EARTH ABIDES by George R. Stewart: Written in 1949, this futuristic thriller is still chilling today. A mysterious disease has sprung up almost simultaneously in every corner of the globe, all but destroying the human race. One survivor, strangely immune to the effects of the epidemic, ventures forward to experience a world without man. What he ultimately discovers will prove far more astonishing than anything he’d either dreaded or hoped for. 12/11 Jack Quick
EARTHSEED by Pamela Sargent: Ship was created in hopes of bringing the last of humanity to a new world. Its consciousness exists as part of an asteroid modified and built to provide food, shelter, and education to a group of people who will be born and raised onboard in preparation of settling this new land. Zoheret and her friends have spent all of their lives preparing for their new home. Ship regularly devises competitions to test their skills and teach them along the way, but when the latest test turns dangerous, Zoheret and the others will have a tough decision to make. Their choices will affect the teens and their new settlement but may also prepare them for an enemy they never expected. Originally published in 1983, Sargent’s series is seeing new life and an introduction to a new audience in newly released editions. Earthseed is the first in the trilogy and stands the test of time. It easily fits in with today’s top teen reads and should definitely appeal to fans of books like the Hunger Games and Beth Revis’s Across the Universe trilogy. 1/13 Becky Lejeune
EAST SIDE by John Mackie: Who is killing the priests? There is enough evidence to connect the killings, but not enough to determine why. Detective Sergeant Thornton Savage and the Manhattan South homicide squad are in a race against time to catch a priest-killer before he strikes again. Nothing will stop the cops-not even if their efforts uncover something that could bring down the whole Roman Catholic Church. In the meantime they must care for their own. A well-written NYPD procedural similar to the works of Ed Dee, Dan Mahoney, and Leslie Glass. 10/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
EASY GO by John Lange: John Lange is a pseudonym for Michael Crichton and was used by him for several books written during his time at Harvard Medical School. They are in the process of being reissued in order to help fans of the late Dr. Crichton enjoy the full range of his talent. Many of the earmarks of later books are present in this early effort, such as an exotic setting, a well researched presentation of the details of the time and place of the action, and writing that keeps the reader engrossed in the goings on and problems presented. Harold Barnaby, an active Egyptologist, manages to translate a particularly difficult set of hieroglyphics which point to the tomb of an ancient pharaoh as yet undiscovered. The writings point to the existence of riches buried with the mummy beyond anything yet unearthed. He convinces three other men, one of whom has the financial ability to back the expedition to join him in looking for the tomb. Like other Crichton books, the descriptions of the areas where pyramids and pharaohs’ tombs are located are as they most likely are based on research, and the finding of the tomb and it’s unearthing bring the reader into the locale and difficulties involved. There is even a romance, neatly done, between the secretary of the financial backer and one of the men working to find the tomb. I am looking forward to the reissue of the other books written by Crichton during this period and brought out for fans of his writings. Based on “Easy Go” these will provide all fans of Michael Crichton added pleasure in the additions to his repertoire. 7/13 Paul Lane
EASY INNOCENCE by Libby Fischer Hellman: When a teenage girl is found beaten to death in the woods, the police figure they’ve got an open and shut case. A local man, a convicted sex offender, was found standing over the body, covered in blood and holding a baseball bat. Georgia Davis has been hired by the man’s sister to find the real killer. The man in question is mentally challenged and, according to his sister, has never shown any signs of violence. Georgia also believes the man to be innocent based on the alarming rate at which the cops have been moving the case to court. Georgia, a cop on suspension, investigated a case only two years prior where a group of teens had been participating in a hazing ritual in the same place this girl was found. Her investigation turns over some rather disturbing information about these teens and their extra-curricular activities. She’s also ruffling some pretty important feathers and someone will do just about anything to make sure she keeps her mouth shut. Easy Innocence is a quick and intense mystery with a clever plot and a tough heroine. Georgia Davis one I hope we see more of soon. Highly recommended. 04/08 Becky Lejeune
EASY INNOCENCE by Libby Fischer Hellmann: It is always interesting to see how two very different writers approach a similar venue. I had been reading and enjoying Stuart Kaminsky’s Lieberman series about two Chicago detectives before turning to Ms. Hellmann’s latest. In Easy Innocence, Hellman begins a new series with Georgia Davis, a former cop-turned-PI in Chicago. Her case involves a mentally challenged suspect, Cam Jordan, who was found clutching a bloody baseball bat at the scene of the murder of 17-year-old Sara Long. Jordan’s sister is probably the only one in the world who thinks he is innocent and hires Davis to prove this. Although Davis doesn’t walk the mean streets of Chicago to the extent of Lieberman and Hanrahan, there is still enough evil-doing to go around. It will be interesting to see where Ms. Hellman takes Georgia Davis and whether there will be, in future outings, more interaction with Ellie Foreman, the heroine of Hallman’s other series. 05/08 Jack Quick
Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray: This sweet book is a delicious break from life. Sorry, the dessert metaphors just seem appropriate. Ruth is a member of the sandwich generation; her oldest son is away at college, but she still has a teenage daughter at home and her mother moves in after she is robbed in the middle of a bridge game in her own home. Her husband’s company is bought out and he loses his job, and her estranged father has a terrible accident and no insurance and moves in, too. Ruth’s way to escape is to use visual imagery; her picture of solitude and bliss is not a mountain retreat or a deserted beach, but a cake. Yes, Ruth visualizes herself surrounded by walls of cake and is comforted. And when the going gets tough, Ruth bakes. Cakes, of course. Every day. Sometimes in the middle of the night, when sleep just won’t come. As the family dynamic changes, they all must learn to adapt and adjust, and eat cake. Recipes included. Warning: do not read this book while on a diet.
Jeanne Ray is one of my favorite authors, her books just touch the heart without being cloy or cutesy. Her characters are genuine and people you can care about, her stories are simple yet hit home. She still hasn’t topped her first book, Julie and Romeo, which is on my top ten list of favorite books of all time, but this is a very enjoyable read. Her daughter is pretty talented, too – she’s Ann Patchett of Bel Canto fame.
ECHELON by Josh Conviser: Imagine where our technology can possibly take us in the future; imagine the best and then imagine the worst. Josh Conviser has done exactly that in this futuristic thriller. Echelon has consumed everything. The system controls all feasible outcomes and protects society from itself. If a threat is great enough, Echelon will weed it out and eliminate it. After years of dependence on the system, the world finds itself on the brink of global disaster when Echelon is compromised. Ryan Laing, and Echelon operative, has been engineered to be the perfect agent. When Laing dies in a climbing accident, Echelon agents use the latest in technology to bring him back. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just a matter of healing Laing. His body is inundated with drones, tiny machines that are constantly moving, thinking, and working inside of him. The drones can fix him when he is broken. They also keep him tied to the flow, a sort of 24/7 virtual reality that everyone is constantly tapped into (think The Matrix). This new existence has pushed Laing to the brink of insanity and is costing him his humanity. The drones can be turned off, though, by using the same information that can restore Echelon. Laing and his partner, Sarah, must find the key to setting Echelon back in motion and discover who is behind the sabotage plot before chaos overwhelms the Earth. Conviser’s action-packed debut should appeal to fans of techno thrillers such Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. I will admit that while I enjoyed this book, there are some aspects that are just too intricate for me to fully grasp. I dare say anyone who is not at least a bit tech savvy will be completely lost in Conviser’s future. 11/07 Becky Lejeune
ECHO PARK by Michael Connelly: Harry Bosch is back and Connelly has proven that series fiction can get better with age; this is hard boiled fiction that would make Chandler sit up and take notice. Working in the LAPD Open-Unsolved Unit lets Harry obsess over all his old cases, including the Marie Gesto file. Gesto disappeared in 1993, her clothes were found in her car a week or so later, and that was the end of the trail. Spring forward to present day Los Angeles and the arrest of Raynard Waits, who is found with body parts in his car and admits to murdering nine people. His lawyer puts together a deal – his client will provide details on some of the open cases still on the books in return for avoiding the death penalty. When Gesto is one of those cases, and it appears that Harry and his then-partner Jerry Edgar missed an important clue, Harry’s guilt kicks in but eventually so do his suspicions. As in The Closers, police politics rears its ugly head and nothing is quite as it seems to be in L.A., a “sunny place for shady people.” Connelly has elevated the art form by creating a plot as complex as the music his flawed hero listens to, which when combined with its evocative language, arguably makes Echo Park Connelly’s finest novel yet. 10/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
ECLIPSE by Richard North Patterson: Patterson pens another compelling legal thriller, very reminiscent of Exile. Successful lawyer Damon Pierce had an unrequited love affair with Marissa Brand, but she was in love with a cause in the West African nation of Luandia (think Nigeria) and its leader, Bobby Okari. The divorcing Damon receives a plea for help from Marissa, so he flies off to Africa and learns that the head of the government is tied into PetroGlobal, the American oil company making billions from West African oil. He also finds that the water supply has been repeatedly compromised by oil, there is no infrastructure, and the people are starving and disease-ridden while being brutalized by the government. Bobby had led a demonstration during the night of the eclipse, and then the government slaughtered everyone in his village and tortured and arrested him, accusing him of murder. Damon has his hands full trying to get a fair trial for Bobby, and because Marissa is an American, the world is watching. Patterson once again brings a timely, controversial subject-America’s dependence on foreign oil-to the forefront in this troubling yet engrossing read. 01/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch. Copyright © 2008 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
ECLIPSE by Richard North Patterson: An epic legal thriller set primarily in Africa. Damon Pierce, a 40-year-old Irish Catholic lawyer, is a partner in the San Francisco office of a huge law firm, where he specializes in international law. He is recently divorced and somewhat disillusioned when he hears from Marissa Okari, a Jewish-African American woman he had known in college. He knew her as Marissa Brand and loved her but she chose to marry Bobby Okari, a firebrand reformer whose Nigeria-like country, Luandia, is awash in oil. They have returned to Luandia and Bobby has become a “Martin Luther King” for his tribesmen. Now, Bobby has been accused of lynching three oil company workers after government soldiers slaughter almost everyone in his village. Pierce risks his life by going to Luandia to attempt to defend Bobby. Because he is both a good man and is still in love with Marissa, Pierce is conflicted but determined to do his best in a situation where there are many sides and competing interests not only in Luandia but back home in the United States. Outstanding read, and in my opinion, Patterson’s best to date. 01/09 Jack Quick
ED KING by David Guterson: This is a super quirky story of a family with devastating secrets loosely based on Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex. That might give too much away, but it can’t be helped. Ed King is brought up by his adopted parents, who choose not to tell him that he’s adopted. His father, a doctor, goes so far as to forge a birth certificate. His real parents did him a huge favor by abandoning him and Ed does have a good life, growing up to become the “King of Search”, a sort of Steve Jobs type multi-millionaire tech genius. But then Oedipus rears his ugly head and this story goes deep into the mud. At best it was very entertaining in a can’t-tear-your-eyes-away from an impending disaster sort of way, and deeply disturbing in many other ways, with deft touches of black humor spread throughout. An interesting, entertaining novel, and surely one that won’t be easily forgotten. 12/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
EDGE by Jeffery Deaver: Think James Bond as a Grandmaster of Chess. Corte is a “shepherd”, an agent for the Strategic Protection Department, a super secret government agency which takes over when the CIA and FBI need help in protecting high profile targets. In this case, the target is a Washington, DC metro police detective named Ryan Kessler. Strangely, Corte and his colleagues don’t know why Kessler needs protection. All they know is that he is the target of Henry Loving, a “lifter”, who specializes in extracting information from human targets by any means necessary. Corte and Loving have history and Corte, a board game aficionado and game theory student as well as a trained agent, is going up against the best the agency has ever faced in Loving. There are no holds barred in this all out take no prisoners battle, just the dead and the survivors. Think The Day of the Condor meets The Eiger Sanction with Jack Reacher as the bad guy. Thank goodness my pacemaker had been thoroughly tested when you come across dialogue like “Loving’s low-tech. Usually he uses sandpaper and alcohol on sensitive parts of the body. Doesn’t sound too bad, but it works real well.” The physical action is on-going, but it is the non-stop matching of intellect and sheer brain power that takes this one over the edge. 12/10 Jack Quick
THE EDGE OF BLACK by J.T. Ellison: Samantha Owens has officially made the move from Nashville to D.C., leaving behind her job as a medical examiner in exchange for a new position in the classroom—or so she thinks. When an outbreak occurs in the city, Sam finds her skills as an ME in demand once again. While the outbreak was at its peak, a senator also passed away under mysterious circumstances. The last text he received before he died suggested the biological attack was a response to the senator’s own actions. While the initial suspicion is terrorism, Sam’s new boyfriend has an in with a number of survivalist groups and word is the attack may have come from one of our own. While Xander sets off to see what he can find out, Sam tries to find any connection she can between the few victims. This second to feature Samantha Owens is fantastic. Ellison is a favorite of mine and Edge of Black just solidifies that even more. 1/13 Becky Lejeune
THE EDINBURGH DEAD by Brian Ruckley: It’s 1828 and Adam Quire, one of Edinburgh’s finest, has discovered a body in Old Town. A dead man in Old Town isn’t that strange of an occurrence in and of itself, but the wounds inflicted on this victim are. The dead man’s throat has been ripped out and Quire suspects the foulest of play. When a piece of evidence leads him to the doorstep of one of the city’s upper-crust, Quire becomes convinced that something rotten is going on in his city. The officer soon finds himself cut loose and at odds with his former superiors, plus, someone seems determined to make sure that his inquiries go no further. Witchcraft, murder, and dogs of the walking dead variety, all in a dark and dank historic setting, make Ruckley’s latest an original and captivating blend of mystery and horror that will please readers across genres. 09/11 Becky Lejeune
The Edge of Justice by Clinton McKinzie: Special Agent Antonio Burns, with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, is sent to Laramie to investigate what appears to be an accidental death from a fall while mountain climbing. Burns is suspicious, especially after seeing how inadequate the local investigation was. The town is packed with reporters, there for the trial of two brothers accused of a racially biased rape & murder. Burn’s got history in this part of Wyoming, which isn’t helping him any, and local politics keep getting in his way. Bodies start turning up and the political climate worsens, but Burns plugs on, struggling with professional, personal and family issues, but also finding a bit of romance with one of the reporters. These characters are strong and well-developed, and the story is as taut as the ropes used to scale the mountains, up through the cliff-hanger of an ending.
EDWARD TRENCOM’S NOSE: A NOVEL OF HISTORY, DARK INTRIGUE AND CHEESE by Giles Milton: Edward Trencom has been blessed with the family’s trademark nose. It is this nose that has allowed generations of Trencoms to run their renowned cheese shop in London. Unfortunately, this same nose has also lead the Trencom men to their most unfortunate deaths. As a child, Edward Trencom asks his uncle about the origin of the family nose. His uncle promptly forbids him to ever speak of the matter again. Years later, an odd occurrence leads Edward to discover a cache of hidden papers chronicling his ancestors. This discovery, along with a mysterious visitor, may end up sending Edward on the same journey that killed his father, his father’s father, and so on. Will Edward uncover the truth about the Trencoms or is he destined to the same untimely demise as his predecessors? I truly enjoyed this quirky epicurean mystery. I recommend a cozy chair, a nice glass of wine and a really good cheese to get the full effect of this highly original and fabulous fiction debut. 04/07 Becky Lejeune
THE EGYPTOLOGIST by Arthur Phillips: The unfortunate results of misinformation and the madness of unachievable ambitions are the prevalent subjects of this literary mystery. Harold Ferrell has been hired to find a possible descendant of a dying Englishman. His instructions are to track down one of his former lovers and determine whether or not an illegitimate child resulted from their brief union. Ferrell discovers that there was indeed a child, one Paul Caldwell. Caldwell was a precocious boy obsessed with ancient Egypt. He left home in his early teens and after a brief stint as a circus performer, Paul Caldwell manipulated his way into the military and a posting in Egypt. There, Caldwell befriended a British officer who also went missing in the war. Ferrell follows the trail from Australia to England and then to Boston and Ralph Trilipush. Ferrell believes that Trilipush may have information that will ultimately help him find Caldwell. Trilipush, however, is away in Egypt searching for the burial place of King Atum-Hadu. Not to be put off, Ferrell plans to follow Trilipush, but is waylaid when he becomes infatuated with Trilipush’s fiancé. The story is told through letters from Ferrell recounting his discoveries in the 1920’s and Trilipush’s journal detailing his discovery in the desert. I loved every minute of this intriguing tale. It’s a grand puzzle that slowly reveals itself to the reader. 03/07 Becky Lejeune
THE EIGHT by Katherine Neville: Somehow I missed this one when it was first released twenty years ago in 1988. Katherine Neville’s debut novel is a thriller with action divided between 1790 and 1972. The action centers on a chess set owned by Charlemagne which ended up in a French monastery. Supposedly players who use it can tap into incredible powers. As the set is dispersed during the French Revolution, a young novice risks her life to safeguard it. Alternating with her story are the present-day efforts of a U.S. computer expert and a Russian chess master to assemble the set and solve its mystery. Kind of a precursor to Indiana Jones and the DaVinci Code, the book has withstood the test of time and will probably continue to be enjoyed for many years to come. 09/08 Jack Quick
EIGHT IN THE BOX by Raffi Yessayan: The television series Law and Order meets the city of Boston in this first novel, although at times it comes close to sounding like a legal spinoff of the TV show Friends. I won’t bother you with all the details since I don’t remember most of them. In fact, I think it possibly was written as a cop/lawyer/serial killer/pyschopathic/urban life love story by a group of demented first year journalism students as a class exercise. Too many main characters, too many side stories, and an Assistant District Attorney who juggles hundreds of cases piled on his desk, puts the make on a fellow lawyer and in his spare time, helps officers and attorneys catch an elusive maniac serial killer who drains the blood from the bodies of his victims and carts off the now-empty body. Bleeh. 05/09 Jack Quick
EIGHT IN THE BOX by Raffi Yessayan: Using his eleven years of experience as an assistant district attorney in Boston, and his current experience in private practice, Attorney Raffi Yessayan makes his debut with this combination police procedural/legal thriller. The title, Eight in the Box, refers to a term Yessayan and fellow prosecutors use in regards to district court jury trials – when a person is charged with a misdemeanor, they have the right to a jury trial. The jury consists of six jurors and two alternates, hence eight in the box. Eight in the Box primarily follows three individuals (two cops and a prosecutor with the District Attorney’s office) and their involvement with the case of the Blood Bath killer. The book begins with the killer’s second attack, an attack with such strange circumstances that it causes the police to consider that they may be dealing with a serial. In both instances, the killer leaves behind a bathtub full of blood but no body. The victims seem to have no connection other than the fact that they are both single women, and the cops have run out of useful leads. Then the killer strikes again. Yessayan’s expertise in the field allows for a realistic portrayal of the process involved in a case from both the legal perspective as well as the investigating officer’s perspective. At first, the book reads as dual storylines with a common link, we follow the cops on the case as well as the prosecutor in his daily routine. But, there’s much more going on than the reader is initially aware of. Yessayan’s interesting and tense debut has a great twist ending and some of the characters will be appearing again in a follow-up title. 07/08 Becky Lejeune
EIGHTEEN ACRES by Nicolle Wallace: Wallace turns politics into a light soap opera in this novel about the first female president and her staff. President Charlotte Kramer is married in name only; the “first man” is having an affair with a television reporter. Press Secretary Melanie Kingston has risen to the top because she’s given up a private life, so when she falls for a new network news guy, her workaholic lifestyle creates difficulties. Kramer’s closest advisor does something unforgiveable, and her re-election may hang in the balance. Lots of angst among the eighteen acres that comprise the White House complex and these caricature characters. Don’t take this debut novel by a Washington insider too seriously and it’s a fun read. 1/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE EIGHTH COURT by Mike Shevdon: This final piece of the Courts of the Feyre series picks up immediately after the events of its predecessor, Strangeness & Charm. The eighth court is quickly becoming a reality in spite of the mixed feelings amongst the rest of the fey. If Blackbird and Niall can organize the fey/human hybrids and find a place they can call their own, they’ll be one step closer to becoming official. But trouble is brewing amongst the High Court. The wraithkin, while not seated in the court due to their long ago exile, still have a say in proceedings and everyone knows that they’d never accept a mixed race court. The remaining six seats are split in their opinion as well. The seventh court supporters – and the few brethren wraithkin who are present in London – are rallying and the walls between this world and theirs are at risk. Soon the feyre will have to choose sides. This has been one of my favorite urban fantasy series ever since cracking open book one, Sixty-One Nails. As such, saying goodbye to the world and the characters is bittersweet. Shevdon does bring the story full circle but I still felt there were some things left unanswered. All in all, though, a very worthy end to a fantastic series. 7/13 Becky Lejeune
THE EIGHTH DAY by John Case: Danny Cray, a struggling artist and part-time private investigator has been asked by a wealthy, enigmatic lawyer, Jude Belzer, to meet him at the Admirals Club at Washington National Airport. When Danny asks Belzer when his plane is scheduled to leave Belzer replies “when I tell it to” Belzer’s client, an elusive billionaire named Zerevan Zebet, is the target of a vicious campaign in the Italian press that threatens to destroy his reputation. Belzer wants Danny to find out who is responsible–and he will pay handsomely. Danny’s only lead is the meager estate of a recently deceased professor of religious studies, a man so deeply terrified that he buried himself alive in the basement of an isolated farmhouse. Belzer swears that if Danny can get at the late professor’s files, the conspiracy against his own reclusive client will unravel. It’s the perfect assignment, in a way, and Danny can sure use the money. But the more he probes, the more apparent it becomes that nothing is what it seems. A classic case of if something is too good to be true, then it probably isn’t. 1/13 Jack Quick
EL GAVILAN by Craig McDonald: The town has a fast-growing undocumented immigrant worker population which is causing mounting tension. Then the rape-murder of a Mexican-American woman triggers a brutal chain of events that threatens to leave no survivors. There are good cops and bad cops and the worst may be the Horton County Sheriff, Able Hawk, who thinks all Mexicans are second class. Opposing him is the new New Austin Police Chief Tell Lyon. Before you right this one off as stereotypical Southern racism, be aware that the fictional town of New Austin is, in fact, in Ohio. With its topical themes, shades-of-gray characters and dark canvas, El Gavilan is a novel for our charged times. 12/11 Jack Quick
