Tag: mystery (page 1 of 4)

The Secret of Chimneys (Superintendent Battle #1) by Agatha Christie

The Secret of Chimneys (Superintendent Battle #1) by Agatha ChristieThe Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
Published by HarperCollins on June 1925
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 273
Source: Borrowed: print book
Goodreads
three-stars

A bit of adventure and quick cash is all that good-natured drifter Anthony Cade is looking for when he accepts a messenger job from an old friend. It sounds so simple: deliver the provocative memoirs of a recently deceased European count to a London publisher. But the parcel holds more than scandalous royal secrets. It contains a stash of letters that suggest blackmail -- and lead to the murder of a stranger who's been shadowing Anthony's every move. Discovering the dead man's identity means retracing his steps -- to the rambling estate of Chimneys where darker secrets, and deadlier threats, await anyone who dares to enter.

I can honestly say that I will probably never re-read this book in the future. It was honestly a trial to get through. The first 50 or so pages made no sense and then things get a bit smoother when Superintendent Battle arrives on the scene. But honestly, he is not even needed in this story since once again another person solves the crimes that are central to this story. I found the ending to be ridiculous and pretty implausible.

The central figure in this story is Anthony Cade. When the book begins he runs into his friend James McGrath and agrees to take on two jobs for him. He is to deliver a memoir from the late King of Herzoslovakia (I never want to read that name again). I was honestly baffled why anyone cared about these memoirs, but apparently they are very important. Anthony is also supposed to return some letters to a woman who wrote them.

Now besides Anthony, we also get several other characters we need to become familiar with. George Lomax who is a British politician, Lord Caterham, who lives at Chimneys,  Virginia Revel, she stays at Chimneys and is related to George, Bill Eversleigh who works for George and also seems to be flirting or something with Virginia and various other people along with Inspector Battle. I can usually keep people straight, but I had a hard time int his book.

I didn’t understand the character of Anthony or Virginia really. Virginia gets blackmailed, realizes the blackmailer made a mistake, but likes the sensation of it so much she decides to not tell him she’s not the woman he’s looking for. Anthony comes across Virginia and moments later is helping her deal with a dead body she finds in her home with no questions asked. I mean there were ludicrous moments dancing through this book, but those two are at the top of my list.

There are other characters in this one, but they are so underdeveloped I just don’t want to get into them at all.

I will say that Battle wasn’t needed in this book. He didn’t do anything and solved nothing.

I really didn’t care for the writing in this one either. Pretty much what I got from it was that Christie thought that all countries should be ruled since people without having a strong ruler would not be better than what they are. Also the racism that was prevalent at the time pops up in the book too. When a character announces he got married, another character freaks out that he may have married a black woman in Africa. And the man who gets married remarks:

“Come, come, it’s not so bad as all that, said (redacted) laughing.

She’s white enough–white all through, bless her.”

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The flow was pretty awful until Battle shows up I thought. Once he arrived, the plot flowed a lot better. But honestly I am still surprised Christie even had Battle in this one. He was not necessary to anything. Anthony keeps going on about how smart Battle is and how afraid of him he was, but really? I didn’t get much from Battle besides how his eyes twinkled. Seriously be prepared to read that a lot, Christie loves that word.

The ending was so random and I actually just shook my head. I was shocked at the surprise marriage between two people who literally just met. And then a random reveal of identities and I was wishing for a Poirot novel before the end.

three-stars

The Burning Wire (Lincoln Rhyme # 9) by Jeffrey Deaver

The Burning Wire (Lincoln Rhyme # 9) by Jeffrey DeaverThe Burning Wire by Jeffrey Deaver
Published by Simon & Schuster on January 1, 2010
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 414
Source: Borrowed: print book
Goodreads
five-stars

Lincoln Rhyme is back, on the trail of a killer whose weapon of choice cripples New York City with fear.

The weapon is invisible and omnipresent. Without it, modern society grinds to a halt. It is electricity. The killer harnesses and steers huge arc flashes with voltage so high and heat so searing that steel melts and his victims are set afire.

