Tag Archives: murder

As the Crow Flies

As the Crow Flies (DI Nick Dixon Book One) by Damien Boyd

Pub. 1/20/2015
Thomas & Mercer
Rating: * * *

Detective Inspector Nick Dixon suspects his former climbing partner’s death is not the accident it initially appears to be. Drawn into the investigation, he learns his friend had become involved in illegal activities with dangerous and unscrupulous associates. The body count rises as Dixon unravels the web of lies and cover-ups.

As the Crow Flies holds the interest and moves along quickly. The other investigations in the story – Dixon’s day job – are every bit as interesting as the climbing death investigation (perhaps more so). The ending plays out differently than I anticipated.

Thank you to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for the copy I received in exchange for a review.

Superior Justice

Superior Justice, a Lake Superior Mystery
by Tom Hilpert
(c) 2008 Tom Hilpert

Rating: * * * *

Daniel Spooner died on a Tuesday in early May, just as the lunch hour was ending in Grand Lake.

The lunch hour part made me chuckle and ensured I would continue reading. And what a fun read this is!

Meet Rev. Jonah Borden, Lutheran pastor in a small town on Minnesota’s North Shore, who fuels his day with copious amounts of coffee and gourmet food and listens to rock music and goes fishing as often as time permits.

Jonah cracks wise as he tries to help clear a man he knows to be innocent of a vigilante murder, only to find himself charged with murder. And other unscrupulous dealings.

Superior Justice is thoroughly entertaining and a quick read.

Guilt by Degrees

Guilt by Degrees (Rachel Knight #2) by Marcia Clark
Copyright 4/30/13
Mulholland Books
Rating: * * *

What I like…The snark:  Rachel and her ‘tude are a hoot.  The dialogue is reasonably believable.  The story moves right along and there’s always more than meets the eye, lots of twists and turns and realizations and re-examinations of the evidence.

What I don’t like…The length:  the book is 450 pages.  The constant name-dropping of L.A. restaurants/eateries/bars, expensive vodkas, etc.  If the book were shorter and had fewer details about lunch and drink orders, I would rate it 4 stars.

The long and short of it…I enjoy the Rachel Knight series, at least books 1 and 2 (I haven’t read the others yet).  The office politics in the district attorney’s office, as well as the interplay between the police and the D.A.’s office, make for good reading, especially when enlivened by Knight’s brand of sarcastic wit.

Thank you to Mulholland Books and NetGalley for the copy I received in exchange for a review.

Tenderloin

Tenderloin by Ty Hutchinson

Published June 3, 2013 by Patchwork Press

Rating:  * *

Abby Kane, FBI agent and former homicide detective, is dispatched to Colombia, South America to investigate the brutal murder of a DEA agent.

And that’s where it falls apart.  Abby does not inspire confidence, and without believing in Abby the story doesn’t work. Since she is not familiar with Colombia or the drug cartels, it never makes sense to me that she is the agent sent to Colombia.  Worse, when she arrives in Colombia she demonstrates poor professional judgment on a number of fronts.

I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

The Boy in the Suitcase

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis, narrated by Katherine Kellgren

Rating:  * * * *

Desperation permeates this fascinating, tense thriller that races between Lithuania and Denmark, following the path of a little boy found in a suitcase in Copenhagen.  Where does he come from, and how did he come to be in a suitcase in a train station?

Narrator Katherine Kellgren enhances the intensity of the presentation as she speeds up in tense moments and slows down as realization sets in.  She ably presents accents for each of the multitude of characters of various ethnic and monetary backgrounds.

Every character in this book is desperate:  the women desperately afraid and unhappy and frail, the men self-centered and short-sighted and insecure.  I hung on every word of the narration, rather desperate myself to hear the resolution, while also hoping reality does not include this much everyday despair.

The Last Savanna

The Last Savanna by Mike Bond

Rating:  *

Ian MacAdam, a white man who has lived most of his adult life in Kenya, joins a group to hunt down ivory poachers.  Learning that the poachers have kidnapped an archaeologist with whom he had been involved several years prior, he strives to save her as well as capture the poachers.  Meanwhile, the poachers’ story – their clan relationships, the circumstances that led them to poaching, what they hope to gain – is told in alternating chapters.

Bond touches on the “beauty of [Africa’s] perilous deserts, jungles, and savannas” (from the publisher’s description).  The poachers and their pursuers travel vast distances through a multitude of ecosystems, encountering wildlife as varied as hyenas, elephants, and scorpions.  And don’t forget the domesticated camels.  These elements are fascinating.

Despite that, I did not enjoy this book.  The publisher indicates this is a story of “the deep, abiding power of love.”  I find no indication of abiding love, or in fact even fleeting love.  Instead, it’s a story of men squabbling over women they want to own; jealousy that the other might be the first to rape a woman of the wrong skin color; and the ingrained belief that women are entirely evil and that their only worth is in providing service and children to men.  The two women in this book (Dottie, MacAdam’s wife; and Rebecca, MacAdam’s mistress) bow to the narrative of the men in this book.  MacAdam views the poacher-hunting as a way to re-capture love (or perhaps purpose) in his life, but to do so he spurns his wife who has begged him to re-engage with her.

Slap any label on it that you wish:  freedom, religion, the urge to live life to the fullest.  In the end, it boils down to pure selfishness.

I received an advance reader copy through NetGalley.

Dead Anyway

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.

Lucky Stiff

Lucky Stiff (Lucky O’Toole Vegas Adventure Series #2) by Deborah Coonts, read by Renee Raudman

Rating:  * * * *

We begin with the buzz of a tractor-trailer load of honeybees overturning on the Vegas Strip.  Then the really bizarre things start happening!

Lucky, head of customer service at a glitzy Vegas casino/hotel, handily deals with the honeybee crisis, then moves on to save hunky P.I. Jeremy Whitlock from a murder rap when local bookmaker Numbers Neidermeyer is discovered in the shark tank.

Blessed with an abundance of eye-pleasing men in her life, Lucky has also earned the friendship, loyalty, and cooperation of a number of colorful characters including her cross-dressing (but only when on stage) boyfriend; flamboyant and effervescent mother, a brothel madam; a local mob boss; and The Big Boss at her own casino, who is currently dating her mother.

Renee Raudman’s narrative style and voice are uniquely suited to stories such as this:  quirky, off-beat, over-the-top, full of backhanded wit.  Few readers could bring this story to colorful life the way she can, exactly what I would have pictured were I reading the written word.

The Silent Wife

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison, audiobook read by Karen White and Donald Corren

Rating:  * * * *

Jodi and Todd, together for 20 years, are unraveling as a couple.  Todd goes too far and Jodi can no longer tolerate his philandering.  Todd no longer sees the need to pretend he has only one reality, the one he inhabits with Jodi.

Told in alternating “his” and “hers” chapters, this is an unnerving tale related through Jodi’s dogged denial and Todd’s casual ability to lead multiple lives.  The life they have built together is equally as solid as a relationship can be and as shaky as if built on quicksand.  What is truth?  What is betrayal?  If one doesn’t acknowledge a truth or a betrayal, does that make it a lie?

Jodi reminds me a good deal of Madolyn, the psychiatrist in the 2006 movie The Departed.

The publisher’s description of this book does the reader a gross disservice by saying it “rush[es] haplessly toward the main event.”  In actuality, this book rushes not at all.  It does, however, cover a great deal of ground before it reaches the main event, which by that time does seem hapless.  And that’s the genius of the book:  it is disturbing precisely because it is not disturbing enough – until it is.

The Prostitutes’ Ball

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.

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