ELECTRIC BARRACUDA by Tim Dorsey: If LSD is not your thing, or if LSD was your thing and you still suffer from its aftereffects, then you must try Tim Dorsey. The hero (?) is Serge Storms, a one-man vigilante and one-stop-all-things-Florida-trivia-buff who has been leaving corpses strewn across the Sunshine State for more than a decade. Serge has brains, vision, a sidekick named Coleman a talent for ingenious violence, and an Internet travel-advice site conveniently directing disciples on the best way to explore the Sunshine State. If you are beginning to suspect that they didn’t count all the bricks when they loaded Serge’s truck, then you are correct. While the cops chase the Storms’ troopers through his favorite locales in the “tradition of the great American chase movie,” Serge himself must attend to a pressing personal matter. His grandfather’s old Miami Beach gang is suddenly broke, their life savings vaporized. It’s Serge to the rescue with a plan that revolves around Al Capone’s little-known escapades in the Everglades. A sample of the dialogue “Who is the guy yelling at the sky, singing a Star Wars light saber and peeing on the sidewalk? Just a normal person. He is not involved.” If none of this seems to make sense remember Tim Dorsey is the author of 12 previous novels: Gator A-Go-Go, Nuclear Jellyfish, Atomic Lobster, Hurricane Punch, The Big Bamboo, Florida Roadkill, Hammerhead Ranch Motel, Orange Crush, Triggerfish Twist, The Stingray Shuffle, Cadillac Beach, and Torpedo Juice. So why should this one be any different? 1/11 Jack Quick
ELEVEN ON TOP by Janet Evanovich: I just love this series; every book makes me laugh out loud. This newest is no exception. Stephanie has quit her bounty hunter job so it moves into somewhat fresher territory, but cars are still exploding, Grandma Mazur is feisty as always, and Stephanie is still torn between the men in her life. Don’t expect more than Evanovich gives – fast paced, a little romance, a little mystery, and lots of laughs – and you’ll be happy. I certainly was. Now if only I could understand what the title means or what it has to do with the book… 06/05
ELEVEN ON TOP by Janet Evanovich: Stephanie Plum, Trenton’s favorite bondswoman, is having a career crisis. She decides she no longer wants to be threatened, beaten, shot at, burned or blown up as a bounty hunter so she resigns. Her first new job is at the button factory but she is fired before she starts as she is late on her first day. Then she is hired at Kan Klean, to the delight of everyone who wants her to take their dry cleaning in for them. That lasted two days. In the middle of her trying to get into a field with less excitement and more security, an old client is talking and scaring her, so, in essence, it’s business as usual. The regular cast of characters remains in place and, as usual, Stephanie survives none the worse for her latest misadventure. Maybe she is the cat with more than nine lives. 03/07 Jack Quick
THE ELITE by Kiera Cass: The competition grows more challenging as the Selection continues. Only six girls remain but America Singer still isn’t sure about her feelings for the Prince. With her childhood sweetheart, Aspen, serving as her personal guard in the palace things are even more complicated. Prince Maxon has already made his feelings clear and says that with her word he’d end the competition that moment. But America has witnessed some things in the course of the Selection that she isn’t sure she’s prepared to handle. Would her feelings for Maxon balance out her fears of the responsibility of being queen? This second in the Selection trilogy is just as much fun as the first. There’s a bit more of the history of Illea included in this installment as well, which makes me think there are big things to come in the final title – more than just who Maxon will choose as his bride (or better yet, who America will choose for herself.). The story as a whole is fairly light but there is a good amount of action and politics as well, all of which makes Cass’s teen series both intriguing and enjoyable. 5/13 Becky Lejeune
THE ELITE FORCE by Donna J. Henderson: Gritty, ugly, sci-fi crime fiction at its best. This is the story of an ancient sect of female Scottish warriors whose life span extends to hundreds of years. They are able to travel forwards and backwards through time via “portals” to apprehend those, primarily men, who would abuse animals, children, and women. Most of the adventures in this book occur in “current” time. On one level it reads like Power Rangers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on steroids. But if you read the inside back cover first, the author says “As time passed I created warriors from the past to help me deal with the abuse, not only I suffered, but others. My fierce warriors would punish the tormentors and destroy them.” Thus it would seem the writing of this book has been a catharsis for the author well beyond that experienced by many writers. On a technical level, the book could have used better editing, i.e. “passed” for “past”, some reaction scenes out of proportion to the triggering force, and a few unresolved conflicts that may in fact be the basis of further adventures. On an emotional level the book is quite powerful and, for this reason one I highly recommend. The only other author I’ve read that goes this far is Andrew Vachss. 06/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
Ella Minnow Pea: A Progressively Lipogrammatic Epistolary Fable by Mark Dunn: A charming story about a town obsessed with their namesake, famed for creating the pangram “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”. They have a statue in his honor, with the pangram at it’s base. One day the “z” falls off and life as they know it is over. The town government decrees that the letter may no longer be used. Then another letter falls off, and soon another, and so on, forcing the townspeople to change the way they spell and write and live. This is one of the most creative, clever novels I have ever read and a must for anyone with a love of language.
ELLIS ISLAND by Kate Kerrigan: Ellie always thought things would work out when she married John. But when her young husband is injured – shot as an IRA soldier during their country’s fight for freedom – Ellie has to make a tough decision. They have no money and without surgery John may never walk again much less work their land or support a family. Ellie is offered a position as a maid for a wealthy woman in America; the job pays well and her passage overseas will be covered. It would mean being able to afford John’s surgery in just a matter of months. John objects, but Ellie feels there’s no other option. When she arrives in the States, though, Ellie’s eyes are opened to a whole different way of life. And when Ellie meets someone who offers her a future of seemingly endless possibilities, she finds that returning home has become much more difficult than it once seemed. Ellie is the kind of character readers can easily fall in love with and Kerrigan does a really amazing job of bringing her to life. The story is set between 1908 and 1924 and is the first in a trilogy. The follow up, City of Hope, is out now. 7/13 Becky Lejeune
THE EMBERS by Hyatt Bass: Ever wonder what can make or break a family? The Aschers know. As Emily, her mother, and her father look back on the past sixteen years, they each recall their missteps and mistakes, especially where the rest of the family is concerned. Though the death of Thomas Ascher (Emily’s brother) and a terrible misunderstanding were the breaking points, the cracks and fissures can be traced much earlier than that. And now with Emily about to get married and start her own family, all of the Aschers will finally be forced to face the past in order to move forward. The Embers is a debut that grips its readers and drags them along as one family falls apart and pulls itself back together. 08/09 Becky Lejeune
EMBRACE THE NIGHT ETERNAL by Joss Ware: With the second book of the new Envy Chronicles series, Joss Ware moves on to Simon Japp and Sage Corrigan. Simon, once a bodyguard for one of Cali’s toughest thugs, has been given a chance to start over and his time in Sedona has left him with the ability to become invisible at will, a power that will come in handy in helping the people of Envy. Sage Corrigan left Falling Creek years ago, looking for a new beginning as well. Falling Creek, just one of the many settlements that have cropped up since the Event, prescribes to some pretty radical beliefs and as a Corrigan, Sage is highly recognizable no matter where she goes. For this reason, she spends most of her time helping to build a new computer system that will hopefully reconnect the survivors and aid in the search for Remington Truth. Together, Simon and Sage will follow clues that lead straight back to Falling Creek. In order to breach the city’s walls, though, Sage and Simon will have to pose as a couple determined to do their part to repopulate the world at any cost. But for two people hiding so many secrets, the real challenge will be opening up to one another in order to play the part convincingly. Their lives may just depend on it. I just adore this series. Ware’s intricately wrought setting completely comes to life. 02/10 Becky Lejeune
EMERALD ENIGMA by C.J. Westwick: The last time Bret Lamplighter came to St. Martin in the Caribbean, people died and he was blamed. People are already dead when he returns to try to recover stolen emeralds but his arrival precipitates a bomb blast in his hotel room followed by a shoot-out that add to the body count. Speaking of bodies, in true techno-thriller fashion Brent is soon hooked up with the curvaceous Abby DuChamps of the French Surete. Together they tackle government corruption, terrorists, and organized crime lords in a fast paced mixture of action, mystery and suspense. Evocative of some of the earlier Ludlum offerings, Westwick has crafted a winner, in my humble opinion. Hopefully, there are more “gems” in his bag. Recommended. 11/06 Jack Quick
EMPIRE AND HONOR by W.E.B. Griffin: It’s October, 1945 and for most of the world the conflict known as World War II is finally over. However for Cletus Frade and his colleagues in the OSS, they have far more important things to do than close up shop and go home. In the closing months of the war, the United States made a secret deal with the head of German intelligence’s Soviet section. In exchange for a treasure trove of intelligence, including the identity of the Soviet spies in the American atomic bomb program, his people would be spirited to safety. If word got out, all hell would break loose, and the United States would lose some of its best sources, not to mention its most valuable secrets. It is up to Frade and company to keep them all safe. But some people have other ideas. Another great outing in the Honor Bound series. 1/13 Jack Quick
Empire Falls by Richard Russo: I loved this book about a small town in Maine and it’s oh-so-interesting inhabitants. Russo brings his characters to life as the book meanders along as it should, taking the reader on a touching and humorous journey to it’s very dramatic finish.
