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"curtcow" (Short Hills, NJ USA)

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Black Water: A Merci Rayborn Novel
Black Water: A Merci Rayborn Novel
by T. Jefferson Parker
Edition: Hardcover
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars I prefer the strong silent type, May 21 2002
It started slow, probably because:
1. My only other Parker experience was "Silent Joe", an excellent and very different book.
2. I just finished "City of Bones", and Harry Bosch is a more interesting homicide detective than Merci Rayburn could ever be. She just asks questions that build the story, gets answers and moves on. When Harry Bosch conducts an interview, we get a complete picture of what's happening around him picking up all kinds of nuances in the answers.
We know Archie didn't kill Gwen and the idea that this simple young couple hit it big with a biomed stock makes for a shaky piece of the story's foundation. The hospital scenes are also tedious with Archie first at death's door hearing Gwen's voice from the other world then, before you know it, answering Merci's annoying questions.
There's more reason to look for a huge bearded man with size sixteen shoes than to arrest Archie, but when reporter Gary Brice gets Archie on tape waving a gun at him, the sheriff decides to bring him in. Archie takes off to find Gwen's killers with her ghostly voice whispering in his ear at every critical turn. The chase reaches its bizarre conclusion, then Merci's partner Paul Zamora, Gwen's sister Pricilla and Merci's son Tim from an affair in a prior novel jump in for an almost random wrap-up on all the aspects of Merci's life.
I will try Parker again, but no more Merci Rayburn stories.

Murder On The Trans-Siberian Express: A Portifry Petrovich Rostinikov Novel
Murder On The Trans-Siberian Express: A Portifry Petrovich Rostinikov Novel
by Stuart M Kaminsky
Edition: Hardcover
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Policework in a city without laws, May 18 2002
I'm new to Kaminsky, so all the Russian named characters living in a different world made the early going slow. By Book II, however, I was up to speed and turned onto the pace of three overlapping plots:
1. Porfiry Rostnikov, the seasoned Moscow cop with a plastic leg, along with Sasha Tkach is on a mission on the title train in a compartment with a couple of Americans, an intriguing female agent and Pavel Cherkasov, Russia's answer to Henny Youngman. Igor (the Yak) Yaklovev is Rostnikov's Machiavellian boss. He thrives running a police department in a society that acknowledges law enforcement but has no clearly accepted laws and has his own reasons for sending them on the assignment.
2. Rostnikov's son Iosef and partner Elena are chasing Inna, a psycho whose answer to a father's lack of attention is to plunge a kitchen knife into Moscow commuters who remind her of him.
3. Emil Karpo another hardened police vet and his more mystical junior partner Zelach are looking for the missing lead singer in a skinhead rock band. The Naked Cossack, whose real name is Misha Lovski, is the son of a Rupert Murdoch like Moscow media mogul rebelling against his father's life.
The investigations weave through each chapter moving toward independent but simultaneous conclusions. The drama of the chase or who did what to whom, however, is the sideshow. The real story is about how Kaminsky's characters react to what happens around them, both on and off the job. In the end it's not about justice but rather Rostnikov and the Yak manipulating each other to preserve what passes for order in their chaotic worlds. Even if you can't remember their names or identify with their lifestyles, you'll know what makes Kaminsky's characters tick and empathize with the way each plays the hand life has dealt.

City of Bones
City of Bones
by Michael Connelly
Edition: Audio Cassette
10 used & new from CDN$ 7.97

5.0 out of 5 stars The Light at the End of the Tunnel?, May 6 2002
Ce commentaire est de: City of Bones (Audio Cassette)
Michael Connelly may be the Jerry Seinfeld of crime fiction. He builds his stories with pieces of the nothings of everyday life. When Harry Bosch bungles the switch from call waiting, Lt. Grace Billets, who's been his boss since "Angel's Flight", finally finds out that he and Jerry Edger call her Bullets. Watch sergeant Mankiewicz tells Bosch to use his wiles as in Wile E. Coyote to move the bones case along and knows that the best donuts in his squad room come from Bob's in the Farmer's Market.
Bosch fans will also appreciate how smoothly Connelly intorduces another love interest to the series while an old one remains on the scene. Teresa Corazon, a soul mate and casual sex partner of Harry way back in "The Black Ice" is now the publicity hungry Medical Examiner who takes a camera crew to document everything she investigates. She's become almost as much of a bumbling nemesis as Harvey "98" Pounds used to be. Julia Brasher, a rookie cop in her mid-thirties, former lawyer from a family of successful lawyers, is Harry's current squeeze.
When the old bones of an abused young boy are found in a shallow grave, the reader should recognize from the outset that technology and good policework will enable the cops to I.D. the victim pretty quickly. The early part of the story isn't about what the investigation uncovers but rather the unintended consequences of events it sets in motion. Deputy Chief Irving is still around, always ready to deep six the truth and Harry's investigation if it will make his department look better. He's more than outlived his usefulness as the poster boy for evil bureaucrats, but where would Harry be without him to rebel against?
Once the bones are identified and Harry starts to resurrect the dirty secrets of the family de la Croix, the story goes back to a Connellly whodunit - one where Harry may be the only one who really cares about the truth. The pace and path to the solution are typical Connelly, exceptionally well done.
As to the ending, if you've read the jacket or another review you already know that it's different. The question is, when the old tunnel rat finally does see the light at the end, is it a door to a new beginning or the dreaded oncoming train? I'm hoping for the door out and a whole new series of Harry Bosch stories.

