Mary P. (mary2029) - , - Reviews

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A Beautiful Place to Die (Emmanuel Cooper, Bk 1)
A Beautiful Place to Die (Emmanuel Cooper, Bk 1)
Author: Malla Nunn
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 15
Review Date: 11/23/2013


The book starts when the body of a Boer police officer is discovered floating face down in a river. The author weaves a story in which Detective Emmanuel Cooper, with the help of Zulu police officer Samuel Shambalala, interview the officer's family, a rich English settler, Colored and Black townspeople, as well as Zulus, none of whom like or trust each other. Their work is hampered by political police with an agenda of their own. The mystery kept me engaged, as did the descriptions of the South African countryside, with unexpected plot twists and an ending I didn't see coming. I had read the third book in the series before I read this first. I have the second in the series on my wish list, and am eagerly awaiting the fourth, which will be published in 2014.


Crime School (Kathleen Mallory, Bk 6)
Crime School (Kathleen Mallory, Bk 6)
Author: Carol O'Connell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 96
Review Date: 12/5/2013


A fire is called in. The fire department arrives to find a prostitute hanging by a rope from a chandelier in her apartment, her hair chopped off and stuffed in her mouth. Some of the details seem to recall a similar murder twenty years ago. More murders will follow. Are they the work of a serial killer, one who started killing twenty years ago? Or is it a copycat? Are the cases even connected? The police are working around the clock to solve the cases and prevent further murders, but they're hiding secrets of their own. The complex plot and flawed human characters grabbed me and didn't let go until the final page.


A Death in Vienna (Liebermann Papers, Bk 1)
A Death in Vienna (Liebermann Papers, Bk 1)
Author: Frank Tallis
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 23
Review Date: 10/27/2015


A Death in Vienna involves a locked room murder by means of a "non-existent" bullet. On the way to solving the mystery the author provides an interesting look at the social, cultural, intellectual and political life of the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the turn of the 20th century. While the duo of police detective Oskar Rheinhardt and Max Liebermann find clues along the way, the resolution of the case comes from an unexpected source. The author, a psychiatrist, includes Freudian slips and dream theory, as well as a look at love and lust from a psychological viewpoint. I'm looking forward to the next book in the Liebermann Papers.


Evidence of Blood
Evidence of Blood
Author: Thomas H. Cook
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 21
Review Date: 12/18/2013


True crime writer Jackson Kinley returns to his boyhood home in rural Georgia for the funeral of his friend, Sheriff Ray Tindall. Ray had been re-investigating the 1954 murder case of a 16-year-old girl whose body was never found. Her dress, covered in her blood, was virtually the only evidence presented at trial. Nevertheless, a jury found a man guilty, and he was executed. Kinley begins his own investigation, reading the trial transcript and interviewing surviving witnesses. His investigation uncovers numerous secrets before he discovers what really happened forty years ago. Cook's storytelling is for the most part rather unemotional, almost matter a fact. Yet the story is so compelling that I could not put it down until the last surprising secret was revealed.


I Remember You
I Remember You
Author: Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Philip Roughton (Translator)
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 8/29/2016
Helpful Score: 1


Not one of the Thora Gudmundsdottir series. Two boys go missing decades apart. Their stories unfold in alternating chapters. One boy was the son of an alcoholic father; his mother and brother had drowned when the ice gave way over a fjord. The other boy had disappeared while playing hide and seek with his friends. His psychiatrist father has is drawn into both their stories. The first chapter grabbed me right away, and each succeeding chapter ended with just kept me turning pages. The ending gave me the shivers!


The Inquisitor's Key (Body Farm, Bk 7)
The Inquisitor's Key (Body Farm, Bk 7)
Author: Jefferson Bass
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 12/20/2013


Dr Bill Brockton is dropping off the body of a murdered DEA agent at the Body Farm when he is summoned to Avignon, France by a message that his graduate assistant has been hospitalized with a ruptured appendix. He becomes involved in examining a skeleton of a man who was crucified. I found the science and the history portrayed in the book interesting. A couple of the minor characters were almost caricatures, and I found the interspersed English and French to be somewhat annoying, e.g., "Non, non, okay, oui." The real flaw, however, was the over-the-top melodramatic ending. It's a good mystery that simply falls apart at the end.


