Monday, March 9, 2009

February Reads Summary

I got an email this morning from BFF JodyO that she finally turned in notice at the museum. We'll be talking later so I'll know more about the goings on and what's next. She's had a rough time recently professionally and with her health; I'm glad she'll be free of it.

We've got about three inches of snow out there and temps in the single digits and windchill at minus 14. Last night after 11 we kept hearing something outside... our neighbor with the snow plow was plowing the street, going up and down. Isn't he just nice? And now he's done our driveway. Love him. It should be clear again by end of the week.

As promised, even though I mention each book I read individually as I go, I try to do a monthly summary for 4MA so I thought I'd recreate it here, too:
  • SILENT ON THE MOOR by Deanna Raybourn
    3rd of three in series featuring Lady Julia Grey, recently widowed, in 1880s London. “Despite his admonitions to stay away, Lady Julia arrives in Yorkshire to find Nicholas Brisbane, private inquiry agent, as remote and maddeningly attractive as ever. Cloistered together, they share the moldering house with the proud but impoverished remnants of an ancient family—the sort that keeps their bloodline pure and their secrets close. Lady Allenby and her daughters, dependent upon Brisbane and devastated by their fall in society, seem adrift on the moor winds, powerless to change their fortunes. A mystery unfolds from the rotten heart of Grimsgrave, one Lady Julia may have to solve alone, as Brisbane appears inextricably tangled in its heinous twists and turns.” Love this historical mystery series.
    29th of 29 (if you don't count the novellas) featuring Eve Dallas, a homicide lieutenant in futuristic New York City. “Amarylis Coltraine may have recently transferred to the New York City police force from Atlanta, but she’s been a cop long enough to know how to defend herself against an assailant. When she’s taken down just steps away from her apartment, killed with her own weapon, for Eve the victim isn’t just ‘one of us.’ Dallas’s friend Chief Medical Examiner Morris and Coltraine had started a serious relationship.” Adore this series too.
  • ALL THE COLORS OF DARKNESS by Peter Robinson
    18th of 18 in series featuring Alan Banks, Eastvale detective chief inspector, in Yorkshire, England. When the body of a man is discovered hanging from a tree in the woods near Eastvale, all signs point toward suicide. At least that's what it initially looks like to Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot. The man is soon identified as Mark Hardcastle, the set and costume designer for the local amateur theater company. When Mark's older and wealthier lover is discovered bludgeoned to death in his home, Annie begins to think differently. Could it have been a crime of passion, or did overwhelming grief lead to a man taking his own life? She’s ordered to call in the vacationing Chief Inspector Alan Banks—even if it means prying him away from his new girlfriend. Once on the investigation, Banks finds himself plunged into a case where nothing is as it seems.” Solid entry though it seems Banks just can never be happy.
  • DREAMING OF THE BONES by Deborah Crombie
    5th of 12 in series featuring Duncan Kincaid, a Scotland Yard superintendent, and Gemma James, a sergeant, in London. “It is the call Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid never expected—and one he certainly doesn't want. Victoria, his ex-wife, who walked out without an explanation more than a decade ago, asks him to look into the suicide of local poet, Lydia Brooke—a case that's been officially closed for five years. The troubled young writer's death, Victoria claims, might well have been murder. No one is more surprised than Kincaid himself when he agrees to investigate—not even his partner and lover, Sergeant Gemma James. But it's a second death that raises the stakes and plunges Kincaid and James into a labyrinth of dark lies and lethal secrets that stretches all the way back through the twentieth century—a death that most assuredly is murder, one that has altered Duncan Kincaid's world forever.” This one won many awards and a worthy entry in the series. However, authors shouldn’t be allowed to kill off characters to which one has grown attached. Kill them right away, I say!
  • ROUGH TREATMENT by John Harvey
    2nd of 11 in series featuring Charlie Resnick, jazz-loving police detective in Nottingham, England. “Inspector Charlie Resnick counters a drug-trafficking ring and suspected police corruption. When Jerzy Grabianski and Trevor Grice burglarize TV director Harold Roy's house, they find his bored wife, Maria, who becomes attracted to Jerzy. in drugs and on the verge of losing his job, has been keeping for a dealer acquaintance.” A good procedural but suffers from knowing who the bad guys are from the beginning.
  • THE BIRTH OF THE BLUE SATAN by Patricia Wynn
    1st in series of 3 thus far featuring Gideon St. Mars, a viscount who becomes the highwayman Blue Satan, and his friend Mrs. Kean, in early 18th century England. “In the turbulent reign of George I in England, Gideon Viscount St. Mars is accused of murdering his own father. Having no friends in the courts, he must escape to avoid being hanged. With the help of Hester Kean, the only person who believes in his innocence, he assumes the guise of highwayman ‘Blue Satan’ to investigate the political intrigue that caused his father's death in a swashbuckling tale of romance and adventure.” I liked it a lot, will definitely read the others. This specific time period isn’t represented much; the political intrigue is ripe fodder for mysteries.
  • THE POISONED CHALICE by Bernard Knight
    2nd of 12 in series featuring features Sir John de Wolfe, the crowner (coroner), in 12th century Devon, England. “December, 1194. The well-born ladies of Exeter are not having a good week. First, Christina Rifford, the daughter of a rich merchant, is raped. Then, just months before her marriage, Lady Adele de Courcy is found dead in one of the poorest areas of the city. The common factor is Godfrey Fitzosbern, the local silversmith. But despite Crowner John's suspicions and the vengeful accusations of the families, it is John's duty to protect Godfrey until he can find definite proof of his guilt.” Quite good historical mystery series.
    Stand alone. “It is 1498, the dawn of the Renaissance, and Venice teems with rumors of an ancient book that holds the secret to unimaginable power. It is an alchemist's dream, with recipes for gold, immortality, and undying love. Luciano, a penniless orphan with a quick wit and an even faster hand, is plucked up by an illustrious chef and hired, for reasons he cannot yet begin to understand, as an apprentice in the palace kitchen. There, in the lavish home of the most powerful man in Venice, he is initiated into the chef's rich and aromatic world, with all its seductive ingredients and secrets. After he witnesses a shocking murder in the Palace dining room, he realizes that nothing is as it seems and that no one, not even those he's come to rely on most, can be trusted. Armed with a precocious mind and an insatiable curiosity, Luciano embarks on a perilous journey to uncover the truth.” Absolutely fantastic; it will make my top ten list.
    9th of 9 in series featuring Lydia Chin, a 30-something Chinese American private eye, and Bill Smith, a 40-something Army brat private eye in New York City. “Estranged for months from fellow P.I. Bill Smith, Chinese-American private investigator Lydia Chin is brought in by colleague and former mentor Joel Pilarsky to help with a case that crosses continents, cultures, and decades. In Shanghai, an excavation has unearthed a cache of European jewelry dating back to World War II, when Shanghai was an open city providing safe haven for thousands of Jewish refugees. The jewelry, identifed as having belonged to one such refugee, Rosalie Gilder, was immediately stolen by a Chinese official who fled to New York City. Hired by a lawyer specializing in the recovery of Holocaust assets, Chin and Pilarsky are to find any and all leads to the missing jewels.” I’m glad Rozan is back to this series. I never liked her stand alones.
  • A DARKER DOMAIN by Val McDermid
    Stand alone but with previously occurring characters so I guess that makes it a series, eh? “Fife, Scotland, 1985. Heiress Catriona Maclennan Grant and her baby son are kidnapped. The ransom payoff goes horribly wrong and Grant is killed. Her son disappears without a trace—until 2008, when a tourist in Tuscany stumbles upon dramatic new evidence that reopens the investigation. Fife, 1984. At the height of the politically charged national miners' strike, Mick Prentice abandons his family to join the strikebreakers down south. Labeled a blackleg scab, he's as good as dead as far as his friends and relatives care. Twenty-three years later, a young woman walks into a police station to report Mick Prentice missing. Detective Karen Pirie, head of the Cold Case Review Team, wants to know why it's taken so long for anyone to notice. For Pirie, already immersed in the Prentice investigation, a second foray into a 1980s investigation gone cold—this time, the Grant kidnapping—offers an opportunity to make her mark.” I liked this quite a lot. McDermid always delivers good story.

    BRIGHT FUTURES by Stuart Kaminsky. I usually love the Lew Fonesca books but this seemed extremely weak and narratively repetitive.

    NEPTUNE NOIR edited by Rob Thomas. Essays about TV show Veronica Mars. A recent obsession.

Today's Blog/Website of the Day is Good Reads, found at It is a sort of social network for readers where one can keep track of your reads and see what your friends are doing in the book world. I found out about this one from my reading DNA twin, LJ. Immerse yourself in books, you know you want to.

Steve popped by at lunchtime to pick up something and says the roads are nasty out there. Nuh uh, not going anywhere today other than the freezing walk I'll be doing with Tug soon. It's a soup/chili day, I'm thinking. Steve has an extra board meeting tonight with the rifle club so he'll be zipping in and out for left overs. I'll have the evening for tv: Chuck and a new one, Castle.

Much love,

PK the Bookeemonster

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