PROTAGONIST: PI Jack Hagee SETTING: New York SERIES: #1 of 3 RATING: 3.25 WHY: PI Jack Hagee is hired by schlubby Carl Miller to find his "fiancée", MaraPROTAGONIST: PI Jack Hagee SETTING: New York SERIES: #1 of 3 RATING: 3.25 WHY: PI Jack Hagee is hired by schlubby Carl Miller to find his "fiancée", Mara Phillips. Miller is besotted and doesn't seem to mind that Mara has taken him to the cleaners, slept with all his friends, and the like. Henderson writes very well and doesn't glamorize the PI experience at all. Unfortunately, the book fell apart at the end in a whirlwind of complicated plot points, sexual sadism and a fight scene that lasted until next week. I'll try the second in the series, hoping that the conclusion was a result of over ambition on the author's part. ...more
Jake Diamond is a less than successful private investigator who has a run-down office in San Francisco. He likes to think he's a tough guy, but when tJake Diamond is a less than successful private investigator who has a run-down office in San Francisco. He likes to think he's a tough guy, but when the people that he cares about are threatened, he is willing to make every accommodation that is needed. And that's how he ends up in the office of Max Lansdale, a mob-connected attorney who at one time had hired Jake's mentor, Jimmy Pigeon. Lansdale's thug, Ralph Battle, is ready to do some serious damage to Jake's secretary, Darlene, and ex-wife, Sally. Six years earlier, Jimmy supposedly killed Harry Chandler, a police detective who was rumored to have killed Lansdale's brother, Randolph. But now Harry's been sighted, and Max needs Jake to finish the job that Jimmy began.
Naturally, all is not as it seems. Max Lansdale is an even more reprehensible person than it first appears. He sets up a hit on Jake, which ends up injuring him personally and physically. And that means it's pay-back time, and Jake and his band of trusty friends set up a complicated plan to bring Max to justice.
The book pays fond homage to the great PI traditions of the 50s: the seedy office, the beautiful female assistant. I half expected Jake to put on a fedora. Some of the character names in the book may be familiar to avid mystery readers: Chandler, Lansdale….
I really wanted to like this book, but ultimately I ended up dissatisfied. Jake as presented at the start of the book is an easy guy to like. He's full of wise cracks; he has a huge sense of loyalty to his friends. But as the story progresses, he seems to lose his sense of humor, and the tone of the book changes. I liked the fact that Abramo kept things real, as when Jake is injured and out of commission for a few months and not back in action the next day.
The area that I had the most trouble with was the conclusion, wherein Jake and his colleagues put together a totally complicated plan against Max. It was clever but so convoluted that I could not follow it. There were too many people doing too many things at the same time. In general, that was the case throughout the book, with several plot threads winding along and getting the reader tangled up along the way.
Samantha Kincaid is a Deputy District Attorney with the Major Crimes Unit in Portland, Oregon, having recently moved up from a position in the Vice sqSamantha Kincaid is a Deputy District Attorney with the Major Crimes Unit in Portland, Oregon, having recently moved up from a position in the Vice squad. She is assigned to the homicide of an administrative law judge named Clarissa Easterbrook. It appears to be a random killing that occurred while she was walking the family dog. But as Sam becomes more involved with the case, she finds that there is more to the situation than meets the eye, including the possibility that Clarissa was cheating on her husband. Easterbrook led a charmed life, with her devoted doctor husband Townsend and her loyal friend, Susan Kerr, supporting her totally. In her role as judge, she had the opportunity to do well for other people. So why was she willing to jeopardize it all for a man who doesn't seem worthy of her?
The prime suspect is a poor black man named Melville Jackson who had a grudge against Clarissa because of how she ruled against him in a family situation. The evidence against him is strong, with the murder weapon found in his home and a pile of threatening letters that he wrote to complain about the judge's verdict. Although he seems to have the most motive, it feels to Samantha as though he is being set up. Looking more deeply into Clarissa's life just complicates things further, as some of her rulings on an urban growth boundary are questionable. But how would a judgment on land usage lead to the death of a minor judge?
Having served as a deputy district attorney herself, Burke presented a completely credible view of the position that Samantha occupied and the kinds of situations she would face professionally and politically. That whole aspect of the book was the most interesting to me as a reader, learning about the job of a deputy DA and how they interacted with other law enforcement officials.
Burke has done a superb job in the development of the lead character, who is imperfect and sometimes shows a real lack of judgment. With the support of an excellent boss, she's learning the ropes. Although she has a cop boyfriend, she really tries to avoid involving him in the investigation, even though he rightfully should be doing more. I liked the fact that she made time to do things with her best girlfriend as well. Although the book wasn't comedic, Sam did exhibit a sharp sense of humor. The plot was nicely complex, but unfortunately, the perpetrator seemed very obvious to me.
MISSING JUSTICE is the second book in the Kincaid series. I'm off to find JUDGMENT CALLS, the first, as this is a series that I want to follow. It is unique in that it blends the best of the legal thriller and police procedural genres in one package. Recommended.
How on earth does someone win 84 blackjack hands in a row? By having a crooked dealer, of course. And who does a casino call when they havRATING: 3.75
How on earth does someone win 84 blackjack hands in a row? By having a crooked dealer, of course. And who does a casino call when they have cheating going on? Why, the expert, naturally, Tony Valentine, an Atlantic City ex-cop who now lives in Florida and specializes in uncovering casino scams.
Harry Smooth Stone is the head of security at the Micanopy Indian Reservation in south Florida. The dealer who has provided all of the good luck to rich, retired rock and roll drummer Nigel Moon has disappeared, and Harry calls in Valentine to find the man and reveal the con. Tony is pretty sure that Jack Lightfoot, the dealer, is alligator food. The investigation leads him to a gangster by the name of Rico Blanco who at one time worked for John Gotti. Blanco has built a plan to convince Mr. Moon that he is blessed with good luck. At the opportune moment, Blanco will relieve him of the fruits of his labor. He's involved a hooker by the name of Candy Hart to help hoodwink Moon, but she foolishly falls in love with the mark.
Valentine almost ends up as alligator bait himself, but he's assisted by a few unexpected partners. My favorite new "character" in the book was Mr. Beauregard, an amazing chimp who is extremely sensitive to the human beings around him and plays their favorite tunes on the ukulele. Tony's no-good son is in the picture again, and it looks like he might finally be turning himself around. Tony's also showing better taste in women than in the past.
I liked SUCKER BET even more than the first 2 books in the series. Tony is maturing in important ways (an odd thing to say about a 65-year-old man!) which make him a more likable character in this book. He is assisted in his investigations by his trusty neighbor, Mabel, who mans the office while he is out. Valentine has numerous clients, and Mabel frequently calls him to figure out one of the scams that is being run on them. These little mini-scams are sprinkled throughout the book, and it's amazing to see exactly what the various crooks are doing to make the big win. There are sanded card edges, the double underpants substitute and more ways to cheat than there are spots in a truckload of dice. Sometimes these incidents are included in the story in a rather clumsy way, but it doesn't matter because it's interesting to see how they are being worked.
SUCKER BET may not be great literature, but it's great fun to read! Engaging characters, twisty plot threads and hits of humor all add up to an enjoyable romp.
A "parachute kid" is the child who lives in a family mansion in California while his or her wealthy parents live and work in Hong Kong. ItRATING: 3.75
A "parachute kid" is the child who lives in a family mansion in California while his or her wealthy parents live and work in Hong Kong. It's hard to imagine that such a thing goes on, but Denise Hamilton portrays the lifestyles of these lost and lonely children in a touching way in her debut novel, THE JASMINE TRADE. Generally, an adult is hired to look after them and manage the practical aspects of their lives. They return from school to an empty home and have very little guidance or direction. Then there are the Asian kids who live with parents who expect them to follow the ways of the old culture. Ultimately, they rebel, often running away from home and ending up in deplorable situations.
Marina Lu was a parachute kid until she was killed in a suburban shopping mall. She was only 17 years old but drove a Lexus and had a sparkling engagement ring on her hand. LA Times Reporter Eve Diamond begins to investigate the alleged carjacking but finds that there's a lot more to the picture than meets the eye. At the same time, she is handling her various other assignments for the paper. For one of them, she has to interview a youth counselor named Mark Furukawa. She finds that he is really attuned to the issues of Asian teenagers in the area and that she is really attuned to him.
It's obvious that Hamilton is passionate about the subject matter of her book, but that passion sometimes leads her to lecture the reader about the plight of Asian youngsters in Los Angeles rather than revealing the situation through the narrative events. At times, it felt like Eve was manipulating people to get her story, such as Marina's brother and a sad young woman named May-Li who became even more of a victim than Marina had.
The book pulled me along, but the agenda covered was overly broad. We've got rich teens in trouble, poor teens in trouble, gangsterism, prostitution, lost love, found love, murder for hire, blackmail and more. There were too many instances where Eve stumbled across information purely through luck, and there were also an overabundance of "female in jeopardy" threads. The ending was especially disappointing. I think Hamilton is a very talented writer who was overly ambitious in what she thought she could accomplish with this book. I did enjoy the book, most particularly its depiction of the Asian situation in California, but felt it would have benefited from a tighter focus.