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Posts Tagged ‘Mystery’

Audiobook Review – Her Final Breath (Tracy Crosswhite Book 2)

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

Her Final Breath (Tracy Crosswhite, Bk 2)

Her Final Breath by Robert Dugoni
Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

Tracy Crosswhite is back in the second novel of the Crosswhite series by Robert Dugoni. Her Final Breath picks up not too long after book one, My Sister’s Grave. You can check out my review for My Sister’s Grave here.

Her Final Breath takes the reader back to the case that was playing out in the background of book one. A murdered dancer’s case has been sent to cold cases, but a recent murder has brought the cold case back to the forefront. Unfortunately, clues are stacking up to make it look like these murders are the work of a serial killer.

At the start of the novel Tracy is left an eerie message with a noose hanging from the fence at the police’s firing range. Despite this threat, Tracy is assigned to lead the task force to catch the murderer who has been nicknamed The Cowboy. The killer leaves few clues and the task force is trying to put together a puzzle with very few pieces. Butting heads with her captain, Tracy does her best to keep following any leads, but she ends up placing herself closer to the noose of the killer.

I am curious how Tracy’s character will develop further in the series. Just two books in and she seems to be a target for the creepy characters, and I am already weary of it. I hope there is more dimension in the future books of the series as I do plan to continue reading.

I am glad Dugoni didn’t dismiss the case that was introduced in book one and that he concluded that mystery in book two. Some revelations were surprising and disturbing and I didn’t find Her Final Breath to be predictable; however, some parts were rather hard to follow. The main issue with the audiobook was the flashback portions were hard to navigate because the listener wasn’t aware when there was a break in the writing to indicate a new section within a chapter. Overall, I would recommend Her Final Breath, but would probably recommend reading, rather than listening, to the novel.

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Monday Audiobook Review – Edinburgh Twilight

Monday, January 28th, 2019

 

Edinburgh Twilight by Carole Lawrence
Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

Detective Inspector Ian Hamilton is humble, troubled, caring, and determined; the author Carole Lawrence combines these traits to create a detective who is thoughtful and thorough in his pursuit of justice. At first glance he may seem like the typical troubled protagonist, but as the book progressed, Ian came across as less stereotypical than I first thought.

Edinburgh Twilight sheds light on the dark underbelly of Edinburgh in the 1880s. In the Old Town, criminals and prostitutes are around every corner. When a young man is found dead, Detective Inspector Hamilton believes it is murder. He makes his case to his superior and is granted some leeway to pursue the case, along with the assistance of one young officer. As the story develops, they realize they have stumbled onto a serial killer who becomes known in Edinburgh as the Holyrood Strangler.

Ian is dogged in his pursuit of the killer and crosses paths with others who assist him in piecing together the truth about the killer. The cast of characters includes Ian’s aunt, a clingy librarian and a street kid…there are others but mentioning them here gives away a little too much in terms of plot and surprises.

I’ll cover my positives first. I thought the storyline was clear and the pieces came together nicely. The various characters each brought something new to the storyline. Ian was a great protagonist and hero in the novel. The author reveals a lot about Ian as the novel progresses to help the reader understand his motivations and personality. Additionally, the supporting cast of characters was well-balanced and purposeful in their place in the story. Now for the negatives. The narrator seemed a bit over the top. He did a great job of creating different voices, but some voices were exaggerated to the point of being a bit off-putting. Some of the language seemed like it was a bit too contemporary for the turn of the century. I am not as much of a stickler for this, but I know if I noticed it, a reader who looks for purist historical fiction may have a real issue. Despite the negatives, I would still recommend Edinburgh Twilight, but I am going to be reading, rather than listening, to book two Edinburgh Dusk.

 

 

 

Mystery Monday Review – My Sister’s Grave

Monday, January 21st, 2019

My Sister's Grave (Tracy Crosswhite, Bk 1)

My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni

Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

Tracy Crosswhite has carried guilt related to her sister Sarah’s death for a long time.  Almost 20 years ago, Tracy attended an event with her sister and rather than returning home with Sarah afterwards, Tracy went to dinner with her boyfriend.  On her way home, Sarah went missing and was presumed murdered, although her body was never found.  A suspect was arrested and imprisoned for the crime, but Tracy was always consumed with uncertainty due to her questions about certain facts of the case.

Now, years later, Sarah’s body has been discovered and Tracy begins a quest to discover the truth about Sarah’s death.  Tracy pursues her questions and moves closer to finding out the truth; however, there are people who don’t want her digging up old memories and old cases.  Tracy’s efforts are discouraged and the people she can trust are very few.

In Dugoni’s first Crosswhite novel, the reader really gets to know the complexity of Tracy’s emotions surrounding her family and the loss of her sister.  Tracy initially became a teacher, but her desire to seek justice for her sister drove her to become a homicide detective for the Seattle police.  Tracy’s grief and questions are all-consuming, and it impacts her relationships or inhibits her from even having relationships.  While Tracy’s character is complex (and I expect even further developed in upcoming novels in the Crosswhite series), the secondary characters are not dismissed.  Dugoni creates secondary characters who made me laugh, smile, cringe, and shake my head.  These characters add depth and personality to a novel that could otherwise have been taken to a very dark place by Tracy’s obsession with her sister’s murder.

I thought this was a well thought out crime novel, and while Sarah’s mystery is solved by the end, there is a crime Tracy is investigating as a Seattle homicide detective that plays out in the background of the novel. That crime is not solved and I hope it gets carried into book two of the series.  I do plan on continuing with the Tracy Crosswhite series and recommend the series to my fellow mystery buffs out there!

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Monday – The Case of the Restless Redhead

Monday, April 9th, 2018

 

The Case of the Restless Redhead

by Erle Stanley Gardner

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

For starry-eyed Evelyn Bagby, Hollywood was the Tinsel Town without Pity. Her curves and red hair (but no freckles) attracted the shark Staunton Vester Gladden. He fed her the usual line that with his mentoring and agenting wizardry, “Baby, I can make you a star.” But under the guise of acting and deportment lessons, he embezzled her money. She ended up waiting tables.

Worse, she lands in court, charged with larceny. Her novice attorney recognizes ace lawyer Perry Mason, who chances to attend the trial. Perry’s solid advice enables the greenhorn to upend the testimony that would’ve sent Evelyn to the clink and obtains her grateful release.

Thanking Perry in his office soon after, Evelyn tells him and faithful assistant Della Street that she thinks Staunton Vester Gladden might be Steve Merrill, the second husband of a big Hollywood star. Perry gets her a waitressing job and promises to look into her case. Helping people who aren’t getting breaks is totally consistent with Perry’s way of doing business.

Staunton Vester Gladden ends up with a bullet in his head that he didn’t put there himself. The cops put the collar on Evelyn as the most obvious perp since she had a beef with old Staunton. I don’t think I’m giving away anything by revealing that the novel ends with a dramatic courtroom climax.

This is a better than average Mason story. The reason is that he boldly ignores evidence that exculpates Evelyn. He has figured out a key piece of the puzzle (that I won’t reveal here) which strips story-telling witnesses of their alibi.

A good one for both hardcore fans and newbies, this 1954 novel was the basis for the script for the first episode of the Raymond Burr television series. Whitney Blake, the mother of actress producer survivor Meredith Baxter, played Evelyn.

 

 

 

Mystery Monday – The Case of the Shoplifter’s Shoe

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

 

The Case of the Shoplifter’s Shoe

by Erle Stanley Gardner

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

This 1938 mystery opens with lawyer Perry Mason having lunch with his secretary Della Street in a swanky downtown department store. Della comments on the kindly appearance of an elderly woman apparently dining out with her niece. Perry observes that the little old lady is a shoplifter. A scene ensues whose upshot is that Perry gets the little old shoplifter off the hook because in fact she did not take the plunder out of the store.

The niece of the five-finger discount lady, Virginia Trent, later comes to Perry’s office for two reasons. She wants advice on how to get psychiatric help for her aunt Sarah Breel’s sudden-onset kleptomania. Gardner satirizes the psychoanalytic jargon and concepts (fixation, unconscious, etc.) that were taking the culture by storm in the thirties. Both Gardner and his creation Perry Mason were skeptics about complicated explanations of human nature.

Virginia Trent is also concerned with legal consequences. A handful of diamonds has disappeared from her uncle’s jewelry store, perhaps ripped off by her boosting Auntie. A bon-vivant named Austin Cullens promises to get the gems back. But he ends up shot. And her aunt is hit by a car while running away from the crime scene. When she wakes up, she claims she remembers nothing, but the cops charge her with murder-one anyway.

Later Virginia Trent and Perry find the body of her uncle. Ginny becomes utterly unglued, what with the stress of her aunt’s shoplifting, missing diamonds, one dead guy, and then her uncle being snuffed and put in a packing case. Gardner is hinting that studying psychology does not necessarily prepare one to meet the curveballs thrown by life.

Gardner does not play fair in this one, but the plot twists are ingenious. Slow down when reading the trial sequence because there is a Trent Gun and a Breel Gun. If you are not careful, you will get as confused as Sgt. Holcomb and Goodreads reviewers who get mighty frustrated with Gardner’s hocus-pocus with two guns, two bullets, two corpses and two crime scenes.

 

 

 

Mystery Monday – The Second Confession

Monday, March 26th, 2018

The Second Confession By Rex Stout

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

A millionaire father doesn’t trust his daughter’s boyfriend, a lawyer with iffy clients. He calls in PI Nero Wolfe and his sidekick Archie Goodwin to prove that the BF is a member of the CPUSA (Communist Party of the USA), a very bad thing to be in 1949. Nero Wolfe doesn’t like the smell of the case. He half-sympathizes with the daughter, who naturally resents her father’s interference, but suspects that the BF has a shadowy connection with Arnold Zeck, who is to Wolfe as Prof. Moriarty was to Sherlock Holmes.

Stout was a progressive, always interested in new ideas and gadgets, but he trusted the tried and true as well. Consequently, action occurs at the millionaire’s sprawling country estate where posh is the byword. After lots of curious goings-on, the BF’s corpse is found near the estate’s driveway.

Much to his consternation, Wolfe finds himself hired by his nemesis Arnold Zeck to find the BF’s killer. Zeck regrets the killing of a most promising protégé. Wolfe uncharacteristically motivates himself to overcome his agoraphobia and go outside to solve the mystery.

The plotting is brilliant. The length of 200 pages is about perfect. The reveal is neatly done, though I had qualms by the wrap-up. At the end, Wolfe has a crackpot radio yakker yanked from the air, which hardly seems in keeping with Stout’s usually generous and fair-minded impulses. I guess the specter of Communism was deeply frightening then, when nobody suspected that it would keel over of a coronary the way it did in our time.

 

 

Fiction Review – Truly Madly Guilty

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

 

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

Liane Moriarty is one of the authors I have really fallen in love with over the past couple of years.  I’ve read five of her books so far and each one has a gripping, need-to-read feel.  I know many readers have not been overly complimentary of Truly Madly Guilty but I tend to disagree.

Mirah gets a book signed by Liane Moriarty

Mirah gets a book signed by Liane Moriarty

I had the pleasure of attending a book event with Liane Moriarty during her promotional tour for Truly Madly Guilty. She was funny, personable, and self-deprecating. I could instantly see how her personality had come through in her books.  Moriarty said one common theme for all of her books is guilt and what different people do when they carry a burden of guilt. I thought back to her books I had read and realized that guilt did, indeed, have a some role in every story but in Truly Madly Guilty, guilt is front and center in the plot.

Truly Madly Guilty is about six characters who attend a barbecue where ‘something’ happens that changes their lives.  But what happened?!  Moriarty does drag out the story and leave the readers wondering for quite a while.  I admit, I felt very uncomfortable reading this book most of the time.  I had a sinking feeling in my gut during all of the chapters that took place at the barbecue…what was about to happen?  I felt nervous and apprehensive the more I read and even though I didn’t really like the characters, I had to keep reading. I had a similar reaction while reading Gone Girlcheck out my review to that novel here on the blog.  I think when an author has the ability to create such a visceral reaction to a story then she must be doing something right!

The characters in Truly Madly Guilty were not my favorite literary characters. I had a difficult time relating to any of them and that did make it more complicated for me to really care about what happened to them. However, the mystery of the barbecue kept me reading so I decided to give this novel 4 out of 5 stars.  For a 5 star Moriarty recommendation, I would suggest The Husband’s Secret.