Saturday, 31 August 2019

August 2019 Reading Update

Oh that feels so good after a stressful morning!
As I sit here watching the Blue Jays and hoping they can hold on to their lead, I guess it's time for my monthly update. Jo is relaxing as are the puppies. Not so hot today which is nice. I would say I'm enjoying the long weekend, but since I've retired, I guess they all are long weekends.. 😆

Let's play later, Dad, it's time for my nap
I have to say that I've actually spent some time this week thinking about my 2020 reading challenges. Yes, I'm a saddo...

So now, let's move on to my August Reading Update. I'll start off showing you three books I bought yesterday when I dropped off some books at my local used book store, then I'll give you my update.

New Books

1. For the Dead by Timothy Hallinan (Poke Rafferty #6). A new author for me. Actually all of these books are by authors I've yet to try.

"After seven years in Bangkok, American travel writer Poke Rafferty finally feels settled: his family is about to grow larger, and his adopted Thai daughter, Miaow, seems to have settled in at junior high school. All that is endangered when Miaow helps her boyfriend buy a stolen iPhone that contains photographs of two disgraced police officers, both of whom have been murdered. As Miaow's carefully constructed personal life falls apart, Rafferty discovers that the murders are part of a conspiracy that reaches the top rungs of Bangkok law enforcement, and beyond. Miaow's discovery threatens the entire family—and if that's not enough, in order to survive, they may ultimately have to depend on someone who has already betrayed them."

2. Blood Alone by James R. Benn (Billy Boyle #3). I have the first three of this series. Now to read that first one.

"Billy Boyle awakens in a field hospital in Sicily with amnesia. In his pocket is a yellow silk handkerchief embroidered with the initial L. Gradually he remembers: he has been sent ashore in advance of the troops with this token from Lucky Luciano to contact the head of the Sicilian Mafia. But he must also thwart a murderous band of counterfeiters of Army scrip led by Vito Genovese."

3. Frozen Out by Quentin Bates (Gunnhilder #1).

"The discovery of a corpse washed up on a beach in an Icelandic backwater sparks a series of events that propels the village of Hvalvik's police sergeant Gunnhildur into deep waters. Although under pressure to deal with the matter quickly, she is suspicious that the man's death was no accident and once she has identified the body, sets about investigating his final hours. The case takes Gunnhildur away from her village and into a cosmopolitan world of shady deals, government corruption and violence. She finds herself alone and less than welcome in this hostile environment as she tries to find out who it was that made sure the young man drowned on a dark night one hundred kilometres from where he should have been - and why." 

Be still our hearts. We can't wait
OK, now for some stats..  

August 2019 Reading Update

Aug 2019

General Info                June                Total
Books Read -                  13                     96
Pages Read -                2,900                28,600

Pages Breakdown
      < 250                          4                     38       
250 - 350                          5                     24
351 - 450                          4                     23
   > 450                                                    11

5 - star                             0                        5
4 - star                             5                      49
3 - star                             7                      40
2 - star                             1                        2

Female                            6                      33
Male                               7                      59

Fiction                            3                      14
Mystery                          6                      64
SciFi                               4                      12
Non-Fic                                                    5
Classics                                                    1           

Top 3 Books
No five - star reads this past month. In fact, maybe I've been a bit harder with my reviews as I've only had 5 so far over the course of the year. Does it have anything to do with the fact that I've read so many mysteries? That's a thought.

1. Jan Struthers - Mrs. Miniver 4.5 stars

"I've seen Mrs. Miniver, the movie starring Greer Garson, many times. So when I saw the book by Jan Struther I thought it might be worthwhile comparing the two. Well, there is no comparison because the book is totally different from the movie. However, both are excellent.

The book, as I understand it, was originally a series of columns that she wrote for the Times newspaper about 'an ordinary sort of woman who leads an ordinary sort of life - like yourself'. The movie, for those who might not have seen it, is about an ordinary English family living life during the initial parts of WWII. The book is set before the world, with the last chapter ending "Christmas 1939".

Each chapter presents a vignette as described by Mrs. Miniver, featuring her life and those of her husband, Clem and her three children, Vin, Judy and Toby. It presents her thoughts and observations about trips, events and sundry other items of their lives. It's very matter of fact in many ways but also very thoughtful. There were some chapters that I preferred more than others, some that stood out for me. Even one where she is deciding what new engagement book she wants to buy to record the events of the upcoming year struck a chord with me. Probably a personal one as I know how much my wife loves wandering through proper stationary stores. The last chapter where Mrs. Miniver is making her Christmas shopping list for her family and looks back over the last 17 years' lists and how her family has changed when she made up her lists was especially poignant.

