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Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City’s Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated a Nation by Brad Ricca

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City’s Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated a Nation by Brad RiccaMrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 3, 2017
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 432
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
two-stars

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes tells the true story of Grace Humiston, the detective and lawyer who turned her back on New York society life to become one of the nation’s greatest crimefighters during an era when women weren’t involved with murder investigations. After agreeing to take the sensational Cruger case, Grace and her partner, the hard-boiled detective Julius J. Kron, navigated a dangerous web of secret boyfriends, two-faced cops, underground tunnels, rumors of white slavery, and a mysterious pale man — in a desperate race against time.

Grace's motto "Justice for those of limited means" led her to strange cases all over the world. From defending an innocent giant on death row to investigating an island in Arkansas with a terrible secret; from the warring halls of Congress to a crumbling medieval tower in Italy, Grace solved crimes in-between shopping at Bergdorf Goodman and being marked for death by the sinister Black Hand. Grace was appointed as the first woman U.S. district attorney in history and the first female consulting detective to the NYPD. Despite her many successes in social justice, at the height of her powers Grace began to see chilling connections in the cases she solved, leading to a final showdown with her most fearsome adversary of all.

This is the first-ever narrative biography of this singular woman the press nicknamed after fiction's greatest detective. This poignant story reveals important corollaries between missing girls, the role of the media, and the real truth of crime stories. The great mystery of Mrs. Sherlock Holmes —and its haunting twist ending—is how one woman could become so famous only to disappear completely.

Ugh. This book was so boring. Considering the subject matter, you would think that Ricca would have an easy home run on his hands.

Considering everyone’s current love of all things Sherlock Holmes and all of the YA books out there trying to show a different version of Sherlock Holmes, you would think a non-fiction book showcasing Mrs. Sherlock Holmes (Mrs. Grace Humiston) would have all kinds of intrigue in it. Instead you have flip flopping time lines, cases upon cases where you don’t know what you are supposed to think, multiple people thrown in this book, and then a cause to question Grace herself for some of the things that she started to accuse the NYPD in not looking into with regards to missing girls cases.

I really think if Ricca had just straight up wrote a biography on Grace Humiston and making the case she got well known for (Ruth Cruger) another case she worked among many cases this book could have worked better.

Instead Ricca focuses on the Cruger case, and throws in some other ones, gets into Grace accusing the NYPD and others of covering up missing girls being sold into white slavery and then goes back and forth from the U.S. to Italy and I think backs away from showing that maybe Grace was led astray by many people claiming that some of this missing girls were sold into slavery. That is where the book lost me at this point. There is no real evidence based on what Ricca shows or what Grace says in this book that shows there was some mass cover-up going on with white girls being sold. It seems though that the police were definitely derelict on doing their due diligence in ensuring that missing girls cases were worked appropriately.

When Ricca focuses on the Cruger case the book shines better. You get to see that due to detectives questioning Ruth’s morals and that she probably just eloped that they gave her killer (no spoilers people, this took place in 1917) time to get away and I felt sad that justice was not found for Ruth or her poor family who never believed she run away. I think that Ms. Humiston did a very good service in getting involved with the case and showing how preconceptions ruined the search for Ruth. But when Ms. Humiston gets into the whole hundreds of girls and other are being kidnapped and forced into sex trade I had a hard time with. There are no real facts there that I thought held water.

The writing was so-so in this book. I felt like Ricca needed to look up some better adjectives here and there when describing things. The book read as blah after a while. He seemed focused on what people were wearing at all times and what people’s faces looked like. The sentence structure was confusing too a lot of times.

Also I would say that for those who think that this is just focusing on the Ruth Cruger case it is not. It jumps around a lot looking at most of Grace’s cases and then circles back here and there to the Ruth Cruger case.

The ending of the book does a tidy up on what happened to everyone in the book that felt like there were a lot of details missing.

This book also made me think of the recent D.C. Missing Girls issue that came up a few weeks ago.

The DC police started tweeting out pictures of missing girls and many claimed that the law enforcement were not devoting their time in finding these girls and many claimed that these girls were being kidnapped and forced into prostitution. It took a while to come out, but the media finally found that for except a couple of cases, most of the missing girls returned home, and or had run away before and returned home after a period of time.

