Minnesota Seniors Online

Welcome to Dick's Book Picks Archive!

In case you missed all of Dick's past Book Reviews, you can find them here.
Click on the month you wish to review.

NYPD RED 2 by James Patterson in collaboration with Marshall Karp
Windigio Island by William Kent Kruger
Robert B. Parkers Lullaby by Ace Atkins
Robert B. Parkers Wonderland by Ace Atkins
The Forgotten by David Baldacci
Robert B. Parker's Dammed if you do by Michael Brandman
Robert B. Parker's Fool Me Twice by Michael Brandman
Deadline by John Sandford
Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy
Storm Prey by John Sanford
The Keeper by John Lescroart
Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke
Field of Prey by John Sandford
Body Movers by Stephanie Bond
Tamarack County by William Ken Krueger
Just Breathe by Susan Wiggs
Light of the World by James Lee Burke

Miss Invisible by Laura Jensen Walker

Bitsy's Bait & BBQ by Pamela Morsi
The Innocent by David Baldacci
A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
Ties That Bind by Phillip Morgolin
The Black Box by Michael Connelly
Supreme Justice by Phillip Morgolin
Northwest Angle by William Kent Krueger
Wild Justice by Phillip Morgolin
Robert B. Parker's "Killing the Blues" by Michael Brandman
The Brothers by Allen D. Anderson
Stolen Prey by John Sanford
The Drop by Michael Connelly
The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly
Prime Witness by Steve Marini
The Litigators by John Grisham
Treasure Hunt by John Lescroart
 Louis L'Amour the author
 Step On A Crack by James Patterson
 Capitol Threat by William Bernhardt
 Cross by James Patterson
 Thunder Bay by William Kent Krueger
 Dakota Born by Debbie Macomber
 Phantom Prey by John Sandford
 Red Knife by William Kent Krueger
 The Shop On Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber
 Famous Crimes - Stories of Law & Order in Minnesota -
 by Sheri O'Meara & Merle Minda
 Heat Lightning by John Sandford
 Cross Country by James Patterson
 The Escape by Robert Tanenbaum
 Stranger In Paradise by Robert B. Parker
 Wicked Prey by John Sandford
 Monkeewrench by P.J. Tracy
 Rough Country by John Sandford
 Heaven's Keep by William Kent Krueger
 Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell
 A Thousand Bones by P.J. Parrish
 The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
 Deadly Night by Heather Graham
 Alex Cross's Trial by James Patterson
 9 Dragons by Michael Connelly
 A Plague of Secrets by John Lescroart
 Reversal by Michael Connelly
Private by James Patterson
Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy
Buried Prey by John Sandford

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
NYPD RED 2 by James Patterson
in collaboration with Marshall Karp

“NYPD RED 2” by James Patterson, in collaboration with Marshall Karp, is a satisfying story of vengeance via vigilance.  The victims of the vigilantes have been found garbed in Tyvek coveralls (hazmat-like clothes), thus the tabloids have named him/her the “Hazmat Killer”.  Shortly after the victims are found a video is on the internet showing the victim confessing to some terrible crime of his/her own!  The fourth victim is wealthy, politically connected and famous.  And NYPD RED is just the outfit that handles cases involving such people.  Wealth & politics call for special handling by everyone.  Top detectives Zach Jordan and his partner Kylie MacDonald are called upon to close this case in a hurry, because elections are imminent and jobs are at risk. 

It all began years ago when the son of a mob boss was killed by high school victims of the son’s arrogance and evil.  So we can suspect the WHY of subsequent actions, but the WHO is still up in the air and answering that is the fun in this story. 

Zach & Kylie have a history & Kylie’s husband is an addict and Zach still has feeling for her, but Cheryl loves Zach and Zach is concerned that Matt is getting too close to Cheryl… Oh well, just ignore all this as it has little to do with the big question… WHO?

Despite the political & personal pressure, Zach & Kylie keep eliminating the chaff and finally get to the “Uhha” moment when things come together & they realize who they have been seeking.  By then however, because of a son’s carelessness, and a mother’s thoughtfulness, the vigilantes find themselves as the victims of vigilante justice!

Oh, go ahead and read it, there is a lot more to it and you’ll enjoy it!

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Windigio Island by William Kent Kruger

“Windigo Island” is another area winner by William Kent Kruger.  It’s no walk in the park on a summer day kind of book, but rather a hard rainy, stormy weather sort of story, that gets down and dirty on several levels.  It takes all hands on deck for Cork O’Connor.  His friend and mentor, the 100 year old healer, Henry Meloux is on hand with his advice, as is Cork’s obstinate daughter Jenny.  The story involves the lives of missing young girls, and Cork's efforts to not only find them but to find those responsible for their disappearance.  The tale starts out ugly and goes down hill from there. 

Some kids, doing what kids do, met on a small rock strewn island in lake Superior, for a bit of harmless vandalism.  What they found was the body of teen-ager Carrie Verga. Area residents were convinced that “Windingo” a killer beast of mythical legend had killed again.  Carrie was one of two young girls who went missing the year before.  The family of the other girl, Mariah Arseneaux has requested former sheriff and now private investigator O’Connor to find their missing daughter before it is to late for her too.

Cork soon finds that the sex trade, involving helpless young native American children has a tight hold on the lives of these kids.  Things get more and more dangerous as clues lead to those responsible for this horrendous activity.  A man named “Wolf”, and his brother who has taken the appropriate name “Windingo” take serious exception to Cork’s efforts and things get deadly for family and friends.  The final showdown takes a terrible toll on body and mind. But,…..well read it and enjoy!!

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Robert B. Parkers Lullaby by
Ace Atkins

"Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby", written by Ace Atkins is a well-done, fast paced story starring Spenser.  Hero, knight in shinning armor, Don Quixote… Spenser may be any, all, or none of these, depending who is asked.  He may not be liked by everyone, but he is respected by all.  So it is that a 14 year old, street smart, girl asks Spenser to investigate her mother’s murder.  Not wanting to be considered an easy mark, Spenser settles for 2 frosted donuts for his fee.  That includes the services of Spenser’s friend & often partner, Hawk.  And so the tale begins!

Mother may have been a drunken, drug addicted prostitute, but no matter, she was mom.  It soon became clear that getting the full story of mom’s background would entail going to Spenser’s sources; from pickpockets, to company presidents, to mob bosses and of course his friends in law enforcement.  Spencer’s case started to come together.  Oh, there were some trying times like when Hawk was shot-gunned in the chest and Spenser was also taken down.  And the toughest part of the job was keeping Mattie out of the way & safe.  With a sassy attitude, and a big mouth, Mattie was a hindrance, not a help.  But Spenser is Spenser and we’re glad of it, and the action, and wise cracks keep on coming. 

Good story, great characters and thumbs up to Atkins for a job well done.  Enjoy!

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Robert B. Parkers Wonderland by
Ace Atkins

"Robert. B. Parker’s Wonderland" is another Spenser novel written by Ace Atkins.  Really well drawn characters bring this tale to life.  And those characters are Parker’s characters.  Spenser is the Spenser we have known before.  Everything bespeaks Robert. B. Parker.  The feel is right, the tone is right, the attitude is there & I can say with certainty Spenser is there too!  And the story gives us the chance to see Spenser at his best: tough guy with an unstoppable sense of humor and quick witted, with street smarts & street friends. 

Henry Cimoli is one of those friends, and he needs Spenser’s help.  Three thugs have threatened him if he doesn’t stop causing trouble in the attempted purchase of Cimoli’s condo.  Spenser and his new protégé; “Z”, took care of the trio the next time they visited Henry.  And that was just the start of a lot of serious bodily contact.  There was very serious interest in Cimoli’s condo.  Rumor had it that the condo could be the key-stone in a plan to open a casino in the Boston area.  The interest was from local parties and from as far away as Las Vegas.  Politicians, a beautiful, forceful woman, our ambitions developer (who by the way loses his head over the whole thing) propel this tale.  If you can handle serious violence, with bodily injury and death, this story is for you.  Enjoy!!
 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
The Forgotten by David Baldacci

After a couple dozen bestsellers, and with over 100 million copies in print now, would you expect anything other than another winner? Well, “The forgotten” , by David Baldacci is just such a book.  Fast paced &action filled, the story pulses with excitement that carries thru to the last sentence.  Our Protagonist here is John Puller Jr. army specialist, and the go to man when the army needs “special” assistance with National Security.  This time Puller is working on a case that is very personal to him. 

It began with a letter from Puller’s aunt , sent to his father,  three star general John Puller Sr.  The letter laid out a suspicious series of events, about which his aunt was very concerned.  The General “ordered” Puller to do what he did best…investigate! What he found was that his aunt had died by “accident” According to the local police. With this, the investigation went in to high gear, because puller was convinced that her death was not accidental.  What Puller finds is a massive conspiracy, run by those considered beyond the law.  It involves smuggling at its ugliest.  Who is involved?  Who can be trusted?  Friends appear and disappear.  Those most trusted may not be.  Those whose assistance is taken for granted???  Hang in there, cause the story has many ups and downs, but keeps one in a heightened state of attention for the next twist.

The characters in this one are well developed and indeed, bring their own twist to a really exceptional story!  Read it and enjoy!!

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Robert B. Parker's Dammed if you do by Michael Brandman

Robert. B. Parker’s "Dammed if you do” written by Michael Brandman is another Jesse Stone facsimile that manages to carry the storyline quite well.  It does have the feel of one of the original Jess Stone stories.  For those of you who were not aware, Michael Brandman has written 2 previous books in the name of Robert B. Parker (deceased) – “Robert. B. Parker’s Fool me Twice” and “Robert. B. Parker’s Killing the Blues”.   Both of them were well written New York Times best sellers.  Still the smart talking, fearless, honest law man, Paradise Police Chief, Jesse Stone lives on!

In this one, a young woman is found dead in a rundown beachfront motel and identity is unknown.  Hard headed, but soft hearted, Jesse wanted , no... needed, to know who she was and why she was murdered.  This one wouldn’t end up as just another Jane Doe.  Little did Jesse know that the trail would lead to more than just the identity of the young woman.  Rather, he found himself in the middle of a turf battle for control of prostitution in Paradise. 

With information supplied by Gino Fish, known criminal, and “acquaintance” of Jesse’s he pushes for answers from the combatants themselves.  Thomas Walker is from the old school & treat’em then beat’em, while Fat Boy Nelly professes a much more civil & understanding approach to his occupation.  But, you can believe that neither of them is averse to killing if need be.  And, “need be” time is now. 

