Sunday, August 23, 2015

From the Archives: Mysteries 2006

I began keeping a reading journal several years before I began blogging. I find it interesting to sift through my thoughts of books that I read back then. My reviews were often brief and contained little substance, but I thought it'd be fun to document them here on my blog as well as share them with you. The first half of 2006 seemed to be my time for series reading. I read quite a few mysteries at that time. Here are some of my reviews from 2006: 

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot, #4) by Agatha Christie
Crime Fiction; 241 pgs 

It has been over a decade since I last read something written by the queen of mystery. Agatha Christie is an even better storyteller than I remember. Set in King’s Abbot, the novel is narrated by the small community’s doctor, Dr. Sheppard, who takes on the role of assistant to the famous now-retired detective, Hercule Poirot. They set out to discover who killed and was possibly blackmailing the wealthy Roger Ackroyd. I found Ms. Christie’s novel to be delightful to read. I enjoyed getting to know here characters and spending time in the presence of M. Poirot. 

Deadly Housewives by Christine Matthews ed.
William Morrow, 2006
Crime Fiction; Mystery; 286 pgs 

Fourteen popular mystery writers join together in this anthology of short stories about housewives and murder. The stories touch upon everything from marriage, jealousy, motherhood, and friends. Compared to the hit TV show, Desperate Housewives, the stories that make up Deadly Housewives certainly share in drama, although be prepared for something much different. While I found all of the stories entertaining, four stood out and were my favorites, written by Carole Nelson Douglas, Marcia Muller, Suzann Ledbetter, and Eileen Dryer. Some made me laugh and some held suspense. I especially enjoyed reading the “Little Black Book” blurbs that were tacked on at the end of the book. It’s always fun to see a little slice in the lives of the authors. 

Laguna Heat by T. Jefferson Parker
St. Martin's,1985
Crime Fiction; 322 pgs 

I had seen T. Jefferson Parker’s name and his books advertised now and again over the last couple of years and never really considered giving one a try. No reason in particular. I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Parker speak at the 2006 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and decided it was time to give him a chance. On the ride home from the festival that evening, I started thumbing through the book my husband was kind enough to purchase for me while there and was hooked on the very first sentence. I somehow managed to set it aside until I could at least finish the book I had already been in the middle of, but as soon as I go the chance, I picked up and started reading Laguna Heat. Homicide Detective Tom Shephard returns home to Laguna Beach, hoping for a fresh start. He left the LAPD after a fatal shooting to save a fellow officer and his failed. His first case with the Laguna Beach Police Department turns out to be a serial murder, bodies found scorched to death and a link to the past that may involve his own family and friends. T. Jefferson Parker’s novel was an entertaining read. The author’s descriptions were colorful and brought the setting and characters to life. I couldn’t help but pick out the differences as I read of life back in the mid-80’s to today. Defense attorneys would have a field day in the courtroom if crime scenes were handled that way today. I liked the feel of the book in my mind as I read it, the words, and the way the story came together. It had an old-fashioned feel to it. Tom Shephard was a sympathetic character and I especially loved his dog Cal. Laguna Heat is a good hard-boiled mystery, definitely worth taking the time read. I look forward to reading more books by Mr. Parker. 

Bad Twin by Gary Troup
 Kingswell, 2006
Crime Fiction; 258 pgs 

Private detective Paul Artisan is hired by a wealthy businessman to locate his missing twin brother. The two brothers couldn’t be more different: one being the more responsible one while the other being carefree. Artisan has his work cut out for him as he begins the investigation. While the money is great, it’s not what drives Artisan forward in what sometimes appears to be an impossible quest. He wants to learn the truth and protect a man who might be in grave danger. For all the hype Bad Twin is receiving because of its appearance on my favorite TV show, Lost, and the big question mark as to the identity behind the author Gary Troup (a character from the TV show Lost who went missing when the flight he was on from Australia to Los Angeles crashed somewhere in the Pacific), this is a wonderful little mystery that stands all by itself. Lost fans may be thrilled to recognize a name here or there, but other than that, the book is very much its own entity. The novel was extremely well written, fast paced and interesting to read at every turn. There was humor, insight, and intrigue throughout. I loved the character of Artisan’s best friend Manny Weissman with all of his references to literature, which were peppered throughout the book. I did find the book predictable in some ways and pretty much had the ending figured out with one exception; however, that didn’t dull my enjoyment of the novel at all. **After seeing the season finale of the TV show, Lost, some of the characters take on new meaning in the Mr. Troup’s novel. The Hanso Corporation and the Widmore family are linked yet again. It raises more questions for fans of the TV show, but did we really expect anything else? 

Gone (Alex Delaware, #20) by Jonathan Kellerman
Ballantine Books, 2006
Crime Fiction; 365 pgs 

Police consultant and child psychologist Alex Delaware is back in another installment of Jonathan Kellerman’s series. He joins his friend, homicide detective Milo Sturgis, in the murder investigation of a young woman who Alex had been hired to evaluate after it was discovered the carjacking and kidnapping/torture of she and a friend was an elaborate hoax. As Milo and Alex begin to unravel the life of the young woman, they find something much darker and more sinister than they ever imagined. Mr. Kellerman effectively used dialogue, especially the conversations between the two main characters, to dissect the lives of the people they were investigating as well as their motives. Although I guessed right off the whodunit part, I still enjoyed seeing how it all came together in the end. I’ve never been a huge fan of Robin, one of Alex’s love interests, but by the end of the book, I actually liked her as a character. Alex continues to be a superman of a character, however, Mr. Kellerman doesn’t forget to remind readers that all that Alex sees and goes through takes its toll on him. 

Twelve Sharp (Stephanie Plum, #12) by Janet Evanovich
St. Martin's Press, 2006
Crime Fiction; 310 pgs 

It’s impossible not to laugh out loud when reading a Stephanie Plum novel, at least I haven’t been able to resist yet. The description of Grandma Mazur and Lulu in their costumes at the Plum’s residence had tears welling in eyes because I was laughing so hard. Although Janet Evanovich is not the best author around and her bounty hunter books are out there in the believability range, she certainly tells a good yarn. I still find myself feeling bad for Ranger and Morelli, the two men in Stephanie’s life. I’m not sure I would be as tolerant and patient as they’ve been with her—and with each other. Twelve Sharp offers readers a glimpse into Ranger’s life and character when his daughter is kidnapped and his supposed wife appears on the doorstep of the bonds office where Stephanie Plum works. In between trying to catch bounties, Stephanie is also on Ranger’s trail and that of his missing daughter. Action, hilarious bumbles mixed in with the usual high jinx, and romance fill the pages of the 12th novel in the Stephanie Plum Bounty series.

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  1. I wish I read more Agatha Christie's books earlier. I enjoyed reading her Then There Were None and it was so good, so suspenseful. I've added a few of her books to my pile so I know I'll read them at some point.

    Deadly Housewives sounds like a good and fun read.

    1. Melody - I was really into Agatha Christie's novels when I was a teenager and during my college years. I didn't keep track then of what I read and didn't read so I have no idea which of hers I haven't read. I imagine for most, it would be like reading them for the first time again anyway. I do want to get back into her books.

  2. Thank you for featuring some great books. Whilst I do quite enjoy Jonathan Kellerman's books I do prefer the work of his wife (FayeKeellerman).

    1. Tracy - I've only ever read one Faye Kellerman book. I did enjoy it quite a bit, but I never continued on with any of her other books. I think at the time I was feeling a bit drowned by series books and wasn't looking to start a new series, especially one with such a long back list. Maybe someday.

  3. The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd is certainly a great Christie book. That being said, it is not one of my favorites. I've read it, but I've never had the urge to reread it, as I do many of her other books. Ah well.

    I've read a couple of books by T. Jefferson Parker. I remember really liking California Girl by him and also The Fallen. The latter book has a character with synesthesia - that sensory disorder where you might see colors as someone speaks or smell when someone is lying. I had never heard of it at that time and was fascinated.

    1. Kay - I don't remember most of her books that I have read, to be honest. As I mentioned to Melody, reading them again will be likely be like reading them again for the first time. It's been so long. I do want to re-visit her books and catch the ones I haven't read. Someday. :-)

      I have a few of T. Jefferson Parker's books on my TBR shelves still to read. I haven't read the two you mention. I see the author in passing often at the L.A. Times Festival of Books--he's a local favorite--not that I know him personally.

  4. I am planning to read an Agatha Christie book sometime soon. I did read couple of them few years ago but never really got into her books. I'd love to sample more of her books.

    1. Athira - I hope you enjoy whichever Agatha Christie book you read! I want to go back and revisit her books at some point. It's been ages since I last read one. I was quite the fan in my earlier years.

  5. I've read some of these authors, but none of these books! More titles to consider! :)

    1. Jenclair - There's too many. I can't keep up with all the books I want to read. I guess though that's a good problem to have. :-)


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