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September 6, 2018 at 00:20 #435::
BROKEN PREY #16 In The Prey Series
Sometimes it pays to be lucky rather than smart. Well, actually I’m not sure what smart would have to do with it but. . .
I had finished the last but one of books on my nightstand and I started that one but just couldn’t get into it. So I went to my bookshelves and looked over several assuming that I had read them all. I kept coming back to Sandford and finally reached up and randomly selected Broken Prey. It turns out that I hadn’t read it! Therein is the luck.
I don’t remember when I first began reading the Prey series or what book I started with, I know it wasn’t the original, Rules of Prey. (Interesting fact; Dennis Rader, the BTK killer of Wichita, Kansas used Rules of Prey as a guide when he began killing.) I do know that I became an instant fan and nothing has changed in my fandom since.
Broken Prey is one of the best of the Prey series and I hesitate to say that for fear that it denigrates others in the series. Perish the thought! Sandford writes with an attention to detail and a bam, bam style that continues through his novels. You never get a chance to catch your breath until you put the book down. Nor do you want to. Each paragraph leads you into wanting more, and so you don’t put the book down until you fall asleep and it falls onto your face. (Why yes, I do read in bed, how did you know?)
Lucas Davenport, the protagonist of the Prey series, starts out as a Minneapolis cop, leaves the force for a bit and then rejoins it on a consultant basis, leaves it again and joins the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the law enforcement arm of Minnesota. There he is a big wig, a supervisor with a team of detectives and a couple who are more adept at enforcement than detecting.
In this novel Lucas is faced with a serial killer; one who tortures his victims before cutting their throats and Lucas knows he has to find and stop him before he kills again and again.
One of the things that I appreciate about Sandford’s writing is his attention to details large and small. He uses small details the way a cook will add a spice to enhance a dish; his details may have nothing to do with the story but they do enhance. One example from this book is when he pulls into a trailer park and a cat comes out from under one of the trailers and pauses with one paw raised (a very cat like pose if my cat is an example). It has absolutely nothing to do with the story and once it’s mentioned the cat disappears from any further involvement. But it has added that touch of spice, that flavor, a distant bird painted in a landscape, a making it whole and especially making it real. That’s John Sandford and one reason why I am a fan.
If you are squeamish, don’t read Sandford because his crime scenes are not for the faint of heart. If you prefer dull, stories in gray instead of vivid colors, pass him by. If the mundane is to your taste. . . well, leave him to those of use who enjoy a tale filled with wit, reality, action, familiar characters, because that’s what Sandford writes. And he’s damn good at it.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast
September 11, 2018 at 14:20 #662CapricornKeymasterSeptember 13, 2018 at 23:55 #820::
The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
If this had been my first Christie novel I would only have read more of her work through happenstance, but then again with her characters being so frequently in entertainment media I might have been persuaded to try another.
This book was plodding and there were several instances of a disconnect between one event and another. Additionally, the stereotypes in this book were more pronounced than in others that I’ve read from Christie and her use of the vernacular of the time (trying to be hip?) was disconcerting. The edition that I was reading had a plethora of footnotes explaining said vernacular and at times that in itself, just by the sheer volume of them was in itself confusing and often unneeded.
Tommy and Tuppence are both fatuous and shallow at the start of the book but by the end are the epitome of stalwart British young men and women.
Overall I’m glad I read this book if for no other reason than to see another side of Christie. The logic she uses in her other works far surpasses the silliness of this one. That in itself made this a work worth reading.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 14, 2018 at 00:00 #822::
The Cutting Edge (Lincoln Rhyme #14) byJeffery Deaver
When you pick up a Deaver penned book you pick up a text book. No, not one of those boring things you fought to keep your eyes open while reading for homework but one that’s a delight to learn from. As an example, in this book we learn about diamonds, the mining of them and the process of making them into the pretty baubles that cost oh so much. (I prefer the more brilliantly colored stones, emeralds, sapphires and especially rubies, but then they are my birthstone and the only precious stone I’ve ever owned.) We also learn a bit about earthquakes and the different types of vulnerability from the earth shaking on one coast to the other.
As an aside, I saw the movie The Bone Collector staring Denzel Washington as Lincoln Rhyme and Angelina Jolie as Amelia Sachs. I subsequently read the book and to this day I cannot read a book with Rhyme as a character without seeing him in the Washington incarnation. Not so Sachs. She’s so well described by Deaver that I see her as a fair skinned ginger, tall and fit save for her arthritis. But as I said, that’s an aside and not meant to influence your mental image of either Rhyme or Sachs.
Justin Patel is one of the best diamond cutters in New York City. Well, he was until he was killed in an apparent robbery. As were two of his customers who came to buy an engagement ring. Death did them part even before the wedding. And Patel’s part time employee walks in during the robbery and is shot. . . sort of. (Here it comes, my mantra, read the book to find out what that means.)
If you are familiar with Deaver’s Rhyme books, or his Kathryn Dance books, you know that little is as it seems. Twists and turns abound and there are more leaps for you to focus on than hurdles in a 400 meter hurdle race. (In case you’re wondering that’s 10 hurdles, the same as in a 100 or 110 meter race but you see my point.) Answers come quickly but then not all answers are correct. Why I remember once in an engineering course I was taking. . . but wait, that’s well beside the point.
