Best Sellers

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking for a ‘good guy’ detective?

Your search is over. Jack Fredrickson has penned the third in a series featuring Vlodek Elstrom. Dek started his career in A Safe Place for Dying. Dek is an ingratiating character who has wit and courage. At one time, he was married to a multimillionaire. Then his reputation was trashed, his business ruined and his marriage ended. In his first title, he investigates a threatening letter that was sent to the gated community where he lived when he was married. Then, a mansion is blown up and Dek becomes his own best subject. Very entertaining reading.
His second adventure is reported in Honestly Dearest, You’re Dead. In this offering, Dek is named the executor of a woman’s estate. He has never met her to his knowledge and her estate is worth only a couple of hundred dollars but he takes the job when he is offered $700. What he finds is a killer and a mystery. Dek is just as engaging or even more so. The characters are interesting and well formed and the plot is interest grabbing. A enjoyable read.
Now in February, Fredrickson is coming out with his third entry in the series, Hunting Sweetie Rose. A clown falls (?) off a rooftop and a fat man in a long limousine hires Dek to investigate. Dek connects the death to Chicago socialite and philanthropist Sweetie Fairbairn. Suddenly, Sweetie is nowhere to be found. Dek is nothing if not determined.  Dek is still the good guy that he was in the first 2 titles. This is bound to be a good read.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Slight twist for P.D. James

P.D. James is better known for her Adam Dalgleish series about a Scotland Yard detective who writes poetry on the side. She also is in her 90's. You would not think it would be time for her to make a change. James, however, decided not to write another Dalgleish novel as she says she could not bear leaving it unfinished if she should die. Instead, she decided to indulge herself in another love, Jane Austen novels. Death Comes to Pemberley visits Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy after they have been married for 6 years. They are living on Darcy's estate with two sons when Elizabeth's sister arrives in extreme distress talking about her husbands murder. With James, place often becomes another character in the story and Pemberley is no exception. She is able to retain Austen's feeling of the characters while introducing mystery and intrigue. A very interesting read for those who like British mysteries or those who are Jane Austen fans. It feels like coming home to a familiar place.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New York Times 10 Best Books of 2012

The New York Times recently released their annual 10 best books of the year. Five of the titles are fiction and five are nonfiction. I am excited because 3 of the five fiction titles would have made my top list also. The three I really enjoyed are:
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach - a first novel and one that I have talked about on the blog.
Swamplandia by Karen Russell - another first novel. I have not included this title on the blog because I had a feeling I liked it so much because I have lived in Southwest Florida not too far from the hypothetical island where this novel takes place. It is the story of a young girl trying to hold together her family after their mother's death. Now her family is nothing if not unique and most would say quirky. They have been running an alligator theme park on one of the many islands off the west coast of the Everglades. I'm excited that other people thought it was as good as I did.
11/22/63 by Stephen King - another title I have included in the blog. I have to admit, I like Stephen King's work. I'm not a big horror reader but I really look on his work as magnificent tales of good against evil. I just finished listening to one of King's earlier works which HBO has made into a miniseries, Bag of Bones. It was just as fascinating to me and I hope the miniseries does it justice.

The remaining two that I have to admit I have not read are:
Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson - This is a coming of age story for several characters that moves from small town Vermont to New York City. The reviews on Good Reads are either really strong or not that great. Apparently, the characters are very well drawn and for those that like character driven novels is hard to put down.
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht - I'm not sure I am going to attempt this one. It is some say magic realism and others say well written but boring. A young woman returns to the Balkans to investigate her grandfather's death. This story is interwoven with legends with long descriptions of places, objects and events.

All five titles are available in the catalog. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Best Mysteries of 2011 - Part 2 AND Sister by Rosamund Lupton

I've got 5 more titles to complete the best mystery list and an endorsement for a title I am listening to in my car.

6) British author S. J. Bolton has written, 'Now You See Me', a comtemporary gothic about a female police officer who is taunted by a serial murderer who is intent on copying Jack the Ripper. It is fast paced and suspenseful with graphic historical details.

7) Colin Cotterill, who has written a series featuring a Laotian coroner, has begun a new series featuring a young, female journalist. 'Killed at the Whim of a Hat' takes place in southern Thailand. It is slow starting but picks up speed with humor. Jimm Juree, the journalist, and her family will have you looking for more.

8)Craig Johnson has added another title to the Walt Longmire series, 'Hell is Empty'. Walt is chasing an escaped killer through snow covered mountains in Wyoming. Johnson adds allusions to Dantes' Inferno and Indian mysticism to a hard driving, suspenseful plot. This seventh in the series could be his best.

9)G.M. Malliet, of CID St. Just fame (i.e. Death of a Cozy Writer), is starting a new series with 'Wicked Autumn'. This series is featuring an ex-M15 agent who has become a small village vicar. How is that for a change of pace? While Max Tudor is looking for peace, what he finds is murder. Malliet uses her sense of humor, good pacing and interesting characters to make this a good cozy read.

