Dead Anyway by Chris Knopf, read by Donald Corren
Rating: * * * * *
Being dead allows a man to investigate his own murder.
This book kept me absolutely riveted. Each twist and turn was more fascinating than the last. Consider it a primer on fraud, intrigue, identity theft, and erasing oneself. To say more would spoil the story. I highly recommend this book.
Codename Wolf by Gil Hogg
Rating: * * *
Roger Conway joins the British secret service on a lark, then, still a novice, finds himself thrown into a high-stakes operation including a new Cuban missile crisis, assassination attempts, and a clandestine group of operatives known as The Disciples.
Roger’s route to the secret intelligence service is entertaining: dishonest, but ingenious, with a bit of luck thrown in. The book is well written, moving along quickly and with plenty of red herrings and conspiracy theories. Yarham, Roger’s right-hand man, is the most interesting and only likeable character in the book: intelligent, quick-witted, content without being stodgy. Roger is tiresome. Four stars for the idea and the writing style. Two stars for the story.
Through NetGalley, I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
The Prostitutes’ Ball (Shane Scully series #10) by Stephen J. Cannell
Rating: * * * *
Shane Scully of the LAPD, lead detective on a triple homicide case at a posh estate, and his new movie-business-obsessed partner, Hitch, uncover details about another triple homicide that occurred at the same estate 25 years prior.
Despite the provocative title, what drew me to this book is the name Stephen J. Cannell. His name was a familiar sight on TV credits some years ago: he created/co-created The Rockford Files, 21 Jump Street and many other highly successful series.
This is a well-crafted, suspenseful story within a story. Really, it’s like a set of nesting dolls: open one set and find another nesting inside. Open that, find yet another inside. Every time I thought I had the plot figured out, it veered. Just when I was confident Scully was the guy wearing the white hat, he’d be faced with an ethical dilemma and I’d hold my breath and will him to make the right decision – only to realize all was not as it appeared and the whole situation was different than I thought. I had Hitch categorized in my mind, only to find he didn’t fit the categories into which I tried to squeeze him.
An engrossing tale encompassing murder, drugs, midlife crisis, greed, purpose and lack thereof, motivations personal and business, it unfolds like a 3-act play. I look forward to reading other books in the Shane Scully series.
The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick, narrated by William Dufris
Rating: * * * *
Homer, a boy with a talent for telling entertaining stories (some might call them tall tales) sets off on a heck of an adventure when he attempts to save his brother Harold, who was sold to the army during the Civil War. Homer meets a motley assortment of characters with interesting names like Professor Fleabottom.
William Dufris does an absolutely delightful narration of this story. All the character voices are distinct from one another, and each voice brings the character to life so that even minor characters become memorable.
Wildly funny and adventurous, the story nevertheless contains an undercurrent of sadness as Homer encounters kidnapping, thievery, war, incarceration, and death. The journey to recover Harold complete, Homer finishes up his account (mostly true) with humor and optimism, leaving the reader/listener wondering what is next for him – and knowing that whatever it is, it will be entertaining!
If you like this story and/or this narrator, you may also enjoy the Holmes on the Range series by Steve Hockensmith.
The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
Rating: * * * * *
Kate O’Hara, FBI, and Nick Fox, con man and thief, have a thing for each other. After years of skirmishes, O’Hara chasing Fox and him narrowly escaping each time, she finally nabs him. Then the fun begins! The FBI makes a deal with Fox to put him and O’Hara together on an assignment to catch an embezzler. Assembling an unlikely team, they set out to chase the bad guy and recover the money, slinging sarcasm and woo liberally along the way.
Movie, TV, and book references abound: James Bond, Overboard, Fantasy Island, Rudyard Kipling. Who knew such a varied collection could be lumped into one story and make any kind of sense? As with any good tale, the mere mention of these other stories evokes background images that enhance The Heist even more.
At one point I laughed so hard it became necessary to set the book down for fear I would drop it and lose my page.
Having read the prequel, a novella called Pros and Cons, I knew I would be reading this book. Now I can hardly wait for the next installment in the series.
If you like this book, you may also enjoy Star Island by Carl Hiaasen.