Is it good that so many in law enforcement and elsewhere did not seem concerned about these girls that they labeled a certain way? Absolutely not. But I also don’t like people jumping into huge conspiracies with no basis in fact about what was going on with these girls as well.

Do the DC police need to do a better job broadcasting missing girls and making sure that they use as many resources as possible to find out where these girls are and make sure they ask the right questions such as why are these girls running from home? Absolutely.

Was I disappointed that so many people I follow on social media just retweeted out insane theories with no facts? Yep.

two-stars

Black Coffee by Hercule Poirot

Black Coffee by Hercule PoirotBlack Coffee by Charles Osborne
Series: Hercule Poirot #7
Published by St. Martin's Press on September 15th 1999
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 304
Source: Borrowed: print book
Goodreads
dnf

Inventor Sir Claude Amory feels a bitter taste in the mouth, when the new formula for explosive material stolen by someone in the household.

In order to quickly remedy the situation, Sir Claude locks the door and turns off the light, giving the thief a chance to return the formula without being detected. But darkness brings death and Hercule Poirot has to untangle family strife, love and suspicious visitors tangle in order to clarify the murderer and prevent disaster.

This book sucked which is why I kicked it to the proverbial curb when I got to 40 pages in. I often say that a good DNF review can steer potential readers away from a book that the reviewer articulates why it would be a waste of time. Honestly, all you have to know is that Agatha Christie did not write this novel. Instead, Christie wrote a play called “Black Coffee.” However it was not turned into a novel. Decades later, Charles Osborne would take up the mantle and write this. I have no idea why anyone thought the guy could pull this off, and the foreword by Christie’s nephew talking about what a good job Osborne did must have been in jest.

This is a bad novel aping to sound like Christie. I don’t know how else to spell it out. It’s like trying to see your reflection through a really dirty mirror. You can almost see yourself, but then you move a little and that’s all she wrote. I just could not get past how unlike Poirot this sounds in Osborne’s hands. He obviously did not get our egg head shaped detective at all. Yes, Poirot is vain, but is not so far up his own ass that he would be acting like he does in this book.

The overall mystery, did not interest me either. Poirot is called in when a man named Claud Amory is worried that someone in his home is hoping to steal secret formula.

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Don’t even get me started on why Amory doesn’t just leave his home and come to Poirot. That would make too much sense. Instead Poirot goes to Amory’s home to help and of course finds him dead. Amory has been poisoned by coffee he had after dinner. Of course my first thought is who drinks coffee after dinner. I can’t drink coffee after noon or I will be up all night. Insomnia sucks. Oh wait, back to this terrible book. Poirot now has a household of suspects. Hastings is also in this one and of course just like Poirot acts so alien you think he and Poirot have been body snatched by aliens.

I finally called it a day at page 40. Back to the library this book goes. Well I got my first DNF of 2017, maybe the Book gods are coming back….sigh.

dnf

Echoes in Death (In Death #44) by JD Robb

Echoes in Death (In Death #44) by JD RobbEchoes in Death by JD Robb
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 7, 2017
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
one-star

As NY Lt. Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke are driving home, a young woman—dazed, naked, and bloody—suddenly stumbles out in front of their car. Roarke slams on the brakes and Eve springs into action.

Daphne Strazza is rushed to the ER, but it’s too late for her husband Dr. Anthony Strazza. A brilliant orthopedic surgeon, he now lies dead amid the wreckage of his obsessively organized town house, his three safes opened and emptied. Daphne would be a valuable witness, but in her terror and shock the only description of the perp she can offer is repeatedly calling him “the devil”...

While it emerges that Dr. Strazza was cold, controlling, and widely disliked, this is one case where the evidence doesn’t point to the spouse. So Eve and her team must get started on the legwork, interviewing everyone from dinner-party guests to professional colleagues to caterers, in a desperate race to answer some crucial questions:

What does the devil look like? And where will he show up next?

