Saturday, June 20, 2009


Even by Andrew Grant has my vote for next year's Debut Anthony Award. I'm sure Andrew will do fine on his own, considering whom he got to blurb his book. Loved the first chapter, then Grant almost lost me slogging through the narrative for the first five chapters. The only thing that kept me going was the glimpses of great dialogue dispensed throughout the beginning chapters. Once I hit page 50, Grant's pace was in place and I didn't put the novel down until the end.

His protagonist David Trevellyan, a covert operative in the Royal Navy is a cross between James Bond and Burn Notice's Michael Weston. Grant gave Trevellyan Bond's sardonic humor and Weston's reluctant hero personality a dynamic combination. Trevellyan in New York, walks home from dinner and finds a dead man in the alley just as the police arrive. The police assume Trevellyan killed the man and arrest him. He figures his London bosses will have him out it time for breakfast. Unfortunate for Trevellyan, the London employers wash their hands of their spy and let him swing in the wind. The fun ensues as he tries to rectify this misunderstanding. Grant neatly slipped in the back story in the first paragraphs of each chapter as covert spy tips. We learned how the Royal Navy shaped his character and brought him to his current state with antidotes that read like Dummies For The Would-be-Spies. Nice use of a writing device.

I talked with Grant at Love is Murder in February over drinks. After minutes of kibitzing over the other conventioneers reenactor costumes, I told him he sounded and looked a bit like Lee Child. He smiled and politely informed me he was Child's younger brother. Color me red. I disengaged my foot from my mouth and lost all train of thought at that point. I"d wanted to ask about his protagonist name David Trevellyan. I love the arcane stuff in writing. The name sounds familiar, but just can't place it.

Although the concept of the rebellious spook is an entire sub genre, Grant has given the species a roll-coaster ride in his first outing. The Trevellyan series appears heir apparent of the genre.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Some like it Hot Buttered by Jeffrey Cohen is a funny mystery. I like Jeff's wit and oh the zingers. My face still hurts from smiling like an idiot while reading. Very punny. Well developed characters and plot. This time out a patron dies of poisoned popcorn at the Comedy Tonight movie theater and the fun ensues. Elliot the protagonist investigates the death on his bike. That image alone should get you to buy the book. When I'm down and need a lift I pick up Jeff's double feature series. All his book make me laugh. Great beach read.

OOLONG DEAD by Laura Childs writes a cozy series about the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston. The third in the series, her protagonist Theodosia Browing is asked to host a lavish tea during the Verdi-themed Masked Ball. Already in a bit of a tizzy Theodosia only adds to her work when she finds the dead body of her arch nemesis, Abby Davis. Occasionally I'll read a cozy. Several of my friends lavished this series with praise for her writing, and it's great detail to description of the south and of tea. Unfortunately for me after the second tea set description I was grinding my back teeth. Not my cup of tea.

Zen and The Art of Vampires, A dark ones novel by Kate MacAlitster. This novel was a recommendation from a friend. Not bad, but I prefer more mystery, than romance or scifi in my novels. The premise, a forty year old Pia wants the "normal" life, white picket fence with husband and kids, but what she gets is an unusual European singles tour with lots at stake. (Pun intended) If you like romance this might be a winner for you to sink your teeth in.

Off Street Parking by Bill James. Would a wife have the nerve to park her dead husband in the family car in the driveway? What a great hook, and that's why I picked up the book. It's a mystery, a slow slogging mystery, The author used a numbered bullet point as a device to inform us of his heroine's thoughts. That and all the asides the narrator gave in the novel, I lost the plot of the story and put the book down uncompleted.

Finally on this week's outing I tried to read Witch Fire by Anya Bast The same friend as above gave me this book, said I would love this paranormal mystery. Well the whodunit was I could hardly find or remember the mystery plot from all the romance. Not enough gore, too much romance. I'll have to remember this friend likes romance more than mystery.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Time to visit with all my favorite series characters and a few new ones. First up Sookie Stackhouse.

Charlaine Harris's new novel Dead and Gone was great. It is fun, a good romp of a summer read. Love Charlaine and love Sookie, but this time, maybe it was me, Sookie and I felt out of sync. Overall it was a great addition to the series. The ninth novel in her series filled in those hanging questions from previous books. Lots of action, great dialogue, sex, but the plotting well it wasn't up to Charlaine's great standards. Okay I'm nit pickin here, bare with me a minute.

My quibble is with the last third of the book. Not enough clues laid in earlier in the book for the reader to figure out who the murders were. And there's Mel dying declaration, the clues were so superficial I didn't see his announcement coming. I thumbed back through the book and tried to figure out where I missed the clues, which took me out of the reader mode. Plus I'm irritated with the continuous is it Quinn, Bill or Eric triangle in whose my lover? Geez, pick one. I'm not a fan of long drawn out love trysts, a la Stephanie Plum. Enough of my hair splitting. I really did like the book, but disappointed with a few minor details which most people will ignore. My carping won't take away from the fun.

Every girl loves a bad boy. They can be tempting, especially if we can love them from afar. My answer is Jack Reacher. What's not to love about Reacher? He lives off the grid. He's a contrarian. He never walks away from trouble and always has a unique solution to problem resolution. Vicariously I get rid of my murderous angst when reading Child's novels.

Reacher is back in New York for Lee Child's novel Gone Tomorrow. He's riding the subway after attending a jazz club. A passenger appears to be a suicide bomber and Reacher intervenes. And that's just the beginning, the results of his intervention lead to a thumping good story.

Lee Child knows how to build tension and he keeps the plot tight. His descriptions lean allow the reader to envision the scene without the purple prose. Great beach read.

Where oh where has Phillip Shelby gone? He writes a good spy novel. Dawn's Early Light written in 2003 was his last solo novel I've been able to find. He co-wrote several with Ludlum, but nothing lately by himself. A google search doesn't reveal much new.

Sloane Ryder works for the GAO police. (Who knew we had a secret GAO squad?) Wish we did have one that was as clever as Shelby wrote in his novel. Shelby follows the money like Ludlum always does in his novels, corruption at the highest levels of govt. It's well paced, characters could have been more fleshed out, but the plotting is tight and suspenseful. Good beach read. A quibble, one has to suspend disbelief that Sloane could get fired from Wall Street and easily move into a covert police squad. Plus everyone knows all the capitol police agencies playing together and sharing information is a fairy tale, but if you can get past those two roadblocks its full speed ahead.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin