Fiction Reviews W-X: 1998-2013

Waiting by Ha Jin: I loved this deceptively simple story about a man trying to get a divorce to marry the woman he loves. A fascinating look at life in contemporary China. Winner of the Pen-Faulkner & National Book Awards. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WAKE OF THE BLOODY ANGEL by Alex Bledsoe: Taking on a case that’s two decades cold is not something Eddie LaCrosse is looking forward to. But the client is his landlord, Angelina, an old friend and bartender who says her long lost love went off to sea and never returned. When Angelina fell for Edward Tew, she vowed to wait while he took to the seas to gain his riches the old-fashioned—and illegal—way, through piracy. One famed score was all it took for Tew to earn his name—Black Edward. And that one score was his last. Rumor has it the captain and his treasure went down with the ship but some say The Bloody Angel still sails. Eddie, along with ex-pirate captain Jane Argo by his side, will have to take to the high seas himself to find out the truth, but will he succeed in solving the mystery of Black Edward and The Bloody Angel? Wake of the Bloody Angel is fourth in Bledsoe’s Eddie LaCrosse series, but can easily be read as a standalone or serve as a good jumping in point for readers new to Bledsoe’s work. Wake is fast paced and action-packed, satisfying both fantasy and mystery cravings. 9/12 Becky Lejeune
WAKING BRIGID by Francis Clark: Celtic mythology, voodoo and Christianity collide in this supernatural debut. During the potato famine in Ireland, seven-year-old Brigid Rourke was sent by her family to join ranks with the Catholic church. It was the only way they could ensure that she would survive the blight. It was important that Brigid survive because she is an hereditary, someone born with powers that are passed down from generation to generation. Brigid, now a full-blown nun, is stationed in Savannah, Georgia. She and the city both survived the Civil War but are now faced with an even greater challenge. A prestigious group of town citizens has been dabbling in the occult, calling forces that even they cannot control. The church first becomes aware of the issue when a patient in the mental asylum is killed within his locked cell. Brigid is one of the nurses on sight and that single event is enough to awaken the power that has been sleeping within her for almost three decades. A secret group of white mages within the church hierarchy is called to Georgia to exorcise the demon and Brigid must quickly learn to harness her gifts or they could all die in the fight. Clark’s use of an historical setting for this supernatural thriller makes it stand out amongst the many that have been released in recent months. Unfortunately, Clark passed away just last year after penning only two complete novels. I look forward, with some regret, to his second and last novel’s release. 02/08 Becky Lejeune

WAKING THE WITCH by Kelley Armstrong: Savannah Levine has been technically working for her adoptive parents’ PI agency for five years. And she’s been waiting all that time for the opportunity to run her own investigation. With Paige and Lucas out of town on vacation, now is finally Savannah’s chance. A fellow PI has been hired by the family of a murdered girl and wants Savannah’s help on the case. In all, three women have been found dead and the small town PD in charge is pretty much stretched to its limit. Though the cops have a suspect in mind, the link between the three girls is questionable, making the case even more difficult to solve. Savannah is definitely up for the job, but soon finds that no one can every truly be prepared for the unexpected. Waking the Witch is first and foremost a fantastic mystery. This is the latest in the Women of the Otherworld series, and although there are hints of Savannah’s past—and a twist that ties that in even more—readers new to the series will have no trouble jumping right in. I loved Armstrong’s characters and will definitely be seeking out more titles in the series. 08/10 Becky Lejeune

WALL STREET NOIR edited by Peter Spiegelman: Probably the only street in the world about which an entire anthology can be written, this entry in Akashic’s noir anthology series includes a stellar cast of 17 crime genre hitters, many with financial backgrounds. Included are Megan Abbot, Richard Aleas, Peter Blauner Henry Blodget, Tim Broderick, Reed Farrel Coleman, John Burdett, Jim Fusilli, James Hime, Richard Light,. David Noonan, Twist Phelan, Stephen Rhodes, Lauren Sanders, Mark Haskell Smith, Peter Speigelman, and Jason Starr. Although the stories are centered on the world’s financial center the action ranges from lower Manhattan to the Gulf Coast to Bangkok. Greed and desperation truly know no bounds. 12/07 Jack Quick

WALKING DEAD by Greg Rucka: Atticus Kodiak has settled down in Georgia with his lover Alena Cizkova, the former professional assassin. That’s Georgia, as in the former USSR. When three members of a neighbor’s family are murdered and their 14 year old daughter abducted, Atticus goes on a mission – to find the girl. It may cost him his relationship with Alena, but do less would cost him his soul. With each outing Rucka reveals more and more insight into character of the once bodyguard, now more accustomed to taking an active role rather than waiting for danger to come to him. As Johnny Cash sang “I walk the line,” so does Atticus. Very nicely done. 07/09 Jack Quick

THE WANDERING GHOST by Martin Limon: In 1972. I served in the US Army’s Second Infantry Division at Camp Casey, Korea. During part of my tour, my superior officer was a WAC – Women’s Army Corps – the first WAC to serve in a combat division in the modern era. Can you believe, in their fifth outing, agents George Sueno and Ernie Bascom, of the Eighth Army Criminal Investigations Division in Seoul, Korea, are sent to Camp Casey, on Korea’s Demilitarized Zone. Their assignment:, find a female MP—the second Division’s first female MP—who has gone missing. Although I don’t recall the atmosphere of sexual harassment as portrayed in the book (who was there to harass?), most everything else rings true with my own memories of a poor Korea dependent on U.S. dollars and military presence. Limon also captures the ill will between “the Division” and the REMF’s at Eighth Army Headquarters in Seoul. We lived under combat conditions. They had dependents, school activities, PX and Commissary, all the comforts of home – and they were distressed when soldiers from the Second came down out of the hills because it reminded the dependents that they were always less than an hour away from being in a war zone. Oh well, enough rambling. Read the book. It’s great. 02/08 Jack Quick

WANNA GET LUCKY? by Deborah Coonts: Can’t afford a weekend jaunt to Vegas? Plunk down your $25 and be transported. Lucky is the customer service manager, AKA the workaholic who reports to “The Big Boss,” of the Babylon Hotel, the newest, lushest, plushest hotel on the strip. When an ex-hooker takes a dive out of the Babylon’s helicopter and ends up dead, Lucky’s job gets considerably more complicated. Lucky also has to juggle a swingers convention, a high tech convention, and a porno award banquet – just another day in Vegas. Throw in Mona, her bordello owning mother, her best friend Teddie, a female impersonator extraordinaire who wants to be more than friends, and a hunky, flirty security guard and you’ve got a rollicking fun read. First book of a series, and I can’t wait for the next installment. 06/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

A WANTED MAN by Lee Child: Jack Reacher is back, and this time he starts off hitchhiking with his broken nose and banged up face. An hour after he sticks out his thumb, he is picked up by two men and a woman, all wearing matching shirts. Reacher figures they are coming from some sort of corporate retreat, and doesn’t think much about hitting the first police road block. This is a different approach for Child; the first half of the book or so is just Reacher in the car with these people while he tries to figure out their story. It could have been slow going except for the rest of the story going on behind him, making for an unusual and very interesting book. Not as much action as is typical in a Reacher novel but the tight writing and well developed secondary characters keeps things moving along nicely. Sure to please fans of the series; newcomers would be better off starting elsewhere. 9/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
A WANTED MAN by Lee Child: The hitchhiker is almost a cliché in crime fiction. Don’t pick up hitchhikers. You may be letting a serial killer into your vehicle – or don’t hitchhike, you may be getting into a vehicle with a serial killer. Now if you are Jack Reacher, even a slightly battered broken nosed Jack Reacher, you don’t really worry that much about encounters with serial killers. Been there, done that. So when he hitches a ride in Nebraska heading east to Virginia he soon discovers he has hitched more than a ride. Two men in the front seat – one with his eyes on the road, the other telling stories that don’t add up. In the back, a woman, silent and obviously nervous. It seems there has been an execution style killing, and the two professionals responsible for the murder have commandeered a car and taken its owner (a woman) hostage. They know law enforcement will be looking for two men alone, so by adding Reacher with their hostage, they figure they can deflect attention until safely outside the killing zone. And that’s just the beginning of what may be the best Reacher yet. Just can’t see Tom Cruise meeting this challenge. 10/12 Jack Quick

THE WAR MAKERS by Nick Carter (John L. Chabliss): originally published in 1936, available as free e-book from http://www.blackmask.com. In this action thriller, secret agents have stolen the Army’s new laser gun just when Europe threatens to boil over into a new armed conflict. Journalist Jack Duane and Moses, his Negro servant, witness the theft and must work with Detective Nick Carter to retrieve the weapon before it is used against the United States with devastating effect. Note again the original publication date – 1936. Interesting read. 12/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

WARNING SIGNS by CJ Lyons: Lyons returns to Pittsburgh’s Angels of Mercy Medical Center in her follow-up to last year’s debut, Lifelines. Where Lifelines was essentially Lydia’s tale, this time it’s Amanda’s turn. Med student Amanda Mason is looking forward to her neuro rotation until a strange case presents itself. A woman turns up in the ER with mysterious symptoms: dehydration, elevated sodium levels, and descending paralysis that leaves her unable to move or respond while still being completely conscious and aware. Amanda learns that in the days leading up to her trip to the ER, the woman’s symptoms were shockingly similar to symptoms Amanda has noticed in herself. Worse yet, the woman’s symptoms were also shared by two other women who subsequently died while at Angels. Amanda tells herself that it’s just med school jitters, but even her supervisor, Dr. Lucas Stone, is concerned. Meanwhile, Lydia is in trouble once again when she tries an experimental procedure on a very young trauma patient, Nora thinks she’s being stalked, and Gina has still not recovered her wits or her drive after being shot at while working with the ambulance team. The drama continues in this excellent series. If you’re a fan of shows like ER and Grey’s Anatomy, you’re going to love Lyons’ books. 01/09 Becky Lejeune

WATCH THEM DIE by Kevin O’Brien: It starts with a video – one portraying the choking murder of a woman just like in a famous film sequence. Hannah is a single mom, working in a Seattle video store, trying to stay under the radar because of a rich and abusive husband back in Minneapolis. She finds the unmarked video in the store return box and takes it home to check it out. Then there is another video and another. Apparently she is being stalked and her “admirer” is sending her videos – videos that contain a murder. Then he re-creates the murder in real life. Hannah is afraid to go to the Seattle police, unsure whom she can trust, and sees the body count mounting. Through it all there is her young son to be taken care of. Nicely done. 10/12 Jack Quick

WATCHLIST by Jeffery Deaver, et al: Cleverly disguised as a book, this is a veritable library of modern thriller authors. There are 22 different authors (plus a prologue by M. J. Rose) who have banded together to produce not one, but two great tales starring former war crimes investigator Harold Middleton. In The Chopin Manuscript (part one of WATCHLIST) Middleton is trying to uncover the secret contained in the handwritten notes of composer Chopin. Afterwards, in The Copper Bracelet, he is thrust into an international terror plot which could lead to nuclear war between India and Pakistan, igniting World War III. If you are fan of Deaver, Childs, Finder, Scottoline, Lynds, Rozan, or any of the other of today’s great thriller writers, you’ve got to have this one. A word of warning, however, either pick up on Friday as I did or plan to call in sick the next day. 12/09 Jack Quick Note: The Chopin Manuscript & The Copper Bracelet were originally released as downloadable audiobooks through Audible.com, and The Chopin Manuscript won Audiobook of the Year in 2007 from the Audio Publishers Association. This is the first time either title has appeared in print.

THE WATCHMAN by Robert Crais: This one is Joe Pike’s story. Pike, a former marine, LAPD officer, and mercenary, is hired to protect Larkin Barkley on the word of his former police partner. Barkley, a troubled L.A. woman from a wealthy family, has the misfortune of witnessing something which causes her to be targeted for death, and Pike is immediately in the cross hairs. Partner Elvis Cole starts digging and targets a drug cartel’s money-laundering network as the source of the death squads and identifies Barkley’s father as the possible link. As the book goes forward, Pike and Barkley, so opposite at he beginning come to identify more and more with each other, and this becomes more than a job. Interesting change of pace from the on-going Elvis Cole series, but certainly as excellent, maybe one of the best. 05/07 Jack Quick

THE WATCHTOWER by Lee Carroll: Garet James’s introduction to the world of the fey was sudden, to say the least. After learning that she is descended from the fey herself—she is the latest in a line of women sworn to protect humans—falling in love with a centuries-old vampire, and defeating the evil John Dee, Garet’s new love betrays her, stealing a box that can open a door to the Summer Country. Will Hughes is cursed with immortality and longs to be human once again. In spite of his actions, Garet is ready to forgive Hughes. She travels to France in hopes of following him to that mythic land. But first, she must appeal to a number of local fey, for they hold the key to getting to the other side. The Watchtower not only continues Garet’s story from Black Swan Rising, but alternates chapters with Will’s origin tale as well. I loved the additional characters introduced in this second of the trilogy, but was not as impressed by Hughes’s backstory. The twist in the end was a little too expected and abrupt, but obviously leads straight into the concluding installment of the series. 08/11 Becky Lejeune

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen: This is the kind of book that I kept picking up and putting down, I just wasn’t sure I wanted to read it. A book about the circus? It really didn’t appeal to me, but after hearing so many people rave about it, I finally succumbed and started reading. I was immediately hooked. The main character is Jacob Jankowski, a ninety-something year old man: “I am ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other.” He narrates the story from the “assisted living facility,” a lovely euphemism for a nursing home, where his children have parked him. Talk in the dining room is a mad buzz about the circus that has come to town, and they are able to watch the tents going up outside their window. A new resident of the home declares that he used to “carry water for elephants” and Jacob calls him a liar, creating the springboard for Jacob’s story to be told.

