Minnesota Seniors Online

Welcome to Dick & Linda's Book Picks Archive!!

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

Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena
Verity by Colleen Hoover
Fox Creek by Ken Krueger
The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
The Crooked Branch by Jeanine Cummins
The Last Flight by Julie Clark
The Home Stretch by Dave Nimmer
The Hummingbird by Stephen Kiernan
Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber
Summer Island by Kristin Hannah
Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
Dancing on a Silver Moon by Margie Zats
Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah
The Deep Deep Snow by Brian Freeman
Masked Prey by John Sanford
This Tender Land by William Kent Kreuger
Fast Falls the Night by Julia Keller
Between Sisters by Kristin Hannah
When We Meet Again by Kristin Harmel
Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand
Ordinary Grace by William Ken Kreuger
Deep Grass Roots by Marcia Neely
The Reckoning by Josh Grisham
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Where the Crawdads Sing by Della Ownes
The Old Man by Thomas Perry
The Things We Do For Love by Kristin Hannah
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Great Alone by William Kristin Hannah
Desolation Mountain by William Kent Krueger
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
The Space Between Us by Dete Meserve
Angel Falls by Kristin Hannah
Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman
Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich
The Late Show by Michael Connelly
The Ferguson Rifle by Louis L'Amour
Back Story by Robert B. Parker

Justice Denied by J. A. Jance

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



This book was suggested to me by a wonderful neighbor who couldn't put it down until 3:00 a.m. when she found out "who done it " ! A recommendation I couldn't refuse.  Even if it is a "real" book.  (I ️ my Kindle) Then,  I read that Ms. Lapena is well known as a "master of manipulation with yet another page-turner".  Who knew? So many great authors!

The book begins by describing a lavish mansion in Brecken Hill an exclusive area near the Hudson River and New York City. It's a beautiful, peaceful looking place. What no one is aware of is that there's been two gruesome murders inside on Easter night. The story begins 24 hours earlier when the Merton adult children are dressing to go to Easter dinner at the same lavish mansion where their parents Sheila and Fred Merton reside. Dan and Jenna two of the siblings dread this family affair, while Catherine the eldest is looking forward to the holiday dinner. As it turns out, they all had reasons to expect their Father's vindictive wrath, since all three were considered a disappointment to him.

As you can imagine, with millions at stake, Detective Reyes, the investigating officer looks at the children as his first suspects. Especially when he discovers he's been lied to by all three of them. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are so many others like the former nanny, the jealous sister, and the former assistant that have secrets which could make them suspects as well. So, just when you think you've solved this mystery, you probably have not!

As one reviewer said, "Ms. Lapena keeps you guessing until the very last page."

Happy reading!



This is only the second novel I've read by Ms Hoover.  To say it was much different from "It Ends with Us" would be a huge understatement!  It is very suspenseful and at times only suited for mature readers.  That's not to say the story isn't captivating because the reader is left wondering what is fact and what is someone's imagination.  Is Verity really as evil as her autobiography would lead you to believe.  Which leads me to repeat from previous reviews - my definition of a really good read is one you can't wait to get back to.

The story begins with Lowen Ashleigh, a struggling writer, being offered a dream job when hired by the husband of a bestselling author to complete a successful series his injured wife, Verity, isn't able to finish.  Lowen goes to Verity's home to sort through her notes and files to get started on her assignment. What Lowen discovers though in Verity's office is an unfinished autobiography. Verity is admitting to actions she never intended anyone else to know about. The autobiography is not only captivating but twisted.

As Lowen tries to focus on her work she becomes more fond of Verity's husband Jeremy.  But, she also becomes more wary of Verity who is bedridden.  Unable to talk or walk... How can you become fearful of a woman in this condition? Clues begin to emerge at this point.

When Lowen's feelings begin to deepen for Jeremy she wonders if it is wise to keep the manuscript from him. After all, most of it relates to his children.  Or, is she being selfish due to her feelings for Jeremy.  Surely he couldn't continue to love a person as cruel and manipulative as Verity

This novel is a psychological thriller like none other I've read in recent times.  To the very last page the reader is left wondering if Verity is really this evil? A page turner without a doubt.

Happy reading!!



According to the New York Times this "genuinely thrilling and atmospheric novel" has the author's character Cork O'Connor racing to save his wife, a mysterious stranger and Cork's lifelong friend, Henry Meloux, from certain death at the hands of dangerous mercenaries.  This is Mr. Krueger’s 19th novel in the Cork O'Connor series.  I've read all 19 and they never disappoint!

The story begins with a man coming to Cork's burger joint asking for help because his wife has gone missing. Her name is Delores and has become very interested in all things "Indian" the man tells Cork.  Cork asks him if he has a problem with "native" people.  But, the stranger believes she has a Native lover who is from the area.  His name is Henry Meloux, Cork's 105 year old friend... When Cork repeats the story to his family he laughs, yep "Henry the home-wrecker."

So begins the mystery of where is Delores and is the stranger really her husband? When Cork goes to Henry's cabin to talk to him, Henry, Rainy (Cork's wife) and Delores have all disappeared. His best guess is that they have gone deep into the Boundary waters to escape from the killers who are in pursuit of Delores. No one knows the woods better than Henry.

The question is what do these "hunters" want with Delores and where is her real husband Louis? Their trek through the forest is long and difficult and then a snow storm comes along to make things even more of a challenge.  It's an exciting read with each chapter telling the story from different character's perspective. i.e.  the wolf, Rainy, Cork etc.

As always, there's so much more to the story that keeps you in suspense as only Mr. Krueger can do. I'm always amazed at how beautifully descriptive his prose is and how vivid all the background is to the reader. If you haven't read his work you should give him a try.  By the way the series started back in 1998, with the novel Iron Lake.

Happy reading!!



I often say I've read so many books about the Second World War and the atrocities committed by the Nazi occupations that I've read enough on the subject.  But then a friend suggested this book and I'm really glad she did.  Although of course it has many sad parts it also tells the story of two generations of women and their unimaginable struggles and heartbreak.  Especially, for me, the courage and strength that millions of people demonstrated during this time in history.

The prologue of the book is set in Russia in 1942, where a priest is presiding over the wedding of Alina and Tomasz.  It's an extremely cold day for September but Alina says "Our love had been my reason to live and to fight for many years." In spite of the deplorable conditions of the refuge camp, Alina "refused to let it shake my confidence in the man I loved."

The second story begins with Alice (Alina's Granddaughter) trying to get her son Eddie off the floor of the grocery where a major meltdown is happening.  Eddie is autistic and is screaming and emptying the grocery shelves because they have changed the label on his favorite yogurt.  Alice has been rushing everywhere this morning doing her best to get to the hospital to see her beloved Grandmother who has suffered a stroke. The dilemma that Alice deals with is that in the seven years since Eddie was born her husband, Wade, has been unable to adapt to the reality of Eddie's disability.  She is basically doing it alone.

The book goes back and forth between the brutality and injustice her Grandparents endured to modern day depicting what Alice is confronted with daily, especially when her Grandmother has an urgent request.  Alina or Babcia (the Polish word for Grandmother) is unable to speak because of the stroke she suffered.  But, through an App on their Ipad she types "Find Tomasz, Need help, Emergency." Alice is stunned because her Grandfather died the year before.  Doesn't Alina remember?

To honor her Babcia's request, in spite of significant obstacles in Alice's home life, she travels to Poland to try and unlock the mystery of what her Grandmother has asked of her.  The rest of the story I'll leave for you to discover. Both women's stories are blended together beautifully and in a heartwarming way.

I'll close with a quote from the author, "Like many of their generation, they had little time to reflect or grieve even once the war ended.  Their focus was on the future and the physical, emotional and psychological wounds of war were soon trapped beneath the surface of the new life they were forging."

Happy reading!



It Ends with Us is a novel about Lily Bloom a young woman who has witnessed domestic abuse from a very early age. Sadly, it was her Father, Andrew Bloom, who regularly abused her Mom.  Andrew was the "adored mayor of a small town in Maine."  Her Father had just passed on and she was asked to deliver his eulogy.  She introduces herself to the people gathered for the memorial service.  She thanks them for coming to mourn his loss. "I wanted to take a moment to honor his life by sharing with you five great things about my Father.  The first thing...  I stood up there for two solid minutes without saying another word."  There wasn't one great thing to say about him.

This is where Lily's story begins when she returns to Boston and meets Ryle Kincaid.  Ryle is "beautiful", dressed perfectly with a two-hundred-dollar haircut. And to make him even more perfect he's a Neurosurgeon! Except he's not since he has an aversion to relationships and is only interested in one night stands.  His only goal in life is to have success.

The story then flashes back to Lily's teenage years and her first love Atlas. He was a homeless boy who was finishing his senior year in high school.  Lily takes him under her wing since the house he stayed in had no water, electricity or food. Their relationship grows into a wonderful friendship and then to young love.  A chance encounter puts them in contact after many years.

In current times, Lily decides to pursue her dream of opening a flower shop since flowers and gardening have always been her passion.  (She laughs that she can capitalize on her name.) Her Mom visits the storefront that has so much potential.  She tells Lily "people will say it was a brave, bold, smart business decision."

Lily continues telling her story of falling in love with that "perfect" man Ryle. And about their passionate loving relationship until she realizes first hand that maybe her Mom wasn't weak at all for staying with her Father.  Maybe she just stayed because she loved him too much.

