Friday, 12 July 2019

A Reading Update

I'm sticking with just a reading update this entry as I've received a fair number of books this past week and have finished a few as well since my last entry. It's been a reasonably busy week. Jo came back from her trip to England yesterday with a broken ankle so it's been an interesting 24 hours since her return. Off to the doctor this morning and then the X-ray clinic. Now she's relaxing with her foot up. So I'm going to take a few minutes while she's watching last night's Hollywood Game Night. So I won't update my look at the mystery genre; just stick to books read/ currently reading and new books.

New Books

1. The Caves of Night by John Christopher (Horror thriller). I've read two other books by Christopher and particularly enjoyed The Death of Grass. This one looks interesting.










"Five people enter the Frohnberg caves, three men and two women. In the glare of the Austrian sunshine, the cool underground depths seem an attractive proposition – until the collapse of a cave wall blocks their return to the outside world. Faced with an unexplored warren of tunnels and caves, rivers and lakes, twisting and ramifying under the mountain range, they can only hope that there is an exit to be found on the other side.

For Cynthia, the journey through the dark labyrinths mirrors her own sense of guilt and confusion about the secret affair she has recently embarked upon. And whilst it is in some ways a comfort to share this possibly lethal ordeal with her lover Albrecht, only her husband Henry has the knowledge and experience that may lead them all back to safety.

But can even Henry’s sang froid and expertise be enough, with the moment fast approaching when their food supplies will run out, and the batteries of their torches fail, leaving them to stumble blindly through the dark?"


2. The Betrayal of Trust by Susan Hill (Mystery).  I've enjoyed other books by Hill, The Lady in Black and another of the Inspector Serrailler mysteries. This is the sixth book in the Serrailler series.










"A cold case comes back to life in this sixth book in the highly successful Simon Serrailler detective series "eagerly awaited by all aficionados" (P.D. James). Freak weather and flash floods all over southern England. Lafferton is under water and a landslide on the Moor has closed the bypass. As the rain slowly drains away, a shallow grave--and a skeleton--are exposed; 20 years on, the remains of missing teenager Joanne Lowther have finally been uncovered. The case is re-opened and Simon Serrailler is called in as senior investigating officer. Joanne, an only child, had been on her way home from a friend's house that night. She was the daughter of a prominent local businessman, Sir John Lowther. Joanne's mother, unable to cope, killed herself 2 years after Joanne disappeared. Cold cases are always tough, and in this latest in the acclaimed series from Susan Hill, Serrailler is forced to confront a frustrating, distressing and complex situation."

3. The Final Silence by Stuart Neville (Mystery Thriller). This is the 4th book in the Jack Lennon mystery series set in Northern Ireland. Usually lots of action and tension.










"In Belfast, Northern Ireland, memories of the city’s troubled history haunt every street corner, but for one tortured soul, the incredible violence in his past is also his most cherished legacy.

Rea Carlisle, daughter of influential Northern Irish politician Graham Carlisle, has inherited a house from an uncle she never knew. It doesn’t take her long to clear out the dead man’s possessions, but when Rea forces open a locked room, she finds a leather-bound book. Tucked in its pages are fingernails and locks of hair: a catalog of victims.

Horrified, Rea wants to go straight to the police, but her father intervenes—he’s worked too hard to have his brother’s twisted legacy ruin his promising political career. Thwarted by her father, Rea turns to the only person she can think of: disgraced police inspector Jack Lennon.

Meanwhile, Lennon finds himself the lead suspect in a murder investigation led by one of the force’s toughest cops, DCI Serena Flanagan. His implication in the murder, coupled with the story Rea has brought to him, leaves Lennon more than slightly suspicious that the two are part of a grisly conspiracy."


4. The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley (Historical fiction / horror). I've read one of Wheatley's books so far. It reminded me of the Hammer horror films. He was a prolific author.










"29 Apr 1935 - 4 May 1935
Black Magic is still practiced in all the great cities of the world. This novel tells with macabre detail of a beautiful woman caught in a web of Satanists, of a young man brought to the verge of madness through his dabbling with the powers of evil.

As in Dennis Wheatley's The Forbidden Territory we meet the Duke de Richleau, Simon Aron, the Princess Marie Lou, and other characters. From London to the West Country, from the slums of Paris to a Christian monastery, the action of this powerful occult thriller moves with fantastic, compelling force.."


5. First Family by David Baldacci (King & Maxwell #4). I've enjoyed the first couple of books in this series and also the TV show and it had nothing to do with the fact that Rebecca Romijn was in it.










"A daring kidnapping turns a children's birthday party at Camp David, the presidential retreat, into a national security nightmare.

