Bright and Yellow, Hard and Cold blends three stories. The first centers on Sean McKinney, a forensic scientist in Chicago. He and his teenage daughteBright and Yellow, Hard and Cold blends three stories. The first centers on Sean McKinney, a forensic scientist in Chicago. He and his teenage daughter have been working to readjust to life after his wife died several years earlier. Tim Chapman creates a great character in McKinney. He blends his parenthood, adjustments to widowerhood (?), and his passion for the meticulousness of his job into a character that will be worth revisiting. Sean has discovered some evidence in a case that could clear a defendant, but his office has traditionally worked to support police evidence rather than clear the accused. He has to wrestle with trying to find the truth and saving his professional career.
The second story jumps back to the 1930’s as Delvin and Lucille run off from rural Kentucky to get married and start of life in Chicago during the depths of the Great Depression. Desperate for work to support his new wife, Delvin gets involved with the Barker-Karpis gang (as in Ma Barker) as they rob their way through the mid-west. Delvin’s actions are integral to the unfolding of the story, but the characters are less engaging than the sections featuring McKinney.
The third vein follows Gilbert Anglin, a serial killer who is tracking down old people , torturing and killing them.
Chapman alternates the three stories to develop the plot, and he blends the three well, but there were times when the book seemed choppy as a result. I wanted to stay with McKinney more and spend less time with Gilbert, but the plot, while a bit predictable, was engaging. I’ll be interested to see if Chapman stays with Sean McKinney and develops him some more, or if he goes in a new direction. ...more
I had really enjoyed Michael Murphy’s first Jake and Laura mystery, The Yankee Club. It offered a good mystery in a time period that is featured in feI had really enjoyed Michael Murphy’s first Jake and Laura mystery, The Yankee Club. It offered a good mystery in a time period that is featured in few series: The early 1930s during the worst of the Great Depression. I was interested to see where the story would lead, so I was excited at the opportunity to read a preview copy through Netgalley.
In the second book of the series, All that Glitters, Jake and Laura leave New York as Laura launches a career move from stage actress to screen actress. Murphy captures the glitzy world of 1930’s Hollywood well, contrasting the swanky world of film stars to the gritty urban view shown in New York. The film studios owned their talent which means that Jake and Laura have to keep their relationship under wraps from the studio execs and the Hollywood rumor mills. However, despite Jake's attempts to stay in the shadows and let Laura have her glory; issues with the script lead the studio head to enlist Jake’s help on a rewrite. Their life gets more complicated when murder occurs and Jake is under suspicion.
One of my complaints about the Yankee Club, was the forced entrance of too many famous historical figures. While we still see some famous faces in All that Glitters, Murphy does a better job of making them part of the story rather than just shoving them into the plot. Initially, I found the character of the female homicide detective to be anachronistic, but after doing a little research, I found that there were a few female detectives on police forces in the 1930s. Adding some historical notes at the end would better support that aspect of the book, but, I don’t believe a woman who could rise that far in the force would be as simpering as Murphy paints her. ...more
I love Flavia de Luce, and I will have to admit that life with Flavia became a bit more interesting with the close of book 6, The Dead in Their VaulteI love Flavia de Luce, and I will have to admit that life with Flavia became a bit more interesting with the close of book 6, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches. Her mother’s body had been recovered and brought home, settling the mystery why she had been missing for years. However, discovering that for generations had be acting behind the throne for the good of the realm added a new element to Flavia’s story. With the news that she was to be sent to Canada to attend a girls school designed to train her for her future service, I was interested to see how her path would unfold.
Mysterious events begin to unfold on the ship to Canada, but a dead body tumbling from her chimney on Flavia’s first night in the new school begins her investigations into the strange goings on at Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy. Flavia roams from the chemistry lab to the library working to uncover secrets as she also fights to fit in and overcome homesickness. While her perceptions, and misperceptions, are pure Flavia the story isn’t quite as good as some of the previous books in the series. I was a bit disappointed in the end, but I’ll be waiting for book seven to see where Bradley takes her on her next adventure. ...more
C. W. Gortner has written extensive historical fiction of European Renaissance royalty, but I was not aware that he had begun a mystery series. The TuC. W. Gortner has written extensive historical fiction of European Renaissance royalty, but I was not aware that he had begun a mystery series. The Tudor Vendetta is the third in a series featuring Brenden Prescott, and since I’ve finished the Tudor Vendetta, I’ve had to go back and read The Tudor Secret and the Tudor Conspiracy. If you haven’t read those, I recommend that you read the series in order. I enjoyed them all, but knowing the secrets before having read the first two may spoil the suspense.
If you’ve read the first two in the series, you know that Brenden was a foundling child who is actually an illegitimate Tudor offspring. He became a spy for William Cecil in the first book of the series, and after becoming embroiled in events during Edward’s and Mary’s reigns, he has been living in Europe learning spy craft from Cecil. Summoned back to England as Elizabeth ascends the throne, he is summarily sent to Yorkshire to search for Lady Perry, a lady in waiting who mysteriously disappeared.
Like the first two books in the series, The Tudor Vendetta is fast paced and filled with the intrigued that marked the Tudor court. Gortner’s characters are engaging and the plot’s weave history and plausible fiction together well. I thoroughly enjoyed all three books and look forward to the series continuing! ...more
This is one of the few books that I would truly say is awful, and one of the very few that I couldn’t stick with in hopes that it would get better. IThis is one of the few books that I would truly say is awful, and one of the very few that I couldn’t stick with in hopes that it would get better. I couldn’t finish the thing.
