Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Buried in a Book

Title: Buried in a Book
Author: Lucy Arlington
Published: February 7, 2012 by Berkley Publishing Group
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 285 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Novel Idea #1

This book seems to have taken forever to read. Each character that was introduced by Lucy Arlington came across as flat. There was no depth or interest in seeing what would happen and the death of Marlette was so inconsequential that if it were not for the fact that his name was mentioned repeatedly I would have forgotten what it was.

Lila Wilkins is a mid-forties woman who has recently been let go from her journalist job. She wants to remain in the publishing industry and the only thing that is available to her is an intern position at A Novel Idea that is a town over from where she currently lives. Due to financial constrains she must move in with her mother, the local psychic, and with her son they are determined to make this move work out for both of them.

Yada, Yada, Yada, the first day at the job, Marlette the local bum, dies in the reception area of the literary agency and Lila decides to take up the investigation herself. An unrealistic relationship blossoms between Sean the police investigator and Lila the intern, and it is up to Sean to protect this hapless damsel, before she gets herself killed or solves the crime for him.

I understand that cozy mysteries are supposed to be easy reads, but this one was teetering on boring. Ms. Arlington tried to make the story twisty with the interpersonal relationships, but they were ridiculous. Some revelations as to relationships were not needed and I wonder if she was trying to go for shock value. The names that she gave the characters were even worst. Maybe it is a southern thing, but Marlette being a man and Bentley being a woman just hit me wrong.

This is not a series that I will be continuing, but on a side note, I decided to check out this author. Yet again, it is another pseudonym for Jennifer Stanley, Sylvia May and Ellery Adams which all may boil down to the same Jennifer Stanley, but I was too confused.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Love You More

Title: Love You More
Author: Lisa Gardener
Published: March 8th 2011 by Bantam
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Genre: Police Procedural / Suspense
Series: #1 in Tessa Leoni,#5 in D.D. Warren

This book lost me somewhere in the middle. It lagged and did not show enough forward momentum for me to stay fully engaged. As a fan of this genre, I enjoy when little crumbs are dropped throughout the book, but that seemed to be missing.

This is a break off novel from Lisa Gardner’s D.D. Warren series. The new character of state trooper Tessa Leoni is being introduced and the reader is thrust into her life on the night of her husband’s murder and her daughter’s disappearance. Told in alternating chapters between Tessa and D.D. Warren, the lead investigator, the reader learns who Tessa is, who Tessa was and why her husband Brian Darby had to die.

Duel perspective books can lead to confusion but that was not so with this book. The reader discerns early on that Tessa knows more than she is letting on about the abduction of her daughter and her husband’s death, but still there are no crumbs for the reader to follow down this winding path. It is not until the end of the book when Tessa has her “ah-ha” moment and the reader witnesses her desperation to find her daughter.

Maybe it is me, but I like my mystery and suspense novels to have nice little bows on top. This book does not. I cannot say that I like Tessa – the lying vigilante that she is was not a character that I could cheer on. I see that this is the first in a series and I will eventually give the next a chance only to see if there are any redeeming qualities to Tessa, but I am hesitant.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Case of the Sin City Sister

Title: The Case of the Sin City Sister
Author: Lynne Hinton
Published: May 19, 2015 by Thomas Nelson
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Genre: Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Thomas Nelson Fiction for an opportunity to read an advance copy of this book.
Series: A Divine Private Detective Agency Mystery #2

I am still not one hundred percent sold on this series, the bones are there, but the delivery is all wrong.

This story begins with Caleb Alford entering the Divine (pronounced Devine) Private Detective Agency in search of a long lost relative but soon that plot is taken over by Sister Evangeline’s sister Dorisanne who has suddenly gone missing but that story is spiked with a third plot involving Epi Salazar and his needing the Captain, Eve’s father and owner of the Agency, to come out to his property to help him look for gold.

Let me back up, if you have not read the previous book, Sister Evangeline has been a member of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey in Madrid, New Mexico. Ever since her last visit with her father, where she helped him solve a murder, she has been having second thoughts about remaining at the convent. She is drawn between the two worlds and has been praying for divine intervention. The agency has fed her spirit, engaged her mind and fulfilled her in a way that has been missing. Maybe a leave of absence will help.

Returning home, she is once again helping her father with agency business when her wild child sister Dorisanne disappears and Eve, with the help of her father’s ex-police partner Daniel head out to Las Vegas to find her.

The story is convoluted and at times jumps to conclusions with no real substantiation. For a nun that claims that she has been sheltered, she seems to know more than she should. One minute she is naïve, and the next appears to have cat like instincts on how to recognize people, find clues or get out of tricky situations.

There were a couple of things that really bothered me. One, Lynne Hinton should know the difference between polygamy and bigamy; and second, I have never known a hospital to have the morgue on the third floor. Though that sounds minor, I was really distracted from the rhythm of the book.

In the end, I think the author tried to put too much in here. The missing great-grandfather that was mentioned in the beginning was somewhat forgotten thought out most of the book, by the end, I had to go back to the beginning and recall who Epi was and the whole love thing with Daniel was ridiculous to the point that it sounded like a last minute add in.

I really want to like this series, but my patience was really being tried.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Every Fifteen Minutes

Title: Every Fifteen Minutes
Author: Lisa Scottoline
Published: April 14th 2015 by St. Martin's Press
Format: Hardcover, Pgs 448
Genre: Suspense

Of course, this book had me guessing the whole way and of course, I got it wrong. By the middle of the book, I was sure who the sociopath was. The voice that was introduced in the first pages and kept rearing up throughout the chapters. One character was too obvious and I knew that Lisa Scottoline would not let me down with something that simple, but as the book went along a new contender appeared. Of course, that person would make an interesting adversary, but no, I was wrong again. By the end, Lisa gave the reader a one-two punch that had me wondering what I had missed.

It has been awhile since I have read a Lisa Scottoline novel and now I am wondering what has taken me so long to get back to her. I have enjoyed the books written with her daughter, but her series and standalones have not made it back on my radar until now.

This book was amazing. Layer upon layer that has been heaped on Dr. Eric Parrish, chief of the psychiatric unit at Havemeyer General Hospital, would bury any man, but his training as a psychiatrist has engrained in him a precise way of handling life’s situation. Now his perfect world is crumbling and he must face it head on. He is in a battle with his ex-wife over custody of their seven year old daughter, he has been called in to consult on a case with a dying grandmother and her 17 year old grandson, a sexual harassment case has been brought against him, a teenage girl has been found murdered, there are financial shenanigans at the hospital, upset psychiatric patients and their families, a hostage situation at the mall, conspiracy charges, a fire, a new woman in his life, etc. I would call this another week in the life of Eric, but this is too much for anyone to endure.

This book grabs the reader from the very first pages and does not let go until the end. Which I thought had ended a couple of chapters before it did, only to read a couple more and wondering why the end was dragging on. It was not dragging, Lisa was just allowing the reader to catch their breath before the final crushing blow.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Death Runs Adrift

Title: Death Runs Adrift
Author: Karen MacInerney
Published: May 8th 2014 by Midnight Ink
Format: Paperback, 272 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Gray Whale Inn Mystery #6

There are a few storylines going on here so if one is not to your liking you have a couple more to choose from.

Natalie Barnes runs the Gray Whale Inn on Cranberry Island. When she is not taking care of her guests and friends, she is planning her wedding to local artist and Sheriff John Quinton. Recently, there has been a hiccup in their wedding plans but that pales when Derek Morton’s dead body is found. There is some strange goings on and it all seems to be tied to marijuana that has recently been found around the island.

Add to that, Natalie has two guests that are on the island investigating the dead of a minister whose bones have recently been discovered. One of the guests is a distant relation to this priest and it turns out that he himself seems to have been tangled in some interesting activities.

Cranberry Island is a unique place where the locals look out for each other, but each seems to have a unique piece of the newest mystery puzzle and it is up to innkeeper Natalie to sort it all out. The stories are simple and from time to time farfetched, but that is what they are designed to be, a little whimsy and a little mindless diversion from your day. The writing is a slightly frustrating with repetition within the same paragraph and a couple continuity issues, but this series is designed for fun and if you do not let the flaws distract you, you will enjoy visiting with Natalie and her friends.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Gray Mountain

Title: Gray Mountain
Author: John Grisham
Published: October 21st 2014 by Doubleday
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Genre: Legal Thriller

Almost 400 pages and an anticlimactic ending. By the end, I was wondering if John just got bored and decided to put us all out of our misery.

In 2008 during the financial collapse, attorney Samantha Kofer is given the choice, either be terminated from the Wall Street firm that she is currently with or take a one year nonpaid sabbatical at a nonprofit. Out of curiosity, she heads to Brady, Virginia in the heart of Appalachia. Thus begins her indoctrination in Big Coal, Big Lies and real people with real problems.

Her background in Real Estate law did not prepare her for the daily problems that enter the legal aid clinic and Samantha is hitting the ground running. She is trying to draw the line between what is legal and what is in the best interest of her clients. Those lines get a bit murky when coal companies choose to hide documents.

What Sam gets during her time at the clinic is a crash course in humanity. What she chooses to do with it will not surprise the reader. You could tell from the first twenty percent of this book how the story would play out. There is a surprise or two and a couple of harsh realities, but still this book is only slightly to Grisham’s usual standard of writing. I do wonder if this was supposed to be a legal thriller or John Grisham’s personal attack on the coal industry.

Since the ending was so blasé, I am questioning if this is a standalone or if Grisham has further plans for Samantha and the Gray Mountain Legal Clinic. More could have be told of this story so I will see how Grisham wants to play this out.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Jack of Spades

Title: Jack of Spades
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Published: May 5th 2015 by Grove Atlantic
Format: ebook; Hardcover Pgs 208
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for an opportunity to read an advance copy of this book.

I have never read a Joyce Carol Oates book before, I had no idea what I was getting into and if this book is any indication of what her past works have been, I will tell you that this author perplexes me.

Throughout the entire book I could not tell you who the most peculiar person was, was it Andrew J. Rush who goes back and forth between using the first person narrative but yet refers to himself in the third person a split personality? Was he an alcoholic battling his demons? Was he demented all along and just happened to find an alternate personality that was able to write novels that he paralleled to better known authors.

Was Irina, his wife an accomplice to his darker half? Did she stay in the background to view from afar the demise of her husband? Did his sons back away or was Andrew J. Rush unapproachable even to his own family?

Then you have C. W. Haider who set this whole macabre dance in motion. I do not know where to begin with this character, was she truly gifted but battling her own psychosis? I am sure that this character alone could have a group talking for hours.

Up until the very end, I was not sure if I liked this book that read to me as an homage to Edgar Allan Poe, or if I was terrified to let go once I was inside the mind of Andrew J. Rush. What I do know is that as Andrew J. Rush stepped to the end of the diving board, all I could think was “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting …”