When super-star Wall Street analyst Greg Danes disappears, he leaves behind an angry ex-wife, a lonely son and a group of co-workers who mostly didn'tWhen super-star Wall Street analyst Greg Danes disappears, he leaves behind an angry ex-wife, a lonely son and a group of co-workers who mostly didn't much care for him. The ex-wife, Nina Sachs, hires PI John March to find Danes. She's dependent on the generous alimony and child support that Danes pays her faithfully. Dealing with her should triple March's fee; she's one of the most difficult people to deal with that he's ever faced.
So what did happen to Danes? Did he run away from home, something which he has done before? Or has something bad happened to him? As March peels back the layers of Danes' life, he finds that Danes was pretty much disliked by everyone that he interacted with. Admittedly, he was great at his job, but recently he had a bad series of opinions that were causing his star to dull.
As it turns out, there are others looking for Danes for their own reasons; and March keeps stumbling into their path. Not only are some of the titans of the business world interested in finding Danes, so are a group of Russian mob types with whom March forms a surprising association.
I was totally caught up in the first two-thirds of the book. Spiegelman did a great job of detailing exactly how a typical investigation proceeds, with the PI having to research innumerable arcane details and try to make sense of mostly meaningless information. March was a fastidious researcher, and that was fascinating. However, as the book progressed, the protagonist morphed into someone who turned from a cerebral to a physical approach, and that's when the book lost its luster for me. March angrily facing suspects and beating them up just didn't feel right to me. But perhaps I missed a telling event in the narrative, as he also gave up on a very promising relationship with a woman who really meant a lot to him and just generally seemed to be moving into permanent anger mode. Those two aspects of the book ended up making it less than satisfactory for me, in spite of some fine writing.
As an adoption attorney, Toby Dillon is in a unique area of the law. Generally speaking, he's exposed to a more positive side of things than the averaAs an adoption attorney, Toby Dillon is in a unique area of the law. Generally speaking, he's exposed to a more positive side of things than the average lawyer. A woman who is unable to raise a child will arrange to have that child adopted; Toby makes sure the legalities are covered and a new, happy family is created. Some adoptions are more satisfying than others, as is the case when he connects a young pregnant woman with his best friends, Rita MacElroy and Brogan Barlow. Rita and Brogan are a celebrity couple, but they are completely down to earth as far as being people. Toby is well pleased to place their new daughter, Remy, in their arms.
But then things go awry. The birth mother, Samantha, disappears and there's a revelation that raises the stakes considerably beyond resolving the circumstances around her disappearance. Although the police are called in right away, Toby finds himself investigating, since there are ramifications for Rita and Brogan. He uncovers some shocking information, and strong relationships rapidly unravel.
Hicks has a wry and wonderful sense of humor that is integrated into the narrative. In the opening chapters, that humor seems a bit forced; but once the story gets underway, it's a natural and endearing element of the writing. Where he really excels is in the development of the characters; and in particular, Toby, Rita and Brogran. He writes of their childhood days as if he had been there; he brings the insecurities they faced growing up into their adulthood as well. Yet, even though Rita and Brogan are renowned celebrities, you can see the essence of what they really are as people, the teenagers who worked the pig section at the county fair. As Toby says, they share a history of childhood nerd-dom that became a lifelong bonding experience.
I loved THE BABY GAME. What at first seems to be a comic romp turns into a heartbreaking and very humane tale of love, loss, friendship and betrayal. There are some great plot twists; the ending is touching and sweet and optimistic. THE BABY GAME is quite an accomplished debut, and I highly recommend it.
It's an exciting time for Bradley Corrigan. He's running for the senate, and the campaign is going well. He's assisted by his twin sister,RATING: 2.75
It's an exciting time for Bradley Corrigan. He's running for the senate, and the campaign is going well. He's assisted by his twin sister, Bridget, who has recently been divorced. The campaign work is a welcome distraction for her as she raises two sons on her own. Brad is always there for her and her family, the picture-perfect brother and uncle. Underneath the rosy exterior, however, is a dark secret that is shared by Brad and Bridget and four of their former high-school friends. Something happened twenty years earlier that, if revealed, would mean an end to Brad's aspirations and Bridget's burgeoning independence.
