Category Archives: head

Haylen Beck — Here and Gone

Here and Gone kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the whole book. What would you do if a sheriff in the middle of nowhere pulled you over with a trumped-up charge and took your children away? Then he claims there were no children in your car. No one believes you—state police, FBI, media all think you have killed your children.

Unlike many of today’s thrillers that are filled with violence and farfetched scenarios, this is an intense, believable psychological thriller.

Lisa Gardner — Never Tell

Never Tell is a book of secrets told from three women’s POVs. Evie Carter finds her husband dead—murder or suicide—picks up the gun and shoots his computer. Homicide detective D.D. Warren knows Evie as a girl who sixteen years ago “accidentally” shot and killed her own father. D.D.’s civilian informant, Flora Dane, sees a picture of Evie’s dead husband and recognizes him as someone she met while a kidnap victim of Jacob Ness.

The three distinctive characters are well-defined and interesting, revealing secrets as the story progresses and uncovering other secrets about Evie’s husband, father, and mother, and about Flora’s kidnapper. Peripheral characters are also distinct and interesting. The setting is in Boston, my favorite city. The complex plot kept me guessing.

An excellent novel by a first-rate author.

Gytha Lodge — She Lies in Wait

Seven teenagers go camping and only six return. A massive search doesn’t turn up Aurora, at fourteen, the youngest of the group. Thirty years later, her body is found in a hollow beneath a tree along with remnants of a stash of drugs.

The timeline alternates between current and the night of the murder. Point-of-view shifts between cops and campers, both present and thirty years prior. The author does a good job of switching time and POV, and I didn’t find it confusing.

Lodge paints good pictures of each of her many characters—four police and the six campers (seven with Aurora)—each character unique. She even adds a couple of extras into the mix. It may be a little overload on character development.

She keeps us guessing about the murderer, but I did have an idea of who it was early in the story. The plot could be a little slow for some readers, but I found the details of police procedural interesting.

A good first novel. I look forward to the next book in the series with DCI Jonah Sheens.

Walter Mosley — John Woman

Strange but captivating—but that’s true of most literary novels that hold my interest (many don’t). The story is philosophical and the plot is complicated, so I won’t try to describe it except to say John Woman has an interesting interpretation of history. If you like to read a book that makes you think, this is a good candidate.

Mosley is known for his mystery/crime/detective stories with Easy Rawlins, Fearless Jones, or others. This is the second standalone literary novel of Mosley’s that I’ve read, and I thoroughly enjoyed both.

Kim Stanley Robinson — Red Moon

Excellent book!
Red Moon is combination of speculative fiction, near-future, environmental, political, hard and soft science fiction, moon colonization, and a little space opera thrown in. Even though it’s called Red Moon, much of the story takes place in China. All the main characters but one are Chinese.

The amount of knowledge and research required for this book is mind-boggling—China’s history, geography, present day culture, technology, and politics; moon geology; quantum mechanics; artificial intelligence; space travel; cryptocurrency; global economics; moon exploration; and more.

Robinson paints images of the moon and China in such detail that you feel you are there, from earthrise on the moon to crowds of millions of protestors in Beijing. He also depicts various contrasting possibilities for communities on the moon.

He extends the unrest in today’s world into a political and economic crisis in China and the United States (and the world) of the near future, with a hopeful outcome.

The characters are varied, interesting, and believable. Fred Frederickson, an American delivering a quantum phone to the moon, is accused of murdering his client. Chan Qi, the daughter of China’s Minister of Finance and a leader in the opposition to the current government, is hiding on the moon and is pregnant. Poet and celebrity travel reporter Ta Shu helps Fred and Qi evade their pursuers. There is even an AI who matures throughout the book. Even the less major characters are interesting.

The story kept me involved from beginning to end.