EMPTY EVER AFTER by Reed Farrel Coleman: Not the author’s fault but I think I would have enjoyed this one much more, if I had read the previous four in the series. In this, the fifth Moe Prager mystery the former New York cop and now PI has to endure the results of his previous investigation in the disappearance of Patrick Maloney, the brother is his ex-wife. Although the events of the book bring Moe and Katy back together, you aren’t left with a truly good feeling about this development. While this appears to be the end of the series, fans of well-written PI novels will hope to see more of Prager. In the meantime, it’s better to start with the beginning and work up to this one. 06/08 Jack Quick
ENCHANTMENTS by Kathryn Harrison: After her father’s murder, Matryona Rasputina and her sister are sent to live with the Romanov family. The Mad Monk was beloved by Tsarina Alexandra and she believes that Masha could be in possession of her father’s healing abilities. As Alyosha, the Tsar’s one and only heir, suffers from terrible hemophilia, his health and wellbeing are of the utmost importance. But revolution is nigh and the Romanovs – plus Masha and her sister – find themselves under constant guard and house arrest. To keep their spirits high, Masha tells Alexei wondrous tales – stories about her childhood in Siberia, stories about her father, and even stories of Alexei’s own parents, the Tsar and Tsarina. Kathryn Harrison’s latest is an interesting imagining of the Romanov’s final days through the eyes of Rasputin’s daughter. While the tales are entrancing, Harrison’s non-linear approach to the story itself is jarring. Chapters jump from one time period to another with an almost stream of consciousness approach. Overall, an interesting read but one that works best in long sittings. 4/12 Becky Lejeune
THE END OF EVERYTHING by Megan Abbott: Lizzie and Evie are best friends. Thirteen years old, and having grown up together, they are twins in almost every way. But then Evie disappears. Lizzie has noticed things. Things others have missed: the car that drove by a few too many times, the cigarettes that Evie showed her in the backyard one afternoon. Lizzie can help and soon becomes the center of attention with Evie’s desperate father. Lizzie, whose own father left years ago, has always looked up to Evie’s dad and would do anything to help him. Anything to find her friend. The End of Everything is so disturbing on many levels. It’s actually one of those books that left me with a truly dreadful feeling. To elicit that response in a reader makes it clear that Megan Abbot is a great writer, but I can’t say that this was a book that I enjoyed. 07/11 Becky Lejeune
THE END OF MARKING TIME by C.J. West: The secret to being a successful sneak thief is to maintain a low profile. Obviously, stealing the credit cards, cash, and car of the Suffolk County District Attorney is not the thing to do, particularly if you are only twenty years old with a lot of life ahead of you. The Tin Man gets caught as a result and is sentenced to 5 years in prison but a funny thing happens on the way to incarceration. He gets shot in the head during an escape attempt and wakes up four years later to an entirely different world. Jail has been abolished and now everyone is at risk, since no one can be sent to jail. West has brilliantly portrayed a world gone crazy where the rule is there are no rules, or are they. Crime fiction meets science fiction in this awesome thriller. 10/10 Jack Quick
THE END OF THE RACE by R. Godfrey: Return with us now to those unsettling days in the early 1970’s when an embattled US President is dealing with the aftermath of a “third rate burglary” that would have far ranging global consequences. Who would have though that William Hinton, newest driver for the leading ambulance company in Washington, DC would be involved. However, since Medical is owned by the President of the United States, it is obvious that politics will be involved, specifically dispatcher Bob Holsterman who is working for the President and following the efforts of the “The Plumbers” to obtain medical records of a government employee “Iceberg” who is thought to have leaked classified government information to the press. Its dirty politics combined with medical drama, action, conspiracies and highly classified information. In other words it is a political-medical thriller, and a pretty good one as well. I remember vividly the summer of the hearings which led to the resignation of President Nixon and Godfrey does a great job of capturing the uncertainty of that time which left you feeling at times that you wearing watching a soap opera, and not the changeover of government power that could have as easily gone as badly as it actually went well. Maybe if I had Dr. Godfrey’s book in that Columbia, SC motel room watching Nixon’s resignation on a black and white television, I would have felt better, but then again, maybe not. 06/10 Jack Quick
END WORLD: DAKOTA RUN by David Robbins: Fifth in the post-apocalyptic series about a survivalist compound in Minnesota. (A prequel was added later). It is now 100 years after World War III in the place that used to be called America. On a solo scouting mission into South Dakota, Warrior Geronimo obtains valuable intelligence. After the Big Blast a local rancher formed a survival group called the Calvary. All went well until he died and his two sons inherited the leadership of the group. Unable to lead together they split the group into the Calvary and the Legion. Both groups are about the same size and at an uneasy standoff. Will this provide an opportunity for the Family? First he has to get home, dodging the Calvary and the Legion as well as other surprises including giant red ants. 08/09 Jack Quick
END WORLD: DOOMSDAY by David Robbins: “Doomsday” is a prequel to the original “Endworld” series first published in the 80’s/90’s. It deals with Kurt Carpenter’s vision of how humanity could survive after a global war to end all wars. It opens with nuclear war in the Middle East and tracks the efforts of “Family members” to get to the Minnesota compound prepared by Carpenter to give the human race and civilization a chance to survive. If you intend to read the entire series (some 35 plus books) as I do, you really need to read this one first to lay the foundation. Nicely done. 07/09 Jack Quick
END WORLD: THE FOX RUN by David Robbins: Original first book of the now 28 book post-apocalyptic series about a survivalist compound in Minnesota. (A prequel was added later). It is now 100 years after World War III in the place that used to be called America. The Family have struggled to rebuild civilization inside a Minnesota compound they call The Home. Outside the compound is a no-man’s land inhabited by strange more or less human creatures created by the effects of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons indiscriminately used during the War. Once such group, known as the Trolls, have captured some of the Family’s women and are holding them at their own compound in Fox, Minnesota. It is up to the Alpha triad – Blade, Hitchcock, and Warrior – to rescue these women. It’s swashbuckling at its best in a post-apocalyptic environment that is frighteningly portrayed. 07/09 Jack Quick
END WORLD: THE KALISPELL RUN by David Robbins: Fourth in the post-apocalyptic series about a survivalist compound in Minnesota. (A prequel was added later). It is now 100 years after World War III in the place that used to be called America. After three unsuccessful trips east toward the twin cities, the Alpha Triad warriors of the Family have ventured west toward Kalispell, Montana to attempts to find the medical supplies and equipment they need. Actually only Blade and Geronimo are on this mission at the outset as Hickok has gone off on his own to try to rescue young Shane who has set out to “make his mark” by destroying Hickok’s nemesis, the Trolls. Blade is missing his beloved Jenny and Geronimo is contemplating leaving the Family to join the remaining tribe of Flat Head Indians. These types of issues make this series better than most escape fiction, and to me, quite enjoyable. 08/09 Jack Quick
END WORLD: THIEF RIVER FALLS RUN (2) by David Robbins: Second in the post-apocalyptic series about a survivalist compound in Minnesota. (A prequel was added later). It is now 100 years after World War III in the place that used to be called America. The surviving Family leader feels they need to begin reaching out to secure supplies and information which may help them combat the reduced life span being experienced by their members. The Alpha Triad – Geronimo, Blade, and Hitchcock – resume their mission to Minneapolis –St. Paul begun in the previous book, but once again are thwarted by events in Thief River Falls. So far, an enjoyable series. 07/09 Jack Quick
END WORLD: TWIN CITIES RUN by David Robbins: Third in the post-apocalyptic series about a survivalist compound in Minnesota. (A prequel was added later). It is now 100 years after World War III in the place that used to be called America. The third time is the charm as Blade, Geronimo, Hickok, Joshua and Bertha set out once again for Twin Falls. (Their earlier attempts were thwarted.) This time, they have Bertha as a guide as they seek to obtain medical supplies and equipment from the former University of Minnesota. But the Horns, the Porns, the Nomads and the Wacks await and soon the adventurers learn that the Twin Cities is a zoo, in the most classical sense. Pure escape and fun. 08/09 Jack Quick
Enduring Love by Ian McEwan: I received this as a gift from a dear friend this holiday season, and truly a gift it was. It is so beautifully written, with wonderful characters and description that just transports the reader. I suppose I will have to work my way through all his weird and wonderfully written books now, as if I didn’t have enough on my plate!
THE ENEMY OF GOD by Robert Daley: Police Chief Gabe Driscoll, Father Frank Redmond and journalist Andrew Troy all swam together at Fordham Prep. Now Redmond is dead, having jumped from or been thrown off a four story Harlem building. Driscoll and Troy are left to try to understand what led their friend to his death and whether it was suicide or homicide. A fourth high-school buddy, prosecutor Earl Finley, was murdered a year or so earlier in the wake of his aggressive prosecution of a Mob-connected politician. Driscoll and Troy learn that Frank’s life had changed dramatically recently, and the change hinged on Earl’s death. The roots of the current situation run deep, and began back at college. Daley, a former NYPD deputy commissioner writes with authority about a city and subject he knows well. 10/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick
ENEMY OF MINE by Brad Taylor: This is Brad Taylor’s third novel featuring Pike Logan and his partner Jennifer Cahill. His first two books and now this one bring an authenticity regarding clandestine operations based on Brad Taylor’s career with the army’s Delta Force coupled with an instructional position at the Citadel teaching military science. Pike has retired as leader of a secret clandestine group called the task force after suffering the loss of his wife and child who were murdered by a terrorist. He is convinced by a chance meeting with Jennifer in book one to return to an interest in his former life, and while not joining the Task Force again is picked by his former supervisor to lead the group in handling an issue needing solution. A truce has been brokered between Israel and Palestine and the man selected to travel to the Mideast to solidify the treaty is known to be the target of an assassin. Pike and Jennifer leading a Task Force group go after the assassin. The situation is complicated by the appearance of another possible assassin sent by another group opposed to the treaty. Action, like in the first two books is fast, engrossing and keeps the reader glued to the pages of the book. Pike has been shown to be the consummate man of action. The ending in this book is not a surprise but does advance the reader to again view him as the human being that was devastated by the loss of his wife and child and is slowly returning to feeling emotions and love. Currently the next Pike Logan book is tentatively scheduled for mid 2013 and I’m sure Brad Taylor fans will be looking for that one. 1/13 Paul Lane
THE ENGLISH GIRL by Daniel Silva: By this time readers of Daniel Silva’s series featuring Gabriel Allon know Allon as a man, a husband, a trained killer of his country’s enemies and a methodical planner. He is also a talented restorer of great art. The English Girl finds him sought out to help a friendly country with a problem. Madeline Hart is a rising star in British politics and is the mistress of the country’s prime minister who is himself on the rise to the top. Madeline takes a vacation with several other women to the island of Corsica. She is kidnapped there and the Prime Minister is prompted to ask Israel’s Gabriel Allon to find her. It is felt that he would be the best to handle the search and rescue of the lady as well as keeping the affair quiet in order not to embarrass the Prime Minister. In true Allon fashion, Gabriel follows leads from Corsica to the European continent in order to find and rescue Madeline. His surmounting of hurdles is logical and continues his steady streak of getting the job done. No Silva book allows the reader much breathing room and keeps him or her focused on the action. There are a number of references to events in previous Allon books, but this does not detract from enjoying this novel. Silva, obviously plans further books based around Gabriel Allon and his readers (especially this one) anxiously await their publication. 7/13 Paul Lane
ENVY THE NIGHT by Michael Koryta: Not sure how I missed this when it came out a few months ago because I’ve been a fan of Koryta since his first book, the award winning Tonight I Said Goodbye. This newest book is his first stand-alone thriller, and it’s terrific. Set in Willow Flowage, Wisconsin, this is a tale of revenge with twists and turns and lots of action.
The story revolves around Frank Temple III, whose father committed suicide after it was revealed that he was a hit man. The man who originally recruited him was also the one who outed him, and rumor has it that he is returning to Willow Flowage, so Frank wants to be there waiting for him. But he gets into a fender-bender on the way, and Nora Stafford, the woman who owns the body shop and is fixing the cars, becomes his ally in this intricate yet fast moving story. It’s the well drawn characters that really stand out, and that’s what separates the good books from the best books like this one. 01/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
Equivocal Death by Amy Gutman: Fast paced legal thriller a la Grisham, Turow et al. She’s in good company for a first time novelist and holds her own. Worth a read. Read an excerpt.
