Saturday, July 26, 2014

DON'T TRY TO FIND ME by Holly Brown





A marriage and family therapist Holly Brown undoubtedly well knows the dynamics involved in a family in crisis.  And what is more critical for parents than to find a message on their kitchen whiteboard written by their daughter beginning “Don’t try to find me.”?

Newcomers to a farm in a rural part of California Rachel, Paul and their 14-year-old daughter, Marley, left San Francisco for what they hoped would be a better life for all.  Now, Marley is gone; she did not attend school at all that day.  Initially Rachel believes her daughter has been abducted; it is unthinkable to her that Marley could have run away.  Paul, on the other hand, believes she just took off.  Upon discovering the rather limited means of the police to look for Marley he launches a full-scale campaign to find her.  With the aid of a publicist he does everything in his power to keep her disappearance in the public eye - social media, flyers, public appearances.

Rachel becomes more and more withdrawn, struggling with a secret she feels she must keep.  Eventually, the tide of public opinion turns against her.  There are whispers, folks wondering if she had anything to do with Marley’s disappearance.  Could she have hurt her own daughter?  Truly, Rachel is quite self-centered and slightly paranoid - she’s a difficult person to like.

As the story is related by the voices of Marley and Rachel readers learn the reasons for the girl leaving, and are privy to Rachel’s confused thoughts and actions.  A dysfunctional family?  Yes, indeed, but an intriguing mystery.

- Gail Cooke

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

FOR ALL TIME by Jude Deveraux Audio Edition






After the release of the first Nantucket Brides novel, True Love, a veritable legion of happy readers/listeners were left wanting more, and here ‘tis.  With her second in the series Jude Deveraux kindly continues exactly where the first ended so fans don’t feel they’ve missed anything going on between the intriguing characters on the beautiful island of Nantucket.

For All Time opens with bridesmaid Toby Wyndam happily seeing to details in preparation for her friend Lexie’s absolutely wonderful wedding.  Also on the scene is the groom’s cousin, Prince Graydon Montgomery, who is heir to the throne of the fictional Lanconia.  Much as she’d like to Toby has no time to fixate on Graydon at the moment, however, she is the one person who can tell Graydon from Rory, his identical twin.  And, according to family legend that is the one way to recognize your true love.

All is surprising and well at this point, but Graydon has an arranged political marriage waiting for him at home.  Nonetheless, with the niggling feeling that he may have found his soul mate Graydon decides to linger on Nantucket and get to know Toby better.  Knowing that Graydon is promised to another Toby tries to remain neutral but that is no longer possible when both of them realize that their souls may not only be linked now but also in generations past.  (Nothing like a bit of the paranormal to make things spicier!)

Frosting on the cake is the outstanding reading by gifted voice performer Kirsten Potter.  She has numerous film and television credits as well as experience voicing roles for animation and video games.  However, her talent really comes to the fore with her highly listenable narration of For All Time.

Enjoy!

- Gail Cooke

EYES ON YOU by Kate White





With a setting as up to date as now, snappy dialogue and sustained suspense Eye On You keeps you turning pages until the final sentence.  A former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine Kate White well knows her way around today’s media world and she limns it well - living breathing characters, cutthroat competition, and stressful deadlines.

Heroine Robin Trainer has pulled herself up by her boot straps after serious career problems and a divorce.  Now she’s on the upside of both career and life again.  She’s co-anchor of a popular new TV show, The Pulse, a round table format nightly entertainment show.  Luckily her co-anchor is handsome Carter Brooks.  They’ve developed a chemistry between them that appeals to viewers so the ratings are going up every day.  As if that weren’t enough Robin wrote a book, The 7 Secrets Women Keep, which seems headed for the bestseller lists.

Life for her is good until the night of a party being given in her honor.  When she reaches into her purse for her note card to help her say thank you she is shocked to find a threat written across the card in thick black pencil.  She recovers her composure and gets through her gratitude speech only slightly unsettled.  But that threat is followed by other incidents, such has covers of her book slashed, a Barbie doll made to look like Robin but disfigured, and more.  Robin begins to fear she is coming unraveled.

The threats have to have been made by one of her co-workers, but who would want to hurt her and why?

With its contemporary state-of-the-art setting readers easily feel the story is happening right now and they are a part of it.  White describes the glitzy New York media world and  office politics to a T.  Eyes On You is stellar suspense building to a shocking conclusion.

- Gail Cooke

Thursday, July 10, 2014

BOOTY BONES BY CAROLYN HAINES







Fans of Sarah Booth Delaney, the delightful heroine of Haines’ Southern mystery series, will rally round her as she certainly has her hands full and her heart if not broken is badly chipped.  Readers new to the series will take Sarh Booth under their wings and eagerly await the next book.

With the 14th in this popular series (after last year’s Smarty Bones) we find Sarah Booth trying to help her fiancĂ©`, actor Graf Milieu, recover from a debilitating leg injury, and discover who murdered a man whose daughter believes he found the key to a lost treasure.
Sarah Booth has arranged what she hopes will be a romantic week on Dauphin Island off the Gulf Coast where Graf can heal and they can finalize their wedding plans.  This is not to be.