I hope you'll enjoy this well-told story about loving someone which is wonderful, but being "brave and bold" is much more important.

Happy reading!



I don't often say that I love a book, but this is one. It's not that I'm that critical - I hope.  But this historical novel touched me because of the way in which it blended two women's stories of desperation and loss.  As I'm sure I've mentioned before even a fictional novel can teach us so much.

In this case, in 1896, Ginny Doyle is suffering through the Great Hunger often called the potato famine. Then in present day Majella's story is a first time Mother struggling to cope with caring for her baby girl, Emma.  She feels as though she is failing her and might even have mental health problems. When Majella finds a diary that belonged to her great, great Grandmother Ginny Doyle, she is even more worried. Because after reading part of the diary she tells her therapist "There are all different kinds of crazy, but mostly I think it's ancestral."

Ginny's story begins with the start of Ireland's potato famine. Overnight a noxious fog blows into the western shores of Ireland.  Ginny and Raymond look out at their decimated fields.  Everywhere they look there is nothing but rot. Ginny looks back at her four children but she "could never conceive of the kind of suffering that would follow."

 Majella's story starts with her first visit to a psychiatrist. She believes her depression is more than post-partum depression.  She tells the doctor that she thinks she is going crazy. For clarification she tells him 'Like actual crazy, not fun-crazy." Majella tells her story in the first person and sometimes adds a bit of humor to lighten the story.

Ginny and her husband Raymond's primary concern is paying the rent.  They decided that their only hope was for Raymond to go to America to find work and send money back to his family.  They sold enough oats and their hog to pay the rent. Because, if you didn't pay the English landlords you would be thrown out of your cottage and they would burn it to the ground!  From this point the hardships they endure are hard to fathom.  Ginny watches as her family and neighbors begin to literally starve to death. Then Ginny hears that an estate nearby needs a chambermaid. She makes the agonizing decision to leave her children and go to work at Spring Hill. So Ginny sets off to see if she can be hired as the new chambermaid.  Leaving her eldest daughter Maire in charge of her three younger siblings.

You might think that Majella's story and unhappiness doesn't compare to Ginny's agonizing problems. But, to Majella it's devastating because she wants so badly to be her old self-assured self and to be the great Mother she dreamed of. She feels isolated from her family and friends.  She reaches out to her Mother who hasn't made any attempt to see Emma and when Majella calls her for support her Mom says, "Listen I don't have long, I'm about to run to water aerobics."

There is so, so much more to this novel that I'm sure you'll find both heartbreaking and believable in both of these two women's lives.  In spite of the huge time difference in their experiences both Mothers are determined to protect their children at any cost.

In closing, I read quite a lot and I'd say this is the best book I've read this year!

Happy reading!



I'm always amazed by the number of wonderful authors out there who I haven't read!  In this case, I found Julie Clark who wrote this novel.  It's not only a superior and suspenseful read, but also a narrative of how women are so often deemed "unreliable and then expendable" which leads to both physical and mental abuse. The story begins with two women who are desperate enough to take the risk of not walking but running away from their former lives.

Claire Cook is the first woman you'll meet.  She has a seemingly perfect life.  She is married to a powerful politician who in the beginning was charismatic and loving until he was not... So now after 10 years of abuse and isolation from her former life, she's carefully orchestrated a plan to leave. Unfortunately, the morning of her escape her husband changes her destination from a trip to Detroit to one to Puerto Rico for a different humanitarian event.  All of the documents and money she has hidden away have already been sent to Detroit!

While waiting in the airport bar for her flight Claire seemingly, by chance, meets the other woman in the story.  Her name is Eva and she tells Claire she is a grieving widow who just lost her husband to Cancer. She then went on to say that she and David had decided to end his suffering.  But, "now it seems they have questions and there might be consequences." Just as Eva had planned, Claire out of her own desperation suggests they switch tickets. She tells Eva it's her only chance.

Now, I don't want to be a spoiler, but this happens in the beginning. One of the women's planes crashes with no survivors!  The rest of the story continues filling in lots of their backgrounds in the years leading up to this fateful day.

I know I've mentioned before that the best books I've read are those you can't wait to get back to.  This is a suspenseful and fast paced story of two women who have had enough sadness and abuse to take them to desperate measures in order to live a better life.

Happy reading!



This is a very different book for me. As you know from previous reviews I usually read fiction. So, this was a enjoyable change mainly because many of us can relate to the inevitable issues that go along with growing older which are told in a light and often sensitive way.

You may remember Dave Nimmer from WCCO television where he was a reporter and assistant news director. But he was mainly a highly respected journalist. He worked as a reporter then a managing editor of the Minneapolis Star. He then taught journalism at the University of St. Thomas for 11 years.

The book is an autobiographical collection of stories about his family, friends and colleagues. All are told with a hint of humor and honesty (it seemed to me). The stories range from his time growing up in Fond du lac, Wisconsin to his hiking and fishing adventures after retirement.

One of my favorite stories, which was told in a beautifully descriptive way, took place along the Rogue River Gorge from the Oregon Coast. The author writes of the beautiful trees and trails, "Shafts of sunlight cut through the forest canopy like a beam from a lighthouse." But the most memorable part of this fishing trip wasn't the natural beauty, but a waitress they met. She told them about her son who was an Marine Corp veteran who came back from Iraq a changed man. Dave and his friends listened with caring and empathy offering suggestions that could become a solution to her estrangement from her Son and his family. To me it's extraordinary that this was the "most memorable part" of their fishing trip!

I think you'll find this a refreshing read that all of us of a certain age will surely enjoy.

Happy reading!



The Hummingbird is the first novel I've read by this author and it won't be my last.  It was a story within a story involving a seasoned hospice nurse, Deb, and her struggles coping with her husband, Michael, who after returning from his third deployment to Iraq is a changed man.   He is tormented by rage and experiences endless nightmares. It takes all of Deb's patience, compassion and determination to try to restore their marriage to the loving one they once had.

The other story is that of her current hospice patient, Barclay Reed, a retired history professor who is an expert in the Pacific Theater of World War II.  Barclay is a cantankerous patient at best.  In fact, he'd already dismissed two other caregivers.  Fortunately for him, he had met his match since Deb was known for "sticking, for staying and never giving up."

It's at this point Barclay asks Deb to read to him from his final book named the Sword.  I think I've mentioned before that although this is a work of fiction many times novels are also educational.  The Sword is an account of a Japanese pilot's mission to fly off a submarine and into Oregon to create chaos in 1942. "The plan was to set the forests of the Pacific Northwest on fire."  At the time, the Department of War, kept this a secret.  Some of you may remember the expression, "Loose Lips Sink Ships."

The stories continue as Deb earns Barclay's respect and she tries her best to help her husband let go of his anger and forgive himself for his memories of war.  Ironically, it's Barclay who helps her help Michael with his insight that "It is possible for a warrior to become a man of peace."

I hope you enjoy this well-told story of love and a wedding vow not taken lightly. As well as the amazing dedication of a hospice nurse who does such difficult work everyday with empathy and compassion. 

Happy reading!



When deciding which book to review this month, I thought about a mystery or an historical novel by one of the authors I usually write about.  Then, I remembered a novel I read recently with a completely different theme.  Plus, it's nice to introduce a new author.  Ms. Webber has written a number of novels, but this is the first one that is considered women's fiction.  Another thing that I hope you'll enjoy is as the USA Today put it, "a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance and small-town Southern charm."  Something it seems to me is very appealing in today's world.

The story begins with Anna Kate being abruptly awakened very early one beautiful morning in the sleepy town of Wicklow, Alabama.  She had just arrived in town because her beloved Grandmother Zee had unexpectedly passed away.  It had been an intense week not only planning her Grandmother's funeral, but coming up-to-speed on how to reopen the Blackbird Café which had been willed to her.  Especially because she had never set foot in the Blackbird Cafe. You see, her deceased mom, Eden, had left Wicklow at eighteen years old, "vowing that we would never return." Eden was six weeks' pregnant with Anna Kate at the time.

It had only been through visits to see Anna Kate that her Grandmother had shared the legend of the blackbird pie  Zee told her that as guardians, women of Celtic decent were supposed to bake the pies "to serve those who mourn, those left behind."  And now that Zee was gone, making the pies fell on Anna Kate.

Natalie is the next character who had just moved back to Wicklow out of necessity. Natalie had needed to come home with her daughter Ollie, since her husband had died in a tragic boating accident.  Natalie is headed to the Blackbird Cafe for a piece of pie.  She was hopeful that the pie would give her the answers she needed to find peace and healing for her troubled heart. Just so her Mom, Seelie, didn't catch her since there was a decades long feud between Seelie and Anna Kate's family

As always, there is so much more to tell. Both Natalie and Anna Kate have life changing decisions to make.  Anna Kate is enrolled in medical school in the Fall, so she is determined to fulfill her two month obligation to the cafe and go back to her former life. While Natalie has to reinvent herself for the good of her infant daughter. There are lots of interesting characters in this novel which are beautifully described and brought to life. This is a heartwarming story of life, love, loss and forgiveness and a small Southern town that won't let you go.

Happy reading!



