Posts Tagged ‘Police Procedural’

The Keeper by John Lescroart

November 18, 2014

Dismas Hardy has acquired a new client, Hal Chase. Hal is a prison guard in the Sheriff’s department in  San Francisco county. Hal’s wife Katie has disappeared , leaving their two small children alone in their house. A couple of spots of blood have been found and foul play is suspected. Since the first person people think of as the murderer is the husband, Hal decides to be pro-active and get himself a lawyer. And so starts John Lescroart’s latest book, The Keeper.

In order to find out as much as possible, Dis decides to hire his old pal retired homicide detective, Abe Glitsky to find out what he can about the lives of the Chase family. At the same time a scandal may be ready to arise out of some  mysterious prisoner deaths at the county jail where Hal Chase works. Wes Ferrell , the county DA and another friend of Hardy is about to open another ‘can of worms.’

The two stories may  intervene as Chase is one of the guards at the county jail.  Lescroart will keep you guessing with his latest page turner. I confess to being a big fan of Lescroart and this is one of his best.

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Best ‘New to Us’ Books in 2013: Farida B’s Picks

December 19, 2013

I love a variety of books in the adult and children’s collection, including Fantasy, Mystery, Humor, Romance, and gentle clean reads. My picks for the 5 best new to us books in 2013 – presented in no particular order, certainly reflect my reading tastes.

The Innocent by David Baldacci
The Innocent is David Baldacci’s first novel in Will Robie Series. This is a fast paced, plot driven suspense story. Will Robie is a stone cold ruthless hit man. He always kills his given targets without asking any questions.  The story starts with Robie traveling to Scotland to kill his assigned target. On each job he has to plan and memorize each step he will have to make to do his job and stay alive. If he makes one mistake, he will lose his life.  When he gets his target, he heads back home.  Next Robie is assigned to eliminate a target close to home, which is unusual – normally he has to travel far away to do his job. When he enters the home of the target at night, he finds that it’s a woman, who is sleeping with a small child.  Unable to shoot the woman with the child so near, he defies orders and leaves without completing his mission.  He has just made the biggest mistake of his life. Now, he is the target and has to escape from his own people.

Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 
Mythical and mystical, Mistress of Spices is reminiscent of fables, magic, realistic and fairy tales. The story Divakaruni tells is transporting, but it is her gift for metaphor that makes this novel live and breathe, you feel like you are involved with the characters, its pages as redolent as any freshly ground spice. It revolves around the age-old magic of spices, which are imbued with powers as complexly spiritual as India itself, the birthplace of Divakaruni and her fearless heroine, Tilo. Born ugly and unwanted in a tiny village in India, Nayan Tara (“Flower That Grows by the Dust Road”) is virtually discarded by her family for the sin of being a girl. Resentful at being treated so shabbily, young Nayan Tara throws herself on the mercy of the mythical serpents of the oceans, who deliver her to the mystical Island of Spices. There, she is initiated into a priestly sisterhood of Spice Mistresses sent out into the world to help others, offering magic potions of fennel, peppercorn, lotus root, etc.  Read my full review.

Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg
Fannie Flagg takes readers to Elmwood Springs, Missouri, where the most unlikely and surprising experiences of a high-spirited lady Mrs. Elner Shimfissle inspire a town to ponder the age-old question “Why are we here?” If you have read any of her books, they are full of southern warmth, emotion and funny episodes. She is the author of the famous book turned into movie Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. Elner is up on a ladder again picking figs when she accidentally pokes a wasps’ nest in her fig tree and falls down.  Waking up in the hospital emergency room, she wonders how she got there. Elner’s nervous niece Norma faints when she hears of Aunt Elner being in hospital. This is not the first time that Aunt Elner has fallen from the ladder. Now Aunt Elner is worried about facing Norma since she had promised not to climb the ladder again.  But what can she do? All she wanted was to make a jar of fig preserves for the nice woman who had brought her a basket of tomatoes.

The Man You’ll Marry by Debbie Macomber
Debbie Macomber writes Contemporary romance which is heartwarming and engaging. If you like to read some clean cozy romance than this is the author you should pick. This title contains two different stories of the Wedding dress. The first part is called “The First Man you Meet.” The second part is called “The Man You’ll Marry.” The wedding dress was made many years ago, and it came with a promise: “The First Man You Meet will be the Man you will Marry!” Shelly Hansen did not want to get married to anyone. She was happy to stay single and work on her career.  She was horrified when her great-aunt’s wedding dress arrived, according to family legend, she was destined to marry the next man she met. On the same day when she tripped on an escalator and fell into Mark Brady’s arms, she told him and herself that she wasn’t interested in marriage. But then she started seeing him everywhere. She met him at a lawyer’s office, at the beach. It was almost like she was following him. Read my full review.

