Book Review Tuesday
Apparently I’m going to make this a quarterly thing (I really do mean to do it once a month, but I’ve been feeling rather lackadaisical). I’ve read 18 books since the last time I reported back to you guys. Additionally, I listened to The Martian two more times. Yes, I read that book four times, and now Dr. M & I have seen the movie. It was pretty darn good. So anyway, I’m going to do this in installments. Here are the first nine.
1. Angelmaker, by Nick Harkaway. Joe Spork spends his days fixing antique clocks. The son of infamous London criminal Mathew "Tommy Gun" Spork, he has turned his back on his family's mobster history and aims to live a quiet life. That orderly existence is suddenly upended when Joe activates a particularly unusual clockwork mechanism. His client, Edie Banister, is more than the kindly old lady she appears to be--she's a retired international secret agent. And the device? It's a 1950s doomsday machine. Having triggered it, Joe now faces the wrath of both the British government and a diabolical South Asian dictator who is also Edie's old arch-nemesis. On the upside, Joe's got a girl: a bold receptionist named Polly whose smarts, savvy and sex appeal may be just what he needs. With Joe's once-quiet world suddenly overrun by mad monks, psychopathic serial killers, scientific geniuses, and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe, he realizes that the only way to survive is to muster the courage to fight, help Edie complete a mission she abandoned years ago and pick up his father's old gun...
The Bug Says: I was reading this book when I wrote my last book review post, and at that time I said that it was rather bizarre sort of steam punk/science fiction book set in London (very similar to Kraken). I quite enjoyed following Mr. Spork around England & learning about his grandfather’s secret life. I gave it 4 stars.
2. Full Dark House (Bryant & May #1), by Christopher Fowler. Edgy, suspenseful, and darkly comic, here is the first novel in a riveting new mystery series starring two cranky but brilliant old detectives whose lifelong friendship was forged solving crimes for the London Police Department's Peculiar Crimes Unit. In Full Dark House, Christopher Fowler tells the story of both their first and last case--and how along the way the unlikely pair of crime fighters changed the face of detection. A present-day bombing rips through London and claims the life of eighty-year-old detective Arthur Bryant. For his partner John May, it means the end of a partnership that lasted over half-a-century and an eerie echo back to the Blitz of World War II when they first met. Desperately searching for clues to the killer's identity, May finds his old friend's notes of their very first case and becomes convinced that the past has returned...with a killing vengeance.
The Bug Says: I don’t usually like books that go back & forth between the past & the present, but in this case I felt like the juxtaposition really worked. The two main characters are interesting in their own rights, and the old and new mysteries were well told. I gave the book 4 stars, and will most likely read the next book in the series.
3. The Red Road (Alex Morrow #4), by Denise Mina. Police detective Alex Morrow has met plenty of unsavory characters in her line of work, but arms dealer Mark Lynch ranks among the most brutal and damaged of the criminals she's known. Morrow is serving as a witness in Lynch's trial, where the case hinges on his fingerprints found on the guns he sells. When the investigation leads to a privileged Scottish lawyer who's expecting to be assassinated after a money laundering scheme goes bad, and a woman who's spying on the people who put her in jail, Morrow has her hands full. And that's before she even gets to her family issues.
The Bug Says: Alex Morrow isn’t particularly likable, and yet I really like her anyway. This is the 4th book in the series & I enjoyed it just as much as the other three. I gave it 4 stars.
4. Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn. Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.
The Bug Says: We read this book for book club. I didn’t much like Libby. Or Ben. But it was an interesting premise. I gave it 3 stars.
5. Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs #2), by Jacqueline Winspear. It is the spring of 1930, and Maisie has been hired to find a runaway heiress. When three of the heiress's old friends are found dead, Maisie must race to find out who would want to kill these seemingly respectable young women before it's too late. As Maisie investigates, she discovers that the answers lie in the unforgettable agony of the Great War.
The Bug Says: Oh man, this one was gut-wrenching! Such a sad back story… but I really enjoyed the investigative process. I gave it 4 stars.
6. A Share in Death (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #1), by Deborah Crombie. A week's holiday in a luxurious Yorkshire time-share is just what Scotland Yard's Superintendent Duncan Kincaid needs. But the discovery of a body floating in the whirlpool bath ends Kincaid's vacation before it's begun. One of his new acquaintances at Followdale House is dead; another is a killer. Despite a distinct lack of cooperation from the local constabulary, Kincaid's keen sense of duty won't allow him to ignore the heinous crime, impelling him to send for his enthusiastic young assistant, Sergeant Gemma James. But the stakes are raised dramatically when a second murder occurs, and Kincaid and James find themselves in a determined hunt for a fiendish felon who enjoys homicide a bit too much.
The Bug Says: I so enjoy listening to a mystery read by a narrator with a British accent :) The mystery was pretty interesting and the main characters likable – I need to track down the next one in the series! I gave it 4 stars.
7. One Good Turn (Jackson Brodie #2), by Kate Atkinson. Two years after the events of Case Histories left him a retired millionaire, Jackson Brodie has followed Julia, his occasional girlfriend and former client, to Edinburgh for its famous summer arts festival. But when he witnesses a man being brutally attacked in a traffic jam - the apparent victim of an extreme case of road rage - a chain of events is set in motion that will pull the wife of an unscrupulous real estate tycoon, a timid but successful crime novelist, and a hardheaded female police detective into Jackson's orbit. Suddenly out of retirement, Jackson is once again in the midst of several mysteries that intersect in one giant and sinister scheme.
The Bug Says: Oh that Mr. Brodie is such a fascinating man. I’ve already read book 3 in the series too. There’s just one left – I think I’ll wait a while so I can savor it. I gave this one 4 stars.
8. The Inquisitor, by Mark Allen Smith. Geiger has a gift: he knows a lie the instant he hears it. And in his business—called "information retrieval" by its practitioners—that gift is invaluable, because truth is the hottest thing on the market. Geiger's clients count on him to extract the truth from even the most reluctant subjects. Unlike most of his competitors, Geiger rarely sheds blood, but he does use a variety of techniques—some physical, many psychological—to push his subjects to a point where pain takes a backseat to fear. Because only then will they finally stop lying. One of Geiger's rules is that he never works with children. So when his partner, former journalist Harry Boddicker, unwittingly brings in a client who demands that Geiger interrogate a twelve-year-old boy, Geiger responds instinctively. He rescues the boy from his captor, removes him to the safety of his New York City loft, and promises to protect him from further harm. But if Geiger and Harry cannot quickly discover why the client is so desperate to learn the boy's secret, they themselves will become the victims of an utterly ruthless adversary.
The Bug Says: I didn’t really enjoy reading about Geiger’s torture methods, but I did like the way being asked to “work” on a 12 year old boy caused him to have a psychic breakdown. It was interesting to watch. I gave it 3 stars.
9. The Unseen (Krewe of Hunters #5), by Heather Graham. 1800s. San Antonio, Texas: In room 207 at the Longhorn Saloon, in the long shadow of the Alamo itself, a woman renowned for her beauty was brutally murdered. Her killer was never found. One year ago: In that same historic room, another woman vanished without a trace. Her blood was everywhere...but her body was never recovered. Now: In the last month, San Antonio has become a dumping ground for battered bodies. All young women, many of them long missing, almost all forgotten. Until now. Texas Ranger Logan Raintree cannot sit by and let his city’s most vulnerable citizens be slain. So when he is approached to lead a brand-new group of elite paranormal investigators working the case, he has no choice but to accept the challenge. And with it, his powerful ability to commune with the dead.
The Bug Says: When I read book 4 of this series I promised myself that I was done with it. No more! But in a moment of weakness I had a hankering for a light, fluffy, paranormal murder mystery, and this one delivered. I gave it 3 stars.
Currently (for book club) I’m listening to The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George, about a “literary apothecary.” It’s still early days, so we will see. On my Kindle, (also for book club) I’m reading Breaking Braydon, by M. K. Harkins. It’s my freebie (remember, we like to play book roulette with the free Kindle selections, just for a hoot). It’s about a billionaire playboy who meets his match in a woman named Jain, who “tones down her beauty” to be taken seriously. I’m making myself read a little bit every day, like medicine. I think I really will need a literary apothecary when I’m finished! Ha!
What are you guys reading?