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Carol Mello (San Jose,CA USA)

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And One to Die On
And One to Die On
by Jane Haddam
Edition: Paperback
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars a shallow grave candidate, March 15 2004
This review is from: And One to Die On (Paperback)
The other reviewers have described the plot for this mystery novel with skill. My review consists only of comments to assist new Jane Haddam fans.
Do I think this novel is worth buying? No. Worth reading? Only for die-hard fans.
If you feel you must read all of her novels, check this one out of the public library. I feel it is her weakest effort. Except for Gregor & Bennis (who are the only decent parts of the novel), the characters are all shallow and two dimensional. The murderer is obvious & more of a caricature than a character. Gregor gets quite testy with the games that his fellow inhabitants of the island are playing -- who could blame him? Not me. They are a shrill and unappealing group.
Of all her titles that I have read, I like this one the least. My apologies to the author for this review! I generally like her work tremendously & have started buying her more recent work in hardback.

Somebody Else's Music: A Gregor Demarkian Novel
Somebody Else's Music: A Gregor Demarkian Novel
by Jane Haddam
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
30 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars my favorite Haddam novel, Dec 11 2003
First, a rebuttal to the two reviewers who hated this novel. I read mystery novels for fun. If I do not like a novel, I don't even bother to finish reading it. Why waste time allocated to having fun on something that is just not fun for you? Apparently two of the reviewers did just that..and then wrote scathing reviews of the novel that both include personal attacks on the author. Take their reviews with a grain of salt -- no, make that 6 cups of salt.
This novel is about the tormenting of classmates that goes on in schools -- a very timely topic considering recent school violence such as that at Columbine. At the core of this novel are the emotional scars left on both the victims and the perpetrators of school bullying. I found this book deeply moving. There is less humor in this novel than in some of Haddam's other Gregor Demarkian novels, but there is more humanity.

Prima Donna At Large
Prima Donna At Large
by Barbara Paul
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.86

5.0 out of 5 stars a hysterical historical musical romp, April 26 2002
This mystery is a follow on to the Cadenza for Caruso mystery. Caruso has been forbidden to interfere in a murder investigation by the police, so he convinces Geraldine Farrar, a soprano at the Met opera, to investigate for him. Narrated in the first person by Geraldine, the novel provides amusing portraits of many famous Met singers and the life they led in WWI New York City. Ms. Paul's portrait of Geraldine is apparently fairly close to the real thing -- a passionate, intelligent, witty, talented, and beautiful woman. Though not a big fan of opera (but a big fan of NYC), I enjoyed this humorous mystery tremendously. I liked it so much, that if I were not an honest woman, I'd have told the public library I lost the book and paid the fine. Hello, publishers! This is one of many vintage mystery novels that deserve to be back in print so a new generation can enjoy them!

Pedigree To Die For
Pedigree To Die For
by Laurien Berenson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
11 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars I warmed up to this book, Dec 1 2000
I checked this book out of the local branch library. When I first started reading it, I was lukewarm about it and thinking I would return it (I don't feel I have to finish something I am reading for fun if it isn't fun!). One night, I decided to give it a second chance. I ended up really enjoying it once I got past the first chapter. Now I am hunting down the rest of the series.
Melanie's husband left her when her son was 10 months old. She's been supporting herself and her son ever since. She's wary of men (her most recent lover just took off to Las Vegas and married a show girl), short on money, trying to be a good mom to her son, and doesn't get along with her relatives. In this book, her Uncle Max dies and his favorite stud dog is stolen. Melanie's forceful Aunt Peg convinces her to help her find the missing stud dog (actually, she wanted Melanie's feckless brother to do it but he declines). Along the way, Melanie learns about showing dogs, how her parents really died, and draws slightly closer to her remaining relatives. And her Aunt Peg fixes her up with a "stud"--a Mel Gibson look-alike.
I read some of the reviews of her other books and one reviewer complained because Melanie's son is dragged into the story and he whines alot. Don't listen to that reviewer unless you hate kids. Yes, Melanie's son is in all of the books in the series. She's a single mother! Of course he's going to be mentioned a lot. I have a son who is older now but Ms. Berenson is aptly descriptive of parenthood--the good and the bad.
I really like the way the series develops. I enjoy the characters of her Aunt Peg, her Aunt Rose, and her feckless brother Frank. As the series continues, more of the personality of these relatives is developed. It's like having your own less than perfect relatives drop in to cause problems.
Lastly, I'm a cat person, not a dog person. However, I have noticed the dog based mysteries are better than the cat based ones. The characters in Lillian Jackson Braun's "cat who" series are so shallow compared to Ms. Berenson's characters.

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