In many ways, each chapter is a simple little story but some will definitely strike a chord with you and when you put them all together, it's a wonderful, rich story. I don't know how William Wyler came up with the idea to transition this book into a movie but he seems to have and made it just as rich and wonderful as this little book. You should try it. (4.5 stars)"

2. Josephine Tey - The Franchise Affair 4 stars


 "The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey is listed as the 3rd book in her Inspector Grant mystery series, but in fact, he plays only a very minor inconsequential role in this story. Josephine Tey wrote six books in this series over the course of her life. I've now read four of them. I think, though, that my favorite book of hers so far was her standalone mystery, Brat Farrar, which was an excellent story.

As I mentioned Inspector Grant makes only a couple of brief appearances in this story and is mentioned once or twice besides. The story belongs to small-town English lawyer, Robert Blair, who may be considered somewhat staid and comfortable with his life. However this will be turned upside down when he receives a call from one Marion Sharpe who lives at an estate called The Franchise (understand the title now?) with her mother. They have been accused of kidnapping a fifteen year old girl and keeping her locked up in the attic for a month, basically as a free labor force, until the girl escapes and eventually reports the two to the police.

Inspector Grant (in his main appearance) brings the girl to the estate, accompanied by the local police inspector and also Robert Blair, where the girl describes the house and shows where she was held. The rest of the story involves Robert and some friends investigating the claims and trying to prove the girl is a liar. This is something very new for Roger and he finds himself drawn to Marion and frustrated with his perceived limitations.

It's a very interesting, different mystery. It moves along slowly as Roger tries to determine his courses of action, how to investigate, how to protect the two women from curious onlookers and more dangerous intruders. The whole process is fascinating and while resolution might seem somewhat pat, ultimately, it doesn't really matter as the journey to this solution is readable and enjoyable. The story is peopled with wonderful characters, from Roger's Aunt Lim and his cousin Nevil and the two garage men, Stanley and Bill, who help Roger and the ladies; and of course, Marion and her mother as well, both down to earth and matter of fact in the middle of this awful situation.

Entertaining mystery, great characters and story telling and satisfying resolution. (4 stars)"

3. C.S. Forester - Hornblower in the West Indies 4 stars


 "I've read most of C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower books and have enjoyed the adventures. Hornblower in the West Indies is a series of five short stories covering the period 1821 - 1823 when Hornblower is an Admiral and in charge of the Royal Navy's West Indies fleet. The book consists of five separate events and all of them are enjoyable and entertaining.

Hornblower, now an experienced navy man, has more confidence in himself but still possesses those curmudgeonly qualities that endears himself to the reader. His men love him and he has capable staff, especially his Flag Lieutenant, Gerard, his clerk Mr Spendlove and his attendant Mr. Giles.

The five stories consist of -

- St Elizabeth of Hungary - We find Hornblower sailing into New Orleans and discovering a ship of French soldiers planning to help Napoleon escape from imprisonment in St Helen's. Hornblower must risk his honor and career to stop this fast ship from accomplishing their mission.

- The Star of the South - One of Hornblower's missions in the West Indies is to disrupt the flourishing slave trade and he is on the trail of one such ship. Following it into a port in Haiti, he must figure out a way to disable the ship prior to its departure, without offending his hosts and to enable him to catch the ship when it leaves.

- The Bewildered Pirates - Hornblower and his clerk, Spendlove, are kidnapped by a crew of pirates from a party he is attending near Montego Bay. Released so he can try to get the Governor to pardon them, Hornblower heads back to their hideout with his crew to save Spendlove and to deal with them

- The Guns of Carabobo - Hornblower finds himself involved in Bolivar's war to oust the Spanish from South America. A rich British merchant who is part Venezuelan, tricks Hornblower and others so he can deliver arms to Bolivar's rebels. Hornblower must calm the Dutch and Spanish who have been caught up in Ramsbottom's schemes.

- The Hurricane - Hornblower's time as Admiral of the West Indies fleet is over. His lovely wife Barbara has come to bring him back to their home in England. Hornblower must try to deal with a mutinous musician and then survive a hurricane on the trip home.

All of the stories were quite excellent, especially building up to the grand finale The Hurricane. There was tension throughout, crafty plans on Hornblower's part to solve his problems and pure heroism as he fights the devastating hurricane. It was a great way to end the story. As always, I've enjoyed sinking into Hornblower's world and taking part in his nautical adventures. Forester spins a fine, entertaining yarn. I'm almost sad that I've only two more of the Hornblower adventures to enjoy. (4 stars)"

12 + 4  Challenge (completed 16) (Challenge Complete)
1. Josephine Tey - The Franchise Affair 4 stars
2. Ian Fleming - You Only Live Twice 3.5 stars

Papa Bear Challenge (Books I've had the longest on my Goodreads bookshelf)
3. Jan Struthers - Mrs. Miniver 4.5 stars
4. C.S. Forester - Hornblower in the West Indies 4 stars

Mama Bear Challenge (Middle of my Goodreads bookshelf)
5. David Downing - Jack of Spies 3 stars

Baby Bear Challenge (Books most recently added to my Goodreads bookshelf)
6. Kelley Armstrong - Broken 2.5 stars
7. Philip Kerr - Field Gray 3 stars

Goldilocks Challenge (Random Number Generator)
8. Susan Hill - The Vows of Silence 4 stars
9. Val McDermid - A Distant Echo 4 stars

Break from Challenge Challenge (Freebees every time I complete 10 books)
10. Matt Rees - The Collaborator of Bethlehem 3.5 stars
11. Anne Elizabeth - Truth and Consequences: The Hall of Insides Collection 3 stars

12. J.G. Ballard - Concrete Island 3.5 stars
13. Philip K. Dick - Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said 3 stars

Challenges from other Groups

Sep 2019 Books Currently Reading

1. Julie Smith - Jazz Funeral
2. Donna Leon - Friends in High Places
3. Kathy Reichs - Fatal Voyage
4. Ngaio Marsh - Death at the Bar
5. Julia Keller - Bitter River

Next Possibles in Line

1. Ellis Peters - The Rose Rent
2. Charlaine Harris - All Together Dead
3. Laurell K. Hamilton - Blood Noir


Wednesday, 28 August 2019

A Mid-Week Update

Things are warming up around here. High 20's the past couple of days. Today the fellow who does our gutters and roof was here. He earned his pay today. It must have been very hot up there. I think he was heading off to the beach with his kids this afternoon.

Hey Dad, why don't you take a break?
I've finished two books this week and also started two. Two is my number it would seem as two books also arrived in the mail. Such a bounty. I'll update the new books, what I've read and am starting and also continue with my look at the Mystery genre - American cops..

New Books

1. The Mystery of the Sea by Bram Stoker. I've still to read his classic, Dracula but I have read The Jewel of Seven Stars, which was an interesting Gothic horror story.

"When Archibald Hunter comes to Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire for his annual holiday he is looking forward to a tranquil few days by the sea, but he is disturbed by strange visions and portents of doom. Where are these terrible visions taking him? And what is the significance of the pages of cipher?"

2. The Purity of Vengeance by Jussi Adler-Olsen. This is the 4th book in the excellent Department Q mystery series.

"In 1987, Nete Hermansen plans revenge on those who abused her—especially Curt Wad, a surgeon who was part of a movement to sterilize wayward girls in the 1950s. More than twenty years later, Detective Carl Mørck already has plenty on his mind when he is presented with the case of a brothel owner, a woman named Rita, who went missing in the eighties: New evidence has emerged in the case that sent Carl to Department Q.

But when Carl’s assistants, Assad and Rose, learn that numerous other people disappeared around the same weekend as Rita, Carl takes notice. Sifting through the evidence, they inch closer to Curt Wad, who is still committed to his twisted beliefs, and whose treatment of Nete only hints at his capacity for evil."

Just Finished

1.  The Distant Echo by Val McDermid (Karen Pirie #1).

"Val McDermid is one prolific crime writer. Probably best noted for her Wire in the Blood mystery series, she's also written the Lindsay Gordon and Kate Brannigan series. The Distant Echo is the first book in another of her series, this one featuring Scottish police inspector Karen Pirie.

I will qualify this by saying that Karen Pirie does not play a major role in this particular story, but I presume it is more of a way of introducing her to the other books in the series. Having said that, as with other McDermid books I've read, this was an excellent thriller / murder story. The book is set during two particular time periods. We begin in the past in 1978, in St Andrew's Scotland. This is where we are introduced to the case that will take up both time frames of the story, that being the murder of Rosie Duff. Near Xmas of 1978, four college students, all childhood friends, are out on a jaunt through the pubs prior to heading off to a drunken revelry at another student's accommodation. On their way back to their own residence early in the morning, they take a short cut and discover the body of Rosie. Before they can summon the police, she dies and even though they are at treated as witnesses, there are suspicions from both the police and Rosie's family that they are the one(s) who have raped and murdered the girl.

The first half of the story follows this initial investigation, lead by ACC MacLennan, who is basically unsuccessful in proving they are innocent or guilty, or in discovering the perpetrator. The four boys lives are turned on end. They are assaulted by the press, by the Rosie's brothers who want to take the law into their own hands, and under suspicion by the police. The first part ends in tragedy, with another death (you can find whose for yourselves).

The second half of the story i in the present where the new ACC, James Lawson, has taken over the cold case squad of the Fife police department. Lawson was a uniform constable who was first on the scene after discovery of her body. Karen Pirie is one of the inspectors on his team who is responsible for investigating Rosie's cold case. The four friends have grown apart and are now being stalked by someone (or so it seems). New information turns up, especially the fact that Rosie had a child when she was very young and he wants more information about the investigation and wants justice for her.