Suffice to say that there are answers and red herrings. (I am not much of a fish eater but why are red herrings worse than, say, orange or purple herrings?) There is adventure and tragedy and success through adversity. A typical Jeffery Deaver book, and all well done.
And there’s an ending to this novel. Or is there? What does that mean? You guessed it, READ THE BOOK!
If you haven’t read a Deaver book and especially a Lincoln Rhyme themed one and you are a mystery/crime buff you have done yourself a disservice. If you are a Deaver fan and you haven’t read this book, what are you waiting on? It’s as good as any of them
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 14, 2018 at 00:09 #823::
Running Dark (Woods Cop Mysteries #4) byJoseph Heywood
I seem to have missed a book in the series; Chasing A Blond Moon which is Woods Cop #3 and went to this one, #4 in the series. I don’t think it is much of a problem but Blond Moon is now on my purchase list.
Heywood takes us back in time to when Grady Service was a young, headstrong but able rookie conservation officer. He’s given his beloved Mosquito area but is soon pulled off of that to undertake a special assignment as part of the COs trying to make inroads into the Garden Peninsula where the “rats” were involved in an organized poaching of fish in Lake Michigan. This was dangerous, frustrating work where the rats were involved in large numbered attacks on the vastly undermanned COs charged with patrolling the area and stopping the poaching.
This is not a historical account of that war but a work of fiction, though based on a real situation called the Garden Peninsula War.
Grady is eventually taken off of the patrol and given an undercover mission, to observe and identify the rats and their leaders. He does this with the aid of a one legged school teacher who is fed up with the lawlessness and the intimidation of people by the rats and their leaders. He does this by walking miles through snow and staying in the shadows, watching and eventually doing a bit of sabotage to the vehicles of the rats.
After Service’s stint at undercover work he’s sent back to patrol the Mosquito but is eventually called on to do more patrolling in the Garden Peninsula. Mixed in with this is an attempted murder investigation where he’s sure he has the woman who stabbed a mentally challenged young man. . . until he’s given reason to think that maybe not is all that it seems.
The book ends with Grady in his real time (2004) and a bit of reflection on what happened those many years ago.
The story has many twists and turns and the ride is as bumpy as some of the two lane backwoods trails that are the paths of hunters, anglers, COs and poachers alike. It is a history lesson couched in fictionalized form and it shows the Upper Peninsula in all of it’s wilderness majesty, harsh but beautiful.
This is a story of dedication to duty, of an organization’s willingness to suffer hardships, cold and danger to protect the beauty of that wilderness and its denizens, human and animal alike.
Normally I make a few witty (well, I hope they are at least) remarks and though there were some funny moments in this novel, overall I was left with a sense of dread for what is to come (a blurb for a future read in the series had certain spoilers in it) and a sense of pride in a man who does his job and a bit more.
It’s a good read. A very good read.
[Note that my reviews will typically be posted in Goodreads then copied and pasted here.]
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 14, 2018 at 00:18 #824::
This Thing of Darkness (Fiona Griffiths #4) by Harry Bingham
I recently reviewed the Jeffery Deaver novel, The Cutting Edge. In my review I noted how a Deaver novel was like a text book because you learned so much.
Deaver has nothing on Harry Bingham. I don’t know that Bingham is better at that than is Deaver but I would say they both offer great opportunities for learning. I know for sure there was much to learn in this novel and that’s been true of all of the Fiona Griffiths novels I’ve read.
Oh, one thing I learned reading the author’s notes at the end of the book, Bingham reads reviews both on Amazon and Goodreads. But I will not be intimidated. I will give what I feel is an honest review and just because I’m prepared to heap praise on this book doesn’t mean I’m bothered by Bingham’s review of my review one bit. So HA! Harry Bingham, just Ha!
(Scurry’s to the door to make sure the locks are thrown just in case Harry is on the prowl.)
So what subjects did we learn about from this book? Rock climbing of course, and how an adept climber of rocks can also be an adept climber of buildings. (Thankfully my house is a single story so I don’t have to worry about a climber getting into the third story and stealing my fabulously expensive cobwebs that have taken years to build up.)
We learn a bit about trans Atlantic cables. And like Fiona, I thought all of that data was done via satellite! We learned that time is money and when I say time we are talking milliseconds. I had no idea how those things worked but Bingham, having done his research taught us how that is so.
We learned a bit about trawlers out on the Irish Sea but not nearly as much as those two subject previously mentioned.
But we also learned a bit about Fi.
In the vernacular of our British friends, Fiona Griffiths is a nutter. Oh we knew that before but in this novel that nutterness comes out even more. But that shouldn’t be used to denigrate Fi because she’s also a genius at times. As dumb as she can be she has moments of brilliance and thus the basis of the stories Bingham weaves for us.
Fiona lives and works in Wales, for the most part that is. She does traipse off to other parts of the UK from time to time and even to foreign countries. Well they are all foreign to me ensconced as I am in the U.S. but I mean foreign to Fi. Specifically in this novel we are talking about Spain, Portugal and France.