Bird's-Eye View
Bird's-Eye View
by J.F Freedman
Edition: Audio Cassette
7 used & new from CDN$ 19.56

2.0 out of 5 stars Bird Brained Book, May 6 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Bird's-Eye View (Audio Cassette)
Fritz Tullis is a belligerent pot smoking lothario now pushing forty who somehow evolved out of a smart athletic golden boy with a Ph.d. from Yale. He is, or was before he was fired, a well-liked college professor who presumably has book smarts but as much common sense as Ollie the lost whooping crane, which has more depth as a character than Fritz. Freedman goes on to make his villain an evil arms dealer in diplomat's clothing and names him Roach. Is he playing with his readers, or does he think these people seem real.
Fritz's amateurish investigation of the murder he saw takes him into pitfall after pitfall, almost like the old Saturday serials where the audience wants to scream, "no, don't go there." Take the visit to his college buddy Buster who's now a big time Washington lawyer. "Can I trust Buster?" Come on!
In the end Freedman needs to use a bad guy with a gun standing over Fritz and his babe to explain how everything ties together. It wouldn't flow from the story any other way, and Fritz certainly wasn't going to figure it out. Like its leading man, this story is all promise and zero substance.

Money Wanders: A Novel
Money Wanders: A Novel
by Eric Dezenhall
Edition: Hardcover
14 used & new from CDN$ 0.38

5.0 out of 5 stars Right on the Money, April 21 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Money Wanders: A Novel (Hardcover)
Mickey Price is a 95-year-old kindly Jewish grandfather whose past was as notorious as Meyer Lansky's. His pal Irv the Curve was with Dutch Schultz when he was gunned down in Newark in 1935. Both have survived their prohibition era heritage by "seeming" but have not abandoned all ties to their old lives. In his final days Mickey, who sort of controls the Golden Prospect casino in Atlantic City, tells his grandson Jonah Eastman that Philadelphia crime boss Mario Vanni needs to talk with him. Jonah, a 38-year-old Dartmouth grad raised away from the business (with Mickey while he was on the lam in Europe, actually), is called the "Poll Vaulter" in D.C. because of his aggressive methods of shaping public opinion. Mickey dies and Vanni hires Jonah to make him respectable enough to get a casino license, an offer he couldn't refuse.
Here the story bumps around a bit from an "Analyze This" type farce, which it isn't, to a veiled secondhand expose of how la Cosa Nostra operates. For a while it seemed Denzenhall would be content to use characters like Mickey and Irv merely to lob in bits of Mafia lore, like it was the mob that his both JFK and Vince Foster. The subplots of the Vanni makeover, Jonah's romance with Edie the waspy klezmorim singer, his confrontations with Noel who is Vanni's psycho consigliere and everybody's quest for what Mickey left behind start to wander like the money in the title. More than once I stopped to speculate on how this phase of Jonah's life would end, but nothing I imagined came close.
In the last 50 or so pages every piece of Denzenhall's story including many seemingly insignificant references to Indian culture and the mysteries of the Pine Barrens ties together in a very satisfying conclusion. There's also a somewhat thoughtful message about what the real legacy is from one generation to the next. With the exception of a preposterous scene with Jonah and Noel in Carvin' Marvin's Cadillac Seville, Mickey and his crew did a pretty good job of letting Jonah find his way.

