Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I don't want to short the murder mystery factor here, but this is a very funny book with quirky characters that will have you laughing out loud throughout.  The quirkiest of all is Elle, through whose eyes we follow the story.  She and Charlie are nearing a divorce when Elle finds him dead on her couch in the study with a knife in his back.  That's the main trouble with Charlie although there are other issues as well; he's a very troublesome dead man it turns out.

The other main issue is Elle's problem.  She tends to sort of space out when things get hairy.  She imagines herself floating to the ceiling and watching whatever is happening to or around her.  She has three bosom buddies who have their own oddities and they are determined to protect her at all costs.  They have been close friends for years and know when she is "pulling an Elle" so they band together to make decisions for her - and she lets them.  The results of making decisions by committee are mixed at best.  However, one of the friends, Susan, is a lawyer and she immediately takes Elle's defense.

The spouse of course is the most logical suspect in the murder, especially in the midst of a divorce when the victim is also found in the wife's house bleeding all over her couch.  There are plenty of other candidates though, and in a departure from comedy, some of the suspects are involved in some pretty disgusting and criminal behavior.  A lot of questions revolve around Charlie's business partner for instance.  Elle is in very real danger because of these suspects and the suspense is enough to have you madly turning pages.

There are times when you want to slap Elle up the side of the head because she's so dense, but then she or her friends have you laughing too hard to stay irritated.  All in all I loved these characters, and really hated the bad guys.  This is a terrific story, perfect for reading by the pool this summer.

Highly recommended
Source:  Oceanview Publishing through Partners in Crime Book Tours 

Thursday, April 25, 2013


There Was an Old Woman is labeled as a suspense novel, and I suppose that's technically true.  To my mind, however, it is also a wake-up call to all of us about how easily in real life vulnerable old people, particularly women, are being taken advantage of all too often.  You are old, maybe neglected, live alone and possibly have physical and/or mental issues.  That makes you an easy target for unscrupulous con artists, maybe even relatives who want what little you have.  

In this wonderful novel each character is so real that the reader really cares about them, or hates them and enjoys seeing their plans go awry.  Evie Ferrante is our heroine.  She is a curator at the Five-Boroughs Historical Society and she is shepherding a historical artifact from the Empire State Building to feature in her first exhibition.  The topic is major fires in New York City, a natural for her since her beloved father had been a firefighter.  It was not a good time for her sister to call and demand her help because their mother was hospitalized in bad shape.

That takes Evie back to the neighborhood where she grew up and into the middle of a terrible mess.  Mom is an alcoholic and her house looks like a hoarder's.  There doesn't appear to have been any maintenance done on the house in years and it is literally falling apart.  Evie is sad and discouraged, but when she talks to the neighbor Mina Yetner, the woman becomes a link to the happier past and a friend.  

She also meets other neighbors and the man who has taken over his father's general store down the street.  He at least is good looking and intelligent, and he is very helpful in her attempts to make the house safe and clean.  Mina's nephew on the other hand is obviously up to no good as he seems to spend more and more time with her, and try to keep Evie away.

I was so involved in this story I could hardly put the book down.  I figured out early in the book what was happening, although I under-estimated the extent of the crimes.  It was the characters who kept me turning the pages, cheering for the old women and hoping Evie could save them from the evil in their midst.  It is a psychological rather than violent mystery, but there is a bit of violence involved.  I guarantee you will be horrified at the damage done to the victims in the story.

I also enjoyed the history of New York City that is a large part of the story and I think you will too. This is a unique novel and I enjoyed every page of it.

Highly recommended
Source: Publisher through Partners in Crime Book Tours

Monday, April 22, 2013

IF YOU WERE HERE, Alafair Burke

McKenna Wright is a heroine I can believe in. No super powers or jumping into a situation wiser women would get away from. She's smart, yes, but also blessed with common sense. She's married to a West Point grad and they were both friends with one of his classmates, Susan Hauptmann. They were aware that Susan had problems with her stern military father. Then Susan seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth. She left behind everything in her life in New York City, and no clue where she had gone. No body was ever found.

It has been ten years now and McKenna, a former assistant D.A. and now a journalist, is fact finding for a story about a young man who fell onto the subway tracks but was saved by a woman who ran off without identifying herself. When McKenna sees a tape of it, she is shocked to recognize the woman who saved him as her long-lost friend.

McKenna is no longer a lawyer and that in itself is a strange story. Now she is trying to find Susan and gets into the middle of another strange tale.

The characters McKenna meets along the way are believable as well. Through each one she learns a little bit more but doesn't know who to trust, even her husband is acting suspicious. Was he involved with Susan? Does he know she is actually alive? A detective McKenna had offended years ago becomes an ally in the hunt.

I didn't figure out the whole story until it was spelled out to me in the final chapters, but then it made perfect sense. I requested the book because I had read Alafair Burke before, and I certainly wasn't disappointed this time either.

Highly recommended
Source: Amazon Vine

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tragic Week for our Nation

We were thinking about going to the Boston Marathon last weekend.  Actually we had thought to go to many events like it after we retired, but so far retirement has been more about health care than fun.  That marathon is fun in that Boston, one of my favorite cities, is at its best that day.  It's a holiday, Patriot's Day, and normally the weather is good so everyone gets out.  The sports teams play home games, and thousands of amateur athletes take part in the run.  Their families and friends flood the sidewalks along the route, taking photos and cheering everyone on.  It's a very special day.

Of course this year's race turned into a tragedy which a few days later turned Boston and some of its suburbs into ghost towns as law enforcement agencies (working together seamlessly) hunted for the remaining suspect.  We were so relieved when they took him into custody alive, and now we hope he will talk.  All of us need to know why they set off bombs.  What did they hope to accomplish?  What in their lives turned them into terrorists?  They had so much, mainly education and opportunity.  I cannot understand.

One part of the search practically made my heart stop.  The owner of the boat the fugitive was hiding in saw blood on the cover which had been loosened.  Rather than go inside and call 911 like any sane person would do, he got a ladder, pulled the cover back, and looked into the boat.  Only when he saw a lot of blood and a person curled up inside did he call the police.  Thank heaven the suspect didn't shoot him, so it ended without further loss of life.

On top of the Boston story we had flooding in the Midwest and the fertilizer plan explosion in West, Texas.  I was expecting locusts next.  Hadn't we had enough for one week?  So much disaster was too much to take in, and it isn't over.  They're still searching for bodies in Texas and flooding is still devastating areas of the Midwest where I grew up.  Today I feel exhausted by the emotion of the week.

However, I'm a realistic, stubborn American.  I don't allow myself to live in fear.  I try to mourn for the people lost in tragedies but then accept what I can't change and go on living.  It's really the only thing we can do.  Otherwise we'll cower in fear, and what kind of life would that be?  Reality demands that we enjoy every day of our lives because we don't have an expiration date marked on our bodies.  That is a lesson I was reminded of last year when I had cancer.  I had always been healthy, never thought that I stood a chance of dying until I was quite old, and then suddenly I was faced with a diagnosis that used to be a death sentence.  Wake-up call indeed.

The moral of this week?  Attend events you're interested in, don't take dumb chances but go where you want and do what you want to do, take advantage of local fun times and opportunities to travel, hug your loved ones and friends, smile, laugh every day, and for Pete's sake get cancer screening tests.  You only have one life, my friend.  Live it every day.

Monday, April 15, 2013

DEAD WRONG by Connie Dial

This is Dial's second book in the Josie Corsino series.  The first one, Fallen Angels, was a book I enjoyed a year ago.  LAPD Capt. Josie Corsino is a character who embodies all of women's torn emotions about job v. family.  She has worked hard to reach the rank of captain and loves her job despite some of the other officers she has to deal with daily.  For instance, her boss who demands daily reports but never reads them.  She then calls Corsino to tell her off for not notifying her of things that were in that daily report.  Definitely frustrating.

Corsino has been married for years to a man she still loves and they have a grown son who is the cause of most of the strife in their marriage.  Said son lives off of handouts from dad.  Then he brings home a woman he's serious about who happens to be about 20 years older than he is.  Corsino isn't happy with either situation but between that and her irregular hours for her job, she and her husband are growing apart.

The plot of this book involves a cop shooting a suspended cop in a dark alley.  The dead cop had aimed a gun at the cop on duty.  The investigation into this shooting uncovers corrupt cops and a hornet's nest of problems in the LAPD.  It's a believable scenario starring excellent characters and it kept me turning pages, although I must admit I knew who the bad guys were early on.