Jake’s parents are killed in a tragic car accident just weeks shy of his graduating veterinary school. He goes home to find out that they have mortgaged everything to pay his Cornell tuition, and that his father, a successful vet himself, has been paid in food and dry goods for his services during these depression years. Jake is broke and homeless and returns to school to sit for his exams, but his mind wanders so he leaves, jumps a train, and finds himself among the workingmen of a second rate circus. He wrangles himself a job tending the menagerie, all the animals, working for the sadistic August and things really get complicated when Jake falls in love with August’s wife, Marlena. This is an incredibly rich story, detailing life during the depression and behind the scenes at the circus – the language sings, the history is incredibly well researched, making this a fascinating story with an incongruous, yet somehow fitting ending indeed. I read the hardcover, and each chapter includes a historic circus photo from various archives; I’m not sure if those were reproduced in the paperback that is now available. Either way, don’t miss this book. I was so captured by this story that I am now planning a trip to the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida. 01/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

A WAY WITH MURDER by R.J. Jagger: Set in the early 1950’s, Denver PI Bryson Wilde is first cousin to LA’s Philip Marlowe and New York’s Mike Hammer. So when a curvy young thing brings him an envelope of money and asks for his help in finding a killer, he flicks the butt of his Camel out the open window and starts earning the dough. How could he know just how complicated a maze he was entering. There’s lots of lovely ladies, action, adventure, treasure – all interwoven to produce a heck of a tale that will keep you up reading all night – at least it did me. At the end I was totally exhausted by the twists and turns, but highly satisfied with the read. 3/12 Jack Quick NOTE: Available as e-book only until August, 2012 when hardcover goes on sale.

WE ALL FALL DOWN by Michael Harvey: In Harvey’s continuing series featuring Chicago cop turned private investigator Michael Kelly, Kelly is racing to save his city from a deadly new foe: a biological weapon unleashed underground. When a lightbulb falls in a subway tunnel, it releases a pathogen that could kill millions. While the mayor postures, people begin to die, especially on the city’s grim West Side. Hospitals become morgues. L trains are converted into rolling hearses. Finally, the government acts, sealing off entire sections of the city—but are they keeping people out or in? Meanwhile, Michael Kelly’s hunt for the people who poisoned his city takes him into the tangled underworld of Chicago’s West Side gangs and the even more frightening world of black biology—an elite discipline emerging from the nation’s premier labs, where scientists play God and will stop at nothing to preserve their secrecy. Harvey just keeps betting better and better. LA has Connelly, and Chicago has Harvey. Both are must reads. 09/11 Jack Quick

WEB OF SCRETS by Ernesto Patino: A reasonably well written book with a terrible premise. In 1965, a woman living outside Miami dies in child birth. Thirty years later, Sarah Baker, a married adoptee, receives a phone call. A man claims to know shocking facts about Sarah’s past that he will keep secret for a one-time $4,000 payoff. The secret – that Sarah is bi-racial, with a white mother and black father. This is where the train leaves the tracks. Sarah and husband Mark agree to pay off the blackmailer because of fear that if the blackmailer goes public (in 1995) it will ruin her husband’s career. I’m sorry, but I have lived in the southern United States most of my life, and as we say here, that dog don’t hunt. In 1895 maybe, but not in 1995. Husband Mark starts physically avoiding his wife, tensions mount, and eventually she hires Ex FBI investigator turned P. I. Joe Coopersmith in an attempt to find confirmation and closure. Sarah and Mark eventually settle their issues but, it turns out there are three siblings, one of whom is a Rush Limbaugh clone and another is a spoiled rich man’s wife. Like Sarah, they are approached by a blackmailer. The remainder of the book runs the usual course with Coopersmith in various levels of jeopardy and the mystery eventually being solved. 05/10 Jack Quick
THE WEIGHT by Andrew Vachss: After the very disappointing stand-alone Haiku (at least I hope it was a stand alone) it was good to see some of the old Vachss back in this one. Professional thief Tim “Sugar” Caine finds himself caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. The police have arrested him after a rape victim has mistakenly identified him as her attacker. He can’t clear himself, as he was participating in a jewel robbery at the time. Caine ends up serving a five-year sentence for sexual assault before he’s back on the New York City streets, where he reconnects with Solly Vizner, the man who put the jewel heist together. That is when he finds that one of the crew on the heist may be a threat to the future of Vizner and, ultimately Caine. It is up to Caine to neutralize the threat. Not vintage Vachss but acceptable. 02/11 Jack Quick

THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE by Heather Gudenkauf: One Iowa morning, two families wake up to find their 7 year old girls are missing. The girls, Calli, a selective mute, and Petra, are best friends. A search ensues, but it is the families’ stories that are so captivating and engrossing. The book is written in short chapters that alternate first person viewpoints amongst almost all the major characters. It makes for a rather unusual dichotomy of careful reading that is somehow very quick, perhaps because it is such a compelling story.
Petra’s father is much older than her mother, and they consider her to be their little miracle. Calli is a sweet girl, but she hasn’t spoken in several years, and as her story unfurls the reasons become less murky. Her father is an abusive alcoholic, but luckily for the family his work on the Alaska pipeline keeps him away from home for extended stretches of time. She has an older brother who is usually kind to her, and their mom is loving and fun. Because she doesn’t speak, her best friend Petra is her voice. The search goes on, lots of old wounds are reopened, and we are drawn into this world in a way that makes this book impossible to put down. A compulsively readable first novel. 04/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE WEIRD SISTERS by Eleanor Brown: The Weird Sisters is a reference to the witches in Macbeth, but here they are the three grown Andreas sisters, who have always had some difficulties in getting along. One still lives at home, the others return when they learn their mother has breast cancer. In reality it is an excuse for the women to get their lives out of disarray. Their father is a college professor and Shakespeare scholar, and they all communicate best in Shakespearian phrases, which Brown kindly translates and/or puts in context for us. Don’t let that scare you off, it is no hardship to read this book, but rather a pleasure, with the added benefit of making this reader feel positively cerebral without the least bit of effort.
They live in Barnwell, a small college town where Rose, the eldest who still lives at home, is a math professor. She’s engaged but her fiancé accepts a teaching assignment in London, forcing Rose to come to terms with what she wants out of life. The middle girl is Bianca, called Bean, who has returned home from the big city, NYC, after being fired for embezzling at her law firm, mostly for shopping purposes. The youngest is the hippie/gypsy Cordelia, who returns home pregnant and not sure what to do about it.
The Weird Sisters is a charming novel filled with warm, fully developed characters who we can’t help caring about, a lovely setting and an interesting, quirky story. I continue my love affair with all books Amy Einhorn (The Help, The Postmistress) with thanks to Neil Nyren who suggested that if I liked one book from a particular editor, I might like another. So far I’m 3 for 3. Count this as another gem from Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam. 1/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WERELING by Steve Feasey: Trey Laporte was orphaned at a young age. He was left to be raised at a halfway house for teens, and never knew much about his parents or his heritage. But everything is different now. Trey is a werewolf, the last of his kind. On the day after he undergoes his first change, Trey is taken under the wing of Lucien Charron, old friend of his father’s, a man who isn’t a man at all but an ancient vampire whose own brother is his mortal enemy. Now Trey must learn to harness his new abilities quickly so that he can defend himself, and the world, against an evil that is rising. I like that Feasey’s approach to the first in this series seems to be a more mature level of writing that doesn’t talk down to the teen audience. The beginning of the book is not a stand out amongst the genre, but by the end, Feasey has built the foundations of a series that could indeed be very different from the other teen paranormal offerings out there. Originally released in the UK as Changeling, and the first in a series of four, Wereling marks Feasey’s US debut. 05/10 Becky Lejeune
WEST OF HERE by Jonathan Evison: I have heard raves about this book since they gave out the advance reader copies at Book Expo last summer, so I was delighted to finally get my hands on a copy. I started reading, put it down, picked it up, put it down and eventually slogged through it. It was not an easy read for me and I found it slow going for sure, but ultimately I did like the book. It follows two timelines, both set in the fictional town of Port Bonita, Washington. The first starts in the 1890s with the earliest settlers; the other is 2006 with a cast of characters mostly descended from the first group. The town is built along the Elwa River, and the damming of that river sort of defines the whole story. It reminded me a bit of one of my favorite books, Wallace Stengel’s Angle of Repose, but I just didn’t find it as gripping. Best I can say is I’m not sorry I read it, but I didn’t love it. 02/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WEST SIDE by John Mackie: Two gay men pick up and kill a look alike for one of them in an insurance scam. Their success causes them to decide to make a career of this activity. It is up to Detective Sergeant Thorn Savage and his Manhattan South Homicide squad to solve the case before there are even more victims. It is a gritty walk through New York’s underbelly told by someone who obviously has been there. It’s a world where even the potholes are dangerous to your health and you never know what the next day – or night – will bring. Excellent police procedural. 01/06 Jack Quick

WHACK-A-MOLE by Chris Grabenstein: Ex-military straight shooter John Ceepak is back, partnered with young pup Danny Boyle, and the beaches are crowded once again down on the Jersey shore. A family of tourists find out that an idyllic summer is just too much to ask for when they find a jar containing a body part sitting on a shelf in the local museum. Things just get complicated from there, with runaway teenage girls missing, more body parts unearthed, and the very real possibility of a serial killer on the loose in this small town. Not to mention Doyle can’t seem to get a date, although Ceepak is doing nicely in that department. The storyline is interesting, there are some nice twists, but as always with this series, it’s the characters that make this book well worth reading. The first beach read of the summer is a winner. 05/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHACK-A-MOLE by Chris Grabenstein: It starts with a class ring, long lost but now recovered by Sea Haven super-Cop John Ceepak, practicing his beach combing metal detecting skills, and ends with a serial killer.. When Ceepak and Danny return the ring to its owner, he nervously tells them that he had given it to a girl who had long ago left him. He claimed to even have trouble remembering her name. The few clues he gives them eventually become crucial when human ears in glass jars appear in a tiny, little-visited museum, and human skulls are unearthed on the beach. They soon learn that the body parts date back to the 1980’s and it appears the killer is about to start again. Once again, Grabenstein nails the summer seashore scene replete with aging boardwalk, tacky souvenirs, unhealthy food, and overindulgence in alcohol. Another winner and third in the Jersey Shore series. All that’s missing is Granny Mazur but I expect her to show up any day now, probably with Lula and Stephanie Plum in hot pursuit. 09/08 Jack Quick

WHACKED by Jules Asner: Dani Hale is a writer for a TV series, a CSI-type clone called Flesh and Bone. Her boyfriend Dave is a director on another TV series, and is a bit of a control freak. Dani has some interesting co-workers; her boss, Steve, who boyfriend Dave is sure is hot for her, Rich Pisani, the retired LAPD cop advisor to the show, and Evil Janet, another writer who Dani is sure is out to get her. Dave is directing hot actress Chloe Johnson in his series, and Dani finds out he is cheating on her with Chloe. How does she find this out? Because Dani is nuts. She drives past his house when he tells her he can’t see her, she hacks into his AOL account and reads his email, and so forth. But just when you think this is another one of those chick-lit books about a woman obsessing over some guy who is obviously wrong for her, this book takes a sharp turn down a very dark alley and redefines the surprise ending. Asner was a regular on the E! Entertainment channel, and is married to director Steven Soderbergh, who makes a cameo in this book. All that reality adds another dimension – a frighteningly real one – to this chilling tale. 7/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHAT ALICE FORGOT by Liane Moriarty: Alice Love is a control freak with a gym fetish until the day she falls off her bike during spin class. She knocks herself out, and wakes up having forgotten the last ten years of her life. She’s 39 and thinks she’s 29, thinks it’s 1998 instead of 2008. What Alice forgot is that she’s in the middle of a very nasty divorce; instead, she thinks she’s still madly in love with her husband. What Alice also forgot is her three children, instead she thinks she is pregnant for the first time, and she forgot how far apart she has drifted from her sister. She is released from the hospital, diagnosed with a bad concussion and told that her memory will come back soon. “Old Alice” isn’t too happy with what she starts learning about “new Alice” and the person she has become, and finds it all rather traumatic. Moriarty puts her anguish on the page and the reader can’t help but be immediately drawn into the story.
This is also an epistolary novel; while Alice’s story is told by an omniscient narrator, interspersed are letters her sister writes to her therapist, and her grandmother writes to a long gone fiancé, adding depth to the story. These are wonderfully drawn characters thrust into a most unusual situation. Somewhat reminiscent of Replay by Ken Grimwood, or even the movie Groundhog Day, but with a twist; it begs the question, what would you do if you could relive the past ten years of your life. I loved this book and couldn’t put it down – it is another winner from Amy Einhorn Books at Putnam. Don’t miss it. 08/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHAT BURNS WITHIN by Sandra Ruttan: This should be labeled as a Friday evening start – since you will likely read all night. Three RCMP “that’s Mounties” once worked a case that left bitter memories with each one. Although they are still in British Columbia they are now working in separate areas. Constable Tain is focused on a series of child abductions, Constable Ashlyn Hart is working arson, and Constable Craig Nolan is handling sex crimes. But when the body of one of the missing girls is found in a building that had been set fire by an arsonist and the wife of a police officer becomes a rape victim – it seems that all three are working a common thread. Ruttan captures the intensity of the streets and daily police work while vividly pointing out that it’s not just the victims that get damaged by criminal acts. Those who uphold the law also pay a price. Very well done – and when’s the next one? 06/08 Jack Quick

WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE by Sarah Dessen: When McClean’s mother leaves her father for the town hero, the college basketball coach, McClean’s life is shattered. The scandal is embarrassing and heartbreaking, and McClean makes the decision to go live with her father. He takes a job as a restaurant consultant, forcing them to move every few months. By her senior year of high school, McClean has been to several schools and has reinvented herself at each, going so far as to change her name, drawing on her middle name for inspiration. She keeps her distance and doesn’t form attachments. But this last move she unwittingly ends up as herself, and makes some good friends, and even possibly a boyfriend. Lots of teen angst among these well drawn characters makes for a moving, touching story with the requisite happy ending. I can see why Dessen is so popular with the teen set. 06/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHAT I DID FOR LOVE by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Georgie York co-starred with Bram Shepard on a hugely successful sitcom for years, even though behind the scenes they fought like cats and dogs; that is, until Bram’s Hollywood exploits led to the show being cancelled. His career bombed, and Georgie married gorgeous movie star Lance Marks, who in a very Hollywood way, quickly leaves her for an equally gorgeous movie star/do-gooder. My gut tells me the story was inspired by the Jennifer-Brad-Angelina tableau, which just makes it that much more interesting. Flash forward several years to Las Vegas, where Georgie & Bram run into each other, get drunk, and get married. Both quickly realize that this may the opportunity they both need to repair their reputations; Bram, as the unreliable actor and Georgie, as the jilted ex-wife. The problem is that they are still fighting like cats and dogs, only they have to hide it from the public and their families and friends. This brings up two problems; can a fake Hollywood marriage survive, and will Georgie & Bram find true love? Phillips has penned yet another humorous and sexy romp that is perfect escape reading. 04/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHAT LOOKS LIKE CRAZY by Charlotte Hughes: Kate Holly sucks at solving her own problems. As a practicing psychologist, it’s probably not the best thing to let on that her own life is a shambles as she tries to help others mend theirs. Course her patients are part of the problem. A typical morning in Kate’s office seems to involve at least one attempted suicide, public meltdowns, and even dramatic death threats. Now her neighbors are protesting yard art created by her own mother and her soon to be ex-husband is finally calling for another chance, six months too late. Poor Kate has enough on her plate when she begins to receive threatening phone calls on top of all of this (and in addition to the patient who threatened to blow up her office with his insulin vial). It’s no wonder that Kate can’t seem to get her life straight with so much working against her. Charlotte Hughes, co-author of the Full House series with Janet Evanovich, begins what promises to be a fluffy and fun new series with an adorably hilarious leading lady. Book two in the series, Nutcase, is set to hit shelves this month. 02/09 Becky Lejeune

WHAT THE DEAD KNOW by Laura Lippman: An intriguing storyline about a mysterious woman who claims to be a girl who had gone missing thirty years earlier. The narrative shifts back and forth and through the decades leading up from the 1970’s through present day in a powerfully written, intricate story. The cops aren’t convinced, her lawyer just seems content to let her ramble on, and frankly, it was a little difficult to follow – but eventually it worked. This book is definitely a mystery rather than the stand alone thrillers I’ve come to expect from Lippman, and moves much more slowly than I tend to like. There is a terrific twist at the end that I never saw coming. Not my favorite of her works, but I can definitely see why the reviews have been so favorable. 04/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHAT THE DEAD KNOW by Laura Lippman: Baltimore’s PD’s homicide team is in for a big break when a woman involved in a hit and run accident claims to be one of the long missing Bethany girls. In 1975, sisters Sunny and Heather Bethany caught the bus to the local mall. When their father arrived to pick them up that afternoon, they were nowhere to be found. There were no suspects and no clues as to their whereabouts, until now. The woman quickly clams up, refusing to provide any information that may compromise her current identity. Gradually, however, she begins to give investigators small pieces of the puzzle. Although it remains unclear whether the woman really is who she claims to be, it is apparent that she does have knowledge of the unsolved crime. Through flashbacks, readers are given insight into the lives of the Bethany girls and how this one horrible day ruined the lives around them. Lippman’s third stand-alone proves that she truly is a master of suspense. Like Every Secret Thing and To the Power of Three, she holds her cards close, keeping readers guessing until the very end. The best part is trying to figure out what the twist will be and she never fails to surprise every time. 04/07 Becky Lejeune

WHAT THE ZHANG BOYS KNOW by Clifford Garstang: In DC’s Chinatown lies a building called the Nanking Mansion. An assortment of people live within the condos that make up the building: there is Feng-qi who has recently lost his wife. He wants to find a new mother for his two young sons and has brought his own father over from China to help out. There are Susanna and Thomas, the young couple who seem to be inseparable until one day everything changes. Aloysius, a recent divorcee, whose condo shares a wall with the couple, has plans for his new home but hasn’t even bought furniture. Calvin, an unhappy painter, and Daniel, the sculptor, are both artists and both have their own demons to face. Charles and Craig live together with their dog, Sascha, but all is not well in their seemingly happy home. Everyone notices that Claudia has gotten much thinner, but none of her neighbors is really aware of the struggles she faces. Nathan, the author whose place is being sublet by Susanna, has recently returned. And then there’s Sam Artoyen, the building manager, using the basement for illicit napping. Each of these neighbors is as different as can be and each of them has a story to tell. Clifford Garstang’s collection of interconnected short stories makes for an interesting read. His talent lies in creating rich and flawed characters. Each story serves as a fascinating look through a different set of eyes. 11/12 Becky Lejeune

Waiting by Ha Jin: I loved this deceptively simple story about a man trying to get a divorce to marry the woman he loves. A fascinating look at life in contemporary China. Winner of the Pen-Faulkner & National Book Awards.

WAKE OF THE BLOODY ANGEL by Alex Bledsoe: Taking on a case that’s two decades cold is not something Eddie LaCrosse is looking forward to. But the client is his landlord, Angelina, an old friend and bartender who says her long lost love went off to sea and never returned. When Angelina fell for Edward Tew, she vowed to wait while he took to the seas to gain his riches the old-fashioned—and illegal—way, through piracy. One famed score was all it took for Tew to earn his name—Black Edward. And that one score was his last. Rumor has it the captain and his treasure went down with the ship but some say The Bloody Angel still sails. Eddie, along with ex-pirate captain Jane Argo by his side, will have to take to the high seas himself to find out the truth, but will he succeed in solving the mystery of Black Edward and The Bloody Angel? Wake of the Bloody Angel is fourth in Bledsoe’s Eddie LaCrosse series, but can easily be read as a standalone or serve as a good jumping in point for readers new to Bledsoe’s work. Wake is fast paced and action-packed, satisfying both fantasy and mystery cravings. 9/12 Becky Lejeune
WAKING BRIGID by Francis Clark: Celtic mythology, voodoo and Christianity collide in this supernatural debut. During the potato famine in Ireland, seven-year-old Brigid Rourke was sent by her family to join ranks with the Catholic church. It was the only way they could ensure that she would survive the blight. It was important that Brigid survive because she is an hereditary, someone born with powers that are passed down from generation to generation. Brigid, now a full-blown nun, is stationed in Savannah, Georgia. She and the city both survived the Civil War but are now faced with an even greater challenge. A prestigious group of town citizens has been dabbling in the occult, calling forces that even they cannot control. The church first becomes aware of the issue when a patient in the mental asylum is killed within his locked cell. Brigid is one of the nurses on sight and that single event is enough to awaken the power that has been sleeping within her for almost three decades. A secret group of white mages within the church hierarchy is called to Georgia to exorcise the demon and Brigid must quickly learn to harness her gifts or they could all die in the fight. Clark’s use of an historical setting for this supernatural thriller makes it stand out amongst the many that have been released in recent months. Unfortunately, Clark passed away just last year after penning only two complete novels. I look forward, with some regret, to his second and last novel’s release. 02/08 Becky Lejeune

WAKING THE WITCH by Kelley Armstrong: Savannah Levine has been technically working for her adoptive parents’ PI agency for five years. And she’s been waiting all that time for the opportunity to run her own investigation. With Paige and Lucas out of town on vacation, now is finally Savannah’s chance. A fellow PI has been hired by the family of a murdered girl and wants Savannah’s help on the case. In all, three women have been found dead and the small town PD in charge is pretty much stretched to its limit. Though the cops have a suspect in mind, the link between the three girls is questionable, making the case even more difficult to solve. Savannah is definitely up for the job, but soon finds that no one can every truly be prepared for the unexpected. Waking the Witch is first and foremost a fantastic mystery. This is the latest in the Women of the Otherworld series, and although there are hints of Savannah’s past—and a twist that ties that in even more—readers new to the series will have no trouble jumping right in. I loved Armstrong’s characters and will definitely be seeking out more titles in the series. 08/10 Becky Lejeune

WALL STREET NOIR edited by Peter Spiegelman: Probably the only street in the world about which an entire anthology can be written, this entry in Akashic’s noir anthology series includes a stellar cast of 17 crime genre hitters, many with financial backgrounds. Included are Megan Abbot, Richard Aleas, Peter Blauner Henry Blodget, Tim Broderick, Reed Farrel Coleman, John Burdett, Jim Fusilli, James Hime, Richard Light,. David Noonan, Twist Phelan, Stephen Rhodes, Lauren Sanders, Mark Haskell Smith, Peter Speigelman, and Jason Starr. Although the stories are centered on the world’s financial center the action ranges from lower Manhattan to the Gulf Coast to Bangkok. Greed and desperation truly know no bounds. 12/07 Jack Quick

WALKING DEAD by Greg Rucka: Atticus Kodiak has settled down in Georgia with his lover Alena Cizkova, the former professional assassin. That’s Georgia, as in the former USSR. When three members of a neighbor’s family are murdered and their 14 year old daughter abducted, Atticus goes on a mission – to find the girl. It may cost him his relationship with Alena, but do less would cost him his soul. With each outing Rucka reveals more and more insight into character of the once bodyguard, now more accustomed to taking an active role rather than waiting for danger to come to him. As Johnny Cash sang “I walk the line,” so does Atticus. Very nicely done. 07/09 Jack Quick

THE WANDERING GHOST by Martin Limon: In 1972. I served in the US Army’s Second Infantry Division at Camp Casey, Korea. During part of my tour, my superior officer was a WAC – Women’s Army Corps – the first WAC to serve in a combat division in the modern era. Can you believe, in their fifth outing, agents George Sueno and Ernie Bascom, of the Eighth Army Criminal Investigations Division in Seoul, Korea, are sent to Camp Casey, on Korea’s Demilitarized Zone. Their assignment:, find a female MP—the second Division’s first female MP—who has gone missing. Although I don’t recall the atmosphere of sexual harassment as portrayed in the book (who was there to harass?), most everything else rings true with my own memories of a poor Korea dependent on U.S. dollars and military presence. Limon also captures the ill will between “the Division” and the REMF’s at Eighth Army Headquarters in Seoul. We lived under combat conditions. They had dependents, school activities, PX and Commissary, all the comforts of home – and they were distressed when soldiers from the Second came down out of the hills because it reminded the dependents that they were always less than an hour away from being in a war zone. Oh well, enough rambling. Read the book. It’s great. 02/08 Jack Quick

WANNA GET LUCKY? by Deborah Coonts: Can’t afford a weekend jaunt to Vegas? Plunk down your $25 and be transported. Lucky is the customer service manager, AKA the workaholic who reports to “The Big Boss,” of the Babylon Hotel, the newest, lushest, plushest hotel on the strip. When an ex-hooker takes a dive out of the Babylon’s helicopter and ends up dead, Lucky’s job gets considerably more complicated. Lucky also has to juggle a swingers convention, a high tech convention, and a porno award banquet – just another day in Vegas. Throw in Mona, her bordello owning mother, her best friend Teddie, a female impersonator extraordinaire who wants to be more than friends, and a hunky, flirty security guard and you’ve got a rollicking fun read. First book of a series, and I can’t wait for the next installment. 06/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

A WANTED MAN by Lee Child: Jack Reacher is back, and this time he starts off hitchhiking with his broken nose and banged up face. An hour after he sticks out his thumb, he is picked up by two men and a woman, all wearing matching shirts. Reacher figures they are coming from some sort of corporate retreat, and doesn’t think much about hitting the first police road block. This is a different approach for Child; the first half of the book or so is just Reacher in the car with these people while he tries to figure out their story. It could have been slow going except for the rest of the story going on behind him, making for an unusual and very interesting book. Not as much action as is typical in a Reacher novel but the tight writing and well developed secondary characters keeps things moving along nicely. Sure to please fans of the series; newcomers would be better off starting elsewhere. 9/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
A WANTED MAN by Lee Child: The hitchhiker is almost a cliché in crime fiction. Don’t pick up hitchhikers. You may be letting a serial killer into your vehicle – or don’t hitchhike, you may be getting into a vehicle with a serial killer. Now if you are Jack Reacher, even a slightly battered broken nosed Jack Reacher, you don’t really worry that much about encounters with serial killers. Been there, done that. So when he hitches a ride in Nebraska heading east to Virginia he soon discovers he has hitched more than a ride. Two men in the front seat – one with his eyes on the road, the other telling stories that don’t add up. In the back, a woman, silent and obviously nervous. It seems there has been an execution style killing, and the two professionals responsible for the murder have commandeered a car and taken its owner (a woman) hostage. They know law enforcement will be looking for two men alone, so by adding Reacher with their hostage, they figure they can deflect attention until safely outside the killing zone. And that’s just the beginning of what may be the best Reacher yet. Just can’t see Tom Cruise meeting this challenge. 10/12 Jack Quick

THE WAR MAKERS by Nick Carter (John L. Chabliss): originally published in 1936, available as free e-book from http://www.blackmask.com. In this action thriller, secret agents have stolen the Army’s new laser gun just when Europe threatens to boil over into a new armed conflict. Journalist Jack Duane and Moses, his Negro servant, witness the theft and must work with Detective Nick Carter to retrieve the weapon before it is used against the United States with devastating effect. Note again the original publication date – 1936. Interesting read. 12/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

WARNING SIGNS by CJ Lyons: Lyons returns to Pittsburgh’s Angels of Mercy Medical Center in her follow-up to last year’s debut, Lifelines. Where Lifelines was essentially Lydia’s tale, this time it’s Amanda’s turn. Med student Amanda Mason is looking forward to her neuro rotation until a strange case presents itself. A woman turns up in the ER with mysterious symptoms: dehydration, elevated sodium levels, and descending paralysis that leaves her unable to move or respond while still being completely conscious and aware. Amanda learns that in the days leading up to her trip to the ER, the woman’s symptoms were shockingly similar to symptoms Amanda has noticed in herself. Worse yet, the woman’s symptoms were also shared by two other women who subsequently died while at Angels. Amanda tells herself that it’s just med school jitters, but even her supervisor, Dr. Lucas Stone, is concerned. Meanwhile, Lydia is in trouble once again when she tries an experimental procedure on a very young trauma patient, Nora thinks she’s being stalked, and Gina has still not recovered her wits or her drive after being shot at while working with the ambulance team. The drama continues in this excellent series. If you’re a fan of shows like ER and Grey’s Anatomy, you’re going to love Lyons’ books. 01/09 Becky Lejeune

WATCH THEM DIE by Kevin O’Brien: It starts with a video – one portraying the choking murder of a woman just like in a famous film sequence. Hannah is a single mom, working in a Seattle video store, trying to stay under the radar because of a rich and abusive husband back in Minneapolis. She finds the unmarked video in the store return box and takes it home to check it out. Then there is another video and another. Apparently she is being stalked and her “admirer” is sending her videos – videos that contain a murder. Then he re-creates the murder in real life. Hannah is afraid to go to the Seattle police, unsure whom she can trust, and sees the body count mounting. Through it all there is her young son to be taken care of. Nicely done. 10/12 Jack Quick

WATCHLIST by Jeffery Deaver, et al: Cleverly disguised as a book, this is a veritable library of modern thriller authors. There are 22 different authors (plus a prologue by M. J. Rose) who have banded together to produce not one, but two great tales starring former war crimes investigator Harold Middleton. In The Chopin Manuscript (part one of WATCHLIST) Middleton is trying to uncover the secret contained in the handwritten notes of composer Chopin. Afterwards, in The Copper Bracelet, he is thrust into an international terror plot which could lead to nuclear war between India and Pakistan, igniting World War III. If you are fan of Deaver, Childs, Finder, Scottoline, Lynds, Rozan, or any of the other of today’s great thriller writers, you’ve got to have this one. A word of warning, however, either pick up on Friday as I did or plan to call in sick the next day. 12/09 Jack Quick Note: The Chopin Manuscript & The Copper Bracelet were originally released as downloadable audiobooks through Audible.com, and The Chopin Manuscript won Audiobook of the Year in 2007 from the Audio Publishers Association. This is the first time either title has appeared in print.

THE WATCHMAN by Robert Crais: This one is Joe Pike’s story. Pike, a former marine, LAPD officer, and mercenary, is hired to protect Larkin Barkley on the word of his former police partner. Barkley, a troubled L.A. woman from a wealthy family, has the misfortune of witnessing something which causes her to be targeted for death, and Pike is immediately in the cross hairs. Partner Elvis Cole starts digging and targets a drug cartel’s money-laundering network as the source of the death squads and identifies Barkley’s father as the possible link. As the book goes forward, Pike and Barkley, so opposite at he beginning come to identify more and more with each other, and this becomes more than a job. Interesting change of pace from the on-going Elvis Cole series, but certainly as excellent, maybe one of the best. 05/07 Jack Quick

THE WATCHTOWER by Lee Carroll: Garet James’s introduction to the world of the fey was sudden, to say the least. After learning that she is descended from the fey herself—she is the latest in a line of women sworn to protect humans—falling in love with a centuries-old vampire, and defeating the evil John Dee, Garet’s new love betrays her, stealing a box that can open a door to the Summer Country. Will Hughes is cursed with immortality and longs to be human once again. In spite of his actions, Garet is ready to forgive Hughes. She travels to France in hopes of following him to that mythic land. But first, she must appeal to a number of local fey, for they hold the key to getting to the other side. The Watchtower not only continues Garet’s story from Black Swan Rising, but alternates chapters with Will’s origin tale as well. I loved the additional characters introduced in this second of the trilogy, but was not as impressed by Hughes’s backstory. The twist in the end was a little too expected and abrupt, but obviously leads straight into the concluding installment of the series. 08/11 Becky Lejeune

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen: This is the kind of book that I kept picking up and putting down, I just wasn’t sure I wanted to read it. A book about the circus? It really didn’t appeal to me, but after hearing so many people rave about it, I finally succumbed and started reading. I was immediately hooked. The main character is Jacob Jankowski, a ninety-something year old man: “I am ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other.” He narrates the story from the “assisted living facility,” a lovely euphemism for a nursing home, where his children have parked him. Talk in the dining room is a mad buzz about the circus that has come to town, and they are able to watch the tents going up outside their window. A new resident of the home declares that he used to “carry water for elephants” and Jacob calls him a liar, creating the springboard for Jacob’s story to be told.

Jake’s parents are killed in a tragic car accident just weeks shy of his graduating veterinary school. He goes home to find out that they have mortgaged everything to pay his Cornell tuition, and that his father, a successful vet himself, has been paid in food and dry goods for his services during these depression years. Jake is broke and homeless and returns to school to sit for his exams, but his mind wanders so he leaves, jumps a train, and finds himself among the workingmen of a second rate circus. He wrangles himself a job tending the menagerie, all the animals, working for the sadistic August and things really get complicated when Jake falls in love with August’s wife, Marlena. This is an incredibly rich story, detailing life during the depression and behind the scenes at the circus – the language sings, the history is incredibly well researched, making this a fascinating story with an incongruous, yet somehow fitting ending indeed. I read the hardcover, and each chapter includes a historic circus photo from various archives; I’m not sure if those were reproduced in the paperback that is now available. Either way, don’t miss this book. I was so captured by this story that I am now planning a trip to the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida. 01/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

A WAY WITH MURDER by R.J. Jagger: Set in the early 1950’s, Denver PI Bryson Wilde is first cousin to LA’s Philip Marlowe and New York’s Mike Hammer. So when a curvy young thing brings him an envelope of money and asks for his help in finding a killer, he flicks the butt of his Camel out the open window and starts earning the dough. How could he know just how complicated a maze he was entering. There’s lots of lovely ladies, action, adventure, treasure – all interwoven to produce a heck of a tale that will keep you up reading all night – at least it did me. At the end I was totally exhausted by the twists and turns, but highly satisfied with the read. 3/12 Jack Quick

WAYWARD by Blake Crouch: The second book of the Wayward Pines Series about a paradise set in a period 2000 years from now. Problem is that the paradise is anything but, and is more like a hell on earth. The town was planned for a group of people in the 21st century, and those people went into suspended animation willingly in order to wake up to a society with all wants provided and perfect happiness available to all. In book one Ethan Burke was introduced and was kidnapped and put into suspended animation without requesting it. He awakens and rapidly finds that the town of Wayward Pines and it’s residents are actually subjected to 24 hour surveillance of every word and gesture, an electric fence around the town and snipers on guard everywhere. He becomes one of the few that knows what is going on, and is made the Sheriff of the town by people that have put themselves in charge on an arbitrary basis. Ethan must help enforce a leadership that can tell everyone where they will work, who they will marry, and how children will be educated without knowledge of their parents. He is one of the few that knows what is outside the fence and the dangers that this represents. In a coincidence Ethan meets an old love of his and with her and his present wife begins planning to change what is going on and get rid of the despot that has placed himself in charge due to having funded Athe entire operation. The writing is crisp and events move rapidly keeping the reader totally glued to the pages and wanting more. M. Night Shyamalan is producing a major television program called Wayward Pines for 2014. In addition, book three will be published in 2014. Wayward is a rewarding adventure into a different world than the norm, but one that is a logical outgrowth of today’s society and a logical projection of events moving forward. 9/13 Paul Lane

WE ALL FALL DOWN by Michael Harvey: In Harvey’s continuing series featuring Chicago cop turned private investigator Michael Kelly, Kelly is racing to save his city from a deadly new foe: a biological weapon unleashed underground. When a lightbulb falls in a subway tunnel, it releases a pathogen that could kill millions. While the mayor postures, people begin to die, especially on the city’s grim West Side. Hospitals become morgues. L trains are converted into rolling hearses. Finally, the government acts, sealing off entire sections of the city—but are they keeping people out or in? Meanwhile, Michael Kelly’s hunt for the people who poisoned his city takes him into the tangled underworld of Chicago’s West Side gangs and the even more frightening world of black biology—an elite discipline emerging from the nation’s premier labs, where scientists play God and will stop at nothing to preserve their secrecy. Harvey just keeps betting better and better. LA has Connelly, and Chicago has Harvey. Both are must reads. 09/11 Jack Quick

WEB OF SCRETS by Ernesto Patino: A reasonably well written book with a terrible premise. In 1965, a woman living outside Miami dies in child birth. Thirty years later, Sarah Baker, a married adoptee, receives a phone call. A man claims to know shocking facts about Sarah’s past that he will keep secret for a one-time $4,000 payoff. The secret – that Sarah is bi-racial, with a white mother and black father. This is where the train leaves the tracks. Sarah and husband Mark agree to pay off the blackmailer because of fear that if the blackmailer goes public (in 1995) it will ruin her husband’s career. I’m sorry, but I have lived in the southern United States most of my life, and as we say here, that dog don’t hunt. In 1895 maybe, but not in 1995. Husband Mark starts physically avoiding his wife, tensions mount, and eventually she hires Ex FBI investigator turned P. I. Joe Coopersmith in an attempt to find confirmation and closure. Sarah and Mark eventually settle their issues but, it turns out there are three siblings, one of whom is a Rush Limbaugh clone and another is a spoiled rich man’s wife. Like Sarah, they are approached by a blackmailer. The remainder of the book runs the usual course with Coopersmith in various levels of jeopardy and the mystery eventually being solved. 05/10 Jack Quick
THE WEIGHT by Andrew Vachss: After the very disappointing stand-alone Haiku (at least I hope it was a stand alone) it was good to see some of the old Vachss back in this one. Professional thief Tim “Sugar” Caine finds himself caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. The police have arrested him after a rape victim has mistakenly identified him as her attacker. He can’t clear himself, as he was participating in a jewel robbery at the time. Caine ends up serving a five-year sentence for sexual assault before he’s back on the New York City streets, where he reconnects with Solly Vizner, the man who put the jewel heist together. That is when he finds that one of the crew on the heist may be a threat to the future of Vizner and, ultimately Caine. It is up to Caine to neutralize the threat. Not vintage Vachss but acceptable. 02/11 Jack Quick

THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE by Heather Gudenkauf: One Iowa morning, two families wake up to find their 7 year old girls are missing. The girls, Calli, a selective mute, and Petra, are best friends. A search ensues, but it is the families’ stories that are so captivating and engrossing. The book is written in short chapters that alternate first person viewpoints amongst almost all the major characters. It makes for a rather unusual dichotomy of careful reading that is somehow very quick, perhaps because it is such a compelling story.
Petra’s father is much older than her mother, and they consider her to be their little miracle. Calli is a sweet girl, but she hasn’t spoken in several years, and as her story unfurls the reasons become less murky. Her father is an abusive alcoholic, but luckily for the family his work on the Alaska pipeline keeps him away from home for extended stretches of time. She has an older brother who is usually kind to her, and their mom is loving and fun. Because she doesn’t speak, her best friend Petra is her voice. The search goes on, lots of old wounds are reopened, and we are drawn into this world in a way that makes this book impossible to put down. A compulsively readable first novel. 04/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE WEIRD SISTERS by Eleanor Brown: The Weird Sisters is a reference to the witches in Macbeth, but here they are the three grown Andreas sisters, who have always had some difficulties in getting along. One still lives at home, the others return when they learn their mother has breast cancer. In reality it is an excuse for the women to get their lives out of disarray. Their father is a college professor and Shakespeare scholar, and they all communicate best in Shakespearian phrases, which Brown kindly translates and/or puts in context for us. Don’t let that scare you off, it is no hardship to read this book, but rather a pleasure, with the added benefit of making this reader feel positively cerebral without the least bit of effort.
They live in Barnwell, a small college town where Rose, the eldest who still lives at home, is a math professor. She’s engaged but her fiancé accepts a teaching assignment in London, forcing Rose to come to terms with what she wants out of life. The middle girl is Bianca, called Bean, who has returned home from the big city, NYC, after being fired for embezzling at her law firm, mostly for shopping purposes. The youngest is the hippie/gypsy Cordelia, who returns home pregnant and not sure what to do about it.
The Weird Sisters is a charming novel filled with warm, fully developed characters who we can’t help caring about, a lovely setting and an interesting, quirky story. I continue my love affair with all books Amy Einhorn (The Help, The Postmistress) with thanks to Neil Nyren who suggested that if I liked one book from a particular editor, I might like another. So far I’m 3 for 3. Count this as another gem from Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam. 1/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WERELING by Steve Feasey: Trey Laporte was orphaned at a young age. He was left to be raised at a halfway house for teens, and never knew much about his parents or his heritage. But everything is different now. Trey is a werewolf, the last of his kind. On the day after he undergoes his first change, Trey is taken under the wing of Lucien Charron, old friend of his father’s, a man who isn’t a man at all but an ancient vampire whose own brother is his mortal enemy. Now Trey must learn to harness his new abilities quickly so that he can defend himself, and the world, against an evil that is rising. I like that Feasey’s approach to the first in this series seems to be a more mature level of writing that doesn’t talk down to the teen audience. The beginning of the book is not a stand out amongst the genre, but by the end, Feasey has built the foundations of a series that could indeed be very different from the other teen paranormal offerings out there. Originally released in the UK as Changeling, and the first in a series of four, Wereling marks Feasey’s US debut. 05/10 Becky Lejeune
WEST OF HERE by Jonathan Evison: I have heard raves about this book since they gave out the advance reader copies at Book Expo last summer, so I was delighted to finally get my hands on a copy. I started reading, put it down, picked it up, put it down and eventually slogged through it. It was not an easy read for me and I found it slow going for sure, but ultimately I did like the book. It follows two timelines, both set in the fictional town of Port Bonita, Washington. The first starts in the 1890s with the earliest settlers; the other is 2006 with a cast of characters mostly descended from the first group. The town is built along the Elwa River, and the damming of that river sort of defines the whole story. It reminded me a bit of one of my favorite books, Wallace Stengel’s Angle of Repose, but I just didn’t find it as gripping. Best I can say is I’m not sorry I read it, but I didn’t love it. 02/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WEST SIDE by John Mackie: Two gay men pick up and kill a look alike for one of them in an insurance scam. Their success causes them to decide to make a career of this activity. It is up to Detective Sergeant Thorn Savage and his Manhattan South Homicide squad to solve the case before there are even more victims. It is a gritty walk through New York’s underbelly told by someone who obviously has been there. It’s a world where even the potholes are dangerous to your health and you never know what the next day – or night – will bring. Excellent police procedural. 01/06 Jack Quick

WHACK-A-MOLE by Chris Grabenstein: Ex-military straight shooter John Ceepak is back, partnered with young pup Danny Boyle, and the beaches are crowded once again down on the Jersey shore. A family of tourists find out that an idyllic summer is just too much to ask for when they find a jar containing a body part sitting on a shelf in the local museum. Things just get complicated from there, with runaway teenage girls missing, more body parts unearthed, and the very real possibility of a serial killer on the loose in this small town. Not to mention Doyle can’t seem to get a date, although Ceepak is doing nicely in that department. The storyline is interesting, there are some nice twists, but as always with this series, it’s the characters that make this book well worth reading. The first beach read of the summer is a winner. 05/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHACK-A-MOLE by Chris Grabenstein: It starts with a class ring, long lost but now recovered by Sea Haven super-Cop John Ceepak, practicing his beach combing metal detecting skills, and ends with a serial killer.. When Ceepak and Danny return the ring to its owner, he nervously tells them that he had given it to a girl who had long ago left him. He claimed to even have trouble remembering her name. The few clues he gives them eventually become crucial when human ears in glass jars appear in a tiny, little-visited museum, and human skulls are unearthed on the beach. They soon learn that the body parts date back to the 1980’s and it appears the killer is about to start again. Once again, Grabenstein nails the summer seashore scene replete with aging boardwalk, tacky souvenirs, unhealthy food, and overindulgence in alcohol. Another winner and third in the Jersey Shore series. All that’s missing is Granny Mazur but I expect her to show up any day now, probably with Lula and Stephanie Plum in hot pursuit. 09/08 Jack Quick