EREBOS by Ursula Poznanski: When Nick’s friend Colin bails on their basketball practice and then begins screening his calls, Nick knows something is up. Colin and others in their school are beginning to slack off in class – if they even attend at all – and a strange package is being passed around. But no one is talking. Then Nick finally has a chance to discover what all the fuss is about: it’s a game. Erebos is secretive and highly addicting fantasy game that comes with rules: first, no one can know about the game. No one can talk about the game and each player plays under an alias that they must not reveal in the real world. What’s strange is that the game seems to know when someone has broken the rules. And then the game begins to bleed into the real world as well. Nick has assignments to complete IRL (in real life), assignments that earn him points and level ups in the game. When the real world assignments start to become too intense, Nick begins to wonder if it’s really worth it at all. I think I might have become as involved in this book as the characters were in the game. Erebos is a real page turner and though it’s a teen release it definitely has the right kind of elements to appeal to an adult audience as well. Originally released in Germany, this translation is the first of Poznanski’s books to be released overseas. 4/13 Becky Lejeune
ERRORS AND OMISSIONS by Paul Goldstein: The Hollywood blacklist of the McCarthy era, circa 1950’s, rears its ugly head in this modern day tale of a Hollywood power struggle and greed. Michael Seeley is a hotshot lawyer on his way down with a drinking problem, on the brink of divorce, threatened with disbarment, all the usual lawyerly crappola. He’s forced to give up his pro bono work with artists to wrangle the rights to a mega-movie franchise that United pictures has precariously lost. Or maybe they didn’t. Some interesting characters, a semi-interesting plot but it was slow going. 08/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
ESCAPE CLAUSE by James O. Born: Bill Tasker is one of my favorite heroes. An officer with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, he’s not your typical tough guy cop who solves crimes by busting heads or relying on snitches. Instead, he digs in his heels and uses his streak of stubbornness along with his smarts to a real advantage; he just refuses to give up. Through three books now, he’s shown how to work around orders from his superiors (if necessary), or the FBI, or other agencies, to get the job done. Tenacity is a trait that is often overlooked and desperately needed, especially in law enforcement work, and Tasker – whose name implies a certain tenacity about work – has it in abundance. But he’s not just a nose-to-the-grindstone guy either – he has a life that often intrudes on his work, and vice versa. He’s still in love with his ex-wife, who got tired of competing for his attention with the job, and he’s a great dad to his two young daughters. Tasker is understated and real, a hero for our times.
After a shocking opening, Tasker finds himself in the position of being forced to deal with the results of everything he went through in the first two books – a series best read in order, although there is enough information here to clarify. He’s sent out to a prison in the Everglades to investigate the murder of a wealthy Florida land developer’s son. Nobody really wants him there except for the two good looking women who hone in on the hunky visitor. But this is no romance; Tasker has a few run-ins in town and at the prison, prisoners escape and the bodies start piling up, but our hero is up to the challenge. With this third entry into the series, Born is now firmly entrenched as a “must read”. 02/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE ETERNAL ONES by Kirsten Miller: For years, Haven Moore has had visions of a girl named Constance and a boy named Ethan. Haven senses that these could be visions of a past life, but her grandmother’s influence and religious upbringing don’t allow for the idea of reincarnation. When Haven sees Iain Morrow on tv one evening, she can no longer resist the pull of her visions or the idea that Iain is meant to be hers. But Haven has also seen the tragic deaths of the doomed couple and though many of the details between their meeting and their horrible end have yet to be unveiled in the visions, she will have to beware of repeating the same mistakes that were made in the past. Kirsten Miller’s Eternal Ones could almost be a teen version of MJ Rose’s Reincarnationist. I love the idea of soulmates finding one another throughout time and trying to fix their past mistakes. It makes for a nice twist on the typical teen romance. 09/10 Becky Lejeune
THE ETHICAL ASSASSIN by David Liss: Lem Altick, a 17-year-old South Florida door-to-door encyclopedia salesman who seems to be a good guy, witnesses the murder of two potential customers in a mobile home. To save his own life Lem hooks up with the killer, Melford Kean, who may or may not be a truly bad guy. Jim Doe, the redneck corrupt police chief who saw Lem at the trailer on the night of the crimes is definitely a bad guy. Fellow bookseller Chitra is a good guy/gal. Lem’s company is a sham and appears to be a bad guy. David Liss as an author is a good guy. This book is, well, maybe you ought to read it for yourself. 04/06 Jack Quick
EVANGELINE by D.W. Buffa: Back in the 1960’s there was a party “game” making the rounds called “Lifeboat.” The scenario was that all were in an overloaded lifeboat and someone would have to be sacrificed so the others could live. Each participant had to tell why he/she should not be the one sacrificed. Then an open vote was taken and the loser “thrown off the boat.” In the next round the remaining survivors had to justify their continued existence, but with different reason than previously stated. Then another vote was taken. This continued until only two were left in the boat and/or fights and divorce actions erupted from the proceedings. I was reminded of the game by this fine Buffa probe into not only the legal system but our moral code as well. Evangeline, the finest ship of her kind, built to sail anywhere in the world, sinks in a ferocious storm off the coast of Africa. A single lifeboat with fourteen people crowded into it gets away. Forty days later, a thousand miles from South America, six survivors are rescued from the sea. One of them, the captain Vincent Marlowe, is charged with murder. His only defense is that it was necessary to kill some to save the others. “Lifeboat in real life.” 11/10 Jack Quick
EVEN by Andrew Grant: What a talented family. First Lee Child makes Jack Reacher an international thriller hero with his must-read books. Now, Child’s younger brother, writing as Andrew Grant, has begun a series that may ultimately rival that of his brother. Royal Navy secret agent David Trevellyan discovers a dead body in a New York City alley, which leads to him being arrested as the murderer. Trevellyan knows he has been set up and will get no support from home. It is up to him alone to match wits with the NYPD, the FBI, and the group responsible for the killing. Naturally, there is far more involved than the death of a simple vagrant. Thanks goodness Trevellyan survives as this one begs for a sequel or three of four or more. 07/09 Jack Quick
EVEN FLOW by Darragh McManus: McManus has been writing successfully for several years doing plays, screenwriting, and opinion pieces for several newspapers in the U.K. Even Flow is his first crime novel and comes across as a very well thought out and tightly woven novel. The basics of the plot involve three friends that band together as vigilantes to punish those in society that they decide are gay bashers, mistreaters of women and other miscreants that they deem require punishment and public scorn. Their motivations and the psychology behind their actions are well delineated in the course of the book and initially come across as something that may need to be done in the absence of regular law enforcement. The shifting of their thinking towards god complexes forms a basic portion of the book. It would seem that the Machiavellian concept of absolute power tending to corrupt absolutely becomes the end result as the three kidnap and “punish” people they deem as needing that punishment and finally end up doing murder. Opposing them is a gay detective Danny Everard, who while doing his duty in hunting the trio, finds that his feelings towards them are mixed. The ending is completely in keeping with the shifting concepts presented in the book, and the two characters of Danny Everard and the leading personage in the vigilante group are very well fleshed out. Their motivations become quite clear to the reader who will finish the book, anxiously looking forward to the next. Impossible to put down until finished and well worth the read. 11/12 Paul Lane
EVENT by David Lynn Golemon: Within the military, there is a secret organization made up of soldiers, scientists, archaeologists and historians known as the Event Group. The Group deals with “Civilization Altering Events,” events that are so extraordinary that they change the course of history. One example of such an event took place in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. Now, it has happened again and this time, the results could be devastating to mankind. Major Jack Collins, recruited to head up the Group’s security, must lead a team into the desert to prevent what could be the end of the world as we know it. Although I found Golemon’s debut to be a bit disappointing, I think the premise of the series itself is very promising and will be looking forward to the next book – if only to see what Event occurs next. This should appeal to fans of Robert Doherty’s Area 51 series. 09/06 Becky LeJeune
THE EVER-RUNNING MAN by Marcia Muller: It took Sharon McCone the better part of 25 books and 30 years to find and marry Hy Ripinsky, and this latest case may unravel that marriage. When Renshaw & Kessell International, a maverick corporate security firm, hires McCone after a series of bombings has damaged its facilities, she starts by looking into the checkered pasts of the firm’s co-owners. It doesn’t take Sharon long to track down “the ever-running man,” a shadowy figure who has been leaving explosive devices at their various offices. However, in order to solve the case, McCone is forced to question her intensely private husband, Hy, about his involvement in some of the firm’s dark secrets. The history of corruption may jeopardize their marriage, but uncovering the secrets of the firm may be the only way she can save her husband’s life, and her own. 07/07 Jack Quick
Everglades by Randy Wayne White: Whenever a new Randy Wayne White book comes out, I push everything else on my stack to one side. Everglades proved, again, that this preferential treatment is well deserved. I find myself getting seriously annoyed these days when the blurbs on anyone else’s book covers talk about the author being “the new John D. MacDonald.” There is only one legitimate heir and Mr. White is it.
Per the MacDonald method, Everglades begins with a damsel in distress. (Remember the woman dropped from the bridge in MacDonald’s Darker Than Amber?) In this case, it is Doc Ford’s old friend Sally Carmel (hmmm-colored names) Minister. Sally’s husband has disappeared and she is being followed and terrorized.
In an effort to find out who is following her, Doc gets involved in a tussle which evokes a thorough discussion of amateur wrestling which would do John Irving proud. (At that point, I had to e-mail the BookBitch to rave to her.)
The bad guys prove to be the principals in a TV cult combining elements of the Bagwan and the Church of Scientology with canny real estate development and investing.
Strangely, however, after all the elements for the quintessential MacDonald story were in place, the book seemed to drag. Mostly because Doc Ford is feeling sorry for himself, remembering long dead friends and drinking so much that even his hippy sidekick, Tomlinson, feels compelled to intervene.
One of my favorite subplots has Tomlinson becoming an internet idol as a result of an essay he wrote as an undergraduate entitled “One Fathom Above Sea Level.” To his dismay, the essay has recently become the subject of favorable critical acclaim internationally. Sample – “Pain is an inescapable part of the human experience. Misery, however, is not. Misery is an option.” Some of the lighter moments in the book arise from his trying to flee those who are seeking wisdom from him.
I am pleased to report that Doc eventually does have a moment of clarity in which he is able to put everything back into perspective again. It is an exciting scene and I don’t want to spoil it for readers. In the process, Doc Ford pretty much fully becomes Travis McGee. The finish of the book is thoroughly satisfying.
And of course, there is intellectual sustenance in Mr. White’s writing as well. Discussions of marine life, the geology of Florida and the difficulties tribes face being recognized by the U.S. Government all have places in Doc Ford’s inquiring mind.
All in all, Everglades is a wonderful read and deserving of priority on your stack of books too. ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.
