Posts Tagged ‘Stephen B.’s Picks’

Best New Books of 2014: Stephen B’s Picks

December 4, 2014

I’ve truly enjoyed my second career as a part-time librarian in the Wake County system. I’m in my 14th year, and that says a lot. My favorite genre is good solid mysteries, but this year a few interesting nonfiction books slipped in.

The Gods of GuiltThe Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly
Michael Connelly has created some memorable characters – Homicide Detective Harry Bosch, and his half-brother, attorney Mickey Haller. We first met Mickey in The Lincoln Lawyer, where the reader learned his penchant for operating out of the back of his car…a Lincoln. In Gods of Guilt, Mickey gets a text “Call me ASAP – 187.” 187 is the state code for a murder, and murders are Mickey’s bread and butter. Andre LaCosse is accused of murder and contacts Mickey on Giselle Hallinger’s recommendation. There are two problems with this recommendation: first, Mickey knew Giselle by another name; and second, Giselle is the murder victim. With a pace and a plot that are pure Connelly, this book is ready to be made into a movie. Enjoy!  See my full review.

SuspicionSuspicion by Joseph Finder
Danny Goodman becomes a single father when his ex-wife dies and daughter Abby comes to live with him. He’s please when she soon makes a new friend, Jenna Galvin, but surprised when Jenna’s father, Danny, offers him money, supposedly with no strings attached. Danny is financially strapped because his latest book deal is on the verge of collapse. He accepts the money, but eventually learns he was right to be suspicious – the “strings” attached to the money lead right to a Mexican drug cartel! Now Danny finds himself pressure by the DEA to bring down some big time, dangerous operators. Finder doesn’t disappoint with this fast-paced read!  See my full review.

Operation PaperclipOperation Paperclip by Annie Jacobsen
Near the end of WWII, the Nazis realized they were losing the war and set out to destroy all evidence of their crimes. Meanwhile, both the United States and Russia were attempting to capture as many of the leading German scientists as possible, with the goal of controlling scientific knowledge, and through that, the world. Much of the documentation about this true story has only been released from the archives in the last few years. You won’t believe what the United States was prepared to do to capture scientists and secure the knowledge they carried!  See my full review.

The CloserThe Closer by Mariano Rivera
This is the story of a tall, skinny kid from Panama, who thought he would end up working in his family’s fishing business, specializing in sardines. That all changed when, in his teenaged years, a baseball scout discovered “hey, this kid can throw a baseball pretty good!” and the rest is history. You will never read about a more humble person, and his 19-season career with the Yankees will surely put him in the Baseball Hall of Fame as soon as he becomes eligible. I’ve been a Yankees fan for 70 years, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t an excellent book and a fascinating story!  See my full review.

The DollThe Doll by Taylor Stevens
Vanessa Michael Munroe is a special person, a survivor who has taught herself all the skills necessary to survive. Working for an agency in Texas, she is sent out all over the world to gather information, rescue people and when necessary, kill someone. On a busy Dallas street, Munroe is kidnapped and thrust into an underground world where women and girls are just merchandise. She must both escape and bring to justice the mastermind of the operation, a mysterious villain known as “The Doll Maker.” This is the third book by Stevens describing the adventures of Munroe. Each of them can stand alone, but it wouldn’t hurt to start at the beginning of the series with The Informationist. Side note: Be sure to read the jacket notes; Taylor Stevens’ interesting background surely gave her an advantage when creating the fascinating character of Munroe.

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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.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Missing You by Harlan Coben

October 24, 2014

Missing YouSince Harlan Coben is one of my favorite authors, I was a little sad when I found the pace of this book to be much slower than his previous efforts, and yet something kept pulling me back to the book. But after crossing the midpoint of the book, the pace picked up and it became much more interesting.

Two stories are intertwined in the narrative: Kat Donovan, a third-generation Manhattan detective, finds herself in the middle of two cases. One is the unsolved case of her father’s murder, and the second is the mysterious disappearance of Dana Phelps. The man convicted of her father’s murder has just died in prison with some unanswered questions as to whether he was the actual killer. Dana’s disappearance is a little more complicated.

To make matters worse, when Kat’s friend Stacy enrolls her on an online dating site, things start to break open. Kat finds a picture on the website of a man who looks exactly like Jeff, her past significant other from 18 years ago. It doesn’t make any sense.

Meanwhile Brandon Phelps, Dana’s son, is a bright computer student at the University of Connecticut who finds out about Kat through that same online dating website. Although Brandon is concerned about his mother, maybe it is just true that she went away to South America with someone she met on the dating website–but is that man Jeff? It certainly looks like the same man in the pictures.

