Friday, October 28, 2011

Indulgence In Death

Indulgence in Death is the 31st Eve Dallas book by J. D. Robb. Two bored, wealthy young men begin a "killing game" and it's up to Dallas to make sure each of them loses.

If that sounds vaguely familiar, you might be thinking of the famous real life duo of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. In the early 20th century, two wealthy men from Chicago killed a young boy just to find out what it would be like to murder someone. Indulgence In Death takes the same idea a turns it into a game.

My one gripe with this novel is that Dallas "knows" whodunnit as soon as she meets the young men. There's no question in her mind. She doesn't like them so they did it. There's no detecting needed. The whole book is about proving they did it. It becomes a straightforward police procedural. There's nothing wrong with police procedurals but I expect more from a Dallas novel.

Along with not having a mystery, there's not a lot of the usual interaction between different characters in Eve's life. There's not even that much crazy, hot sex between Eve and Roarke. And that's a damn shame.

A Miscellany of Murder

A Miscellany of Murder: From History and Literature to True Crime and Television, a Killer Selection of Trivia, by The Monday Murder Club, is a rather long winded and pretentious title for a decidedly light weight non-fiction book. Having said that, I will admit that some of the tidbits in the book are interesting. It's just the little things that bug me. As always.

Is it just me or has there been a decline in the quality of work done by editors/proof readers/fact checkers? One of the most glaring mistakes in this book is that it lists the name of Sue Grafton's female detective as “Insey Millhone.” Anyone who has read any of the Alphabet books knows her name is Kinsey. It's a stupid mistake that should have been caught.

The other big problem I have with this book is that they present all kinds of “facts” without stating the sources. There's no bibliography or end notes. Take the following list as an example.
 Women commit:
  • 30 percent of murders within a family
  • 34 percent of intimate-partner killings
  • 48 percent of infanticides
  • 15 percent of murders of the elderly
It's a very interesting list but there's no word on where they got it. Magic 8 ball? Ouija board? We just don't know. Sloppy.

I should tell you that “murder” in this book is divided into seven categories based on the Seven Deadly Sins. This leads the editors to stuff some slightly square pegs into their preconceived round holes. It also leads them into writing some stupid stuff:

Stumped by Perry Mason 
Would you believe that America's favorite lawyer of all time, Perry Mason, never cracked any of his cases? Well... sort of, Raymond Burr, who played Perry Mason in the enormously successful TV series from 1957-1966 in some 271 episodes and then again from 1985-1993, said that he never managed to solve any of the cases until he'd read them all through. In fact, he admitted further that he'd often been puzzled about who committed the murder even after shooting the script. Sounds like The Case of the Slothful Thespian.

So what's wrong with that? To start off there's no citation for what Mr. Burr supposedly said. It is almost certainly taken out of context. Let's just forget the fact that Burr filmed an average of 28 episodes a season - as opposed to the 22 that seems to be the average these days. Let's forget the fact that TV shows and movie scripts are usually shot out of order. It's not unlikely that he wasn't always sure of what happened. Especially if they shot the final scene first. It happens. Because of the complicated script, The Usual Suspects actor, Gabriel Byrne, thought he was Keyser Söze.

My final point is that it's a good thing you can't slander the dead. In my opinion, it sounds to me like The Case of the Slothful Writers Trying to be Funny and Just Sounding Bitchy.

So those are my little nitpicks about this book. It's not a total waste of time. If you're looking for some suggestions of movies to see or books to read then this book will give you something some pointers. Just don't expect to get much else to chew on.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Zombie Cookbook Trailer

Book description from Amazon:
  • Intro to this anthology by members of the metal band, The Zombie Cookbook.
  • Interior art by George Silliman
  • Wokking Dead By Karina L. Fabian
  • It’s war and love when zombies invade a Korean restaurant.
  • Secret Ingredient by Lisa Haselton
  • There’s a zombie in the kitchen! That may be the case, but when spaghetti-eating zombie Clete takes a job as the assistant chef at the L-Double-J ranch, he’s not the one you need to work out for. It’s a tale of catering and culinary revenge. Would you have added the secret ingredient?
  • A Zombie Named Clete By Lisa Haselton
  • A little poem in honor of the twice-deceased Clete. Was this on his tombstone, or did he carry a copy in his pocket?
  • Beer-Battered Zombie with Butternut Squash By Becca Butcher
  • What’s a cookbook without a recipe? Not for the faint of stomach, though with a few substitutions, it might actually make a good meal. (Not everyone’s a fan of squash, after all.)
  • The Right Recipe By Lin Neiswender
  • Zombie culinary aficionados had better watch out! The zombies are not pleased to be eaten, as the editor of the Zombie Cookbookery Publications discovers in this tale of turnabout-is-fair-play.
  • Quick & Easy Zombie Pastie by Kate Sender
  • A no frills, 4-ingredient full course meal will satisfy both your Zombie’s cravings and nutritional needs.
  • Express Cuisine by Dawn Marshallsay
  • Zombie attack on a speeding train--is there really any escape? Fight, hide, jump--none of it can stop you from becoming...Express Cuisine.
  • Brain Food By Carla Girtman
  • Ah, domestic zombie bliss! It’s the Undead Cleavers mixed in with a little Arsenic and Old Lace. Can’t tell you much about this story except that the ending will surprise you as much as it did Thelma!
  • Brain Salad for Dummies by Scott Virtes
  • The practical guide for that zombie invasion. Your own little zombie poison recipe, combined with practical advice. As Scott says--Follow his advice and you might get enough sleep at night to stay two steps ahead.
  • A Zombie’s APB By Cinsearae Santiago
  • A zombie decides to give a ‘Hear ye, hear ye!’ to the human race after getting fed up with the lack of ‘good food’ these days.
  • My Big Fat Zombie Wedding by Karina Fabian 
  • So what if he’s undead? That won’t not keep Vida from marrying her true love--and neither will challenges from prejudice to unusual dietary needs stop the wedding of the decade!