The story, for all of its length, moves along very nicely both in the past and present and is a tense thriller. I have to say that once we got into the second half I was pretty sure I knew who the killer was but it didn't take away from the enjoyment of the story. There were a few times where I shook my head at what seemed incongruous actions but they regularly happen in mysteries but sometimes you just have to shrug them off. They weren't wildly out of place anyway. All in all, it's an interesting story, well-written and tensely presented, with an overall satisfying ending. (4 stars)"

2. Field Gray by Philip Kerr (Bernie Gunther #7).

"Field Gray, the 7th Bernie Gunther story, by Philip Kerr was my first exposure to this series. It was well-written and interesting but I'm not sure what exactly to make of it. This may have been one of those series that it is necessary to read from the beginning. Having said that there is more than enough information to get a feel for Bernie and you do get a good look at his past.

So, this is the gist of the story. We start in Cuba in 1954 where Bernie, living under an assumed name is warned that he might be safer if he leaves Cuba. He is paid to take a young woman who has killed a corrupt police officer with him. Leaving on his boat, he is picked up by the US Coast Guard and hauled off to Guantanamo for interrogation by the CIA. He is ultimately taken to New York for further interrogation. The CIA is interested in someone Bernie knew back in Germany, a German communist by the name of Mielke. The story now jumps back and forth from the present to the past as Bernie tells the story of his search for Mielke under orders from SS General Heydrich.

This journey leads him to France, newly conquered by Nazi Germany and split in two; German occupied France and Vichy France. An attempt is made on Bernie's life in Paris. He does find Mielke in a French-run concentration camp in southern France but he doesn't turn him over. We move to various other parts of Bernie's life; as a prisoner in the Ukraine and Russia, his escape, etc. It's all a fascinating story, terrifying as well. Just the utter violence of that war and treatment of people is described in chilling detail.

Back in the present, the CIA and then the French - equivalent want Bernie to assist them in the capture of Mielke and other ex-Nazi war criminals. It does get a bit confusing at times as Bernie's stories change and he is skillful at playing one side off against the other. After years in prisons and being used by various organizations; the Nazis, the Communists, the allied spy services, he just wants to get away and maybe take Elizabeth, the woman who crops up periodically throughout the story and for whom Bernie cares deeply.

All in all it's a rich, interesting story. There is definitely a cynical quality to the story, but I'm assuming that during and after WWII, there was a great deal of cynicism as the powers that be tried to gain as much control as possible in a fractured world. (How's that for profound?) I liked the writing and found Bernie to be a fascinating character. Ultimately the story left me feeling somewhat blasé about the whole thing but I do want to further explore Bernie's life story and adventures. (3 stars)"

What's next, Dad?
Currently Reading

1. Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs (Temperance Brennan #4). One of my favorite forensic mystery series.

"Investigating a plane crash in the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan discovers in a most disturbing way that the evidence doesn't add up. Tripping over a coyote-chewed leg at the crash scene, she performs a little mental arithmetic and realizes that this victim wasn't on the plane. Once again, Brennan's high-tech DMORT snaps into action faster than you can say "Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team." 

2. Death at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh (Inspector Alleyn #9). One of my favorite series, one of the Classic mystery writers.

"A cosy game of darts in a cosy English pub is going well until one of the players dies on the spot. Chief Inspector Alleyn knows it wasn't the dart that killed him, but the prussic acid someone added to the cut."

My Ongoing Look at the Mystery Genre - American Cops Part 13

Lisa Gardner
1. Lisa Gardner (FBI Profiler Quincy). American crime writer, Gardner, has written two crime series and also standalone novels. I'll focus on those featuring FBI Profiler Quincy, 8 novels, in this entry. I've read the first two books so far.

a. The Perfect Husband (1998).

"Tess was only eighteen when she married Jim Beckett, a decorated police officer. Having grown up in an abusive household, she thought she'd found her savior in Jim. But he quickly showed a dark, controlling side and an explosive rage that, unbeknownst to Tess, resulted in his committing multiple murders. When Tess finally put the pieces together, she helped the police capture Jim. But now two y ears later, he's escaped from prison, and Tess knows he's going after her.Tess isn't about to sit still and be turned into a victim once more. Leaving her daughter in the protective custody of the police, she travels to Arizona where she intends to hire the infamous mercenary J.T. Dillon to teach her how to protect herself. J.T. has had enough of life, having lost too many of his personal battles, and is content is drink himself into oblivion. But Tess refuses to go away, and J.T. realizes that she's his one chance to redeem himself.

Meanwhile, the police are on a manhunt for Jim, who has started killing again. Finally, everyone realizes that the only way to capture the elusive Jim is to set Tess up as a bait, leading to a breath-stealing climax." (3 stars)

b. The Third Victim (2001).

"The Third Victim is the 2nd book in the FBI profiler Pierce Quincey thriller by Lisa Gardner. I have read the first book, The Perfect Husband, and while I enjoyed it, it wasn't my favorite thriller of all time. I much preferred The Third Victim.

Considering what has been going on in the US currently with regard to mass shootings, this book, originally published in 2001, dealt with a school shooting. In Bakersville, Oregon, police officer Rainie Quinn is called to a shooting in the local K - 8 school. On the way, her boss advises her that she is the primary on the situation. When she arrives, she finds that the crime scene has already been compromised by EMT paramedics and also by her boss, Shep O'Grady. Surprisingly, it turns out that O'Grady's 13-year old son, Dan,  is holding his father at gunpoint. Two young girls have been murdered as well as a young teacher.

FBI profiler, Quincey, who is avoiding a family situation, heads to Bakersville to offer his particular assistance (he being an expert in mass shootings). Also, the Oregon state police send Abe Sanders down to work the case as well. This is the basis of the story. The police work through the case to gather evidence. Shep, even though technically off the case, wants to prove his son's innocence. The O'Grady family must deal with the tragedy, their emotions (already frazzled with a family situation), try to keep younger daughter, Becky safe and secure as well. Rainie, Quincey and Sanders work together, sometimes difficultly, gathering evidence to prove and / or disprove Danny's guilt. And in the mix is the mysterious man who stays in the shadows and may have been involved in the murder.

There are varied suspects and various threats that keep this story humming along nicely. The relationships between the police investigators develop nicely and sometimes antagonistically. I like Quincey very much; smart, dedicated and with his own familial issues. Rainie is an interesting character with a shrouded past and Sanders is sometimes a stick in the mud but his character does flesh out nicely as the story progresses. The tension builds to an excellent climax and resolution. Very good story and one that makes me want to keep reading this series. (4 stars)"

c. The Next Accident (2001).

"FBI Agent Pierce Quincy is haunted by his daughter's death in a drunk-driving accident. Pierce knew about his daughter's problem with alcohol, and about her loneliness. And so, he is sure, did the man who killed her. Rainie Conner is an ex-cop with a past overshadowed by violence. She was once involved with Pierce in a harrowing case that brought them together personally and professionally. Then, he came to her rescue. Now it is time for her to help him. This killer is different. He has an insatiable hunger for revenge - and for fear. He isn't satisfied with taking his victims' lives - he wants to get inside their minds and strip them of every defence. And his target is Quincy's surviving daughter. Rainie believes that the only way to stop him is to put herself directly into the killer's murderous path and herself become - the next accident."

The remaining books in this series are -
- The Killing Hour (2003)
- Gone (2006)
- Say Good-bye (2008)
- The Fourth Man (short story) (2017)
- Right Behind You (2017) 

So there you go. I've got to head out to get some groceries.. Take care and enjoy the rest of your week.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

It's Sunday again??

Peek-a-boo Daddy...
Hard to believe that another week has gone by since my last post here. I can't say I've been overly busy, it's been a normal week. Jo continues to recover from her broken foot. She's been getting around more and more without her air cast which is a good thing. Clyde had his annual check-up at the vet during the week. All is well, although he needs to get his teeth cleaned sometime. I had my acupuncture treatment on my back. I think that was last week. But, just normal stuff. Oh well, time goes by when you're having fun.

We're hungry, feed us!
I finished two books this past week. One was an easy one, a graphic novel that my daughter got me when she was in San Diego for Comic-on, but I'll count it. One new book arrived in the mail this week. So I'll update my latest reads, the one I started and my new book. As well, I'll continue with my look at the Mystery Genre, American Cops. So while I watch the Blue Jays and hope they can win a second game against the Mariners, let's get down to business.

New Books

1.The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #1).

"In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with colour once more?

In Brandon Sanderson's intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage— Allomancy, a magic of the metals."

Just Finished

1. Truth and Consequences: The Hall of Insides by Anne Elizabeth.

"I received this as a gift from my daughter. She bought it from the author, Anne Elizabeth. Truth & Consequences: The Hall of Insides Collection is a collection of five comics all set in The Hall of Insides, an art gallery but also a fantasy realm. The five comics are -

The Hall of Inside
The Hairy Willets vs the Wizards
Bully Boys
The Zentopedes
Truth Man

My favorite was The Hall Inside where a group of friends find themselves in Vivant a gathering place that can see, feel, breathe, hear and think. Because these friends aren't necessarily nice, they are transmitted to the Hall Inside, where they are made to see the errors of their ways or face the consequences. The other stories follow similar themes for the most part, or follow creatures that live within the Hall.