Shortly after their arrival Sarah Booth is approached by tour guide Angela Trotter who is convinced that the wrong man has been convicted of her father’s murder.  Angela’s father was a sailor and treasure hunter who was murdered just as he thought he was very close to finding a pirate’s treasure that supposedly has been hidden on the island.

Sarah Booth cannot turn down Angela’s pleas for help, and at the same time Graf is becoming more irascible and depressed.  What happened to the romantic week she had planned?

- Gail Cooke

Saturday, July 5, 2014

THE LAST TAXI RIDE by A. X, Ahmad





While this may have been the last taxi ride for someone it is certainly a fast, exciting ride for readers.  Ahmad well knows how to tell a story, revealing just enough with each page to keep us burning the midnight oil.  For many, as it was for me, it is a totally new adventure as we’re introduced to Indian cab drivers, the South Asian expatriate community, Bollywood, and the Mafia.  How’s that for a cast of characters?

As the story opens New York City cabbie Ranjit Singh is surprised and delighted to see that his fare is famous Bollywood actress, Shabana Shah,”....her glossy black hair cascades to her shoulders, She piles three crisp white Prada shopping bags on the seat next to her.”  He drives her to the Dakota, and she gives him a generous tip.  How could Ranjit be so lucky? Well, not really as the next day Shabana Shah is found murdered, her gorgeous face gone.  Ranjit’s fingerprints are all over the crime scene and on the murder weapon, a large marble elephant statue.

Yesterday when Ranjit had arrived at the Dakota he found the doorman was Mohan Kumar, a friend from Ranjit’s army days in India.  That evening the two of them met again at the Dakota where they drank and remembered old times.  A security camera catches Ranjit leaving the Dakota alone.  Now, the police come to Ranjit’s cab company saying fingerprint evidence places him at the scene of Shabana’s murder.  No problem, Mohan can vouch for him but Mohan has vanished.

Ranjit is accused of being an accessory to murder and will face a Grand Jury arraignment in 10 days.  Eleven days shy of when his daughter, Shanti, will arrive from India to make a home with him in the City.  Ranjit has much to do to clear his name in a small amount of time - can he do it?

The Last Taxi Ride is a powerhouse thriller - enjoy!

- Gail Cooke

THE ARSONIST by Sue Miller Audio Edition





For this listener hearing an author read his or her work is a very special treat.  After all, who knows the material better, where emphases should be placed, and what tempos to be followed?  With her reading of The Arsonist I’ve learned that Sue Miller is not only an exemplary writer but a gifted narrator as well.

Once again we’re reminded of Miller’s gift for creating nuanced yet fully fleshed characters when we meet Frankie Rowley, a woman in her 40s who has grown weary of working in East Africa.  She returns home to stay with her parents, Sylvia and Alfie, in a farmhouse in Pomeroy, a small New Hampshire village where her family has summered for years.

As it happens Frankie’s arrival coincides with Pomeroy’s first house fire, which all believe to have been an accident.  But perhaps not as a second fire occurs and then another - six all in all, each a summer resident’s home.  Pomeroy has always been a quiet peaceful town but now neighbors are regarding one another with suspicion.

In the midst of this Frankie met Bud, the editor of the local paper.  And, to the surprise of both they begin to fall in love.  Close to home another drama is unfolding as Sylvia who has always prided herself on her competence and efficiency finds herself having to care for Alfie who is in the throes of early Alzheimer’s.

The Arsonist is an absorbing, honest story of family, love and community by one of our best novelists.

- Gail Cooke

Sunday, June 29, 2014

HELL TO PAY by Garry Disher






One of Australia's best known novelists with more than 40 books under his belt Garry Disher is a writer who wastes not a word, and vividly, relentlessly paints pictures of his native Australia. In this case the scene is Tiverton, a hardscrabble bush town in South Australia suffering from a teetering economy, isolation, police corruption. The one-road town struggles to survive as do its inhabitants. It is here that a recently demoted detective, Paul Hirschhausen known as Hirsch is sent from Adelaide. This is punishment or penance with the latter winning out.

Hirsch is a disgraced cop and no one is about to let him forget it, least of all his bullying boss, Sergeant Kropp. The Sergeant is a man surrounded by mates who never do anything wrong because Kropp easily turns a blind eye to their follies, and perhaps even participates in crimes with them. Alone and friendless Hirsch is by turns bitter, paranoid and determined. The internal investigations bureau is breathing down his neck, eager to convict him of something by any means. And, as if it wasn't already clear that he wasn't welcome in Tiverton a pistol cartridge is left in his mailbox.

When the body of a sixteen-year-old local girl is found by the highway Kropp is quick to label it a hit and run and quickly move on. Hirsch doesn't believe that is the case but just let him try to gain access to forensics or interview subjects.

Hell To Pay has been called Australian crime fiction at its best - I'd simply call it crime fiction at its best. Disher's plotting is deft, his words economical but completely telling as he carefully builds to a smash finish. Wouldn't have missed this one!