In the meantime, another story wends itself throughout the basic tale.  A friend of Jesse’s has been lodged in a retirement home.  Jesse finds that everything is not ok there, and another investigation gets underway.  Interesting characters make for an interesting tale.  Enjoy!

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Robert B. Parker's Fool Me Twice by Michael Brandman

“Robert B. Parker’s Fool Me Twice” is the second Jesse Stone novel written by Michael Brandman.  And, it is a very well done homage to Parker’s character complete with a tip of the hat to Mildred Memory.  For more information and comments on the work of Michael Brandman, please read my review of “Robert B. Parkers Killing the Blues”.  This time around Stone has to deal with the threat on the life of a beautiful movie star.  But, that is not the only problem he has, as this is a triple header, a trio of crime, a veritable trifecta of criminal activity. 

First, I’ll mention the case of the terribly trying teenage terror who tries Jesse’s patience when he attempts to help her, after she causes a fearful collision thru careless driving while texting.  She is to say the least, a difficult person to help. 

Second, we have the case of the too high water bills.  Oh, don’t poo poo it, you may not think it is anything to write about, let alone read about, but criminal activity arises in strange ways & places. 

And finally, the really serious stuff.  A Hollywood movie company has invaded Paradise Mass. and with it comes the above mentioned threat on the life of star Marisol Hinton.  An estranged husband's jealousy has Jesse, and the rest of Paradise’s police forces working overtime protecting her.  Is she worth it?

Good stuff and a fun read!  Enjoy!!!

 

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Deadline by John Sandford

"Deadline" by John Sandford is another plot winner involving Lucas Davenport and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.  This one is all Virgil Flowers (known to many as “that F---ing Flowers”) hot shot, go-to man for the BCA problem cases.  And this go-around calls for all his skills, as this is a two-fer.  One case has to do with stolen dogs, and the other with murder, murder, murder!

Responding to a call from a friend, Virgil is in a small town in Minnesota searching for leads to a dog-napping case.  Dogs have apparently been taken from their owners to be sold to labs for experimental use.  Sounds kinda low grade work for Virgil, but things do get serious.  And, in the meantime, a local school board has taken a vote, whether or not to kill a local newspaper reporter.  Per the board chairman “it’s unanimous, or its prison.”  With a unanimous vote, the murders begin – one follows another.  And by then Virgil is fully involved.  Oh, he hasn’t given up on the dog case, and with assistance from a young boy, who knows what’s what, he makes headway in both cases. 

Fun story, great plot, interesting characters, what more can you ask for – Read it & Enjoy!

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy’s book “Chestnut Street” is an interesting collection of short (very short) biographical tales.  Nay, vignettes, that stand alone with little connection save that all the subjects live on Chestnut Street in Dublin, Ireland.  I wrote a review of her book “A Week in Winter” sometime back and it contained the stories of a very disparate group of strangers coming together at a vacation Inn.  They were similar tales told, but in a more connective manner.  Maeve first imagined Chestnut Street, and then developed one character at a time and put the stories away to be used “in the future”.  Maeve died in 2012, and the future is now, and “Chestnut Street” is it. 

The characters of this novel are so well created that each story can stand by itself.  Take shy, “lumpish” Dolly, who got along with no one, while her mother got along with everyone, including Dolly’s classmates.  Yes, there was a bit of jealousy, but in the end, Dolly learned that in life there was more than one way to go and it need not be the right way.  Or, take Jane & Anita, and Molly, who as strangers took “a leap of faith” and bought the house on Chestnut Street as a way to get away from families who made life uncomfortable.  Living together was now a happy way to live.  Oh don’t think everything that goes on on Chestnut Street is going to end up hunky dory – life isn’t like that.  But, what the heck, read it anyway & Enjoy. 

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Storm Prey by John Sanford

“Storm Prey” by John Sanford is another really excellent story starring his main man Lucas Davenport, investigator for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.  This time out Lucas is even more personally involved in the case than usual, since his wife, Weather, is the target of some truly dangerous murderers.  It’ll take all of Lucas’ crew to keep Weather safe and catch the men they’re after.  Shrake is there as is Jenkins & Marcy.  And of course that “---ing Virgil” is on hand too.  How could they not succeed?  But, things are made more difficult because Weather is obligated to a high profile surgical procedure to separate a pair of conjoined babies.  Protection is difficult.

Everything began with a botched robbery of the hospital pharmacy, where the operation is taking place over a period of several days.  Someone was killed and Weather saw the robbers on their way out.  Could she identify them?  They couldn’t chance it.  Things don’t go well on many levels, both for the villains and for the good guys.  It is one of those convoluted stories that make it difficult to see clearly where it is going next.  But, of course, it is done in Sanford’s inimitable fashion, with Elan, and aplomb (Wow!).  Murder begets murder, and we know there is a doctor involved (say it isn’t so).  Don’t worry, everything comes together for a very exciting ending.  Enjoy!

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
The Keeper by John Lescroart

“The Keeper” by John Lescroart is a good platform for displaying the talents and instincts of premier defense lawyer Dismas Hardy.  And in this case, we are doubly blessed to have the tough, hardworking, Abe Glitsky working for the defense.  This is a rather difficult position for the retired police homicide investigator, but as a long-time friend of Dismas, Abe has come out of retirement to assist.  And the case is a challenge for everyone; a jail guard accused of murdering his wife.

Suspiciously, Hal Chase, hired Dismas when his wife was just missing for a couple days.  But, maybe it was a good idea, since soon after she was found murdered, and Hal was arrested on suspicion.  Abe Glitsky offers his services to Dismas, and so begins a wild ride on the way to solution of a very complicated case.  Part of the problem is that suspicious deaths have occurred at the jail where Hal has been a guard for several years.  Oh, the deaths were called suicides, accidents or natural causes, but….??

Abe makes a few fumbles and a couple downright missteps, but a couple good, instinctual actions on Abe’s part brings about truly surprising results.  You know me & surprises – Love ‘em!

Lescroart does a good job of building an interesting story step by step and at the same time making us know the people involved.  This is a good example.  Enjoy!

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke

"Wayfaring Stranger" by James Lee Burke is not what I had expected.  I have previously read all of Burke's wonderful novels starring detective Dave Robicheaux, and this is not them! I am a feel good reader, and even a tragic, or harsh story can offer up a feeling of satisfaction and completeness without being depressive.  This story is depressive.  Despite Burke's wonderful prose and philosophical asides, the over-all pall of the story is overwhelming. 

In 1934 at age 16 Weldon Holland fired a gunshot into the rear of a stolen 1932 Chevy Confederate automobile carrying the infamous bank robbers Bonnie & Clyde.  Whether in reality or in imagination this incident returns, at significant moments throughout the tale.  And years later in an almost fantastic bit of story telling, the car comes back once again in a starring role in the story finale. 

In 1944, at the age of 26, Weldon and his Sgt. Hershel Pine, fight their way from behind enemy lines at the Battle of the Bulge, and while doing this, Weldon rescues his future wife Rosita from a destroyed extermination camp inside Germany. 

With war over, Weldon and Hershel start a business servicing oil pipelines.  Together with Hershel's new wife Linda Gail, and Rosita, this tale plods on.  Linda Gail manages to fuel the fire of malicious persecution that smothers their lives: "Here's to you Linda Gail.  You've wrecked three cars, struck a behemoth of a Houston policeman in the face with your bare hand, and are on the edge of entering a adulterous affair with a man married to probably one of the most vicious women in Texas, and its not even noon."  And so it goes, deceit follows deceit with every action aimed at destroying them and their company. 

The Epilogue to this story does give one modicum of respite from the interminable downward spiral of the tale - but, its then too late to allow me to call this a feel-good story.  However, there are undoubtedly people out there who will find this story just fine.  To them I say Enjoy!!

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Field of Prey by John Sandford

John Sandford has another winner in his latest book “Field of Prey”.  He lays out the story plot step by step and keeps us aware of what it takes to bring together all the parts into a final resolution.  Oh there’s a lot of “by guess and by gosh” mixed with pure luck, but overall there is mostly hard work to bring this case to an end.  Be advised that the story is a hideous one involving torture and murder – and murder – and murder!!  And Norman Bates (“Psycho”) has nothing on the killer (killers?) in this story.  Lucas Davenport, once again, heads up the investigation.

A young couple was searching for a spot in the woods where they could…well, socialize.  However, they were disturbed by a terrible stench.  Searching it out, they found a body in a partially covered cistern.  One body turned in to fifteen by the time Davenport came on the scene.  With identification came the realization that the murders had occurred one a year for numerous years.  With the BCA, local police sheriff’s department and Feds involved, it would seem things should wrap up quickly….not so!  One of Lucas’ people is killed, one of the local investigators is killed and one the sheriff’s people is kidnapped and tortured.  Finally, there is a break, but also an unbelievable surprise.  Who’d have thought that….well, read it, you will find it to be one of Sandford’s best ever stories.  Enjoy!!

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Body Movers by Stephanie Bond

“Body Movers” by Stephanie Bond is a look at the life of Carlotta Wren, sales woman for Neiman Marcus.  Ten years ago she was part of a well-to-do family, engaged to a wealthy young up and comer, and generally part of the “in crowd”.  And then her father was indicted for investment fraud.  And to make things worse, mom & dad took off for parts unknown.  Left with a nine year old brother, Wesley, and with no extended family to help, seventeen year old Carlotta had her work cut out for her.  And, oh, her fiancé dropped her, and so called friends became scarce.  Enough yet?!!

Angela Ashford is now married to Peter Ashford, Carlotta’s former fiancé, and believe it when I say she doesn’t like Carlotta!  When Angela is found murdered in her swimming pool, suspicion falls on Carlotta.  Wesley is no help – his gambling addiction has brought him to the attention of a cop who has long hoped to find Carlotta’s parents.  Despite finally getting a job, transporting bodies from accidents and nursing homes, any money Wesley earns goes right to some very ugly “creditors”.  Carlotta suspects Peter is guilty of murder when another body is found.  Oh, and wait until you find out who the killer is!  Believe me, this is one convoluted (don’t you love that word) story.  Don’t worry, it all comes together and I’m sure you will ENJOY!

