La Cucina: A Novel of Rapture by Lily Prior: I absolutely loved this book! Set in Sicily, it encompasses food, love, the Mafia, sex, romance, and fun, all rolled up into one tantalizing read. Warning: guaranteed to cause severe afterglow in all who read it! Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
L.A. DEAD by Stuart Woods: Stone Barrington is about to marry the beautiful (but seriously crazy) daughter of a high-ranking Mafioso, whose other daughter happens to be married to Stone’s best friend, an NYPD cop, when Stone is called to L.A., where his former lover has just discovered her husband’s dead body. The lover is Arrington, the dead husband is a famous movie star, and everyone except Stone, who’s still in love with her, thinks she killed him. Stone manages to save the damsel in distress, get rid of his nutty near-wife without offending her father, and wrap up all the details except the most important one – whether he will make the. woman of his dreams Arrington Barrington? Stay tuned. 07/06 Jack Quick
L. A. OUTLAWS by T. Jefferson Parker: Parker is one of my favorite crime fiction writers but he hasn’t achieved the name recognition he deserves. Hopefully, this book will do just that. Suzanne Jones is a mild mannered teacher by day, but at night turns into Allison Murietta, fast food restaurant robber and car thief, who shares in the proceeds with local charities, including the local law enforcement fund raising arm. Murietta believes herself to be the many times removed grandchild of a famous California bandit, Joaquin Murietta. She gets a little out of her league when she stumbles onto a diamond deal gone bad; ten dead bodies and the diamonds just sitting there, waiting for her. But Lupercio, a machete-wielding madman, is looking for the diamonds and he doesn’t care who he has to kill to get them. Meanwhile, Suzanne meets straight-as-an-arrow deputy Charlie Hood, who’s been temporarily assigned to the murders. Pretty soon things are heating up between them just as he is figuring out who she really is. Take a wild ride with this one, you won’t be sorry – it’s sure to make my best of the year list. 02/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
L.A. OUTLAWS by T. Jefferson Parker: Another outstanding offering from Parker who always comes up with the neatest characters. By day, Suzanne Jones is an eighth grade history teacher with three sons in Los Angeles. By night, she dons a mask, pockets her derringer and steals – cash from fast food places, cars, and in the instant case, almost half a million in diamonds. You see, Suzanne aka Allison Murrieta, claims to be a descendant of Joaquin Murrieta, a 19th-century California folklore figure who was either a ruthless robber and killer or an Old West vigilante and Robin Hood. Suzanne/Allison’s problem is that the diamonds are the basis of a gang disagreement and a master criminal known as the Bull has sent Lupercio, a ruthless assassin, to recover them. Lots of violence and hot car action with just a touch of s-e-x makes this a fun read. One of my best of the year. 11/08 Jack Quick
LABOR DAY by Joyce Maynard: Joyce Maynard has become a superb story teller. While some may feel that “stories” do not rise to the level of serious literature, I am of the belief that story-telling is an ancient and honorable craft, without which we would not have “novels.”
In Labor Day, Ms. Maynard tells the story of Henry, a young man of thirteen. Henry is a ware and wise beyond his years, due to the combination of intelligence and a divorce which left him living with his mother, a very sad and peculiar woman. They live alone, in every respect, on the outskirts of a small New Hampshire town.
Their lives are changed forever by the insertion of the kindest escaped murderer that I can think of in literature. And it could not come at a better time for all of them. Henry’s mother Adele, has been teetering on the edge of madness and is not only brought back to normalcy, but beyond to happiness. Henry is given a guide to all of those perplexing social and growing issues that face a 13 year old male. But as you can imagine, this is a precarious arrangement and therein lies the tale.
I think that this is going to be a very popular book over time. It will benefit from world of mouth from anyone who happens to pick it up and become entranced by it. This is a perfect summer read. 09/09 Geoffrey R. Hamlin
The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis: This is a story about the Orthodox Jewish community of Memphis, TN and how they deal with someone new and a little bit different moving in. The narrator is the community itself and it makes for a compelling voice indeed. Don’t miss it.
LADIES’ NIGHT by Mary Kay Andrews: Every June I kick off my summer reading with Mary Kay, and she never disappoints. Ladies’ Night is a fun, fast read that kept me up way too late late turning the pages; I couldn’t put it down until I turned the last one. Grace Stanton is a young blogger with a growing following for her Martha Stewart-light type blog. Her husband is ambitious and has turned her little blog into an advertiser sponsored money maker, enabling them to move into a beautiful new McMansion with all the upgrades they could want, provided she blogs about them. Grace isn’t entirely comfortable with her new lifestyle, but she lets her husband push her along until the night she finds him in a compromising position in his $175,000 car with her young assistant. Fireworks ensue, followed by Grace driving said car into the pool, and then she moves out. She quickly learns that was a big mistake, as the divorce moves forward the judge orders her into a group counseling for some anger management. Grace moves in with her mom, who lives above the bar she owns in this small west coast Florida town, but Grace still has plenty to be angry about. Her husband has frozen her out of her home, bank accounts, credit cards and most importantly, her blog. Grace starts anew, finding a new project to blog about, an old Florida cracker cottage in desperate need of repair, and she makes some friends as the group takes to meeting up after their sessions at the bar where she’s living. This is Mary Kay Andrews at her best, with lots of angst, laughter, food and love. I can’t wait to try the Crab Corn Bisque! Don’t miss it. 6/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE LADY ELIZABETH by Alison Weir: Historian Weir’s latest is a fictional depiction of Queen Elizabeth I in the years prior to the beginning of her monarchy. As with last year’s Innocent Traitor, the story of Lady Jane Grey, Weir has used historical record and creative license to create an addictive and dramatic story that begins with Mary’s revelation to her younger sister that her mother, Anne Boleyn, has been put to death for the crime of treason against the king in 1536 through to Mary’s death in 1558. A twist in Weir’s tale is the notion that Elizabeth conceived and miscarried a child fathered by Thomas Seymour. People have been fascinated with tales of the British monarchy for ages, and the timely release of Weir’s novel provides a perfect opportunity for fans of titles such as The Other Boleyn Girl to gain more insight into this fascinating piece of history – taken with a grain of salt, of course. Readers looking for a more accurate depiction can tackle Weir’s extensive non-fiction collection on the Tudors, but the fictional interpretation leaves more room for the consideration of less popular, but still remotely possible, “conspiracy theories” that make for provocative reading. 05/08 Becky Lejeune
LADY KILLER by Lisa Scottoline: It’s great to be back with the all-girl law firm of Rosato & Associates, especially when Mary DiNunzio is at center stage. Mary is young and sharp as a tack, yet somehow exudes an innocence and Old World charm despite dealing with impending wars between the Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin fan clubs, high school “Mean Girls” all grown up, or the mob. She’s bringing home the bacon with all the neighborhood cases she takes, so it’s no surprise that former parochial school classmate and head mean girl Trish “Trash” Gambone looks to Mary for help when she fears for her life from her abusive gangster boyfriend. But Trish isn’t walking down any legal avenues to help herself, and she ends up disappearing along with her boyfriend. Mary is beside herself with worry and guilt, and the rest of the mean girl claque go into overdrive harassing her, the cops and anyone else they think will help them find their friend. Lady Killer is a thoroughly enjoyable read with warm, wonderful characters, gentle humor, and some unexpected twists and turns. 02/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2008 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
THE LADY MOST WILLING by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James & Connie Brockway: These three ladies are the queens of romance, so I had high expectations for this book and I was not disappointed. I couldn’t tell you who wrote which part, and it didn’t matter, the book flowed seamlessly which was another plus. The story revolves around a Scottish laird who decides to kidnap four potential brides for his two nephews. He accidentally also kidnaps a duke who was asleep in the carriage and they all end up snowed in during a storm. True love finds its path and the requisite happy ending is reached by all. This was a fun read for a weekend afternoon. 2/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
LAKE CHARLES by Ed Lynskey: For Brendan Fishback, the world has turned against him. First he is arrested for the murder of Ashleigh Sizemore, the daughter of a local hot shot who went to a bad hotel with Brendan. Because he was completely stoned and drunk Brendan cannot seem to remember if he did or did not factor into her death. To take his mind off his predicament he goes bass fishing on Lake Charles with best friend Cobb, who is also the husband of Brendan’s twin sister, Edna. Of course there are no fish biting, and then Edna goes zipping off on her jet ski and doesn’t return. As the two try to find her, they come across evidence that Lake Charles is the site of a major pot farm. From there things really start going down hill. If noir is your thing, Ed Lynskey is your author. 8/12 Jack Quick
A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME by Wiley Cash: Marshall, North Carolina may be a small town, but it’s one that’s filled with secrets. Adelaide Lyle has long known folks in her town — and her church — are hiding things. Though she has tried to protect the local children from the goings on at the River Road Church of Christ in Signs Following, Pastor Carson Chambliss has other ideas. Jess Hall and his brother, Stump, make a habit of snooping around and soon learn the dangers of such secrets. They witness something they shouldn’t – something they don’t quite understand – and it alters their lives in a disastrous way. When a healing at the church leads to a death, it’s falls to Sheriff Clem Barefield to find out what really happened. Wiley Cash’s debut is a stunning read. The story unfolds through the eyes of three narrators: Adelaide, Jess, and Clem, each of whom offers up a different piece of the events that take place. A Land More Kind Than Home is an exceptional book that’s rich, emotional, and brilliantly written. I expect great things from Cash in his sure-to-be-long literary career. 2/13 Becky Lejeune
THE LAND OF DREAMS by Vidar Sundstol: Winner of the Riverton Prize for best Norwegian crime novel and translated by Tiina Nunnally. While written in Norwegian, this Scandinavian thriller is set in Minnesota on the shores of Lake Superior and is the first book of a trilogy. Lance Hansen is a police officer with the U.S. Forest Service, which mostly entails going after people fishing without a license and pitching tents outside of specified camping grounds. Hansen’s real claim to fame is that he is the town’s historian, with an avid interest in local history. While making his morning rounds, he finds the body of a young man who has been bludgeoned to death, and he isn’t really sure what to do. No one can recall a murder in this part of Minnesota, and indeed Hansen has to go back almost a hundred years to find another – oddly enough, in the same area. Hansen calls in the local sheriff who quickly realizes that since the murder took place on federal lands, that it is outside his jurisdiction and a call to the F.B.I. is warranted. They in turn determine that the dead man is a Norwegian tourist, and the friend he’d been travelling with is their prime suspect. FBI agent Bob Lecuyer flies in a detective from Oslo, Eirik Nyland, who befriends Hansen. Hansen is just as intrigued by the story of a murdered Native American in the 1800s as he is in the current murder, and finds some ominous ties to his own family. The landscape is a big part of the story, as is the history of the area, making this a fascinating look at Minnesota as well as a suspenseful read. Scandinavian crime fiction has exploded in popularity, and this is a superior addition to the genre. 10/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.
THE LANGUAGE OF SECRETS by Dianne Dixon: After living in London for years, Justin Fisher is finally returning to California. This will be Justin’s first opportunity to reconnect with his family, but if he was expecting a warm homecoming he was strongly mistaken. He finds that his childhood home has been sold and his father has been sent to a convalescent home. Justin’s arrival is just two weeks too late, however, as his father has passed away. His father’s possessions lead him to his sister’s home where he’s ordered off the property. At his parents’ gravesite, Justin makes a discovery that comes as a big surprise: a headstone with his own name on it. As Justin begins to look into his past, he discovers that there are gaps in his happy childhood memories. In fact, actual recollections of his childhood are few and far between. Learning what caused this break in his memory becomes Justin’s obsession. What could be so terrible about one’s own past that they block it out completely? Overall, Dixon’s debut is an absorbing read that unfolds at a pace that is sure to keep you reading straight through in one sitting. Some holes in the plot are revealed if one looks too deeply into the book, but all in all The Language of Secrets is a page-turner and a good read. 04/10 Becky Lejeune
THE LANTERN by Deborah Lawrenson: Les Genévriers is everything a couple could dream of—a fixer-upper with charm and spirit, located in the beautiful French countryside. For Dom and his girlfriend, nicknamed Eve, it’s an escape from the world and a paradise in which their new relationship can grow. But a chance encounter leads Eve to question just how well she knows her new lover. Dom was married and the mysterious Rachel is almost never spoken of. As Eve grows more suspicious about Dom’s secretive nature, Dom himself begins to pull away. Eve’s tale alternates with that of Bénédicte Lincel, one of Les Genévriers’s last owners. Bénédicte is haunted by her past and by a terrible tragedy that will soon be revealed. The Lantern is a gorgeous book. Lush with detail and vivid imagery, the underlying story of a perfumier is an added element that Lawrenson injects with ease. The result is a story that comes alive through Lawrenson’s descriptions: the reader can almost smell the lavender and feel the texture of the farmhouse walls while living Eve’s and Bénédicte’s tales. The Lantern is an obvious tribute of sorts to Rebecca and is sure to please fans of the classic gothic tale. 08/11 Becky Lejeune
LAST BREATH by George D. Shuman: Shuman’s debut, 18 Seconds, was a major hit with mystery fans and Last Breath promises to continue this trend. Sherry Moore is a blind woman with a very unique talent – she has the ability to “see” a person’s final eighteen seconds of thoughts. Sherry has become something of a celebrity after she uses her ability to help in several high profile murder cases around the country. Lately though, her ability has been clouded by a deep depression resulting from the murder of her friend John Payne. Sherry reluctantly agrees to help when the bodies of three missing women are discovered in a storage container at an abandoned meat processing plant. It has been two years since the women disappeared. Just after their abductions, two teenage boys were caught on tape kidnapping a young woman in a parking lot and forcing her into a van. Police chased the suspects until the van careened over the edge of an overpass and exploded. Now, authorities finally have a chance to close the case. As it turns out, the teenagers were not the killers after all. No, these three women fell prey to a much more dangerous and twisted killer, one that has been active and covering his tracks all this time. Although officials are hesitant to use Sherry, the killer takes a special interest in her ability and begins to pursue her personally, ensuring her involvement in a case that could be her last. This is a great new series for mystery and suspense fans. Last Breath is a chilling and perfect follow-up to 18 Seconds. 08/07 Becky Lejeune
Last Car to Elysian Fields by James Lee Burke: Homicide Detective Dave Robicheaux of the Iberia Sheriff’s Department, an alcoholic in recovery, is in serious emotional trouble in this book. His wife Bootsie has died. His daughter Alafair (see review of Judgment Calls) is away at college. And he has sold his bait and fishing business to his old partner, Batist. He is alone and he is thinking about drinking. Obsessively.
The story line begins with Dave (“Stretch” to his friends) assuming personal responsibility for protecting an activist Catholic priest, Father Jimmy Dolan, from an ex-IRA hitman. The hitman, Max Coll, is a complicated and interesting soul. Burke’s books are philosophical enough in tone that using the word “soul” seems entirely appropriate.
Other story threads have to do with the prison camp death of a blues singer named Junior Crudup, a contemporary of Leadbelly’s, many years ago and the continuing coverup of that old death as well as the coverup of new ones. Hitman, oldline corruption and historical evil persisting to the present are stirred up by Robicheaux and his former partner, the hell-raising, good-hearted slob, Clete Purcel.
Evil with a capital E and racism are recurring themes in Burke’s work and Last Car is no exception. He also reminds us that the beignets in the Cafe du Monde are not far from the St. Louis cemetery and that bodies not properly interred will float to the surface.
All of Burke’s Robicheaux’s stories are worth reading and this is particularly good. It is a mark, I think, of Burke’s story telling ability that I wanted to shake Dave and tell him to call his sponsor. ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.
THE LAST CHILD by John Hart: When twelve-year-old Alyssa Merrimon disappeared, her family fell apart. Her twin brother Johnny became obsessed with trying to find her, her father took off, not to be heard from again, and her mother sank into a world of drugs and booze, helped along by a wealthy boyfriend who liked beating her and Johnny. Detective Clive Hunt is also obsessed, both with finding Alyssa, and with her mother, and his obsession costs him his marriage and puts his job is jeopardy. But this is Johnny’s story and his quest to find the sister he lost, leaving no stone unturned. He takes his mother’s car when she’s passed out and spies on all the small townsfolk of Raven County, NC, occasionally taking his best friend Jack along, and he keeps meticulous records. The world is a dark place when seen through his eyes, and Johnny is an unforgettable character in a finely drawn, yet enthralling adventure. With his best novel yet, the Edgar award winning Hart (Down River) firmly cements his place along side the greats of the genre and beyond. One of the best books I’ve read this year. And don’t miss my interview with Hart on the BookBitchBlog. 05/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch. Copyright © 2009 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
THE LAST CONQUISTADOR by Michael Elias: A novel in an exotic setting with an interesting bit of fantasy attached to it makes for a good read. Peruvian archeology professor Nina Ramirez and several of her students are on an expedition in the Andes mountains and make an incredible discovery. They unearth the 500 year old mummy of an Inca girl that was ritually sacrificed and in the same area, the corpse of a young boy dressed in the same ancient costume as the girl. It is evident that the boy was recently killed in accordance with the ancient Inca customs. Nina and her students take both bodies back to the city, delivering the boy to the police as a murder victim. At the same time three children are kidnapped in Peru with one an American boy in Lima. American FBI agent Adam Palma, who is just finishing work in Latin America, is assigned to the case and asked to help the American mother recover her son. By coincidence Adam had an affair with Nina seven years earlier and had asked her to marry him. At that point she refused to leave Peru, with Adam returning home, marrying an American girl and having a daughter with her. His wife was killed by a man that Adam was hunting, leaving Adam to raise his daughter by himself. In beginning his investigation, Adam teams up with Nina and a mysterious young boy named Quiso, the brother of the murdered child who apparently speaks only the ancient language of the Incas. Fortunately Nina does understand the tongue, and together the three, along with a local police officer looking into the kidnappings and the murder, set out to find a lost Inca city which may be practicing the old ritual sacrifices and where the kidnapped children may be. The city is found and the ancient culture of the Incas is still in existence. The fantasy part of the story is the discovery that the Incas were probably more advanced in medicine, mathematics and other practices than our current civilization. An interesting novel with one weakness which is the almost nonexistent fleshing out of the characters. This may not adversely affect the read as the action and changes in settings is fast and continuous. Elias does fascinate with his descriptions of Peru, the Amazon and Andes mountains and the customs and practices of a long gone people. 6/13 Paul Lane
THE LAST DANCE by Lonna Enox: When the husband of Sorrel Janes is brutally murdered, Houston police suspect the crime may be related to Janes’ high-profile position as crime reporter for a Houston television station. They recommend she leave the area, at least until they can get a better handle on the situation. Fortunately Sorrel has property in Saddle Gap, a quiet little town in southwestern New Mexico. Her aunt had willed Sorrel a combination home and gift shop, which seems the ideal solution for her. She can pursue her hobby of photography and run the now dormant gift shop started by her aunt. Within a few days of her arrival in Saddle Gap, she is involved in not one, but two, murders and an inquisitive detective seems determined to solve the murders as well as Sorrel’s secrets. Recommended. 4/13 Jack Quick
THE LAST DARK PLACE (#8) by Stuart Kaminsky: Newly married Bill Hanrahan is trying to save his pregnant wife from a stalker while Abe Lieberman has his own problems. Thirty three years ago he arrested a gunman who has now re-entered Abe’s life as a professional assassin. The gunman is killed by an elderly janitor at the airport where Abe is preparing to fly him back to Chicago. Abe is trying to find out why when an Asian-Latin gang war break outs. Just another outing for our two long suffering Chicago cops in this eighth from Edgar-winner Kaminsky. Vengeance is mine sayeth a lot of people in this one. 05/08 Jack Quick
LAST DAYS by Adam Nevill: Nevill’s book is an exceptionally well done horror tale, and is a real find in reading. The format of the novel is reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project. Kyle Freeman, a second tier maker of documentary films, is called upon to make a movie about a defunct cult called the” Temple of the Last Days”. In 1975 the cult terminated in a massacre of the members and it’s leader Sister Katherine. Kyle, with the help of his long-time camera man and friend, Dan, takes on the project. The two travel to three sites of the cult: London, Paris and the Arizona desert. What they find is a miasma of complete horror in the growth and spread of the cult. Sister Katherine is depicted as holding an almost hypnotic spell over the adherents as well as the use of deadly force in keeping them in line. The horrors they find continue to grow in their minds as they go deeper into the history of The Temple of the Last Days. Nevill’s descriptions are extremely well done, and their fear is a logical extension of those terrors. The book presents two well delineated themes and is the product of a great deal of research. First is an excellent presentation of what a cult is, and the probable draw it has in getting people to join it. Next is the evolution of the horror invading the cult and growing in scope as Kyle investigates the massacre and the probable reason for it. Not everyone enjoys horror stories, but for those that do read Last Days and afterwards look for more of the same from Adam Nevill who surely has the knack of creating undertones of chilling terror in an engrossing book. 2/13 Paul Lane
THE LAST EMBER by Daniel Levin: You might call this one the Jewish Da Vinci Code, but that would be an unfair comparison. THE LAST EMBER is much better than that. Lawyer and former classics scholar Jonathan and UNESCO antiquities expert Emili are after a mysterious man known only as Salah al-din, who has been leading an illegal excavation under the Temple Mount and has now appeared in Rome. Jonathan and Emili’s adventures start in the hidden tunnels under the Coliseum and continue across the Roman Forum into the Jewish ghetto and eventually to Jerusalem. Following clues in ancient maps and manuscripts, and then going underground to follow the trail, the pace never wavers as the excitement builds. You don’t have to be a scholar of Roman and Judaic history and archaeology to be able to follow along easily in this well written religious thriller, which is also a first rate piece of European crime fiction. Definitely recommended. 08/09 Jack Quick
THE LAST FLIGHT OF THE ARROW by Daniel Wyatt: February 20, 1959, amid much uproar, the Canadian prime minister stood before the House of Commons to announce that his government had decided to cancel the CF-105 Avro Arrow supersonic fighter-interceptor program. But what is really going on? Are the Americans involved? What of a Polish born pilot, now in the RCAF and grieving his lost family? And what about the reports that Russia is planning a pre-emptive air strike. With roots in the Battle of Britain, this Canadian based thriller offers some interesting plot twists as it blasts its way to a conclusion averting World War III. 07/09 Jack Quick
THE LAST HORSEMAN by Frank Zafiro: Lieutenant Cal Ridley is dead from cancer and The Four Horsemen, the unit he set up to right the injustices of a broken court system may die with him. Retired cop Sandy Banks is the last of The Four Horsemen. He is ready to call it quits, but there is one more job. What Banks doesn’t know is that he has been betrayed by his final partner and is being pursued by federal agents bent on busting the case wide open, leaving Sandy to scramble for his life. Sure, its vigilantism, but who among us has never felt that certain criminals do not get what they deserve. For a few at least, the Four Horsemen even the slate. 03/11 Jack Quick
THE LAST QUEEN by C.W. Gortner: Juana de Castile was born in Spain in November of 1479. The daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand was also sister to Henry VIII’s Catherine of Aragon. For all of that, it seems few really know this amazing woman’s story. In 1496, in an agreement that would provide protection to Spain from possible French enemies, Juana was married to Phillip I (Habsburg) and in the same agreement, Juana’s brother Juan, destined to become ruler and uniter of Castile and Aragon, was married to Philip’s sister, Margaret. Philip died just a few months later and his would-be heir arrived stillborn. Juana and Philip subsequently became next in line for the Spanish throne. Juana would be the last queen of Spanish blood to sit on the throne. Unfortunately, Juana became the center of a ruthless power struggle that eventually lead to her title as Juana la Loca, Juana the Mad. Gortner’s passion for his subject is quite evident and it seems that after six years of research, he has uncovered enough evidence to support his belief that Juana was not in fact crazy at all. The Last Queen is a fascinating novel. Gortner builds Juana as a strong and noble woman who suffered for her unwavering beliefs and loyalties. For so long, the Tudors and the British monarchy have been the darlings of the genre. I found it most refreshing to read not only about historical Spain and the wonderful atmosphere that Gortner creates, but also about someone that history seems to have forgotten. 09/08 Becky Lejeune
The Last Jihad by Joel C. Rosenberg: In this fast paced and timely thriller set a few years into the future, Osama Bin Laden is dead, Saddam Hussein plans to launch something nasty – biological, chemical or nuclear – against Israel and/or the U.S. and someone is trying to assassinate the President. Jon Bennett, Wall Street mogul who worked for the President before he became President, is Army-volunteered into helping arrange an Israeli-Arab oil agreement that could bring about world peace. But first there’s that little nuclear thing to take care of…nothing like the threat of nuclear war to keep the pages turning. I would have liked to know these characters better, and some of it was hard to believe, or that could just be my naiveté or wishful thinking. Fans of Clancy, Follett and Ludlum will enjoy this book; once started it is almost impossible to put down.