EVERGLADES ASSAULT by Randy Wayne White: The few remaining Tequesta Indians live deep in the Everglades on a small plot of land separate from federal and state control. Dusky MacMorgan’s friend Hervey Yarborough is a Tequesta and he comes to MacMorgan for help when someone is trying to drive the Tequestas off their cherished ancestral land. Soon it becomes apparent that there are more dangers in the swamps than quicksand and gators – it’s big money and hired guns. Count on Dusky to solve the problem, seduce a few dames, and all in all, turn this into another rollicking adventure. Not great literature, but good not so clean fun. 02/09 Jack Quick
EVERMORE by Alyson Noël: Ever was a normal teen until a terrible accident claimed the lives of her parents and sister. When Ever awakens after the event, she finds that she now has the ability to read others’ thoughts and see their auras. Her aunt takes her in and moves her from small town Oregon to sunny California. Unfortunately, as Ever attempts to put her life back together, she finds that she must distance herself in order to keep her sanity and shut out the thoughts that now surround her. As an outsider, she’s not exactly the popular girl anymore. All of that begins to change when Damen Auguste moves to town. In spite of everything, it seems that this gorgeous and mysterious new guy has a thing for Ever. But as she gets to know him better, she discovers that Damen is hiding something more than she could possibly imagine. Noël’s debut title in her new Immortals series is an interesting twist on the standard paranormal teen read. Elements of Eastern philosophy in this tale are both effective and refreshingly original. 02/09 Becky Lejeune
EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton: After a hundred years in the Everneath, Nikki Beckett has been given a brief reprieve. In just six months, The Tunnels will come for her. That means she has just six months to say goodbye to her family and the boy who helped get her through a century as part of The Feed. Unless she can find a way out. Classic mythology bears a remarkable resemblance to the Everneath. Maybe if Nikki can unravel the truth behind Orpheus and Persephone’s tales, maybe she can save herself from the great nothing of The Tunnels. But time is quickly running out. Brodi Ashton’s debut is an interesting and unique twist on mythology. And with an ending like the one here, I’ll be anxious to see what’s in store for book two of the series. 1/12 Becky Lejeune
EVERY FEAR by Rick Mofina: This is the second book in Rick Mofina’s series featuring rookie crime reporter Jason Wade of the Seattle Mirror. Wade is under a lot of pressure to bring in a big story and he may have one. On an ordinary morning, Maria Colson takes her baby son Dylan to the corner store where he is abducted into a waiting van. Maria climbs onto the van, but is violently thrown to the road where she is left for dead. As she fights for her life the FBI and police across Washington State search for baby Dylan. It’s a bizarre case with pieces that just don’t add up: The Colsons are a hard-working couple, former high school sweethearts, no problems, no enemies. Then Jason and his dad, a private detective, discover the Colsons are connected somehow to the grisly murder of a young woman. Can the connections be made before time runs out for little Dylan? Is this a kidnapping for revenge and not ransom? A first rate read. 04/07 Jack Quick
Everyone Dies by Michael McGarrity: Michael McGarrity stands second only to Tony Hillerman among those writers currently setting their mystery stories in the western United States. If you are enjoying any of the lesser lights in that genre and some small part of your heart remains anywhere between Bisbee, Arizona and Billings, Montana, you owe to yourself to read McGarrity’s Kevin Kerney stories.
Kerney has settled in as the chief of police in Santa Fe, New Mexico in Everyone Dies. He and his wife, Sarah Brannon, a Lieutenant Colonel and a rising star in the U.S. Army, are expecting their first child shortly as the book begins.
A vicious and cunning killer is on the loose. He begins his campaign of revenge by gunning down a gay attorney on the street in front of the courthouse. Other victims are killed in other ways. Soon, he leaves a message for Kerney that “Everyone Dies” and then makes it clear that his mission is to end the Kerney line, including not only Kerney, but his wife and his unborn son as well.
The combination of good police procedure, western locale and ever-increasing suspense make this book a real treat. ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.
EVERYONE IS BEAUTIFUL by Katherine Center: Lanie Coates is kind of miserable. She and her family have left behind their lives in Houston to start fresh in Massachusetts after her husband earns a position at the university that offers free housing. Unfortunately that’s about all the job offers. Peter supplements his meager income teaching piano lessons while Lanie is stuck with their three sons all day. It’s not until another mother at the local park asks Lanie her due date that she decides its time for her to do something for herself. See, Lanie’s not pregnant at all, she’s just let herself go in lieu of taking care of her family. Soon she’s heading to the gym and taking photography classes and on her way to becoming a better Lanie, but it could end up being at the expense of her own marriage. Center has a great voice and Lanie is a charming leading lady. This touching and hilarious read will really open your eyes to what truly makes a person happy, what truly makes a person beautiful in the eyes of another. 02/09 Becky Lejeune
EVERYONE IS BEAUTIFUL by Katherine Center: Lanie Coates is the mother of three young boys. Supporting her husband’s dream to become a professional musician, she’s agreed to leave everything behind in Texas and move to Cambridge, MS. For the past fifteen years, she’s devoted her entire life to her family. Her passion with art and painting is soon replaced with diapers and crayons. Her body, much like her life, is unrecognizable. She’s lost herself, and she desperately seeks to find some semblance of the person she was. She begins to devote time to herself, and begins going the gym each night, and even signs up for a photography class. This class helps her discover a passion that was unknown to her. Unfortunately, though passion is growing in the heart of someone else as well, and it’s not her husband. Just as Lanie begins to feel at peace with herself, her world is turned over and she must struggle to fix it. EVERYONE IS BEAUTIFUL is a very honest look at hectic life of a mom. There are moments where you will laugh out loud, and moments where you will cry. As a mother of two boys myself, I could completely sympathize with Lanie’s character. This is a must read of any mom, no matter the age of the child. 03/09 Jennifer Lawrence
EVERYTHING YOU NEED by Michael Marshall Smith: With short story collections you never quite know what you’re going to get. Each tale is something different and can range in style, genre, and tone. Done well, it’s a sure bet that you’ll get little gulps of story that are as involving – if not more so in some cases – than a full-length novel. This is definitely the case with Michael Marshall Smith’s latest collection. Stories like “Substitution” where a simple grocery mix up leads a man to a shocking discovery and “The Last Barbecue” a family reunion of sorts post zombie apocalypse are fun and twisted. Others, like the title story “Everything You Need,” are more thoughtful and charming. And then there are the quirky ones like “Author of the Death” in which a character goes in search of his creator. Each story in Everything You Need is excellent and stays with you long after turning the final page. It’s a collection that showcases Smith’s talents wonderfully in my opinion. Whether you are familiar with Smith (aka Michael Marshall) or are new to his work, Everything You Need is a must have collection for any horror fan. 10/13 Becky Lejeune
EVIDENCE by Jonathan Kellerman: Evidence is Jonathan Kellerman’s latest Dr. Alex Delaware mystery. For those that are not familiar with this series Dr. Delaware is a psychologist who often assists the L.A. police force. As he puts it, “Milo calls me in when the murder’s interesting.” In this case, the murder is very interesting. The crime scene consists of two bodies wrapped around each other “in a sick parody of passion” in the turret of an unfinished McMansion in the very upscale L.A. neighborhood of Holmby Hills.
Milo is Lieutenant Milo Sturgis, a veteran homicide detective who for years has been shuffled to one side by the police bureaucracy because of his homosexual orientation but has been unleashed by the new Police Chief to focus on those “interesting” cases that no one else can seem to dispose of. There is a fair amount of this “Chief” in the novel and it is my guess that Bill Bratton is the model for this character. Although Mr. Bratton has stepped down now, he was extremely successful in both New York and Los Angeles and is a figure referred to with great respect by L.A. crime novelists like Mr. Kellerman and Michael Connelly, both of whom have used him to free up and inspire their maverick crime-solvers.
Milo, in his dogged fashion, and Alex, in his cerebral fashion, pursue the identities of the victims into a fascinating world of international architecture, eco-terrorism, banking and petro-bazillions. Unlike earlier books in this series, although Alex is doing the actual chauffeuring, Milo is in the driver’s seat with respect to the action. There is a wonderful scene where Milo, who is no mean trencherman, and Alex, meet a black detective named Irv Wimmer, who is working a related case, at “Ruby’s Theater of Turkey” where the specialty is “monumental birds dunked into deep-fryers” and served quartered or halved along with “biscuits the size of baseballs.”
But Milo’s real moment to shine comes near the end of the book where he interrogates a police crime scene investigator who they suspect of being an eco-terrorist. He goes slow, sets up his premises and ultimately destroys all her defenses, in the most gentle, likeable manner imaginable. It is a real tour de force on Milo’s part and some darn fine writing by Mr. Kellerman. I recommend this book. 10/09 Geoffrey R. Hamlin
EVIL AT HEART by Chelsea Cain: The Beauty Killer is back… or is she? Just two months after her escape in Sweetheart, Gretchen Lowell is still on the loose. Detective Archie Sheridan has taken up residence in a local psych ward in an attempt to beat his addiction to pain killers and hopefully get his life straight again. When body parts and Lowell’s signature heart are discovered at a rest stop, the task force believes their famous serial killer may have returned. Archie isn’t so sure, but is coerced into returning to the force after new bodies begin appearing in famous Beauty Killer locations. This third of the series is just as brutal and gory as the previous installments, a warning to those who may be a bit squeamish. Cain and her famous serial killer character have drawn comparison to Thomas Harris and Hannibal Lecter, and rightly so. 03/11 Becky Lejeune
EVIL WITHOUT A FACE by Jordan Dane: In the first of Dane’s Sweet Justice series, fugitive recovery agent Jessica Beckett goes up against a human trafficking ring that has its fingers in just about every corner of the world. It starts with Jessica’s vendetta against a man named Lucas Baker. Baker escapes and Jessica’s antics land her in the hands of the local PD who are less than thrilled about her rule-bending and breaking. They tell her Baker is off-limits, but Jessica neglects to reveal that she’s already stolen the man’s computer. Her assistant is unable to break into the computer’s system, but is able to retrieve notice of a package from Alaska set to arrive in Chicago shortly. They bug the computer so that they can trace Baker’s movements but Baker is killed shortly after it is returned to him. At the same time, Jessica’s friend Sam Cooper, a vice cop, is handling a missing persons case involving a teen from Alaska. When the link between Sam’s case and Jessica’s discovery is made, the two team up with the child’s uncle in order to track the organization and save the girl. This is Dane’s best yet, and that’s saying a lot. Characters from Evil will be returning in the subsequent titles. Book two, The Wrong Side of Dead, is slated for release this fall. 01/09 Becky Lejeune
EVIL WITHOUT A FACE by Jordan Dane: If Stephanie Plum is at one end of the female bounty hunter spectrum, then Jessica Beckett is at the absolute other end. While Plum keeps her gun in a cookie jar, Beckett wears a Colt Python .357 Magnum with four-inch barrel and a trigger smooth as butter. There are no giggles in this one as Beckett pursues a personal vendetta against child abuser Lucas Baker. When Baker turns up dead and is linked to a multinational human trafficking organization, Globe Harvest, the cops tag Jess as a possible suspect. Jessica is long gone however, backtracking a teen from Alaska who may have been a Globe Harvest victim. Beckett is driven and the reasons why unfold in a series of flashbacks as she puts it all on the line. Not for the faint hearted, but if you can take the heat, a great read. 04/09 Jack Quick
EXACT REVENGE by Tim Green: Raymond White is in a maximum-security prison for a crime he didn’t commit when he meets another lifer, art thief Lester Cole. White and Cole escape, with White surviving to use Cole’s stolen art to make himself a new man and to exact revenge on those who framed him. Of course, its been done before “Count of Monte Cristo”, “Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less,” etc., but it is a fast fun read and as Lester Cole says about revenge, “If you don’t do it, you’ll be a professional victim. You exact it and it’s exact. Not just a reaction, but planned out. Precise. It needs to send a message.” Root for the home team in this one. 03/06 Jack Quick
