i’d know you anywhere Monday, Jan 31 2011 

Laura Lippman remains one of my favorite American authors, and i’d know you anywhere (sic) confirms why I feel this way.

The author of the Tess Monaghan series, Lippman’s stand-alones are linked only by the depths she plumbs of the emotional  lives of her characters. This time Lippman serves up the story of Eliza Benedict, absorbed in her peaceful, suburban life, mother of two, with a successful husband whose job has brought them home to the US after five years of living in England.  But Eliza was once Elizabeth, kidnapped by Walter Bowman and held hostage  when she was fifteen for almost six weeks. Eliza know for certain that Walter had killed at least one other girl but always suspected there were other victims.

Her quiet life is interrupted when Walter’s death row sentence nears and he contacts her. Desperate to shelter her children from her past trauma until she chooses to tell them about it, she knows Walter well enough to know that ignoring him means he will ruin her peaceful existence and taint her family. He claims he just wants to see her before he’s put to death. Eliza has always wondered why Walter let her live, and now he adds to the enticement of that knowledge, dangling the promise of telling her about the other victims in exchange for her visit, bringing closure to the families who wonder where their daughters are.

Lippman manages to explore all sides of the death penalty through various characters, even as she captures the reader in a story of psychological manipulation that will keep you turning pages to the bitter end.

Don’t miss this story from an author writing at the height of her talent.

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A Crown for The King’s Speech Tuesday, Jan 25 2011 

Can Auntie M just intrude into your day a bit to congratulate THE KING’S SPEECH for getting TWELVE Oscar nods today?!?!

Anyone who knows Auntie M well, knows that she is a total Colin Firth slut fan. And this movie was one of the best, if not THE best, that I’ve seen all year.

 

 

 

 

 

Geoffrey Rush was perfect as the speech therapist Logue, and even Helena Bonham Carter toned herself down to play the Queen Mother, growing more around the middle as the years advanced.

There is humor here, too, and Firth noted in an interview that balancing the bits of humor with the drama of the new King’s stammer were the most difficult balance to make. He credits his sister, a speech therapist, with some of the exercises shown to open him up.

Auntie M has adored CF in all of his guises, whether he’s played Mr. Darcy, Nanny McPhee’s harried widower, or singing  in Mamma Mia! And at the Golden Globes, where he’s already won for Best Actor in a Drama, he looked so in love with his gorgeous wife. No, I’m not jealous at all–well, maybe just a teensy bit.

Fingers crossed that the American’s voting at Oscar time see his tremendous talent, not-to-mention his downright sex appeal, and award him the Best Actor Oscar he deserves.

The Liar’s Lullaby Monday, Jan 24 2011 

Author Meg Gardiner is the creator of the Edgar Award-winning Evan Delaney series, but she’s scored a big hit with a fascinating protagonist in her series featuring forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett.

Beckett consults for the San Francisco PD, performing psychological autopsies for cases where the authorities can’t establish whether a death was natural, accidental, suicide, or homicide. She analyzes the victims’ lives to discover why they died. These equivocal deaths challenge Becket professionally. A widow with a new lover, Beckett works with  staid SFPD lieutenant Amy Tang, has an unconventional sister and an eccentric neighbor who keeps a monkey as a pet. It all adds up to an interesting cadre’ of recurring characters in these books.

In The Liar’s Lullaby, has-been country-singer Tasia McFarland has seen her rocky life and erratic behavior chronicled in every tabloid. Her past includes a failed early marriage to an ambitious army officer who currently holds one of the nation’s highest offices–she’s the ex-wife of the current president of the United States.

After writing a politically-charged song, her star starts to rise yet again, and she mounts a spectacle-driven comeback tour. Suffice it to say all hell breaks loose when she’s lowered into the stadium on a zip line, helicopters flying overhead, firing her prop gun at the fireworks-filled stage, and is killed by a bullet to the neck before a shocked crowd of forty thousand–a crowd containing Beckett and her sister Tina.