The artwork is excellent and the coloring bright and intense. The stories each are different and some are better than the others. But overall, the comic was entertaining and a nice quick read. I'll have to check out other of Anne Elizabeth' works. (3 stars)"

2. The Collaborator of Bethlehem by Matt Beynon Rees (Omar Yussef #1).

"The Collaborator of Bethlehem by author Matt Rees is the first book in his Omar Yussef mystery series. Omar Yussef is a teacher at the UN school in Bethlehem. He's a somewhat frustrated middle aged man, not liking how the people of Palestine are developing. His job is also at threat by the American principal of the school, as the principal doesn't appreciate Omar's crusty, old-fashioned attitudes.

Omar meets an old friend, a Christian, George Saba for coffee and they part their ways. George has complained about his frustration. Palestinian rebels, from the Martyr's Brigade, have used the rooftop of George's house to fire into Israel at night, thereby making Georg's house a target for return fire from the Israelis.  As George returns to his home that night, the activity is going on and George finds his family cowering behind the stone walls of the house as it is riddled with fire from the Israel side of the border. He gets an old revolver from his house and goes to the roof to get rid of the Palestinians.

The next day, Omar discovers that George has been arrested for collaborating with the Israelis on the murder of another Palestinian, another rebel. Omar goes with the police chief to the house and discovers another former student of his (George was one as well) Dima was married to the murdered man. Omar finds clues that lead him to believe that George is innocent and just a target because he is a Christian. Omar believes that George has been set up by the Martyr's Brigade leaders.

So begins a frustrating and scary investigation by Omar as he tries to prove George's innocence. He hits walls at every turn. The police are powerless, or involved maybe, as the power is held by the 'rebels' who terrorize the regular citizens. Omar's job is still at risk and even his family is being threatened. Omar finds himself frustratingly helpless to accomplish anything and other people will die, either due to his interference or just to get rid of possible witnesses. Omar doesn't know who to trust and how to solve this crime and to save his friend.

It is a scary story and quite a portrait of life in Palestine. How accurate, I don't know, but Matt Rees was Bureau Chief for Time in Jerusalem, so I imagine he's got a perspective. There a very nice people in Bethlehem, many of the friends of Omar are evidence of this. But there is also much hatred and crime as people fight for control and power. The Israelis are an ever present force as well , somewhat faceless at times, evidenced by the helicopters that hover over the Palestine and then conducting raids into Bethlehem to find the threats. Fascinating, terrifying world. How do you try to live a normal life; go to school, raise your family, etc. The story isn't perfect and is fairly depressing, although there is a positive (ish) ending. I will find the other books in this series to see more about Omar's life. Will he continue to teach or has he got the detective bug??? (3.5 stars)"

Currently Reading

1. Friends in High Places by Donna Leon (Inspector Brunetti #9).

"Donna Leon's sophisticated Commissario Brunetti series has won her legions of fans over the years. In Friends in High Places, Brunetti is visited by a young bureaucrat investigating the lack of official approval for the building of Brunetti?s apartment years before.

What began as a red tape headache ends in murder when the bureaucrat is found dead after a mysterious fall from a scaffold. Brunetti starts an investigation that will take him into unfamiliar and dangerous areas of Venetian life, and will reveal, once again, what a difference it makes to have friends in high places."

My Ongoing Look at the Mystery Genre - American Cops Part 12

Meg Gardiner
1. Meg Gardiner - Jo Beckett. I highlighted Meg Gardiner previously in my look at American PI's. That look featured her character Evan Delaney. In this entry, I'll feature forensic psychologist, Jo Beckett. Beckett performs psychological assessments on the dead for the police, determining whether the death was an accident, suicide or murder. Gardiner wrote 4 books in this series. I've read the first book in the series so far and I have the next two sitting on my book shelf.

a. The Dirty Secrets Club (2008).

"Meet Jo Beckett - a forensic psychiatrist who profiles victims' lives to help solve their deaths. On a San Francisco street, Jo confronts a scene of pure carnage: four dead, five injured after a high speed pursuit. In the mangled remains of a BMW lies prosecutor Callie Harding, dead with the word dirty written in lipstick on her thigh. Why did Harding run from the police? Why did she crash through a bridge railing? Was it an accident? Suicide? Or murder?Jo is a last resort in difficult cases. But now she's on the front line, because Callie Harding isn't the first high flyer to go down and take others with her. And if Jo can't figure out why the prosecutor died, Harding won't be the last.Jo's about to discover how dirty some secrets can be." (4 stars)

b. The Memory Collector (2009),

"Forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett's specialty is the psychological autopsy- an investigation into a person's life to determine whether a death was natural, accidental, suicide, or homicide. She calls herself a dead-shrinker instead of a head-shrinker: The silence of her "patients" is a key part of the job's attraction. When Jo is asked to do a psychological autopsy on a living person-one with a suspect memory who can't be trusted to participate in his own medical care-she knows all her skills will be put to the test.

