Thursday, July 30, 2009

Serendipity by Louise Shaffer

New Yorker Carrie Manning is 37 and adrift after having buried her mother Rose, a woman she never really understood. Having started and left a successful business and then calling off her upcoming marriage, Carrie is uncomfortable in her own life and sees solving the mystery of her past as the key to her future.

Her search takes her all the way back to the immigrant roots of her Italian great-grandmother who settled in New Haven, CT and then into the present via the world of the Broadway stage.

This book features four generations of interesting, well-developed female characters and a story that focuses on these relationships and how each generation has a profound impact on the next one.

Daytime Emmy Award winner, Shaffer, has been writing warm and witty books about relationships since the ‘90s, but she might be better known to some for her soap opera acting career which stretches back to the ‘60s.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Overlook by Michael Connelly

LAPD Detective Harry Bosch and his new partner, Iggy Farris, are investigating the murder of a Stanley Kent, a doctor who was shot, execution style, on the overlook of Mulholland Drive. Because Kent had access to cesium that was used to treat gynecological cancer, he was warned to be weary of any potential terrorist threats.

With Kent dead, the Feds, including FBI agent and Bosch's former fling, Rachel Walling, are all over this case. The Feds argue that this is now an issue of national security, but Bosch refuses to let go of his murder investigation.

Trying to put their past history aside, Walling and Bosch start at the Kent house, where they discover Kent's wife, hogged tied and blindfold, but at the very least, unharmed. Alicia Kent says that the one of the men who attacked her had a foreign accent, which support's the Fed's terrorist theory. Farris finds a second witness who happened to be out that night stalking a celebrity, although Bosch isn't sure the kid is being entirely truthful.

But even with two witnesses, things just don't seem to be adding up, especially in terms of the feds involvement. Bosch, not sure who can be trusted, will stop at nothing to solve this case.

I love, love Bosch! The Overlook is another stellar crime novel in the Harry Bosch series by bestselling author Connelly. Readers will be dumbfounded when the truth is finally revealed at how Bosch figured it all out!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lust, Loathing and a Little Lip Gloss by Kyra Davis

Sophie Katz has found the perfect house. The only catch: it might be haunted. She doesn't believe in that stuff but she will do whatever it takes to own this house. Even joining the Specter Society. The owner Kane Crammer makes her joining a stipulation in the contract. Before her first meeting even begins, there is a murder. And if you know Sophie, murder is nothing new for her. The newest victim is a celebrity chef, Enrico, a member of the Society. Sophie's PI boyfriend, Anatoly, is asked by the widow to prove that she isn't the murderer.

Meanwhile, Sophie is trying to prove to the owner of the house that she is worthy of it. But before too long Sophie is drawn into the murder mystery. Could it be the owner Kane? Or maybe it is the widow? And why is Sophie so drawn to this house that she will put up with lights flickering and footsteps heard upstairs? Sophie is going to find that she connected to this house in ways she every dreamed.

Another fantastic book by Kyra Davis! Love the Sophie Katz series! Always entertaining with a good mystery.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fool by Christopher Moore

In his latest work, absurdist author Moore takes on the Bard in a bawdy, mirthful retelling of King Lear from the point of view of Pocket, the Fool.

The main characters and basic situation stays the same, but Moore borrows from Shakespeare’s complete body of work, to fashion this quirky retelling with a thoroughly modern perspective and imaginative ending. The language, full of wacky and often not-quite-right British-isms adds to the book’s humor.

Moore, who has taken on death, Jesus, and vampires in his previous works, has a large cult of devoted followers. He’ll never be quite mainstream, his humor might be too crude for many, but he is a really smart social observer and critic.

It is hard to find comparisons, he is pretty unique, but if you like Kurt Vonnegut, Carl Hiaasen or Douglas Adams, you might want to give Moore a try.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Tarnished Eye by Judith Guest

A small town sheriff of Blessed, Michigan, Hugh DeWittg, is called when the bodies of publishing CEO Edward Norbois, his wife, Paige, and their 4 children are discovered by the local caretaker. Because it had been weeks before the bodies were discovered, they were all decomposed beyond recognition. In fact, Hugh finds it extremely puzzling that no one reported them missing earlier.

The family had been visiting their summer cabin when the murders occurred. Upon further investigation, Hugh discovers that the press's comptroller, Roger Frish, had been embezzling thousands without Norbois's knowledge, which would certainly give him motive for murder. But why kill the entire family, including the young daughter? Another possible suspect includes the banker with whom Paige was having an affair, who would also have plenty of motive for the killings.

Additionally, several murders of young coeds have been reported on a university campus in nearby Ann Arbor, and despite the differences in the cases, Hugh can't help but wonder if there could be a connection to the Norbois murders. There is something about these cases that touch home with Hugh and he is determined to look past the obvious to discover the truth behind this irregular case.

This is the first book I have read by Guest, and I would eagerly pickup another one of her books. This is a good alternative for fans of Mary Higgins Clark and Patricia MacDonald.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dogged Pursuit by Robert Rodi

Since I am about to adopt a Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) puppy, I've been reading all I can about these smart little dogs. Shelties excel in competition such as agility and rally, and Robert Rodi's new book, Dogged Pursuit, is a memoir of competing his rescue Sheltie in agility.

Dusty is a scruffy rescue Sheltie, a victim of neglect. The author freely admits agility is outside of his comfort zone...he's a city boy, a foodie, and listens to jazz and classical music. Driving out to the "country" (Chicago suburbs) for competitions, eating greasy food, and mingling with folks who wear sweatshirts with their dog’s faces is not his idea of fun, but Dusty needs a job to do to be happy and the author wouldn't mind the glory of a few blue ribbons.

After many months of training, Dusty and Rodi are ready for competitions. They certainly have their ups and downs, though glory remains a little out of reach. Dusty is great in training, but in competition he is nervous and often ignores Rodi's cues. The book is filled with hilarious anecdotes and mishaps along with moments that Dusty and Rodi finally seem to make a connection, fit in, and gain a little glory. This book is recommended for those who especially love dogs.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mortal Friends by Jane Stanton Hitchcock

Following Social Crimes and One Dangerous Lady, Jane Stanton Hitchcock's newest novel centers around wealthy socialites again, but this time in Washington D.C. Reven Lynch, antique shop owner, and her best friend Violet welcome a new girl into town. Cynthia Rinehart has taken D.C. by storm with her philanthropy efforts, donating millions to local organizations and institutions, which has attracted the attention of the city's most elite.

In fact, Cynthia has just hired Reven to decorate her new multimillion dollar mansion. Although Reven is in a financial bind of late and desperately needs the income, she is weary of her eccentric new boss and wonders what could be the source of her never ending supply of riches.

Even more unsettling is the fact that a body of another woman whose skull has been smashed in was discovered in the cemetery across the street from Cynthia's new house. The rumor is that this new murder is the doings of the "beltway basher," a serial killer who has managed to escape capture.

Under the guise of an interested antiques collector, special task force detective Gunner has been hanging around Reven's shop and has recruited her to be his informant, as he has reason to believe that the killer belongs to a certain Georgetown social set. This means that the killer could be one of Reven's friends, or even Bob Poll, her new beau that has been known to have a dark side. Reven soon learns that someone in her social crowd that she thought she knew best might be hiding everything.

Hithcock is excellent at embedding wit and humor into the mystery of her novels which makes for a delightful read. Overall, Mortal Friends is a good summer beach read.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Swimsuit by James Patterson

Novelist and ex-cop Ben Hawkins has just been commissioned to write the tell-all story of serial killer Henri. Whether he wants to write this story is irrelevant, because if he doesn't, Henri will kill both him and his girlfriend.

