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Ted Feit (Long Beach, NY USA)
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The Impossible Dead
The Impossible Dead
by Ian Rankin
Edition: Paperback
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.47

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just a Truth Seeker, Dec 16 2011
This review is from: The Impossible Dead (Paperback)
Ian Rankin usually lays a foundation of current and past events in his novels. And, in this second Malcolm Fox mystery, he creates a tale reaching back a quarter of a century, when agitation and violence marked efforts for a separate Scotland. Fox, who made his debut in 'The Complaints,' grows exponentially as a protagonist, along with his sidekicks on his Internal Affairs team, Tony Kaye and Joe Naysmith. They are worthy successors to the now retired Rebus, although more subtle in the presentation.

This murder-mystery has its beginnings in an investigation of fellow cops who may have covered up for a corrupt co-worker, Detective Paul Carter, who had been found guilty of misconduct. The original accuser was Carter's uncle, an ex-op himself. When the uncle is found dead, perhaps murdered with a pistol that theoretically did not exist for it should have been destroyed by the police in 1985, and Carter himself dead by drowning shortly afterward, Fox is drawn into his own inquiry outside the aegis of a Complaints review, resurrecting the turmoil of the past and terrorist threats of the present.

Rankin also demonstrates his trademark attention to character development, concentrating much of the story on the deterioration of Fox' father's physical well-being and his relationship with his sister, each with sensitivity and care. At the same time, the author shows his talent for integrating the setting, plot and theme, tightly intertwining the various elements. Highly recommended.

Before the Poison
Before the Poison
by Peter Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.80
24 used & new from CDN$ 4.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Obsession, Dec 7 2011
This review is from: Before the Poison (Hardcover)
Diverting his attention from the popular and successful Inspector Banks series, the author has written a murder mystery of a different genre. Instead of a police procedural, he has undertaken to use a variety of literary devices to unravel the truth behind a death that took place sixty years ago.

It begins when Chris Lowndes, reeling from the death of his wife, decides to buy a home on the Yorkshire Dales. He purchases Kilnsgate House, a large, bleak, isolated structure in which he hopes to recover from his depression, and, perhaps write a sonata instead of the incidental music for motion pictures which he did for many years on the West Coast of the US. No sooner does he take possession than he becomes haunted by its past: Grace Fox, the former owner, was accused and convicted of poisoning her husband, a respected local physician. And she was hanged for it.

Chris becomes so obsessed that he endeavors to 'discover' the truth, initially convinced that she was innocent of the charge. The author leads the reader (and Chris) from supposition to fact, alternating excerpts of Grace's wartime diary (she was a nurse, first in Singapore, then escaping the Japanese, suffering a series of devastating experiences, finally serving in France before returning to her husband at Kilnsgate House) and various interviews with aged characters, including her younger lover now living in Paris and a man who as a seven-year-old lived with the Foxes for a time as an evacuee at the beginning of World War II.

The shifts in the plot, as Chris conducts his 'investigation,' are truly ingenious, keeping the reader off balance to a fare-thee-well. The characters are well-drawn, and the author undertook deep research to create Grace's diary. While the novel may seem at times somewhat dry and slow to read, it constantly draws the reader forward and is well worth reading, and it is highly recommended.

The Caller
The Caller
by Karin Fossum
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 21.00
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Caller, Nov. 14 2011
This review is from: The Caller (Paperback)
Lucy thought she had everything a woman could want [and who could disagree]: youth, beauty, health, a loving husband, and a baby girl they both doted upon. Until the warm summer day when evil is suddenly visited upon her perfect life in the form of an unknown monster, for when Lily approaches the pram under the maple tree outside their house where the baby had lain sleeping, she discovers that the baby is covered in blood. In their terror and panic, they rush to the hospital, where they are soon told that the baby is unharmed, that the blood was not hers, and that the police have been called. The Inspectors assigned to the case are Konrad Sejer and Jacob Skarre. Later that same night, a postcard is delivered to Sejer's door reading 'Hell begins now.'

Happy people content with their lives, suddenly made anxious, unable any longer to feel secure, as 'a soundless form of terror' and utter vulnerability spreads through the community. This is the story line of this newest in the Inspector Sejer Mysteries. And a gripping, albeit somewhat depressing, tale it is, with a perpetrator who fancies himself as invincible, with unimaginable cruelty and an almost equally twisted quirk: He needs to see for himself the effects of his pranks: 'Everyone lives on an edge, he thought, and I will push them over.'

The writing is wonderful, as one has come to expect of this author. She describes Sejer's dog as follows: 'a Chinese Shar Pei called Frank, lay at his feet, and was, like most Chinese, dignified, unapproachable and patient. Frank had tiny, closed ears ' and thus bad hearing ' and a mass of grey, wrinkled skin that made him look like a chamois cloth,' and someone's 'cat [which] slept in a corner, fat and striped like a mackerel.' The humans are just as well-drawn. Widowed at a young age, Sejer is now feeling the frailty of impending old age, and along with him the reader feels a palpable sense of inescapable mortality, as well as 'what was raw and brutal in the heart of every living creature.' A disturbing but ultimately thoroughly enjoyable novel, very fast reading, and highly recommended.

Outrage
Outrage
by Arnaldur Indridason
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.77
12 used & new from CDN$ 12.02

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outrage, Nov. 1 2011
This review is from: Outrage (Hardcover)
At the outset of this newest book by Icelandic author Indridason, the eighth in the series available in English translation, a young man picks up a woman in a bar, slips some rohypnol into her drink and brings her back to his home in an historic area of Reykjavik. When two days later the police are called to the scene, the body found lying in a pool of blood on the floor is not that of the woman, but the young man who lived there, his throat having been slashed. The only clues are a woman's shawl, and a strange smell that lingers in the air.

In this latest entry in the series, Detective Elinborg has the primary role, while her colleagues Erlendur and Sigurdur Oli take on lesser roles, the former only by reference in the early and late parts of the book [referred to as 'a failure of a father,' an 'irascible loner,' and 'an insightful detective' whom Elinborg admires but does not necessarily like]. As the book opens he has apparently taken a leave of absence to travel to the East Fjords, where he had lived as a young boy. Oli has only a secondary role in the present investigations, with Elinborg taking the lead.

As always, Elinborg has conflicts between her job and her role as a wife and mother, and worries that she is not devoting enough time to her family. The older of her two sons, 16 years old and increasingly distant, has been a cause of concern lately, and she 'sometimes worried about the relationships between parents and their children,' a theme which recurs throughout the book. In the course of her investigation, Elinborg is drawn into an old case, one involving the disappearance of a 19-year-old girl six years prior, and the possibility that the two cases are tied together.

Having been steadily absorbing reading for more than the first half of the book, it suddenly becomes more intriguing as the plot turns more complex, and maintains that level till the denouement. This is a powerful book, consistent with all this author's prior work, and highly recommended.

Fallen: A Novel
Fallen: A Novel
by Karin Slaughter
Edition: Hardcover
49 used & new from CDN$ 0.26

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fallen, Oct. 26 2011
This review is from: Fallen: A Novel (Hardcover)
In her eleventh novel, Karin Slaughter brings us back to Georgia. Agent Faith Mitchell, of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, finds that what started out as a normal workday becomes something else entirely. [A bit of background: A cop for 15 years, Faith is a single mom, diabetic, 34 years old, and a former detective with the Atlanta homicide squad; her mother has helped care for Faith's four-month old baby for the past two months, since Faith went back to work.] When Faith drives up to the house, she immediately sees a bloody handprint on the front door. Before the ensuing confrontation is over, three men have been shot to death ' two at Faith's hand; she finds her baby locked in a shed; the house has been ransacked; and her mother is missing. Faith's mother, a decorated police officer, had been in charge of the narcotics division, and two of the three dead men appear to be members of a local Hispanic gang known to control the drug trade in Atlantic.

Will Trent, Faith's old partner in the GBI, is handling the investigation; there is a bit of a conflict of interest at work here: Amanda Wagner, the deputy director and his boss, had been the BFF [before the term existed] of Evelyn Mitchell, Faith's mother, a 63-year-old widow and a cop for nearly forty years, who had been implicated in a sting operation that had been headed by Will, to weed out dirty cops, part of the upshot of which was her forced retirement.

Will has a complex relationship with Sara Linton, formerly a county coroner and now a pediatric attending physician in the emergency department of a local Atlanta hospital. Widow of the county's former police chief, at 5'11', with red hair, Sara is a striking woman. The 'complexity' of her relationship with Will is due to the fact that he is still married, sort of. The relationship between him and his wife is strange, to say the least.

The plot is intricate, the main characters each strong yet vulnerable; the book is a wholly satisfying, fast read, and it is recommended.

The Devil's Edge
The Devil's Edge
by Stephen Booth
Edition: Paperback
10 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Devil's Edge, Oct. 1 2011
This review is from: The Devil's Edge (Paperback)
Devil's Edge is a fairly insular world, defined, geographically at least, by the cliff edges which surround it. This book is, in a similar way, equally circumscribed. As the reader is told on the opening page, "It was one of the drawbacks of living in the countryside. Too much of the outside world intruding. Too many things it was impossible to keep out." In this novel, the outside world, and the aspects of it one would most like to keep out, intrudes in the worst way. On the eastern fringe of the Peak District, in the village of Riddings, in rural Derbyshire, there has been a rash of break-ins. The burglars have been dubbed The Savages by the press. The newest incidents escalate the anxiety when they suddenly turn deadly. The author speaks of the residents having sought sanctuary in the rural haven, noting, however, that "everyone had monsters in their lives." Suspicion turns from looking for an outside group of burglars to someone from within the community, targeting the victims, for reasons far more personal.

Recently promoted D.S. Ben Cooper is assigned the investigation. He, particularly, believes it is not the work of The Savages, being much more meticulously planned and leaving no trace of the culprit[s].

D.S. Diane Fry, formerly with the West Midlands Police "in the days before she transferred to yokel land," is brought back into the squad to take over the investigation after an almost unimaginable turn of events changes Ben Cooper's life forever. Despite the past ambivalence of their relationship, where they were both vying for the same promotion, their usually well-concealed respect for each other is here on display.

The author's descriptions bring the land to palpable life, e.g., "the distant rocky outcrops seemed to change shape. They slid slowly sideways, merged and divided, their outlines shifting from smooth to jagged to a distinctive silhouette. It was all the effect of altering angle and perspective. With each step, a transformation took place in the landscape, a gradual reveal like the slow drawing aside of a curtain. At a point halfway across the flats, a split rock he hadn't noticed before came into view. As it emerged from behind a larger boulder, its two halves slowly parted and turned, like the hands of a clock creeping past noon." Simply gorgeous. [The landscape, and the writing, that is.]

Recommended.

Good As Dead
Good As Dead
by Mark Billingham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.99
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hostage, Sept. 26 2011
This review is from: Good As Dead (Hardcover)
This novel is the latest'the 10th'in the Tom Thorne series featuring a British cop of a different stripe. His approach to solving a crime is to achieve a conclusion by any means. And, in this book, he shows no mercy.

It begins when D.S. Helen Weeks enters her local news agent's shop to buy her customary candy bar and ends up, along with another customer, as a hostage to the proprietor, who then demands that Thorne find the murderer of his son. Some months before, Thorne had been the arresting officer when the boy surrendered for killing another lad in self-defense. He received an eight-year sentence, rather an extreme incarceration based on the case. While in prison, he was attacked and taken to the hospital where he was later found dead of an overdose of drugs. His father refuses to accept the verdict that the death was a suicide.

Forced to reopen the case and 'find the truth,' Thorne fights against time and Helen's predicament. The time frame of the novel is three days, which certainly speeds up the action both behind the closed doors of the shop, as well as vis-à-vis Thorne's progress. The psychological aspects of the hostage system: the interchanges between Weeks and her captor, and the uncertainties of the situation, are manifested in the shifting conversations between the two. In contrast are the fears and doubts of the police officials outside who cannot determine what, if any, efforts should be made to free the hostages and apprehend the news agent. Thorne's quick determination that the news agent's belief is correct - - that rather than suicide, his son was murdered - - comes quickly, just as the various pieces of the puzzle are unveiled one by one. Nevertheless, Thorne is really a delightful and intriguing character, and the well-written scenario moves forward briskly. Recommended.

Only Time Will Tell
Only Time Will Tell
by Jeffrey Archer
Edition: Hardcover
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.79

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Prologue, Aug. 30 2011
This review is from: Only Time Will Tell (Hardcover)
This aptly titled novel is the prelude to a series entitled The Clifton Chronicles, covering the lives of several characters over the span of a century. In the hands of the author, Jeffrey Archer, it follows the life of the main character, Harry Clifton, from his birth shortly after World War I to just short of WWII with more curves than a talented big league pitcher.