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Tamarack County by William Ken Krueger

"Tamarack County" by William Ken Krueger is yet again a winner for one of my favorite mystery writers.  Suspense?  It's here.  Great Character?  You bet!  And plenty of twists and surprises.  We all know how I love surprises.  So, lets just put it out there ---Winner!!  Cork O'Connor is back in a case that challenges all his talents as a private investigator.  And this one fully envelopes Cork's family as well.  Would-be nun, daughter Anna, brings home an unexpected surprise, and son, Stephan, finds first love can be difficult.  Oh, Cork also finds love has its challenges. 

Just before Christmas Cork is asked to help in the search for the missing wife of a very unlikable retired judge.  The disappearance starts to look like part of an entirely different story, as clues point to a connection with a long-ago murder of a young woman.  A man connected to that case finds his dog slaughtered and decapitated.  Cork was also a part of that earlier case.  Coincidence?  It appears someone may be seeking vengeance - a judge, a witness, the deputy-in-charge???  But the attacks are not directly at them, but those closest to them.  The urgency of solving this case and stopping the assailant is magnified when Stephan is almost killed. 

This is the thirteenth Cork O'Connor novel, and quality writing shows throughout.  It is a pleasure to read and I know you will...Enjoy!!

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Just Breathe by Susan Wiggs

"Just Breathe" by Susan Wiggs follows the life and times of Sarah Moon, cartoonist of the syndicated strip "Just Breath", starring Sarah's alter ego, Shirl.  As with her own life, Shirl's is filled with hope, love, fertility treatments, infidelity and above all, change.  Yes, with the hope of having a child, Sarah & Shirl were having fertility treatments when an early arrival, at home, at an inopportune time, found Sarah's husband being infidelitous (is there such a word?)  Anyway, that's when the change part starts to happen.  What would Shirl do?

Well, Sarah knew what to do!  She closed her separate bank account, sold her husbands GTO automobile, got a new hairdo, and headed to her family in California, in her new Cooper S. Mini convertible. 

Home for Sarah was not a happy carefree place growing up.  Loss of her mother, and a distant father, made for a quiet, moody girl whose only outlet for her feelings were comics she drew lampooning others she felt needed a realty check.  One of her favorite targets was Will Bommer [heart throb extraordinaire].  He also has had drastic changes in his life.  Together something might well....well, you know.  Its at this point Sarah discovers she is pregnant...with her ex's twins!!  What would Shirl do?

I could tell you more - about Will's adopted daughter, about Sarah's husband & his mother, about the arsonist who is plaguing the town, about ....well, read it yourself, you will enjoy it. 

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Light of the World by James Lee Burke

With 32 previous novels under his belt, James Lee Burke has brought us another gripping story in “Light of the World”.  I have used the terms murder & mayhem in the past, but in this savage tale, the term must be MURDER & MAYHEM.  This is not just the usual well-written detective story we expect from Burke, but it is also a well-written Horror story.  From the hideous stench surrounding a mountain cave, on the wall of which is written a devilish statement, to the tracks of an upright beast found beneath a bedroom window, the two genres come together for a fascinating joy ride of action & terror. 

Dave Robicheaux, the Louisiana Sherriff’s Detective we’ve met in several earlier stories by Burke, has gone to Montana for vacation with family & friends.  Soon after arriving, daughter Alafair is nearly killed while hiking.  Then the daughter of Dave’s partner is savagely assaulted.  It is about then that Alafair thinks she has seen a horror from the past, in the person of Asa Surrette, convicted sadist and serial killer.  But how can that be so, since this killer was reportedly killed in a fiery car crash just recently?

The adopted daughter of a millionaire oil man is killed, and yet another avenue of murder and mayhem opens up.  Or, is it the same avenue with different characters??  The oil man’s son, a nutcase cowboy, and his frightening girl friend, as well as dishonest cops complete the cast of characters that make this story work.  Not for the feint of heart-but heck, suck it up and …Enjoy!

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Miss Invisible by Laura Jensen Walker

“Miss Invisible” by Laura Jensen Walker is a real hoot.  Funny, yet sad to a degree, the story follows the struggle to find one’s place in a world that does not necessarily accept everyone equally.  “One size does not fit all” says Frederika “Freddie” Heinz.  A big woman (not “plus-sized” please), Freddie’s life is one long effort to feel she is not invisible; ignored by waiters, sales clerks & John Doe on the street.  And, disapproving stares when she’s seen trying to enjoy a dessert are certainly no better than being totally ignored.  Something must change!

Instead of imagining wonderful changes and great scenarios, (oh, believe me, Walter Mitty had nothing on Freddie), she starts a blog that encourages change in all women living large.  Hyped by this positive activity, she decides to go all the way…I am woman!!!  And, the fun & funny begins. 

Led into the new life of a free woman (free from the weight of constant concern with appearance) by Deborah, a plus, plus woman friend, new clothes, hair-do and attitude make a good start to the desired change.  Fired from her job as a head baker, she doesn’t miss a step and joins Deborah in her catering business .  She meets a man…then another man, and then…well, give it a read, its worth the time.  Enjoy. 

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Bitsy's Bait & BBQ by Pamela Morsi

“Bitsy’s Bait & BBQ” by Pamela Morsi is a fun story about hope and determination; determine a course and hope for the best.  This could very well be the motto for Emma Collins and her sister Katy Dodson, as Emma once again backs Katy’s mask action, in buying a B & B in a small out of the way village in the Ozark Mountains.  Sight unseen, purchased off the internet, the B & B is of course not what Katy had thought it was.  B & B to most people means Bed & Breakfast.  In this small town it means “Bait & BBQ”.  The run-down establishment had once been the center of activity during, and after, vacation season (read: Fishing Season), and townsfolk have hope it will be again. 

Knowing nothing about fishing, disliking grubs & worms, and unable to make decent BBQ, the women and Katy’s 5 year old son Josh begin a life completely foreign to them.  But, everyone in town wants to help them make a success of the venture.  This includes the mailman, who is also the pastor and the bait salesman, who is also the local lawyer (somewhat retired).  Things move along and even the BBQ improves, well a bit anyway.  And then Katy’s former mother-in-law (who felt Katy was unworthy of her son Sean) decides she is the best one to have custody of Josh.  And so begins phase two of the lives & loves of Emma and Katy in Warbler Lake.  Enjoy!!

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
The Innocent by David Baldacci

David Baldacci’s “The Innocent” is yet another winner for an author who has a long history of winners such as “Absolute Power”, “The Camel Club” and “Split Second”.  Non-stop, breathtaking action is a key component of Baldacci’s success.  And, it’s all here in a story of murder for hire.  Yes, our protagonist is a killer.  He’s no 007, but he is licensed to kill.  Will Robie is the best because he has never let sentiment interfere with his work.  Until his last job!  His last job was different and the difference started everything. 

Not completing the job left him out in the cold.  While fleeing the scene, after an attempt on his life, Robie meets a young girl running from a foster home following her parent’s murder.  And with this meeting (a coincidence??), a cat and mouse game begins.  At first it appears Robie is marked for death, but too many missed opportunities for his demise make them wonder just who is the target.

Despite his lone-wolf philosophy, Robie realizes he needs help.  He finds that help in the person of FBI agent Nicole Vance.  Was it a mistake?  Deceit follows deceit.  Who can be trusted?  One tantalizing clue after another ends with someone’s death.  And, also, someone doesn’t care about wholesale collateral damage. 

This is a seductive read loaded with suspense, intrigue and a full dose of mayhem & murder.  Baldacci at his best.  Enjoy!
 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

“A Week in Winter” is Maeve Binchy’s last and final novel.  Her death in the last year truly leaves a void in the lives of all who love really good stories; stories that are what I call feel-good stories.  Ok, I like mystery and action, as well as horror stories and westerns, but give me an old-fashioned feel gooder, and I’m really a satisfied reader.  Maeve was the Queen of this genre.  There is romance and inspiration, as well as sadness and fulfillment.  We meet people we really would love to meet; people with all the trials and tribulations that make up human existence.  But, above all else, we finish her books feeling good!

“A Week in Winter” tells the story of Chicky, a young Irish woman, who left her home in Stonybridge, Ireland to be with her lover in New York.  Betrayal follows and after years of a solo existence, she returns home.  Working with Queenie, an elderly spinster, she turns Queenie’s run-down mansion into a seaside B&B.  The rest of this story is a compilation of biographies of the people who are the backbone of the “Week in Winter”; the week when all the characters come together for the opening of the newly renovated Inn.  People like Rigger, the bad boy who becomes indispensible to Chicky.  Like Orla, Chicky’s niece who has tired of London and came home to manage Chicky’s finances.  Then there’s “John” (not his real name) who came to the B&B by accident, but stayed on purpose.  And Anders who came on purpose, and stayed with purpose.  And, of course there is Miss Howe, probably the only person in the world who could find nothing to enjoy at Stoneybridge, and went home. 

These and the others who came that week to help open that wonderful, welcoming Inn brought, with their individuality, all that was necessary to make this a truly rewarding read.  Go ahead, read it & enjoy!!
 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Ties That Bind by Phillip Morgolin

“Ties That Bind” by Phillip Margolin is the follow-up novel to “Wild Justice”, his widely successful novel featuring Amanda Jaffe, attorney at law.  In that story she was up against a sociopathic doctor, Cardoni.  The experience left Amanda a psychologically damaged individual, afraid for her sanity and her life.  Now, she must pull herself together to take on her most difficult case yet, on that has been turned down by all the top lawyers in town. 

In December 1970 a bloody clash of disparate individuals gave rise to a secret alliance that was to influence even the highest courts in the land.  This alliance was also to influence the life of Amanda Jaffe, when she was appointed to defend the case of Jon Dupre, upscale escort service owner (read: Pimp).  Accused of murdering a US Senator, he claims to have proof of the existence of the secret alliance of now powerful men, whose entry fee is …murder!

Despite Amanda’s fears, and the threats to herself and her family, she determines to forge ahead with a defense that is hindered not only by the threats from outside, but also from the violent and uncooperative defendant.  And, we find that even Amanda can respond with violence.

A tricky ending to this story finishes it off very nicely thank you.  I know you will…Enjoy!
 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
The Black Box by Michael Connelly

“The Black Box” by Michael Connelly gets off slowly for the 1st third of the book and then gets up and running with a good story and a smashing ending.  We can say it’s another well written crime novel by a well recognized author.  Connelly’s Harry Bosch character is well drawn as a tough, independent S.O.B. who fights for doing the right thing even if it goes against the grain of those who count, regarding his career.  Politics is not his forte.

