The Highwayman is a novella in the Walt Longmire series (between Dry Bones and An Obvious Fact) by Craig Johnson -- 5 stars. This is a Gothic style ghThe Highwayman is a novella in the Walt Longmire series (between Dry Bones and An Obvious Fact) by Craig Johnson -- 5 stars. This is a Gothic style ghost story from a law enforcement point of view. Sheriff Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear are in the Wind River area to help a friend, Highway Patrolman Rosey Wayman solve the mystery of radio calls from a man who has been dead for over 30 years.
Typical of Mr. Johnson's works, the writing is often funny, always fast paced, and sometimes poetic. When he describes the canyon road alongside the Wind River as following the river's every curve like a lover, it brings to mind every mountain road I have ever driven in the great American southwest, and says so much more than a more conventional description ever could.
Of course, since this is a ghost story, Walt is faced with a series of possibly supernatural events -- something he has dealt with many times in the past. Being the skeptical, pragmatic investigator he is, Walt eventually gets to the bottom of things, but in perfect Craig Johnson fashion, not every question has a natural answer. I love that Walt has room in his life for the unexplained.
Finally, I have to comment on the hat tip Mr. Johnson gives to Margaret Coel, another excellant Wyoming based crime writer. Ms Coel's stories are set on the Wind River Reservation among the Arapaho Indians, and as soon as it was announced that The Highwayman would be set in that locale, I thought how wonderful it would be if Walt could just stop in and say "Hi" to Father John McIntire, Ms Coel's protagonist. Well, almost as if they heard my thoughts, Walt and Standing Bear stopped at the Catholic Mission and spoke to a red headed priest from New England (a perfect description of Father John), in the course of their search for a witness. It was a wonderful touch for fans of Ms Coel's work -- and anyone who isn't already a fan of her work should be, so find her books and get busy. ...more
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a short fantasy by Neil Gaiman - 4 stars. The story is a reminiscence by a middle aged man (his name is never reveThe Ocean at the End of the Lane is a short fantasy by Neil Gaiman - 4 stars. The story is a reminiscence by a middle aged man (his name is never revealed) of a supernatural event from his childhood - one that he only remembers for a few minutes when he visits the farm at the end of the lane where, as a child, he met Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. Forty years ago a man killed himself, and started a chain of events that released a life changing evil on the boy and his family.
Spider Bones is book number Thirteen in the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs - 4 stars. A boy is discovered floating in a pond near Quebec anSpider Bones is book number Thirteen in the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs - 4 stars. A boy is discovered floating in a pond near Quebec and Tempe is assigned to do the identification. The fingerprints indicate that the victim is a man who died over 40 years ago in Vietnam, so Tempe travels to the military ID Division in Hawaii where complications ensue, and Tempe becomes involved in two other cases.
This book continues one of Ms. Reichs trends of providing information about real world situations in the form of her stories - in this case, we learn a about the efforts of the military to find and identify every body lost in any war since WWII. Interesting stuff and makes a person happy to know our government takes that responsibility seriously.
In the past I have complained about Ms Reichs books that they all seem to follow the same outline and that outline always includes Tempe being kidnapped by the bad guys - I'm pleased to say this book did not follow that format, although Ryan's daughter was kidnapped.
Finally, the closest I can come to a complaint about this book is that the big plot twist that is supposed to surprise everyone (including Tempe) was obvious to me with the first clue - somewhere around page 40. I don't know if this is because I have seen that particular twist in other books and movies, or if it was supposed to be obvious, but it was no surprise when it was revealed...more
The Cleverness of Ladies is a collection of short stories by Alexander McCall Smith - 3 stars. This short collection (5 stories) includes one from theThe Cleverness of Ladies is a collection of short stories by Alexander McCall Smith - 3 stars. This short collection (5 stories) includes one from the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and 4 more from the variety of Smith's other work. I have mixed feelings about short story collections, frequently they have more bad than good, but they can provide an opportunity to sample an author's work without delving into a lengthy novel. Unfortunately there was a lot more here that I didn't like than stories I cared about. I can't say that anything here was bad, it just didn't engage me. Probably the only positive thing I can say after having read this book is that now I have no need to read any of the other books in the Ladies Detective Agency collection....more
Seduced by a Dragon is a stand-alone short story from J.J. Abraham - 3 stars. This story is a fantasy told from the point of view of a dragon whose enSeduced by a Dragon is a stand-alone short story from J.J. Abraham - 3 stars. This story is a fantasy told from the point of view of a dragon whose entire race has been transported from their home planet to live on earth. Although dragons are physically superior to humans, and could, therefore, use humans for a food-source, humans possess hands with opposable thumbs, and therefore the ability to use tools, making them the top of the food chain. The protagonist dragon is feeling a craving to feed on a human when a human woman walks into the bar and picks him up for a sexual encounter. After sex, the dragon is feeling less inclined to have her for a snack.