THE LAST MINUTE by Jeff Abbott: Abbott’s book is a continuation of his novel Adrenaline and the short story “Last Chance” in which Sam Capra , an ex-employee of the CIA and currently working for an organization called the Round Table must kill a man if he is to get his infant son back from the boy’s kidnappers. While a definite continuation, The Last Minute does stand quite well on it’s own due to the allusions which bring the reader up to date without spending too much time rehashing past events. Sam is allied by the organization The “Nine Suns” with a woman that has as her forte the hiding of individuals that need to disappear as well as being a skilled computer hacker. Leone has her infant daughter in the hands of Nine Sons as well and is tasked with aiding Sam in his assignment to kill a man who has evidence which can do harm to Nine Suns. The man must be killed if the two are to get their children back.
One of the best segments of The Last Minute is a fascinating excursion into human slave trafficking and the horror of being caught up in it. Sam has been given ownership of a group of bars around the world by Round Table as a means of travel when authorized by them to handle assignments without giving away what he is doing. Future Sam Capra books should find reoccurring characters Mila and Leone reappearing. Both women are attracted to Sam which should form the basis for later romantic interests. The Last Minute is an action packed fast paced read guaranteed to keep the reader glued and when finished awaiting future Jeff Abbott books involving Sam Capra. 8/12 Paul Lane
LAST RITUALS by Ursa Sigurdardottir: This first novel by Icelandic author Ursa Sigurdadottir is one of the freshest, most interesting mysteries I’ve read in years.
Thora Gudmundsdottir is a single mother and attorney, partner in a small law firm. She receives an odd request: A wealthy German family wants to hire her to investigate the recent murder of their son, because they believe the police have the wrong person in jail. They send Matthew Reich, head of security for their family-owned bank, to work with Thora. The son, wealthy in his own right due to an inheritance from his grandfather, was a graduate student in history at a university in Reykjavik, researching Icelandic witchcraft. This son, and his grandfather before him, was beyond weird. His entire body was covered with symbols, tattooed and scarred — and then there’s his split tongue…. The wrongly- accused is a fellow student; an in-group of students of similar strangeness, plus a few faculty, become the suspects.
The possibilities of such a basic plot are rich and varied, and the author takes full advantage. Yet in spite of such material the novel’s tone is upbeat, always shining light into its darkness. Thora is not only intelligent, she is full of understanding for everyone involved in what is basically an ugly mess, and she has empathy especially with the young people. It’s a quirky, compassionate, thoroughly satisfying read. I can’t wait for Sigurdardottir’s next book. 12/07 Dianne Day
THE LAST SECRET by Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore: Journalist Cotton Stone is on top of the world after the Grail Conspiracy but then she falls for a hoax in one of her stories. What goes up must come down and she begins a slow downward spiral career-wise. A year later she finds a crystal tablet at an ancient Inca site that predicts the Great Flood and another “final “ cleansing yet to come. The second cleansing is to be led by the daughter of an angel. Legend has it that there are a series of tablets and the last one in the series will hold the key to surviving Armageddon. Needless to say, Cotton is soon on the trail of the ultimate tablet encountering various and sundry misadventures on the way. Well written, but reads almost like a movie script in process. Maybe Ms. Sholes and Mr. Moore will hit it lucky and this will be the next “Da Vinci Code” flick. Recommended. 08/06 Jack Quick
THE LAST SELLOUT by Jack Bludis: It’s the early 1950s, and World WAR II is over except in Hollywood where the movie studios are gearing up to do battle with the newly popular television, or per the current buzz word “Tee-Vee”. In the meantime the House UnAmerican Activities Committee is pitting friend against friend “finding” communists under very bed and ruining careers of hundreds of innocents along with the few scoundrels they do uncover. In this atmosphere of subterfuge, double-dealing, theft, and the sin-of-sins, merging with New York TV production companies, there is plenty of opportunity for an enterprising private eye who can keep his clients straight and assure he doesn’t end up working against himself in the shifting sands of temporary loyalties surrounding him. The principal thread line involves a young studio secretary who is missing along with a number of valuable scripts that might be adapted for television. Their author is murdered, and within a few days, he is nominated for an Oscar. Hired to investigate the writer’s murder, a cynical private eye finds himself involved with a violent motorcycle gang, low-lifes, and studio bigwigs. Then an apparent innocent is murdered, another remains missing, and the detective becomes an avenging angel. His actions endanger not only his own life, but the life of the woman he loves. Written in true pulp style, and definitely a winner. 8/12 Jack Quick
THE LAST STRIPTEASE by Michael Wiley: Ex-husband, ex-alcoholic, ex-Cop Joe Kozmarski is barely making it as a Chicago private investigator when he witnesses a murder while on routine surveillance. His old police colleague, Bill Gubman, takes the 911 call, but is soon shot by the suspect, who remains unnamed and at large. Meanwhile, Kazomarkski gets a call from retired judge Peter Rifkin offering him $15,000 to take on a case. Joe and the judge have a history but $15,000 is what Joe gets for 10 cases, if he is lucky, so he reluctantly takes it. It turns out that Rickin’s employee Bob Piedras is suspected of killing his girlfriend, Le Thi Hanh, after a lover’s tiff. When starts to investigate, Le’s violent brothers begin to dog his every move. With all this going on, Joe’s mother surprises him with an ill-timed request to take in his rebellious 11-year-old nephew, who insists on helping with the investigations. A very auspicious debut from an author I look forward to reading again. 08/10 Jack Quick
THE LAST SURGEON by Michael Palmer: Gillian Coates’s sister’s death has been ruled a suicide, but Gillian is certain that her sister did not kill herself. With virtually no clues to follow, Gillian is at a total loss until someone is able to draw a connection to a box of comics her sister had in her closet. Each comic is in the Nick Fury series, and each one has the word Doctor handwritten on the cover. Dr. Nick Garrity, a former soldier suffering from PTSD and an advocate on behalf of his fellow soldiers suffering from the same condition, was jokingly nicknamed Dr. Fury by his fellow soldiers. How he connects to Gillian’s sister will come as a surprise to both of them, but once they begin working together, they’ll uncover a conspiracy that has been years in the making. As entertaining and page-turning as I’d expect from Palmer. The usual medical aspects do take something of a backseat in this one, however, making it more of a traditional thriller a change from the medical thrillers he is known for. 02/10 Becky Lejeune
THE LAST TEMPLAR by Raymond Khoury: I am certain there were other religious thrillers before The Da Vinci Code exploded on the scene. Now it seems there is a whole new genre of them. Among the best are those by Raymond Khoury. Some background. The Knights Templar, a small monastic military order formed in the early 1100s to protect travelers to the Holy Land, eventually grew and became wealthy beyond imagination. In 1307, the French king, feeling jealous and greedy, killed off the Templars, and by 1311, the last master, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake. The whereabouts of the Templars’ treasure–and their secrets–have been the subject of legend ever since. Now, four horsemen, dressed as Templars, crash into the Metropolitan Museum of Art and steal a coding device that can unlock the Templars’ secrets about the early days of Christianity. Archaeologist Tess Chaykin and FBI investigator Sean Reilly begin the chase to recover the device. Their path crosses three continents with new twists at almost every page turn until at last, as expected, good overcomes evil. Definitely recommended. 11/10 Jack Quick
THE LAST VAMPIRE by Patricia Rosemoor and Marc Paoletti: When the military discovers a mummified body hidden away in a Texas cave, they unwittingly release a power unlike any other. At first, they are able to keep the body in a sleep-like state, unaware even that awakening it is a possibility. They harvest DNA from the remains and use what they’ve found to create an elite race of super soldiers. Their facility in New Orleans is breached, however, when a voodoo priestess with somewhat honorable intentions, compromises one of their own. Through him, she is able to awaken Andre Espinoza de Madrid, a vampire dating from the Spanish Inquisition. Captain Scott Boulder, leader of the unit is the only one left who can fight the creature. The military also brings in Leah Maguire, an anthropologist whose specialty is white magic. She too once survived an attack by this creature. Together, they must return him to the hell that he came from, before it’s too late. An interesting concept that was something of a disappointment. It worked well enough that I would like to see what happens in subsequent titles, if they continue, but as an individual novel, it fell short for me. 07/08 Becky Lejeune
THE LAST VOICE YOU HEAR by Richard B. Schwartz: An apparently maniacal killer is on the loose in London, someone strong and very practiced at impalement. So far, so nasty, but when a victim is dispatched in similar fashion in Disneyland, of all places, Jack Grant is called in. He discovers the killer’s identity, but there’s a problem. There’s a method to the killer’s madness. Moreover, Grant has an ethical problem of his own, he’s plagued by his conscience, since he understands and even sympathizes with the murderer’s cause. The division between right and wrong is blurred in this twisting tale of vengeance and deadly justice. 06/06 Jack Quick
THE LAST WITNESS by W.E.B. Griffin: (11th Badge of Honor series) For Philadelphia homicide detective Matt Payne, the news from an old law-enforcement friend from Texas sends a shiver down his spine: a connection between the Mexican drug cartels and the Russian mob. Russian girls are being smuggled in to work in the sex trade, and now some of them are dying or just disappearing. The trail leads right to Philadelphia—where Payne learns that’s not all. It isn’t just Russian girls who are vanishing. Teenage girls are being lured from foster homes. Police department sources are turning up dead. The lone living witness has gone into hiding, with everybody—the Russians, the cartels, some of Philadelphia’s most powerful politicians—all looking for her. It’s up to Payne to find her—and hope he gets to her first. 9/13 Jack Quick
THE LAST WORD: A SPELLMAN NOVEL by Lisa Lutz: Izzy thought things would be easier once she was in charge. She couldn’t have been more wrong. Perhaps it was her method of takeover (hostile) or her new approach to management (dictator style) that did it, but her parents in particular have gotten hard to deal with. Morale and insubordination are the least of Izzy’s worries, though, when she discovers she’s being framed. Her patron, client, and sometimes running partner, Edward Slayter, who has been carefully keeping his early onset Alzheimer’s under wraps with Izzy’s help, runs a company that’s recently seen some big money losses. The money in question is being funneled through an offshore account and some of it – note, not all of it – seems to have been deposited into the Spellman company bank account. With the feds focusing all their attention on Izzy, she knows she’ll have to find out who the real perp is or be forced to take the fall herself. Word has it this may be the final case file we get from Izzy’s POV. According to Lutz, though, this is not the last we’ll see of the crazy and hilarious PI family. In fact, hardcore fans might like to know that David Spellman’s kids’ book on negotiation can actually be found on bookshelves these days (How to Negotiate Everything by Lisa Lutz and Jaime Temairik). 7/13 Becky Lejeune
THE LAST CAMELLIA by Sarah Jio: Livingston Manor in Clivebrook, England, is home to more than one secret. Flora Lewis is desperate to help her family and their struggling business. In 1940, she’s recruited by a con man interested in tracking down a rare camellia said to be hidden somewhere on the grounds surrounding the Livingston Manor. Flora travels from New York City to Clivebrook where she is to pose as a nanny caring for the four Livingston children in the wake of their mother’s death. At the same time, the village has had an odd number of disappearances that have yet to be solved. Flora, too, would go missing and her story would remain a mystery for over fifty years until Addison Sinclair and her husband Rex arrive. Rex’s parents have recently purchased the crumbling estate and have offered the couple the use of the house. Addison stumbles upon an old journal that initially appears to be nothing more than a chronicle of the grounds’ many camellias. But further examination of the book reveals a strange code of sorts and notations that Addison discovers match the names of the missing Clivebrook women. The mystery of the Livingston Manor and Flora’s fate provide Addison a much needed distraction from her own troubled past. A past she’s unable to escape even as far away as Clivebrook. The Last Camellia is an absorbing read, one that I found it hard to put down once I’d begun. It was a bit on the short side for my taste, though: certain pieces of the story felt like they warranted much more detail and attention than they were given in the narrative. Aside from wanting more, it was a very enjoyable read. 5/13 Becky Lejeune
THE LAST CATO by Matilde Asensi: Dr. Ottavia Salina, a brilliant and highly esteemed paleographer, is working away at her classified workspace deep within Vatican City when her routine is interrupted. She is given the task of deciphering the strange tattoos — seven Greek letters and seven crosses — found on an Ethiopian man’s corpse. Found next to what was left of the body were three pieces of wood — suspected by Vatican scholars to be fragments of the Vera Cruz, actual splinters from the Cross on which Christ was crucified. Actually written in Spain prior to the explosion of religious-themed thrillers such as THE DA VINCI CODE, THE LAST TEMPLAR, THE TEMPLAR LEGACY and THE SECRET SUPPER, it follows the now familiar line uncovering deceptions, corruption and outright lies that have shaped the “truth” as we know it. What hath Dan Brown wrought? 05/06 Jack Quick
THE LAST COYOTE By Michael Connelly: Detective Bosch is a very aggravated fellow. After stuffing Lt. Pounds head through a glass door, he’s put on involuntary paid suspension, and forced to go to Chinatown for therapy.
Meanwhile his earthquake damaged house has been red-tagged by the city for demolition, his squeeze left him because she thought she found out who he was….he did not contest the matter, and he comes into therapy with Dr. Hinios with an extremely bad attitude. But along the way, the therapy sort of starts to take, in a weird way,
and Harry decides because he’s got some time on his hands, he’s going to re-open the case of his mother’s murder. All people make choices in life along the way, to explore their inner self. There are all certain roads we should not go down, or revisit. Harry, being Harry, ignores all that, and bends as many rules as possible, as usual. (His explanation of why he got PO’d at Lt. Pounds, to Dr.Hinios, is priceless.) And being Harry, he thinks he’s doing the Lord’s work here. He makes progress, which leads him along an old trail that is packed with ghosts. Hell, half the people he’s investigating are nearly dead. What Harry does not realize, nor understand, is that he’s opening a book into his personal hell. And along the way, he inadvertently gets innocent people killed. Of course he rationalizes it by thinking they were scumbags anyway, but that only holds up for so long. A powerful and searing read. 02/06 DOC
THE LAST DAYS OF DOGTOWN by Anita Diamant: Diamant is sure to please fans of The Red Tent with this historical novel as she once again manages to make a distant place and time come alive. Dogtown is a poverty stricken village on Cape Ann, Massachusetts and this is the story of the people who were too poor, too sick or too old to move away. Each chapter is a character study interwoven into a story that brings Dogtown of the early 1800’s to life. Judy Rhines is an unmarried woman whose secret lover Cornelius is a freed slave, and she is at the heart of the story. Other townsfolk include the madam, Mrs. Stanley, a female stonemason, Black Ruth, who dresses like a man, Oliver Younger who lives with his very strange aunt, and Easter Carter, whose diminutive size belies a big heart. Their stories will linger long after the last page is turned in this fascinating story of 19th century New England. 09/05
THE LAST QUARRY by Max Allan Collins: Quarry, Collin’s hit man that he put to rest many years ago, is retired and living in the Minnesota woods. He accidentally gets involved in rescuing the kidnapped daughter of a Chicago media baron, who then wants to hire him to kill a young librarian in Colorado. When he winds up falling for his target, one Janet Wright, Quarry begins second-guessing his assignment and experiences an uncharacteristic change of heart that almost gets him killed. The latest from Hard Case Crime bringing back the best of the pulps – in new adventures. 08/06 Jack Quick
The Last Detective by Robert Crais: I’m rolling out the welcome mat for Elvis Cole and Joe Pike; I’ve missed these guys but it was worth the wait for a book this good. Elvis is still with his girlfriend Lucy, and is babysitting for her son, Ben, while she is away on business. Lucy calls to say she’s on her way home so Elvis tries to let Ben know, but he is nowhere to be found. First thought is that he’s wandered off down the hill behind the house to play, but after several minutes of searching and yelling that yields no response, Elvis realizes something is seriously wrong. Lucy gets home and there is still no Ben – and then the phone rings with an ominous message. A man claims he has taken Ben in retaliation for something Elvis did when he was in Vietnam. Elvis lets Joe know, and calls a cop he knows. Who should show up to take the report – Carol Starkey, the bomb squad cop of Demolition Angel (which was terrific) who is now working juvenile. Tension builds throughout the story – an especially good touch was using the time lapsed since Ben’s disappearance as chapter headings – until the final twists force everything into place. Personal note: the back cover alone would be worth the $24.95 – but the inside is just as satisfying.
