A Blog for Mystery Lovers

Posts tagged ‘book’

“Looks Can Be Deceiving” by Jim Conners

This book was a fun read.  The author is a former high school classmate of mine, so we both hail from Western New York State where the story is set, and when it comes to reading enjoyment, for me, a great deal is about the setting.  So being able to relate to the actual places described in the book was a big plus.  Written in first person with a gruff and gritty dialogue style, the main character came across  as realistic and down-to-earth, and most of the secondary characters were developed enough to make the story come alive.  One caution: the book could use another round of editing for punctuation and word usage, although I think too much refinement in this case could distract from the style of writing and the feel for the main character. All in all, the story seemed to work for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Jim, I’m looking forward to your next book.  Keep up the good work!

“Eyes Wide Open” by Andrew Gross

The unique thing about “Eyes Wide Open” (HarperCollins Publishers, 2011) is that it was inspired by a real life tragedy.  In 2009, the author’s 25 year old nephew, Alex Gross, was found at the bottom of a cliff at Morrow Bay, having jumped or fallen to his death. Severely troubled, Alex had only days before been released from a hospital mental health ward in care of a small halfway facility from which he went for a walk, never to return.  Was it suicide or something else?

Andrew has taken this real-life and very personal happening and crafted a book which begins wth a fictional character suffering the same fate as Alex, and then proceeds to unravel the mystery of his death.  It is also a story of two brothers, one successful and one wayward, trying to bridge the gap between them, while each revelation from the past puts them in more danger.

Andrew has made this story exciting, thought-provoking, and also heart-wrenching, all the more so because of its link to real life, and it is well worth a read.  An author who may never find the solution to his own real life mystery has perhaps achieved some sort of closure by inventing a fictionalized solution for his characters.  Well done, Andrew.

To read about Alex and the circumstances of his tragic death go to www.alexwemissyou.com.

“April Fool Dead” by Carolyn Hart

This is not exactly going to be a review of “April Fool Dead” (HarperCollins, 2002) beacuse I never actually finished reading the book.  I tried, I really did.

I chose this one because the title caught my eye (it happened to be around April 1st, of course) and this author’s series setting for the Death on Demand bookshop mysteries is the South Carolina LowCountry, which I love.  And I do like a cozy once in a while.  In fact, I am working on writing one myself someday.  However, this book was way too cozy for me, if you get my drift. 

The first chapter introduces a multitude of characters, all with their own story lines, so I was pretty much lost right there at the beginnning.  But I made it through about 100 pages, even though nothing much had happened yet with any of these characters, so I put the book aside for a while. About a week later I picked it up again thinking, “There has to be some action coming at some point here,” and read about 60-some more pages.  Still zero action and zero suspense that I could pick up on.  The only mystery seemed to be who put out a bunch of bogus flyers, and I just couldn’t get interested in that.

Sure, eventually there was a murder, but nobody seemed particularly shocked or disturbed by it, and a few characters had somebody taking pot shots at them, but they didn’t seem very frightened at that either.  I just couldn’t get emotionally nor intellectually involved, so I gave up.

Sorry, Ms. Hart, but no sale.

“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.

“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

Tag Cloud