I found the story moderately creative with talking dragons having sex with women, but overall, the story was more "cute" than engaging. It was the perfect length - there was nothing here to turn into a nove....more
A fine and bitter snow is book number Twelve in the Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow - 3 stars. While Kate is attempting to convince people to workA fine and bitter snow is book number Twelve in the Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow - 3 stars. While Kate is attempting to convince people to work on behalf of Chief Ranger Dan O'Brien she becomes in the murder investigation of one of the park residents - and Dan was already there when the body was found. Kate is still getting over the death of her fiance, and fending off the advances of Chopper Jim, but they end up sexually involved anyway - and that is the biggest problem with the story. Every time Kate and Jim get near each other the story grinds to a halt so they can resolve their immediate feelings. I have no problem with sex in a story, but in this case, the sex killed the action -- Bad choice....more
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A.Milne - 3.5 stars. A children's book of stories about the adventures of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, EeyWinnie-the-Pooh by A.A.Milne - 3.5 stars. A children's book of stories about the adventures of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyore, and their friends. I am certain that children of the appropriate age will will be enchanted by this book; I was less so, but I am not the target demographic. I was looking at a list of the best books of all time, and noticed that Winnie the Pooh was in the top 200. Since I had never read it I decided to find out what makes it one of the best ever. It was filled with fun, gentle stories of childhood - I guess that shall be good enough....more
Lying in Wait is book number 12 in the J. P.Beaumont series by J.A.Jance - 3 stars. Beaumont is assigned to investigate the murder of a fisherman whosLying in Wait is book number 12 in the J. P.Beaumont series by J.A.Jance - 3 stars. Beaumont is assigned to investigate the murder of a fisherman whose body was found in his burned fishing boat. This murder leads to memories from Beaumont's high school days as the wife of the victim was a high school girlfriend of his. Overall this was a fairly reliable Jance book with an acceptable story and enjoyable characters.
While I like most of Ms. Jance's work (and this is no exception) I don't feel that I can rate it higher than 3 stars because her writing has a simplistic feel that keeps me from developing any lasting involvement with the stories. Great read if a person is looking for something quick that won't prevent him from getting his full 8 hours sleep - although the fact that it took me a week to read a story this short shows how little real hold the story has on a reader....more
The Singing of the Dead is book number Eleven in the Kate Shugak Series by Dana Stabenow -4 stars. When a local politician (Anne Gordaoff) starts receThe Singing of the Dead is book number Eleven in the Kate Shugak Series by Dana Stabenow -4 stars. When a local politician (Anne Gordaoff) starts receiving threatening letters during a campaign for state Senate, Kate is hired as her bodyguard. One night, after a debate, one of the fundraisers With Anne Gordaoff's campaign is murdered and Kate gets serious.
Making this story more interesting is an historical foray into the gold rush days of Alaska's past - we are given the story of the Angel Beecham - a prostitute who is eventually murdered, and who's life (and death) have an impact on everyone involved in the ongoing election for state senator.
Ms Stabenow does a nice job of exploring the mores of both the gold rush era, and their effect on the society of today. The characters are believable and the situations interesting....more
Lafcadio is a children's book by Shel Silverstein - 3 stars (although I imagine most younger kids would rate it higher than that). Lafcadio is a youngLafcadio is a children's book by Shel Silverstein - 3 stars (although I imagine most younger kids would rate it higher than that). Lafcadio is a young lion living in the jungle in Africa when he encounters a hunter. He eats the hunter, then takes the gun and learns to shoot. Eventually he ends up world famous as a shooting lion, and in the end he is unhappy where his fame and fortune leads him. I sure the moral of the story is supposed to be that if you try to be something you aren't you won't be happy with it - and even worse, you probably won't be happy with what you used to be either. I imagine young kids can benefit from this simple lesson delivered with humor....more
206 Bones is book number Twelve in the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs - 3.5 stars. Tempe is involved in the investigation of the deaths of206 Bones is book number Twelve in the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs - 3.5 stars. Tempe is involved in the investigation of the deaths of four elderly women over the span of several years in the Quebec area -- and to make things worse, someone is sabotaging her work. Interesting story, starts with Tempe buried in a small dark area and then the story is told as flashbacks as she is trying to escape. Of course, in the end, that means that this story uses basically the same outline as every other Temperance Brennan story - Tempe gets a case, makes progress, knows she has more information than she can remember and that that forgotten info is the key to solving the crimes, just as she begins to remember, she gets kidnapped. Eventually she is rescued, and solves the murders. Not a bad outline, but perhaps it is time for some new ideas....more
Failure to Appear is book number Eleven in the J.P. Beaumont series by J.A. Jance - 4 stars. Beau and his girlfriend take a romantic trip to Ashland,Failure to Appear is book number Eleven in the J.P. Beaumont series by J.A. Jance - 4 stars. Beau and his girlfriend take a romantic trip to Ashland, Oregon, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, to catch a couple shows and visit Beau's daughter. Murder(s) break out and Beaumont investigates. Some good plot twists (although I figured out who the real culprit was about half way through he book - Beau didn't figure it out till almost the last chapter. Regular readers of Jance's work will not be disappointed....more