LAST LULLABY by Denise Hamilton: While on assignment with customs officials at the Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles Times reporter Eve Diamond is caught in a shootout. Among the casualties are three dead passengers and a mysterious Asian infant who disappears in the confusion. Finding the missing girl becomes a n obsession with Eve, even though this places her at risk physically and professionally as she gets caught up among immigration officials (who have taken the little girl into hiding, supposedly for her own protection), armed goons (who’ll do almost anything to get her back), and an immigration attorney (who hopes to win political asylum for the toddler). Spice it up with a former lover, a bad-ass ten year old video wizard and a few other routine (for Los Angeles) characters and you have a twisty tale that, while sometimes over the top, delivers a satisfactory ending. Of all the crime fighting journalists, broadcasters, et. al., that are out there, Eve Diamond remains more credible than most. 11/07 Jack Quick
THE LAST MAN by P.T Deutermann: Following a long list of engrossing novels by former career Navy Captain P.T Deutermann, The Last Man is a very well done archeological story revolving around the self immolation of more than 900 Jewish Zealots at Masada in 73 A.D. David Hall a disgraced and discharged from his job American nuclear engineer travels to Israel in order to visit the Masada site and test his former girlfriend’s theory about what is really buried under the site and never been found. The Israeli government assigns an archeological professor and antiquities historian, Judith Ressner, as his guide and watcher. She has been in mourning for five years for her husband and is not happy about breaking away from her duties at the University. With both carrying mental baggage concerning past loves, friction is inevitable. David visits Masada and against Israeli regulations goes to the site at night alone and makes a startling discovery. The climax of the story takes the reader by surprise, but is logically in keeping with events and background. Generally characters are very well fleshed out and the reader develops an understanding and sympathy for both David and Judith. The only slight variation is the somewhat poor characterization of the villain Colonel Malyuta Skuratov a Russian emigre and head of security at the Israeli nuclear facility. It does not detract from the story but it is un-Deutermann-like to not allow us into the personality of this evil character and cheer as he is thwarted. An engrossing and very well researched book. 9/12 Paul Lane
THE LAST MAN by Vince Flynn: Joe Rickman has been working in the field for the CIA for many years. He is a brilliant strategist, and superb mover of men and resources in order to accomplish goals important to his employers. It would be unthinkable that terrorist interests could get hold of Joe and torture him for the information about CIA assets around the world that he holds in his head. The unthinkable happens when he is captured and all four of his body guards are killed. The CIA has only one man to call on to find and retrieve Joe, and that is Mitch Rapp. Vince Flynn has featured Mitch in many books over the years and created an individual to whom the end does justify the means. If he feels he needs to in order to achieve his ends he thinks nothing of killing an enemy of the US and never mind the opinions of the bleeding hearts that preach kindness and understanding for those whose only interests are harming America. Mitch is dispatched to Afghanistan and immediately has a run in with an Afghan official who indicates that he will run the investigation into Rickman’s disappearance. Rapp puts the man in his place by threatening to kill him if he does not cooperate with the CIA in ascertaining the truth about Joe Rickman’s disappearance. In addition to obstacles placed in Mitch’s way by Afghan authorities, the FBI comes upon the scene and indicates that it has proof that Mitch and Joe Rickman colluded in siphoning off money from CIA funds for their own personal use. And to add to Mitch’s troubles, an assassin presented in a previous book makes an appearance charged with getting rid of Rapp. Stage is set, characters and plot intermixed and Vince Flynn’s trademark rapid pace and constant action unfold to the delight of the reader. Like previous Mitch Rapp books there is no putting it down, and readers are caught up in the plot, counterplot of the story from the very beginning. 11/12 Paul Lane
LAST RITUALS by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir: In this first in a fairly new Icelandic series, a German grad student at a Reykjavik university is found murdered in a strange and ritualistic manner. Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, a lawyer, is retained by the family of the dead man. They do not believe that the suspect currently in custody for the murder is actually responsible and they want Thóra to investigate. She is teamed up with Matthew Reich, one of the family’s own employees, who has flown over from Germany to help. Together, they must dig deep into the murdered boy’s own questionable activities in order to find out who might be responsible for his death. Along the way, they find that the boy had an almost obsessive interest in witchcraft and Iceland’s own history of the practice, including witch trials of the sixteenth century. Could this obsession have led to the boy’s death? It certainly seems, so, but the mystery is much more complicated than that. Thóra is a welcome heroine; she really is not the typical “sleuth. ” In truth, it is her own smarts and wit, along with her ability to cope with stress (both personal and involving the case) that make her one cool (literal and figurative) main character. Last Rituals is a smart mystery and the translation works well, although there are a couple of connections that readers will probably miss until the very end thanks to language differences. 04/09 Becky Lejeune
THE LAST SIX MILLION SECONDS by John Burdett: Nicely done police procedural set in Hong Kong in the final days before its reversion to the People’s Republic of China. Hong Kong Chinese-Irish Chief Inspector Chan Siuka, AKA “Charlie” Chan, is trying to solve a gruesome triple murder. His investigative efforts are hampered by corrupt British diplomats and businessmen, as well as by the usual bevy of gangsters and Chinese warlords. Burdett’s real life experience as a practicing attorney in Hong Kong lends credence to the portrayal. 07/08 Jack Quick
THE LAST SPYMASTER by Gayle Lynds: International spy thrillers are a rare breed ever since the end of the Cold War (if it really ended…) and ones with characters are rich as these, a storyline as plausible yet frightening as this, are even more rare. Charles Jay Tice was the station chief in Berlin for the CIA towards the end of the Cold War. In a shocking turn of events he is convicted of treason and gets life imprisonment in a maximum security prison – yet he manages to escape. Elaine Cunningham is one of the best “hunters” that the CIA has and she is put on the case – and quietly. No one wants word to get out that the world’s most dangerous spy is on the loose. But what she learns makes her question her assignment and her future – she uncovers a much larger conspiracy than anyone ever suspected. Lynds sets a new standard with her taut plotting, believable characters and terse, exciting writing – this is a page turner of the highest magnitude. 06/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE LAST SPYMASTER by Gayle Lynds: This is the way a thriller should be. Jay Tice is a legendary spymaster during the Cold War until he is sentenced to life in prison for treason against the United States. For three years he is a model prisoner, before he makes a daring escape using a roll of clothes in a blanket, a fake head, and a wooden arm covered in upholstery from the craft shop. Enter Elaine Cunningham, one of the CIA’s best “hunters” who is herself in jeopardy at the Agency. Elaine is given the task of finding Tice and so, it’s down into the rabbit hole of darkest corners of the spy game where nothing is as it seems and no one is who you think they are. Enemies are deadly, but then so again are friends. Is Tice innocent or guilty? Will Elaine succeed or will this be her swan song? Good enough to interfere with Super Bowl watching. 02/07 Jack Quick
THE LAST STRIPTEASE by Michael Wiley: I love finding new authors so I was delighted to find this one – Wiley is the most recent winner of the PWA/SMP Best First Private Eye Novel Contest. Previous winners include Steve Hamilton and one of my favorites, Michael Koryta. Wiley’s debut puts him in good company, and he lives up to it. Joe Kozmarski is a private investigator in Chicago who was formerly a cop. He went private after getting drunk and smashing up a patrol car, never a good career move. He still has friends on the force, which comes in handy after he witnesses a murder in a store while on surveillance. He goes after the murderer, who escapes, and calls the cops. The two officers who respond are young and don’t know Joe, who soon finds himself handcuffed and face down on the floor until the detective in charge, his best friend, appears on the scene. But that’s a case for the cops, not a PI, so when retired Judge Rifkin calls and offers him ten times his usual fee to help investigate a murder, Joe can’t say no. An old friend, Bob Piedras, is the chief suspect in the murder of his girlfriend, Le Thi Hanh, but of course swears he didn’t do it. Joe has his hands full between Hanh’s brothers following his every step and with babysitting his eleven year old nephew. Joe is an interesting character, the novel is fast paced and twisty, making The Last Striptease one terrific read. 10/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE LAST STRIPTEASE by Michael Wiley: Joe Kozmarski is another new Chicago PI who hopefully will be around for some time. If it weren’t for bad luck, Joe wouldn’t have any. Being an ex-cop and the son of a cop gives him just enough advantage to stay in trouble. The central issue here is finding proof that Bob Piedras, an employee of retired Judge Peter Rifkin, did not kill his Vietnamese American girlfriend Le Thi Hanh, after a lover’s tiff. But there are other murders to be dealt with along with a rebellious 11-year-old nephew. As Joe says, I have a Glock 23, a1989 green Buick Skylark, half rust, with no tread tires, and an office computer. If my life depended on it, I would fire me and hire someone else. I think Wiley is on a par with Sean Chercover whose BIG CITY, BAD BLOOD was also an excellent read. 12/07 Jack Quick
LAW OF ATTRACTION by Allison Leotta: Newcomer Leotta has served up some legal fiction with a side of romance in her terrific debut. Anna Curtis is a midwestern lawyer working in the U.S. Attorney General’s office in Washington DC. She meets up with Harvard Law classmate Nick Wagner, a defense attorney, and falls in love until they end up on opposite sides of a domestic violence case. Anna is a very likeable character – actually, all the characters are well defined and a bit more complex than at first glance – and there are some good plot twists in this debut. I am looking forward to more from this author. 12/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
LAWYER TRAP by R.J. Jagger: Newly minted attorney Aspen Wilde goes to work for the Denver law firm where she had interned the previous summer, but when she looks for the one nice lawyer she had befriended, Aspen learns that the woman has disappeared. The partners don’t seem very concerned, so Aspen decides to investigate, jeopardizing her job and possibly her life. Meanwhile, homicide detective Teffinger thinks he has a serial killer on his hands when a mass grave is found, which conveniently clears his first suspect, Davica Holland. Rich, gorgeous Davica has a major crush on the detective—and he’s not exactly fighting her off. Bad guy Draven has a chivalrous side, which comes out when he meets Gretchen, a hooker with a heart and a hard right hook. These three disparate story lines are told in these alternating voices and eventually become intertwined. VERDICT The pacing is relentless in this debut, a hard-boiled sexual slasher novel with a shocking ending, but the characters are more like caricatures. The supershort chapters will please those who enjoy a James Patterson–style page-turner. NOTE: This was a self-published e-book which was in the top #10 of Amazon Legal Thrillers for over a year prior to purchase by Pegasus. 11/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2011 Library Journal, a division of Media Source Inc. Reprinted with permission.
THE LAWYER’S LAWYER by James Sheehan: Jack Tobin, the protagonist of this novel is such an effective and professional trial lawyer that he has earned the respect of his colleagues in the Florida bar who refer to him as a “lawyer’s lawyer.” Having been well-paid for his efforts, he finds he can retire early and enjoy the life of a recreational fisherman in rural Florida. However, with the passing of his wife, he discovers meaning in his life again when he is asked to represent Death Row inmates by an organization known as Exoneration. This story begins to take wings when he is asked to represent an inmate who was accused of being a serial killer. Jack agrees to take a look at the file and discovers that the evidence found at the crime scene could not have been used to commit the crimes which the inmate was convicted for. Despite the obvious injustice, it takes all Jack’s skill to get an order from the State Supreme Court reversing the conviction at the eleventh hour. But, Mr. Sheehan is fine story-teller and the story does not end there. For after the inmate is released, the killings commence again. When he gets a call from his client saying that “he couldn’t wait,” Jack knows that these crimes are now his fault. Moreover, the female police officer he became close to during his rehearing and appeal is a likely target. The story gets better and better. And then, it gets better and better. 6/13 Geoffrey R. Hamlin
LAY DOWN MY SWORD & SHIELD by James Lee Burke: Different setting – Texas, instead of Louisiana. Different character – Hack Holland, instead of Dave Robicheaux. But the exquisite writing is there, the description of place and time that makes you feel the summer heat and see the “the cotton fields in bloom, the rows evenly spaced and stretched out straight as a rifle shot, and the tomatoes had come out big and red in the early morning showers.” Like Dave, Hack is a good man plagued by demons of his own making. He is a candidate for a Congressional seat and his views conflict with the Texas power brokers who feel they have the right to determine who runs Texas. Kick back, relax, and enjoy first rate writing as well as a good story. 07/09 Jack Quick
LEADER OF THE PACK by David Rosenfelt: This is the latest installment of the Andy Carpenter series, and my long time readers know that this is one of my favorites and is always on my “must read” list. I am happy to say that this outing is terrific and can be read in series order or not. Andy is the wise cracking millionaire lawyer who only works because he finds a case of interest. His real interests are sports and Golden Retrievers; well, dogs of any kind really. In this story he returns to an old case that he lost. Joey Desimone was convicted of murder but Andy always thought he was innocent, and six years after the conviction he uncovers some startling information that makes him go back to work and try and prove it. All the regular characters are back and the suspense builds nicely to a real twist of an ending. I read it in one very enjoyable, laugh-out-loud-yet-nail-biting sitting. 8/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
LEADER OF THE PACK by David Rosenfelt: The millionaire lawyer and sometime detective returns again in another very enjoyable Andy Carpenter novel. Each book involves several ingredients; first is Andy’s wit and the wisecracks that permeate the book. Second is a dog or dogs in Andy’s case and reflecting David Rosenfelt’s passion for golden retrievers. Third is his live in girl friend and his chief investigator Laurie who supplies the romantic interest for Andy, which is mainly being available for love making at various points in the story. Of course, there are other characters that make appearances in most Carpenter books with all being quite familiar to fans of the series. Andy has inherited several million dollars and is not that keen on building up his practice. Oh I did mention that Andy Carpenter is a lawyer, but only takes certain cases which normally involve helping an underdog. Andy retakes the case of the son of a mafia don who went to prison six years ago accused of murdering his lover and her husband. Andy defended the accused but lost the case and now finds himself doubting the original verdict. Like other Andy Carpenter novels action proceeds with problems galore which are surmounted by Andy and his team. Unlike other Carpenter books, Rosenfelt makes Latin American criminals part of the cast, and creates an ending totally outside of the reader’s expectations. The normal pleasant romp through Carpenter books has not deteriorated in any way due to the factors outside of the normal course of events. Leader of the Pack is quite easy to enjoy in one sitting, having the reader eagerly awaiting the next book about the adventures of Andy Carpenter. 9/12 Paul Lane
LEAN MEAN THIRTEEN by Janet Evanovich: Stephanie Plum is back and she’s in top form. This time her weasel of an ex-husband, Dickie Orr, is under investigation by Ranger. Dickie disappears, leaving behind a bloody trail and leaving Stephanie as a person of interest in his disappearance. Further investigation finds that Dickie had some unsavory partners and now $40 million is missing from their business account. One of the partners turns up dead and the others are convinced Stephanie has the money. Stephanie is still torn between the hot, hot, hot Ranger and her equally hot honey, Joe, but it’s the crazy situations, the cast of zany characters that play off Stephanie like Grandma Mazur and Lula, that make this book a laugh-out-loud funny yet comforting read. 06/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
LEAN, MEAN THIRTEEN by Janet Evanovich: By now reviewing a Stephanie Plum is kind of like Radar’s public address announcements in MASH. They really shouldn’t be that funny but they are. Steph is recruited by Ranger to plant bugs on Dickie Orr, her two-timing ex-husband. But after she threatens to kill him in front of witnesses, he disappears, which makes her the prime suspect. From there on its Ranger and Morelli, Lula and Joyce, and don’t forget Grandma who has a new boyfriend. Steph’s Mom kills the boyfriend’s toupee with an empty wine bottle when it falls off on the dinner table during the Friday night dinner. Lula and Steph partake of the senior Citizen’s buffet at Costco and so on and so forth. Just find a place where no one will pay any attention to your laughing and have at it. Oh, beware of the exploding squirrels as well. 07/07 Jack Quick
LEARNING TO KILL by Ed McBain: Before Ed McBain became famous for the 87th Precinct series he paid his dues writing “paid by the word” stories for the 1950’s pulps like Manhunt and Argosy under the names of Richard Marsten, Hunt Collins, and Evan Hunter. Prior to his 2005 death, McBain oversaw the assemblage of this anthology of his early work. This collection presents 25 of those crime stories, published between 1952 and 1957. All are hard-boiled, short on subtlety and classic McBain. In addition to the stories themselves, McBain’s prefaces give insight into the origin of many of these pieces and how they ultimately affected his later work. Existing McBain fans will love this and for this not familiar with his work, Learning To Kill provides a great introduction to the man who held the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award as well as being the first American to receive the Diamond Dagger, the British Crime Writers Association’s highest award. The New York Daily News called McBain “one of the most prolific and admired writers of crime fiction in the world…McBain could not write a bad line.” What more can you say? 07/06 Jack Quick
LEARNING TO SWIM by Sara J. Henry: When Troy Chance witnesses what appears to be a small boy being thrown over the edge of a nearby ferry, she jumps into the water to save him without a second thought. Back on shore, Troy becomes convinced that it was no accident. Someone deliberately tossed the boy into the freezing waters. Keeping him safe is her only concern as she wraps him in warm clothes and takes him home. Days later, when the boy finally tells her his story, Troy decides to risk tracking down the boy’s father. But what led to this shocking crime and who is behind it? Troy knows that she must figure it out before the boy will truly be safe. What comes next will change everything for Troy. Learning to Swim is an intriguing debut. As it unfolded, I was completely caught up in the story and in trying to unravel the mystery alongside the characters. This is a book that begs to be read in one big gulp. 02/11 Becky Lejeune
THE LEFT HAND OF GOD by Paul Hoffman: Fourteen-year-old Thomas Cale has been a prisoner of the Sanctuary for years. Taken by the Redeemers and trained to be soldiers in the coming war against the Antagonists, Cale and the other boys at the Sanctuary have been abused and deprived of every comfort, all in the name of religion. When Cale and two of his friends find a hidden door that leads to the unimaginable, they take their first steps towards freedom. But it’s Cale’s discovery of a Redeemer committing a most unspeakable act that forces his hand. Now the three boys and a strange girl discovered within the Sanctuary are on the run. The Redeemers are not willing to give up any potential soldiers, but Cale is something different, and they will stop at nothing to get him back. I was hooked on Hoffman’s alternate history/fantasy by just the first page. Parts of the plot meander a bit, but the insight into his characters’ thoughts, the intricate world portrayed through his prose, and the expectation set up by this first in the series are ultimately rewarding. 08/11 Becky Lejeune
LEFT NEGLECTED by Lisa Genova: Sarah Nickerson is a working mother, struggling to juggle her high powered career, her three small children and her devoted husband, who works equally long hours at a high tech start up company. They live the American dream, a beautiful home in an affluent suburb, a vacation home in ski country, and a part time nanny to help with the kids. The bubble bursts, however, first when their son is diagnosed ADHD, and even further when Sarah tries her usual multi-tasking on her commute. While searching for her phone, she doesn’t realize that traffic has stopped and she totals her car. Luckily, no one else was involved in the accident, but Sarah suffers a traumatic brain injury called Left Neglect, which means her brain doesn’t recognize anything on her left side, including her own left hand and leg. Months of rehab drastically changes all their lives, and for Sarah that includes a reconciliation with her estranged mother and a new way of prioritizing her life. This is a much more hopeful story that Genova’s previous, the brilliant yet devastating Still Alice. Once again she offers us lots to think about, making this a wonderful choice for a book group. 04/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
LEFT TO DIE by Lisa Jackson: In the remote and unforgiving Bitterroot Mountains of Montana, a brutal killer lies in wait. His first victim was discovered in September, naked and bound to a tree; it is now November and two more bodies have been discovered. Detectives Selena Alvarez and Regan Pescoli have uncovered some unique facts pertaining to the killer’s MO. It appears that he stalks his victims, waits until they are in the perfect spot, and then shoots the tire out on their car forcing them into an accident. He then takes them home and heals them before abandoning them in the woods to die. One month later, the police are no closer to identifying the killer. Then another car is discovered in the woods and the detectives know that it is only a matter of days before another body is found. This chilling (literally.) thriller marks the beginning of a brand new series for Jackson. It’s a great place for new readers to pick her up, and I recommend that you do. Left to Die is an intense romantic thriller with a tight plot and a killer ending. 07/08 Becky Lejeune
THE LEGACY OF EDEN by Nelle Davy: Meredith Pincetti said goodbye to Aurelia a long time ago and never looked back. Now the estate is a ruin. No one is left to manage the farm and no one wants any part of it. It took just three generations for the rise and fall of the Hathaway family, beginning with their matriarch, Lavinia, who helped her husband transform the family farm into something much more grand. But Lavinia was desperate to ensure that the estate would remain in Hathaway hands and she was willing to do anything to make sure her plans weren’t ruined. These revelations and the horrible truths about others in the family would prove to be their ultimate downfall. Now, Meredith has reluctantly agreed to return one last time, confronting the ghosts of her past. Nelle Davy builds a suspenseful and tragic family drama inspired by I, Claudius. The reader follows Meredith in great anticipation all the way to the terrible end. I found that Davy’s handling of her subject matter was very refined: even at it’s most shocking, the story is told in an almost reserved way. It doesn’t make the story less tragic but instead brings more attention to the characters and the effects of their actions. 2/12 Becky Lejeune
THE LEGAL LIMIT by Martin Clark: Martin Clark is tabbed as the “drinking man’s John Grisham.” May he be so successful. Legal Limit is the old Cain and Abel, am I my brother’s keeper tale, very nicely told. Mason Hunt is a young attorney in southern Virginia when his brother Gates, a former high school football hero turned bad, kills a rival for his girlfriend, with Mason as a witness. The two hide the crime and swear each other to secrecy. Mason goes on to marry a beautiful artist and work as the district attorney in his home town of Stuart, in Patrick County. Gates life continues to deteriorate leading him finally to a 44-year prison sentence for drug trafficking. At this point Gates is bitterly resentful of his brother’s success and threatens to tell all unless Mason helps get him out of prison. It’s a well written story of family ties turned into nooses, and definitely recommended. 05/09 Jack Quick
LEGALLY DEAD by Edna Buchanan: Move over Thomas Perry. Buchanan has started her third series that features Michael Venturi, a deputy U.S. marshal involved in running the Federal Witness Protection Program. After one of the criminals he has helped relocate kills two girls and stages an armored car robbery, Venturi decides he has had it with the Witness Security Program. With an untouched $19 million wrongful death settlement from the accidental death of his wife and their unborn child, Venturi really doesn’t have to work anyway. But then he comes to realize that he can use his skills helping people disappear and assume a new identity. He gets back into that business, but this time it isn’t mobsters, its decent people who deserve another chance. Nicely done. Looking forward to succeeding outings. 12/08 Jack Quick
LEGION by B. J. Kibble: You need a scorecard for this Spy Vs. Spy tale. Ex-British agent Alex Jordan (good guy and now restaurant owner) is trying to find out who killed his friend and mentor, Billy Fawlks. The trail leads to Paul Grady (bad guy), former MI-6 boss and Soviet double agent. Grady is plotting to kill the North Korean President (bad guy) during a state visit to Britain (bad timing). He would succeed but, but Fawlks has left behind a coded journal as life insurance after infiltrating Grady’s organization. Fawlks leaves it with Emile Cassel (good guy), but Cassel is murdered. That leaves Jordan’s former lover Sonya Wells (now a high ranking police officer). They have less than 72 hours to pull all the threads together and prevent the assassination. Can you hear the Mission Impossible theme running in the background? Great read. 11/07 Jack Quick
LEGWORK by Katy Munger: A simplistic description would be that Casey Jones is Stephanie Plum without the humor, or a rough edged Southern edition of Kinsey Milhone. She’s smart, talented and durable, and reminds me most of Barbara Seranella’s Munch. She served time in Florida on a drug bust engineered by her ex-husband, so she can’t get her North Carolina private investigator’s license. She has to be content with doing legwork for legitimate Raleigh private investigator. Bobby D — a blimp-sized eating machine with a bad toupee. Her latest assignment – body guarding Senatorial hopeful Mary Lee Masters – turns deadly when a shotgunned corpse is found in the candidate’s jeep at her home. Its obviously dirty politics, but just who is responsible. Recommended. 04/08 Jack Quick
LEMONS NEVER LIE by Richard Stark: When asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton is alleged to have replied, because they have the money. Part-time theatre operator Alan Grofield must have been thirsty, because he joins a plot to knock over a brewery in number 22 of the Hard Case Crime series. When Grofield flies in to Vegas he drops a coin in one of the arrival gate slot machines. When it turns up three lemons, he knows he has used up all his Vegas luck. Unfortunately when he and friend Dan decide to walk away, the instigator of the plot, a man named Myer, is not thrilled and plans a payback. This results in Dan tracking down Myer for his own vengeance, which results in a vicious revenge circle that pulls Grofield away from his theatre with only one purpose – to find and kill Myer. 11/06 Jack Quick
LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL by Jo Knowles: A strange book. A long time ago and far far away I didn’t understand teenage girls and I still don’t. I also don’t remember Young Adult books as they are apparently being written today. Basically this is a story about the effect on one girl of some adolescent sexual experimentation initiated by her friend. Leah Greene is dead. Laine has wished her to be so for a long time and must now live with the consequences. In the process she must try to find meaning in her past experiences and decide whether she can forgive Leah for “messing with her.” Not badly written, but just not my cup of tea. 03/08 Jack Quick
LET ME IN by John A. Lindqvist: Twelve-year-old Oskar knows all too well what it is like to be an outsider. He is bullied on a regular basis for being different. He dreams of revenge, of one day being able to stick up for himself against those who taunt and torment him. It is 1981 and new neighbors have moved into the building next to Oskar’s. Eli and her father share a wall with Oskar and his mother. He and this mysterious girl strike up a friendship and tap messages to one another throughout the night. Oskar doesn’t know that his new friend is not quite what she seems. He doesn’t know that she is responsible for the sudden rash of killings in the areas surrounding Blackeberg. Oskar does know that since meeting Eli, he finally has the confidence to stick up for himself and now that he has a friend, he won’t let anything separate the two of them. Gone is the romanticized vision of vampires that is so popular today. Lindqvist’s vamps are complicated creatures whose desires, depravities, and even fears are magnified by their situations. In Eli’s case, she still struggles to come to terms with what she is and the fact that she needs people to ensure her survival, in more ways than one. In my opinion, the translation of this work is excellent. All too often, readers come away with a sense that some pivotal piece of information is missing in a translated work. That is not the case here. Lindqvist deserves and wider audience and I think Let Me In will earn it for him. 10/07 Becky Lejeune
LET THE DEVIL SLEEP by John Verdon: Verdon has written another detective novel which goes beyond the usual hard boiled individual solving cases against all odds. Semi-retired detective Dave Gurney is recuperating from gunshot wounds received on a previous case. A friend asks him to help her daughter with a project tied to her studies as a journalism student in which she interviews families of six murder victims killed 10 years ago. The killer, known as the “Good Shepherd” was never caught and the point of the interviews would be to show how these people have reacted both to the original crimes as well as the killer still being at large. Gurney agrees to help and goes along on several interviews with her, including a meeting with the president of a media company that will air the interviews. Along the way he confronts opposition from the FBI since they feel that everything has been done and documented 10 years ago and reopening the cases would possibly cast dispersions on them. Gurney, who thinks beyond the pale, and does not allow majority opinions from others to sway his judgment and begins to see areas that point towards a killer clever enough to have distorted public views at the time of the crimes. His opinion is that this was not just a serial killer, but had one goal in mind and set up the murders in a way to get the police and the FBI to look in the wrong direction. As in Verdon’s first Dave Gurney book Think of a Number, actual crimes are beyond ordinary felonies and involve an exceedingly intelligent and logical individual as the perpetrator. It takes out of the box thinking to solve is Gurney’s forte. John Verdon has become a master at setting up criminal situations that are not at all ordinary, but involve almost impossible situations and requiring a detective that can look logically at the whole picture. A book that grabs and holds the reader’s attention, and demands looking at all the facts presented in order to stay with Gurney in his progress in solving the case. 8/12 Paul Lane
LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN by Colum McCann: Colum McCann is a wonderful story-teller. Just as Herman Melville chose a large subject, the sea, and a large object, the whale, to give breadth and enormity to his novel, so too has McCann chosen a large subject, New York City, and a large object, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, for his canvas.
