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Thursday, July 28, 2011

FLASH AND BONES - Temperance Brennan Series No. 14

by Kathy Reichs - to be released August 23, 2011

Charlotte, North Carolina is hosting a major NASCAR event.  When a body is found lodged in a drum of asphalt at the dump adjacent to the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Dr. Temperance Brennan is part of the team.

While working on the case, Tempe is visited by Wayne Gamble, a pit crew member, whose sister disappeared with her boyfriend years earlier.  Gamble is worried that the victim could be his sister Cindi or her boyfriend Cale Lovette.  At the time of the couple's disappearance, Lovette was involved with the Patriot Posse, a right wing extremist group.

To complicate matters further, lab reports indicate that the unidentified man in the barrel died of ricin poisoning, a deadly toxin, and an employee of the CDC has gone missing.  Suddenly, the FBI is all over the case and has whisked away the body, as well as all the autopsy samples and reports.   But  this won't stop Tempe, who is working individually with both Charlotte Detective Erskine "Skinny" Slidell and Cotton Galimore, a disgraced former police officer who is now head of security for the Speedway.  She's determined to solve both the disappearance of the young couple, as well as determine who was found in the barrel, and how or if the two cases are connected.

Reichs' has created quite a mix for Tempe in this latest novel.  She's been recruited by her ex-husband and his finance to help solve their pre-wedding spats.  Currently without a love interest, Tempe finds herself attracted to one of the new people in her life.  She's finally letting her hair down a little and spouting expletives, which makes her character more likable and human.

FLASH AND BONES is a nice new offering from Kathy Reichs that not only provides the reader with a good mystery, but also covers the history of NASCAR.

ISBN 978-1-4397-0241-1
Pub. Date:  August 23, 2011
288 Pages
Hardcover and eBook

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


by Ursula Hegi

Thekla Janson is a young school teacher in Burgdorf, Germany during the early days of Hitler's rise to power.  A caring and gifted teacher, she has a sweet disposition and finds something lovable in even the most annoying of her ten-year-old students.  They, in turn, love her dearly.

Janson has taken over the class from Ilse Abramowitz, a Jew.  Janson revered her old teacher and thinks about her often, but doesn't visit, fearful of repercussions.  She has no real affinity for the wave of patriotism permeating her country, yet encourages her students to become members of the "Hiltler Jugend" or Hitler Youth for the camaraderie and friendship.  Thekla is aware of the dramatic changes in Germany, but adopts a "go along to get along" attitude and is able to hide her head in the sand and continue with life as she wants it to be, both for herself and her students.

But there's so much more to this latest book from Hegi.  Janson is just a symbol of how fear and propaganda, fomented by Hitler, eroded the moral fabric of Germany, one person or one child at a time.  It's only when Janson discovers a secret in her own family that she begins to open her eyes and see the horrors for herself.

A number of years ago I read STONES FROM THE RIVER by the same author.  That book, like this one, stayed with me.  Hegi has a quiet, intelligent and understated writing style, yet still manages to vividly convey the chilling reality of her characters' lives and the insidious erosion of family, freedom and humanity in the landscape of Nazi Germany.  CHILDREN AND FIRE is another unforgettable book from Ursula Hegi, not to be missed.

ISBN 978-1-451-60829-8
Pub. Date:  May 2011
288 pages
Hardcover and eBook

Sunday, July 24, 2011

THE REDBREAST - Harry Hole Novel No. 1

by Jo Nesbo
Translated by Don Bartlett

Inspector Harry Hole has somehow embarrassed the department.  As punishment, he's assigned to surveillance of neo-nazi activity in Oslo.

Expecting this to be a dull and annoying assignment, Harry is soon knee deep in murders; someone is targeting disgraced old solders and using an old, rare gun to do it.  Travelling back decades, THE REDBREAST reflects on the Norwegian government's collaboration with the Nazis during WWII, a dark period for Norway.

I came to this series more than a little late and read the Harry Hole novels completely out of order.  That said, THE REDBREAST was still wonderfully written, and is a compelling mystery from Jo Nesbo.  I do recommend that you start with this one if you're going to venture into this series, to better appreciate the interaction of the characters.

Pub. Date - 2000 and 2006
ISBN 978-0-06-113400-5
512 pages
Available in paperback

Friday, July 22, 2011


by Erin Brockovich with CJ Lyons - to be released October 2011

AJ Palladino and her partner, lawyer Elizabeth Hardy, run a consumer advocacy business in AJ's hometown of Scotia, WV.  Despite AJ's misgivings, they've just been hired by Owen Grandel to put a positive spin on his company in Colleton Landing, South Carolina.  His high tech nuclear facility has the ability to create much needed medical isotopes in a safe environment, but the company has been plagued with unexplained accidents, and has run into serious problems with various factions protesting the facility.