EXCITING PULP TALES by Tom Johnson: If you are a male of a certain age, i.e, you remember learning to drive on dirt roads, then you will also be acquainted with pulp magazines, radio show thrillers, and other sundry leisure activities of the 1950’s. This sequel to Tom Johnson’s PULP DETECTIVES anthology, brings you ten more all-new stories featuring classic pulp heroes such as The Angel, The Green Ghost, The Cobra, The Crimson Mask, Gentle Jones, The Purple Scar, Funny Face, Mr. Death, The Jungle Queen, and Ki-Gor. Neither long on plot nor always politically correct, to read them is to hear once again the clackity clack of a manual Remington typewriter, smell the aroma of a cheap cigar, and know that at least in one part of one’s life, good will overcome evil. So sit back and enjoy stories even dames can like. 1/11 Jack Quick
THE EXECUTION OF NOA P. SINGLETON by Elizabeth L. Silver: Noa P. Singleton is on death row. She’s run out of appeals and her execution is just six months away when Oliver Stansted and Marlene Dixon appear with a last ditch effort for clemency. Marlene Dixon is the mother of Noa’s victim, Sarah Dixon, who at the time of her murder was dating Noa’s father and carrying his unborn child. Marlene asked for the death penalty during trial but claims she’s had a change of heart. In all her years in prison, though, Noa has never fought her conviction. She’s also never told her side of the story. Oliver believes that Noa is hiding something and as she finally begins to tell her story, it becomes clearer than ever that things are less black and white than they’d seemed at the time of her trial. Silver’s debut is fantastic. Noa is the kind of unreliable and somewhat hard to sympathize with narrator that undoubtedly drives some readers crazy, but I have to admit I’m a big fan. Silver hints at Noa’s secrets throughout the book making the story an intense and captivating one all the way through to the final reveal at the end. I was hooked from page one. 6/13 Becky Lejeune
EXECUTIVE ACTIONS by Gary Grossman: Teddy Lodge might have been elected President anyway. After all, they were comparing him to Bobby Kennedy. But after Lodge survives an assassination attempt in the small town of Hudson, New York, the campaign of the Vermont Congressman seems to have unstoppable momentum. However, several people loyal to the defeated Republican President—especially Scott Roarke, a tough and resourceful agent for the Defense Intelligence Agency—begin to have suspicions about Teddy Lodge. Is he really who he claims to be? Although the narrative suffers from some choppiness it is a very nice first effort from the co-owner of a successful Los Angles production company. This is a particularly timely read in light of the current U.S. Presidency. I am not in anyway casting aspersions on President Obama, but his background has caused others to question whether there are other hidden agendas. 03/09 Jack Quick
EXECUTIVE POWER by Vince Flynn: CIA super agent Mitch Rapp is back at work after a brief honeymoon. After his exposure in a previous mission, Rapp, as special advisor on counterterrorism to CIA director Dr. Irene Kennedy, is ready to fight the war on terrorism from CIA headquarters rather than the front line. His plans immediately go astray as he gets involved with an American family kidnapped by Islamic terrorists in the Philippines, an ambush that costs the lives of two SEALs, and betrayal from the State Department. While Mitch is sorting all this out, an unknown assassin working closely with the highest powers in the Middle East is bent on igniting war. Can Rapp put out both blazes? Of course, there is already a sequel out, but how he does it – that’s what makes this one worth reading. Recommended. 10/08 Jack Quick
EX-HEROES by Peter Clines: What happens when you mix superheroes and a zombie apocalypse? You get Ex-Heroes, Peter Clines’s debut and first in a new series. It takes less than a year for the world to fall apart; the spread of the zombie plague decimated everything. Straggling survivors fight to make it day by day, but one group in LA is lucky enough to have the support of a band of superheroes for help. They are St. George/The Mighty Dragon, Zzzap, Gorgon, Cerebrus, and Stealth and together they protect and defend the Mount —the old Paramount Studio lot, which they’ve revamped into a protected compound. But they aren’t alone in the City of Angels. Outside the compound walls, a zombie horde fights to get in and further out in the city another group of survivors has come together. This second group is led by the Seventeens, a gang that once fought for control of the city and is gearing up to do so again. Ex-Heroes is great fun. It’s a perfect mash-up: the love child of classic super hero comics and zombie horror, complete with gore and inappropriate humor. 4/13 Becky Lejeune
EX-PATRIOTS by Peter Clines: St. George, Stealth, Zzzap, and Cerberus have seen friends and allies fall in the two years since the Zombocalypse. They and the LA survivors who have populated The Mount have survived though and that’s reason for celebration. Their little fireworks show catches the attention of a military outpost who soon sends an entourage to check things out. The visit proves that they aren’t the only survivors, something that comes as a relief to the superheroes and the rest of The Mount. But these are no ordinary military men and women. They’re the remains of Project Krypton, a science experiment intent on creating super soldiers. St. George and crew agree to a short trip out to Krypton’s base in Yuma but soon find that the military has plans that differ a bit from their own. Plans that they aren’t ready to outright reveal to the superheroes. This excellent follow up to Ex-Heroes gives readers a bit more insight into the existing superheroes while also introducing a few new faces—both good and bad. Ex-Patriots is equally as addicting as its predecessor and is a great fix for any zombie and/or action adventure craving. 5/13 Becky Lejeune
THE EXILE: An Outlander Graphic Novel by Diana Gabaldon, illustrated by Hoang Nguyen: The Outlander series consists of seven books so far, and I would venture those seven books are close to seven thousand pages. The basic premise, for those who haven’t had the pleasure, is that a British WWII nurse falls through some Stonehenge-like stones back into 18th century Scotland, where she meets the love of her life (who wears a kilt,) and helps him fight wars, family, and finally settle America. It’s the type of book that is difficult to describe without turning someone off – some people don’t like time travel, some avoid romance, or war novels or historicals, and so forth. But the fact is that these books defy all those conventions and are just riveting reads with well developed characters that we come to love rather quickly, lots of action and adventure and some very interesting history, learned as we are transported along with Clair & Jamie. The fact is, these books are totally enjoyable. All seven of them, and I believe there are at least two more to come.
So what’s new here with the graphic novel? Amazon.com has an “excerpt” that is Gabaldon’s story of “how this book came to be.” A former comic book writer for Disney, she was asked to write a new story for a graphic novel featuring her Outlander characters. She didn’t. Her idea was to basically re-write the beginning of Outlander, but told from Jamie’s point of view instead of Clair’s. That way we get to see what Clair didn’t know about, and Murtagh is our guide. The illustrations were sort of boring and flat, and didn’t really add much.
If you are not familiar with these characters, this is a great introduction. If you are, then it is mostly familiar, although Jamie isn’t as good looking and and Clair is much curvier than I’d always imagined – the problem with illustrations and/or movies made from books we know and love. It was an interesting read for this fan, and if more are written I would probably try another one. But if the plan is a series of graphic novels that tell the same story, then a new audience will need to be found. 10/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
EXIT STRATEGY by Kelley Armstrong: Nadia Stafford is a cop-turned-hit-woman in her first adventure with a killer vs. killer mission. After being forcefully retired from a Canadian police force for shooting a suspect dead, Nadia becomes a temporary hit woman targeting smalltime career criminals for clients who are often their direct competitors. Now, she’s teaming up with her mentor, Jack, to apprehend another hit man–turned–serial killer known as the Helter Skelter killer. Nadia soon learns that no one is to be trusted and nothing is as it seems. Hopefully, this is the start of a long-lived series. 10/07 Jack Quick
THE EXORCIST: 40TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION by William Peter Blatty: Most people know the basic premise of The Exorcist: actress Chris MacNeil and her daughter, Regan, are living in Washington, D.C. while filming a new movie. Regan suddenly falls very ill and after exploring all the medical possibilities, Chris becomes desperate and turns to Jesuit priest, Father Damian Karras. Karras is a trained psychologist and, unbeknownst to Chris, is undergoing a crisis of his own faith. After investigating, Karras is convinced that Regan is possessed and that an exorcism is the only option. It’s amazing that it’s been forty years since the release of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. It’s clear, as someone who has never read the book before now, why it has stood the test of time. As a horror classic, it’s a harrowing read and Blatty builds the suspense in a truly great way. This newly released, polished edition features updated dialogue and new scenes. 10/11 Becky Lejeune
THE EXPATS by Chris Pavone: For some it would be a dream come true. Kate Moore’s husband Dexter is a specialist in computer bank security. When he is offered a lucrative position in Luxembourg, it means Kate can leave the Washington, DC government work force and spend more time with their two sons, while enjoying all the benefits of life in Europe. Upon arrival Kate begins to reinvent herself as an expat, finding her way in a language she doesn’t speak, doing the housewifely things she’s never before done—play dates and coffee mornings, daily cooking and never-ending laundry while her husband works incessantly, at a job Kate has never understood, for a banking client she’s not allowed to know. He’s becoming distant and evasive; she’s getting lonely and bored. Then another American couple arrives. Suddenly Kate has a problem. Unknown to Dexter, Kate’s job in Washington was as a CIA operative for 15 years and she is terrified that her past is catching up to her. But is Kate the target or is it Dexter? Soon Kate discovers fake offices and shell corporations and a hidden gun, a mysterious farmhouse and numbered accounts with bewildering sums of money. Her family, her life, her marriage – all are in jeopardy. Well done. 4/12 Jack Quick
THE EXPATS by Chris Pavone: Kate and Dexter Moore are living a somewhat comfortably strained, middle class life in D.C. when Dexter is offered an excellent position in Luxembourg. So excellent, in fact, that Kate is able to quit her job entirely when the family relocates there. Which is fortunate for the CIA agent as it means finally leaving behind a life she’s been keeping secret for so long. When the Moores arrive in Europe, they quickly become friends with another American couple, Bill and Julia Maclean. But Kate is unable to switch gears from agent to average housewife. She becomes suspicious of Bill and Julia, even considering the fact that they might be agents. But why would they be inserting themselves into the Moores’ lives? Are they there for Kate or could it even be her mild-mannered husband that they’re after? The story shifts between multiple timelines – present day, Paris, where it’s clear that some of Kate’s suspicions are correct; the family’s move to, and time in, Luxembourg; and various points in Kate’s CIA career. Pavone’s debut is a clever read that reveals new secrets at each turn. From start to finish, I had no idea what to expect but I knew it was going to be great. Just nominated for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. 1/13 Becky Lejeune
THE EXPENDABLE MAN by Dorothy B. Hughes: The New York Review of Books has developed a reprint line of classic novels that were critically well-received and popular at the time of their release, but are no longer generally available. Included in this line is a very interesting group of classic mysteries. One of these is The Expendable Man written by Dorothy B. Hughes in 1963. It is well-worth revisiting. It centers around a young intern, Hugh Denismore, who reluctantly gives a young woman a ride from California to Phoenix, Arizona. Shortly thereafter, her body is found floating in an irrigation canal in Scottsdale, Arizona. An anonymous tip to the police suggests that not only did Denismore kill her, but he may have performed an abortion on her as well. To say much more would be to give away an essential ingredient of the plot the discovery of which is part of the experience of reading this fine example of noir literature. If you are a fan of black and white 40’s movies and Raymond Chandler and Big Jim Thompson, this book is a must for you. 1/13 Geoffrey R. Hamlin