The story is told in succeeding chapters from the point of view of various persons, each contributing some insight into the questions raised in the last summation. It takes Harry from a fatherless tot to a school truant to a talented choir singer and his education right up to his acceptance at Oxford. Meanwhile his life becomes complicated as he grows up by virtue of his background: the mystery of his father's death, his mother's struggles to support him, his questionable parentage.

No comment is necessary regarding Mr. Archer's ability to write a solid story, and to end it in cliffhanger fashion so readers will look forward to the sequel. It remains to be seen how ingenious he can be in the next book in the series.

Recommended.

No Title Available

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sister Act, Aug. 3 2011
The author is known for writing thrillers, sometimes with horrific plots and graphic details. This novel pales by comparison, with merely an offstage rape scene to occasion a police procedural of somewhat questionable means, and a side story about two sisters who have had virtually no contact for 20 years but are in a sense joined at the hip by the rape victim, and then that thread develops into development of a family relationship.

The story is more about the various characters'the two sisters, their lovers, their own background and history'and how each is affected, rather than the crime and ensuing investigation which seems to be an afterthought to contribute to the main plotline.

Written with verve, the novel seems to drag along except for some more 'exciting' portions. Much of the descriptions of one sister's divorce and subsequent life seem labored, and the ending was to this reader quite unsatisfactory. In fact the title of the book might be a fit description for its conclusion: It seems to just hang without any wrapping up. That notwithstanding, the novel still bears reading, and is recommended.

In Desperation
In Desperation
by Rick Mofina
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.82
65 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars In Desperation, Aug. 1 2011
Before the end of the first chapter of 'In Desperation,' Rick Mofina's newest entry in the Jack Gannon series, Tilly, the eleven-year-old daughter of Cora Martin, has been kidnapped by two gunmen, who tell her that her boss has stolen five million dollars from them, and that he has five days to return it or Tilly will be killed, threatening the same fate if the police are called in. In her desperation, Cora calls the only family she has, that person being the brother with whom she has had no contact for over twenty years: Jack Gannon.

Gannon, a 35-year-old loner from blue-collar Buffalo, New York, is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with a national wire service. And the call he receives from Cora is more unsettling to him than anything he can recall. When she was seventeen and he was twelve, she was his hero, his big sister protector, until she left some twenty years ago and never returned, leaving her family to embark on a futile search for her over the ensuing years. Her pleas to Jack to help her find the niece he never knew he had take him from Juarez, Mexico, 'one of the world's most violent cities with a homicide rate greater than any other city on earth, where he has been working on a story dealing with the drug cartels that had taken over every aspect life in that country, and go to the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona where Cora lives. He insists that the police be notified, despite the kidnappers' threat, which only widens the danger as it appears, as has been widely discussed in the press in the novel as well as the real-life media that surrounds us all, that police agencies in the US have been infiltrated by the cartel members, an acknowledged fact of life in Mexico.

Except for the final few pages, all the ensuing action takes place over a five-day period, hard to believe for all the action that is packed into that time frame. The reader is teased from the first with references to a secret that Cora will not reveal, something from her past that she convinces herself cannot possibly have any connection with her present crisis. Cora's boss, the one who is supposed to have pulled off this rip-off of some very dangerous men, seems to have disappeared, and all attempts to locate him end in failure.

Always engrossing, the book has the high level of suspense typical of Mr. Mofina's writing. One quibble this reader had was that I found it less than credible that Gannon, already suspecting that the investigation may have been compromised, approaches a lead, a man with a very unsavory background, giving him full details of the investigation to that point in order to elicit information from him that will give him further avenues to pursue. But hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. Jack's journalistic instincts push him to proceed, and put him in a difficult position - - he has a job to do, and a story to write, even as he fights to distance himself from the fact that he is writing about his own family. Bodies start showing up, killed in gruesome ways, and they must find Tilly before she becomes just one more. They discover that an assassin, or sicario, has been dispatched to find those missing millions, and to eliminate any loose ends, or witnesses.

Sure to hold the reader's attention to the very end, the book leads the reader to think he or she knows where they are being taken - - but don't be too sure. The author has a very sure hand, and surprises are in store. Recommended.

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