Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Apparently, All I Do Is Read

Here are some more book reviews. Happy reading!!

The Crack in the Lens, by Steve Hockensmith. This is the fourth installment in Hockensmith’s Holmes on the Range series. Set in 1893, a few weeks after the events of 2008's The Black Dove, Hockensmith's excellent fourth mystery to feature Otto Big Red Amlingmeyer and his older brother, Gustav (aka Old Red), takes them to San Marcos, Tex. The laconic Old Red, whose life took an unexpected turn after his brother introduced him to the deductive methods of Sherlock Holmes, reveals that the love of his life, hooker Gertrude Eichelberger, was murdered in San Marcos five years earlier. The pair's efforts to investigate put them at odds with the local pimps as well as the law. The brothers discover that Gertrude was but the first victim of a serial killer, who modeled his crimes after Jack the Ripper. The personal stake Old Red has in catching the murderer adds an emotional dimension to the puzzle, which Edgar-finalist Hockensmith nicely leavens with witty prose and cliffhanging chapter endings. (from Publisher’s Weekly, lifted straight from Amazon)

Laced with Magic, by Barbara Bretton. Laced with Magic is Bretton’s sequel to Casting Spells. Half-sorceress Chloe Hobbs and policeman Luke MacKenzie, the only humans in the sleepy Vermont town of Sugar Maple, face worldly and unearthly challenges in this sweetly charming sequel to 2008's Casting Spells. When Luke's ex-wife, Karen, shows up in town claiming that their dead daughter is trying to ask them for help, Chloe must deal with smalltown gossip and fix her relationship with Luke while she battles her old Fae enemy, Isadora, over the child's spirit and the future of Sugar Maple. Bretton seamlessly blends a playful world of eccentric and meddling supernatural creatures living in the midst of New England with a warm, natural and romantic story and just a hint of mystery. Scenes in Chloe's yarn shop and helpful knitting tips hold extra appeal for yarn aficionados while never distracting from the plot. (ditto)

The Black Cat, by Martha Grimes. I think Martha has been reading too much Rita Mae Brown. In The Black Cat, animals talk to each other and try to send telepathic messages to our hero, Richard Jury. Harry Johnson (from The Old Wine Shades) appears in this novel also, and Jury really wants him to turn out to be the killer. Many of the clues point to Harry, but Jury can’t quite pin him down (read The Old Wine Shades; you’ll see why). The victims in this story are all call girls from different escort agencies, so finding something in common besides their call-girl status, proves very frustrating. The linking clue comes in an unexpected way and Jury is finally able to solve the murders. Publisher’s Weekly didn’t like it very much, but I enjoyed this book.

Just Take My Heart, by Mary Higgins Clark. I had never read any of Clark’s novels before and I enjoyed this one, for the most part. There was a subplot that could have been left out altogether and it would not have made a bit of difference in the novel. Other than that, Clark weaves a pretty good story. County prosecutor Emily Wallace is involved in a case trying to convict a man of shooting his ex-wife, a famous Broadway actress. Her star witness is a career thief who testifies that the husband, Gregg, paid him money to off his wife, Natalie. The thief also testifies that he did not go through with the job because he was a thief, not a killer. He has a piece of information that seemingly clinches Gregg’s fate. The suspense continues through the whole book and when you find out whether or not Gregg did the deed, it’s a good surprise. I think the story was well-plotted (except for that unnecessary subplot) and fast-paced and I did actually enjoy it.

Hissy Fit, by Mary Kay Andrews. I used to read Mary Kay Andrews’s books when she was writing as Kathy Hogan Trocheck (Callahan Garrity mysteries). Now she’s writing mainstream romances with a little bit of mystery thrown in and it really works. This is the first book I read on my Kindle and I love that thing. In the novel, Keeley Murdock, at the rehearsal dinner for her wedding to A.J. Jernigan, finds A.J. screwing her maid of honor and supposed best friend on the table in the board room of the country club. Keeley pitches the hissy fit of all hissy fits, calls off the wedding, and storms out. She lives in the small town of Madison, GA, and word is all over town before she even gets home. She gets a ride from Will Mahoney, who was at the rehearsal. Will wants Keeley, an interior decorator, to help him restore an antebellum mansion outside of town. He needs the job to impress a woman he’s never met, but only seen on TV, enough that she will want to marry him and settle down in the house. Keeley of course thinks he’s lost his mind, and she declines, mostly because she is so distraught about her ruined wedding plans. Will has an impossible deadline, too. Suffice it to say she comes around and agrees to do the job, insane deadline and all. The mystery in this novel is that Keeley’s mother, Jeanine, disappeared 25 years earlier, and everybody thinks she ran off to parts unknown with Darvis Kane, a car salesman. The story gets into town gossip about all the illicit affairs of various prominent citizens. Keeley becomes determined to find out what happened to her mother, and gets the help of her best friend, florist Austin LaFleur. Andrews brings all the plots and subplots together nicely, writes a good story, and winds it up to a very satisfactory ending. I was enjoying this book so much, I was a little bereft when it ended. Needless to say, I will be reading more of Mary Kay Andrews’s books.

I am loving the Kindle and I'm glad I bought it. Kindle editions are cheaper than hard-copy books, there are no shipping charges, and no waiting days for books to arrive in the mail.


Bridget said...

Oh, some of these sounds pretty interesting, I'll have to see if they are in the library here.

I am a big fan of Mary Higgins Clark. Sometimes her kind of story is just exactly the thing to read, and I have seldom been disappointed. I think if you are in the right frame of mind, she is perfect!

Theresa said...

So I'm going to have to spend some of my audible credits for the Barbara Bretton books. Thanks, you little heifer. Glad you're feeling the Kindle love!!


Harriette Some of my writer friends and I are about to lose a wonderful friend.  Harriette Austin is now in hospice care in At...