A Blog for Mystery Lovers

Archive for February, 2011

Stephanie Plum on the Big Screen

I read in the paper yesterday that Katherine Heigl has been signed to play bounty hunter Stephanie Plum in the movie version of Janet Evanovich’s “One for the Money.”   Jason O’Mara will play Joe Morelli, Daniel Sunjata is Ranger, Sherri Shepard is Lula, and Debbie Reynolds will play Grandma Mazur according to the author’s website:  http://www.evanovich.com/

The film is due for release July 8th.  If it does well, there could be more films based on the series.  Can’t wait!

“Tough Customer” by Sandra Brown

“Tough Customer” (Simon & Schuster, 2010)  is a pleasant and reliable romantic thriller from Sandra Brown.  If you are a fan of hers, you will enjoy this one very much.

Dodge Hanley is a gruff former cop turned private investigator who receives a call from the love of his life, Carolyn King, whom he has not seen for thirty years, asking for his help. A deranged stalker is trying to kill their daughter, Berry, whom he has also never met. Reluctantly he feels compelled to assist, even though this necessitates dredging up old feelings of guilt and passion that he has tried to put behind himt.   He partners up with local deputy sheriff  Ski Nyland  to chase after this killer who is leaving a trail of corpses in his wake.

The author maintains a good balance between the action and suspense and the romantic parts of the story, so it should be satisfying to fans of both types of plot.  There is, of course, a twist at the end, but I must admit, although I knew one must be coming, I hadn’t quite figured it out until shortly before it was revealed.

All in all, a very good effort from this author.


P.S.   I am not crazy about her website which requires loading a bunch of music and graphics for which I have little patience.  Maybe I need a faster computer!

Stieg Larsson Trilogy

I haven’t had too much time this week to do a lot of reading, as we were on the west coast of Florida visiting old friends we had not seen in forever, it seems.  The Gulf coast area is beautiful this time of year! 

But I had better get going – I am reading “Tough Customer” by Sandra Brown.  Waiting on my desk are “Perdition House” by Kathryn R. Wall, and “Endangered Species” by Nevada Barr, and I stopped by the library on my way home today and spotted a copy of “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” by Stieg Larsson, the third in his trilogy, so I grabbed it.  I was surprised to see it available, as I was on the waiting list at the library for his second book for 2-3 months.

If you have not read any of the trilogy by Stieg Larsson, I would highly recommend them.  It would be helpful to start at the beginning with “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and then his second, “The Girl Who Played With Fire”.  Many elements of the plot carry forward from the first book into the second, so you will enjoy the series much more if you take them in order.

This author was Swedish, so all the names and places in his books are Swedish, which makes it a little harder to pronounce them and to remember who is who.  His first book has so many characters from the same family, there is a family tree in the beginning for you to refer to if you can’t remember.  

But don’t let that put you off, or you will be missing out on some great fiction.  It’s not so important that you remember all the characters’ names and relationships, as long as you can get the main ones down and the gist of what is going on.  None of this detracted from my enjoyment of the book. The author has created a great character in Lisbeth Salander, very different and interesting, and there is a lot of action, intrigue,  and excitement.

Sadly, Mr Larsson passed away at a young age, just after completing this trilogy, so he never lived to see the tremendous success he has become.  I would have loved to read more from him. 

I will report on “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” when I finish it.  But please get started on the others – you won’t be sorry.


“A Dead Man’s Tale” by James D. Doss

I can’t decide whether I liked this book, a recent entry (Minotaur Books, 2010) in the Charlie Moon mystery series.  This author’s style reminds me a lot of Elmore Leonard, and I’m not sure whether I like Elmore Leonard either.  I had considered abandoning the book part way through, but I’m glad I finished it, although I doubt I will be reading many more in this series.

Charlie Moon, Ute rancher and investigator, has fallen on hard times.  So when investor Samuel Reed approaches him and Granite City Chief of Police Scott Parish with a proposed wager, Charlie cannot resist.   Reed is betting that the two men can’t keep him alive, a wager that of course he would be happy to lose.

The setting is western (think cattle country),  and the book is written in a folksy, story-telling manner, but this one is a little too much of a tall tale for me, although the author does a very good job painting the scene and developing the characters.  Charlie’s amusing, yet sinister Aunt Daisy pretty much creeped me out, and her “supernatural” abilities were a little hard for me to swallow. 

I suppose this is probably a “man’s book”, as opposed to a woman’s, and that could be why it’s not one of my favorites.  I tend to prefer books with a primary female character, one who is emotionally vulnerable, yet strong enough to eventually figure out how to triumph over whatever adversity she encounters.  I can relate to that. 

But this was a  well-done and an interesting change of pace.

“In for a Penny” by Kathryn R. Wall

Kathryn R. Wall has been writing the Bay Tanner mysteries for a number of years and has eleven books to her credit, although I had not heard of her and just stumbled onto her website recently.  So I selected her first book, In for a Penny, as my first read, just to get a sense of the beginning of the Bay Tanner story. 

The series is set in the South Carolina Lowcountry, specifically Hilton Head Island and nearby Bluffton.  Her descriptions of this beautiful area are just lovely, and bring back fond memories for me, as I vacationed in this area for many years.  She also does a fine job of portraying the conflict between those who want to develop this pristine area and those who wish to preserve its quiet natural beauty.  On a personal note I must add that, sadly, the developers appear to be winning this battle.

Bay’s life has been shattered by the violent, untimely death of her husband, but when an old friend of the family asks for her help, Bay feels compelled to come out of her shell.  She is soon thrown into the middle of a shady land deal, and her snooping around makes her a liability and a target for those who wish to silence her.  She becomes determined to get to the bottom of this scheme and in doing so uncovers other secrets her “old money” friends and family have been keeping.  Along the way Bay also finds the courage to take her first steps toward making a new life for herself.

I enjoyed this book especially because of the author’s excellent feel for the main character’s thoughts and emotions, in addition to conveying the non-verbal communications between her characters.  Of course, I loved the setting too, so that was a big plus.  I can’t wait to read more from Kathy!

Check out her other books on her website:  http://www.kathrynwall.com/kathy.html

Body of Proof on ABC TV

ABC has a new crime series coming next month which could prove interesting.  Body of Proof stars Dana Delany as Dr. Megan Hunt, a brilliant neurosurgeon whose career in the operating room is cut short by a terrible car accident.   Megan then decides to restart her career by becoming a medical examiner who is determined to solve the mysteries of how the victims on her table died.

This is an all too familiar premise, but Ms. Delany is a superb actress, and her performance could make this show a keeper.  The series premieres March 29th at 10:00 P.M. Eastern on ABC.


“Personal Injuries” by Scott Turow

I am writing about this book, even though it is an older book (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999) because I admire the way Scott Turow develops and details all his characters so thoroughly. Even with the minor characters, he always relates a backstory when they are introduced to give you a sense of what kind of person they are and what happened to make them that way, a technique I will be sure to employ in my own writing.

Personal Injuries is a fine legal thriller about Robbie Feaver, a wealthy and charismatic personal injury attorney.  However, he has become embroiled in a network of legal corruption involving bribing judges to obtain favorable decisions.  When the IRS discovers an offshore bank account Robbie has been using to pay off  these judges, US Attorney Stan Sennett offers him a deal if he will cooperate to help catch the man he believes to be at the center of all this corruption.

This scheme involves making Robbie wear a wire to try to entrap the various judges receiving bribes and their facilitators, which of course then puts Robbie and those around him in danger. 

All through this very interesting and tangled tale of secret wire taps, hidden cameras, mistrust, and betrayal, the author reveals more and more of Robbie Feaver’s past and present, providing insight into his complex character.  In particular, his relationship with his deep cover FBI handler, Evon Miller, as well as with his invalid, terminally ill wife, continually evolve throughout the book and show a side of Robbie entirely different from his outward charm and bravado.

The book is a little long due to all this description, but it is a very fine and interesting read, and very well-written, I think.  Well worth the time.

Check out his other books at:   http://www.scottturow.com/

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