A Blog for Mystery Lovers

Posts tagged ‘suspense’

“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.

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Randy Wayne White Wins Award

Congratulations to Randy Wayne White who has won second place in this year’s Florida Book Awards, Popular Fiction Category, for “Deep Shadow” which I recently reviewed on this blog.  I enjoyed hearing him speak recently at our library and am certainly looking forward to reading more of his work.

 

“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.

“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/

“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/

“Clubbed to Death” by Elaine Viets

“Clubbed to Death” by Elaine Viets (Obsidian, 2005) is a cute and humorous cozy mystery, one of her series of books, the Dead-End Job Mysteries.  Helen’s job in the complaint department of a private country club, fielding calls from the rich, arrogant, demanding members who make her life a living hell, goes further down the sewer when her deadbeat ex-husband, Rob, reappears, then disappears, and Helen is suspected of murdering him.  A couple of other bodies then turn up, clubbed to death with a 7-iron of course, and things go from bad to worse.  Helen must figure out whether Rob is dead or alive and who the murderer is to save her job and herself.

I enjoyed this book because of the quirky characters, the tongue-in-cheek humor, and the fact that it is set in South Florida where I live.  Although the country club is fictional, the rest of the settings are pretty much actual places in the area or good representations, which always makes the story easier for me to picture in my mind and relate to.

The only other book I had read by this author was “Dying in Style” (Signet, 2005) which I thought was not quite as well written as “Clubbed to Death”, but it was an earlier effort.  This one is part of the Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper series. The plot is pretty much the same.  The owner of a chain of exclusive stores that Josie has been assigned to shop undercover and evaluate  is found murdered, and Josie is suspected.  She needs to find the killer in order to clear herself.

The book is a little slow getting started, but gets going eventually, and there is a satisfying conclusion.  This is an earlier book, and it was apparent that Ms. Viets’ more recent effort shows a developing style and better pacing.  As a budding writer myself, I always find it interesting to see how other writers improve and develop their craft over the years.

In any case, if you are a fan of the cozy style mystery and are in search of an light diversion, this author is well worth checking out.

Check out the author’s web page for more info: http://www.elaineviets.com/

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