Category mystery

2011: #72 – The Cut (George Pelecanos)

thecutBook #72 was The Cut, the first book in the Spero Lucas series by George Pelecanos. The back of the book reads:

Spero Lucas has a new line of work. Since he returned home after serving in Iraq, he has been doing special investigations for a defense attorney. He’s good at it, and he has carved out a niche: recovering stolen property, no questions asked. His cut is forty percent.

A high-profile crime boss who has heard of Lucas’s specialty hires him to find out who has been stealing from his operation. It’s the biggest job Lucas has ever been offered, and he quickly gets a sense of what’s going on. But before he can close in on what’s been taken, he tangles with a world of men whose amorality and violence leave him reeling. Is any cut worth your family, your lover, your life?

Spero Lucas is George Pelecanos’s greatest creation, a young man making his place in the world one battle and one mission at a time. The first in a new series of thrillers featuring Spero Lucas, The Cut is the latest confirmation of why George Pelecanos is "perhaps America’s greatest living crime writer." (Stephen King)

I’ve been a fan of Pelecanos ever since I found out he was one of the creators of The Wire (I’m surely not the first person to tell you to watch that show), and I actually liked this book a little more than the last couple of his I’ve read. It’s still set in the Washington D.C. area, which he does such a great job bringing to life, but it’s not so focused on an "issue".  I don’t mind a good issue-focused novel, but sometimes I just want a good crime story. Now don’t get me wrong; this crime story isn’t issue-free. Lucas is an Iraq veteran, and Pelecanos does have a lot to say about veterans and their post-war treatment. But at its heart, this is a story about drugs.

Lucas is a private investigator who specializes in finding things that are lost. He’s also not very particular about which side of the law he’s working on. When the client of a lawyer he normally works for needs some help recovering some "property", Lucas agrees to help. Soon he finds out that the story is much bigger than he could have imagined, and not only is he in danger, but people that have helped him are too.

I liked the character of Lucas. He’s an adopted kid in a mixed-race family, and I liked seeing those dynamics as much as I enjoyed seeing him in the weeds. It’s hard to dislike a man who loves his momma. There’s a strong theme of family relationships throughout the book, whether it’s Lucas and his family, the young man who helps him and his absentee mother, or the father & son crime duo.

I think one of Pelecanos’s strengths is his ability to create complex characters, and Spero Lucas is one I am anxious to read more about.

This book was a review copy.

Other reviews:

The Cut by George Pelecanos – Book Review | Milo’s Rambles
A Walrus Darkly: BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Cut’ by George Pelecanos
Booking Mama: Review: The Cut
Lesa’s Book Critiques: The Cut by George Pelecanos
a lovely shore breeze….: A Review of "The Cut" [58]

Page count: 304 (’11 total: 19,987) | Approximate word count: 91,200 (’11 total: 7,089,635)

2010: Tell Me Lies (Jennifer Crusie)
2009: Finger Lickin’ Fifteen (Janet Evanovich)
2008: The Finishing School (Michele Martinez)
2007: Lean Mean Thirteen (Janet Evanovich)
2006: The Sky is Falling (Sidney Sheldon)
2005: Jacob’s Ladder (Donald McCaig)

2011: #71 – Grave Secret (Charlaine Harris)

gravesecretBook #71 was Grave Secret, the fourth book in the Harper Connelly series by Charlaine Harris. The back of the book reads:

Lightning-struck sleuth Harper Connelly and her stepbrother Tolliver take a break from looking for the dead to visit the two little girls they both think of as family. But as they travel to Texas, memories of their horrible childhood resurface. Family secrets ensnare them both, as Tolliver learns his father is out of jail and Harper finally discovers what happened to her missing sister Cameron so many years before. And what she finds will change her world forever.

This is the final book in in the Harper Connelly series, and it’s more about Harper’s family than any sort of mystery. Not that Harper’s family isn’t already swallowed by the mystery of her sister Cameron’s disappearance. Harper and Tolliver take their budding (unconventional and unpopular) relationship to Texas to visit their little sisters, but an unfortunate incident means that they are going to be stuck there a while. Is someone after Harper? Or is Tolliver the target?

I thought Harris did a good job of wrapping up this series. Questions that have been unanswered for the previous 3 books are finally answered, and in ways that make sense but are also surprising. The only part that seemed a little too convenient was the seemingly unconnected hiring of Harper by some people with a tie to her past. This is one of Harris’s odder series, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I’m glad she wrote (what I think is) the final book and closed it out.

Other reviews:

Books Lists Life: Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris
Book Chick City: Audiobook Sunday: ‘Grave Secret’ by Charlaine Harris
“Grave Secret” by Charlaine Harris « Mike Finn’s Fiction
Grave Secret (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 4)
Rex Robot Reviews: Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris

Audiobook length: 9 hrs 55 min | Approximate word count: 72,000 (’11 total: 6,998,435)

2010: The Black Ice (Michael Connelly)
2009: Do Not Deny Me (Jean Thompson)
2008: Hold Tight (Harlan Coben)
2007: Mr. Perfect (Linda Howard)
2006: Just One Look (Harlan Coben)
2005: Secret Prey (John Sandford)

2011: #70 – Silent Prey (John Sandford)

silentprey Book #70 was Silent Prey, the fourth book in John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport series. The back of the book reads:

Dr. Mike Bekker, a psychotic pathologist, is back on the streets, doing what he does best—murdering one helpless victim after another. Lucas Davenport knows he should have killed Bekker when he had the chance. Now he has a second opportunity—and the time to hesitate is through.

Silent Prey is basically a continuation of the previous book in the series, Eyes of Prey. Serial killer Mike Bekker escapes from jail and decides that the best place for him to hide and continue his "research" is New York City. New York policewoman Lily Rothenburg, first seen in Shadow Prey, asks Lucas for his help, but not for what everyone would expect. Under the guise of helping the NYC police force find Bekker, Lucas is really there to sniff out the city’s Robin Hood, a duo (or more) of cops who are taking justice into their own hands.

I almost gave up early on this book. I started listening to it, and the narrator was sort of awful. His voice and cadence was VERY DRAMATIC. Which was fine for Bekker’s point of view, but made it hard to distinguish just who was the POV character if I wasn’t paying close enough attention. But despite that, it was a decent book (thankfully I also had a hard copy). In one way it’s interesting to get Davenport out of his usual element, but I missed some of his supporting cast.

This is a good go-to series when you’re looking for a police procedural/thriller.