10) Craig Morton's first novel, 'Stealing Mona Lisa', is a fictionalized account of the actual 1911 theft of the famous painting. The story is intricately plotted and the historical details accurate. A fun read for history buffs.


I spend quite a bit of time in my car. The radio gets old after a while, particularly when I go on trips. I have always turned to books on cd when I am getting ready to spend more than an hour driving. Over the holiday, I took a trip to Florida and New Orleans. While driving, I started to listen to Sister by Rosamund Lupton. I don't know how I missed it when it first came out this summer. Lupton writes this novel in the form of a letter from an older sister to her dead younger sibling. She explains all her thoughts and reactions to finding out Tess, the younger, was missing and then found with her wrists slashed. While the police and the rest of the family believe this a suicide. Bea, the letter writer, is sure it was murder. Very suspenseful, very well written, an enjoyable experience. I highly recommend it if you missed it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Best Mysteries of 2011

Some people who review mysteries came up with the list of what they thought were the best ones published in 2011. The list covers alot of terriorty - London to New Orleans to Thailand. The first 5 titles are:
1)  Sara Gran's Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead introduces a private detective that oneeviewer describes as a mixture of Nancy Drew and Sid Vicious. She lives, eats and breathes detection. Someone had given her a book entitled Detection and it has become her bible. She is called to post-Katrina New Orleans to look for a missing person. Very noire, very gritty - a detective that is hard to like but for which you will have compassion.
2) Chris Nickson has written Cold Cruel Winter, a historical mystery that focuses on capturing a serial killer in a 1700's Leeds. This is the second in a series (follows The Broken Token) which follows Richard Nottingham, Constable of the City of Leeds. He searches for a serial killer who is seeking revenge.
The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway, #2) 3) Michael Stanley in Death of the Mantis has penned a police procedural that takes place in Botswana. This is the 3rd of a series that follows David “Kubu” Bengu, an assistant superintendent. Africa plays a large part in the story which investigates crimes that have been blamed on bushmen. Don't think you will be getting another Alexander McCall Smith. this is not a cozy.
4) Donna Leon penned Drawing Conclusions, another entry into the long running Commissario Guido Brunetti series. It takes place in Venice, Italy where an old woman dies of a heart attack or was it something more? Brunetti investigates. This series has long been considered one of the better written.
5) Elly Griffiths has written The Janus Stone, the second in a series featuring Ruth Galloway, a forensic anthropologist. Griffith is called to investigate when a child's partial skeleton is unearthed beneath an old mansion that once served as a children's home.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What Would It Have Been Like

Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a Life by Anne Beattie tries to go behind the facade on Pat Nixon and discover the real woman. Beattie research this topic thoroughly but there is not that much about Pat Nixon that is separate from her husband. She always presented this stoic, cold and unemotional face to the world but what was she like really. Beattie examines the life of Pat Nixon, the most private of people, through  imagined scenes and reflections on the art of writing. This is a work of both fact and fiction. In fact, it is more a story of the journey than anything else. Mrs. Nixon remains unknown. I don't think we can say we know her well at the end of the book but we know who she might have been and we care about this hypothetical person.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Oedipus Revisted

David Guterson, the author of the tremendously successful Snow Falling on Cedars, has come up with an entirely different premise in this up to date retelling of Oedipus Rex. A young au pair leaves her baby on a doorstep and the son grows up to be 'the king of search'. Ed King is a successful entrepreneur in the technology arena with a liking for older women. It has been described as dark, humorous, imaginative and amazing. People seem to be either loving it or hating it. Those who liked 'Snow...' would not necessarily like this one. Not all the characters are lovable or even likable but it's hard to put down once you are caught up in the story. You want to find out if, in fact, their fate will actually be their fate. He uses twitter like exchanges as a kind of Greek chorus, a very inventive method. I often wonder how author's come up with their ideas, in this case, I really wonder. A very interesting and sometimes controversial read.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Taylor Steven's New Book

Taylor Stevens is not your usual author. She was born into a religious cult, moved all over the world, was separated from her family at the age of 12 and begged on the streets. Education was not important for the children of the cult. They spent their time doing the chores for the adults, cooking, laundry, childcare, etc. Crown published her first book in March of 2011, The Informationist. It was described by reviewers as a remarkable thriller, gorgeously written, and impossible to put down. Her main character, Vanessa Michael Munroe, was described as the newest tough girl action hero. Well, she is back. Just as tough, just as mysterious. Stevens new book is The Innocent. This time Munroe has been brought into the search for a girl who has been kidnapped by 'The Chosen', a religious cult. She has been missing for 8 years when Munroe is asked to investigate. With Stevens own experience, this title ought to be just as exciting as the first one if not more so. This is to be published on December 27, 2011. Look for it on our shelves

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stephen Cannell's Last Book

Stephen Cannell was really just developing a following. His books were suspenseful and fast moving. Unfortunately, he passed away due to complications from melanoma last September. His final book is being published in December. "Vigilante" brings the return of Detective Shane Scully. When a vocal police critic and gang activist ends up dead, the TV host for the reality tv series Vigilante TV shows up at the scene of the crime with the detectives. The TV host uses misdirection and threats to try to force his way into the investigation. Will he find the killer before Scully? For those who like Robert Parker, Cannell's books are the next best thing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Enter Virtual Reality