And that secret is about to be revealed. Someone is killing the people who shared their guilty knowledge. In addition to struggling with what they did, Bridget is beginning to feel that they need to come clean before anyone else dies. Brad is too focused on his professional aspirations and unwilling to jeopardize his future by speaking up.
Partnering with a former high school friend who has turned from a geek into a hunk, Bridget investigates the circumstances of the murders that have been occurring. Unbeknownst to her, the killer is following them around, photographing her and her children and planning to immortalize them in his own unique way. He is an artist, of sorts, who makes elaborate plans for the manner of death and then recreates the tableau on canvas.
Unfortunately, I cannot recommend THE FINAL VICTIM. Although I really liked the lead character and the book flowed well, it was ultimately unsatisfying. Full of clichés, melodrama and some glaringly horrible characters, it became unbelievable and predictable. It felt like a fueled-up romance novel, the strong independent woman with the ever-loyal and understanding handsome man by her side. What was particularly disappointing was that there was no in-depth portrayal of the artist, his motivations and psychology. In fact, he was a very secondary character and pretty much overlooked except for the gimmick of the painting of the death scene. The revelation of the secret and its resolution was the final straw that killed any enjoyment I had in reading the book.
Driver: that's his name and that's his life. He lives to drive, whether it be as a stuntman in Hollywood movies or as a getaway driver for the criminaDriver: that's his name and that's his life. He lives to drive, whether it be as a stuntman in Hollywood movies or as a getaway driver for the criminal element. It doesn't make any difference to him – the driving is what is important to him. In the stunt job, he revels in performing brilliantly and coming up with scenes that go far beyond what the director envisions. In the role of getaway driver, all he cares about is getting away. He doesn't have any interest whatsoever in planning the job or doing anything more than the task assigned to him.
But there comes a day when he can no longer keep his distance. He's become the target of some very bad people because of a heist in Phoenix that went wrong. And then he finds himself in a motel room with three dead people; after that, the story focuses on his own personal getaway.
Driver is an interesting character who is mostly a loner who wants nothing more than to do what he loves. But when he's double crossed, he turns into a man with a different mission who won't give up until revenge is exacted. He's the classic hardboiled hero. He may operate outside of the law but proves to be more morally attuned than most of the so-called good people around him.
In truth, DRIVE is a novella rather than a full-blown novel. However, that doesn't diminish its impact. It's a tightly written book that doesn't let down on the excitement. The only issue I had with the book is that some of the sequencing in the narrative didn't quite work, and there was a section that the editor missed which appeared in the book twice. However, it was a treat to read a work that was spare and lean, unlike many of the overblown books on the market today.
Normally, a Hollywood screenwriter would write a script about murder, rather than investigating any in real life. However, Billy Winnetka fRATING: 3.5
Normally, a Hollywood screenwriter would write a script about murder, rather than investigating any in real life. However, Billy Winnetka finds himself drawn into an investigation despite himself when the wife of a longtime producer friend is suspicious about the cause of his death. Harold Clausen was not any better or any worse than others in the industry; it's possible because he needed some money that he may have been involved in some illicit activities but nothing that would cause him to end up at Alcatraz or anything.
And why is Billy investigating instead of the police? Billy takes an immediate dislike to the lead inspector, Detective Goold, and almost as a matter of stubbornness decides to check things out on his own. What he uncovers is amazing—various individuals who worked on a controversial religious picture almost a dozen years earlier have been dying in "accidents". It doesn't feel like all of those accidents are a matter of coincidence.
And they aren't.
I liked the protagonist who was a thoroughly engaging character, although I felt that his relationship situation played out a little too predictably. My only real gripe with the book was the antagonism between Winnetka and Detective Goold. I just didn't buy the fact that Billy felt so much antipathy to him that he would place his own life in danger.
Weibezahl does a superb job in his depiction of various areas in southern California; I have a feeling that residents of that state are going to particularly like this book because it paints a wonderful picture of the unique appeal of several Californian settings.
Fans of character-driven mysteries are going to love THE WICKED AND THE DEAD and its leading man, Billy Winnetka.
Sibylla Forsenstrom had a life of privilege as compared to her schoolmates in a small town in Sweden. Her father headed the main local business. HowevSibylla Forsenstrom had a life of privilege as compared to her schoolmates in a small town in Sweden. Her father headed the main local business. However, Sibylla's life was not all champagne and caviar. Her parents were emotionally abusive. Ultimately, she ended up in a mental institution as a result of her warring emotions, suffering from depression and an unwanted pregnancy. Sibylla's hatred of her parents rules her life. However, she is not at all reluctant to accept a monthly stipend from them, which allows her to live life on her own and plan for a better future.
As an adult, Sibylla moves to Stockholm and "lives rough". She has been homeless for about 15 years but has enough wherewithal to pull off a con where she fools businessmen at thriving hotels into buying her a meal and treating her to a room. That scheme goes horribly wrong when her latest meal ticket is found murdered. The police immediately begin to look for the woman with whom they believe he spent the night. When another similar murder occurs shortly thereafter, the heat is on. A link is made to Sibylla, and she goes into hiding while attempting to uncover the real killer.
Sibylla has never been able to fully trust anybody. She finds an unexpected ally in a teenaged boy who stumbles across her latest hidey-hole. Patrik views her life as a grand adventure; against all odds, Sibylla finds him to be a real friend and someone who helps her work through the mess in which she's found herself.
I found some of the emotional aspects of the book surprisingly off key. For example, when discussing Sibylla's childhood, it is clear that her parents did things that led to her humiliation and ridicule by others. Sibylla's reaction to these incidents comes across as whiny, as most of what happened was mildly disturbing at best and at times downright silly.
At times in the narrative, the point of view switches to the real killer. These passages are fraught with religious symbolism. For me, they didn't lead to an understanding of the killer but rather made things more murky.
Cascadia Island was formed off the coast of the state of Washington through earthquakes on the Pacific Ocean floor pushing rock upward. MiRATING: 3.75
Cascadia Island was formed off the coast of the state of Washington through earthquakes on the Pacific Ocean floor pushing rock upward. Mick Walker, luxury resort builder, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to transform the sparsely inhabited island into a high roller destination. Prior to the construction, he hired an engineering group to do studies to ensure that the resort would be safe. However, despite their clearance, US Geological Survey seismologist Doug Lam is convinced that there is a major fault line beneath the island that is being aggravated by the stresses of construction and that Cascadia is in imminent danger of being destroyed by earthquakes which will lower the island by several feet, leaving all on the island victim to the resulting tsunamis which will wash away the entire land area.
As the time draws closer for the grand opening ceremony of Cascadia, Lam and his fellow scientists see signs that there is seismic activity in the area. In fact, several earthquakes are starting to occur along the whole northwestern part of the United States. Nobody is willing to believe Lam's doomsday warnings and that he believes that in addition to Cascadia, thousands of people in the Pacific Northwest are at risk.
Lam's significant other, Jennifer Lindstrom, is the owner of a helicopter service founded by her domineering father. Nightingale Aviation is scheduled to fly many of the guests to the opening rites, and Jennifer is planning to attend as well. Desperate to be heard, Lam also goes to the island, where he is finally able to get Walker to listen to him. But it may be too late.
SAVING CASCADIA was an exciting read, but I felt that he went into too much depth on the scientific aspects of how the earthquake would begin and progress. In addition, the final revelation about a character who double crossed Mick Walker bordered on the ridiculous. However, the book was saved by the solid detailing of the disaster and the reactions of the various characters to the terrifying events.
Nance is an expert at writing seat-of-the-pants thrillers, and SAVING CASCADIA is no exception. In addition to following the disaster scenario, he also weaves in several sub-plots having to do with people and relationships that enhance the narrative.