Other reviews:

John Sandford – Silent Prey
Chick with Books: The Days of PREY Tour! Silent Prey by John Sandford
Lesley’s Book Nook: Silent Prey
Ace and Hoser Blook: Silent Prey
I just read. . .: Silent Prey

Page count: 400 (’11 total: 19,683) | Word count: 91,766 (’11 total: 6,926,435)

2010: Fool (Christopher Moore)
2009: Night Play (Sherrilyn Kenyon)
2008: Wed to a Stranger? (Jule McBride)
2007: A Complicated Kindness (Miriam Toews)
2006: Killing Floor (Lee Child)
2005: Sudden Prey (John Sandford)

2011: #62 – Shop Till You Drop (Elaine Viets)

shoptilldrop Book #62 was Shop Till You Drop, the first book in Elaine Viets’s Dead-End Job series. The back of the book reads:

Once on the fast track to success, Helen Hawthorne is now going nowhere fast. She traded in her chic life for a shabby one. And now she’s on the run, jumping from city to city and dead-end job to dead-end job, trying to stay one step ahead of her past…

After two weeks as the new salesclerk at Juliana’s, Fort Lauderdale’s ultra-exclusive clothing boutique, Helen still feels out of fashion. And since the only crime likely to be committed around here is being old-or worse, looking old-Helen figures she’s safe. Until she discovers the manager has been embezzling money and selling designer drugs along with the designer clothes. Add murder to the mix-and Helen’s dead-end job is downright deadly.

This was a new series for me. I’ve been trying to make an effort to read more cozy mysteries, since that’s sort of what I’m trying to write. And this was a winner!

Helen is hiding out in Fort Lauderdale for reasons that aren’t especially clear for a while. Needing to stay off the radar, she’s stuck with whatever job she can find that will pay her under the table, and that has left her at Juliana’s, an exclusive clothing boutique where the clothes are tiny and expensive and the customers are more plastic than flesh.

But things at the store aren’t quite what they seem, and when Helen’s coworker disappears and the police start nosing around, Helen knows she needs to do something or her cover will be blown.

I enjoyed Helen and her supporting cast at the apartment complex where she lives. The author gives you a good taste of the different sides of Florida, from South Beach to snowbirds. I’ll definitely be continuing this series, and I look forward to seeing what Helen will do next!

Other reviews:

Shop Till You Drop | What Were You Thinking? Book Reviews
not enough books: Shop Till You Drop by Elaine Viets

Page count: 288 (’11 total: 17,150) | Word count: 81,763 (’11 total: 6,085,392)

2010: Undertow (Sydney Bauer)
2009: Doomed Queens (Kris Waldherr)
2008: The Plot Against America (Philip Roth)
2007: The Harlequin (Laurell K. Hamilton)
2006: M is for Malice (Sue Grafton)
2005: Blood Test (Jonathan Kellerman)

2011: #61 – Missing Mark (Julie Kramer)

Missing MarkBook #61 was Missing Mark, the second book in Julie Kramer’s Riley Spartz series. The back of the book reads:

When Riley Spartz sees a want ad reading “Wedding Dress for Sale: Never Worn,” she finds a jilted bride unsure whether her groom got cold feet or has become a cold case himself. Her betrothed, Mark, last seen at the rehearsal dinner, never showed up for the wedding, humiliating his bride, Madeline—and her high-strung, high-society mother—in front of 300 guests. When Riley’s curious missing person case leads to a dangerous murder investigation, she discovers a startling motive for Mark’s disappearance. Riley now has a TV exclusive guaranteed to win the ratings . . . if she lives to report it.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Stalking Susan, so I had high hopes for this one. Thankfully, it delivered! Riley Spartz is nothing if not persistent. Sweeps are coming up again, and she’s under pressure, as usual. TV news is changing, and the chances of her ending up with a story as big as the last one are low. When the ad for a never worn wedding dress shows up in the paper, she hopes she can find a story there. Along the way we get to visit with some of our favorite characters from the first book.

I think Kramer takes this story in some interesting directions. At least one aspect of it was totally unexpected, and something I’ve never seen anywhere else. This surprises me, because it was a very interesting medical condition. Also, we see Riley still struggling with her personal life as she continues to recover from the death of her husband. She doesn’t always make the best decisions, but she does get her story.

This is a series I continue to enjoy!

Other reviews:

Missing Mark by Julie Kramer (Moonlighting for Murder) | Word Lily
Nostalgia From Yesterday’s Conversations: Book Review: Missing Mark
Cheryl’s Book Nook: Missing Mark
Bookin’ with Bingo: BOOKIN’ BINGO’S REVIEW: MISSING MARK by JULIE KRAMER
My Book Views: review: missing mark by julie kramer

Page count: 288 (’11 total: 16,862) | Approximate word count: 72,000 (’11 total: 6,003,629)

2010: From Dead to Worse (Charlaine Harris)
2009: City of Thieves (David Benioff)
2008: Full Tilt (Janet Evanovich)
2007: The Color of Magic (Terry Pratchett)
2006: City of Bones (Michael Connelly)
2005: J is for Judgment (Sue Grafton)

2011: #60 – A Hard Death (Jonathan Hayes)

Book #60 was A Hard Death, the second book in Jonathan Hayes’s Edward Jenner series. The back of the book reads:

Brilliant forensic pathologist Edward Jenner returns in this explosive sequel to Precious Blood—an edgy, electrifying thriller set in a small-town coastal community where nothing is as it seems.

Edward Jenner, introduced in Precious Blood, has survived the horrific ordeal of the Inquisitor serial killings in New York, but not the political fallout. His state medical license suspended, Jenner finds himself banished to Douglas County in coastal Florida, working as a medical examiner in the balmy seaside resort of Port Fontaine.

But there’s a seamy underside to picturesque Douglas County. First Jenner finds the bodies of a murdered man and woman decaying in a sunken car. Then an anonymous call in the middle of the night leads him to a gruesome discovery in the heart of the Everglades. He finds traces of a shadowy criminal conspiracy, and soon learns that he can trust no one.

With his life on the line, Jenner refuses to walk away and let the murderers go unpunished. The result is dark Florida noir, a fierce, edge-of-the-seat thriller from an emerging master of the genre.

I didn’t read the first book in this series. Despite there obviously being a lot that happened, you get the gist of it through this book. Jenner took things into his own hands while in New York, and as a result he is now working in Florida, trying to lay low and just do his job. But when the man who hired him is found dead, just the first in a chain of strange events, laying low is no longer an option.

This isn’t a happy book. Hayes does a nice job of maintaining the noir feel, even when there is a little bit of romance involved. I thought the forensics were well handled, and was interested in the portrayal of the migrant farms, of both the workers and the people who run them.  And Jenner is a man who believes in doing what’s right, no matter the consequences to himself.

My one complaint is that Hayes goes a bit overboard with making the bad guy bad. There’s one aspect of him that is particularly horrifying, and I’m not sure it was necessary. The guy was bad enough without throwing in that extra dysfunction.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and look forward to not only picking up the first in the series, Precious Blood, but seeing what comes next.