The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
The Surgeon is a top-grade thriller from Gerritsen, a former internist who gave up the stethoscope to raise kids and chills. ER trauma surgeon Catherine Cordell first met the killer, called “The Surgeon” by Boston newspapers, down in Savannah, where she was his last victim. Luckily for Catherine, after being raped she got a hand free from the cord binding her to the bed, cut herself loose with a scalpel, reached under her bed, grabbed a pistol, and seemingly killed Andrew Capra, the inept medical student about to pluck out her womb. Unable to bear Savannah, where everyone seemed to know she’d been raped, Catherine transferred to Boston, holed up for nearly two years, then took a job as a trauma surgeon without disclosing her past.  Good grief! More wombless bodies start showing up in Boston. Did she really kill Andrew? This is the first book in Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles series. Read my full review.

The Red Queen Dies by Frankie Y. Bailey

November 14, 2013

redqueenIn the first of what I hope will be a series, we meet Hannah McCabe a biracial cop, working the streets of Albany, NY in 2019. McCabe’s Albany is similar to ours, but not identical, Elvis retired in 2000. There are reports that the US Government covered up a UFO sighting in 2012. Scientists have created a drug called Lullaby that allows the user to forget traumatic events. The one thing that hasn’t changed is man’s inhumanity to fellow man.

McCabe’s most pressing case is the one currently getting the most press attention: the murder of two young women in their twenties with sodium phenol. McCabe searches for a link between the two victims, but keeps coming up empty. The only connection is the women are about the same age and the manner of their death. What is driving the killer and why use such an unusual method.
When a third victim is found who was killed with the same drug, the cops assume it must be the same killer. The victim this time was an older well-known actress, Vivian Jessup. Jessup’s defining role was the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland on Broadway. Jessup, now trying her hand as a playwright, was in town working on a trial run of her latest play at the University of Albany.

As McCabe and her partner dig further into the case a slim lead brings them to Ted Thorton, one of the richest men in the country and a good friend to the Albany mayor. Therefore, Thorton must be to be treated with kid gloves. Can they find the killer before he or she kills again? McCabe wonders if Alice in Wonderland might somehow hold the key to unlocking these murders, but what is it and will she find it in time?

Meet the Mystery Writers! Authors Frankie Y. Bailey, Jane Cleland, and Donna Andrews, are on tour visiting North Regional Library, Cameron Village Regional Library and West Regional Library. Mystery maven and local blogger Molly Weston will facilitate the panel discussion and audience Q&A.  Registration requested.

Cameron Village Regional Library Friday, November 15 at 2:30 p.m.
West Regional Library  Saturday, November 16 at 10:30 a.m.
North Regional Library Monday, November 18 2:30 p.m.

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The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

June 24, 2013

The SurgeonThe Surgeon is a top-grade thriller from Tess Gerritsen (the jaw-chattering Gravity, 1999, etc.), a former internist who gave up the stethoscope to raise kids and write chillers. This is the first book in Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles series. TNT launches a new TV series based on these characters.

Dr. Catherine Cordell is the main character in this chilling tale. ER trauma surgeon Catherine Cordell first met the killer, called ʺThe Surgeonʺ by Boston newspapers, down in Savannah, where she was his last victim. Luckily for Catherine, after being raped she got a hand free from the cord binding her to the bed, cut herself loose with a scalpel, reached under her bed, grabbed a pistol, and seemingly killed Andrew Capra, the inept medical student about to pluck out her womb. Unable to bear Savannah where everyone seemed to know she’d been raped, Catherine transferred to Boston, holed up for nearly two years, then took a job as a trauma surgeon without disclosing her past.  Good grief! More wombless bodies start showing up in Boston. Did she really kill Andrew? Now, in Boston, as another hot summer begins, he appears to have miraculously returned and embarked once again on his grisly mission: he rapes women, and then surgically removes their wombs. The really awful part is he removes the womb while the naked woman lies awake and can see his power over her. Then “The Surgeon” leaves one victim alive as an ER birthday present for Catherine, so that she can sew up spilled bowels while working through her own rape trauma.

As two intrepid detectives—Thomas Moore and Jane Rizzoli—investigate, Cordell begins to doubt her own memories (or lack of) and discovers that not even her OR is safe.  In the process, detective Tom Moore and Cordell fall in love. But the head of the homicide unit sends him off to Savannah ostensibly to investigate the Capra murder scene but in reality to get him away from Cordell.  Jealous, plainfaced, snappish young Jane Rizzoli, the only female on Boston Homicide, leads his investigation. While perusing Capra’s class picture in an Emory Medical School yearbook, Moore finds the key to both the “surgeon” and his motivation. Back in Boston, Rizzoli mistakenly kills an unarmed assailant, gets dismissed to the Boston equivalent of Coventry, but ultimately saves Cordell from the “surgeon,” though she almost loses her own life.

