Posts Tagged ‘Crime Fiction’

Best ‘New to Us’ Books in 2014: Melissa O’s Picks

December 26, 2014

I read a wide variety of books of all different genres. Ask me for a suggestion and I most likely have read something that would appeal to you. Here are five books I stumbled upon this year. Some have been out there a long time, others are more recent arrivals, but they are all worth checking out and passing along for more to enjoy!

The Devil's BonesThe Devil’s Bones by Jefferson Bass
Bill Brockton is a forensic anthropologist who founded the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee. There he and his team study of the science of decomposition. He also finds himself drawn into the danger and drama of the murders they are trying to solve. It starts out simply enough, a woman’s charred body in a burned out car. How did she die? Then he receives a package of strange cremated remains. Suddenly he is fighting for his life and trying to solve a crime so hideous you won’t want to believe it. Another reason to love this book is that the author, Jefferson Bass, is actually a pseudonym for Bill Bass, the real-life famous forensic anthropologist and founder of the Body Farm, and cowriter Jon Jefferson. How cool is that!

Pioneer WomanPioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels – a love story by Ree Drummond
I had never read her blog, watched her cooking show, or picked up one of her cookbooks when I stumbled on this autobiography by Ree Drummond. As someone who spent some time feeling lost and unsure about the future, I could relate to her feelings as she struggled with where her next steps should take her. She never thought that future would mean staying in rural Oklahoma. And she certainly didn’t think it would involve a cowboy! I became lost in the words, flowery and syrupy as they sometimes are, as she “accidently” found herself on a cattle ranch and having adventures she never could have pictured in her future. A great read about taking a chance on love and setting out on the path less traveled.

Dangerous PassageDangerous Passage by Lisa Harris
This is a new inspirational series introducing widowed police detective Avery North and medical examiner Jackson Bryant. Harris nicely intertwines a love story into a thrilling murder mystery. Young Asian women are being murdered and the only link between them seems to be a small tattoo of a magnolia blossom. The investigation seems to simply uncover more mysteries and cover ups. Can they solve the case before more women go missing, and will Avery be ready to open her heart to love again?

 

Stand Up That MountainStand Up That Mountain by Jay Erskine Leutze
If you love the outdoors, this book is for you. If you love gut wrenching legal battles, this book is for you. If you love to root for the little guy, well you get the picture. Jay has escaped his life as an attorney and retreated to the North Carolina Mountains. Living quietly as a naturalist and fisherman, he loves the Appalachian Trail. He learns from a family of “mountain people” that a mining company plans to dynamite Belview Mountain, which sits right beside the Trail. They have evidence of their less than ethical behavior and the fight is on. As an avid mountain hiker and lover of nature, this book captured me, especially since it is in our own backyard! It is hard to believe that we almost lost one of the great treasures of our state. Jay Erskine Leutze recounts his story of the ground breaking legal fight to save this tiny Appalachian community in a book that is as engaging as any fiction tale.

SubmergedSubmerged by Dani Pettrey
The old saying “you can never go home again” seemed to hold true for Bailey Craig. Yet home is exactly where she found herself, for better or worse. She left Yancey, Alaska in disgrace, now can she find forgiveness? Bailey returned to bury her beloved aunt her died in a plane crash. Was it an accident or was it murder? Cole McKenna has put his past with Bailey behind him, until she shows up in town again. Soon she is fighting for her own life. Can Cole accept that Bailey has changed and help her solve the murder before she becomes another victim? Dani Pettrey is a new author and anyone who loves Dee Henderson’s novels should check her out. This new inspirational suspense series is fantastic and I can’t wait to continue the journey with her characters.

Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night edited by James Patterson and Thriller 2: Stories You Just Can’t Put Down edited by Clive Cussler

August 6, 2014

ThrillerFans of suspense and crime fiction will love two anthologies aptly titled Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night and Thriller 2: Stories You Just Can’t Put Down. Some of the greatest contemporary mystery, suspense, and fictional crime authors came together and created an organization called International Thriller Writers Inc. The writers in this group each contributed original short stories to be included in the first Thriller anthology.