This book was a review copy.

Other reviews:

Book Review: A Hard Death by Jonathan Hayes « Leeswammes’ Blog
Book Review: A Hard Death by Jonathan Hayes – Blogcritics Books
A HARD DEATH – Jonathan Hayes | Brain Candy Book Reviews
Booking Mama: Guest Review: A Hard Death
Jen’s Book Thoughts: A HARD DEATH – Jonathan Hayes

Page count: 432 (’11 total: 16,574) | Approximate word count: 129,600 (’11 total: 5,931,629)

2010: All Together Dead (Charlaine Harris)
2009: Breathers (S.G. Browne)
2008: Twisted (Andrea Kane)
2007: Hollywood Station (Joseph Wambaugh)
2006: The Slippery Slope (Lemony Snicket)
2005: The Rebels (John Jakes)

Used in these Challenges: ARC Reading Challenge 2011; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;

2011: #59 – The Pale Blue Eye (Louis Bayard)

paleblueeye Book #59 was The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard. The back of the book reads:

At West Point Academy in 1830, the calm of an October evening is shattered by the discovery of a young cadet’s body swinging from a rope. The next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has removed the dead man’s heart. Augustus Landor—who acquired some renown in his years as a New York City police detective—is called in to discreetly investigate. It’s a baffling case Landor must pursue in secret, for the scandal could do irreparable damage to the fledgling institution. But he finds help from an unexpected ally—a moody, young cadet with a penchant for drink, two volumes of poetry to his name, and a murky past that changes from telling to telling. The strange and haunted Southern poet for whom Landor develops a fatherly affection, is named Edgar Allan Poe.

One surefire way to make me interested in historical fiction is to throw someone who actually existed into the mix. I’m not sure why this is, but I’m strangely compelled by fictional depictions of real people. In this case, the subject is Edgar Allen Poe.

I’m sure there are many liberties taken with Poe’s character, but nevertheless he is the star of this show. The main character, Gus Landor, has been brought to West Point in order to find out who has removed the heart of a soldier who was found hanged, either by his own hand or someone else’s. Some in the government are looking for any reason to shut down West Point, and the school is desperate for help. Landor asks for one thing – a cadet to be his eyes and ears in the ranks.

Most of the book is seen through Landor’s eyes, as he is the primary narrator, but the brightest spots come from Poe’s point of view. The author does a good job of changing up the voice in these sections.

The mystery and its resolution are a bit strange, but even stranger is the story’s twist. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. It makes sense, when you look back, but it seems a little forced. And I’m still unclear about how Poe figures it all out.

Regardless, this is a book I enjoyed. Bayard is earning his spot on my historical fiction favorites list.

Other reviews:

Jen’s Book Thoughts: THE PALE BLUE EYE – Louis Bayard
The Pale Blue Eye « Bloody Hell, It’s a Book Barrage!
In Which Our Hero: BOOKS: The Pale Blue Eye, Louis Bayard (2006)

Audiobook length: 15 hr 29 min | Word count: 137,359 (’11 total: 5,802,029)

2010: Cleanskin (Val McDermid)
2009: The Secret Life of Prince Charming (Deb Caletti)
2008: Driving Force (Dick Francis)
2007: Strange Candy (Laurell K. Hamilton)
2006: The Forgotten (Faye Kellerman)
2005: Eleven on Top (Janet Evanovich)

Used in these Challenges: 2011 Audiobook Challenge; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;

2011: #58 – In the Shadow of Gotham (Stefanie Pintoff)

shadowofgotham Book #58 was In the Shadow of Gotham, the first book in Stefanie Pintoff’s Simon Ziele series. The back of the book reads:

Stefanie Pintoff’s acclaimed and award-winning debut is the taut historical tale of Detective Simon Ziele, a man who lost his fiancée in the 1904 General Slocum ferry disaster and thereafter flees New York City for Dobson, New York, to escape the memories of her death. But months into his tenure, he catches the worst homicide of his career: a young woman brutally murdered in her own bedroom in the middle of the afternoon. His investigation quickly takes him to Columbia University criminologist Alistair Sinclair and one of his patients. But what could lead this Michael Fromley, with his history of violent behavior, to target such a proper young lady? Is Michael really behind the murder or is someone mimicking him? Ziele must discover the truth in this story of a haunted man on the trail of a killer while on the run from his own demons.

I saw Pintoff’s books recommended in an article by Jason Pinter, and knew immediately that I had to add them to my wish list. This was an entertaining depiction of turn-of-the-century investigation, where one often had to rely more upon luck than physical evidence. Not only do we see the earliest days of forensics, where even fingerprinting is brand new, but we see the beginnings of the use of criminology. It’s a time period I find particularly interesting to read about; a world caught somewhere between the past and the present.

I liked Simon Ziele. He was a little bit of a fish out of water in the rural town we meet him in, but really comes into his own once he is let loose upon the city again. He’s fragile in a way; not just physically, but emotionally. The ferry disaster that took the life of his fiancé has affected him in ways he would rather not reveal. You want to root for him to not only have success professionally, but to find happiness personally.

As for the mystery, it spins its wheels a bit at times until Ziele turns to the techniques he finds tried and true. Despite the study of criminology being central to the story, it’s not the star in the end. The reveal didn’t completely surprise me, but parts of it did.

A good historical mystery always pleases me, so I look forward to reading more of Pintoff’s series.

Other reviews:

Review of Stefanie Pintoff’s "In the Shadow of Gotham" | Chamber Four
S. Krishna’s Books: In the Shadow of Gotham – Stefanie Pintoff
In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff (Mystery Book Review)
Book Review: In the Shadow of Gotham « ReviewsbyLola’s Blog
IN THE SHADOW OF GOTHAM by Stefanie Pintoff: Book Review

Page count: 400 (’11 total: 16,142) | Approximate word count: 110,000 (’11 total: 5,664,670)

2010: Just Before Sunrise (Carla Neggers)
2009: April & Oliver (Tess Callahan)
2008: In the Midst of Death (Lawrence Block)
2007: O is for Outlaw (Sue Grafton)
2006: Fatal (Michael Palmer)
2005: Ten Big Ones (Janet Evanovich)

Used in these Challenges: Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;

2011: #48 – Bloodline (Mark Billingham)

bloodlineBook #48 was Bloodline, the eighth book in Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne series. The back of the book reads:

A killer is on the loose. The victims: children whose mothers can’t protect them.

The past is coming back to haunt the people of London: a murderer is targeting the children of victims of Raymond Garvey, an infamous serial killer from London’s past.

When Murder Squad veteran Detective Tom Thorne, who solves the London Police Department’s most difficult cases, is called into what seems like, for once, an ordinary domestic murder, he thinks he’s caught a break. A woman has been murdered by someone she knows. A positive pregnancy test found on the floor beside her. Thorne plans to question the husband, arrest him and return home to deal with his own deteriorating personal life.

But when a mysterious sliver of bloodstained X-ray that was found clutched in the victim’s fist is replicated at other crime scenes around the city, Thorne realizes that this is not a simple case. As the bits of X-ray begin to come together to form a picture, it becomes clear that the killer knows his prey all too well and is moving through a list that was started long ago.

As Thorne attempts to protect those still alive, nothing and nobody are what they seem. Not when Thorne is dealing with one of the most twisted killers he has ever hunted.

This is the eighth book in the series, but the first one I’ve read. The good thing is, I wasn’t lost at all. I may have been missing some backstory and nuances of the main characters, but it wasn’t evident.

I thought this was a solid premise. People are being murdered, and the only link the police can find is to a serial killer from years gone by. Problem is, he’s dead. Is it a copycat? Or something more?

In between trying to solve the case and keeping possible future victims safe, Thorne is dealing with a serious personal issue – his girlfriend has miscarried, and he really isn’t sure how to deal with it. I think this added an interesting dimension not only to Thorne, but to the story itself.

I will definitely seek out the other books in this series.

This book was a review copy.

Other reviews:

Book Review: Bloodline by Mark Billingham
Book Reviews | "Bloodline" by Mark Billingham | The Lit Review Dot Com
Musings of a Bookish Kitty: Review: Bloodline by Mark Billingham
BLOODLINE – Mark Billingham | MURDER by TYPE

Page count: 352 (’11 total: 12,317) | Approximate word count: 105,600 (’11 total: 4,611,914)

2010: Horns (Joe Hill)
2009: Bonk (Mary Roach)
2008: Blood Noir (Laurell K. Hamilton)
2007: Ghost Story (Peter Straub)
2006: Seduced by Midnight (Laurell K. Hamilton)
2005: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J.K. Rowling)

Used in these Challenges: 2011 E-book Reading Challenge; ARC Reading Challenge; New Author Challenge 2011; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;

2011: #46 – Madapple (Christina Meldrum)

madappleBook #46 was Madapple by Christina Meldrum. The back of the book reads:

THE SECRETS OF the past meet the shocks of the present.

Aslaug is an unusual young woman. Her mother has brought her up in near isolation, teaching her about plants and nature and language—but not about life. Especially not how she came to have her own life, and who her father might be.

When Aslaug’s mother dies unexpectedly, everything changes. For Aslaug is a suspect in her mother’s death. And the more her story unravels, the more questions unfold. About the nature of Aslaug’s birth. About what she should do next.

About whether divine miracles have truly happened. And whether, when all other explanations are impossible, they might still happen this very day.

Addictive, thought-provoking, and shocking, Madapple is a page-turning exploration of human nature and divine intervention—and of the darkest corners of the human soul.

This was a sort of bizarre story. Madapple takes place in a Maine I don’t really recognize. Aslaug and her mother live in almost complete isolation in what I presume to be in-land Maine (which, believe it or not, is far different than coastal Maine), living off the land and eschewing all modern conveniences. Aslaug is barely allowed to read, let alone go to school, go shopping, or watch TV. Before her mother’s death, she doesn’t even know she has family living very nearby, and she discovers them rather accidentally. Whether or not this is a good thing is best left up to the reader.

We learn rather quickly that Aslaug is on trial for not only the death of her mother, but for burning down the church where she lived and some people inside. I enjoyed the structure of the novel as it bounced back and forth between the past and the present, revealing tiny pieces of the puzzle along the way. Things the reader assumes early in the story turn out to be far from the truth.

The author connects each chapter from the past with a particular piece of botanical knowledge. I learned about a lot of plants that I never knew existed, but sometimes there was a little too much detail when really, I just wanted to get on with the story.

Overall, I thought this was a really interesting book. It’s not light, and it’s not happy, and it touches upon not only the relationship between religion and science, but on the relationships between mothers and daughters, rape, incest, and abuse. If your book club can get past the fact that it’s technically a young adult book, I think Madapple is a great novel to stimulate discussion.

Other reviews:

Madapple by Christina Meldrum « Harmony Book Reviews
Review: Madapple « Book Addiction
Madapple by Christina Meldrum « Reading Rants! Out of the Ordinary
Confessions of a Bibliovore: Book Review: Madapple by Christine Meldrum
Madapple by Christina Meldrum | Maw Books

Audiobook length: 11 hrs 10 min | Approximate word count: 104,000 (’11 total: 4,433,203)

2010: A Reliable Wife (Robert Goolrick)
2009: Darling Jim (Christian Moerk)
2008: A Treasure Worth Seeking (Sandra Brown)
2007: Manhunt (Janet Evanovich)
2006: Myths, Lies & Downright Stupidity (John Stossel)
2005: In the Cherry Tree (Dan Pope)

Used in these Challenges: Countdown Challenge 2011; 2011 Audiobook Challenge; New Author Challenge 2011; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;

2011: #44 – Fallen (Karin Slaughter)

fallen Book #44 was Fallen by Karin Slaughter, the third book in her Georgia series. The back of the book reads:

There’s no police training stronger than a cop’s instinct. Faith Mitchell’s mother isn’t answering her phone. Her front door is open. There’s a bloodstain above the knob. Her infant daughter is hidden in a shed behind the house. All that the Georgia Bureau of Investigations taught Faith Mitchell goes out the window when she charges into her mother’s house, gun drawn. She sees a man dead in the laundry room. She sees a hostage situation in the bedroom. What she doesn’t see is her mother. . . .

“You know what we’re here for. Hand it over, and we’ll let her go.”

When the hostage situation turns deadly, Faith is left with too many questions, not enough answers. To find her mother, she’ll need the help of her partner, Will Trent, and they’ll both need the help of trauma doctor Sara Linton. But Faith isn’t just a cop anymore—she’s a witness. She’s also a suspect.

The thin blue line hides police corruption, bribery, even murder. Faith will have to go up against the people she respects the most in order to find her mother and bring the truth to light—or bury it forever.

Karin Slaughter’s most exhilarating novel yet is a thrilling journey through the heart and soul, where the personal and the criminal collide, and conflicted loyalties threaten to destroy reputations and ruin lives. It is the work of a master of the thriller at the top of her game, and a whirlwind of unrelenting suspense.

This book is the third of Karin Slaughter’s to combine her Grant County and Atlanta series characters. These combined books are my only exposure so far to Sara Linton, so I am not as familiar with her history as I am with Will, Faith, and Amanda.