Former Secret Service agents turned private investigators Sean King and Michelle Maxwell don't want to get involved. But years ago Sean saved the First Lady's husband, then a senator, from political disaster. Now the president's wife presses Sean and Michelle into a desperate search to rescue a kidnapped child. With Michelle still battling her own demons, the two are pushed to the limit, with forces aligned on all sides against them-and the line between friend and foe impossible to define...or defend."


6. Huntingtower by John Buchan (Adventure). I've enjoyed Buchan's John Hannay adventure series very much. This story also looked interesting.











"Huntingtower is a novel written by John Buchan in 1922. The first of his three Dickson McCunn books, it is set near Carrick in south-west Scotland around 1920. The hero is a 55-year-old grocer Dickson McCunn, who has sold his business and taken early retirement. As soon as he ventures out to explore the world, he is swept out of his bourgeois rut into bizarre and outlandish adventures, and forced to become a reluctant hero. The story revolves around the imprisonment under false pretenses by Bolshevik agents of an exiled Russian noblewoman. The Scottish local community mobilizes to uncover and thwart the conspiracy against her, and to defend the neutrality of Scotland against the Russian revolutionary struggle."

7. The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton (Fiction  YA). A new author for me, this was the first book by Canadian - born New Zealander, Catton.











"Set in the aftermath of a sex scandal at an all-girls high school, Eleanor Catton’s internationally acclaimed award-winning debut is a provocative and darkly funny novel about the elusiveness of truth, the slipperiness of identity, and the emotional compromises we make to belong.

When news spreads of a high school teacher’s relationship with one of his students, the teenage girls at Abbey Grange are jolted into a new awareness of their own potency and power. Although no one knows the whole truth, the girls have their own ideas about what happened. They obsessively examine the details of the affair with the curiosity and jealousy native to any adolescent girl, and they confide in their saxophone teacher, an enigmatic woman who casts a withering eye on the dramas that unfold – both real and imagined. When the local drama school decides to use the scandal as the basis for its year-end show, the real world and the world of the theatre collide. As the story moves back and forth between the two schools – and characters slip in and out of different personas – the boundaries between public and private, fact and fantasy begin to dissolve."


Just Finished
I've finished 5 books since my last entry.

1. Brothers in Arms by H. H. Kirst (Fiction). I've read three or four books by Kirst, my favorite being Night of the Generals.











"I've read a few books by German author, Hans Hellmut Kirst, starting with his classic, Night of the Generals. He is a quite different author. Brothers in Arms was originally published in 1961 and its first translation into English was 1965.

It's an interesting plot line. Six members of a German army section from WWII have settled into life in a German city after the war. Each is successful in his own right; Schulz, the Sgt, owns a gas station, Kerze is a successful factory owner, Gisenius is a lawyer and political operative, Frammler owns a funeral parlor, Hirsch runs a popular hotel / night club and Bennicken has a taxi service. Their lives are disrupted when another member of their platoon, Meinecker, a person who they thought dead, shows up. There is some sort of history involving Meinecker from an incident that happened near the end of the war that unnerves them. It seems to involve the possible rape and murder of a young woman near the Russian front.

Gisenius, who is the ring leader of the group, and a conniving, sneaky individual, persuades the others to hire a private investigator to search out Meinecker. He hires an ex police investigator, one Taunus, now living in retirement, on the recommendation of another person. We soon discover that Taunus, rather than keeping to the simple assignment also likes to find out reasons beyond his task; why he has been hired, what other reasons might be involved. Taunus begins to inculcate himself into their lives.

There are various other story lines, some that are disturbing. Kerze's daughter is a problem child, sleeping around, trying to start a relationship with Hirsch. Kerze's accountant has an unhealthy interest in Kerze's young son. Schulz's sister, who lives a sheltered life with him, starts a relationship with Gisenius' problem son, etc. It's quite a rich, detailed story, told from everybody's perspective. Also as part of the story line, at the end of each chapter, one of the six is interrogated by the police about the events of that particular day in 1945.

Taunus is a fascinating character. He finds out so much, has great intuition and a sweet tooth. The other characters all are varied and interesting and the story also holds your interest throughout. I have a few other Kirst books on my shelf and look forward to continuing to work through them (3.5 stars) (Ed. Note. Apologies for any errors in spelling or recalling character names)"


2. Maigret and the Nahour Case by Georges Simenon. I've enjoyed every Maigret mystery I've tried. They are always interesting and they are short.










"I do enjoy an Inspector Maigret mystery. I haven't read them in any particular order, although I did make a bit of an effort to get the first two or three in the past year or so. Having said that, Maigret and the Nahour Case is approximately the 65th book in this excellent series by Georges Simenon.