The first anthology contains over thirty short stories that often include some of the writers’ well-known characters from popular series. The stories vary and cross multiple genres including historical, mystery, and science-fiction. All are fast-paced heart racing reads. Some of the authors included are Michael Palmer, Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, Denise Hamilton and John Lescroart.

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Thriller 2Thriller 2 (published in 2009) also includes over thirty short stories. Almost all of the authors in this follow-up anthology created stories with completely new characters that are not found in any of their series. Some of the contributing authors of this volume are Ridley Pearson, R.L. Stine, Jeffrey Deaver, Carla Neggers, Lisa Jackson and Phillip Margolin.

What makes the Thriller anthologies special is that the stories are edited by two masters of the thriller genre. James Patterson edited the first Thriller and Clive Cussler edited Thriller 2. Patterson and Cussler provide introductions to each story which give the reader insight into the background of the authors and their characters as well as elements of their writing styles. Both Thriller anthologies have something for every type of thriller enthusiast. These books are a great way to try out some new authors or revisit your favorites.

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Little Girl Lost by Brian McGilloway

May 20, 2014

little girlcover.phpLooking for a new mystery? Look no further! Brian McGilloway’s Little Girl Lost is a page turner that I devoured in one day.  Detective Sargent Lucy Black of the Police Service of Northern Ireland is first to respond to a call reporting a girl wandering the woods in the middle of a snowstorm. Black and her colleagues hope this girl is the missing teenage daughter of a wealthy and influential man. The teen was apparently abducted from a busy city street and the police have no clues. Instead, Lucy finds a much younger girl who has blood all over her hands; blood which belongs to someone else. The girl is traumatized and refuses to speak to or acknowledge anyone. She will only respond to Lucy.


Lucy is reassigned to the Public Protection Unit, which deals with cases relating to children at risk, in order to work on the young girl’s case. Lucy is upset over the transfer out of CID to a unit whose focus is not criminal, but more social work. She convinces her new boss she can find out who the girl is and still work on the kidnapping case. On top of this extra work, she is also caring for her aging father, a former policeman who now suffers from Alzheimer’s.


Then nasty secrets from the past begin to surface about events from Northern Ireland’s troubles in the 1990’s, when Lucy’s father’s was still on the force. By week’s end Lucy suspects the two cases could be related in more ways than one.
Weaving in the politics of the past with the heartbreaking work of caring for children at risk and an aging parent, the book is a mystery with a good heart. Lucy’s world is very complicated, and her mixed feelings about returning to the area she grew up in are very believable. What happens will make her doubt all of her memories from childhood.

 

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Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda

January 29, 2014

Ivy Pochoda’s novel starts off with two bored young girls on a slow, hot evening in Brooklyn. The girls want to do exciting, something that will make their lives more interesting and prove they are more grown up. Later that evening, one girl is found on the shore unconscious and the other is missing. Suddenly, the entire neighborhood is full of suspects. Is it the teacher who found the unconscious Val? The young man who was known to be the last to speak to the girls?

Red Hook is a troubled area of Brooklyn filled with a mix of blue collar row houses and housing projects. Racial and economic issues divide the people of the neighborhood. Fadi is the owner of a local convenience store who wants to make his store the center of information about the disappearance in the hope he will be more accepted in the community. Ren, who may know more about the incident than he says, is a young black man living rough in the abandoned warehouses who performs random instances of good works for the folks in the projects. Cree, the young man who spoke last to the girls, is desperate to get out of the projects, but stays because his mother won’t leave the place her husband died. Jonathan, the teacher who found Val, only wants to drink enough each night to forget about his failure of a life. All of them become caught up in the aftermath of what happened that night. In the end, the lives of everyone involved will be changed.

