Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sacred Cows by Karen E. Olson

Sacred Cows by Karen E. Olson
Warner Books, 2005
Mystery; 304 pgs

Started: 07/29/2007
Completed: 07/30/2007
Rating: * (Very Good)

First Sentence: My hand closed over the cold steel in that second between hearing the phone ring and before my eyes opened.

Reason for Reading: This is my fifth selection for the Summer Mystery Reading Challenge.

I cannot help but hesitate when reviewing a book by someone I know. I don’t actually know the author, but she has honored me by reading and commenting here on my blog now and then. Still, it was enough to get me curious to try one of her books. It helps that she writes books in my one of my favorite genres. Still, what if I hated it? What if I couldn’t finish it? As it turns out though, I thoroughly enjoyed Karen Olson’s novel and will definitely be reading more of her books in the future. I can easily see Annie Seymour sliding in as a favorite mystery heroine of mine.

Comments: Annie Seymour is a veteran crime reporter for the New Haven Herald. The last thing Annie wants is to be dragged out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to a crime scene where a young college student has fallen to her death, but duty calls. In an effort to get her story and but with little help from her cop boyfriend, Annie begins her own investigation into the murder of the Yale student, uncovering more than she could ever have imagined. The victim was a high priced escort on the side, but the mystery doesn’t stop there. As Annie gets closer to the truth, following a trail of fraud, prostitution and murder, her own career and life are put on the line.

If that isn’t enough, Annie learns that her mother is mixed up in something related to her investigation, but her mother is remaining close-lipped. Then there is the young reporter, Dick Whitfield, who is dogging on her heels and seems to show up when she least wants him around.

Annie has moxie. She is cynical, rough around the edges, and tenacious in the pursuit of her story. Do not let that fool you, however, because Annie does have heart. Karen E. Olson has created an edgy and intelligent character that quickly earned my respect and had me pulling for her through the entire story.

Karen E. Olson’s Sacred Cows was a satisfying and entertaining story. The author adds a good dose of humor and wit to an otherwise hard boiled and thrilling murder mystery. There’s even a bit of romance for those readers who enjoy a touch of sexual tension between characters. I look forward to reading Secondhand Smoke, the next book in the series, in the future.

Favorite Part: I loved the cows. The idea of fiberglass cows on display throughout the city is quite amusing. My favorite part in particular was when Annie and the Mooster Street cow meet face to face. You’ll understand if you read the book.

I know it’s cliché for the main character to be a favorite, but Annie won me over pretty quickly. Besides that she is a strong female character, I like that she is not pretentious or overconfident. She knows she is good at her job, but it never crossed the line into arrogance. She came across as a real person. And besides, I can’t help but love a character who craves pizza and eats banana splits when a day can’t seem to get any more rotten.

Note about the Author: The author teamed up with several other authors (Lori Armstrong, Alison Gaylin, and Jeff Shelby) to create the First Offenders blog. It is a wonderful and witty blog where the authors talk about all sorts of subjects including writing, current political and social issues, their own lives, and much more. I recommend you take a look. Karen E. Olson also has her own website if you would like to learn more information about her books.

Read what Melody had to say about the book:
Melody's Reading Corner


  1. I live in New Haven, so I may have to check this out. Thanks for the review!

  2. Wow, this definitely sounds like my reading stuff! Thanks for the great review, Wendy! :)

  3. Por of Tor - It would be interesting to get your viewpoint of the book. The author did mention she took liberties with the setting, although to what degree, I am not sure.

    You are the one hosting the Unread Authors Challenge, is that right? I was hoping I wouldn't figure it out so I could avoid getting myself into more trouble. It's very tempting though . . .

    Melody - I think you will really like this one!

  4. This does sound like a good one. I love a good mystery, too. But the problem is that I have so much on my TBR pile I'm going to have to wait a bit to pick it up!

  5. Since my TBR pile is going down, I'm going to go looking for this one. Sounds great!

  6. This sounds like it would be a good one - I'm going to have to look for it.

  7. This sounds like a good book. I love mysteries, but I don't believe I've read any from the POV of a crime reporter.

  8. Omaha actually did a display of fiberglass cows one summer (I think we stole the idea from Chicago - they did bulls, of course). They were quite interesting and very surreal.

  9. Sounds like a good book. And now that the pressure's off since you liked the book, how nice that the author has stopped by before!

  10. Nikki - I understand that problem only too well. LOL When you get to it, you get to it. :-)

    Lynne - I wish my TBR pile was going down, but I keep adding more books to it, I'm afraid. I hope you do enjoy this one!

