(Review originally published at Red Adept Reviews.)
Very Bad Men, by Harry Dolan was my inaugural "borrow" from my local library through my Kindle. I e(Review originally published at Red Adept Reviews.)
Very Bad Men, by Harry Dolan was my inaugural "borrow" from my local library through my Kindle. I ended up buying the book so that my husband could read it at some point. This worked out very well for the author, my husband, and Amazon. Okay, to be honest, I wasn't actually finished reading it by the end of the lending period. It's the curse of switching off between multiple books.
Overall: 4 ¾ stars.
Plot/Storyline: 4 1/2 stars
I selected this book because, well, it was one of the ones actually available from the library, and because Ann Arbor caught my attention. While I'm a Minnesotan these days, I'm from Michigan originally. I like reading about places I know, don't you?
And, I enjoyed this novel quite a bit, particularly the character of David Loogan. He gets less time than you might imagine from the description, being only one point of view character. Although, his portions are the only ones told in first person. His voice was consistently amusing.
I've never felt a need to figure out the whole mystery, I want to be surprised. I think that even if I tried to figure out what was what, I wouldn't have seen a few things coming. The author did made me say, "No WAY!" in the best sense possible more than once. And, a few times I said it because a plot twist of point strained credibility, but I forgave since I had a good time, and since the author really did tie up his loose ends.
As you can tell from the description, this is not the first book in the series, but this seemed to stand alone. I imagine I'll read the first one at some point, and the next one as well.
I even enjoyed the title. The people you might assume to be the bad men changes after a while.
Characters: 4 3/4 stars
As mentioned, I enjoyed David Loogan. I also enjoyed Sarah, his girlfriend's daughter, who can probably continue the series when Loogan is old and doddering. Come to think of it, I think the author excelled at characterization. Mysteries tend to be a little more plot-driven, and that's the case here, with some characters being perhaps a little stock. However, even in those cases there were moments of surprise or entertainment.
We know from the beginning that the man killing people is Andrew Lark, but he's not pure villain, and Mr. Dolan reveals his story slowly and imbues him with a strange decency. I doubt the reader will walk away thinking he is the biggest villain of this piece.
There is a female character who I didn't find nearly as charming as did David Loogan, but he might have come around to my side by the end.
Writing Style: 4 3/4 stars
Intelligent, but uncomplicated style. Mr. Dolan comes across as a natural storyteller.
Editing: (No score)
I have to nit-pick. A woman in this book had a missing cat. She described him, a male, as a faded calico. Calicos, as well as Tortoiseshells - dilute would be the term for the faded - are almost always female. The only way a male can have these colors is if he has XXY chromosomes instead of XY and then Roscoe - the kitty in question - would probably be, um, "shooting blanks." But, I can't quite call it a mistake. And I just put Roscoe's business out on the internet... Of course, if you're reading this and are a female cat, you could have a great night on the town with Roscoe with little worry about "repercussions." ...more
The story is firmly in the category of mystery cozy, meaning th(Originally published at Red Adept Reviews.)
Overall: 4 1/4 Stars
Plot/Storyline: 4 Stars
The story is firmly in the category of mystery cozy, meaning there’s a murder, but no overt violence and it’s meant to be a more of a simple who-dunnit/light read. I love dogs and so I occasionally like the subcategory of cozy featuring them – there might be more than you think.
Because I’m such a dog freak, my favorite part involved a subplot with Raine’s collie. For the rest of you, the non canine obsessed, the mystery was interesting enough and satisfying enough to keep me comfortably entertained. Nothing here will tax a reader’s brain and sometimes that’s the perfect read.
The resolution to the mystery was pretty straightforward and I imagine most readers will figure out at least a piece of it. The shorter the work, the less chance for false leads and red herrings, and that’s to be expected.
As mentioned in the description, this ties in with a book series by the author. I haven’t read the other books and still felt like I could follow along and like this stood alone. I think a reader could enjoy it as a quick one time read or the beginning of a new series to explore. My understanding is that other books in the series focus more on search and rescue. I think the writer had just the right amount of “sell” for her other books.
Characters: 4 1/4 stars
I liked Raine well enough, but Raine liked dogs, so that’s a no-brainer. Like Raine, I live in a small town and love dogs. I don’t think I’d be quite as calm of one of mine trotted up with a leg bone. Raine’s first interest and concern seemed to be how much this would hold up getting her kennel built, which I think would be on someone’s mind, but I’m not sure it would be the most pressing thought for a couple days. I laughed because the author actually had the character make a comment about 25% in about not really being as cavalier about it as she seems, which seems like a nice bit of awareness on the part of Raine and Raine’s Maker!
Presuming we can include dogs as characters – aren’t they all? – they were terrific. This isn’t the first mystery I’ve read with a dog trainer, and I find it funny how the heroine needs to seem good at what she does, but the plot often needs the dogs to break training.
Writing Style: 4 1/2 Stars
I keep on coming back to a word I’d already used: comfortable. I’d add to that the word “professional.” The writer did a solid job here and provided me with a good read.
Editing/Formatting: 4 stars
Overall, this was solid. The exception is a recurring spacing issue. Sometimes a space would be missing and sometimes there would be an extra space. The issue was particularly noticeable when periods and commas were in play. It was noticeable enough to be slightly distracting, but I don’t see it as being a deal-breaker for most readers....more
(Originally published at Red Adept Reviews. Please note author states there is a new edition out since the one I read, and that it clears up errors. I(Originally published at Red Adept Reviews. Please note author states there is a new edition out since the one I read, and that it clears up errors. I cannot vouch for this.)
I obtained The Fashion Police, by Sibel Hodge, as a Review Copy submitted to "Red Adept Reviews."
Overall: 3 3/4 Stars
Plot/Storyline: 4 Stars
The story followed Amber Fox - gotta love the name - in her work as an investigator at her ex's insurance company. The primary story here concerned her investigation at a fashion house after designer, Umberto Fandango, disappears.
The story flowed nicely and I kept reading along fairly contentedly. It was a light read, but not so light that it floated away. There were some quite funny moments and lines, with Amber at her best when she's interacting with others. ("Is that how you measure your job satisfaction, by the amount of people who want to kill you?")
There were a couple coincidences that were way too ... coincidental though. One in particular involving Elvis, the other - well, that would be a spoiler. I'm just saying, there are portions best read with a very willing suspension of disbelief. Some of the names are also eye-rollers - I predict you'll know them when you come to them.
What was really nice was both men in Amber's life tended to trust her to navigate through some very dangerous waters without feeling the need to coddle her unless she specifically expressed a need for T.L.C. I always enjoy when a woman in a story with a lot of action doesn't have to contend with a man, who is probably also in a dangerous job, trying to treat her like she's made out of spun glass.
Characters: 4 Stars
Amber came across as a suitable heroine for this type of breezy book. She was intelligent and independent and capable of a good quip now and again. Her personality made the book. I felt like I knew her pretty well, and had a really good sense of her personality. Secondary characters included her ex, Brad and her current boyfriend, Romeo Lopez. Her conversations with Romeo flowed very nicely, and he cooks, so yay. It took me a while for me to warm up to - or even understand Brad - but by the end of the book I enjoyed him too. I liked the way several of the characters interacted.
Writing style: 3 3/4 Stars
There was a passage in which Ms. Hodge tries to pack exposition in dialogue by characters telling each other things they already know. It always comes across artificial and tends to remind the reader that there is an author there pulling the strings. Better to keep these things out of quotation marks - the single AND the double ones. It only stood out because the author was so competent and better elsewhere. It was also easier to forgive for that reason.
Ms. Hodge seems to me to be a natural story-teller and, issues aside, this seems like a genre that she seems fairly skilled in and her writer's voice works well with the mix of chick-lit, mystery, comedy, and romance.
Editing: 3 1/2 Stars
While the book seemed polished for the most part, there was a persistent enough issue with homophones and close-but-no-cigars words to be an undeniable distraction. Just off the top of my head I recall "to" instead of "too," "site" instead of "sight," "tick" instead of "tic."
Note: The author is clearly very British and some cultural references were unknown to me, such as the Honey Monster and Loyd (misspelled as Lloyd in the book) Grossman. (A cereal mascot and a gentleman who was born in Boston, lives in England, and speaks with both places giving him a unique dialect.) I didn't mind this at all; I felt like it was part of Amber's voice, but this was a recurrent factor that sent me on mini-lessons.
This was also reflected in the choice to use single quotes as opposed to double quotation marks (` rather than ") -- this was valid and not an issue, but I wanted to make note of it. ...more