Pochoda’s focus is less on the police investigation than on the description of the neighborhood and its residents. But this is the beauty of her book. By the time I finished, I felt like had visited Red Hook, Brooklyn, and that her characters had become my neighbors. I hated to leave them when the book ended.

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The Racketeer by John Grisham

January 28, 2014

We meet our protagonist, Malcolm Bannister, in a minimum security Federal prison in Virginia. He has served five years of a 10 year sentence. We don’t really know exactly what got him to his present home but we do know most of his family have deserted him.  Malcolm is a lawyer…a disbarred lawyer. His son will be a teenager when he next sees him and his wife has re-married. His father, Henry ,a retired Highway policeman, visits him once a week. He is not sure how Malcolm ended up in prison but he does maintain his contact with his son. Malcolm was apparently caught up in an illegal operation of his small three-man law firm but he truly did not know any of the circumstances of the operation.
Soon everything is about to change.  A judge, the Honorable Raymond Fawcett is found murdered in a remote cabin. Also murdered is his secretary, Naomi Clary.  And a well secured safe is found open and empty !  It also appears that Malcolm may know something of the circumstances of the murders. He actually may know who the murderer is…..and for providing this information to the government he expects a full pardon and placement in our witness protection program with a complete new identity.
Quinn Rucker was in prison with Malcolm and Malcolm being the prisoner’s go-to guy for legal advice has told a lot to Malcolm. Malcolm now has to have an appearance change and must be put in “witness protection.”  But all does not go well, as somehow Rucker has learned of Malcolm’s perfidy. And so the adventure shifts into high gear as Malcolm must stay one step of his pursuers and yet be ready to testify at Rucker’s trial.
The pace is all John Grisham and fans will appreciate the many twists and turns in the story.

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Greatest Hits: Bay of Fires by Poppy Gee

January 8, 2014

bay of firesKick off the new year with The Book-A-Day Blog’s most popular posts of 2013! 

Bay of Fires, a wonderful debut novel by Poppy Gee, is set in a remote holiday town on the east coast of Tasmania. Sarah Avery has lost her job and is spending some time with her parents in the cabin they visit every summer. Her idea of hiding away quietly is shattered when she finds the body of a young woman on her favorite beach. Last year, another young woman was found dead in the same area, at the same time of summer. Suddenly, Sarah’s family, and the friends she has known her entire life, become suspects. Their lives and their secrets are splashed across the national news. Families who have known each other for years become divided between the wealthy owners of the holiday cottages and the poorer vacationers who stay in the campground. People point fingers at the disfigured man who lives alone with his cats at the edge of the woods. Suspicion and distrust infect what was once a close knit community.

The arrival of reporter Hall Flynn does nothing to ease the pressure on the locals, especially Sarah. The reasons why she left her job, her boyfriend, and the home she recently bought to live with her parents again, become topics of discussion. Even worse, she finds herself attracted to Flynn despite all her attempts to avoid him.  Flynn himself is also in a bit of a bind. His publisher is on his back over his lack of recent moneymaking stories.  No one in town wants to cooperate with him, though, because he is an outsider. Eventually, Flynn and Sarah have to join forces to track down the murderer.

I loved the unusual setting and the spooky atmosphere of this book. The author does a wonderful job of describing the wild nature of Tasmania’s east coast, and the insular nature of a small, isolated community. The novel is more a character study than a traditional mystery, and the setting becomes an important part of the puzzle. While the pacing may seem slow to some, I enjoyed the way it gradually built up the suspense. I would recommend this book, especially to fans of Elizabeth George or Tana French.

