A Blog for Mystery Lovers

Posts tagged ‘mystery books’

“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/

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!

“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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