In this case, New York City, and the lives of its residents, are spinning below the French tight-rope walker who not only traversed between the two towers, but cavorted in celebration on the wire, for his benefit and the benefit of all those below. The manner of the telling of this story is to focus on two people, immigrant brothers from Ireland, making their way in New York City, and then spinning to those whom their lives effect and then spinning to other lives and then coming back to show how it is all connected. And then connecting them all in one fashion or another to the moment when the man is on the wire.
And what vivid, New York City lives they are – one brother living among and ministering to an amused group of hookers; a judge and his wife, who lost a son in the Vietnam war; graffiti artists; hackers and hippy artists – all with their own special griefs and feelings and joys. This is a marvelous and extremely affecting read. 06/10 Geoffrey R. Hamlin
LETHAL RAGE by Brian Pilkey: Decent police procedural written by a veteran of Toronto’s Crisis Intervention Team in 51 Division. Jack Warren is a young street cop who has transferred to the rough-and-tumble 51 Division after working in a virtually crime-free area. He begins his new assignment just as one of the city’s crack-cocaine dealers launches a campaign to take over the city’s drug trade. In the ensuing war, Warren learns first hand just how brutal the streets can be, as he learns the imperceptible yet enormous difference between the law and justice. Recommended, if you like gritty cop life stuff (as I do). 05/10 Jack Quick
LETHAL SECRETS by Pete Earley: Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt Conway is charged with guarding Sergey Pudin, a Russian Mafiosi. Russian intelligence agent Colonel Khrenkov is blackmailed into murdering Pudin before he can testify against major crime bosses. In distant Chechnya, Movladi “The Viper” Islamov, a former student of Conway’s, has become an international terrorist in the Chechen cause. Islamov has discovered that in the 1950s, the Soviets built a thermonuclear “sleeper bomb” that was secreted in the basement of the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. Conway, a throwback to the manly values of earlier years, uses his appeal to Kimberly Lodge, a shapely CIA counter terrorism expert to make monkeys of the best of the U.S. and Russian officials. Obviously, a work of fiction. Can you say Conway, Wyatt Conway? 04/06 Jack Quick
THE LEVELING by Dan Mayland: Second of two novels about Mark Sava, former CIA station chief of Azerbaijan, his former employee and girl friend Daria Buckingham, and ex-Navy Seal John Decker. The book can stand alone, and there is no gray area dependent upon knowledge of incidents in the first book The Colonel’s Mistake to detract from enjoying The Leveling. Mayland has traveled extensively in Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iran and incorporates his knowledge of these countries to tell a spy story beyond the normal settings of England, France, Scandinavia, North Africa and the mid east. Sava has left his position as CIA station chief in Azerbaijan and taken up teaching at a university in the capital, Baku, in order to remain in a city that he has come to be very fond of. While tutoring a student. shots are taken at him and he later finds that his apartment has been ransacked. He is given no chance to find out the cause of the attempt on his life and why his apartment should be torn apart when an Azerbaijani official, and theoretical friend of his. orders him out of the country. As he is about to leave he gets an e-mail from John Decker, copy also to Daria whom he hasn’t seen in some time providing clues about trouble that John has gotten into. Sava and Daria get together again and begin a search for Decker taking them through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and finally into Iran discovering an international plot that could lead even the United States into war. Action is fast, well done and places the characters into scenarios that are logical and based upon current world events. With the book’s ending it is quite obvious that Dan Mayland is not done with the three leading protagonists and they will appear again shortly. Highly recommended for fast credible action and descriptions of areas outside of the normal spy novel settings. 05/13 Paul Lane
Liars and Saints by Maile Meloy: Meloy has written a family saga that spans several generations, starting with the Santerre family matriarch, Yvette. She claims her daughter’s out-of-wedlock son as her own, hiding the truth from everyone, even her husband. The sins grow proportionately with each generation, but this is no monument to angst. These characters are well defined, real people who live imperfect lives, with all the joy, chaos, laughter and infighting one would expect. They just have the added bonus of Catholicism, from visions, to priests dropping by, to the always-present guilt, forging a strong family bond. Meloy does a good job of speaking for each generation, making each decade come alive with its own idiosyncrasies, but never feeling cliché as each character takes charge of their story. Publishers Weekly called this a “haunting novel” and it is – these characters will be with me for a long time. 12/03
LIARS AND THIEVES by Stephen Coonts: Tommy Carmellini is a thief with a somewhat questionable past who has been recruited to work for the CIA. Mikhail Goncharov is a Russian defector who was supposed to be under government protection. As the former chief archivist for the SVR (formerly the KGB) Goncharov had access to, and began collecting copies of, top-secret Russian files. These files are of major interest to the powers that be. Unfortunately, someone has leaked information regarding his whereabouts. Tommy is sent to assist in the protection of Goncharov, but he’s not the first to arrive at the government safe house. Tommy stumbles onto an assassination attempt and barely manages to make it into the house in time to save a translator that has been working to decipher Goncharov’s files. When Tommy finally manages to call his superiors and tell them what has happened, he is informed that he is the top suspect in the murders. Tommy enlists the help of his friends Willie the Wire and retired Navy Admiral Jake Grafton to help him clear his name. Fortunately, Goncharov is discovered to have survived the attack. Unfortunately, he can’t remember who he is or just what information was in the files. What the group discovers leads them to suspect that the orders to kill Goncharov may not have come from his own betrayed countrymen, but from inside the U.S. Although readers have been introduced to Tommy Carmellini in previous titles featuring Jake Grafton – this is the first novel to feature Carmellini as the main character (followed by The Traitor). Liars and Thieves should be at the top of the list for anyone looking for a fun action/suspense novel. 07/07 Becky Lejeune
LIARS, CHEATERS & THIEVES by L. J. Sellers: Sellers has become one of my must-read authors. Like James Lee Burke, Tim Hallinan, and W.E.B. Griffin there is something about her writing that pulls me into the story and makes the books “unputdownable”. In many ways the plot is fairly straight forward. A young veteran’s throat is slashed in a parking lot. The next morning an older women dies of a heart attack when she realizes her bank account has been cleaned out. The homicide-scene evidence points to the man’s cheating wife, but when Detective Jackson finds bizarre materials in their home and a link to a phony charity, the investigation gets complicated. When another man is killed, Jackson and his team decide to follow the money—but can they find the trail before anyone else is murdered? On the other hand Sellers is able to twist the narrative in such a way that you are constantly working to identify the guilty parties while agonizing with the good guys who are fighting their own battles. If you love a good read, you can’t go wrong with Sellers. 8/12 Jack Quick
LIAR, LIAR by K.J. Larsen: If you have a name like Caterina “Cat” DeLuca and you have grown up in a houseful of older brothers who, along with their father, are all cops, you learn about law enforcement and survival. Now Cat is the principal of Pants on Fire Detective Agency: We Catch Liars and Cheats. Having gotten her start with her own philandering liar-liar, she is now an accomplished second-story woman – have camera, will catch. She scales balconies, dangles from hotel windows, and splashes the bare facts on 8X10 glossies that tend to sweeten her clients’ divorce settlements. But then Chicago Tribune reporter Rita Polansky, masquerading as a client with a liar-liar husband, retains Cat to follow Chance Savino, a steamy guy with a pocketful of smuggled diamonds. An exploding building hurls Cat out of her sling-backs and into the hospital. The FBI claims Savino was killed in the fireworks but Cat doesn’t believe it, particularly after she finds her client at home with a knife in her chest. With Starbust candy wrappers as clues Cat must solve the case, protect her ex-husband, retain her sanity (which everyone thinks she has lost) and be ready for a sequel. What is it about Chicago that grows these great private eyes of all types? Recommended. 09/10 Jack Quick
THE LIAR’S DIARY by Patry Francis: Jeanne Cross and Ali Mather’s friendship may seem awkward to some outsiders, but they say that opposites do attract. Quiet Jeanne is the perfect wife, the perfect mother, and the perfect society lady. She works the front office at the local high school, the same school her teenage son attends, and spends her evenings caring for her family. Outward appearances are very important to Jeanne’s doctor husband. Behind closed doors, however, they are far from the perfect family. Ali Mather, the new music teacher at the same high school, could care less what others think of her. She lives separated from her loving and doting husband and is involved in numerous affairs. She also believes wholeheartedly in always telling the truth. Each of these ladies brings to the friendship something the other needs. Understandably, Ali’s murder leaves Jeanne considerably shaken. Worse, though, is the moment when her son becomes the number one suspect. This excellent psychological suspense is also a chilling character study. The revelation of the number of secrets being held by each individual leads to a truly surprising and shocking end. Patry Francis’s complex and sympathetic characters along with her intricate plot show that she is an immense new talent on the scene. 02/08 Becky Lejeune
LIBERATION DAY by Andy McNab: Although the story drags a bit in places there is enough action overall to satisfy any adrenalin junkie. Former British SAS agent Nick Stone is now working for a special antiterrorist U.S. strike team. His assignment: choke off al-Qaida’s money line by tracking down and eliminating the participants in the so-called hawalla, a secret network of underground bankers who finance the operations of al-Qaida and provide compensation for the families of those killed in action. Stone and two Egyptian compatriots go to Cannes with orders to kidnap three of these bankers and take them to a U.S. warship off the French coast for interrogation. Stone is a reluctant participant in all this as he really would like to retire and spend time with his new love, Carrie, but she has turned her back on him because of his continuing involvement in these kinds of missions. You will learn probably more than you ever wanted to know about the minutiae of commando tactics and equipment, but when the action starts all the preparations are put to use in amazing ways to accomplish Stone’s objectives. 07/06 Jack Quick
LIE DOWN WITH THE DEVIL by Linda Barnes: It was supposed to be an easy case: a simple tail, a favor for a friend of a friend that would ease Carlotta back into work. Jessica Franklin, a distraught fiancé suspects that her soon-to-be hubby may be having an affair. She hires Carlotta to follow the man on a Friday night and see where he stays for the evening. That’s all. Carlotta’s an old pro at tailing and surveillance, and this is an easy enough task that will keep her occupied for an evening, focusing on other people’s problems rather than her own. Unfortunately, she blows a tire and loses her tail. The following week, the girl who hired Carlotta turns up dead and surprise, surprise, her name is not really Jessica Franklin. There is no wedding, there is no cheating fiancé, and the cops who question Carlotta about her client, think she’s taking them for a ride. With everything that’s been happening since she returned from Columbia, and with the feds hounding her about her relationship with longtime lover Sam Gianelli, the last thing Carlotta needs is to be stuck in the middle of some weird murder case. Carolotta feels that she owes something to the dead girl, though, and she needs to follow this thing through to the end. Another great addition to this long-running PI series, Barnes has yet to let me down. If you’re a fan of Sue Grafton or Janet Evanovich, you should be reading Linda Barnes. 08/08 Becky Lejeune
LIE DOWN WITH THE DEVIL by Linda Barnes: Can you believe an even dozen Carlotta Carlyle outings? Not bad for the part-time PI/ part-time taxi hack, and full time conflicted lady. She is still engaged to Sam Gianelli, her mob-connected boy friend who has had to flee the country after the discovery of a dead girl. Her old fiend and former boss at the Boston PD, Joseph Mooney, wants to help her but there is just so much he can do, after Carlotta’s newest client is killed in a hit and run and it is discovered that she had come to Carlotta with an alias. Can Carlotta keep her mind on the current situation or will her concern for Sam cause her to screw up? A hint. I’m sure we will see volume thirteen next year. Recommended. 09/08 Jack Quick
LIEBERMAN’S CHOICE by Stuart Kaminsky: It’s a cop’s worst nightmare for sixty-year-old Chicago cop Abe Lieberman. A fellow officer, Bernie Shephard, has found his wife and a fellow officer in bed together and blown them away with a shotgun. Then he barricades himself on his roof with food, his dog, guns, and explosives. Abe knows all the parties involved and it falls eventually to him to solve the matter after a failed SWAT team assault yields additional casualties. Another good one from a master storyteller. 05/08 Jack Quick
LIEBERMAN’S DAY (#3) by Stuart Kaminsky: Bad doesn’t begin to describe the day of 62 year old Detective Abe Lieberman, First, his nephew David, and David’s pregnant wife, are shot in a street stickup. David is killed outright and his wife Carol is hospitalized with both her and her unborn child in danger. In addition to comforting his brother and sister-in-law, Abe has to deal with the aftereffects of his daughter’s collapsing marriage, catching two con artists, a violent drug dealer called El Perro, and trying to find David’s killer. Partner Bill Hanrahan has his own set of problems with his alcoholism, his feelings toward his wife from whom he is separated, his Chinese-American girlfriend, and one Frankie Kraylaw, a religious nut job so scary his own family paid him to leave town. The final sentence of the book – “It had been a long day.” Another good one from Kaminsky. 05/08 Jack Quick
LIEBERMAN’S FOLLY by Stuart Kaminsky: Having finished all the Porfiry Rostnikov series (except the one due out in August) and all the Lew Fonesca series, I am now tackling the third of Kaminsky’s four separate mystery series. Abe “Rabbi” Lieberman and Bill “Father Murphy” Hanrahan are Chicago cops. In this first outing, a past informant, prostitute Estralda Valdez, is murdered even though Hanrahan is supposed to be watching out for her. After her death, he and Lieberman seek her killer, even though their rules happy captain, who is unhappy about negative publicity; opposes, since after all, she was only a prostitute. It will be interesting to see what direction Kaminksy takes this series and whether he develops these characters as thoroughly as those in his other books. Recommended. 05/08 Jack Quick
LIEBERMAN’S LAW (#5) by Stuart Kaminsky: This one is an ethnic smorgasbord with aging Jewish Chicago cop Abe “The Rabbi” Lieberman and his Irish Catholic partner Bill “Father Murphy” Hanrahan tackling several cases. One involves a Korean gangster collecting protection money from local Korean merchants. Lieberman’s Puerto Rican gangster friend El Perro helps him with this one. Meanwhile, Hanrahan is planning his forthcoming wedding to Chinese-American beauty Iris while a combination of skinheads and Arabs have combined to desecrate a number of synagogues and have taken a valuable Torah from the synagogue at which Lieberman and his family worship. In the middle of this his daughter advises she has found a new husband-to-be, who is black. There is not a lot of mystery here but more of a portrait of multi-ethnic Chicago told by a master. 05/08 Jack Quick
LIEBERMAN’S THIEF (#4) by Stuart Kaminsky: George Patniks is no killer. He is a good, professional burglar, who has the misfortune to burglar a home, while it is occupied by a man killing his wife. Patniks escapes and tries to keep a low profile, but the guilty husband can’t afford to leave any loose ends. Chicago homicide detective Abe Lieberman and his partner Bill Hanrahan suspect Rozier, the husband, but have nothing on which to build a case. It ends up a race between their detecting skills and Rozier’s ability to kill Patniks, and maybe, get way with murder twice. Another well done deep-dish police procedural, Chicago style. 05/08 Jack Quick
LIFE BLOOD by Penny Rudolph: L.A. garage owner and recovering alcoholic Rachel Chavez is back. Although still living in her parking garage apartment she now has a boyfriend along with her steady job of managing her downtown-parking garage. When she discovers a pair of young Mexican boys locked in an abandoned van in the garage, she rushes them to the emergency room of a nearby medical center where one is declared dead, the other scarcely alive. Twenty-four hours later, she returns to discover that the hospital has no record of admitting either child. Something is obviously wrong and it’s up to Rachel and her “posse” headed up by cleaning crew leader Goldie and homeless fortuneteller Irene to find out what is going on. Not as strong as the initial series entry, THICKER THAN BLOOD, but still quite readable. Hopefully there will be more. 11/07 Jack Quick
Life of Pi by Yan Martel: This has been very popular, and gotten great reviews not to mention winning the Mann Booker award, but to be blunt, I didn’t enjoy it much. The story was interesting and the main character, Pi, a sixteen year old boy, was wonderful. But despite the fact that I read and enjoy the goriest murders and such in the thrillers that I love, this book was just too disgusting for me. I did enjoy the first half – Pi’s family owns a zoo in India, and reading about the lifestyle of a child being raised in a zoo was fascinating, as was learning about all the animals, that was very interesting and informative. And Pi’s search for religious enlightenment was touching and at times, laugh out loud funny. But the second half of the book is basically a survivor story, and it left me cold. I found myself skimming through pages of detailed information on one animal eating another while still alive, and various methods of staying alive while eating fish eyes and so forth. I just don’t enjoy that sort of thing. Yes, the writing is beautiful and descriptive and the story is compelling. But it’s just gross. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
LIFE’S A BEACH by Claire Cook: This latest offering from the author of Must Love Dogs, which I loved, doesn’t quite live up to those expectations. Ginger Walsh is 41 and lost; she’s living in a room over her parent’s garage in a quaint New England town, she’s half-heartedly working at creating jewelry made from sea glass, and she’s in a half-hearted relationship with Noah, a struggling glass blower. She occasionally babysits for her super-successful sister’s kids, so when her nephew gets a part in a Jaws-like movie being filmed in town, Ginger finds herself on the set and enjoying the company of a gaffer. If you’re looking for a book to take to the beach for the day, you can’t go wrong with this sweet, funny albeit somewhat forgettable story. 07/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
Life Sentence by David Ellis: David Ellis sets a new standard with this superb legal thriller, surpassing his Edgar Award winning debut novel Line of Vision. This multi-layered, tightly woven story breathes new life into the old cliché about revenge being a dish best served cold. Jon Soliday and Grant Tully share a dirty secret leftover from their teenage years; after a night of drinking and drugs, Soliday climbed through the bedroom window of a beautiful young woman, but blacked out and doesn’t remember anything after that – not even how she ended up dead. Family connections get the matter dropped, and twenty years later he is chief legal counsel to Senator Tully, who is in a fierce campaign for Governor. Soliday finds a legal loophole that can get Tully’s opponent disqualified, but a set-up, blackmail, and murder put a definite crimp in their plans. Elegant prose skillfully impels Soliday through a haze of deadly deceit, where no one is who they appear to be and nothing is as it seems, until the smoke finally clears to reveal the stunning ending. Highly recommended. Copyright © 2003 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
LIFE SENTENCES by Laura Lippman: In Lippman’s latest stand-alone, an author is faced with telling a tale no one wants exposed. While touring for her latest book, Cassandra Fallows catches just a few minutes of a report calling attention to a crime that is years old. Calliope Jenkins, an old classmate who has been almost completely forgotten on Cassandra’s part, was accused of murdering her infant son and even served seven years in spite of the fact that there was no body and no confession. Cassandra’s interest in the case lies in how this one woman, someone who once attended Cassandra’s birthday parties, could have turned out to be a murderer. As Cassandra digs deeper into Calliope and their shared past, however, she finds that she is met with increasing resistance and begins to wonder what secrets her old friends are keeping from her. The main focus of Life Sentences seems to be more Cassandra’s personal journey as a result of the unraveling of Calliope’s mystery. Lippman always creates such wonderful characters, exposing them just a little at a time and really digging into what makes them who they are, and in that sense Life Sentences is just what you would expect from such a great author. Unfortunately, as gripping as the story is, I found the conclusion to be a bit anticlimactic. 03/09 Becky Lejeune
LIFEGUARD by James Patterson: Beach bum Ned Kelly, a part-time lifeguard, pool guy and errand runner in Palm Beach “stars” in this light weight effort from the James Patterson book factory that is best read under the mid-day sun with plenty of syrupy adult beverages topped with exotic fruit and tiny umbrellas. There’s sex and violence, murder and mayhem, wrongful accusations, a hostage taking and all is well that ends well. Fortunately the improbable plot doesn’t get in the way of the fairly predictable writing, so if you doze off and the tide washes away your copy, just figure out how you would want to end it, and fetch another one of those tall cool thingies. 01/06 Jack Quick
LIFELESS by Mark Billingham: This isn’t really a police procedural in the classic sense, nor is it completely a mystery since the killer is revealed fairly early on. Although hard to categorize it is an excellent book that I really enjoyed. DI Tom Thorne’s father, a victim of Alzheimer’s dies in a fire. This affect Thorne deeply to the point his fellow officers feel he needs a break. Instead Thorne goes undercover as a “rough sleeper” (homeless person) to catch a killer. Thorne learns that the homeless have their own society just as those more fortunate, with three distinct groups – the alkies, the junkies and the crazies. As the case moves toward conclusion, Thorne finds out even more about himself and finally achieves a measure of peace. Very well written. 11/06 Jack Quick
LIFELINES by CJ Lyons: July 1st, the deadliest day of the year. It’s transition day at Pittsburgh’s Angel of Mercy Hospital, the day when the new interns begin work. Dr. Lydia Fiore is also starting her first day as Attending Physician in the ER at Angel of Mercy. Before her first shift has ended, though, Lydia has the misfortune of losing the wrong patient. She is immediately suspended pending an investigation, despite the fact that it appears she and her team did everything they could to save the man. The autopsy shows strong evidence of poisoning, but Lydia is still not off the hook. She must uncover the truth behind the man’s death before she loses not only her career, but maybe even her life. This is a fabulous debut and must read for any thriller fan. Lyons draws on her own experiences as an ER physician to create a medical thriller that is way more intense than anything you’ve ever seen on ER. 03/08 Becky Lejeune
LIFETIME by Liza Marklund: Nina Hoffman is the closest cop to the scene when gunshots are heard in a swanky Stockholm apartment building. She responds to find cop David Lindholm shot dead in his bed. Nina’s best friend, David’s wife, Julia, is incoherent, mumbling that a woman took her boy. Their small son is missing, and all evidence points to Julia. Even Nina can’t vouch for her friend’s innocence, but reporter Annika Bengtzon is on the case. The more she investigates, the clearer Julia’s innocence seems, but no one else believes Annika. Julia’s court-appointed lawyer is a dolt, and her case is pushed through the courts quickly; law enforcement wants revenge for David’s death. Annika doesn’t have the time she needs to prove her case, but she pushes on despite a crisis in her personal life (her husband has left her for another woman). The latest in Markland’s Annika Bengtzon series tells a complex but fascinating story full of misdirection and police obfuscation. Recommend Marklund to fans of Jussi Adler-Olsen and Camilla Lackberg. 4/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS by M. L. Stedman: Tom Sherbourne is at the center of this engrossing story. The scars of the war linger in this World War I veteran and he becomes a lighthouse keeper in Western Australia. He loves the solitude and lives alone for months on end with occasional visits from the supply boat and a short vacation every few years. During his first vacation he meets Isabel, and to his great surprise this beautiful young woman wants to marry him. They live on Janus Rock, an isolated island off of the Western Australia coast. They are very happy when Isabel becomes pregnant, but after a series of unpleasant events, she remains childless until a boat washes up on the island. There is a dead man on board, a ladies cardigan sweater and a beautiful, healthy baby. Isabel feels as if her prayers have been answered, but Tom feels a moral obligation to report the death and the foundling. Isabel is persuasive and the child becomes the light of both their lives. But Tom finds himself torn over the decision to keep the child and he struggles with this moral dilemma, especially when they return to the mainland on their first vacation since receiving the child. Isabel’s parents, having lost both their sons in the war, are overjoyed to have this child in their life, but Tom meets the mother who has lost a baby, knowing it is his baby, which has destroyed the woman and starts to weigh more heavily on Tom. The families are torn and struggling, and the moral dilemma is finally resolved with heartbreaking results all around. This is a beautifully written story, with great description of the solitary life of a lighthouse keeper and the beautiful, dangerous wild place called Janus Rock. It is somehow reminiscent of the hugely popular The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, and book groups will love this one just as much. I actually liked this book better. 9/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
A LIGHT HEARTED LOOK AT MURDER by Mark Watson: I am not familiar with Mark Watson but Stephen Fry says in the book blurb that “ Woody Allen and William Boyd have a bastard love child and his name is Mark Watson.” Assuming that the physiological barriers to such an evolutionary development have been overcome, then there is perhaps some basis for this conclusion. Words like quirky, wacko, weird – none seem to quite adequately describe this tale involving a London talent agency that provides “look-alikes” for various functions with bizarre and ultimately, fatal results. Its as if Monty Python has been set to words with passages like this: “One day I returned from my pigeon-hole with two leaflets. The first gave notice of a professional college show to be held at the College. The second advertised the chance to earn “DECENT MONEY” by donating sperm. …The sum of 30 (pounds) was offered for a short spell of masturbation. This seemed like a large amount for doing something relatively easy…” and so on and so forth. Definitely different. 08/07 Jack Quick
LIGHTS OUT by Jason Starr: Sub-title could be “Losers All.” Jack Thomas and Ryan Rosetti were Brooklyn high school baseball phenoms. Thomas went on to the big leagues and Ryan’s curve ball throwing led him to surgery and a $10 per hour job as a painter in Canarsie. Now Jack (“J.T.”) is coming home to plan his wedding but Jake’s fiancé is in love with Ryan. By the way J. T. thinks that announcing his wedding date will balance the bad PR of a statutory rape charge. It’s that kind of book, a wacky ride down a dead end street with vivid characters, some funny moments and sadness for lives spent, but hardly lived. If you like George Pelecanos or Richard Price, this one is up your alley. 01/09 Jack Quick
Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments, With Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies by Laura Esquivel: Translated by Carol & Thomas Christensen. Deliciously funny look at life in a passionate Mexican family, with great romance, food, and traces of magic surrealism.