It's January and Paris is freezing in this Maigret story. Maigret and his wife have just returned from dinner with their friends, Doctor Pardon and his wife. In bed and asleep, Maigret receives an urgent call from Pardon. It seems that he had late patients show up on his door step and the woman was shot in the back. While he was cleaning up his office after working on the young lady, the two disappear. The next morning, when Maigret goes to his office he is made aware of the murder of a man in his home, the self-same Nahour of the title. While investigating this murder, it turns out that Nahour was married to a woman who matches the description of the lady who was fixed by Pardon.

Thus begins a very interesting investigation. Nahour's wife, a woman originally from Amsterdam, was planning to divorce and leave her husband for a young man from Columbia. Everybody seems to be lying when interrogated by Maigret and he is very frustrated. There seem to be four suspects and Maigret seems to be working in circles.

But the investigation is interesting and Maigret is at his best as he works through the case. It's simple but complex at the same time. Simenon lays out the case and the atmosphere excellently. You can feel the cold. I love Maigret's scratchy scarf, made for him by Madame Maigret. It's an enjoyable, quick read with an interesting ending (4 stars)"


3. The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler (Phillip Marlowe #4). I've read one other Marlowe noir mystery. Chandler is such a great writer. I will read all of the Marlowe books eventually.

"I probably said this when I read The Big Sleep but I don't know why it has taken me so long to enjoy Raymond Chandler. But I'll say it again, I enjoyed The Lady in the Lake very much. Chandler wasn't a prolific writer; he only wrote 7 novels. Lady in the Lake was his 4th Philip Marlowe novel.

Marlowe is hired by wealthy Derace Kingsley to find his wife. Not a happy marriage, she had gone to their cabin up in the mountains (Little Fawn Lake) above LA and then sent him a telegram to let him know she wanted a divorce. Now worried about her, he asks Marlowe to find her. Thus begins an investigation for Marlowe that will take him to the mountains and then to Bay City.  Bodies will begin to crop up, firstly the titles lady in the lake. Marlowe and Bill Chess discover the body floating below the pier in Little Fawn Lake. Chess is Kingsley's handyman and lives in a cabin on the lake. The body is his wife, who, it turns out disappeared around the same time as Kingsley's wife.

I won't discuss the plot anymore as it is a relatively short story, but it is a fascinating mystery. Chandler provides a rich descriptive setting. Marlowe is one of the excellent characters and I love his investigation style. One thing I found interesting about Marlowe is that he isn't in the military, but it may be an age thing, or possibly it was mentioned in one of the other novels. The war is mentioned somewhat, noted by the soldiers guarding the dam on the way to Little Fawn Lake. That is a minor question on my part.

The story holds your attention and follows interesting path ways. I found the ending somewhat intricate but all in all, I enjoyed this story very much. I'll definitely continue until I finish the stories. (4.5 stars)"

 

4.  A Question of Blood by Ian Rankin (Inspector Rebus #14). This is such an excellent series. I'm slowly winding it down.











"It's been five years since I last visited with Edinburgh police inspector, John Rebus and his partner, Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke. Much too long a time. A Question of Blood by Ian Rankin is the 14th book in this excellent series and it was as engrossing and enjoyable as the other 13.

In Question, we find Rebus once again treading in thin waters (hmm, not sure but I might be mixing metaphors). DS Clarke has been harassed and stalked by a petty criminal. This man has been found burned to death in a house fire in his home. Unfortunately, Rebus has been seen with him the night of the fire and for some reason, Rebus is suffering from burns to his hands (re Mr. Rebus, he scalded them in hot water). An investigation is being launched into the incident by his boss, DCI Gill Templar and the Complaints Division.

While this is going on, old friend DI Bobby Hogan has asked for Rebus's assistance in another case. An ex-SAS man has entered a local school and killed two students, wounded another and then shot himself. Since Rebus was in the military and almost passed the tests to become an SAS man himself, Hogan feels he might be able to provide assistance in determining the motive for this shooting. Two SAS personnel, Whiteread and Simms show up to stir things up and as well, a local politician, whose son was wounded, sticks in his oar, trying to grandstand the issue.