Since we're in the midst of an early heat wave, I thought it would be appropriate to review a good beach read for you.  As always, the author tells us a story of a family who has their share of "issues" (like most families) and their desire to heal and to love each other again. No one does feelings and emotions better than Kristin Hannah.

The story begins with Nora Bridge, "the newest sensation in talk radio" on the air with her show Spiritual Healing with Nora.  Some reviewers mention the purity of her heart.  But, to Nora it's more the impurity of her heart that makes her successful.  You see, the public doesn't know the real story of her past, the fact that she walked out on her husband and two daughters’ years ago.

Nora's youngest daughter, Ruby, is a struggling comedian who often uses her famous mother as material for her cynical humor.  She has never forgiven her mother for leaving them and hasn't seen Nora in almost a decade. So, when a scandalous secret is discovered about Nora's past, Ruby is offered an opportunity to write a tell-all story about her mother.

When Nora's career blows up from the negative tabloid coverage of her indiscretion, she is involved in a very serious car accident. Since she needs a care taker during her recovery the most unlikely person, Ruby, reluctantly takes on the job and Nora insists they spend the time on Summer Island in the lovely old house where Ruby grew up. What a bitter sweet time filled with memories of love and joy before she was abandoned.

As time passes Ruby discovers that Nora is not the woman she has hated all these years. She is forced to grow up and to understand that there were circumstances she had never known about that caused her mother to leave and that she desperately wanted to reconcile with her daughter.

Summer Island is a lovely novel that is filled with other side stories like Ruby's teenage love who has never found anyone like her, and a young man with terminal cancer who lives on the island and is like a son to Nora for instance. 

The surprising thing to me was the humor that Ms. Hannah includes in these emotional story lines.  It makes the story lighter and not at all like a soap opera of family problems.  I've read many of her books and have always admired her ability to make you feel that you know her characters on a very personal level.

Happy Reading!



By way of an introduction. I’ll admit that I had a bit of trouble getting “into” this book. (Actually an understatement.) In fact, I started another book but have always finished the books I start. So, I went back to Fortune’s Rocks and I’m really glad I did. You’ll need to be patient with what the author calls “nineteenth century language”. I was thankful I read on a Kindle with a dictionary available with just a touch. Some examples would be: accretion, dismasted barque, unprepossessing, pinched torpor, etc.

The story begins with Olympia a beautiful, fifteen year-old girl arriving at the beach on Fortune’s Rocks on the New England coast with her family for the summer at the turn of the 20th century. Olympia is a privileged and very well-educated young girl on the brink of becoming a young woman.

Everything changes for Olympia when she meets John Haskell a friend of her father.  Though Haskell (as she thinks of him) is a 41 year-old, married man with children, they cannot resist the passion they feel. So, they start an illicit affair which they cannot resist in spite of all moral codes both then and now..

As you can imagine, this liaison comes to a catastrophic end with many people deeply hurt and even damaged. The author beautifully tells how Olympia also suffers and is an outcast for many years to come. The journey of her life from this point is far from the pampered existence she was used to, which she accepts as her penance.

I hope you’ll enjoy this passionate, beautifully written historical novel as I did. It not only reveals a disastrous love story but, the huge class differences during this era. Young immigrant children working in textile mills beginning at 10 years of age for example with little to no health care for anyone.

I hope you’ll enjoy this story of love, loss, and ultimately redemption.

Happy reading!




This novel is the author's debut novel which usually bodes well, especially when it becomes a New York Times best seller within weeks. So, you know how most murder mysteries give you an inkling of "who dunnit".  Not this skillfully written novel. It's very rare and an excellent read!

The story begins with thirty-three year old Alicia Berenson shooting her husband five times in the face. (a slow start)  She and Gabriel were both artists.  She a painter and Gabriel a fashion photographer.  This was a seemingly devoted couple so from the start - the why of it was the question.  You see, after the killing Alicia cut her own wrists, but survived and never spoke again.

From this point, Theo Faber a criminal psychotherapist narrates the story. He had waited a long time for the chance to try to help Alicia and make her speak and tell her story. He went above and beyond the boundaries that a therapist normally goes.  Often facing the wrath of his co-workers and supervisors.  It had been six years since the killing, so her family and Gabriels were very reluctant to dredge up that painful time.

Another interesting facet of the story is that Theo says, "We are drawn to this profession because we are damaged - we study psychology to heal ourselves." His contention is that our personalities are formed in early childhood.  In his case, his abusive father caused terrible anxiety because he never felt safe.

As always there is so much more to the story.  For example, Theo's devotion to his wife Kathy who was the love of his life.  He says, "Kathy brought me into a magical world of warmth and light."  He had never been truly loved before.  Until she betrayed him...

Well, as usual I'll let you discover the rest of this fascinating mystery.  If you skip to the end - you'll regret it!!

Happy reading!



This highly acclaimed novel is one of my favorite books  in a very long time.  It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, New York Times best seller, one of the best books of the year by NPR, and many more. 

Have you ever read a book where a house (really an amazing mansion) is the central focus of the story?  The Dutch House is the dream of Cyril Conroy.  The unfortunate thing is that his wife does not share his dream so she and his two children Danny and Maeve experience decades of trying to overcome the unhappiness and turmoil that follow their rags to riches story.

The story begins with fifteen year-old Maeve and eight year-old Danny being summoned to meet a friend of their fathers. The friend, Andrea, we're told was the first woman he had brought home since their mother left.  When Maeve asked, "How do you do? Andrea replied she was very well. Of course she was.  It had been her goal for years to get inside the house."

The book continues by  describing the remarkable bond of the two siblings.  It was described by one reviewer as "a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past." The author has a wonderful way of telling this sad story with just the right amount of humor.

As Danny grows older the first Saturday of every month was a special day.  He gets to ride along with his father to collect the rent from his tenants. It's a learning experience as his father teaches him many of the life and business lessons that made him so successful. After dinner that day, Maeve wanted a detailed account of everything they did.  Because, although she was seven years older and excellent in Math she was never invited to ride along.

As this book spans five decades in the life of this family I can't begin to tell you all the things that transpire.  In a nutshell though, the one most traumatic event is the untimely death of their father.  Since they had been deserted by their mother and their father had married Andrea a couple of years before, they were at the mercy of their truly wicked stepmother!

I hope you'll enjoy this beautifully written story of a family, but mostly about a brother and sister who in spite of their past love and support each other unconditionally.

Happy reading!



Can you imagine if your dreams could give you a glimpse of what might have been? Or lead you towards things you dreamed about without even realizing it?

This is the main theme of this book.  It's about the forever love of Kate and Patrick which even tragedy can't destroy. 

The story begins with Kate and Patrick, newly weds, starting their day making plans for that evening.  But, in only 30 minutes Kate's world comes crashing down. Needless to say, this tragedy changes the course of her life.

The book picks up 12 years later when Kate is rushing to meet her friend for dinner.  Dan surprises her with a restaurant full of their friends and family and a proposal! She thought she would never find love again but Dan says, "I'm going to make you the happiest woman in the world."

It's soon after that Kate begins having difficulty sleeping. She begins having very vivid dreams of Patrick and another life that could have been.  They are so real that when she awakens she's confused and wondering if Patrick is trying to tell her something... Their mantra "I knew before I met you that I was meant to be yours" plays over and over in her mind.

The author tells us "The Life Intended is the story of Kate Waithman finding her way back to the life she was supposed to have all along."  The book delves into details about foster care, cochlear implants, deafness and music therapy. All things I found interesting to learn about.  Although fiction, so many novels help to educate us in a very entertaining, enjoyable way.

I hope you enjoy this lovely story.  Happy reading!




Don't you love to read an historical novel and learn a little known fact of our history?  This novel is such a book.  The book covers two subjects I had never heard of.  First, that there was a Pack Horse Library Project that was established in 1935, as part of President Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration. The project was designed to bring books and reading material into Appalachia, the poorest and most isolated areas of eastern Kentucky.  The area had few schools, no libraries and mostly inaccessible roads. These fearless Kentucky librarians were known as "book women" because there were only a small number of men in their ranks. 

The second fascinating subject concerns a family from France who immigrated to Kentucky's remote wilderness named Fugate. This family carried a very rare gene that causes skin to be blue.  It was in Troublesome Creek where it was first discovered.  The disease that causes this is called Methemoglobinemia. 

This story is based on these two interesting subjects and the author hoped "to pay tribute to the fearsome Pack Horse librarians - and to write a human story  set in a unique landscape."

The story begins with nineteen-year-old Cussy Mary Carter in a heated discussion with her Pa.  You see, he's preparing a courting candle for her latest suitor. He feels this will not only have her safely married, but forced to quit her job as a pack horse librarian.  Unfortunately, Cussy's prospects for marriage were very limited because she was the "last female of blue mountainfolk". Blues had been ridiculed and discriminated against for decades.

The story continues telling of Cussy's love of her books and serving her patrons who look forward to her visits and the books and reading materials she delivers. She did so much more than deliver books. Her visits gave these terribly impoverished people bits of the outside world they would never have seen otherwise.  You'll get to meet them and learn their stories.

Finally, this is the kind of book that gives you a glimpse into the past and how other generations survived with next to nothing to sustain them.  Children dying of starvation, coal miners working in life threatening conditions and rampant bigotry toward anyone who didn't fit the mold.

On that cheerful note - happy reading!



