I loved, loved, loved this book. This book is what happens when someone with serious "literary" writing talent forgoes the modern unreadable, unenjoya...moreI loved, loved, loved this book. This book is what happens when someone with serious "literary" writing talent forgoes the modern unreadable, unenjoyable, determined-to-obfuscate-and-annoy the reader type of "literary" writing that is wowing "serious" critics and instead writes a great story that entertains and inspires. You know, the entire reason man invented fiction to begin with? (And please forgive me for that previous sentence.I simply couldn't help myself.) Alexander McCall Smith weaves several short tales into one novel about a wise and charming Botswana woman with an infallible moral compass who decides to open a ladies detective agency with nothing but intuition for experience. His style is so readable as you are never left wishing the book would just end already. His writing is superb and beautiful. Africa is portrayed lovingly and its people with great respect. It has been a while since I was swept up with a beautifully written yet simple story. I am so pleased that I waited to get around to reading this as there are already something like eight more sequels already out. No waiting! I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers as well as serious literature readers. This one crosses genres and is simply wonderful.(less)
I settled on three stars for Pompeii, but I'm still not certain of my rating for it. Harris does a good job making the Roman empire come alive. Having...moreI settled on three stars for Pompeii, but I'm still not certain of my rating for it. Harris does a good job making the Roman empire come alive. Having toured Pompeii, I think he did an excellent job conveying the area and the streets of Pompeii. I really liked this part of the book.
The premise behind the plot is interesting. The famed Roman aqueduct has failed, and Attilius sets off to find and correct the problem. This part I liked as well.
The way the story unfolds, however, is disappointing. The bad guy, the murderer, and their respective motives are obvious early on. I thought that the author was misleading me and setting me up for a surprise, but there was no surprise. What I thought was happening was exactly what happened.
And then we come to the most disconcerting part of the whole story -- the actual eruption. After all the suspicion, corruption, intrigue, danger, and effort, all is for naught. Vesuvius blows, making the reader wonder why any of it mattered to begin with. (Surely this doesn't count as a spoiler!) I found myself skimming the last part of the book, waiting for the end. This is a good beach read, but more for making an interesting period in history come alive than for a mystery.(less)
I liked this book. I didn't get anything particularly deep from it, but it was engrossing and fast-paced. International intrigue and thrill lovers wil...moreI liked this book. I didn't get anything particularly deep from it, but it was engrossing and fast-paced. International intrigue and thrill lovers will like this, and it makes for a great beach read. I wouldn't be surprised if this gets made into a movie sometime. It reads like one. I finished this entire book during an episode of insomnia last night, and it made for a good late night read.(less)
**spoiler alert** Mansions of the Dead has some good things going for it. For starters, the protagonist is interesting and has depth. Not all of her p...more**spoiler alert** Mansions of the Dead has some good things going for it. For starters, the protagonist is interesting and has depth. Not all of her personality quirks are so charming, and that adds a little credibility to her. Her background in funerary art and mourning jewelry is unique to the mystery genre and adds a nice intellectual aspect. (I even found myself looking up images of mourning jewelry and its history on the net.)
Sweeney St. George has, of course, a cop who both hinders and helps her in her sleuthing -- Quinn. Whereas other reviewers have been frustrated in Quinn's inconsistent relationship with his partner Marino, I actually found that inconsistency to be more real than the stereotypical loyal-to-a-fault partner or the do-anything-to-impede-the-investigation type. Marino and Quinn are just beginning to figure each other out, are unsure they will like each other, and already realize they have little in common. However, like most folks, they are trying to be decent to each other. That seems realistic enough for me.
While this novel has strengths, its weaknesses are annoying. While conducting her amateur investigation, she repeatedly makes contact with the Putnam family, uncovering secrets they wish to remain hidden. Yet, for some unfathomable reason, they continue to like this near-stranger and keep asking her to join them for various social/grieving events. This seems highly improbable. And as someone else pointed out, the police are not particularly upset by her sleuthing - which also seems improbable. Last, but not least, is the unlikelihood of them allowing her to make her "Let's sit down in the parlor while I reveal the identity of the killer" speech.
I liked Sweeney St. George enough to read this novel after finishing the first in the series - O, Artful Death. I'll probably read the next one, but I do wish that Sarah Stewart Taylor would lend as much credibility to some of the events in the story as she does to her well-drawn characters and fascinating backstories. (less)
This is definitely a transition novel. Charlaine Harris has smartly taken the time to clear up some loose subplots, clean house of unneeded minor char...moreThis is definitely a transition novel. Charlaine Harris has smartly taken the time to clear up some loose subplots, clean house of unneeded minor characters, and move all characters into new directions. This one novel reads like two, but I think that's OK. There is definitely a theme of change going on here. Not only is this smart, it is necessary in order to keep the characters developing as they will surely be adapting to these changes in the next installment. As usual, Harris has left us with lots of questions and impatient to get the answers.
For those new to the series: Don't even try to start the Southern Vampire series with this book. You will be highly frustrated. You need to start with the first, Dead Until Dark, and move forward in order.(less)
Although I loved the first in this series and liked the second, I'm starting to get really annoyed with this character. Although almost all female sle...moreAlthough I loved the first in this series and liked the second, I'm starting to get really annoyed with this character. Although almost all female sleuths end up having a near-death experience once they solve the mystery, Abby seems to have a real death wish -- combined with a childish temper and bad attitude toward anyone making any sense. The kicker is that she, of all female sleuths, should know better. After all, she is PSYCHIC. It is still a fun, light read, but I'm finding it increasingly difficult to suspend my disbelief at her persistent stupidity. After I enjoyed the first one so much, I snapped up the rest in a used lot on ebay. I'm going to finish them, but Abby needs to get a clue soon here, or I'm going to abandon this series.(less)
I bought this after getting suckered in by review quotes from a favorite author. I was really disappointed. As I am unsure exactly where to begin, I'l...moreI bought this after getting suckered in by review quotes from a favorite author. I was really disappointed. As I am unsure exactly where to begin, I'll list my grievances:
1. I'm not a super-sleuth mystery reader. It is actually quite easy to surprise me as I read them for enjoyment and not necessarily to be challenged. However, I knew from the very first introduction of all the suspects who the killer was and why. It is that obvious. Thinking that one was going to be pulled over on me, I plodded through -- only to discover there was no surprise. I could handle a not-so-masterful mystery plot in a brand new series if it were not for... 2. All the exclamation points! I have never read anything with so many exclamation points -- with the exception of essays by my 8th grade students! Megan Clark yells everything! Barely a sentence leaves her mouth without shouting it! It is really annoying! I hope she gets this under control! 3. The main character requires me not only to suspend my disbelief, but to suspend my common sense as well. For someone with a doctorate degree in paleopathology (which she screams about on almost every page), she has NO understanding of proper police procedures or the need to protect a future trial from the appearance of impropriety. This from someone who is supposed to be used to doing autopsies. She is an idiot in other ways, but this is most consistent example of her stupidity. 4. Her sidekick is her childhood friend's DAD. He struggles throughout the entire story trying to convince himself that his romantic feelings are not inappropriate. I'm not alleging that he is a pervert. But the whole premise is weird to me. An older man for a sidekick - fine. Her childhood best friend's dad? A little disconcerting...
I gave it a 2 because I can hardly stand to give anything a 1, but I'll admit I was being generous.(less)