Iron Orchid (Holly Barker, Bk 5)
Iron Orchid (Holly Barker, Bk 5)
Author: Stuart Woods
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 212
Review Date: 2/14/2018


This is a fast and easy to read book. There is lots of action. But there's also a lot that that stretches credulity. The rest of this review may contain some spoilers, so read at your own risk. The villain in the book is a 67-year-old retired FBI employee named Teddy Fay. He has been offing politicians he doesn't approve of and now the president has both the FBI and the CIA on his trail. Law enforcement of all kinds generally refer to perps by their last name. But in this book they call him Teddy Fay or sometimes just Teddy. Doesn't sound really professional. Our heroine Holly Barker has been recruited by the CIA. Partway through training, the CIA cancels classes for all the recruits and sends them into the field against Fay. Why? Because they don't have enough trained agents? Then there's the real estate agent who is questioned about Fay. She's afraid of being arrested for something she did that led to someone's death back in the 60s. Does she help the FBI so they'll go away and leave her alone? No, she lies to them. Then she warns Fay they're after him, and asks him not to let the FBI know she lied. Why? She doesn't know Fay from Adam, and has absolutely nothing to gain. Several times our heroine actually comes in contact with the Teddy but doesn't recognize him because of his great disguises. Maybe because she didn't finish training? Do the partially trained agents go back to training? No, they're promised great assignments. Unbelievable.


Malicious Intent (Dr. Anya Crichton, Bk 1)
Malicious Intent (Dr. Anya Crichton, Bk 1)
Author: Kathryn Fox
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.
 27
Review Date: 2/26/2014


Several women who apparently committed suicide are linked by a strange fiber in their lungs. As Dr Anya Crichton pursues the investigation, she finds more links between the women. What began as an attempt to identify a substance potentially hazardous to public health turns into a hunt for a diabolical killer. I enjoyed the strong female characters - Anya, detective Kate Farrer, Anya's assistant Elaine and the ambitious student Zara. There's plenty of forensic detail and taut psychological suspense. Every time I tried to put the book down, I was drawn back to it, and finished it in one day. I'm looking forward to more in this series.


The Night She Died
The Night She Died
Author: Jennifer Patrick
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 12/3/2013


Lara leaves Washington DC after her significant other dies in an auto crash. She drives until her car breaks down in a small Georgia town. On impulse, she purchases a Victorian house that needs a lot of TLC and hires a 17-year-old Dairy Queen cashier as a handyman. A few months later she's shot dead while asleep. The story alternates between the investigation into her death and the unfolding relationships between her, her deceased partner, the teenager, his mentor, and the townspeople. The characters are complex and well drawn, and the mystery kept me guessing to the very end.


The Plague Tales (Plague Tales, Bk 1)
The Plague Tales (Plague Tales, Bk 1)
Author: Ann Benson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 91
Review Date: 1/22/2018


This book has plots set in centuries 600 years apart. Janie Crewe is a former surgeon who, in 2005, travels to England to finish up degree work to be a forensic archaeologist. Alejandro Chanches, a Jewish physician in 14th century Spain, is caught with the body of a Christian he had dug up to autopsy. Each of them will become involved with bubonic plague. It's a great premise, but doesn't quite fulfill on the promise. I would have given the book 4 stars instead of 3 based solely on the historic portion of the book. But the modern story detracted from the book's overall appeal. Benson should have set it in 2050 instead of 2005 because there are futuristic elements that really strain credulity for early 21st century. Each of the plots also has a love story. I felt the historic romance worked. Usually, when one talks about chemistry it's in regard to characters in a movie. This was the first time I felt characters in a book lacked chemistry. At 670 pages the book was way too long. Banson's editor should have suggested she jettison the modern story; since the stories are told in alternating chapters, this would have been easy, and it would have had a much better book. I had previously read Benson's book Thief of Souls, again with two plots in medieval and modern times, about young boys at the mercy of sexual predators. It's a much better book.


Rusty Nail (Jack Daniels, Bk 3)
Rusty Nail (Jack Daniels, Bk 3)
Author: J. A. Konrath
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 104
Review Date: 7/23/2013


This book combines the traits of 3 of my favorite authors: the non-stop action of a John Sandford thriller, the humor of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, and the seriously twisted serial killer of Jeffery Deaver. This book is truly a wild ride! I give it 5 stars.


The Shanghai Murders (Zhong Fong, Bk 1)
The Shanghai Murders (Zhong Fong, Bk 1)
Author: David Rotenberg
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 9/2/2016


Inspector Zhong Fong is investigating the murders of two black men in the alleys of Shanghai by a trained assassin. Each was dismembered and posed carefully. What are their bodies saying, and who is the message for? On a personal note, Zhong's wife died several years ago. She was an actress and had had a love affair with a Canadian visiting director. The director is in Shanghai again. Also in Shanghai is the wife of one of the black men, who was employed by the New Orleans Parish police. Tall and blond, she is attracted to the small Chinese detective. The book provides an interesting look into life in China in the late 90s. I'm looking forward to reading the next in this series.


Skeleton Canyon (Joanna Brady)
Skeleton Canyon (Joanna Brady)
Author: J. A. Jance
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 18
Review Date: 12/20/2013


This story involves the star-crossed Romeo/Juliet relationship between a rich Anglo girl and her Latino boyfriend. A subplot involves Sheriff Joanna Brady's friend, Angie, and an English ornithologist. The characters generally ring true, and the descriptions of Arizona ferocity of thunderstorms are spot on. While this is not the strongest entry in the series, it was an enjoyable read.