Gerritsen fans know by now what to expect from her: a fascinating story with a gripping plot and believable human characters. Sharp characters stitch your eye to the page. An all-nighter.

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Broken Harbor by Tana French

June 21, 2013

Broken HarborI’m a little bit obsessed with Tana French and her Dublin Murder Squad  series.  And by a little I mean a lottle. Enough that I just made up  that word.

Here’s what I love: French started with a really  solid mystery, In the Woods, which told the story of Rob Ryan and his  investigation into a murder that was eerily similar to an event that had occurred during his own childhood. French’s next in the series, The Likeness, drops Rob and picks up with an investigation that his partner, Cassie Maddox, becomes intimately involved in. French continues to wend farther and farther from her original story, so that, while they all tie together, each could be read as a standalone novel, or in any order.

This holds true with her fourth in the series, Broken Harbor.  Scorcher Kennedy (first seen in book #3, Faithful Place), along with his rookie partner, Richie, are summoned to the small town of Brianstown to investigate the attempted murder of an entire family in their home. With the wife left in critical condition, the husband and two young children dead, strange holes in the walls, and video monitors set up throughout the home, Scorcher’s investigation is anything but a closed case.

Interwoven into the narrative of the investigation are reflections on Scorcher’s own family and his childhood summers spent at
the ocean town of Broken Harbor, since renamed Brianstown, and the event there that changed his and his sister’s lives forever.

French weaves a book together that is part police procedural, part psychological thriller, and all fast-paced, page turning oodness. Read this one, read them all. I’m waiting on the edge of my seat for a 5th in the series.

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In A Dry Season by Peter Robinson

May 21, 2013

Detective Chief Inspector Banks is currently in trouble for insubordination, not an unusual occurrence.  However, this time was much worse because he actually punched his boss, Jimmy Riddle. Banks was suspended at first, but the powers that be forced Riddle to reinstate him.  Since then Riddle has made sure Banks was limited to the drudgery of desk duty and other mundane tasks.  Now Riddle has a new kind of punishment in mind. He appoints Banks to lead the investigation of a fifty year old murder that he doesn’t think can be solved.

To complicate matters, Riddle assigns Banks to work with the local DS, Annie Cabot, an officer with a reputation as a troublemaker.  Cabot took the position in a small town force where there is little activity because it was made clear to her she would not be in line for promotion any time soon.  She has been branded a loner who doesn’t work well with others on the force.  What Riddle doesn’t expect is that once Banks sinks his teeth in, he will do everything in his power to uncover the truth. Not only that, it turns out he and Cabot work well together, both on and off duty.

While this book is part of the Inspector Banks series, there is more to it than a straightforward detective story. The victim was discovered when a drought caused a reservoir to dry up, exposing a village which had been evacuated and flooded in the early 1950s. The woman was not buried by the flood, though; she was murdered and placed under a stone slab. Banks 1st task is to figure out when the body was buried before he can begin to find out why she was murdered.

Robinson’s novel switches back and forth between World War II, when the village was last occupied, and the present day investigation.  Telling the story this way makes the mystery more suspenseful, and  Robinson is able to make a very cold police case have relevance and urgency for the characters today; and I found the description of life during the war to be fascinating. This is my favorite book in the Inspector Banks series, although I would recommend all of them.  The series has also been recently made into a television series that was shown on WUNCTV in January.  Hopefully, they will repeat it soon!

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Good Bait by John Harvey

March 6, 2013

John Harvey’s new novel is a fast paced story about two parallel cases, both related to a vast criminal underworld in London.  The main story is Chief Inspector Karen Shields’ investigation into the death of a young immigrant found in a frozen pond on Hampstead Heath.    The more Shields looks into the case, the more complicated it becomes.   Another murder in the same area seems to involve some of the same people, and Shields is suddenly called to the office of superior officer to discuss the crimes with a major task force.  Shields and her team can’t determine if the young man’s murder is related to the suddenly escalating violent incidents between rival gangs in the neighborhood, or if there is a more personal element.

The other case is an unofficial one.  Detective Trevor Cordon has come to London from Cornwall out of a sense of guilt.  Maxine, a woman he had arrested many times, asked for his help locating her daughter, Letitia.  Cordon had tried to help Letitia out in the past by giving her a job, but tells Maxine there is nothing he can do this time.  So Maxine goes to London herself.  Now Cordon hears Maxine was killed by a train and no one knows whether she fell, was pushed, or committed suicide.  Cordon decides to track down Letitia and make sure she is okay.  The trouble is he is not the only person looking for her.  Cordon’s case will eventually cross with Shields’ investigation in an unexpected way.