LIMITATIONS by Scott Turow: County Appellate Judge George Mason, formerly seen in Personal Injuries, is having a bad week. His wife has just been diagnosed with cancer, he’s receiving mysterious threatening emails, and he’s troubled by the case before him. A young woman was drugged and unconscious when she was brutally raped by four college students, who also videotaped every humiliating detail. Upon awakening, she’s not completely sure what happened and pushes it out of her mind until several years later when the videotape re-surfaces. The young men are subsequently convicted, but the case has come before the appellate court because it appears that the statute of limitations was ignored. In an ironic twist, the case has stirred up some unpleasant memories from the Judge’s own past, leaving him to wrestle with those demons in addition to his sick wife and increasingly alarming emails. The novel is written in the present tense, which adds a sense of immediacy to the events, but there is a real lack of suspense and virtually no surprises in this unusually low key legal thriller from the creator of the genre. This is an expanded version of a serial originally published in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, and like it’s predecessor in the magazine, At Risk by Patricia Cornwell, it’s not the author’s best work. Michael Connelly has his serial running now and after hearing him talk about the difficulties in writing to that serialized format and the changes he’s planning for the novella version of it, well, I’m hoping that it will work better than these others have. 11/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY by Timothy L. O’Brien: This is a well researched book posing the question of whether Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 was truly engineered by the group history cites, or there might be much more to the plot. Temple McFadden, a Washington D.C police detective, discovers by chance two diaries on the body of a man killed at the B & O railroad station. The diaries outline a plot to kill Lincoln that is much greater than thought. It is 1865 and a witch hunt is on to bring in more of the suspected perpetrators of the killing than are currently in custody. John Wilkes Booth is dead and it is believed that his main collaborators are being held in prison awaiting trial. Temple, with the aid of his wife, Fiona, and several friends and allies attempts to find out what are the facts brought out by the diaries. One is by Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s widow, and the other by John Wilkes Booth. Booth’s diary is in a code that detective McFadden, with the aid of a friend attempts to decipher. The descriptions of the D.C. area at the end of the Civil war certainly serve to bring the reader into the period and provide an atmosphere that rings true to the time. The language and actions of the characters resound with the color of 1865 and enhance the reading pleasure of the book. Washington is dirty, hot in the summer, and filled with thousands of returning soldiers awaiting discharge. Principal characters from the period make appearances and add reality to the plot. These include Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s secretary of war, the legendary Scottish spymaster Allan Pinkerton, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, Mary Todd Lincoln as well as Mary Surratt awaiting trial and eventual death for her possible part in the assassination plot.
The crescendo of the writing leads to the discovery by Temple of a far greater than imagined plot to kill or take prisoner president Lincoln. The ending is undoubtedly fiction, but very engrossing and leads to the possibility that something like this might have been and is not that far fetched. 9/12 Paul Lane
THE LINCOLN LAWYER by Michael Connelly: A terrific legal thriller from one of my favorite writers, and while this is not Harry Bosch, rumor has it that it is the first of a new series; life is good! Mickey Haller is a defense attorney who basically works out of the back seat of his Lincoln, with a driver who is a former client working to pay off his fees. Mickey is just scraping by but then he lands the client of his dreams, a wealthy real estate baron accused of attempted rape who swears his innocence. With the intended victim ready to testify against him, things don’t look good but then they start looking worse. And that is just the beginning – this story has more turns than a screw yet Connelly just hammers this one home. Take note: this is how a legal thriller should be written. 10/05
THE LINCOLN DECEPTION by David O. Stewart: Was John Wilkes Booth the lone mastermind and assassin in the killing of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, or was it a much wider conspiracy? David Stewart has written a novel that explores facts surrounding the event and comes up with a possible scenario which is within the realm of possibility. In 1900 John Bingham, a former U. S. Congressman is on his death bed and relates a strange story to the physician attending him, Dr Jamie Fraser. Bingham was the prosecutor involved in the trials of eight people tried for the murder of President Lincoln. He tells Fraser that Mary Surratt, the only female tried and eventually executed in the Lincoln assassination, divulged a secret to him before her execution. Bingham does not go into details, but the mere telling causes Dr Fraser to become fascinated with the possible plot and decide to try and bring the secret to life. He decides to leave his small medical practice and seek out the facts in the case. Many of the key figures involved, or related to those involved are still alive in 1900 and may be accessible He is joined by Speed Cook a black college educated baseball player and prospective editor of a newspaper who senses a fascinating story in which he wants to be a part of. The two men travel to Maryland, New York City, Indiana and Washington searching out people involved including Mary Surratt’s daughter, John Wilkes Booth’s nephew and a woman who may have been romantically linked with Booth. The Lincoln Deception is a well researched book presenting facts available and putting together a different picture of the assassination while providing a literary adventure for the reader. 8/13 Paul Lane
THE LINCOLN LETTER by William Martin: History is possibly more a question of interpretation than just fact. Looking at a historical event from today’s point of view is often different than what appears to have happened when considering the totality of events, the philosophy of the period and the people involved. The Lincoln Letter presents a possible alternative view on The Great Emancipator (Abraham Lincoln’s) views on slavery and the reasons for prosecuting the war against the south in the 1860s than that drawn in our history books.
Peter Fallon and his almost wife Evangeline Carrington are bound for Washington DC looking for a diary of Lincoln suggested to exist by a recently discovered letter from him. The diary is reputed to record Lincoln’s thoughts about issuing a universal proclamation emancipating the slaves, and making that the reason to prosecute the war. The suggestion is made that due to the south’s successes in battle Lincoln turned towards emancipation of slaves as a means of galvanizing and solidifying northern attitudes instead of the idea of preventing succession by a group of states. The vehicle of a wounded and convalescing soldier working in the Washington DC telegraph office receiving military reports and meeting Lincoln during this period is used to describe the agonies the president goes through before issuing the universal Emancipation Proclamation.
The movement back and forth between current times and the era of the Civil war is done very well and provides the reader with enough possible insight to look at Abraham Lincoln as the tortured man he undoubtedly was rather than the rock directing the nation during this period. Peter Fallon has been used in prior novels looking at historical events and will undoubtedly continue to do so. The vehicle of returning in time to the era under question and introducing key characters in the period is well done. The descriptions of conditions present in that period certainly show what is probably the actuality and represent a good deal of research. All in all well done and a book that will keep the reader engrossed until the ending. 8/12 Paul Lane
Line of Vision by David Ellis: Terrific legal thriller with enough twists and turns to keep the ending a complete surprise. This well written first novel by a Chicago lawyer who knows his stuff kept me on the edge of my seat until I turned the last page.
LINEUP by Liad Shoham: A young woman is raped outside her home in Tel Aviv and hides away in her apartment. Her parents realize something is wrong, she admits what happened, and they convince her to report it. By this time, there is no physical evidence, leaving Detective Eli Nahum with little to go on. Adi’s father takes the investigation into his own hands, finding a young man skulking about the neighborhood late at night. His investigation makes Nahum’s job much easier, except that the suspect, Ziv Nevo, isn’t really a rapist but rather a mob criminal who won’t say why he was in the area. The mob is convinced he will rat them out and force him to admit to the rape and take a plea deal, but the case is tossed on a technicality, Ziv released and Nahum fired. Then another girl is raped and Ziv goes into hiding while a manhunt for him gets under way. Nahum wants to redeem himself and starts investigating on his own, obsessed with finding the rapist and getting his job back. Michael Connelly fans will appreciate this American debut by a best-selling Israeli author. 9/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.
LINEUP by Liad Shoham: A young woman is brutally raped near her apartment in Tel Aviv beginning a very well done crime novel. The girl’s father begins investigating around the neighborhood to see if he can catch the perpetrator based on his daughter’s description of him. He does come up with a suspect, and notifies the police who assign detective Eli Nahum to the case. Adi, his daughter, under pressure identifies the suspect in a lineup. The person identified, Ziv Nevo, was in the area on the night the rape occurred but was working for a criminal group under pressure on another project. Adi’s identification brings Ziv into the police station and demands by the criminal group he was working for on the night in question cause him to decide to confess to the rape charge. When a procedural error allows Ziv to go free detective Nahum is discharged from the police force under the suspicion that it was his sloppy police work that led to the freedom of the rapist. A second rape is committed, and the victim does not identify Ziv from a group of photos, while at the same time Eli discovers a very important fact. This causes him to continue working the case with the knowledge that Ziv is not guilty of either rape. What was Ziv doing in the area of Adi’s rape, and who was the guilty party that committed both crimes? Liad is one of Israel’s leading crime writers and has written five other books. Lineup is the first to be translated into English and introduced into the American market. While the action is set in Tel Aviv procedures are very similar to those practiced by American law enforcement officers allowing the reader to slide easily into the book and await more by this gifted author. 9/13 Paul Lane
THE LION by Nelson DeMille: The latest in the John Corey series was a bit of a disappointment. I love this character, especially his wise ass attitude, but even that couldn’t save this book for me. When we last saw former New York police detective turned Anti-Terrorist Task Force agent Corey and his wife, FBI Agent Mayfield, they had a run in with the Lion, a Libyan terrorist named Asad Khalil (in The Lion’s Game.) As the title of this newest book suggests, he’s back – this time, with a plan for vengeance. Khalil is just as deadly as he was the first time around, and Corey spends most of the book as “lion hunter,” trying to flush out the Lion before more bodies pile up. Unfortunately, it takes longer than he’d like and there are lots of gruesome murders before the cliff-hanger ending. John Corey may or may not be back…stay tuned. 07/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
LIPSTICK IN AFGHANISTAN by Roberta Gately: Elsa Murphy wants to do something important, something that will help others around her. An article on Rwandan refugees sets in motion a series of choices that eventually lands Elsa in Afghanistan, post-9/11. As a volunteer nurse with Aide du Monde, Elsa is stationed in Bamiyan, a village that has been ravaged by the Taliban. Despite everything, the people in Bamiyan have retained a strength and optimism that Elsa finds inspiring. But as an American in Taliban occupied Afghanistan, Elsa must accept that there is very real danger all around her. Elsa’s experiences change her as a person. The young Boston girl who’d never left America becomes strengthened by those around her and even finds love in a war-torn environment. Gately’s debut is a heartwarming read, but also a fascinating look at Afghanistan through the eyes of an author who spent time there herself. 11/10 Becky Lejeune
LISEY’S STORY by Stephen King: Scott Landon was a best-selling author; his wife, Lisey, was his anchor. In the two years since Scott’s death, Lisey has had a lot to deal with and the task of clearing out her husband’s study has loomed over her. She is hounded almost daily by what Scott referred to as Incunks, or, “those pagan worshippers of original texts and unpublished manuscripts.” These academics and collectors are aghast at the thought of all the hidden treasures waiting to be discovered in the converted barn Scott used as his workspace. Some of them are even willing to go to startling lengths to get at these posthumous gems. Scott’s study turns out to be a treasure trove alright, one that is full of memories Lisey had almost managed to forget. Now, uncovering the truth behind these banished memories may be the only way that Lisey can survive the approaching ordeals that will be set before her.
Most of King’s work can be easily divided into two categories, supernatural horror and somewhat realistic horror, the former being of the ghost and zombie variety and the latter being this could actually happen horror. Lisey’s Story falls somewhere in the middle. This is a story of love and family – brothers, sisters, husbands and wives and also fathers and sons. It is a story of madness lurking in the dark corners of the mind and evil prowling at the edge of the woods. It is both touching and horrific and altogether brilliant. 11/06 Becky LeJeune
Little America by Henry Bromell: With everything going on in the world today, this is a very timely novel to read. It is not a mystery exactly, but rather a spy novel within a spy novel – think LeCarre. Our main character is Terry Hooper, a history teacher in California who travels home to Boston to interview his father, Mack Hooper, a retired CIA agent, in hopes of writing a book about the (fictitious) Mideast country of Kurash. But what Terry has become obsessed with is whether or not his father was involved with the King of Kurash’s assassination, and what kind of man his father really is. Mack was transferred to Kurash in 1958 to befriend the King and secure a strong U.S. ally. The book moves back and forth between present day Boston & Washington D.C. and 1958 Kurash as Terry tries to draw a timeline of the events that led to the King’s assassination and the dissolution of Kurash. The first half of the book is heavy with description of life in the Middle East, especially in what is known as “Little America;” the enclave of Americans living there. It’s very readable, deeply engrossing and somewhat autobiographical – Henry Bromell’s father was an agent with the CIA who moved his family to the Middle East when Henry was 10 years old. Henry grew up to be a writer (a couple of books of short stories and a novel written twenty years ago) but is more well known as the writer and producer of TV shows such as Homicide: Life on the Street, Chicago Hope and Northern Exposure. He has a new series called Carnivale starring Adrienne Barbeau (remember her?) and Nick Stahl (the now-all-grown-up kid who starred with Mel Gibson in the Man Without a Face) that will be on HBO in early 2003. Little America is now being turned into an HBO series from Sopranos producer Brad Grey.
Little Bitty Lies by Mary Kay Andrews: Mary Bliss McGowan is the perfect wife except for one thing; her husband’s up and left her in the middle of the night and disappeared off the face of the earth. And taken everything with him – he’s refinanced the house and taken the cash, emptied their bank accounts, sold their stocks, and even taken Mary Bliss’s engagement ring. The credit cards are maxed out, the cell phone’s been shut off, and private school tuition is due. What’s a mother to do? Mary Bliss is so angry she wants to kill him, and decides she will – on paper, anyway. With best friend Katherine’s help, they stage his death and Mary Bliss tried to collect on the one life insurance policy he hadn’t cashed out. But a private detective is nosing around, and Mary Bliss can’t tell if he’s interested in her or her missing husband; her recently jilted neighbor across the street has the hots for her; Erin, her teenage daughter is angry and taken to staying out all night; and her ornery mother-in-law is sliding deeper into dementia every day. A fast, fun book to take to the beach.
LITTLE GREEN by Walter Mosley: Easy Rawlins didn’t die in the car crash at the end of Blonde Faith. Snatched from the jaws of death by his friend Mouse and revived by the Gator’s Blood brew made by Mama Jo, a weakened in mind and body Easy sets out to repay Mouse by finding a young man called “Little Green.” The story is set in the 1967 Summer of Love and conjures up a time when it seemed like a new generation could conquer the prejudices of the past and set aside the pursuits of wealth and war, to find a better way of life. While that didn’t happen, I really appreciate any book that reminds me that we at least hoped, even if we didn’t believe, that “all we need is love.” Easy has to deal with communal housing and the drug culture as he searches for Little Green and when he finds him, needs to call on other old friends, like Jackson Blue, extricate them from the underworld difficulties which resulted from Little Green’s “bad trip.” I’m glad that Mosley decided to bring Easy back just like this. 6/13 Geoffrey R. Hamlin
LITTLE STAR by John Ajvide Lindqvist: Lennert Cederstrom and his wife enjoyed a brief period of mediocre fame before leaving the spotlight. Now, Lennert makes a living writing songs for others. One thing is for certain, though, Lennert and Laila are not happy. Their son is a disappointment and they’re facing living out their golden years less than comfortably. When Lennert stumbles upon a baby girl in the woods, he believes everything is about to change. At just days old the infant sings beautifully. Lennert brings her home and keeps her hidden from the outside world, insistent that she will be raised in a pure environment, unspoiled by inappropriate influence — she’s to be his experiment. But the girl, nicknamed “Little One,” will be so much more than Lennert expected. Years later Little One — now called Theres — is entered into a singing competition. For the first time ever the world will experience the magic of her voice. A lonely girl named Teresa is particularly touched by Theres’s voice and the two become fast friends. Together they will prove to be a team to be reckoned with, two girls who will bring about a horrible end. Lindqvist’s latest revisits the same sort of theme of Let the Right One In: social outcasts united in revenge. In truth, while Lindqvist’s work is undoubtedly horror, his prose is dramatic and strangely emotional. For me, it brings about an odd response, a mix of sympathy for the characters and shock in response to their actions. Little Star is most definitely not for the faint hearted and will ultimately please readers in search of their next great horror read. 10/12 Becky Lejeune
THE LAKE OF DREAMS by Kim Edwards: After the death of her father, Lucy Jarrett left The Lake of Dreams behind. Except for the occasional visit home, she traveled the world, never settling anywhere for too long. When her mother is involved in a minor accident, Lucy rushes home. Her mother is fine and things are ok in The Lake of Dreams—her brother and his girlfriend are expecting their first child, her ex has set up a popular glass works studio downtown, and the town itself is experiencing a boom. While digging through a window seat in her mother’s house, Lucy discovers a stack of papers and a letter signed “R.” Curious, she begins to look into her family’s past and finds a secret that’s been covered up for generations. The effect on her family and the town itself is something Lucy didn’t account for. I liked the idea of this book but didn’t think it completely delivered. I felt no connection to the characters—I didn’t like or dislike any of them, they just felt flat. Without that connection, it became more about finishing the book than being really driven to find out what happened next. 12/11 Becky Lejeune
LITTLE BLACK DRESS by Susan McBride: This book is a tip of the grownup hat to the young adult bestseller, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. In this book, it is the little black dress that is magical – it perfectly fits whoever wears it and offers them a glimpse into their future. Anna buys the dress from a gypsy and walks out on her fiancé the night before her wedding. Her sister Evie tries to throw the dress into the river and instead meets her future husband. Evie’s thirty-something daughter Toni finds the dress after her mother has a stroke, forcing her to return home to the small town she was happy to escape. The story alternates between Evie’s history and Toni’s present, making for fascinating reading as the stories start to merge and offer glimpses into the future. There is more than a touch of romance, but mostly this is a story of a family and all their foibles, and I loved it. 12/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
A LITTLE DEATH IN DIXIE by Lisa Turner: Barbecue and the blues. Elvis and the mighty Mississippi. Why would anyone be surprised that Memphis can also host tragedy, suspicion, corruption and sordid secrets, as well as its own Southern crime dynasty? Memphis Homicide Detective Sergeant Billy Able has been around long enough there are few surprises. So when one of Memphis’s most seductive and notorious alcoholic socialites disappears Able takes nothing for granted. Mercy Snow believes the disappearance of her sister Sophia is the result of foul play. Billy, who has had dealings with Sophia in the past, isn’t so sure. On the other side is Circuit Court Judge Lamar “Buck” Overton whose life passions are horses, croquet, and the law – and he was determined to win at all three. To do so takes money – money like that belonging to Gloria Snow, Sophia and Mercy’s mother. 11/10 Jack Quick
LITTLE ELVISES by Timothy Hallinan: Cops and robbers, mobsters and gun molls – what has LA burglar Junior Bender gotten himself into this time. Crooked LA cop Paul DiGaudio is going to frame Junior for a particularly nasty burglary unless Junior can prove aging music industry mogul Vinnie DiGaudio (Paul’s uncle) is innocent of the murder of a nasty tabloid journalist he’d threatened to kill a couple times. It doesn’t help that the dead journalist’s widow is one pretty lady, and she’s trying to get Junior to mix pleasure with business. In addition, Junior’s hard-drinking landlady begs him to solve the disappearance of her daughter, who got involved with a very questionable character and both Junior’s ex-wife and his thirteen-year-old daughter, Rina, seem to have new boyfriends. After being run into with a Humvee, been threatened with death a few times, Junior must also cope with having the kingpin of LA crime involved with his little task. It’s almost enough to make a thief go honest. Serious but funny action in a story superbly told by a master of the genre, Mr. Timothy Hallinan. 4/13 Jack Quick
LITTLE FACE by Sophie Hannah: Alice Fancourt took one reluctant afternoon to herself after the birth of her daughter. When she returned home, she became convinced that her baby had been swapped with another. No one believed her, least of all her husband. But when Alice and the baby both disappeared a week later, everyone started to take notice. Detective Simon Waterhouse was called in to investigate the possible kidnapping of baby Florence, and even he wasn’t sure if Alice was telling the truth or simply suffering from some version of post-partum depression. He later becomes convinced that Alice’s own husband is behind her disappearance, but when the department begins whispering about secret meetings between the detective and the missing woman, he finds that his own actions are being questioned. This is Sophie Hannah’s first psychological suspense and also the first book featuring Simon Waterhouse and his boss, Charlie Zailer. Reminiscent of some of the best in the genre: Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters. I especially enjoyed the style in which the story is told. Parts of the story take place after the alleged baby swap, from Alice’s point of view. The present story, Alice and Little Face—as the baby has been nicknamed—now missing, is mostly told from Waterhouse’s perspective as the investigation progresses. 12/09 Becky Lejeune
THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY by Tiffany Baker: Truly Plaice is truly one of a kind. The exact opposite of her delicate and girlish sister, Truly—whose mother died giving birth to her—finds herself almost completely alone in the world after her father dies. Years later, Truly is called upon to help raise her young nephew. Truly’s new post in her brother-in-law’s house turns out to be a blessing she could never have predicted after she discovers the truth behind the rumors that have surrounded his family for generations. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County is an entrancing read with a touch of magic. Truly reveals faults that are more human than most: her hatred of her brother-in-law and the hurt she feels after years of gentle torment, for example, set her apart from the altruistic “giant” you might initially expect. Instead, Truly becomes a character that readers can sympathize with and will ultimately root for. 07/10 Becky Lejeune
Little Girl Blue by David Cray: A naked, frozen child is found dead in Central Park. The cop in charge of the investigation is a highly competitive, hard working, divorced mom, and this case makes her a woman with a mission. The investigation winds its way through international adoption, child pornography and prostitution to it’s dark, gripping conclusion.
