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David Montgomery "Book Critic" (davidjmontgomery.com)
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Dealing in Murder
Dealing in Murder
by Elaine Flinn
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars The antiques biz is a killer!, June 26 2004
A new writer whose name ought to garner a lot of attention is Elaine Flinn, author of the wonderful debut novel Dealing in Murder, which shows just how dangerous the world of antiques can be.
Molly Doyle was a hotshot dealer in New York until her dramatic public downfall and arrest, caused by her husband's scamming and philandering. She is exiled to the Left Coast and a friend sets her up in a ramshackle antiques shop on the Monterey Peninsula.
Doyle is an appealing protagonist, a mixture of anger, savvy and vulnerability. She also seems authentic, the kind of character you could actually know and like. She is a strong woman who can handle herself but never seems like a feminine man, which unfortunately happens with too many female mystery characters.
The well-crafted plot revolves around three sins: murder, fraud and greed. It's complicated enough to keep you interested in finding out what happened and why, but not so convoluted that it leaves you baffled or bores you with its improbability.
Reviewed by David Montgomery, Chicago Sun-Times

Whiskey Sour: A Jack Daniels Mystery
Whiskey Sour: A Jack Daniels Mystery
by J. A. Konrath
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.56
30 used & new from CDN$ 0.05

5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid debut by an exciting new voice in crime fiction, June 26 2004
Debut author J.A. Konrath has leapt onto the mystery scene with a first novel that is so good, so entertaining, that it's hard to believe that we haven't heard from him before now. Whiskey Sour introduces readers to Lt. Jack Daniels, one of the Chicago Police Department's best officers, a woman with the steely toughness to match her unconventional name. Daniels is assigned to investigate a series of grisly killings, each one worse than the last.
Konrath expertly cuts between Daniels' first-person narrative with the killer's own story, a device that is often over-used in the mystery genre, but is handled very well in this case. He has an excellent sense of both pacing and character, each of which contributes to make this book so good.
The serial killer subgenre has been all but done to death, but the author wisely puts his own stamp on the story, injecting a darkly comic sense of humor into the proceedings that will have readers chuckling even as they wince.
Combining the best qualities of John Sandford and Janet Evanovich into one sleek and enjoyable package, Whiskey Sour is the best debut of the year so far.
Reviewed by David Montgomery, Chicago Sun-Times

Small Town: A Novel
Small Town: A Novel
by Lawrence Block
Edition: Hardcover
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.86

5.0 out of 5 stars A Not-So-Small Masterpiece, Jan. 22 2003
This review is from: Small Town: A Novel (Hardcover)
The story begins with the murder of a female real estate agent who picked up a man in a bar and took him home. When she's discovered the next morning by her cleaning man, the police are quick to settle on John Blair Creighton, a largely unsuccessful mid-list writer, as the likely culprit. (The suspect's profession, not incidentally, allows the author an opportunity to deliciously skewer the venality of the publishing industry.) While true that he did meet her and apparently go home with her, Creighton certainly doesn't remember killing her. Of course, he was very drunk at the time and might have blacked out.
Even with Creighton under arrest, however, the killings don't stop. Next to come is a brutal triple murder in a whorehouse, followed by the firebombing of a gay bar. Soon another suspect appears, a bland, ordinary insurance executive who lost everything that mattered to him on 9/11, including, it seems, his very soul.
The 2001 terrorist attack on New York City forms an ever-present backdrop to the conjoined stories of Small Town. The many characters that populate it are still reeling from the loss, trying to make sense out of a world gone mad, always reminded by the stark hole in their beautiful skyline. Their pain, the city's pain, is an important of their lives still, and thus an important part of the plot.
Block has written a masterpiece for his 52nd novel, a stunning work that draws on all his powers as a storyteller and chronicler of the darker side of the human psyche. Never before has he painted on such a broad canvas, and never before has he attempted to go so deep into the hearts and minds of so many different characters. Breaking out of the more traditional mystery mold was a gamble, but it has paid off in spades. Small Town is one of the finest books of Block's, or any, career.
Reviewed by David Montgomery, Mystery Ink