In 1992 Los Angels exploded into a city-wide riot that stunned the world.  A young free-lance writer named Anneka Jaspersen flew to the city to cover the riot, and was found dead in a dark alley, by members of the National Guard.  Harry Bosch was the investigating officer for the LA police.  Because of the unreal violence of the riot the police could do no more than a cursory investigation before the basic facts were filed. 

Twenty years later, approaching the riot anniversary, Harry gets the job of following up with an investigation of the still open, unsolved case.  He believed every case had what he compared to an airlines “black box”; a piece of evidence etc. that brought a complete and final understanding of all factors that led to a solutions.  With that in mind, his search begins.  Harry goes his own way despite obstructions from superiors who are trying to foce him to early “Drop” retirement (see my earlier review of “The Drop”).  From LA to Kuwait, the evidence follows the activities and purpose behind Jespersen’s travel to LA.  What was she looking for??  Despite early missteps in direction, it becomes clear that her death was more than just another riot death. 

Good story.  It takes a while to get down to the nitty gritty , but it’s worth every written word.  This is Connelly’s 25th book.  As with many good authors, he is a former newspaper reporter.  Enjoy!!

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Supreme Justice by Phillip Morgolin

Supreme Justice by Phillip Margolin is a convoluted yet fascinating tale of murder and mayhem involving not only the Supreme Court of the United States but also nefarious elements of the CIA, as well as powerful, behind-the-scene influences.  And, Margolin does his usual impressive job of brining together all these disparate influences into a very satisfying, fast-paced novel.  This book is a follow up to his best selling novel “Executive Privilege”.

Investigator Dana Cutler, who was prominent in “Executive Privilege”, has been brought in to quietly investigate an attack on one of the Supreme Court Justices.  Apparently the attack has something to do with an appeal before the court, submitted on behalf of death row prisoner, Sarah Woodruff, convicted of killing her lover John Finley.  Finley was earlier the only survivor of a massacre aboard a ship which was loaded with illicit drugs.  After men identifying themselves to CIA agents took over from the local police, the ship disappeared.  Things get very dangerous for Dana as she is bringing the past to the present and tries to determine what Finley’s death has to do with the attack on the Justice. 

Good story, but stay alert, cause as I said it is rather convoluted.  Also watch for a surprise ending.  Love them, don’t you? (Or have I mentioned that before?)  Enjoy!

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Northwest Angle by William Kent Krueger

"Northwest Angle" by William Kent Krueger is a great example of the kind of exciting work done by this St. Paul author.  An extension of his NY Times best-selling series of Cork O'Connor tales, this one brings Cork and his family into harms way following one of the worst storms ever to strike Minnesota.  As usual, this story starts with an exciting premise and builds with carefully plotted action to a very exciting conclusion.  As usual, surprise is a big part of that conclusion. 

A houseboat vacation with his family goes awry when Cork and his daughter Jenny are marooned on a small island in Lake of the Woods.  Jenny discovers a young woman who has been tortured to death, and exposed by the storm, a weeks-old baby who had obviously been hidden.  Keeping the baby safe is more than just a matter of warmth and substance though, since others are intent on taking him from Jenny, who has pledged her life to protect the child. 

An unstable brother of the murdered woman is the first suspect in the case, but then we find a group of "End of the World" zealots living on the very edge of this water world who cannot be dismissed from the suspect pool.  Oh, it does get confusing, but that's the fun of this story.

Fun, fun, fun!  Read and enjoy 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
Wild Justice by Phillip Morgolin

“Wild Justice”, by Phillip Margolin is one of those books that gives the reader everything that he or she could ask for.  Mystery, mayhem and madness?  Absolutely, and a story full of terror, trials and terrific suspense.  Oh heck, let’s throw in revenge and retribution as well.  Interested?  Okay, let’s start by telling you about Amanda Jaffe, a newbie attorney working for her famous attorney father, Frank Jaffe.  And she is involved in a headline case that can test not only her mettle as a lawyer, but also her ethics and moral judgment as a human being.   

Vincent Cardoni, a surgeon with both professional and personal problems, has been arrested on suspicion of being a serial killer.  Several mutilated bodies have been found on a property owned by Cardoni.  He, of course, claims innocence and conspiracy on the part of his wife, or a known gangster who claims he’s owed money by Cardoni.  A trial begins, but due to the illegal action of the investigating police, all pertinent evidence is disqualified.  This sets Cardoni free but he is still faced with possible future prosecution, or ever worse, retribution by the gangster.  Well, things change for Cardoni when a scene of apparent murder turns up one of Cardoni’s hands, but no body. 

Four years pass, and new bodies are found, and the m.o. is similar to the original murder.  Copycat?  Or has Cardoni returned?  Perhaps the killer was someone else to begin with.  It is really a twisting tale that leads Amanda into personal danger. 

A surprising, but perhaps foreseen ending, rounds out a very good read.  Enjoy!

 

Dick's Featured Review:
Robert B. Parker's "Killing the Blues"
by Michael Brandman

Robert B. Parker’s “Killing the Blues”, a Jesse Stone novel, was written by Michael Brandman.  Parker died in January 2012.  But, this situation is not too unusual, as evidenced by some of the novels with James Patterson’s name on them.  I believe a good job was done here.  I can accept this Jesse Stone as the man I’ve enjoyed in previous Stone novels.  He’s still a stoic, tough, yet caring police chief.  He is still a recovering alcoholic, but he’s gotten over his ex-wife Jenn(?), so maybe there is hope for him.  He no longer has his Irish setter dog, but has replaced it with a cat named Mildred Memory.  Yes, you read right.  But, anyway, what’s the story line? 

Its tourist season in Paradise and of course the town counsel is after Jesse to make sure everything goes smoothly.  And, of course, everything goes in the other direction.  Violence follows a series of car thefts and the violence ends in murder.  Jesse finds that the mob has moved in – and despite his belief in the law – well sometimes, Jesse goes a bit beyond the law.  Enough said!  While this is going on, violence comes from another direction.  At first it’s dog killings, then it hits Jesse close to home when one of his people is killed.  At this point it starts to look like Jesse is the target.  Is that enough?  Well let’s add a 14 year old girl who holds her school principal as hostage threatening to kill her. 

I enjoyed the story, and I hope we will see more Jesse Stone novels.  Michael Brandman collaborated with Robert B. Parker for years on movie projects, the Spencer TV movies and the Jesse Stone series of TV movies.  I believe this background gave Brandman what it took to produce a super story.  Enjoy!!

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: 
The Brothers by Allen D. Anderson

“The Brothers” by Allen D. Anderson is a fascinating, yet disturbing story of brotherly love and family failure.  Theodore Amonovich returns from World War II a broken man, unable to forget what he saw, and what he did.  His is now a life of terrible anger and violence; anger at himself, and violence towards his wife and son Peter.  Twin son Andrew is not a victim of the physical violence but a victim never the less, of the ever present alcoholic tirades.  This is not a feel-good story but rather a ready subject for the nature or nurture crowd. 

Tragic circumstances have left Peter and Andrew, in the fall of 1948, basically on their own, starting their high school sophomore year at Edison High in Minneapolis.  Peter quickly becomes a football star and Andrew his blocking back.  This is certainly a metaphor for their everyday relationship; Peter doing what he wants, and Andrew running interference.  Peter has no respect for authority and refuses to follow rules.  Finally their high school days end with a choice for Peter of Juvenile Detention or the Army.  Peter joins and of course so does Andrew.  Bad timing, as the “Police Action” in Korea is becoming all-out war.  Nothing really changes for Peter other than the venue.  He goes his way and the rest of the Army goes its way.  Ah, but a comeuppance must be coming… right?  Call out that Nature/Nurture crowd again for the ending of this rather depressing tale.  With just 2 pages left at the tale-end however, we get a reprieve that is also a relief. 

I personally have a surprising interest in this story because in the fall of 1948 I was a sophomore at Edison High School in Minneapolis.  I don’t remember Peter and Andrew however.  Enjoy!

 

Dick's Featured Review:  Stolen Prey by John Sandford

Good, good, good; Good story line, good characters, good suspense!  What more can we look for?  But, of course, with an author like John Sandford, all this is to be expected.  In his book "Stolen Prey" we get it all and a lot more.  As with his other "Prey" books, the main character, Lucas Davenport is faced with "murder most foul".  But his is no Agatha Christie murder scenario, this is a story of horrific butchery and terrible torture.  Not for the weak of heart. 

We start out on a milder note when Lucas is assaulted at an ATM machine and ends up with a broken wrist.  This becomes a running side-story throughout the book.  But the real story starts with the discovery of an entire family, including the family dogs, who have all been tortured and savagely murdered.  The appearance of the scene brings to mind the work of the drug cartels in Mexico and South America.  And, indeed, we soon find a representative Federale and his assistant from Mexico, together with DEA agents competing for a piece of the action. 

We find that a small group of bank programmers have inadvertently been stealing from an account used to launder drug money.  The cartel wants their money back.  More murder and torture ensues when the small group of killers seeks out the thieves.  I've said before that I love surprises and the story has a beaut.  And, it's not at the end of the story, but right in the middle.  Oh Joy!!

The book is a great read, with a lot of action.  And, depending on your definition of justice, we can consider the ending to be pretty satisfying.  Enjoy!!

 

 

 

Dick's Featured Review:  The Drop by Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly's book "The Drop" is yet another opportunity for showing off the investigative talents of a favorite of mine, "Dirty Harry" Bosch.  We've met him in previous stories, and he is still the same strong-willed, intelligent law man he's always been.  Now, however, he's hoping to just hang in there and avoid an early "Drop" - the Deferred Retirement Option Plan.  With "Drop" just 3 years away, Harry wants to get as many cases resolved in that time as possible.  And in one day he gets two tough ones. 

The first case involves a 20 year old rape case that has DNA evidence that matches a twenty-nine year old convicted rapist.  Harry needs to determine whether the crime lab has erred, or how an eight year old boy was involved in the 1989 rape.  As this case unfolds it becomes apparent that the city has had a serial killer in its midst for over 20 years. 

Add to that puzzling case, a possible career-ending case with major political consequences, and maybe Harry will be out of a job well before the 3 year "Drop" period.  This second case involves a councilman's son who is found dead in circumstances that could mean suicide, accident, or even murder.  Harry and the councilman have a long and acrimonious history, yet the councilman demands that Harry alone should investigate his son's death. 

Despite political interference and betrayal by "friends", Harry investigates his way; full-speed ahead and damn the torpedoes.  I really enjoy the way Connelly lays out the plot and takes us step by step to the conclusion.  It is like a blueprint for crime solving.  This is another page-turner by a truly talented author.  Enjoy!!