My one complaint about Dead Wrong is that Corsino's best friend on the force is a lieutenant who couldn't put a short sentence together without offensive profanity if she had to.  Yet not one other character in the book cusses.  If Dial has managed to portray various types of characters including street savvy cops without having them swear, why does she have to write in a woman who can't talk without swearing?  The lack of profanity in other characters didn't deter Dial from describing them well.  Each was unique and well-drawn and this woman's personality alone would have made her sufficiently her own person.

Recommended reading
Source:  LibraryThing win

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


This thriller has been sitting on my TBR shelf for several years patiently waiting to be read.  If only I had known how good it is, I would have read it when I bought it.  This one is a real winner.

The plot begins with the death of Princess Diana in Paris.  You'll remember, I'm sure, that various conspiracy theories got a lot of attention at the time, and actually some people still believe them.  Tom Cain has built an intricate, frightening tale which takes off from that fatal accident.

The major character is an assassin who goes by the name Samuel Carver.  Old military friends know him as Pablo Jackson and he has various other identities as well.  He is a loner, wouldn't you know, who was given away by his mother when he was born, and who doesn't trust anyone except for a very few close friends.  (Sorry about the snide remark about loners.  It's a pet peeve of mine.)  He seems to be able to survive anything and to be fearless.  He is fit and healthy, but mainly he's smart and able to plan ahead quickly.  He doesn't know who he works for, only that he has the job because of his old commander in the British military.  Someone he knows as Max calls him, gives him the target and then provides him with the supplies he needs.  Afterward he deposits lots of money in Carver's bank account.  His assassinations are always supposed to look like accidents.

The other major character is a young, beautiful Russian woman.  She is supposed to kill Carver but instead stays with him.  Their's is the strangest love story you'll ever read but it makes sense in this story.  It's also quite odd that I liked both of them even though I knew they were killers.

I must warn readers who are squeamish about violence that this is a violent book; of course, since it is about a killer.  I sometimes shy away from violent books, but I was so caught up in this one that I simply expected it and greedily read until the final page.  I've been lucky to read several page-turners lately.  When I finished this one, I looked at my husband (who was smiling at my edge-of-the-seat reading) and said, "Wow!  What a book!"  

I can't tell you any more about the plot without possibly slipping in spoilers.  All I can say is that this is a winner.  It has well-drawn characters, everyone from the truly evil to people capable of evil to achieve a good end.  The settings, whether French, Swiss, or British are beautifully depicted.  The plot is intricate and ever-changing, but yet easy to follow.  And the ending simply took my breath away.  

Highly recommended reading, with warning of violence.
Source:  probably a book sale

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

DEAD PEASANTS, Larry D. Thompson

This legal thriller came out last October and I can't believe I hadn't heard about it earlier.  However, thanks to Partners in Crime Tours I have now read it, to the detriment of household chores.  

Jack Bryant is a very wealthy man due to a successful career as a plaintiff attorney in many cases against large corporations.  He was brilliant at getting huge settlements in those cases and of course his share of the settlement was sizable.  After his last case, he suddenly announced that he was retiring.  His son was set to play football for TCU, and you know how Texans love their football, so he was moving to Fort Worth to enjoy life and watch his son's games.

The early part of the book where he is settling into an expensive house, becoming intrigued with the beautiful realtor, meeting up with his son J.R., and where  we learn about all of his cars, truck, RV, etc. is my least favorite part.  Then the story picks up as he becomes bored with retirement and sets up a pro bono legal practice in his RV in a poor section of town, thereby stirring up all kinds of trouble with the people who had been taking advantage of the poor.

That's when I decided I liked this guy and the story pulled me in like a fish on a hook.  I had no idea what "dead peasants" meant and was interested in the story of what that phrase has to do with taking money rightfully due unknowing people.  I was fooled for most of the book; Thompson led me right down the garden path to the wrong conclusion, but in retrospect I saw all the clues I had missed.  Love a book like that.

Larry Thompson is an attorney who lives in Texas so the setting and the legalities come from an author who knows what he's writing about.  I enjoyed the feeling of being in Texas throughout the story.

Recommended reading
Source:  Author via Partners in Crime Tours