I read books 1 and 2 of this series back to back. To me, the second is a bit better than the first. PI Roxane Weary is jumping to wrong conclusions less often and making fewer dumb decisions, probably because she’s drinking less and not running around in a drunken haze as she was in the first book. She still shuts herself off from friends and family but grows closer to them toward the end. I like the relationship she develops with Selby, taking her under her wing.
There are too many characters to follow. Marin, the woman who dies early in the story and leads Roxane down the path of solving her murder, is one of the worst of many bad guys. She’s into all sorts of thefts and scams.
The plot jumps around a lot, but overall I enjoyed the read.
Why is it that every book I read lately has an alcoholic protagonist? The characters in this book are defined well, but I was aggravated by PI Roxane Weary and her drinking, which led her into trouble. She jumped to conclusions, made stupid decisions, and treated everyone around her with anger and disdain—even friends and family. The story was good, but could have been written without an unlikable main character.
Oregon’s Willamette River is such a strong presence in this
novel that it almost becomes the main character. Sheriff’s Deputy Delia Chavez
is obsessed with fear of the river, which took her baby brother away from her
when she was five years old. But murders are happening on the river, and she
has to deal with it to solve them.
As a character, Delia is messed up and angry, but I liked
her. The author does a good job of giving insights into both good and bad
actors in the story. A good plot kept my attention through to the end.
I read #2 in this series, A Beautiful Foolish Endeavor, before #1. That’s not usually a good
idea, but in this case, it may have helped. On one side, I knew and appreciated
the characters better. On the other side, I already knew how the story would
I probably didn’t judge April May as harshly as I might have
if I read this book first. She’s quirky, self-centered, and addicted to fame.
She’s young and foolish, makes stupid mistakes, and mistreats her friends. But
overall, I found her amusing, believable, and somewhat likable. April May
believes in humans, and she believes the alien Carl is good, not threatening.
Her goal is to convince the world of both. But she gets sidetracked trying to please
her huge social media following and stay in the spotlight.
I liked the book, but #2 was better. If I’d read #1 first, I
would have been irritated by the ending, which leaves you hanging. The two
books are obviously one story. The fact is, I enjoyed this book even knowing
the plot in advance.
In addition to her great characterization, Fox gives us a crocodile-filled picture of the setting in Queensland, Australia, a complex and twisty plot (a locked room mystery), emotions (head, heart, and humor), plus coverage of some themes such as wrongful crime accusations, bad police behavior, parenting, truthfulness (or not), and more.
When I read several books in a series, sometimes the main
characters begin to lose their attraction for me. Not so with Candice Fox’s
Crystal Lake series. PI partners Ted Conkaffey and Amanda
Pharrell, both with dark pasts and quirky personalities
(especially Amanda), continue to fascinate. Fox’s coverage of all her
characters—villains, suspects, police, extras, etc.—is thorough and
Gone by Midnight is my favorite in the series. Looking for #4.
There is something about a good British police procedural
that captures my imagination. Lodge gives a step-by-step description of the
police unraveling the clues to find the killer of a young woman, Zoe. The crime
looks like a suicide, but Zoe’s boyfriend is watching via Skype when someone creeps
into her apartment and her bathroom. He anonymously reports it to the police.
The author follows the four policemen on the case and
several of the victim’s friends, who are all suspects, giving us insights into
all the characters and their relationships with the crime and the victim. She
also goes back in time for the story of Zoe’s time leading up to her murder.
The writing style is methodical and detailed but holds your
attention from beginning to end. I had a vague idea of who killed Zoe before
the reveal at the end.
Good writing, good plot, good characters.
corrupts absolutely.” Lord Acton, 1887
Let me first say that I’m an eighty-year-old woman who loves to read most fiction genres. I receive my books from the local library Books by Mail program. Most are not specific requests and they cover a wonderful variety of subjects and styles. Second, I almost didn’t start this novel because it’s a sequel to a book I haven’t read, and reviews indicated it was aimed at a young audience with a theme about social media, which I avoid.
But I loved this book (even without reading the previous
installment). It’s not only about the abuse of money and power, it’s about
humanity, encompassing our worst and best traits and in between.
I’ve only read one other Paretsky novel, Shell Game, which I gave three
stars—middle of the road. With Dead Land,
I connected with the protagonist, V.I. (Vic) Warshawski, and found her
determined and focused on solving the mysteries surrounding friends and family.
Previously I found her too angry at the world, scattered in her investigation
and her life, and making foolish mistakes. With this story, she seems to have
reason behind her decisions, even when her moves are reckless and dangerous.
She isn’t filled with anger and even has a sense of humor.
A side character, Coop, is interesting. Even though we see
little of him, he’s a major character in the story. I love his dog, Bear.
Even though it twists and turns and has some almost
unbelievable connections, the plot of Dead
Land makes sense, where Shell Game
didn’t. Paretsky connects greed and corruption in Chicago politics with greed
and corruption in Chili, all revolving around a famous woman musician, first homeless
then missing on the streets of Chicago. She’s another major character we see
little of, but we learn a lot about her.
The settings in Chicago and Kansas are both well covered,
making me feel the heat in the streets and the muddy rain in the flooded
Although a bit too long, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
This novel gives us a look at the mess at our southern
border. Cork O’Connor and his new wife, Rainy, go to Arizona to find her son
Peter, who is involved with a group trying to help refugees from Central
America. Every time they get a lead on where to look for him, the drug lords
and/or the lawmen appear. Who is tipping them off?
A well-written story with a good plot and engaging
characters. The coverage of the drug wars and the immigrants escaping through
the border wall with Mexico keeps tension high.
Only the second Krueger novel I’ve read, both are about Cork’s
children or step-children. He has an interesting family.
I would call this a character-driven, political intrigue novel. It’s my first foray into a William Kent Krueger book. I found some of the characters interesting, but not all. Cork O’Connors’ son Stephen, who has visions, is struggling to know who he is. More than a hundred-year-old “healer” Henry is in touch with the world and the spirits. Bo is a very conflicted character. Cork’s young grandchild (toddler?) Waaboo has far too much insight. But Cork worries his way through the story, and there’s no character growth, except possibly that he learns to accept that Henry can take care of himself. Some of the minor characters are interesting, but most are background noise—especially the women.
The plot is a bit over the top. It jumps around a lot, and people keep chasing around trying to find out what’s happening and to save people in trouble. Then toward the end, we get a lengthy explanation from the villain when there’s no reason for him to be telling it.
The story kept me reading to the end, so I give it three stars.