Still Life with Crows (Pendergast, Bk 4)
Still Life with Crows (Pendergast, Bk 4)
Author: Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 339
Review Date: 11/26/2013


He arrives on a sweltering summer day, walking down a dusty Kansas road in a black suit, white shirt, and shiny black shoes. He insinuates himself into a murder investigation while he is on vacation. Still Life With Crows was my first experience of Pendergast, but it won't be my last. Pendergast is very weird, but in a way that I found strangely endearing. The descriptions of the town, its people, the landscape and the final chase that takes place as a tornado builds are so vivid that I could see it all happening in my mind as though I was watching a movie. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.


Strangers in Company
Strangers in Company
Author: Jane Aiken Hodge
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 9/14/2015


From the back cover:
When Marian Frenche signed on as a tour companion to rich, young, unhappy Stella Marten, she was unaware that she had taken her first step on a journey into terror.
The tour of Greece started out peacefully enough. Then within a few days one of the members was killed by a strange fall in a darkened grotto. An unfortunate accident they said. But Marian was not so sure. She began to experience a chill of apprehension. She could feel the evil vibrations that were slowly turning the trip into a nightmare.
Two more people had near accidents. Then sudden death struck again.
Now Marian was certain there was a murderer hidden among the innocent tourists. And she was equally certain that she had somehow become the next target.


Sudden Prey (Lucas Davenport, Bk 8)
Sudden Prey (Lucas Davenport, Bk 8)
Author: John Sandford
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 17
Review Date: 5/20/2013


Did you ever play pinball? The little steel balls come out of the chute and bounce off obstacles in their path. You watch tensely as they make their way toward the flippers, maybe using a little body English, trying desperately to keep them in motion and win the game. That's sort of what Sudden Prey is like. Lucas Davenport and his fellow law officers bounce around trying to apprehend an escaped bank robber's gang which is bent on vengeance. I've read the first 18 books in the Prey series. They're all good, but this one I absolutely could not put down until I finished it.


A Superior Death (Anna Pigeon, Bk 2)
A Superior Death (Anna Pigeon, Bk 2)
Author: Nevada Barr
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 105
Review Date: 12/10/2013


This is the 3rd Anna Pigeon book I've read, and the best so far. She's posted to Isle Royale National Park in the middle of Lake Superior. The tourist activities include diving, especially to see the wrecks of various ships that went down in the lake. The mystery starts with the disappearance of another ranger's wife. The 12-year-old daughter of the lodge manager keeps running off and not coming home until the wee hours, and a seasoned diver's body is recovered in very strange circumstances. There's also two "odd" couples in the mix, with their own secrets. Barr describes these isolated islands in Superior so that I would want to visit myself. She makes the day-to-day duties of a law enforcement park ranger interesting. I enjoyed the pace, the humor, and especially Pigeon's riveting final dive.


The Thin Man
The Thin Man
Author: Dashiell Hammett
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 51
Review Date: 9/11/2013


A classic whodunit. Former ace private detective Nick Charles and his wife, Nora, are in New York City for the holidays when he's asked to look into the murder of a young woman. Though he doesn't want to get involved, he's pulled deeper into the investigation by members of the Wynant family, various suspects and even the police. The book is peopled with quirky characters, any of whom might be the murderer, and filled with delightfully snappy dialog. Somehow, between his breakfast booze at the crack of noon and the wee hours spent drinking bad hooch in speakeasies, Nick cracks the case. The book brought back happy memories of Sunday afternoon black and white movies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, who were masterfully cast in a series of Thin Man movies. A fast and fun read.


Three Graves Full
Three Graves Full
Author: Jamie Mason
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 12
Review Date: 2/2/2014


Who would bury a body in their own back yard? And what are the odds that two men did just exactly that, without either knowing about the other? This book is not for everyone, and it truly is reminiscent of a Coen brothers movie. But if you enjoyed "Fargo" and "Blood Simple," as I did, you may also find yourself smiling at the gruesome, crazy comedy of errors that ensues as the bodies are unburied. And ya gotta love Tessa, the Wonder Dog.


The Tin Roof Blowdown (Dave Robicheaux, Bk 16)
The Tin Roof Blowdown (Dave Robicheaux, Bk 16)
Author: James Lee Burke
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 88
Review Date: 5/14/2013


As other reviews have said, the descriptions of the destruction and desolation of Katrina are amazing. Beyond that, Burke's characters are complex and well-drawn. They include the good the bad and the ugly, and it's not always apparent which is which. The plot is intricate, neither predictable nor unbelievable.

Burke knows how to put words together with artistry: "The end of summer has arrived with a smell of dust and distant rain and smoke from meatfires across the bayou in City Park but with no hint that south of us a churning white vortex of wind and water so great in magnitude that only a satellite photograph can do it justice is grinding its way toward the Louisiana-Mississippi coast."

This is the first book I've read by James Lee Burke ready more. I intend to read more.


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