and is determined to do anything to capture it.

C. C. Humphreys never disappoints.  His tales are always full of great characters and tons of action.  He is a storyteller who sweeps the reader up and takes them on a magical ride.  The reader visits debauched religious courts, a town under the curse of Saint Anthony's fire, a siege, the galley on a pirate ship and many other adventures.  The action is underwritten by the love between the group that Jean assembles.  This is absolutely one of my favorite books of 2014.  This book is recommended for readers of fantasy and those who enjoy historical action literature.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Rule Of Nine by Steve Martini

San Diego lawyer Paul Madriani seems to draw trouble.  Months ago, he was drawn into the hunt for a near-miss nuclear device at a naval base.  The authorities weren't convinced Madriani wasn't involved and the time afterwards put him and his law practice into limbo as he was interviewed over and over again.  He was finally exonerated, but not before the media got his name and his life became media hell with reporters staked out at his home and work.  He was forced to suspend his law practice and live in a safe house provided by the federal authorities.  He also drew the attention of a hitman known as Liquidia, who knows Madriani saw him and could identify him.

Finally, things are settling down.  Madriani is able to return home and reopen his practice.  His daughter is living with him rather than out on her own as many girls her age do.  Then things start up again.  An intern in Washington is killed and his father comes to see Madriani as his name turned up in the investigation.  As Madriani puts the pieces together with the help of his investigator, he starts to hear the name Thorn.  Thorn is a weapons dealer, willing and able to sell his goods to the highest bidder regardless of what they plan to do with them.  He is connected with Liquidia and it becomes clear that Madriani is again a target.

The lawyer sends his daughter away to a safe place and then hits the road with Herman, his investigator.  They join forces with Jocelyn, a weapons control expert, who has the political connections to get information the lawyer can't get on his own.  The three uncover a plot that will rattle the entire country if successful.  It's a race against time to thwart the plot, while trying to evade the sure death that Liquidia is determined to mete out.

This is the eleventh novel in the Paul Madriani series, and thriller readers will be glad to read it and anxious for the twelfth.  Martini's legal background makes the action and research realistic.  He has practiced law in both state and federal courts as well as serving as an administrative law judge.  The plot is readily followed yet sophisticated and connected to recent events to add another level of suspense.  This book is recommended for readers of thrillers. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mortom by Erik Therme

Andy Crowl hasn't been to Mortom for years.  His aunt Mary and cousin Craig live there, but the small town doesn't have anything to attract a young man, and he isn't really close with his relatives.  Craig used to spend time in the summers with Andy's family, but about the only thing they had in common was their attraction to puzzles and their skill in unraveling them. 

It's a shock when Craig is found drowned in the lake surrounding Mortom.  It's even more of a shock when Andy finds out that Craig left everything he owned, his house, his belongings, his bank accounts to Andy.  Why would he do that?  Why cut his mother out of his will?

Andy and his sister Kate come to town to settle the estate and sign all the necessary papers.  When he does, Andy discovers that his cousin Craig has left one more thing, a puzzle for Andy that seems to promise a treasure at the end of the hunt.  A puzzle that has a timeline; four days, and a suggestion that bad things will occur if the puzzle isn't solved in time.  Has Craig left a blessing or a curse?

Mortom is Erik Therme's debut novel and readers will be interested to follow his career and see what he does next.  He has created a chilling atmosphere that delves beneath the secrets a small town harbors; recreating a place where everyone knows everyone's business and no one tells an outsider anything.  The story has the timeline of the puzzle to propel the action and the reader can't help but wonder if Andy and his sister will solve the mystery in time.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Booksie's Shelves, November 16, 2014

The calendar may say fall, but cold weather has arrived in North Carolina.  Our temps yesterday morning were in the mid-20's and that's very cold for us.  It felt even colder as my husband was running his first 5K and we were outside for about three hours.  He did great and I'm so proud of him?  Now we're home and with nothing but cold weather it's time for reading.  Here's what's come through the door lately:

1.  Flesh And Blood, Patricia Cornwell, mystery, sent by publisher
2,  One Step Too Far, Tina Seskis, mystery, sent by publisher
3.  The Pocket Wife, Susan Crawford, mystery, sent by publisher
4.  Wildalone, Krassi Zourkova, mystery, sent by publisher
5.  Those Who Remain, Ruth Crocker, historical fiction, sent by publisher
6.  A Tree Born Crooked, Steph Post, mystery, sent by author
7.  A Certain Justice, P.D. James, mystery, from bring-one, take-one shelves at Sports Center
8.  Blue Labyrinth, Preston & Child, mystery, sent by publisher
9.  The Maruaders, Tom Cooper, suspense, Shelf Awareness win
10.  Murder At The Book Group, Maggie King, mystery, sent by publisher
11.  The Shadow Of His Wings, Bruce Fergusson, fantasy, bought
12.  The Mace Of Souls, Bruce Fergusson, fantasy, sent by author
13.  Custer's Gold, John Lubetkin, historical fiction, sent by author
14.  Neurotic November, Barbara Levenson, mystery, sent by publisher
15.  Palm Beach Nasty, Tom Turner, mystery, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of The Year, Volume 6, various, Kindle
2.  Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter, paperback
3.  The Rule Of Nine, Steve Martini, hardback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  Sold For Endless Rue, Madeleine Robins, hardback
6.  New York, Edward Rutherfurd, paperback
7.  The Rise And Fall Of Great Powers, Tom Rachman, paperback
8.  The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters, Kindle Fire
9.  Bittersweet, Miranda Beverly-Whitemore, paperback
10.  The Hidden Ones, Nancy Madore, paperback
11.  The Queen's Executioner, C.C. Humphries, paperback

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Perfidia by James Ellroy

The time is December 1941.  Specifically, December 6th, the day before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor to December 29th.  The place is Los Angeles, a city built on diverse populations, Tinseltown, law enforcement and criminal schemes. 

A Japanese family has been murdered.  Husband, wife, son and daughter, all killed and made to appear as a ritual Japanese suicide.  The police investigate but much more than a murder is involved.  There are land grabs, Japanese internments, patriotism, Fifth Column traitors, the world of boxing, fascists and criminals, tong wars, opium, movie stars, religion and eugenic manipulation.

The main characters are these:  William Parker and Dudley Smith are both policemen.  They are rivals to replace the chief when he retires in a few years.  Hideo Ashida is a Japanese policeman who has insights into the crime and switches allegiances between the two men depending on who can protect him and his family from arrest and internment.  Ashida is Dr. Ashida and is one of the first forensic policeman who can solve crimes from the evidence left.  Kay Lake is a twenty-one year old Midwestern girl who came to Los Angeles to act but found herself acting roles in men's fantasies instead. 

James Ellroy has written a compelling novel that outlines the city right after the start of World War II.  This is not a city and a police force to be glorified.  It is a city and police force mired in crime and double-dealing and betrayal.  Nothing is too sacred to be sacrificed on the alter of greed and self-aggrandizement.  The book seems to spin out of control but Ellroy keeps a master's hand on the narrative, bringing it to a conclusion that few readers will see coming.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and those who enjoy noir literature.