This book focuses mainly on Faith, whose mother has been tortured and kidnapped for reasons she is not sure of. Both a witness and a victim, Faith is unable to officially participate in the investigation and it’s driving her crazy… almost literally, as she can’t seem to get her diabetes under control.

In the meantime, Will (with the help of Sara) and Amanda are trying to get to the bottom of things. They know that it all has to do with the corruption case that ended Faith’s mother’s career, but the whos and whys are elusive.

I am a big fan of Will Trent, and I’ve enjoyed his growth through the books he’s been in. It’s nice to see him grow more assertive and independent and sure of himself as he realizes a woman can like him without also hating him. I’m looking forward to future books with Will and Sara; will his misery be like Samson’s hair? Is Sara his Delilah?

This book was a review copy.

Other reviews:

Audio Book Review: Fallen by Karin Slaughter – Teresa’s Reading Corner
Review: FALLEN by Karin Slaughter | Girls in the Stacks.com
Jen’s Book Thoughts: FALLEN – Karin Slaughter
Does This Review Make Me Look Blurby? Review of “Fallen” by Karin Slaughter
Booking Mama: Guest Review: Fallen

Page count: 400 (’11 total: 11,433) | Approximate word count: 120,000 (’11 total: 4,281,203)

2010: Chasing the Dime (Michael Connelly)
2009: Fractured (Karin Slaughter)
2008: Death by Rodrigo (Ron Liebman)
2007: Cards on the Table (Agatha Christie)
2006: Turning Angel (Greg Iles)
2005: Kiss Me While I Sleep (Linda Howard)

Used in these Challenges: Countdown Challenge 2011; ARC Reading Challenge 2011; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;

2011: #39 – The Cold Room (J.T. Ellison)

coldroom Book #39 was The Cold Room, the fourth book in J.T. Ellison’s Taylor Jackson series. The back of the book reads:

He can truly love her only once her heart stops.

Homicide detective Taylor Jackson thinks she’s seen it all in Nashville—from the Southern Strangler to the Snow White Killer. But she’s never seen anything as perverse as The Conductor. Once his victim is captured, he contains her in a glass coffin, slowly starving her to death. Only then does he give in to his attraction.

When he’s finished, he creatively disposes of the body by reenacting scenes from famous paintings. And similar macabre works are being found in Europe. Taylor teams up with her fiancé, FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin, and New Scotland Yard detective James "Memphis" Highsmythe, a haunted man who has eyes only for Taylor, to put an end to this horror.

Has the killer gone international with his craft? Or are there two "artists," competing to create the ultimate masterpiece?

This was a mostly solid mystery. Ellison gives us an unusual crime, committed by an unusual criminal in an unusual way. And, I’m always excited to read a police procedural that isn’t set in New York or southern California. But there were a few pieces that bothered me.

One was Memphis. I didn’t quite get his obsession with Taylor, and would have liked a bit more a clue. Also, I didn’t think the reason he was sent to the U.S. was very good — he spent more time tagging along with Taylor and Baldwin than worrying about his own case. I suspect we’ll be seeing much more of him in the next book. The other piece that didn’t make a lot of sense to me was the tiny subplot with Taylor’s new boss. It ended up being worthless filler, as he appears at the beginning, disappears by the end, and doesn’t have any sort of significant affect on the novel’s events.

I found the book a bit dense, and realized way too late that I should have started this series from the beginning. There were too many references to past events without sufficient information to back them up for me to recommend this to anyone who hasn’t already read the first three books in the series. But, the story did keep me reading, and I would be interested in starting the series from the beginning to see what else Ellison has to offer.

This book was a review copy.

Other reviews:

Mini-Review: The Cold Room by J.T. Ellison | Jenn’s Bookshelves
2011.29 REVIEW – The Cold Room by J.T. Ellison « Tales of a Book Addict
That Chick That Reads: The Cold Room by J.T. Ellison Review
Friday Fiction: The Cold Room by J.T. Ellison (A Taylor Jackson Novel)
Michele – only one ‘L’: Review: The Cold Room by J.T. Ellison

Page count: 416 (’11 total: 10,329) | Approximate word count: 104,000 (’11 total: 3,812,850)

2010: Beneath a Blood Red Moon (Shannon Drake)
2009: The Lost Hours (Karen White)
2008: Envy (Kathryn Harrison)
2007: Wish You Well (David Baldacci)
2006: The Lost German Slave Girl (John Bailey)
2005: On the Street Where You Live (Mary Higgins Clark)

Used in these Challenges: ARC Reading Challenge 2011; New Author Challenge 2011; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;

2011: #36 – Blood Rites (Jim Butcher)

bloodritesBook #36 was Blood Rites, the 6th book in Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden Files. The back of the book reads:

For Harry Dresden, there have been worse assignments than going undercover on the set of an adult film. Still, there’s something more troubling than usual about his newest case. The film’s producer believes he’s the target of a sinister curse-but it’s the women around him who are dying.

Harry’s even more frustrated because he only got involved with this bizarre mystery as a favor to Thomas-his flirtatious, self-absorbed vampire acquaintance of dubious integrity. Thomas has a personal stake in the case Harry can’t quite figure out. But Harry is about to discover that Thomas’ family tree has been hiding a shocking revelation that will change his life forever…

I had burned out a little on this series, but thankfully, there’s a cure for that ailment: a fantastic audio production. James Marsters (known by some as Spike from Buffy/Angel) is the narrator, and he does a superb job. He breathed life back into Harry.

Another thing that helped is that this book departs a bit from the giant “save the world” tasks of the last few novels. Harry’s looking for a way to pay the bills, so when his vampire “friend” Thomas comes to him and asks him to help his porn-producer friend, Harry finds it hard to resist. Even though the chivalrous side of him isn’t very comfortable with learning how porn is made.

But don’t worry, it doesn’t get very hot and steamy for Harry. Instead, he ends up in the middle of a family squabble turned turf war, and he’s connected to it more than he ever expected.

I’ll definitely be continuing the series on audio. I can’t resist a great narrator.

Other reviews:

Blood Rites (The Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher : Book Review
Sunday Review: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher (Orbit) | NextRead.co.uk
Strategist’s Personal Library: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
What Cheesy Reads: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
Bitten by Books » Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

Audiobook length: 13 hrs 11 min | Word count: 121,290 (’11 total: 3,526,450)

2010: Dark Entries (Ian Rankin)
2009: Matilda (Roald Dahl)
2008: The Unlikely Spy (Daniel Silva)
2007: Trouble in High Heels (Christina Dodd)
2006: The Mummy Case (Elizabeth Peters)
2005: North and South (John Jakes)

Used in these Challenges: Countdown Challenge 2011; 2011 Audiobook Challenge; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011; Four Month Challenge – Part 6;

2011: #34 – Every Secret Thing (Laura Lippman)

everysecretthingBook #34 was Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman. The back of the book reads:

Two little girls banished from a neighborhood birthday party take a wrong turn down an unfamiliar Baltimore street—and encounter an abandoned stroller with an infant inside. What happens next is shocking and terrible, and three families are irreparably destroyed.