Well I don’t know what to really say except that I found this whole book except for a couple places to be extremely disappointing. I really do think that it would be better if this series either ends soon or does a jump forward in time or we follow another person to take up the “In Death” mantle like Nikki Swisher from the “Survivor in Death” book which was# 24.

That gets me on another topic can you believe it’s been a year since the timeline from that book to this book which is #44 in the “In Death series”. I sometimes just want to grab my hair and despair because besides the continuity issues long time readers have noted, it’s unreal to have Eve investigating this many serial murders and rapists in a year.

I don’t know what else can be done at this point to make the series at least for me more gripping. I still read these (I try to always borrow from the library now these are no longer auto buys for me) and I know that you’re probably all wondering why do I still read these books and my answer is because I have such affection and love of the first couple of books (I was really happy with the series until around Thankless in Death) and I keep hoping for a return to what made these books an always buy for me.

One of my really good friends loves to read the series still and she’s another reason that I still keep reading cause she loves having somebody to discuss it with. However, even she’s now starting to see problems with things based on the last few books and she really disliked this book as well.

“Echoes in Death” deals with a serial rapist one of many that appears to live in New York City. Eve and Roarke are back from a couple days away to one of the private islands that Roarke owns and she’s feeling rejuvenated after the last couple of cases that occurred over Christmas and New Years (see other reviews). As they’re driving home a naked woman who is bloody and beaten wanders into their path and just like that Eve now has another case to investigate.

I really wish that this book had just stayed away from Eve and the need to check up on her every 5 seconds looking at you Dr. Mira and Rourke. At this point I don’t know why anybody let’s Eve out of the house since she only seems to drink a lot of coffee, get headaches, feel stressed and forgets to eat or is too sick to eat unless Roarke is there to force food on her. At this point I loathe reading any cases dealing with rape because it’s a paint by numbers for Robb at this point. The only time that I saw the older version of Eve I would have to say is when she’s interviewing. Robb can still when she wants to develop characters we are never going to see again but I found myself more interested in the victims in this one than any of our main and recurring characters.

Roarke barely has anything to do in this one, not that I mind because it still irks me to this day that he’s even involved with many of these cases. I don’t really get the whole he’s an expert consultant thing. I’m still wondering why no defendant has ever in trial accused her husband of planting evidence due to his money and wealth. That would be if an interesting “In Death” book if Roarke’s ties end up compromising a case. That be an interesting dynamic to bring to the relationship. But we don’t get that here. We have Roarke helping run lists, pick out Eve’s clothes, feed her, and they have I recall three romantic scenes. Other than that, not much here.

Peabody irked the life out of me in this book. I found the whole trajectory of her character in the last couple of books to become seriously ridiculous and more unprofessional by the day. Due to Eve being really dressed up for a night out with Rourke where they decide to go to the victim’s home instead of Eve calling it in and going home to change, she instead has Peabody bring her a change of clothes. Peabody then keep talking forever about sexy and hot Eve looks dressed up and loses it over her shoes. Don’t even get me started on her talking about trying to protect Eve’s shoes with maybe stealing a shoe bag from the victim’s home. And by the way Peabody’s talking about this while a dead body is sitting right next to them and has the nerve to say well it’s not like he’s going to care. And at this point she realizes that the victim’s wife, the same one who Eve and Roarke almost ran into earlier is beaten and raped in the hospital. I’m starting to think Peabody is a sociopath or just clueless, I’ll go with either one of those guesses. And then it even hurts me more when they go to interview people later on and Peabody sits down and gets her face made up. I just I don’t even know why Eve puts up with her at this point because I don’t see Peabody bring anything to their partnership. She goes between acting like an even more useless Watson, to just being a comic foil at times and she’s not even funny. She’s merely there to heap praise upon Eve and soak up the fact that Eve gets special treatment every place that they go because she’s Roarke’s wife. Old Eve would have slapped the taste out of Peabody’s mouth for even going around being happy about them having VIP access. This Eve ignores it.

I’m also very disappointed with the fact that unless Dr. Mira is taking front and center in the story she’s pretty much become useless. She is now Eve’s Greek chorus merely telling Eve things that she already figured out for herself. At this point I don’t even know why she goes and talks to Dr. Mira except for Dr Mira to sit there and cluck and coo over Eve and wonder how the case is affecting her emotions.

Everybody else puts in a minor cameo appearance (McNabb, Feeney, True heart, and Baxter) we either hear about them (such as Mavis and Nadine) or they’re not mentioned at all (Louise and Charles). And some other readers even pointed out the fact that Robb made a huge boo boo in this one and she does and I won’t spoil it too much for you but when you read about the serial killer and how he was able to pick his victims there’s no way that Louise and Charles would not have been on this great list that Eva’s talking about. Eve once again is frantic and scared that something could happen to Dr. Mira or Mavis and I rolled my eyes.

The writing in this one was very repetitive. I think that you can just take pieces or prior books and you’re going to get the same interaction and dialogue among Eve and other characters that we’re used to. You know you’re going to get Eve saying something that’s a cliché or phrase wrong and somebody’s going to correct her. You know that Galahad’s going to come and probably pass out or rub up against her as she falls asleep bonelessly into bed. You know that she’s going to say something like got it in one to someone or someone will say it to her. You know Eve is going to talk about baseball and give some amazing stat to Roarke. You know that Eve and Roarke will have a fight (they almost had a fight in this one thank God we were spared having to read about it). You know Roarke is going to talk about the button that he got off of Eve’s jacket. You know that Peabody is going to go on and on about how heavy and fat she is. One new thing and I hope to God we don’t read about it anymore is that Eve and Roarke’s bedroom has been redecorated as well as Eve’s office. So I hope you have fun reading about that because I was seriously annoyed. You know that somehow Eve going to compare herself to a really hot woman and talk about how Roarke made a bad choice. At this point it’s like you know what’s going to happen so it’s just better to borrow these books from the library if you really feel the need to continue just to see if anything interesting happens.

The flow was really bad on this one and I do think it’s because honestly I even clued in to the fact that there seem to be two cases happening here at once. With the initial statement from the victim and the crime there are a lot of holes there. And I have to also say I totally clued to who the killer was because you literally only meet one person this whole book that could actually fit who did this and it doesn’t even make sense because the guy seems to be pretty well-known and or has a recognizable face and when you find out about his attempts to harass the women that he’s potentially going to rape later I don’t understand how nobody recognized him. Don’t even get me started on this whole back story dealing with why this guy became a serial rapist and murderer there were too many flags for me and I just found myself getting more and more annoyed. To see how he is in public and in all of a sudden he’s in an interrogation room and turns into a woman hating man and women are just whores just totally threw me for a loop. I think at this point Rob just wanted to end the book and get to the next scene where she I think thought she was going for a little twist, but once again like I said I saw that one coming and I called crap on it because I don’t think Eve has the authority to do what she did it all.

The setting in this one of course is in New York City but it’s in New York City during a blizzard. Robb has a really good opportunity to showcase how technology fits into this new world and they even have you talking about having hologram interviews and then of course that gets thrown out the window with Eve deciding to go into work and driving an all-terrain vehicle. I felt really disappointed with that and other dropped threads in this book, like with Eve not talking to one of the victim’s first wife, with Eve not talking to the victim’s parents, with Eve not even checking in to make sure that after she asked Roarke to look into the Mira’s at home security to see if and what he would recommend that they have upgraded to fix. Also can I say that I got really bored with the fact that we were just reading for pages and pages about how Roarke, Peabody, and Eve just going through list of potential victims and how apparently this was so draining to have to do this and move them to potential victims. I still don’t understand what they were doing and I was at a loss. It feels like it’s just filler at this point.

And of course “Echoes in Death” is pretty much linking Eve’s rape by her father as a child and her subsequent killing of him to these cases was a huge reach. This case is not at all what happened to Eve and I just hate as I said earlier anything that deals with rape it ends up being traumatic for Eve and she thinks about everything that happened to her. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t think about it or not have any emotions about it or still need to talk about it but either she needs to get into one-on-one therapy with Dr. Mira and not investigate anymore.

one-star

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