Thebes (Egypt) in 1153 B.C. is a growing metropolis that is governed in the east by Paser and in the west by Pawero. When a heinous crime is committedThebes (Egypt) in 1153 B.C. is a growing metropolis that is governed in the east by Paser and in the west by Pawero. When a heinous crime is committed, the rival mayors both claim rights to the investigation of the brutal murder of an elderly priestess named Hetephras. The task goes to the "Clerk of Investigations and Secrets", a man called Semerket who doesn't appear to have what it would take to solve the case. Semerket has been disintegrating ever since his wife divorced him because he could not father a child. Despite the fact that he has turned into a drunk, Semerket has the reputation of being an absolutely honest man. He cannot speak an untruth, even when it would be politically expedient to do so.
As Semerket probes into what happened to the priestess, he is stonewalled at every turn by the people of her town, with the exception of Hunro, a local beauty who bestows her favors on many. Semerket begins to expose local secrets, some involving the revered tombs of former rulers. As he proceeds, he uncovers a conspiracy that goes to the highest levels of government with a plot against the ruling Pharaoh, Ramses III.
YEAR OF THE HYENAS has a distinctly modern sensibility to it. Semerket could easily have been a down-and-out private investigator in a current day novel. The plot is nicely complex and moves along without being held back by its historical setting. The political intrigues seem not to have changed form all those years ago. Thebes was also an interesting place to set the book, since it encompasses far flung uninhabited areas reserved for the tombs of the dead together with a thriving city. It offers just as many complexities and contrasts as the book's protagonist.
I'm not normally a fan of historical mysteries, but I liked YEAR OF THE HYENAS very much. Geagley integrated his research into the narrative seamlessly, and I found it very interesting to learn of some of the customs of the time, such as how the dead were prepared. The mystery depicted in the book is based on history's oldest known "court transcripts". At times, the prose is a little clunky and some mysticism that stretched plausibility; but on the whole, this debut novel is one that is compelling and engaging.
Emma Price is the quintessential working mom, mother to a teenager and a toddler and employed as the lead investigator for New York CapitaRATING: 4.25
Emma Price is the quintessential working mom, mother to a teenager and a toddler and employed as the lead investigator for New York Capital Crimes, where she does background checks on the agency's clients. Her boss and friend, Dawn Prescott, is a woman who has not always chosen wisely in her relationships. She calls Emma to meet her one night and Emma is kidnapped and badly beaten. Emma is sure that she has been mistaken for Dawn. When Dawn is later found dead in a seedy motel room, Emma's antenna goes up; although it appears that the death occurred during a sexual encounter gone wrong, Emma doesn't buy it.
Emma has the benefit of having another friend and partner who will help her during the investigation of what happened to Dawn. She has been involved in a relationship with homicide detective, Laurence Solomon, for quite some time. Although they are of different races, that has not been the main difficulty for them. It is more a matter of Emma trusting Laurence and the two of them negotiating their considerable differences in how they approach their lives. Be that as it may, Laurence is extremely concerned about the situation and the fact that Emma was terribly injured during the kidnapping and continues to be in jeopardy.
So why would anyone want Dawn dead? She is the daughter of an influential senator. Is there something political going on? Does it have anything to do with the fact that Dawn had been looking at her very first case, where Arthur Nevins was incarcerated for murdering his wife—has she found new evidence that will exonerate him and make a now influential cop named Lowry look really bad? Or is it a result of a poor choice of who to sleep with? And why is a high-powered attorney so interested in Nevins 9 years later?
The Emma Price series is one that is rapidly becoming one of my favorites. Emma is the kind of character that grows on you over time. She may be prickly and difficult, but she is also very real, as is her lover, Laurence; her 2 children and her cheating ex-husband, Will. A minor personal quibble – the one thing that I did not like about the book was the title. I never could see how it related to what happened in the book. In fact, "It's Raining Men" was the title of a one-hit wonder by The Weather Girls in the early 1980s, and I couldn't help but think of that silly song every time I picked up the book!
With characters that live and breathe and a plot that is well developed and nicely complex, I highly recommend IT'S RAINING MEN. ...more