Ron K. (WhidbeyIslander) - , - Reviews

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11/22/63
11/22/63
Author: Stephen King
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 73
Review Date: 8/18/2014


Well written and interesting although if you think about it too closely it all falls apart. Plus, as usual, King pads the story with tons of extraneous crap that doesn't move the story along. Probably more interesting if you are old enough to have experienced 11/22/63 itself.


The Act of Roger Murgatroyd (Evadne Mount, Bk 1)
The Act of Roger Murgatroyd (Evadne Mount, Bk 1)
Author: Gilbert Adair
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 5/19/2008


Adair succeeds in evoking the classic golden age mystery with his snowbound-country-house-party-embroiled-in murder tale. It includes eccentric English country characters, an impossible murder in a locked room, and amateur sleuths. It also had maybe a few too many long monologues from each character, but if you let yourself be taken along for the ride it's great fun.


The Affair of the Bottled Deuce
The Affair of the Bottled Deuce
Author: Harry Stephen Keeler
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 1.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 5/7/2014


Keeler has one of those reputations in mystery-reading circles (at least those who enjoy golden-age mysteries) that I think puts him in a higher regarded class than this book would warrant. He wrote lots of books, and maybe it was unfortunate that I picked this one to read as an introduction to him. It doesn't make me anxious to read more of his books.

I found this one way too long (even at only 157 pages) with lots of rambling paragraphs and dialogue that was pretty unrealistic. His prose is too purple for my taste, and I lost patience with his plot dragging and only managed to finish it by skimming and skipping. Even though it contains a "locked-room" the policeman explains how someone could have left the scene of the crime and made it seem sealed early on in the book. The puzzle doesn't really give you the satisfying feeling a well-thought-out whodunit should.

Not recommended.


The Affair of the Bottled Deuce
The Affair of the Bottled Deuce
Author: Harry Stephen Keeler
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 2/1/2010
Helpful Score: 2


Keeler has one of those reputations in mystery-reading circles (at least those who enjoy golden-age mysteries) that I think puts him in a higher regarded class than this book would warrant. He wrote lots of books, and maybe it was unfortunate that I picked this one to read as an introduction to him. It doesn't make me anxious to read more of his books.

I found this one way too long (even at only 157 pages) with lots of rambling paragraphs and dialogue that was pretty unrealistic. His prose is too purple for my taste, and I lost patience with his plot dragging and only managed to finish it by skimming and skipping. Even though it contains a "locked-room" the policeman explains how someone could have left the scene of the crime and made it seem sealed early on in the book. The puzzle doesn't really give you the satisfying feeling a well-thought-out whodunit should.

Not recommended.


Alarums & Excursions
Alarums & Excursions
Author: Virginia Perdue
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 7/6/2013


Interesting story told by a man who doesn't quite remember much about how he wound up in a sanitarium. As his memory returns he snatches bits and pieces of his recent life and tries to figure out his relationship with his younger wife, his daughter-in-law, son, and business associates. You never quite know who is telling the truth, because the narrator doesn't know whom to trust; he just knows someone tried to kill him and maybe succeeded in killing his partner in the plan to produce cheap fuel.


All Creatures Dark and Dangerous : The Dr. David Westbrook Stories
All Creatures Dark and Dangerous : The Dr. David Westbrook Stories
Author: Doug Allyn
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 6/19/2012


Allyn writes well and each of the stories in this compilation is interesting. They all involve Dave Westbrook, and like many of these short story books it's sometimes a stretch to believe one person gets involved with so many deaths and mysteries (especially living in a small town in Michigan). They were originally published years apart, so readers didn't see that implausibility as easily.

Franken Kat - Veterinarian David Westbrook has simple tastes, despite being married to a wealthy, slightly older woman. When a man who grew up in Algoma is hired as their handyman, things become unsettled. ****

Roadkill - finding an injured dog on the side of the road David treats it and becomes involved with the owner, a reclusive man with little means. ****

Animal Rites - Murder follows a confrontation after a panel talking about Hunters Rights vs. Animal Rights. ***

Puppyland - A terminally ill woman saves a puppy born with a defect, but it may have been the cause of her death. *****

Beaches of Paraguay - An old college friend of David's seems to have changed after a personal tragedy and David tries to find out why. ***

Cedar Savage - A man found hanging in the branches of a tree leads David into a situation where he witholds information from the police and gets him into even deeper trouble. ***

Crippen, Landru, and Carlos Palomino - Dogs of a shady muckraker who are boarded with Dave more than they are at home find themselves in need of permanent boarding as Dave looks into why. ****


The Alphabet of Manliness
The Alphabet of Manliness
Author: Maddox
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 31
Review Date: 8/13/2009


Crude, but, yes, funny.

Lots of easy-to-take-offense-at comments about women, but surely no one can actually have that attitude today (or can they.) Lots of vulgarity and scatalogical humor, too. Author has an acerbic sense of humor that is very funny in small doses. Not recommended to be read cover to cover in a short time, though.


Ammie, Come Home
Ammie, Come Home
Author: Barbara Michaels
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 32
Review Date: 8/23/2008


Michaels tackles a fairly straight-forward ghost story and succeeds. Her writing style is always pleasant and the plot unfolds easily without many side-trips or distractions. Recommended for someone looking for an old-fashioned spooky story.


The Amulet
The Amulet
Author: Michael McDowell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 9/19/2014


McDowell's writing style is so fluid and pleasing that even a far-fetched, drawn out plot such as is found in Amulet is satisfying. I did find the increasingly grotesque deaths getting tiresome, but still enjoyed the book very much. It's a shame this writer died so young and with such a sparse body of work; his later horror novels are among the best written.