Money Wanders: A Novel
Money Wanders: A Novel
by Eric Dezenhall
Edition: Hardcover
14 used & new from CDN$ 0.38

5.0 out of 5 stars Right on the Money, April 21 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Money Wanders: A Novel (Hardcover)
Mickey Price is a 95-year-old kindly Jewish grandfather whose past was as notorious as Meyer Lansky's. His pal Irv the Curve was with Dutch Schultz when he was gunned down in Newark in 1935. Both have survived their prohibition era heritage by "seeming" but have not abandoned all ties to their old lives. In his final days Mickey, who sort of controls the Golden Prospect casino in Atlantic City, tells his grandson Jonah Eastman that Philadelphia crime boss Mario Vanni needs to talk with him. Jonah, a 38-year-old Dartmouth grad raised away from the business (with Mickey while he was on the lam in Europe, actually), is called the "Poll Vaulter" in D.C. because of his aggressive methods of shaping public opinion. Mickey dies and Vanni hires Jonah to make him respectable enough to get a casino license, an offer he couldn't refuse.
Here the story bumps around a bit from an "Analyze This" type farce, which it isn't, to a veiled expose of how la Cosa Nostra operates. For a while it seemed Denzenhall would be content to use characters like Mickey and Irv merely to lob in bits of Mafia lore, like it was the mob that hit both JFK and Vince Foster. The subplots of the Vanni makeover, Jonah's romance with Edie the waspy klezmorim singer, his confrontations with Noel who is Vanni's psycho consigliere and everybody's quest for what Mickey left behind start to wander like the money in the title. More than once I stopped to speculate on how this phase of Jonah's life would end, but nothing I imagined came close to what Denzenhall serves up.
In the last 50 or so pages all the pieces of the story including many seemingly insignificant references to Indian culture and the mysteries of the Pine Barrens tie together in a very satisfying conclusion. There's also a somewhat thoughtful message about what shapes the legacy of the next generation. "Hey, am I gonna be a senator today or am I gonna hit some loan shark with a pipe?" With the exception of a scene with Jonah and Noel in Carvin' Marvin's Cadillac Seville, Mickey and his crew did a pretty good job of letting Jonah find his way.

Murder Of Promise
Murder Of Promise
by Robert Andrews
Edition: Hardcover
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A lot of Promise, but Honor was better, April 13 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Murder Of Promise (Hardcover)
Andrews writes great crime fiction. The many comparisons to George Pelecanos are valid. Each has written about murders in D.C. with a pair of black / white investigators from very different backgrounds at the center of the action, and each ends those novels with an act of imperfect justice that the reader understands but the rest of the world will not know.
Mary Keegan, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the Post who is writing a novel about two powerful fathers and their sons, is murdered. Franklin Delano Kearney and Josephus Phelps, two fifty something homicide lieutenants who have worked together twenty plus years and premiered in Andrews' prior "a murder of" novel, start shaking things up. Andrews also treats us to a realistic view of Frank and Jose's personal lives. Frank's relationship with his father Tom, a retired judge whose health is starting to fail and who's not shy about expressing his views about how Washington really works, is a subtle overlay to Mary Keegan's work in progress which is always hanging in the background.
Are the murders connected? Is there a serial killer loose? A third gruesome killing that fits the pattern points to the latter, and things heat up. Two of the three victims used a smallish Internet Service Provider in Maryland run by three pretty weird guys. All of the ISP clients had access to a virtual computer game involving a hunt for the Holy Grail. Hunter Elliot a.k.a. Orion, the computer geek who helped shape the finale of "A Murder of Honor", discovers a sophisticated eavesdropping program on those two victims' computers.
A lot of solid police work spiced with some high tech stuff sets up the end game. The chase scene, unfortunately, is absurd, and when the killer is finally caught, you should see one huge hole still left in the story. Damien Halligan, Mary Keegan's mysterious brother, reappears and hands Frank the missing link, and a second climax unfolds. I give it 4 stars not 5 because it's not quite as tight as "A Murder of Honor", but it's definitely worth putting on your list if you like the genre.

