What We've Been Reading
Mike Lawson - Rosarito Beach and House Reckoning
I’ve just finished a dynamite double-header from Mike Lawson: Rosarito Beach and House Reckoning. Better than a day at the ballpark!
Rosarito Beach (a few signed 1sts still available) follows DEA agent Kay Hamilton in her quest to take down the head of a Mexican cartel. Kay is not a likeable person. She’s brusque and short tempered and absolutely single minded. But she’s very good at what she does. The fun in the book is that odd events keep thwarting her plans and she’s forced to continually improvise. She’s very good at that, too.
Like the DeMarco novels, there’s a good deal of cynical humor to the book. I think it stands right up there with the work of Don Winslow and it’ll be interesting to see if he continues with Hamilton as a lead character. Hope he does.
House Reckoning won’t be out until mid-Summer and is his usual outstanding DeMarco tale. We know from past books that Joe’s father was a mob enforcer who was killed a couple of decades ago, before Joe began working for Mahoney. Now DeMarco’s been told who pulled the trigger. And Joe resolves to achieve vengeance.
The problem is that the guy who pulled the trigger is now a big shot and Mahoney doesn’t want Joe to do anything. Politics! Joe doesn’t listen, of course – lots of twists and turns, and Emma, thank god. Lawson writes great women.
But that doesn’t really say much…every facet of the books and every character is terrific.
Both are destined to be high on my Best of 2014 list.
David Handler - The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb
Mitch Berger and Des Mitry are back!
In his latest book, The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb, David Handler lets us see some of Dorset’s past. Newly elected selectwoman, Glynis Fairchild-Forniaux has decided that historic Dorset Street must be repaved, since it hasn’t been since 1967. There is all manner of opposition, especially from Dorset’s aristocracy, including newly defeated selectman Bob Paffin. But Glynis will not be denied and the road is ground down to prepare it.
But the paving grinds to a sudden halt when a body is discovered over the asphalt, and judging from the clothing, it’s Bob Paffin’s older brother, Lance, who has been missing and presumed dead in a boating accident. And when was that? Suspiciously, in the summer of 1967…
And to bring even more pressure on resident trooper Des Mitry, her father, The Deacon, is taking an interest. So with mounting pressure to make this go away, Des and Mitch have to figure things out in a hurry.
Filled with the colorful characters that David Handler has led us to expect along with great film references, The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb is absolutely fun and charming, and fans of this series are going to want it right away.
“The newsroom was so crowded with people that Mitch felt as if he’d just walked into a color-drenched remake of Front Page Woman, a zippy little 1935 Warner Brothers newsroom drama helmed by Michael Curtiz. All that was missing were Bette Davis, George Brent and the zippy. There was no zippy.”
Let me state once more for the record that I am sorely put out that the first books in this series are not available. Without the background, the history of these people and this town, someone picking up The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb won’t understand how great it is that Des gets most – not all, but most – of Mitch’s movie references, or why Buzzy makes some of the choices he does, or why Glynis is so shocked. Darn it, publishers, let us have the first NINE in paperback, please! Thank-You!
Agatha Christie - The Mirror Crack’d From Side To Side
AKA: The Mirror Crack’d
Amber’s project for 2014: My 52
Weeks of Agatha Christie. Here’s her explanation.
Series: Miss Marple
a charity fundraiser in St. Mary Mead one of the guests, Heather
Babcock, suddenly dies. It turns out a lethal overdose was the cause of
death, administered by a cocktail meant for the hostess (and famous
actress) Marina Gregg. Miss Marple, under orders from Doctor Haydock,
sets out to unravel this mystery before the murderer strikes again!
enjoyed revisiting St. Mary Mead and meeting up with Mrs. Bantry again
and reading about the new mystery she found herself investigating with
her old friend Miss Marple. Thick as thieves they were! The Mirror Crack’d
made me a bit nostalgic, since I knew this is the last mystery set
exclusively in St. Mary Mead. While this is not my absolute favorite of
the Miss Marples (The Moving Finger and Nemesis
hold that title) I did enjoy reading this installment, a nice solid
mystery to sink into! The slightly ambiguous ending gave me something to
think about after I shut the book, which is something I always savor.
This book also holds an important insight into Miss Marple. She
begins to worry that with the proliferation of new homes & families,
supermarkets and the general replacement of the old guard -- her
insights and deductions will no longer be accurate. Her confidence is
rattled until she gives her companion the slip (which I think speaks to
Miss Marple’s formative years, since she circumvented Miss Knightly
easily without ever raising her suspicions. How much practice did she
have, in pulling off a plan like this with such ease?) and discovered,
“The new world was the same as the old…the human beings were the same as
they always had been.” (pg. 14), thus allowing her to move forward with
confidence with proof that times and clothes may change, but people?
They remain the same. Without this reaffirmation, she might not have
gone on to solve some of her most difficult cases, such as Nemisis.
Forty years had passed in Christies’s writing career by the time she
wrote The Mirror Crack‘d, long enough for the accusation - it is always
the least likely person in the story who committed the crime - to
surface. In this quote, “…How about your dogsbody, your dear Miss
Knight? What about her having committed the crime?….Why should she have
done such a thing?…Because she’s the most unlikely person…” (pg. 230), I
think Christie is poking fun at herself and her critics. This
accusation, I believe, is completely without merit - Christie plays fair
with her readers. The one time president and founding member of the
Detection Club, I think she might have been called out if she didn’t.
Pitting her mind against her readers, it is not her fault that often the
wrong conclusion is made due to red herrings, false trails or
overlooked clues. And yet this idea persists….