Fiction Reviews R: 1998-2013

THE RACE by Richard North Patterson: A war hero is seeking the Republican nomination for President in this timely, fast-paced yarn. Republican Senator Corey Grace leans to the left – he’s pro choice, stem cell research and gay marriage – and he’s one of the top three contenders for his party’s nomination. His competitors are favorite son Senator Rob Marotta, who will pander to anyone and do anything to get the nomination, and the Reverend Bob Christy, a right wing preacher with a national following. Grace has a few other stumbling blocks as well: he votes his conscience instead of along the party line, and even worse, he’s divorced and dating a beautiful, famous African-American actress. This is a well researched, in-depth look at the voting process in America, examining the unbridled lust for power of a right wing media magnate and a power-crazed lobbyist looking for complete hegemony by seating the next president. A three way tie at the national convention leads to a fairy-tale ending, but it’s the wild ride to get there that’s so much fun. 11/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2007 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

THE RACE by Richard North Patterson: What a perfect read to start on Super-Duper Tuesday. Across the top of my ARC is the question CAN AN HONEST MAN BECOME PRESIDENT? Unfortunately, I think we all know the answer to that. Anyway, in the book, Corey Grace, former decorated Gulf War Air Force pilot and current Senator from Ohio is in a fierce presidential primary battle with the party establishment favorite, and a charismatic leader of Conservative Christians. Sound familiar, so far? Grace’s dalliance with African-American movie star Lexie Hart is a complicating factor. THE RACE has it all – racism, terrorism, religious fundamentalism, gay rights, and powerful media monopolies with their own agenda. Grace must endure betrayal, excruciating moral choices, and secrets that can destroy lives only to arrive at a deadlocked party convention where he must choose between Lexie and his presidential ambitions. With his fifteenth novel, Patterson has definitely raised the bar, and produced a must read for anyone into this year’s US Presidential politics. 02/08 Jack Quick

THE RACKETEER by John Grisham: One of the key ingredients of a Grisham book is the author’s ability to immediately capture the reader and involve him or her in the proceedings. The Racketeer is no different than any of his others have been. There is the need to look askance at a less than believable plot, but in spite of the necessity to accept non logical events it is a captivating read. Malcolm Bannister is an attorney caught up in a crime in which his physical presence causes him to be found guilty and sent to prison for 10 years. It looks like in spite of his innocence he will have to serve the sentence and leave prison with his life ruined by the Federal government, his wife divorcing him, and no way to earn a living as a practicing lawyer. In the fifth year of his sentence, Raymond Fawcett, a Federal Judge, and his girlfriend are killed and the safe in the Judge’s house found open and emptied. Malcolm knows who did it and negotiates with the government for his release and entrance into the witness protection program in return for information leading to the killer. With the negotiation successful and ensuing events unfolding Grisham spins a tangled web with twists and turns that keep the reader going on with the book. Predicting the ending is almost impossible, but within the realm of what is happening is logical, and rewarding. Like his other books, The Racketeer is not easy to put down, and it is possible for the reader to go along with the considerably less than logical sequence of events. 11/12 Paul Lane

THE RADLEYS by Matt Haig: It’s true that parents sometimes lie to their kids. They lie to protect them. And Helen and Peter have been lying to protect their children all their lives. Rowan and Clara have no idea that the real reason for their sensitivity to light and allergy to garlic are anything other than what their parents have always told them. But when Clara decides to forgo meat, in an attempt to get animals to like her better (they truly despise her and she’s not sure why), it kicks off a chain of events forcing Helen and Peter to finally reveal the Radleys’ long-hidden secret: they’re vampires. As abstainers, Helen and Peter have made a nice life for themselves and their children, but it’s all about to fall apart. Though they’re bloodsuckers, the Radleys deal with all the same problems any family drama would tackle, but with a delightful paranormal twist. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Haig’s quirky style and his fantastic characters. 1/11 Becky Lejeune

Rag Man by Pete Hautman: Serio-comic novel that takes a business partnership gone bad to a new dimension. Throw in ethical and moral dilemmas and the age old question of good versus evil and there you have this quick, funny read.

THE RAGE by Gene Kerrigan: Welcome to Dublin, where the economy has tanked and violence has surged. Vincent Naylor walks out of prison and right back into the same business that landed him there; armed robbery. Working with his dimmer brother Noel and some friends, they kidnap an armored truck driver to learn how the system works, setting up for their biggest score yet. Detective Sergeant Bob Tidey is working the murder of an investment banker and contemplating perjuring himself in an upcoming trial when he gets a tip from an old nun that a strange car has been parked on her street for some time. That car turns out to be the getaway car, and that phone call changes lives when two of the men involved in the robbery are killed in the street. Vincent Naylor takes off on a violent revenge spree, and Tidey can’t help but reexamine his own life. The sparse writing exemplifies Irish crime fiction while at the same time adds an additional dimension to the story. Winner of the Gold Dagger award for best crime novel of the year, fans of Ken Bruen, Declan Hughes and Declan Burke won’t want to miss this one. 2/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.

RAGE AGAINST THE DYING by Becky Masterman: Brigid Quinn is a retired FBI agent who gave her all to the bureau until she was forced out over shooting an unarmed man. She spent her career undercover, working on sexual predator cases, and trained her protégé, Jessica, to follow in her footsteps. Jessica went missing while working on a serial killer case and Brigid never really recovered from the loss. Several years later she is happily married and living an idyllic life in Tucson, when she learns that there has been an arrest in the case, but the new agent working it, Laura Coleman, thinks it is a false confession. When Coleman disappears and the Bureau doesn’t seem to notice, Brigid finds herself in the thick of things once again, only this time she is worried about losing another agent, her husband and her new found happiness. Brigid is a marvelous, well-developed character and her skills are fearsome for an old broad. Although she sometimes takes things too far, stretching the bounds of credulity, it is worth the suspension of disbelief to hang with her. Fans of Lisa Gardner and Tess Gerritsen will love this book. 3/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.

RAIN GODS by James Lee Burke: With apologies to all my author friends, but if there is a better book published this year, I doubt I will be able to stand it. Thirty eight years after Burke’s 1971 Lay Down My Sword and Shield, he brings back Hackberry Holland, former defense attorney, Texas congressional candidate, maverick alcoholic, ACLU staffer and now small town sheriff. His beloved wife Rie is dead of uterine cancer, his twin boys have left home and he is left to deal with life. Holland gets involved with former New Orleans bad guys relocated after Katrina. His experiences as a POW survivor in Korea have enabled him to continue to function after discovering the burial site of nine massacred Thai women, a crime that brings FBI and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials running. Preacher Jack Collins has been called in to dispose of Pete Flores and his girl friend (Pete is a possible witness to the massacre). The FBI wants to us them for bait and Holland must try to save their lives. Lowlifes, strong female characters, violence, a battle of wills and wits, but most of all lyrical writing that may be the best ever from even such a master as Burke. From the opening sentence – “On the burnt-out end of a July day in Southwest Texas, in a crossroads community whose only economic importance has depended upon its relationship to a roach paste factory the EPA had shut down twenty years before, a young man driving a car without window glass stopped by an abandoned blue-and-white stucco filling station that has once sold Pure gas during the Depression and was now home to bats and clusters of tumbleweed.” – to further observations like describing the actions of a local bootlegger – “Ouzel tries to keep it simple. No tax stamps or labels to create undue paperwork.” – this is writing that transcends any genre pre-conceptions. 08/09 Jack Quick

RAINSHADOW ROAD by Lisa Kleypas: This was my first Kleypas book and now I’m a fan. This is the first book of a new trilogy with a touch of magic. Not the clichéd magic of getting lost in a good book or the magic of love, but rather the two main characters each have a magical gift. The logical part of my brain usually says no no no you’re not going to like that, but I my emotional side says that if it’s done well, that I really do enjoy it. I loved the magic in Gabaldon’s Outlander series and Morgenstern’s Night Circus and in Ivey’s The Snow Child and now here in Rainshadow Road. I haven’t read enough romance to know a whole lot about the genre, but one of my co-workers is a huge romance reader and we have talked at length about the genre. I am used to series books in mystery and thrillers where the same characters appear in each book and carry a different crime story. But in romance, that doesn’t usually happen. Romance, by definition, has to have a happy ending, usually culminating in the marriage of the main protagonists, so unless they repeatedly break up and get back together, I couldn’t understand how a romance series would work. My co-worker explained, and Kleypas illustrates here, exactly how it works. There is a minor character in this book that will be the main character in the next. The first chapter of the next book is in the back of this one so once I read that, I understood immediately. This book is about a woman who is dumped by the boyfriend that she’s been living with for 2 years because he has fallen in love with her sister. Heartbreak ensues until she meets the local vineyard owner. She knows she is not ready for another relationship and he insists that makes him perfect because he is a total commitment-phobe. The characters are likeable, the story is compelling, and I really enjoyed this contemporary romance. In fact I can’t wait for the next book in the “Friday Harbor” trilogy. 4/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

RAISING ATLANTIS by Thomas Greanias: Archaeologist Dr. Conrad Yeats, the son of a US astronaut, is apprehended by U.S. Special Forces in Peru and sent to Antarctica, where a glacial earthquake has exposed a mysterious monument older than the Earth itself. In Rome, the Pope summons environmental activist Dr. Serena Serghetti to the Vatican…and reveals a terrifying vision of apocalyptic disaster. She too, is dispatched to Antarctica. In space, a weather satellite reveals four massive storms forming around the South Pole…and three U.S. spy satellites disappear from orbit. Are these the end times, when the legends of a lost civilization and the prophecies of the world’s great religions come together to lead one man and one woman on the ultimate voyage, a journey to the center of time, as awe-inspiring as the dawn of man–and as inevitable as doomsday. Nicely done thriller obviously over the top but with solid roots. I am looking forward to the second and third volumes in this series. 03/10 Jack Quick

THE RANGER by Ace Atkins: Quinn Colson is no Jack Reacher, but he is a Ranger “You a Ranger?” Keith asked. Quinn nodded. “Goddam”, Keith said, “I saw two Rangers get into a bar fight one time in Memphis, and they done beat up the bouncer and two cops. Took about a dozen men to control them, and they was still fighting. Y’all are crazy as shit.” Northeast Mississippi retains its reputation for wildness dating all the way back to the War between the States, but its different when Quinn returns from his latest tour in Afghanistan. He comes home for the funeral of his uncle, the county sheriff. He is told that his uncle’s death was suicide but Quinn quickly learns it wasn’t necessarily the old man’s gun that killed him, but rather his poking around into the local meth and marijuana manufacturing and selling that ultimately ended up in the shot into his face. Nicely done and will be pleasing to all those who enjoy Lee Childs and James Lee Burke. Atkins grows stronger with each outing. 06/11 Jack Quick

THE RAPTURE by Liz Jensen: Gabrielle Fox is an art therapist who has survived a terrible accident. But it’s come at a cost: the accident claimed the life of her lover, and Gabrielle herself has been left paralyzed from the waist down. Wheelchair-bound and determined to return to work in spite of her superiors’ recommendations otherwise, she takes a post at an asylum for adolescents. Here she meets Bethany Krall, a 16-year-old who stabbed her mother to death with a screwdriver. Bethany’s treatment involves electrotherapy—the only thing that seems to bring her back to reality—but one side effect of the therapy is the delusion that she can see terrible events around the globe before they occur. Gabrielle’s whole world is turned upside down when she comes to believe that Bethany does in fact have the ability to predict these events. But who will believe Gabrielle and is there anything that can be done to prepare people for what is to come? The Rapture is a dark thriller with an apocalyptic view of our effects on the world. It’s also a very smart read with a well-thought-out plot. Definitely a book that stands out amongst the crowd. 08/09 Becky Lejeune

THE RASNER EFFECT by Mark Rosendorf: Ever ask a Mainer for directions and he says “Ya can’t get there from here.” That phrase would seem to define Rick Rasner. Rasner is a therapist at the Brookhill Children’s Psychiatric Residence, a retro type facility for troubled urban teens run by an oppressive director named Katherine Miller who bullies staff and patients on an equal opportunity basis. Rasner’s path to this position was set years ago when he barely survived a terrorist attack on a New York City bridge which left his car destroyed, his family killed, and his own near death experience (he flat-lined multiple times enroute to treatment). The trauma left him with virtually no memory although his communications skills were not affected. The attack also derailed the career of mercenary Jake Scarberry who was deemed responsible for not stopping the attack. Now the Duke Organization which caused the initial explosion has resurfaced, putting Rick Rasner and Jake in mortal danger. Also at risk is Clara Blue, one of Rick’s patients with whom he has developed a close relationship. Complex but exciting, this is a thriller that will leave you wondering who is good and who is evil, and who should win. 12/09 Jack Quick

RATLINES by Stuart Neville: World War II has been over for 17 years but Irishman Lieutenant Albert Ryan of the Directorate of Intelligence, who fought for Britain in the War is pulled back into the fray. Ireland is preparing for a visit from President John F. Kennedy to the land of his ancestors and three foreigners have been murdered. It turns out all three of the dead men were Nazis granted asylum by the Irish government in the years following World War II. Minister for Justice Charles Haughey wants the killing to end to maintain this shameful secret. When Ryan closes in on the killers, his loyalty is torn between country and conscience. Why must he protect the very people he fought against twenty years before? Interesting and authentic. 1/13 Jack Quick

THE RATS by James Herbert: The war has long since ended but London still bears the scars of the battle. The East End is by no means the posh urban setting that London is famous for. No, the East End is where the downtrodden and poor live. The East End is where the rats first appear, swarming up from the underground and attacking people in the subway, hiding in the trash heaps and killing innocent bystanders, plaguing the poorest part of the city – the part no one cares about. Harris cares, though. He grew up in the East End and when the rats attack one of his students, and later the school where he teaches, he knows he must step in and help. Originally published in 1974, The Rats marked the beginning of James Herbert’s career as a published author. For over three decades the “British Stephen King” has been scaring the pants off readers with his gory and violent tales. This is the book that started it all. Herbert should be on every horror fan’s reading list if he isn’t already. The Rats is still in print and available in the US and is the first in a trilogy, followed by Lair and Domain. The Rats is essentially a creature feature with a social message that is still very relevant today. 11/08 Becky Lejeune

RAVENOUS by Ray Garton: The town of Big Rock has some big problems. A serial rapist has been stalking women in town, and now it looks as though Emily Crane, the receptionist at the local sheriff’s office, has become the latest victim. The thing about it is Emily’s description of her attacker is vastly different from the other rape reports. Emily did manage to stab her attacker before she passed out, but Sheriff Farrell Hurley has just witnessed the body walking out of the coroner’s office. Minutes later, one of his deputies is ripped apart in what seems to be an animal attack. Two more bodies are discovered, torn to pieces like the deputy, when a stranger appears and tells Hurley that he has a werewolf infestation on his hands. Of course the sheriff doesn’t believe it, and things are made worse when the stranger tells him that it spreads like a virus and is transmitted through sex. Hurley and his men must get the outbreak under control before it spreads too far. It’s an interesting twist on the classic werewolf mythology. Garton’s style is reminiscent of the campy horror films we all love – lots of gratuitous gore and violence, and a killer ending. Werewolves haven’t seen this much action since the 80s. 04/08 Becky Lejeune