EXPLETIVE DELETED edited by Jen Jordan: What do Laura Lippman, Ken Bruen, Charlie Huston, Nathan Singer, Anthony Neil Smith, Jason Starr, Sarah Weinman, John Rickards, Libby Fischer Hellmann, and Reed Farrel Coleman have in common? They all talk dirty and is that ever great. Maybe there has been a previous book devoted to the f word, but if so, its probably out of f***ing print. Who gives a f***, when you have this collection of really neat short stories all tied together by that one little f***ing word. Not for the faint hearted, but if it don’t bother you, read on. 11/07 Jack Quick
EXPLOSIVE EIGHTEEN by Janet Evanovich: I spent a fun few hours hanging with Stephanie Plum, Ranger, Joe, Lula and Grandma Mazur in this latest installment of the screwball comedy/mystery series. This time out Stephanie returns from a trip to Hawaii with a mysterious tan line on her ring finger, and an even more mysterious photograph stuck in her bag that several bad guys are willing to kill her for. Ranger and Joe have injuries they inflicted on each other, and everything else is pretty much up to the usual standards. Fans will enjoy it and enjoy complaining about it, and the upcoming movie may find a few new fans – or lose some. Katherine Heigl stars as Stephanie Plum (after several postponements, which is never a good sign) in One for the Money. The newest release date is Jan. 27, 2012, but who knows. 12/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
EXTINCTION by Mark Alpert: Mark Alpert might be a good candidate to succeed Michael Crichton in the writing of futuristic novels based upon possible scenarios involving current scientific advances. Extinction postulates the building of an artificial entity incorporating lobotomized human beings connected to each other and to the group. The Chinese government has built such a system, but is pictured as losing control over it as the entity gathers more and more intelligence due to the humans being incorporated into it. Jim Pierce, a scientist with a military past, first becomes aware of the entity when a Chinese assassin comes to his lab looking for his estranged daughter. He has not seen her for several years, but now knows that her high level hacking of computers and computer systems has discovered something very dangerous. Jim’s daughter blames her father for the death, several years ago, of her mother and brother in a terrorist attack when all three accompany him to a dangerous area. Layla was saved by her father during the attack but feels that Jim is at fault for the death of the others. Searching for his daughter and encountering the malevolent super intelligence is a fascinating adventure into a possible sequence based upon current scientific advances. The dangers of artificial intelligence spinning out of control becomes a vividly portrayed possibility under Alpert’s guiding hand. A post novel note appended to the book very clearly goes over current day science and postulates that these may very well develop into the entity created in the book. A completely engrossing read, and for those readers not previously introduced to Mark Alpert an invitation to seek out his future books and enjoy them. 2/13 Paul Lane
EXTREME INDIFFERENCE by Stephanie Kane: Second outing for Denver defense attorney Jackie Flowers whose client, a federal judge, is accused of the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Amy Lynch, a college student and daughter of a wealthy businessman. Complicating the task is the fact that Judge Ballard is one of Flowers’ former law professors, who once told her she would never make it as a lawyer. Flowers is dyslexic and has had to struggle her entire life to attain her goals. Her coping skills are extraordinary but now she may be in danger of losing the most important case of her career, while in the middle of trying to decide whether to continue on her own or attempt to link up with one of Denver’s larger law firms. Well written and interesting, particularly in seeing how Flowers perseveres in spite of her dyslexia. 07/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
AN EYE FOR AN EYE by Irene Hannon: The second installment of the Heroes of Quantico series, this was billed as romantic suspense. Frankly, it just didn’t work for me. FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Mark Sanders is sent to St. Louis to work as a field agent after he accidentally shoots a teenager at a tense standoff. Just weeks away from returning to Quantico to resume his work on the HRT, Mark has a chance encounter with an old flame, Emily Lawson. But their reunion is cut short by a sniper. Now Mark must find the shooter, keep Emily safe, and rekindle a long-dead relationship at the same time. With lines like “While Emily’s faith gave her obvious spiritual comfort, he suspected her emotional needs went unmet,.” I seem to have missed the suspense part. 01/10 Jack Quick
AN EYE FOR MURDER by Libby Fischer Hellmann: Chapter One, Paragraph One, ten year old Rachel to Ellie Freeman, her single parent documentary filmmaker mother, “Have you ever had oral sex?” You sense this one may be a little different. This mystery begins in World War II in Europe, and results in the death in 1946 of Kurt Weiss, a GI returning home to Chicago. Decades later Ben Sinclair, a pre-WWII friend of Ellie’s father, recognizes Ellie’s name in a television documentary but is killed before he can contact her. Next to die is Sinclair’s landlady. A drive-by shooting critically wounds a young man who has been helping Sinclair use the computer in the library. Ellie’s home is burglarized and more threats surface. Then Kurt Weiss’s son contacts Ellie and the plot gets even thicker. This is the first outing for Ellie who seems equal to all the challenges thrown at her, except perhaps those presented by her somewhat precocious daughter, who, by the way, is the only girl in 4th grade who doesn’t shave her legs. Lots of action, and its Chicago, so there has to be politics. Recommended. 06/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER by David Ellis: Ellis is one of my favorite thriller writers, and this new one didn’t disappoint. In 1989, prosecuting attorney Paul Riley had the case of a lifetime fall into his lap. Two college students and four hookers were murdered in the space of a week, and the first suspect they looked at confessed, had overwhelming physical evidence in his home, and eventually was executed for the murders. Except fifteen years later, a similar spree of murders is happening, and the murderer is sending undecipherable messages to Riley, who parlayed that first case into a private multi-million dollar practice. The book bounces back and forth between the two cases, which feels repetitive in parts, and causes Riley to question what happened. It’s a great story that leads to an intricate, twisty ending that just sends the mind reeling. 08/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
EYE OF THE BURNING MAN by Harry Shannon: Well written adventure about a radio show psychologist who is a former SEAL alcoholic Rambo type. When the young lady who saved his life in a previous adventure, Memorial Day, runs into trouble, Callahan drops everything to rescue her and ends up battling a band of psychopaths at Nevada’s Burning Man Festival. While there is plenty of action and the plot moves along briskly, I couldn’t help but conjure up visions of Frasier whenever Callahan was doing his radio show. Somehow the idea of Dr. Frasier Crane kicking ass never quite fit. In spite of the periodic disconnect between Kelsey Grammer and Sylvester Stallone the book is still a good read. 11/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
THE EYE OF THE VIRGIN by Frederick Ramsey: A reasonably well-told tale marred somewhat by the author’s periodic “information dumps” which have the effect of taking you out of the flow of the narrative. Small town sheriff Ike Schwartz has two mysteries to solve. One involves a break-in at the house of one of Callend University’s faculty. The other involves a body, dead from a small caliber gunshot wound that was left in the waiting room at the town’s emergency clinic while all the staff was busy dealing with boy scouts suffering from food poisoning and even sicker small children with the flu. The two cases become connected with the discovery that the body is that of the faculty member’s ex-wife’s lover, who seems to have entered the country using an assumed name. Both cases also seem to be connected to an icon, The Virgin of Tenderness, in the faculty member’s possession and more importantly which has what appears to be outdated spycraft-a microdot.. Enter the CIA, followed by the mother of Ike’s fiancé Ruth, and information that implicates the involvement of Israel’s super secret Mossad, and you have a fine kettle of fish, indeed. In the end, the good, the bad, and the ugly are neatly sorted and carted away. 07/10 Jack Quick
EYE OF VENGEANCE by Jonathon King: In this stand alone from the author of the Max Freeman series, Nick Mullins is the top crime reporter for the South Florida Daily News. He is also still trying to recover from the deaths of his wife and one of his twin daughters two years earlier in a car accident with a drunk driver. The driver, having served only 18 months, is now out on parole. Nick spends his off hours stalking the driver, trying to catch in violation of his parole, so he will be sent back to prison. Traveling parallel to Mullins is ex-cop and former military sniper Michael Redman, who begins assassinating criminals that have been the subject of Mullins’ stories. With each succeeding murder, it becomes apparent that Redman is working from a list, leading up to a final “favor” for Mullins. Set a timer with this one so that you can be reminded to occasionally breathe. 05/07 Jack Quick
EYE OPENER by Michael Lewin: Lewin, an Indianapolis native who now lives in Britain, has written a series of mysteries all set in Indianapolis, involving an ensemble cast. In Eye Opener, PI Alfred Samson finally has his license restored and is ready to prowl. He soon realizes that the funk he had been in over the loss of his license was deeper and darker than he realized. He worries about his mother and daughter, both of whom seem to have grown away from him during his period of moping and drinking and being at loose ends. He begins to make up with former best friend Captain Jerry Miller who played a major role in the loss of his license. Before it’s over all of Lewin’s characters have made at least a cameo appearance – Samson’s ex-wife Adele, her new policeman husband and even the retired Lieutenant Leroy Powder. Samson gets back into the PI game, with a new girl friend, solves his first new case, and gains renewed respect for his mother and his daughter, who just may be the central character in the next Lewin adventure. As usual Lewin captures the heart and mood of the city perfectly. A good one. 06/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
EYES OF PREY by John Sandford: I feel like I came in on the very end of an orgy here….Having not read one of the previous novels,( I picked this one up in the Hospital gift shop,) I’m at a loss to explain what it all means.
However, as a stand-alone crime novel, and police procedural, It holds it’s own. Lucas Davenport is a burned out, near suicidal, Minneapolis detective who ends up being handed a mission, which he accepts…Like all of our reader ilk. we like our hero’s complicated…The more so, the better. This guy truly fits the bill. Great villains….Doc Bekker took more drugs than any villain in History…and “Druze” became Doc’s willing oaf…..and an ending that will kill ‘ya.
Got to read more of these to find what led up to this. 01/06 DOC
EYES OF THE INNOCENT by Brad Parks: Carter Ross, Newark reporter, returns in this sophomore effort from the Shamus & Nero Wolfe Award winning author of Faces of the Gone. A house fire kills two children and a city councilman goes missing, yet there are still laughs in this twisty crime novel. Ross is ordered to write the annual story about the dangers of space heaters and to take along the newest intern, Lauren “Sweet Thang” McMillan, a good looking ditzy blonde who turns out to have a gift for getting people to talk. Murder and mayhem ensue, and Ross hooks up with the detective on the case to get the crimes solved. Parks has a real gift for taking dark subject matter, lightening it up with humor, and turning it into a hell of a page turner. Looking forward to the next book for sure. 02/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde: This book is a gift for anyone literary on your list. One of the most creative and clever genre-defying books to show up on a bookshelf in a very long time, encompassing murder and mystery, time travel and other elements of sci-fi, along with enough literary references, both obscure and popular, to make any literati feel smug. Don’t miss it.
THE EZEKIAL OPTION by Joel C. Rosenberg: Also known as the book that is impossible to describe. On one level it’s a thriller not unlike some of the later ones written by Tom Clancy. Presidential adviser Jon Bennett and his fiancé beautiful CIA agent Erin McCoy are in the middle of the action – a coup in Russia, war in the Middle East, oil driven terrorism. All are familiar. However, there is also Dr. Eliezer Mordechai, former head of the Mossad and now a Christian, who opines, “The Scriptures were coming alive.” He prepares a 37-page Bible-based brief known as “The Ezekiel Option,” which postulates that supernatural powers will eliminate Israel’s enemies. Is it the Apocalypse? Is scriptural prophecy being fulfilled in today’s newspapers? To sum it up succinctly, disturbing. 02/07 Jack Quick