Friday, August 29, 2014

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

Abner Marsh is a large, ugly, dedicated riverboat captain.  His career is on the brink of ruin when ice crushes all but one of his fleet of steamboats.  Trying to keep his company afloat (pun intended) with one old boat he is on the brink of disaster when he is sought out a rich man, Joshua York, who wants to form a partnership.  York will supply the funds to make the biggest, fastest and most opulent steamboat to ever sail the Mississippi and Marsh will just need to co-captain and teach York all about life on the river and piloting a riverboat.  Of course all things that seem too good to be true are, and Marsh learns more than he ever wanted to know about York and his kind.

In 1982 the whole concept of looking at vampires in a way that didn’t follow in Dracula’s footsteps was unique, now it’s something that every vampire book seems to do: put their own twist on the legend.  Martin did that over thirty years ago and I had to keep reminding myself of that.  This wasn’t just another vampire book; this was a standalone and a standout at the time.

The friendship that forms between York and Marsh is an interesting one to watch develop.  It makes you think neither ever had a really good friend.  And the lengths each will go for the other is heartwarming, especially considering the rather curmudgeonly personality of Marsh.

Pick up this book if you are really fond of vampire legends, or life on the Mississippi in the mid-1800s or if you are needing your Martin fix while waiting for the next volume in the Game of Thrones series. 

 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

In the Woods by Tana French

 In the Woods by Tana French

Detectives Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox are called to an archaeological site in a Dublin suburb to investigate the murder of a young girl. The detectives are aware of the similarities between this recent murder and the disappearance of two children from the woods twenty years before.  In fact, the detectives have more information than anyone because they have access to the old files and the few memories Rob Ryan, who went by the name of Adam twenty years prior.  Because Adam was the third child who went in the woods that day and the only that came back out.

This is a wonderful mystery with a horrifying twist.  Fans of any type of mystery, thriller or suspense novel will find something to like here.  The characters are well developed, the mystery is intriguing and the pacing is quick.  One warning though, if you want your ending all tied up with a bow, this may not be the read for you.  If you like being left guessing, don’t skip this one.

I read a few reviews of her next book, The Likeness, which said it was better than this one.  I have a hard time believing that, so that book is now on my to-be-read shelf.

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

Tom Cage has been accused of murder in the assisted suicide of his former nurse Viola Davis.  His son, Penn Cage who is the mayor of Natchez, can’t believe it and starts digging into the past to help clear his father and find out who could have murdered her.  He uncovers truths about the city he loves, and the people he thought he knew.  Could the hatred of the KKK still be present in the city?  Could an old threat of the Klan have killed Viola?  Will Tom and Penn live to see justice?

This is a long book (over 780 pages) and a long listen (30 discs) but it went by quickly even though the pacing of the story was leisurely.  There was enough action mixed with the history to keep the story moving.  I listened to the first half of the book and read the second.  The audio narration was wonderful, but the senselessness and the descriptions of the hate crimes were so much more vivid in that format, so I switched to print.

This book has an AMAZING ending that left room for the next installment, but I am still shocked at how this volume ended.  A great look at a horrible time, and a great story.  It’s nice to see justice being served, even all these decades later.

Blind Justice by Anne Perry

Blind Justice by Anne Perry

A different sort of tale, an ethical study of the legal system; how letting a guilty man go free may be the “right” thing to do in the eyes of the law.  A judge, a good friend of Hester and Monk, inherits pornographic photos.  In them are prominent members of society in compromising positions with small boys.  The power one could wield with these pictures is immense.  And the judge gives one of these photos to the prosecution to use in a trial because he knows the accused is guilty and will get away with it otherwise.  Now the judge is on trial…

Perry does a good job describing London of the time, and the legal system, and the audio narrator had recognizable accents for all the characters.  It is a slow moving tale, but that goes with the times.  Even though there are many books in the series prior to this one the author did a good job filling in the newcomer to the series without bogging the tale down with personal side stories or over-explaining the past of the characters.

I think I have put off reading Perry because I can’t separate the author from her childhood crime.  (Look up the movie Heavenly Creatures if you don’t know the story.)  For fans of historical mysteries I think she is a must read.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes

The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes

Helen Walsh’s life is falling apart.  She just lost her flat and has to move back in with her parents.  She has no jobs on the horizon and she’s starting to feel awful again.  Possibly returning to the hospital awful.  Thinking that catching the plague or suffering from spontaneous combustion would be a grand thing awful.  However, not all is bad.  Her boyfriend is wonderful.  Her parents love her.  Her doctor has given her new meds.  And her ex-boyfriend has got a well-paying job for her.  As a private investigator she’s looked for missing people before, but Wayne, the weird-one in Laddz, a boy-band coming back for a reunion tour, is proving ready hard to find.  Their first gig is in less than a week.  Will Wayne reunite with Laddz soon enough to learn his choreography?

This is an eye-opening look at the inside of depression.  Helen was hospitalized after a suicide attempt, and she can see the warning signs now, but is hoping to keep them at bay while giving her finances a much needed boost with her new case.  Helen is sympathetic and fun despite all that is going on in her head.  You empathize with her and also want to hang out with her at the pub on a Saturday night.  It’s a humorously told tale, with serious undertones.  A delightful listen.

I didn’t realize, until I was writing this post, that this book is in the Walsh Sisters series.  When I’m looking for a snarky fun Irish listen (March sounds perfect) I will probably pick another entry in this series to listen to and enjoy during my commute.

Well-Schooled in Murder by Elizabeth George

Well-Schooled in Murder by Elizabeth George

Partners Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers are called upon to investigate the murder of a young boy in the English countryside.  He was a resident at a prestigious boarding school yet his nude body was found in a graveyard quite a distance away.  Who would want to kill a young boy?  How did his body end up where it did?  What is going on at the school that everyone seems to want to ignore?

I know many fans of Elizabeth George, but had never gotten around to reading one myself until this week.  I’m glad I took the time to read one!  It was a well-crafted mystery (though I think one of the major clues was overlooked by the detectives for much of the narrative that was screaming out at me).  I also enjoyed the personal lives of the characters.  Even though this is a series I didn’t feel like I missed something.  These storylines didn’t overwhelm the mystery, but added to the book by developing the characters.  I will probably read another one in the series some time soon. 

Not Quite a Wife by Mary Jo Putney

Not Quite a Wife by Mary Jo Putney

Laurel lives in Bristol, working at a medical clinic with her brother, a doctor, in the 1800s.  She is content with her life helping others, but her past life comes rushing back when her estranged husband is brought in both beaten and delirious from an oncoming malarial attack.  He’s delirious, she’s (apparently, even though she left him ten years ago) missing him, and one thing leads to another…and she’s pregnant.  So starts this lackluster, unbelievable tale of weird romance.

I try not to say bad things about books in my blog because I feel that just because I didn’t really like something doesn’t mean that someone else won’t like it, possibly even love it.  But I can’t think of anything good to say about this title.  The characters are thin, the dialogue seems anachronistic and repetitive (if she said she was “increasing” instead of finding another way to say pregnant I was going to lose it) and I just didn’t get the two main characters.  They couldn’t find a way around their differences in the past ten years?  Argh!  I’m sorry, but I really can’t say who would like this book.  May be good for a mindless diversion, but there are so many better choices.