I first came across Beth Gutcheon a couple years ago when I bought her book "Five Fortunes" at a garage sale. That book was not a murder mystery but rather a story of women who met at a spa and the book then followed their lives for a period of time after they left the spa. I enjoyed the book so decided to read more. I got "Death At Breakfast" and "The Affliction" from the library. Gutcheon apparently decided to delve into mystery writing, featuring a pair of older women friends as a sleuthing duo. "Death" is the first book in the series.
This book was simply OK. I don't particularly care for the Hope character. She's an overbearing busybody. Also, I found it highly unlikely that the police would be so willing to share information with Hope and Maggie. In real life, police are usually very careful with what they share and with whom, and they generally don't want to encourage amateur sleuths to meddle in their investigation.
As some Amazon reviewers have mentioned, there were story arcs that didn't add anything to the story--Christina (the school head) had issues with her mother frequently calling because of a family matter; there was the lesbian couple who was fearful of someone, and the person and reason were hinted at but not resolved; there was Lily's apparent meltdown during a dive demo (just to name a few things).
There was an interesting twist at the end but the ending was still unsatisfying.
I think Gutcheon should forget about writing mysteries and stick to writing about people and their lives as she did in "Five Fortunes."
I got this book for $.25 from a library that had withdrawn the book from circulation. The title was what grabbed my eye. I generally don't read memoirs but thought this sounded interesting. It's a slim book--243 pages--which I read in about three days. When I got to about the last 60-70 pages, I found myself getting annoyed and impatient for it to end. As others--from one-star to five-star reviews (on Amazon)--have noted, there is some repetition in the book. I felt dissatisfied when I finished the book--can't exactly put my finger on why.
Perhaps this book is more interesting and meaningful to those who have children or those who have lost a child or loved one, especially to violence. I've been fortunate enough not to have experienced a loss like that.
This book is set in Ireland during WWI. The writing style is very hard to follow. I've never read any of Jamie O'Neill's books so don't know if that is how he always writes (if so, I will not read another of his books) or if he chose this particular style because that was popular in the early 1900s.
The book is 562 pages. I'm at the start of Chapter 11 (page 250) and have decided to give up. I can often read a 500-page book in a week or less if the book is engaging. This book is not. I started it at least a month ago. I don't recall ever not finishing a book in my 60+ years of reading. There's a part of me that would still like to finish the book but I don't have the energy to spend another month or so slogging through it. There is too much "stream of consciousness" (or as I call it, "brain vomit") writing that adds nothing to the story and, if eliminated, would shorten the book considerably.
I wasn't sure how to rate this book. I had read reviews of a book by a different author and one of the reviewers mentioned she thought Kate Atkinson's books were better. So, I put the first three books of the Jackson Brodie series on my paperbackswap.com wishlist and within about two weeks had gotten all three. After finishing the first chapter of this book (Book 1 in the series), I was confused when the second chapter was not related in any way to the first one. Same with chapter three. Jackson didn't make an appearance until chapter four.
Well, it turns out that none of the three stories are related other than someone from each contacts Jackson about their cases. This isn't a mystery so much as a character study. The author spends a lot of time getting in the heads of the characters and what each is thinking. Sometimes the characters are thinking in the present and other times they drift back to when the "big event" happened in their lives. Consequently, it can be confusing. I wasn't really all that interested in their random thoughts on life in the present. I don't feel those added much to the story.
None of the characters (except Theo, the father of a murdered girl) is very likable. The resolutions to the cases are all quickly wrapped up at the end--almost as if the author didn't want to spend much time on that part of the book. I also found it somewhat ludicrous that Theo, the despicable sisters (Amelia and Julia), and Jackson all happened to cross paths (at different times) with a homeless girl in a park. She's described as having custard yellow hair. I've never been to Edinburgh, where the story takes place, but the population is nearly 500,000 so it must cover a lot of territory yet most of the action in this story seems to take place within a very small geographic area. The sisters lived elsewhere but had returned to their childhood home after the death of their father. It's unclear if the homestead is anywhere near the park. Ditto with Theo and Jackson.
About 2/3 of the way through the book, I figured out who the homeless girl was. She had a tie to one of the cases that Jackson had taken which is just too coincidental. It also was quite convenient that one of Jackson's longtime clients lived right behind one of Jackson's new clients. And, the longtime client never talked to the new clients so she didn't refer them to Jackson.