I'm excited to share this charming novel with you as it's quite unusual.  (At least to me.) First, it's written by a Minneapolis based author who has been a chef, caterer and culinary instructor.  In addition, her resume includes having graduated from La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris.  Secondly, she wrote her first novel, "Alexandra the Grate" at the age of 82 years young!  Dancing on a Silver Moon is the sequel to that novel.

The story begins with Alex deciding to downsize by selling the beautiful home where she raised her beloved son David and was the dutiful wife to her former husband in a forever: marriage which had ended bitterly.

After her very popular cooking show ends, Alex still needs to support herself and find security and a retirement plan for the future.  As another door opens she is offered exactly what she needs.  A position as a culinary arts teacher at a local community college.  She would be doing what she loved best mentoring young people!

Alex has all levels of students, but her outstanding protégé is a boy called Garrett. He is extremely talented and becomes a valuable asset to her program and she becomes a lifelong inspiration and friend to him.

Just when life falls into a very comfortable routine - she is swept off her feet by a very charming fellow, Charlie Coleman.  Once again Alex is faced with a life changing decision.  Running off to New Orleans with a "lunatic musician" or staying put in her safe, secure life.

I think you'll thoroughly enjoy the rest of this charming story.  Alex again finds herself making tough decisions and reinventing herself in order to be the tenacious, courageous woman she's become.

 Happy reading!



As you may have noticed Ms. Hannah is one of my favorite authors. Mainly because her writing is so beautifully descriptive and she often writes about the struggles of women trying to help others which in turn helps them to heal. This novel is no exception.

The theme of this book is very special and unique.  It centers around two sisters who are very different, but have a common goal.  Trying to help a tiny six-year-old girl who appears one afternoon "hidden high in the autumn-colored leaves of the maple tree." The little child will not speak and holds a snarling wolf pup in her arms.

The story begins with one of the sisters, Julia Cates, a psychiatrist who lives in Los Angeles going to court to respond to a charge that she was partially responsible for the suicide of one her patients who killed three of her friends and then herself. She is exonerated that morning, but unfortunately her reputation and practice are ruined.

Meanwhile, her sister Ellie Barton, who is the Police Chief in their hometown of Rain Valley in the Pacific Northwest is dealing with the little girl in the Maple tree who won't come down! Ellie had read all kinds of manuals about police procedures and dealing with murder and mayhem, but there was nothing to prepare her for a silent child and a snarling wolf pup. She needs help and that would be her sister Julia.

Julia and Ellie then take on the extremely difficult task of finding this abused and battered child's family.  Alice (the name they give her) is malnourished, dehydrated, and covered with evidence of severe physical abuse including ligature marks on one ankle indicating she'd been tied for a long period of time.

With infinite patience and love, Julia and Ellie work tirelessly to save this beautiful child and discover her past.  It is a story you will long remember as one of tender healing and recovery as Julia makes remarkable progress with one word at a time - safe.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful story of two sisters saving Alice and themselves as well.

Happy reading!


I think it's always fun to try a new author you haven't read before.  In this case, I was really happy I did.  The interesting thing is that the main character, Shelby Lake who is a female Deputy Sheriff, tells the story in the first person.  A book written by a male author. I don't think that's very common...

Another enjoyable thing is the multiple story lines in this book. It is not only a story about a 10-year-old boy who goes missing and his devastated family, but also Shelby's story which includes her Dad the town's sheriff who is desperately trying to hang on with early onset Alzheimer’s.

The story begins with Shelby telling how her Dad rescued her as a newborn who was left on his doorstep on a freezing night.  His house used to be a church complete with a white steeple and stained glass windows. So, the birth mother assumed she would be found. Shelby was always thankful that a wonderful, caring 30 year old Tom Ginn found her in time.  He was to become her Dad and best friend.

It's a beautiful summer’s day when young Jeremiah disappears with the only clue being his bicycle tipped over on the shoulder of the road. Jeremiah's older brother tells everyone that the reason they didn't stay together that morning was because Jeremiah wanted to go home and he wasn't ready.  Needless to say, this did not make their parents happy that he let his younger brother go alone. It's at this point in the story that the lies begin...

As the investigation begins no one wants to admit the awful truth. The child is not just lost in the woods, but really missing. "Hard to believe someone took him.  Not around here."  The next day there was nothing to do but call in the FBI to help with the search. Of course, along with the FBI comes the inevitable media circus.  In spite of all the resources of the FBI no suspect was ever arrested.  Summer turns to fall and fall turns to winter but, "In every investigation where there are simply no more clues and no matter hard you try, you can't create them."

I think I'll leave you to discover the interesting characters and twists in this story that I doubt you'll see coming.  It's Shelby who discovers the clue that no one else had to unlock the final secret. Her Dad tells her, "Do you know what they say about the deep, deep snow?"  "It hides every secret.  It covers every sin."

Happy reading!





Masked Prey is the 30th Prey novel by this Pulitzer Prize winning author.  I have read all 30 primarily because for many years they took place in Mn. where Mr. Sanford called home. In recent times, Lucas Davenport, his main character has become a U.S. Marshall  which takes him to Washington, D.C.  Davenport is known for his toughness and unorthodox methods which get results, but are often very dangerous. He also adds comic relief at times in a very irreverent way.

The story begins with 17 year old Audrey Coil and a classmate working on a video for her blog when they come across another blog titled 1919.  It contains candid photos of children of influential Washington politicians outside their schools including Audrey. Along with the photos are vicious political rants from various extremist and radical groups. It's this discovery that causes Lucas Davenport to be summoned to Washington D.C. to investigate this troubling blog.

From this point Lucas and his team investigate a number of Nazi and other right-wing groups hoping to avoid any violence.  Needless to say they encounter some very dangerous and life threatening "interviews".  Then the situation gets worse when "a number of people in these alt-rights groups have gotten letters suggesting that the meaning of the 1919 group was to encourage somebody to shoot a kid.."

In closing, while this was definitely a good plot it contained way more information about guns and fringe groups than I needed to know.  If this is of interest to you - you'll enjoy this book more than I did.  I think I mentioned in another review that my definition of a really good read is one that you can't wait to get back to.  I could wait...

Happy reading!!





By way of introduction, this book is what I would call a labor of love for the author.  He spent almost three years writing the first manuscript and decided it did not meet his expectations. This Tender Land was to be a companion novel to Ordinary Grace which was published in 2013, and widely acclaimed by readers and critics.  In fact, it won the Edgar Award for the Best Novel that year. I too loved Ordinary Grace.  A beautifully written story.  (You can find a review of that book in the archives.)

Mr. Kreuger then made another attempt and he writes "I saw almost immediately the story I should have been writing."  He then spent another three years and writes, "I love this book every bit as I loved Ordinary Grace."

The story begins with an aged Odie O'Banion spinning tales to his great-grandchildren. He tells them to "Open yourself to every possibility, for there is nothing your heart can imagine that is not so."  It's a tale of "killing and kidnapping of courage and cowardice, love and betrayal and of course, there will be hope."

Odie and Albert (Odie's older brother) find themselves in the "quiet room" at the Lincoln Indian Training School in the summer of 1932. A place that had been used for solitary confinement when the facility had been a military outpost. Odie is only eight and Albert is twelve and they were being punished for daring to question Mrs. Brickman about the meaning of story she'd just read the children.

The brothers' father was dead less than a week at this point and their mother had passed away two years earlier.  They had no family in Minnesota so they were sent to live at the Indian Training school.  They were the only white boys in the school and learned quickly that Mrs. Brickman, the school's administrator, richly deserved her nickname the "Black Witch".  The children were beaten, half starved and required to work back breaking work on local farms to help fund the Brickman's lifestyle.

Four years pass and the old, "frightened Odie O'Banion like my mother and father, long dead" finds circumstances even more unbearable and the two brothers, their Native American friend Mose and a little orphan friend Emmy escape from the school in hopes of finding a forever home.

They start out in a canoe on the Gilead River in Minnesota, to the mighty Mississippi with their dream of reaching St. Louis where they have an Aunt. The orphans trip is one filled with a series of terrifying and sometimes heart-warming experiences.

From a drunken farmer who imprisons them to work on his farm, to bootleggers and then to Sister Eve and her healing crusade. They also meet some wonderful people who live in "Hooverville" a shanty village of families with almost nothing, but good hearts who share what little food they have.

I'll leave you to enjoy this beautifully written novel that you will long remember for it's beautiful prose and message of hope, the vagabonds never gave up on. I hope you enjoy this wonderful epic by an outstanding Minnesota author who puts his heart and soul into this story.

Happy reading!

P.S. While this is a work of fiction, places like the Indian Training School actually existed. In Pipestone there was the Pipestone Indian Training School where Native American children were taken from their families to "re-educate" them.



This is a story based on true events which transpired in Huntington, West Virginia which happens to be the author's hometown in a 24-hour period of terrible tragedy.  You see, the overdoses began just after midnight when a young woman locked herself in the bathroom of a gas station and is found a short time later dead from tainted heroin.

This death is just the first that day.  What follows is twenty-eight overdoses of which four deaths occur.  Bell Elkins is the main character in this novel.  She is the county prosecutor in the small town of Ackers Gap, West Virginia.  Actually, you should know that this is the sixth in a series of "Bell Elkins" books. It can be a stand alone story, but there is background information that is helpful in understanding her history.

