A Blog for Mystery Lovers

Archive for March, 2011

“Santa Fe Edge” by Stuart Woods

“Santa Fe Edge” is a typical Stuart Woods book – the plot moves along quickly via matter-of-fact prose and dialogue with sparse attention to scene description or character analysis.  In other words, his books are usually a no-nonsense quick read, and this one is no exception.

A famous pro golfer is accused of his wife’s murder, and Santa Fe attorney Ed Eagle is defending him.  Meanwhile, Ed’s ex-wife Barbara has escaped from a Mexican prison and is again out to kill him.

There is a tangential story line about the CIA looking for a man called Teddy Fay who I gathered was a dangerous former operative previously thought to be dead.  I’m not sure why they were looking for him, but I assume that was explained in a previous book, as I also assume it will be carried forward into the next book, having not been satisfactorily resolved here.

I didn’t like “Santa Fe Edge” as much as I did some of Mr. Woods’ previous books, probably because I have not read the immediately preceding ones in the Ed Eagle series, so some of the background never became completely clear to me.  But I’m sure his regular fans will enjoy it.

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Andrew Gross

If you like James Patterson, you will like Andrew Gross, one of my favorite authors.  As a matter of fact, Andrew began his writing career by co-authoring five books with Patterson (The Jester, Lifeguard, 2nd Chance, 3rd Degree, and Judge and Jury), which I’m sure is how he learned the fast pacing and non-stop action typical of a Patterson novel.  Andrew is now a best-selling author in his own right, with four published books and a fifth due out this year. 

In “The Blue Zone”, his first solo effort, medical researcher Kate Raab is shocked when her father is arrested and charged with laundering money for a Columbian drug cartel.  He is forced to testify against his accomplices, and when a hit squad tries to kill the entire family all except Kate must go into Witness Protection.  As Kate comes to realize she is still in danger she also becomes convinced that her father has lied about the extent of his involvement with the drug cartel, so she decides she must find him and uncover the truth in order to get her life back.

I particularly liked this book, probably because of the courageous female protagonist.  (Anyone who reads my blog knows this is my favorite kind of story.)  So I’m hoping Andrew will write more of these. 

His next three books are a series about Detective Ty Hauck (The Dark Tide, Don’t Look Twice, and Reckless), although each is a stand-alone story, so you can read them in any order.  They are fast-paced and filled with action.

I won’t summarize the plots here, but you can read about them at Andrew’s Website, www.andrewgrossbooks.com.

 

 The new book, “Eyes Wide Open” will be released on July 12, 2011, and you can be sure I will be reading this one as soon as possible and reviewing it for you.  In the meantime, be sure to try the others – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

 

“Deep Shadow” by Randy Wayne White

“Deep Shadow” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2010) is an exciting book in the Doc Ford series and would make a dynamite movie.  Doc and his friends are diving in a remote Florida lake, hoping to find the old wreckage of an airplane which may be filled with gold from the Cuban national treasury.  Two of the divers are trapped when there is an underwater cave collapse, and Doc must find a way to save them;  but to complicate matters, two dangerous ex-cons on the run are waiting on shore, intent on getting the gold for themselves.

The book contains extensive descriptions of cave-diving, and the problem I had reading it was that I do not know the meaning of some of the jargon used for the diving equipment and the underwater structures, so I had some difficulty picturing the scene in a lot of cases.  That’s why I think it would translate well to a movie, the visual being easier to understand for someone like me.

Also, the author expounds at great length on the thought processes and feelings of the two men trapped underwater who are convinced they are about to die.  This is probably a fine psychological study and did seem to ring true, but it is not what I expect to read when I choose a mystery.  So I found myself skimming through a lot of the material, just wanting to pick up the action thread rather than all this description, as the story really is a good one, and I was anxious to get on with it.

Other than that, this is a good read and has a satisfying ending.

“Endangered Species” by Nevada Barr

Just finished “Endangered Species” by Nevada Barr (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1997), one of the early Anna Pigeon, park ranger, series. I didn’t like this book nearly as well as I did her recent entry, “13-1/2”, which I reviewed last month (I loved that one, by the way), but it held my interest long enough to finish the book.

In this one, Anna is doing a short stint on fire presuppression duty at Cumberland Island National Seashore off the coast of Georgia when a small plane crashes on the island.  The investigation reveals suspicions about the crash and about several of the island inhabitants, including her co-workers, and Anna decides she must get to the bottom of things, putting herself and her career in danger, of course.

Now I am sure Cumberland Island must be quite beautiful and historic, and the author includes copious amounts of description, but it appears to be home to way too many chiggers and ticks for me to ever consider visiting there.  I’m sure it was not Ms. Barr’s intention to turn off the reader in this fashion, but I was sufficiently grossed out.  I also had trouble empathizing with Ms. Pigeon’s character.  I never got the feeling I completely understood her emotions, especially in regards to her relationship with her boyfriend, Frederick, and I can’t quite relate to her nude outdoor excursions either.

But the plot was fairly interesting, and the book is worth a read.

“Electric Barracuda” by Tim Dorsey

If you are a member of MADD, a drug-abuse counselor, or a child protection worker, you might find “Electric Barracuda”, (HarperCollins, 2011),  a little uncomfortable to read;  but if you can set aside reality for a time and not take anything in this book seriously, it could prove to be an enjoyable, comical romp.

Self-appointed vigilante, Serge Storms, along with his perpetually stoned sidekick, Coleman, leads police on a wild chase thoughout Florida, while leaving a trail of corpses all along the way.  Serge, with the help of various items from Home Depot (his favorite store), manages to think up novel ways to dispose of known criminals and other dregs of society he runs into in his travels.  He lets the punishment fit the crime, in other words.

He also continues to elude police while visiting many of Florida’s off-the-beaten-path historical sites, educating Coleman and the reader with interesting tidbits about Florida’s colorful past.

I suppose I enjoyed this book, although in my opinion the way it wrapped up was a little weak.  I think the author could have done better with that part.  But Mr. Dorsey certainly has a vivid imagination and a gift for comedy that made for some amusing, even if a trifle absurd, reading.

http://timdorsey.com/home.html

“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” by Stieg Larsson

This is a wonderful book, and the Milennium Trilogy, the three books penned by this author, is a must-read for any serious mystery lover.

I say “serious” because this mystery series contains a great number of characters and some pretty complicated plotting, as well as a lot of historical and political background information, much of which is not necessarily integral to the story.  So it’s a step up beyond the usual popular mystery novel and a little more difficult to read.  But the author seems to instill in the reader so much empathy for the main characters, and the plot takes so many twists, that I could hardly put it down, wanting to see what happens next.

After surviving an attempt on her life, Lisbeth Salander is put on trial for numerous offenses in an attempt to have her declared incompetent once again and commit her to a mental institution for life.  The quest to defend her against these charges and to discover and expose those plotting against her is the main thrust of this book, the third of the series.  The trial scenes, with her attorney’s cross-examination of one of the witnesses, are extremely clever and effectively done.

I had been a little afraid that this final book of Mr. Larsson’s would leave some loose ends to be resolved in a fourth book, which he never got to complete due to his untimely death, but that was not the case, and I found the ending to be very satisfying.

As I have said before, it’s best to read the Trilogy in order, with “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” first, then “The Girl Who Played With Fire”, before starting this one.  I loved all three!

http://www.stieglarsson.com/

The Good Wife on CBS

Great episode of  The Good Wife Tuesday night on CBS!  I think this is one of the finest shows that’s on TV currently – always interesting and well-done.  I find myself hanging on every word – that’s how absorbing I think the story is.  And you need to pay attention to the dialogue to catch all the nuances. 

Not sure if this show qualifies as a true “mystery”;  I suppose you could say it’s a “legal procedural/drama”.  But I love the show, and it’s my blog after all :).   If you have not seen this series, please give it a try and let me know how you like it.   You can watch full episodes on the web at:

http://www.cbs.com/primetime/the_good_wife/

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