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Additional Guest Picks
Guest Reviewer : Diana from Spokane
FRANK ZAFIRO'S Beneath A Weeping Sky is the 3rd novel set in eastern Washington in his fictional River City setting. We follow the lives of the police in this excellent police procedural. His writing is tight and full of tension as the city is plagued by a serial rapist. We see how those in power at the precinct handle this for both the media and their own detectives and officers.
Officer Katie MacLeod has a reputation for being able to hold her own so is singled out for decoy duty trying to lure in the rapist. How this is handled with her own ghosts haunting her makes for fast page turning til the end. His books should be read in order to see the evolving characters throughout. I recommend this series highly.
Those who read Ed McBain will enjoy Zafiro's books.
Life Goes On and Death Swatch, seventh scrap booking mystery by Laura Childs set in the French Quarter of New Orleans, opens with scrapbook shop owner Carmela Betrand slightly overwhelmed by the frenzy surrounding her beloved Mardi Gras. While attending a chic French Quarter party filled with Big Easy elite, soon-to-be divorced Carmela and best friend Ava discover a murdered guest, which sets them on a quest through post-Katrina New Orleans and surrounding bayous to bring the killer to justice. A hidden passageway between upscale townhouses in a converted warehouse, suspicious Russians plus the lure of 18th century pirate Lafitte’s hidden treasure all come into harrowing play as Carmela and Ava once again find themselves in harm’s way. And it includes 13 Big Easy recipes, plus scrapbook, stamping and craft tips.
Just as I finished, The Girl Who Played With Fire, Bill generously handed me a title by one of my FAVORITE authors… I love the benefits of this job.
To go from the detailed, complex writing and story telling of Stieg Larsson, to the sparse, clipped writing of Don Winslow was quite a whipsaw - but in a glorious way.
His book, The Gentleman’s Hour, picks up Boone Daniels and his crew where we left them in The Dawn Patrol. With no wasted words we get to jump into the surf with the whole patrol:
“Kansas. See ‘flatter than.’ Like the ocean this August morning in Pacific Beach, San Diego, California. Aka Kansas. As the Dawn Patrol gives way to the Gentlemen’s Hour.”
And I’m hooked. PI Boone is struggling with no surf, grieving the exit of Sunny, and general questions involving the meaning of it all. He gets offered a hated matrimonial case – the possible cheating- spouse kind – by a wealthy guy he knows through surfing, as a favor to this member of the Gentleman’s Hour group. What he soon discovers is, of course, more than a cheating spouse.
The balance of the surfing rules and codes of loyalty become challenged and Boone has to make decisions to follow his gut or the rules and codes of his friends. This puts him at risk of being alienated from everyone.
Characters I care about, funny, smart-ass writing, intricate plot line and lots of lessons about surfing.
Guest Review: Gina The Cookie Lady
I picked up the debut novel by Mark Pryor a year ago, based on the title The Bookseller, and was instantly hooked with his protagonist Hugo Marston. Obviously, I’m not the only person enjoying his series as there is already a fifth book in publication. So I was a little hesitant when Adele handed me his stand-alone book titled Hollow Man, even with the Lee Child blurb on the front cover, I was worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. Rather it pushed the bar higher on the talent-o-meter of this author.
From the start of Hollow Man, we are immersed in Dominic’s world; a British native practicing law in Texas with a passion for songwriting. It doesn’t take long for the author to pull at one little thread, and slowly Dominic’s world begins to unravel. He experiences a demotion at work, a cut in pay, and accusations of stealing someone’s song, all of which leads to disillusionment with doing what is right. Upon hearing from his closest friend about a ‘fool-proof’ heist, who can blame him for reflecting on it as a solution to his current troubles?
Involving his roommate - an unhappy security officer at the end of his tarnished career - and a mysterious woman that has recently entered his life, a meticulously planned operation is devised. As in life, the unexpected occurs and suddenly Dominic is immersed in a cat and mouse chase as the carefully planned heist turns into a deadly shootout with plenty of unexpected consequences.
With solid characters and a slight hint of Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter reflecting off of Dominic, this isn’t for anyone who expects a cozy or Disney ending. Rather I found the subject and main character just flawed enough to grab hold of my interest and never let it go. The author stepped outside of the box on this novel and it is well worth investing a few hours of your time into. Now I’m off to purchase the rest of his series.
Heaven Preserve Us, the second book set in small-town Cadyville, located north of Seattle, further develops the life of transplanted thirty-something widowed Sophie Mae Reynolds, owner of a home-based business. Told by McRae with sensitivity about small-town life, Sophie Mae is plunged into mayhem when she discovers Heaven House Helpline leader Philip Heaven dying violently alone. His last three words, uttered to her, about a threat being real convince her, despite official and community skepticism, his death is murder. How Sophie Mae, who acquires a stalker, solves this mystery affects her blossoming romance and strains her relationship with long-time friend and housemate. Includes one jelly and two body care product recipes.
Tyler Benson works as the lead valet at a small casino, a thankless job where the highlights of the evening prove to be calling a cab for an intoxicated patron. When he’s offered the chance to move upwards in the company he jumps at the opportunity to work a prestigious event at an upscale restaurant. The one night he is determined to leave a lasting impression, he unwittingly finds himself in need of an alibi rather than a resumé.
When shots are fired at a celebrity chef, Tyler finds himself surrounded by a set of circumstances all pointing back at him, and two detectives hot on his trail. Fingerprints on the trunk of a car where a dead body is discovered, his father’s slipper at the scene of the shooting, and a previous felony conviction are just a few of the hard to explain incidents. Coincidence, fluke, chance or plain bad luck all seem to conspire against him as the evidence mounts, leaving him to rely on wits and quick thinking in an effort to remain one step ahead of the police, wishing to incarcerate him, and the Russia mafia, wishing to eradicate him.
Delicate timing, a rich sense of humor, and a varied and widely interesting cast of characters keep the suspense building at a steady pace in this local flavored mystery set around a slightly mundane job.
Gina says: This was my first taste of K.K. Beck’s writing and I was pleasantly surprised by the way she kept the tale flowing and captured more than once the small jolt of ‘I’ve had moments like that’ as circumstances collided.