book review: The Fallen by Ace Atkins

The Fallen is another book in the Quinn Colson series.  For those new to the series, Quinn Colson is a sheriff in Tibbehah County, Mississippi.  The other main characters in the series include Lillie Virgil, Quinn’s deputy, and Caddy, Quinn’s sister.  You don’t have to read the other books in the series to understand this one, but you develop more of a liking for Quinn if you read the earlier books in the series first.

The main plot centers around Quinn trying to capture some bank robbers who are in and out of banks in roughly 2 minutes with military precision.  I think the author stole the idea of the bank robbers from Point Break, down to the masks that they wear (Donald Trump instead of other ex-presidents).  There is a bit of a side plot with Caddy trying to find two missing girls, and of course, the side plot ends up being related to the main plot.

Even though this book takes place in the South, I kept getting images of Country/Western while reading it.  When I think about the South, I think of scenery invoked by To Kill a Mockingbird.  With this book, I was picturing a saloon-type atmosphere, big hats, and boots.  Here’s where I admit that I don’t know much about the South or Country/Western so I could be totally off.

There is a lot of swearing in the book and the language used is pretty derogatory towards women in general so don’t read it if you’re going to get offended.  I don’t get offended by that kind of stuff, but the swearing did get tedious after a while.  I was just tired of reading some of it.

If you’re a Quinn Colson fan, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the book.  I will admit that it wasn’t my favorite crime/suspense, but I did finish the book.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from First to Read by Penguin.

book review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I know that there’s been a lot of hype about this book, but I didn’t know exactly what the hype was about because I don’t read reviews until after I’ve read the book myself and have had a chance to form my own opinion.  I’ll be honest, when I finished the book, I didn’t understand what all the commotion was about.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent book, but I didn’t think it was particularly special or outstanding.

The main character, Rachel, is an alcoholic who is close to hitting bottom.  Her husband left her for another woman, she lost her job (for showing up drunk after taking a 3-hour lunch), sometimes she blacks out during her drinking binges, and she sometimes contacts her ex-husband or his new wife when she’s drunk.  She rides the train every day to keep up the pretense that she has a job so that her roommate/landlady won’t be worried about her not having money.  The train ride takes her past her old home, the one she shared with her ex-husband, who is now living there with his new wife and their baby.  A few doors down from her old home lives a couple about whom she has created a fantasy.  She imagines the perfect life and a loving marriage for this couple – the kind of life that she wants to have.

One day, she sees “Jennifer,” the fantasy woman, kissing another man and is shocked.  A while later, “Jennifer,” whose real name is Megan, is reported missing.  Rachel was  around at the time Megan was last seen, but she was drunk and can only remember bits and pieces of what happened.  Rachel contacts the police to tell them about how Megan had been having an affair, but she’s considered an unreliable witness and is told to leave her ex-husband and his new wife alone.  She’s considered a pathetic, lonely, alcoholic stalker.

Rachel herself isn’t sure if she did anything, but she did wake up bloody.  She believes it is because she fell, but she can’t be sure.

I won’t say anymore to avoid any giving away any spoilers.

I got frustrated with Rachel and  I felt sorry for her roommate who showed way more compassion and patience than I would have.  I suppose that’s what people who have alcoholics in their lives deal with.  It’s exhausting and tiresome – and you can’t help them unless they want to be helped.  Unfortunately, in a book, it’s just irritating.  If you want to read a book on alcoholism, read You Owe Yourself a Drunk.  Rachel wasn’t the only character in this book that was disappointing.  I didn’t care for any of them.

I just saw a trailer for the movie last night.  They have Emily Blunt cast as Rachel.  I like Emily Blunt, but I can’t help thinking that this is totally miscast.  Rachel is supposed to be overweight and not very attractive, in other words, NOT Emily Blunt.  I was picturing someone who looked more like the old Melissa McCarthy.  I’ll be skipping the movie.

book review: Poisonfeather by Matthew FitzSimmons

Poisonfeather is book 2 in the Gibson Vaughn series by Matthew FitzSimmons.  In other books like this (Jack Reacher books, Lucas Davenport books, etc.), you don’t have to read the other books in the series to understand what’s going on in this book.  While that is somewhat true of this book, there are so many allusions to what happened in Book 1 that it gets annoying if you haven’t read it.  Actually, most of the first chapters are about Gibson dealing with what happened in Book 1.  Since I hadn’t read Book 1, it was somewhat of a slow start, but once the story got going, the book was interesting.