John Grisham — The Rooster Bar

Four students in their last year at a for-profit law school are in debt to the tune of approximately $200,000 each. One of the student’s does extensive research on the school and finds that not only do half the students fail the bar after graduation, but even less find jobs in the legal profession. He also finds that one person, through various shell corporations, owns several law schools plus interest in financial institutions holding student loans and a corrupt bank. Unstable and seeing no way out of his dilemma, he commits suicide. The remaining three in the group drop out of law school and proceed to find ways to scam the scammers.

This makes it seem to be a depressing story, but it’s not. It’s an entertaining tale about young people trying to beat the system that’s stacked against them.

If you want to know more about the real law school rip-offs, read this story from The Atlantic: The Law-School Scam.

This was a much better story than The Reckoning, which was the last Grisham novel I read.

Jude Deveraux — A Willing Murder

This novel is a cozy murder mystery with a dash of chick flick, some romance, some humor, some family saga, and a lot of small town gossip and rumor. Realtor Kate Medlar moves to Lachlan, Florida and stays in an old mansion with her aunt Sara Medlar, romance novelist, and Sara’s friend Jake Wyatt, builder. When a tree falls over in the back yard of a house Jake is remodeling, the unlikely trio of sleuths find the bones of two women in the roots of the tree.

I did figure out the villains in the story long before the end. And I could see that Deveraux left relationships to be explored in the next book.

The novel is a well-written, quick and easy read with believable, lively characters and small town dynamics.

Walter Mosley — Charcoal Joe

Mosley writes classic hard-boiled PI fiction. We ride along with Easy Rawlins as he tries to prove a young black man’s innocence who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and to help others solve their problems along the way. One of those problems is to hide an African king who has married Easy’s ex-girlfriend in order to immigrate to the States and escape those from his home country who want to kill him.

The excellent writing pulls you into the dark side of LA and the characters are interesting and believable. Charcoal Joe is one of those books that kept me up into the middle of the night.

Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman — A Measure of Darkness

Often when two writers collaborate, I can feel the change of voice between scenes and/or characters. But this father and son team work together so seamlessly, the novel reads as if there is only one author.

A Measure of Darkness is a police procedural with Deputy Coroner Clay Edison following up on the victims of a wild party gone awry. Gunshots killed three people, one a child sleeping in a house across the street from the party. A car trying to escape the chaos runs over and kills a fourth victim. When searching the property, Edison and Detective Nwodo find a woman strangled and stuffed into a gardening shed. The story follows Edison and Nwodo as they try to track down the family of the woman killed by the car and to find the identity of the woman in the shed (and of course, who killed her).

The plot twists and turns around several characters connected through a very strange boarding school. I had no idea who murdered the Jane Doe until the end. The characters involved in the crimes and the members of Edison’s family are varied and interesting, even humorous at times. Settings are detailed and visual in and around Alameda County, California.

The book kept me reading into the wee hours of the night. I’ll look for more books by this duo.

Carla Neggers — Keeper’s Reach

The novel has a complex and interesting plot. I didn’t figure out the bad guy until the end. This is somewhat unusual for me. A man is hit on the head and left to die in England. Later on, Emma is kidnapped and left in an old barn in Maine. There appears to be no reason for either event, except possible a package mailed from an art thief in England to Emma in Maine. A large group of suspects are considered—FBI agents, the art thief, a group who knew each other in Afghanistan and are meeting in Maine, Americans spotted in England before the first assault…. Everyone seems to be suspecting and watching someone.

Keeper’s Reach is part of a romantic suspense series. I’m not a big fan of romance, but Neggers keeps it as background noise and not the main plot of the story. Also, this novel jumps into the middle of the series, and it might be better to read the previous adventures first. The author does a reasonable job of filling us in about what happened in earlier books. It’s almost a stand-alone novel.

A few too many characters appear or are mentioned. We don’t need to know about some who aren’t part of the story. The main couple, FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan, were on separate tracks, even in separate countries most of the time. They barely saw each other. The secondary couple, Colin’s brother Mike and agent Naomi MacBride, have a love-hate relationship—typical romance novel stuff.

The characters are interesting and the settings detailed. I could feel the cold of Maine in the winter.