The book sounds like it could be a good political page turner. Jaspar Moran, wife of the Secretary of the Treasury, lives an idyllic existence. Large estate in Greenwich, Connecticut. Two perfect children. Rich. Talented. What more could a person ask for? Her world is shattered when her husband’s flight crashes in the Artic and her children disappear the same night. A strange message hints that the president’s economic plan is at the center, and threatens the death of her children if Jaspar talks to anyone about her husband’s work. Sounds like a pretty good plot line, right? Well, the story goes downhill from there.
Jaspar’s character becomes completely unbelievable, as are most of the other characters. The plot scenes are lifted from Batman Begins and Dan Brown’s Inferno as it hops from Connecticut to Thailand to Florence, to Oklahoma. The further the book progresses, the more ridiculous it becomes. I kept picking it up again, thinking that it had to get better. I was wrong on that. If you have anything else to read, I wouldn’t bother with this one. ...more
I have loved the 1950s highland series featuring aspiring journalist Joann Ross since A.D. Scott premiered with A Small Death in the Great Glen. The aI have loved the 1950s highland series featuring aspiring journalist Joann Ross since A.D. Scott premiered with A Small Death in the Great Glen. The authenticity of the characters, their developing stories, and the language have continued as the series has developed. When I had the opportunity to read a preview copy of The Low Road, the fifth in the series, I was excited to see where the story would pick up. Rather than continuing the focus on Joanna after her traumatic experiences of the previous book, Scott sifted the story to develop the backstory and character of editor, John McAllister. At the request of Jennie McPhee, the matriarch of a local clan of travelers, McAllister travels to Glasgow and the neighborhoods of his youth. Set with the task of finding Jimmy McFee, McAllister and an up and coming young reporter are thrown into the underground boxing world and gangs of the city, revealing the gritty world of northern Scotland a decade after the war. Feeling middle aged and left in the eddies of small town Highland life forces McAllister to think about who he is and what he might become. McAllister’s internal struggles add depth to the mysterious plotlines involving Jimmy, boxing and gambling.
A.D. Schotts Highland series continues to be outstanding. Begin with the first though to make sure the backstory of the characters makes sense. ...more
When I read the blurbs on Stalin’s Gold I had the impression of a World War II spy novel with page turning suspense. Those can be really good or reallWhen I read the blurbs on Stalin’s Gold I had the impression of a World War II spy novel with page turning suspense. Those can be really good or really poor, so I wasn’t sure what the book would offer. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mark Ellis has a fairly strong London DCI character involved in the drama of the Battle of Britain.
Reading something like an episode between Foyle’s War or a Billy Boyle WWII novel, Stalin’s War delves into life in London during the war, and the best parts of the novel are those that show what the war was like for the ordinary people of London. Ellis has made Frank Merlin’s character multi-dimensional. His English-Spanish background presents an interesting perspective from the commonly seen thoroughly English detective. His brother, a wounded disabled veteran, give a view of those fighting in the early days of the war. The limbo and bravery of the displaced Polish Air Force is accessed though contacts with Merlin’s Polish refugee girlfriend. Firefighters risking their lives, displaced families stumbling from shelters, and petty crooks and looters taking advantage of the chaos from the bombing all help fill out the life of the book. All of these things would have made the book an outstanding addition to the war years of England genre begun in the Jacqueline Winspeare and Charles Tood. However, Ellis overreaches himself by trying to make the book more than it needed to be. Jumping from Spain, Russia, Berlin, and Poland, adds confusion rather than complexity. The multitude of Russian and Polish side characters had me frequently flipping back to see who were the good guys and who were the bad guys, and which bad guys were which.
This book wasn’t good enough for me to eagerly await the next release In the series, but I am going to go back and read the first book in the series, Princes Gate, to see if Ellis plans to have a focus on DCI Merlin or if he has a tendency to over write in general. ...more
Alan Furst continues his stories in pre-WWII Europe with his 13th installment in the series, Midnight in Europe. Midnight in Europe visits familiar FuAlan Furst continues his stories in pre-WWII Europe with his 13th installment in the series, Midnight in Europe. Midnight in Europe visits familiar Furst territory, revolutionary Spain, Paris, the Balkans, and of course, the Brasserie Heininger, the café with a famous bullet-holed mirror that makes an appearance in every Furst novel.
As in Mission to Paris, Furst shows what the pre-war years were like for ordinary people, in this case, Cristián Ferrar, Spanish émigré and Paris lawyer in an international firm. Ferrar was brought to France as a child. Needing to support a dependent family, Cristián has been hesitant to support the republican fight against Franco’s fascist forces. However, when approached by republican representative, his sympathy with the revolution leads him into a role of underground arms buyer.
Some reviewers thought Midnight in Europe was too routine indicative that Furst was in a rut, falling back on familiar devises, and to a certain extent, that is probably true. However, I felt the story was true to the average citizens of Europe at that time. Countless people had to make a choice of supporting or fighting Fascism, particularly as war crept closer in the late 1930s. Furst continues to capture that time and those people in Midnight in Europe. ...more