Poisonfeather is about a billionaire investor who cheated many people and was sent to jail for 8 years.  Many people lost their life savings by investing with him.  Just before his release, he did an interview for a magazine in which he hinted that he had a lot of money stashed away somewhere.  This, of course, brought many people out of the woodwork who wanted to get a piece of the money.

Gibson gets drawn into the mess because he wants to repay a judge who lost everything by investing with the crook.  Gibson pairs up with an ex-con and a girl named Lea who is out for revenge.

I wish that the author had spent more time on the ending because it felt like there were a lot of loose plot strings.  Maybe it’s supposed to be a cliffhanger for book 3?  I hate waiting, which is why I avoid reading series books until the author has completed writing the series.

Look at the Patrick Rothfuss books.  I’ve been waiting for something like 3 years for Book 3 to come out!

I’ll have to go back to read Book 1 so that I know what happened with the former VP and his wife. If you like the Jack Reacher and the Lucas Davenport books, the Gibson Vaughn books are similar.

Side note: the author made a note that writing the second book was harder than the first book because there were so many expectations.  With the first book, there weren’t any deadlines, but with the second book, there were deadlines and more pressure.  This made me smile because there would be less pressure (from readers) if the author didn’t write cliffhanger endings.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

book review: Mug Shot

Mug Shot is a mystery that is part of the Java Jive mystery series by Caroline Fardig.  If you are a fan of the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, you’ll probably like this book.  The book’s main character is a redhead named Juliet (Jules) Langley who runs a coffee shop with her best friend, Pete.  Like Stephanie Plum, Jules is caught between two men – Pete and cop named Ryder.  Pete and Jules have a mostly platonic relationship, but the sexual tension is always there, with Pete often eyeing Jules when she wears revealing clothing.  Jules even has a feisty grandmother, like Stephanie.  There are other personality similarities between Stephanie and Jules.  They both have a knack for getting into dangerous situations and sort of are bumbling detectives, yet somehow manage to solve the case in the end.  Like the Stephanie Plum books, you don’t have to read the entire series to understand what is going on in this book because there is just the right amount of back story explained without it becoming tedious for people who have read the other books.

In this book, Jules has to play detective to rescue Pete, who is arrested for the murder of his snobby socialite girlfriend, Cecilia.  Pete’s DNA is all over Cecilia and in the tent where her body was found.  To complicate matters, Jules is casually dating Cecilia’s brother, the black sheep of the family.  Break-ins, jail time, and love interests keep this mystery going at a decent pace.

This mystery is an easy, light read that would be perfect for lazy summer days by the pool or beach.

Disclaimer:  I received this complimentary e-book as part of #RHMysteryPack from Chatterbox.

Book Review: 61 Hours & Worth Dying For by Lee Child

I read 61 Hours and Worth Dying For back-to-back because I thought that Worth Dying For was the sequel to 61 Hours because at the end of 61 Hours, it said “to be continued.”  It turns out that this was misleading.  It sort of picks up where 61 Hours leaves off as far as Jack Reacher, but there  isn’t much continuity between the two books (unless you count Reacher trying to get to Virginia.

In 61 Hours, Reacher gets stranded in a South Dakota small town when the tour bus that he is on skids and a snowstorm approaches.  He is asked by a local cop to help protect a witness who is willing to testify against a big drug dealer.  He also uses his old army connections to figure out what was in an abandoned military facility.  The old military facility is occupied by drug dealers, but the cops are afraid to go in there because (a) they don’t have reasonable cause) and (b) they don’t know anything about the facility and would be at a huge disadvantage.  If you’ve read any of the Jack Reacher books, you’ll know the ending already.

In Worth Dying For, Reacher is in a bar in a small Nebraska town when he overhears a patient calling for help for a nosebleed that won’t stop.  The doctor, a drunk, wasn’t planning on going to help the woman, which is unacceptable to Reacher.  Reacher forces the doctor to help the woman and drives him to the woman’s house since the doctor is drunk.  Reacher learns that the woman is regularly abused by her husband so he goes in search of the husband, Seth Duncan, and breaks his nose.  It turns out that the entire town is afraid of the Duncan family so it’s all out war between the Duncans and Reacher.  In the midst of trying to help the town overcome their fear of the Duncans, Reacher also helps solve a 25-year-old missing child case.