Murder Of Promise
Murder Of Promise
by Robert Andrews
Edition: Hardcover
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A lot of Promise, but Honor was better, April 13 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Murder Of Promise (Hardcover)
Andrews writes great crime fiction. The many comparisons to George Pelecanos are valid. Each has written about murders in D.C. with a pair of black / white investigators from very different backgrounds at the center of the action, and each ends those novels with an act of imperfect justice that the reader understands but the rest of the world will not know.
Mary Keegan, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the Post who is writing a novel about two powerful fathers and their sons, is murdered. Franklin Delano Kearney and Josephus Phelps, two fifty something homicide lieutenants who have worked together twenty plus years and premiered in Andrews' prior "a murder of" novel, start shaking things up. Andrews also treats us to a realistic view of Frank and Jose's personal lives. Frank's relationship with his father Tom, a retired judge whose health is starting to fail and who's not shy about expressing his views about how Washington really works, is a subtle overlay to Mary Keegan's work in progress which is always hanging in the background.
Are the murders connected? Is there a serial killer loose? A third gruesome killing that fits the pattern points to the latter, and things heat up. Two of the three victims used a smallish Internet Service Provider in Maryland run by three pretty weird guys. All of the ISP clients had access to a virtual computer game involving a hunt for the Holy Grail. Hunter Elliot a.k.a. Orion, the computer geek who helped shape the finale of "A Murder of Honor", discovers a sophisticated eavesdropping program on those two victims' computers.
A lot of solid police work spiced with some high tech stuff sets up the end game. The chase scene, unfortunately, is absurd, and when the killer is finally caught, you should see one huge hole still left in the story. Damien Halligan, Mary Keegan's mysterious brother, reappears and hands Frank the missing link, and a second climax unfolds. I give it 4 stars not 5 because it's not quite as tight as "A Murder of Honor", but it's definitely worth putting on your list if you like the genre.

Widow's Walk
Widow's Walk
by Robert B. Parker
Edition: Audio Cassette
9 used & new from CDN$ 19.84

4.0 out of 5 stars A great escape, April 5 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Widow's Walk (Audio Cassette)
Anytime Joe Mantegna narrates the audio version of a Robert B. Parker or Elmore Leonard novel, I'll buy it. His cliped delivery of Spenser's "I said, she said" lines and compact descriptions of the world around him brings the story to life and, perhaps, touches up many of the flaws some critics have noted. (Warning: Joe does not pronounce Louisberg, Newberry or Houghton the way a Bostonian would.)
Signs of an aging relationship are gracefully woven into "Widow's Walk" with Pearl the Wonderdog nearly deaf and Susan and Spenser sparring about who will make the final visit to the vet when the time comes. Three times Spenser points out that he and Susan have been together for twenty-five years (with one timeout along the way). In the end, however, it's the same old Spenser still punching people out and spurning an array of long legged, short skirted young women who can't resist the allure of a man who by now must be twice their age.
Brahmin Nathan Smith is dead, and his sexy, dumb 30-year-old wife Mary is charged with the murder. Her lawyer Rita Fiore, a sexy redhead by the way, hires Spenser to help build her defense, and he begins to pick away at the Oz-like curtain that surrounds life with the Smiths. The plot unfolds like one big game of virtual musical chairs. Every two chapters or so a fringe character is either killed off or explained away in one of Spenser's terse recaps of what has happened so far. In the end Spenser is literally chasing his villain around a parked Buick in the middle of the night in a lightning storm.
Great literature it's not, but four stars to both Parker and Mantegna for making six hours in the car seem a lot shorter.

Widow's Walk
Widow's Walk
by Robert B. Parker
Edition: Audio Cassette
9 used & new from CDN$ 19.84

4.0 out of 5 stars A great escape, April 5 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Widow's Walk (Audio Cassette)
Anytime Joe Mantegna narrates the audio version of a Robert B. Parker or Elmore Leonard novel, I'll buy it. His clipped delivery of Spenser's "I said, she said" lines and compact descriptions of the world around him brings the story to life and, perhaps, touches up many of the flaws some critics have noted. (Warning: Joe does not pronounce Louisberg, Newberry or Houghton the way a Bostonian would.)
Signs of an aging relationship are gracefully woven into "Widow's Walk" with Pearl the Wonderdog nearly deaf and Susan and Spenser sparring about who will make the final visit to the vet when the time comes. Three times Spenser points out that he and Susan have been together for twenty-five years (with one timeout along the way). In the end, however, it's the same old Spenser still punching people out and spurning an array of long legged, short skirted young women who can't resist the allure of a man who by now must be twice their age.
Brahmin Nathan Smith is dead, and his sexy, dumb 30-year-old wife Mary is charged with the murder. Her lawyer Rita Fiore, a sexy redhead by the way, hires Spenser to help build her defense, and he begins to pick away at the Oz-like curtain that surrounds life with the Smiths. The plot unfolds like one big game of virtual musical chairs. Every two chapters or so a fringe character is either killed off or explained away in one of Spenser's terse recaps of what has happened so far. In the end Spenser is literally chasing his villain around a parked Buick in the middle of the night in a lightning storm.
Great literature it's not, but four stars to both Parker and Mantegna for making six hours in the car seem a lot shorter.

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