So what is this novel about? It’s about 2 cold cases that Fi is given by Jackson, her uber boss in order to keep her mind going in the right direction. One was a break in and theft of a third story (second story in British terms if I’m not mistaken), a seemingly impossible feat that could be performed only by, say, Peter Pan. The other is the death of a night watchman, not as he made his rounds but after he partook of a couple of pints and feel off of a cliff while walking home.
But Fi, in her screwed up but insightful way doesn’t see it that way, neither of them. She doesn’t believe it was Peter Pan that broke into the third (or second) story nor does she feel that the night watchman fell to his death but rather was dead or close to it on his way down the cliff.
So what do those unrelated events have to do with trawler’s on the Irish Sea and trans Atlantic cable? Oh ye who have read my reviews; you know this is coming. . . READ THE BOOK!
Along with those crimes which set off a massive investigation, we have a kidnapping and torturing of a young female Detective Constable (Fi herself). We have the suicide which isn’t a suicide of a marine engineer who, it turns out, was also tortured. We have a world class climber of rock and, as we learn, buildings. We have insurance fraud. And we have a young female Detective Constable (yes, our beloved Fiona again) taking the exam for Sergeant. Does she pass? Yes, you guessed it; READ THE BOOK!
Watkins, Jackson, Penry, Ed and even Buzz plus Mike all play excellent supporting roles and they read their lines quite well and never miss their marks. Add Lev to that mix and you have. . . well, quite a mix.
In the past I have given the Bingham novels I’ve read 4 stars. Not this time. No, this time Bingham got that 5th star. He earned it, and no I’m not intimidated that he might read this review. Well, not much at least.
I loved the prose of this book and, as Harry himself points out in the afterward, he doesn’t Americanize his books but keeps them true to the UK and even more precisely, to Wales at times. The spelling wasn’t a problem at all. I mean if you can’t figure out that colour and color are the same thing then you probably should be listening to an audio book. There are times when I had to look something up, usually on Wikipedia or in the dictionary and I seldom have to do that with most books written for the American audience. I don’t mind that. Remember, earlier on I said this was text book and that is part of the learning.
So OK Mr. Bingham, can I take my catcher’s mask off, the one that I’ve been wearing in case you don’t like my review and want to punch me in the nose? Did I do OK?
Guess what? I don’t really have a catcher’s mask and I didn’t write this for Harry Bingham, I wrote it for me, and for anyone of our Goodreads readers who want to know what this book is about and if they should read it. I’ve given you hints as to the former and the answer to the latter is, if you like suspense, action, if you like delving into the mind of a young lady who has problems but also has lots of answers, then not just yes but HELL YES! Read this book.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 14, 2018 at 00:26 #825::
The Usual Santas: A Soho Crime Holiday Anthology byPeter Lovesey (Forward)
Were it not for 4 stories in this short story collection I would have given it 2 stars at the most. I found the majority of the stories to be less than thrilling and with little humor. I like my mayhem with humor, at least a bit.
Helen Tursten starts off this collection with An Elderly Lady Seeks Peace At Christmastime.
Maud is certainly elderly but she is also delightfully selfish and doesn’t mind being evil to carter to that selfishness. When you think of an octogenarian who just wants a bit of peace and quite to enjoy her solitude at Christmas you have to, if not chuckle out loud (yes, some of us do still chuckle and even guffaw) you have a smile on your lips. Or maybe I’m just a very twisted individual.
Next, Mick Herron gives us the title story, The Usual Santas.
There are 8 Santas working the oversized shopping center and there it is, Christmas Eve and they repair to a hospitality room where they had a buffet and brandy complete with 8 brandy snifters. The only problem is that as the last Santa comes in from his rounds, finally free of those bothersome elves, there is no brandy snifter for his use. How could this be? Well, the answer comes with a headcount; there are 9. . . count them, NINE Santas! That’s how this could be but. . . how could this be? Who is the imposter? And how will the Santas go about finding out who the imposter is? (This is where I find myself with a mixed message; I cannot recommend this book but in order to find out the answer one must, as I so often say in my reviews, READ THE BOOK!)
Next we have Chalee’s Nativity by Thomas Hallinan.
This is a story of a young orphan Thai girl living on the streets of Bangkok and who has taken an even younger street orphan under wing even if reluctantly. Chalee is an artist and is just discovering the depths of her talent while Apple, the other girl tries to interrupt her. Chalee isn’t thrilled with the interruption and Apple, being a girl of indeterminate age but maybe 8, 9, wants attention as children of that age do. The result is hurt feelings, both for Apple because of rejection and shortly thereafter for Chalee who is sorry for having rejected Apple.
Yes, you will need to read the book in order to see what happens but if you are like me, have some tissues close by. I did and I needed them.
The last of these stories that I enjoyed and can recommend is When The Time Came by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis, a pair of Danish authors who give us a story of a birth at Christmas, of compassion and human frailty all in one short story. This was not a nice little story, in fact just the opposite, but that compassion does show through. It also left several unanswered questions.
In fact there were several stories that I felt left out a great deal of information. At the end you are left wondering :But. . . but. . . what about this? What about that?” Alas, we are left to our own devices to either come up with a solution or to say to hell with it and move on. I moved on for the most part.
There is one other story that deserves mention. . . NOT honorable mention but just mention; Cabert Aux Assassins by Cara Black.