I enjoyed this book, although at times it was difficult to keep the characters straight.  But this actually makes it seem more realistic since the real world is rarely as neat as detective novels.  Also, Harvey is good at the details of police organizations and investigations and his characters are as interesting as the plot lines. What makes a woman born in Jamaica become an officer in the British police force?  Why would Cordon feel ties to this particular child, and not the children of other folks he has run across in the course of his job?  Fans of Harvey’s other series’ will enjoy this new book, as will fans of British mysteries.

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Not Dead Yet by Peter James

January 28, 2013

Senior Investigating Officer Roy Grace has a lot on his plate in Peter James’ latest thriller (the first is Dead Simple). He has a trial coming up where he has to help put away a criminal, an unknown body found in a tunnel under the river and a headless, armless, legless body found at a barn at a chicken farm.

But his life is going to get a whole lot more complicated. A movie star, Gaia Lafayette, born in Brighton, England, is coming back to her home town to film a movie about George IV and his mistress. There is a death threat hanging over Gaia and there has already been an attempt to murder her in California so the British police must go all out in protecting her.

On top of all this is the release from prison of a man, Amis Smallbone, who Grace thought he had sent away for life and who has promised to kill him if given the chance. Grace is in a loving relationship with Cleo Morey, a medical examiner within his department. They are expecting a baby, when Cleo’s car is vandalized and a threatening message left as a warning to Cleo and Grace.

One might say that James gives one a lot to consider and sometimes you may feel like you need a scorecard to keep track of all the players. But I can promise you–you won’t regret picking up Peter James’ newest book, Not Dead Yet.

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See earlier blog post of another Roy Grace mystery by Peter James, Dead Man’s Grip.

Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham

January 22, 2013

Fiona Griffiths is a new Detective Constable in the Cardiff police force. When a young mother and her daughter are found murdered in an abandoned house, it looks routine: the mother was a known prostitute and the building was frequented by drug users and pusher. There is one odd detail. The credit card of a millionaire who died in a plane crash 9 months ago was found at the crime scene.

Fiona cannot stop thinking about the little girl, even though she is not officially assigned to the case. She is supposed to be working on the paperwork for an upcoming trial against a former policeman accused of embezzlement. Fiona convinces her boss that she can work on both investigations, and eventually she finds that the two cases could be linked.

This new mystery from Harry Bingham drew me in right away. Fiona is an odd but appealing character with some interesting quirks, and the story is told from her point of view. She is a Cambridge graduate with a degree in philosophy who makes an unconventional career choice: to become a police officer. She also suffered a break down in her teen age years that she refuses to talk about. She is trying to live in what she calls “the normal world”, but still does things on her own and sometimes without the approval of her bosses. Her background and the reasons why she is so different are gradually revealed to us as the mystery unfolds. Despite her oddness, I was pulling for her from the beginning. I hope there will be more books featuring D. C. Fiona Griffiths! This book will appeal to fans of Mo Hayder and Denise Mina.

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The Blackhouse by Peter May

January 18, 2013

If you like mysteries set in remote locations in the United Kingdom, brooding weather, a tortured detective, a hostile boss, family secrets and some gritty forensic scenes, then, like me, you’ll love this book.

The setting is the Isle of Lewis in the Scottish Hebrides and the weather is obligingly nasty. Fin Macleod was born and raised on the island, but left as soon as he could and has returned only once in eighteen years, for a family funeral. But now he’s been assigned to work a murder case in Lewis that may be connected to an unsolved case in Edinburgh, where he is a police detective. Unhappy with his assignment, Fin has to deal with the resentment of the detective in charge of the case and the strong feelings his return stirs up among the islanders and within himself.

As Fin investigates he is reminded of incidents from his childhood, many of them painful. Peter May makes an interesting choice in structuring the novel. Fin’s childhood memories are told in the first person; the sections of the book dealing with the murder investigation are told in the third. The reason for this unusual (to me, anyway) shift becomes clear at the climax of the story, which I don’t want to spoil by going into too much detail. Suffice to say it involves a charged confrontation in a physically dangerous setting where motives become apparent and the landscape reflects the turmoil of all the emotions laid bare.

I liked the character of Fin Macleod and was largely happy with the plotting (it felt a little rushed at the end, but that may have been because I was turning the pages so fast). I especially recommend this book for its fine use of setting and atmosphere. The island of Lewis is described beautifully and I saw the people, the streets, the blackhouses and the land. The scenes depicting an ancient Lewis custom involving twelve men braving the sea to hunt birds on a remote island are particularly gripping.

The Blackhouse did not have an easy road to publication. It was rejected by British publishers before a French publisher read it, loved it, translated it, and released it to acclaim in France. Only then was it published in England. You can hear the full story from the author on youtube.

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