Author: Roberta (page 1 of 27)

Author Post: Robert Galbraith

Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling who best known for writing the Harry Potter books.

 

Cormoran Strike series:

Private detective Cormoran Stike lost his leg in Afghanistan, but that isn’t why he’s struggling. Instead, he’s had a run of bad luck. He’s broken up with his girlfriend, is down to one client, and is living at his office. Now that he has a new assistant named Robin, is his luck about the change?

  • The Cuckoo’s Calling (2014) – my review
  • The Silkworm (2015)
  • Career of Evil (2016)
  • Lethal White (coming out Sept. 2018)

 

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About Author Posts:

Because I read a lot of mysteries, I’ve been trying to come up with a better system to keep track of which novels I’ve finished. I thought blogging would help, which it does, but I don’t always review everything I read. To get more organized, I’ve decided to create a series of author posts with lists of novels and links to my reviews. I plan to edit these pages as needed.

Author Post: Shelley Coriell

Local Arizona author Shelley Coriell started out working as a journalist and restaurant critic. Now she writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and young adult novels.

 

The Apostles romantic suspense series 

I’ve met Shelley several times at local events. At one workshop she told a heartbreaking story about how The Apostles series came about. She was at the hospital where her father was recovering from a stroke and a bad accident with an ATV. Shelley’s sister was taking care of his health issues and her brother was taking care of the financial issues, so Shelley felt at a lost about what to do. She decided to provide a distraction by getting her father to help her flesh out a story idea she had. The three books below are the result of that hospital stay.

The Apostles are a special group of handpicked FBI agents who work for a reclusive FBI legend named Parker Lord.

I really like this series. The books are a bit darker than typical romantic suspense and probably are closer to thrillers. (Links are to my reviews)

Mystery Short Story Collections featuring Detective Lottie King

Coriell introduced Detective Lottie King as a minor character in the first book of The Apostles series, The Broken. Lottie was so popular that Shelley decided to write more about her. By the way, Shelley is a bit of a foodie and she includes some Lottie-inspired recipes.

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About Author Posts:

Because I read a lot of mysteries, I’ve been trying to come up with a better system to keep track of which novels I’ve finished. I thought blogging would help, which it does, but I don’t always review everything I read. To get more organized, I’ve decided to create a series of author posts with lists of novels and links to my reviews. I plan to edit these pages as needed.

Author Post: Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin was born in Scotland and lives in Edinburgh.

Ian Rankin Novels:

John Rebus series

Ian Rankin was 25 years old when he wrote  Knots and Crosses. He did a magnificent job creating the older, grizzled character in John Rebus. The novels are riveting mysteries that are well-paced, with a nicely-detailed setting and have a believable plot. Rebus doesn’t solve everything alone, but is part of a team. Each novel involves some sort of puzzle as well.

I can’t wait to read more of the twenty-some novels featuring Inspector John Rebus.

1. Knots and Crosses (1987) –review
2. Hide and Seek (1991)
3. Tooth and Nail (original title Wolfman) (1992)
4. Strip Jack (1992)
5. The Black Book (1993)
6. Mortal Causes (1994)
7. Let It Bleed (1996)
8. Black and Blue (1997)
9. The Hanging Garden (1998)
10. Dead Souls (1999)
11. Set in Darkness (2000)
12. The Falls (2001) – review
13. Resurrection Men (2002)
14. A Question of Blood (2003)
15. Fleshmarket Close (published in the US as Fleshmarket Alley) (2004)
16. The Naming of the Dead (2006)
17. Exit Music (2007)
18. Standing in Another Man’s Grave (2012)
19. Saints of the Shadow Bible (2013)
20. The Beat Goes On: The Complete Short Stories (2014)
21. Even Dogs in the Wild (2015)
22. Rather Be the Devil (2016)

There’s also a British TV series based on the Rebus books.

Malcom Fox series

Malcom Fox is one of the “Complaints” or cops who investigate other cops.

  1. The Complaints (2009) –shelf – Fox’s investigations don’t make him popular and when his own actions are called to question, he isn’t sure who he can trust to help. 
  2. The Impossible Dead
  3. Standing in Another Man’s Grave
  4. Saints of the Shadow Bible
  5. Even Dogs in the Wild
  6. Rather Be the Devil (with Rebus)

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About Author Posts:

Because I read a lot of mysteries, I’ve been trying to come up with a better system to keep track of which novels I’ve finished. I thought blogging would help, which it does, but I don’t always review everything I read. To get more organized, I’ve decided to create a series of author posts with lists of novels and links to my reviews. I plan to edit these pages as needed.

Author Post: Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly started out as a crime reporter in Florida and eventually moved to Los Angeles. Inspired by Raymond Chandler, he began writing mystery novels. He has twenty-one bestselling titles in the Harry Bosch series alone.

I decided to read his novels when my stepfather recommended him.

Michael Connelly novels:

Harry Bosch Series:

Los Angeles Police Detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch is Michael Connelly’s most famous character. (Red = read)

  • The Black Echo (1992)
  • The Black Ice (1993)
  • The Concrete Blonde (1994)
  • The Last Coyote (1995)
  • Trunk Music (1997)
  • Angels Flight (1999)
 -shelf
  • A Darkness More Than Night (2001)
  • City Of Bones (2002)
  • Lost Light (2003)
  • The Narrows (2004) (sequel to The Poet, below)
  • The Closers (2005)
  • Echo Park (2006) -shelf
  • The Overlook  (2007) -shelf
  • Nine Dragons (2009) (also featuring Mickey Haller)
  • The Drop (2011)
 – shelf
  • The Black Box (2012)
  • The Burning Room (2014)
  • The Crossing (2015) (also featuring Mickey Haller)
  • The Wrong Side Of Goodbye (2016) (also featuring Mickey Haller)
  • Two Kinds Of Truth (2017) (also featuring Mickey Haller)
  • Dark Sacred Night (coming October 2018) (also featuring Renée Ballard)

Connelly’s main character also inspired the popular Amazon series Bosch, loosely based on the novels.

Michael Connelly has also written novels featuring other characters:

Jack McEvoy- reporter:

The Poet (1996)

This novel has a great first line:

Death is my beat.

Henry Pierce – chemical scientist and entrepreneur:

Chasing the Dime (2002) -shelf

Mickey Haller -defense attorney:

  • The Lincoln Lawyer (2005)
  • The Brass Verdict (2008) -shelf
  • The Reversal (2010)
  • The Fifth Witness (2011)
  • The Gods of Guilt (2013) – shelf

Renée Ballard – police detective:

The Late Show (2017)

The Late Show*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Renée Ballard is a police detective who works the midnight shift, catching new cases but never getting the opportunity to see them through because they are passed on to the day shift. That is until she and her partner are sent to the hospital to check on a badly beaten prostitute and a young waitress who was shot in a bar fight. Renee senses these are important cases and decides to follow the investigations to the end. Can she obtain justice for the victims no one else cares about?

Connelly tends to torture his main characters with workplace problems. In this case, Renée Ballard is working the midnight shift because she had accused her supervisor of sexual harassment and the supervisor demoted her.

I can’t wait to see the sparks fly when Harry Bosch meets Renée Ballard in Dark Sacred Night coming out in October 2018.

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About Author Posts:

Because I read a lot of mysteries, I’ve been trying to come up with a better system to keep track of which novels I’ve finished. I thought blogging would help, which it does, but I don’t always review everything I read. To get more organized, I’ve decided to create a series of author posts with lists of novels and links to my reviews. I plan to edit these pages as needed.

#BookBeginnings The Late Show by Michael Connelly

Let’s check out The Late Show by Michael Connelly for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-button-hurwitz

The Late Show*by Michael Connelly

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

I started reading Connelly’s  Harry Bosch mystery series several years ago because of my stepfather’s recommendation and really enjoyed them. This novel introduces a new character, Renée Ballard.

Book Jacket Blurb:  Renée Ballard is a police detective who works the midnight shift, catching new cases but never getting the opportunity to see them through because they are passed on to the day shift. That is until she and her partner are sent to the hospital to check on a badly beaten prostitute and a young waitress who was shot in a bar fight. Renee senses these are important cases and decides to follow the investigations to the end. Can she obtain justice for the victims no one else cares about?

First Sentence of The Late Show:

Ballard and Jenkins rolled up to the house on El Centro shortly before midnight, It was the first call of the shift.

Discussion:

Michael Connelly has written some intriguing first lines for his novels. This one answers who, where, and when in just a few words.

He also tends to torture his main characters with workplace problems. In this case, Renée Ballard is working the midnight shift because she had accused her supervisor of sexual harassment and the supervisor demoted her.

What do you think? Would you keep reading? Are you a fan of Michael Connelly?

#BestsellerCode100: Writer’s Review of Testimony by Anita Shreve

Let’s take a look at the next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, Testimony by Anita Shreve, from a writer’s perspective.

This post contains spoilers.

 

Testimony* by Anita Shreve

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: When the headmaster of Avery Academy receives a video of three of his older male students engaged in sexual acts with an underage girl, he is shocked. What will be the consequences for the students involved and for the school, which is already struggling? How did this happen and what should he do about it?

Plot/Format

This novel has an unusual format in many ways. First of all, instead of the standard rising conflict, the author presents the highest level of drama — the most intense scene — in the first chapter. All the following chapters cover either the acts that gave rise to the event or the results from it. It is like a mirror is shattered in the first scene and the rest of the book is about trying to reassemble the pieces.

The story is told from the perspectives of multiple characters, some of whom are closer to the sex scandal than others.  At times the diversity of viewpoints is excessive and unnecessary, for example when Natalie the lunch lady at the school or the town boy named Daryl, who sells alcohol to minors, get their say.

To her credit, Anita Shreve uses an unnamed researcher from the university to instigate some of the “testimony” and tie together the pieces with the finest of threads. The book might have been stronger, however, if the researcher was more concrete and pulled the pieces together more tightly.

Each chapter also varies in point of view. For example, the first chapter with Mike the headmaster is in third person. The second scene (by Ellen, Rob’s mom) is told in second person. Sienna, the underage girl, narrates in first person.

Characters

Because Anita Shreve tells the story from multiple perspectives, it isn’t clear who the protagonist is. The reader learns the most about one of the boys named Silas; what his motives were and what happened to him.

A case could also be made that Mike, the headmaster of the school who views the video, is the main character, especially since he’s the character we meet first. On the other hand, his actions also instigated much of what happened to Silas.

 

Photo of a house in Vermont by Mariamichelle via Visualhunt.com

Setting

The setting is a private school in Vermont. It adds atmosphere, but the story could have been placed anywhere and still had the same impact.

Discussion

A test for the greatness of any novel is how well it remains relevant over time. Unfortunately, from the perspective of the #MeToo era,  how Shreve treats the three young males who get drunk and sexually assault an underage girl seems tipped towards sympathy for the boys. The girl is presented at times as a willing participant, or at the very least less of a victim, than the boys. That perspective feels outdated.

Overall, although the construction of the novel was intriguing, the themes didn’t work for me. I had to work to finish the novel because I didn’t really care what happened to any of the characters.

 

Join us on social media:

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 53. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire (2011) – Discussion begins August 20, 2018
Romance

Author Post: Francine Mathews

Francine Mathews writes a variety of genres. In addition to police procedural mysteries and spy thrillers, she has written a series of historical novels about Jane Austin acting as an amateur sleuth under the pen name Stephanie Barron.

Public domain image of Nantucket from NASA

Francine Mathews Novels

Merry Folger series

  1. Death in the Off Season (1994) – reviewed below
  2. Death in Rough Water (1995) -reviewed below
  3. Death in a Mood Indigo (1997)
  4. Death in a Cold Hard Light (1998)
  5. Death on Nantucket (2017)

In this police procedural mystery series, Detective Meredith (Merry) Folger is a third generation police officer who lives on the Island of Nantucket off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Caroline Carmichael series

  1. The Cut Out (2001) – reviewed below
  2. Blown (2005)

Francine Mathews worked for a few years as an intelligence analyst for the CIA. She used her experience to write the Caroline Carmichael novels.

Death in the Off Season*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Detective Meredith Folger’s father, who is chief of police, assigns Merry her first murder investigation when the mysterious brother of a prominent citizen ends up drowned in a cranberry field. Did the murderer intend to kill the victim, who had been hiding in Brazil for a decade? Or was the true target his brother Peter, a local cranberry farmer?

The Nantucket setting is intriguing and Mathews weaves in local details, such as the difficulty for residents to find affordable housing on an island that fills with wealthy tourists each summer. The plot is nicely complicated by the twist that we don’t know who the intended target is. There’s also a red herring or two.

The one weakness is the dialogue, which consists mainly straightforward interrogations with little realistic conflict between the participants and no subtext. It could have been richer.

 

Death in Rough Water

In the second of the series, Mathews delves deeply into the economic woes of the fishing industry on Nantucket. Merry’s close friend Del returns to the island after the death of Del’s’ father, fisherman Joe Duarte. It looks like Del is going to take over her father’s boat and fish for swordfish, but she is brutally murdered.  Merry’s father orders Merry to take a vacation. Instead, she continues to investigate her friend’s death.

For this novel, the intrigue builds around the father of Del’s daughter. If Merry can discover the toddler’s father’s true identity, it might reveal the motive for the murder. Mathews also weaves in a subplot around an anti-fishing activist and an explosion at Town Pier.

I was a bit disappointed when one of the side characters, who had been an admirable person up to this point, goes crazy with jealousy. It seemed like an unrealistic and contrived way to generate another suspect. The author could have created another character — one who was less stable from the get go — to fill the jealous role and it would have been more believable.

 

The Cut Out

When CIA analyst Caroline Carmichael discovers that her husband Eric — who is supposed to have been dead for two years — is actually alive and possibly working for the enemy, she is shocked. When the director sends her to find Eric and figure out what is happening, Caroline jumps at the chance even though she knows she’s being used.

Unlike with her Merry Folger books, this novel is filled with a huge cast of characters, so many that it is hard to keep track of them at times. Some of the characters were flat and not memorable, which didn’t help. The characters also travel all over the world, so the setting is more complex than the Merry Folger books.

The plot is also more tangled and and much, much darker.  As is usual with the spy thriller genre, the protagonist spends most of her time trying to figure out who she can rely on in her own team, including whether she can trust her own husband, rather than battling the bad guys.

In an unusual choice, the author writes flashbacks in present tense. I found it disorienting, which may have been the intention. After all, Caroline has just learned her husband is not who and where she thought he was.

The dialogue is better in this novel because everyone is lying and covering up their true agendas.

Conclusion:

Overall, I enjoyed the Merry Folger books a great deal and would like to read more in the series.

 

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About Author Posts:

Because I read a lot of mysteries, I’ve been trying to come up with a better system to keep track of which novels I’ve finished. I thought blogging would help, which it does, but I don’t always review everything I read. To get more organized, I’ve decided to create a series of author posts with lists of novels and links to my reviews. I plan to edit these pages as needed.