RAVENS by George Dawes Green: Childhood friends Romeo and Shaw have a plan that is finally going to get them to the big times. While passing through Georgia on their way to Florida, Shaw overhears news of a recent big-ticket lottery win. He is able to find out who the winning family is and hatches a scheme that will make both he and Romeo rich beyond their wildest dreams. There’s just one catch: the winning family has to be completely compliant in the plan. To do this, Shaw puts his friend in the role of enforcer and hit man, something the somewhat sweet-tempered Romeo is having a little trouble swallowing. But Romeo is willing to do anything for his friend. Soon, Shaw has a slew of people under his spell, and even the family themselves have started to fall for it. But in this kind of story, things can’t possibly end well. Or could they? George Dawes Green throws readers a curveball that they may or may not see coming. Either way, this is the kind of story that drags you along for the ride—before you know it you’re totally sucked in. 07/09 Becky Lejeune

RAZOR GIRL by Marianne Mancusi: Molly Anderson wanted nothing more than to be a normal teen with normal parents. Unfortunately, her father had other plans. A brilliant scientist who was once contracted by the US government to create an army of super-soldiers, Molly’s father knows all too well that the end is near. Molly is to be his most perfect creation – cybernetically enhanced and trained to survive the coming apocalypse. Six years have passed since Molly and her mother entered the underground bunker that her father had prepared for them. Six years without contact with anyone other than each other. Six years with no news from the outside. Molly emerges, alone, to discover that although the scenery has changed little, the people are all gone, turned into zombies or killed by the virus that had just started to break out when she went into hiding. She joins a small band of survivors and sets off to find her father, sure that he has survived and that he can help them to start anew. A post-apocalyptic/futuristic romance with zombies. It just doesn’t get much better. Light-cyberpunk with inspiration drawn from William Gibson, Razor Girl is great for readers who are looking for something a little different in the romance world. 08/08 Becky Lejeune

THE REACH by Nate Kenyon: Psychology major Jess Chambers is top her class and has been pegged for a special project by her professor and mentor, Dr. Shelley. It seems Shelley is guardian of a very special little girl, a girl who until now has been diagnosed as a schizophrenic. Strange considering the girl was diagnosed such at just six years of age and schizophrenia usually begins to show around puberty. The girl has become unresponsive, almost catatonic even, and the doctors think that a new face may be just the thing to bring her back to reality. Jess agrees and instantly can see that there is something much more going on with this case than her superiors are willing to share. As Jess grows to know the girl, she can tell that there is something terribly wrong with what she’s been told. Meanwhile, scientists have also come to notice the young girl and hope to cash in on a new drug designed to enhance powers that have manifested in the child. These powers are beyond Jess’s belief, but she will have to open herself to their possibility in order to help the girl as best she can. Kenyon’s second release is an extremely satisfying horror read that’s already earning him comparison to Stephen King himself. The story is certainly reminiscent of classics like Carrie and Firestarter, but I believe Kenyon has a voice and style that are all his own, both of which will place him firmly at the top of any horror fan’s must read. 12/08 Becky Lejeune

READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline: In 2040, James Halliday, creator of OASIS—a hugely successful, multi-player, online game environment—passed away, leaving no heirs. Instead, his last will and testament stated that he’d hidden three keys and three gates within OASIS that would lead to the ultimate Easter egg. The first player to find the egg would inherit all of Halliday’s wealth and control over OASIS. For five years, gamers searched the online world high and low for clues, trying to unlock the hints left hidden inside the games, videos, music, and tv shows of Halliday’s youth. Five years and not one name appeared on the scoreboard. Until eighteen-year-old Wade Watts finds the first key and unlocks the first gate. The race is on and some of the players are willing to use any means necessary to win. Ready Player One is a futuristic video game quest in the spirit of all past video game quests, with references to most of them as well. But you don’t have to be a gamer to appreciate it. Cline’s debut is excellent fun and an ‘80s child like me truly appreciated all the pop culture references of the era. 08/11 Becky Lejeune

REAPERS by Frederick Ramsey: The World Cup competition in South Africa earlier this year is the background for this somewhat rambling effort, in which Sanderson, the Game Ranger in the Chobe National Park, finds a body. She and Inspector Kgabo Modise find evidence of local bribery, then smuggling, and finally what could well provoke an international incident. With Americans, North Koreans, Arabs, French, Chinese, and Russians all scattered among the various lodges and hotels in the country before, during and after the games, the potential for disaster is enormous. Included at no extra charge are various side excursions into the lives of silverback mountain gorillas, peace organizations that believe they will purify the continent, rid it of drought, poverty, and HIV/AIDs, as well as bloody war lords fighting the seemingly endless civil wars that plague the region. Can someone use their vuvuzela to summon an editor? 09/10 Jack Quick

REBEL ISLAND by Rick Riordan: Tres Navarre and his new bride are honeymooning on Re bel Island, a place Tres and his family visited when he was growing up. Newly married but with a baby on the way very soon, Tres is dismayed to find himself in the middle of a hurricane, stranded on the island, with the possibility of a serial killer on the loose. A reminder of the past shows up in the form of a corpse shot dead in room 12. As more guests die, it is up to Tres to sort out the reasons and relate them to the summer that changed everything in his life. A summer he could never forget but never entirely remember either. This series just keeps getting better and better. 12/08 Jack Quick

RECKLESS by Andrew Gross: A family is brutally murdered in Greenwich, Connecticut which starts off a chain of events that sometimes mirror the headlines. Money managers gone off the deep end, old banking companies collapsing and international terrorists take center stage in this fast paced financial thriller, the latest from James Patterson’s protégé. Ty Hauck returns as his former lover is one of the family members murdered in Greenwich. The local cops think it’s a robbery gone bad, but Hauck has his own suspicions. Gross gives just enough finance information to make the story plausible but not enough to slow down the action. Interesting characters and a tight, twisty plot make this a gripping read – the protégé has surpassed his master. 05/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
RECKLESS by Andrew Gross: Ty Hauck started with NYPD and then became chief of detectives at Greenwich, Connecticut, before leaving to become an investigator for a world-wide security firm. He is stunned to learn that a former lover, who still lives in Greenwich has been murdered, along with Mark Glassman, the chief equities trader at a top investment bank. On the surface it looks like a burglary gone bad. Hauck has the motivation and the expertise to connect the dots on the case which is the tip of a global terrorist conspiracy, with global financial implications. Do the phrases “too big to fail” and “collapse of the US banking system” sound familiar? Once again the ex James Patterson co-author scores with a book that no less an authority than Lee Child calls a automatic must read. The best one yet. 05/10 Jack Quick

RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA by Kimberly McCreight: Kate’s a high powered corporate lawyer in Manhattan, and a single mother to Amelia, her overachieving daughter. During an important meeting, Kate is summoned to Grace Hall, the prestigious private school Amelia attends near their home in Brooklyn. Kate runs to her daughter, but arrives too late; accused on cheating on her English paper, it seems that Amelia has leapt to her death, scrawling “sorry” on the rooftop wall. Kate is devastated and confused, but she accepts the detective’s word and tries to move on with her life, until she receives a text message that says “she didn’t jump.” Kate demands answers from the police, but the detective assigned to the case has suddenly resigned, but fortunately the new detective isn’t happy with the case file and agrees to investigate further. Kate delves into her teenage daughter’s life, her computer, cell phone texts, and her friends, only to learn that she didn’t know Amelia as well as she thought she did. This is a heartbreaking story but it is told well, with lots of curveballs thrown in. McCreight’s first novel is as polished as a pro’s – this is an author to watch. 8/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA by Kimberly McCreight: Shock cannot begin to describe how Kate Baron feels when she learns that her teenage daughter has died in an apparent suicide. Just a short time before it happened, Kate received a call asking her to pick up her daughter from school. Amelia had been caught cheating and was to be suspended. Cheating—and suicide—were so against everything she knew about her daughter. In the weeks after the funeral, Kate forces herself to face facts. But when she receives a text simply stating, “She didn’t jump,” Kate knows there has to be more to the story. She quickly learns that Amelia was hiding things, but was it enough to push her to kill herself? Reconstructing Amelia is a tense and suspenseful read, a thriller of the highest order. Chapters alternate between Kate present day and Amelia in the months leading up to her death, with texts, Facebook updates, and posts from the unofficial Grace Hall gossip blog, gRaCeFULLY. Don’t plan to start this one late in the evening unless you’re prepared to read through to the very end. You won’t be able to put it down. 5/13 Becky Lejeune

RED CAT by Peter Spiegelman: I was sucked in by the cover; it’s dark and sexy, and fortunately, so is the novel behind the cover. John March is a private investigator, former cop, and a work-driven loner in New York City. His über-successful brother David comes to him for help because an affair with a woman he met on the Internet has turned from torrid to terrible – he’s tried to end it and she’s threatening to tell his wife and his boss. Problem is, all David knows about her is her screenname; Wren. John starts investigating when an unidentified woman’s body with a tattoo of a red cat on her leg is found in the river, and David looks good as the prime suspect in her murder. Turns out Wren isn’t really a blackmailer; she’s making performance art videos, secretly filming men she has affairs with – or is it porn? Either way there are lots of suspects and more twists than kinks in this provocative noir thriller. 03/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

RED CHAMELEON by Stuart Kaminsky: Chief Inspector Rostnikov has offended the powers that be by applying for an exit visa. Now he is reduced to investigating “minor” crimes like the shooting death of an old Jew and theft of a brass candlestick. Rostnikov, along with Emil Karpo and Sacha Tkach could be the heart of the 87th precinct – in Moscow. At night Rostnikov reads a chapter of an 87th Precinct novel because of his admiration of Carella and the other guys. During the daytime he proves their equal in solving crimes, no matter who wants them solved or left unsolved. Another excellent police procedural. 12/05 Jack Quick.

RED FLAGS by Juris Jurjevics: Red Flags is one of the better books about the war in Vietnam, and in my humble opinion ranks up there with Nelson De Mille’s Up Country as novels of that war. Red Flags is not strictly speaking a book about battle but carries an accurate picture of a war since it was written by a veteran and participant in the combat. Mr Jurjevics indicates in a postscript that the book basically tells the truth about conditions and probably is so since he served in the area and during the time described. The principal character, Erik Rider, is an officer in the US army tasked with interdicting an out of control marijuana trade which is supplying funds to the Viet Cong and hence buying arms to use against the Americans. Rider discovers that an officer in the Vietnamese army is actually protecting the marijuana crops while he is supposed to act as liaison with the Americans. The officer both siphons off money for himself as well as getting weapons for the Viet Cong. Said officer is, of course, becoming a millionaire and due to this is preventing any action against the people that control the crops. The same officer is also preventing aid from reaching the Montagnard tribes who are allies to the Americans due to centuries of their own conflicts with the North Vietnamese.
Erik meets with corruption everywhere in attempting to carry out his mission and the destroy the marijuana crops. The ending is realistic, not particularly satisfying, but does supply a bit of justice for the reader, and probably did happen. War is never just two sides fighting each other, but always carries unintended consequences such as enrichment for individuals via consorting with the enemy. Jurjevics seems to tell it like it was with our soldiers fighting the enemy as well as the corruption rampant with those ostensibly on our side. 11/11 Paul Lane

RED FLASH by Kiva Wolfe: Diamonds and gemstones, the Russian Mafia, Brazilian criminals, murder, obsession, betrayal, exotic locations, sex, mayhem and double crosses. It all starts when a former triathlete finds out that the Russian Mafia caused his nephew’s death and that his older brother is involved with that same group in a gem smuggling scheme. Then it gets interesting. Everyone wants the gems, some badly enough to kill for them. Who will succeed and who will merely survive? When the stakes are this high the rules are merely an inconvenience. Interesting first effort. 02/06 Jack Quick

RED-HEADED STEPCHILD by Jaye Wells: This first in a new urban fantasy series featuring a half mage, half vampire assassin is great fun. Sabina Kane would have been a high-born vamp if her bloodline had been pure. As such, she is relegated to wet work on behalf of her grandmother, the Alpha and leader of the Domina, those who rule the vampire race. Sabine would like nothing more than to prove her loyalty and capability to her grandmother and finally earn the respect she deserves. This is why she accepts a job that sends her straight into an enemy’s camp, posing as a disgruntled vamp with vengeance on her mind. This group, led by the charismatic Clovis Trakiya, a half vamp himself, says that their goal is to unite the supernatural races, but Clovis’s own personal vendetta is against the Domina itself. This assignment will truly test Sabina in ways that she could never prepare for and will force her to face the truth about her birth for the very first time. I am very much looking forward to continuing this series. Wells’s unique spin on her subject and the questions left open about Sabina’s heritage are going to make this a stand-out series in the genre. 04/09 Becky Lejeune

RED HILL by Jamie McGuire: It’s Scarlet’s ex’s weekend with the kids when the world comes to an end. Sure, Scarlet and everyone else heard the news reports that morning but none of them really expected a world wide zombie epidemic was heading their way. When the patients at work begin attacking Scarlet knows it’s time to get the heck out of dodge. She’s headed for a secluded ranch owned by one of her colleagues. She and her friends always joked it would be the perfect place to survive the apocalypse, but first she has to get her kids. Problem is, the town is cut off and armed guards are patrolling every way in. Scarlet’s only hope is that her daughters will remember how to get to the ranch and that her ex can protect them long enough to get them there. Jamie McGuire’s zompiepocalypse survival horror is super fantastic. Scarlet shares center stage with two other characters: Nathan, a newly single (as of the morning of the zombie outbreak) dad trying to protect his eight-year-old daughter, and Miranda, a college girl traveling with her sister and their two boyfriends. The stories intersect at various points and eventually connect. This interplay between the characters and their struggles is really interesting and makes what would otherwise be a typical zombie outbreak book a bit of a stand out for me. 10/13 Becky Lejeune

RED HOOK by Gabriel Cohen: I think a good author is one who can take a fairly ordinary plot and bring it to life such that you feel you are part of the story. Detective Jack Leightner is investigating the murder of a young Dominican, Tomas Berrios, found stabbed to death with concrete blocks tied to his legs. His killers were apparently interrupted as they were planning to drop him into the river. Leightner becomes obsessed with the case, which happened in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn where he was born. Leightner has to deal with memories of his father, his dead brother, his failed marriage, and the son from whom he is estranged. Not that much of a mystery, but a good police procedural with characterizations that are uncanny. A first effort, and definitely recommended. 01/08 Jack Quick