Buy The Zombie Cookbook

Friday, October 21, 2011

Claim of Innocence

Claim of Innocence by Laura Caldwell is an okay mystery. Izzy McNeil is a moderately interesting character. Another reviewer called her "plucky" I'm not even sure what that means these days. I find Izzy's family more interesting. Her back from the dead former spook/operative/whatever dad is a bit of a cliche but he's a nice contrast to the many bland people in Izzy's life.


 I'm sorry to say that I do not like the Izzy's client, Valerie Solara, at all. The whole did she or didn't she kill her best friend got boring fast. Solara is over dramatic. Dropping little bombs, like the fact that her father was executed for killing someone, while hiding something at the same time.

Here are some other things that annoyed me:

  1. The verdict in the case ridiculous. I really can't think of any logical reason they didn't find her guilty.
  2. The child molester storyline wasn't built up properly. It was just suddenly there, tacked on towards the end of the story.
  3. Neither the victim or the accused were sympathetic. They both made a bad decision to take the law into their own hands and then didn't take simple precautions to see that things didn't go pear shaped.
  4. The other sub-plot with Maggie and her grandfather was totally unnecessary. It didn't add anything important to the story. Other than continuing the theme of fathers and/or father figures. It was a distraction.
  5. Multiple and confusing case changes. If this is a new trend I don't like it. I like to get one, maybe two, voices in one novel. Not four or five. Unless you're writing a riff on Rashomon - which I think would be pretty hard to do well.
I wanted to like this book. I'd read good things about Laura Caldwell and the other Izzy books. It's an okay book. I'd give it a 6 out of 10. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mercy: The Last New England Vampire Trailer

Book description from Amazon:
Fourteen-year-old Haley is struggling to cope with her stepmom and baby brother, with her beloved cousin's terminal illness, and with dropping grades at school. When she digs deep into her family history for a school project, she uncovers a disturbing New England tradition and a ghostly past. Haley must overcome her doubts and confront a vampire in order to save herself and her family.  
Buy Mercy: The Last New England Vampire 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sleeper's Run

Sleeper's Run by Henry Mosquera is your typical political thriller. The main character, Eric Caine, is a War on Terror vet with martial arts and computer skills. There doesn't seem to be anything he can't do. Except see a set up when he's getting into it.

At the beginning of the book Caine is in a hospital after being found wandering the streets speaking Arabic. He had been reported missing a week before. Mosquera makes a point of mentioning that Caine is speaking Arabic and then never mentions it again. I found myself hoping that the trouble Caine found himself in was created by terrorists who made it look like he was set up by his own government. That would have been a more interesting story.

I also wondered where Caine's sense of paranoia went when all of a sudden a stranger is bailing him out and getting him an interview for a job the stranger had no way of knowing he had the skill set for. Doing "computer stuff" could mean a lot of things. I re-read the beginning of the book and Caine's computer abilities are never explained other than to say that they're out of date. He should have known something was up. At the very least he should have done some digging to find out who is new friend was. It's not paranoia if they are out to get you.

Then again, if he had, that would have been the end of the book.

Sleeper's Run isn't a bad book. If you can overlook a couple of hanging elements, or the fact that the book really needed another round with a proof reader or editor -- there are case changes in different parts of the book and some modifiers didn't get changed with them -- you'll enjoy this book. After all, political thrillers do require a little suspension of belief. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Promissory Payback and Unrevealed

Promissory Payback by Laurel Dewey is a novella featuring Denver Homicide Detective Jane Perry. Dewey has three Perry novels out. I'm not really sure where this novella sits in the timeline. This story can be enjoyed without having read the previous ones.

Jane Perry is a deeply flawed character. Foremost is the fact that she is a recovering alcoholic. She's a lone wolf who isn't always comfortable dealing with the "people" part of her job. She reminds me of Carol O'Connell's Katherine Mallory and J.D. Robb's Eve Dallas. Perry is prickly and quirky and completely interesting to follow.

