Sandra Mahoney, a computer crime consultant, was contacted by the mother of a young man found dead at the base of the Telstra Tower in Canberra. The wSandra Mahoney, a computer crime consultant, was contacted by the mother of a young man found dead at the base of the Telstra Tower in Canberra. The white tower with its viewing platforms looks like a giant hypodermic needle on top of the Black Mountain. The police assumed that the victim was suicidal. Niall was addicted to a role-playing Internet game, and his death resembled the death of his character in the Castle of the Heroes game. But as Sandra investigates Niall's life, she discovers he was also having troubles at work where he was a radiotherapist. Controlling parents, and a breakup with his girlfriend were additional problems. Was Niall's death a suicide or a murder?
Sandra works to solve the mystery with her detective efforts on two fronts--interviewing his coworkers at the hospital, and trying to unravel the relationships in the cyberworld. The role-playing gamers can hide their identities online, and often use their acting skills when Sandra is interviewing them in person.
Sandra, the mother of two young children, lives with her partner Ivan, a skillful hacker. She seems very real, and is very different from the alcoholic loners that populate much crime fiction.
"The White Tower" is the second in a quartet of mysteries set in Canberra, the capital of Australia. Each of the four mysteries is set in a different season, with this book showing a southern hemisphere spring (October). Dorothy Johnston also writes literary novels, short stories, poems, and essays....more
It was a hot, humid evening when fifteen-year-old Lindy came riding her bike home from track practice in Baton Rouge. After an attack by a male hidingIt was a hot, humid evening when fifteen-year-old Lindy came riding her bike home from track practice in Baton Rouge. After an attack by a male hiding in the bushes Lindy was no longer a carefree child, and dark elements surfaced in the neighborhood. Looking back to the summer of 1989 when he was a fourteen-year-old boy, the unnamed narrator begins, "There were four suspects in the rape of Lindy Simpson....I should tell you now that I was one of the suspects."
The story is a coming-of-age tale about a boy infatuated with Lindy. He wanted to find her attacker, and suspected others in their affluent neighborhood. He also had to cope with raging hormones and some traumatic family events. Both he and Lindy had interactions with other neighbors who seemed real and complex. Voyeurs in the neighborhood sat up on tree branches with binoculars, spied from windows, and snapped clandestine photographs. Events from his teen years shaped the narrator into the man he has become twenty years later.
My Sunshine Away is an absorbing, suspenseful mystery and more. I also appreciated M.O. Walsh's beautiful language, his atmospheric Louisiana setting, and compelling characters. ...more
"The Ninth Daughter" is the first book in a historical mystery series featuring Abigail Adams. She is the wife of John Adams, one of the leaders of th"The Ninth Daughter" is the first book in a historical mystery series featuring Abigail Adams. She is the wife of John Adams, one of the leaders of the Sons of Liberty who want to break ties with the English Crown. She finds a murdered woman when she visits the home of her friend Rebecca who has also been working for the patriot cause. Rebecca has gone missing, and John Adams has been charged with the murder of the other woman. Abigail searches for her missing friend, and works to find the real killer.
The book transports us back to 1773 around the time of the Boston Tea Party. The characters of Abigail, John, and the other famous patriots seem very well drawn. It's obvious that a lot of historical research had gone into setting the scenes in the homes of both poor and affluent, patriots and loyalists. I enjoyed the historical aspect of the book more than the cozy mystery which did not get very suspenseful until the last hundred pages....more
The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story is a classic Gothic horror story set in the early 1900s. As a young solicitor, Arthur Kipps was sent to Crythin GiffThe Woman in Black: A Ghost Story is a classic Gothic horror story set in the early 1900s. As a young solicitor, Arthur Kipps was sent to Crythin Gifford, a small fictional town on England's marshy, northeast coast. He has to settle the estate of a woman who lived in the isolated Eel Marsh House. The secluded old home is accessible only during low tide, and visible only when the fog breaks. The story builds psychologically into terror using atmospheric descriptions, isolation, a bog with areas of quicksand, and an angry paranormal presence set on revenge.
A few words of advice: Don't read this book right before you're planning to sleep, or the Woman in Black might haunt your dreams....more
Leaving Time tells about coping with loss and grieving in the human and animal worlds. Jenna Metcalf is a precocious teenager searching for her motherLeaving Time tells about coping with loss and grieving in the human and animal worlds. Jenna Metcalf is a precocious teenager searching for her mother who disappeared ten years ago after a coworker was trampled to death at an elephant refuge. Her father cannot help her since he has been residing at a psychiatric hospital since that day. Jenna lives with her grandmother who does not want to talk about her mother. Jenna felt that her mother had loved her, so she can't understand why she left Jenna behind. She enlists the help of Serenity, a psychic, and Virgil, an ex-cop turned private detective with a taste for alcohol.
Jenna's mother was Alice, an elephant researcher in Botswana, who was studying grief in elephants. Alice married Thomas Metcalf who managed the New England Elephant Sanctuary in New Hampshire which cared for older, abused elephants from zoos and circuses. After Jenna was born, Thomas began to show signs of mental illness and Alice feared for her safety.
The information about elephants is based on actual research done in Africa, and at an elephant refuge in Tennessee. The elephants treat their deceased with reverence, keeping a vigil for days and covering them with leaves and branches. There is truth to the phrase, "an elephant never forgets", and they undergo a long grieving process. There is a lifelong strong maternal bond between the mother and her calf. In Alice's voice, information is also related about elephant poachers who kill them for their valuable ivory tusks.
The story is told through multiple points of view with many flashbacks. The themes of the maternal bond and grief run through the book. The investigation of Alice's disappearance by Jenna, Serenity, and Virgil has a paranormal element, and a bit of comedy between the wisecracking psychic and the sarcastic detective. The author blends all these elements together fairly well, and tops it off with a good twist at the end. ...more
"You're no angel, you know how this stuff comes to happen: Friday is payday and it's been a gray day sogged by a slow ugly rain and you seek company i"You're no angel, you know how this stuff comes to happen: Friday is payday and it's been a gray day sogged by a slow ugly rain and you seek company in your gloom, and since you're fresh to West Table, Mo., and a new hand at the dog-food factory, your choices for company are narrow but you find some finally in a trailer court on East Main...." Sammy Barlach, a loser ex-con who had a hard start in life, is hoping to find a place where he belongs when he moves to the rural Missouri town. He gets talked into breaking into a vacant mansion by the trailer court crowd that soon abandons him. In the mansion he meets a brother and sister who have also broken in. Jamalee Merridew, a 19-year-old with tomato red hair, has ambitions to rise out of poverty and live like the high class people who own the home. She's hoping her gorgeous 17-year-old brother Jason will be her ticket out of the poor Venus Holler section of West Table. Jason's got all the rich women lusting after him, but he does not return their feelings. Jamalee and Jason have been marked as white trash since their mother is a prostitute.
Sammy, the narrator of the story, gets taken in by the Merridews, and gets entangled in their lives. There are class conflicts between the rich and the poor, and we know who has the power and the resources. Sammy seems to have low expectations, looking at life with a bit of humor, but with a hint of violence and danger under the surface. Jamalee is very angry about how people treat her, and reads etiquette books, hoping for a better life.
Both the descriptions and the dialogue are offbeat, sometimes dark and sometimes humorous, with a Ozark country flavor. Although this is a short book, Daniel Woodrell's characters will be hard to forget....more