The Siege is a departure from White’s psychological suspense novels featuring Boulder psychologist Alan Gregory. This outing features Gregory’s friendThe Siege is a departure from White’s psychological suspense novels featuring Boulder psychologist Alan Gregory. This outing features Gregory’s friend and recently suspended Boulder police detective Sam Purdy who finds himself way out of his element. He goes to an engagement party in Florida and ends up at Yale University looking for a missing college student who may be connected to an apparent hostage situation in a building on campus. The story pulls you in immediately, in a somewhat stomach churning way, as a hostage is sent out of the building with a message. It becomes apparent that this is not a kidnapping for ransom, but a well thought out scheme by someone with a puzzling and terrifying agenda. The suspense ratchets up as officials attempt to free students being held in the building without mass bloodshed.
White obviously did a lot of research about terrorists and the array of technologically sophisticated tools that are now available to them as well as to government counter-terrorism units. The reviews have been excellent and if the subject sounds intriguing, I would certainly recommend it. I’m not a big fan of techno action thrillers myself, so it wasn’t one of my favorite White novels. --Ardis
This is Argula’s third go-round with her scrappy Seattle P.I. heroine, Quinn. (I wrote about her second book Walla Walla Suite in 2008.) Quinn is stilThis is Argula’s third go-round with her scrappy Seattle P.I. heroine, Quinn. (I wrote about her second book Walla Walla Suite in 2008.) Quinn is still grappling with her hot flashes as she gets a call from a Hollywood screenwriter, Alex Krapp, who invites her down for a meeting. He’s writing a screenplay for HBO about a Seattle boy that he’s come to know and love through lengthy phone conversations. The boy has written a book about his experiences growing up with horrendous abuse from his parents who are Satanists, and to top it off, he’s dying of AIDS. HBO is getting nervous about the authenticity of the story and wants proof that the boy exists. The catch is that the boy’s adoptive mother says that no one can see the boy because he is so ill. Quinn is hired to get the proof.
As I started reading this book, I was immediately reminded of Armistead Maupin’s The Night Listener, a novel about a radio personality who forms a close bond with a fan that he talks to on the radio and on the phone, a boy who has suffered horrible abuse and is very ill. I was intrigued to see where Argula was going to go with it. Is the boy real, or not?
As with Argula’s earlier books, I was taken by the singular character of Quinn and the evocation of the city of Seattle. --Ardis
Sometimes the title of a book just couldn’t be more perfect. In the mere 120 pages of this novella, Australian author Julia Leigh creates a world of pSometimes the title of a book just couldn’t be more perfect. In the mere 120 pages of this novella, Australian author Julia Leigh creates a world of pain and unease in which each character seems to be teetering on the brink of emotional or physical oblivion.
The story begins with a woman and her two children entering the grounds of a French chateau through a doorway in a wall overgrown with vines. We learn that she is coming back to her mother’s home after 12 years living with an abusive husband. Also arriving are the woman’s brother and his wife. The wife cradles their stillborn baby in her arms, a hospital bracelet still on her wrist.
The sense of the tenuousness of each family member’s situation is palpable, and as the story unfolds, we fear for them. The author has created a haunting, and yes, disquieting world, but one where there is also an sense of wonder, and ultimately of hope. --Ardis
Middle-aged actor Tobe Flood is stuck in a theatrical tour that’s sputtering to an end. The last week of it’s lackluster run is in Brighton, where hisMiddle-aged actor Tobe Flood is stuck in a theatrical tour that’s sputtering to an end. The last week of it’s lackluster run is in Brighton, where his soon to be ex-wife is living with her new fiancé. Tobe’s hoping to somehow convince her to come to her senses and take him back. By the end of the week, though, he finds himself in the middle of a decades-old mystery that threatens to end his career, if not his life.
This is the third Robert Goddard novel I’ve read, and the one I liked the best. What his novels all have in common is an intelligent plot that’s full of twists and turns and well-drawn characters. In the midst of my enthusiasm for my new-found author, I was looking through the December 12, 2008 issue of Entertainment Weekly and saw Stephen King’s picks for the best books of 2008. The novels of Robert Goddard were at the top of his list. Apparently, King just discovered the author this year, too. As he said in the article:"You discover a guy who’s doing work on such a high level, and the disturbing question occurs: Who else have I missed that’s this good?" --Ardis
Multiple award winning author Dame Ruth Rendell continues to be at the top of her game with The Water’s Lovely, her latest novel of psychological suspMultiple award winning author Dame Ruth Rendell continues to be at the top of her game with The Water’s Lovely, her latest novel of psychological suspense. Heather and Ismay are sisters, living as adults in their childhood home. Years earlier, when Heather was 13, she was discovered descending the stairs, soaking wet, from the bathroom where her frail stepfather had just drowned. Heather was shielded from police questioning, and the family never discussed the incident again. But even though she doesn’t have to heart or nerve to ask Heather, Ismay has always wondered if her beloved sister may be guilty, and if so, why she would have done it.
As usual in her novels, Rendell brings in a cast of characters whose lives become intertwined with the two sisters; some sane, some disreputable and some downright psychopathic. Rendell was quoted in a Publishers Weekly article as saying, "I do write about obsession, but I don’t think I have an obsession for writing. I’m not a compulsive writer. I like to watch obsession in other people, watch the way it makes them behave." That’s an understatement. -Ardis
I’ll admit I took this book off the "New" shelf because of the title. I wasn’t familiar with the author, who apparently has a cult following, especialI’ll admit I took this book off the "New" shelf because of the title. I wasn’t familiar with the author, who apparently has a cult following, especially in Europe. I was hooked on the first page. A woman named Jane Charlotte sits in a bare, white room, in handcuffs. She’s being interviewed by a man who introduces himself as Dr. Vale. She’s been charged with murder. What follows is her fantastic tale to the doctor about how she got there.