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is the book you need to give to a young male to read. The main character is Wade Watts, a more or less homeless high school student, whose life revolves around OASIS - a virtual reality world. It takes place in the not too distant future and the 'real' world is not a very attractive or nice place. The deceased creator of OASIS, James Halliday, has left clues to three keys which will lead to his fortune. The best thing about this story for me is that in order to look for the keys, Wade and friends, go back to the atmosphere of James Halliday's past. So in many ways, you are virutally living in the 1980's. The songs, the games and the atmosphere is all there. There is also the ultimate evil corporation which tries to prevent an individual from getting to the prize. Great read. Suspenseful, interesting characters, and alot of fun.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Stephen King - It's Not About Horror

Stephen King's new title, 11/22/63, is part suspense and part science fiction. A high school English teacher discovers he can time travel back to try to change history. If you could stop Kennedy from being shot, would you? What would be the consequences? A fascinating concept that has already had the film rights optioned by Jonathan Demme, the director of Silence of the Lambs.

The Art of Fielding is Not About Baseball

Well, that's not quite true. It IS about baseball in a very general sense. It is also about friendship and coming of age and about the need to form close relationships. Henry Skrimshander is a baseball star for Westish College until a throw goes astray. This title has received rave reviews from sources as different as James Patterson, who referred to it as something that "appear out of nowhere and then dazzles and bewitches and inspires until you nearly lose your breath from the enjoyment and satisfaction"; Sports Illustrated that said "The book will knock out baseball and literature fans alike." and The New York Times that said "not only a wonderful baseball novel--it zooms immediately into the pantheon of classics, alongside The Natural by Bernard Malamud and The Southpaw by Mark Harris--but it's also a magical, melancholy story about friendship and the coming of age that marks the debut of an immensely talented writer." Obviously a must read for those who enjoy character studies.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Enter the Big Top.

A title by another first time author that is causing a lot of discussion is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  Imagine Ms. Morgenstern’s reaction when as a rookie novelists whose book is not due out until September, Summit Entertainment, the group that brought us the Twilight films, bought the rights to her novel.  Summit Entertainment wants to describe this as a young adult novel but that is wrong. This is a tale of greed, fate and love. This is a story of two dueling magicians who fight their battle within the confines of a black and white circus that is only open at night. This is beautifully written and spellbinding to read.  One review calls it a self-assured and entertaining, another compelling, well-drawn. I call it inspired. It is not fantasy although there are elements of fantasy; it is not a romance although the love between the two protagonists is strong and eternal; it is an enchanted fable that is hard to put down.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reginald Hill minus Dalziel and Pascoe

Reginald Hill is a British crime author who is known mostly for the Dalziel and Pascoe series that has become a BBC tv series.  Hill is considered by the London Times to be one of the 50 greatest crime writers in the world. When I discovered he was publishing a stand alone title in the US, I thought I would give it a quick perusal. I have been a member of some email discussion groups where Hill was a member and he was very quick witted and positive. I have had a hard time following his most recent entries in the Dalziel series but I thought - well - I'd see if the stand alone interested me.

The Woodcutter will publish in the states on July 26, 2011. It was published in Great Britain in 2010. I opened the book and was immediately grabbed by the story and the characters. This is a stunning psychological thriller. The main character, 'Wolf' Hadda, starts out as a very wealthy, attractive, powerful entrepeneur and quickly ends up in prison, found guilty of child pornography and financial crimes. You would think he would not be an attractive character, but somehow, Hill makes the reader care about what happens to him. All of his characterizations are well rounded and interesting, the plotting is intricate but riveting and for a book of over 500 pages, I could not put it down. Get ready for late nights finishing this one.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Don't Go To Sleep!!!!

As the person who purchases books for the library, I frequently find out about new titles or authors who will be publishing in the near future. Perhaps there are others out there that might be interested in finding out about books that have created ‘buzz’ in the publishing world. That will be the focus of this blog with perhaps some additions of older titles that might have been missed.
As my first entry, a work that will be coming out on June 14th is Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson. Watson is a first time author and the title is definitely in the thriller category. People can just not stop talking about this book. I read an advanced reading copy in 2 days hating every time I had to put it down. Some of the comments are:
            “Quite simply the best debut novel I have ever read.” (Tess Gerritsen)
            The summer’s single most suspenseful plot belongs to BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP. . . . pure page-turner.” (New York Times)
            Amazon has named it a “Best Book of the Month” even before it is being sold!
The story focuses on a woman who wakes up every morning not knowing where she is, how old she is, her husband, her house, and basically nothing that has apparently happened in the last several decades. Her memory disappears every time she goes to sleep. She discovers that she has been seeing a doctor behind her husband’s back and keeping a journal of things that have happened or that she remembers. When she find written on the front of the journal “Don’t trust Ben” (her husband), her world becomes even more confusing. A definite page turner that I know is worth the wait.