There is almost too much in play in this novel but it all starts to come together for Kat. However, I will alert you that this may be one of Harlan Coben’s most violent novels.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Baptism by Max Kinnings

October 16, 2014

BaptismA heart-pounding thriller taking place in the London Underground.

Religious fanatics commandeer a subway train and stop it between two major stations. Nobody knows what they want but they are prepared to kill without hesitation if anyone gets in their way. They may be religious fanatics wanting to make a statement. Bodies are falling right and left as ace negotiator Ed Mallory leads a team desperately attempting to head off this potential catastrophe. Caught in the middle is George Wakeham, the driver of the train. His family is being held hostage so that George will do whatever the leader of the fanatics, Tommy Denning, tells him to do.

But there is something more involved in this: somehow MI5 is entangled with the impending tragedy and they have kept important “intel” from Mallory. As the situation worsens, the London police must do anything and everything possible to stop this situation before hundreds perish.

This fast-paced thriller will keep you awake at night. Kinnings has written one heck of a page turner. I expect we will hear more from him in the future.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith

October 7, 2014

TatianaArkady Renko, Martin Cruz Smith‘s intrepid detective is caught up in a case that he knows he won’t be assigned to investigate. A daring Russian reporter, Tatiana Petrovna, has apparently committed suicide. But things are not always as simple as they appear. Arkady is drawn into the case by his sometimes girlfriend, Anya Rudenko , a photographer for the same newspaper that Tatiana worked for.

When Renko starts to investigate on his own, he discovers that Tatiana’s body is missing and her apartment has been “tossed,” as if someone was looking for something–a reporter’s notes perhaps? There seems to be a mysterious missing notebook. Plus the recent murder of a Russian Mafia boss has left the Moscow crime scene clamoring for a new leader.

When Arkady finally secures the notebook , no one can interpret it because it is pages of symbols. Then, on top of the notebook mystery, Zhenya, Renko’s young ward steals the notebook and attempts to hold it for ransom so that Arkady will give written permission for Zhenya to join the military. There is no one as stubborn as Renko and one knows that he will pursue the bad guys and somehow get the notebook deciphered.

Arkady Renko , one of literature’s favorite detectives, is on the case and Martin Cruz Smith has another winner. One can be assured that there will be many surprises awaiting the reader.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

The Closer by Mariano Rivera and Wayne Coffey

September 18, 2014

First of all, a couple admissions from me. I love baseball, and I have been a New York Yankees fan for almost 70 years!

Now on to a delightful story of a future Hall of Famer, humble Mariano Rivera – the greatest relief pitcher in baseball history.

This is the story of a tall skinny kid from Panama, who was embedded in the family fishing business. Sardines were their specialty and it appeared that fishing would be Mariano’s future. But somewhere along the line, a baseball scout discovered that this kid could throw a baseball with unbelievable accuracy.

Mariano tells the story of his life in the poorest section of Panama and his relationship with a young woman named Clara whom he hoped to marry one day, and details how Rivera, with the guidance of some friends and a strong religious belief, became one of the greatest baseball players of all times.

Being a closer is in some ways one of baseball’s most difficult achievements. You are brought into a game at the very end and asked to get the final few outs to preserve a victory for your team. Maybe it is a one run game, maybe the score is tied, maybe you pitch one inning , maybe two, maybe even three innings. All the pressure is on you and Mariano Rivera did it better than anyone else in the history of baseball.

Enjoy the warm tale of one of baseball’s super heroes and truly one of it’s nicest ambassadors.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Suspicion by Joseph Finder

August 14, 2014

SuspicionDanny Goodman is a single dad raising a teenage daughter, Abby. He is a writer, just about eking out a living. His daughter, Abby, who had been living with his ex-wife, Sarah, comes to live with him when Sarah dies from breast cancer. Danny’s latest book deal is about to collapse and he has no idea where he will find the money to keep Abby in her exclusive private school or where he even might find money for Abby’s future college expenses. Then an interesting thing happens.

Abby has befriended a newcomer to her school named Jenna Galvin. Jenna’s Dad Thomas is thrilled that his daughter has found a friend and is acclimating to her new school. He is so thrilled that he is willing to give an unsolicited $50,000 loan to Danny to get him through this rough spot. What Danny doesn’t know yet is that there will be strings attached — dangerous strings.