Single mother AJ has more than just work to deal with.  Her nine year old son David is a genius who is struggling with cerebral palsy.  Her mother is agoraphobic and a hoarder.  AJ's elderly Gram is diabetic as well as being blind, and requires a full time caregiver.

While AJ struggles with the job requirements and the threat of a nuclear disaster in South Carolina, her devious ex-father-in-law has hired a hit man to eliminate any obstacles in the way of him getting permanent custody of David. Luckily AJ has Ty Stillwater in her corner, a sheriff's officer who is in love with her.

All of the story lines collide in this fast paced and explosive novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat! HOT WATER is well written and very entertaining.

ISBN 978-1-59315-684-8
Pub. Date: October 2011
288 pages
Hardcover and eBook

Thursday, July 21, 2011

PRECIOUS OBJECTS: A Story of Diamonds, Family, and a Way of Life

by Alicia Oltuski - just released

Precious Objects is an inside look at the diamond industry. Ms. Oltuski's family has long been involved in the diamond trade, both in NYC and Europe.

From the mines in South Africa to Nazi Germany to the streets of New York, the author takes the reader on a decades-long and fascinating journey.

Focused mainly on the 47th Street diamond district, the author details transactions ranging from original handshake deals right up to the age of the internet and its impact on the diamond trade.  We learn of the birth of the Rapaport Diamond Report and are introduced to a fascinating cast of characters, as well as the dangers of their chosen occupation.

Nonfiction, Precious Objects reads like a novel and is a delight to read.  Ms. Oltuski deftly weaves her rich family history into the fabric of the diamond trade.

 ISBN 978-141-654512-5           
Pub. Date: July 2011
368 pages
Hardcover and eBook

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I apologize to my faithful followers for not creating more reviews and posts this month.

When I'm at our summer home, time just seems to get away from me.  I have visits with friends and family who come to stay with me and long lunches with local friends, and before I realize it, I haven't blogged in two weeks.

With sunsets like these as seen through the door of my small office, it's hard not to just enjoy the surroundings and spend more time outdoors.

I have been reading a lot and I'm finally back to my computer, so hopefully you'll enjoy some good reviews in the coming days.  Don't be surprised to see more than one review on the same day until I plow through the backlog of books that I've read; I'm really not reading at the speed of light like Harriet Klausner.

I hope your summer is going well and that you, too, are enjoying time with family and friends, good books and lazy afternoons.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

SMOKIN' SEVENTEEN - A Stephanie Plum Novel

by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum and her coterie of odd friends are back in this latest from Janet Evanovich.  When a dead body is found on the bail bonds lot, the office moves into Mooner's RV.

Stephanie and Lula try to apprehend skippers with their usual slapstick style and frequent bakery stops, while Stephanie's mother is foisting a former classmate on her as perfect husband material.  When more people turn up dead with Stephanie's name on them, it's starting to get personal.

This latest book in the series finds Plum sleeping with both Joe Morelli and Ranger after Joe's Grandmother Bella turns the evil eye on her, and she continues to destroy cars provided by Ranger at an alarming rate.

I like Evanovich's writing style.  I like the characters in the Stephanie Plum series.  I like the humor in Evanovich's books.  But I have to say that SMOKIN' SEVENTEEN was the same old, same old with just a little more sex.  Stephanie Plum is getting a little long in the tooth to continue the same lifestyle and inability to commit.  Although it's a fun, quick read with quirky characters, this book wasn't much different from SIZZLING SIXTEEN or the one before that, which is a real disappointment.

Pub. Date - June 2011
ISBN 978-0-345-52768-4
320 pages
Hardcover and eBook

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


by Camilla Lackberg
Translated by Stephen T. Murray

Author Erica Falck has returned to her small hometown in Sweden to settle her parents' estate.  On top of her grief over the loss of her parents, she is under a deadline for the biography she's writing.  Taking a break to go for a walk, Erica is hailed by Eilert Berg, the caretaker for the home of her childhood friend Alexandra, a successful gallery owner.  Berg has just found Alex dead of an apparent suicide.

When Erica visits Alex's parents, they are insistent that she would never have taken her own life, and they ask Erica to write a memorial article about their daughter.  Her research into Alex's life brings her in contact with an unusual and large cast of characters including Alex's husband Henrik, Anders, a severely depressed artist, and Francine, Alex's sister.

Erica is spending time with Dan, an old school boyfriend, much to his wife's unease. She's being pressured by her sister Anna and her brother-in-law Lucas to settle the estate and sell the family home; even while she worries that Anna is an abused wife.  To further complicate her life, Erica finds herself attracted to Patrik Hedstrom, the detective handling the investigation into Alex's death.  As Erica and Patrik dig deeper into Alex's life, long hidden family secrets begin to surface, leading them on the trail of the murderer in this Swedish thriller.

THE ICE PRINCESS is a quick read that spends too much time on the personal and romantic relationships and not quite enough on the story.   A bit disappointing, it doesn't have the same intensity as most of the books I've read by other Scandinavian authors.

Pub. Date March 2011
ISBN 978-1-4516-2174-7
416 pages
Paperback and eBook

Saturday, July 2, 2011


by Bruce DeSilva

Someone has been setting fires in the Mount Hope section of Providence.  People are dying and the police and arson investigators aren't making any progress in catching the firebug.

Investigative reporter Liam Mulligan is devastated by the senseless death and destruction in his childhood neighborhood.  It starts to become personal when people he cares about are seriously injured.  Despite threats to his own safety, Mulligan is spending his time following the paper trail of just who benefits from the fires, a long and arduous road that takes him through the underbelly of Providence's mobsters and crooked politicians.

Mulligan (as he prefers to be called) is a busy man.  His ulcer is acting up.  He's been assigned the task of taking the publisher's son Mason under his wing, and he's not thrilled.  He's also cultivating a romantic relationship with fellow reporter Veronica Tang, while still dealing with his crazy, soon to be ex-wife.

Mr. DeSilva has created a likable character in Mulligan and I hope we'll be seeing more books featuring this ace reporter.  The grittiness of Rhode Island's long history of political corruption serves as the perfect backdrop for this terrific debut mystery.

Pub. Date June 2011
ISBN 978-0-7653-2981-3
304 pages
Paperback and eBook


We all hear them, snippets of other people's conversations. The interesting thing about snippets is that you catch just enough of someone else's conversation to spark your interest.  Depending on what you hear, you may try to complete the thought or even wish you could follow the person down the street to hear the rest.

I was sitting in the small guest room that doubles as my office at our summer house in Connecticut yesterday.  The room fronts on our busy street and since it was a gorgeous day, I opened the outside front door to enjoy the breeze.  A lot of people walk by our house on their way to the point where the beach is located, or to visit the lighthouse museum next door.  The point is a great place to visit: standing on a peninsula in Connecticut, you can see Rhode Island to the east, islands of New York to the south, while taking in a 270° panorama of Fishers Island Sound.

Back to yesterday.  The first comment I heard was, "You can correct somebody on the important things, but not things like that."   Thinking about what I overheard, I thought it made sense.  You can correct someone if they're doing something really stupid, like driving on the wrong side of the road.  But you probably shouldn't correct someone's grammar in public in front of other people.

A little later in the morning a couple walked past the house and all I caught of their conversation was,  "She's got a lot of boyfriends, but who's the father?"  Even though I was totally immersed in writing a review, I found myself daydreaming about the couple and what I had heard.  Was it their daughter?  A friend?  Would the person need a paternity test to find out who the father is?  I'll never know, but I found myself trying to complete their story in my mind.  If it was the first sentence of a novel, I would definitely find it intriguing enough to want to know more!

My husband made the flag gate for me as a birthday gift a few years ago.  I love it!  Thanks, honey!

Friday, July 1, 2011


by Val McDermid - to be released September 2011

Psychiatrist and psychological profiler Charlie Flint's pivotal testimony at Bill Hopton's murder trial allowed him to go free.  Charlie's professional life is now in limbo because Hopton murdered four people after his acquittal, and she has been suspended from practicing while an investigation into the circumstances is ongoing.

With time on her hands, Charlie is contacted by Corinna Newsam, one of her old professors at Oxford, and agrees to look into the murder of her daughter's husband.  Philip Carling was bludgeoned to death at his wedding reception and his business partners have been charged with the crime.

Charlie is married to her life partner, but after seven years she's not sure she's still committed to Maria.  She's very attracted to Lisa Kent, a self-help guru. While trying to decipher her own emotions, Charlie learns that Carling's young widow Magdelena is involved in a lesbian relationship with Jay Stewart, an author who also attended Oxford.  The more Charlie learns about Carling's death, the more convinced she is that his partners are innocent.  As she delves into the past, she begins to unravel the deadly trail left by the murderer; a twisted trail that leads all the way back to Oxford.

TRICK OF THE DARK is an intricate and explosive tale of deadly secrets and murder.

To be released September 2011
ISBN 978-1-932859-95-9
400 pages
Hardcover and eBook