Her story begins when she’s a child and her younger brother is kidnapped while under her care, and follows her troubled life and recruitment into a huge, secret organization. She claims to work in the organization’s Dept. for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons, otherwise know as Bad Monkeys. Her job is to kill evil people with a NC (Natural causes) gun that causes non-suspicious deaths from heart attacks or strokes.
Full of plot twists and turns and unbelievable situations, the book moves in and out and around both psychological and science fiction, and ends up somewhere in between. Always in the background are the questions of what is real and who is evil. And did I mention that The Organization also has a Scary Clowns department? --Ardis
Bonnie has a dead body on her hands and she’s frantically trying to figure out how to get rid of it and the rest of the evidence she may have left inBonnie has a dead body on her hands and she’s frantically trying to figure out how to get rid of it and the rest of the evidence she may have left in her friend’s apartment. So starts The Other Side of the Door, the latest psychological suspense novel by Nicci French, the pseudonym of English husband and wife writing team Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. The rest of the story unfolds in short chapters that go back and forth in time between what happened “Before” and “After”.
As with all Nicci French novels, there are twists and turns that continue to the last page and one or two sociopaths along the way to keep things fun. I’d say this is one of their better efforts, and if you like it I would highly recommend trying Secret Smile next. --Ardis
If you’ve just finished T is for Trespass, the latest Kinsey Millhone mystery from Sue Grafton, and wonder what to read while you’re waiting for nextIf you’ve just finished T is for Trespass, the latest Kinsey Millhone mystery from Sue Grafton, and wonder what to read while you’re waiting for next one, the answer is Walla Walla Suite by Anne Argula. Our heroine, Quinn, is a gritty, middle-aged ex-cop who’s suffering through raging hot flashes while she tries to start a new career as a P.I. in Seattle.
Quinn, who is now living and working in the historic Pioneer Square area of Seattle, is originally from Shenandoah, PA, which accounts for some of her colorful language and speech patterns. She gets her first work in Seattle from Vincent Ainge, whose job title "Mitigation Inspector" means that he’s hired by defense lawyers to find information about a convicted murderer’s past that might sway a jury into recommending life without parole instead of execution. Vincent is also struggling with his father’s decline into Alzheimer’s. Since Quinn’s office is right down the hall from Vincent’s in the Pioneer Building, the opportunity is there for developing a complicated personal, as well as professional relationship.
The plot involves the disappearance of a young woman who worked in their building. Quinn is hired by the missing woman’s boss, Arnie Stimick, to look for her, even though the police are on the case. Along the way, Vincent also gets entangled.
Argula’s ability to create memorable characters and a strong sense of place remind me a lot of Sue Grafton, and Quinn is a character I hope to see more of. First, I’ll be going back to Argula’s first novel featuring Quinn titled Homicide My Own. which is now on order at ICPL. --Ardis
I hadn’t read a really satisfying ghost story in a long time when I picked up The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. There are plenty of goosebumps hereI hadn’t read a really satisfying ghost story in a long time when I picked up The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. There are plenty of goosebumps here, as well as a glimpse into post-WWII changes in rural English society.
As always, there’s an old, dark house, in this case a crumbling estate called Hundreds Hall. The inhabitants of Hundreds, a Mrs. Ayres, her war-injured son Roderick and her “spinster” daughter Caroline are all that remain of an upper class family that has fallen on hard times. The narrator of the story, Dr. Faraday, a village doctor whose mother had once been a maid at the mansion, is called out to examine a teenage servant who seems to be ill. The young girl, who’s only lived at Hundreds a short time, confides to the doctor that she’s not really sick, but rather she’s frightened of the house. She says there’s something “bad” lurking about the dark hallways and she doesn’t want to stay there. So begins Dr. Faraday’s relationship with the goings-on at Hundreds Hall.
The Little Stranger turned out to be one of those books I don’t find often enough – I wanted to race through it to find out what happened next, but I really didn’t want it to end at all. --Ardis
Ignatius J. Reilly, the "hero" of this Pulitzer Prize winning novel, is one of the singular characters in modern fiction. An unfortunate series of eveIgnatius J. Reilly, the "hero" of this Pulitzer Prize winning novel, is one of the singular characters in modern fiction. An unfortunate series of events leads Ignatius, a medieval scholar who lives with his befuddled mother in New Orleans, to seek gainful employment. What follows is both comic and tragic, as he tries to navigate the world outside his head. This is the funniest, and one of the most touching, books I've ever read. --Ardis...more
Charlie Rankin, newly released from prison, has been sent on an errand. "The Buddha", the man who gave him protection on the inside has given him theCharlie Rankin, newly released from prison, has been sent on an errand. "The Buddha", the man who gave him protection on the inside has given him the name of a man that he wants killed, a man Charlie has never seen. Not the least of his challenges in getting the job done is that he can’t distinguish what is real from what his overheated imagination is creating. Did he go to the right house? Did he kill the right man, or any man at all for that matter? How can he know for sure?
This is good stuff if you enjoy noir crime fiction. You’re carried along with Charlie on his ill-fated mission, realizing as the story progresses that you are experiencing events as seen by a very disordered mind. It’s a compelling trip to the dark side. --Ardis