A Blog for Mystery Lovers

Posts tagged ‘mysteries’

“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/

Randy Wayne White

Just returned from hearing Florida author Randy Wayne White speak at our local library.  He has a new book out, “Night Vision” (Putnam, 2011), another addition to his Doc Ford (former government operative turned marine biologist) mystery series. 

I have not read any of his books, but am interested enough now to select one as soon as I get through my current pile.  Not sure how long that may take, as today I added “Electric Barracuda” by Tim Dorsey.  Each time I stop at the library I can’t resist picking up at least one more book.  It’s like an addiction with me – I have to restrain myself from carting off nearly everything on the shelf!

I am moving right along with “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” by Stieg Larsson – can’t put it down!  Somehow this author has made me really care what happens to his characters, so I was hooked again from the very beginning of this book.  The plot is so complicated and interesting;  this guy was a genius, surely.  You definitely need to read his trilogy in order however, or I can see where you might get confused in this third one without the background – I know I would have been.

Well, back to the reading!

“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.

http://www.sandrabrown.net/

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.

http://www.stieglarsson.com/

“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.

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