 Bell has done her best in the past eight years to help her hometown but, she considered it a "rescue mission" since the coal mines shut down and drug addiction was rampant.  Because "West Virginia still had the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the nation."

So, as you can imagine, the book follows the investigation of these overdoses and the Sheriff, Deputies, and Paramedics who are doing what they can to stop the dying.  There are back stories of course, like the relationship that Bell has with her sister Shirley who spent most of her life in prison for killing their abusive Father.

I'll be honest, this book sounds like a "page turner" which is why I started it.  But, to me it was really slow and had way too many characters.  Unless you want to keep a log of who is who, I had to go back and figure it out.  I have read other books by Ms. Keller which I enjoyed.  So, if you are a fan of hers maybe you'll enjoy this one too.

 P.S. I read one customer review on Amazon that said she thought it was excellent...

 Happy reading!



Between Sisters is another engaging and beautifully written novel about a family with an assortment of troubles and few joys along the way.  Ms. Hannah if you'll remember also wrote two other books worth reading. "The Nightingale" and "The Great Alone" which are vividly descriptive and heartfelt.

This is the story of two sisters who couldn't be more different. Meghann Dontess, the older sister is an high-powered divorce attorney in Seattle with a failed marriage and a distain for intimacy in it's wake. While her younger sister, Claire lives a very different life as a single Mother in a small town in the Pacific Northwest helping her Dad run a low budget resort.

The painful memory that haunts the two sisters goes back to when they were 16 and 9 and Meghann had to make the painful choice to leave her sister with Claire's biological father, who they had never met, when they were abandoned by their Mother. "Now all these years later, their lives were connected by the thinnest of strands." It turned them into "polite strangers who shared a blood type and an ugly childhood."

There is also another mysterious and sad side-story about a man, Joe Wyatt, who is on the run from his former life.  You wonder what he has to do with this story until the author brings him home to the same small town in the Pacific Northwest.

As the story progresses Claire and her long-time friends decide on a night on the town.  She's on the dance floor with her friends when Bobby Austin takes the stage. He says, "This song is for The One. The one I've been lookin'for all my life." Claire had never been in love until that minute! She was thirty-five years old and she knew he was The One.

It's at this point that Meg has a life threatening experience which changes the course of her life.  During the same period of time, Claire calls to tell her she's marrying Bobby Jack Austin after knowing him for all of ten days.  Meg says "I need to meet him now. I'll be there tomorrow night."

The rest of the story unfolds as Meg volunteers to plan the wedding and works to make it the most special day of Claire's life in spite of her serious reservations about her choice of husbands. While staying with her sister Meg meets the mysterious stranger, Joe, and the two stories intersect. They have absolutely nothing in common except their loneliness and longing to connect with another human being.

There's so much more to the story, but I always think it's better to discover most of the tale on your own.  As in real life, there are highs like an audition for Bobby in Nashville to perhaps realize his dream. Then lows like Meghann returning to Seattle and her lonely, melancholy thoughts of Joe. Finally, when Claire and Bobby are at there happiest, Meg gets a call from Claire who has just returned from Nashville.  Claire is in her car and screams, "I can't remember how to get home."

As always, I hope you enjoy the story of two sisters who rediscover their love and bond that they shared as children.  Ms. Hannah has such a gift of writing about families and their relationships in a very tender, moving way.

Happy reading!


This is an historical novel about a time during World War II in which there were POW internment camps around our country for German soldiers. In fact, we had camps right here in MN.  The prisoners were assigned jobs working in the fields to help with the shortage of manpower due to the war. It was a pretty well kept secret since the government didn't want to scare our citizens with the enemy right in our own back yards.

 But, it's also the story of a young journalist, Emily Emerson, who is in a very bad place.  She's just been laid off from her job, she's depressed just thinking about her dysfunctional family and most of all she can't shake her guilt over giving her baby daughter up for adoption 18 years ago.

The story begins with Emily receiving a mysterious package from Munich, Germany. The package contains a painting of a beautiful young woman standing at the edge of a sugarcane field in a red dress.  The only message that accompanied the painting was a cryptic note:  Your grandfather never stopped loving her.  Margaret was the love of his life.  Emily is totally shocked because "the man had vanished before my father was even born." Her grandmother would never speak of him.

It's at this point that you go back in time to 1944, when you learn about the POW camp in south FL near Lake Okeechobee and the prisoners who work there. It's where Peter first sees Margaret.  A beautiful young woman with long, brown hair in a red cotton dress.

The novel then weaves the past with the present as Emily trys to discover who her grandmother really was and who was her grandfather? As a journalist, she uses every resource she can think of and at times it seems hopeless. As the Author notes, "when one is living with a broken heart, it's too hard to give voice to the stories that hurt the most."

This is a story of forever love, abandonment both real and imagined, long kept secrets and finally learning to forgive others as well as yourself. 

Happy reading!



I've not read Ms. Hilderbrand before, but I learned that she is referred to as the "The Queen of Beach Reads" which makes sense since she has lived most of her life on Nantucket writing and raising her three children. This is the story of a family living through the tumultuous Summer of '69.  As she writes, "Nixon was a new president, the war in Vietnam was raging as well as the protests against the war, civil rights and women's lib were hot topics."

The story begins with one of the saddest days of Kate's life.  Her 19 year old son, Tiger, receives his letter from the Selective Service calling him to duty in Vietnam. Ironically, he is to report on Kate's birthday - April 21. She dearly loves all of her four children but "she will say only that she loves him differently."

The book continues from the viewpoint of Kate and her family. Her Mother, Exalta is the matriarch of the family and owns their summer place on Nantucket.  Blair the eldest child is twenty-four and marries that summer and quickly becomes pregnant with twins.  Kirby is the "free spirit" of the family still attending college and as many protests as possible against the war.  Jessie at 13 is the youngest and the closest with her beloved big brother, Tiger. And we shouldn't forget Kate's husband David who works in Boston so is just an occasional visitor on the island.

One of the sad, but important parts of the book are about Kate's first husband - Wilder.  He was a combat veteran in Korea who came back from war a changed man.  He was very depressed and angry.  So, when he died from a gun shot wound while cleaning his Beretta, the insurance company claimed his death was a suicide.  Kate was left with three young children. She hired an attorney to represent her and convince the court the death was accidental. She hired David Levin (her second husband) to handle the case and six months later they started dating.

Throughout the rest of the book each chapter is entitled a different current song. Born to be Wild - a chapter about Kirby.  The wild child.  Fly me to the Moon - a chapter about Blair who is married to a controlling astrophysics professor at MIT who is working with NASA on the first moon landing. Time of the Season - a chapter about Jessie who just turned thirteen and is a typically curious teenager. And finally, Those Were the Days about Kate.  Unfortunately for everyone, Kate's answer to the worry about Tiger is alcohol. She spends a great deal of time in a haze not really noticing her other children.

I'll let you discover for yourself the rest of this families dynamics, secrets, and inspiration too, as Tiger serves his country with courage and valor. In my opinion, this is an fictional account of a Summer in which our country went through a number of historical benchmarks.  Not just a fluffy "beach read".

 Happy reading!



I read Ordinary Grace a few years ago and thought it was a beautifully written book. This book was a stand alone book unlike Mr. Kreuger's well known Cork O'Connor series which are excellent too. Last year I had the chance to meet him at a book signing and he mentioned he was working on a new novel.  A "companion" story to Ordinary Grace. Since I couldn't remember the whole story and wanted to read this new book - This Tender Land, I did something I don't think I've ever done before.  I read Ordinary Grace again!

And now I have an even greater appreciation of Mr. Kreuger's gift.  His descriptions of places and his character's emotions as they deal with multiple tragedies during the Summer of 1961, in the fictional town of New Bremen, Mn. are truly amazing.

The story begins with this first sentence, "All the dying that summer began with the death of a child, a boy with golden hair and thick glasses, killed on the railroad tracks." This is the first of three deaths 13 year old Frank Drum has to deal with this Summer and the story is told from his perspective looking back four decades.

Frank is somewhat of a rebel who really has his doubts about God which makes having a  Methodist minister for a Dad a little tricky. His Mom on the other hand is an artistic musician who doesn't really enjoy being married to a minister - he was "supposed" to be a rich lawyer! Frank adores his older sister Ariel who is 18 and planning to attend Juilliard.  His younger brother Jake is Frank's best friend who is unfortunately afflicted with a stutter which worsened  when he was nervous or upset.

The beautiful Summer days bring more tragedy to the small usually quiet town and then sadly to Frank's family and the way the author describes these events with compassion and grace is exceptional.  This is so much more that a mystery, it describes how a family and a small town can go from innocence to learning to deal and grieve while things seem to be falling apart all around them.

The Edgar Award winning best novel of the year in 2014, was so richly deserved.

I'm sure you will love this book as I did.

Happy reading!




I have read two other books in recent times, but when I read this book I couldn't wait to get it out to you. It's author has published other essays and books on herbs and cooking, but I believe this is her first novel. It was also interesting to me because she is a Minnesotan who wrote a fictionalized version about two very strong, courageous women with a dream. Can you imagine two 21 year old women leaving their family and comforts of home in Minnesota to go to northwestern North Dakota in 1900?