It all started with the disappearance of swimsuit model Kim McDaniels from a photo shoot in Hawaii. Working as a crime reporter for the L.A. Times, Hawkins joins the McDaniels parents on location in search of the missing girl. Meanwhile, another model and Kim's roommate, Julia, is found dead in a hotel room, raped and decapitated. In fact, a string of killings are occurring all of the world, and the authorities are starting to question if they could be connected.

As the reader, we know that a killer, who calls himself Henri, sodomizes and kills beautiful women while capturing it all on camera. He then sends the video to a group of individuals called "the peepers," who pay exorbitant amounts of money to satisfy their horrific entertainment desires.

For Ben, all this is getting a bit out of control. Sure, this may be the big break in his career he always dreamed of, but it comes at an expense, as it means that he will be privy to the details of the world's most gruesome murders, as told to him by a killer who walks free and could strike again at any moment. How can he stop Henri without risking the lives of him and Amanda?

Swimsuit is the perfect summer blockbuster, filled with exotic locales and plenty of blood and death to keep the pages turning. This is one of Patterson's better thrillers, and my only complaint is that the story ended all too quickly. I am hoping that perhaps this is a set-up for a sequel?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

Lula has witnessed a murder. She is in the wrong place at the wrong time. She watches as celebrity chef, Stanley Chipotle, gets his head chopped off. Now the two guys who did it are out to silence her. Lula decides to enter the Barbecue Cook-Off contest and try to find the killers before they find her. She enlists the help of Stephanie, Connie and Grandma Mazur. Of course none of them now the first thing about barbecue except how to eat it.

Stephanie has her own problems. Her on again off again relationship with Morelli is off again and she has agreed to assist Ranger on a side job. Ranger thinks someone in his security company is ripping off his clients. So Stephanie is undercover trying to find the mole. And with Lula staying at her house so the killers don't find her, Stephanie is staying in Ranger's bed. As much as she wants him, she won't give in because she has decided she is off men. But boy is he tempting!

Lula gets some assistants from a cross dressing fireman on how to barbecue. But not before Lula and Grandma start a fire, give everyone diarrhea, and burn down a tree. When the big day arrives you know a disaster is just waiting to happen. But you don't expect Stephanie to be dressed up as a hot dog!

Hilarious! That is all that needs to be said. Now I will try to wait patiently for the next Between the Numbers book and the next full length Stephanie Plum book!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Stolen in the Night by Patricia McDonald

On a camping trip in Stone Hill, New Hampshire, thirteen year old Phoebe McGraff is abducted from her tent at night, and younger sister Tess is the only witness. Phoebe's dead body is found days later with evidence that she had been raped. Police suspect known recluse and pervert, Lazarus Abbott. Without any DNA evidence, his conviction relied heavily on Tess's testimony. After several appeals, Abbott eventually receives the death penalty.

Twenty years later and with Lazarus's death behind her, Tess has rebuilt her life in the Washington D.C. area, where she works as a documentary filmmaker and is mother to adopted son Erny. When a new governor in New Hampshire who is vehemently opposed to the death penalty is elected, Edith Abbott, Lazarus's mother, pushes for the use of DNA evidence in attempt to vindicate her son.

Having traveled to NH for the announcement of the DNA evidence, Tess, her mother Dawn, and her brother Jake are thrown back into the nightmare they endured twenty years earlier. The results suggest that Lazarus wasn't Phoebe's killer, but Tess knows she wasn't wrong in identifying him at the trial. This also means that the killer could still be on the loose.

Tess wonders just who could that killer could be? Could it be Lazarus's abusive stepfather Nelson or Ken Phalen, the former inn owner who was around during Phoebe's death? Not sure who she can trust in this small town of Stone Hill, especially handsome attorney Ben Ramsey, Tess is determined to avenge her sister's murder on her own, but trying to uncover the case just may put her family's life in danger.

I would happily pick up another one of this author's books, and those who like the page-turning suspense of Mary Higgins Clark and Dean Koontz need to look no further than Patricia McDonald!