There are also a couple attempts on Jackson's life which aren't described in much detail--almost like the author didn't want to bother with that.
The author has some skill at writing but the storyline seemed disjointed to me and wrapped up too neatly. Hopefully, Books 2 and 3 are better.
This is a slim volume--only 249 pages--yet it took me about a month to read. There were parts that were interesting and other times I found it hard to focus on what I was reading. It's a well documented history of the caviar industry and the recent (since collapse of the Soviet Union) concerning plunge in sturgeon numbers.
The author was introduced to caviar while she was posted in Russia. She was instantly taken with the taste of it and didn't miss an opportunity to indulge. Her quest for caviar apparently led to her writing about her experience--from the history of caviar to where things are at today. The decline in sturgeon worldwide is alarming and is due to pollution and overfishing (and, it appears more from overfishing). So, I expected that the author, in spite of her love of caviar, would have an epiphany by book's end and declare that she would no longer consumer caviar. Disappointingly, the author remained silent about whether she still eats or plans to eat caviar. Consequently, I assume that she "hasn't seen the light" and is still part of the problem.
I requested this book through paperbackswap.com after reading a review or recommendation for this book in the newspaper. I had read at least one of the author's books, albeit quite a while ago. He has a good reputation so I thought this book would be good. Initially, this was engaging but that didn't last long as Henry, the central character, became fixated on finding the woman who previously had his new home phone number. Most normal people would simply get the number changed (he was getting numerous calls for her as she was an escort) and forget about it. Henry became obsessed with finding the woman, so much so that he started neglecting his work. Then, at the end, it was revealed that Henry had been framed by someone who was able to orchestrate how Henry would react each step of the way as the frame unfolded. The whole thing was completely unbelievable. I'm willing to suspend belief to a point, but this book was asking too much.
The author has some writing skills. The first chapter was very descriptive about how people were dressed, etc. It read like a novel and, in fact, I questioned if it was a novel (it's not). The first chapter was engrossing. However, it bogged down in the second chapter when the author decided it was necessary to provide background on Dr. Omalu and his life as a young boy in Africa. As other reviewers (on Amazon) have noted, this part of the book was less interesting. Also, as other Amazon reviewers mentioned, this seemed to be more of a biography than a book about concussions in football. The author wrote about Omalu's quest to become a success in America which meant having nice, expensive clothes, watch, car and home.
I had heard of Dr. Cyril Wecht, Omalu's mentor, because I watch true crime shows and Dr. Wecht is sometimes involved in a case that is featured. However, I don't know that the court case (which started in chapter one) where Omalu reluctantly testified against Wecht really brought anything relevant to the story of Omalu's concussion research.
The most interesting parts of the book were the stories of the football players and boxers who had significant changes in behavior, apparently from repeated head blows, and the NFL's unwillingness to admit that football could be responsible.
I decided to read this series in order. I had given Book 1 just two stars--found it hard to keep track of all the characters; gave Book 2 three stars. Maybe it's just because I've now read three books (in the last 18 months) that I can keep better track of the characters. There was the ongoing suggestion starting in Book 1 and continuing to Book 3 that someone in the police department was out to get Gamache and had a spy or two on Gamache's team. References were made to Officer (I think he was the Chief) Arnot in the first two books and again in this one. If I recall correctly, there was never a clear explanation in Books 1 or 2 about the Arnot situation.
As I read Book 3 there were again references to Arnot and I wondered if the author was going to string readers along throughout the entire series (I believe there are about 14 books in this series). Consequently, I was surprised and pleased to see that the Arnot incident was explained and although some things were resolved, Gamache doesn't seem to be out of hot water at the end of the book.
The mystery itself was OK. I will be putting Book 4 on my paperbackswap.com wishlist.
I got this book off a library sale rack. The summary on the inside dust jacket sounded promising. I am a lifelong Minnesotan but have heard of the the Dakota. The book started off fine but the more I read, the less I liked it. I was in sixth grade when the Beatles first became famous, so I remember all the hoopla surrounding them. Yet, the segments of this book that focused on John Lennon were not that interesting. I also came to dislike Anton, the main character. At the beginning of the book, he had been a Peace Corps volunteer and returned to the US to recover from some medical issues. Once back, he gradually began using drugs/alcohol and hopping into bed with various women. Yes, I know that some people did those things back during the time setting for this book but I was disappointed that this was the route Anton took. I also got tired of the liberal use of the "f" word in the book.
