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.
Heartburn by Nora Ephron, read by Meryl Streep
Rating: * * * *
This is a laugh-out-loud story of surviving the breakup of a marriage.
I highly recommend this recording just to hear Meryl Streep bring it to life. I wouldn’t have found the story half as funny had I read it in print: Streep’s inflections and timing bring out humor I would certainly have missed from the cast of self-indulgent characters.
Ephron penned many popular screenplays, including Sleepless in Seattle. The first print edition of Heartburn was published in 1983. This audio recording was released in 2013.
If you like this, you may also like Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen.
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.
Shock Wave (Virgil Flowers series #5) by John Sandford
Rating: * *
A mega-chain store is planning to build a supermart in a small town, threatening the livelihoods of existing businesses and sparking heated environmental protests. All to no avail: building plans advance despite the controversy. Until bombs start exploding. The first claims a life at the corporate headquarters of the mega-corp. The second kills a construction supervisor on the job site. More follow. The story starts with a bang (no pun intended) and progresses quickly through a series of events. Wisecracking Investigator Flowers has his hands full trying to narrow the list.
Flowers has an inflated sense of studliness which gets in the way of this story. Despite his trademark wry humor and cheeky dialogue, his self-importance takes over this novel.
Almost all the characters in this book utter quirky and off-beat phrases. While it’s not unusual for one person in a crowd to do that, it is unusual for all of them to speak that way. This, too, gets in the way of the story.
Flowers is an engaging and often enjoyable character. While this novel is not my favorite, it has sufficient action and excitement and witticisms that fans of the series will almost certainly enjoy it.