Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More Books

I'm still reading like a fool, although I have to slow down soon in order to knit on my sweater. There will be pictures when I remember to take some.

The books:

Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich. Ooh, that woman can come up with some scary bad guys who seem to be impossible to defeat. By about halfway through the novel I start asking "Is Stephanie Plum ever going to get out of this predicament?" Of course, she does, but it's always a nail-biter-page-turner of a story. In Twelve Sharp, a sociopath (what else?) is trying to take over Ranger's life and part of that plan is making Stephanie his girlfriend. The man also plans to kill Ranger and as bait he goes to Miami and kidnaps Ranger's young daughter (who lives with her mother and stepfather). Well, you don't mess with Ranger's family and friends, but he has to go into hiding because the sociopath has killed several people and the police think Ranger did it. Stephanie, being the hot-headed, headstrong person she is, is determined to solve this problem. She, naturally, gets herself into deep trouble (several times) and Ranger and Morelli (Steph's homicide-detective boyfriend) have to rescue her, although she manages to extricate herself about half the time. The suspense in this story is so effective you're out of breath by the time it ends.

The Blight Way by Patrick F. McManus is his first foray into writing a mystery novel, and he does a damn fine job of it. McManus is known primarily for his humorous short stories. The Blight Way takes place in Blight County, Idaho, and the lead character is Sheriff Bo Tully, college-educated and an artist in addition to being sheriff. He is called out when a body is found draped over a fence on the Skraggs property, the Skraggs being a ne'r-do-well family that is usually involved in whatever crime has been committed. Bo decides that this time they are not to blame. After all, they did call him to come investigate the killing. As a 75th birthday present to his father, Pap Tully (former sheriff of Blight County), Bo takes him along to help with the investigation. There is humor aplenty in this story and the bodies keep piling up. The bodies are mostly from Los Angeles and Bo has to find out what they're doing in Blight County. One thing I liked about this novel (one of the many) is that McManus has his characters reveal their reasoning and methods of detecting. It's a good story and a good mystery and I'm buying the next one in the series.

The Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman is probably my favorite of his Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee novels. Joe is retired but he gets a letter from an old colleague who tells him about a Navaho rug that was supposedly destroyed in a fire. The rug, or a copy, shows up on the wall of a house recently photographed for an architecture magazine. Joe's curiosity is aroused as he was a new police officer when the fire was being investigated. After visiting the house, Joe's friend dies in a one-vehicle accident and Joe gets suspicious, especially since the man's wife calls Joe when her husband is late coming home that night. The plot is very complex and while there are lots of clues, Joe has to figure out which ones are important and how they all fit together. Just as you think you know something about the crimes the plot changes. It was great reading and in the end, justice is served, though maybe not as you might expect.

Death without Tenure by Joanne Dobson. I love Joanne Dobson. She writes great academic mysteries. Death without Tenure is the sixth in her Karen Pelletier series. Karen is up for tenure at Enfield College, but there is only one tenured position available and another professor is also vying for that spot. Of course the other professor is killed and Karen is the chief suspect. The love of Karen's life, police detective Charlie Piotrowski, is serving in Iraq, but the investigating officer of the case hates Charlie and he keeps taking it out on Karen. She finally decides that she is going to have to investigate the killing herself in order to survive. There are several intriguing subplots and the main plot is excellently written. Several surprises at the end of the novel make you glad you started the book in the first place.

Go put your feet up, get a cat on your lap, and read.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Kudzu


This is kudzu, covering up everything. It was imported from Japan in the early 20th century to prevent soil erosion in the American South. If left alone, it will cover anything in its path: trees, power lines, houses, vehicles. It's nutritious forage for cattle, but if the cow lingers too long over its dinner it may find itself covered by kudzu. I read somewhere that the vine grows about one foot per day. No wonder they call it "the vine that ate the South."

I'm sure some Southern mystery writer has hidden at least one body in a patch of kudzu. It seems like such a perfect place.