Here’s a spoiler if you’ve never read any Jack Reacher books (don’t read if you don’t want to know the ending … )

 

 

 

 

 

Jack Reacher always kills the bad guys, helps the oppressed, solves the case, and moves on to the next place.

The endings of these books are always predictable, but they’re still fun to read.

Book Review: Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Career of Evil is the third book by Robert Galbraith (pen name for J. K. Rowling) about PI Cormoran Strike.

In this book, a killer is making it personal by sending body parts addressed to Robin.  Robin continues to play more of a major role in the investigation and Cormoran even refers to her as a “partner.” I loved that we continue to find more about Robin because she is such an interesting character.  We find out about why she quit school just shy of graduation.  There’s also more insight about her relationship with her fiance, although, I still find it difficult to accept that she’s with such a pompous lout.  The more that’s revealed about Matthew, the more of a jerk he appears to be and I’m left wondering why on Earth she would want to marry him.

Besides Cormoran and Robin, the other characters in the book aren’t very well developed.  There’s a friend of Cormoran’s who only helps out when they can pay him and the usual incompetent police figures.

There’s more development of the sexual tension/attraction between Cormoran and Robin, but it’s still sort of innocent, with neither admitting or allowing themselves to really think about a relationship together (other than their existing professional one).

The book ended on a frustrating note for me.  I was thinking, “Noooooooo!” at the very end.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I found that the weepy/mopey bits tended to drag.  Still a fan of the Cormoran Strike series!

Book Review The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

I read The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith and The Silkworm (same author) a few months ago, but haven’t had a chance to write the review until now.  In case you haven’t heard it yet, Robert Galbraith is actually a pseudonym for J. K. Rowling.  It was kept top secret, but one of the lawyers at the firm used by J. K. Rowling told his wife who then told a friend of hers and pretty soon it was leaked that J. K. Rowling was Robert Galbraith.  She has since publicly acknowledged this.  The book was already doing pretty well on its own, but once the real author got leaked, it skyrocketed on the ratings charts.

I was a little hesitant to read it because I really didn’t like The Casual Vacancy.  I needn’t have worried.  This mystery/detective novel was good.  I liked the characters (the main character is Cormoran Strike).  I liked that Cormoran wasn’t perfect – it took him time to realize things sometimes, like how his off again-on again relationship wasn’t good for him.  His flaws made him a more realistic and like-able character.  The characters in this book had different personalities – the good guys weren’t all super smart and perfect.  I especially liked his secretary, Robin, who plays a bigger role in The Silkworm.

The gist of the plot for The Cuckoo’s Calling is that a famous model appears to take a flying leap from her balcony.  Cormoran Strike is a private detective (nearly broke) who is hired by the model’s brother to investigate.  Everyone thinks that she committed suicide, including the police, but as Cormoran takes a closer look, he has some doubts.  He has to figure out whether there was any foul play and, if there was foul play, how it happened.

Even though The Silkworm is the second book in the series, it’s not necessary to read the first one first.  The benefit is that Robin is introduced in the first one so you have some background on her.  In The Silkworm, people are showing up murdered and the murders resemble the plot of an unpublished manuscript.  Cormoran has been hired by the author’s wife to find the author, who has gone missing.

The plots themselves were okay (I liked the plot of the first book better than the second book).  I enjoyed the characters in the book and their interactions more than the actual plot.  Actually, the ending of the second book was a let down – the actual storyline was okay up until the ending.  I would recommend these books to anyone who enjoys reading mysteries/detective stories.

Book review: Crash and Burn

Crash and Burn by Lisa Gardner is the newest book in her Tessa Leoni series, but D.D. Warren makes a cameo appearance (yay!).

The book starts out with an accident victim waking up, escaping from the car, and frantically looking for her daughter, Vero.  We later learn that the accident victim has had multiple head injuries and has hallucinations.  It’s hard to give a plot summary without giving too much of the story away.  Plus, a straight plot summary of this book sounds fantastic so it might deter a potential reader, but the author did a nice job of leading the reader through the plot so if you read the book, the plot actually seems somewhat plausible.  Something that starts out as an auto accident ends up being a homicide investigation (of course, if it were a simple auto accident, it probably wouldn’t be very interesting).  I liked that the first person narrative wasn’t reliable so the reader had to sift through what was written to try to figure out what was real.