Tough Luck
Tough Luck
by Jason Starr
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.40
19 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Try your Luck and read this book!, Jan. 14 2003
This review is from: Tough Luck (Paperback)
Mickey Prada is a simple guy living in Brooklyn in the 1980s. He lives with his Dad (who has Alzheimer's), works at the local fish market, hangs out with a couple guys from the neighborhood, doesn't have too much luck with the ladies. Basically, he's a schlep just marking time.
As the book begins, though, it looks like Mickey might just catch a break. He meets a nice Jewish girl from an upper middle class family who actually likes him back. His job is going well, even if he does stink like fish all the time. He even hooks up with a made guy who wants Mickey to lay off some bets for him. This could be his chance to move up in the world.
With Tough Luck, Starr has stepped away from the genre of Jim Thompson and Richard Stark to create a noir world that is not only bleak, but painfully funny. The interactions among his character, the dialog, and the sheer misery of it all can't help but amuse you. While reading it, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Instead I just sat back and enjoyed being in the hands of a craftsman at work. Bravo, Mr. Starr.
Reviewed by David Montgomery, Mystery Ink

Christmas With The Rat Pack
Christmas With The Rat Pack
Offered by FastMedia "Ships From USA"
Price: CDN$ 103.66
6 used & new from CDN$ 11.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing attempt to cash in on the season., Dec 12 2002
I ordered this CD with great anticipation, as I have long been a fan of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. The Christmas music of the first two gentleman always provides a lot of cheer around our house this time of year.
That being said, there is no reason to buy this CD. The great songs on it (Sinatra's "Christmas Waltz," Martin's "Silver Bells," etc.) can be found on better albums, along with other fine music.
The only thing this CD has to offer of value is that it does present on one disc a mix of some excellent songs. The stinkers on it, though, diminish that value greatly.
The contributions of Sammy are weak at best. His wonderful, swinging, jazzy style just doesn't work for these songs. His "Christmas Song" is the only one that comes close.
The previously unreleased tracks by Frank and Dean are more goofs than real songs. (Think of the Rat Pack clowing around that typified their awesome stage shows and you'll get the picture.) They're also of very poor audio quality.
Definitely buy a Sinatra Christmas CD (or 3 or 4!). Buy Dean Martin's "Winter Romance." But don't bother getting this one.
Reviewed by David Montgomery, Jilly's West

Breakout: A Parker Novel
Breakout: A Parker Novel
by Richard Stark
Edition: Hardcover
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from the King of Noir, Dec 11 2002
When a hot-dogging associate causes Parker's arrest, things look bad for the old heister. He finds himself in prison with virtually no chance of release. Of course, there's always another way out, if you can manage it. And managing things is what Parker does best.
His breakout and subsequent jewelry job are the meat and potatoes of this excellent noir thriller. Stark renders the details of Parker's life and crimes in appropriately rapid-fire, austere, and even bleak prose. Stark makes this kind of writing look easy to do, but very few others can pull it off with nearly the skill that he does.
Despite the somewhat slim profile of this book, there is a lot of story here. Stark has the ability to craft prose that is concise and compact, but packs quite a punch. You won't feel cheated after having read Breakout. In fact, you might just break out in applause!
Reviewed by David Montgomery, Mystery Ink

Dantes' Inferno: A Dr. Sylvia Strange Novel
Dantes' Inferno: A Dr. Sylvia Strange Novel
by Sarah Lovett
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A fiery psychological thriller!, Dec 2 2002
The fourth outing for Dr. Sylvia Strange is the best one yet. Although the plot of "Dantes' Inferno" might seem familiar, there is enough that is new to keep the reader interested. John Dantes is a particularly interesting villain, both for his brilliance and his passivity. We're never quite sure what he's up to, if anything. Watching him match wits with Sylvia makes for excellent reading.
Unlike most thrillers, this is an intelligent book, interweaving an above-average plot with an allegorical depiction of Los Angeles as Dante's (note the similarity to Dantes) nine-circled Hell. Throw in the psychological study of "Dantes' Inferno's" twisted bad guys and it's clear that author Lovett is one smart lady. I look forward to returning to this series in the future.
Reviewed by David Montgomery, Mystery Ink

Visions of Sugar Plums: A Stephanie Plum Holiday Novel
Visions of Sugar Plums: A Stephanie Plum Holiday Novel
by Janet Evanovich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.19
98 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars An early Christmas present for Stephanie Plum fans., Dec 2 2002
There are only 4 days to Christmas and Stephanie Plum hasn't bought a tree, or done any decorating, or even started shopping for presents. Sounds like a typical holiday for the hapless, but loveable Jersey bounty hunter.
It's also not unusual for Stephanie to find a handsome man standing in her living room. What is out of the ordinary is how he got there: he just...well...materialized. Out of thin air. Also, he claims to be the Christmas Spirit. And he's here to help Stephanie find Sandy Claws, the elderly toymaker who's skipped out on his bail.
If that all sounds a little silly, that's part of the fun. Evanovich has given her fans an early Christmas present in this wonderful little book. The plot works as both a fableistic Christmas story and an excellent mystery to boot.
Stephanie Plum is a wonderful character, probably the best recurring female protagonist in the mystery genre. She's smart and spunky, always irrerverent, and a joy to spend time with. And if she's not enough, there's always Stephanie's pistol-packing, ribald and randy Grandma Masur! "Visions of Sugar Plums" is a delightful little tidbit, sure to delight all of Evanovich's fans.
Reviewed by David Montgomery, Mystery Ink

Chasing the Dime
Chasing the Dime
by Michael Connelly
Edition: Hardcover
72 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing microscopic about this blockbuster thriller., Oct. 16 2002
This review is from: Chasing the Dime (Hardcover)
Henry Pierce is a hotshot scientist, focusing on the microscopic world of molecular electronics. His goal is to create a supercomputer the size of a dime (hence the book's title) - and he's about to make a huge breakthrough that will advance the state of the art a long way towards that end.
Pierce is distracted, though, by his personal life. He's just broken up with the woman he loved and moved into a new apartment when he starts getting strange phone calls. Apparently the previous owner of the number was a very popular "escort" with a large client list. A visit to her website reveals that Lilly was a stunningly attractive woman and Henry finds himself more than a little interested in her. He can't help but wonder where she's gone. As he begins to pluck at the knot of her apparent disappearance, a complicated plot - along with Henry's life - begins to unravel.
"Chasing the Dime" is something of a departure for Connelly, taking the reader not just away from the ongoing life of detective Harry Bosch, but also away from the gritty, noir world that most of his work inhabits. The emphasis in this book is less on the physical and more on the mental. Pierce is a brilliant man and he brings his considerable analytical skills as a scientist to bear in figuring out what is happening.
Although "Chasing" may not have the sheer intensity or moral poignancy of the best of Connelly's mysteries, it is still the kind of thriller that keeps your interest piqued, keeps the pages turning, and pays off with a satisfying conclusion.

The Consciousness Plague
The Consciousness Plague
by Paul Levinson
Edition: Hardcover
13 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Unmemorable story of memory., Oct. 14 2002
NYPD forensic detective Phil D'Amato encounters a frightening loss of memory while assisting on the homicide investigation of a series of stranglings. The loss is not profound, but his short bout of amnesia is unnerving and causes him to forget an important telephone conversation. Apparently, he's not the only one who is becoming forgetful either. Several people around him have experienced the same strange losses of memory. With a few curious questions, D'Amato finds they all have something in common: Omnin, the new antibiotic prescribed by their physicians to combat the flu.
The secondary story of the homicide investigation is disjointed from the main plot line. What the characters forget seems to have little relevance to the investigation, though author Levinson tries to force it anyway. Almost from the onset, D'Amato's character believes the memory loss phenomenon is related to the Riverside stranglings, and so Levinson sets out to prove it. Unfortunately, he fails to make the connection. Even at his finest moments, it is quite a stretch to see the effects on Omnin in the murder investigation. It is sheer coincidence that the people his detective queries in his memory investigation end up being criminally involved in the killings.
The discussion of how the human brain relates to memory and how memory affects history was as close as Levinson got to intriguing. The medical aspects and police investigation were definitely lacking. His writing style is flat and the plot has too many weaknesses to be enticing. The climax is anything but climactic and the story just winds down to a conveniently opportune ending. Perhaps Levinson fell victim to his fictional adversary-memory loss-as this book is anything but memorable.
Reviewed by Maili Montgomery, Mystery Ink

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