Ice Cold Monday, Dec 27 2010 

Tess Gerritsen gained a whole new audience when her characters, pathologist Maura Isles, and NYPD Jane Rizzoli, were developed into a popular summer series on TNT titled “Rizzoli and Isles.” The series has been renewed and viewers can look forward to watching the duo solve crimes in Boston. These characters start their story at the opening of the novels, both unattached and quite younger.

Fans of Gerritson who have followed the series know that in the novels, both women have lived life and advanced in many ways. SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t read the books and don’t want to know what will happen to these characters, stop reading NOW!

In the novels, Jane Rizzoli has married the sexy FBI agent we see from time to time on TV and has a young daughter; her parents have survived an ugly divorce. Maura Isles has gone on to find love with a priest, and readers have felt the heartache this has caused her and her lover.

Now comes Ice Cold, where a heartbroken Isles, after breaking off the destructive affair with her love, heads out west to Wyoming to a medical conference. Meeting an old friend from medical school, she does something highly unusual for the regulated doc. She impulsively goes off with him, his daughter, and two of his friends for a spur-of-the-moment ski trip. When their SUV stalls on a snowy mountain road and they’re stranded, it proves to have disastrous results.

Seeking refuge and warmth from the blizzard, the group hikes down the mountain and arrives at a remote village called Kingdom Come, where twelve identical houses stand eerily abandoned. With cars still in garages, and evidence of meals still out on the tables, it is obvious something has happened to make the residents disappear.  When days later, Jane Rizzoli receives the grim news that her best friend’s body has been found charred beyond recognition in a mountain ravine, she is determined to find out what happened to her friend. After a memorial service in Boston, she flies out to Wyoming.

The beginning of this book centered around Isles so completely that I thought Rizzoli was going to be left out all together, but Gerritsen neatly incorporates her into the second half of the novel. The enemy they are fighting proves to be merciless and powerful, a combination that has Rizzoli using all of her many resources. A subplot involving someone from Isles’ past and a young teen from this novel satisfyingly round out the action. Gerritsen has the talent to create a readable crime book while letting readers into the emotional life of her recurring characters.

 

Burning Wire Monday, Dec 20 2010 

With the chilly weather we’ve been having, it seems the perfect time to talk about Jeffrey Deaver’s Burning Wire.

Once again, quadriplegic Lincoln Rhyme has his love, NYPD Det. Amelia Sachs, as his legs, eyes, and ears on a crime scene. The weapon of choice this time is electricity, an invisible but deathly utility most of us take for granted. Without it, modern society would grind to a halt. New Yorkers face this threat when their power grid is attacked. The killer uses huge arc flashes combined with high voltage to create a heat so searing it melts steel and sets his human victims on fire.

Assisted by Officer Ron Pulaski, and FBI agent Fred Dellray undercover on the street, Rhyme moves quickly to halt these terrifying attacks as they escalate. Suddenly terrifying demand letters begin to appear, and Rhyme’s team works frantically to find the perpetrators, fighting time and a lack of forensic evidence.

At the same time, Rhyme is trying to unearth his nemesis, a hired killer called the Watchmaker, one of the few criminals to have escaped Rhyme’s capture. Leads point to Mexico, and Rhyme struggles to conduct both investigations, fighting time and his own limitations.

Once gain, Deaver manages to succinctly convey the palpably frustrating situation of Lincoln Rhyme, a man whose intellect fights constantly with the needs of his body.  His capable assistant Thom is back, keeping Rhyme functioning despite the toil of stress on his body, and giving the reader a disturbing but fascinating look into what it takes to keep a quadriplegic alive on a daily basis. The white boards, which catalog the evidence for the reader and Rhyme to see at a glance, are back, too.  This is Deaver at the top of his form, with plot twists and rapid pacing that will keep you reading long after you should have turned out the light.

The Coroner Tuesday, Dec 14 2010 

M. R. Hall  has given readers is a most unusual protagonist in Jenny Cooper: a lawyer  just named Coroner of Severn Vale District, Jenny is hoping to find quiet and peace as she recovers from a traumatic divorce.  While she worries about her only child, a teenaged son who is currently living mostly with his father, she copes with debilitating anxiety attacks.

Jenny has moved just over the border to a small village in Wales, into an old house whose grounds need work but which brings her solace. But hoping to find the respite she needs doesn’t seem to be on Jenny’s horizon as she hits the ground running, taking over the office from a deceased coroner whose death has left his office jumbled. Neglected files she unearths reveal dark secrets that lead to a trail of buried evidence. Before she realizes it, Jenny is asking too many questions and finds herself involved in the strange behavior of her predecessor and his final cases.

Several young people have died within weeks of each other, and a facility for troubled teens is a link that surfaces as Jenny investigates. While working to gain the confidence of her new assistant and learning about her new neighbor, Jenny battles local officials and upholds the law to unearth the truth. She finds herself in a kind of jeopardy she’s never imagined a coroner having to face.

This is a promising new series with its a different and interesting angle into the responsibilities and laws surrounding a coroner. Hall’s sequel, The Disappeared, is on my Christmas list.

Faithful Place Wednesday, Dec 8 2010 

Tana French is a waif of an Irish actress. When she turned her hand to writing, her first two novels featured a  detective duo of the Dublin Murder Squad, and were both lauded as standouts for their unusual plot and interesting characters. In the Woods won the Barry, Edgar, Macavity and Anthony awards. French’s sequel The Likeness was equally well-received.

This time French has produced a glorious novel about a different member of the squad, featuring Dublin detective Frank Mackey and his host of dysfunctional relatives living on Faithful Place. They’re so dysfunctional, in fact, that Frank has severed relations with most of them at age nineteen, after the girl he was to elope with, Rosie, gets cold feet and never turns up. Becoming a successful detective, having a daughter he adores and an ex-wife he’s unsure about, take up most of his off time–until the day, twenty-two years later, when Rosie’s suitcase turns up behind a fireplace in a derelict house on Faithful Place, sending Frank back to his old neighborhood whether he likes it or not. Now everything Frank believed had happened has to be questioned, with disastrous consequences to those he hates and those he loves.

Faithful Place is a spell-binding thriller, with sharp dialogue and all-too-real characters. Written in first person from Frank’s point of view, we see his clear and unsympathetic views of life, sometimes with biting humor, often bathed in irony. One aspect I particularly want to note is French’s ability to create a Dublin brogue without resorting to a read-stopping stream of dialect. Instead she brilliantly uses key words here and there, as well sentence syntax, to convey the accent the reader hears distinctly. Dublin is a place French knows well, and the pockets of it she shows us are alive and throbbing.

This is a book that will capture you toward its conclusion, even as it envelops you with the many distinctive ways we show feel and show love.

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dru's book musings

Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp a perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

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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