This is the third book in the Monkeewrench series, which I'm reading in order. I gave the first two books three-star ratings. This book was interesting and a quick read (like the others). I'm not a computer geek but I didn't understand near the end when something was disabled on a computer that it didn't put a stop to what was going to happen. Instead, there was a whole other thing that had to be disabled.
As I said in one of my previous reviews on this series (and as some Amazon reviewers have also noted) many of the characters are "cartoonish" (Annie Belinksy, Road Runner, Harley) and/or one-dimensional. The authors also seem to have limitations in character development--in one of the previous books, there were two Mpls. cops (don't recall their names--Magozzi and Gino, I think), partners who traded witty barbs, etc. In one of the earlier books, there was a similar pair of cops from small-town WI who appeared to be clones of the Mpls. characters. The only thing that was different were their names.
As Amazon reviewers have pointed out, it's odd that all three women left their purses in one of the buildings they stopped in at Four Corners. As a female, I find that to be pretty unbelievable. But, of course, if these gals hadn't done that, the story would be far less interesting.
Even though I (thus far) consider these books to be just OK reads, I will continue (at least for a while) with the series.
A couple years back I had picked up Gutcheon's "Five Fortunes" at a garage sale. It was not a mystery but rather a story of several women who go to a spa for several days and become friends. The book follows their lives for a bit after they leave the spa. I enjoyed the book and the author's writing so added a few of her books to my list. I got this one and the follow up ("The Affliction," which I'm now reading) from the library. I was surprised to find this book and the follow up are mysteries. As other Amazon reviewers have mentioned, "Breakfast" is reminiscent of a "Murder She Wrote" episode. I couldn't keep track of all the characters initially. I gave up on trying to go back and see who was who. Even though the victim was unlikeable, I figured out who set things rolling before it was revealed in the book.
I didn't particularly care for the Hope character because she seemed to be overbearing and somewhat insensitive to others, including her own son, Buster, who just happens to be the local sheriff. Buster's meekness toward his mother is rather unbelievable. If she wanted inside info on the investigation, he caved in and gave it to her. Then Hope and friend Maggie would go off and do their own snooping.
The Cherry character, a young gal who was initially arrested, is not a very sympathetic character yet Hope and Maggie instantly feel sorry for her and want to help her.
So, this is an OK read We'll see how "The Affliction" pans out. So far, similar to this book--lots of characters to keep track of and Hope and Maggie back to snooping at places even before the cops get there (although Hope keeps latex gloves with her so she doesn't compromise a crime scene with fingerprints--never mind that she and Maggie could be leaving trace evidence like hair, fibers, dirt, etc.).
I bought this book for $.25 from the local library's cart of withdrawn books. I know I've read at least one of Krueger's previous books although it was a few years back and I don't recall the title. I've lived all my life (in my 60s now) in MN (Krueger is a Minnesotan) and grew up on the Iron Range (Hibbing) where this story takes place. First, I was a little befuddled as to why the author would use a real town (Aurora) but say it's in a fictional county (Tamarack). Aurora is in St. Louis County, the largest county (geographically) in MN. There is no Tamarack County in MN.
I suspect the idea for this story is based on the crash of U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone's plane on 10/25/2002. Wellstone was one of MN's U.S. Senators and was flying to Eveleth (along with his wife, daugther, two pilots, and three campaign staffers) to a funeral. The plane crashed about two miles from Eveleth. At one point the FBI was involved in investigating the crash as Wellstone had received death threats. Ultimately, the crash was determined to be accidental.
I read this book in about three days so it's a quick read. I really disliked Stephen, Cork's son. He continually ignored his father's directives, which often led to Stephen getting into dire situations--of course, if Stephen didn't regularly defy his father and go off on a tangent, the book would be considerably shorter. Initially, I had trouble remembering who all the characters were. The plot was a bit convoluted; the ending was OK. Not a bad book but not a great one, either.
First book of Winton's I've read and I don't know that I will read another. Thankfully, I got this through paperbackswap.com so it only cost me a book credit instead of real money. I had read a few chapters and was almost going to quit reading. Georgie is a 40-year old "burned out" nurse who has a history of drifting from man to man and isn't shy about having sex with them a day or so after meeting. Jim, the guy Georgie's been living with the past three years, initially seems to be a solid guy--has lived in the same town apparently most or all of his life and earns a good living. However, he's a closed off character and even though the reader learns a little more about him as the book progresses, it still doesn't seem to flesh Jim out. And Lu is an outcast and poacher. As the book unfolds, we learn more about the backgrounds of Lu and Georgie but even that didn't make me care about them. I also didn't understand the attraction between Lu and Georgie or Jim's sudden interest in trying to find Lu after Lu splits. Supposedly, Jim is looking for redemption but it really doesn't make sense. The ending definitely had an unexpected twist but I was still left wondering how the relationship of the three main characters would shake out.
The author has some writing talent (otherwise I'd probably give the book two stars) but at times I also found it annoying as far as his descriptions of things. He didn't use quotation marks when people were speaking. He often used incomplete sentences which can be effective, I'm sure, in some instances but I thought they were overused. There were times when one of the characters--primarily Lu--either had a dream or was just thinking of things that really had no relevance to the story.
Debated between 2 or 3 stars--would have given it 2.5 if that were allowed. This is the first book of Kling's that I've read. I've heard him occasionally--don't recall if it was on NPR or some other outlet--and he had a dry wit so I thought I'd enjoy his writing. This book is a fast read. Kling is a decent writer and has a low-key sense of humor that comes out in his stories. However, I didn't find these vignettes particularly interesting. The jacket leaf describes the stories as "autobiographical" but I suspect Kling has taken literary license with some of his tales. His story about finding a young beaver in the middle of winter in the uptown area of Minneapolis (I've lived in the Twin Cities for 40+ years so know many of the MN locales Kling references) is not believable. Beaver stay in their lodges during the winter and eat on food they've stored in and near the lodge. So, the idea of a beaver in the middle of winter in the middle of an urban street is ridiculous. Kling also seemed to go off on tangents while telling a story--similar to someone going off on a different topic mid-sentence.
This book is 361 pages and I read it in about a week (and I wasn't reading it daily) so it's an easy read. Emma, the main character, is--as others have pointed out on Amazon--unlikable. She comes from a well-to-do family and has little understanding or sympathy for those who are of a lower station. She, however, chooses to befriend some of them and then tries to direct their lives as she, Emma, thinks is appropriate. In spite of Emma's meddling, these folks all appeared to end up happy having made their own way in life. And Emma apparently had an epiphany and found her true love. I probably would have given this 1 or 2 stars but in one section of the book I found myself engrossed in finding out how Emma's plans for her friends would turn out.
Tana French is a good writer--she is NOT, however, a good story teller. This is the third book that I've read in this series. I picked up Book 1 (In the Woods) for $.25 or $.50 6/2017 at a garage sale. The central character was a Det. Ryan who ended up returning to his childhood neighborhood to investigate a child murder. We learn that when Ryan was a lad, he and a couple mates went to the nearby woods. I don't recall how long they were gone--it might have been a day or two--but Ryan was the only one found. He had no memory of what happened and in the intervening years, his friends never turned up and Ryan's memory didn't return. So, this back story of Ryan's created a certain amount of suspense, making the reader wonder if the back story would be resolved at the end. SPOILER ALERT FOR BOOK 1: The murder was solved but the back story was not. Knowing that this book was the first in a series, I assumed that Ryan would be the central character in the ensuing books and that at some point the mystery in the woods would be resolved.
So, although I found the end of book 1 rather unsatisfying, I got Book 2 (The Likeness). I was surprised to find that Ryan was not the central character in this story--in fact, he barely made an appearance. Instead, the central figure is Cassie, a police officer who was a secondary character in Book 1. The plot line in Book 2 was entirely unbelievable. And, even though the murderer is caught in the end, there's a suggestion that perhaps it's really someone else. Furthermore, I found that I intensely disliked Cassie and didn't care what happened to her. Luckily, I got Book 2 off of paperbackswap.com so didn't pay anything except a small swap fee.
In spite of two disappointing books in a row from Tana French, I decided to give her another chance so I put Book 3 (Faithful Place) on my paperbackswap.com wish list and recently received that book. The central character in this book is Frank Mackey, who--surprise, surprise--was a secondary character in Book 2 (I bet one of the secondary characters in Book 3--i.e., "Scorcher"--will be the central character in Book 4). I had barely gotten into Chapter 1 when I started to dislike Frank. That didn't change--Frank is a thoroughly disagreeable character. Granted, he comes from an extremely dysfunctional family (alcoholism, domestic violence, poverty) but I suspect that even if he came from a more "normal" family, he'd be the same jerk.