Jo is called to the scene of an aircraft inbound from London to help deal with a passenger who is behaving erratically. She figures out that he's got anterograde amnesia, and can't form new memories. Jo finds herself racing to save a patient who can walk and talk and yet can't help Jo figure out just what happened to him. For every cryptic clue he is able to drag up from his memory, Jo has to sift through a dozen nonsensical statements.

Suddenly a string of clues arises, something to do with a superdeadly biological agent code-named "Slick," a missing wife and son, and a secret partnership gone horribly wrong. Jo realizes her patient's addled mind may hold the key to preventing something terrible from happening in her beloved San Francisco.

In order to prevent it, she will have to get deeper into the life of a patient than she ever has before, hoping the truth emerges from the fog of his mind in time to save her city-and herself."

c. The Liar's Lullaby (2010).

"Tasia McFarland is a washed-up country-pop singer desperate for the break that will get her back atop the charts. She’s also the President’s ex. So when Tasia writes a song with politically charged lyrics, people take notice and her star begins to rise anew. In the spectacle-driven opener of her comeback tour, she flies down a zip line above her adoring fans, fake-firing a Colt .45 at the fireworks-filled stage. Tasia is riding high.

Until she’s killed by a bullet to the neck, in front of a shocked crowd of forty thousand.

When video and ballistics can’t prove the shot came from Tasia’s Colt .45, the police call in forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett to perform a psychological autopsy and help avert a political disaster. But as Jo sifts through the facts, she only finds more questions: Did Tasia kill herself in one last cry for attention? Were those lyrics the ranting of a paranoid woman losing her grip? Or warnings from a woman afraid and in danger? And most disturbing of all: Just what does Tasia’s death mean for a president—and in fact a nation—teetering on the brink of catastrophe?"

The remaining book in the series is -

- The Nightmare Thief (2011)

So there you go. Maybe you'll see some books that pique your interest. We're having a curry tonight and watching Jack Irish. Have a great week!

Sunday, 18 August 2019

A Relaxing Sunday.... er, Post

What are you talking about today, Dad?
It's been a lovely day today, nice breeze and sunny. Yesterday I followed through on my promise and finally mowed the lawn. It looks better today.. the lawn that is. I finished two books this weekend (neither were my favorites of the year but they were still entertaining) and have started one new one. So I'll update those and then do an entry on my ongoing look at the Mystery Genre - American Cops.

Just Finished

1. Philip K. Dick - Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said. Dick, along with J.G. Ballard, is one of the most interesting, unique author of science fiction; featuring strange drugs, alternate realities, etc.

"I've read many books by science fiction author Philip K. Dick over the years. The Man in the High Castle, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Dr. Bloodmoney or How We Got Along after the Bomb and The Crack in Space were all excellent, quite different stories. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said was published in 1970 and was one of his last books.

While it was an entertaining read, I don't think it was one of his best books. Basically, Jason Taverner, a media star wakes up one day and discovers that he no longer exists in any records or is not recognized or known by anyone. Now Jason must find out why this happened and how he can get back into reality. It's an interesting journey and the description of this world is fascinating. Taverner is a 'six', although this isn't explained too much.

We meet some interesting people in this journey, especially Kathy, the expert on forging documents, Police General Buckman and others. This is a police state or world but once again, while things are hinted and intimated at, we don't get lots of details. I think that was my biggest problem with this story. There was so much potential but it seemed that Dick kind of was going through the motions. I still enjoyed it but wanted more. (3 stars)"

2. Ian Fleming - You Only Live Twice. I've been rereading the James Bond books I read as a kid and also reading those I never got around to. I think I have two left to attempt. It's been very enjoyable.

"You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming is the 12th book in the James Bond series and follows the story where Ernst Stavro Blofeld has Bond's new wife (of one day) murdered. Bond has lost interest in his job, arrives late, has had some unsuccessful missions, drinks and smokes too much. M is concerned about his top agent and is considering making Bond retire. Bond's secretary, Mary Goodnight, doesn't know what to do. She despairs for Bond.

M decides to give Bond one last mission of great importance to try to awaken Bond's interest in his work and to hopefully rekindle his desires. He is sent to Japan on a diplomatic mission, working out of the Australian embassy and trying to get Japan, in the guise of their top spy master Tiger Tanaka, to work with England in providing useful information. Tanaka asks Bond to undertake a mission for Japan to earn this information.

The mission is to kill a Swiss scientist who has bought land on a remote Japanese island that he has turned into a garden of suicide. Japan is in a quandary, the island has been transplanted with rare plants (all poisonous) that Japanese scientists wish to study but it has also become a location that is becoming dangerously popular with Japanese people who wish to commit suicide. One of Tanaka's agents has been found murdered in excruciating circumstances. Bond agrees to take on the challenge to kill the man, one Guntram Shatterhand, and if necessary his wife.

The story is slow building with all of the action focused on the last chapters. The story develops as Bond works to create a relationship with Tanaka, undergoes training with Japanese spies and moves along to the island next to Shatterhand's, where he meets pearl diver Kissy Suzuki, with whom he develops a strong bond.

It's a different Bond story, more character driven and with the action building to a crescendo at the end. Interesting and somewhat different, with a fascinating look at Japanese life in the '60s. I've two Bond books to read now. It's been excellent delving into this series again. (3.5 stars)"

Just Started

1. C.S. Forester - Hornblower in the West Indies. This is another series I've been working through. I like it and Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series for my historical adventures.

"Horatio Hornblower, now Admiral, sails over seas as challenging as any in his victorious career. As admiral in charge of His Britannic Majesty's West Indies Station he is as gallant, daring, implosive as ever. In this tense time after Napoleon's defeat, all kinds of vagabonds, revolutionaries, Imperial Guards. and pirates come sailing into the waters where Hornblower is working his small contingent of naval vessels to preserve the peace and eliminate piracy. With intrepid daring and brilliant strategies, Hornblower wins his victories. With this series of adventures, Volume 11, Hornblower's professional life as a British naval officer reaches its climax, not in a battle against men, but against nature. Here the inner Hornblower shows his colors."

New Books
I forgot to mention that one book arrived in the mail on Friday, the last book in the Modesty Blaise adventure series. 

1. Peter O'Donnell - Cobra Trap (Modesty Blaise #13).

"Created in a 1950s comic strip that is still in syndication in more than 40 countries today, the stories of Modesty Blaise have spawned a cult following around the world. These are the first new Modesty stories in 11 years, and they span her career, from the early days of running the Network, to her shadowy work for British Intelligence. From Tangier, to the Pyrenees, to a South American jungle—Modesty and her trusted lieutenant Willie Garvin dispatch an old nemesis, upset a particularly wicked gang of kidnappers, and risk their lives to rescue old friends from certain death. The skill and nerve that Modesty and her accomplices display in combat and under pressure will delight Modesty fans, both new and old."

Here are some mysteries you can talk about.
My Ongoing Look at the Mystery Genre - American Cops Part 11

Vince Flynn
1. Vince Flynn - Mitch Rapp (Thrillers). Vince Flynn was born and died in St Paul Minnesota. He lived from 1966 - 2013 and died too early of prostate cancer. During his life her wrote both standalone novels and his political thriller series featuring CIA undercover counter-terrorism agent, Mitch Rapp.From 1990 - 2012 he wrote 13 books in the series. Since his death, the series has been continued by Kyle Mills. I have read one so far and have another two on my book shelf. I really should have started with the first book, but what the hey, as they say.. (oooh, I'm a poet and don't know it).

a. Transfer of Power (Mitch Rapp #3).

"This is exactly what it was billed to be, an action-packed political / terrorist thriller. This is my first Vince Flynn thriller and it was very enjoyable. Mitch Rapp is a CIA hit man who finds himself inserted into the White House when it is taken over by Arab terrorists. I initially thought the story would be too long at 549 pages but it moved along at an excellent pace and was an excellent page-turner. The cast of characters were interesting, starting with Rapp and his assistant, retired White House employee, Milt Adams and new White House reporter, Anna Reilly. The terrorists were suitably evil that they made me quite angry at times. All in all it was a most entertaining, action-filled story to end 2015 on. I will probably read more of the Mitch Rapp series. (3 stars)"

b. The Third Option (Mitch Rapp #4).

"When diplomacy fails and military intervention is inappropriate, our leaders sometimes take the third option.…Mitch Rapp has been assigned just such an “unofficial” task, targeting a German industrialist who is supplying a notorious terror sponsor. But when the mission is dangerously compromised, Rapp realizes he’s been deemed an expendable asset in a power battle on home turf: the choice of Dr. Irene Kennedy as successor to dying CIA director Thomas Stansfield has many detractors, some who will resort to extreme measures to prevent her from taking the reins. But no one counted on Mitch Rapp’s return…or how far he’ll go to find out who set him up."

c. Memorial Day (Mitch Rapp #7).

"CIA intelligence has pointed to a major terrorist attack on the United States, just as the nation's capital prepares for a grand Memorial Day tribute to the veterans of World War II. Racing to Afghanistan, Mitch Rapp leads a commando raid on an al Queda stronghold in a remote border village—and defuses plans for a nuclear strike on Washington. The crisis averted, the special ops work is done. But Rapp knows, in the face of a new kind of enemy, nothing is as it seems—and it's up to him alone to avert a disaster of unimaginable proportions."

The complete list of the Mitch Rapp series can be found here

So there you go. I hope you have a great week and take some time to relax with a good book.
Related Posts with Thumbnails