The story begins with Tillie Melbakken and Bertha Harstad corresponding with a fellow Minnesotan who had already staked a claim in North Dakota in a Norwegian community.  He encouraged them to come to the community if they were sure they had the "strength and stamina" to take on the challenge. As Tillie and Bertha board the train to begin their adventure they are both excited, but Bertha admits, ""it's natural to be a bit afraid" as they travel west. Fortunately, Hans and Henry were there as promised to help them get settled. They assured the "girls" as they were referred to, that in just a few days they would put up temporary huts for them for shelter until their shacks were built. The men dumped hay into the tiny hut for them to sleep upon. So, for the remainder of the book they refer to going to bed as "hitting the hay".

As the book continues you meet a wealth of characters who are members of the Norwegian community and become Tillie and Bertha's extended family. The people of the community seem so real that you feel connections with their friends and feel their joy or pain as if you knew them also.  From this point on you'll continue the journey through good times and tragedies which the girls encounter as time goes by. Their hard work and strong faith carries them through as they not only work the land, but start a school in their tar paper shacks for the children of the community. Who would guess there was even time for a little romance? One other interesting note from the Author is that Tillie Hagenstad Stoen was the Mother of Ms. Neely's adopted Father.

I think I'll leave you here by saying that I've read many books and rarely have I read one where the characters are so real and the descriptions are so beautifully written that you can picture the people and their surroundings in a very special way.

Thanks Sue for sharing this very special book with me.

Happy reading! 



I think I'll start with an interesting bit of information from the author.  In the Author's Note he reveals that many years ago he heard a story about two prominent business men in Mississippi in the 1930's.  "One killed the other for no discernible reason" and the killer would never reveal the reason for the murder. "And so, I stole this story" states the author.

 If you enjoy a mystery in which you don't know the why or who of the story to the very end. This is the book for you.  And, if you are interested in books about World War II and in particular the war in the Philippines including the Bataan Death March. This is the book for you.

 The story begins in 1946, when Pete Banning wakes with the reality that "it was time for the killing." Pete you'll learn is a decorated World War II hero with severe leg wounds to prove it.  He believes to avoid the killing would be an act of cowardice...  So when Pete walked into the Methodist church, he was a soldier on a mission. Who commits a shocking crime.

What follows in Part I is the aftermath of his deed and his refusal to offer any kind of an explanation or justification for his act.  He simply states - "I have nothing to say." Sadly, this is what he also tells his beloved family, friends, and his long-time attorney.

 Part II goes back in time to 1925, when Pete was twenty-two years old and had just graduated from West Point. He is invited to attend a debutante ball and is a very handsome young man in his formal army dress whites.  It's here he meets the most beautiful girl in the room Liza Sweeney.  Pete is "thoroughly smitten" and the courtship began.  They were married the year they met.

In 1941, when President Roosevelt announced a complete oil embargo on Japan, war seemed imminent.  Pete as a reservist received his orders in September of 1941.  Pete's assignment sent him to the Philippines and the "timing couldn't have been worse."

It's from this point the author goes into a lengthy description of General MacArthur's  handling of the American forces who were confined to the peninsula.  During The Battle of Bataan the Americans and Filipinos fought valiantly with little food and non-existant reinforcements, while the Japanese had an endless supply of men, armaments and provisions.

I learned so much about the incredible bravery and sacrifice that thousands of American and Filipino soldiers endured not only on the Bataan Death March, but in the prisoner of war  camps "where the worst was yet to come." The cruelty inflicted on these men is beyond belief. In the final part of the story, Pete's children are left to deal with many legal issues as  well as trying to help their Mother recover from her bouts of severe depression. They have more questions then answers about their Father's crime. When at the very end of the book they finally learn the "truth". Joel (Pete's son) wishes he was "blissfully ignorant" since one lie changed the course of so many lives with terrible consequences.

Though this is a fictional story, "the suffering and heroism of those soldiers is difficultto imagine." A quote from John Grisham.

Happy reading!






This is a story based on the unbelievable true events that transpired in this country from the 1920's through 1950.  The story of babies and older children who were either kidnapped or taken from their parents under false pretenses.  This book tells how the Tennessee Children's Home Society and Georgia Tann, it's director, sold these children for profit and her own greed. Blond children in particular were popular and at greater risk if born to poor families, single mothers, or those needing help from the welfare services. The fictional Foss children, were such a poor family who dearly loved their children, but were taken from their parents by "authorities" who were on her payroll. Ms. Tann had a high-profile list of people who illegally adopted these children including politicians, Hollywood celebrities and other wealthy individuals.

The story is told from two perspectives - the first from present day and the character's name is Avery Stafford.  She is from a prominent family in Aiken, South Carolina.  Avery has returned home from Washington, D.C. to help with her father's re-election campaign. Her father is not well and going through cancer treatment while trying to appear in public as strong and capable as before his diagnosis.

 While in Aiken, Avery meets an elderly woman named May Crandall, who is drawn to her and who seems to have a connection to her grandmother and causes her to look into her grandmother's past which seems somewhat mysterious and leads to long kept secrets.

The other perspective is from twelve year old Rill Foss.  The year is 1939, and she lives on a river boat with her parents.  Rill is the oldest of five children and she helps care for her four younger siblings.  They are known as Shanty boat kids and their entertainment comes from the river and the woods that surround them. When Rill's mother and father need to leave the boat for the hospital, the "authorities" swoop in and take the children away.

The book then has alternating chapters telling the story of Avery's family and Rill's which the author beautifully weaves into one tale of finding the truth of her grandmother's past and for Rill trying to survive, while holding onto her family.

When Avery is told that her bracelet, a family heirloom from her grandmother, was found with May at the care facility, she returns to visit May and retrieve her bracelet. She's told that May is having a difficult time adjusting to leaving her home and is a bit "confused". It's during this visit that Avery becomes even more curious. A very old photograph of a young handsome couple sits on May's night stand and the woman in the photo has a striking resemblance to her grandmother. Is she imagining this connection to her family?

The other story line, as I mentioned is about Rill Foss and her siblings who have been taken from their home on the river by officers claiming their Mamma and Daddy are waiting for them. They hope if they cooperate things will be alright... A quote from the book tells us why this is considered by at least by one other reviewer as one of the best books you'll read this year. "The abduction of the five little river gypsies who suffered at the hands of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society deserve to have their stories carried forward." At the end of this book there's a note from the author. Ms. Wingate gives us many references that verify the abuse and cruelty that actually happened in our country "that in this land of the free and  home of the brave there is a great baby market?". A quote from the Saturday Evening Post,  February 1, 1930.

I hope you enjoy this story of a family who are separated as children, but by mere chance are able to find their way back together.

Happy reading!   







This is another debut novel by an author who is also a wildlife scientist which adds many interesting facts about the  desolate marshlands in which this story unfolds. The marsh and it's shore land along the North Carolina coast was known by early explorers as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic” because of riptides, furious winds and rugged shoreline.

Where the Crawdads Sing is a beautifully written story of a young child who is abandoned and left to survive with only memories of things her Ma and brother Jodie taught her by age 6 and by observing the wonders of nature.

The story begins in 1969 when two young boys out riding their bikes discover the dead body of Chase Andrews,  a local man lying in the swamp. From here the rest of the book tells us the events that lead to his death. Now it's 1952 and we learn the story of six year old Kya and her struggles to survive. It’s a steamy August day when her Ma leaves the shack which is their home.  She watches her Ma walk down the rutted lane.  Kya waits for her usual wave at the end of the lane, which never comes… It didn't take long for Kya's oldest brother and two older sisters to leave too.  You see, they’ve been living in a terrible, abusive household their whole lives. "They had endured Pa’s red-faced drunken rages" for too long. Then the final straw, her closest brother Jodie tells Kya he can’t stay either.  “Over the next few days, Kya learned from the mistakes of others and more from the minnows how to live with her abusive Pa.  Just keep out of the way, don’t let him see you, dart from sunspots to shadows.”

The book then goes back and forth to 1969 and the investigation into the death of Chase Andrews, a former high school football star and ladies man. His body was found at the base of an old fire tower which on face value looks like an accident.  But, there are no footprints, tire tracks, or evidence except for a dead body. How and why was Chase there? One morning when Pa has gone to talk to the army about his belief that more disability is due him, Kya wonders to the lagoon and sees Pa's boat drifting on the line. "But, being only seven and a girl, she’d never taken the boat out by herself”. This opens up a whole new world for Kya. As she steers through the waters of the marsh there's a beaver lodge, turtles sliding from logs, and a whitetail doe with last springs fawn lapping water. And most amazing, she comes across a boy fishing in a battered rig. In spite of her reluctance to talk to this stranger, even though he smiled in a warm and open way, she had no choice. She was lost, low on gas, and a storm was coming. The young 12 year old boy, Tate Walker, turns out to be one of the only true friends Kya would ever have. Kya's passion as she grows older is collecting feathers, shells, abandoned bird nests and many other miracles of nature.  Also, to Kya's delight her Pa takes her fishing that spring and teaches her to fish.  When she reels in a big fish, her Pa almost smiles and for the first time in her young life calls her “hon”.

This lonely, sensitive and intelligent girl grows into a beautiful young woman who the townspeople call the Marsh Girl.  Her only friend, Tate, teaches her to read which is the greatest gift he could have given her.  His friendship and her friends the gulls shape her solitary life.