    Bridget - I do hope you will give it a try! It's well worth reading. :-)

    JMC - I don't think I've read many with a reporter as the protagonist either. I know a lot of writers (mystery and non-mystery) have journalism on their resume, and so it makes sense, but you don't see it too often, do you? At least not that I've noticed.

    Kookie - The author mentioned Chicago's display in the novel. Did Omaha have local artists "dress" the cows that were displayed? I've never heard of such a thing before, but it sounds interesting. Something like that would probably never work here--they'd be tagged so fast that the cow hospital wouldn't be able to keep up. Says a lot about where I live, unfortunately.

    Gentle Reader - I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to get to Sacred Cows. I'm fighting the urge to buy the second book since I told myself no new books in August . . . My birthday is in September so maybe I can talk someone in my family into giving it to me then. Haha

  11. Yiii... so many interesting-sounding books I'd love to add to the to-be-read pile. Must... read... faster!

  12. You know, I don't really like mysteries that much, anymore, but your review made this one sound so tempting that I may have to look for a copy. Thanks, Wendy! I just love your reviews.

  13. Mysteries used to be my absolute favorite genre and Annie sounds like a gem. I'll be picking this one up and checking it out.

    Besides, cows. What's not to love?

  14. Wow, imagine my suprise and delight that when I pulled up your blog today I saw my book reviewed...and so nicely! Thanks for the kind words; I'm thrilled that you liked it and Annie.

    As for the cows: New Haven has never had a CowParade but I became obsessed with the idea when Chicago did one way back when. I was working at the New Haven Register at the time and reading all the wire stories about it. I thought it would be great fun to put in a book. And the CowParade people were great when I spoke to them about it, lots of cow puns!

    Funny thing is, I never saw a CowParade until AFTER the book was finished, and that one was in West Hartford, Connecticut, just before I found out the book was going to be published.

    And just FYI: there are chickens in the second book and bees in the third (which will be out in November). However, I stayed away from insects and farm animals for No. 4, but there IS a male stripper named Jack Hammer...

  15. Great review! I'm thinking of adding this one as one of my reads for the Mystery Reading challenge too :)

  16. This looks like a great book. Not only a good, strong heroine, but the author sounds like she has a fantastic sense of humor. I had fun seeing the Cows displayed in SLC during the 2002 Olympics. It will be fun to read more about them as well.

  17. Heather - LOL I know exactly what you mean! It's hard to keep up with so many great books out there!

    Nancy - Thank you, Nancy. If you do decide to read this one, I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. Even half as much would be good though. :-)

    Carrie - Karen did a really good job with this one. I like all kinds of mysteries, but I prefer the hard boiled ones. She found the perfect balance between comedy and the serious stuff to make this one stand out. I hope you will enjoy it!

    Karen - I'm so glad you stopped by! My husband and I were in Barnes and Noble today and I looked for your second book. Unfortunately, they didn't have it on the shelf, but they did have Sacred Cows. I was so glad to see that. I turned to the lady browsing the shelves next to me and told her she should try your book if she hadn't already. She probably thought I was crazy, but I couldn't resist.

    Thank you for the information about the CowParades. A couple of people I've met online were familiar with the CowParade in West Hartford. One woman said her town has frogs on display year round. :-)

    I'm really looking forward to reading Secondhand Smoke--even though my birthday is a month away, it's hard to wait. I may cave and get your book sooner. I really have little patience when it comes to waiting for a book I really want to read. Thank you for writing such an entertaining series!

    Iliana - Thanks! I'd be curious to read what you think of this one, Iliana.

    Framed - I hope you will pick it up and give it a try. I'd forgotten there was a cow display at the Olympics in 2002. I had heard about that on tv, I believe.

  18. Nice review! It sounds like just the sort of mystery I like, with a strong female main character and humor.

  19. Dewey - Thanks! It is definitely a must read. :-)

  20. Whew! I saw SACRED COWS (and the rest of her books) on B&N as I was perusing series and remembered seeing it on someone's list in the blogging world. After a long hunt through my blogroll, I finally discovered it was YOU who had read it! :)

    Just wanted to say, glad you enjoyed it and I look forward to reading it myself.

  21. Joy - I do hope you enjoy Sacred Cows. It's one of the better mysteries I've read so far this year. I hope to read Secondhand Smoke this month.

  22. This one sounds like fun, thanks for the review!

    My husband and I were in Edinburgh a few years ago and they had cows all over town. Our favourite was the Braveheart cow! :)

  23. Tinylittlelibrarian - That is so cool! I would love to have seen the cows all over Edinburgh. :-)


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