Not having read the previous books in the Monkeewrench
series, this was a standalone for me. It was well written, and I enjoyed it.
The characters, good and bad, are interesting, some with
unique backgrounds and personalities, but there are too many to follow. I was
almost to the end of the story before I had them all sorted out. It probably
would have helped to read earlier books in the series first. But they were
warm, sometimes humorous, and the baby in the office at Monkeewrench added
insight into some of the characters.
I won’t summarize the story; it’s covered many times in
reviews. The plot had many twists and turns, but I feel it overdoes the coincidences
and connections between crimes, like cop shows on TV. I can’t believe that
happens often in real life.
There were several bad guys in this story, and I spotted
them all early before they were revealed even though some were painted as good
or harmless. But there is a twist at the end.
“You ever notice that when it’s this cold, snow doesn’t crunch, it squeaks?” The bitter cold Minneapolis setting made me shiver, reminding me of my many years living in the north. I’m glad I now live in Florida.
Overall a good read. I would recommend it, but with the caveat
that you read other books in the series first.
Ms. Morgenstern writes beautiful pictures with her creative
imagination. This is a novel for the senses.
Not a particular fan of fantasy, I picked up The Night Circus because I thoroughly
enjoyed her second novel, The Starless
Sea. I see there are mixed reviews for this story; people seem to love it
or hate it. The plot moves slowly, but the author writes beautifully. You need
to immerse yourself in the sensations of the circus to enjoy it.
The book is magic.
A police procedural mystery with beautiful coastal England
settings and a mix of interesting characters.
The plot includes the murder of an apparently homeless man
and two kidnappings of Down syndrome women. Detective Matthew Venn believes
they are somehow related. All the victims have connections to his husband
Jonathon’s service center, The Woodyard, which houses an artist’s colony, a
counseling service, and a center for the learning disabled.
The author’s characters are varied and usually believable.
But I found DI Venn a bit too insecure for a detective leading a murder
investigation. His constable, Jenn Rafferty, is lively and smart. Ross, another
member of Venn’s team, is young and impatient.
Cleeves’s description of North Devon brings to life the
sights, smell, and sounds of the villages, countryside, and the coastline.
The story held my interest throughout. The pace is somewhat
slow in the middle but interesting enough to keep me reading. It picks up
toward the end.
The Long Call is
the second novel I’ve read by Ann Cleeves. I’ll look for more of her books.
The Starless Sea
is a story about the love of stories.
The main plot lies mostly underground in a world filled with
stories—in books and paintings and sculptures and even in people. Zachary Ezra
Rawlings finds an uncatalogued book with no listed author in the library. The
book contains a story about him when as a young boy he missed the opportunity
of opening a door painted on a wall. But the book is older than Zachary. How
could the author know his story? His search for the source of the book leads him
to the labyrinth of stories lying under his feet.
Morgenstern’s novel is filled with unrelated stories, fables,
fairytales, and myths that intertwine and finally connect at the end of the
book. These individual stories contain romance, loss, time and fate, humor…
I’m not usually a fan of fantasy, but I was absorbed in this
book and Morgenstern’s excellent writing. She has a fantastic imagination.
The Parade is a psychological,
political, literary novella about two anonymous contractors hired to pave a
road in an unknown civil-war-torn country. Two opposite personalities travel
from the poor south to the city in the north. The author tells the story from “Four’s”
point of view. His goal is to follow the rules, don’t interact with the locals,
get the job done on time for the parade, and go home. We only see “Nine”
through “Four’s” perspective, as a happy-go-lucky rule-breaker who pays little
attention to the job and spends his time mixing with the locals, partying,
drinking, sleeping with the women, and giving away company property. “Nine” is
interested in what’s happening to the country, its people, and what the road
will mean to them.
I would give the book four stars, except that I guessed the
twist at the end from the very beginning. Maybe I have a twisted mind.
A character-driven psychological thriller, this novel grabs
your attention and keeps it to the end.