 

 

Dick's Featured Review: The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly finds criminal defense attorney extraordinaire, Mickey Haller, doing foreclosure defense in a shrinking criminal defense market.  It maybe a come-down for him, but with little hope for doing what he does best, the work pays the bills.  But then one of his clients is accused of killing a banker she blames for foreclosing on her home.  Mickey is back in the criminal defense business!

This story could be taken right from current headlines.  Foreclosure of millions of homes has been in the media for a long time now.  Peoples' reaction to having their home taken from them has caused protests around the world.  Lisa Trammel is accused of going too far with her protest.  And there seems to be plenty of evidence against her.  Despite this, and Mickey's own suspicion of her guilt, the defense team digs in. 

Basing their defense on the idea of "SEDI" (someone else did it), Haller's people find the deceased had been involved in unlawful financial dealings involving millions of dollars.  Interference from outside sources, and a savage beating fail to deter Mickey & his team.  The courtroom battle that ensues is one filled with tit for tat.  Surprise turns and revelations during the trial are just a build-up for the surprise filled ending of this story. 

Fascinating story and a good read!  Enjoy!

 

Dick's Featured Review: Prime Witness by Steve Marini

In this novel "Prime Witness", Steve Martini takes us on a suspenseful trip in search of truth.  And, indeed, truth can be elusive.  With curves, lies and miscues, the story brings together a top notch detective story and whip-saw courtroom dramas.  The characters are well-defined and the protagonist lawyer, Paul Madriani, is shown in all of his own humanity; brilliant, but flawed, with all the problems and missteps that we all face in everyday life. 

Defense attorney Madriani has taken on the job of special prosecutor to find the so-called "Putah Creek Killer".  The killer has murdered two couples within a few days.  Shortly after Madriani starts investigating, another couple is found murdered with somewhat the same M.O.  To add to his troubles, he has 2 unhappy, unhelpful, judges giving him a tough time, as well as a deputy DA who resents Madriani's authority.  Enough??  Not quite, as he finds that the suspects defense attorney is a once-disbarred lawyer who is an avowed enemy.  And that suspect, a campus security guard, is brought to trial, for murdering the first 2 couples.  Madriani's strategy is to keep the later couple separate  as he is convinced that there is a second killer.  And so the struggle begins. 

Surprises, miscues and downright carelessness plague the prosecution as Madriani attempts to convict the murderer he has, while trying to identify yet another killer.  You know I love a surprise ending, and this one has a lulu.  Enjoy!! 

 

 Dick's Featured Review: The Litigators by John Grisham

"The Litigators" by John Grisham is definitely up to par with all of his other wonderful law novels.  Great characters, a super plot, and as always, a critical look at the legal system, make for a very interesting read.  Add to that, a very humorous look at the "human condition", and we have an even more enjoyable read. 

Dave Zinc has had it with same old, same old at his prestigious law firm.  Five years of drudgery & boredom cannot be compensated with money.  The last straw has been placed and he cracks.  After a long, alcohol filled night, Dave finds himself at the door of a small "boutique" law firm (the word actually meaning a two-bit, ambulance chasing outfit).  Oscar Finley and Wally Figg have scraped along on quickie divorces and DUI cases for over 20 years, with never enough coming their way to ever be able to say they were successful.  Even so, burned out Dave finds that a job with the pair is just what he wants, and so begins a very spirited and humorous association. 

The "Big One" is what Wally has always been on the look-out for and he feels that Mass Tort Litigation is the way to go.  And, such an opportunity comes their way when a large drug firm is being sued for causing deaths with one of their drugs.  They join the suit, and thus we have the start of the beginning, and the end.  Am I being a bit vague?  Well, what the heck, read it, you will enjoy!!  
 

 

Treasure Hunt by John Lescroart

"Treasure Hunt" by John Lescroart reintroduces us to characters we met in his book "The Hunt Club".  Mickey Dade and Wyatt Hunt are attempting to get their private investigation business back on the road after unfortunate circumstances brought the business to a halt.  Mickey gets things back on track by finding the body of charity big shot, Dominic Como.  With this, we are introduced to San Francisco society and the big money business of charity giving...and receiving!!

"The Hunt Club" is hired by Como's wife and business associates to find by whom & why the murder was committed.  Power and big money are the major parts of the charity business and protecting both is definitely part of the problem faced by the club in solving this case.  The suspects, all of whom have a vested interest in keeping the charities they represent from receiving bad publicity, had reason and opportunity to kill Como.  Then there is another murder, and someone close to the team goes missing.  Add to this mix, a beautiful suspect who has apparently stolen MIckey's heart, and we have the makings for a very interesting and convoluted story.

John Lescroat is a New York Times best selling author, having written 20 previous novels.  He is indeed a gifted author, well worth reading.  Enjoy!!

 

 Dick's Featured Review -- Louis L'Amour the author

For a change of pace I am not going to review a particular book this time, but rather, will discuss the author Louis L’Amour and his prolific literary endeavors.  More than 100 books in print and over 270 million copies of his books in circulation world wide is indeed prolific.  And, I should add that more than 45 of his novels and stories have been made into feature films and TV movies.  From the solo performance of John Wayne in “Hondo”, (L’Amour’s first novel) to the all-star cast that populated the epic tale of “How The West Was Won”, Hollywood recognized the popular appeal of L’Amour’s classic tales. 

Leaving his home in Jamestown, North Dakota when he was just 15, Louis began an odyssey of discovery that helped to prepare him for his writing career.  He worked as a seaman, lumberjack, cattle skinner and miner, as well as a boxer, a journalist and lecturer.  As a professional boxer he won fifty-one out of fifty-nine fights.  Over the years, he developed a large following for his stories written for popular magazines.  His first full-length novel, “Hondo”, was written in 1953.  And so it began.  His books and stories have been translated into twenty languages. 

I have read all of his novels at least once, so I consider myself a die-hard fan of L’Amour’s work.  As such I would urge anyone with the slightest bit of interest in the western genre to give him a try.  My favorites among all his books are the 17 novels written about the fictional Sackett clan.  Starting with the clan founder in 17th Century England (“Sackett's Land”) the saga follows the Sacketts into the late 1800’s.  A couple of these novels have been made into movies. 

In 1983 Louis L’Amour became the first novelist to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the United States Congress in honor of his life’s work.  His memoir, “Education of a Wandering Man” was a best seller.  He died on June 10, 1988, having left behind several unpublished works that have since graced bookshelves around the world.  Try him & ENJOY!
 

 

Dick's Featured Book Review -- Step On A Crack - James Patterson

His wife has terminal cancer, and he has TEN adopted kids who need his attention.  Does Detective Michael Bennett of the NYPD really need more on his plate at this time?  Well, he's got it, in the form of the biggest case he's ever been involved in!

Dozens of America's wealthiest and most influential people have been taken hostage in St. Patrick's Cathedral...and we find out quickly that the hostage-takers don't hesitate at murder to get what they want.

After days of negotiation without results.  An agreement is finally reached and ransoms are paid.  Despite armies of police and FBI, and with helicopters flying around overhead, the hostage-takers get away!

But this ending is just another beginning...

A sudden, rather unsatisfying wrap-up of the whole story does detract somewhat from the appreciation of this novel, but overall I recommend it as an exciting read.

James Patterson, in collaboration with Michael Ledwidge, author of "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead," has created a detective in the person of Michael Bennett that I will be happy to see again!
 

 Dick's Featured Book Review -- Capitol Threat - William Bernhardt 
                                               
Even after more than a dozen novels, featuring Attorney Ben Kincaid, William Bernhardt has still presented us with a fresh new look at this Oklahoma attorney turned U.S. Senator. 

Ben has been made interim U.S. Senator when the elected senator from Oklahoma went home in disgrace.  Now, despite being the newest "boy on the block," Ben has been asked to advise the next Supreme Court nominee during his confirmation hearings.  Only one problem; at the announcement of nomination, the judge "outed" himself on national TV...and if that's not enough, at the nominee's first photo op, a murdered woman is found in the judge's back yard.  Ben has his work cut out for him!

Ben's investigator, Loving, has his own problems investigating the woman's death.  Beaten from pillar to post, stabbed & choked into unconsciousness, he nevertheless does his usual sterling job. 

Murder, prejudice, and dirty politics keep this novel moving at a fast pace.  As usual, plot twists are a big part of a "whiz-bang" wrap-up of this political thriller.

William Bernhardt was himself a trial attorney.  He is the author of many novels including "Blind Justice," "Cruel Justice," and "Capitol Murder."  He has twice won the Oklahoma Book Award for Best Fiction.
 



Dick's Featured Book Review - Cross - James Patterson
 
Alex Cross is back in James Patterson's novel "Cross."  At the urging of his family, psychologist Alex has left the FBI and started a private practice. 

He does have the best of intentions, but for the activities of a paid assassin who spends his free time as a vicious serial rapist.  Alex's friend and former police partner asks for his help to use his psychology/profiling expertise to get victims to reveal what they have been threatened to keep secret.  He agrees to assist and that brings Alex face-to-face with a connection to the unsolved murder of his wife years earlier. 

This novel is not for the faint of heart because the rapist/murderer, known as "The Butcher" is not a nice guy.  Vicious, heartless, and completely without pity, this killer uses a meat saw and scalpel to satisfy his bloodlust.  So be warned! 

Once again, Patterson proves he's one of the best at the detective genre.  A great plot and "can't lay it down" progression make this a killer of a book.  It's a quick read with Patterson's usual 3 page chapters and compact writing style.  In my opinion, it's a MUST READ!

 

Dick's Featured Book Review -- Thunder Bay - William Kent Krueger 


A St. Paul resident for the past 20 years, William Kent Krueger has written yet another stunning story featuring one of my favorite characters, Cork O'Connor.  This is number 7 in this fascinating series of action packed mysteries. 

In this one, Cork has left his job as Sheriff in his hometown in Northern Minnesota and has set up business as a private investigator.  His first job involves his old friend and mentor, Henry Meloux, the Ojibwe Medicine Man.  In his 90s now, a vision has brought Henry to the belief that he has a son, fathered decades ago who needs his help.  Cork pledges himself to finding the son and thus begins this tale of lost love, resentment, revenge, and murder.

Cork's investigation points to a wealthy industrialist living in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  But getting to see the great man leads to a murder attempt on Henry.  The story behind Henry's long-ago lost love is one of greed and gold.  Cork must hurry to find who and what are behind the efforts to stop further investigation, because not only is Henry in danger, but his own life is also on the line.

Side stories of friends and family round out a really good story!  Krueger has a real talent for weaving family and friends into an otherwise straightforward mystery.  His first book, "Iron Lake" won the 1998 Anthony Award for Best First Novel.  He was also the winner of the 2004 Anthony Award for Best Novel for "Blood Hollow" and also the same award for his 2005 book, "Mercy Falls."
 


Dick's Featured Book Review -- Dakota Born - Debbie Macomber

Looking for an escape from a dying romance, Lindsay Snyder travels to North Dakota for a visit to a dying town.  Buffalo Valley, North Dakota is indeed on the verge of extinction.  Boarded-up stores and run-down houses are evidence of the degree of dissolution that has taken place in this farming community.

Long-ago memories of childhood visits to her grandparents home in this small town convince Lindsay to accept the vacant position of high school teacher (graduating class of 4.)  New to the town, and new to teaching, she is nevertheless the cohesive force this small town needs to live again.  Pulling her life together goes hand in hand with pulling the people of this small town together in a defiant effort to bring this town back from the verge.

New love enters Lindsay's life in the person of Gage Sinclair, a strong-willed, hard working farmer.  From their very first meeting, both feel the strong, passionate connection that leads to wonderment and confusion.  Gage's passionate feeling for Lindsay are at odds with his feeling that she, as a "big city girl," is an outsider who could never accept his way of life.  His reaction to every meeting with her is a hilarious combination of deep need and love, and fear and indecision. 

This is a wonderful story of relationships and discovery, and the day-to-day struggles of a small town to survive.  Fortunately this is only the first of three books given over to the tale of this small town, and the human spirit that keeps it alive.

Debbie Macomber is a multiple award winner, one of which was the 2005 Quill Award for the Best Romance.  There are over 60 million copies of her books in print.


 

Dick's Featured Book Review -- Phantom Prey - John Sandford

John Sandford has written a very special tale of malice, mystery, and murder.  "Phantom Prey" is a fascinating story that will hold your interest to the very last sentence.  It's a tale that is heavy with deceit, deception, and delusion.  This is the eighteenth novel in the "Prey" series, and once again we are treated to the talents of detective Lucas Davenport.

Lucas has been convinced by his wife, Weather, to investigate the disappearance of a widowed friend's daughter.  The girl has been running with a questionable group who have an unhealthy attraction to death.  One after another, several members of this group are murdered in a horrible manner.  After the second murder, Lucas sets aside his early reluctance and gets the investigation going in earnest.  Apparently this active interest frightens someone, for Lucas is shot in an alley and is seriously wounded.

The usual suspects in this tale are a large step above the usual "usual suspects."  This is the aspect of this story that puts it in a category by itself.  You will have to read the book to know what I mean!  But, I will guarantee that the time will be well spent.

John Sandford is a very talented, prolific author from Minnesota. 


Dick's Featured Book Review -- Red Knife - William Kent Krueger

William Kent Krueger's latest novel, "Red Knife" is another Cork O'Conner tale giving as yet another exciting case, this time involving a racial gang war on the Ojibwe Reservation in Northern Minnesota.  Half Ojibwe and half white, Private Eye O'Conner is caught in the middle of this bloody confrontation.  A confrontation that threatens to destroy lives as well as relationships.

A powerful, vindictive businessman vows revenge for the drug death of his daughter.  He blames the Red Boyz, a gang of Ojibwe youths accused of supplying the deadly drugs.  The head of their gang and his wife are murdered.  This sets the stage for the terrible violence that follows.  It's war, white against red.

Cork is hired to get at the truth behind the murders.  As a former sheriff in the county, both sides approve of Cork's mission.  Violence is soon met with more violence, and a pattern is set that leads Cork to believe that sometimes violence is the only response to evil.  Believe me, this tale is bloody and violent, with an ending that is right out of the recent newspaper headlines.

William Kent Krueger is a St. Paul, Minnesota resident and has written seven other Cork O'Conner novels and all have been well received.  This one too, is a winner!  

 

Dick's Featured Book Review -- The Shop On Blossom Street - Debbie Macomber

"The Shop On Blossom Street" by Debbie Macomber is another great read by an author who specializes in feel-good stories.  This one brings us four disparate individuals who are brought together by a growing interest in the old craft of knitting.  Each of the four has her own unique story and her own set of interests, desires, and problems.  But in the end they find their commonality of interest in knitting bringing them closer to happiness in their private lives. 

Lydia Hoffman, living with the constant fear of yet another recurrence of cancer, has opened a yarn shop on Blossom Street. A beginner's knitting class brings her three women who have only their interest in this class in common.  Jacqueline Donovan is a bitter, snobbish, society matron who has joined the "How To Make A Baby Blanket" class to make something for her expected grandchild, despite her excessive aversion to her daughter-in-law.  Carol Girard, whose life has been driven by a terrible obsession with giving birth, feels this class is a sign that her last attempt at conception will be successful.  And finally, Alex Townsend, a young woman with a rather checkered past, who has joined the group to pay a court-ordered debt to society. 

Each of these women find their daily lives becoming more and more entwined with each other.  Friendship begets friendship.  This story is one of hope and discovery.  And, as with Macomber's "Dakota" series, this book is followed by two more books that carry on the story: "A Good Yarn" and "Back On Blossom Street."  Enjoy!
 



Dick's Featured Book Review -- Famous Crimes - Stories of Law & Order in
                                                            Minnesota - Sheri O'Meara & Merle Minda


"Famous Crimes -- Stories of Law & Order in Minnesota" by Sheri O'Meara and Merle Minda is an interesting compilation of criminal events that were front page news in Minnesota over the past many decades.  Rare photos and interviews with victims and eyewitnesses add substance  to the newspaper accounts that brought public awareness of the events.

"Of all the Midwest Cities, the one I knew best was St. Paul, and it was a crook's haven.  Every criminal of any importance in the 1930s made his home at one time or another in St. Paul." So said Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, a public enemy #1 in that time period.  St. Paul played host to them all -- John Dillinger, Alvin Karpis, Ma Barker, Baby Face Nelson, and others who made the headlines across the country.  Chapter 1 of this book is a synopsis of the history of crime and criminals in Minnesota from the early 1900s to the present day with a fascinating account of a long-time police chief who welcomed criminals to St. Paul, as long as they committed no crimes within the city limits.  His wife ran a local bordello.

The bulk of this book is dedicated to famous headline cases such as the murder of Carol Thompson, and subsequent conviction of her husband, T. Eugene Thompson, and the kidnapping of Virginia Piper.

The book is just one of the "Minnesota Series" which includes "Storms," "Music Legends," "Media Tales," and "Storms 2."  New titles will be published about every 4 months.


             
 

Dick's Featured Book Review -- Heat Lightning - John Sandford

In "Heat Lightning" by John Sandford, we meet up once again with Virgil Flowers of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, who was introduced in "Dark Of The Moon."  He is still an interesting character with his very own idiosyncrasies.  As Lucas Davenport's protege, he also has plenty of potential power to back him up.  In this case, Flowers needs all the power he can muster to find the killers of several men whose history together goes back to the Vietnam War period.

It all begins with the discovery of a body at a Vietnam Memorial in Stillwater.  A week before a body was found in New Ulm, also at a Vietnam Memorial.  Both men had been shot twice in the head and each had a lemon in his mouth.  It is a convoluted story involving Indians, Vietnamese, Chinese, the CIA, FBI, and all the other alphabet agencies.  But Virgil persists because as he states, "These things have a rhythm, you get something going -- it's like a plot in a novel.  You start out with an incident, a killing, and then there are millions of possibilities, and you start eliminating the possibilities.  Pretty soon, you can see the line of the story and you can feel the climax coming."  And believe me, the climax to this story is a pip!

Another good read by a really talented writer.  And, of course, he lives in Minnesota.  Enjoy!
 

Dick's Featured Book Review -- Cross Country - James Patterson

"Cross Country" is one of the most horrific tales James Patterson has written to date.  From cover to cover it is a story of brutality and butchery.  Detective Alex Cross has a very personal connection to the story where he finds a friend and her family slaughtered in their D.C. home.  This killing is so barbaric that Alex vows to bring this killer to justice no matter where the trail takes him. 

And the trail takes Alex to Africa when he discovers that the killer, known as The Tiger, has taken a gang of teenage killers to Nigeria.  Alex soon discovers a world far more horrible than he had ever experienced before.  This is a world where injustice and death are not unusual, but expected.  Threats to his life and physical violence become daily occurrences as he seeks out The Tiger.  Aided by an old man and a beautiful journalist, Alex tenaciously sticks to the trail.  But uncooperative officials and a threatened civil war force Alex back home, only to find that The Tiger is hunting him and his family!

A good story, but one of excessive violence and barbarity in my opinion.  And, of course, I must comment once again on Patterson's unusual style of putting 158 chapters in 406 pages.  But, enjoy!


 

Dick's Featured Book Review -- The Escape - Robert Tanenbaum

"The Escape" by Robert Tanenbaum is another well written, suspenseful novel starring Butch Karp and his wife, Marlene Ciampi.  This is a fast-moving tale of taking us from courtrooms to back alleys and from a cool, collected legal process to fierce, bloodletting terror, while seemingly worlds apart, both situations have much in common.

Karp, a District Attorney for New York, is prosecuting Jessica Campbell, a college professor who killed her three children - claiming that "God told her to send them to Him to save them from Satan."  While Jessica's lawyer wants the jury to believe she was unaware of what she was doing and was influenced by hallucinations, Karp must prove that legally she was aware of the nature and consequences of her actions.

While Karp is fighting his battle in the courtroom, a terrorist called "The Sheik" is planning a massive attack on Wall Street, hoping to destroy the economy of the United States and the world.  With the help of a disparate group of "irregulars," Marlene Ciampi and her daughter Lucy, fight against time and an organized group of terrorists in an effort to stop The Sheik's plan.

Tanenbaum writes fast-paced, action-packed novels that are thought provoking and "present day."  He is a respected and successful trial lawyer and has also been Homicide Bureau Chief for the New York District Attorney's Office.  He has written eighteen best-selling novels.  Well worth reading!  Enjoy!

Dick's Featured Book Review -- Stranger In Paradise - Robert B. Parker

Jesse Stone, police chief in Paradise, Massachusetts, is back again in Robert B. Parker's fast action novel "Stranger In Paradise."  He still has his problems with alcohol and women, particularly his ex-wife, Jenn.  Now his problems are multiplied by once again facing off with Wilson "Crow" Cromartie, the Apache killer who escaped ten years before, after pulling off the biggest robbery in Paradise history. 

Crow approaches Jesse to ask that he stay out of Crow's way until he completes another job.  This time it involves finding a young girl, Amber Francisco, and returning her to her father, Louis.  Why would Jesse do this?  He finds that lack of evidence of murder in their first meeting, and the statutes of limitation on lesser charges make prosecution questionable.  He agrees to stay out of the way, but he vows to watch and wait in hopes of putting together a case against Crow.

The apparently simple job turns sour when Amber's father orders Crow to kill Amber's mother after both are found.  Crow does not kill women!!  As a result, Jesse is called upon to provide for Amber's safety while Crow attempts to resolve a dilemma that soon involves a murderous Latino gang, who are willing to kill women, and mobster Louis' people who are willing to kill Crow.

A good story that is enhanced by the fascinating relationship between Jesse and his ex-wife.  A quick read, well worth a few hours of your time.

 

Dick's Featured Book Review -- Wicked Prey - John Sandford

"Wicked Prey" by John Sandford is yet another fascinating story by one of my favorite authors.  His characters are real, with all the faults and failings that that entails.  The story is up-to-date, and what I particularly enjoy, is that the locale is familiar - the Twin Cities of Minneapolis & St. Paul.  The Republican National Convention is the draw for all the action in this tale.  Money is the catalyst that binds the characters together.  LOTS of money!

A crew of professional stick-up artists, with a penchant for violence, has been drawn to the Twin Cities by all that money.  Political money men with large amounts of cash, and hotels with vaults stuffed with Conventioners' valuables are the targets.  As if this is not enough, Lucas Davenport finds that something much more personal will demand his attention.

A psychotic pimp in a wheelchair, who feels Lucas is the source of all his misery, wants revenge.  But, just killing Lucas is not enough, he wants him to suffer first.  So he has targeted Lucas' fourteen year old adopted daughter, Letty.  Little does the pimp know how much trouble that decision will cost him.

Full of down to earth dialogue, great characters, plenty of suspense and plot twists, "Wicked Prey" is Sandford at his best. 

John Sandford has written nineteen "Prey" novels, as well as eight other books.


Dick's Featured Book Review - Monkeewrench - P.J. Tracy

A fascinating tale with a very unique premise, makes "Monkeewrench" a highly readable first novel by P.J. Tracy.  A well thought out plot with unexpected twists kept this reader on edge.  Some great characters with entertaining personalities add a surprising level of humor to the story.  As with tales by John Sandford, this story is set in Minneapolis. 

Grace McBride and her four gamer partners have come up with a real computer game winner.  Unfortunately, 2 murders have occurred  that exactly mimic the scenarios in their new game.  With 18 more possible murders outlined in their game, it soon becomes imperative that they notify the police, even though they fear that such action will bring to light a past that they had hoped would never be revealed.

There are several back stories  and sub-plots to this tale that keep the readers on their toes.  Nothing is certain, as the story twists and turns to a very surprising ending.  I found this to be a very fun, surprising, and suspenseful novel.  Well worth a couple of evenings of enjoyable reading!

This is the first novel by the mother and daughter writing team of P.J. and Traci Lambrecht, using the pseudonym, P.J. Tracy.  Enjoy!!

 

Dick's Featured Book Review - Rough Country - John Sandford

In "Rough Country" by John Sandford,  we are once again given a super tale of murder, mystery, and Virgil Flowers.  Virgil is his usual brilliant self, with great instincts and the ability to draw people out.  And, with 3 (or more?) ex wives, Virgil still has a way with the ladies, even those with "alternate" sexual inclinations.  Sandford brings all of his talents to bear and gives us another suspenseful, well-plotted, action-packed tale that makes for a wonderful read.

Lucas Davenport, head of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has pulled Virgil away  from a long-awaited fishing tournament in Northern Minnesota to investigate the murder of a woman at a nearby resort.  The resort has, over time, become known as a place for women with "alternate" lifestyles.  This may complicate things fro Virgil, but it certainly doesn't stop him from discovering the connections between the resort, its clients, and the victim.   Soon he discovers that a murder in Iowa two years earlier may actually be tied to the current one...and other murders may well soon follow.

A talented country singer and an obsessed father with a mysterious son are just a couple of the characters that people this story of lust, jealousy, and greed.  It is the brilliant way Sandford brings all these characters and attributed together in a flowing stream of wonderful prose that makes Sandford the number one author that he is.  Enjoy!
 


Dick's Featured Book Review - Heaven's Keep - William Kent Krueger

"Heaven's Keep" by William Kent Krueger is a winner!  A fast paced story with everything one could ask for in a mystery story.  It is another Cork O'Connor tale that will keep you fascinated to the very last page.  This time, the story is a very personal one that involves the disappearance of Cork's wife, Jo.  All signs are that Jo is dead, lost when a chartered plane she was on came up missing during a flight to Wyoming.  But, is she dead?

Six months after the disappearance, and the resulting futile massive search, Cork received information that indicates things were not as they appeared at the time.  The pilot may not have been who he claimed to be.  Though not much to go on, as they say, "hope springs eternal," and hope is what Cork needed to find.  With the new information, Corks starts an investigation that begins in Wyoming on the northern Arapaho Indian Reservation.

With the help of friends, but with the interference of local authorities, Cork faces not only the hostility of the Indian community, which has its personal concerns, but also several assassination attempts.  Of course, big money plays a significant part in this mystery.  Greed runs deep in the core of all that happens.  But Cork's motivation never waivers; the slim, but real hope that despite all odds, the end of the trail will find his Jo alive.

With eight previous Cork O'Connor books, William Kent Krueger has given us yet another winner!  He is another award winning author from Minnesota, who lives in St. Paul.  Enjoy!
 

Dick's Featured Book Review - Scarpetta - Patricia Cornwell

"Scarpetta" by Patricia Cornwell is another well-written, well-charactered novel by an author I had not read in a long time.  Why is that??  The books I read years ago were very good, interesting books that left me with good feelings about the author and the novel.  I just went in other directions with my reading?  I don't know, but I realize now that I have missed a lot of good reading.  I bring this up because while reading this novel, I recognized that I have missed of lot of character history.  It took me well into the book before I could really get a handle on much of the relationships and motivations of the family of characters.  To me these things are very important to the appreciation of the story.  Well, enough of my wanderings, just let it be said that I shall keep better track of Scarpetta and her family of characters in the future.

In this book, Kay Scarpetta has left her private forensic pathology practice in South Carolina to answer a request to use her skills in New York City.  A woman has been savagely slain and an injured man is being held in a psychiatric ward at Bellevue Hospital.  He tells Kay a fantastic story of being followed and spied upon by some unknown person, or persons.  His injuries, he claims, were made again, by an unknown assailant or assailants at the murder site.  His paranoid tale gets more and more fantastic.  Is there any truth in what he says, or is it just an inept cover-up for murder?  Scarpetta becomes more closely tied to this case when it is revealed that the murdered woman has been involved with an underground internet gossip column that has been used to assassinate Scarpetta's character and reputation...and more murders follow.

This tale of murder, paranoia, and deception follows a twisted trail that ends with enough twists to satisfy even the most jaded mystery fan.  I did feel a bit overwhelmed by the vast amount of technical information that's thrown at us throughout the story, but what the heck, it's still a stellar Scarpetta story!  Enjoy!
 


Dick's Featured Book Review - A Thousand Bones - P.J. Parrish

"A Thousand Bones" by P.J. Parrish is a stunning, suspenseful thriller that leaves one exhausted, yet ready for more.  This is my first read of P.J. Parrish and I shall definitely read others!  This one starts slowly and builds nicely with plenty of suspense and shock.  It leaves you with the ethical question, how far can one go in making sure that a rabid killer will kill no more? 

Joe Frye, Miami P.D.'s only female detective is haunted by this question as she looks back to when she was a rookie cop in a small town in Michigan called Echo Bay.  It all started with a couple of boys finding a human bone while tramping through the woods.  Soon more bones are found, along with small carvings, identified as Ojibwa moon signs.  Ancient Ojibwa legends of forest dwelling beasts who eat their victims are brought forward, but it's soon realized the person doing the killing is a human beast...more fearsome than anything else.  As more and more bones are discovered, more and more pieces of evidence are found that finally lead to a suspect.  A tragic encounter in the woods leaves the small, local law enforcement agency decimated, and leaves Joe Frye badly injured -- and so goes the story.  This is well written and well worth a couple of evenings of good reading.  The story lets the reader decide the ethics of the ending.

P.J. Parrish is another collaborative pseudonym for two sisters, Kristy Moutec and Kelly Nichols.  Enjoy!

 

Dick's Featured Book Review - The Scarecrow - Michael Connelly

In "The Scarecrow" by Michael Connelly, we once again meet journalist and crime writer, Jack McEvoy.  Jack was the protagonist in Connelly's earlier novel, "The Poet."  Despite being the golden boy for several years because of his actions in bringing The Poet to justice and his award winning book which chronicled the story, Jack is now learning that fame can be fleeting.  He is about to join the ranks of the unemployed, as his paper, The Los Angeles Times, is downsizing and he is one of the targets.  Despite the usual practice of immediately removing the chosen subject of removing the chosen subject from the premises, Jack has been given 2 weeks notice and he has decided to make full use of that time to come up with the quintessential murder story.

Jack decides to center his investigation of a young, confessed killer on the societal influences and indifference that were the basis for his action.  But Jack soon discovers that the confession was no confession at all, and he finds evidence that an earlier killing in Las Vegas has all the trademarks of the recent murder.  It's almost as if someone had very explicit requirements for the victims.

Slowly Jack becomes aware that someone knows his every move.  And, indeed, this "someone" is well aware of any move against him.  This is The Scarecrow, who is in a position to monitor movements and activities of almost anyone he wishes, and God help anyone who crosses him!  And now that he's on to Jack's investigation, bad things begin to happen to Jack.

With the help of FBI agent, and former lover, Rachel Walling, Jack seeks out the mysterious Scarecrow.  Murder follows murder, and the ending, though horrific, is certainly appropriate.

Michael Connelly has written a number of #1 best sellers, including "The Brass Verdict" and "The Lincoln Lawyer."  I particularly like his series of Harry Bosch novels.  Connelly is a former journalist himself.  As an aside, his Harry Bosch character is the inspiration for "Dirty Harry" of movie fame.  Enjoy!
 