#BookBeginnings Killing the Blues by Michael Brandman

Today we’re reading Robert B. Parker’s Killing the Blues (A Jesse Stone Novel) by Michael Brandman for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-button-hurwitz

Robert B. Parker’s Killing the Blues* (A Jesse Stone Novel) by Michael Brandman

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

When Robert B. Parker passed away in 2010, Michael Brandman took over writing the Jesse Stone novels. In addition to Killing the Blues, he also wrote Fool Me Twice and Damned if You Do for the same series.

Summary: Jesse Stone has taken a job as chief of police in Paradise, Massachusetts as a way of leaving his disturbing past in Los Angeles behind. When a string of car thefts lead to murder, he must find a way to protect the summer tourists and at the same time figure out if his past might have come back to haunt him.

First Sentence:

Coffee was the only thing on Jesse Stone’s mind when he entered the Paradise police station on a bright New England spring morning.

His first stop was usually the coffeemaker. But when he saw what was happening in front of Suitcase Simpson’s desk, which was located across the aisle from the kitchen area, he headed for his office.

Discussion:

I like that the story starts in a low key way, instead of dropping a murder in the first scene as many murder mysteries do. We get to know the characters before the action starts.

What do you think? Do you like the beginning? Would you keep reading?

Are you a Robert Parker fan? What do you think when another author takes over a series?

#BestsellerCode100: Number 54 Testimony by Anita Shreve

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, Testimony by Anita Shreve.

This post does not contain spoilers.

 

Testimony* by Anita Shreve

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: When the headmaster of Avery Academy receives a video of his students engaged in sexual acts with an underage girl, he is shocked. What will be the consequences for the students involved and for the school, which is already struggling? How did this happen and what should he do about it?

Have you read Testimony by Anita Shreve? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about Testimony by Anita Shreve? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 53. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire (2011) – Discussion begins August 20, 2018
Romance

Sujata Massey: Author Post and The Pearl Diver Review

Sujata Massey Author Post

Because I have been reading a lot of mysteries, I’ve been trying to come up with a better system to keep track of what I’ve read. I thought the blog would help, which it does, but I don’t always review everything I’ve read. To get more organized I’m going to try to create an author post for each author with lists of novels. I will update later by linking to newer reviews and marking books as read .

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Sujata Massey taught English in Japan for several years.  She used her experiences to create the delightful Rei Shimura mystery series.

Novels by Sujata Massey

Rei Shimura series:

  • The Salaryman’s Wife (1997) –review
  • Zen Attitude (1998)
  • The Flower Master (1999)
  • The Floating Girl (2000)
  • The Bride’s Kimono (2001)
  • The Samurai’s Daughter (2003)
  • The Pearl Diver (2004) – reviewed below
  • The Typhoon Lover (2005)
  • Girl in a Box (2006)
  • Shimura Trouble (2008)
  • The Kizuna Coast (December 2014)

Daughters of Bengal:
The Sleeping Dictionary

The Perveen Mistry Investigations
The Widows of Malabar Hill (2018) (historical mystery)

Review:

The Pearl Diver* by Sujata Massey


(*Amazon Affiliate Link)

Rei Shimura has been banned from Japan and is now living in Washington D.C. with her boyfriend Hugh. When her cousin is kidnapped, Rei leaps into action to find her. One thing leads to another and soon she’s also trying to find a Japanese woman who disappeared many years earlier. Are the two cases linked?

Although the novel is no longer set in Japan like the first novel, I still like how Massey works in details of Japanese culture, especially Japanese antiques, food (bento boxes), and pearl diving. The new setting is also concrete and detailed. Massey has a fine touch with setting.

The plot is rich, with many well-developed characters. The front matter includes a “Cast of Characters” list with snippets about a dozen of the more prominent characters. Character lists are always handy references, but aren’t necessary to enjoy this book. Unlike some other novels, the author does a good job of introducing new people so that it is easy to remember who they are.

Compared to her debut novel, which had a few bumps, this one is well done. I particularly liked the ending, which I won’t reveal.

I want to read more of the novels in this series.

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