Sunday, February 19, 2023
RUN, ROSE, RUN
Dolly Parton and James Patterson
Run, Rose, Run, a novel written by Dolly Parton and James Patterson, gives us an insightful tour through the world of country music. I am a Dolly Parton fan, and I enjoy many of Patterson's books, so I was excited about this book.
In Run, Rose, Run, singer songwriter AnnieLee Keyes finds her way to Nashville. Once there, AnnieLee is lucky and meets Ruthanna Ryder, the retired "Queen" of country music, and Ethan Blake, an army veteran who plays guitar and does studio work with Ruthanna. They all have their secrets; they all have their pasts. As the story unfolds, so do their secrets.
Run, Rose, Run is fun. It is not a work of literary fiction - and at times the plot might seem "hokey" - but it is a cohesive, enjoyable reading experience that also provides a look inside the world of country music from our real life "Queen".
When Run, Rose, Run was first published, I listened to the audiobook; after recently being approved to read and review an ARC, I read the book. Although I really enjoyed the book on both occasions, I highly recommend listening to this one. The narrators include Kelsea Ballerini and Dolly Parton. Either way, Run, Rose, Run is a fun reading experience.
Sunday, January 29, 2023
A KILLING OF INNOCENTS
(Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #19)
(expected publication February 7, 2023)
A Killing of Innocents is the nineteenth installment in Deborah Crombie's Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series. And, it is a worthy addition to this wonderful series.
When junior doctor Sasha Johnson realizes that she has been stood up, she heads through London's Russell Square. After someone in the crowd jostles her while passing, she collapses. Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid receives the call, and he and Detective Sergeant Doug Cullen find that Sasha had been stabbed. Who would want to kill this young doctor? Why? As we follow Duncan's usual investigation into Sasha's family, her roommate, her coworkers, what seems like a straightforward, albeit puzzling, case develops complications and becomes multifaceted. We witness how Duncan and his team find the who and the why.
Although A Killing of Innocents gives us the complex plot development that we have come to expect from Crombie, this book seems to lack a lot of the "extra-plot development" to which we are accustomed; in other words, Duncan's wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James, is largely sidelined in this book. Gemma and her sergeant, Melody Talbot, have been assigned to a task force involving the tracking and identifying of knife crimes. And, although both detectives contribute to the investigation, their participation is minimal; there is no real role for them in this book. However, Crombie has done a nice job capturing the frustration that Gemma experiences with balancing the primary care of their three children with her desire to be solving cases, work at which she excels. And, even though the plot may be more narrow - in the sense of which characters are given an active role - Crombie skillfully works in some continued development to characters who are sidelined in this plot.
I was very excited to have the opportunity to read and review an advanced readers copy of this book. Nonetheless, when I came to the end of A Killing of Innocents, I was very sad. It is a great addition to the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series - and I highly recommend the book and the entire series - but at the end, I realized that my return to Duncan's and Gemma's world was over. Crombie, as always, is masterful, and I anxiously await the next installment in the series.
Monday, October 3, 2022
(expected publication: October 4, 2022)
In Righteous Prey, the thirty-second installment in John Sandford's Lucas Davenport series, we are introduced to The Five, a group of billionaire bitcoin investors who decide to kill off some of the worst members of society, those whom they deem need to be murdered. The Five plan and train; after each murder, the group issues a press release and a substantial bitcoin donation to a charity.
The one mistake that The Five made was in selecting a victim who lived in Minnesota. As such, Virgil Flowers, an agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), was assigned to the case. In addition, one of the Minnesota senators, Porter Smalls, made sure that Lucas Davenport, a former BCA agent and current U.S. Marshal, was also assigned to the case.
So, once again, Sandford has given us a Prey novel where Davenport and Flowers, the stars of two of his series, are working together. And it is a doozy!
As I have been a longtime fan of both Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, the idea of another novel where these two team up is very exciting. And Righteous Prey does not disappoint. The plot is complex and fast paced, and the crimes seem unsolvable. But, Sandford masterfully moves Davenport and Flowers through the disparate crimes - and all around the country - seemingly seamlessly and with his trademark humor. As with most of his novels, in Righteous Prey, Sandford takes the reader along for the investigation (it sort of feels like the reader is on a ride-along). I always appreciate how Sandford's books do not make leaps of logic or skip steps and do not spring pertinent facts on the reader at the end. Righteous Prey methodically lays out the investigation and shows how Davenport and Flowers crack the case.
Sandford has developed a winning combination with his two topnotch main characters. Righteous Prey is a wonderful, welcome addition to the Prey books!
Sunday, March 20, 2022
THE MISSING PIECE
The Missing Piece is the nineteenth installment in John Lescroart's Dismas Hardy series. The expected publication date for this book is March 29, 2022.
Paul Riley had been convicted of the rape and murder of Dana Rush. After serving eleven years for the crimes, and with the help of the Exoneration Initiative, Riley was cleared of the crimes and released.
When Riley was murdered four months after his release, police arrested Dana's father, Doug Rush. And Doug hired Wes Farrell, the former district attorney and current partner of Dismas Hardy.
Hardy's longtime friend, Abe Glitsky, had been an inspector in charge of homicide with the San Francisco Police Department; he was now retired and doing some work for Hardy's firm as a private investigator. When Doug failed to show for a court appearance, Hardy asked Abe to locate him.
And, Abe investigates with the dogged determination that we have come to expect from him. But, as Doug had failed to appear, there was no client and, hence, no case. Nonetheless, this doesn't stop Abe. We accompany Abe as he follows the convoluted twists and turns that arise in this complex plot. There are multiple suspects, multiple motives.
Although The Missing Piece is a Dismas Hardy novel, it feels a bit more like an Abe Glitsky novel. Hardy's role doesn't feel as "front and center" as we are accustomed to in Lescroart's previous Hardy books, and this is a refreshing change. Regardless of how it is categorized, The Missing Piece is another great addition to the continuing Hardy/Glitsky saga. It remains one of my favorite series.
Wednesday, January 12, 2022
(anticipated publication April 12, 2022)
The Investigator, by John Sandford, is the first Letty Davenport novel. Readers familiar with Sandford's work know Lucas Davenport, the protagonist in Sandford's Prey series; Letty is Lucas's adopted daughter.
Now twenty-four years old and having recently completed graduate work at Stanford, Letty is offered a unique position as an investigator with the U.S. Senate and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Although she works for Senator Colles, she is a liaison with DHS, works in the field with a DHS investigator (although her position is entitled "researcher"), and is issued a carry permit.
Her first assignment pairs her with DHS agent John Kaiser and takes them to Texas, on the trail of some missing oil. What they land in is a lot more complicated and sinister than mere missing oil. Along the way, we learn how much Letty resembles Lucas - from the love of nice clothes to the knowledge of, and proficiency with, guns. And like Lucas, Letty is similarly smart and resourceful.
I love Lucas Davenport and have always thought that Letty was an interesting addition to the Prey series. So, I was very excited to learn of Sandford's new Letty Davenport novel. But for two small issues that gave me momentary pause, I loved The Investigator. First, the plot at times felt a little fantastical. Even though we are aware of Letty's history and her proficiency with weapons and survival, it seemed a tad extreme for a 24 year old, with no official special training, on her first assignment. And second, even though we know that Letty is a lot like Lucas, there were a few parts at the beginning where Letty came across as disrespectful and bratty (for example, sitting sideways in the senator's nice leather chair, throwing her leg over the arm, and telling the senator that he was boring her). Lucas might be a no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase kind of guy, but I do not see him as being this disrespectful.
Nonetheless, The Investigator is quintessential Sandford; the writing is good, the plot is complex, and the process of resolution was logical and methodical. Letty is a great character, and there is plenty of room for her to grow and develop as an investigator. I greatly enjoyed this reading experience, and I look forward to accompanying Letty on many investigations in the future.
Saturday, November 13, 2021
THE ADDRESS BOOK
What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power
The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power, by Deirdre Mask, is a 2021 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Nominee for Nonfiction, a Finalist for the 2020 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction, One of Time Magazine's 100 Must-Read Books of 2020, and Longlisted for the 2020 Porchlight Business Book Awards. Mask considers how streets are named and the effect that having (or not having) a street address has on a person. Many of us think that we have addresses so that we can receive mail; but their purpose, Mask tells us, instead is so that we can be found.
The Address Book deals with addresses across the world and touches on some fascinating issues. Mask considers the more mundane - for example, the difficulty for emergency vehicles responding in a rural area without street addresses, and the need for an address to complete an application for government benefits - as well as the more obscure - for example, purchasing addresses in Trump's Manhattan for a building that is not located on that street, and differences with addresses in Japan and Korea that may be linked to language differences.
Although each of the disparate areas and issues is interesting, there does not seem to be one theme throughout the book. In my opinion, this makes it feel disjointed, like a collection of short pieces rather than a fluid work addressing one issue. Despite the lack of a unifying thread, the material is interesting. There is more to addresses than the superficial, like the mundane mail delivery, and I never considered the complexities involved in having or issuing an address. This was a thought provoking read, and I recommend it.
Sunday, October 17, 2021
THE MADNESS OF CROWDS
In The Madness of Crowds, the seventeenth book in Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, Gamache and Three Pines, like the rest of us, are trying to return to a post pandemic "normal". Gamache was spending the winter holiday/New Year at home in Three Pines with his family when he was asked to oversee security while an academic statistician, Abigail Robinson, spoke at the local university. Robinson's position was that statistics mandate the genocide of the weak, infirm, and disabled. Although Gamache detested the position she was espousing, he was required to see to her safety when there was an attempt on her life. And then there was another murder in Three Pines, with multiple suspects.
Louise Penny is a master at character study, and her work in The Madness of Crowds is no exception. In fact, she may have outdone herself, as this book considers both the more superficial look at Robinson's proposal and the deeper underlying reactions of the suspects and others repulsed by Robinson's arguments. Gamache was not excepted from this, and I found it interesting how his reactions influenced the investigation.
As is usual when I finish a Gamache novel, I am saddened that my friends in Three Pines are gone again. Like many other fans, I would love to live in Three Pines, with the Gamaches and the others. It is interesting how many people want to move to this village, despite spotty internet connectivity and a very high (for its size) murder rate.
Meanwhile, I will anxiously await the next installment and the return of my friends. But, The Madness of Crowds is a quality addition to this exceptional series, and I highly recommend it.