I found the book to be a fun read.  Parts of the book were predictable, but there were many twists and turns in the plot to keep the reader interested.  The characters are in the book interesting and engaging so even if a reader is able to somehow guess ALL of the plots’ twists (and I would be surprised that anyone could guess all of them), the book is still worth reading.

Disclosure: I received a free advanced reader copy of this book, but I don’t think the author even knows that I’m writing this review.  I have given an honest review.

Book review: Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob by William Landay is a book about an Assistant District Attorney whose son is accused of murdering a classmate, hence the title.  The book switches between first person narrative and transcripts from the trial.  The book shows how the lives of the parents are absolutely destroyed.  Their friends and neighbors, for the most part, abandon them and they are left questioning, not only whether or not their son is guilty, but whether or not they are responsible.  Was it the dad’s fault because he is descended from murderers?  Was it the mom’s fault because she put the kid in daycare when he was young?  If Jacob is innocent, how do they face him, having thought that he could have possibly done such a thing?  What if he is guilty?  How do they reconcile themselves with the fact that the boy they kissed as a chubby baby could have taken someone’s life?  If they are having doubts about their son’s innocence, are they morally obligated to tell someone about their concerns?  Or, are they morally obligated, as parents, to support and defend their son?

The biggest disappointment of the book was how the author portrayed teenagers.  Yes, teenagers are self-centered and they don’t always speak well, but having ALL of his teen characters use “like” and “you know” in every other sentence was a bit much.  The teen characters in this book had very little personality, except perhaps Jacob, but Jacob is mostly presented as a sullen, withdrawn, spoiled, entitled, brat.  However, the teenage characters play a minor role in the story.  Their role is to present information/evidence that the adults who aren’t computer savvy can’t figure out on their own (this, by the way, I found to be ridiculous because any police force is going to have some sort of cyber crimes unit – the book was published in 2013 – and where teenagers are involved, they’re certainly going to check social media sites like Facebook and Twitter).

This book did a great job of presenting the psychological trauma of the family before, during, and after the trial.  I liked the moral dilemmas that were presented, and seeing how the characters dealt with them.

This was an interesting read and I look forward to reading more of the author’s work.

Book review: Catch Me by Lisa Gardner

I read Catch Me by Lisa Gardner this weekend.  It’s a part of a series by Gardner about D.D. Warren, a detective in the Boston area.  This was the first book I’ve read by Lisa Gardner, and it wasn’t the first book in the series, but it doesn’t really matter a whole lot.  Some of the characters appeared in earlier books, but you don’t have to read the other books to know what is going on in this book.

In this book, D.D. Warren has to solve two crimes – one involves a girl whose two best friends were murdered on the same day exactly one year apart and the other a vigilante who has been killing pedophiles.  The girl, Charlie, believes that she will die on January 21st because her friends’ murders had the same MO.  In both cases, the women were murdered in their homes, with clean crime scenes and no signs of struggle.  This leads Charlie to believe that the murderer is someone that she knows.  She flees from her home and goes to Boston in the hopes of being able to flee from the murderer.  In Boston, she locates D.D. and explains why she thinks she is going to die, giving D.D. details about her preparations in case she is murdered so that D.D. will have a better chance of finding the murderer.  In the case of the pedophile-shootings, there was also no sign of a struggle and the victims were shot at close range.

This book caught my interest quickly because it reminded me of John Sandford’s books and because it deals with mental illness (I seem to be on a mental illness kick lately).  It was interesting to hear about how pedophiles lure their victims and how easy it is, despite kids being taught by their parents about staying away from strangers.  Even though the book is fiction, the author did her research.  If you look up information about internet safety for children, you’ll find that the book is accurate, even if the situation in the book is a dramatization.  Check out the FBI’s Parent Guide to Internet Safety for more information on protecting your children.

The plot was interesting and I learned information about pedophiles on the Internet.

I also read another book by the same author called The Seventh Month, which was really more like a novella or a short story, also starring D.D.  It was cute so after reading two books that I liked by the same author, I looked up the her website.  She has a sweepstakes on her site where you can submit a potential victim to be killed off in her next book.  Fun!  If you like crime novels or mysteries, I would recommend checking out some of Lisa Gardner’s books.