LITTLE SHOP OF MURDERS by Susan Goodwill: In what has to be the funniest bank robbery on record, Walter, a stooped balding man dressed in a red plaid bathrobe, floppy slippers, and armed with a lethal banana (?) robs the bank. Kate London and her Aunt Kitty are soon in hot (?) pursuit in Kitty’s 1974 white Eldorado convertible. Imagine their surprise when they see William Jefferson Clinton driving Walter’s getaway car. (Actually it’s only a guy wearing a Bill Clinton mask). Lets see, then there is the Treasury Department; the Devil’s Cheerleaders, a biker gang; pandemonium at the Sausage Festival; a giant man-eating plant from Splotski’s Theatre Rentals; a dead body; unsympathetic law enforcement officials; ugly shoes; (Donna Moore?) and in the middle a somewhat engaging mystery. There is little doubt this one is a work of fiction, and fun. 04/08 Jack Quick
THE LITTLE SLEEP by Paul Tremblay: PI Mark Genevich has a bit of a problem. He suffers from severe narcolepsy, with episodes that range from nodding off at odd and unexpected moments to appearing to paralyzing cataplexy (being totally conscious of his surroundings while unable to physically respond) and a sort of waking sleep where he appears to those around him as though he is completely awake, responding and speaking while being completely unaware of it. It is the latter that gets him into his latest bit of trouble. A local semi-celebrity hires him to help track down her missing fingers, but when he wakes, he finds that there is an envelope on his desk with two photos of the girl. It appears that he’s been hired to find out something about these images, but he can’t remember what. It also appears that he can’t actually recall who’s hired him since the girl in question claims that they have never met. Tremblay’s debut is fast-paced and totally original. I loved it. I recommend you find a comfy spot to sit, because you’re going to want to finish this one off in one sitting. 03/09 Becky Lejeune
THE LITTLE SLEEP by Paul Tremblay: If LA P.I. Toby Peters in Stuart Kaminsky’s series can be assisted by a dwarf, a less than hygienic dentist, and an ex-wrestler, then it makes perfect sense that South Boston P.I. Mark Genevich can be narcoleptic. He suffers hypnologic hallucinations, waking dreams that make it kind of tough to solve cases. I mean, did it happen or was it a dream. Jennifer Times, a daughter of the powerful local D.A. and a contestant on American Star, is no dream. When Mark comes to from his latest hallucination he finds on his desk a manila envelope containing risqué photos of Jennifer. Are the pictures real, and if so, is Mark hunting a blackmailer, or worse? Not badly written, and it is a nice gimmick for a “one off.” I don’t see it holding up for a series, but then not all P.I.s end up in series, either. Worth a try. 05/09 Jack Quick
LIVE WIRE by Harlan Coben: Generally I prefer thrillers to mysteries, but in Live Wire Coben sort of crosses the genre gap from his Myron Bolitar mysteries to a Myron family thriller, and totally succeeds. Bolitar gets a call from an old tennis star client, Suzze, who’s very pregnant. Someone has posted on her Facebook page that her husband Lex, a famous musician who is also Myron’s client, isn’t the baby’s father. Before she can talk it out with him, Lex disappears and Suzze wants Myron to find him. Myron visits a club where Lex is known to hang out and spots Kitty, his sister-in-law, across the room. By the time he gets through the crowd she is gone. Myron has been estranged from his brother Brad and Kitty and has never even met his teenage nephew. Myron wants a reconciliation with his brother, but drugs and a hibernating rock ‘n roll legend may stand in the way. This is the most personal Myron book to date, a terrific page turner, and probably Coben’s best book yet. Don’t miss it. 03/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
LIVE WIRE by Jay MacLarty: For the right price, Simon Leonidovich will deliver anything, anywhere. This time, however, the cost may be too high. The CIA says North Korea intends to sell its nuclear weapons on the black market. To prevent this the President arranges for the recruitment of Leonidovich to deliver vital CIA documents to North Korean dissidents intent on overthrowing the government of Kim Jong-il. Simon finds himself trapped behind enemy lines with a briefcase full of incriminating evidence, when he discovers the true nature of the threat, an elaborate conspiracy by someone within the administration to take down the American President. Simon has escaped from tricky situations before but never from deep within a country so isolated from the rest of the world. 07/06 Jack Quick
LIVING DEAD GIRL by Elizabeth Scott: “Alice” was abducted by Ray when she was ten years old. Five years later, she’s a skeleton of the young, vibrant girl she used to be. She’s sustained unspeakable physical and mental abuse at the hands of Ray. She begs each day just to die. Then, Ray asks her find him a new girl. And so, Alice begins the search for her replacement, her salvation. LIVING DEAD GIRL is a dark and terrifying look into the life of an abused teen. While this book is geared to teens, there are bits that aren’t overly graphic but would still be too shocking and detailed for a young teen. Although this is a very short book, it is powerful and memorable. A book so disturbing you’ll want to put it down, but so compelling that you are forced to continue. This book, and the “Alices” out there will be on my mind for some time. It has been quite some time since a book has impacted me so powerfully. 09/08 Jennifer Lawrence
THE LIZARD’S BITE by David Hewson: The latest in the Nic Costa series finds Nic, his partner Gianni Peroni and their chief, Leo Falcone exiled in Venice. Nic and Peroni are on their last day of duty before a long two week holiday. Emily Deacon and Teresa Lupo, the two men’s girlfriends, are to join them from Rome. Before their much anticipated vacation can begin however, the three Roman detectives are tapped to investigate a double homicide on the island of Murano. The case is presented as a simple murder suicide. Uriel Archangelo was working the family foundry when a fire broke out killing himself and his wife. Police chief Randazzo underestimates the men though. Before long, it becomes clear that the men were chosen not for their talents but because they are outsiders. One of my favorite aspects of this series is that though readers, and myself, commonly refer to the books as the Nic Costa series, Hewson focuses more on the entire ensemble rather than one character alone.
Fans of the series will be pleased to see that the entire cast has returned in this latest installment. An interesting thing to note is that characters from Lucifer’s Shadow play a pretty big role here. New readers are not to worry though, Hewson’s titles can be enjoyed on their own, or read in sequence – it is not necessary to have read either the previous Costa books or Shadow but it does make Lizard’s Bite that much more interesting. 10/06 Becky LeJeune
THE LOCK ARTIST by Steve Hamilton: This is the winner of the 2010 Edgar Allen Poe award and it is an outstanding story. The main character is Mike Smith, a seventeen year old “boxman”, someone who has the ability to open any lock, door or safe. And he’s mute; Mike is definitely not your typical teenager for sure. The book moves back and forth through his beginnings as a boxman, and his ending in jail a year later. The mystery here isn’t your typical whodunit by any means, but rather how he became what he is. It is the characters that propel this story, and I couldn’t put it down. 06/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE LOCK ARTIST by Steve Hamilton: Michael, The Miracle Boy, has a story to tell. And though he hasn’t spoken for years, he’s decided that it is time to recount that tale as best he can. As a child, Michael survived a terrible crime, but it left him mute and emotionally scarred. Raised by his uncle, Michael discovers that he has a talent for locks. At first it’s nothing more than a hobby, then it becomes a bragging point with his fellow high school students. But a stunt lands him in trouble with the law while eventually earning him a position as a much sought after “box man”; he can open any lock. The story is told in two alternating timelines: Michael’s early progression in his talent, and Michael’s time working professionally. The closer the two lines become, the more complete Michael’s story becomes, rewarding readers with a growing understanding of the character and his motivations. And the unfolding of the tale is spectacular: a completely gripping and clever one sitting read. 01/10 Becky Lejeune
LOCKED IN by Mike Esposito: Duh. With a medical procedure scheduled next week, I have to pick up a book about a conspiracy between greedy doctors and a shyster lawyer who are scheming together to defraud insurance companies in medical malpractice cases. Locked In is a well written, fast-paced breakout book set in Tampa, Florida. Dr. John Armstrong has a trophy wife intent on spending him into bankruptcy. Cal Burton, his college roommate, apparently slept through all the ethics classes. When Cal approaches John with a scheme, John reluctantly agrees because he needs the money and he thinks he is actually helping the families of wronged patients. Then the money making express gets out of control and now the question is who will be the first to fall off and go underneath the wheels. It’s delightfully twisty. 11/07 Jack Quick
LOCKED IN by Marcia Muller: A truly frightening book. In the 27th PI Sharon McCone mystery, McCone is shot during a burglary at her office. When she wakes up in the hospital she is fully awake but totally unable to move. Her only means of communication is by blinking here eyes. The story unfolds in chapters narrated by husband Hy and the co-workers who have populated the previous 26 books. Each chapter peels back another layer in a complicated case which includes a city government sex scandal, a cover-up and multiple murders. If you are a Muller fan, you will appreciate the skill of her characterizations, but otherwise this is one you might want to skip. 12/09 Jack Quick
LOITERING WITH INTENT by Stuart Woods: It starts off as a typical Stone Barrington case. In the middle of a New York February snow storm he is engaged to find 26–year-old-son Evan Keating for his father William, in order to get the younger Keating to agree to the sale of the family business. Evan was last heard from via a postcard from Key West so that is where the hunt will begin. Since it is February, and he is going to Key West, Stone enlists perennial sidekick Dino Bacchetti to come along for the ride, as well as play golf and tennis, eat conch and acquire a winter time tan. When he finally tracks Evan down, Stone is surprised when Evan refuses to sign the contract, which is worth more than $20 million. Stone continues his increasingly dangerous pursuit of Evan, now questioning Warren’s intentions. Sure enough, Evan believes his father is up to no good, and Stone agrees to help Evan, unaware that the decision will cost him dearly. Another good one. 07/09 Jack Quick
LONDON BOULEVARD by Ken Bruen: Ken Bruen could make even a grocery list interesting. Mitchell is finally free after serving time for assault. Although not crazy about the idea, he accepts a job as a loan shark enforcer until he lands a legitimate job as a handyman for a rich actress who’s eager to reward him with cash, cars, and sex. Then he meets Aisling–smart, beautiful, and, best of all, as crazy about Mitchell as he is about her. But Mitchell can never truly escape his violent past or the dangerous world of loan sharks, druggies, and other bottom feeders. Told as only Bruen can with an absolute minimum of words and maximum of feeling. 05/06 Jack Quick
LONDON BRIDGES by James Patterson: In this, his 10th adventure, Alex Cross, must deal with two of his most deadly foes: the faceless ex-KGB agent “The Wolf” from last year’s Big Bad Wolf, and the insane serial killer The Weasel, last seen in Patterson’s Pop Goes the Weasel. Needless to say the action is fast and furious as Cross, who now works full-time for the FBI, attempts to bring both to justice – and not be killed himself. Perhaps not as credible as some of the other Cross outings, but still a good read. As always with the later Patterson offerings is the question of who is really the author. 12/05 Jack Quick
LONDON FALLING by Paul Cornell: When Rob Toshak, the so-called king of London, dies while in police custody, it falls on DI James Quill, Kevin Sefton, Tony Costain, and analyst Lisa Ross to figure out who did it. The problem is, the death happened in the interview room while Quill himself was watching. And it was a pretty graphic and gruesome death, too. The team soon discovers that their top suspect is a little old lady rumored to be a serial killing witch with a penchant for football. Legend has it she’ll kill anyone who scores a hat trick against her favorite team. Impossible as it seems, the group has to admit there’s truth behind the rumor when they all strangely become gifted with the “sight.” Now privy to a whole different side of London, they find they’re on their own to chase down a killer like none they’ve ever faced before. In London Falling, Paul Cornell has set the scene for a fabulous new urban fantasy series. The reader is dropped in the midst of an already in progress investigation. Much of the story unfolds along the way bringing the reader completely up to speed by the time the new investigation has begun. It’s well worth the rocky start. The pacing picks up significantly and the book ends with a cliffhanger-like set up for the expected second in the series. 5/13 Becky Lejeune
LONDON BOULEVARD by Ken Bruen: Mitchell served three years in prison for an attack he doesn’t even remember. Mitchell doesn’t want to ever go back, but it is hard to escape the pull of old friends like Billy Norton and Tommy Loan, ruthless lowlifes who soon have Mitchell back into trouble. Attempting to salvage something of his life Mitchell finds work at the Holland Park mansion of faded movie actress, Lillian Palmer, where he has to deal with her mysterious butler, Jordan. It isn’t long before Mitchell’s violent past catches up with him and people start getting hurt. When his disturbed sister Briony is threatened, Mitchell is forced to act. It is Bruen so you know there is not going be any happily ever after. 12/09 Jack Quick
THE LONELY HUNTER by Collin Wilcox: Before there was ex-MOP Jack Reacher who righted wrongs, there was another ex-MP from the Vietnam era – Frank Hastings. Unlike Reacher who free-lances, Hastings joined the San Francisco Police Department in 1963. We meet him six years later, when, as a Homicide Detective Sergeant, he is called out to investigate the murder of an anonymous long-haired, high-booted man whose body was found on the Presidio Army base. The trail leads into the Haight Ashbury, with its drugs, flower children, and now a growing criminal element. Frank’s own daughter is somewhere among the runaways and he searches for her as well as the killer. This is the first of a series that intertwines with Bill Pronzini’s Nameless Detective and Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone. Outstanding. 12/10 Jack Quick
THE LONELY MILE by Allan Leverone: Allan Leverone has a winner with this book. This is the first one that I have read by him, and it won’t be the last. He opens the book, and grabs you almost immediately dragging the reader into a fast moving and very interesting story. Bill Ferguson, the owner of two hardware stores is at a rest stop on the turnpike while driving to one of his shops. He does this all the time keeping in touch with the stores and picking up cash for deposit. Bill legally carries a gun in order to protect the money he does get. At the opening of the book a serial kidnapper and murderer known as the I-90 killer is in process of grabbing a young girl as his next victim right in public view. Bill is the only person to act, drawing his gun and thwarting the kidnapping. The I-90 killer via publicity in the newspapers learns who stopped the kidnapping and that he has a 17-year-old daughter. He decides that the daughter will be his next victim and serve as revenge for Bill’s daring to intercede. The book then takes us through the process of the daring kidnapping and of Bill searching for his daughter. There is a constant excitement as action jumps back and forth from Bill to his daughter in captivity. A very well done, and truly surprising end is in store for the reader, and the author makes a case for international investigation of what would have been the consequence of the daughter’s kidnapping if the normal course of events would have transpired. There are 308 pages in the book, but action is so fast and engrossing that it does seem much shorter. The principal characters are fleshed out very well, and except for the “surprise” all act in accordance with what would be expected of them. 11/11 Paul Lane
THE LONELY POLYGAMIST by Brady Udall: Golden Richards has four wives and 28 children, yet somehow still finds himself lonely. He singsongs all his children’s names, in birth order, as a sort of calming mantra, not to mention as a way to remember them all. Golden is a contractor whose business has fallen on hard times, forcing him to take a job building a brothel. The money is good, but he feels compelled to lie to his family and tells them he is building a senior center. He lives in fear of being found out, and much of the black humor in this story comes from his gentle soul. This is a family story at heart, just not the sort of family most of us are familiar with. Udall comes from a long line of polygamists, ending a couple of generations back, so he knows what he’s writing about. Udall is clear in separating this polygamist church from the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), which generally get lumped egregiously together. This is a fascinating, funny read, sure to please fans of dysfunctional family tales and the terrific Big Love series on HBO (which was inspired by an article Udall wrote for Esquire Magazine back in 1997, entitled “Big Love”.) Udall’s voice is unique, as are his characters; nonetheless, he draws favorable comparison to John Irving and Richard Russo. If you are looking for a big, sprawling, good time summer read, here’s your book. I loved it. 06/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE LONG FALL by Walter Mosley: Leonid (his father was a communist named Tolstoy) McGill is a black New York City private detective from the old school now trying to move from “ crooked to slightly bent.” At 53, he knows that he can’t go back and undo some of his past exploits which cost at least one innocent man his life. But going forward the former boxer hopes to be able to steer his children to a better life. McGill soon finds the upward path is quite slippery and you can fall off before you know it – like finding the current whereabouts of some young men who begin contracting fatal conditions after McGill turns their names over to an Albany PI. His 16 year old son Twill is getting in over his head with a suicidal girl. McGill shares a lot of Easy Rawlins knack for earning powerful friends by performing favors and has some of the toughness of Fearless, but he’s got his own dark secrets and hard-won philosophy. New York’s racial stew is different than Los Angeles’s, and Mosley stirs the pot and concocts a perfect setting for an entirely new series. 05/09 Jack Quick
LONG GONE by Alafair Burke: James Lee Burke’s daughter has hit one out of the park with this “twofer” and proves she has her Dad’s skill at wordsmanship as well. Her description of a sparsely attended art gallery event – “like Mormon Night at the Vodka Bar”. So what is in this “twofer”? First there is the mystery enveloping Alice Humphrey, daughter of a Hollywood film couple and one time child actress who has landed her dream job managing a new art gallery in Manhattan’s trendy Meatpacking District. Two days after the gallery’s opening featuring a controversial artist, Alice finds the dead body of the owner’s representative Drew Campbell on the floor of the stripped gallery and becomes a leading suspect in his death. In the meantime, high school student Becca Stevenson has disappeared and the two cases eventually intersect – at the Highline gallery, entangling Alice is a dark, high-tech criminal conspiracy and forcing her to unearth long-hidden secrets involving her own family . . . secrets that could cost Alice her life. A first rate thriller. 07/11 Jack Quick
LONG LOST by Harlan Coben: Myron is back. Myron Bolitar has been enjoying something of a quiet life lately. He’s got a girlfriend that he’s pretty serious about and has even purchased his parents’ old home, but all that changes with one phone call. It’s been almost a decade since Myron has heard from Terese, but when she calls him asking for his help, he really can’t resist. Her request comes right on the heels of a semi-breakup with his current love, so off to Paris he goes. When he arrives Myron finds that it is his unique people-finding skills that Terese is most in need of. It seems her ex called her up, quite distraught, and begged for a meeting. When she herself arrived, the man was nowhere to be found. That mystery is solved soon enough, however, when both Terese and Myron are picked up by the police for questioning. Terese’s ex has been found, dead in the morgue. It’s the evidence that was found with his body, though, that really sets everything in motion. Soon Myron and Terese are both on the run and their very lives might depend on uncovering the dead man’s secret. Anyone who hasn’t read the Myron Bolitar series really needs to start now. Like Promise Me, Long Lost can be read pretty much on it’s own, and it is a bit of a deviation from Myron’s usual plots, but really, it’s so much more fun if you know his backstory. Another winner from Coben. 04/09 Becky Lejeune
Lofting by Alma Marceau: The timing of this couldn’t be better, I read it right on the heels of The Sexual Life of Catherine M. (see review), which I was not impressed with. On the other hand, if you like your erotica to draw you in with interesting characters that you get to know, humor, pathos and passion, and to have enough eclectic vocabulary to require hauling a dictionary into your bed along with whatever else you take with you while reading erotica, then this is your book. It certainly was mine, I enjoyed every page.
We meet Claire, while her curiosity about “lofting”, cybersex, is reaching its peak, albeit with Andres, the most articulate man online, and watch her progression to a real life affair with Nick, a controlling man who knows how to teach Claire about her own limits, and how to stretch them. Strong prose, strong sex, strong story.
Long Lost by David Morrell: One day Petey, age 9, tags along with his older brother Brad to the ball field. Brad tells him to get lost and he takes off on his bike, never to be seen again. Brad lives with that for decades until a man calls out his name in the street. His life will never be the same again. This emotional, powerful thriller leads to its inevitable conclusion with some very scary moments along the way.