There is so much more to this wonderful story, but I think I'll let you discover the many other interesting and mysterious aspects of this book on your own. I hope it will keep you entertained and anxious to continue reading, as it did me.

 Happy reading!!





I've never read Thomas Perry before, but I found this spy story one that moves along nicely and relevant to many stories you see on the news about monies given to foreign countries to help them in many different ways.  This is the story of a military intelligence officer who has been hunted for 35 years, for trying to do the right thing.

The story begins with Dan Chase taking his two big mutts, Dave and Carol, for their daily four to five mile walk in Northern, New England. Dan wore a pair of short leashes hanging around his neck.  His belief was "that all dogs wanted to be good dogs" so if he saw a stranger, he could snap the leashes to their collars. It's at this point that his instincts kick in and he senses that he is being followed. When he returns home there  are no signs that whoever was following him had broken in. But as a cautious man, he sets up some old fashioned security - tin cans connected to invisible fishing line around the entry ways.

I'll leave you hanging right there, but it gets pretty exciting at this point... He collects his escape kit loaded with two guns, spare magazines, three wallets with different identities as well as American and Canadian passports and lots of cash.

As you will find out, as a young man he was discharged from the Army and moved into a civilian special ops status that left no records. His first assignment was to deliver a huge amount of money to Libya to a middle-man named Faris Hamzah. Dan stayed there for two months waiting for the money to do it's work. The insurgents were short of food,  weapons, and fuel. Meanwhile, Faris Hamzah, was driving a new car, a Rolls-Royce and his body guards were driving two new Range Rovers. When he reported this to his handler, his reply was "you only gave him twenty million". It was then that he made the decision that changed the course of his life.  To try to do the right thing.

Throughout the book Dan takes on several identities and moves several times.  There was even time for a little romance.

 The sad part is that it's not only the Libyan assassins that have him running, but our own government who have falsely labeled him a traitor and a thief as part of a cover-up. I'm sure you've gotten the gist of this story by now.  There is lots of action and exciting parts that have you wondering if he will come out alive.  He's been living on the edge for so many years he's not afraid of death, but would rather be alive enjoying his long walks with his two dogs and maintaining a long-distance relationship with his daughter and two grandsons.

'til next time, happy reading!!!






This is the story of two women.  One an adult, Angie Malone who has longed for a baby during the fourteen years of her marriage and a young seventeen year old girl Lauren Ribido who has longed for a mother who loved her and took care of her.

The story begins with Angie Malone returning home to West Bend for a family dinner.  She's from a large, wonderful Italian family and it's good to see everyone. Except, Angie is still grieving the loss of her baby girl Sophia who only lived a few short days.  Prior to this two other babies had ended in a miscarriage. Their final attempt at becoming parents was adoption which also ended badly. After six months of supporting a teenage girl who promised them her baby, she changed her mind once the child was born.

It's at this point that Angie and Conlan decide to end their marriage. "Her need for a child had been like a high tide, that had drowned them."  While Angie is deciding what comes next, she finds out that her families' restaurant which has been the hub of their family for decades, is in financial trouble. "Mama" has a suggestion, "Angie can help". As a successful creative director she has created many successful campaigns which her deceased "Papa" had been so proud of.  So, begins a new chapter in Angie's life.  She moves back to the beach house near her family home in West Bend, Washington.

Lauren Ribido is a bright, motivated young woman who is working very hard to be the best she can be.  She's a senior at "one of the best private schools in Washington on full Scholarship."  Unfortunately, her single Mom is more interested in hanging at the local pub and finding someone to love her than in actually caring for Lauren as she should. Now, Lauren is working to pay the past due rent, studying to earn a scholarship for college and keep her grades high.

One rainy night, Angie and Lauren "meet" in a parking lot where Lauren is distributing flyers reading "Work Wanted. Steady, Reliable." In the pouring rain, Angie convinces Lauren to take a wad of bills which goes immediately to help pay her rent.

As the story goes on, Angie and Lauren form a very special bond. Angie hires Lauren at the family restaurant and becomes a part of the DeSaria family. (Mama isn't sure since Lauren isn't Italian.)  Then when Lauren's Mom abandons her Angie doesn't hesitate to offer her a place to live.

There are many more dramatic events, but I hope this much peaks your interest to read this emotional story of how these characters find hope and love when it seems impossible.  As you know, Kristin Hannah has a wonderful way of telling a story as in "The Nightingale" or "The Great Alone".  Happy reading!!





This 2015 Pulitzer Prize and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence novel was highly recommended to me, so despite the fact that it was another book about World War Two, I wanted to read it.  Although it is beautifully written, you have to know going in – it’s not a “beach read”.  It’s challenging at least it was for me… There is a great deal of technical information regarding electrical circuity and the study of marine biology. The vocabulary in this book is also challenging.  I think I have a fairly good vocabulary, but I was happy to be reading on my Kindle, because I had to look up more words than I care to admit.

 The story begins in 1944 in the beautiful beach front town of Saint-Malo in Brittany, France. “ A sightless sixteen-year-old girl named Marie-Laure LeBlanc” Is listening as Allied bombers attack the city to reclaim the city from the Germans. Meanwhile just streets away. a young German soldier, Werner Pfennig is told to “get to the cellar”.  This once beautiful hotel has become a fortress to make a last stand to hold the city.

 There are so many elements to this story that it would be very difficult to cover all of them in this review. (It took the author 10 years to write this 530 page book!) This book is mainly about two children – one French girl who survived in spite of unbelievable odds and one German boy who due to his remarkable understanding of circuitry is inducted into a Nazi military training school, training boys as young as nine years old to be part of the elite Wehrmacht. (The defensive force)  Ultimately, their paths cross when Werner’s unit is sent to Saint-Malo and he and Marie-Laure become unlikely friends in the final days of the occupation of France. In their short time together he tells her “You are very brave” and she replies, “It’s not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life.” This story covers so many more characters and events spanning a period of time from 1934 to 1974, which is what makes it a very special book. Happy reading!!



I’d like to preface my review with a reminder of something I said in an earlier Review.  My idea of a good book is one that you can’t wait to get back to.  Another thought of mine is that a good book, is one that even though you want to find out what’s going to happen next, you don’t want the book to end.  This is such a book. 

The story begins in 1974, with Leni a 13 year old girl dreading going to her first day of school at her fifth school in the last four years.  Not a bit easy for a lonely young girl.  You see, her Dad, Ernt can’t keep a job because “nothing ever worked out the way he wanted”.  He is a Vietnam veteran who had been a POW.  He came back to his family a totally different man. He was not only scarred emotionally but also physically. Unfortunately, his anger is hardest on his family. Cora (his wife) and Leni adore him, but also fear his violent outbursts.  Then, out of the blue Ernt receives a letter from the Dad of his best friend in Vietnam who had died there. His friend had left him “forty acres with a cabin that needs fixing” in Alaska!  This is a new beginning for the family and they leave for Alaska in a VW bus with high hopes and little else. 

This book speaks to the incredible beauty of Alaska, the many dangers of living in Northern Alaska in 1974 (the expression used in the book is “that you can make two mistakes – the second one can kill you”) and the characters various types of love.  There is young love when Leni finally has a friend named Matthew. Toxic love shared by her parents when Cora lives in constant fear and pain. And finally, the love of virtual strangers who make them welcome in Kaneq and teach them all the skills needed to survive in the wilderness.  Kristin Hannah is an incredible author with a descriptive writing ability that amazes me.  If you read the Nightingale you probably agree.  Happy Reading!




Desolation Mountain is William Kent Krueger’s 17th novel of the Cork O’Connor series.I have read and enjoyed the series and recommended them to many friends along the way. I suppose since the stories have mainly taken place in Northern Minnesota and include learning more about the Ojibwe culture and beliefs; they have held my interest and loyalty to this author. The main character, Cork O’Connor is half Native American and half Irish which serves him well in the small town of Aurora, Mn where he once served as the Sheriff and is now working as a private investigator.

The story begins with a tragic airplane crash killing Senator Olympia McCarthy and her family near Desolation Mountain on the Iron Lake Reservation. Cork as a part of the Tamarack County Search and Rescue Team is one of the first responders, along with others from the Iron Lake Reservation.  They arrive and when no one can be saved they immediately try to find the cause of the crash. But before they can discover anything, but the carnage of the crash, they are hustled off by the FBI and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Pilot error was the initial report from the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) reported in the local paper. But Cork has his doubts almost immediately.  Senator McCarthy was a rather controversial individual with strong beliefs concerning open pit mining in the Boundary Waters area and gun control.  Two hot button topics on the national level as well. It’s at this point the story, while interesting, seems more like a spy novel.  There is an alphabet of governmental agencies involved the NTSB, DSS, FBI, DoD.  You get my drift. Plus there are unknown bullies searching the area making threats to the first responders who just want to find the truth about this tragedy on their land.

In my opinion, a story is better when it moves along and there is more clarity and less unknown entities. But, I mainly read for the entertainment factor! Like watching a good movie. As the story progresses, Cork, his family and friends meet their share of peril and danger, but as always his Native American instincts and Irish strength pull him through. I hope you enjoy this novel. Happy reading!




I must admit this book was recommended to me more than once and I resisted reading it.  It was about the World War II.  I have read so many books about the war. But, finally a friend convinced me it was much more than another book about the war.