Amulet
Amulet
Author: Michael McDowell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 6/21/2008


McDowell's writing style is so fluid and pleasing that even a far-fetched, drawn out plot such as is found in Amulet is satisfying. I did find the increasingly grotesque deaths getting tiresome, but still enjoyed the book very much. It's a shame this writer died so young and with such a sparse body of work; his later horror novels are among the best written.


Amuse Bouche (Russell Quant, Bk 1)
Amuse Bouche (Russell Quant, Bk 1)
Author: Anthony Bidulka
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 2/13/2008


I really wanted to love this and hoped I'd found the first of a series I would keep reading. But, alas, I won't. It's well written (except for some misusage of words, i.e. "most unique" a professional writer should be able to avoid) but not satisfying.

This is the first in the series, and I suppose the investigator is meant to not be all that astute, but I found that annoying. One big plus was the setting of Saskatoon -- not a city many books are set in.

I was disappointed.


And Then There Was No One (Evadne Mount, Bk 3)
And Then There Was No One (Evadne Mount, Bk 3)
Author: Gilbert Adair
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 1.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 3/12/2014


I enjoyed (or at least finished) the first two Agatha-Christie-ish books by Adair, but couldn't finish this. It's about a Sherlock Holmes convention in Switzerland and includes a 20-page prologue about the writings of the murder victim which the author says can be skipped (and I wish I had.) Adair is a main character in the story and reads his own 30-page reconstructed Holmes story "The Giant Rat of Sumatra," which I did skip, having an aversion to Holmes stories not written by Doyle. I must admit that the writing is clever -- to a fault. But it's tiresome trying to keep up with the author. I gave up before the victim enters the story.


Androgynous Murder House Party: Tales from the Back Page #3
Androgynous Murder House Party: Tales from the Back Page #3
Author: Steven A. Rigolosi
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 11/28/2009


OK, to be fair, I didn't finish this book. Only managed to get through the part where the group of characters is at the estate at _______________. (And I hate books that use _______________ in place of real place names.) I abandoned the book at Page 48, never finding out who was killed, and the sex or orientation of any of the characters (or caring.)

The narrator, Robin, is a rich, self-obsessed twit. Yes, he or she is purposefully written that way, but even spending 48 pages in his or her company was more than I wanted to endure. The writing is clever and I laughed out loud a few times, but it wasn't enough to make me relish picking the book up again.


The Anthony Boucher Chronicles: Reviews and Commentary 1942-1947
Review Date: 11/30/2016


If you are "into" golden age mysteries, this is a great place to find some, both good and bad. Boucher reviewed new books weekly and Nevins has compiled them here. Many of the books reviewed deal with WWII (the Nazis were popular villains), some at length, some with only a sentence or two (re Hake Talbot's "Rim of the Pit" -- "...builds a horrifying and supernatural situation and then explains it without a let-down. Whether you want eerie chills or brilliant jiggery pokery, this is your dish.") He also skewers some books, as in "E.E. Halleran's 'Thirteen Toy Pistols' concerns a detective tracking down a fugitive in a Jersey resort town among some of the year's dimmest characters and flattest humor." A good place to find -- and avoid -- mysteries you may never have heard of (and could be hard to find.)


Any Shape or Form
Any Shape or Form
Author: Elizabeth Daly
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 1/12/2008


This is a well-written, easy-to-swallow tale (except for a few undigestable bits at the end).Daly's story has all the golden age mystery elements, including her amateur detective Henry Gamadge.

There is so much emphasis on where various suspects where when the murder takes place that a map of the estate would have been useful, and provided another golden age element.

Not a spectacular success as mystery story, it's an okay read for those looking for this 1940's type of puzzler.


The Applegreen Cat
The Applegreen Cat
Author: Frances Crane
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 3/4/2012


Nicely written murder mystery set during WWII at an English country house. My main problem with it is that the "heroine" Jean is sort of a ninny. She deliberately withholds evidence from the police and ignores her husband's advice, which almost leads to her own murder, which I thought would have sort of served her right.


Arrow Pointing Nowhere (Henry Gamadge, Bk 7)
Arrow Pointing Nowhere (Henry Gamadge, Bk 7)
Author: Elizabeth Daly
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 7/6/2009


Daly's leisurely writing style is almost too placid in the first part of the book. Once the mystery starts to unfold it becomes more interesting. And it's a surprise when the villain is unmasked.

But the original clues that Gamadge receives and prompts him to act are pretty farfetched and outlandish, which makes you question the whole plot.

An okay read, but not Daly's best effort.


Ayesha
Ayesha
Author: H. Rider Haggard
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 9/12/2009


If you expect the same wonderful experience you received from reading "She," you will be disappointed by this book. Leo and party travel to Asia to search for Ayesha and experience similar, but somehow tiresome, adventures. You'll feel just as tired as them as you slog your way through the repetitive passages in this sequel. Reread "She" instead.


Ayesha: Return of She
Ayesha: Return of She
Author: H. Rider Haggard
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 2.2/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 9/12/2009
Helpful Score: 1


If you expect the same wonderful experience you received from reading "She," you will be disappointed by this book. Leo and party travel to Asia to search for Ayesha and experience similar, but somehow tiresome, adventures. You'll feel just as tired as them as you slog your way through the repetitive passages in this sequel. Reread "She" instead.


Ayesha: The Return of SHE
Ayesha: The Return of SHE
Author: H. Rider Haggard
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 1/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 9/12/2009


If you expect the same wonderful experience you received from reading "She," you will be disappointed by this book. Leo and party travel to Asia to search for Ayesha and experience similar, but somehow tiresome, adventures. You'll feel just as tired as them as you slog your way through the repetitive passages in this sequel. Reread "She" instead.


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