Nasty opens with Nate Jepson, referred to as “Nasty” by some on the street, standing next to his Subaru on a dark beach near Seattle. He’s looking atNasty opens with Nate Jepson, referred to as “Nasty” by some on the street, standing next to his Subaru on a dark beach near Seattle. He’s looking at a hole in the passenger side window. There is a corresponding hole in the head of stranger he just met on said beach. Their encounter started with beef sticks flying, followed by bullets and ending with the guy shot dead in Nate’s car. Now he’s the number one murder suspect. And the people who did the killing want something from Nate or he’ll end up like the guy in his car. And what is up with those beef sticks?
Nate is a former Navy SEAL and current private investigator. He makes his living following and catching—at least on camera—cheating spouses. It is, apparently, a pretty good living. It’s at least enough to keep up with the rent on his office, the mortgage on his condo and buy all the burritos he can eat. And that is a lot.
You might have missed the part where I said “condo.” This PI does not live in a dark studio apartment in a seedy neighborhood. He lives in a nice condo located in a small town just outside Seattle. A gated community no less. He also has a garden gnome named Phred. This is not your father’s private detective. And that’s a good thing.
Picking up the first book in a series can be a crap shoot. Especially when it’s written by a debut author. There is usually a lot of back story about the character that the reader will need. Then the author needs to build the world this character is going to inhabit. Even if the stories are set in what we like to call the real world. I’ve never been to Seattle, so I need a little grounding there.
This can, and often does, lead to what is known as information dump. A whole lot of setting and back story in one place. That does not happen here. All of that good stuff is woven into the story. I never felt like Mr. Wright stopped the action to bring me up to speed. But I never felt lost either.
And action there was. Guns, fast cars, twists and turns. The plotting was tight with some great surprises, and the pacing kept me turning pages well past when I should have turned out the light.
What keeps me going with a series, though , are the characters. And Nate’s close circle of friends is populated by people I do want to spend more time with. Jeff and Peggy have known Nate since childhood and hint at some maybe not so idyllic memories. Jeff was also in the Navy SEALs and now works in law enforcement. Peggy acts sort of like a big sister, who alternately nags, scolds and patches up Nate.
My favorite of the little group is Janis, Nate’s neighbor in the condo block he lives in. She’s a middle-aged hippie who, in spite of trailing the scent of sandalwood oil and espousing some New Age philosophies, has a lot on the ball. She’s always good for a cup of tea, a sympathetic ear and some surprisingly sound advice.
I will definitely catch the next installment . ...more
Tooly Zylberberg doesn't just have an unusual name, she's led an unusual life. Now in her 30s and the owner of a failing bookstore in Wales, she's draTooly Zylberberg doesn't just have an unusual name, she's led an unusual life. Now in her 30s and the owner of a failing bookstore in Wales, she's drawn back to the people who raised her. But who are they all, really? And what roles were they really playing?
Rachman has us dealing with three different timelines. I'm okay with multiple timelines if they're done well. And they are here. About a third of the way in, though, I started to worry that there wouldn't be a satisfying payoff.
I kept going, because he had my interest, and I wanted to know a) what had happened to Tooly and b) what would happen to her. I'm glad I kept going, because I was satisfied with the payoff. Even smiled at the end. ...more
This final chapter in the All Souls Trilogy did not disappoint. Okay, in one way. It's the final chapter. Although Ms. Harkness certainly left this reThis final chapter in the All Souls Trilogy did not disappoint. Okay, in one way. It's the final chapter. Although Ms. Harkness certainly left this reader with tons of ideas on how to continue the series. Nothing she hasn't thought of herself, I'm sure....more
An exotic dancer/hooker and a woman who wears trousers, rides a high-wheeler bicycle and catches frogs for a living form an unlikely friendship in 187An exotic dancer/hooker and a woman who wears trousers, rides a high-wheeler bicycle and catches frogs for a living form an unlikely friendship in 1876 San Francisco. A friendship that leads to the displacement of one and the death of the other. All based on a true story.
I had great big hopes for this book. The premise was great, and Room was so brilliant. But something in the execution here was lacking. There were two different timelines--something that usually works for me. The problem with the switches, though, is that they are only a month apart. Chapters are long, with lots of scene breaks. And the time jumps happen in those breaks, which left me confused more often than not.
I'll look at the bibliography and check out other books on the topic. But I won't be reading this one again.
I really wanted to like this book. But it was a slog. How could a book by J.K. Rowling be a slog? She's a fabulous writer. But this one just didn't woI really wanted to like this book. But it was a slog. How could a book by J.K. Rowling be a slog? She's a fabulous writer. But this one just didn't work for me.
A member of the Pagford City Council dies unexpectedly, leaving an opening or Casual Vacancy. The book is about the fallout from this death. Kind of a cool conceit. What impact does one man's life have on the world around him? Even if that world is a rural village. So far so good.
There's a big vote scheduled on a hot-button issue. Should Pagford keep "The Fields" within their control or let them go to the next town over? The Fields happens to be the low income housing of the village. People there are struggling to get by. Many are on relief. Others have substance abuse problems and depend on the clinic located there. Multiple potential replacements have differing views on the issue. Not bad.
Rowling uses multiple points of view to tell the story. I have no problem with more than one POV in a novel. It often helps heighten tension by showing conflicts of interest and motive.
And this is where I get to the "However." There are at least eight families we follow. Some of those families have up to three POV characters. The chapters tend to be short so we jump heads a lot. The characters are hard to keep track of, and most of the adults have almost no redeeming qualities. The kids aren't much better, but they seem to be more well-rounded characters than the adults. Not really surprising.
By the end of the book--which took me way longer to get to than it should have, because I kept putting it down and forcing myself to pick back up--I realized the only character I might have enjoyed knowing died in the first chapter.
I hope Rowling tries again. And that she takes the way she writes kids and translates that to adults. ...more
Based on a Russian fairy tale, this is the story of a middle-aged couple who are homesteading in Alaska, circa 1920. They are childless. The wife, MabBased on a Russian fairy tale, this is the story of a middle-aged couple who are homesteading in Alaska, circa 1920. They are childless. The wife, Mabel, is still struggling with the loss of a baby and the isolation of their wilderness home. In a bit of playfulness after a pleasant day with a neighboring family, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone and they think they see a small girl in the woods.
Is the child real? Human or sprite? Or has the couple succumbed to cabin fever? This is a beautiful, haunting tale. It also contains vivid descriptions of the harshness of hacking a life out of a hostile environment. It had the ability to make me want to keep turning pages to find out what happens and to make me want to stop because I didn't want to know if things turned out badly.
An amazing debut. I look forward to more Eowyn Ivey (and isn't that the best name?)....more
Louisa Barrett is headmistress of the Macauley School for girls in Buffalo, New York. The daughters of the best families in town are educated there, iLouisa Barrett is headmistress of the Macauley School for girls in Buffalo, New York. The daughters of the best families in town are educated there, including Grace who is the daughter of Louisa's late best friend and Louisa's goddaughter.
It's 1901 and Buffalo is thriving. Power plants are harnessing Niagra Falls to provide electricity. In turn, manufacturing plants are springing up and using that electricity to manufacture many useful products. In addition,, the Pan American Exhibition is slated to bring people from around the world to Buffalo.
Tom Sinclair, Grace's father, runs the power plant. One evening when Louisa is visiting Tom and Grace she overhears an argument between Tom and his employee Karl Speyer. The next morning she learns that Speyer was found drowned under the ice in a lake that is to be part of the exhibition.
Louisa can't, or won't, believe that Tom was responsible. But she has more on her plate to worry about. She has more freedom than most single women would have because of her position at the school. However, she owes that position to many of the most powerful men in town. And those men are not at all fond of Tom Sinclair. How does she remain loyal to Tom without endangering her job? And how will Grace fit into all of this?
I enjoyed this book a lot. It told a story on the other side of the falls from The Day The Falls Stood Still, which I read late last year. Louisa is a smart, complicated character. The story shows the plight of women--single and married--and that of minorities. My one problem was Louisa's willful naivite'. "I couldn't believe X would do Y" was an all too common thought.
That's a quibble. And I found the ending quite satisfying....more