One of the most awful things about falling in love with a series author is that once you read all the existing one’s you have to wait for them to writOne of the most awful things about falling in love with a series author is that once you read all the existing one’s you have to wait for them to write another! That’s been the case for Sue Grafton and her alphabet series… And here we are at “U”, the 21st Kinsey Millhone mystery.
I do have to lament though, that of all, “U” is just not up to the standard set by the preceding 20 books. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but the level of excitement and intrigue just never build the way they have before. The case is only moderately interesting, lacking build and impact, and the climax left me wanting. Another issue I had difficulty with is something I am seeing more and more from various writers, with varying levels of success. That is, switching back and forth between telling the story in first person and then going to a third person telling to reveal what the main character could not know from their own point of view.
I do see that this particular story needs the back-story in order to let the reader understand it, but the ever expanding cast of characters left me confused and needing a road map. Add to that the fact that much of the back tale takes place 20+ years in the past, and it just left me spinning trying to keep up.
I suppose that, had the story been more engrossing, or the history been learned through Kinsey’s detective work, I would have been able to overlook, or even embrace the style. In the end though, I did like the story, but felt a little let down.
In Grafton’s defense though, she has written 20 outstanding Kinsey Millhone novels over more than two decades. I really do appreciate the loyalty she has shown to her characters and their lives. “U” takes place in 1988, because the stories do follow closely one after the other. Kinsey has aged only a few years, despite the passing of time for us in reader land. As a result, Grafton must tell the stories without the gadgets and trinkets that life in 2010 requires for mere existence. There are no cell phones, personal computers, internet, DVR’s, caller ID, etc… She never wavers from the fact that they aren’t yet invented; I dare you to try imagining such a day to day world, let alone writing detailed novels about that time.
I do recommend U is for Undertow to Grafton fans, but caution that the preceding books are better. If you’ve never read Sue Grafton, the only way to do it is to start with “A” and enjoy watching her world unfold....more
Most Evil; author Steve Hodel picks up where he left off in his first book, Black Dahlia Avenger. In the first book he set out to prove conclusively tMost Evil; author Steve Hodel picks up where he left off in his first book, Black Dahlia Avenger. In the first book he set out to prove conclusively that his father, Dr. George Hodel, was the perpetrator of one of Los Angeles’ most notorious unsolved murders. In Most Evil, the son sets out to prove that his father not only committed that heinous murder, but strings of seemingly unrelated serial murders in multiple states, as well as in the Philippines; most notably, the younger Hodel asserts that Dr. George Hodel was the serial killer who called himself The Zodiac.
Steve Hodel, a veteran LAPD homicide detective, applies his expertise and intimate knowledge to draw a line connecting several murders in California in the 1940’s to the “Lipstick murders” in Chicago (also in the ‘40’s), then to another series in Manila, and finally to the highly publicized Zodiac killings in and around San Francisco in the ‘60’s.
Decidedly, an interesting read to any students of the psychology and investigation of serial criminals, Most Evil does manage to draw some tenuous connections. In a purely surface sort of way, I can see where one could be convinced that each and every one of these dozens of grisly murders and attacks could have been committed by Dr. Hodel. By all description, he was a medical practitioner, brilliant and charismatic, a world traveler and suspected (arrested and charged, but not convicted) of molesting and even impregnating his own daughter.
However, in reading Detective Hodel’s recounting of the “evidence”, I found myself having to step back and ask if the “May haves” and “Could possiblys” weren’t almost as likely to point in other directions. Like the UFO and Bigfoot “proofs” I enjoyed in my childhood, I see nearly as many holes in the story as there “facts”. I lost count of the times the author wrote, “If there is any DNA on the missing item it might well prove…”
Likewise, I found it disconcerting the way he continually misstated his own credentials; an LAPD Homicide Detective for 24 years… While I’m sure Detective Hodel was an active member of LAPD for 24 years, at least the first 5 to 10 of those would have been as a street cop, and only later would he have been promoted to the lofty rank of Detective. That he retired after 24 years and not 25 or 30 raises the question in my mind of “Why?” All of which only added to my doubt and unwillingness to take the information presented at face value.
In the end though, I have to admit that the seemingly overwhelming too coincidental to be coincidental details do paint quite a case against the late Dr. Hodel.
For buffs of this genre, Most Evil presents a lot to think about and a rare glimpse into the murky world of serial murderers. I may just have to reread John Douglas’ book, "The Cases That Haunt Us", wherein he examines the actual Zodiac case and compare it to Hodel’s observations. ...more
Rough Country is the third installment in Sandford’s Virgil Flowers series. Set in Minnesota, and a spinoff of his prolific and popular Lucas DavenporRough Country is the third installment in Sandford’s Virgil Flowers series. Set in Minnesota, and a spinoff of his prolific and popular Lucas Davenport “Prey” novels, Flowers is a very different sort of cop; a long haired outdoors sport writer who wears obscure band t-shirts and tends to leave his gun in his truck, but rarely rolls out without his fishing boat trailered behind. Not the usual way an investigator for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension operates.
What Virgil (aka “that f*^&ing Flowers”) brings to the mix is an unassuming presence that gets past people’s defenses quietly while he works out the puzzle in his head. And he usually manages to get hooked up with at least one cutie who just might be a suspect, if not a victim. “That f*^&ing Flowers”
This time around, Davenport interrupts Virgil’s fishing trip to do his special detecting when a prominent women ad exec is found shot in the head at a private retreat in the woods near Grand Rapids. That the resort is an exclusive, women’s only establishment makes it more palatable to Virgil; until he learns that most of the patrons are Lesbians.
The list of suspects snakes its way through the small community, reaching into a local bar where ladies from the resort like to listen to a popular local all girl country band whose lead singer might just be going places. That is either to Nashville or jail depending on which girl’s heart she happens to be breaking that particular night.
The characters are well constructed, and reasonably diverse, at least as diverse as small-town Minnesotans get. The good guys and some of the bad ones are likeable, some in spite of themselves, and the bad guys aren’t nearly as obvious as one might think. The story is interesting on a much deeper level than just figuring out “whodunit”, and provides enough twists and turns to keep most people guessing right up to the big reveal.
I do recommend Rough Country to any who like a good crime novel particularly one with a slightly less macho approach. I also suggest reading the previous Flowers books first, so the main characters have more familiarity....more
“It’s a great day for America everybody!” in a thick Scottish borough is how TV’s Craig Ferguson begins his monologue each weeknight. As host of The L“It’s a great day for America everybody!” in a thick Scottish borough is how TV’s Craig Ferguson begins his monologue each weeknight. As host of The Late Late Show, Craig follows David Letterman, spinning his unique and very different style of late night comedy. Fans of the show are well aware that the Glasgow native is now a naturalized American, and a recovering alcoholic, but few have known the whole story.
American On Purpose is a fascinating memoir, a cautionary tale, and a damned funny adventure into the world that formed what is possibly one of the most clever wits on television today. Without reveling in the past Ferguson manages to highlight just enough of the debauchery to let us see how it took hold of him. He opens his failings and weaknesses to examination without ever glorifying mistakes; humanizing himself and calling it what it is.
With amazing humor and clarity, the story carries the reader along as each story unfolds. Ferguson is a master story teller, and has well succeeded taking those stories to the page. At times, I could almost hear his borough as the vivid pictures came to life and the killer ducks chased through the park.
While it’s true that I’m a sucker for anyone who finds the strength to admit they need help, and the courage to walk out their recovery; I also have little stomach for those who use it like a badge of achievement in Hollywood. Craig never does, but rather has the honesty and humility to do it day by day and let himself become a reminder that it can be done. American On Purpose makes that crystal clear, while still entertaining the reader.
I highly recommend this book to any and all, especially if you are or care about someone struggling with addiction. Even if not, it’s a great read. My copy was signed in person and will be one of my treasured possessions....more