Sunday, August 31, 2014



A note about BOOK REVIEWS. Sort Of.:

These are not, in any way, meant to be comprehensive reviews. They are intended to acknowledge that I have read the book, and give my honest core impressions.

If a real review is what you wish, there are many wonderful book blogs available, and I have provided some tools to find them under the tab marked "Useful."

NOTE: Since my source of reading material this year has been predominately the library, I've encountered a few setbacks, primary of which has been the unavailability of books I've wanted to read. I don't just mean that I've had to wait for them (and I have), but that sometimes my libraries do not stock or have access to them at all. And when reading a series this is a particular problem.

Such is the case with this series and several others I am making my way through. Of course I will read the missing books as they become available to me, but they will be out of order. 

And it sets off my OCD something terrible. 

Just thought I'd share my pain.

Fire Sale (ebook) - Sara Paretsky

"In my family we think you shouldn't wallow in your tears, we think you should act - but we believe that sometimes you can't act until you've cried your heart out."

Once again we learn that family is not necessarily a blood borne disease.

That is to say, we start with what we are given, but it is with our choices that we build our lives.

Body Work (ebook) - Sara Paretsky

"That's the trouble with the age of paranoia - you know people can trace you, given the resources, but you don't know if they are actualy doing so, not unless you are a whiz like NCIS's Abby Sciuto, who can back trace anyone who is looking into her records."

There are plenty of bad guys to go around this time, but you have to sort through them all to find which one committed the murder, and why.

Breakdown (ebook) - Sara Paretsky

"Before heading back to Chicago, I made a circuit of the hospital, looking for any breaches in the fence around the forensics wing. However little they spent on the grass, the state did a good job of keeping their razor wire in shape. I didn't see any place where I might slip through."

I was reminded of an old saying while reading this one: "Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you."

Free Fall (ebook) - Robert Crais

"You see it on the news and you read it in the papers and that's all you know. I know there's people who work hard and pay taxes and read books and build model airplanes and dream about flying them and plant daisies and love each other as much as any people can love each other anywhere, and I want you to know that, too."

The author offers another wild ride, while showing the helplessness (and bravery) bred by lives surrounded by overwhelming violence.

Eight Million Ways to Die (audiobook) - Lawrence Block

"You know what you got in this city, this fucked-up toilet of a naked fucking city? You know what you got? You got eight million ways to die."

It's hard to solve a murder when no one cares about the victim, especially those who are paid to care.

It's also hard to stay sober when you don't believe you have to.

Hardball (ebook) - Sara Paretsky

"As Gabriella's voice, that golden bell,filled my home, I felt so overcome with all the grief and loss of the last forty years that I could hardly bear to listen."

Loss, disillusionment, and pain rooted in past wrongs make their way to Vic's doorstep, and once again, Vic proves that she's a valuable person to have on your side.

She's kind of like the Bruce Willis of the female detective set. Nothing stops her.

A Long Line of Dead Men (audiobook) - Lawrence Block

"Computers are great," he said. "But they spoil you. The trouble with the rest of life is, there is no undo key."

A frustrating lack of direction dogs Scudder this time, and he doubts himself.

He finally solves the murders and leaves us with a somewhat uncomfortable resolution of the case.

Death at the Alma Mater (audiobook) - G.M. Malliet

"No wonder Lexi looked so ... lost. She chose her companions unwisely, which was," reflected St. Just, "the key to living a lonely life of desperation."

I hate starting with book number three in a series! It doesn't seem that it will matter too much, but I won't know until I read one and two.

This one took place in the same rarefied setting as the Inspector Morse / Lewis mysteries, and had a lot of the same feeling. I am looking forward to reading more of them.

I've often thought of Oxford as a character just as important as any other. Set any place else, all these stories would be fundamentally altered.

Lullaby Town (ebook) - Robert Crais

"The wall is very high, with a heaviness and permanence that has kept Paramount in business long after most of the other original Hollywood studios have gone. In a neighborhood marked by poverty and litter and street crime, it is free from graffiti. Maybe if you get too near the wall, thugs in chain mail poured boiling oil on you from the parapets."

Elvis and Joe cross the Mafia. You'd think the Mafia would know better, wouldn't you?

Voodoo River (ebook) - Robert Crais

"Private detecting has very little to do with multidimensional calculus, Lucille."

I wonder if real private investigators are ever irritated by the way their profession is portrayed in literature.

Or do you think they can really shake off beatings and bullets in time to seduce beautiful women?

Seriously, I enjoy the exploits of Elvis Cole, the world's best private detective.

The Guardian Angel (ebook) - Sara Paretsky

"Even before our formal split, Dick had realized that a wife was an important part of his portfolio and that he should have married someone with more clout than the daughter of a beat cop and an Italian immigrant could ever carry. It wasn't my mother's Italianness that bugged him, but the taint of immigrant squalor that clung to me."

Going back and forth in the series because of book availability isn't as disconcerting as I had expected it to be. The story itself is strong enough to take the focus off the timeline discord.

The Torso in the Town (audiobook) - Simon Brett

"Only the paintings themselves showed wildness and indiscipline. Terry Harper had described the work as challenging. The word Carol would have chosen was dreadful, in both senses."

Carol is loosening up and becoming more sure of herself (marginally), and the resolution of the mystery was actually a surprise to me.

I like it when that happens (as long as it is well supported by the story and not just thrown in).

The Devil Knows You're Dead (audiobook) - Lawrence Block

"I met Glen Holtsman for the first time on a Tuesday evening in April, which is supposed to be the cruelest month. T.S. Elliot said so, in The Wasteland, and maybe he knew what he was talking about. I don't know though. They all seem pretty nasty to me."

Our 'hero,' Matthew Scudder is an interesting character, and the plot was compelling and well written.

But there was an awful lot of material not germane to the investigation, that after a while, became grating. More than usual, I mean.

I now know as much about AA as if I were a member. And whining about relationships tends to get on my nerves.

A Fatal Winter (audiobook) - G.M.Malliet

"There is no such thing as an untraceable poison, just one the lab boys haven't thought to test for."

Another cozy murder mystery . . . allowing a candid picture of the upper crust, warts and all, as well as the village folk.

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