It's about three very different women and their stories which intersect in the course of the war. The story begins in 1939, with Caroline a wealthy New Yorker who volunteers her time working at the French Consulate organizing galas and other fund raising events to help French children and others affected by the war in Europe. Not an easy task as most Americans wanted to stay out of the war at that point. As the war goes on, she begins selling her families antique silver when France is occupied and no funds are contributed from Europe.

Then you'll meet Kasia a Polish teenager who is out with her friends on beautiful afternoon when German planes started circling their town and bombing the refugees who were digging potatoes and milking their cows. This was just the beginning of her harrowing, painful journey for many years.

The third woman is Herta.  A German medical student who is loyal to the Fuhrer and hoping to become a surgeon. Unfortunately, she believes Hitler's propaganda "This war will be over within weeks." When she has trouble finding a job as a physician, she finds an ad looking for a camp doctor at a "reeducation camp" for women named Ravensbruck.  On her first day she sees women being whipped, but is told any breach of security will lead to your family's imprisonment and possible death penalty for you. She soon becomes involved in horrendous acts, including experimental surgeries on young Polish girls.  They become known as the "Rabbits".

It became well known after the war, of the horrific acts of the Third Reich, but I really never thought about the aftermath of the war and how these victims tried to put their lives back together.  The book ends in 1959, so as you'll see the suffering was not over for many years.

This is a story you won't soon forget and it's true.  Again, a debut novel which is sometimes the best according to a dear friend.  Happy reading!



Linda's Featured Book Review:
The Space Between Us
By Dete Meserve


Happy New Year everyone.  Sorry I haven’t written for a while.

Anyway, this is a book I read back in November and really enjoyed.  It’s unique in that the main character, Sarah is a scientist and astronomer so there is a back story with information on our planet, solar system, constellations and the like.

The story begins with Sarah returning from making a presentation in Washington, D.C. to high level NASA people on a major discovery called a Trojan asteroid.  When she returns to L.A. her excitement quickly turns to concern. It’s 1 o’clock a.m. and her husband isn’t home and all her teenage son tells her is that her husband’s last words to him were: keep the doors locked and set the alarm… Next she finds a loaded Glock in their night stand.  They had never owned a gun.

As the days pass and Ben (her husband) is still missing she tries to piece together the puzzle of his disappearance. The space between their fond memories and the mystery of current clues and accusations against him.

If you enjoy a good who dunit and why, I think you will enjoy this read.  Happy reading until next time.



Linda's Featured Book Review:
Angel Falls
By Kristin Hannah

Angel Falls is a story of a family who seemingly have it all. A small beautiful community, a lovely log home, 2 beautiful children, a loving Dad and a "perfect" Mom.  Until, Halloween morning when their lives are turned upside down...

Precious nine year old Bret is up by 5:30 a.m. dressing in his new outfit for Halloween.  He's a young cowboy from head to foot.  He's on a mission to prove to his horse savvy Mom that he is old enough for the Angel Falls overnight trail ride.  When Mom joins him in the barn is when things begin to go awry.  Mikaela (Mom) has a terrible fall that morning and falls into a coma...

With no guarantee she will wake up, the family spends day and night at her bedside, hoping their love and devotion will bring her back.  Sadly, it's a long kept secret about Mikaela that is seemly her only hope...

The author has a beautiful, descriptive way of writing about a family in crisis.  Will their love and devotion to remain a family be enough?  I hope you enjoy this poignant novel.  Happy reading.


Linda's Featured Book Review:
Something in the Water
By Catherine Steadman

I usually say I hate books that start with the ending.  But, in this instance I enjoyed this debut novel by Catherine Steadman so much because she definitely keeps you guessing!  Just as a footnote she also had a role on the popular series "Downton Abbey".  Lots of talents.

As I mentioned, the books begins with Erin digging a grave...That's on the first page - so not a spoiler.  The story is about a  young British couple, Erin and Mark, who are planning their wedding. Everything is going along well but, before the nuptials, Mark loses his job which leads to some tension and downsizing of the wedding.

They decide to splurge and fly first class to Bora Bora where things get really interesting when they go scuba diving and "find something in the water"...  It changes the course of their lives and nothing turns out as you would expect.

My definition of a good book is one that you CANNOT wait to get back to.  This is one of those books.  I hope you enjoy this novel.  Happy reading. 


Dick's Featured Book Review:
Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich

Plum’s the name, and fugitive apprehension is the game.  Some call it skip tracing or even bounty hunting.  Regardless of the name; Janet Evanovich has written twenty or more Stephanie Plum novels, so has pretty much covered the field.

“Notorious Nineteen” is a fun and funny book.  Questionably funny, considering the dark nature of the material.  But what’s not funny about a grandma with an evil eye?  Or how about a giant albino partnered with a gutsy dwarf?  Anyway, things didn’t really get going until one of the skippers landed in the hospital for surgery and then disappeared.  Wait---two more did the same?? OK---what does it mean?  Perhaps it has something to do with some embezzled millions in gold??  Or, something much more sinister?  Think dead bodies, and grave digging.  And other options present themselves also, so read the book, and enjoy!! 

 Janet Evanovich is a number one New York Times bestseller, with numerous awards, including the prestigious John Creasey Memorial.


Dick's Featured Book Review: 
The Late Show by Michael Connelly

“The Late Show” by best selling author Michael Connelly is our introduction to spirited young crime fighter, Renee’ Ballard.  Ballard works “The Late Show” (midnight shift), the worst of the worst because she had the temerity to accuse a supervisor of sexual harassment.  But, if she has to do the job, she does it right.  And doing it right calls for putting her job and life on the line. 

Two cases come together in a single night and gives Ballard the opportunity to bring her skills into play for something more important than late night drunks.  First she finds a badly beaten prostitute.  Then she is called in for a case of mass murder.  Five people have been cut down in a night club.  Thus begins a tense investigation that leads Ballard to a fight for her life. 

A great ending rounds out a winner of a story and one of the best surprise endings in a long time.  Read it and enjoy. 

Connelly has written 29 other novels and has sold over 60 million copies. 


Dick's Featured Book Review: 
The Ferguson Rifle by Louis L'Amour

Considered by many to be the greatest western writer of them all, Louis L’Amour has written more than 400 short stories and novels, with millions in print at any time.  Many of these works have been made into movies, such as “Hondo” starring John Wayne.

L’Amour has used his study and personal experience as the basis for many of his characters.  He was a longshoreman, lumberjack, elephant handler, flume builder, fruit picker and an officer in a tank destroyer during WWII as well as a professional boxer, winning 51 of 59 bouts.

“The Ferguson Rifle” has all the requirements for a good story.  Good characters, interesting plot and some romantic interest.  Bringing together these factors with the historical and geographical information L’Amour was famous for, we have a pure winner. 

With his wife and son dead from a suspicious home fire, Ronan Chantry heads west to face his destiny.  He heads into the mountains and meets a group of mountain men.  Together they face Indians, both hostile and friendly.  Life is a constant struggle for survival and then they find a lovely girl who seeks help finding a 200 year old treasure, and protection from a dangerous uncle.  And so the story continues.  There’s plenty of action to go around.  Oh, and by the way, we meet a tough old man who lives in a cave.  Etc. Etc., Read it and Enjoy! 

L’Amour died 06/10/88 

Dick's Featured Book Review: 
Back Story by Robert B. Parker

"Back Story" is an original Spenser private eye novel, bringing us the original story characters.  Robert B. Parker died a few years ago, leaving behind a treasure trove of great stories.  New stories are being released quite often, written by various authors who do a spot on job of bringing the original characters back to life.  But this is an original story.  This is a convoluted story of mayhem and murder.  All the regulars are here, Ty-Bop, Vinnie, Susan and of course Spenser's friend, and sometimes partner, Hawke.  Whether helping or protecting, their presence is always welcome. 

A friend of Spenser's refers to him a woman whose mother was killed during a bank robbery 28 years before.  Find who did it please.  Why the delay?  Suspicious?  Local law enforcement and the FBI appear to be discouraging this investigation.  How Come?  Because the robbers were a revolutionary group known as "the Dread Scott Brigade"?  Or is it because a mob boss is in the background??  Regardless, Spenser is in a lot of trouble. 

As usual, enlightening conversation, loaded with humor and irony keeps the reader wide awake and looking for more of the same.  Read it & Enjoy! 



Dick's Featured Book Review: 
Justice Denied by J. A. Jance

J.A. Jance’s “Justice Denied” is yet another bestselling novel featuring Seattle cop J.P. Beaumont & his partner/lover Mel Soames.  Kicked off with the murder of a recently exonerated young man, this story widens into a search for an apparent vigilante, or vigilantes. 

Ordered to keep details of his investigation hush-hush, Beau soon finds that the case Mel is working on is also being kept quiet.  Sex offenders from all over Washington State are dying under suspicious circumstances.  Questions arise when it is found that DNA evidence has been tampered with.  Friends of friends make it difficult to do their jobs as Beau & Mel realize they are dealing with something much bigger and more dangerous than they had thought.  Did I mention the three nuns??  It’s a good read!  Enjoy! 

J.A. Jance is the New York Times Best Selling Author of the J.P. Beaumont series of novels.  She has also written a series starring Joanna Brady, and 4 stand-alone thrillers. 


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!