Summer Reads: The Shadow of Your Smile Thursday, Jun 17 2010 

Mary Higgins Clark has her formula down pat.  There’s no question that the protagonist will survive to find happiness, it’s just a matter of with whom and what she has to go through to get there, and this book is no exception.

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The Shadow of Your Smile is her29th suspense novel, excluding the five holiday novels she’s written with her daughter Carol. That doesn’t include her short story collections (three), a children’s book, an historical novel and a memoir.

In the interests of summer reading, this predictability turns out to be a good thing. This one goes down like an icy pina colada, quick and easy.   The plot revolves around a long-standing family secret that threatens the life of an heiress, who, in true MHC fashion,  doesn’t know she IS one.  Pediatrician Dr. Monica Farrell fills this bill nicely.

A greedy foundation, battling family members, and even the beatification of a saint all come into play. Really. Of course, there’s the little question of murder here and there, but it all gets sorted out at the end of the day.

I’ll have another pina colada, thank you.

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Great Summer Reads: Storm Prey Saturday, Jun 12 2010 

With sunny skies and warm days, summer reads call out to me. Leave the wave-running and stomach-grazing boogie boards to the youngsters. I long for a huge bottle of sunscreen, an iced drink and a comfortable chair at the shore, good book in hand.

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What makes a good summer read? For me, it’s a book that’s quickly paced with enough plot to keep me reading. These are ‘brain candy’ books, the ones we look forward to, dependable reads from long-standing authors. I know I will not be hit over the head figuring out long-winded philosophical treatises. I will be treated to a satisfying, if somewhat predictable, read. After all, most stories have already been told; it’s how they’re told that captures a reader. Give me a romance, which I don’t read most of the year, or a good thriller.  Over the next weeks I’ll share some of my current reads with you.

Let’s start your summer reading with John Sandford’s long-running ‘Prey’ series, the largest of his three, which  continues to be a roller-coaster of a satisfying read. You get to be in everyone’s mind in his novels,  including the bad guys, as Sandford shows that their motivations combined with their general stupidity in some area will lead to their downfall.  Although there is some fancy detecting and policing going on, the actions of the criminals say it all. In Storm Prey, this thesis holds true.

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Protagonist Lucas Davenport’s wife, plastic surgeon Weather Karkinnen, has the misfortune to see one of three robbers who storm her hospital’s pharmacy for the drugs. One of the pharmacy workers dies, starting a spiraling out of control of the robbery team, and the murders start to mount up.

Protecting Weather is not as simple as it seems: she’s part of a team mounting an intricate separation of conjoined twins. The surgery has to be performed in stages, over several days, due to the cardiac problems of the baby girls.  A second set of siblings, the Mack brothers, form the basis of the criminal side of things. Petty thieves and drug dealers, motorcycle gang members and bar owners, the brothers get themselves in way too deep before seeing a way out.

One of Sandford’s strengths is his realistic telling of the story, gritty and raw, the pace getting faster and faster. Members of his team talk to each other as though they’ve worked together for years. This is Sandford’s 20th Prey novel and each one is filled with his trademark suspense and multi-layered characters.

This Body of Death Sunday, Jun 6 2010 

Auntie M has been on vacation, first to visit the four Minnesota Grands, all growing like weeds. She’s been to hockey, lacrosse, soccer and swimming practices and games. And she’s been delighted to giggle with four of the smartest and wittiest grandchildren around. After a nice long visit, it was off to Utah for the annual Screw Iowa Workshop.

Once again, the Power of Five came into action, reading and critiquing the first draft of 100 pages of the next Nora Tierney novel (working title The Green Remains). Dedicated to bringing our unique workshop program to authors everywhere, we’ve decided to bring The End of the Book: Writing in the Twenty-First Century out in softcover. I’ll keep you updated on the news, and as always, our website continues to bring you blogs and news, Hooks, and From the Masters: http://www.screwiowa.com.

Flying out west afforded Auntie M plenty of undisturbed reading time. I couldn’t wait to get settled and to crack the cover of Elizabeth George’s newest, This Body of Death.

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The 16th of the Inspector Lynley series finds the Earl still grieving the murder of his wife and unborn child. He is coaxed back to work on the murder of a young woman found dead in a deserted graveyard by the strong woman now working in his shoes as Acting Superintendant. Isabelle Ardery has her own issues, not the least of which are the little bottles of vodka she sneaks in and out of her purse.

The story is parsed out between supposed-excerpts of a psychologist’s sociological treatise, describing the backgrounds of three young boys sent to prison for murdering a toddler. Based on the real horrific incident in Britain when three youths coaxed a toddler out of a fast-food restaurant, his torture and murder are chillingly and almost antiseptically described. The reader catches on soon enough that one of the three youths is part of the current story.

Lynley’s team is present, all with varying responses to Acting Super. Ardery.  Sgt. Barbara Havers, my favorite, is hounded into a makeover of sorts. An unlikely (and I felt forced), relationship springs up between Lynley and Isabelle. Various members of the team act out and destroy the cohesiveness a murder investigation requires.

The investigation takes the reader into New Forest, where wild ponies roam, and in and out of London, and has as many twists and turns as the usual George novel. There’s even an appearance by the St. James’. As much as I admired the actual mystery, the length of this novel (over 650 pages) felt too long, with the appearance of some of our old favorite secondary characters tacked on.

I’m grumbling because this is the second George novel where the sociological interests of the story have trumped the mystery (What Came Before He Shot Her was pure social issue rant). For me George is at her best when she focuses on the mystery and the lives of her characters she has spent years painstakingly building for her readers.

Am I being too severe to wish she would leave sociological stories to the social workers? Any murder has   sociological overtones, but these novels seem to hit us over the head with the implications, and I for one, am unhappy. The question is: do readers have any right to question an author’s choices?

What say you??

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Liz Loves Books

The Wonderful World of Reading

The Life of Guppy

the care and feeding of our little fish

dru's book musings

Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” ― Carl Sagan

MiddleSisterReviews.com

(mid'-l sis'-tǝr) n. the reader's favorite sister

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

Make

Make Your House a Home

K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

Wicked Cozy Authors

Mysteries with a New England Accent

Some Days You Do ...

Writers & Writing, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

Gaslight Crime

Author and reviewer of period crime fiction

Crimezine

#1 for Crime

Mellotone70Up

John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

...now being made into a radio drama

BOOK SHELF

"Tell me and I forget-Show me and I remember-Involve me and I learn"

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews

forensics4fiction

Forensics demystified for the fiction writer

milliewonka

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