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Posts Tagged ‘Mystery’

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction Review – All the Little Liars

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris

Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

Aurora Teagarden is back! Charlaine Harris has returned to her series about the librarian and amateur sleuth after more than 10 years.  I was very excited to meet Charlaine during her promotional tour of All the Little Liars.  Listening to her describe her career as a writer and her writing process was so interesting.  Charlaine was very down to earth and approachable. I would describe her personality as Southern charm meets Southern sass.  I think Charlaine was absolutely delightful!

Mirah and Charlaine Harris

Mirah and Charlaine Harris

But back to the book….

Aurora (Roe) is now married, pregnant, and her brother Phillip is living with her and her husband Robin.  Roe and Phillip have developed a close relationship and he is excited about being an uncle soon.  In the days before the Christmas holiday, four teenagers go missing and Phillip is one of the missing.  It seems understandable that two of his friends are also among the missing, but why would an 11-year old be with them?  What was her connection to what was happening?  The cops are trying to find out what is going on but, in typical fashion, Roe is determined to get involved, as well.  In her own investigation she uncovers school bullying, gambling debts, and serious family dramas.

While I enjoyed All the Little Liars, it did not seem to be as tight in the delivery as the earlier books in the Aurora series; there were some consistency issues and it felt a little incomplete in regards to the mystery. I like the characters in the Aurora series and I’m glad Harris wrote this book as if the past years really had passed, trying to pick up where things left off would have felt awkward. Overall, this installment wasn’t quite as good as I had hoped after my long Aurora drought but I’m glad she’s back and I hope Charlaine writes more.   In the end, I give All the Little Liars 3.5 out of 5 stars for being enjoyable but not quite polished…but I give Charlaine 5 out of 5 stars for being a class act!

 

 

 

 

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Mystery Monday – Boiled Alive

Monday, December 26th, 2016

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Boiled Alive by Bruce Buckingham

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

An obnoxious American mogul, John Belton, visits a remote Mexican hot-spring hotel in order to negotiate mining rights. Also with visions of wealth dancing in their heads are a ruthless British mining baron and the Mexican owner of the land supposedly laden with silver. The beginning leads us to expect a story of skullduggery among international business executives in the late 1950s.

But no. Mercifully, the story morphs into a classic murder mystery. Even Belton’s wanton daughter Linda, no prize herself, marvels at her father’s ability to make enemies in a jiffy. Belton manages to alienate gentle Lady Kendal, an English aristocrat, who has named her Aberdeen terriers Scotch and Soda. Belton lands in the doghouse of Melvin, a stereotypical American journalist; Miss Cloud, an eccentric North Carolinian; Hollywood starlet Gloria and her strong-minded galpal named – steel yourself – Butch; to mention only the most curious of the bunch.

When Belton disappears, on the scene is Don Pancho, the retired chief of police of Mexico City. He’d been hired by the insurance company to keep an eye on the jewels of Mrs. Belton. The fast-moving story provides ingenious incidents, with a brilliant Mexican background of Tuxpan, north of Veracruz. The hotel’s thermal hot pools are rendered well and play a part in the grisly goings-on.

Bruce Buckingham was the pen-name of Dane Chandros, which was the pseudonym used by Peter Lilley and Nigel Stansbury-Millett (aka Richard Oke), then, after 1946, by Peter Lilley and Anthony Stansfeld, according to the blog GA Detection. “Dane Chandros” was used for travel books about Mexico and “Bruce Buckingham” for a couple of detective novels starring Dan Pancho.

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Mystery Monday Review – Still Life

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Still Life by Louise Penny

Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)

Prior to a recent trip to Canada, I wanted to find a book set in Canada or written by a Canadian author to read during my journey. My local bookseller had a column in a recent newsletter about an upcoming author event featuring Louise Penny…and I found a new-to-me Canadian author!

Penny has created a mystery series with her character Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.  I found Still Life, the first in the series, to be a refreshing mystery read. ‘Refreshing’ hardly seems a typical word to describe a mystery but it’s how I felt.  Gamache is a morally upstanding member of the police force who sees things in a different way than other inspectors.  A man not given to loud or violent outbursts and dedicated to his wife of many years, Gamache is respected by his peers and many wish to imitate him. Young officers want to work with him to learn and hone their detective skills.  His fresh take on crime scene and witness observation is unlike other mysteries I’ve read.

In Still Life, Gamache and his team are sent to a sleepy rural village south of Montreal, where they are based.  Jane Neal was killed with an arrow but was her death a tragic hunting accident or something more?  Penny lets us get to know the quirky, stubborn, heartbroken residents of Three Pines and, while I thought I had the culprit in my sights, she changes things at the last minute and I was caught a bit unawares.

I am so glad I saw that newsletter from my local bookseller.  After reading Still Life I decided to purchase tickets to Ms. Penny’s book event coming up in September where she will discuss her newest Gamache novel!  If you’re looking for a new type of mystery hero, I encourage you to give Gamache a try.

 

 

 

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Mystery Monday – The Heat’s On

Monday, July 18th, 2016

The Heat’s On by Chester Himes

Review by Matt B. (buffalosavage)

This 1966 novel was re-published under the title Come Back, Charleston Blue, after the movie adaptation of the same name.

Two dope dealers, Sister Heavenly and Uncle Saint, are after a load of heroin stuffed into a string of eels. Their quest for this elusive stash results in a dozen murders and a bombing. Series heroes Grave Digger and Coffin Ed have to bend the law to get the job done.

This is a disturbing novel: Himes’ unrelenting vision posits a USA where thug and police lawlessness and violence are out of control, both fuel and exhaust of social breakdown. James Baldwin said of Himes’ Harlem novels, ”this web of ambiguity, paradox, this hunger, danger, darkness.”

 

 

Mystery Monday – Murder on Safari

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Murder on Safari by Hillary Waugh

Review by Matt B. (buffalosavage)

 

Waugh was the author of Last Seen Wearing (1952), the first of the police procedural genre.

Members of a safari to Kenya are divided into two groups: bird watching senior citizens and employees of a large privately held company. The mean racist owner-president is poisoned, then his son and daughter-in-law are dispatched in gruesome fashion.

The story is told from the point of view of a member who is also a journalist on the story of vacationing in game parks. He teams up with a burnt-out PI named Col. Dagger. This unfortunately brought to my wayward mind, “Col. Mustard in the library with the candlestick.”

As an example of the classic whodunit model published as late as the late 1980s, this was just okay. The characters are even more wispy than in usual genre novels. The unfolding of events and climax are unrealistic. As spiteful racists and cheats get knocked off, we feel no fear that a killer on a loose but callously relieved that the world is shut of thems that needed killin’

 

Mystery Monday – The Boy from Reactor 4

Monday, November 9th, 2015

The Boy from Reactor 4 by Orest Stelmach

Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)

When I finished The Boy from Reactor 4, I went to Twitter and tweeted: “@oreststelmach Finished ‘The Boy from Reactor 4’ today. Loved it! Action-packed, suspenseful & unique. Can’t wait to read more!”  I think ‘unique’ is the best word I can use to describe it, the book really is unlike any other I’ve read.  And the good news is it is book one in the Nadia Tesla series so I have the opportunity to read more!

There is nothing mundane or cliche about this mystery novel. From New York to Ukraine to Russia and back again, it is full of suspense, manipulative characters, organized crime, corruption, with some familial obligation thrown in for good measure. Nadia Tesla’s father died when Nadia was just thirteen but recent events throw her into a quest for information and answers about her father’s life. Nadia discovers cryptic clues and meets people who send her on a quest she never imagined. Nadia allies herself with Adam, a teenage hockey phenom who has grown up practicing his hockey skills on the frozen ponds at Chernobyl.  Yes, Chernobyl…things just took a crazy twist.

I think this novel was expertly written but contains tons of details and information that could get to complicated if a reader isn’t paying attention. It reminded me of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in that they are both dark, intricate stories that take a lot of focus to not confuse the plot angles and details.

If you’re interested in a mystery that can take you around the world and explore dark secrets of areas little explored (ie: Chernobyl), check out The Boy from Reactor 4.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, the author responded to my tweet: ‘@MirahWelday Thank you, Mirah! Happy Sunday.’  Happy reading, PBSers!