Tag: Crime (page 1 of 2)

Memory in Death (In Death #22) by JD Robb

Memory in Death (In Death #22) by JD RobbMemory in Death by JD Robb
Published by Penguin USA on June 27th 2006
Genres: Romance
Pages: 375
Source: Purchased: print book
Goodreads
five-stars

Eve Dallas is one tough cop. It should take more than a seemingly ordinary middle-aged lady to make her fall apart. But when that lady is Trudy Lombard, all bets are off. Just seeing Trudy at the station plunges Eve back to the days when she was a vulnerable, traumatized young girl—and trapped in foster care with the twisted woman who now sits smiling in front of her.

Trudy claims she came all the way to New York just to see how Eve is doing. But Eve’s fiercely protective husband, Roarke, suspects otherwise—and a blackmail attempt by Trudy proves his suspicion correct. Eve and Roarke just want the woman out of their lives. But someone else wants her dead. And when her murder comes to pass, Eve and Roarke will follow a circuitous and dangerous path to find out who turned the victimizer into a victim.

Happy sigh. This is one of my favorite re-reads. I tend to read it around the Christmas season. But seriously. I needed a happy (as it can be) In Death book. It gets to be a bit of a grind to just read about rape and murder in every other book.

Memory in Death (In Death #22) is a really good Eve Dallas and Roarke book. We get to spend about equal time with Roarke in this one. And I just sadly realized it’s been a while since we got a significant third person POV of Roarke in an In Death book. Hmmm. I am going to have to go back through my re-reads and see when that dropped off. As I was saying, we get a lot of Eve a lot of Roarke and for once we actually get to delve into Eve’s past. I really wish we got more information about her.

Robb has gone fairly deep on Roarke’s side of the family, but as long time readers know, we solve the mystery of Eve’s mother and father in “New York to Dalls (In Death #33) and you would think that Eve just popped up at age 8 and then transformed into a cop. “Memory in Death” does such a good job of giving us more layers into Eve’s life. I really do wish that Robb would revisit that well more in the recent books.

“Memory in Death” has Eve confronting her former foster mother (Trudy Lombard) who has come back to blackmail Eve once she finds out that Eve is now married to the richest man on the planet (look Roarke’s a billionaire apparently several times over so I am just going with he is the richest at this point). Eve gets a nasty shock since recalling Trudy and the things she did to Eve as a kid (locking in her room and forcing her to take cold baths) throws her for a loop. When Trudy is found dead (hit with a sap) then the case turns toward Eve and Roarke. This was a really cool case to sink your teeth in. I didn’t care about the victim, but it was still pretty awesome how Eve figured out who the doer was and why. And I of course wonder now what happened with the characters from that case. Too bad I don’t think Robb has thrown out any comments.

We get to see Eve hit for a loop several times during this investigation. Due to the events in “Origin in Death (or as I call it now, the dreaded Icove case) Eve is on the outs with Dr. Mira. She is feeling even more unsettled when a woman she hasn’t seen since she was a child popping up insisting that she’s Eve’s mother. Eve has an uncharacteristic scared response and then when she lets Roarke know about it…oh boy.

We get to see the dark side of Roarke that we don’t really get to see much in the series anymore. I had to crack up when Trudy went and tried to shake down Roarke. Dude. Dude. Hotness.

We get a couple fight (my least favorite thing) between Eve and Roarke and honestly I was on Roarke’s side on that one. Eve says some pretty terrible things to Roarke because she realizes that Trudy is only popping up due to her being married to him. She throws Roarke’s mother’s murder in his face and the fact that even though that was terrible he has a whole family in Ireland now (gah, I hated re-reading that. I cringed the whole time going oh no). Thankfully Eve and Roarke work through it.

What I thought was interesting this time through though is that Eve and Dr. Mira are on the outs because of Eve’s last case. They both feel their way around each other, but I loved it when Eve and Dr. Mira worked through it. And this is the beginning of Eve starting to realize that Dr. Mira in her own way is Eve’s mother and will mess someone up that will hurt one of her kids.

We get the usual characters of Peabody, McNabb and Feeney. Due to Eve’s close ties in the case I thought it was hilarious that Peabody had to interview Roarke. We also get some other characters besides Eve’s foster mother, her biological son Bobby who I just felt pity for throughout and Bobby’s wife.

The writing was in terms humorous, clever, and a few times sad (when realizing how terrible Eve’s foster mom was). Considering the subject matter, this ended up being the most light hearted In Death book I think I have read. Since this takes place over Christmas, you had Eve dealing with decorators, decorators who also got into fights, and hilariously putting antlers on Galahad. I also really loved that we got to see Roarke and Eve exchange gifts with one another. It was nice to just seem them having a really great couple moment. I do tend to skip over the later books romance scenes since they don’t move me much anymore. But the earlier books do make me smile.

The ending was pretty cool and I loved how Eve identified the murder. I seriously recall the first time I read this, not having a clue who done it which to me is what makes a great mystery book.

five-stars

Flying Too High (Phryne Fisher #2) by Kerry Greenwood

Flying Too High (Phryne Fisher #2) by Kerry GreenwoodFlying Too High by Kerry Greenwood
Published by Poisoned Pen Press on 1990
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 167
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
three-stars

Phryne Fisher has her hands full in this, her second adventure. And just when we think she’s merely a brilliant, daring, sexy woman, Phyrne demonstrates other skills, including flying an airplane and doing her own stunts! Phryne takes on a fresh case at the pleading of a hysterical woman who fears her hot-headed son is about to murder his equally hot-headed father. Phryne, bold as we love her to be, first upstages the son in his own airplane at his Sky-High Flying School, then promptly confronts him about his mother’s alarm. To her dismay, however, the father is soon killed and the son taken off to jail. Then a young girl is kidnapped, and Phryne—who will never leave anyone in danger, let alone a child—goes off to the rescue. Engaging the help of Bert and Cec, the always cooperative Detective-Inspector Robinson, and her old flying chum Bunji Ross, Phryne comes up with a scheme too clever to be anyone else’s, and in her typical fashion saves the day, with plenty of good food and hot tea all around. Meanwhile, Phryne moves into her new home at 221B, The Esplanade, firmly establishes Dot as her “Watson,” and adds two more of our favorite characters, Mr. and Mrs. Butler, to the cast.

I think this book is firmly a three star read. We get introduced to Mr. Butler, though in the book series he has a wife. We have Phryne once again being led by her libido. At least she has good deductive reasoning though. Though I will say that whole last act was unnecessary with Phryne and I found myself bored senseless reading about her clothes and how much food she had eaten. She also makes an agreement with one of the culprits in this book that I found to be gross and offf-putting. I am still going to read the next book in the series though.

“Flying Too High” is the second book in the Phryne Fisher series. I fell in love with the tv show and then decided to start reading the books afterwards.

Image result for miss fisher gifs

 

Image result for miss fisher gifs

In the second book we have Phryne investigating two cases. One involving a kidnapped child and another a murder of a man who was detestable in every single way.

The two cases do not relate to one another at all so you are going to have to follow two plot lines.

I can honestly say I don’t care that much for book Phryne at all. She is smart, but I find her ability to sleep with anyone and not care if they are in a relationship or not, not something to be admired.

Book Dot is a bit judgmental of Phryne, but loyal. I did like the parts of the book showing how Dot was so happy to have a room of her own with a door she can lock.

We get reappearances of Detective-Inspector Jack Robinson who has learned to not underestimate Miss Fisher. And we also get Bert and Cec.

The kidnapping case was okay, but I still feel dirty about the deal that Miss Fisher makes with one of the kidnappers. And we find out that Miss Fisher’s grand scheme was unnecessary in the end so I was annoyed about reading it. It didn’t make much sense honestly.

The murder case was a bit too much to swallow for me. I did like the characters in that one, it be nice to see what happens to Amelia and her brother Bill.

The writing was okay, but at times I found myself bored with the endless description of Miss Fisher’s clothes, shoes, and hats. Also I don’t really care what she eats for dinner or tea. There were long soliloquies about tea and I found myself yawning.

The setting of Australia does make this series appealing to me and I do like trying to get a sense of the country from this time period (pre-WWII).

The ending was a little odd though both cases are wrapped up rather neatly.

three-stars

Survivor in Death (In Death #20) by JD Robb

Survivor in Death (In Death #20) by JD RobbSurvivor in Death by JD Robb
Published by Berkley on August 30th 2005
Genres: Romance
Pages: 360
Source: Purchased: print book
Goodreads
five-stars

The only thing that kept young Nixie Swisher from suffering the same fate as her parents, brother, housekeeper, and young sleepover companion was the impulsive nine-year-old's desire for an illicit orange fizzy at 2 a.m. Taking the bereft girl under her wing, Eve is determined to make sure the killers don't get the chance to finish their lethal job. From the first, however, the investigation is baffling. The Swishers were a nice family, living on the Upper West Side in a house with an excellent security system. Ordinary almost to a fault, they seemed unlikely victims for this carefully planned and executed crime. Valuables at the scene were left untouched, there was no sign of vandalism -- just the corpses of five people murdered in their sleep.

Honestly there is not a lot to say here except that this is one of my favorite “In Death” books. There are a couple of scenes that I found too outrageous to be believed (the ending with Nixie), anyone allowing Dallas to take a kid to live with her and Roarke instead of having her in foster care, etc. But I found that there were some wonderful callbacks to earlier cases that Eve had worked.

“Survivor in Death” opens up on a loving and happy family being murdered in their beds. Nixie Swisher, who is 9, ends up being the lone survivor. Due to Dallas and company not knowing why the Swisher’s were attacked and if someone out there may be looking to finish the job with Nixie, Nixie is then moved in temporarily with Eve and Roarke.

We actually in this book get to see how would Eve be with a child of her own (honest, probably to a fault, still loving, but not outwardly so) and we get to see how much Roarke desires to one day have children (yep plural) with Dallas. And I can honestly see how easily a child could fit seamlessly in both of their lives. Heck, if you don’t think Roarke would not be a stay at home dad and or taking the kids to work with him, you have not read an “In Death” book before. I can also see Summerset happily babysitting whenever they needed him to.

We do get several moving scenes in this one (seriously have a box of tissues nearby) and I did cry a few times while reading. This book brings up a lot of memories for Roarke and Summerset (we all know that Summerset’s daughter was kidnapped, raped and murdered) and Summerset especially becomes more developed in this one. The scene when he is rocking Nixie to sleep and telling her about a garden…sigh. I can’t even type it since I am welling up. I do have to say that I wanted to snap at Dallas a few times though. She acted like a jerk to Summerset and I was annoyed by it.

We get appearances by Mavis and of course Peabody, McNab, etc. What I thought was cool though is that we get reappearances by Richard DeBlass, Elizabeth Barrister (both in Naked in Death, #1-the case that brought Eve and Roarke together), and their adopted son Kevin (Vengeance in Death, #6)

The writing is top notch in this one I think. Robb definitely manages to hit your heart strings. The flow worked too, up until the end I thought. As I said above, I thought the ending was a bit too much to be believed.

five-stars

Roadside Crossed (Kathryn Dance #2) by Jeffrey Deaver

Roadside Crossed (Kathryn Dance #2) by Jeffrey DeaverRoadside Crosses by Jeffrey Deaver
Published by Simon & Schuster on June 9th 2009
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 397
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
two-stars

The Monterey Peninsula is rocked when a killer begins to leave roadside crosses beside local highways -- not in memoriam, but as announcements of his intention to kill. And to kill in particularly horrific and efficient ways: using the personal details about the victims that they've carelessly posted in blogs and on social networking websites.

The case lands on the desk of Kathryn Dance, the California Bureau of Investigation's foremost kinesics -- body language-expert. She and Deputy Michael O'Neil follow the leads to Travis Brigham, a troubled teenager whose role in a fatal car accident has inspired vicious attacks against him on a popular blog, The Chilton Report.

As the investigation progresses, Travis vanishes. Using techniques he learned as a brilliant participant in MMORPGs, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, he easily eludes his pursuers and continues to track his victims, some of whom Kathryn is able to save, some not. Among the obstacles Kathryn must hurdle are politicians from Sacramento, paranoid parents and the blogger himself, James Chilton, whose belief in the importance of blogging and the new media threatens to derail the case and potentially Dance's career. It is this threat that causes Dance to take desperate and risky measures...

The only reason why I gave this book two stars is honestly because I was kind of fascinated by how Deaver looks at internet blogs, comments on those blogs, and how you can start to see how something that he looked back at when this book was published has morphed into what it is today with a lot of people on the internet claiming to be experts on something or how easy it is to spread a rumor about somebody with no factual basis and how it could be picked up and be counted as real news. Other than that the book lost me on multiple levels.

In book two “Roadside Crosses” we have Kathryn Dance still dealing with the fallout from the events of book number one. It appears that this book takes place a couple weeks after those events. Dance and her colleague and friend, Mike O’Neill or off to give a deposition about what transpired in book number one.  He and Dance are determined to make an agent who they believed murdered people pay. They are called back from an oddly arranged romantic interlude and are brought in on an abduction of a young girl who was placed in a trunk of a car. Dance and O’Neil find themselves trying to use a local blogger for clues to what could be behind this abduction and what appears to be planned murders of people.

Dance and her skills definitely take a backseat in this one. I think that there were only two times that she got to use her skills as a body language expert and the rest of the time was just her flailing around and listening to men give her lectures on what the internet is and gaming. I found myself really bored by her character and she doesn’t seem like the strong smart woman that she was in “Cold Moon.” And I don’t know what Deaver’s deal is with having every man that comes across Dance be a potential love interest, but I really hope that stops in the next book. I thought it was a little bit weird and odd that she seems to be developing friends feelings for her married colleague but also was attracted to a professor that they just met who was called in to help out on this case. And I maybe I wouldn’t say anything except the last guy that she liked turned out to be a murderer so maybe her sense of who’s a good person to date is just flawed.

A really big problem with what I think pushed me away from Dance this time though was the fact she’s in her late thirties and has two kids, one of who is 12 and she seemed completely baffled by the internet. She did not seem to understand how to use it, what blogs were, etc. I mean I don’t work with computers for a living but even I know about all that stuff so I thought that was very far-fetched. Especially since Dance has her own website. We find out in this book and I think that’s it in the last one as well that Dance and a friend of hers go about recording what’s considered folk music songs and record it and sell it on her website. So if she does that she has to be able to use a computer.

I can’t really speak about any other characters. Everyone else was very paper-thin and we didn’t really get a chance to get into other characters mindset.

Dance’s partner O’Neill was missing in action for half of the book but every time he and Dance are in the same room together it was awkward.

There was also something involving Dance’s mother that I had a hard time with and I don’t know why it was even introduced in this book. I think Deaver was going for some intrigue but it totally totally lost me. If you read the first book you know that a colleague of Dance’s died after being injured on the first case. We find out in this book that somebody did a mercy killing because he would not have lived long. Dance’s mother is accused of this. There doesn’t seem to be any real evidence why she would have did this and I thought it was a big stretch. But I think that that really got me there was that  Dance is completely oblivious to the problems and trouble her mother is in and even has a dinner party to have people come over and insist that her mother and father come over after she’s (the mom) been arrested for murder.  I kind of scratched my head at that one.

I also rolled my eyes at Dance and her mother questioning O’Neill’s wife parenting cause she dared to travel.

Say something nice. It was interesting how Deaver tied the book into the internet with actual links that a reservation could go to and read. I think he wanted to make it as immersive as possible. Unfortunately I don’t think he thought about what happened a if you’re not reading on an e-reader or computer though. I assume hardback or paperback readers just were out of luck.

I do think that Deaver’s description of gamers was off the mark though.

The flow was pretty awful in this one. Every chapter seemed to hang on a mini cliffhanger and we get some twists thrown our way that don’t work. Ot of nowhere we have the solution to who is behind these abductions, but wait, here’s a twist. And the twist didn’t even make any sense. Same goes for Dance’s mother’s arrest.

The book ends on an odd note with it looking like Dance may be torn between two men.

two-stars

Visions in Death (In Death #19) by JD Robb

Visions in Death (In Death #19) by JD RobbVisions in Death by JD Robb
Published by Berkley on January 25th 2005
Genres: Romance
Pages: 354
Source: Purchased: print book
Goodreads
five-stars

On one of the city's hottest nights, New York Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas is sent to Central Park-and into a hellish new investigation. The victim is found on the rocks, just above the still, dark water of the lake. Around her neck is a single red ribbon. Her hands are posed, as if in prayer. But it is the eyes-removed with such precision, as if done with the careful hands of a surgeon-that have Dallas most alarmed.

As more bodies turn up, each with the same defining scars, Eve is frantic for answers. Against her instincts, she accepts help from a psychic who offers one vision after another-each with shockingly accurate details of the murders. And when partner and friend Peabody is badly injured after escaping an attack, the stakes are raised. Are the eyes a symbol? A twisted religious ritual? A souvenir? With help from her husband, Roarke, Dallas must uncover the killer's motivation before another vision becomes another nightmare...

After reading the latest In Death books, I went back to my bookshelf this weekend and re-read some of my favorites. It was nice to see what drew me to this series and what I hope to see again one day.

“Visions in Death” follows Eve and company as they try to track down a serial killer. I really do love this one because we get to see the friendship of Eve and Peabody come full circle. We have fan favorites like Louise and Charles show up too (I love Charles). We have Feeney, Summerset, and Mavis. Heck, we even have Nadine. For once the huge cast of characters does very well together, though there were a couple of minor things that happened that took me out of the story. And what I really love is that Robb threw in a twist in the ending too. You think you know what went down til Eve reveals all. I will give Robb crap for that though since I wish we had seen clues of this in the book. I am not a fan when a mystery writer hides the clues so to speak to give a surprise ending to the audience.

Eve in “Visions in Death” is doing her best to track down a serial killer. The man leaves women dead, taking their eyes with him (shudder). As more and more women start to pile up, Eve is actually reluctantly inclined to involve a psychic in the hunt for the serial killer. What I do love about the “In Death” books which I wish that Robb would go back to more, is that men and women who are psychic or have the ability to read people are prevalent in this world. No one is mocking it and not saying it’s not real. And in one of the earlier books, Robb mentions that Dr. Mira has a daughter who is psychic.

What I really do love about this book is that we see a transformed Eve in this one. She opens up to Peabody and lets her know about her past. Because of what the revelations about Eve’s past could do to her current position on the NYPD, not a lot of people know about what happened to Eve as a child and also what she ended up doing (if you have read this series before now, you know that she murdered her father when he was about to beat and rape her again). Having her tell Peabody about that felt right. And Peabody’s reaction to the news confirms what she had started to suspect regarding Eve and her empathy for Eve breaks you a bit when you read it in print.

Roarke is Roarke in this one. He is juggling his billion dollar a day businesses while helping Eve in her hunt for this killer. When someone close to them gets injured, Roarke is all in to bring the person down. We also get to see Roarke in the end with Eve and they actually have a serious talk about what they want done if they die (it’s grim, but believe me when you read that scene you get it).

As I said above, we also get welcomed appearances by many in the “In Death” family. They are introduced organically and do not wreck the flow of the story at all. I really do wish at times we could go back to the earlier books when we didn’t have so many people to keep track of. Ah well.

The writing is top notch Robb. This is one of the earlier books and the payoff of 18 books and novellas at this point is really worth it. I did think the writing got a bit too much at one point when Eve is interviewing someone (no spoilers) and the person went from being out of it and high as anything due to meds being pumped in to being able to give a report to Eve in five seconds. Apparently in the future, meds work really fast.

The flow as I said earlier works.

The setting of the crimes takes place in Central Park. I have never been there, but Robb manages to capture the location and the many people/women in this story brilliant. I have said before, Robb does a good job with tertiary characters in this book I found. She manages to make them feel real to you in just a few short paragraphs. I have always wondered what happened to people after Eve no longer is investigating. In some of the books they do pop up again which is nice.

As I said, this book has a twist thrown in that when I first read it years ago I remember had my mouth hanging open. I was surprised as anything. Of course now re-reading this, I already knew that the twist was coming. But I have to say, that even though Eve lays everything out to you. I wish that we as readers had gotten more clues our way that this was an option.

five-stars

The Labors of Hercules by Agatha Christie

The Labors of Hercules by Agatha ChristieThe Labors of Hercules by Agatha Christie
Series: Hercule Poirot #26
Published by William Morrow on 1947
Genres: Classic Mystery/Suspense, Mystery
Pages: 412
Source: Borrowed: print book
Goodreads
five-stars

In appearance Hercule Poirot hardly resembled an ancient Greek hero. Yet—reasoned the detective—like Hercules he had been responsible for ridding society of some of its most unpleasant monsters.

So, in the period leading up to his retirement, Poirot made up his mind to accept just twelve more cases: his self-imposed 'Labours'. Each would go down in the annals of crime as a heroic feat of deduction.

Many long time Christie fans know that Hercule would go on and on about retiring (at least it felt like it) well in this collection we have Hercule talking about going into retirement and growing the perfect vegetable marrow. This makes me think that the events in this collection all occur before the events in “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.” Poirot’s conversation with his friend, Dr. Burton leads into the Greek hero named Hercules and his 12 labors that he undertook. What did make me laugh was Poirot finding Hercules to be a brute who was not smart at all (I tend to agree when you read the Greek myths, Hercules sucks a lot). But, Poirot decides that he will investigate 12 more cases that interest him before setting in the country.

The Nemean Lion (5 stars)-This one tickled my funny bone a lot. We have Poirot becoming intrigued by the case of a gang of thieves who appear to abduct rich women’s Pekingese dogs. Reading about how Poirot has to deal with each of these rich women (there are two in this story) and how many of them are pretty terrible people was fun. Due to Poirot being called in to investigate by one of these women’s husbands was what made Poirot intrigued. The main reason why I liked this one besides the awesome solution though was that Poirot revealed something about someone else in this story and I loved it. Great ending.

The Lernaean Hydra (4.5 stars)- Poirot investigates when a dentist is being hounded by gossip about being behind the death of his wife. Of course it doesn’t help that the man was not really in love with his wife and had fallen for his assistant. The only reason why this case is not five stars was that I guessed at who was behind the whole thing.

The Arcadian Deer (3 stars)-This one was weird to me. Poirot gets stranded in a remote village and is asked to find out about a missing maid. Poirot travels to Italy and Switzerland in this one. And I had so many questions about how much money Poirot has that he is able to do things like this. The solution to this one was pretty odd I thought.

The Erymanthian Boar (5 stars)-Due to Poirot still being in Switzerland due to his last case, he is called upon by a local policeman in helping to track down a highly wanted criminal. I do have to say though, there is a side character called Schwartz who I did find highly annoying. He and Poirot’s comments on women traveling alone was aggravating. I imagine that Christie was drawing some ire towards Poirot and this other fictional character. The solution to this one I found to be pretty clever.

The Augean Stables (5 stars)-This once again was a pretty cool case. Poirot was called in to help out the current Prime Minister who is trying to get ahead of the scandal due to his predecessor who is also his father in law.  How Poirot goes about dealing with the scandal was quite clever and the ending that came with Poirot almost getting throttled for the first time in his life cracked me up.

The Stymphalean Birds (5 stars)-This story starts off a bit differently. We follow a man (Harold Waring) who is on vacation where he befriends an older woman (Mrs. Rice) and her daughter (Mrs. Elise Clayton) who are also vacationing. Harold becomes increasingly afraid of two older Polish women who seem malevolent to him. Harold also finds himself becoming increasingly attracted to Elise and feels sorry for her based on what her mother has said about her marriage. When Elise’s husband shows up and accuses her of having an affair with Harold. Murder ensues. We have Poirot who also seems to be vacationing who comes along and meets Harold who is freaking out over the whole situation. When Poirot reveals all once again you are left surprised. Or at least I was.

The Cretan Bull (3 stars)-This one was a lot of nonsense to me. A woman (Diana) comes to Poirot due to the fact that her fiancee (Hugh Chandler) has called off his marriage claiming that he is going insane. Apparently it’s genetic (yeah, not touching that at all) and he has seen signs that he has done some things. Poirot goes down to visit with Diana, her fiancee, and her fiancee’s father and his best friend and of course gets to the bottom of things. I have to call boo towards the solution though. Also we have Poirot and his odd brand of justice taking place in this story.

The Horses of Diomedes (2 stars)-A friend of Poirot’s, Dr. Michael Stoddart calls for his help. Poirot arrives and Dr. Stoddart tells him about a possible cocaine epidemic going through a crowd. Stoddart is particularly worried about a young woman named Sheila Grant. Sheila is the daughter of a retired general and has three other sisters. Stoddart is worried that Sheila will become addicted which can lead her towards ruin. Poirot meets with Sheila’s father and others nearby to see who could possibly be bringing drugs into the area. I have to say that the solution to this one did not make any sense to me at all. And who would even set up something like this?

The Girdle of Hippolyta (3 stars)-A man called Alexander Simpson asks Poirot for help when a painting goes missing. Poirot is told that the painting is most likely on it’s way to France and Simpson wants him to find it before it is carried off. On top of this case, Poirot is asked to look into a kidnapping of a teenage girl called Winnie King. Winnie goes missing on a train (Christie and her trains) and is later found drugged up. Winnie was supposed to be heading to France to school and what happened to her and why leads Poirot down a long winding path. I just didn’t buy the solution in this one at all. It made very little sense to me. Then again maybe I was getting flashbacks to “Mystery of the Blue Train” and got irritated.

The Flock of Geryon (5 stars)-A character we meet in the Case of the Nemean Lion is back in this one. I won’t reveal this person’s name since it may clue people into the solution in that one. I did enjoy though that Poirot had a side kick again in this one. Poirot is asked to look into a cult and the leader’s possible connections to the deaths of some of the older members of the cult who were thinking of leaving money to him.

The Apples of Hesperides (2 stars)-Honestly I was bored with this one from beginning to end. I guess the moral of the story is that rich people get sad too. I don’t know. I just was glad to be done with it.

The Capture of Cerebus (3 stars)-Even though this one stars one of Poirot’s favorite women, the Countess Vera Rossakoff, I found myself bored. Poirot is invited to visit Hell (a new club in London) and once within its gates he finds that not all is what it seems. He meets a fairly aggravating girl that is engaged to the Countess’s son who is away in America. And Poirot also meets a very large dog which would have given Cerebus a run for his money.

 

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five-stars

The Sleeping Doll (Kathryn Dance #1) by Jeffrey Deaver

The Sleeping Doll (Kathryn Dance #1) by Jeffrey DeaverThe Sleeping Doll by Jeffrey Deaver
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on July 26th 2007
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 448
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
five-stars

When Special Agent Kathryn Dance -- a brilliant interrogator and kinesics expert with the California Bureau of Investigation -- is sent to question the convicted killer Daniel "Son of Manson" Pell as a suspect in a newly unearthed crime, she feels both trepidation and electrifying intrigue. Pell is serving a life sentence for the brutal murders of the wealthy Croyton family in Carmel years earlier -- a crime mirroring those perpetrated by Charles Manson in the 1960s. But Pell and his cult members were sloppy: Not only were they apprehended, they even left behind a survivor -- the youngest of the Croyton daughters, who, because she was in bed hidden by her toys that terrible night, was dubbed the Sleeping Doll.

But the girl never spoke about that night, nor did the crime's mastermind. Indeed, Pell has long been both reticent and unrepentant about the crime. And so with the murderer transported from the Capitola superprison to an interrogation room in the Monterey County Courthouse, Dance sees an opportunity to pry a confession from him for the recent murder -- and to learn more about the depraved mind of this career criminal who considers himself a master of control, a dark Svengali, forcing people to do what they otherwise would never conceive of doing. In an electrifying psychological jousting match, Dance calls up all her skills as an interrogator and kinesics -- body language -- expert to get to the truth behind Daniel Pell.

But when Dance's plan goes terribly wrong and Pell escapes, leaving behind a trail of dead and injured, she finds herself in charge of her first-ever manhunt. But far from simply fleeing, Pell turns on his pursuers --and other innocents -- for reasons Dance and her colleagues can't discern. As the idyllic Monterey Peninsula is paralyzed by the elusive killer, Dance turns to the past to find the truth about what Daniel Pell is really up to. She tracks down the now teenage Sleeping Doll to learn what really happened that night, and she arranges a reunion of three women who were in his cult at the time of the killings. The lies of the past and the evasions of the present boil up under the relentless probing of Kathryn Dance, but will the truth about Daniel Pell emerge in time to stop him from killing again?

I was really intrigued by the character of Kathryn Dance in “Cold Moon.” Having a character that uses kinesics in order to get witnesses and suspects to open up and or confess.

In “The Sleeping Doll” we get more information on the character of Kathryn Dance. She works at the California Bureau of Investigation (think of a state office set up like the FBI) and is about to interrogate a man who murdered a family decades earlier (Daniel Pell). Pell is seen as similar to Charles Manson due to having his own family (teenage girls) who he commanded to steal from stores and homes in order to support the family. When new information comes up linking Pell to a murder Dance is set in to break him and get him to confess. Too late Dance realizes that Pell is up to something and then he escapes. This books follows Dance’s efforts to track down and stop Pell as well as following Pell as he continues to wreck havoc.

There are multiple POVs in this book per usual for a Deaver book. We get Dance, Pell, and some of the teens (now older women) who came under Pell’s spell decades earlier. We also get a POV from a writer who is going to write about the family that was murdered and the lone survivor of that murder (the so called Sleeping Doll). Deaver manages to do a good job shifting from each POV. I was honestly surprised since I thought it be too much.

I can say I wanted more of Dance though. Deaver was slow to reveal details about Dance, but at least I had questions answered about her from “Cold Moon.” Due to Dance being a widow she has a lot of trouble trying to establish a new relationship without dealing with her kids disapproval. And because of Dance’s special abilities she does a lot of analysis of her friends and family. It’s kind of like being around a human version of a Vulcan.

Deaver gets a bit too in depth at times when explaining Dance’s methods when interrogating cooperative and uncooperative witnesses. We also get to see how Pell manipulates people around him. And we definitely focus more on people’s motivations, thought processes, and even body movements. I found this whole thing pretty fascinating.

The flow worked nicely in this one and of course we get typical Deaver twists, though they work in this one. Unlike with the Rhyme books I didn’t feel like these were meant to shock. If you’re paying attention you realize that Deaver was giving clues all along the way.

The setting of this one takes place in California. What I wish we had gotten more details about is the areas near Dance. Deaver provides details on Dance’s home and her deck (which features prominently in this book) but I would have liked the same attention of detail regarding the history of the state and town they are in like he does in the Rhyme books.

The ending left me with some questions regarding Dance, her romantic relationships, and her family. I can’t wait for the next one.

five-stars

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

Murder is Easy by Agatha Christie

Murder is Easy by Agatha ChristieMurder is Easy by Agatha Christie
Published by William Morrow on June 1939
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 320
Source: Borrowed: print book
Goodreads
four-stars

A new 'signature edition' of Agatha Christie's thriller, featuring the return of Superintendent Battle. Luke Fitzwilliam could not believe Miss Pinkerton's wild allegation that a multiple murderer was at work in the quiet English village of Wychwood -- or her speculation that the local doctor was next in line. But within hours, Miss Pinkerton had been killed in a hit-and-run car accident. Mere coincidence? Luke was inclined to think so -- until he read in The Times of the unexpected demise of Dr Humbleby...

I love me some Christie. She is getting me through some bad times right now. I plan on reading the rest of her backlist and didn’t realize until after the fact I grabbed up the Superintendent Battle series (this is number 4) and am reading out of order now. I will correct that later.

“Murder is Easy” confused me a bit since I recall this being a Miss Marple television episode. So when I started reading about Luke Fitzwilliam and there was no sign of Miss Marple anywhere I was not pleased. But the story grabbed me and I found myself rushing to finish it.

Luke is back in England after being a policeman out East. He ends up talking to an elderly woman named Lavinia Pinkerton who proceeds to tell Luke that she is going to Scotland Yard to report someone she thinks is a serial killer in her village. Luke though he doesn’t say it to Ms. Pinkerton’s face thinks that she may be imagining things. However, the names that Lavina provides him stick in his head, especially a man she said would be the next victim, Dr. John Humbleby. Luke puts the whole thing out of his mind until he reads how Ms. Pinkerton was killed by a hit and run driver. And when he then reads later that Dr. Humbleby is dead as well he decides to dig deeper into Wychwood under Ashe.

Due to a connection that Luke has, he is able to pretend to be a cousin of a woman named Bridget Conway that lives there and is to be married soon to Gordon Whitfield.

I honestly liked how Luke goes about investigating whether a potential killer is on the loose in Whychwood under Ashe. He pretends to be there to investigate some potential witchcraft/death ceremonies that I don’t know how in the world anyone bought that. I would have been all:

Image result for you sit on a throne of lies gif

Luke ends up getting a lot of gossip and feelings and starts to think that Lavina was right that there is something darker going on with one of the residents. Of course Christie throws in some some random I hate you, but I love you story-line between Luke and Bridget and it doesn’t quite work because I honestly don’t even get why either one of them is attracted to each other.

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Hmmm, I may go watch the Notebook later. And I tend to loathe all things Nicholas Sparks.

So we have Luke trying to figure out who killed previous residents and also barely able to contain his loathing for Bridget’s ridiculous fiancee.

Image result for love triangle gifs

I loved the writing in this book. The atmosphere that Christie evokes in the village is creepy as anything. I maybe turned on more lights while reading this book. I just felt like someone was reading over my shoulder and had a very sharp knife ready to stab me with it.

The flow in the book is a bit off though. I think that’s because we have Luke running around and then we go to Bridget for a bit and then back to Luke. And we get a quick appearance by Battle who does nothing really in this book.

The ending and reveal of the villain was creepy and very well done. If I were Luke and Bridget I would have thrown some holy water at the murderer, they were one of the most memorable villains in one of Christie’s books for me.

four-stars

Crooked House by Agatha Christie

Crooked House by Agatha ChristieCrooked House by Agatha Christie
Published by Minotaur Books on March 1949
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 259
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
five-stars

The Leonides are one big happy family living in a sprawling, ramshackle mansion. That is until the head of the household, Aristide, is murdered with a fatal barbiturate injection.

Suspicion naturally falls on the old man’s young widow, fifty years his junior. But the murderer has reckoned without the tenacity of Charles Hayward, fiancé of the late millionaire’s granddaughter

Honestly I don’t have that much to say here besides the fact that I really really love this book.

This was one of Agatha Christie’s favorite books and I can see why.

There are a lot of twists and turns and I thought I figured out the perpetrator, but per usual, I was wrong.

“Crooked House” follows the character of Charles Hayward, as he goes about investigating who could have murdered his potential fiance’s (Sophia) grandfather, Mr. Aristide Leonides.

Christie sets up the book so readers get to read about Charles and Sophia and their time together before the war (WWII) before the book transitions over to post war England with both of them back dealing with the aftermath of Sophia’s grandfather’s death.

Due to Charles’s father having a high position at Scotland Yard he is called upon to go down and determine if he can figure out just by watching and listening who killed Sophia’s grandfather. Sophia smartly realizes they cannot have a future until it is determined who murdered Mr. Leonides.

We do get some interesting characters in this book such as Sophia’s younger sister Josephine, and her younger brother as well. Also Sophia’s father is kind of a cold fish and her mother is an actress which apparently means drama drama drama. There’s also an interesting uncle and aunt as well as the great aunt of Sophia’s grandmother that still lives with the family. I like that Christie does a very good job in just a few short scenes of showing who all these characters are and what ultimately moves them by the end of the book.

Christie’s quite smartly lays out a couple of clues that if you’re paying attention you could figure out who the murderer is, but honestly I didn’t notice any of this till the very end. One thing that I did like though is that you get to see Charles hypocrisy in a couple scenes with him feeling bad for Sophie’s step-grandmother and just kind of ignoring the signs of what type of woman that she really is.

The writing is top-notch Christie. I know this is no “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” but I can definitely see myself re-reading this again and again in the future.

five-stars
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