Already sounds neat, eh? Well it is. Rebus is one of my favorite crusty, irascible, effective cops and I have a bit of a crush on his partner. We get to see both of them in equal amounts and that's just fine. They are a fascinating team and work well together; one playing off the other. There is genuine affection between them, even though Rebus quite regularly tests the bounds of their friendship. The cases are both interesting and often events and suspects and characters are intertwined. I like Bobby Hogan and long suffering Gill Templar both as well. It's an entertaining mystery, with enough action to keep you satisfied and Rankin is skilled at establishing the mood and in describing the Edinburgh scene. Satisfying mystery and excellent story. (4 stars)"


5. Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson (Spy Adventure). I've read a few books by Davidson and have enjoyed them. This one was so unsatisfying. So when I said before that I completed 5 books, I actually meant that I've completed 4.5. :0)









"I've read a couple of other thrillers by Lionel Davidson and found them entertaining. I honestly gave Kolymsky Heights a good try, even got over half way through it. But I just could not finish it. That does not happen very often, I will tell you.

It may have been because my mood wouldn't let me get into it but it also just wasn't a great story. Basically, this is the premise as I understood it. A Russian scientist sends a message to an acquaintance in the UK, a scientist he met many years ago at a conference in England. He has something that he needs to get out of Russia. He wants a third acquaintance to come and get it. This third acquaintance is a Canadian native, who also attended the conference.

And thus begins the story. The first third describes Porter's journey from Canada, to Japan and then onto a freighter to Northern Russia and his efforts establish himself in Russia so he can get to the scientist's locale. And now he has met the scientist and we're about to find out what it's all about. But by now, all I can say is 'nyahh.. who cares'. It's all just a bit laborious and not worth finishing. Very disappointing. I do have one more Davidson story, a mystery, that I will try. Hoping it's more like the earlier efforts. (1 star)"  (NB: I gave up when we met the talking ape. Yup, just too far)


Currently Reading
I've got a few too many books on the go at the moment but I've been working on a few extra challenges. These are the books I'm currently reading.

1. Fleshmarket Close by Ian Rankin (Rebus #15)
2. The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl (Historical Mystery). I've been reading this book the longest but am still enjoying.
3. Phantom Instinct by Meg Gardiner (Thriller). I've enjoyed a couple of Gardiner's series books. This is a standalone.
4. Storm Front by Jim Butcher (Harry Dresden #1). This is one of my favorite fantasy series. I've read three or four so far and now am finally getting to read the first book.
5. California Thriller by Max Byrd (Mike Haller #1). A new mystery series for me. Haller sounds like your prototypical noir PI.
6. Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling (Adventure). Enjoying this very much. A great, entertaining sailing adventure.
7. The Crypt Thief by Mark Pryor (Hugo Marston #2). Marston is head of security at the US Embassy in Paris. This is my first exposure to the series and I'm enjoying very much so far. It's a nice page turner.

So there you go. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Hope you have a good book beside you.


Thursday, 4 July 2019

First July 2019 Reading Update

It's July 4th and all over our neighbour to the south people are celebrating Independence Day. Hope you had a great one. Best wishes to those folks in California who have been affected by the earthquake.

I've been fairly lazy since the missus headed over to the UK to visit family. The dogs and I haven't felt like doing a whole heck of a lot. Well, I haven't so they've kind of followed my lead. I mowed the lawn on the weekend but I've spent quite a bit of time reading. Not that there is anything wrong with that, eh?

A couple of books have arrived in the mail this month and I've finished one book so far. I've been a bit slow finishing off some of the books I started in June, tending to focus on some of the books I've started since. But I will get through them. It's not I'm not enjoying them, it's just been a bit easier going through some of the shorter books I've started more recently.

So anyway, I'll update the new books I received (a nice mix I think) and also review the one I competed this week.

Just Finished

1. Stranger in Paradise by Robert B. Parker (Jesse Stone #7). My first Jesse Stone book.

"I have read one of Robert B. Parker's Spenser mystery series books and enjoyed very much. I've also enjoyed the Jesse Stone movies based on Parker's books. Stranger In Paradise is my first Jesse Stone book and is the 7th in the series. Most enjoyable I must say.

Jesse is sheriff in Paradise, Massachusetts. He's reinventing himself after moving from a police job in LA. He's got an interesting police department, about 12 cops; the two most interesting being Molly and Suitcase. His ex-wife, Jenn also lives in Paradise, trying for a career as a TV journalist. They love each other, see each other, but haven't decided where to go from there. Jesse is also seeing psychiatrist, Dix, trying to sort out his issues / problems. Of course there are other characters as well.

An old case from ten years ago resurfaces when Wilson Cromartie (Crow) shows up in Jesse's office. Crow was part of a bank robbery / kidnapping that took place then. Wasn't able to be convicted of anything and it seems he may have prevented the other robbers from killing the hostages, especially the woman. He likes women (you will find this out). Crow has been hired to find a mother and daughter for some fellow from Florida. He wants Jesse to know he's in town.