Apparently Galvin is connected to the Sinaloa drug cartel , one of Mexico’s deadliest cartels, and now the DEA has found out about the $50,000 gift and threatens Danny with arrest for taking drug money. How true this is, we don’t know, but the DEA leans on Danny to spy on Galvin or else!! Danny agrees to try, although he realizes that he is putting himself, Abby, and his girlfriend, Lucy, in mortal danger.

As usual with a Finder story, the pace is hectic. You will have a problem putting this book down until you find out if Danny can extract himself from the DEA’s clutches and keep his family safe. This is one of Finder’s best books.

Find and reserve this book on our catalog.

A House In the Sky by Amanda Lindhout

August 11, 2014

A House In the SkyAmanda Lindhout was a teenager in Red Deer, Alberta when she became fascinated with National Geographic magazine. Because her family was dysfunctional, Amanda dreamed of escaping Canada to visit some of the exotic places that she had learned about in the magazines.

She finally figures out how to escape her life by being a cocktail waitress, accumulating enough money and then running away for as long as her money holds out. This fascinating autobiography tells Amanda’s story and how every time she runs out of money, she returns to Canada to work as a cocktail waitress and starts all over again.

Many of us dream of seeing the most exotic places in the world –the safe places and maybe even some of the truly dangerous places. Amanda does what we dream about, displaying bravery beyond belief. She makes many friends, both male and female in all parts of the globe. However, she makes one big mistake when she and her colleague, Nigel, decide to report on what it is like in Somalia.

She and Nigel are captured and held for ransom, just like what we’ve read about Somali pirates who capture merchant ships off the Somali coast. For the next 15 months they are held in captivity and tortured in order to extract a ransom from their families. It is truly chilling!

This is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. It is not for the faint of heart, but it does illustrate what is happening in parts of the world that we only get a glimpse of in newspaper and television stories.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Bad Blood by John Sandford

July 14, 2014

Bad BloodWhen three deaths occur in a sequence… that’s not a coincidence! First Jacob Flood is murdered at a grain elevator by Bob Tripp, and since no one else was around at the time of the death, Tripp seems the likely killer.  When Tripp is taken into custody by Sheriff Lee Coakley,  she has no reason to suspect further foul play. But then Tripp is found hanging in his cell and it is quickly discovered that it was not a suicide.  Coakley becomes suspicious of a deputy, Jim Crocker,  and a trip to Crocker’s residence now finds Crocker dead, and now we do have three deaths, and are they somehow connected? Police do not believe in coincidence.

Coakley realizes that she needs outside help since one murder in ten years is more the usual for a small town like Homestead.  She asks the State for assistance and our hero, Virgil Flowers, is assigned to the case.  And to add one final twist, there was a murder a year ago just over the border from Minnesota in Iowa.  A teenage girl was brutally murdered and there may be a tie-in to the three deaths here in Homestead.

John Sandford is pretty good at putting a lot on one’s plate pretty fast, so you better pay attention.  Paying attention pays off quickly as Flowers and Coakley start to connect the dots.  But this is a fair warning–this book is not for the faint of heart! The first in the Virgil Flowers series is Dark of the Moon.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

June 27, 2014

The Gods of GuiltFans of Michael Connelly will not be disappointed. For me, he usually hits it out of the ballpark. Mickey Haller, lawyer, is passing through one of his down periods. Because of the accidental death of two of his daughter’s friends, he is alienated from his daughter and his business is not exactly booming. Then he gets the text “ASAP-187” – the state code for a murder case. The accused murder client is one Andre La Cosse and he had been recommended to Mickey by someone named Giselle Dallinger. There are two problems with this recommendation: one, Giselle Dallinger is not the name that Mickey knew her by and secondly, Giselle is the murder victim.

When Mickey knew Giselle, her real name was Gloria Dayton, a high priced call girl, who Mickey had tried to save and put on the straight and narrow. Apparently it didn’t work and now she is dead. La Cosse knew the victim and actually worked a website for her services, but he swears he didn’t kill her. Haller decides to take the case and as he starts to dig into the circumstances, he is faced with the fact that the actual murderer could be a major drug dealer, a convict that Giselle (Gloria) had testified against — one dangerous convict Hector Arrande Moya.

The pace, the plot, and the main characters are pure Connelly. He has built his reputation on his two main characters, Harry Bosch, LAPD Homicide detective and his half-brother Mickey Haller, lawyer extraordinaire  and main character in the earlier book, The Lincoln Lawyer (see review). In The Gods of Guilt neither Connelly nor Mickey Haller will disappoint you here. So who are the “The Gods of Guilt?” For that, you have to read the book!

Find and reserve this book in the library.


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