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Best New Books of 2013: Pam W’s Picks

December 11, 2013

My reading tastes are kind of all over the map, but I especially enjoy mysteries and historical fiction.  This year my list is full of lots of new authors.  I’ve read and really liked many of the books that are at the top of the best seller’s lists, but here are five of my favorites that might be less well known.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin
Conkin’s novel alternates between the story of Josephine, a slave in Virginia during the 1850’s at a failing plantation; and Lina, a first year associate of a large corporate law firm in present day New York who is working on what her boss calls a history making case. Lina’s case requires her to find a descendant of a slave who would like to be a plaintiff in a case over who painted a series of famous paintings that have long been attributed to Lu Ann Bell, but now are believed to have been painted by her slave.  As Lina investigates the case, the novel switches back to tell Josephine’s story.  Josephine’s was the more riveting tale, but the modern story was interesting as well. I look forward to more by this author.

Bay of Fires by Poppy Gee
Bay of Fires, a wonderful debut novel by Poppy Gee, is set in a remote holiday town on the east coast of Tasmania. Sarah Avery has lost her job and is spending some time with her parents in the cabin they visit every summer.  Sarah is fishing when she finds the body of a young woman on her favorite beach.   Suddenly, Sarah’s family and friends become murder suspects.  I loved the unusual setting and the spooky atmosphere of this book.  The author does a wonderful job of describing the wild nature of Tasmania’s east coast, and the insular nature of a small, isolated community. Check out my full-length post here.

Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda
Pochoda’s novel starts off with two bored young girls on a slow, hot evening in Brooklyn.  The girls want to do exciting, something that will make their lives more interesting and prove they are more grown up.  Later that evening, one girl is found on the shore unconscious and the other is missing.  What happened, and who is responsible?  Is it the teacher who found the unconscious Val?  The young man who was known to be the last to speak to the girls? Pochoda’s focus is less on the police investigation than on the description of the neighborhood and its residents.  But this is the beauty of her book.  By the time I finished, I felt like had visited Red Hook, Brooklyn, and that her characters had become my neighbors.  I hated to leave them when the book ended.

Amity and Sorrow by Peggy Riley
Amity and Sorrow is a moving tale of a woman trying to undo a terrible mistake she made when she was young.  After losing her family, she took up with a charismatic man who took her to live in a remote area.  Years later, she is fleeing from him and the cult he has created. Amaranth is terrified that her husband will follow her to force her and her two daughters to return.  The girls are unable to imagine what their lives will be like outside of the family.  The older daughter, Sorrow, has no intention of leaving the only life she has ever known and is fighting her mother every step of the way.  The younger daughter, Amity, is caught between her mother and her sister.  Riley’s writing is spare but she is able to paint a vivid picture.  You will find yourself hoping for redemption for Amaranth and her family, no matter what she has done in the past. See my full-length post here.

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
Honor Bright is from a Quaker community in England.  Jilted by her fiance, she decides to go with her sister to Ohio for her sister’s wedding.  Tragedy strikes, though, and when her sister dies, Honor doesn’t know what to do except finish the journey and bring the news to the man who was to be her brother-in-law.  Along the way, she is introduced to the issue of slavery and the return of escaped slaves in a frightening incident.  As a Quaker, Honor is firmly against slavery.  But the small community she has come to is in a difficult situation.  If they are seen to help the runaways, they risk losing their own lively hoods or more.  This dilemma is what Honor has to navigate in her new unexpected situation. She is dependent on the kindness of people she is not related to, and cannot upset them.  But she also wants to live according to her morals. Chevalier’s take on the issue of slavery is unique, and Honor was an engaging character.  Fans of historical fiction will really enjoy this one.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

October 10, 2013

Herman Koch’s The Dinner is an odd, creepy, and masterful novel. The sections of the book are set before the reader much as a dinner would be: Aperitif, Appetizer, Main Course, and so on. The narrative runs on at least two levels; the one night the dinner between two couples takes place, and the time leading up to the dinner.

Set in contemporary Holland, there is little description of places or people. There is a sense that this could take place in any city in the Western world.

Paul desperately wants to maintain the happiness of his little family. The book asks and provides some suggestive answers to the question—how far is Paul willing to go to make/create/maintain his happy family? Many situations in the story echo or touch on very difficult moral and ethical troubles any one of us could face. What is right? How does intelligence help or hinder us? What are we teaching our children? Will cell phones be the death of us? How do marriages survive or fail? And frankly, is this a book with a reliable or unreliable narrator?

I liked this book very much, although I did not feel the humor that some reviewers mention. The tension was wrapped more and more tightly, until I had to stop every few pages to gather my wits and because I was so anxious about where the book was going. The characters are well-drawn and kept true to their invented natures. I would never want to live in their world, but to peek through the windows made for a riveting read.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Bay of Fires by Poppy Gee

July 3, 2013

bay of firesBay of Fires, a wonderful debut novel by Poppy Gee, is set in a remote holiday town on the east coast of Tasmania. Sarah Avery has lost her job and is spending some time with her parents in the cabin they visit every summer. Her idea of hiding away quietly is shattered when she finds the body of a young woman on her favorite beach. Last year, another young woman was found dead in the same area, at the same time of summer. Suddenly, Sarah’s family, and the friends she has known her entire life, become suspects. Their lives and their secrets are splashed across the national news. Families who have known each other for years become divided between the wealthy owners of the holiday cottages and the poorer vacationers who stay in the campground. People point fingers at the disfigured man who lives alone with his cats at the edge of the woods. Suspicion and distrust infect what was once a close knit community.

The arrival of reporter Hall Flynn does nothing to ease the pressure on the locals, especially Sarah. The reasons why she left her job, her boyfriend, and the home she recently bought to live with her parents again, become topics of discussion. Even worse, she finds herself attracted to Flynn despite all her attempts to avoid him.  Flynn himself is also in a bit of a bind. His publisher is on his back over his lack of recent moneymaking stories.  No one in town wants to cooperate with him, though, because he is an outsider. Eventually, Flynn and Sarah have to join forces to track down the murderer.

I loved the unusual setting and the spooky atmosphere of this book. The author does a wonderful job of describing the wild nature of Tasmania’s east coast, and the insular nature of a small, isolated community. The novel is more a character study than a traditional mystery, and the setting becomes an important part of the puzzle. While the pacing may seem slow to some, I enjoyed the way it gradually built up the suspense. I would recommend this book, especially to fans of Elizabeth George or Tana French.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance by Gyles Brandreth

May 20, 2013

With the invention of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created one of the single most recognizable detectives, and style of detecting, the world has ever known.  Numerous are the authors who have striven to emulate the great detective, and numerous also are the failures.  Happily, I feel that Gyles Brandreth in Oscar Wilde and a Death of no Importance accomplishes the feat quite well.  If you can imagine Holmes’ observations and deductions’ coupled with Wildes’ sly Irish wit, you begin to get an excellent picture of why this book is such a fun and engaging read.

Chronicled by his good friend Robert Sherard, Oscar Wilde brings his not inconsiderable intelligence and wit to the aid of a dead young actor whom no one else will believe was murdered.  After befriending his own private detective consultant, the then highly popular Arthur Conan Doyle, Wilde and Sherard begin the hunt for justice for young Billy Wood.  Chasing clues through Victorian London, with occasional stops for sumptuous cuisine and fine entertainment, Wilde seeks not only the killer, but also the proof needed to garner police involvement.  Inspired by these tragic events, Wilde also begins work on a new story – The Picture of Dorian Gray

Brandreth has his characters hopping from exclusive gentlemen’s clubs to theatrical shows to a seaside resort, with many other stops in between.  Through it all he paints a surprisingly vivid and realistic picture of Victorian London, and the inner workings of a real life group of friends.  I found it fascinating when I discovered that Doyle, Wilde, and Sherard truly were great friends during the 1890’s, and this led a wonderful sense of realism to an already well written work.  Luckily, the fun and excitement continues with Oscar Wilde and A Game Called Murder.  For anyone who enjoys historical fiction, detective fiction, or Victorian London, this novel is a definite must read.

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