That's the gist of the story. When Crow finds the two, he is told to kill the mother and bring the girl to Florida. He refuses and this sets off a chain of events, involving a gang from the next town and also killers who work for the father. A minor story line involves Paradise protesters who don't want Latino children from the neighboring town to come to a small school near their residences. Are the two stories related? Read it and find out.

I really enjoyed this story. Parker has a sparse writing style but still manages to craft a rich, interesting story. The characters are interesting, some likable, some not so much, but still engrossing. The story moves along quickly and is difficult to put down. Once you get into it, say on page 1, you will want to see how it ends. And along the way, you will be fascinated. Most enjoyable. (4 stars)"

Currently Reading

1. Maigret and the Nahour Case by Georges Simenon. I enjoy the Maigret series very much.











"When Maigret receives an urgent call from his friend Dr. Pardon he responds immediately, despite the late hour; it seems that the doctor has just treated an apparently wealthy woman for a suspicious gunshot wound, but before he could notify the authorities she disappeared with her companion. The doctor's story gains some perspective when the same woman turns up at the house on Avenue du Parc-Montsouris where Felix Nahour has just been found - shot to death. This is a masterful exploration of the twin passions of love and hate as they mingle in the shadowy mind of a criminal."

New Books

1. The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope (Palliser #3). I've read and enjoyed the first two books in this classic series. I may as well continue with it.











"Anthony Trollope's celebrated Parliamentary novels, of which The Eustace Diamonds (1873) is the third and most famous, are at once unfailingly amusing social comedies, melodramas of greed and deception, and precise nature studies of the political animal in its mid-Victorian habitat. With its purloined jewels, its conniving, resilient, mercenary heroine, and its partiality for the human spectacle in all its complexity, The Eustace Diamonds is a splendid example of Trollope's art at its most assured."

2. A Firework for Oliver by John Sanders (Nicholas Pym #1). This is a new series for me and features Nicholas Pym, secret agent for Oliver Cromwell. 










"Nicholas Pym is given the mission of suppressing a newly-invented gun, a revolutionary weapon so far in advance of contemporary firearms that its very existence threatens the security of the Commonwealth, and the life of the Protector himself..."

3. The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (The Culture #2). The Culture series is one of my favorite Science Fiction series of the past few years. Banks was a great writer.










"The Culture--a humanoid/machine symbiotic society--has thrown up many great Game Players. One of the best is Jernau Morat Gurgeh, Player of Games, master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel & incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game, a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game and with it the challenge of his life, and very possibly his death."

So there you go. I hope my July reading is as satisfying as the past six months have been. I'll get back to my look at the Mystery Genre in my next entry. Have a great week and July.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

June 2019 Reading Summary

I finished two books this morning to make my June total 11 books. Watching the Blue Jays about to lose their first game of the weekend, unless Smoakie can drive in a run and tie the game up. *fingers crossed*. Bonnie is hearing every noise outside today and growling and barking. She really wants to go outside and have a sound off. Oh well, game over.

Anyway, here is my June Reading Summary

June 2019

General Info              June               Total
Books Read -                11                   70
Pages Read -               3,500             21,700

Pages Breakdown
    < 250                          6                   30       
250 - 350                        1                   16
351 - 450                        1                   14
   > 450                           3                   10

Ratings
5 - star                            1                     4
4 - star                            7                   38
3 - star                            3                   28
2 - star                           

Gender
Female                           3                   30
Male                               8                  40

Genres
Fiction                           3                     9
Mystery                         6                   48
SciFi                              1                     7
Non-Fic                         1                     5
Classics                                                1           
Poetry                           

Top 3 Books

1. Night by Elie Wiesel (5 stars)












"I've just finished Night by Elie Wiesel, the true story of how he and his family were taken from their home in Sighet, Transylvania, along with all of the other Jews of his town, to Auschwitz, in 1944. As I think about what I've read, today's news headlines state the following; 'Trump Vows Mass Migrant Arrests Starting Next Week', 'Trump Plans to Turn the 4th of July into a Political Rally in Honor of Himself', 'Ocasio - Cortez - Trump Detention Centers 'exactly' like Concentration Camps'. Those are just US headlines.

What to say about this short, succinct book? It's terror, plain and simple. Scarier and harder to conceive than any horror story. The evil of people to just dismiss another group as animals, nothing more. It's scary and even scarier as it seems the lessons may not have been learned and that we are just as capable nowadays of doing the same thing.

As I mentioned, it's a short story but a story that grabs you viscerally and holds you tight until you can't breathe. Elie Wiesel was not even 16 when he and his family were put on a train and taken to Auschwitz. When they got there, he and his father were separated from his mother and sisters and never saw them again. He and his father survived Auschwitz and then the trip to Buchenwald in winter and his father died there.