Three children meet a monster in the woods—a huge, mean man
with a huge, mean dog. Rain fights off man and dog, runs, and hides in the
roots of a tree. Physically injured and traumatized, she stays hidden for hours,
unable to move, call out, or go for help. Her two friends, Hank and Tess are
dragged away by the monster. Hank is brutalized but survives. Tess doesn’t make
The story follows Rain and Hank as adults. Rain is a
journalist who has quit her job to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, and Hank
is a psychologist who treats traumatized children. Both lead fairly normal
lives but carry scars from their childhood abduction and loss of their friend.
Rain has a loving husband and a beautiful daughter that she adores. Hank is a
kind and gentle doctor helping his patients. But Rain carries heavy guilt about
not going for help to save her friends, and Hank has a second personality, cruel
and vindictive. Both Hank and Rain become involved in the investigation of an
apparent vigilante serial killer whose first victim may have been their
abductor. Enough of the plot. Any more would be a spoiler.
Unger’s character development makes this book outstanding.
She covers the two main characters in depth, good and bad. Unlike many books I’ve
read recently, their personalities, although warped, are believable and held my
interest from beginning to end.
In this collection of heartfelt poetry and short stories, the
author touches on serious subjects—poverty, homelessness, aging, war, and more—with
kindness and hope.
I almost abandoned this novel after the first few chapters
because it bounced around too much in time and POV. First there was part of a
trial (2005), then a murder scene (2001), a scene with Cathie, the protagonist,
at work (2007), Catherine, an earlier version of Cathie, out drinking with
friends (2003), and finally it gets into the rhythm of skipping back and forth
between 2007 and 2003. At this point, I started to get hooked.
The personalities of Cathie and Catherine are entirely
different. Catherine (2003) loves to party, drinks too much, sleeps around.
Cathie (2007) suffers from severe OCD and PTSD. Catherine hooks up with sexy,
mysterious Lee, who becomes more and more controlling and abusive. Cathie starts
a cautious friendship with her neighbor Stuart, a psychologist who is
unbelievably understanding of her weird behavior.
There is no mystery. The trial at the beginning tells us
that Lee is the bad guy in the story. It’s obvious that Catherine and Cathie are
the same person. It’s also fairly obvious that Lee probably murdered the woman at
the beginning of the story (2001). At first, I thought the trial (2005) was for
But this is a well-written psychological suspense/thriller.
It kept me reading throughout to find out what happens next. Haynes follows
Catherine/Cathie’s personality changes in detail—Catherine’s downhill slide as
her relationship with Lee becomes more controlling and abusive, and Cathie’s
climb back to normality as she struggles to overcome her anxiety and OCD.
I would recommend the book to anyone who likes dark stories.
A good police story. Seattle’s violent crimes unit has a lot
going on. A missing East Indian woman may only be avoiding friends and family
to dodge arranged marriage, but Tracy thinks it doesn’t feel right. Faz and Del
investigate a shooting of a black woman activist in broad daylight, which they
believe was ordered by the local drug kingpin. A suspect of the woman’s
shooting is shot and killed by Gonzalez, a new detective in the department from
LA. The suspect was unarmed.
All of the detectives have pressures on the personal side. Tracy
is pregnant but hasn’t told her department. Faz’s wife Vera is diagnosed with
breast cancer. Del throws his back out and isn’t always available. New
detective Gonzalez acts suspiciously, snooping in other detective’s computers
and lying about what happened with Faz when she shot the suspect.
The characters are interesting, and the plot kept me
This novel is my introduction to a well-known mystery
writer. Jumping into the last book of Ann Cleeves’ Shetland Island series with
DI Jimmy Perez, I found the story easy to read as a stand-alone and will likely
go back and read more of her work.
The author’s depiction of the setting makes me want to visit
the small village on a remote island in the far north UK. The characters are
equally well defined. A family has moved to the island from London, in part to
provide a better life for their two children. Christopher, their autistic son
who has a liking for fire, is one of the main characters in the story. He finds
the body of a neighbor’s nanny hanging from the rafters of their shed, where
the previous owner of their home committed suicide.
The mystery stays unsolved until the end. The suspects are
many, beginning with the family and including a bitter town gossip who becomes
the next murder victim.
I would recommend this well-written book to anyone who loves
a good mystery.