Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster

This is a trio of novellas by the author Paul Auster.  The books are City Of Glass, Ghosts and The Locked Room.  In City Of Glass, Quinn, an author who writes detective stories, finds himself involved in solving a mystery that is stranger than anything he ever created.  In Ghosts, a man named Blue, trained by Brown, has been hired by White to watch and report on Black.  He devotes his life to this only to discover that Black is watching him also.

The final novella is the most finely developed.  In it, the best friend of a man named Fanshawe is contacted by Fanshawe's wife.  She reports that he has disappeared and she is sure that by now he is dead.  He has left an extensive library of his writing, and instructions that if anything were to happen to him, his friend was to be notified and become the literary executor of his writings.  The writings are, surprisingly, snapped up and soon recognized as works of genius and the man soon falls in love with Fanshaw's wife and becomes part of her life.

Auster's work is concerned with the difficulties of identity, how we define ourselves and whether our definition is truth or only what is easiest for us to believe.  The novellas show how easily humans are thrown off their routine lives and tipped into strange occurrences that leave them grasping for meaning.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Cutting by James Hayman

Detective Mike McCabe left his career as a homicide detective in New York City.  He has bad memories there.  His brother was gunned down and killed there and his marriage fell apart.  The department had him under a cloud of suspicion after he ended up shooting the man who killed his brother.  With all of that baggage, moving to Portland, Maine should give him a new start. 

But Portland isn't as restful as he thought it would be.  A teenage soccer star went missing and is found a week later dead, mutilated with her heart missing.  When he checks, he suspects this isn't the first murder like this and another woman just went missing.  On top of that, his ex-wife after three years has decided it's time to re-enter his daughter's life.

McCabe and his partner, Maggie Savage investigate and soon have a suspect.  They start to believe that this is a pattern that has occurred many more times than they suspected and that it concerns a group rather than one individual.  When the conspiracy appears to have roots in Florida, New York, Boston and North Carolina, they realize that they are facing something no one has seen before.  Can they find the killer before more women are killed?

This is the first book in the McCabe/Savage series.  which has five novels at the time of this review.  This one is a promising start with fully drawn lead characters and a fast-paced plot that still gives the reader a view into police procedure.  Although the plot line has been done before, Hayman breathes fresh life into it and his characters and the tensions between them insure the reader's attention is retained until the end.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

It was summer in England and a group of twelve year olds had it to themselves.  Their parents worked and anyhow, who really watched kids in 1986?  They spent the days playing in the woods or on the playground, riding their bikes and trying to impress each other.   Each has his own issues.  Eddie's mother has just opened the first abortion clinic in town and their family is getting threats.  Fat Gov is the leader as he is the most confident; his parents run the local pub.  Hoppo's mother was the local cleaning woman.  Metal Mickey had an obnoxious older brother who loved to make the gang's life miserable.  Nicky was the only girl; her father was the preacher and he had a group that protested at the clinic every day.

The kids led a generally carefree life but that summer everything changed.  It started at the fair where they witnessed a horrific accident and Eddie helped save a life, making him a hero for a while.  The real hero was their teacher, Mr. Halloran.  That was the summer they got chalk and spent time leaving coded messages for each other.  That was also the year they found out about death.

Now it's thirty years later and Micky has come back to town, the most apparent success among them all.  Eddie is now a teacher himself but still lives in the same house where he rents a room to a young woman named Chloe.  Fat Gov now runs the pub his parents ran and Hoppo is still his best friend.  Micky left town and is a successful ad executive.  Nicky moved away after the events of that summer and the guys lost track of her long ago. 

Micky comes to see Ed (as he now thinks of himself) and Ed's not sure he's glad about it.  Micky wants to make money off the events of that summer thirty years ago and the gang who discovered the bodies.  He's back in town to try to get Ed to help with the writing of a book and has lined up media events.  But his return leads to the return of tensions and death.  Can Ed and his gang from that long ago summer find the truth once and for all?

C.J. Tudor has written a nostalgic yet suspenseful psychological thriller that readers will enjoy.  This is her debut novel but won't be her last as this one is getting great reviews.  Each character is fully developed and readers will remember their own young days and young friendships, taut with shared adventures and the first stirrings of danger and betrayals.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Victims by Jonathan Kellerman

No one is very surprised that Vita Berlin is a murder victim.  A thoroughly unpleasant woman who rarely left her apartment, she had nothing but venomous speech whenever she encountered anyone.  Her neighbors lived in fear of upsetting her.  But who did she upset enough to have her body left in the way it was?  Even seasoned policeman blanched.