RED SEA by Emily Benedek: Three international flights, each from different airlines and leaving from different countries, have been brought down over water in one afternoon. Although none of the flights were leaving from or headed to Israel, it is decided that a threat to the country’s security is an undeniable possibility that warrants their participation in the investigation. Julian Granot, a former commander in the Israeli Special Forces, is brought in as part of the investigating team. Granot’s inquiries soon lead him to a promising American journalist with some interesting theories concerning airline security. Marie Petersen’s curiosity is piqued when Granot suggests that they team up on the search and trade information. He leads her to a shop in England that repairs video machines on planes. Then, an innocuous observation on Marie’s part leads Granot to a possible lead. It appears that a man Granot has come up against in the past paid a visit to the shop just days before the crashes occurred. He visited again on the evening that Marie interviewed the owners of the shop. Then another plane goes down and Granot is convinced that this man could be the mastermind behind the terrorist plot. Shockingly enough, this story’s inspiration lies in actual interviews conducted by Benedek who easily transitions from journalist to novelist with Red Sea. Benedek’s superb debut promises to place her at the top of the thriller genre as firm competition for the likes of Stephen Coonts and Nelson DeMille. 09/07 Becky Lejeune

RED RAIN by Michael Crow: Luther Ewing’s genes, from his African-American Marine Sergeant father and French-Vietnamese mother, give him the appearance of an American Indian. In the Army, they called him “Cheyenne.” Now an Army Special Forces veteran with a steel plate in his head, he is a detective with the Baltimore County Police Department, with a reputation as a quiet competent narcotics cop. Here he is called “5-0” after the popular television show. Then his past comes back to haunt him when he hears about a Russian named “Vaseline.” Could this be Vassily, his mentor and nemesis whose wartime skills and abilities match those of Ewing? Now Ewing must revert to being “Shooter,” Vassily’s name for him when the CIA recruited them both to fight against the Serbs in Sarajevo. It was there that Ewing perfected his skills as a sniper before being shot in the head and almost killed. An edgier Jack Reacher type in his first outing. Recommended. 07/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

RED SEA by Emily Benedek: This underwhelming fiction debut from journalist Benedek. opens with the downing of three commercial jets, which results in the deaths of 723 people and plunges the world into a 9/11-like panic. Recently retired Israeli secret agent and aviation expert Julian Granot is tapped by his government to investigate. The stakes get higher when the terrorist group launches a massive container ship carrying a hellish mix of explosives toward New York City. Benedek offers lots of hot operational material and an exciting denouement, but thriller fans will find little that’s really new. 12/11 Jack Quick

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant: This is a book people feel passionately about; they either love it or hate it, and it seems to fall along lines of gender; women love it, men not so much.

I had a lot of baggage along with this book. It has been a huge seller in my store; the author, an intelligent and gracious woman, did a signing last year to the biggest crowd we’ve ever had (over 250 people!) and you could not, for the past two years, work a day in my store without having to straighten a stack of it, refill a display of it, or walk through the store without tripping over this book. It was, for a bookseller, a book to be avoided on principle! But I also had a lot of respect for it.

It grew, not from the publisher spending megabucks or winning the Oprah lottery, but strictly from word of mouth. Originally published in 1997, it finally hit the NY Times bestseller list in December, 2000 where it still lingers six months later. Once read, it is easy to see why. The story is based on Genesis, primarily verse 34, the story of Dinah’s rape. Short story indeed, until Diamant gets a hold of it. Some call it midrash, she calls it a novel, I call it a great read!

RED TIDE by Peg Brantley: I wanted to read this book so badly that I bought it. How about that for commitment, and I must say it was well worth it. Let me add my humble but favorable review to the many others who have previously congratulated Ms. Brantley. It is a whale of a tale. Multiple serial killers, cadaver dogs, exotic poisons, and professional FBI Special Agents and dedicated amateurs working together in digging up both old and new secrets at a burial site which is the clandestine playground of a madman. Just enough technical stuff to show Ms. Brantley has done her homework but not enough to take you out of the story. IMHO, much better than Cathy Reichs or Patricia Cornwell. Definitely “unputdownable.” Hopefully there will be additional material to follow, but not until I have caught my breath. Recommended for sure. 8/12 Jack Quick

Red Water by Judith Freeman: It could be called historical fiction or cultural fiction or religious fiction or all of the above, yet somehow this book defies labeling. It is an intimate look at polygamy, at the beginnings of the Mormon faith, and at the second worst civil crime ever committed in this country, after the Oklahoma City bombing. It was called the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and pardon my ignorance, but I had never even heard of it prior to reading this book. In 1857, 120 California-bound pioneers were massacred by a Mormon militia, who blamed it on their American Indian allies. The well written, fascinating novelization of these events is told from the perspective of three of the wives of John D. Lee, the man who was eventually convicted of the crime. I was so intrigued by this book that I started poking around the web, looking for more info and found tons available. The Massacre is still being debated and studied. Some recent articles are in the Salt Lake Tribune.

THE REDBREAST by Jo Nesbø: Bestselling Norwegian author, Jo Nesbø, known for his acclaimed Harry Hole series, made his US debut a few years back with The Redbreast. The third book to feature Hole, Redbreast was the first to be translated into English and released in the States. The book finds Hole in a tough spot—promoted after a shooting incident that could reflect badly on his country, Hole is proclaimed a hero and given a job intended to keep him out of the way. But when Hole finds evidence of weapons smuggling, he tracks the case to a possible assassination plot that has ties to WWII. Flashbacks to the frontline and a group of Norwegian soldiers in 1944 ultimately tie into Hole’s investigation, but make Redbreast something of a dense read with portions that are difficult to follow. It’s not until about halfway through that the book gains speed and the plot becomes clearer. Altogether a satisfying read, but one that requires a little more time and concentration. Books four and five, Nemesis and Devil’s Star are currently available. 12/10 Becky Lejeune

REDEMPTION by Lee Jackson: Benjamin Xavier Trinity is on his way to a government mandated job when he is waylaid by a snowstorm. He lands in Redemption, Montana, population 200. Carlene Ryton offers Ben a position as an all around handyman and café worker at the Grinnin’ Bear Café. Here, Ben endears himself to the townsfolk, doing favors and helping out wherever needed. The folks know he’s an ex-con, they just don’t know the whole truth behind his record. Ben is a convicted terrorist, a man whose past will forever hover around him like a black cloud. He was never given a chance to defend himself and never given a fair trial, but he will be forever marked by the most hate inducing crime known to man in this day and age. In this future America, gas and supply shortages are a regular occurrence as a result of the war, and Homeland Security has become the most powerful law-enforcing agency in the country. Ben defends his innocence, but is there anyone left who will listen in this bleak future? This harsh incarnation of America is not too far off the mark. Jackson’s tale reveals a slew of truly scary prospects that will burrow into readers’ consciences. 10/07 Becky Lejeune

REIGN OF THE RAT by Gil Smolin: For centuries leprosy created the same mind numbing fear that AIDS has caused in modern times. A disease without a cure, its victims sentenced to a long period of suffering. Now a new drug-resistant strain of leprosy appears and it looks like the only hope for a cure is to unearth the frozen remains of a medieval corpse destroyed by the Black Plague. Why? Because the symptoms not only mimic leprosy but also the deadly ones of the Black Plague. Firmly grounded in the reality of what is happening in medicine today as the result of over use of antibiotics, this one will keep you up at night. Smolin is an ophthalmologist and experienced writer. This is his first novel. Recommended. 06/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

THE REINCARNATIONIST by M. J. Rose: Josh Ryder has been experiencing memories that are not his own. It began after a bombing in Rome where Josh, a photojournalist, was working a story. He was left comatose and awoke weeks later with vivid recollections of life in ancient Rome. In an attempt to learn more, Josh becomes involved with an organization known as the Phoenix Foundation – a group that investigates past life regression in children. When a discovery at a dig in Rome interests the group, Josh is sent as one of the foundation’s representatives to the site. The find could finally provide solid proof of reincarnation and also allow others to experience exactly what Josh does – memories of past lives. The foundation is not the only group interested in this item, though. While Josh is on the site, the lead archaeologist is attacked and the artifact is stolen. Josh vows to recover the item and, in doing so hopes, to unlock the truth behind his strange visions. In The Reincarnationist, Rose combines historical elements with the theory of reincarnation to create a truly amazing thriller. The characters are believable, the settings are magnificent, and in most cases real. Rose masterfully transitions readers from one century to the next making this a smooth read that is easy to get lost in for hours. M.J. Rose is no newcomer to the literary field, but this is her first mainstream suspense novel, one that should finally earn her the recognition she deserves and introduce new readers to her fantastic talent. 09/07 Becky Lejeune

THE RELIABLE WIFE by Robert Goolrick: Catherine Land has packed up her simple wardrobe for her train ride to meet her new husband, Ralph Truitt. Truitt placed a personal ad for a “reliable wife” and waits at the train station for her in freezing 1907 Wisconsin, the richest man in a town where the cold drives people to occasional heinous acts of insanity. Truitt has been a widower for many years, and is eagerly awaiting his new bride. But this is no great romantic love story, and neither Ralph nor Catherine are exactly what they seem to be. For one thing, Catherine has also brought along a bottle of arsenic for her new husband. Every assumption is turned on its head in this hot, hot story and Goolrick pulls off one of the great reads of the year. 8/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

RENEGADE by J.A. Souders: Evelyn has it all. In fact, some would say her life is just about perfect. Evelyn is a Daughter of the People, handpicked by Mother to be the future leader of Elysium, the underwater utopia Mother created to save them from the Surface Dwellers and the war. The people who live here have everything they could ever need and want. And, most importantly, they’re safe from the evil Surface Dwellers. But one day, the unimaginable happens: a Surface Dweller has found his way into Elysium. In spite of everything, Evelyn is fascinated by the boy and after speaking with him she begins to doubt some of Mother’s warnings about Surface Dwellers. Evelyn wants to save the boy and this triggers a series of events that will set them both in very grave danger. No one questions Mother and lives to talk about it. Souders’s debut is fast-paced and fun. It’s also pretty dark and bloody. The world-building is excellent and Souders does a great job setting it up for the reader while still keeping an urgent pacing throughout the story. And as that story progresses, things become even more intense. There are a few pieces of the story that can be said to be overly exaggerated but only if you’re really looking for something to complain about. For me, it was fantastic and I didn’t want to put it down. 11/12 Becky Lejeune

THE RENEGADES by T. Jefferson Parker: This is the highly anticipated sequel to one of my favorite books from 2008, L.A. Outlaws. Renegades is set in the modern day Wild West of Los Angeles – yes, there is such a place. Our hero from L.A. Outlaws, Charlie Hood, is grieving for his lost love and trying to get on with his life and his career. He’s paired up with Terry Laws, a community legend who unfortunately gets gunned down in front of Charlie and the chase for the killer is on. But it’s not that simple or straightforward, there are a lot of twists and turns here amid a couple of strong sub-plots, but Parker manages to draw it all together in the brilliant conclusion. Another excellent thriller from the under-the-radar Parker, although not quite at the same level as its predecessor. 02/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE RENEGADES by T. Jefferson Parker: This book features Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Charlie Hood first introduced in L.A. Outlaws. Hood isn’t completely over the death of Suzanne Jones aka Allison Murrieta when he is drawn into this tale of bad cops, betrayal, drugs, murder and blackmail. It’s the wild, wild west all over with most everyone carrying guns, but no white hats and black hats to tell the good guys from the bad, just shades of gray. Parker continues to deliver the goods, getting better with each outing. Hopefully he can keep this series going for a long time. I am a fan. 02/09 Jack Quick

THE REPLACEMENT by Brenna Yovanoff: The town of Gentry is hiding a dark secret. For years, the townspeople have lived in fear of their own superstitions. Horseshoes hang above their doors and iron over their babies’ beds. But the tokens and wards are not always enough. Every once in a while, a child disappears and another is left in its place. The creatures can pass as human and may be mistaken for the child itself by most, but many of them never survive. Mackie was one of those other children. One of those left to take the place of a baby boy taken away in the night. But Mackie lived. He’s always known that he’s different and he’s always done his best to fit in, but the older he gets, the harder it becomes. And in Gentry, no one wants to stand out, especially when the townsfolk need someone to blame for their misfortunes. Brenna Yovanoff’s dark and creepy debut is the perfect blend of horror meets teenage angst. Her twists on folklore and legend are surely influenced by some of the greatest in horror, but the world she creates is all her own. The Replacement is smart and captivating in a way that will appeal to both YA readers and adults. 09/10 Becky Lejeune

THE REPLACEMENT CHILD by Christine Barber: The Santa Fe Capital Tribune has often received tips from a woman they call the Scanner Lady. Her regular phone calls regarding reports she’s overheard on her police scanner have become an almost weekly occurrence at the paper. Night editor Lucy Newroe happens to be on duty when the latest call comes in: Scanner Lady has overheard news of a dead body in a call made by two men she believes are city cops. Lucy follows up the next day but is told that no such report came in. The closest case is that of a woman who drove off a bridge. Just days later, Lucy, a sometime volunteer medic, answers a call involving an older woman who’s found dead after an apparent home invasion – she had a police scanner sitting on her kitchen table. Lucy has to wonder if this is her Scanner Lady and if the death is more than just a coincidence. As she digs deeper she meets Detective Gil Montoya. Montoya has been assigned as family liaison on the bridge case. The state officers are in charge but the victim is the sister of a city cop from Montoya’s unit. Montoya thinks there’s more to his case than meets the eye, but is not sure where or if Scanner Lady fits in at all. Lucy and Montoya’s reluctant semi-partnership and their interplay is fascinating. I can only hope that this is going to be a series. Barber’s debut is a truly great mystery and can be a great foundation for what I think would be a wonderful series. 10/08 Becky Lejeune

THE REPLACEMENT CHILD by Christine Barber: If you are a fan of Tony Hillerman, then don’t pass this one up. Winner of the Tony Hillerman prize, this is a well written debut mystery featuring Capital Tribune editor Lucy Newroe and Police Detective Gil Montoya who are looking for the killer of seventh-grade teacher, Melissa Baca, whose body is found at the bottom of a local bridge. Although I have never spent much time in New Mexico (I can spell Albuquerque) the descriptions throughout ring true with all I have heard of the “Land of Enchantment.” 2/12 Jack Quick

Replay by Ken Grimwood: I loved the movie “Groundhog Day” and this book goes there and beyond. Our hero has a heart attack and dies when he’s 43 years old, then wakes up in his 18 year old body…all memories of the past 25 years intact. Then it happens again, and again, and again…leading to the question if you could do it all over again, knowing what you know now, would you? It makes for a very interesting premise that draws to a very satisfying conclusion. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

REQUIEM FOR AN ASSASSIN by Barry Eisler: The assassin is the hero of this book, John Rain, who wants nothing more than to retire and spend time with his Mossad-agent girlfriend. But duty calls when he’s contacted by former CIA-agent-turned-rogue Jim Hilger and he learns that Hilger is holding his only friend, Dox, hostage until Rain completes three assassinations. Rain knows that the probability of he or Dox surviving the third is not too good, and with a little help from a business associate at the CIA and the Mossad, Rain gets to work on saving his friend. Lots of action, exotic locales, and edge-of-your-seat suspense make this a really fun read. Fans of Lee Child should enjoy the larger-than-life, half Japanese-half American hero, John Rain. 06/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

REQUIEM MASS by Elizabeth Corley: A Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Fenwick Mystery Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Fenwick is just returning to work after burying his wife. His family is tenuously hanging on and Fenwick gets desk duty to ease him back into things. What starts out as a suburban London housewife gone missing turns into ruthless retaliation for a twenty-year-old mystery. Five schoolgirls went off for a walk but only four returned; one of the girls accidentally fell to her death, or at least that is their story. Now they are all grown up and dealing with the past by ignoring it as best as they can. One of the women is the missing housewife, two more are her neighbors, and the fourth is a world famous soprano, due to come home for a fundraiser for the school they all attended. When one of the women is murdered, Fenwick finds the connection between the two cases and sets out to stop the killer from exacting his revenge. He also has to deal with a very troubled son, office politics, and an affair that may be clouding his judgment. Fortunately, he has some good help, including Cooper, who has lots of experience, and a young woman rookie who is sharp as a tack. These characters are well drawn, especially Fenwick, but even the killer avoids cliché. This is a complex case, solved by meticulous police work and culminating in a very tense, superb ending. First of a gritty new series with strong promise, sure to appeal to Tana French, Benjamin Black and Tess Gerritsen fans. 5/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.

RESOLUTION by Robert B. Parker: The man is a genius, an absolute genius. In this follow up to 2005’s Appaloosa, Everett Hitch and Virgil Cole are teamed up in the town of Resolution. Hitch is hired initially as the bouncer for the local real-estate magnate (saloon, house of ill repute, hotel, restaurant and general store), and quickly dispatches one Koy Wickman the local “hardass.” Things are beginning to be more civilized afterwards until Cole shows up along with the infamous Cato and Rose, a “matched pair” of gunmen hired to replace Wickman. The action is electric, the dialogue is sparse, and you can “see” John Wayne or Clint Eastwood on every page. I love Spencer but if Parker wants to do westerns, I welcome his next one. 09/08 Jack Quick

RESONANCE by A.J. Scudiere: Approximately 200 million years ago, map north was magnetic south. Ten million years later, the poles switched places and have continued to do so about every sixty million years. The last polar shift sixty five million years ago caused the deaths of entire species, species we call dinosaurs. Right now Dr. Becky Sorenson has some seriously mutated frogs in her lab. In Los Angeles bees are making abnormal columns on the side of the freeways. In Georgia, birds are migrating out of season. People are dying now from what might be SuperAIDS. Is this the beginning of the next polar shift? We are five million years overdue. How much time do we have left? Just when you thought we were safe from a swine flu pandemic, this comes along. Depending on your own orientation, this one is either: interesting, intriguing, or don’t-turn-out-the-lights-I-am-scared-witless reading. You decide for yourself. 06/09 Jack Quick

RESTITUTION by Lee Vance: If Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma as postulated by Sir Winston Churchill, then Restitution is a great way to attempt to unravel it. Peter Tyler, a Wall Street hotshot, is the prime suspect when his wife Jenna is murdered. Although they had been having some marital problems, Peter loved her passionately and misses her greatly. As he attempts to find out who did, in fact, kill her, Peter finds himself involved with money scams, stolen art, a pharmaceutical giant and a brilliant, ruthless and tortured act of vengeance. Peter’s best friend, Russian business tycoon Andrei Zhilina, may hold the key, so it’s off to Moscow to seek answers. Pretty near “unputdownable.” 10/07 Jack Quick

THE RESTORER by Amanda Stevens: Ever since she was a child, Amelia Gray has had a fondness for cemeteries. She learned restoration from her father. She also learned the rules for living with the ghosts that surround her. “…never acknowledge the dead. Don’t look at them, don’t speak to them, don’t let them sense your fear,” her father told her. But when a body is discovered in the old Oak Grove Cemetery where Amelia has been working on a very important restoration project, she is thrown headfirst into a mystery and will find that keeping to her father’s rules isn’t as easy as it once seemed. This first in the Graveyard Queen series is a chilling blend of paranormal elements and tightly plotted mystery. Stevens keeps readers guessing to the very end and sets up the series nicely for book two, The Kingdom, due out this fall. 04/11 Becky Lejeune

Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin: Resurrection Men is Ian Rankin’s latest Inspector John Rebus outing. It is a solid effort and shows why the popularity of this series is growing. The setting, in Edinburgh, is interesting, the police work is sound and the hero is the Scot’s version of the tough cop whose life is going to pieces while he soldiers on.
John Rebus is no upperclass Lord Peter Wimsey, although I would like to think that the name is an acknowledgement of a worthy predecessor. Like Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, Inspector Rebus’ success in solving complicated and politically sensitive murders is second only to his indifference to and annoyance with authority.
At the outset of this novel, this characteristic has landed Rebus in a special class at the Scottish Police College where characters of that ilk are given one last chance to redeem themselves. His class of 6 christens themselves “The Wild Bunch.” Rankin explains “…these were lifers, men who’d been on the force an average of twenty years. Most were nearing the point where they could leave on full pension. Tullianllan was their last-chance saloon. They were here to atone, to be resurrected.”
As an exercise in re-learning how to investigate as part of a team, within proper police protocols, the class is assigned a project from the unsolved case files. Their case involves a brutal murder. Meanwhile, back at Rebus’ old station, his protege Siobhan Clarke, is continuing Rebus’ investigation into the murder of an art dealer.
Not surprisingly, the two investigations intertwine with the common links being possibly some members of the class and Rebus’ longtime adversary, Morris Gerald Cafferty (Big Ger). Rebus is called upon to perform a delicate balancing act to survive. As always, this is accomplished at considerable cost to himself and those around him.
This is a gripping, hard-nosed detective story. A gritty guy in a gritty town. What more could you ask for. This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.

Retribution by Jilliane P. Hoffman: Wow. This is dark – very dark – and disturbing and really well done. Chloe Larson is a beautiful young law student who suffers a brutal rape at the hands of a sadist who leaves her for dead. She survives, but is left scarred, both physically and emotionally. Twelve years later she’s evolved into C. J. Townsend, crackerjack prosecutor in Miami who lands the biggest case of her career when a serial killer known as Cupid is caught in her jurisdiction. Cupid’s calling card is that after torturing his victims – all young, beautiful blondes – he claims his trophy, their hearts. Townsend is determined to get this monster the death penalty and everything seems to be working in her favor, until she meets the defendant and her nightmares become real again. The court process is fascinating in Hoffman’s hands; she is a former Florida assistant state attorney and it shows. The book could have used better editing; there are some minor errors and some repetitiveness, but nothing major enough to pull me out of the story. The violence is graphic without being gratuitous with details of some really heinous crimes, and the ending is superb. This is one very powerful debut novel. 12/03

THE RETURN MAN by V.M. Zito: Four years ago, The Resurrection hit the United States. The living were evacuated to the Safe States and everything west of the Mississippi was left to the infected—the walking dead. Henry Marco stayed behind. Now, he makes a living finding dead loved ones and laying them to rest, or “returning” them. When the government contracts Marco to track down a scientist last seen in California, he’s leery of the job. Before The Resurrection, Marco was a neurologist and the scientist in question was one of his former colleagues. The consensus is that with his developed skills in tracking and his personal connection to the man, Marco is the person with the best chance of finding him. But what interest does the government have in this man in particular? Marco is joined by Wu, a soldier with his own agenda, but is he someone Marco can trust? The Return Man is an action-packed, post-apocalyptic thriller with a slightly different spin sure to will satisfy the most rabid zombie fans. 4/12 Becky Lejeune

REVENGE OF THE KUDZU DEBUTANTES by Cathy Holton: Friends Nita Broadwell, Eadie Booth, and Lavonne Zibolsky have been trying to coast by and endure their thankless marriages for some time now. Lavonne, a northern transplant to Ithaca, Georgia, has become addicted to food as a way to fill the unexplained void in her life. Nita on the other hand, is addicted to trashy romance novels since her husband seems to be showing less and less interest in her every day. And Eadie is working on getting her husband back as he once again steps out with a mistress. All this changes when the wives discover that their husbands have been cheating on them at their annual hunting trips. Nita, Eadie, and Lavonne devise a hilarious scheme of revenge against their philandering spouses that will ensure that the women come out on top. Oh, if Desperate Housewives took place in Georgia. This is a great book for summer – Holton will have you laughing out loud. 08/07 Becky Lejeune

REVENGE OF THE ROSE by Nicole Galland: The focus of Nicole Galland’s follow up to last year’s The Fool’s Tale is courtly love as well as courtly gossip. Famous court minstrel Jouglet is Lord Konrad’s right hand man. He is the lord’s confidant and is one of his most trusted advisors. Jouglet is also close friends with Willem and his sister Lienor. It is no secret that Jouglet wishes to be more than just friends with the lovely Lienor when he cunningly manipulates Willem into the court. Willem impresses Lord Konrad with his chivalry, honor and talents. However, Jouglet and Willem will soon discover just how sharp gossip can be and all of his clever maneuverings may backfire on Jouglet. Galland’s enormous talent is evident in this multi-layered and witty historical novel. The scheming and plotting of the numerous characters makes for a hilarious read with a fabulous twist in the end. 09/06 Becky LeJeune

REVENGE OF THE SPELLMANS by Lisa Lutz: In the third Spellman story, Izzy Spellman is still suffering fallout from her actions in Curse of the Spellmans (now out in paperback). Her court-ordered therapy sessions are not going well ever since her first therapist ratted her out to the court and had her entire sentence reinstated, and now her new therapist has figured out all of her time-wasting tricks. Plus, Izzy’s parents are none to pleased that she’s left the family business to be a bartender. Their pleas are ignored and so they convince Izzy’s boss to fire her. Izzy’s solution, move into her brother’s secret basement apartment without him knowing. Now, broke and suffering from no sleep, a result of the paranoid nightmares she’s been having about her brother busting in on her new digs, Izzy finds that she’s being blackmailed and tailed on a regular basis. Could it be the case she’s taken practically pro bono to help a friend, or has someone discovered her new living situation? As usually, Izzy’s antics and her wacky family make for hilarious reading. I dare you not to laugh out loud while reading any of Lutz’s titles; I love them. 03/09 Becky Lejeune

THE REVERSAL by Michael Connelly: This is a combined series book featuring Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller, and the first one that really seemed like it worked the way it should. These characters are already so well defined that there was no stumbling here, the book really flowed, moving back and forth between the cop and the lawyer.
The title refers to the case that Mickey has taken. A man convicted of murdering a child has his sentence remanded after 24 years in prison because of new DNA evidence. The D.A., however, still believes in his guilt and is determined to try him again. The defendant has hired a top defense attorney who eagerly agrees to work pro bono, figuring the civil lawsuit he’ll be able to file against the city of Los Angeles for false imprisonment after the conviction is overturned will more than cover his fees.
To avoid any accusation of prejudice, the D.A. persuades Mickey Haller, defense attorney, to cross the aisle and work for the state as an independent prosecutor. Very much out of his element, Mickey agrees but with the proviso that his ex-wife, Maggie “McFierce”, be his second chair. Then he asks that Bosch be his lead investigator on the basically cold case. They have to start over, and Bosch is in his element. Combining a police procedural and a legal thriller works just brilliantly in Connelly’s gifted hands. I couldn’t put down this totally absorbing novel with a shocking ending. Note: The movie of The Lincoln Lawyer, the first Mickey Haller book, is currently in post-production with Matthew McConaughey and Marisa Tomei with a release date of sometime in 2011. 10/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE REVERSAL by Michael Connelly: Mickey Haller, “the Lincoln Lawyer,” is back in an awesome case. Because of political ramifications the District Attorney wants Mickey to “come over from the dark side” for a one-time gig as a prosecutor, retrying a case in which a killer’s 24-year-old conviction has been overturned on the basis of DNA. Actually Mickey is quick to see the upside of accepting the appointment so its not as hard a sale for the District Attorney as he thinks. But Mickey, being Mickey, he has to get his pound of flesh. Taking second chair will be Haller’s ex-wife, the formidable Maggie, with Connelly’s classic hard-boiled cop Harry Bosch (identified in The Brass Verdict, 2008, as Haller’s half brother) serving as special investigator. It has to be the dream team, but…there are enormous egos involved and as the District Attorney learns in the first press conference, he may have hired Haller, but make no mistake, Haller has the reins and will be driving this Lincoln all the way to the finish. To borrow from another reviewer. “Reading this book is like watching a master craftsman, slowly and carefully, brick by brick, build something that holds together exquisitely, form and function in perfect alignment” (Bill Ott, Book List) Take time to savor this one as crime fiction doesn’t get any better. Connelly is now firmly up there at the top with James Lee Burke, IMHO. 12/10 Jack Quick

RHETT BUTLER’S PEOPLE by Donald McCaig: I have read Gone with the Wind at least a dozen times, and seen the movie a number of times as well. I discovered it when I was in high school. My stepmother had a first edition that an old boyfriend had inscribed and given to her, and even though she married and divorced that man, the book remained in her possession. I stayed up through the night reading, and didn’t put it down until I’d read those immortal last words, “After all … tomorrow is another day.” And so it is, and this new sequel, after the awful Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley and the ridiculous The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall, makes it a day worth spending with it.
McCaig has filled in the gaps and completely laid open that iconic man of mystery, Rhett Butler. We knew that Rhett had had a falling out with his family; now we know why. We get to know Rosemary, Rhett’s beloved sister, and learn how the relationship between Rhett and Belle Watling came to be. There is additional background on many of the secondary characters like Aunt Pittpat and Archie Flytte.
There has been some criticism that readers didn’t really want to know that Rhett was repeatedly wounded by Scarlett, but you didn’t have to read too deeply between the lines of GWTW to know that; McCaig just spelled it out in case you missed it. My only criticism of the book was in the writing. I found it choppy and somewhat repetitive (of itself, not GWTW), but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. Fans of the movie will enjoy it as well, but prepare to be surprised by the additional characters that were left out of the film but are here in the book. Obviously, it’s no Gone with the Wind, nor did I expect it to be, but for fans there is definite pleasure to be found here. 11/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE RICHEST SEASON by Maryann McFadden: Joanna Harrison has had enough. Her children are grown and the demands of her husband’s job have left her feeling neglected and alone. Upon learning that her husband’s latest promotion will require them to pick up and move, yet again, Joanna decides she’s not going to take it anymore. Instead, after shipping husband Paul off on his latest business trip, she packs her things and leaves her home in New Jersey to start a new life on Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. Upon arrival, however, Joanna realizes just how hard it’s going to be. Alone, with no one to turn to for help, or even a shoulder to cry on, Joanna becomes determined to make things work. She finds employment with Grace Finelli, an elderly woman seeking a companion. What Joanna doesn’t know is that Grace has only six months to live. Then Paul shows up demanding that Joanna return home. Her refusal only angers him more, but he doesn’t tell her that in addition to losing her, he has also lost his job. As each of the three deals with their own issues, they find that they are each facing the possibility of dramatic changes in their lives. This wonderful debut is a rich, character driven story that will appeal to any reader looking for a heartfelt summer read. 06/08 Becky Lejeune

THE RICHEST SEASON by Maryann McFadden: Joanna has been married to Paul for 25 years. In those two and a half decades, they have moved dozens of times, following Paul’s successful career. Each time, Joanna is expected to be the dutiful corporate wife by packing up and following Paul around without any complaints. But when Joanna learns that another move is eminent, she packs her bags and heads down to Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, an area she had fallen in love with years ago. She moves in with Grace, an older woman who retreated to Pawley’s Island to live out her last few months of life. Joanna’s impromptu “holiday” extends to several months, during which she finds a bit of happiness that she’s been missing for so long. McFadden wrote a wonderful account of a woman’s struggle for independence. The reader experiences the story from three viewpoints: Joanna, her husband Paul, and Grace. The lessons learned by each character during their journey of self discovery are very valuable, and for this reason I envision this book generating a lot of discussion in book clubs nationwide. 08/08 Jennifer Lawrence

RIDE WITH ME, MARIAH MONTANA by Ivan Doig: Since reading Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men last year, I have been revisiting authors who write about the American West – McCarthy’s older works, Wallace Stegner, the poet Richard Hugo and Ivan Doig, who was suggested to me by my sister who lives in Billings, Montana. She sent me a copy of Ride With Me before I was about to visit her for a family reunion in Yellowstone.
In the tradition of many books about the West, it is a road trip story. Not quite Kesey’s bus, but close. In this case, the vehicle is a battered old RV driven by an old Montanan former rodeo champion turned sheepherder, Jick McCaskill. The other occupants are his redheaded daughter Mariah, a photographer and her ex-husband Riley Wright, a newspaper columnist. Mariah and Riley have been assigned by their newspaper to do a series celebrating Montana’s centennial by traveling across the state to see what they can see.
Riley is doing it because he still has the hots for Mariah. Jicks is along to see if he can keep her from making the same mistake all over again. And therein is the tale.
It is fine adventure and the people are drawn with honesty and affection, warts, oddities and all. I believe that I enjoyed this book more than anything else that I have read this year. 11/06 Geoffrey R. Hamlin

Right as Rain by George Pelecanos: As I started reading this mystery, it felt preachy to me in a racial sort of way. But the story sucked me in and either the preaching stopped or I stopped noticing. A good, gritty mystery involving a white cop killing a black cop, set in the inner city of Washington D.C. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE RIGHT HAND by Derek Haas: Derek Haas has created a “different” CIA operative with The Right Hand. Austin Clay works for the CIA, but not with other agents. He is on his own, only with his handler to execute his assignments which include covert operations that are outside of normal CIA work. He operates as he sees fit to accomplish his work, and his reputation is that the left hand (remainder of the CIA) does not know what the right hand (Clay) is doing. Clay, as a young man, was subjected to virtual imprisonment for eight years on his uncle’s boat after becoming an orphan. His personality is formed within the framework of abusive treatment, and eventual escape from his uncle. Clay is handed the assignment of rescuing a captured CIA agent being held in Russia. Events quickly move to the emergence of a young woman who unwittingly was connected to the imprisoned agent and knows the reason for his capture. Clay finds the girl as a possible means of tracing the whereabouts of the agent. He begins to have protective feelings about the young lady, but realizes that he is too old for her and too involved in his work to consider romance. But he does dedicate himself to making sure she is removed from danger showing his compassionate side for inclusion in future books. Haas sketches Clay quite well, and the reader will understand a little of his conflicting feelings as he continues to complete his assignment. A book that is difficult to put down and a feeling that the ending is in keeping with the events depicted and satisfying for the reader. 11/12 Paul Lane

THE RIGHTEOUS MEN by Sam Bourne: Rookie reporter, Will Monroe, takes a novel approach to his first murder by deciding to write a “human interest” story about the victim. What he discovers is a surprise to everyone. Shortly thereafter, Will investigates another murder – this one in rural Washington. The murders seem unconnected but, upon returning home, he discovers that his wife has been kidnapped. What comes next is an edge of your seat roller coaster ride as Will fights against a deadline that could lead to the end of the world. Meticulous research into Kabbalic mysticism and Jewish prophecy, paired with vivid characters and insight into the ultra-orthodox community of Crown Heights, makes this and interesting and exciting read. While the surprise twist ending comes as not much of a surprise, overall I found this to be a very satisfying read and a thrilling debut. Sam Bourne is a pseudonym for British journalist Jonathan Freedland. 08/06 Becky LeJeune

RING by Koji Suzuki: Japanese author, Koji Suzuki, is probably the most well-known Asian horror author today. Ring, the book that inspired multiple horror film hits, is actually the first in a trilogy of tales. In this first installment, journalist Asakawa is inspired to write a piece on a series of mysterious deaths after drawing a connection between a taxi man’s story and the death of his own niece. Like the film, he discovers that a total of four teens all died under strange circumstances, all at the very same time on the very same day. Asakawa is joined in his search by his best friend Ryuji, a professor with an upsetting habit and an interest in the occult. While there are minute similarities between the ultimate revelation at the end of this tale and the film version, the book remains vastly different in its specifics. Ring is worth the read for any horror fan, but having seen the film it does lose a bit of its punch. Hopefully this is not the case with the follow-up titles, Spiral and Loop, as I am hoping to be as creeped out in reading them as I was in first seeing The Ring. 06/08 Becky Lejeune

THE RISE OF RANSOM CITY by Felix Gilman: Harry Ransom always wanted his name to be known. He set off with an invention he promised would change everything. He called it the Ransom Process. As the Line and the Gun waged war around him, Ransom traveled from town to town exhibiting his masterpiece in hopes of interesting investors and always dreaming of the day that he’d become famous for his creation. In his travels he made many enemies, but nothing prepared him for what would await him in Jasper City. This is his story, from childhood to Jasper City and beyond as told through his own writings. Gilman’s latest is brilliantly clever and imaginative—an excellent cross genre blend of fantasy, science fiction, and weird western set as an autobiography. The world he’s created does closely resemble our own in the late 1800s, but there’s a touch of magic and a hint of the supernatural. The Rise of Ransom City is the second story that takes place in this world, but serves as more of a companion rather than a true follow up to The Half-Made World. Ransom does cross paths with the characters of Half-Made World so there are parallels with that book, but this is all his story and is perfect for fans of the previous release and newbies alike. 12/12 Becky Lejeune

RITUAL by Mo Hayder: This latest release by Hayder marks the return of DI Jack Caffery. He’s transferred to Bristol where divers, led by Phoebe “Flea” Marley, have just discovered a severed hand in the harbor. Most of the bodies that wash up in the harbor turn out to be the result of suicide. Something about this particular case is different, though, and the second hand is soon discovered buried beneath a local restaurant. Marley’s and Caffrey’s research into the case leads them to the African practices and beliefs of Muti, where various parts of both animals and humans are used in ritualistic manners for everything from luck to protection. Given the way the hands were removed, they also come to believe that the victim in question may actually still be alive, but just how long he can last without medical attention is the question. Time is quickly running out as the team races to unravel this strange case. Another fantastic thriller from one of the best in the business. Although this is the third book to feature Caffery (following Birdman and The Treatment) it can be read as a stand-alone and is the first installment in what Hayder refers to as her Walking Man series. Ritual is available now in the UK and can be ordered through specialty stores stateside. Official US release date is this fall. 04/08 Becky Lejeune

RIVER OF HEAVEN by Lee Martin: Sam Brady is a solitary bachelor who has taken great pains to ensure that his homosexuality remains a secret to those around him. After his neighbor’s wife dies, it becomes harder for Sam to keep himself closed off. He and Arthur strike up a tenuous friendship at first, bonding over the building of a custom doghouse for Sam’s basset hound, Stump. The doghouse, a small ship with a deck and cannon ports, attracts the attention of a local column writer for the paper, a writer whose great uncle was once Sam’s best friend, Dewey. At the age of 15, Dewey committed suicide on the train tracks near his house. The reporter has some questions about the events, though, and it is soon revealed that Sam has some other secrets in his past that he would rather not come to light. Enter Cal, Sam’s long lost brother. Cal has just recently survived a nationally broadcasted hostage situation and shows up on Sam’s doorstep, bringing more than a little trouble along with him. Pulitzer Prize finalist, Martin returns with an amazing story of loneliness, secrets, and ultimately forgiveness. River of Heaven is a touching literary tale with just a tinge of mystery – highly recommended. 04/08 Becky Lejeune

The Ritual Bath by Faye Kellerman: The first in the Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series. He’s a cop, she’s an Orthodox Jew. They meet and chemistry is redefined. I ripped through this one in a few hours and within 2 weeks read the rest of the series. The early ones are best.

RITUALS OF THE SEASON by Margaret Maron: Its just ten days until the wedding and Judge Deborah Knott can hardly remember whether she is to stay the night with finance Deputy Dwight Bryant or go home to her place. It is that hectic with Christmas around the corner, the slaying of an Assistant District Attorney and her adopted daughter, a possible death sentence appeal, her house torn up by plumbers and carpenters and a very pregnant matron of honor. Somehow Knott keeps it all together as she is at the center of a whirlwind of pre-nuptial pre-holiday activity. Maron once again demonstrates she knows Eastern North Carolina and its characters – bless your heart, but sometimes she can be almost too southern, not unlike our beloved sweet tea, which, in a pinch, can always substitute for syrup. This twelfth Knott adventure is to be released 8/25/05. 08/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

THE RIVIERA CONTRACT by Arthur Kerns: Arthur Kerns spent a career working for the FBI in counterintelligence and counter terrorism. Upon retirement he became a consultant to the Director of the CIA and the Department of State and his travels for assignments took him to over 65 countries around the world. He has written short stories published in various anthologies and one non-fiction book. The Riviera Contract is his first novel and is based upon his own career. Kerns introduces Hayden Stone, a retired officer from the FBI now working as a consultant to the CIA. Stone’s first assignment in Afghanistan saw a colleague killed with Stone blaming himself for the death. The time is 2002, shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York, and the United States is actively engaged in counter terrorism against Al Quaeda wherever they appear. A friend with the CIA offers Stone an assignment in France on the Cote d’Azur and Hayden takes it thinking that it might help him to regain his equilibrium. Little does he know, as two terrorists acting separately attempt to kill him. on the distaff side, he meets an old love of his, now a countess, and a young beautiful employee of the organization he is using for his cover while on this assignment. The key to the assignment is to stop a middle eastern terrorist who is in France to set up a delivery of the Ebola virus to several U.S. cities. The action is fast and Kerns has the reader go through one crisis after another. Stone is really the only character that is fleshed out, obviously because he will be used in future adventures. Not memorable writing but an entertaining read and certainly a good prelude to getting future Kerns novels in which the author will potentially be more adept at setting up scenarios and fleshing out characters. Recommended for setting up a credible plot and the threats outlined in it. E-book only. 3/13 Paul Lane

RIZZO’S WAR by Lou Manfredo: “There’s no wrong, there’s no right, there just is.” That is the philosophy of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn detective Lou Rizzo. Rizzo has a new young partner, Mike McQueen, who got the promotion after a lucky break in a case. McQueen knows it was luck that got him his shield, but he’s determined to prove himself. Being partnered with Rizzo, who’s nearing retirement and under an Internal Affairs investigation, could be a mixed blessing. Politics rears its ugly head when they are assigned to find a missing girl, the teenage daughter of a powerful city councilman. This is a police procedural of the best kind – a terrific cop sharing his wisdom, a gritty city setting and dabs of organized crime, racism, and politics. Manfredo’s debut novel is a winner and sure to appeal to fans of Michael Connelly and Ed McBain. 09/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ROAD DOGS by Elmore Leonard: Its reunion time with three of Leonard’s most memorable characters. Jack Foley (Out of Sight) is back in prison in Florida, and hooks up with Cundo Rey, the pint-size Cuban (LaBrava), who soon engineers their early release–legally, this time. Jack’s happy to be out and enjoying the California hospitality of Cundo and his wife Dawn (LaBrava and Riding the Rap). There are just a few issues. Dawn is lovely but husband Cundo is a murderously jealous husband who may get tired of Jack being around. Dawn likes M-O-N-E-Y and thinks Jack may be the best meal ticket. Jack – well first he owes Cundo thirty big ones from getting him sprung. When you have robbed a hundred and twenty or banks, the solution to that problem would seem to be at hand? Nobody does it better than the senior Mr. Leonard, so kick back and enjoy this one like a fine Havana with a pitcher of fresh mojitos. 06/09 Jack Quick

THE ROAD TO BEDLAM by Mike Shevdon: Ever since Niall’s recent introduction to the Fey and his acceptance with the Warders, everyone’s been waiting to see if his daughter will manifest abilities as well. The courts are ready to welcome her into the fold if she does share her father’s powers but her death comes as a surprise to them all. When Niall becomes convinced that she may indeed still be alive, he and the very pregnant Blackbird find themselves on the run and hiding out under the courts’ orders. The arrival of the Untainted complicates things further and Niall is sent away on a mission in the coastal village of Ravensby where a recent spate of disappearances has the Warders suspecting there might be a rogue Fey at work. This second in the Courts of the Feyre series builds further upon the dark Fey-infused world Shevdon has created and combines mystery and fantasy elements with actual history. This is one of my favorite series and is a must for any urban fantasy fan. 6/12 Becky Lejeune

ROAD TO PARADISE by Max Allan Collins: Collins completes his trilogy beginning with a young boy’s travels with his gangster father in the “New York Times” bestseller “Road to Perdition,” then down the “Road to Purgatory”–a tale of this same boy, all grown up. Lake Tahoe, 1973: Michael Satariano–who as a young man fought the Capone mob in Chicago–has reached a comfortable middle age, with a loving wife at home, a talented teenage daughter in high school, and a son earning medals in Vietnam. Now running a casino for the mob, Michael thinks he’s put his killing days behind him–after all, he’s made a respectable life for himself and his family . . . and plenty of money for the boys back in Chicago. So when godfather Sam Giancana orders him to hit a notoriously violent and vulnerable gangster, Michael refuses. But when the hit goes down anyway, Michael is framed for murder; to save his family, he must turn state’s witness under the fledgling Witness Protection Program. Relocated to the supposed safety of Paradise, a tract-housing development in Arizona, Michael soon finds himself facing a wrath so cruel that even the boy raised by a hitman father is unprepared. And with his teenage daughter in tow, Michael must return to the road and a violent way of life he thought he had long left behind. A must read series. 1/12 Jack Quick

ROAD TO PERDITION by Max Allan Collins, illustrated by Richard Piers Rayner: Although an avid reader of ‘comic books” as a kid, this is, as best as I can recall, my first adult graphic novel. Michael O’Sullivan, a veteran of the Great War, is still soldiering, only this time as chief enforcer for John Looney, the Irish ganglord of Rock Island, Illinois. A good father and quiet family man, life changes drastically for the “Angel of Death” when his son (narrator of the story) witnesses his father at work. A failed attempt at killing O’Sullivan cause him to rush home – too late to save the lives of his wife and younger son, but leaves him determined to seek revenge. Depression era Illinois, ruled by gangsters, where the bullets and booze flow freely, come to think of it not unlike today. A good read. 1/12 Jack Quick

ROAD TO PURGATORY by Max Allan Collins: In this followup to Road to Perdition, Michael O’Sullivan Jr., is now in his early 20s. His father was the “Angel of Death” a mobster hit man, who turned on the mob after his wife and Michael’s younger brother were killed. When he himself is killed, none other than Eliot Ness, the leader of the “Untouchables” arranges for Michael to be placed in a catholic orphanage. He eventually becomes Michael Satariano, the adopted son of Sicilian restaurateurs in DeKalb, Illinois, a town not far from the Windy City. Michael has enlisted and wins the first Congressional Medal of Honor awarded during World war II while serving on Bataan. He loses his left eye and is returned to the states where he finds it hard to settle back into his previous life and settle down with high-school girlfriend Patty Ann O’Hara. So when Eliot Ness, now heading a federal office charged with “safeguarding the health and morale of the armed forces,” asks him to take on an undercover gig–infiltrating Capone’s syndicate in order to curb its criminal enterprises–Michael can’t agree fast enough. However, as Michael worms his way into the mob he discovers that ascribing blame and exacting justice aren’t the easy tasks he’d imagined. 1/12 Jack Quick

ROADSIDE CROSSES by Jeffery Deaver: Complex and timely story about cyber-bullying and its effects. Travis Brigham is the driver in a car crash in which two girls are killed. He then becomes the target of a cyber-world smear campaign. The near death of one of the accusing bloggers involves Kathryn Dance and the California Bureau of Investigation. Brigham disappears and additional attacks occur. Each is preceded with a crude roadside cross. Meanwhile, Dance also looks into a mercy killing at Monterey Bay Hospital of a young Monterrey County deputy badly burned by the escaping Daniel Pell in a previous case. At the same time, Robert Harper, a special prosecutor from the attorney general’s office in Sacramento, begins an investigation that will affect Dance. It would be much better without the frequent information dumps about kinesics (body language) and Internet history and customs, but without them, the pace might be just be too blistering. 07/09 Jack Quick

ROBBERS by Christopher Cook: Compared by some to the works of James Lee Burke, this debut novel follows two criminal drifters, Eddie and Ray Bob, across the hot dry dusty expanse of Texas, pursued by Rule Hooks, a crafty Texas Ranger who has been told he looks like country singer Porter Waggoner and could be played by Tommy Lee Jones without any problem. In the first chapter, a convenience store clerk is killed for a penny – he wants $4.01 for a pack of Camel cigarettes and the boys only have $4.00. Afterwards, they have the pack of Camels, a carton of Marlboros and all the money that was in the register. Their only regret? They forgot to pick up some cold beer. You know how it has to end, but the journey is worth the time and effort with striking imagery and vivid insights into rural Texas life, and its often mind numbing consequences. It’s the kind of life where the local scoutmaster is shot and killed by his wife when she catches him in bed with her sister: “Used a twelve gauge with buckshot. Fat jackoff died in the saddle. A real asshole, too, always yelling about our uniforms, how we looked. Shoulda give her a merit badge for civic duty.” “Or marksmanship,” sniggered Ray Bob. I love it. 12/07 Jack Quick

ROBERT B. PARKER’S FOOL ME TWICE by Michael Brandman: Michael Branman takes us back to Paradise, at least Robert B. Parker’s version. A Hollywood movie company has come to town, and brought with it a huge cast, crew, and a troubled star. Marisol Hinton is very beautiful, reasonably talented, and scared out of her wits that her estranged husband’s jealousy might take a dangerous turn. When she becomes the subject of a death threat, Jesse and the rest of the Paradise police department go on high alert. But then Jesse witnesses a horrifying collision caused by a distracted teenage driver, the political repercussions of her arrest bring him into conflict with all the local power structure As usual, life is on the line, just for doing the right thing. 10/12 Jack Quick

ROBERT B. PARKER’S KILLING THE BLUES by Michael Brandman: Not bad, although the style is more Spenser than Stone. A series of car thefts and a related murder bring tension to Paradise, Massachusetts as it is preparing for the summer tourist season. An ex-con that Jesse had arrested back in California shows up and starts a mini-wave of terror, killing pets and setting fires that lead to another death. Through it all, Jesse confronts a personal dilemma as well: a burgeoning relationship with a young PR executive, the niece of the chief selectman, whose plans to turn Paradise into a summertime concert destination may have her running afoul of the law. Overall, not too bad. Would be interesting if Brandman can do a Spenser. 11/11 Jack Quick NOTE FROM THE BOOKBITCH: Brandman won’t get the chance; Ace Atkins has been tapped by the Parker estate to write the Spenser books.

ROBERT B. PARKER’S LULLABY (Spenser) by Ace Atkins: First, let me say that Ace Atkins has written an excellent book which I recommend highly. However, he is not Robert B. Parker. The plot is good with Spenser being hired by a 14 year old girl (for a dozen doughnuts) to look for the murderer of her mother 4 years earlier. The police have arrested and convicted someone for the crime but Mattie – gruff, street-smart, and wise beyond her years – is certain the police got the wrong man. As normal, Spenser and Hawk proceed to unravel the crime, finding the real killer and a corrupt FBI agent. In the process Spenser, Hawk and Mattie all get shot but recover in time for opening day at Fenway. While all this sounds very Robert B. Parkerish, Atkins misses on two counts. First, he writes well but not in the spare style of Parker. He uses a paragraph where Parker would have used a sentence. Second, the dialogue is “off”. Fewer quips and more extended speech than we Parker fans are accustomed to. All in all, however its still a great read. 5/12 Jack Quick

ROBERT LUDLUM’S THE JANUS REPRISAL by Jamie Freveletti: Colonel Jon Smith is attending a WHO conference when the hotel he’s staying in is attacked. This event launches the doctor and Covert-One operative into a plot that could have catastrophic consequences. At the time of the attack, a highly publicized terrorist leader escapes from imprisonment. As the CIA and Covert-One learn more, they become convinced that the two incidents are connected. What’s more, a cooler of highly contagious and experimental viral samples has gone missing. Smith knows that he was a specific target in the attack. He also knows there are two others on the same list. One is a fellow spy the other an unidentified woman. Smith is certain that the woman is the key, but he has to find her first. This latest in the Covert-One series works as a complete stand alone… with a bit of suspension of disbelief. Actually, most of the book worked for me: it was exciting and suspenseful. My biggest complaints were the believability of Smith and Randi Russell, the CIA op who helps him, both of whom seemed to be a bit slow in figuring things out making it a bit difficult to imagine them as actual expert spies. 10/12 Becky Lejeune

ROBOPOCALYPSE by Daniel H. Wilson: As our reliance on technology grows, intelligent machines become more and more of a reality. Wilson, who studied robotics, brings to life the robot apocalypse in Robopocalypse. Rather than a traditional straight narrative, the story is presented as a series of events documented from the early days of the robot uprising and through the war itself. From the creation of Archos to household bots with seemingly simple malfunctions that soon turn deadly, humans find themselves up against their own creations. Before long, the same machines once designed to help with day to day life are turning on the people around them, taking over entire cities, and even enslaving the human population. Robopocalypse is being hailed as one of the best reads of the summer and, in my opinion, it definitely lives up to the buzz. Robopocalypse is a quick read that will appeal to even the most fringe Terminator fans. If you’ve ever seriously hated your computer, you’ll love it even more. 06/11 Becky Lejeune

A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE by Darryl Wimberley: This debut offers a recycled main plot but does offer potential if the writing is tightened in future outings and the author is able to stick to his main premise without too much wandering. Barrett Raines is the only black detective on an all-white police force in Deacon Beach, Florida (Can you say IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT ?) Barrett’s brother Delton has always been a thorn in his side and Delton’s reputation for womanizing and drinking has hindered Barrett’s career. When Delton is accused of murdering a beautiful, popular white restaurant owner in a fit of passion, the only person between him and a lynching is Barrett. The cop arrests his brother and soon discovers that the killing may be tied to arms dealers based in Deacon Beach. The result is an unpolished work that is choppy and meandering but still entertaining. I want to try the next one in the series to see if there is improvement. 03/11 Jack Quick

ROCOCO by Adriana Trigiani: Trigiani steps outside her realm of women protagonists to write a book starring a man: Bartolomeo di Crespi, the interior designer extraordinaire of Our Lady of Fatima, New Jersey and a charming, loving family man. “B” is 40, unmarried but the unofficial family patriarch and confidant to his sprawling, extended Italian family. He’s nominally engaged although neither B nor his fiancée are interested in marrying, but her mother is the wealthiest woman in NJ and she has her heart set on it. The small town revolves around the church, and when the priest decides it’s time to renovate, B assumes the job will be his, and it is – but only after a fight. Redoing the church has been his long held secret dream, and he desperately wants to make it come true. Infused with Trigiani’s characteristic humor and love, Rococo draws the reader into this lovely cocoon of a book where we learn about the miracles of Fatima, family, and love.

ROGUE by Mark T. Sullivan: Robin Monarch is the most hunted man in the world in this international spy thriller. His parents, an American cat burglar and a con man from Argentina, are killed when he is just thirteen, forcing him to live in the most dangerous slum in Buenos Aires. He joins the Brotherhood of Thieves, learns their eighteen rule code of conduct and survives due to the intervention of a nun. Eventually he becomes one of the CIA’s top operatives, sent on a mission to find an Al Qaeda plot called “Green Fields.” Monarch discovers that Green Fields is something else entirely, and that his superiors are corrupt. He goes rogue, and Middle East arms dealers, Russian mobsters and his own government are all after him and Green Fields. This lightning fast read brings to mind the Robert Ludlum Jason Bourne books, Hitchcock’s It Takes a Thief, as well as Mission Impossible, but doesn’t quite measure up. Sullivan undoubtedly learned breakneck pacing and the art of the short chapter as co-author of James Patterson’s Private Games, and this book will definitely appeal to adrenalin junkies. 10/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2012 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.

ROGUE by Mark T. Sullivan: Sullivan’s Triple Cross was published in April of 2009 and the author was unfortunately quiet until earlier this year when he collaborated with James Patterson on Private Games. Rogue Is his own work and shows the talent Sullivan has to capture and mesmerize his readers. Robin Monarch is introduced as a CIA operative that leaves the agency after discovering some very disturbing information about them while on a mission. He sets himself up as a security consultant to earn a living but has a very lucrative sideline which is not very savory to say the least. By chance Robin saves the life of a Russian mafioso, who than grabs the girl Robin is currently involved with. He tells Robin that he will pay him several million dollars if he will steal a weapon for for him, and will of course, also release the girl. The CIA in the personage of Robin’s ex boss also wants the weapon and contracts him to steal it with the carrot of being able to return to the agency in good standing. Sullivan sketches out Robin’s background in order to bring out his personality and motivations. Robin, the perfect name chosen for him, is shown as a 21st century Robin Hood, in effect robbing from the rich to help the poor. He begins life as an orphan on the streets of a Buenos Aires slum, and with the help of an angel of mercy taking him in picks himself up by his bootstraps and it is almost a certainty that Robin is destined for more adventures in future Sullivan books. Rogue is a fast and captivating read, with events rapidly coming one after the other keeping the reader going and not able to put the book down. Welcome back Mark, I trust that it won’t be another four years before your work appears again. 10/12 Paul Lane

ROGUE by Rachel Vincent: Stray – a human who becomes a werecat after being bitten rather than one who is born into the Pride Rogue – any werecat who commits a capital crime according to the laws of the Pride, includes disclosure, or the failure of a werecat to keep themselves hidden, and the creation of strays whether purposeful or accidental. Faythe Sanders has come to a reluctant agreement with her father. Unwilling to settle down and begin producing her own offspring, Faythe is training as an enforcer within the Pride. She and Marc have finally worked out their differences since Faythe was kidnapped and almost killed in Stray, and things are looking good. That is, until, the bodies of murdered toms (male werecats) begin to pop up in Pride territory. The deaths seem to coincide with a missing person’s case in each area – all strippers, and all resembling Faythe. In fact, the missing person’s reports bring to mind certain college campus murders that Faythe had heard about just before her own kidnapping. The truth behind the killings will bring Faythe face-to-face with a new enemy and will upset the balance of her own existence. Like Vicki Pettersson’s Zodiac series, Rachel Vincent’s werecats are unlike anything else out there. The continued development of the werecat mythology is incredibly fascinating and I can’t wait to see what she brings in next. Rogue has a total cliffhanger ending and I’m just dying to know what’s going to happen in Pride (due out next spring). 04/08 Becky Lejeune

ROGUE ISLAND by Bruce DeDilva: I don’t normally do mysteries that involve talking animals or media people police wannabes. In almost 50 years in the media I have never met a prescient panda or a budding young reporter I would be willing trade for a reasonably well trained law enforcement professional under any circumstances. I am glad, however, that I made an exception for DeSilva’s debut introducing Providence, RI newspaper reporter Liam Mulligan – a stubborn, street-smart hero with a snarky sense of humor. Someone is burning down the Mount Hope section of Providence where Liam was born and raised and he is determined to investigate who is killing lifelong friends and loved ones in his old neighborhood. This leads variously to his being threatened, beaten, arrested on suspicion of arson and murder, suspended from his newspaper, and targeted with a Mob contract on his life. In addition to the truly evil, Mulligan meets and must work with some real characters like his editor – “It’s hard to find good news. It’s not every day that a scientist finds a cure for cancer or a Good Samaritan opens fire at a Democratic fund raiser,” in his take on the state in which he describes graft as Rhode Island’s “leading service industry,” noting that “it comes in two varieties, good and bad, just like cholesterol.” This could be the start of something big. Let us hope so. 11/10 Jack Quick

ROGUE THREAT by A.J. Tata: Matt Garrett, a paramilitary operative with the CIA, is still recovering from his last mission when the U.S. government calls on his services once again. A number of uavs (unmanned aerial vehicles), called Predators, have gone missing and a terrorist plot is suspected. Everyone’s worst nightmares are realized when a group of public landmarks are destroyed by devastating attacks. And more targets will be hit way unless the plotters’ demands are met, or unless Garrett can stop them. The man behind the plot has a personal vendetta against Matt Garrett, though, and his mission in the Philippines is connected to the current threat in ways that Garrett could never imagine. Tata delivers an entertaining military thriller with intriguing technothriller aspects. The strength of this read lies in Tata’s evident military expertise and in the Garrett brothers themselves, heroes worthy indeed of Jack Ryan (Tom Clancy) comparison. Rogue Threat is second in Tata’s Threat series and can be read as a stand-alone, but I’d recommend tracking down Sudden Threat to get the whole story before Garrett’s return in the third title of the series. 01/10 Becky Lejeune

ROLLING THUNDER by Chris Grabenstein: I love this series, and it was in danger of going by the wayside. I was delighted that another house had the good sense to pick it up. John Ceepak has more on his plate than usual when his father gets out of jail on early release and shows up at the Jersey shore again. The pier has been revitalized with new rides and a new wooden rollercoaster, “Rolling Thunder”, but things don’t go well on opening day when the owner’s wife has a heart attack and dies on the first ride. Things go downhill from there when a young girl is murdered and the town’s leading citizens are implicated. I enjoy these characters and over the course of these books, watching Danny Boyle become a man. Can’t wait for the next installment. 07/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ROLLING THUNDER by Chris Grabenstein: I have a confession. My first Chris Grabenstein Danny and Ceepak novel was a flat out DNF. I kept hearing how good he was from friends and finally tried one of his non-series books which I thought was great. So I decided to tackle this series again. About fifteen pages after my first DNF, the darn thing took off, and I have read and enjoyed every page thereafter including this one (including the bright orange or is it electric tangerine cover). Rolling Thunder is the name of the old fashioned wooden roller coaster erected by entrepreneur Paddy O’Malley at the struggling resort town of Sea Haven, N.J… O’Malley’s wife suffers a fatal heart attack on the inaugural ride on the roller coaster. Shortly thereafter, the dismembered body of a party girl turns up in two suitcases. A check of her cell phone records indicates the last time she used it was to text O’Malley. Before the investigation is over Danny and John will face corrupt politicians, powerful business people, Ceepak’s father, and even enemies within the Sea Haven Police. Department. The corruption Ceepak sees drives him to be even more vigilantly upright. In the end Grabenstein pulls it all together nicely. Definitely recommended. 06/10 Jack Quick

THE ROMANOV CONSPIRACY by Glenn Meade: A well presented novel centered around the 1918 killing of the Russian royal family, the Romanovs, by revolutionaries fighting to gain power during the Russian revolution. Against the background of the revolution and the civil war between the Reds and the Whites each seeking power, Meade has written a book based on research centered around the events of the day. Dr. Laura Pavlov, an American forensic archaeologist working in the present day on a dig in Ekaterinburg, Russia around the site where the Romanov family was buried after being murdered discovers a body that has been perfectly preserved by the permafrost of an old mine. In attempts to identify the remains, Dr Pavlov travels to Ireland where a large group of Russian emigres fled to escape the horrors of the revolution. There she meets a man that introduces her to a plot to rescue the Russian royal family before they were executed. Meade has done a good deal of research to write this book and characters not generally known are introduced to the modern reader as forming a part of the team that is dispatched to effect the rescue in 1918. Anastasia, one of the Tzar’s daughters, did not die in the execution, and made a life for herself afterwards. Case in point that several years ago a woman claiming to be Anastasia appeared in Europe and caused a small furor when she apparently had details that were not generally known about the former princess. This passed without much investigation. Two love stories are set as integral parts of the plot and have bearings on the actions of the principal characters. Writing is swift and engrossing and the reader has no problem moving into 1918 Russia with it’s chaos, terror and the horrors that Lenin and his followers perpetrate. The feelings of people living in that era are described and allow the reader to be buoyed along with them into the events.
A well done, well researched book opening up events that transpired almost a century ago. 9/12 Paul Lane

THE ROMANOV CROSS by Robert Masello: Masello’s latest book is a very readable and engrossing novel incorporating various historical events coupled with a touch of the supernatural. Dr. Frank Slater, an army epidemiologist, is facing charges by the military of disobeying orders. He attempted to save the life of a young, very sick girl in Afghanistan by calling for a helicopter to airlift her to a hospital. This act was against direct orders by the army that only military wounded or sick could be transported this way. Facing court martial, Slater is advised that he can avoid that by leading an expedition to a remote island in Alaska to investigate a cemetery holding Russian dead. The permafrost covering the cemetery has melted enough due to global warming to expose coffins of those people that may have been exposed to the dreaded Spanish Flu that killed millions in 1918, for which a cure was never found. Dr Slater’s job would be to determine if the corpses still hold viable strains of the flu and decide on measures to prevent spread of the disease. Slater meets the mayor, an Intuit woman that figures as his romantic interest, who insinuates herself into the expedition with her knowledge of Intuit lore. The Russian town on the island was settled by followers of Rasputin, the mad monk that figured so strongly into the story of the Romanov family that ruled Russia up to the revolution and the ruins of the town show his influence. Masello has proven himself very adept at taking events happening in the distant past and tying them to the present via the supernatural. I found the book impossible to put down; this is a great story, and the work of a writer that is in complete command of plot and character building. The plot involves an acceptance of supernatural events, but once over that hump the read is fascinating. There is no doubt that I will grab Masello’s next book when available. 3/13 Paul Lane

THE ROOK by Daniel O’Malley: When Myfanwy Thomas opens her eyes she is surrounded by a ring of bodies sporting latex gloves. She is bruised and sore and discovers two envelopes stuffed in her pockets. In the first is a letter that begins, “Dear You, The body you are wearing used to be mine.” The letter leads her to a safe place and explains what the new Myfanwy Thomas must do next. She is given the choice to leave and begin a new life or take over the life Myfanwy Thomas has lived up to this point. After a surprise attack, she decides on the latter in hopes that she can discover who is after her—or the former her at least. As she reads through further notes from the old Myfanwy, she learns that Myfanwy Thomas is a Rook within the order of the Checquy, a secret government agency focused on investigating and covering up supernatural events. As a Rook, Myfanwy Thomas is rather high up in the food chain of the organization and the skills she possesses are the perfect tools for unraveling the mystery of her amnesia. The narrative alternates between the present Rook Thomas and the old Rook Thomas’s letters and notes to her new self, making the story an intriguing and amusingly quirky sci-fi thriller with two very different versions of a fantastic heroine. Without a doubt, The Rook is my first favorite of 2012. 1/12 Becky Lejeune

ROOM by Emma Donoghue: This was one of those books that I kept hearing about, but I’d pick it up, think “too creepy”, and put it back down. But once I actually read the first page, I was hooked and it turned out to be one of those books that I will be recommending for years to come. The premise, the creepy factor if you will, is that a young woman was kidnapped and kept locked up in a room for many years, during which time she had a son, Jack. The story is told from his point of view, and as we meet him, it is his fifth birthday. “Room” is his whole world, the only world he has ever known. They do have a TV, but his mother convinces him that everything he sees on TV is fantasy. This room is his only reality. He is a smart, very likeable little boy; heroic, in fact. His “ma” is fiercely protective of him, and he sleeps in the wardrobe, locked away from their captor, Old Nick. Old Nick visits in the nighttime, and disappears during the day. Once a week he brings them “Sunday treat”, and Jack has a few books, a TV and barely enough food to eat and clothes to wear. His ma has some terrible dental issues, which are not taken care of, but somehow Jack remains relatively healthy. It is a fake illness that finally brings about their deliverance. As they escape their bounds, life presents a whole new set of challenges for both of them. This is a remarkable story and one not to be missed. 1/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ROOM FOR LOVE by Andrea Meyer: Chick lit with an interesting premise based somewhat on reality; Meyer wrote an article for a NY newspaper about meeting men by looking in the classifieds – for apartments. She expands on that thesis in this cute but occasionally tedious debut novel. Jacquie is working at a film magazine and barely making ends meet. She has been drifting from one bad relationship to another when her sister moves in with her, creating havoc at home too. When her sister starts dating the men she’s meeting while looking for apartments, Jacquie pitches the idea as an article to a women’s magazine. They bite, with the proviso that she actually do it. The characters are somewhat underdeveloped, and starting each chapter with a classified ad for an apartment grows old, but despite these minor misgivings, it is still a fun read. 09/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ROOMS by James Rubart: The book has been out for about two years, and I confess that I just caught up with it fairly recently. It is James Rubart’s first book and a fascinating piece of writing. At first glance the book is seemingly a gothic novel in light of the happenings in the first few chapters. It is anything but. Micah Taylor is a young, highly successful half owner of an up and coming software company which seems to have nothing but a fabulous future in front of it. A letter is sent to him from a deceased uncle advising that a house has been built for him on the Oregon coast. Micah’s interest is piqued and he decides to visit the house to see what an uncle dead for many years has built for him. He travels to the area – Cannon Beach which brings back bad boyhood memories for him and almost immediately strange things happen in the house. Rooms appear and areas shapes become different. Instead of inspiring terror in Micah he begins to find peace within himself and with the help of a new friend and the meeting of the lovely Sarah begins to reshape his feelings. He begins to spend every weekend at Cannon Beach, only returning to his company in Seattle during the week. Eventually Micah finds reasons to spend more and more time at Cannon Beach, falling in love with Sarah and changing his entire outlook on life. Mr Rubart keeps the reader fascinated by the logical transformation of Micah from the businessman that he was into the spiritually guided human being more and more at peace with himself and his aims and direction. The changing of actual events in his life allows Micah to find happiness with his new self and allows a very satisfying end for quite a fascinating book. 3/12 Paul Lane

ROOTS OF EVIL by Sarah Rayne: Lucy Trent and her family have always lived in the shadow of her scandalous grandmother, Lucretia von Wolff, and the shocking events that led to the end of her life. Baroness Lucretia von Wolff was a silent screen actress who was later said to be a spy for the Nazis. In 1952, she killed two men and then committed suicide in the Ashwood film studio. The family secrets have surfaced again thanks to a woman who intends to write her thesis on the psychological aspects of the murders. The thesis also questions whether Lucretia actually committed the murders and has also resurrected a second mystery, that of the child Alraune. The researcher’s body is found only days later in the abandoned Ashwood studio. The murder bears a striking resemblance to the infamous last scene of Lucretia’s most famous film – Alraune. This is an intriguing multi-layered mystery that traces events as early as the 1920s, through Auschwitz, and into the present. Sarah Rayne is a pseudonym for a well-known British horror author (I have yet to figure out who) and was created when the author decided to break from her genre and begin writing psychological suspense. Though you probably will not be able to find Rayne’s titles shelved at most bookstores (I found mine in a specialty store), they are all available to order through most major chains as well as Amazon.com. I highly recommend this book and believe that it is well worth it to wait a few days for shipping. As an interesting side note, for those that are curious, the story of Alraune can be traced back to Germanic folk legend. 11/06 Becky LeJeune

THE ROOTS OF THE OLIVE TREE by Courtney Miller Santo: In Kidron, California, there lives a family of women who seem to defy all logic in aging: Anna, the eldest at 112 years of age; her daughter, Bets, who is now well into her nineties; Callie, Bets’s daughter and owner of the Pit Stop is in her mid sixties; Deb, the most tragic of the bunch in her thirties; and Deb’s twenty-something daughter, Erin, recently returned from Italy after cutting short her contract with the opera. Their circumstances have caught the attention of a geneticist who wants to include them in a study on what he considers the disease of growing old. See, for most folks there is a certain deterioration that comes with aging. Certainly most people over the age of 100 who are included in the study are nowhere near as active and healthy as Anna. Some say it’s the olive oil their family produces. Whatever it is, Dr. Amrit Hashmi is set on uncovering their secret, but his arrival stirs up other secrets as well. Santo’s debut is a wonderful story of family and the bonds between mothers and daughters. Each character shines but each also shares the spotlight equally, their stories woven together in a way that gives them all a depth and complexity that are excellent examples of Santo’s talent. 8/12 Becky Lejeune

ROSES by Leila Meacham: This sprawling novel by a relatively unknown septuagenarian novelist is sure to please fans of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind and Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds. Set in Texas and spanning three generations, this is the story of two families, the cotton farming Tollivers and the lumber producing Warwicks. Percy Warwick falls in love with Mary Tolliver, his best friend’s younger sister, from the moment of her birth. But Mary’s true love is Somerset, the family’s cotton plantation. When 16 year old Mary’s father dies, he leaves Somerset to Mary, effectively disinheriting his wife and son and destroying his family in the process. Two generations later, it seems history is about to repeat itself when Mary disinherits her niece and heir, Rachel, freeing her from what she believes to be the Tolliver curse. Reading this is an emotional rollercoaster ride; fast and furious with lots of ups and downs, hairpin turns and most of all, fun. Don’t miss it. 02/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion: Don Tillman is a brilliant professor of genetics at an Australian university, whose personality and quirks seem to place him somewhere on the autism spectrum. Since he is socially awkward and lonely, he designs a long questionnaire in hopes of finding the perfect mate and dubs this the Wife Project. In the process, he meets Rosie, a part-time bartender who definitely does not pass the wife test. Nonetheless, he finds himself spending quite a bit of time with her after she confesses that she believes her long-dead mother had a one night stand in which she was conceived. Don launches the Father Project, in which he and Rosie track down all the possible men who could be her father and surreptitiously capture their DNA for testing. I struggled a bit with the idea that autism, even if not completely spelled out, could somehow be overcome by love but despite that, I just loved this charming story. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy this fast paced, laugh-out-loud, slightly skewed look at love and life. The Rosie Project is an award winning first novel that has also been selected for the October LibraryReads list. 10/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ROSTINKOV’S VACATION by Stuart Kaminsky: Rostnikov and his wife Sarah are on vacation at the Lermontov Hotel watching the bathers brave the cold polluted Black Sea waters when Georgi Vasilievich, an old colleague, shows up. Their renewed association comes to a quick end when Georgi is found dead on his deck chair facing the sea. The coroner says it was a heart attack, but Rostnikov knows better. Why was there dirt on Georgi’s hand and why was the knuckle of his middle finger broken? Someone had murdered his friend, and figured that because Vasilievich was a lonely old man no one would care. While Rostnikov is busy with this case in this 7th Kaminsky police procedural, his colleagues back in Moscow have their hands full with a string of computer thefts, all of them owned by Jews who have been bearing the brunt for the country’s economic troubles, and a psychotic killer bent on political assassination. All three men are led to a final confrontation in Soviet Square, game pieces in a country where everything and nothing has changed. Another excellent outing in the series. 02/07 Jack Quick

ROUGH COUNTRY by John Sanford: On the surface it seems almost routine. While Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers is competing in a fishing tournament in a remote area of Minnesota he gets a call from Lucas Davenport to go investigate a sniper shooting death at a nearby resort. Turns out the resort is for women only, mostly lesbians looking for a place to relax, get fit, recover from plastic surgery, commune with nature, etc. The victim is a woman and initial indications from forensics indicates a female perp. The more Virgil digs, the more complicated it gets, particularly after he finds out this isn’t the first murder – that one occurred the year before. And then there is a third murder…. Well, it is obvious Virgil has to shift into high gear to solve this one. I still like Lucas Davenport best but Virgil is coming into his own. Wonder if we will ever have one featuring Lucas’ favorite nun. 10/09 Jack Quick

ROUGH DRAFT by James W. Hall: It should have been Miami Police Detective Hannah Keller’s happiest day. Her first mystery novel had been purchased. But when she went home to tell her proud parents she found them dead, assassinated gang-style by killers leaving a sole witness, Keller’s then six-year-old son, Randall. The case has remained unsolved since. Now, Miami FBI agents Frank Sheffield and Helen Shane are out to capture the man who murdered a U.S. senator’s daughter. They’re sure that the killer is Hal Bonner, hired gun for the Cali cartel, and they decide to use Keller and her son as decoys to capture Bonner. In a creepy plot twist, Keller finds a copy of her first novel marked with scribblings that contain a secret code. As the good guys chase the bad guys in choppers, cars and UPS vans, you start casting the individual roles for the screen version. No Thorn, but still a first rate read. 04/07 Jack Quick

ROUGH JUSTICE by Jack Higgins: When you get to double digits in a series (this is the 15th Sean Dillon thriller), you have to expect an occasional downer. This outing introduces a new-comer to the team of Sean Dillon, Harry Salter, et al, in the form of one Major Harry Miller. Actually Dillon and Miller have some history as you learn as this one unfolds. Miller is a Clark Kent type, mild-mannered Member of Parliament, who is actually the British prime minister’s secret hit man. Blake Johnson brings in the American side as they all go after a combination of Al-Qaeda, Islamic Fundamentalists and modern day Russians. This reads more like a Bond movie script than some of Higgins previous work. Enjoyable, but not top shelf. 04/09 Jack Quick

ROUGH WEATHER by Robert B. Parker: For Spenser’s 36th adventure, Parker brings back an old nemesis, the Gray Man, who almost killed him in 1977’s SMALL VICES. This time around Spenser is hired by the wealthy Heidi Bradshaw to be at her daughter’s wedding on Tashtego Island in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. The ceremony is interrupted by an armed gang, headed by Ruger (the Gray Man), who kills the groom and abducts the bride. With the assistance of Spenser’s usual friends, he sets out to recover the missing bride. It’s another great Spenser and it possibly sets the stage for number 37. 12/08 Jack Quick

RUBICON by Lawrence Alexander: Right out of today’s headlines, an idealistic young senator from California named Bobby Hart discovers an assassination plot under the code name Rubicon that is to occur before the next Presidential election. He doesn’t know who is behind the plan, who is the target, when the event will occur or how, but he does come to realize this is, in fact, a plot to steal the country. It is up to Hart to solve the mystery and prevent the assassination. After stealing the election was just the beginning. How much truth is there in this book? Let’s hope that it is truly a work of fiction. 06/08 Jack Quick

THE RUINS by Scott Smith: Critics are buzzing about Scott Smith’s much-anticipated second novel. After twelve years, Smith has finally produced what is being described as a thriller/horror. A group of friends vacationing in Mexico plan to take a day trip into the jungle. Their destination – an archaeological dig at an old mine shaft. Upon arrival the group is greeted by some very unfriendly locals, two abandoned tents overgrown with vines, and the stripped remains of the archaeological team. What follows is the harrowing psychological deterioration as they realize that they may never make it off the hill. Readers should realize that certain aspects of this book are grossly misleading. Based on the title and the jacket description, I went into this expecting something completely different. I must admit, after all the buzz, I had high expectations and as a result I was a little disappointed. This was not a “horror” novel but rather a psychological suspense. However, once I was able to get past these initial expectations, I was intrigued by the shocking and gruesome story that followed. This is a very twisted vacation read. 09/06 Becky LeJeune

RULES OF CIVILITY by Amor Towles: New York City in the late 1930’s is one of the main characters in this ode to F. Scott Fitzgerald, along with Katey, Eve and Tinker. Tinker is a wealthy man, while Katey & Eve just get by. The three of them inadvertently celebrate New Year’s Eve together at a jazz club in Greenwich Village, with tragic results. The rest of the novel explores the difficult year that follows, with Katey shining as a beacon to her friends. An interesting story that often uses language as flowery as a bouquet of roses, yet somehow doesn’t have enough depth to reach all the senses. Fans of Fitzgerald will scoff, but this book is more accessible to the masses. After all the hype this book has received, personally I was disappointed, but nonetheless enjoyed the trip back to a different world. I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite quotes: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there,” (L.P. Hartley.) 8/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

RULES OF CRIME by by LJ Sellers: Another outstanding police procedural from Ms.Sellers featuring Detective Wade Jackson and his cohorts of the Eugene, Oregon Police Department. This time its personal as Jackson’s ex-wife, Renee, is missing, Jackson suspects alcoholic Renee has climbed back inside the bottle that destroyed their marriage. But the truth is far worse: kidnappers have snatched Renee and are demanding ransom from her wealthy fiancé. In the meantime, Jackson’s protégé, Detective Lara Evans, is working a seemingly unrelated case involving a battered coed and a whispered rumor of a secret sorority. Add in Eugene’s new FBI liaison, Agent Carla River, (formerly Carl) and you have all the main characters hard at work to save lives and bring the perps to justice. I still miss Ed McBain, but Ms. Sellers has become my go-to for solid police procedurals. 3/13 Jack Quick

RULES OF DECEPTION by Christopher Reich: Just how well do you know your spouse? Dr. Jonathan Ransom is about to face this very question, and the answer could be more than one man can handle. When Emma is killed in a climbing accident, Jonathan is devastated. A day later, a letter arrives addressed to Emma. In the envelope, Jonathan finds two baggage claim tickets. When Jonathan shows up to pick up the mysterious bags, he is accosted by two Swiss police officers. Instinct kicks in and Jonathan accidentally kills one of the officers while defending himself. Now he has become one of the most wanted men in Switzerland, and what he finds in the bags doesn’t help the situation one bit. Meanwhile, the assassination of a Dutch engineer living in Switzerland has raised some interesting questions. Just what this man’s death has to do with Jonathan and his quest to discover the truth about his wife is unclear, but the murder trail is leading investigators straight towards this unlikely fugitive. Reich’s latest is drawing worthy comparison to Robert Ludlum, admittedly one of espionage fiction’s greatest authors. The best thing about Rules is that it never becomes too bogged down in politics. As with all spy fiction, the political aspect is always present, but it’s not overwhelming to a layperson like me. Rules of Deception is an intense thriller that will definitely satisfy readers of the genre, whether they’re familiar with Reich’s work or not. 07/08 Becky Lejeune

RULES OF DECEPTION by Christopher Reich: Does anyone truly know another person? Emma, the wife of Dr. Jonathan Ransom of Doctors Without Borders, dies in a skiing accident in the Swiss Alps. Afterwards, the grieving Ransom receives a letter, posted to Emma, but delayed in delivery until after her death. The note leads to the discovery that Emma led a double life as a spy. Suddenly Ransom is in a frantic life and death chase across northern Europe. The plot is extremely complicated with a huge cast of characters, but the pace is breathtaking and in the end, you will see how it all fits together – albeit you may be totally exhausted by that point. One of my best reads of the year. 06/09 Jack Quick

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE by James Patterson: Second outing for NYC Detective Mike Bennett, caregiver for ten children, all of whom we met in STEP ON A CRACK. This time the Teacher is a calculating killer showing New York who is boss, killing the city’s most powerful and arrogant. Think Miss Manners with an Uzi who is determined to clean things up. Some of the citizenry seems to approve, but for the elite of New York it’s a call to terror. Enter superhero Mike Bennett (10 children?) to save the day. Its disaster time for the Big Apple and all ten kids are down with the flu. Not the worst of the Patterson collaborations, but not really first rank either. 04/09 Jack Quick

RUNEMARKS by Joanne Harris: According to Norse mythology, Ragnarok meant the end of the world. It was to be the penultimate battle between the gods and it would result in all of their deaths. Harris’s first young adult fantasy takes place 500 years after the end of the world. In this time, people have forgotten the old gods. They no longer have time for fancy, whimsy, or dreams. In fact, they fear these things above all else, as they bring about chaos. Their world is one of rules and order. Maddy Smith does not fit into this world. For one, she was born with a rune mark on her hand. The people of Malbry fear Maddy and her mark and talk among the village is that Maddy may be a witch. Maddy’s one friend is an outsider who calls himself One-Eye. At the age of seven, Maddy begs One-Eye to teach her about the runes, to tell her what the mark on her hand means, and most of all to teach her to use and harness the power that the runes hold. One-Eye has his own plans, though, and those plans involve keeping Maddy in the dark as long as possible in regards to what she really is. Maddy’s life as she knows it is about to be turned upside down as she embarks on the adventure of a lifetime. What began as a bedtime story for her nine year old daughter has become a fantasy novel four years in the making. Although technically a book for young adults, the story contains the same elements that can be found in any one of Harris’s novels. Runemarks is a great story steeped in Norse mythology and perfect for any reader who is young at heart. Fans should know that Harris has already confirmed there will be a follow-up somewhere down the road, her daughter has insisted upon it. 01/08 Becky Lejeune

RUNNER by Thomas Perry: After a ten year absence, Jane Whitefield returns. Whitefield, a Native American living a quiet life as the wife of a surgeon in upstate New York, had retired from her under-the-radar work as a “guide,” someone who helped people in peril vanish from their pursuers. A pregnant young woman shows up at the hospital during a fund-raiser. Her pursuers set off a bomb trying to capture her in the ensuing confusion. Instead, she is able to hook up with Jane, who reluctantly agrees to get back into the game. The game, however, has become more much complicated in the last decade with cell phones and databases and the proliferation of the Internet. Jane has to adapt to the new environment and in doing so, becomes the hunter. A ten year absence has only made Perry’s writing sharper. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another decade for the next one. 10/09 Jack Quick

THE RUNNER by Peter May: This is May’s fifth and my first thriller featuring Chinese detective Li Yan and American pathologist Margaret Campbell. Beijing is all buzz about hosting the upcoming Olympics, Ms. Campbell is pregnant with their child, and the couple is seeking to get married when the deaths of two potential Olympians take precedence. A top Chinese swimmer kills himself and an Olympic weightlifter dies in the arms of his Beijing mistress. Both are actually murders and connected to an inexplicable series of “accidents” which has taken the lives of some of China’s best athletes. All personal matters must be put on hold until Detective Li can get to the bottom of the matter. Very well done. I will definitely go back and read the previous outings. 02/10 Jack Quick

RUNNING FROM THE DEVIL by Jamie Freveletti: Emma Caldridge is one lucky woman. When her plan crashes in the jungles of Columbia, Emma finds herself thrown clear of the wreckage, hidden from the group of guerillas that arrives soon after to round up the remaining passengers. And Emma has some tricks up her sleeve as well: She’s a biochemist who runs ultramarathons. In other words, Emma has just the resources one would need to survive in such a situation. She tracks the guerillas and passengers as they trek into the woods, keeping far enough behind to remain undetected, hoping that she can last long enough to be saved. But Emma is hiding a secret as well. A secret that makes her a valuable commodity in the war that is taking place around her. Meanwhile, as American authorities begin looking for the persons responsible for the crash, their intel on Emma is beginning to make her look like a possible suspect. It will take everything Emma has to make it through this one, and the forces after her can’t imagine what they’re going to come up against. Running From the Devil is a page-turning adventure/political thriller and a fabulous read. Freveletti, already accomplished in so many ways, is sure to add best-selling author to the list after this one. 05/09 Becky Lejeune

RUNNING SCARED by Cheryl Norman: After enduring years of abuse at the hands of her husband, Ashley Adams finally got the nerve to leave, and it nearly cost her her life to do so. Her divorce has only just been finalized, but Ashley has already made great progress in putting her life back together. She’s even been training to run her very first marathon. This morning, though, Ashley and her running partner find themselves right in the middle of a drive-by shooting, not a common occurrence in their small Florida town by any means. Ashley is convinced that her ex is behind it all, but the police don’t have enough evidence to charge him. To make matters worse, the police aren’t even sure if Ashley was the intended target at all. Detective Rick Edwards knows that Ashley’s fear of her ex is not unfounded, though. In fact, he’s seen first-hand the results of the abuse and he’s taken a special interest in making sure that no harm comes to Ashley again. Running Scared is an easy and light romantic suspense/mystery bordering on cozy – not too heavy on the violence or the sex. My one complaint is that some of the dialogue is a bit dated for the fairly young heroine. She’s in the habit of saying “mercy,” and “oh, dear,” in response to being shot at. 09/08 Becky Lejeune

RUNNING WRECKED by Mark Combes: Phil Riley has come from Minnesota to the Caribbean’s Isla Tortuga for a fresh start. A job at the dive shop during the day, good friends and lots of cold beer afterwards, life is good. Then he discovers the beautiful sailboat Miss Princess abandoned and adrift. Why are the police lackadaisical about investigating? What happened to the family that was aboard? Riley’s fumbling attempts to play detective may foil a kidnap plot, or it may cost him his life. A bit uneven, like many first works, but shows promise. 06/07 Jack Quick

RUNOFF by Mark Coggins: Leonora Lee is the all-powerful “Dragon Lady” of San Francisco’s Chinatown. She is accustomed to getting her way in all things, so when her hand-picked mayoral candidate fails even to carry the predominantly Chinese precincts, see sends for August Riordan, rapidly becoming San Francisco’s go-to Private Investigator. Lee wants to know if the election was rigged, who did it, why they did it and how they did it. Once she has her answers, you sense she can handle the situation nicely. Coggins obviously knows what Herb Caen called Baghdad by the Bay, its people and its politics. Recommended. 12/07 Jack Quick

RUSH HOUR RULES by Huw Powell: It started out as an innocent bit of pub entertainment. At the insistence of his girlfriend, E. Z. Tyler reluctantly allows himself to be the subject of a hypnotist, as far as he is aware for the first time ever. The next thing he knows is he is in the middle of mayhem and murder. It seems that the trance triggers a lost memory which causes his best friend Jason (actually his minder) to kill several onlookers and attempt to kill E.Z., who fatally clobbers Jason with a chair. Tyler is arrested and the next day exposed to government officials who interrogate him and then plan to kill him. He escapes and the chase is on. What is it he knows but doesn’t know that he knows. Tyler exhibits remarkable ingenuity as he proceeds at a breakneck “rush hour” pace to save himself – and the world. Nicely done and recommended. 11/09 Jack Quick

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