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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Review: Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly

I couldn’t wait to get my hands (ears) on the latest Bosch audiobook (again perfectly read by Titus Welliver.) I love the confluence of Haller and Bosch and this book is a perfect vehicle for the half-brother symbiosis.

Bosch is hired in great secrecy by a billionaire to find if he has an heir from a liaison many decades before. The stakes are enormous, especially after Bosch gets a holographic will in the mail shortly after the man’s death that names him executor and charges him with continuing his search for the heir. He, of course, calls in Haller and together they pursue the heir.A congruent investigation involves a serial rapist that’s also a good story showing off Bosch’s investigative talents.

One of Connelly’s best.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Review: Snow Angels by James Thompson

“Instead of justice I got truth which was a poor substitute.”

Audiobook. Definitely not a tourist brochure for Finland. Right up front we are told of the Finnish racism, hatred for foreigners, especially Germans, the cold, the lack of light in the winter, and their penchant for alcohol and killing loved ones.

A Somali black movie star has been brutally murdered with a racial slur carved into her body.. The local inspector, Vaasa, married to an American ski resort manager, now pregnant with twins, knows he has political dynamite in this investigation. Suspects arrive in droves, and most of them are in the inspector’s circle. Admittedly, the town is small, but I was beginning to feel claustrophobic at the narrowness of his investigation. Mix in religious and cultural conflict and you have quite a melange. The Laestadian religion, a very conservative offshoot of Lutheranism, plays an important role in the book, as does the Koran. Both provide the motivations for many of the characters’ actions.

The Wikipaedia entry on Thompson notes that Vaara is portrayed as a “good” cop who goes bad in later novels and I can certainly see the seeds of future corruption. Given events, I wondered how he could ever follow up this novel with a second in the series. But I will certainly want to read the rest of the series. . Definitely not a book for those who like their cozies: it’s graphic and often profane.

Thompson, who had studied Finnish (as well as several other languages), was fluent in it, and lived in Finland, died in 2014 after writing four in the Vaasa series.

Review: The Doll Maker by Richard Montanari

Audiobook: I have read one other book in this series, The Rosary Girls. I went back to read my review only to discover I had not bothered. I almost did the same with this book, having finished it months ago, yet not having jotted down any notes or thoughts while reading it.

It’s -- they both? -- were satisfying enough, I guess, if you are looking for a time-waster, but I remember being a bit dissatisfied with the premise of both: damaged person becomes a serial killer who poses his victims in ways determined by events in his childhood. The detectives solve the case more by their involvement rather than active problem-solving, sort of like “Midsomer Murders” where the crimes are solved only by the accretion of more bodies. There’s really not much of a mystery, as the reader is treated periodically to the mind and activities of the killer, who, I must say, seemed more a fantastical, rather than “real,” figure. True crime is far more prosaic motivations less extraordinary.

Nevertheless, the book, perhaps thanks to the reader, held my interest while walking the dog, so 3, rather than 2, stars.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Review: The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Strangers on a Train is the classic story of a man who meets a stranger on the train and they discuss the murder of the man’s wife. When this story began by a man, Ted, meeting Lily (she’s gorgeous, of course) in an airport bar and they begin to discuss killing his unfaithful wife, I feared Swanson had simply stolen and amplified the Highsmith plot. I was wrong for it turns out the two have much in common. Won’t say much as it would involve too many spoilers. I’ll just acknowledge the plot moved along with the force of a speeding train.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Review: Escape Clause by John Sandford

That “Fuckin’” Flowers, as he is affectionately called, is relaxing in his favorite swimming hole with Frankie, his girl” on her farm after putting up some hay, a task Virgil hates, so she can sell it instead of feeding it to her non-existent cattle and can claim it as a business expense. All of a sudden her sister Sparkle charges down the path with her squeeze Bob, a nine-months-out-of-the-year-celibate priest (she only gets it during the summer.)  If that weren’t a good enough beginning, Virgil is called away to find two tigers that had been stolen from the Minnesota State Fair zoo.

Best Sandford series, bar none. They are all good. Engagingly read by Eric Conger