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Reviews Written by
Judith Lindenau "dulcie22" (Traverse City, MI USA)

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Painted Lady
Painted Lady
by Peter Abresch
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars A stretch of imagination...., April 29 2004
One of the reasons I enjoy reading mysteries is for the background: the settings, the characters, the specialized information. But even the quaint setting of "Painted Lady" couldn't save this book: the writing is amateurish, the plot mechanisms unbelievable, and the background filled with every novice trick imaginable. Lest I sound too harsh, consider paper with a watermark that coincidently assumes the shape of a murdered woman when wet--that's the crux of the mystery here. And then there are ghosts, which obediently appear during a seance and drop clues. There are the shallow characters, as well: the college professor who will poison and murder to get job security, but who only makes a cameo appearance in the book as a handy way to turn the plot. And what passes for background information in the Elderhostel setting is a repeated description of the cologne worn by the hero, the number of bathroom stops on the bus trip, and the contents of the daily box lunch.
I've read other novels by Peter Abresch, and found them mildly entertaining. But perhaps I've read one too many: this one was merely a bore.

The Stick Game
The Stick Game
by Peter Bowen
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from CDN$ 9.18

5.0 out of 5 stars Why I read mysteries..., March 29 2004
This review is from: The Stick Game (Paperback)
"Stick Game" and these reviews caused me to think about why I enjoy mysteries so much. Because the pure fact of the matter is, one reviewer is right: this is a mystery lacking in traditional plot and character development that I often praise in my other reviews (and have been critical when these elements are absent). But you know, all the way through this book I didn't care! Why? Because there is a stunning use of background, wit, and message. I was caught up in the pollution issue, the life of the Metis people, and the Robert Parker-like spare prose and dialogue. This book left me energised politically and intellectually, and aware of having experienced a thoroughly enjoyable weekend because of it.
I encourage you to read it.

The Guardian
The Guardian
by Nicholas Sparks
Edition: Hardcover
80 used & new from CDN$ 0.04

2.0 out of 5 stars Too much jelly..., March 26 2004
This review is from: The Guardian (Hardcover)
Nicholas Sparks' "The Guardian" is like a poorly made peanut butter and jelly sandwhich...The nourishing part is spread way too thin and the jelly is really piled on. The bread's a little soggy too...and it cakes on the roof of your mouth. To translate the analogy: not enough sustainance, way too much sugar, and some very second-rate prose to hold everything together. Certainly not of a caliber of the earlier Sparks novels--avoid this concoction.

Ice Hunter: A Woods Cop Mystery
Ice Hunter: A Woods Cop Mystery
by Joseph Heywood
Edition: Hardcover
20 used & new from CDN$ 2.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book, eh?, Feb. 7 2004
I can't add much to Mr. Nuss' review: I started to read this series as a fan of Steve Hamilton and really became facinated with the nature settings and the characterization. I do think Heywood is better at the capsulized characters than the more extended ones: I found the women in the book particularly elusive as believable characters--but I loved Limpy and Honeypat and Scaffidi, and all the exotic backwoods populace captured in this novel. And as a long-time watcher of Michigan's political and economic climate as well as the various iterations of the Department of Natural Resources, I felt very at home with the various political struggles which are so much a part of this book.
The Woods Cop series is a discovery I'm glad I made: I have the next installment ready and waiting to begin this afternoon.

A Grave Denied: A Kate Shugak Novel
A Grave Denied: A Kate Shugak Novel
by Dana Stabenow
Edition: Hardcover
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best of the best!, Jan. 5 2004
I just spent the weekend with this book. A part of the time was in reading, and a part of the time was thinking about what I had read--a compliment to this novel. There's a great curiosity in me about living in a country colder and snowier than where I am now. There's also a fascination with living simply, without 'things' and meaningless complications. And finally, I have a deep-seated admiration for Community, the way people live together and at the same time separately, respecting each other's differences.
All of those ideas are in this book, along with a rip-roaring plot and some very good writing craftsmanship. I recommend the experience!

Vertical Burn
Vertical Burn
by Earl Emerson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Hot Book!, Dec 27 2003
I won't send you to this novel because of the plot, which is certainly strong, though fanciful. And I won't send you because of the characters, also strong and fanciful. I will send you to the book because it is filled with action and packed with fascinating details about firefighting and fire-related risks. "Vertical Burn" is a spellbinding experience and an excursion into a world which few of us know much about. It's a fascinating reading experience and I recommend it highly.

Death on a Silver Platter
Death on a Silver Platter
by Ellen Hart
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.99
33 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars One star is too many., Dec 22 2003
I have read a lot of mysteries in my time, and Death on a Silver Platter is among the notably worst. The characters are shallow and the action is over-plotted.... Meanwhile, we wade through a twisted plot filled with false relationships, superficial characters, and deceit and debauchery, which is supposed to pass for 'psychology' but instead is only a fleeting reference to every popular hang-up in today's world: abused children, illigitimate offspring, gays, and nymphomanics. None of these personalities are examined in any depth, their quirks are merely excuses for the plot to move forward. As a result, one finishes the novel feeling tricked, unenlightened, and un-amused.

The Sculptress
The Sculptress
by Minette Walters
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
50 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best!, Dec 13 2003
Other reviews here have summarized the plot...suffice it to say the plot is simple, and the characters are complex. That's what makes this novel so compelling: it's populated by real people, albeit not always very nice ones, and these people are making their way in a world which is not friendly to them. There's a layer of philosophy here too: organized religion, mysticism, and the occult all come into play as the story unfolds. It's a satisfyingly deep and well-written book, and I recommend it highly.

North of Nowhere: An Alex McKnight Novel
North of Nowhere: An Alex McKnight Novel
by Steve Hamilton
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.49
69 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A Review from Nowhere, June 22 2003
I live in Nowhere, Michigan...just south of where Steve Hamilton sets this novel. I enjoyed the novel, as I have enjoyed all of Hamilton's Alex McKnight novels, not only because of the setting, but also because Hamilton is a darn good writer! You don't have to be from Nowhere to understand the need to isolate yourself in the beauty of Northern Michigan, and to fear and resent the greed which drives men to murder each other and despoil the environment. These are the themes of Steve Hamilton's books: weave them through an engrossing plot line filled with action and intelligence and you have this latest in the Alex McKnight series--and perhaps the best.

A Firing Offense
A Firing Offense
by George P. Pelecanos
Edition: Paperback
32 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Macho Mania, June 8 2003
This review is from: A Firing Offense (Paperback)
This first book in the "Nick Stefanos" series is definately a guy book: lots of drinking and drugs, fistfights, all-night drives, hamburgers, and sex on the couch. Excellent descriptions and some fine writing, to be sure, but a little more author's energy spent on character development would have helped me relate to Nick and his buddies, and actually invest some energy in caring what happened to them.
"A Firing Offense" is a good story, however, and one well worth reading if you like action and plot.

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