It's a terrible story but it's a story that needs to be read and believed and thought upon. There is deep within mankind this type of evil that is often stoked and brought to the surface. We need to learn from this book and others so we can fight it. Sorry for preaching. Just read it. (5 stars)"


 2. Natchez Burning by Greg Iles (4.5 stars)













"Natchez Burning is the 4th book in the Penn Cage series by Greg Iles. But for some reason, it's also the first book in his Natchez Burning trilogy (all of which make up the Penn Cage books too). At any rate, after reading this book, I didn't seem to have missed not reading the first three Penn Cage books. But my interest in this book will get me to delve back into those other books. Confused yet?

So, this book begins in 1964 with the murder of a black music shop owner in Natchez, Mississippi and others by a sect of the Ku Klux Klan, known as the Double Eagles. With this introduction we move to 2005 and the arrest of Tom Cage, a local doctor, and Penn Cage's father for the murder of Viola Turner, a woman who'd been his nurse and lover back in those same '60s. Viola, who had moved to Chicago after the events mentioned above, with the help of Tom Cage, had returned to Natchez, still under threat of murder by the Double Eagles, to live her last days. Tom Cage had been treating her for her cancer and upon her death, he has been charged, first with assisted suicide and then murder. This charge has been laid by Lincoln Turner, Viola's son, who also claims that Tom is his father.

Whew! That's just the beginning. Penn Cage, now mayor of Natchez, has now to try to find the truth about this from his father, who is reticent to tell him anything, all the while fighting off pressure from the local DA, Shad Johnson and also the sheriff, racist, redneck Billy Byrd. Of course, it's not that simple a story. This story will delve back into the past as Penn tries to find out the truth of the murders in the '60s, to break down who caused them, to fight the remnants of the Double Eagles, and their sons. He will require the assistance of local reporter, Henry Sexton, who has made it his life's work to find the truth; FBI agent Jim Kaiser, who is trying to make amends for the failure of the FBI to solve the crimes in the past; and also Kaitlin, publisher of the other local newspaper, and Penn's fiance, who also wants to get her own story.

And that's just touching the tip of the iceberg of this rich, engrossing, and at times, scary thriller and look at the troubling past of southern states like Mississippi. Iles has delved greatly into similar incidents in the past to create this fascinating story. It's so well written, it holds your attention right from the get-go. There is a large cast of characters that each share the spotlight in their own right, from those crusaders who want to expose the truth to those who want to continue their 'evil' work and to crush those who would dare to try to stop them.

While the ultimate ending wasn't totally satisfying, the story on the whole is rich, powerful and will keep you turning pages. I do know I'll be reading more books in the Penn Cage series. (4.5 stars)"


3. The Three Hostages by John Buchan (4.5 stars)















 "The Three Hostages is the 4th book in the Richard Hannay adventure / thriller series by John Buchan. It was originally published in 1924. I've read the complete series now and, maybe because it's the freshest in my mind, I think it was the best book in the series.

Hannay is living on his estate in the country in western Britain with his wife Mary and his young son Peter John. He is now trying to move on from his WWI experiences, to enjoy a retirement, but he is brought back to reality when he is advised of three kidnappings. He doesn't think he is appropriate to be involved in finding them but when he finds out that one is a young boy of similar age to Peter John, he changes his mind with encouragement from Mary.

Hannay agrees to assist. He returns to London and gets info; there are two related aspects. The three kidnaps; a young man, a young lady and the young boy. As well the intelligence services with his old friend, MacGillivary in charge, are trying to break up a criminal enterprise of major proportions. The timing of trying to rescue the kidnapped and breaking up the organization is critical as if they are too quick with one the other will be lost.

Hannay begins to investigate and along the way meets old friends from other books, especially Sandy Arbuthnot, who will play a major role in the resolution of the story. Hannay meets Medina, an English politician and attends a dinner along with Arbuthnot. Medina is popular with all except Arbuthnot who is suspicious. After the dinner, Hannay is drugged and an attempt by Medina is made to hypnotize and gain control of Hannay. This fails but Hannay now uses this action to continue investigating further into Medina and his organization.

The story moves along at a nice pace and finds Hannay moving throughout London and even to Norway as he searches for the kidnapped. He keeps MacGillivary somewhat out of the picture but with help from Arbuthnot (who even though keeping himself out of the picture as much as possible, plays a quite important role), Mary, and other old friends, he begins to gather more and more info.