A LONG REACH by Michael Stone: You wouldn’t call Streeter, the Denver bounty hunter who made his debut in The Low End of Nowhere, lucky in love. With four ex-wives as well as a host of former lovers there is always a damsel or two in distress who can call on him for help, like ex-wife Carol, a criminal attorney who wants protection from a client she defended in a murder trial. Maybe the plot isn’t too complex, but the dames are plentiful and how can you not like a villain who shoots himself in the foot. 02/06 Jack Quick
LONG TIME COMING By Robert Goddard: Its 1976 and Stephen Swan is “between jobs” as a geologist so he decides to visit his Mom in the British seaside bread and breakfast she still operates long after her husband’s death. Imagine his shock to learn that his father’s brother Eldritch Swan is currently staying there, the same uncle that he was told all his life that had been killed in the Blitz in 1940. For the first time he learns that the 68 year old has spent the last 36 years in an Irish prison. The older Eldritch, who appears as weird as his given name implies, assures his nephew, Stephen, he’d been framed in Dublin for unspecified offenses against the state, though he admits to helping steal diamond merchant Isaac Meridor’s Picasso collection. Eldritch needs Stephen’s help to prove the collection rightfully belongs to Meridor’s wife, daughter, and granddaughter, Rachel Banner. In alternating chapters between 1940 and 1976, the tale of the Picasso theft and recovery is well told. A good one. 5/12 Jack Quick
LONG WAY DOWN by Collin Wilcox: Another excellent Lieutenant Frank Hastings procedural. It starts with a well-dressed man found stabbed to death in the apartment of a “model” with a suspended morals charge. After a brief interlude to take down an attempted assassin who had tried to kill the Governor, its back to the original case. Clues are everywhere but things just aren’t adding up for Hastings. Then a second murder rewrites the script making the good guys the bad guys and vice versa. Hastings keeps at it, matching the random bits and pieces, following his detective’s instinct. It all ends suddenly. The losers die, the winners walk away. A weary Hastings knows that tomorrow it could all begin again. Same script, different faces. 1/11 Jack Quick
LOOK AGAIN by Lisa Scottoline: In a departure from her legal thrillers, Scottoline introduces Ellen Gleeson, a journalist and single mother of an adopted child. Gleeson fell in love with the baby when he was abandoned in the cardiac unit at a hospital she was doing a story on. The biological mother signed the papers and Ellen took home her little boy. Fast forward a couple of years – Ellen’s going through the mail when she sees a missing child flyer with an age progressed photo of a little boy who bears a striking resemblance to her adopted son. Despite advice to ignore it from her father and her lawyer, she can’t get it out of her head, so she contacts the adoption lawyer only to find out that the woman committed suicide a few weeks after the adoption. Her inner-journalist kicks in and she starts digging into the adoption, disregarding her work at the newspaper despite the looming threat of layoffs, not to mention the very real possibility that she could lose her child if there is something there. Scottoline has written a terrific thriller that is a little darker than her usual fare, but is also very thought provoking. Reading groups should consider this for their next meeting. 04/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
LOOKING FOR YESTERDAY by Marcia Muller: Sharon McCone has had some unusual cases but this one may be tops. Three years ago, Caro Warrick was acquitted for the murder of her best friend Amelia Bettencourt, but the lingering doubts of everyone around Caro are affecting her life. She hires McCone to try to bring clarity to the case as well as provide information for a book Warrick is co-authoring about the crime. Next, Caro is brutally beaten right at Sharon’s doorstep, and ultimately dies. McCone is threatened and another person peripherally involved with the case is also killed. How many more people remain at risk until Amelia’s murderer is finally caught? 1/13 Jack Quick
LORDS OF CORRUPTION by Kyle Mills: For Josh Hagarty, there is good news and bad news. The good news is he has managed to escape a hardscrabble life in Kentucky and has earned a mechanical engineering degree and an MBA. The bad news is that he has mega student loans, a younger sister and an alcoholic mother back in Kentucky to support, and worst of all, a prison record stemming from a high school involvement in an armed robbery, which make him virtually unemployable. So the offer from NewAfrica to manage a farming project in an underdeveloped African country is almost too good to be true. And in fact, it is. What the recruiter left out was that John’s predecessor was hacked to death by a machete, there is Russian involvement in the charity, and the President of his host country is interested only in how much money he can skim off the top. With the help of Annika Gritdal, a beautiful Scandinavian aid worker, and alcoholic journalist J.B. Flannary, Josh must fight to uncover the truth behind NewAfrica – and keep the three of them alive. A first rate thriller. 05/09 Jack Quick
LOSER’S TOWN by Daniel Depp: If you enjoyed Stuart Kaminsky’s Toby Peters series, you will likely enjoy this debut featuring David Spandau, a former movie stuntman now working as a private detective, primarily for clients in the movie business. Rising Hollywood star Bobby Dye is being blackmailed by the Mob-connected owner of Hollywood’s hottest nightspot for the rich and beautiful. As a mystery the plot is pretty thin, but hey, when you have Southern California, the movie business, and quirky characters, who needs an intricate plot. Hopefully this will turn into a series and give Depp the opportunity to flesh out his main character and develop others in the supporting cast. This could be a good one. 08/10 Jack Quick
LOSING CLEMENTINE by Ashley Ream: Clementine Pritchard has had it with the meds, the mood swings, and the crazy side effects of all the pills. She’s given herself thirty days to wrap things up before she calls it quits. With the end in sight, thirty days is plenty of time to reconcile differences, make apologies, and indulge in behaviors otherwise unsuited to everyday life. But Clementine never planned for the things she’d discover about herself and those around her in her final days. One would think a book about suicide would not be amusing, but Ashley Ream’s debut proves it can be. Losing Clementine is far from slapstick, silly comedy. Ream brings Clementine to life as a witty and determined lady dealing with some tough issues. 3/12 Becky Lejeune
THE LOST by Michelle Hancock: This first novel takes the Davinci Code to its furthest edges. What if Jesus Christ actually was an instrument of the Devil? That is about as controversial as it gets, but Guy “Coffee” Daniels, a brilliant student of ancient languages at Columbia University thinks he has proof. It all starts when Pia Cecelio, the beautiful daughter of a famous philanthropist, asks him to translate one of the Dead Sea scrolls not yet released to the public. What Coffee discovers is a new testament written by Jesus and secrets sure to crush the faith of Christians worldwide. When Coffee and the document disappear, Pia tries to track him down. What is truth and what is evil? Save your answer until you finish this one, and even then don’t speak it out loud. You never know who might be listening. 05/07 Jack Quick
LOST AND FOUND by Amy Shojai: Nicely written thriller about autistic children and service dogs. Animal behaviorist September Day must use all her finely honed skills to help nephew Steven and Shadow, his service dog. September had returned home to Heartland, Texas after her husband was murdered to rest and recover. All she wants to do is hibernate with Macy her trained Maine Coon cat, but she can’t ignore the cry for help from sister April after Steven and his dog disappear in a freak blizzard. Then, when her sister trusts a maverick researcher’s promise to help Steven, September has 24 hours to rescue them from a devastating medical experiment impacting millions of children, a deadly secret others will kill to protect. If you love animals as I do, this one is special. 1/13 Jack Quick
THE LOST BOOK OF MALA R. by Rose MacDowell: An old journal discovered at a yard sale becomes an intersecting piece in the lives of four very different women. Mala Rinehart, a gypsy in 1948, is banished from her clan for a period of one year. This kicks off a journey unlike any the young woman has ever know. Present day, Linda discovers Mala’s journal. Recently saddled with a stubborn pre-teen stepdaughter, Linda initially sees the little book as a nice diversion from her own problems. She soon passes it along to her friend Audrey who becomes determined to track down the long lost author. Meanwhile, their friend Christine tries a spell from the journal and finds her life turned upside down when her husband is suspected of murder. Any one of these women’s tales could have made a great novel-length story. Each chapter alternates characters and the reader is given just a glimpse of each of their lives. It makes for an interesting read, but left me feeling like there should have been so much more. 12/11 Becky Lejeune
THE LOST DIARY OF DON JUAN by Douglas Carlton Abrams: The legend of Don Juan has been entertaining readers (and watchers) for centuries. Painted at times as a heartless rogue and at others as a sort of Robin Hood of the bedroom, the infamous figure always woos his way into women’s beds and leaves them wanting more. Douglas Carlton Abrams’s version of the tale tracks Don Juan’s exploits over the course of one month; one month in which he has been given a reprieve by the King himself and ordered to find a bride or suffer the consequences. Abrams also provides a look into the legendary libertine’s past and the story that made him the man he would become. It remains to be seen if Don Juan can curb his wild ways and find true satisfaction with just one woman, or if he will defy the crown by doing more than soiling the reputation of the princes. An imaginative romantic adventure and a wonderful new look at one of literatures longest living playboys. Though Abrams presents a provocative question in regards to human nature and relationships, the book is by no means heavy or serious. In fact, it’s a quite fun historical novel. 09/08 Becky Lejeune
LOST DOG by Bill Cameron: If a serial killer can be a protagonist (Darkly Dreaming Dexter) then why not a kleptomaniac? Peter McKrall is an out of work kleptomaniac who has the misfortune of finding the body of Carlotta Younger, a murder victim, while searching for his niece’s stuffed dog left at the playground overnight. The resultant publicity puts him in a double-barreled crossfire. Darla, Carlotta’s troubled daughter, insists that Peter help her find her mother’s killer, and Jake, Carlotta’s murderer, decides to frame Peter for the crime. When a second murder occurs and evidence is planted in Peter’s trash, the cops dredge up Peter’s painful history of petty theft. The only ray of sunshine in this harrowing nightmare is Ruby Jane, the coffee lady. Peter has no idea that the deranged killer is after him until he takes a shot at Ruby Jane. Nice read. 05/07 Jack Quick
THE LOST GET-BACK BOOGIE by James Lee Burke: To paraphrase and try to quote an old preacher:
“I tried to keep him him out of the juke joints, but he was a Mockingbird.. He knows every song ‘cept his own.”
This book was rejected by 116 separate publishing house readers, much to their shame, and finally published by the University of Louisiana State Press, in 1986. It’s a pure platinum read into what he was to become later on via his Robicheaux series, along with his Westerns set in Montana. Burke is a southern poet. He describes things in words that only we mortals can dream of doing.
Iry Paret gets out of Angola and heads with parole approval to Montana, and his prison pal Buddy Riordan’s family. He thinks he’s escaping the hell hole of Angola and Louisiana to a more idyllic setting, but he’s dead ass wrong. It turns out that the Riordan family is persona non grata due to the family patriarch’s ecological policies. Meanwhile, as a kick ass guitar picker, he’s working on a song, and thus the title. Things really start to go bad, on many levels and Paret finds himself in a hostile place where he is the most un-welcome of all, and he’s still chasing his song.
Keep in mind here that this is a seminal work by Mr. Burke, but the book is so filled with the potential that manifested itself over the next twenty years, into the books you’re reading now that it can’t be dismissed – it’s a historical must for fans of the author. The bottom line is that this last gasp paved the way for all the wonderful books since, no matter which series you favor. Burke was nearly dead and buried, but rose from the ashes into the true great he is today; an American treasure.
One other thing – no matter which of his books you read, no one can deny his taste for well described violence. My favorite quote from the book appears on pg. 130 of the paperback: “It looks like we’ve gotten you into some of our family’s troubles, Mr. Paret” he [Old man Riordan] said…”No, Sir, that’s not true. I usually make a point of finding my own.” And he eventually does…tragically. Again, a must read for Burke fans. And by the way, the excellent forward [written by Christine Wiltz] not only explains how he writes, but also who he is. 04/06 DOC
LOST GIRLS by George D. Shuman: The third book in the Shuman’s Sherry Moore series begins with Sherry taking a trip to Denali where a senator’s daughter has been lost in a snowstorm. Sherry is blind, but she has the ability to touch a corpse and see 18 seconds of their final memories. A body on Denali does lead search and rescue to the senator’s daughter, but it also leaves Sherry to deal with some quite disturbing images. It’s discovered that the man may have had ties to a human trafficking ring in Haiti. Then, an investigator in Jamaica witnesses a body falling from a passing plane. The body is that of a young girl with a rather unique tattoo – a tattoo that is actually the brand of a particular trafficking ring, the same that Sherry witnessed through the dead man’s eyes. Given the subject matter it’s no surprise that there is quite a bit of disturbing content in this one. I was a little disappointed that Sherry was not present in a good portion of the book. Shuman does a great job developing his characters, no matter how peripheral they may seem, but this one was a bit short and that meant that quite a bit of the book passes without Sherry’s presence. 09/08 Becky Lejeune
THE LOST GODDESS by Tom Knox: The term “high adventure” was no doubt coined for Knox’s latest book. Julia Kerrigan, a young archeologist, unearths an ancient skull with a hole bored through the head. After she reveals her discovery her mentor and sponsor is murdered. At the same time deep in the Cambodian jungles half way around the world professional photographer Jake Thurby is offered a commission to work through the ancient Plain of Jars. The two events have a commonality fairly well explored and centered around an interesting fact about ancient medical practices. Ancient doctors found some success in alleviating pain and mental problems via the method of entering the brain via drilling into it. A lot of description, too much so, is placed on findings of the horrors perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge against the people of Cambodia during the Vietnam was era. This is interesting but a bit redundant since all this information adds little to the story, but serves as a means to convey Knox’s feelings about communism being evil. The ending does a good job of tying up the two parts of the story, and fleshing out the villain of the piece and her interests. As indicated the book is adventure at a fairly high level and guaranteed to keep the reader involved and guessing. 2/12 Paul Lane
LOST LAKE by Phillip Margolin: Start with the 1985 murder of a United States Congressman. Add the mentally unstable (?) daughter of a Vietnam era General who is now running for President. Mix in a former CIA Director as incumbent President, along with a dogged FBI official who feels his career has been managed ever since Congressman Glass’s murder. Put it all in today’s newspaper and you have – a thriller. As Mae West said, “buckle up boys, its going to be a wild ride.” Who is Carl Rice? Can you believe the stories of a confessed mass murderer and an admitted paranoid, or do you trust the government? This could be fact, or is it? Did I mention the JFK assassination connection and who else was on that grassy knoll? Recommended, with seat belts. 05/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
Lost Light by Michael Connelly: This may be Connelly’s finest yet. As fans of the Bosch series know, Harry turned in his LAPD badge in City of Bones (which made my favorites list for 2002,) so this one finds Harry with a private investigator permit languishing in the drawer. The other big change is the point of view; this is Connelly’s first attempt at writing in the first person, and he pulls it off beautifully. As a friend (Geoff) pointed out, it’s a lot tougher for Harry to be an asshole when he’s telling the story. And an interesting story it is; another retired cop calls Harry and convinces him to look into a cold case – a murder of a young actress that somehow was tied into a $2,000,000 heist four years earlier that was never solved. This cop retired after his partner was killed and he took a bullet to the neck, rendering him a quadriplegic. The F.B.I.’s little-known-but-oh-so-powerful homeland security department gets involved and things really start happening. Connelly has written a real dilemma of a book – it’s so good you don’t want to put it down, but you don’t want it to end, either. And there is a fabulous jazz compilation CD called Dark Sacred Night that is being given away with the purchase of this book at some bookstores, so ask around before you buy. Connelly recommends listening while you read.
THE LOST ONES by Ace Atkins: In this second outing for ex-US Army Ranger Quinn Colson, he finds his hands full as the newly elected sheriff of Tibbehah County, Mississippi. An old buddy running a gun shop is in over his head with some Mexcian drug gangs, Tough-as-nails deputy Lillie Virgil is deep into the heart of a bootleg baby racket. Eventually the two case collide in a spectacular fashion. Quinn may be home from one war but this situation is just as dangerous as they all fight for their lives. Outstanding. 10/12 Jack Quick
THE LOST SISTER by Megan Kelley Hall: Last year, author Megan Kelley Hall introduced readers to the Sisters of Misery in her teen debut of the same name. Now, it’s months later and Maddie Crane has left Hawthorne in an attempt to heal from the events of that fateful night on Misery Island, the events that led to her cousin’s disappearance, her aunt’s spiral into madness, and a revelation that changed everything for her family. Someone doesn’t want the Sisters of Misery to forget that night, though. Someone doesn’t want people to forget Cordelia LeClaire. And when Maddie and Cordelia both return to Hawthorne, that person’s deadly plan begins to unfold. As the Sisters begin to fall, Maddie becomes desperate to uncover the killer’s identity and protect her loved ones. This sequel brings the mystery that began with Sisters of Misery to an end, but will Maddie and her family survive? A great teen mystery with a slight paranormal twist. 07/09 Becky Lejeune
LOST SOULS by Lisa Jackson: Kristi Bentz has decided that it’s time to finally head back to college and complete her degree, and her father is not happy. It seems Kristi has a tendency to get into trouble and is still recovering from an attempt on her life that left her comatose (Bentz, family, and friends have appeared in previous Jackson novels). Of course her father would want to keep her at home where she is safe, especially when he learns that five coeds have recently and inexplicably disappeared from Kristi’s school of choice. The local police are treating the cases as runaways – each of the girls had a history of running off with no warning. They also had family problems and no close friends. Kristi thinks something else is going on, though. When she learns that the last tenant in her new apartment just happened to be one of the missing girls, she decides that she should be the one to look into things. She discovers that there are rumors around campus of a vampire cult, spawned no doubt by one of the college’s most popular courses regarding vampires in literature. Kristi is certain that it’s no coincidence each of the five girls was taking the course in question at the time of their disappearances. Unfortunately for Kristi, her snooping around has once again caught the attention of the wrong person, or persons. This was my first Jackson title, but definitely not my last. The tight plot combined with her easy style makes this a very intense but quick read. Readers who like Lisa Gardner, Tess Gerritsen, and Iris Johansen are sure to like Jackson. Like Gardner, Jackson has common characters throughout many of her novels, but most, including Lost Souls, can be read as stand-alones. 05/08 Becky Lejeune
THE LOST SYMBOL by Dan Brown: Periodically, I buy Mega-Millions lottery tickets. I admit it. I don’t know how much I have spent but I do know that largest jackpot I ever won is $150 so I suspect I am behind. I bring this up because I am sure the fashionable thing will be to put down this book as blithering nonsense written to pander to the masses with no socially redeeming values. Maybe it is, but if you suspend belief, overlook the myriad coincidences and go with the flow as Harvard Professor Robert Langdon finds himself in a predicament that requires his vast knowledge of symbology and superior problem-solving skills to save the day, then you just might be entertained. I was, kind of in the same fashion as the original Star Wars film. It is pure escapism, but as with other Dan Brown books, the pace is relentless, the revelations many, and there is an endless parade of intriguing factoids. I admit I enjoyed it, but I also enjoy chili cheese dogs and pork rinds which my wife says will be the death of me yet. I encourage you to try it. Give it 50 pages, and then if it’s not your cuppa, throw it against the wall, otherwise plan on some late nights and lots of black coffee. I think it’s universally available at $9.99 which is less than a nicely prepared lunch, or if you are lucky in books and not in lottery like me, get it from your local library. I think they had 500 or so copies, so the wait time was minimal. 11/09 Jack Quick
THE LOST VAN GOGH by A.J. Zerries: It is a truism that the larger the organization, the more narrow the specialization of its members. So it shouldn’t be surprising that an organization as big as the NYPD would have an “art cop”, a member of the Major Crimes Squad who specializes in crimes related to art. Usually detective Clay Ryder is following up on thefts, like the two priceless paintings stolen from a Central Park penthouse. But this case is just the opposite. A previously unknown Van Gogh shows up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, having been shipped from Argentina via UPS. It is up to Ryder to track back to the Nazi pillaging of Jewish-owned art treasures, with an especially barbaric SS officer believed to have escaped to Argentina, the Israeli Mossad agents on the SS officer’s trail, and ultimately to protect the rightful heir to the Van Gogh portrait, one Rachel Meredith, a film-history professor at NYU. Interesting and complicated, particularly for those who are art buffs. 06/09 Jack Quick
THE LOST WITNESS by Robert Ellis: On the outs with her department after the volatile outcome of her last case (City of Fire,) Detective Lena Gamble is given a final chance to prove herself by solving the grisliest of homicides: a beautiful young woman chopped into pieces and dropped in a dumpster. Gamble doesn’t accept the early characterization of the victim, Jennifer McBride, as a prostitute and as the investigation deepens, Gamble begins to think that she’s being set up to fail by a vengeful chief of police and his cohorts. With a growing body count and an ever expanding web of secrets and lies, Gamble variously confronts a corrupt pharmaceutical executive, a sleazy senator, and an American soldier turned sinister by tours of duty in Iraq. Definitely recommended if you enjoy gritty street action. 10/11 Jack Quick
Louisiana Bigshot by Julie Smith: A mystery revolving around racism, which apparently is still alive and kicking in Louisiana. This is the sequel to Louisiana Hotshot, but my first experience with this author. Her main protagonist is Talba Wallis, an African American young woman with a newly issued private investigator license. Talba’s masseuse is found dead of an apparent suicide by heroin overdose, but her cheating boyfriend is convinced she was murdered and hires Talba to solve the mystery. I had a hard time getting into the story, and I found her writing style too simplistic, but there were some nice twists and a strong ending.
LOVE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS by Holly Shumas: It’s Thanksgiving. Eve is eight months pregnant with her second child. Her friends and family are over to celebrate the holiday, and she hears her husband, Jon, talking on the phone in hushed tones. She discovers that he has been in a “relationship” with another woman for over a year. The relationship isn’t physical, but emotional. Eve feels betrayed, and asks Jon to leave. She begins questioning her entire life, the decision she made in getting married and having children so soon. Understandably, thoughts of Jon’s “affair” plague her constantly. Is an emotional affair worse than a sexual one? Shumas’ writing is emotional and honest. The reader feels the betrayal and anger that Eve experiences. The situation that Jon and Eve are experiencing is a very real one. LOVE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS makes each reader, no matter their circumstances, reevaluate their lives, their relationships, and the decisions they make. An amazing piece of writing. 02/09 Jennifer Lawrence
LOVE GONE MAD by Mark Rubinstein: Mark Rubinstein is a doctor, psychiatrist and teacher of psychiatry at Cornell University. He is eminently qualified to write a book that delves into relationships exposed to the depths of madness, and Love Gone Mad is that book. Adrian Douglas, a successful heart surgeon and Megan Haggarty an RN attached to the natal clinic at the hospital they both work at meet quite by chance during a lunch break at work. They experience an immediate attraction to each other and very rapidly realize that they are in love. Both have the common background of having first marriages that did not work out; Adrian’s due to his wife cheating on him, and Megan’s based on the increasing brutality of her husband. Megan has a little girl from the first marriage while Adrian is childless and plainly missing the experience of having children. Megan’s first husband, Conrad Wilson, drove her away from him with both insane unfounded jealousy as well as threats of physical violence, so much so that Megan took out a restraining order against him and moved away as secretly as possible in order not to be found. Conrad finds out where she lives and discovers that she is involved with Dr Douglas driving him to ever increasing rages against both of them. He also is incensed about Megan’s daughter claiming that she is not his and that the child is evil. Conrad’s rages drive him to openly attack both Adrian and Megan and he is arrested and tried for attempted murder. His lawyer enters a not guilty by reason of insanity plea and he is successful in avoiding the penitentiary and sent to a state institution for treatment. The picture painted by Rubinstein of succeeding events involves criticism of the legal, medical and psychiatric professions and follows a psychopath into complete dissolution of any ability to reason. The principal characters are very well delineated and the ending logically based on what has happened to them in the story. An up all night read with questions raised about the policy of allowing insanity pleas to so easily be entered in the case of extremely violent crime or the danger of later violence on the part of the person tried. 9/13 Paul Lane
A Love of My Own by E. Lynn Harris: This story revolves around Zola Norwood, the editor-in-chief of Bling Bling magazine, geared towards young, hip African Americans. Zola is looking for love, but finding lust. Several returning characters from Harris’s previous books are here, including Basil Henderson, Raymond Tyler, and Yancy B., among others. Harris also incorporates the horror of September 11 in a very poignant and respectful manner, as well as some other recent history like Halle Berry & Denzel Washington winning Academy Awards. I always look forward to his books, and always enjoy them.
Love Her Madly by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith: This terrific thriller with legal overtones is a war of women: Poppy Rice, the tough, sharp FBI agent versus the oh-so-ethereal Rona Leigh Glueck, confessed & convicted killer who’s waiting for her death sentence to be carried out so she can go home to Jesus. Poppy’s not buying it and she has no qualms in taking on the Texas Governor and the FBI to make her case.