WHACKED by Jules Asner: Dani Hale is a writer for a TV series, a CSI-type clone called Flesh and Bone. Her boyfriend Dave is a director on another TV series, and is a bit of a control freak. Dani has some interesting co-workers; her boss, Steve, who boyfriend Dave is sure is hot for her, Rich Pisani, the retired LAPD cop advisor to the show, and Evil Janet, another writer who Dani is sure is out to get her. Dave is directing hot actress Chloe Johnson in his series, and Dani finds out he is cheating on her with Chloe. How does she find this out? Because Dani is nuts. She drives past his house when he tells her he can’t see her, she hacks into his AOL account and reads his email, and so forth. But just when you think this is another one of those chick-lit books about a woman obsessing over some guy who is obviously wrong for her, this book takes a sharp turn down a very dark alley and redefines the surprise ending. Asner was a regular on the E! Entertainment channel, and is married to director Steven Soderbergh, who makes a cameo in this book. All that reality adds another dimension – a frighteningly real one – to this chilling tale. 7/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHAT ALICE FORGOT by Liane Moriarty: Alice Love is a control freak with a gym fetish until the day she falls off her bike during spin class. She knocks herself out, and wakes up having forgotten the last ten years of her life. She’s 39 and thinks she’s 29, thinks it’s 1998 instead of 2008. What Alice forgot is that she’s in the middle of a very nasty divorce; instead, she thinks she’s still madly in love with her husband. What Alice also forgot is her three children, instead she thinks she is pregnant for the first time, and she forgot how far apart she has drifted from her sister. She is released from the hospital, diagnosed with a bad concussion and told that her memory will come back soon. “Old Alice” isn’t too happy with what she starts learning about “new Alice” and the person she has become, and finds it all rather traumatic. Moriarty puts her anguish on the page and the reader can’t help but be immediately drawn into the story.
This is also an epistolary novel; while Alice’s story is told by an omniscient narrator, interspersed are letters her sister writes to her therapist, and her grandmother writes to a long gone fiancé, adding depth to the story. These are wonderfully drawn characters thrust into a most unusual situation. Somewhat reminiscent of Replay by Ken Grimwood, or even the movie Groundhog Day, but with a twist; it begs the question, what would you do if you could relive the past ten years of your life. I loved this book and couldn’t put it down – it is another winner from Amy Einhorn Books at Putnam. Don’t miss it. 08/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHAT BURNS WITHIN by Sandra Ruttan: This should be labeled as a Friday evening start – since you will likely read all night. Three RCMP “that’s Mounties” once worked a case that left bitter memories with each one. Although they are still in British Columbia they are now working in separate areas. Constable Tain is focused on a series of child abductions, Constable Ashlyn Hart is working arson, and Constable Craig Nolan is handling sex crimes. But when the body of one of the missing girls is found in a building that had been set fire by an arsonist and the wife of a police officer becomes a rape victim – it seems that all three are working a common thread. Ruttan captures the intensity of the streets and daily police work while vividly pointing out that it’s not just the victims that get damaged by criminal acts. Those who uphold the law also pay a price. Very well done – and when’s the next one? 06/08 Jack Quick

WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE by Sarah Dessen: When McClean’s mother leaves her father for the town hero, the college basketball coach, McClean’s life is shattered. The scandal is embarrassing and heartbreaking, and McClean makes the decision to go live with her father. He takes a job as a restaurant consultant, forcing them to move every few months. By her senior year of high school, McClean has been to several schools and has reinvented herself at each, going so far as to change her name, drawing on her middle name for inspiration. She keeps her distance and doesn’t form attachments. But this last move she unwittingly ends up as herself, and makes some good friends, and even possibly a boyfriend. Lots of teen angst among these well drawn characters makes for a moving, touching story with the requisite happy ending. I can see why Dessen is so popular with the teen set. 06/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHAT I DID FOR LOVE by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Georgie York co-starred with Bram Shepard on a hugely successful sitcom for years, even though behind the scenes they fought like cats and dogs; that is, until Bram’s Hollywood exploits led to the show being cancelled. His career bombed, and Georgie married gorgeous movie star Lance Marks, who in a very Hollywood way, quickly leaves her for an equally gorgeous movie star/do-gooder. My gut tells me the story was inspired by the Jennifer-Brad-Angelina tableau, which just makes it that much more interesting. Flash forward several years to Las Vegas, where Georgie & Bram run into each other, get drunk, and get married. Both quickly realize that this may the opportunity they both need to repair their reputations; Bram, as the unreliable actor and Georgie, as the jilted ex-wife. The problem is that they are still fighting like cats and dogs, only they have to hide it from the public and their families and friends. This brings up two problems; can a fake Hollywood marriage survive, and will Georgie & Bram find true love? Phillips has penned yet another humorous and sexy romp that is perfect escape reading. 04/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHAT LOOKS LIKE CRAZY by Charlotte Hughes: Kate Holly sucks at solving her own problems. As a practicing psychologist, it’s probably not the best thing to let on that her own life is a shambles as she tries to help others mend theirs. Course her patients are part of the problem. A typical morning in Kate’s office seems to involve at least one attempted suicide, public meltdowns, and even dramatic death threats. Now her neighbors are protesting yard art created by her own mother and her soon to be ex-husband is finally calling for another chance, six months too late. Poor Kate has enough on her plate when she begins to receive threatening phone calls on top of all of this (and in addition to the patient who threatened to blow up her office with his insulin vial). It’s no wonder that Kate can’t seem to get her life straight with so much working against her. Charlotte Hughes, co-author of the Full House series with Janet Evanovich, begins what promises to be a fluffy and fun new series with an adorably hilarious leading lady. Book two in the series, Nutcase, is set to hit shelves this month. 02/09 Becky Lejeune

WHAT THE DEAD KNOW by Laura Lippman: An intriguing storyline about a mysterious woman who claims to be a girl who had gone missing thirty years earlier. The narrative shifts back and forth and through the decades leading up from the 1970’s through present day in a powerfully written, intricate story. The cops aren’t convinced, her lawyer just seems content to let her ramble on, and frankly, it was a little difficult to follow – but eventually it worked. This book is definitely a mystery rather than the stand alone thrillers I’ve come to expect from Lippman, and moves much more slowly than I tend to like. There is a terrific twist at the end that I never saw coming. Not my favorite of her works, but I can definitely see why the reviews have been so favorable. 04/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHAT THE DEAD KNOW by Laura Lippman: Baltimore’s PD’s homicide team is in for a big break when a woman involved in a hit and run accident claims to be one of the long missing Bethany girls. In 1975, sisters Sunny and Heather Bethany caught the bus to the local mall. When their father arrived to pick them up that afternoon, they were nowhere to be found. There were no suspects and no clues as to their whereabouts, until now. The woman quickly clams up, refusing to provide any information that may compromise her current identity. Gradually, however, she begins to give investigators small pieces of the puzzle. Although it remains unclear whether the woman really is who she claims to be, it is apparent that she does have knowledge of the unsolved crime. Through flashbacks, readers are given insight into the lives of the Bethany girls and how this one horrible day ruined the lives around them. Lippman’s third stand-alone proves that she truly is a master of suspense. Like Every Secret Thing and To the Power of Three, she holds her cards close, keeping readers guessing until the very end. The best part is trying to figure out what the twist will be and she never fails to surprise every time. 04/07 Becky Lejeune

WHAT THE ZHANG BOYS KNOW by Clifford Garstang: In DC’s Chinatown lies a building called the Nanking Mansion. An assortment of people live within the condos that make up the building: there is Feng-qi who has recently lost his wife. He wants to find a new mother for his two young sons and has brought his own father over from China to help out. There are Susanna and Thomas, the young couple who seem to be inseparable until one day everything changes. Aloysius, a recent divorcee, whose condo shares a wall with the couple, has plans for his new home but hasn’t even bought furniture. Calvin, an unhappy painter, and Daniel, the sculptor, are both artists and both have their own demons to face. Charles and Craig live together with their dog, Sascha, but all is not well in their seemingly happy home. Everyone notices that Claudia has gotten much thinner, but none of her neighbors is really aware of the struggles she faces. Nathan, the author whose place is being sublet by Susanna, has recently returned. And then there’s Sam Artoyen, the building manager, using the basement for illicit napping. Each of these neighbors is as different as can be and each of them has a story to tell. Clifford Garstang’s collection of interconnected short stories makes for an interesting read. His talent lies in creating rich and flawed characters. Each story serves as a fascinating look through a different set of eyes. 11/12 Becky Lejeune

WHAT WE SAW AT NIGHT by Jacquelyn Mitchard: Xeroderma Pigmentosum is a rare genetic disorder that results in a dangerous sun allergy. For people who suffer from XP, even bright light can be fatal. Allie Kim and her two best friends, Rob and Juliet, all have XP. They sleep during the day and live by the dark of night. And they live each day to the fullest. When Juliet begins to teach Allie and Rob Parkour, the trio become heavily involved in the practice. But when one of their evenings of sport leads to their witness of what appears to be a crime, they quickly find themselves in a strange position. Allie is particularly fearful of the danger they could be facing. Juliet seems less willing to accept the fact and Rob isn’t quite sure, which leaves Allie alone in proving what they saw and in hopefully keeping them safe. Mitchard’s latest is the inaugural title in SOHO’s new Teen imprint. What We Saw at Night is a suspenseful teen mystery with an interesting premise and a cliffhanger ending – a promising start to the new imprint and one that will leave readers anxious for the follow up, What We Lost at Night. 1/13 Becky Lejeune

What’s Wrong with Dorfman by John Blumenthal: An entertaining read about a whiny hypochondriac. Well written and funny.

THE WHEEL OF DARKNESS by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child: Agent Pendergast is back. Pendergast and Constance Green have sought out the most reclusive monastery in Tibet. Here, Pendergast hopes that Contance will finally come to peace with the death of her manipulative captor, his own brother, Diogenes. Upon learning that Pendergast is an investigator, the monks present him with a problem and a task. Their monastery had been assigned the responsibility of keeping watch on a very dangerous and holy item, an item that has been recently stolen. They have asked Pendergast to retrieve the item before its evil can be set loose on the world. Pendergast follows this item from Tibet to England and traces it to the ocean liner Brittania, a massive ship about to make its maiden voyage to New York. He secures passage for himself and Constance and, true to form, maneuvers his way into the reluctant graces of the ship’s staff. Shortly after the ship sets sail, passengers come up missing. Then, passengers begin to show up dead and Pendergast must find the item in question in order to stop the madness that has only just begun. Although the authors are adamant (and right) that each of the titles featuring Pendergast can be read as stand-alones, I personally recommend reading them in order. Pendergast, a strange FBI agent who first appears in The Relic grows more and more captivating with each new book. This title especially draws some of those characteristics that fans know and love about the character into question making it a wholly absorbing and thrilling read. 01/08 Becky Lejeune

THE WHEELMAN by Duane Swierczynski: On the back flap of the jacket it says: “A receipt for This Here’s a Stickup, Duane’s nonfiction book on American bank robbery, was found in the getaway car of a San Francisco bandit who’d hit at least thirty California banks.” The leap to fiction wasn’t that bold – this is the story of the very quiet Lennon, the getaway driver for a big bank robbery gone awry in Philadelphia. It’s always interesting when the hero is the bad guy, and this book is no exception to that. Throw in a loosely knit community of bank robbers, the Russian mob, the Italian mob, and crooked cops who are all chasing the money and you start to get the picture of this fast paced, violent yet funny book. Swierczynski may well be the future of crime fiction writing. 11/05 Stacy Alesi

WHEN THE DARK MAN CALLS by Stuart Kaminsky: Ten-year old Jean Kaiser discovered her parents murdered in their bed in North Carolina. Now, twenty-five years later, Jean, a Chicago radio talk-show host with a daughter of her own, is being stalked by a man she knows only by a slow, sinister voice on the telephone. Soon she discovers that the man who killed her parents 25 years ago has been released and is now in Chicago. Reminiscent of Play Misty for Me and just as intriguing. 12/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

WHEN A MAN LOVES A WEAPON by Toni McGee Causey: Bobbie Faye is back and in the biggest trouble ever. After she and Trevor Cormier survive their run-in with Sean MacGregor, Bobbie Faye is in need of some domestic bliss. Though Trevor has proposed (and she’s accepted, of course), the two only have a short time playing house before Trevor is sent out on a new op. He’s supposed to be back in two, three days tops, but it’s been seven and Bobbie Faye’s more than a little antsy. Convinced that MacGregor couldn’t possibly be a threat—and so not caring at this point if he is—Bobbie Faye sets out to find (and save) her fiancée. Unfortunately, the only person she can really trust to help her just happens to be her ex, Cam Moreau. His skills as a detective make him perfect for the job, but Cam’s determined to win Bobbie Faye back and won’t let a little diamond ring stand in the way. And although MacGregor, the Irish mobster, has been MIA, he’s been waiting for his chance and is not going down without a fight. Add in a bomb expert with a major grudge, and our favorite Contraband Queen doesn’t stand a chance. This outing is much darker than the previous titles in the series, and though the humor is still there, When a Man Loves a Weapon pushes the series into more of a romantic suspense category than before. I think it shows that Causey is just going to continue to get better and better. A must-read. 08/09 Becky Lejeune

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka: This tiny book packs a big emotional wallop. This is a story about a Japanese-American family living in Berkeley, California during World War II. The father is arrested and sent to a New Mexico prison. A few weeks later, the mother and children are sent to an internment camp in Utah, and they, like the reader, never knows why any of this happens. We are never told the family member’s names, and the story is told very matter-of-factly and without too many grisly details, which just made it all the more powerful for me. Their day-to-day existence is bleak while in the camp, but the harsh realities of freedom don’t come any easier after they are released. The lyrically written final chapter sadly illustrates that this family’s story is really the story of every Japanese-American family that was living in America during the early 1940s. When the Emperor Was Divine is a beautiful homage to an ugly and shameful piece of American history. Don’t miss it.