When you take iconic figures such as Irene Adler; “That Woman” as Holmes referred to her, and even Holmes himself, you should be very damn good at penning a story using them. Ms. Black was not. It’s less than gracious of me to mention that but damnit, just as Jim Croce told us in his great song when he admonished us not to mess around with Jim, you don’t mess around with Sherlock or even a one off character in Doyle’s prose, Adler. If you do you cannot expect to let bygones be bygones. You’re going to be called out for your transgressions.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 15, 2018 at 05:55 #906::
The Snowman (Harry Hole #7) by Jo Nesbø
In February of this year I read The Devil’s Star, a Harry Hole novel by Jo Nesbo. I then said I would wait a month or so to start another Hole novel as I needed a break. Well it was a bit more than a month and it was a bit of “or so”. But I was ready.
Michael Fassbender is a pretty good actor and he portrayed Harry in the movie version of this book. It was a good movie but it doesn’t hold much of a candle to the book. That’s not unusual. Books typically are better than the movie made from them. You can put so much more detail in a book and for me, I can use my imagination to fill in parts that the movie shows me whether my imagination would be better or not. With Jo Nesbo you have wonderful prose but still ample opportunity for your imagination to work, and this novel gave my imagination quite a work out.
Nesbo leads us down a wandering road, a road filled with misdirection and steps that didn’t lead where you thought they were taking you.
Someone is killing women, women that the killer sees as whores. And they’ve been doing it for a very long time, years. And not just women but men; a disgraced but a detective good at his job of detecting and a doctor. The whys of that are known somewhat early on for the latter but not until the end of the book for the former.
And Harry’s apartment is being torn up in an attempt to eliminate mold and fungus.
Rakel is Harry’s ex, but each has a problem leaving bygones as bygones. Plus there’s Oleg, Rakel’s son who see’s Harry as a father figure. Throw in Katrine, a much different character in the book than the novel.
This book was complicated, intricate. It showed us Harry at his best as a detective and it also showed us Harry as sober. We have seen Harry sober before but not through an entire novel.
This book is a treat for Hole fans (remember, it’s pronounced ‘holy’.) It gives us Harry at his best and it gives us the characters that Nesbo people’s his stories with colorful characters full of life and death. If you like Nesbo, if you are a fan of Harry Hole you will like this book as much as any of the preceding ones. It’s a humdinger.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 15, 2018 at 06:01 #907::
Police (Harry Hole #10) by Jo Nesbø
If you are new to Nesbo let me suggest you read the Harry Hole (and remember, it’s pronounced HOLY) series in order. There are just so many references to previous events as depicted in previous works that you will miss important points. I have read all of the books but I failed to read them in order and though I do remember the events it did take more than a bit of effort.
Harry is back with us in this book but there are a lot of changes. Harry is no longer a cop. Harry is sober. Harry is with Rakel though she is spending time with Oleg in Denmark. Katrine is back. Harry has problems with superiors. Oh wait, that isn’t new, that’s normal.
We lose some old, dear friends and as the characters in the story, I felt the loss.
Nesbo uses more than a few cliff hangers at the end of chapters and even in the middle of some. I would say possibly more than are practical but overall it works. This is true at the very end of the book as well.
It’s hard to write something new and pithy regarding a Harry Hole book. No, they are not all the same; yes, they remain exciting, intriguing. It’s a typical Nesbo penned Hole book and if you like any of them you should like this. It has a lot of the usual characters and villains that have carried over from previous stories. For Nesbo/Hole fans, read it, you’ll be glad you did. For those new to Harry, don’t read this. . . not yet. Read 1, then 2, then. . . all the rest before you read this.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 15, 2018 at 06:11 #909::
Night Rounds (Inspector Huss #2) byHelene Tursten
Somehow I skipped this and read the third in the series, The Torso after reading the 1st in the series, Detective Inspector Huss. This was more plodding than either of those two and normally that would mean it wasn’t quite as good. That wasn’t the case.
Detective Inspector Irene Huss is a mother and wife, the proud owner of a small dog, a woman who has, like most of us do, some self doubt about many things in her life, and oh yes, quite an intuitive detective in the violent crime squad of the Göteborg, Sweden police.
She deals with all of the realities of life; twin 14 year old daughters who are taking first steps toward adulthood, a husband with a successful career of his own, a dog that needs to be walked, rain or shine, bodies that pile up in a strange crime blamed by some on a ghost. In other words, Ms. Tursten brings Irene to life in a very real way.
This series is filled with characters that bring the story to life, whether it is a young teen girl spreading her wings about veganism, a husband who comes home after a long, hard day in the kitchen as chef of a popular restaurant (and too tired to make love to his wife), team members on the violent crime squad who have their own problems.
I am reminded of the team of detectives in the 87th Precinct. In that great series Ed McBain brings the various detectives to life both on and off the job. While Joe Carella and his cohorts operate in a similar manner; an environment that can be hot or cold, dry or wet, and some better than others; there are many differences too. At one point Irene watches a crime film on TV and thinks about how ridiculous the amount of shootings there are. Irene doesn’t carry a gun normally.
On a very different note; the stores of Lillian Jackson Braun with Qwilleran, Koko and Yum Yum created an atmosphere that you looked forward to coming home to in each book as you read it. Tursten does that with her books, creating a group of characters that it’s like coming home to. It’s not all blood and guts but it includes hurt feelings, irritants in how someone treats another, a car that is old and recalcitrant at times, a boss that you may respect but you may also be frustrated by. In short, a group of characters that we can believe in.
But then there is that spectral hand on the window. “What?” you ask? Here you go. . . read the book.
Tursten gives us characters we can believe in, relate to, laugh with, be irritated with and thoroughly enjoy.
If you like a who done it type of mystery, characters that could be part of your own life, events that make you laugh, cringe, worry, rejoice with, then read this book. You’ll be glad you did.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 15, 2018 at 06:32 #911::
Twisted Prey (Lucas Davenport #28) by John Sandford
I have been with Sandford through 28 Prey novels and I look forward to the next as if I were at a buffet of seemingly endless opportunities to indulge and never disappointed with each trip to the food line, grabbing my clean plate, letting my eyes roam over the selections, filling that clean plate then returning to my table, never to be full, never needing Pepto, always enjoying the repast.
Thank you Mr. Sandford, it’s been a great ride. Next? (We constant readers can be so demanding.)
Those of us who know and love Lucas Davenport will have to wait about a year before the next Prey novel is released if history is any portent, but we know that the wait is worth it. (Neon Prey is scheduled for release in April, 2019.)
So too, was Twisted Prey.
We meet again Senator Taryn Grant of Minnesota who gained her senate seat in an earlier novel by planting false evidence on her opponent and causing a few deaths along the way. Now she’s up to her old tricks again and Lucas is called upon to investigate her in his capacity as a U.S. Marshal. He gets help from a couple of friends, Bob and Rae, also marshals. (Did Sandford think of Bob and Ray, the great comedy team when he named these two partners?) (Did he consciously create Rae in the image of Carla Windermere, the black, athletic FBI agent in the Stevens and Windermere series penned by Owen Laukkanen?)
This is a Prey series novel so we know it has blood and guts, duplicitous actions by both the good guys and the bad guys. We have humor, such as when Bob takes down an escaping felon as he stands on the corner with a bag of donuts eating one and saving Rae’s per her request. (Read the book to get the humor of the situation.) We also have Lucas realizing his age as demonstrated by his running and screaming for help when 3 bad guys attempt to mug him. Hey! He’s entitled to have some age; he’s been with us since 1989. Several of us have gone long in the tooth since then.
What makes this book different than all of the others? Nothing! Well, and a lot. The Prey novels are filled with much of the same; a smart, intuitive detective who grows, makes mistakes, sometimes walks very close to the line between legal and illegal (not that he’s ever stepped over it, oh no, not our hero. Cough, cough). But every novel brings us something new, whether it’s a new character such as Letty (see Naked Prey for her introduction), Weather, who cut his throat (read the book!) or so many of the characters that are denizens of the books. So, you see what I mean? Much of the same (which is a good thing) and lots of differences (which is also a good thing).
One great feature of this book is that after you’ve read the last page, you continue and find Sandford’s essay on writing. Once you read How To Write you can immediately join the ranks of those who wait for their Pulitzer nomination. . . and wait, and wait, and wait. It won’t teach you how to write and Sandford tells us that up front, but in it he shares, somewhat, the methods of his writing and, not unusual for him (or Stephen King as he points out) how he uses music.
If you like Lucas Davenport you won’t be disappointed with this book. If you aren’t familiar with Lucas but you like smart novels and smart detectives, you like action and thrills and a bit of dark humor, you need to read a Prey book. You don’t have to read them in order but doing so can enhance the reading as you go along.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 17, 2018 at 10:56 #1073::
Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
I came across the Swedish film, Let The Right One In, a couple of years ago or more and thoroughly enjoyed it. A much different take on the vampire story and an entertaining horror film. (I enjoy such films but not so much slasher films.) Sometime later I watched the American version, Let Me In, based on the book and the Swedish film and found it entertaining also though with less suspense since I knew most of the plot.
Somehow it never occurred to me that this was based on a book and when I did discover that a short time ago I was anxious to get that book. I could have waited or never read the book and been just as happy.
The beginning of the book was slow and it took quite some time before it began to speed up. It was also very convoluted at times and as the end of the book drew near I was ready for it to end. I finished it as I do some books, just because I’ve started it and want to see it to the end.
There were many differences between this book and most vampire books, especially Stoker’s classic, Dracula. Most of the differences are hardly an improvement on the classic vampire tale and one of the few positives about Lindqvist’s characters is that none of them glittered or sparkled. Other than that, I don’t have a lot of positive thoughts about this book; either film was much better.
The films were far more straightforward but were still suspenseful and had a good amount of horror without being melodramatic. They told a story of love, even if that love was quite young, bullying and revenge.
Lindqvist’s story is filled with more pedophilia than vampire horror and he even throws in a pedophilia monster, more concerned about molesting a child than killing them or drinking their blood.
Stories with pedophilia can be more than uncomfortable to read and some can be great literature. Note Lolita, and to a lesser extent, some of the works of Anne Rice. Lindqvist’s work isn’t great literature. Some of it is decent – but hardly great – monster mash, yet it’s greatest creepiness has to do with an adult wanting to be with a child.
Normally at some point in my reviews I’ll say READ THE BOOK! I will make no such suggestion but will leave that to do or not to do up to you. Just remember, Oskar and Eli are not a match made in heaven.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 19, 2018 at 07:01 #1227::
Dead Watch by John Sandford
Sandford has written 3 stand alone novels, Saturn Run (5 stars!), The Night Watch (3 stars) and this one, Dead Watch.
While interesting this didn’t have the bite or flair of the Prey series novels. Jake Winter was like Lucas Davenport lite. The romance was not all that realistic and much of the action seemed contrived, also not quite realistic. There was Sandford’s use of black humor at times and his great attention to the small details that don’t add to the plot but certainly helps one see the overall atmosphere of a scene.
While not a bad book it’s just not up to Sandford’s usual work. It was released 12 years ago and I can see why Sandford didn’t make this into a series. His Kidd series was much better but his Prey and Virgil Flowers series are about as good as it gets.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 22, 2018 at 08:20 #1477::
Dead Harvest (The Collector #1) by Chris Holm
I first read a Holm book maybe a year or less ago when I opened up The Killing Kind, Michael Hendricks #1. I’m not sure that I would call either the Collector books or the Henedricks books a series. I think a minimum of 3 would be required to call a series a series and both of these, to date, are 2 books; a first and a sequel for both.)
No matter, I enjoyed the two Hendricks books and now I’ve enjoyed the Collector book and ready to read the second, The Wrong Goodbye.
This book was complicated but those complications kept drawing you in, left you wanting to find out more and more and more, and Holm delivered. We follow, through flashbacks how Sam becomes a collector even as we travel through New York City with his assigned collectee in tow, dodging demons, angels and cops. And Lilith/Lily.
Take away his extended mortality, his job of collecting souls, his ability to jump from person to person, alive or not, and Sam is just your normal, every day guy, with emotions, needs, a conscience, memories and a sense of duty, all while making quite human mistakes and successes.
How did Sam become a collector? Read the book!
Why is Sam doing his best to protect Kate? Read the book!
Hold the presses! I just saw that there is a third Collector book so I guess it is a series.
Now back to our regular programming.
This book was complicated as I mentioned but Holm’s attention to detail makes those complications both readable and interesting. Holm lets us feel Sams fear, pain, utter exhaustion, despair.
This book combines fantasy, horror, crime, suspense, love, hate. Most books as full of varying emotions and feelings as this would be overly complicated to read, but Holm has a talent for making the complicated quite readable.
I’m looking forward to The Wrong Goodbye and I have faith that I’ll want to read the third, The Big Reap.
If you haven’t met one of Mr. Holm’s books but you like action, suspense, you can deal with good guys being hurt or worse, then let me suggest you pick up any of his books. I doubt that you would be disappointed.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 25, 2018 at 12:49 #1728::
City of Endless Night (Pendergast, #17) by Douglas Preston (Goodreads Author), Lincoln Child
Any of this series without Corrie Swanson is a step down from those that do. She is my favorite character not named A.X.L. Pendergast. I know, that’s going to bring out a lot of WTFs from the peanut gallery but hey, it’s an opinion and I have a right to mine just as you have a right to yours. I like Corrie. Oh yes, I like so many of the others; Constance, Laura and Vincent, Proctor, Mrs. Trask and even dear great aunt Cornelia.
But I digress from Endless Night.
It’s been 2 years since we last saw Aloysius in The Obsidian Chamber. Now he’s faced with a man whom he considers his most challenging foe to date. a man who is after Pendergast’s head, literally.
In fact there are several people losing their heads; a beautiful, spoiled socialite, a mob lawyer, a Russian oligarch who deals in arms, a charismatic Nigerian woman who has founded HIV clinics and educational facilities throughout Africa and even a member of law enforcement. (No spoiler there, if you want to know who, read the book.)
Messrs Preston and Child have given us their usual fantastic (yes, it requires suspension of reality in your imagination but so what?) action as we delve into the mind of friend and foe alike, as we try to make sense out of the irrational, as we try to understand Pendergast’s musings.
If you haven’t run into Agent Pendergast as yet, do so. He’s a fascinating character. I would suggest reading the books in order but unless it’s part of a trilogy it isn’t absolutely necessary. Reading in order can be helpful but it’s not essential.
My biggest problem with this book (other than it’s missing Corrie) is that it will probably be another 2 years before we accompany Aloysius on another strange, mystifying adventure.
Oh, and here’s another mystery; why Is Douglas Preston a Goodreads author but Lincoln Child is not?
Page 353, toward the bottom:
“Vincent, it isn’t the content of one’s bank account that’s important, it’s the content of one’s character, to paraphrase a wise man. The divide between the wealthy and everyone else is a false dichotomy – and one that obscures the real problem: there are many wicked people in the world, rich and poor. That is the real divide – between those that strive to do good, and those who strive only for themselves. Money magnifies the harm the wealthy can do, of course, allowing them to parade their vulgarity and malfeasance in full view of the rest of us.”
One has to wonder if Preston and Child were thinking of someone quite current when they wrote that bon mot.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 27, 2018 at 17:25 #1953::
‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
This is one of the earlier King works but it was just a few years ago that I read it. I’m not sure why; I am a big King fan (his son, Joe Hill also) and overall his is my favorite author. That is a difficult thing to rank; there are so many that I enjoy, Conan Doyle, John Sandford, Poe, Asimov, Bradbury to name a very few of a very large list.
How does one take a vampire story, a genre that’s been told time and time again and make it fresh? Well, adding children to the mix certainly adds a bit of cringe worthiness to it and King does that in many of his works; It, The Body, Pet Sematary, again, a paltry few of a large list.
Another thing that King is a master of is allowing the constant reader to delve into the mind of the protagonists, and often the antagonist as well. You feel their joy and their terror. You feel their confusion and their sadness, their loss.
This was certainly true in Salem’s Lot. This book was released 35 years ago and it holds its own against horror novels written today.
I doubt that many readers of horror are unfamiliar with King but if you’ve missed this one, do yourself a favor and find a copy. It will be a chilling good read. Oh, keep the lights on and the windows closed as you read this. It’s fiction; right? But why take a chance?
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 27, 2018 at 18:07 #1970::
Not a book but rather a poem that was written for me by a lady I used to be with.
Pick me up, Pappa.
Let’s play that game again
Where I’m the child
And you’re the father
To watch me
In the snow drift
While the Sunday forgets itself
And will not lingerThe Day
But for the hours you stay
Where I can steal a kiss
Or a sip of coffee
Which I will bravely conquer
Even as it is bitter
And the snow melts
On my hair
While you smell of wood and cologne-
The smell that wraps me close
With my hands in the pocket of a coat
That is not mine.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by Desert_Fox.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 28, 2018 at 13:55 #2048::
Whispers of the Dead (Special Tracking Unit #2) by Spencer Kope
Kope brings a unique background to the art of writing crime fiction; he’s a crime analyst for a Washington State county law enforcement department. He also has been in the U.S. Navy Intelligence Office. That he is analytical shows in his writing.
The stories of the Special Tracking Unit (STU) are told from Mangus “Steps” Craig as he travels the not so friendly skies with his partner and, to an extent, his minder, Jimmy Donovan. Together, along with Diane, they make up the STU which is tasked with (surprise, surprise) tracking down criminals and finding lost people.
Steps has a well defined self deprecating wit, a love of his life, a brother that he lives with and the family of the STU, including Les and Marty, pilot and co-pilot of their Gulfstream jet which carries them hither and yon chasing bad guys.
If you have a foot fetish you’re either going to really like or really hate this story. It has to do with feet. Feet, chopped off of bad guys by a vigilante. It’s this vigilante that has Steps and Jimmy running between Albuquerque, New Mexico and Baton Rough, Louisiana. (I cannot read Baton Rouge, or hear it mentioned without hearing it spoken with a Cajun accent due to a Top Sargent I had during my days in the Army who was from Baton Rouge.) (That has nothing to do with this book nor the review; this is what’s called an “aside”.)
But Steps has a unique talent, or ability if you will, that helps him track people. He sees “shine”, a synesthesia that manifest itself in a colored track that people leave behind. Think of a snail’s track only with unique colors for everyone and textures as well. From looking at the shine of an individual Steps can tell if they are alive or dead.
Steps’ ability is a secret; only his father, his “uncle” (who happens to be the director of the FBI and thus why Steps has the job that he does, and Jimmy. Not even Diane nor Heather, the woman that Steps adores knows. Though from this book that may change soon. (Not a real spoiler I don’t think.)
Steps and Jimmy are first called to El Paso (a city with a street numbering system that would drive a GPS insane from my personal experience) where a local judge has found a Styrofoam cooler with two feet. . . anatomically speaking, not the measurement; please do pay attention now; in the center of his living room. This judge is, to put it delicately, an asshole, but that has little to do with the story other than for a humorous incident in the El Paso PD’s detective bureau.
From there we have more found feet, a body or two, and our heroes are off and chasing the bad guy’s shine wherever they can find it.
I enjoyed this book from several viewpoints; the analytical musings of Steps and Jimmy, the mental processes of being two very busy FBI agents who have loved ones left behind all too often, the emotional aspects of the job, and how to keep Steps’ abilities a secret from all concerned.
If you enjoy the chase, the determination of facts from other facts, the banter between two grown men, cop shop humor, you should enjoy this. This is not a high action novel though there certainly is plenty of that, but it’s the story of two men working together to bring an end to a crime spree. If that would suit your taste, yes, indeed you will enjoy it. I certainly did.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastSeptember 28, 2018 at 14:40 #2056::
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
At one point I was working and living in Bullhead City, Arizona and going home on the weekends to Vegas. (I’ve been told that people in Vegas don’t like the term ‘Vegas’ preferring the more formal Las Vegas. I lived their for 16 years and found that most people I knew who lived there called it Vegas. But that’s beside the point.) This was approximately a 90 minute trip depending on traffic and whether there were blinding dust storms or not and before Sirius Radio. Radio reception was spotty in the middle of the desert so I would borrow audio books from the Clark County, Nevada library in Laughlin, a gambling Mecca across the river from Bullhead. (Most people refer to it without adding the ‘City’ to it.) This is how I happened to come across My Sister’s Keeper and became a Picoult fan, though later that changed. But that’s another review.
I fell in love with Anna, and to a slightly lesser extent, Kate, her older sister. Oh, Kate is a very sick girl and Anna was conceived to a certain extent to try to save Kate by being her bone marrow transplant donor.
This book is filled with amazing characters beside Anna and Kate. You have Campbell Alexander, a lawyer who takes Anna’s case for emancipation but she has to work for his fee and Campbell has a secret of his own; Julia Romano is appointed by the court as guardian ad litem to Anna (read the book to find out more about that); you have Brian and Sara Fitzgerald, parents to Anna, Kate and also Jesse, the girl’s older brother.
There were many times when driving down the highway I had the sniffles and as the book reached it’s climax I cried outright. It was heart wrenching to put it mildly.
Picoult built realistic characters in fantastic situations, but situations that were realistic. Picoult weaves a story that could be found in the newspapers (or, well, as we are wont to do today, in online blogs and internet news feeds). It is this realism that makes Picout’s works so well worth reading.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastOctober 2, 2018 at 20:39 #2239::
The Wrong Goodbye (The Collector #2) by Chris F. Holm
Of the four books by Holm that I’ve read so far, this is #4 on the list, but that’s not a bad thing. Holm writes a good story and not all will be the best, but his non best is pretty damn good!
We met Sam Thornton in Dead Harvest and Sam is up to his usual agenda of collecting souls, only this time someone beats him to his assigned target. In the underground industry of soul collecting, poaching another’s target is a big no no. So Sam tracks down the collector that stole his targeted soul and gets that item back from him. Only he didn’t.
Now Sam is in a world of feces. But our intrepid hero. . . wait, intrepid means fearless and Sam is anything but fearless. But our hero is excellent at adapting, thinking on his feet, or at times on his back while being pummeled by a monster, or a demon, or a god. We aren’t sure what the pummeler is but we know it’s not nice whatever it is.
When Sam got the supposed soul back from the poacher he attempted to offer it up for those that take it to it’s final location. It would not be correct to say final resting place. There is no resting for those souls. But whatever the case, this soul was unacceptable. Sam must find and offer up the assigned soul.
But I digress as I so often do.
Sam prevented a war, or at least delayed it, between demons and angels in Dead Harvest. In this book it seems that delayed is the more correct term as those two entities are having a few skirmishes. And those skirmishes come between Sam and his quest to recover the soul he was tasked with collecting and if he doesn’t beat the deadline giving by the pummeler mentioned earlier he will be shelved. Shelved is sitting on the sidelines in a body that’s inert, aware but unable to do anything but lie there.
Sam begins this adventure in the jungles of Columbia tracking a drug lord, then travels across much of the U.S. from east to west until he winds up in Los Angeles in a confrontation with the poacher and his accomplice. He also picks up a bevy of California troopers and then L.A. cops including SWAT, helicopters and, uh oh, that aforementioned pummeler again.
Along the way we learn more about this world that remains hidden from most of us humans, more about Sam and his history as a collector and a bit about Lily. . . excuse me, Lilith. She doesn’t like to be called Lily and damned if I care to make her angry!
A mix of fantasy and horror with a healthy dose of human interaction with demons, angels and even other humans. It’s a thumping good read.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastOctober 7, 2018 at 05:24 #2462::
CHASING A BLOND MOON (Woods Cop #3) by Joseph Heywood
This is Woods Cop #3 but the 4th in that series that I’ve read. Fortunately, reading Running Dark, the 4th in the series before Chasing A Blond Moon was not a problem at all due to Running Dark being a flash back novel.
Blond Moon is the most complicated of the four books in the series I’ve read. There are more twists and turns than in a high capacity dryer full of sheets and socks. Normally this would detract from a story but Heywood does a bang up job with it. You don’t know from chapter to chapter or sometimes even page to page what is going on, but your appetite to find out is whetted.
Speaking of appetite; Grady Service is a rough conservation officer, a man of the woods and the animals he’s charged with protecting. But he’s hardly one dimensional. He’s a connoisseur of both wine and food, able to cook a fine French dinner while savoring a fine wine.
This novel has Grady performing his duties as the detective he’s been promoted to. Or is it demoted? He loves his boots on the ground, in the mud and dust. But being a detective requires his presence in the office more than he would like.
This story is filled with the discovery of a son that Grady had no idea existed. It deals with a state senator and gubernatorial candidate that we met briefly in Blue Wolf In Green Fire, #2 in the series. It shows Grady feeling his age.
Does Grady get the bad guys? Yes. And no. Read the book to find out what that means.
Heywood shows us the wilds of the U P, both animal and man alike. The weather is every bit a character of this series, whether it’s snow, rain, dust and humidity. The mix of characters, Nantz, Grady’s lover, Walter his son, the Captain, his secretary, other COs, other cops and deputies; all cause this to be like a high quality stew; quite mixed as to ingredients but still able to taste those individual ingredients. Heywood makes it work. (Now if he would use less onions in his recipes.)
Crime and nature; if you like either of those and especially both, you will love this series.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast
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