Once involved in the case, Beckett finds the more questions as she pours over Tasia’s past, searching for answers.  A quick read with a fast pace and a hint of romance on the side.

Jack in the Box Monday, Jan 17 2011 

Graham Ison joined the Met Police with a stint in Scotland Yard’s Special Branch. He brings that expertise to his Hardcastle series and to the Brock and Poole series, of which Jack in the Box is one.

Fans of Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe series will enjoy Ison’s Brock and Poole. With that same kind of breezy humor and unselfconscious, Ison uses DCI Harry Brock’s voice to bring the drama to life. Brock is called to Ham Common one early Sunday morning to a murder scene. Far from being an ordinary murder scene, the victim is found stabbed to death, and locked inside wooden box, which had been set alight on the Common. Wit this unusual premise, it is a great delight to watch Ison unfold the complicated story as Brock, assisted by DS Dave Poole, tries to unravel the murder.

The two journey through London’s deep underworld, through gangs, porn actresses and East End villains, exploring the criminals who populate this world.

Ison has created a very real and amusing character in Brock, who is currently enjoying a relationship with actress Gail Sutton in this story. By using first person, the reader is privy to Brock’s amusing and often deprecating personal thoughts, even as his DCI presents a most professional face to the outside world.

A quick and amusing read for fans of British crime.

In the Dark Monday, Jan 10 2011 

Mark Billingham’s hard-boiled Tom Thorne novels are a favorite of mine. So it took me a while to get to this older stand-alone of his, and I was not disappointed. His talent for mixing a blend of humanity and dimension to his books is intact in In the Dark.

The book opens on a rainy London night, when a gun is fired into a car, which swerves onto the pavement and ploughs into a bus stop. At first deemed a gang initiation gone wrong, the reality as it unfolds in actually far more sinister and one the reader doesn’t expect at first.

Three lives will be impacted: the young man who pulled the trigger; an aging gangster plotting for revenge; and a pregnant woman two weeks away from giving birth, who finds herself enmeshed in lives she wants nothing to do with–and which will impact her future and that of her unborn child.

How their lives become interwoven, the secrets that are uncovered, and the bodies mount up. This writer will fully engage you in everyone’s stories. His plotting is worth the read alone. Check him out.

Spider Bones Monday, Jan 3 2011 

Most readers know by now that Kathy Reichs’ series featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan is the basis for the FOX TV show “Bones.” On that show, Tempe is single and has a cast assembled around the fictional Jeffersonian Institute where they all work and solve crimes.

In the novel series, Tempe Brennan is a sober, divorced mother of a college-aged daughter, with a patchy love life, who divides her work time between her office at the NC Medical Examiner and that of her counterpart in Montreal, Canada. This work-situation reflected Reichs’ own work situation before the novels took off.

Spider Bones returns Tempe to Montreal for the opener, where a dead body found in a pond under surreal circumstances has fingerprints that match those of a Viet Nam vet buried in Georgia. How can that be possible? Unraveling this mystery sends her to Hawaii for this decades-old mystery, and she brings along her daughter, Katie, grieving over the death of a close friend in Afghanistan. Brennan’s former Canadian lover, Ryan, and his drug-addict daughter Lilly somehow manage to become a part of this team, to the detriment of the novel. The acronyms of the various agencies Brennan must work cloud the story, true as they might be. At times this reader felt the weight of Reich’s exhaustive knowledge over powered her story, and some of the plot points felt off. Add in a shark attack with two victims, and the pacing became plodding.

This was not Reich’s best novel, uneven and off in places, but her large body of work is usually a rewarding read. This one you could miss without a dent in the series.

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Liz Loves Books

The Wonderful World of Reading

The Life of Guppy

the care and feeding of our little fish

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Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

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

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Smile! Don't look back in anger.

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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

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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

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