Frank has had nothing to do with his family (other than occasional contact with sister Jackie) for 20+ years. Then he gets pulled back to the old neighborhood because a suitcase that belonged to his girlfriend (Rosie) of long ago is found in an old derelict building. We learn through recollections of Frank and other members of his family that he and Rosie planned to meet and run off to London 20+ years ago. Frank waited for her but she never appeared so he assumed he had been dumped.
Unlike many of the Amazon reviewers who figured out early who the suspect was, I had no clue until the end. I thought it was an OK ending but the rationale the killer gave seemed flimsy and unreal.
Considering three consecutive books from Tana French have been disappointing, I'm not sure I will read any more of her books.
P.S. I just looked up on Amazon Book 4 (Broken Harbor) of the series, and according to the brief description, Scorcher is the central character.
This is the second of the Armand Gamache series I've read. The first was A Still Life, the first book in the series. That one was pretty decent so I decided to put A Fatal Grace, the next book, on my paperbackswap.com wish list. This one is OK but there were a few things that didn't make this a 5-star book: (1) although many of the characters were the same as in book one, I still sometimes had difficulty remembering who was who (an alphabetical list of the characters with a brief description of each at the front or back of the book would have been helpful); (2) the Agent Nichol character was not particularly likeable in book one but she had become pretty despicable in A Fatal Grace (the description of her physical attributes in book 2 made it clear that she was a very unattractive person devoid of personality [other than being spiteful] and with no taste in clothing; since I read book one many months ago, I thought I just didn't remember her character well from the first book; however, in a 2-star Amazon review, another reader was also perplexed about the deterioration of the Nichol character from book 1 to 2; (3) the way the murder was executed was very convoluted and unbelievable. About halfway or 2/3 of the way through the book, I had an idea of who the murderer was. I was correct but the way the murder went down was even more unbelievable when the killer was finally identified. The book was an easy read so I put book 3 on my paperbackswap.com wish list.
I just finished this book (baffled that 90% of Amazon reviews are four and five stars) which I borrowed from a friend (glad I didn't buy it). I've read a few true crime books over the years. This one did not engage me. Early on the reader knows who the perpetrator is so what the reader is left with is getting the case ready for trial. The book has two authors, one of whom (Joe Loughlin) was a police officer involved in the case. Loughlin's contributions to the book are written in italics and are his thoughts/recollections of what happened and conversations he had with people. Often times, his comments about what happened have already been written about by Kate Flora, the other author, so Loughlin's comments really add nothing except more pages to the book.
It got to the point that every time I came to an italicized section, I became irritated. I read the passages nonetheless. I got tired of hearing about how tirelessly the police worked (I don't doubt that they worked hard but how many times does one need to hear it?) or how special Amy was (she sounded like a very nice person but after hearing that mentioned many times throughout the book, I wondered if the cops would have been as dedicated to the case if Amy had been a prostitute, drug user, or in some other way a troubled person). My interest was pretty much gone probably by the halfway mark in the book but I slogged through to the end.
I think this story might have made a decent Dateline NBC show but the book--as written--was lacking.
Bought this book for $.25 or $.50 at a garage sale June 2017. Finally got around to reading it a couple weeks ago (early March 2018). Had never heard of this author before. I enjoyed the book. It was an easy, quick, and entertaining read. Some of the critical reviews (on Amazon) thought it improbable that five women could form a close bond after spending a week together. However, they were together 24/7 in an "enclosed" environment (the spa) for a week--limited access to TV, etc. So, I don't think it's inconceivable that certain people "clicked" and wanted to stay in touch after the week ended. Of the five main characters, I found "Laurie" (widow of a famous tennis star) to be the least interesting/compelling.
The reason I'm giving it four stars instead of five is that I--like a few other (Amazon) reviewers--sometimes had a hard time remembering some of the secondary characters.
I got this book through paperbackswap.com. It was on some list of books worth reading. It's a slim book and could be read in one sitting. I started it one day and finished the next. I knew the book was about a youth and his finding himself or some such thing. It started out interestingly enough but then became rather odd and dissatisfying. On Amazon there are mostly 4- and 5-star reviews, which I find surprising. Zits, who's had a pretty lousy life in his 15 years, suddenly is traveling back in time and ends up in the body of another person and just when this person is going to have a bad outcome, the chapter abruptly ends and the next one starts with Zits in another time and another body. The ending is neat and tidy and Zits is finally back in the now and his life is looking better. This is the first Sherman Alexie book I've read and I probably won't read another.