Dick's Featured Book Review - Deadly Night - Heather Graham

Heather Graham's novel "Deadly Night" is the first of a trilogy of stories featuring the Flynn brothers; three brothers, each with law enforcement backgrounds, who now run a private detective agency.  Now, throw in a young woman who has visions and sees the dead, and we have a chilling tale that includes not only ghosts, but a serial killer who preys on young women.

The Flynn brothers have inherited a southern plantation complete with Manor House, slave quarters, and ghosts.  Yes, this place is haunted by a "Woman in White" who is thought to be part of the plantation's dark history.  Eldest brother, Aidan, finds human bones on the property and begins an investigation that soon leads to the startling conclusion that a serial killer may have been doing his heinous work in the area for a long time.  Kendall Montgomery, who had been caring for the previous owner, joins Aidan in his search and both find themselves in danger.

Aidan may not, at first, believe in ghosts, but Kendall has long had experiences that make her a firm believer in the supernatural.  She is convinced that the plantation's dark past is pushing them toward a solution to the horrific doings in the present.  All comes together in a chilling conclusion in a dark, dank mausoleum in the Flynn family cemetery.

Heather Graham has written more than one hundred novels, and this one is a winner!  Enjoy!

 

Dick's Featured Book Review - Alex Cross's Trial - James Patterson

"Alex Cross's Trial" is yet another novel by James Patterson, this one in collaboration with Richard Dilallo (his first.)  I find myself unable not to comment on the number and frequency of novels written by James Patterson in collaboration with many other writers.  Certainly makes it appear to be a very prolific situation.  Oh well, perhaps, this is really just a very novel situation (pun intended!)  In this story, Alex Cross's ancestors play major roles.  We are taken back to the early 20th century and brought face to face with the horrific acts brought about by rampant racial prejudice. 

President Theodore Roosevelt has chosen tough-minded Washington lawyer, Ben Corbett, to take on a dangerous task back in his own hometown of Eudora, Mississippi, which is also home to a terrifying, hate-filled Ku Klux Klan.  Ben is sent to investigate rumors of lynchings in the black quarter of Eudora.  His contacts in the area are Alex Cross's great uncle, Abraham Cross, and his daughter, Moody.  Survival has become a challenge for both of them and their assistance becomes invaluable to Ben, who soon finds himself in a personal battle for survival.  After terrible losses to both sides in this reign of terror, three of the Klansmen are brought to trial and we find that the battle against terrorism has just begun.

Interesting story, with interesting characters makes for a good evening of reading.  Enjoy! 


Dick's Featured Book Review:  9 Dragons - Michael Connelly

If you have read Michael Connelly before, you have probably enjoyed Harry Bosch, his main man, in numerous earlier books.  Harry is back again in "9 Dragons", and he is still the hard-driving, violent, sometimes vicious, upholder of the law that he has shown himself to be in the past.  But, hang on to your hats, because Harry's daughter has been kidnapped, and not even the law can get in the way of Harry's efforts to get her back.  Violence becomes rampant as Harry follows tenaciously a trail of blood leading to his daughter's kidnappers.

It all starts when John Li, a small liquor store owner, know to Harry for years, is murdered.  Harry brings in the Asian gang unit to assist in understanding not only the language of the area, but the influences facing the small business owners by the Hong Kong Triad, a murderous crime ring that holds lethal sway over local immigrants.  But their threat is not just local, as Harry is contacted and informed that his daughter is in their hands, in Hong Kong, and he must stop his investigation or she will be killed.  With time running out Harry travels to a place in Hong Kong known as 9 Dragons, and in a desperate, kill or be killed effort, Harry drives the search into the Triad's territory. 

This is a super tale with plenty of twists, plenty of excitement, a bit too much violence, but a real surprise ending worthy of a great story.  I think you will enjoy!

 

Dick's Featured Book Review:  A Plague of Secrets by John Lescroart

Yet another brilliant courtroom thriller by one of the very best at the genre.  Precise and compelling prose that offers us the dark side of law and order.  A Plague of Secrets by John Lescroart exposes us to the reality of political influence and unethical behavior.  It is a fascinating tale of multiple murder which is resolved only after laying open the many lies and secrets that hide the truth. 

Dylan Vogler, manager of a popular coffee house in San Francisco is killed behind his shop.  The knapsack he is carrying contains a large amount of quality marijuana.  It appears that coffee may not have been the only thing that brought San Francisco's elite to the coffee shop. 

Maya Townshend, the actual owner of the coffee shop comes under suspicion in this murder when yet another past acquaintance of hers is also found murdered soon after.  None but the very best will do to defend the niece of the mayor, so Dismas Hardy is called in for the job.  It soon becomes clear to Dismas that Maya is hiding information critical to her defense.  It's obvious she was fully aware of Vogler's side job as a drug dealer, but did nothing & paid Vogler more than the going rate for a coffee house manager.  Why?? The answer to this question may be the answer to her defense. 

Fast moving outside the courtroom, and just as fast and interesting in the courtroom, this tale keeps up the pace from beginning to end.  Well worth the read.  Enjoy!

Dick's Featured Book Review:  The Reversal - Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly has written another page turner with "The Reversal".  He brings together again attorney Mickey Haller and LAPD detective Harry Bosch (of Dirty Harry Fame).  They are joining forces against a sadistic killer.  We last saw them in Connelly's best seller "The Brass Verdict".  Mickey was a defense attorney in that novel and actually he has always been for the defense.  But NOT in this one!

Twenty four years ago, Jason Jessup was tried and convicted of killing a young girl.  Because of some new DNA information, Jessup has been released pending a decision to dismiss all charges, or retry the case.  The DA's office has no intention to dismiss, despite the daunting DNA evidence, for political reasons, as well as strategic purposes.  The DA's office feels it is imperative that this case be seen as being completely fair and untainted.  Therefore they have decided to get an outsider, an independent, to run the people's case.  Despite, or rather because of his well known, and staunch advocacy for the defense, Mickey Haller has been asked to try the case.  For personal reasons, and because of his firm belief in Jessup's guilt, he accepts.

Haller and his investigator Bosch are faced with a headline seeking defense attorney who pulls out all the stops to make a sow's ear look like a silk purse.  But the public views of Jessup and his case as presented by his lawyer have little to do with what's going on behind the scenes.  Night time visits to suspect locations by a killer like Jessup may mean that he has a deadly agenda in mind for the near future. 

This is a good story with twists and turns that make what could have been a pretty boring courtroom case into a all out poser, with enough action to hold your attention to the very end, and it has a real bonus ending to the story.  Enjoy!

 

Dick's Featured Book Review: Private by James Patterson

This is a powerful story of a powerful, global private investigation firm.  "Private" by James Patterson is a fast moving, multi-layered tale of secrecy, deceit, loyalty...and murder! Relying heavily on his crack crew of investigators, Jack Morgan, deals daily with some of the most important and influential men and women in the world.  He also deals with personal problems including wartime flashbacks, a despondent lover, and a brother who hates him. 

Jack has a lot on his plate in this story, including the investigation into a multi-million dollar National Football League gambling scandal.  At the same time, Jack and his crew are working closely with the police to solve the murders of thirteen teenaged girls.  Then comes a crushing personal blow...when he learns a former lover and wife of his best friend have been killed.  Together these cases put the test to this most powerful investigation firm and the most advanced forensic tools available.

One by one these cases are investigated with vigor, but not necessarily by the rules.  One surprise follows another as each case brings its own problems to the fore.  And, of course, Jack's own personal problems overshadow much of the action -- from early morning phone calls stating "You're Dead!" -- to violent dreams that may have a secret message for Jack. 

A good story with a satisfying wrap-up.  Enjoy

Dick's Featured Book Review:  Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy

Another feel good story by one of my favorite feel good authors, “Minding Frankie” by Maeve Binchy is a wonderful take on a young mans challenge to raise an infant who may not be his.  A loner, alcoholic without much future, it is evident that Noel Lynch will not succeed without plenty of help.  Like the Phoenix, rising from the ashes of his former dissolute life, Noel strives to reform himself into a caring, loving father.

 The help he needs comes from a neighborhood of friends and family who become a “baby patrol” to care for Frankie while Noel works and studies for a degree that will hopefully help him to become the man he feels he needs to be.  Lisa, who loves Anton, moves in with Noel to care for Frankie, and study for her own degree.  His cousin Emily, who recently arrived from the U.S. soon becomes an advisor & confidante to half the people in the neighborhood and guides Noel through his trying times.  These and others in the “baby patrol” all develop a love for Frankie and a growing trust in Noel. 

But all good stories like this one have to provide a counterpoint to all the feel good goings on.  This is provided by go-by-the-book social worker Moira.  The unconventional baby patrol doesn’t please Moira, nor does she believe a confirmed alcoholic can stand up to the obvious pressures on him.  To her the child would be better off in a foster home.  It’s up to Noel to prove she’s wrong.  Good story, good read.  Enjoy!

Dick's Featured Book Review - Buried Prey by John Sandford

"Buried Prey" by John Sandford is a showcase for the author's fantastic story telling abilities.  Sandford has a unique ability to build a solid story plot step by step and to flesh out characters in such a way that we can believe we know them for what they are.  But this story gives us further insight into the main character, Lucas Davenport.  We've known Davenport quite well from numerous other "Prey" books, but his inner struggles in this tale further define the Davenport we thought we knew. 

The story opens with a horrible discovery in a construction site in downtown Minneapolis.  The bodies of two small girls are unearthed and Davenport, head investigator for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, knows with certainty, upon seeing the bodies, who they are.  With this introduction we move to the back-story. 

Twenty five years earlier, Davenport was a young, ambitious cop hoping to move out of patrol and work into the more challenging and glamorous duties of a detective.  Two young girls were kidnapped and never found, despite massive efforts to find them.  Davenport was immersed in the search and was not convinced that the schizophrenic vagrant who was accused of the crime was actually guilty.  He was following other leads, with another suspect, when the vagrant was killed.  His guilt was officially accepted and the case was closed. 

Now with the discovery of the girl's bodies, Davenport breathes new life into a case that he felt he should have followed further twenty five years before.  A fascinating combination of careful planning, inspiration and perspiration, as well as just plain luck, leads Lucas closer to the killer.  But, the murder of a close friend of Lucas' turns the investigation into what his family and friends fear could be a career ending vendetta. 

No surprise ending here, just a satisfying finish to a super story.  Enjoy!