Seven years later, Alice Manning and Ronnie Fuller, now eighteen, are released from "kid prison" to begin their lives over again. But the secrets swirling around the original crime continue to haunt the parents, the lawyers, the police—all the adults in Alice and Ronnie’s lives. And now another child has disappeared, under freakishly similar circumstances …

This was Laura Lippman’s first stand-alone mystery, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a slow-building, sneaky mystery. We know from the start that something terrible happens to baby Olivia Barnes and that Alice and Ronnie were responsible, but the details leak out slowly, drip by drip. The best part of the book is that you’re never quite sure whose side you should be on. Is Alice as innocent as she seemed? Is Ronnie the sociopath she first seemed to be? What did Alice’s mother have to do with it? Why is the public defender so invested? Even the victim’s mother, Cynthia Barnes, isn’t particularly likeable. In fact, she’s quite bitchy throughout most of the book. You want to excuse her behavior, but is there a point where enough is enough?

There are some quite surprising twists in the story, and that’s what makes it extra special for me. It’s hard for me to find a book with a plot that surprises me. This just cements Lippman’s place on my "Damn, She’s Good" list.

Other reviews:

Book Review: Every Secret Thing « ReviewsbyLola’s Blog

Audiobook length: 12 hrs 16 min | Word count: 101,558 (’11 total: 3,304,360)

2010: A Lesson Before Dying (Ernest J. Gaines)
2009: The Uncommon Reader (Alan Bennett)
2008: A Dirty Job (Christopher Moore)
2007: The Lucky Ones (Rachel Cusk)
2006: Memory in Death (J.D. Robb)
2005: Dead Wrong (Mariah Stewart)

Used in these Challenges: 2011 Audiobook Challenge; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;

2011: #30 – A Drop of the Hard Stuff (Lawrence Block)

hardstuff Book #30 was A Drop of the Hard Stuff, the 17th book in Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder series. The back of the book reads:

Matthew Scudder is facing his demons. Forced out of the NYPD, he’s given up the drink. He’s thinking seriously about his relationship with sometime girlfriend Jan. Then he runs into "High-Low" Jack Ellery, a childhood friend from the Bronx. They’re two sides of the same coin: Scudder once solved crimes as a detective. Ellery committed them. In Scudder, Ellery sees the moral man he might have become. In Ellery, Scudder sees the hard-won sobriety he hopes to achieve.

Then Ellery is killed, shot once in the mouth and once between the eyes, presumably while attempting to atone for past sins. Is it what he saw or what he said that got him killed? Ellery had no family, no friends to press for justice. Scudder reluctantly begins his own investigation, with just one lead-Ellery’s Alcoholics Annonymous list of people he wronged. One of them may be a murderer, but that’s not necessarily Scudder’s greatest danger. Immersing himself in Ellery’s world may lead him right back to the bar stool.

Exploring themes of loss, nostalgia, and redemption, for Lawrence Block, A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF circles back to how it all began, reestablishing why the Matthew Scudder series is widely regarded as one of the pinnacles of American detective fiction.

I imagine that when you’ve written 16 books in a series that spans a few decades, you start to wonder about when your character needs to retire. Alternately, you can bring us back to his past, which is exactly what Block has done in this latest Matthew Scudder novel.

Really, it’s a stroke of genius. Some people don’t like to pick up a book this late in a series, but set it sometime after book #5, and you not only thrill your fans with a nostalgic trip to the past, but you have the chance to pick up new readers as well.

A Drop of the Hard Stuff is set towards the end of Scudder’s first year of sobriety. Alcoholism is a major theme, with Scudder living his life from one AA meeting to the next. When Jack Ellery is murdered while working his steps, Scudder feels almost compelled to find out what happens. It’s hard to tell whether it’s because he feels bad for Ellery, or if he worries that he could some day suffer the same fate.

It seems that everything Scudder does involves a decision about whether or not he will remain sober. Even the smallest thing, like choosing in which direction to walk down the street, or how to handle his annoyance with his girlfriend, seems like a major crossroad. I have no personal frame of reference, but Block makes us feel Scudder’s struggle, and think about how much the little things matter. How one miniscule step in the wrong direction can drive the entire train off the tracks. It makes you think.

Overall, I really enjoyed this, and I’m looking forward to reading more of the earlier books in this series.

This book was a review copy.

Other reviews:

Book Review: A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block « Rundpinne
Review: A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block « book’d out

Page count: 336 (’11 total: 8,329) | Approximate word count: 84,000 (’11 total: 2,896,402)

2010: Desert Heat (J.A. Jance)
2009: The Chemist (Janson Mancheski)
2008: Grave Sight (Charlaine Harris)
2007: The Bone Collector (Jeffery Deaver)
2006: Visions in Death (J.D. Robb)
2005: Jackdaws (Ken Follett)

Used in these Challenges: Countdown Challenge 2011; ARC Reading Challenge 2011; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;

2011: #26 – Heads You Lose (Lisa Lutz & David Hayward)

headsyoulose Book #26 was Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward. The back of the book reads:

New York Times-bestselling author Lisa Lutz conspires with-or should we say against?-coauthor David Hayward to write an original and hilarious tag-team crime novel.

Meet Paul and Lacey Hansen: orphaned, pot-growing twenty-something siblings eking out a living in rural Northern California. When a headless corpse appears on their property, they can’t exactly dial 911, so they move the body and wait for the police to find it. Instead, the corpse reappears, a few days riper . . . and an amateur sleuth is born. Make that two.

When collaborators Lutz and Hayward (former romantic partners) start to disagree about how the story should unfold, the body count rises, victims and suspects alike develop surprising characteristics (meet Brandy Chester, the stripper with the Mensa IQ), and sibling rivalry reaches homicidal intensity. Think Adaptation crossed with Weeds. Will the authors solve the mystery without killing each other first?

This was kind of a crazy book. I loved the back-and-forth format, which was only enhanced by the bickering between the two authors. Paul and Lacey are unlikely heroes, but when someone dumps a dead body on their property, they’re left with little choice.

As a seasoned mystery reader, it’s difficult to guess where the story is ultimately going, because the authors themselves don’t really have any idea. Promising clues turn into dead ends, and red herrings abound. People die, then come back to life, only to die again. And behind all the twist and turns, there’s the story of two siblings who need to figure out what they’re doing with the rest of their life. Obviously, selling pot in their dead-end town isn’t going to cut it much longer.

I am a big fan of Lutz’s Spellman Files series, and her quirky sense of humor really holds this story together. I loved the wild ride, and anyone who has enjoyed the Spellman Files should go out and get this book.

This book was a review copy.

Other reviews:

Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward – Book Review
Review: Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward | Jenn’s Bookshelves
Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward | Word Lily
Review: Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward | Life with Books
A Bookworm’s World: Heads You Lose – Lisa Lutz & David Hayward

Page count: 320 (’11 total: 7,177) | Approximate word count: 80,000 (’11 total: 2,475,602)

2010: What Do We Do Now? (Keith Malley & Chemda)
2009: Soul Catcher (Michael C. White)
2008: Twilight (Stephenie Meyer)
2007: Full House (Janet Evanovich)
2006: Judgement in Death (J.D. Robb)
2005: The Sigma Protocol (Robert Ludlum)

Used in these Challenges: Countdown Challenge 2011; ARC Reading Challenge 2011; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;

2011: #25 – The Complaints (Ian Rankin)

complaints Book #25 was The Complaints, the first in a new series by Ian Rankin. The back of the book reads:

Nobody likes The Complaints–they’re the cops who investigate other cops. It’s a department known within the force as "The Dark Side," and it’s where Malcolm Fox works. He’s a serious man with a father in a nursing home and a sister who persists in an abusive relationship, frustrating problems about which he cannot seem to do anything.

Then the reluctant Fox is given a new case. There’s a cop named Jamie Breck, and he’s dirty. The problem is, no one can prove it. As Fox takes on the job, he learns that there’s more to Breck than anyone thinks–dangerous knowledge, especially when a vicious murder takes place far too close to home.

In THE COMPLAINTS, Rankin proves again why he is one of the world’s most beloved and bestselling crime writers, mixing unstoppable pacing with the deeper question of who decides right from wrong.

The Complaints is the first book in Rankin’s first series since the end of his Inspector Rebus series in 2007. Malcolm Fox is not like John Rebus; he’s a bit more low-key, and working outside the lines doesn’t come naturally to him. His job in Scotland’s version of Internal Affairs requires that he seek out the cops that step too far over that line.

After he closes a case against one particularly egregious offender, he’s asked to work with another division on a child pornography case. The suspect is another cop, but from the start things don’t feel quite right to Fox. After Fox’s sister’s boyfriend is murdered, he finds himself on the wrong side of the blue line, and his suspect is his only ally.

I enjoyed the twists and turns in this book. There’s an atmosphere of economic woe that contributes more gloom than the weather. Besides Jamie Breck, we don’t really get to know Fox’s colleagues well; we become much more familiar with his family. That Fox is someone who tries to clean up the system is not surprising — he’s a caretaker in all areas of his life. I’m looking forward to spending more time with Rankin’s newest protagonist.

Other reviews:

MYSTERIES in PARADISE: Review: THE COMPLAINTS, Ian Rankin
Lost in Books: The Complaints by Ian Rankin
Alexia’s Books and Such…: Book Review: The Complaints
Genre Reviews: The Complaints by Ian Rankin

Page count: 448 (’11 total: 6,857) | Approximate word count: 112,000 (’11 total: 2,395,602)

2010: The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove (Christopher Moore)
2009: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson)
2008: One Mississippi (Mark Childress)
2007: Deal Breaker (Harlan Coben)
2006: Witness in Death (J.D. Robb)
2005: Ceremony in Death (J.D. Robb)

Used in these Challenges: Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011; Four Month Challenge – Part 6

2011: #22 – The Likeness (Tana French)

likenessBook #22 was The Likeness by Tana French, the second book in her Dublin Murder Squad series.  The back of the book reads:

The haunting follow up to the Edgar Award-winning debut In the Woods

Tana French astonished critics and readers alike with her mesmerizing debut novel, In the Woods. Now both French and Detective Cassie Maddox return to unravel a case even more sinister and enigmatic than the first. Six months after the events of In the Woods, an urgent telephone call beckons Cassie to a grisly crime scene. The victim looks exactly like Cassie and carries ID identifying herself as Alexandra Madison, an alias Cassie once used. Suddenly, Cassie must discover not only who killed this girl, but, more importantly, who is this girl? A disturbing tale of shifting identities, The Likeness firmly establishes Tana French as an important voice in suspense fiction.

When I first found out that The Likeness would feature Cassie as the main character, I admit I was a bit disappointed.  "But I don’t care about Cassie!" I whined. "I want to know what happens with Rob!" It took no more than a chapter for me to realize how wrong I was.

The premise of the novel is unusual but intriguing.  What are the chances that a girl will turn up dead that not only looks like she could be your sister, but is using an identity that you made up? Cassie is originally resistant to the idea that she take Lexie’s place and step into her life in order to find out who her killer was, but it doesn’t take much to convince her.  She’s just been biding her time in Domestic Violence since the end of In the Woods, and the spice has been sucked from her life. The trick is, pretending to be someone who existed, someone with friends and responsibilities and a life, is a whole lot different than pretending to be someone entirely new.

When I think about it, I haven’t read many books that feature undercover work, and that’s a shame.  I thought it was exhilarating, not only for Cassie but for the reader.  It raises the suspense level like nothing else, because the most innocuous situation could become a disaster with just one wrong word. Her housemates are wonderfully written, almost maddening in their peculiarities, and you know right away that there is something beneath the surface that you’re not seeing.  The only question is, how serious is it?

There are a lot of ghosts in this story.  Lexie haunts not only Cassie, but her housemates, even though they think she’s still alive. There’s the ghost of the past haunting a village that’s trying to deal with the animosity it feels towards those that once lorded over them. And even Rob is a ghost. He’s not dead, but he might as well be as far as Cassie is concerned.  The events of In the Woods continue to hang over her like a storm cloud. But I’d rather it be that way than for her to pretend like the previous events never occurred.

I do have to confess that at least some of my love for this book is due to the stellar audiobook production. Heather O’Neill’s narration could not be more perfect. Her gentle Irish brogue pulls you along like a song you can’t stop yourself from singing. She even made the distinction between country and city accents obvious to these untrained ears. I wish the next book wasn’t about Frank!

I’m pretty stingy with my 5-star ratings nowadays, but this deserves nothing less.

Other reviews:

#304 ~ The Likeness : literatehousewife.com
Tana French – The Likeness « Fyrefly’s Book Blog
Book Review: The Likeness by Tana French « The Book Whisperer
Review of “The Likeness” by Tana French « Rhapsody in Books Weblog
The Likeness by Tana French « Book Addiction

Audiobook length: 22 hrs 30 min | Approximate word count: 139,800 (’11 total: 2,074,352)

2010: The Seventh Commandment (Lawrence Sanders)
2009: Dead to the World (Charlaine Harris)
2008: Living Dead in Dallas (Charlaine Harris)
2007: A Death in Belmont (Sebastian Junger)
2006: A Long Way Down (Nick Hornby)
2005: The Bastard (John Jakes)

Used in these Challenges: Countdown Challenge 2011; 2011 Audiobook Challenge; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011; Four Month Challenge – Part 6

2011: #15 – The Silent Hour (Michael Koryta)

silenthour Book #15 was The Silent Hour, the fourth book in Michael Koryta’s Lincoln Perry series. The back of the book reads:

Fresh off the critical acclaim of his Los Angeles Times Book Prize–nominated Envy the Night, Michael Koryta returns with a blistering new installment in the Lincoln Perry series.

Whisper Ridge
Home to Dreams
October 2, 1992–April 12, 1996

So reads the strange epitaph carved beside the door of the home called Whisper Ridge, a multimillion-dollar piece of architectural majesty that once housed the beginnings of a unique program for paroled murderers. The program never got off the ground, however, despite how passionate a woman named Alexandra Cantrell, daughter of a notorious Mafia don, and her husband, Joshua, had been about it. Still uninhabited twelve years later, the house remains as a strange monument to dangerous secrets, falling into ruin as the forest grows up around it.

While the couple’s abrupt exit was unusual, it was also not regarded as suspicious—until the bones of Alexandra’s husband are found buried in the woods.

Private investigator Lincoln Perry isn’t thrilled about the situation, or his client: Parker Harrison served fifteen years for murder but claims Alexandra’s intervention saved his life. Now he wants to find her—and he’s not the only one.

What seems at first like the simplest of jobs proves to be an undertaking that will challenge both Perry’s abilities as a detective and his commitment to that calling. With a new partner to train and a case that leads straight to the heart of the Cleveland organized crime scene, Perry finds himself glancing over his shoulder at every turn, pushing the bounds of safety even as he backs away.

Once again Michael Koryta has crafted an intricate, lightning-paced thriller, ratcheting up the tension as he explores just how dangerous the offer of a second chance can be. The latest installment in the Lincoln Perry series, which the Chicago Tribune calls “addictively readable,” marks another step forward in his incredible career.

This was my first glimpse of Koryta’s non-supernatural side, and you’ll have to color me impressed. Lincoln Perry has reached the point in his career that I think every good hard-boiled detective series explores: the point where they have to ask themselves, "Is this still worth it?" Tortured by memories of his partner and girlfriend in mortal danger, Lincoln starts taking more risk on himself, a decision that rarely leads to happy endings. Throughout the story, you’re never quite sure if the mystery is wrapped up in the mob, in drugs, or in something altogether different. All you know for sure is that things are more dangerous than Lincoln expected. It’s never just a simple missing persons case.

One thing in particular that I appreciated about Koryta’s writing is that his characters aren’t superheroes. When someone is injured, it affects not only their body but their mind. There’s no getting shot three times and still miraculously chasing down the bad guy here. 

I haven’t read the other three books in the series, but I had no problem jumping in and connected with Lincoln. He’s everything we look for in a hard-boiled detective. Hard on the outside, soft and gooey within.

Audiobook length: 11 hrs 40 min | Approximate word count: 84,000 (’11 total: 1,387,052)

2010: Heat Wave (Richard Castle)
2009: College Girl (Patricia Weitz)
2008: The Paid Companion (Amanda Quick)
2007: Dark Side of the Moon (Sherrilyn Kenyon)
2006: Burnt Offerings (Laurell K. Hamilton)
2005: F is for Fugitive (Sue Grafton)

Used in these Challenges: Countdown Challenge 2011; 2011 Audiobook Challenge; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;

2011: #13 – Moonlight Mile (Dennis Lehane)

moonlight Book #13 was Moonlight Mile, the 6th book in Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro series.  The back of the book reads:

Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from a Boston neighborhood twelve years ago. Desperate pleas for help from the child’s aunt led investigators Kenzie and Gennaro to take on the case. The pair risked everything to find the young girl—only to orchestrate her return to a neglectful mother and a broken home.

Now Amanda is sixteen—and gone again. A stellar student, brilliant but aloof, she seemed destined to escape her upbringing. Yet Amanda’s aunt is once more knocking on Patrick Kenzie’s door, fearing the worst for the little girl who has blossomed into a striking, clever young woman—a woman who hasn’t been seen in weeks.

Haunted by their consciences, Kenzie and Gennaro revisit the case that troubled them the most. Their search leads them into a world of identity thieves, methamphetamine dealers, a mentally unstable crime boss and his equally demented wife, a priceless, thousand-year-old cross, and a happily homicidal Russian gangster. It’s a world in which motives and allegiances constantly shift and mistakes are fatal.

In their desperate fight to confront the past and find Amanda McCready, Kenzie and Gennaro will be forced to question if it’s possible to do the wrong thing and still be right or to do the right thing and still be wrong. As they face an evil that goes beyond broken families and broken dreams, they discover that the sins of yesterday don’t always stay buried and the crimes of today could end their lives.

A lot has changed since Patrick and Angela’s last book. Now married with a four-year old daughter, they are struggling to make ends meet as Patrick sticks to benign insurance and infidelity cases and Angela works on getting a degree. Then Beatrice McCready waltzes back into their lives and they’re faced with a choice — Should they try to save Amanda again?

Some of Lehane’s edge is gone in this book. Now that he’s a dad, Patrick is less willing to take chances. But the real weak spot is in the supporting cast.  The Russian mobsters are cartoonish stereotypes, and I’m not sure Amanda’s cool detachment is all that believable.  She’s put in several situations that I’m sure would freak out any 16 year old, no matter how tough their upbringing is. 

But overall, I enjoyed the story, as well as revisiting some of the issues raised in Gone, Baby, Gone.

This book was a review copy.

Other reviews:

Review of “Moonlight Mile” by Dennis Lehane” « Rhapsody in Books
Book Review: *Moonlight Mile* by Dennis Lehane | She Is Too Fond of Books
Lesley’s Book Nook: Moonlight Mile
Booked On a Feeling: Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane (thoughts)
Thoughts on “Moonlight Mile” by Dennis Lehane | Erin Reads

Page count: 336 (’11 total: 3,622) | Word count: 100,800 (’11 total: 1,218,982)

2010: No One You Know (Michelle Richmond)
2009: Upbound (Peter Hassebroek)
2008: Midnight Rain (Holly Lisle)
2007: Weep Not For The Vampire (William Veselik)
2006: Bloody Bones (Laurell K. Hamilton)
2005: Mind Prey (John Sandford)

Used in these Challenges: ARC Reading Challenge 2011; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;

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