It's a fascinating story, with hypnotism, black arts (somewhat) and a good old adventure. There is considerable tension and sufficient action, especially in the closing chapters, which are excellent. I'm almost glad that I saved this middle book until the end as it was excellent. There is another story, The Courts of the Morning, which features Hannay in a minor role, which I will also read. (4.5 stars)"

12 + 4  Challenge (completed 13)
1. Darker Than Amber by John D. MacDonald (4 stars)

Papa Bear Challenge (Books I've had the longest on my Goodreads bookshelf) (completed 9)
Nil

Mama Bear Challenge (Middle of my Goodreads bookshelf) (completed 11)
2. The Master of Rain by Tom Bradby (4 stars)

Baby Bear Challenge (Books most recently added to my Goodreads bookshelf) (completed 10)
Nil

Goldilocks Challenge (Random Number Generator (completed 10)
3. Natchez Burning by Greg Iles (4.5 stars)
4. Rumpole a la Carte by John Mortimer (4 stars)

Break from Challenge Challenge (Freebees every time I complete 10 books) (completed 5 books)
5. Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson (3.5 stars)

Freebies (including June Freebies)
6.Night by Elie Wiesel (5 stars)
7. The Red Dahlia by Lynda LaPlante (3.5 stars)
8. Warlord of the Air by Michael Moorcock (4 stars)
9. The Three Hostages by John Buchan (4.5 stars)
10. An Excellent Mystery by Ellis Peters (4 stars)
11. The Dark Crusader by Alistair MacLean (3 stars)

July 2019 Books Currently Reading

1. Brothers in Arms by H. H. Kirst
2. The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl
3. Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson
4. A Question of Blood by Ian Rankin
5. Stranger in Paradise by Robert B. Parker
6. The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Night 2 of the Democratic Debates

Well, here I sit watching the 2nd night of the debates. It's already a bit scrappier than last night. oh, here they go, everybody wants to have a say... lol. Now children, please behave. Let Kamala speak! Oh, that was good. America doesn't want to witness a food fight, they want to have food on their tables.. *Bazinga*

So, while I'm watching, let's do a bit of an update. On Tuesday the missus flew over to England to visit family so it's me and the pups for the next little while. Yesterday the dogs and I took a drive around the local Little Free Libraries. I dropped off a few of the books I've already read and also found a few books. I also had a book arrive in the mail. I'll update that and also continue with my look at the Mystery Genre - American Cops.

So while Savannah Guthrie and her co-hosts try to control this unruly group of Democrats, let's take a look at books.

New Books

1. DeKok and Murder on the Menu by A.C. Baantjer (Inspector DeKok #1). I've read a couple of these mysteries set in Amsterdam and have enjoyed. Now to start at the beginning.










"On an old menu from the Amsterdam Hotel-Restaurant De Poort van Eden (Eden's Gate) is found the complete, signed confession of a murder. The perpetrator confesses to the killing of a named blackmailer. DeKok and Vledder follow the trail of the menu and soon more victims are found and DeKok and Vledder are in deadly danger themselves. Although the murder was committed in Amsterdam, the case brings them to Rotterdam, Edam and Maastricht, too."

2. Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings (The Belgariad #1).












"Long ago, so the Storyteller claimed, the evil God Torak drove men and Gods to war. But Belgarath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected men of the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe.

But that was only a story, and Garion did not believe in magic dooms, even though the dark man without a shadow had haunted him for years. Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved—but did not know?

For a while, his dreams of innocence were safe, untroubled by knowledge of his strange heritage. For a little while…

Thus begins the first book of The Belgariad, a magnificent epic of immense scope set against a history of seven thousand years of the struggles of Gods and Kings and men—of strange lands and events—of fate and a prophecy that must be fulfilled!"


3. The Shadow District by Arnaldur Indridason (Reykjavik Wartime Mystery #1). I've read some of Indridason's Detective Erlendur mystery series. I'm looking forward to trying this other series.










"A 90-year-old man is found dead in his bed, smothered with his own pillow.

On his desk the police find newspaper cuttings about a murder case dating from the Second World War, when a young woman was found strangled behind Reykjavík’s National Theatre.

Konrád, a former detective, is bored with retirement and remembers the crime. He grew up in ‘the shadow district’, a rough neighborhood bordered by the National Theatre and an abattoir. Why would someone be interested in that crime now? He starts his own unofficial inquiry.

Alternating between Konrád’s investigation and the original police inquiry, we discover that two girls had been attacked in oddly similar circumstances. Did the police arrest the wrong man? How are these cases linked across the decades? And who is the old man?"


4. The Skull Beneath the Skin by P.D. James (Cordelia Gray #2). James' Adam Dalgliesh mystery series is one of my favorites. There are two books in her Cordelia Gray PI series.










"Private detective Cordelia Gray is invited to the sunlit island of Courcy to protect the vainly beautiful actress Clarissa Lisle from veiled threats on her life. Within the rose red walls of a fairy-tale castle, she finds the stage is set for death."

5. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. I have previously read Waters' Fingersmith and it was an interesting piece of historical fiction.











"It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa—a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants—life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life—or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be."


The debate is much feistier tonight. Hands waving, me, me, take me next... And people running on with their answers.. lol.. But still a good group. Go Kamala!!! We're about to start the second half with new hosts, 'Sleepy Eyed' Chuck Todd (sorry about that, consider a badge of honor to be mocked by the dumb doofus currently in the White House) and Rachel Maddow.

My Ongoing Look at the Mystery Genre - American Cops Part 7
In my last entry I looked at Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch mystery series.

Jeffery Deaver
1. Jeffery Deaver - Lincoln Rhymes. I will highlight another series of Deaver's in my next post. Deaver was born in Illinois in 1950 and has been a prolific writer for years. I will focus on his Lincoln Rhymes forensic crime series in this post. I bought my first book, The Bone Collector, while I was on the way to watching the movie and read a fair bit of it before it even started. I've since read a number of the books in this series, each as enjoyable as the last. Since 1997 he has written 14 books in this series.

a. The Bone Collector.

"In his most gripping thriller yet, Jeffery Deaver takes readers on a terrifying ride into two ingenious minds...that of a physically challenged detective and the scheming killer he must stop. The detective was the former head of forensics at the NYPD, but is now a quadriplegic who can only exercise his mind. The killer is a man whose obsession with old New York helps him choose his next victim. Now, with the help of a beautiful young cop, this diabolical killer must be stopped before he can kill again!" (4 stars)




 b. The Coffin Dancer.











 "Detective Lincoln Rhyme, the foremost criminalist in the NYPD, is put on the trail of the Coffin Dancer, a cunning professional killer who has continually eluded the police. Rhymes —-a quadriplegic since a line-of-duty accident — must use his wits to track this brilliant killer who’s been hired to eliminate three witnesses in the last hours before their grand jury testimony. Rhyme works with his eyes and ears, New York City cop Amelia Sachs, to gather information from trace evidence at the crime scene to nail him, or at least to predict his next move and head him off.

So far, they have only one clue: the assassin has a tattoo on his arm of the Grim Reaper waltzing with a woman in front of a coffin.
" (3 stars)


c. The Empty Chair.











"It's not easy being NYPD detective Lincoln Rhyme, the world's foremost criminalist. First of all, he's a quadriplegic. Secondly, he's forever being second-guessed and mother-henned by his ex-model-turned-cop protégé, Amelia Sachs, and his personal aide, Thom. And thirdly, it seems that he can't motor his wheelchair around a corner without bumping into one crazed psycho-killer after another.

In The Empty Chair, Jeffery Deaver's third Rhyme outing--after 1997's The Bone Collector and 1998's The Coffin Dancer--Rhyme travels to North Carolina to undergo an experimental surgical procedure and is, a jot too coincidentally, met at the door by a local sheriff, the cousin of an NYPD colleague, bearing one murder, two kidnappings, and a timely plea for help. It seems that 16-year-old Garrett Hanlon, a bug-obsessed orphan known locally as the Insect Boy, has kidnapped and probably raped two women, and bludgeoned to death a would-be hero who tried to stop one of the abductions.

Rhyme sets up shop, Amelia leads the local constabulary (easily recognized by their out-of-joint noses) into the field, and, after some Holmesian brain work and a good deal of exciting cat-and-mousing, the duo leads the cops to their prey. And just as you're idly wondering why the case is coming to an end in the middle of the book, Amelia breaks the boy out of jail and goes on the lam. Equally convinced of the boy's guilt and the danger he poses to Amelia, Rhyme has no choice but to aid the police in apprehending the woman he loves--no easy task, as she's the one human being who truly knows the methods of Lincoln Rhyme." (3 stars)

The remaining books are below (I'll highlight those I've read with a rating and those I have on my bookshelf with an asterisk) -
- The Stone Monkey (2002) (4 stars)
- The Vanished Man (2003) (4 stars)
- The Twelfth Card (2005) (4 stars)
- The Cold Moon (2006) (4 stars)
- The Broken Window (2008) *
- The Burning Wire (2010) *
- The Kill Room (2013) *
- The Skin Collector (2014)
- The Steel Kiss (2016)
- The Burial Hour (2017)
- The Cutting Edge (2018)
 
There you go. Still half an hour to go on the debate. Whew... I must say I don't mind Marianne Williamson, she's quite dynamic. Quite a few shots aimed at Mr. Biden tonight. 

Enjoy the rest of your week and for those celebrating, Happy Canada Day Weekend!!
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