Friday, August 15, 2014

The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage by Justin Cronin

You may be wondering why my posting has slowed down.  First, I was on vacation.  Then, I decided to read some rather lengthy titles.  Clocking in at 776 pages this book was the longest on my “I’ve been meaning to read that” pile.  It took a lot of will power not to start reading the sequel as soon as I finished.  (I still can’t decide if the ending was the best, or most frustrating, cliffhanger ever.)

Experimentation creates a new weapon that leads to the infection and transformation of thirteen individuals.  These men are no longer men.  They are called many names, but vampire seems to be the most common in the early days, in the days before they escaped and the virus spread.  This future world is unrecognizable as the one we now know. 

In a walled town in what was once the southwestern United States there is great concern over batteries.  Sure, they are still holding a charge, but for how long?  They were made to last a decade or two, not a century.  What will happen when the lights that illuminate the darkness to keep the vampires away go out?  Where is there to go?  Are there more people out there?  Did the virus spread to the rest of the world?  Is there a cure?

Even if you’re not crazy about reading a book about vampires, I think you’ll enjoy this book.  How people deal with this new world of predators is fascinating, as are the vampires.  These vampires are more like the creatures of nightmares, not attractive at all!  And the ways they are so alien from us is really interesting.  I think fans of the Walking Dead and complex stories told in an epic style would enjoy this trilogy.  (Remember, only parts one and two have been released, you have to wait for part three!)

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Beast by Faye Kellerman

The Beast by Faye Kellerman

Peter Decker and his detectives are called to investigate the strange noises coming from the apartment of an elderly man.  After arriving they realize that the noises are roars and that the reclusive elderly owner of the apartment, Hobart Penny, hasn’t been seen in a while and is not answering the door.  After much work on the behalf of Animal Control the apartment is safely opened and the resident Siberian Tiger is taken away.  Penny is found dead, not because of the tiger, he was murdered.  There are signs of blunt force trauma to the forehead as well as a bullet in his back.

This is my first Faye Kellerman book and I did enjoy the half of the book involving the investigation into Penny’s death.  Nothing is as it seems and following each revelation to the next was interesting.  The other half of the book was dedicated to family drama about Decker’s foster son.  The voice actor on the audiobook did his best to make every voice distinctive and compelling but he couldn’t even make that subplot interesting for me.  Maybe it’s because I’m not a long time fan so I didn’t have time and energy invested in the family drama, but I read over some reviews and apparently even big fans shared my opinion.  While the narrator was excellent I recommend reading this one so you can skim the family drama parts and get back to the crime solving.

Dick Francis’s Gamble by Felix Francis


Dick Francis’s Gamble by Felix Francis

Nick Foxton is a financial advisor for a firm specializing in high risk, high return ventures like East End plays and startup companies.  That’s all the risk he can really have in his life after breaking his neck (really, he broke it) in a horrible fall during his past life as a jockey.  Many of his clients are former competitors so he’s still around the horse racing world quite often.  The book begins with Nick and a co-worker, Herb Kovak, attending Grand National.  Before the race begins a man steps from the crowd, draws a gun and shoots Herb in the head.  Who would want Herb dead?  Was his personal or work life the motivation?  Nick starts poking around in Herb’s affairs, being executor of his estate (a shock to Nick since the race was their first social event together).  Nick discovers interesting things about Herb’s personal and work lives and something he’s uncovered is prompting the gunman to now come after Nick.

I really thought I was reading a Dick Francis novel.  His son has taken up the reigns and run with them quite winningly.  The fast paced plot, first person narration and horse racing being tied into, but not the entirety of the plot, are all hallmarks of “classic Francis,” a term that will now apply aptly to both father and son.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Cormoran Strike is doing a steady business as a private investigator since he solved the Lula Landry murder.  He and Robin, his receptionist, have just about all casework they can handle when the distraught wife of a reasonably successful writer walks through the door.  Her husband is missing, she’s pretty sure she knows where he is, she just needs Strike to go get him and convince him to come home.  Of course nothing is ever that simple.  After searching for the missing man for a few days Strike finds him, somewhere other than where the wife thought he would be, quite dead, quite gruesomely dead.  Now Strike is trying to stay out of the way of the police while also trying to solve the murder since his client is sitting in jail and Strike is convinced she didn’t do it.

I really enjoyed the first book in the series, The Cuckoo’s Calling, and I thought Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling) would have a hard time topping it but she did.  And she did it very well.  I could not stop reading this book on the plane, time I really should have been sleeping, but I was so absorbed in the story I just kept paging through even though I was completely exhausted.  The best part to me was that I had an inkling who committed the murder, but I couldn’t put my finger on why.  When the detective started unfolding his reasoning I had my aha! moment and felt amateur sleuth-like myself.

If you like old-fashioned hardboiled detective mysteries you will enjoy Cormoran Strike.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

This is the story of 36-year old twins Tom and Savannah Wingo.  Tom has recently lost his job and finds out that he may also be losing his wife to another man.  Already dealing with this two blows he finds out that his sister has attempted suicide again and is in a psychiatric facility in New York City.  Tom leaves his beloved South Caroline to be with his sister and help her in any way he can.  His sister’s therapist, Lowenstein, won’t allow Tom contact with his sister, yet asks Tom to sit down with her and tell her about growing up in the lowcountry so she can better help Savannah.  What follows are Tom’s memories as he tells Lowenstein, a woman he slowly falls in love with, what is was like to grow up as a Wingo.   

I wanted to read a book by Conroy and this seemed to be THE book to read.  Overall it is a sad book interspersed with times of joy, but the main character has such a lovely, witty and sarcastic voice, even the most shocking and depressing memories he relates are made bearable.  While some may assume this is a beach read it is not.  There is a lot here in telling the life of the Wingo clan and his lyrical writing style makes for a slow read because you want to catch all he’s saying.  If you ever visited the lowcountry of South Carolina and want to feel like you have returned, this is a way to recapture the ambiance wherever you may be.

Sleight of Hand by Phillip Margolin

Sleight of Hand by Phillip Margolin

This is the story of a killer lawyer with skills in magic, Charles Benedict, and the private investigator, Dana Cutler, who is unknowingly hunting him down.  Benedict accidently shoots and kills someone and spends the rest of the book killing off potential witnesses and trying to frame another for the murder.  And if Cutler didn’t start sniffing around the scene he may have gotten away with it.

This is a mystery filled with twists and turns as well as a few (we think) red herrings that turn out to be important after all.  Benedict is a sociopath and it’s unbelievable to fathom the lengths he will go to to protect himself.  A great choice on audio because it really moves.

Vacant Possession by Hilary Mantel

Vacant Possession by Hilary Mantel

Muriel Axon has been in a mental institution for a number of years and was recently released.  She takes on the personas of some of the women she meets in order to exact revenge on those she believed wronged her in the past.  When in actuality it was her abusive mother who probably did the most harm.

I finished this book right before I left on vacation two weeks ago and the only feelings I can bring up now about it is that it was quite strange.  Also, since it was written in the 80s it was interesting how technology would have changed the story.  A few times I was thinking why didn’t someone just use their cell phone?  Then I had to remember what timeframe I was in. 

I wanted to experience the writer, but not read her recent tomes on English history, and she has a very literary writing style which I enjoyed.  The story she chose to tell however was quite odd.