When the first explosion occurs in broad daylight, reducing a city bus to a pile of molten, shrapnel-riddled metal, officials fear terrorism. Rhyme, a world-class forensic criminologist known for his successful apprehension of the most devious criminals, is immediately tapped for the investigation. Long a quadriplegic, he assembles NYPD detective Amelia Sachs and officer Ron Pulaski as his eyes, ears and legs on crime sites, and FBI agent Fred Dellray as his undercover man on the street. As the attacks continue across the city at a sickening pace, and terrifying demand letters begin appearing, the team works desperately against time and with maddeningly little forensic evidence to try to find the killer. Or is it killers...?

Meanwhile, Rhyme is consulting on another high-profile investigation in Mexico with a most coveted quarry in his crosshairs: the hired killer known as the Watchmaker, one of the few criminals to have eluded Rhyme's net.

Juggling two massive investigations against a cruel ticking clock takes a toll on Rhyme's health. Soon Rhyme is fighting on yet another front - and his determination to work despite his physical limitations threatens to drive away his closest allies when he needs them most...

Thank goodness “The Burning Wire” rebounded from a lackluster 8th book (The Broken Window). This one is also not as long as previous reads so that was much appreciated. In this 8th book, Rhyme and Sachs get called in when a mysterious figure is set on attacking the people of New York with electricity. No this isn’t Shocker. But honestly, you start thinking of this book that way when you get the POV of the man who is set on killing people due to his obsession with electricity.

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We begin with Rhyme being bored since he has no cases to work on at the moment. Since the last book when we went into Rhyme doing more rehab, he had gained a little bit of movement, but that is it. Rhyme is still focused on catching his nemesis, The Watchmaker (see Cold Moon) so we do get updates about that character via another character this series introduced, Kathryn Dance (also see Cold Moon). When a bus nearby is damaged due to an explosion because of burning wire connected to a plant nearby, Rhyme and Sachs are called in to assist. Due to the NYPD and FBI being afraid of a missed terrorist connection, the clock is ticking for Rhyme and his usual companions to track down the person or persons responsible.
I can honestly say this is the most I liked Rhyme since around the first book. We get his vulnerability when he has a medical setback and also the book does a nice callback to how suicidal Rhyme used to be in The Bone Collector (Lincoln Rhyme #1). Rhyme knows that being able to still work cases and also his relationship with Amelia Sachs is what brought him back to the other side. Rhyme’s encyclopedia knowledge of most things science does not extend much to electricity, so we have to get more information about that via the bad guy’s POV and also what characters tell Sachs.

Sachs besides her POV working the scene here and there we don’t get much time with. I am not complaining though. I think the last book with her and the nonsense with Pammy was a bit too much for me. I do wish we had seen Sachs interact with her mother more though. She’s always this faceless character to me and that’s about it.

We also go to Ron Pulaski’s POV in this one. And either Deaver needs to toughen this character up, or just devote more of the POV to Sachs. I feel like Pulaski has not changed one iota since he was first introduced. I also find it odd that Rhyme’s dream is one day that Sachs and Pulaski run the Crime Scene department or whatever it was referred to in this book. I wonder if Sachs and Pulaski even know about his dream or would agree with it. There was an interesting development regarding Pulaski in this one that I would have been more favorable to if Deaver wasn’t so interested in resolving it by the end of the book. It could have been nice to follow up with it in the next book.

We also get Fred Dellray’s POV which I liked a lot. We get to see him struggling with the changing nature of the FBI and what place if any he has in it anymore.

We also get the bad guy’s POV and his obsession with electricity though seems at odds with his mission in this book. I won’t get into it in the review otherwise I will have spoiled what I considered a great reveal.

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I thought it was interesting in this one that we get a sense of the characters moving on with their lives between books which is nice. We get a reference to Rhyme and Sachs visiting Rhyme’s cousin Arthur (see The Broken Window) who I still don’t care for much. But also we get references to Sachs getting a new car and working on it with her pseudo niece Pammy. We get references to one of the characters still doing his ballroom dancing and everyone else asking about it.

The flow of the book works in this one though once again I have to say the little bits we get about the Watchmaker messes with things. I get why Deaver did that when I got towards the end, but I started to get tired of Dance and Rhyme talking via phone while Rhyme was trying to work the case in New York and another one elsewhere.