The case is assigned to Milo Sturgis and he brings in his psychologist friend Alex Delaware as the killer has to be out of the ordinary.  When additional victims start to show up, that assumption becomes even more likely.  There is nothing to connect the victims; nothing but the fact that each is an unpleasant person.  Yet there is no doubt that the same killer is at work.  In addition to the gruesome bodies left, every crime scene had some paper with a large question mark prominently displayed.  Can Milo and Alex find the killer?

This is the twenty-seventh novel in the Alex Delaware series.  The series has been successful due to the interplay between the psychologist and the policeman.  One is all about the surface facts while the other delves deep into personality disorders.  Together they are a formidable team as the length and success of the series will attest.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

This is the big break Lo Blacklock has been waiting for.  She has been marking time at a small travel magazine, waiting on a promotion that is unlikely to happen at such a small enterprise.  But a marvelous opportunity has fallen in her lap.  Her boss falls ill and is unable to go on a maiden voyage cruise and chooses Lo to go in her place.  If she does a good job, she can either get that promotion or make enough buzz to move to another job.

This should be an easy assignment to find plenty to write about.  The cruise ship is small, just ten suites.  It is the latest brainchild of the fabulously wealthy Richard Bullmar, a young entrepreneur whose every idea turns to gold.  This inaugural trip of the Aurora will have Bullmer and his wife, some of his friends and various media representatives.  They will go from England to Norway, which is his wife's homeland.  The hope is that they will get to experience the Northern Lights in addition to utter luxury aboard.

But things don't go well.  The first night, Lo is in her bed.  Yes, she drank too much at the first dinner but she knows when she bolts upright out of a sound sleep that something is wrong.  She hears a scream, then a huge splash as if a body has hit the water.  Looking next door from her veranda, she sees that the door is streaked with blood.  Surely someone has fallen into the ocean.

She calls the chief steward but things don't go well.  He insists that there was no one in the adjoining cabin even when Lo insists that she met the woman there before the dinner.  When she describes the woman, he takes her around to meet all the staff and there is no one that matches the description.  Since it is a small ship, there is only a handful of staff.  Even worse, the steward suggests that Lo was mistaken; that she was either intoxicated or that she is paranoid and looking for attention.  But someone believes her and that someone is determined to stop Lo before she can get the ear of someone who matters.  Will that person succeed?

Ruth Ware has written an intriguing thriller that will keep readers guessing.  The suspense builds quickly and the updates from Lo's home as her family and boyfriend start to suspect something is wrong add to the mystery.  Ruth Ware has had a couple of best selling mysteries and she is a new star in the genre.  This book is recommended for suspense readers.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Dunbar by Edward St. Aubryn

Henry Dunbar should be a happy man.  He created a massive media empire over which he ruled for many years, a feared and influential man.  So how has he ended up in Meadowmeade, a sanatorium for the very wealthy but a prison nonetheless?  It's amazing how little it took to strip Henry of his empire.  Take two greedy daughters, Megan and Abby.  Once they recruited Henry's personal physician to give him drugs to disorient his mind, things escalated rapidly, ending in Henry's total loss of freedom and access to funds.  He has one more daughter, Florence, but Henry pushed her aside a while back when she refused to get caught up in the battles of the business, opting instead to move to a remote location and live with her husband and children.

But Henry has a plan.  He's been hiding his medicine for a while now instead of taking it and his mind is getting clearer.  Along with his best friend in the clinic, he plans to escape and then take back his empire.  The initial phase goes well and they escape, but the friend opts to return, leaving Henry to push onward into the fog and mountain passes of the rural England landscape.  Can a man in his condition survive?  Who will find him, his two older daughters or his younger one who has forgiven him everything?

Hogarth Publishing has undertaken having authors rewrite Shakespeare's plays in a more modern setting.  This title is the rewrite of King Lear and as that title was, is full of drama and tragedy.  It ponders the question of what is really important in life, titles and money and fulfilling work or family and love?  Henry is not a positive main character although there is much to admire in him.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Riverman by Alex Gray

When Duncan Forbe's body is pulled from the River Clyde in Glasgow, DCI William Latimer is called in to investigate.  Forbes had been at a going away party for another member of his accounting firm and everyone's first thought was that he had overindulged and fallen in.  But when drugs are found in his system, it becomes clear that this was no accident.

As Lorimer and his team interrogate the other members of the firm, they pick up an uneasiness and reluctance to talk.  When the man the party was given for is reported found dead in America where his new job was to be, suspicions rise higher.  When a flirtatious member of the HR Department is found dead in her apartment, it is crystal clear that the accounting firm has big secrets that are also dangerous.

Lorimer pulls in his psychologist friend, Solly, who is helpful in gauging personalities during interrogations and in looking at the case from a different perspective.  Solly has helped Lorimer on other cases and his insights are once again an impetus to Lorimer's thought processes.  Can the two men and the Glasgow Police discover what is going on before more lives are lost?

Alex Gray has written eleven novels in the DCI Lorimer series with another one coming in the spring of 2018.  Lorimer is not a flashy detective or one who ignores police procedure.  Instead, he uses the investigative tools available to him along with his own common sense to solve the murders that mar the Glasgow landscape.  His use of the psychologist as a consultant lends more interest to the cases but it is always clear who is in charge.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer

It is 1906 and Delia Martin has returned home to San Francisco.   She is a wealthy young woman and the world should be her oyster.  Her best friend, more like a sister, is getting married and Delia is there to help plan the wedding.  But things are not as good as they seem.  San Francisco is being targeted by a serial killer; one who created havoc thirty years ago and who now is back at his killing ways.  This time, he may have Delia in his sights.

Her friend's fiance is a policeman and through him Delia meets Gabe.  Gabe is heading up the investigation into the killer.  Little does he know the help that Delia will be.  For Delia has always been able to see through the veil and sense spirits.  She has been accompanied for many months by a ghost that won't leave and is determined that Delia help her.  With the help of a medium, Delia realizes that this woman was a victim of the serial killer thirty years ago and she is determined to help bring the man to justice this time around.  Can Delia help Gabe finally put an end to him?

Jaime Lee Moyer has created an interesting historical mystery.  She has researched San Francisco after the great quake and provides a peak not only into that but into topics such as the Fair that followed it, wedding customs in the early part of the century and police methods.  The romance that builds between Delia and Gabe is expected and handled well.  This book is recommended for readers who enjoy historical mysteries.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Booksie's Shelves, January 2, 2018

It's a start of another new year and Booksie wishes all readers a happy, healthy prosperous year!  I'm doing a 2017 wrap up of my reading year along with a listing of what's come through the door lately and the books I'm in the midst of reading.  In 2017, I read a total of 117 books.  I met the following reading goals:

1.  I read more classics.  This year I read East Of Eden, Bleak House and Moby Dick.
2.  I read a lot more of my own books that are sitting on shelves and in piles. 
3.  I made progress in catching up in series by Mo Hayder, Michael Connelly, Jonathan Kellerman and John Sandford.

I rate my books on a scale of 1-5.  This year the fives included:

1.  The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson
2.  Bleak House, Charles Dickens
3.  The Stress Of Her Regard, Tim Powers
4.  The Lies Of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch
5.  American Gods, Neil Gaiman
6.  Smoke, Dan Vyleta
7.  A Dark So Deadly, Stuart MacBride
8.  A Gentleman In Moscow, Amor Towles
9.  Shame, Salman Rushdie
10.  My Absolute Darling, Gabriel Tallent

Here's what's come through the doors lately:

1.  Morse's Greatest Mystery, Colin Dexter, mystery anthology, won at a party
2. Bone Music, Christopher Rice, mystery, sent for book tour
3.  The Undoing Project, Michael Lewis, nonfiction, won at a party
4.  Swing Time, Zadie Smith, fiction, purchased
5.  The Broken Girls, Simone St. James, suspense, won in a contest
6.  The Chalk Man, C.J. Tudor, mystery, sent for book tour
7.  Still Me, Jojo Moyes, literary fiction, sent by publisher
8.  The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin, fantasy, gift from my son
9.  The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin, fantasy, gift from my son
10.  The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin, fantasy, gift from my son
11.  The Mechanical, Ian Tregillis, sci fi, gift from my son
12.  The Rising, Ian Tregillis, sci fi, gift from my son
13.  The Liberation, Ian Tregillis, sci fi, gift from my son

Here's what I'm reading:

1.  Career Of Evil, Robert Galbraith, audio
2.  Strangler, Cory Mitchell, Kindle
3.  You, Caroline Kepnes, paper
4.  The Jury Returns, Louis Nizer, hardback
5.  The New York Trilogy, Paul Auster, paper
6.  The Riverman, Alex Gray, Kindle Fire

7.  A Book Of American Martyrs, Joyce Carol Oates, Kindle Fire
8.  Astonish Me, Maggie Shipstead, Kindle
9.  The Abomination, Jonathan Holt, Kindle Fire
10.  Delia's Shadow, Jamie Lee Moyer, hardback

11,  Victims, Jonathan Kellerman, paper

Happy Reading!