WHEN THE LAST MAGNOLIA WEEPS by Mary Saums: Willi Taft has multiple challenges this Christmas – a series of warehouse thefts, a murdered priest, and a defaced statue of a civil war general. Who says being a PI is boring? Decisions, decisions, decisions. Okay, lets set the warehouse theft case aside for the next book, focus on the murdered priest since a friend is a suspect there, and in the meantime be on the lookout for anyone dastardly enough to paint a Santa Claus suit on the general, and put wooden reindeer antlers and a shiny red nose on his horse. The plot thickens. The priest isn’t who he said he was, and neither are some of the others. All the mysteries eventually are solved, except the warehouse thefts, and Willi’s life is forever changed. Lets just hope this is not the last we see of her. Recommended. 06/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS? by Kate Atkinson: Jackson Brodie was trying to return to London after a secret trip north to meet the boy he believes is his son. He hops a train, but soon finds that he’s headed in the wrong direction, then the absolute worst happens. The train is derailed and Brodie almost dies. Sixteen-year-old Regina (Reggie) Chase just happens to be in the area when the accident occurs. With her quick thinking and first-aid training, she manages to revive Brodie long enough for the paramedics to arrive. Meanwhile, Reggie’s employer, Dr. Joanna Hunter has learned that the man who murdered her family thirty years ago has just been released from prison. Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe is the sad bearer of that news and suggests that Joanna leave town until the expected media frenzy runs down. Louise’s involvement though, is a result of Joanna’s husband and the investigation into his business practices. All four of their stories collide in a most unexpected way. This carefully constructed mystery is a complete surprise for readers. Each character and their respective tales are like pieces of a puzzle, by the end of the book they fit together perfectly. This is my first Kate Atkinson, but it is the third to feature Brodie. It can, as far as I can tell, be read as a complete stand-alone quite easily. 09/08 Becky Lejeune

WHERE THE DEAD LAY by David Levien: PI Frank Behr returns in this follow-up to Levien’s debut, City of the Sun. When Frank discovers his Jiu-jitsu mentor dead, murdered in his own studio, he becomes blinded to everything but the case. Meanwhile, a high-end agency has hired Behr to look into the disappearance of two of its agents. Behr discovers that the two cases share a common link and becomes determined to solve it, no matter the cost. The investigation leads him to a ring of illegal suburban gambling houses and one twisted family hiding a secret. Levien’s sophomore release is a good mystery and a worthwhile read. Where the Dead Lay doesn’t quite pack the punch that City did, but in some ways it is a heavier read. Levien adds more layers to his hero and will leave readers wondering what comes next. 07/09 Becky Lejeune

WHERE WE BELONG by Emily Giffin: I listened to the audio book version, read by Orlagh Cassidy, who did an excellent job. Marian Caldwell has it all; fantastic job producing a hit TV show, a gorgeous NYC apartment, a good looking and powerful boyfriend. Her life takes a sudden turn with a late night knock on her door; the baby she gave up for adoption eighteen years earlier has found her. Kirby is 18 and legally gains access to her file. She decides she wants to meet her biological parents but only gets her mother’s name. Turns out Marian never told the father she was pregnant, in fact she lied and told him she wasn’t. Meeting Kirby has stirred up all sorts of problems; Marian never told her boyfriend about having a baby, and he’s pissed, especially when she tells him the father never knew either. The only one she told was her mother, who swore she wouldn’t tell her father. This bed of lies starts unraveling, turning their lives inside out and forcing Marian and Kirby to appreciate each other and their families. I couldn’t put it down but was disappointed with the ambiguous ending. 7/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE by Maria Semple: Bernadette Fox is a world renown, award winning architect who disappears into the Seattle suburbs with her equally brilliant husband, a Microsoft guru. Their daughter Bee chronicles most of this epistolary novel with first person narrative interspersed with emails, legal documents, and such. Bee attends a private school, and when she aces her semester claims her prize; a trip to Antarctica. Bernadette is getting progressively more agoraphobic, and the thought of traveling frightens her. She’s hired a woman in India via the Internet as a sort of personal assistant to handle all of the things Bernadette no longer can bear to do. But as the trip approaches, Bernadette’s behavior becomes so odd that her husband is forced to act, which ultimately triggers Bernadette’s flight. She disappears, leaving her daughter heartbroken but determined to find her. Bee’s voice is charming and compelling, and this is ultimately the story of a mother daughter relationship in a world gone mad. I loved it. 1/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHICH BRINGS ME TO YOU by Julianna Baggott & Steve Almond: The debate rages on: can you call a book “chick lit” when the author is a guy? How about if only one of the authors is a guy? This is an epistolary novel about Jane and John, who meet at a wedding. Just as they are about to get intimate, he decides he likes her too much to go through with it, and they decide to try and get to know each other first – through letters. Not even email, but through regular snail mail letters. They return to their respective homes in NY and Philadelphia and commence writing. They tell each other everything, and still they continue. Lots of sexy letters, some amateur psychoanalysis and frankly, it’s rather like being a voyeur, peering over someone’s shoulder and reading their mail. Lots of fun. 06/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHILE DROWNING IN THE DESERT by Don Winslow: Another “Don Winslow Lite” outing for Neal Carey. Cary is a reluctant operative for the Friends of the Family, a private investigation firm owned by “The Bank” in Providence, R.I. for the benefit of their wealthier clients. This time Neal is sent to Las Vegas to pick up one 86 year old Nathan Silverstein and return him to his California home. Turns out Silverstein is actually the aging, legendary vaudeville comedian Natty Silver. Neal thinks the most dangerous part of the assignment is being forced to listen to Silver’s shtick nonstop. (Says Silver, I was the one who taught Costello the Who’s on First? Routine). Turns out there are some bad guys after Silver – Heinz, a German money-launderer, and his Lebanese sidekick, Sami, who’s dumber than wood. Meanwhile, Neal’s girl, Karen, is in a raging hurry for marriage and motherhood; and Hope White (billed as “The Great Hope White”), a Vegas performer no longer as young as she once was, is rekindling an old torch for Natty. Neal isn’t a tough guy, but he’s pretty lucky. Lucky enough to find water in the sand and ferry the irascible Natty to safety. 08/10 Jack Quick

WHILE GALILEO PREYS by Joshua Corin: The bodies pile up faster than you can count in this serial killer thriller with political and religious overtones. Former FBI profiler Esme Stuart is caught in the middle after closing the door on her promising FBI career with her marriage to Rafe Stuart and move to Long Island to start a family. Her mentor and ex-boss Tom Piper needs her back to find the link to this madman. Doing so endangers her marriage, her life, and the lives of her husband and daughter Sophie. Corin overplays the career versus family conflict but all in all an acceptable thriller with a deliciously twisty ending. 08/11 Jack Quick

WHILE I DISAPPEAR by Ed Wright: In his second outing, John Ray Horn, a disgraced former movie cowboy and ex-con walks the mean streets of post-WWII Los Angeles in search of the brutal killer who snuffed out the life of Rose Galen, a faded leading lady who co-starred in one of Horn’s films. A shameful secret from the victim’s past forces Horn to challenge the official theory of the crime-that the killing was a random act. Aided by his current boss (and former faithful movie sidekick) Joseph Mad Crow, Horn pounds the pavement and reaches out to old friends to identify the source of Galen’s guilty conscience. 04/06 Jack Quick

WHIPLASH RIVER by Lou Berney: Shake Bouchon has left behind his life of crime and is the proud owner of his very own restaurant. Located in tropical Belize, Shake is confident that he can make it work – and he has to considering he owes a ton of cash to the local drug boss, Baby Jesus, in return for the loan it took to buy the restaurant in the first place. So when someone comes in shooting up the place, Shake knows it’s going to be bad for business. Unfortunately, after playing hero in the event, he finds himself the target of an assassin. When the restaurant goes up in flames, literally, Shake knows he’s got to get out of town quick. Thankfully he has made one friend in the ordeal: Quinn, the man whose life he saved in the shootout. It’s Quinn who turns Shake onto a heist that could bring in some big bucks. Unable to resist, Shake calls on his ex to lend a hand and soon finds himself and his entourage in Egypt planning said job. But can Shake shake those who are after him and get the girl and the cash? This is the second in Berney’s new series but it reads just fine on its own. His style is quick and the dialogue in particular is snappy and funny. Whiplash River is a fun caper mystery that begs to be read in one sitting. 8/12 Becky Lejeune

WHISPERS UNDER GROUND by Ben Aaronovitch: The murder of a US Senator’s son in London stinks of something supernatural, so of course Peter Grant has been called in to investigate. As a representative of the Folly, Peter’s job involves anything with a suspected magical slant. With the newly apprenticed Lesley by his side, Peter follows the leads straight to London’s underground and beyond. But according to his governor, there’s nothing strange in London’s multitude of below ground tunnels. Even the River sisters whose waterways crisscross the very same tunnels have reported nothing untoward in their territory. Undeterred, Peter soon finds evidence of something very strange indeed, something that places this case firmly in Folly purview. Aaronovitch continues to gain traction as the series continues, adding to an already fabulous premise and also expanding on the overall arc of the story with the mystery of the faceless man and the continued investigation into Folly enemies. 8/12 Becky Lejeune
WHIRLWIND by Joseph Garber: Charlie McKenzie is the best – even though he is now disgraced, dismissed and discarded, he is still the best. So when a secret weapon called Whirlwind is stolen by a gorgeous Russian spy Irina, the establishment has no choice but to bring him back. Charlie and Irina are the main characters but there is no absence of villains including a corrupt national security adviser and an evil South African mercenary who are also pursuing Irina. It’s pure escapism, but very nicely done and suspenseful to the very end. Of course there are plot holes if you look closely enough, and enough coincidences to also strain credibility, but hey, when a guy moons the national Security Advisor and threatens to do the same with the President, why can you not go along. Highly recommended. 10/08 Jack Quick

WHISKEY AND WATER by Nina Wright: Not a bad cozy once you get past the cutesy names. The protag is Realtor Whiskey Mattimoe who has a new shitzapoo pup named Velcro and an Afghan hound named Abra (cadabra?). Then, there’s MacArthur the hunky Scotsman, self help author Fenton Flagg, and one Jeb Halloran, who promotes a hormonal reaction from Whiskey, along with other assorted characters. The town of Magnet Springs, Michigan is already uneasy, what with the sightings of former mayor Gil Gruen who drowned last winter (in a previous Whiskey Mattimoe outing) when Abra happens on a crime scene on the shores of Lake Michigan. The victim is Twyla Rendel, newly hired cashier at the Food Duck grocery and tenant in one of Mattimore’s properties. Was Twyla the victim of a rip tide or some other cause? As with most series cozies, all is well at the end in preparation for round five. 06/08 Jack Quick

Whiskey Sour: A Jack Daniels Mystery by J.A. Konrath: I wanted something to escape into, that would make me laugh but even more importantly, keep me turning the pages, and this sure fit the bill. This new series features a Chicago police lieutenant named Jacqueline Daniels, Jack for short – she’s single, middle-aged, and definitely has some history. The story revolves around a serial killer called The Gingerbread Man, who is not only is on a killing spree, he is torturing his victims before killing them, a definite gruesome and gore alert. The secondary characters are well drawn and real, the setting somehow makes Chicago seem intimate, and the story flows. Konrath did a great job, it is so well written that it is hard to believe this is a first novel. Check out the author’s website, http://www.jakonrath.com/ for an excerpt.

WHISKEY SOUR by J. A. Konrath: Chicago Police Department Lieutenant Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels has a particularly gruesome series of homicides on her plate. The “Gingerbread Man” is torturing and killing attractive young women, and then leaving their bodies in very public places. Somewhat uneven and certainly not breaking any new ground, hopefully Konrath, like good Tennessee whiskey, will improve with age. 05/06 Jack Quick

A WHISPER TO THE LIVING by Stuart Kaminsky: Unfortunately Stuart Kamisnky died in the fall of 2009, so A Whisper to the Living is probably our last look at Inspector Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov, an honest policeman in a very dishonest post-Soviet Union. Rostnikov and his team are searching for a serial killer who has claimed at least 40 victims. Also on their plate is the job of protecting a visiting British journalist who is working on a story about a Moscow prostitution ring. In the middle of all this Rostnikov and his team uncover a chain of murders that lead to a source too high to be held accountable if the police want to keep their jobs or their lives. A typically good Kaminsky read with an eerie title, under the circumstances. If this is the end of the series, it is a fitting one. 01/10 Jack Quick

THE WHISPERER by Donato Carrisi: Mila Vasquez’s specialty is finding the missing. And so, when a mass burial site containing six human arms is discovered, Mila is called in to help. Each of the arms belongs to one of five missing girls. No one knows who the sixth might be. Criminalist Goran Gavila and his team are assigned the case, but Mila is expected to be the key to solving it. Together they will work to unravel a crime that is so heinous and twisted, it will turn all their worlds around. The idea of a killer who never lifts a finger in the act of the crime is disturbing and Carrisi’s twists make it even more so. The Whisperer is dark – really, really dark. It’s definitely one that stays with you long after you put it down. Originally published in 2009, The Whisperer has made its way around Europe before landing on shelves in the States. Hopefully we’ll all be seeing more from this author very soon. 2/12 Becky Lejeune

WHITE by Christopher Whitcomb: This is a follow-up to Whitcomb’s first novel, Black. Hopefully he has good color sense because this is another first rate techno-thriller. Three simultaneous bombings rock the United States. As the President goes on the air to calm the nation, three foreign airline jumbo jets crash at different American airports. In Indonesia, a CIA black operation against a terrorist cell is successful, but three of the six terrorists are good old- fashioned American boys. Post 9/11 elevates to a higher gear with evidence that active support for the Islamic Jihad is coming from within the United States. Special Agent Jeremy Waller from Black has his work cut out for him in this one, as the trail leads all the way to the White House. 09/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

The White by Deborah Larsen, Knopf: Larsen is a poet and short story writer. This is her first novel. Mary Jemison’s capture in 1758 by a Shawnee raiding party is a story that is well known, but under Larsen’s skilled hand it is fresh, intriguing, full of life and beautiful details. I loved the authenticity that Larsen brought to living on the land. The destruction of Mary’s family and her adoption into the world of the Seneca will challenge you . . . and would make a great book to discuss with a group. PS: Larsen herself is an interesting story: she was a nun who left the convent in the 1960’s and her next book will be a non-fiction memoir which I can’t wait to read! ~This review contributed by Ann Nappa

A WHITE ARREST by Ken Bruen: This 2003 offering from Ken Bruen has stood up well in the past decade. Two cops, sixty-two year old Chief Inspector Roberts and his partner, the gleefully brutal Detective Sergeant Brant, after looking for the policemen’s dream: the White Arrest, a high-profile success that makes up for all their past failures. When a bat-wielding lunatic starts lynching drug dealers, Roberts and Brant find the publicity they were looking for. They’ll get their arrest—no matter who they have to pummel through on the way. As with all Bruen, not for the faint of heart, this is not so much a police procedural as a crime procedural, and a good one. 2/13 Jack Quick