LOVE IN A NUTSHELL by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly: I’m not sure why I finished this book. It is supposed to be romantic suspense but the romance was sort of tepid and the suspense was sort of boring. It starts off really good. We meet Kate Appleton, who has moved into her parents’ dilapidated summer home in hopes of turning it into a bed & breakfast. Then she gets fired, and forces her way into a job with hunky Matt Culhane, owner of the town brewery/restaurant. Off to a winning start that quickly flounders as the story just meanders weakly along. This book needs some serious punching up. It looks like Evanovich is heading down the Patterson route of “writing” with co-authors but sorry to say I’m not sure it’s going to work out as well for her. 2/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
LOVE KILLS by Edna Buchanan: After eight Britt Montero novels and two Cold Case Squad novels, Edgar-finalist Buchanan brings Britt and the Cold Case Squad together in this outing. When Miami police discover the remains of Spencer York, a kidnapper who worked for divorced fathers, members of the Cold Case Squad question veteran Miami News crime reporter Britt Montero, the last person to see him alive. In the meantime Britt has found a disposable camera in the ocean with pictures of a honeymooning couple lost at sea. The groom in the photo, Marsh Holt, later turns up alive, but his bride has drowned. Britt’s investigative journalism leads her to an amazing discovery — Marsh has a habit of marrying women who meet their demise while honeymooning, and he plans to marry once again. The two cases remain intertwined to the very end in this delightfully twisty outing. 12/08 Jack Quick
LOVE YOU MORE by Lisa Gardner: D.D. Warren and Bobby Dodge are back in this latest from Lisa Gardner. The case involves a female state trooper who has apparently shot and killed her husband. She’s covered in bruises and it would seem she’s been the victim of violent abuse, most likely at the hands of her husband. She claims self-defense. Then the detectives realize that the woman’s six-year-old daughter is missing. As they race the clock to find the missing child, more about the case comes to light and D.D. and Bobby soon discover that nothing is as it seems. What a wild ride. The story alternates between the investigation and the trooper, Tessa Leoni. The reader learns more about Tessa and her crime at about the same pace the detectives do, making it unclear whether Tessa is a reliable narrator or not. Love You More can be read as a stand-alone, or as the fifth title featuring Detective D.D. Warren. 05/11 Becky Lejeune
LOVE WITH NOODLES: An Amorous Widower’s Tale by Harry I. Freund: A first novel by a 60-something, well-to-do, Manhattan-dwelling Jewish man about a 60-something, well-to-do, Manhattan-dwelling, Jewish widower. Apparently Mr. Freund took that old adage, “write about what you know” to heart. With the aging of America, love and lust among the, shall we say, upper stretch of middle age, seems to be a small but growing genre. Jeanne Ray (Julie & Romeo, Eat Cake) does it magnificently; Harry Freund’s attempt doesn’t fare quite as well.
Dan Gelder lost his wife and two years later, the Upper East Side women are after him – a big departure from the south Florida set portrayed in Jane Austen in Boca by Paula Marantz Cohen, or even the film Boynton Beach Club, where as soon as the body is cold, the women heat up in pursuit of the new widower. They must be more gentile on Park Avenue, or perhaps it’s the age difference between 60 and 70. Either way, Dan is invited to dinner party after dinner party where a single woman of an appropriate age is waiting for him. At his surprise 60th birthday party, he meets Violet Finkel who is beyond well-to-do and into the rarified stratosphere of the truly rich; hence, love with noodles, a little extra to bring to the table. But Dan also meets and beds a handful of other women, and then he meets Tatiana, a 40-something Russian immigrant with a 9-year-old piano prodigy son. Shockingly, the 60-something is physically drawn to the 40-something, and the 40-something is drawn to his money. Which way Dan will go, for the money or the younger woman, is the basic premise of this male fantasy run amok. If you don’t mind pedestrian writing, and you’re looking for completely mindless, slightly amusing entertainment, you’ve found your book. The best thing I can say about it is that it held my attention for a few hours on a rainy afternoon. 11/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
LOVE YOU MORE by Lisa Gardner: This is the latest D.D. Warren thriller, and it is terrific. Massachusetts state trooper Tessa Leoni is standing over the body of her husband, Brian, her service weapon in her hand. Her face is badly battered and she is hospitalized with a severe concussion. Her six year old daughter, Sophie, seems to be missing. Boston Police jump to the obvious conclusion; battered wife gets even. Justifiable homicide, it happens all the time. Except where is Sophie? D.D. Warren isn’t so sure that is the case, and as she starts digging, the case gets more and more complicated. What starts out as a seemingly simple open and shut case, twists and turns into something completely different. Narration shifts between Leoni and Warren, who lead us down a very bumpy, winding road. Another winner for Gardner, who has become a must read for me. 04/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold: This is the story of Susie Salmon, a 14 year old girl who is raped and murdered. Susie tells us this story from her perch up in heaven, and it’s an incredible journey along the lives of everyone she touched. Not every loose end is tied up, and it may smack too much of reality for some, but this is a breathtaking debut novel. Amazingly, it hit number one on the NY Times bestseller list, and has become something of a permanent fixture in the top ten these past six months. I say amazingly not because it doesn’t deserve it, but rather because it does – and that doesn’t happen very often for a first novel. It is a gorgeous book, beautifully written, and I am thrilled for her – and for me, because I enjoyed every word of it. Confession: When I first received this book, I read that Anna Quindlan, who I greatly respect, said “If you read one book this summer, it should be The Lovely Bones. … It’s destined to be a classic along the lines of To Kill a Mockingbird.” I’m sorry to say my first thought was great, Quindlan’s become a blurb whore, and I gave the book away unread. After all the great press it received, my curiosity got the best of me and I borrowed a copy from the library to read. I subsequently went out and purchased it. I was wrong, she was right, and my faith has been restored. My most humble apologies to Ms. Quindlan.
THE LOW END OF NOWHERE by Michael Stone: Denver PI Michael Stone has a winner in Streeter, a Denver bounty hunter. First he foils a gorgeous advertising woman’s scheme to cheat her insurance company. Then he is tracing the money hidden by a drug dealer before his death in a car crash, add in a sleazy lawyer, a street-smart para-legal, a couple of sociopaths and a possible bent cop. Well, by now you have probably figured it out, but it took me a whole lot longer. Recommended. 02/06 Jack Quick
A LOYAL CHARACTER DANCER by Qui Xiaolong: First published in the United States in 2002, A Loyal Character Dancer is an interesting story of a rising young Chinese detective in Singapore who is attempting to walk the delicate balance between offending powerful, if vague, interests, and assisting a U.S. Marshal in attempting to find a Chinese woman who is the wife of a witness in people smuggling prosecutions in the United States. Inspector Chen Cao is assigned to serve as liaison to Inspector Catherine Rohn of the U.S. Marshal’s service as she attempts to locate Wen Liping, the pregnant wife who has either been kidnapped by the triads or gone into hiding. When given the assignment, he is informed that his job is to serve as an escort making sure that Ms. Rohn leaves with nothing but a good impression of China and the police force. Whether or not the witness is found is irrelevant. Nonetheless, Cao and his assistant Yu Guangming, make enough progress that their lives are repeatedly threatened either by the Flying Axes triad or another more mysterious group attempting to implicate the Flying Axes. The explanation of the treatment of “educated children” during the Cultural Revolution, the sights of Shanghai, exotic foods, ancient and modern Chinese art and poetry and herbal medicine are a few of the elements that enrich this story. But it is Cao’s philosophizing and dedication that make this a special story. I plan on reading more of Qui Ziaolong’s Inspector Cao stories. 1/13 Geoffrey R. Hamlin
Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani: Kit lives in an apartment building in modern day NY with her neighbor, the slightly eccentric 70-year-old Aunt Lu, who is always draped in mink. One afternoon they have tea together, and Aunt Lu proceeds to regale the curious Kit with her life story. Lu is the Lucia of the title; a beautiful 25 year old Italian-American feminist in 1950, an age where feminism was unheard of and good Italian girls did as they were told. Lucia is pursued by Dante, who expects her to give up her job as a seamstress in the couture department of the swanky B. Altman’s department store as soon as they are married. But Lucia wants more out of life than being a baker’s wife, she has her own ambitions. Then she falls for John Talbot, a suave uptown businessman who sweeps her off her feet and adorns her in that infamous mink, but things don’t work out exactly as Lucia planned. This novel is peopled with wonderful characters and offers a fascinating glimpse into the gentile world of Italian-American Catholic 1950’s values and culture that has long faded away.
LUCIFER’S SHADOW by David Hewson: This Venetian stand-alone contains not one, but two mysteries – one modern and one that dates back to 1733. The story begins with a visit to San Michele where a thief has been hired to witness the exhumation of a young woman’s body and then steals the rare violin that accompanied her to the grave. In 1733, printer’s apprentice Lorenzo Scacchi has been asked to escort a young Jewish woman from the ghetto to Vivaldi’s church to perform. In a time when Jews were segregated and forced to adhere to strict rules, the beautiful and talented Rebecca Levi would never have been allowed to set foot in, much less perform in, a Christian church. Soon, the two find themselves involved in a plot of deception that could lead to imprisonment or even death. Today, Oxford graduate Daniel Forster has been hired by one of the few remaining members of the Scacchi clan to catalogue the neglected Scacchi warehouse. Daniel has been charged with finding anything that could fetch a sum large enough to pay the many Scacchi debts. When Daniel discovers an anonymous composition, he and Scacchi are told that without verification of the composer or copyright, the manuscript would be worthless. A rich investor convinces Daniel to take credit for the composition. The subsequent funds are used to then buy a rare violin that will supposedly be sold to a collector to pay the family debts. A fascinating mystery with a great plot twist at the end. A surprise to readers – this story continues in Hewson’s latest title, The Lizard’s Bite. 10/06 Becky LeJeune
LUCIFER’S TEARS by James Thompson: The successful solution of the Sufia Elmi case (SNOW ANGELS) left Kari Vaara with a scarred face, chronic insomnia, a constant migraine, a full body count’s worth of ghosts, and promotion to the graveyard shift in the Helsinki homicide unit, terrified that his heavily pregnant wife will miscarry again after she lost the twins just after last Christmas. Kari is pushed into investigating a ninety-year-old national hero for war crimes committed during World War II. The Interior Minister demands a conclusion of innocence, preserving Finland’s heroic perception about itself and its role in the war, but Germany wants extradition. In the meantime, Kari’s sister in law and brother in law both come to “help” the Vaaras. Actually they are the ones needing help. Throw in a few more murders, some political intrigue and soon the past and present collide in ways no one could have anticipated. 3/12 Jack Quick
LUCK BE A LADY by Cathie Linz: I bought this book because a former co-worker highly recommended it and my library didn’t own a copy. This is a contemporary romance with a librarian heroine – but this is not your stereotypical bun-wearing librarian. Megan West knows her own mind and has a mind of her own, and will fiercely defend what she thinks is right no matter the consequences. When Logan Doyle, a young cop, bursts into her best friend/cousin’s wedding and tries to stop it, Megan stops him cold. Circumstances change when Megan overhears some devastating news and she goes running out into the night, rescued by Logan, and they end up on a road trip through Nevada. Everyone they meet sees the chemistry between them, but a close friend of Megan’s had a bad experience with a cop and she’s wary. Logan’s had a bad experience with another damsel in distress, so he’s leery. But this is a romance, so there is the requisite happy ending with some laughs along the way. This is a very cute story, light fast reading, and I enjoyed it. 3/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
LUCKY AT CARDS by Lawrence Block: Bill Maynard is a card shark – not the best – or he wouldn’t be having broken teeth fixed in a small Midwestern town. But the stopover does give him the opportunity to maybe re-build his stash in a friendly small town game of poker. Maynard is successful in scamming the locals, but falls hard for Joyce, the sexy young wife of the game’s host, who isn’t fooled by his card tricks. Indeed, she’s got higher stakes in mind: after seducing him, she ropes Bill into that old scheme, helping her get rid of her hubby. Lawrence Block is an ideal fit for Hard Case Crimes in this Number 28 of the series, another hit from the get go. 02/07 Jack Quick
LUCKY BASTARD by Deborah Coonts: This is the fourth entry into the Lucky O’Toole Las Vegas Adventures and if you are not familiar with the series, you cam start here but it’s probably better if they are read in order. Coonts has created a terrific cast of characters led by Lucky, who has just been promoted to vice president of Customer Relations for the magnificent, fictional Babylon Hotel. If you’re a Vegas fan, these books give you an inside look at the running of the high end hotels and some of the people that move through them. The Babylon is hosting one of the premier poker tournaments, bringing lots of high rollers to the hotel. When a dead woman is found draped over a Ferarri in the hotel dealership, the local police have their hands full. Chief suspect is the dead woman’s estranged husband, and then more bodes turn up. Lots of action keep the pages turning and there’s an undertone of romance to lighten things up. The pages fly by in this terrific tale of suspense and Vegas style fun. 5/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
LUCKY STIFF by Deborah Coonts: Talk about characters! Lucky O’Toole is the customer service manager at the fantastic, fictional Babylon Hotel in Las Vegas. Her mother runs a whore house on the outskirts of town, her boyfriend Teddie was the queen of cross dressing entertainers and just about every other character is quirky and charming and fun. Except the murderer, of course. In this tale a truckload of bees gets loose, a much hated bookie ends up eaten by sharks in the hotel shark tank, there are some ugly rumors floating around about the district attorney, and a new, hunky French chef is turning one of the hotel restaurants into a hamburger haven. Lucky ricochets between them all, fixing problems and solving the crime. We get to laugh out loud at the process in this page turner of a second novel, the sequel to the terrific Wanna Get Lucky? 03/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
LUCKY’S LADY by Tami Hoag: Psychologist Serena Sheridan comes back to the small Louisiana town where she’d been raised to find her grandfather missing and her twin sister planning to sell the family estate to finance her husband’s political career. She hires Lucky Doucet, a handsome Cajun with a past littered with secrets, to guide her into the swamp to find her grandfather. Soon their relationship is as steamy as the surrounding bayous, an attempt is made on Serena’s life, and well……First published in 1992, this book is categorized as a romantic suspense novel, with more emphasis on the romance than the suspense. Ms. Hoag is an author who has grown and improved with time. I didn’t like this as much as her later works, but still not bad. 08/06 Jack Quick
LULLABY by Claire Seeber: Jess Finnegan was having a nice day out with her husband and baby, when she realized that she was alone. One moment her family was by her side, the next they were simply gone. She searches high and low but can find no sign. Resigned, she returns home hoping that they will be waiting for her. Not so. The authorities are quick to brush aside her concerns: her husband is a responsible adult, after all, and it’s only been a matter of hours. But then Jess’s worst nightmares come true when her husband is found beaten and apparently left for dead. The baby is nowhere to be found. With every moment that passes, the trail goes colder. Jess, unable to sit idly by, begins her own search, leading her to suspect almost everyone of possible involvement in her son’s kidnapping. Lullaby is a tightly plotted and intense story in the tradition of UK suspense made famous by the likes of Nicci French, Minette Walters, and Ruth Rendell. Though Lullaby debuted in the UK in 2007, this is Seeber’s first U.S. release. Definitely an author to watch. 01/10 Becky Lejeune
LULLABY FOR THE NAMELESS by Sandra Ruttan: Ruttan uses a not unfamiliar theme to create an in-depth study of the law enforcement psyche. Her three Canadian Constables – Nolan, Hart and Tain are dealing with a nightmare. Their first case working together involved tracking down a serial murderer known as the Missing Killer. That case was solved and the perp put to death. Now, Hart and Tain find themselves handling the case of the murder of the only victim who survived from that original case several months earlier. In the meantime, Nolan is assigned to a manhunt to search for a man who may have murdered his family and learns that the man they’re searching for is also connected to that same former case. So, did they get it wrong in the first investigation and send an innocent man to death or are they being targeted by someone from that first investigation, who knows the details, and is trying to cast doubt on the original investigation? LULLABY FOR THE NAMELESS goes back and forth between the old case and the new one chronicling the stress being placed on Nolan, Hart and Tain. Will they survive or will one (or more) of them become a victim of this new investigation? Ruttan has an almost uncanny ability to place you in the thought processes of all three as they cope with the fears of failure – both possibly past and in the future. Even though there isn’t a high action level as in some books, at the end of this one you are drained emotionally knowing that the toll on the book’s characters is infinitely greater. Thank you, Ms. Ruttan, for another good one. 05/10 Jack Quick
LUNATICS by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel: I have missed Dave Barry, and his newest fiction attempt brought back all the laughs that I had been missing. His co-author, Alan Zweibel, is new to me, but this book appears seamless so kudos to both authors. This is the story of two suburban men, Jeffrey Peckerman and Philip Horkman. Horkman is the good husband, neighbor and soccer coach and Peckerman is a bit bigoted and quick to anger. They end up in the most insane circumstances and go into a sort of Forrest Gump like existence, moving from most wanted terrorists to heroes, keeping the laughs coming as fast as you can turn the pages. If you want to escape from reality for a few hours, this is your book. Caution: keep all food and beverages away while reading as they could become choking hazards. 2/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
LURE OF THE MUMMY by Janis Susan May: A short, but quite readable horror novel for those that like the genre. Set in modern day Cairo and involving a group of individuals engaged in translating and investigating artifacts from ancient Egypt. They are scholars and poorly paid for the work they do, but are dedicated to expending the necessary efforts needed to bring to life the records of an ancient culture. Bert Carmody is the senior investigator but has a very poor image due to his personal overweight and a lifetime of reticence in relationships with other people. He is actually somewhat of an outcast among the group and spends most of his free time alone looking around in the markets in Cairo for something that will bring him fame due to its authenticity, but has had no luck. One day he is literally handed an ancient animal mummy by someone obviously looking to give it away. His troubles and the related troubles of his co-workers start with his bringing the mummy home and trying to decide what to do with it. Unexplained deaths among his group and two horrible changes begin with the arrival of the animal mummy at his apartment. The buildup of the horror involved in the tale is handled quite nicely by May, and the ending is logical but frightening. A very good, albeit short read for those that enjoy stories built around ancient mummy curses. 10/11 Paul Lane NOTE: Only available as an e-book
LUSH LIFE by Richard Price: For fans of both good writing and fans of police procedurals, this is absolutely a must read. Richard Price, who is as well-known for his movie scripts (The Color of Money, Sea of Love) and his television writing (The Wire, CSI) has produced a masterpiece of a story in Lush Life.
The story revolves around three men who are mugged in a lower East Side neighborhood in New York. The one man, Eric Cash, is a pretty capable restaurant manager with aspirations to be a writer or an actor, or something more meaningful than a restaurant manager. These dreams seem to getting further and further out of reach as he gets older. The second man, completely intoxicated, faints at the sight of the muggers. The third, Ike Marcus, is a cocky bartender at the restaurant Eric manages. Perhaps he says “Not tonight, my man” to the mugger and is shot and killed.
The lead detective, Matty Clark, is advised that a witness claims that Cash was seen to throw away a gun after the incident. This leads him to suspect that perhaps all is not as first appeared and launches him into perhaps the most detailed interrogation I have ever read. Ultimately, he concludes that Cash was not the killer, but by that point Cash has been irrevocably damaged. Ike’s father cannot accept the death of his son and when he learns that Cash was considered a suspect, launches into a troublesome crusade to get at the “truth.” By the end of the story, everyone’s life has been changed. But the neighborhood, which is beautifully described, continues to pulse on. This is absolutely crime fiction at its very best. 10/08 Geoffrey R. Hamlin
THE LUST LIZARD OF MELANCHOLY COVE by Christopher Moore: As Pine Cove’s only psychiatrist, Dr. Valerie Riordan has become complacent and lazy when it comes to her patients, subscribing to the belief that for every patient there is a pill. This belief has allowed her to collect a small kickback from the local pharmacy and do as little work as possible. When it appears that one of her patients, Bess Leander, has killed herself, Val vows to turn her practice, and the people of Pine Cove around by switching their meds to placebos. Unfortunately for Val, a horny killer sea creature has also made its way to Pine Cove. Where the creature goes, he spreads a “signal” lulling his prey into a happy and lusty state of submission. The newly “clean” residents are even more susceptible to the creature’s influence. Town constable and resident pothead Theophilus Crowe has noticed the changes in Pine Cove and becomes suspicious as the randy townspeople begin pairing off and the list of missing folk continues to grow. Christopher Moore has done it again – Lust Lizard is a guaranteed quick and hilarious read. 03/07 Becky Lejeune
LUST, LOATHING AND A LITTLE LIP GLOSS by Kyra Davis: In the fourth title of this hilarious series, mystery author Sophie Katz has finally saved up enough money to buy her first home. Unfortunately in the San Francisco housing market, Sophie can only afford a modest fixer-upper. When her slimy ex-husband, who just happens to be a realtor, approaches Sophie with the deal of a lifetime—a fabulous renovated Victorian in a very desirable neighborhood, selling for way under market value—Sophie knows there must be a catch. And there sure is. Sophie and her ex arrive just in time to find the owner dead of a heart attack. Still, the owner’s son seems pretty anxious to unload the property, but only if Sophie can prove that she can make contact with the other side. The deal also comes with the stipulation the Sophie join a group obsessed with the undead. Then one of the members is murdered and it looks as though Sophie’s dream home may slip through her fingers. But Sophie’s not going to go down without a fight; she’s going to solve this one and get that house even if it means exposing herself to a crazed psychopath. Such a fun series. Davis’s cast of quirky and loveable characters never fail to crack me up. 05/09 Becky Lejeune
LUTHER: THE CALLING by Neil Cross: DCI John Luther is tired. He doesn’t sleep, especially when there’s a big case at hand. His friend and colleague, Ian Reed, is laid up after being assaulted by two heavies who have been harassing an old man. Reed had been trying to help, but now he’s asked Luther to step in while he recuperates. Then Luther is called in on a disturbing new scene: a couple has been butchered in their own home. The wife was nearing the end of a pregnancy and the killer snatched the child from her womb. As Luther and the team investigate, the killer begins taunting them through a local radio show, threatening more violence if the police don’t comply with his requests. While Luther’s always been willing to bend the rules where necessary, his actions are becoming erratic and those who know him best are beginning to worry. But Luther knows he can solve this case and time is running out for the missing infant. Luther: The Calling is a prequel to the first season of the BBC show. In fact, the case in The Calling is the one that’s ending at the very beginning of the first episode, kicking off Luther’s problems in the series. While the book certainly stands on its own as a thriller, I highly recommend watching the first season and then diving into this prequel. It seems a bit backwards (though that’s the order in which they were released) but there are some pretty big reveals in the first season of the show that are touched on in the book as well. Be warned, Luther is dark and more than a bit disturbing at times. 11/12 Becky Lejeune
Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper by Harriet Scott Chessman: Another of the newish “painting” genre books à la the fabulous GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING, but with a considerable lack of story. The artist in residence is Mary Cassatt, who painted several portraits of her sister and had a relationship with Degas. Her model sister Lydia suffers from Bright’s disease, but Mary keeps on painting her anyway, using color as a symbolism of her illness. There are beautiful color plates of the few paintings novelized here in this small and lovely book. Maybe if I hadn’t recently re-read Chevalier’s book, I would have appreciated this one more.
Lying Awake by Mark Salzman: The softer side of Catholicism is reflected here in this sparse, beautifully written book about faith. Sister John of the Cross is a Carmelite nun who has spent her life seeking God. She starts having visions of God and writing voluminous amounts of inspired poetry, but unfortunately, these visions are accompanied by horrific headaches that are growing progressively worse. She is diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy, the same disease that apparently afflicted Dostoevski, Van Gogh, and St. Terese Avila, founder of the Carmelite order. Sister John’s dilemma is simple: does she want the cure?
LYING IN BED by M. J. Rose: Billed as an erotic novel, this is a slight departure for Rose whose last three books have been erotic thrillers (see The Venus Fix). There are no murders here, yet the story is still quite compelling. Marlowe is an artist that makes a living by writing erotic love letters and stories for other people and is dealing with some difficulties in her personal life. That is, until she meets Gideon, who hires Marlowe but finds they have a very deep connection that certainly transcends a paycheck. I’m still not clear on the nuances that differentiate an erotic novel from a romance, so suffice it to say that this was a good story with interesting characters (with great names!) and as always with Rose, beautifully written sex. Enjoyable. 07/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch