Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Chalk Pit

Title: The Chalk Pit
Author: Elly Griffiths
Published: February 23rd 2017 by Quercus UK;
May 30th 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt US
Format: ebook, Hardcover 384 pages
Genre: Suspense
Series: Ruth Galloway #9

I think that I am having my own version of a love affair with this series. A new book in the Ruth Galloway series forces me to put everything else aside and devote the day to nothing but reading. I love the people and the places that Elly Griffiths takes us to and there is just something about Ruth that makes you want to cheer her on even though her outside relationships tend to lead her only to troubles and heartache.

Ruth, a forensic anthropologist who loves a good intellectual puzzle, is called in when bones are discovered after an architect starts excavating for a new underground restaurant. The bones look old and possibly pot polished. Turns out that the bones are newer than she thought and with local rough sleepers going missing or being murdered, there are too many questions being asked and not enough answers.

With a shakeup at the station, DCI Harry Nelson is battling his own hell on earth with a new woman boss. Superintendent Jo Archer seems to be under the misguided belief that Nelson is ready to sit in an office and do paperwork instead of joining his investigative team. How can he do that when bones have been discovered at the restaurant site and there are well-used tunnels branching off? Tunnels that seem to be running all over town and one has recently caved in due to a sinkhole.

When it comes to investigating DCI Harry Nelson and his team are being pulled in many directions. What does Archer want them to do? Follow the tunnels, find the missing women who may have gone underground, figure out who is killing the men living on the street that seem to have too much information or find Clough’s partner that has just gone missing.

This book is nonstop from the beginning. Dealt a devastating blow, Ruth once again is questioning her relationship with her parents. She has tried to do the best that she can but raising a daughter on her own and having parents that have their own views has never been easy. It is on a narrow ledge that she walks and seeking comfort in Nelson has its own drawbacks. Little does she know that Harry was about to make her life easier only to discover that his own life just got more complicated.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Forever, Again

Title: Forever, Again
Author: Victoria Laurie
Published: December 13th 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
Format: Hardcover, 360 pages
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal

After a somewhat dull and plodding storyline that was reminiscent of books that I had read in the late 70’s - Victoria Laurie ventured down the reincarnation highway and took an odd turn at the end.

High school junior Lily and late 80’s Amber are see-sawing their stories. Lily Bennet has been having the same reoccurring nightmare since she was four years old. It is not until she has moved back to her father’s hometown, and through the help of hypnosis, that she reveals that she is the reincarnation of Amber Greeley. The same Amber Greeley that was rumored to have killed her boyfriend and then committing suicide thirty years before.

There are many ridiculous points to this book. How old is Lily’s mother and when did she finish medical school if she is only now doing her residency? I would love to know what program that Amber’s best friend went through that she should get an associate’s degree in architecture and then jump to a master’s and the of all things a PhD. Not to mention some silly FBI-in-training program for high schoolers that made Lily’s current boyfriend a prodigy when it comes to police investigation. To top it off, exactly how many teens in the 1980’s were able to run out and get life insurance on their own. Really, Ms. Laurie, a bit of research would have been helpful.

The only reason that I gave this book a chance was due to Ms. Laurie’s enjoyable prior attempt at young adult writing - ‘When’ - Disney Hyperion (January 13, 2015). ‘Forever again’, on the other hand, felt “fill in the blank” from the beginning, with nothing new or unique and at times repetitious with over the top teen angst.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Hopefuls

Title: The Hopefuls
Author: Jennifer Close
Published: July 19th 2016 by Knopf Publishing Group
Format: Hardcover, 310 pages
Genre: Fiction

Throughout this book, I was reminded of the television series “Seinfeld”, a show that was about nothing. This book, “The Hopefuls” is about nothing. It is a bland telling of twenty something’s wanting to make it in DC politics and losing sight of themselves and their marriage along the way.

Beginning somewhere in the 2000’s, when Obama is on the rise, narrator Beth chooses to leave her beloved New York for Washington, DC when her husband takes a new job. They develop a rather strange, and at times, incestuous relationship with Texans Jimmy and Ashleigh Dillon. Over the next four years, the couples are inseparable as both husbands, using each other when necessary, strive for their next high profile job.

Things come to a head when Jimmy is tapped to be the next Texas Railroad Commissioner (thankfully Ms. Close describes how this job has nothing to do with the actual railroad) and asks Matt to be his campaign manager.

Where once the lines were drawn, and now with Beth and Matt living in the Dillon’s basement, hostilities begin and egos are getting in the way. There is too much alcohol, marriages are in trouble, and people are not getting the attention or atta-boys that they need. Life in the political spotlight is not what Beth had envisioned and it is tearing everyone apart.

The funny thing, politics was never what Beth wanted. She had always envisioned a quiet life with a family and becoming an author. By the end of the book, you can see Matt gathering a second wind. He moved to this new neighborhood with an alter motive, unfortunately, Beth noticed this just a little too late.

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Bed of Scorpions

Title: A Bed of Scorpions
Author: Judith Flanders
Published: March 1st 2016 by Minotaur Books
Format: Hardcover, 310 pages
Genre: Mystery
Series: Sam Clair #2

Maybe it was me, but for most of the book, I kept confusing some of the characters. There are a great many and after a while, who was married to whom and who was a partner of whom just started to blend. Granted, that was not the main crux of the book, but I did find myself having to go back a couple of times to remind myself.

Book two in the Sam Clair series has Sam meeting her former lover Aidan Merriam for lunch; they do not see each other often so this is both a surprise and a welcomed get-together. Instead of the usually friendly Aidan, she sees a man that is deeply distraught by the suicide of his partner at the Merriam-Compton gallery.

Turns out that this is no casual lunch, Aidan has an ulterior motive and once again, to the chagrin of her current boyfriend, Jake Field, Sam is drawn into the investigation of what on the surface looks like a suicide but in reality the layers go much deeper and with repercussions that could turn the art world on its ear and land Sam in the hospital if not on the coroners slab.

I am enjoying this series and in particular the relationship between Sam and her mother. There is the dynamic of love, frustration and deep respect that just bounces off the pages. I do hope that Judith Flanders continues with both of these women and that there will be many more encounters between them.