Perry is called to the home of Carolyn Handel. The elderly woman is found tied up on her bed with tape covering her mouth and nose. It's soon obvious that the killer sat and watched her as she suffocated. It turns out that Carolyn was a bitch and thought nothing of cheating people out of their money to finance her lavish lifestyle. There's no shortage of people who wanted to hurt her.

My one warning is that if you read Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express and hated the ending you might be unsatisfied with the ending of this novella.

Unrevealed contains four Jane Perry short stories. My favorite is entitled Things Aren't Always What They Seem. Perry walks into a bar just after leaving a horrendous crime scene and runs into a woman from her AA group. The ending was a surprise. I don't think I was expecting something so dark.

You're Only As Sick As Your Secrets had me expecting something really out there but the secrets are rather tame. Nothing that hasn't been covered on CSI. Still, I liked the way Perry handled the "suspect". It shows that she has a softer side that understands people wanting to start over.

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover has Perry doing a presentation at a local high school. She meets a "problem" student who seems to be able to read her mind. Something about the boy's random outbursts clicks for Perry and she become suspicious that something awful has happened at the boy's foster home.

Anonymous takes place during Perry's brief stint as a private investigator. A woman from her AA group asks her to find her sister who died on 9/11. If you think that sounds weird, it gets much weirder and more complicated.

Both of these publications provide a quick introduction to Jane Perry. I'm looking forward to reading the novels Dewey has written. Perry is a character I want to see more of.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Accountable To None Trailer

Book description from Amazon:
Glorious revenge, the dish known as best served cold. Audra Tanner has waited for five years to invite her unwitting guests to her feast of just desserts and now her dinner party approaches. 

Audra was a brilliant CPA that for years, worked the grueling hours her job demanded as she made her way from lowly grunt auditor to a minority partner at a prestigious accounting firm located in the southwest. Her dedication took a tremendous toll on her not only mentally, but physically as well, and culminated the night that she met with the sadistic managing partner, Olin Kemper, to discuss her promotion to equity partner. That night, Audra learned that to become part of the ‘elite’ at Winscott & Associates required much more than she was willing to give. Unfortunately, that knowledge came too late and partnership was granted as a reward for her silence after her violent beating and rape. 

Five years later, Audra is now an entirely different creature at work, a shell of her former self that wears the guise of partner during the day yet retreats at night to her hidden self as she plots her revenge on not only her rapist, but all those in power at the firm who knew what Olin had done to her, yet did nothing to stop him, as they were immersed in their own corrupt behaviors. Now head of the IT department and a self-taught hacker, Audra has spent the last five years perusing the firm’s computers, searching and digging through the mounds of encrypted words for anything that she can use to allow her the opportunity to exact revenge on all those responsible for her pain. 
Buy Accountable to None

Friday, October 7, 2011


I found Nightshade on a shelf in my local library. I probably wouldn't have picked it up if it hadn't been written by Laurell K. Hamilton. Star Trek books are a guilty pleasure. I usually take one into a hot bubble bath and finish it before I get out. Let's face it, they are not going to tax your brain matter.

I was disappointed by this book. If there is anyone who didn't figure out who the bad guy was by the time of the first murder then they were not paying attention. Talk about telegraphing. That's a problem with making Deanna Troi a main character. She “feels” what other characters are feeling. There's no hiding from her.

In this book, Captain Picard is sent down to Oriana as a Federation ambassador. There are two warring factions. The war has lasted so long nobody knows what started it. They are killing the planet along with themselves. Troi and Worf accompany Picard. Shortly after they beam down, the Enterprise receives a distress signal and goes off to find the ship in trouble. If you're thinking that's convenient, it is.

Before the peace talks can get started the leader of one of the factions is poisoned. The leader of the other faction points the finger at Picard and three members of another sub-group invited by Picard. Worf becomes the new ambassador and has three days to prove that Picard is not guilty or he will be executed. Yeah, I said it. Worf as a Federation ambassador.

You can probably figure out what happens next. The only thing that I couldn't figure out way before it was revealed was why the book is called Nightshade. I still don't know. Other than that the main action takes place at night. This book was nowhere near the quality of Hamilton's Anita Blake books. I was hoping she'd ad something new to the Star Trek universe but I was disappointed. To be fair, this book was written in 1992 before Hamilton became a best selling author. Maybe nobody's very good at the beginning of their career.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dark Curse Trailer

Book description from Amazon:
Born into evil and ice, Dragonseeker Lara Calladine longs to find the source of her nightmares. The only man who can help her is Nicolas De La Cruz who, for centuries, has longed to feel the sensual love of a woman without a hunger for blood. He's found the perfect mate in Lara. But their mysterious pasts share a secret that could destroy them both. 
Buy Dark Curse