Saturday, August 12, 2017

Die of Shame

Group. What happens in group therapy stays in group therapy. In his novel titled, Die of Shame, Mark Billingham presents readers with six characters who meet for a weekly group session focused on shame. The members of the group have a history of addiction of one sort or another, and few readers will find any of them appealing or attractive. One member of the group is murdered, and it seems likely that the culprit is a member of the group. But who? Detective Inspector Nicola Tanner has to answer that question and get what she needs to know from people who are ashamed, have secrets, and would prefer lies to the truth. Tanner is the most interesting character of all, and fans of crime fiction will find her approach entertaining. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Die of Shame from amazon.com.

Knife Creek

Feral. The eighth novel by Paul Doiron featuring protagonist Maine game warden Mike Bowditch is titled, Knife Creek. While Mike is assigned to kill feral hogs that have crossed into Maine from New Hampshire, he finds a dead baby in a shallow grave. The case gets more interesting with every page, and Mike finds himself in peril as he carries out his investigation. Fans will enjoy the return of a familiar cast of interesting characters, and new readers will find well-written and entertaining crime fiction that has lots of plot twists and surprises. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Knife Creek from amazon.com.

The Late Show

Indomitable. Fans of Michael Connelly who wish he would stick to Harry Bosch novels are likely to come around after meeting a great female protagonist in his latest novel titled, The Late Show. Renee Ballard is a LAPD detective who works the night shift, known as the late show. She ended up on that beat after she filed a sexual harassment complaint against another detective. As the plot of this novel develops, readers enter into Ballard’s character: grit and determination to never give in or give up when she knows what is right. Ballard is complex, interesting and quirky, and most readers will want many more books featuring this great character. I was highly entertained by the opener. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Late Show from amazon.com.

The Accomplished Guest

Variety. I love the variety in the thirteen short stories in a collection by Ann Beattie titled, The Accomplished Guest. The title is from an Emily Dickinson poem. The stories are set mostly in Maine and Key West, places Beattie knows well. In many of the stories there are visits and guests, celebrations that develop in ways that are unexpected. Beattie draws us into lives that seem disconnected and suffering from loss. Over the course of a few pages, Beattie makes us reflect about aging, friendship, connections, and the way life turns us this way and that as we muddle our way along. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Accomplished Guest from amazon.com.

Lockdown

School. Prolific novelist Laurie R. King offers readers a tense suspense novel titled, Lockdown. Set mostly at Guadalupe Middle School on career day, King uses multiple narrators to increase and release tension and to keep twisting the plot in unexpected ways. There’s a large cast of characters, and flashbacks to fill in some gaps. It becomes clear early on, for some even from the title, that there will be a shooting at the school. The entertainment comes from guessing who will do what as the plot unfolds. Readers who like complicated suspense novels are those most likely to enjoy this one. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Lockdown from amazon.com.

Golden Hill

Fortune. Fans of lively and exciting historical fiction are those readers most likely to enjoy Francis Spufford’s debut novel titled, Golden Hill. Set in New York City in 1746, the action begins when a stranger gets off the boat from England. Protagonist Richard Smith presents a note to a merchant that requires paying a fortune, 1,000 pounds, to Smith. The merchant suspects a con, delays payment, and Smith finds himself well-known in the city almost overnight. Spufford keeps readers guessing about Smith’s legitimacy and the finely written descriptive prose makes NYC of the mid-eighteenth century come alive. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Golden Hill from amazon.com.

The Switch

Bumbling. Not many thrillers make me laugh. The plot and characters in Joseph Finder’s novel titled, The Switch, delivered great amusement to this reader. When smart people do stupid things, I am never surprised and often amused. Protagonist Michael Tanner picks up the wrong laptop at security and takes every possible action that did nothing to rectify the error. The owner of the laptop he took is a United States Senator, and she and her staff also did everything in such a bumbling manner that created all the thrilling tension in the novel. I wanted to yell at several characters to do the simple thing, not the bumbling thing. Readers with high tolerance for implausible plot lines are those most likely to enjoy reading this novel, as are those readers, like me, who enjoy a laugh even from a thriller. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Switch from amazon.com.