The book ends on a good note. Deaver tries to set up another twist but I wasn’t fooled by it for a second. I guess if I was reading this book when it first came out, I would have been worried, but since I know other books follow this one I just went eh interesting.

five-stars

Divine Evil by Nora Roberts

Divine Evil by Nora RobertsDivine Evil by Nora Roberts
Published by Bantam on 1992
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 568
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
one-star

A decade ago, sculptor Clare Kimball fled Emmitsboro, Maryland, to take the art world by storm. Now she’s celebrated as the artist of her generation. But no amount of success can eclipse the nightmares that haunt her—or the memories of her father’s suicide. Just as her star is shining brighter than ever, Clare leaves it all behind to face her demons.

Emmitsboro sheriff Cameron Rafferty loved Clare from afar all through high school. Now that she’s back, they form a bond that grows stronger each day—fueled by an attraction that’s been simmering for years. But Clare’s past soon rises up with a vengeance, rocking the town with a sinister murder that is clearly linked to her return. As an investigation gets under way, Clare and Cameron will learn that evil can linger anywhere—even in those you love and trust the most. But it’s a discovery that may come too late to save them.…

This was so long and tedious. Also there’s barely any romance and what there is you quickly forget about it when it comes to reading about the group sex, rapes, murders, and animals being killed. Heck we even get a scene of a man being beaten to death which actually turned my stomach. I don’t think the main characters or secondary characters were very developed. And there’s a topic of racism introduced and dropped quickly which was odd. The ending was a total nonstarter. I can see if Roberts had wrote a sequel to this, but since she didn’t, this book has an odd and menacing ending.

Clare Kimball is a sculptor living in New York. Even though she is on the cusp of making a name for herself she still feels unsettled by her father’s death years earlier. Coming home she found him dead of what looked to be an apparent suicide. And a dream she had as a child which comes back to her now and again haunts her. When her mother remarries and goes on her honeymoon, Clare decides to return to her former home in Emmitsboro, Maryland. She thinks she can stay there and work on new pieces and maybe come to terms other her father’s death and her anger towards her mother for moving on.

So Clare sucks. She has a best friend named Angie, who runs an art gallery with her husband Jean-Paul. Apparently she has no other friends though her twin brother Blair makes random appearances. She also is divorced though you don’t hear much about her first marriage. You quickly find out that Clare is angry/upset about her mother and her moving on. She feels stuck and thinks returning to a town she hasn’t lived in in about a decade is definitely the answer. When she returns she runs into Cameron (Cam) Rafferty. Can has also returned to the hometown after being a cop in DC. He’s now the new sheriff and is dealing with a lot of bad memoires due to his mother and his stepfather.

Obviously theses two are romantically interested in each other. But Roberts breaks that up with allowing readers POV of a young woman being raped and murdered and then a young teen boy who is apparently into Satanism and is obsessed with Clare.

Clare hides what she starts to discover about her father’s interest in the occult. And Cam gets into it with his stepfather and locks him up. When the man is found naked and beaten to death more things come to light in the supposed sleepy rural town.

I honestly felt like this was two stories meshed into one. Either Roberts should have had Clare investigating once she realized some truths about her father. Or Cam should have been the focus with him trying to reconcile with his mother. Instead neither characters center stage in this book. I felt more for Cam especially when there’s a reveal about how his father died and I hated that I don’t think he was told during the course of the story. I did want him and his mother reconciled but sadly that doesn’t happen.

Either way Clare does her sculptures and then all of a sudden gets emeshed in a case when a young woman she accidentally hits with her car that was running from men in the woods. Though she still wants to hide any thoughts about her father. Her brother and then Angie and Jean-Paul are in Emmitsboro trying to keep and eye on Clare. It honestly doesn’t make any sense why anyone is afraid of Clare’s return. She doesn’t go around asking questions or anything related to her father. Whatever.

Can I say that these Satanists are stupid? Who goes around abducting and murdering people thinking they will get away with it? And these seem like 80s TV movie versions of Satanists. I wish Roberts had introduced more information on how these dumb men were even lured to do things like this. Roberts tries to with the ending, but it was so out of left field I rolled my eyes.

The setting of this small town didn’t feel like Maryland to me. It felt more Midwest to me. With the talk of the smallness of the town and barely any stores or shops and small farms I had a hard time with that.

As I said above, the ending left things open ended and was a weird note to end this book on. I don’t recommend this.

one-star

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.

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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.

 

Image result for poirot gifs

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
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