THE WHITE DEVIL by Justin Evans: Andrew Taylor screwed up. His college acceptances have been revoked and now he’s given one last chance to clean up his act and get back on track when his father sends him overseas to Harrow School. The four-hundred-year-old British private school has played host to foreign statesmen, eight former Prime Ministers, even royalty… and Lord Byron. It is this famed alumni who is the subject of a play in progress at Harrow and Andrew, who everyone says looks remarkably similar to the poet, is picked to play the lead. But when Andrew witnesses the murder of a friend and classmate, everything at Harrow starts to go wrong. The coroner says the dead student was very sick, but Andrew knows what he saw. And when the murderer appears to him again, Andrew decides he must find out the truth—the truth about the famous Lot ghost and the truth about his friend’s death. This is just Evans’s second novel, but as with A Good and Happy Child, he’s managed to create another completely enthralling tale this time in a modern gothic style with a supernatural twist and famous literary characters. 05/11 Becky Lejeune

WHITE HORSE by Alex Adams: They called the virus White Horse, in honor of the apocalypse it brought with it. Most of the population died of the infection, a small portion appeared to be immune, and the rest became horribly mutated creatures, barely resembling the humans they once were. Before it all came crashing down, Zoe Marshall was just a cleaner at Pope Pharmaceuticals. Recently widowed, Zoe’s main concern was what to do next. Then the jar appeared. An innocent enough container slipped into her apartment while she wasn’t there. The appearance coincides with some of the first deaths, but Zoe is too afraid to see what’s inside. Now, not only does she seem to be immune, but she’s also carrying a child. In the wake of the outbreak, Zoe travels to Europe, following the small shred of a clue that may lead her to the father of her unborn baby. White Horse is an amazing debut. The tale transitions back and forth between the beginning of the outbreak—what led up to Zoe’s current quest—and Zoe’s present. Alex Adams’s writing is poetic even at the most horrific moments of the story. 4/12 Becky Lejeune

THE WHITE LEAGUE by Thomas Zigal: Paul Blanchard and Mark Morvant are college roommates at Tulane University in New Orleans, when both are involved in a tragedy which they cover up. Now in the 1990’s, Blanchard is the respected CEO of the Blanchard family coffee business and a progressive Southerner. Morvant is a white supremacist candidate for governor who threatens to tell all, unless Blanchard not only supports his effort, but enlists the wealthy businessmen from the White League, a secret society that wields great behind the scenes power in New Orleans to back him as well. I’d call this modern Southern gothic if I had to categorize it with overtones of Greg Isles and just a hint of James Lee Burke. With lines like, “New Orleans – The Catholics built it, the Jews own it and the niggers enjoy it,” it’s not pretty but I found it an interesting read which perhaps would have been even better as a prequel to Burke’s The Tinroof Blowdown. 08/07 Jack Quick

THE WHITE MARY by Kira Salak: Marika Vecera is a young war reporter driven by the danger experienced during her assignments. During a trip to the Congo, she is held captive by rebel soldiers and barely escapes with her life. She returns to the States, battered and beaten, mentally worn. Upon her return, she discovers that her idol/mentor Robert Lewis, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, has committed suicide. She devotes her life for the next several months to writing his biography. During her research, she discovers evidence that indicates Lewis is still alive, living in a remote village in Papua New Guinea. Drawn to the possibility that Lewis is still alive, Marika embarks on a journey not knowing what she will find. Her guide is Tobo, a medicine man, provides her with guidance along the way. During this journey, Marika learns a lot about humankind, and more importantly, herself. The White Mary is an incredibly powerful and empowering tale about one woman’s dedication to her career. While the scenes detailing the atrocities that are occurring clear across the world are difficult to read at times, the end result gives you an appreciation for all that we have as inhabitants of the “civilized” world. 08/08 Jennifer Lawrence

THE WHITE MARY by Kira Salak: Journalist Marika Vecera has made her career traveling to some of the world’s most dangerous war-torn countries in search of her next story. When she learns that her idol, famed journalist Richard Lewis, has died as the result of a suicide, she decides to write his life story in hopes of learning what could possibly have caused him to take his own life. Just a few months into her project, however, Marika receives information that leads her to believe that Lewis may in fact still be alive. A missionary stationed in Papua New Guinea had attempted to contact Lewis’s sister claiming that he had seen Lewis in the jungles of New Guinea. Lewis’s sister had written the man off as a flake, but Marika is not so sure. Marike decides to travel to Papua New Guinea herself in an attempt to learn the truth. Her journey is harrowing and at times utterly gruesome. It’s scary and humbling to think that much of Marika’s adventures both in Papua New Guinea and in her job as a journalist are actually based on Kira Salak’s own experiences. Salak alternates chapters between Marika’s current journey and her experiences that led her there, allowing the reader insight into her emotional motivations as well as her physical travels. An amazing read that will absorb and consume readers. 08/08 Becky Lejeune

WHITE NOISE by Don DeLillo: When I first read White Noise twenty-five years ago, I felt that it was an important book and Don DeLillo was an author I should follow. The novel seemed to me to be an amazingly clever and effective satire of our society in the United States in general and of the academic community in particular. I have read most of what Mr. DeLillo has written since that time and not felt myself as moved by these subsequent books. So I was particularly anxious to read White Noise again upon its 25th anniversary re-publication. I am pleased to report that not only has it withstood the test of time, but its messages may be even more relevant to our current society.

The main character in the novel, Jack Gladney, is a college professor in an archetypical small town. He is the creator and head of the Department of Hitler Studies within the college’s cultural studies division. He is envied by his peers for having created an entirely new discipline (despite his secretly never having learned to speak German). The interactions of Jack and his colleagues underline the potential for vacuity in such studies – a seminar in car crash movies, for example. And although these academics speak with heavy portent, the content of their discussion is almost always without significance. Surely, that has relevance to our present society in which the communications industry wants “content” rather than ideas and financial institutions are selling “product” rather than investments.
One theme of the book is the ever-present noise in our society. The “white noise” discussed by DeLillo’s book involves television and radio and commercial messages. Surely, the noise level is even higher (and less meaningful) today with the internet, social networking, iPods, texting and twittering. In this day and age, White Noise seems not just relevant but prescient.
A second major theme is the fear of death. Jack is exposed to probably lethal chemicals during an “airborne toxic event.” This airborne toxic event is at the core of the story – Jack and his family first hear about it simply as a part of the noise, then they can see it drawing closer, then they are ordered to evacuate. Subsequently, Jack is told by his doctor that, at some point, the substance he has ingested will kill him.
Jack’s wife, Babette, has an obsessive fear of death of her own. This leads her to submit to a sad and sleazy affair with the manufacturer of an illegal drug designed to control the fear of death. The juxtaposition of “white noise” and the fear of death poses the question of whether we generate this white noise simply to avoid that fear.
I don’t know if I would call White Noise a classic, but it is a good work-out for your brain and surely a book that you should read. 03/10 Geoffrey R. Hamlin
WHITE MEAT by Peter Corris: “She’s a blonde, thin, a bitch and a bloodsucker. She acts freaked out, you know? But she’s really ice-cool. Know what we call her down here?” Hardy shook his head. “White Meat.” Noni is the missing, beautiful, spoiled daughter of Hardy’s bookie, Ted Tarleton. Tarleton wants her found and is willing to pay for his wishes. Hardy is in that business and can stand a few knocks if it keeps him in tobacco and booze, even if it means taking on a killer of a case. Another strong outing for Australia’s foremost private enquiry agent. 12/07 Jack Quick

The White Road by Robert DeMaria: Set in the 1950’s, this finely written novel of friendship and love is both moving and thought provoking. The depth and personality of the characters were extremely satisfying, as were the historical references to the time period. A truly lovely book. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHITE SHADOW by Ace Atkins: I have tried the Nick Travers series twice and couldn’t get into them. I thought this one would be different. It’s about the unsolved murder of real-life Tampa crime boss Charlie Wall in 1955. The plot turns on the quest to find the killer, taking detective Ed Dodge and a local reporter on a journey from Tampa’s Latin Quarter to pre-revolutionary Havana. I don’t know whether it’s my prior experience, excessive detail, too many characters or just my own Tampa experiences conflicting with Atkins’ remembrances, but I just couldn’t ever get into this one either, so laid it down near the half way point. 07/07 Jack Quick

WHITE SHOTGUN by April Smith: In the language of the mafias, a murder where the body is never found is called lupara bianco, or white shotgun. It is such a murder combined with the surfacing of a previously unknown half-sister that sends Ana Grey down the rabbit hole of an FBI undercover operation into one of the ‘mafias.’ Nicoli Nicosa, a new breed mafia associate who operates as a coffee magnate, is a primary person of interest for the FBI. When it becomes known that Nicosa’s wife, Cecilia, is a half-sister Ana never knew existed, and has reached out to Ana for an unknown reason, the FBI brass force Grey into a deep-cover op to gather intelligence. When Cecilia is kidnapped, Ana finds that a red sense of family inspires her to step outside the FBI and risk her career by working “off the books” with her sister’s mobster husband to bring Cecilia home. Enlisting the help of her ex-Delta-Force boyfriend, Sterling McCord, and a tactical force of recruited mercenaries, Ana hangs her life and career over the edge to recover her sister, dead or alive. Nicely done. 07/11 Jack Quick

White Teeth by Zadie Smith: Amazing first novel but didn’t live up to it’s hype, at least not for me. But then again, what book does? (Harry Potter excluded!) This book has been short listed for what seems like every award, without a win yet.

THE WHITE TIGER by Aravind Adiga: If not a “must read”, Aravind Adiga’s debut novel, The White Tiger, certainly qualifies as a “should read.” It was the recipient of this year’s Man Booker prize in the face of very stiff competition. (Salman Rushdie was not even short-listed). Adiga, who describes himself as influenced by Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, tells the story of Balgram, a precocious but extremely poor Indian child, who through use of his wits and a disturbing crime of opportunity, converts himself into a successful entrepreneur in the New India. The story is told in epistolary fashion in a series of letters to the premier of China in order to facilitate the premier’s understanding of India before he comes to visit. While it is told in humorous fashion, the magnitude of Indian poverty, corruption, and class restrictions are starkly outlined and a reminder to us all that even during times of economic miracles, many are left behind. And after his success, Balgram remains as invisible to the authorities as he was as a poor child in the keeping of a corrupt school master. 12/08 Geoffrey R. Hamlin

WHITE TIGER by Michael Allen Dymmoch: In 1992, Michael Allen Dymmoch won St. Martin’s contest for “best traditional mystery” for THE MAN WHO UNDERSTOOD CATS, which was anything but a “traditional” mystery. From the start, I’ve been a fan of this author and her series featuring John Thinnes and Jack Caleb.
Why isn’t it traditional? For one thing, a major focus of the book is the very real and hard-won friendship between the two men. Caleb, a psychiatrist is gay and Thinnes, a pretty traditional sort of guy, is a Chicago police detective. The stories often delve into real life issues, real life people and they have always made me think.
The newest book in the series is WHITE TIGER which was just nominated for a “Lammy Award” in the category of “Gay Men’s Mystery” from the Lambda Literary Foundation. The issue is Vietnam, which for many Americans still has enormous influence and consequence. Hue An Lee is found dead; twenty-five years ago, she mattered to Thinnes back in Saigon, where he served as an MP. His connections to her and her son Tien Lee, mean that he’s too close to investigate the murder. Caleb served as a medic, and the alternating stories of then and now from the perspectives of the two men, are at times fascinating, at times sorrowful. If you have no interest or understanding of this period of American history, WHITE TIGER might not appeal. But it’s not a diatribe, it’s not for or against the war or the Vietnamese people, it’s just a story of a time in people’s lives that had a huge impact, and how they all, separately and together, dealt with it and the ways in which the conflict still affects people.
Dymmoch always knows what she’s doing when she writes. The series isn’t flashy, but the books never fail to impress me and WHITE TIGER is no exception. 03/06 Andi Shechter

WHITEOUT by Ken Follett: When you are Ken Follett, even an “off work” is still pretty darn good. The setting is Scotland and the action revolves around Christmas at a pharmaceuticals company that makes antiviral drugs. Two doses of an experimental drug are missing, a technician and a lab rabbit are dead, the owner’s estranged son is planning to break into the lab because of his gambling debts, the female head of security is falling for the widowed owner whose daughter’s are on the edge of a husband swapping episode. In the middle of this soap opera a pretty good actual mystery breaks out and is eventually resolved. Unfortunately the characters are not as fully developed as they could be and the plot is quite predictable. Not his best effort, but still readable. 10/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

WHITEWASH by Alex Kava: Sabrina Galloway’s once close-knit family has crumbled in the wake of her mother’s death. Her father has had himself committed to an institution and her brother has seemingly disappeared, so Sabrina has dropped everything to move to Florida and be closer to her father. A position in the lab at EchoEnergy and participation in what could be the greatest scientific achievement of the century is something Sabrina is excited to be a part of. EchoEnergy has come up with a way to accelerate oil production through special processing of meat by-products. This new technology promises to free the United States from its dependency on other countries for oil. Sabrina is surprised and worried, however, when she discovers that EchoEnergy’s innovative processing plan may not be working quite as expected. Her boss, the man who developed the technology, has gone missing and no one else seems to be concerned with her discovery. Then, Sabrina witnesses the murder of a co-worker and news reports are calling her the killer. It looks as if someone has taken her suspicions seriously after all and means to shut her up permanently. Kava is well known for her profiling series featuring FBI agent Maggie O’Dell. Whitewash, an eco/political thriller, is her first stand-alone. The plot is interesting and the political aspect is not so heavy that the average reader will feel bogged down. Fans will love it and it’s the perfect opportunity for new readers to give Kava a try. 06/07 Becky Lejeune

WHO IS SHAYLA HACKER? by Evan Kilgore: Five different people – a lonely systems analyst in a large city, a 17 year small-town girl abandoned by an older brother, a groom who is a self mutilator who abandons his wife on their wedding day, a retiring police detective, and a female blue collar contractor working to renovate an airport terminal. All are connected by a single question – Who is Shayla Hacker? Thus begins a strange journey in a book I personally found fascinating. Driven by an obsession the five strangers don’t fully understand they cross the country and the world, passing through each other’s lives, in search of a girl and an answer. In spite of being warned off by authorities they continue until the answer is finally revealed, or is it? An unusual and very enjoyable outing. 07/07 Jack Quick

THE WHOLE TRUTH by David Baldacci: Viral marketing is a marketing technique that uses pre-existing social networks to achieve marketing objectives through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. When the huge advertising and lobbying budget of mega-defense contractor, Ares Corporation, seem to be losing its effectiveness, Nicholas Creel, the billionaire founder of the company, decides to use viral marketing to generate new demand. As he says, “I’m not interested in wars that stop at a hundred days or devolve into gloried gangland street fights. That doesn’t even pay the light bill.” Starting by planting fake news stories on the Internet about Russian atrocities, the propaganda campaign soon turns violent with the massacre of the members of a London think tank, the Phoenix Group, apparently by a Russian hit team. It’s all high tech and high suspense, with only a shadowy operative named A. Shaw and a disgraced female journalist to thwart Creel’s evil plot. Better leave the lights on for this one which is reminiscent of some of the early Robert Ludlum thrillers. 05/09 Jack Quick

WICKED APPETITE by Janet Evanovich: For the past few years, Evanovich has been serving up a smaller, lighter version of her Stephanie Plum books called “Between the Numbers” novels, all based around holiday themes, i.e. Plum Spooky, Visions of Sugar Plums, and so forth. The major differences between the regular Plum books and these were size (these were 200 page books) and a supernatural character named Diesel. This new book is based on that character.
Diesel is an “unmentionable” giving him certain powers like the ability to open any locked door by merely touching it. He’s also a very hot blonde, with a dark, sexy cousin, Gerwulf Grimoire, who is his evil counterpart. In this novel he shows up in Salem, Massachusetts, at the home of Elizabeth Tucker, cupcake baker extraordinaire. Turns out she’s an unmentionable too, only she didn’t know it. Diesel is on the search for stones that represent the “7 Deadly Sins” so that he can keep them safe from his cousin. The first, gluttony, is supposed to be in Salem. Lots of Plum-inspired hijinks ensue as they hunt down the stone.
I enjoyed this book as it showcased Evanovich humor without the usual cast of characters. I liked the new characters; Tucker, a young, single woman who has inherited an old ramshackle house from a dead relative; Clara, her boss at the bakery; Glo, a co-worker who keeps trying out spells from a book she bought, instead creating havoc; and the setting. Salem, home to the infamous witch trials and now a tourist trap replete with magic shops on every corner, seems like yet another character in this light, funny book. Whether or not you’ve grown tired of the Plum books, but still enjoy Evanovich humor, then this book is for you. 09/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WICKED AUTUMN by G. M. Malliet: When one of my favorite authors, in this case, Mary Kay Andrews, personally recommends a book, I tend to take it seriously and get that book quickly. Wicked Autumn is the first book of a new English mystery series featuring Max Tudor, a former MI5 agent turned vicar of St. Edwold’s in the charming little village of Nether Monkslip. Tudor is an intriguing character as are the rest of the inhabitants of this sleepy little town. When Wanda, the unpopular leader of the Women’s Institute, is found dead in the village hall during the Harvest Fayre, the annual charity she arranged, no one really seems to mourn her but her husband, leaving a list of suspects that looked suspiciously like the census list. This is a traditional cozy English mystery with a touch of humor found in these characters and a well constructed plot that for me gets bogged down a bit by all the description. Nonetheless, it is a charming story. 3/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WICKED BUSINESS by Janet Evanovich: This is the continuing saga of Lizzy and Diesel, those other-worldly characters in search of the missing stones representing each of the deadly sins. We met Diesel years ago in a “between the numbers” Stephanie Plum book but he has moved from New Jersey to Massachusetts. Part romance, part fantasy and part mystery, these books are entertaining if you are easily entertained. Luckily this was my week for mindless fluff and this worked for me. This book centers on the search for the stone representing Lust, but despite that there is no sex in this book, just a hint of longing now and then. There are regular characters, and in this case by regular I mean reoccurring, because there is nothing regular about Wulf, Diesel’s evil cousin, Glo, who thinks she is a wizard, and of course Diesel’s pet monkey who is brighter than most people I know. There is also a new character, Anarchy, a wild woman who is also after Wulf’s powers and the stone and has a penchant for torching buildings. The plot is simple, the mystery forgettable but there are some laughs here if you like Evanovich’s broad sense of humor, and I do. 8/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WICKED CITY by Ace Atkins: “WELCOME TO PHENIX CITY, Alabama, population 23,205. Located across the Chattahoochee River from Columbus, Georgia we offer all the basic amenities of small town Southern life. There’s Cobb’s Barber Shop, where kindly grey-headed gentlemen discuss local politics and current affairs between the buzz of the clippers and local radio ag reports. And we have the friendly Elite Café, where Mr. Ross Gibson will cook you up the best plate of eggs and grits with red-eye gravy you ever tasted. We have a Bentley’s Grocery Store, the Phenix City Pharmacy, and the wonderful Palace Theatre, where on Saturdays a kid can get in for fifty cents and watch the latest B westerns or the new adventure of Francis the Talking Mule. Phenix City also boasts Idle Hour Amusement park – you can take a miniature train from downtown into the hills and roller-skate, bowl, and swim. There is even a little zoo there with bears and lions and monkeys. All of this mixed with dozens of churches, Christian and civic clubs, and one of the best hospitals in east Alabama make Phenix City an ideal place for the family. Not to mention the world-famous nightclubs, clip joints, and brothels. Phenix City is probably best known for its whores.” Thus begins Atkins’ fictional account of the cleanup of Phenix City, which began after the state Attorney General-elect Albert Patterson, was shot and killed on June 18, 1954, after running a campaign to clean up Phenix City (He was succeeded by his son who carried out his father’s plan). Larger than life characters include Ex-boxer and appointed sheriff Lamar Murphy, opposed by crooked Deputy Bert Fuller, Madame (in the traditional sense) Fannie Belle, and the redneck mafia determined to keep Phenix City sinful and profitable. Although the ending is obvious, the journey is most enjoyable, particularly if you have a personal interest in the area, as I, a native Alabamian do. 05/08 Jack Quick

WICKED PREY by John Sandford: All books give you a sense of time and place, sometimes generic and sometimes specific. Sandford’s latest is very specific – the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN. For Lucas Davenport the headaches are just beginning. In addition to the usual assortment of protestors and hangers-on associated with this kind of event, Lucas has a crew of professional stickup men in town who’ve spotted several lucrative opportunities, ranging from political moneymen with briefcases full of cash to that armored-car warehouse with the weakness in its security system. A while back, a stray bullet put a pimp and petty thief named Randy Whitcomb in a wheelchair, and, ever since, the man has been nursing his grudge into a full head of psychotic steam. He blames Davenport for the bullet, but it’s no fun just shooting him. That wouldn’t be painful enough. Not when Davenport has a pretty fourteen-year-old adopted daughter that Whitcomb can target instead. And then there’s the young man with the .50 caliber sniper rifle and the right- wing-crazy background, roaming through a city filled with the most powerful politicians on earth. This may be the wildest “prey” yet, certainly one of the most adrenaline filled. Go for it, even if you are a Democrat. 07/09 Jack Quick

WIDE OPEN by Deborah Coates: Hallie Michaels has just ten days to find out what happened to her sister, Dell. Rumor has it that Dell committed suicide, but Hallie knows that can’t be the case. With Dell’s ghost trailing along, Hallie becomes determined to discover the truth behind her sister’s death. As more ghosts follow, it becomes clear that something strange is going on in Grand Rapids. While Wide Open has its own clear conclusion, it helps knowing that it’s just part of a larger story. What comes next for Hallie and her ghosts is unclear, but Coates has definitely created an intriguing heroine and a “wide open” range of possibilities for the follow up titles. 3/12 Becky Lejeune

THE WIDOW’S STRIKE by Brad Taylor: Number four in a series about a secret US government group designated as the Taskforce and Pike Logan who leads one of the squads in that group. Like the first three books Widow’s Strike is fast, engrossing and presents an operation described by a retired Delta Force officer that infuses it with a reality not available in many other novels about Special forces clandestine work. Pike, and his partner Jennifer Cahill own a business that designs protective systems for companies around the world which really gives them entree to travel freely doing Taskforce work. There is a developing romantic interest between Pike and Jennifer, but so far in the series is in the background. Jennifer works with Pike’s squad on missions and does the work of others in the group and with her fellows puts herself in harm’s way. A mutation of a deadly virus has fallen into the hands of a rogue group of Iranians who are determined to use it against the United States as punishment for daring to prohibit their country from developing nuclear weapons. Their chosen method of delivery is to use a Black Widow, a Chechen woman part of a group of suicide bombers, with a reputation for mass slaughter unrivaled in other groups. Pike and his group follow the Black Widow and her control officer across Southeast Asia and eventually into the US in order to stop them. Action is constant with no let up in chasing down the threats and working around the many obstacles placed in the Taskforce’s path. Brad Taylor has been in many of the places that his characters go to, and is very conversant with black operations and the reactions of the people taking part in them. A plus in this book is the characterization of the woman who is the Black Widow. Taylor goes into her thoughts and feelings and does a very credible job of fleshing out a person that is going to kill herself in order to kill others to life. We manage to get an idea of why she is there and why she continues to move towards her mission with the certain knowledge that she will not survive it. Book five in the series is a given and will undoubtedly prove as exciting as the first four when it comes out. 7/13 Paul Lane

WIFE 22 by Melanie Gideon: This book has garnered quite a bit of buzz and it is most deserving. And if the title, Wife 22, brings to mind that classic, Catch 22, it should; in “Q&A with Author Melanie Gideon” on Amazon.com, Gideon says she thinks of marriage as a “catch 22”. And so it is in this quirky epistolary novel about a couple who have been married for almost twenty years. Alice is feeling sort of stuck in a rut; she knows William loves her but is he bored with her? Is she bored with him? When Alice receives an email asking her to participate in a marriage study, she signs up and is assigned the anonymous moniker, “Wife 22” and is asked questions, via email, by the also anonymous “Researcher 101”. As the study goes on, Alice gets to relive the highlights and lowest points of her marriage and starts to have feelings for her researcher. Will they meet? Is she ready for an affair? Using emails, Facebook postings and such to propel the story along brings a fresh twist to this examination of marriage in the twenty-first century, along with a lot of laughs, and a lot of heart. These characters spring to life on the page and we can’t help but get emotionally invested. I loved this book and couldn’t put it down. 6/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WIFE 22 by Melanie Gideon: Alice and William have been married for almost twenty years. The spark has become something of a fizzle of late and Alice isn’t sure what to do. When she receives an email regarding participation in a survey study on marriage in the 21st century, Alice signs up. Her anonymous contributions as Wife 22 allow Alice to look back at her relationship and remember the things that brought her and William together. Her online conversations with Researcher 101 (her anonymous contact at the study) makes Alice realize what’s missing in her relationship—just the kind of interest and attention Researcher 101 has been paying to her. Is Alice’s marriage reaching its end or is it possible to start again? Wife 22 is a truly sweet and heartwarming read. I loved Alice and all of her quirks and paranoia. Gideon’s whole cast of characters shines. 6/12 Becky Lejeune

WILD LAWS by Jim Hansen: The ninth entry in the Laws series sends Denver homicide detective Bryson Coventry half way around the world to the mean streets of Hong Kong seeking a killer who has targeted a mysterious woman for death. It doesn’t take Coventry long to hook-up with a beautiful young Hong Kong detective. As his Denver homicide partner, Shalifa Netherwood says, “You’ve done this a thousand times, Bryson…you meet a woman and – bam. – everything else in the universe disappears.” Together Bryson and his Hong Kong cohort travel from the highest of high society haunts to the seediest underground hideaways to catch their prey. Throw in art and money, and s-e-x and you have the wildest Laws adventure yet. Not only is Coventry’s life potentially at stake – he may also lose his job in Denver. That would be a real bummer. And to top it off, Coventry isn’t even trying to solve the right crime. Can’t wait for the sequel to this one. 03/10 Jack Quick

THE WILD ROAD by Marjorie Liu: A woman wakes in a smoky hotel room with no memory of how she got there – no memories at all, actually. There are three dead bodies on the floor and a note pinned to her jacket that reads simply, “Run.” With nowhere to go and no other options, she escapes into the world outside. She ends up bumping into Lannes Hannelore, one of the few remaining gargoyles in the world. In spite of Lannes’s fear of letting anyone get to close, for reasons of his own, he feels compelled to help this woman. They soon find themselves on the run from an unknown assailant who seems to be able to find them anywhere they go. Their only solution is to track him down themselves and try to unravel the mystery of the woman’s identity along the way. The Wild Road is a steamy paranormal romance/mystery that reads like an adult fairytale. It is also the latest installment to Liu’s Dirk and Steele series. Dirk and Steele is a paranormal detective agency that links each book together. However, each title seems to focus on a new set of characters – readers can jump into the series at any point and skip around as much as they like without feeling at all lost. 11/08 Becky Lejeune

WILD THING by Josh Bazell: You should have no problem picking out this book at your local library or bookstore. Its the one with the international orange cover trimmed with bright white and egg yolk yellow. Inside the contents make the cover look tame. Dr. Lionel Azimuth, aka Dr. Peter Brown, aka former mob hit man Pietro Brnwa, is hired by a reclusive billionaire to go on an expedition looking for a legendary Loch Ness type monster in Minnesota. He sends along a sexy but self-destructive paleontologist to “assist” our hero. After working their way through an army of murderers, mobsters, and international drug dealers will they find the elusive lake monster? Better yet, will they even survive? If you enjoyed BEAT THE REAPER, you will love this follow-up. 3/12 Jack Quick

WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW? by Ed Gorman: Richard Conners, a notorious liberal in the small Iowa town of Black River Falls where PI and lawyer Sam McCain makes his living, shows up at McCain’s door, near death, and succumbs without naming his attacker. McCain has no faith in the investigative ability of local law enforcement, so he proceeds on his own. In short order, he’s also confronted with the deaths of a former FBI agent now fronting an anti-Communist organization and two other right-wing activists. Just as Ed McBain made the fictitious 87th precinct famous, Gorman has created a microcosm of late 1950’s America and populated it with interesting and sometimes offbeat characters who reflect the thoughts and conflicts of that time. A most enjoyable series. 01/10 Jack Quick

WILLING SPIRITS by Phyllis Schieber: Jane Hoffman and Gwen Baker have been friends for decades. Jane was there for Gwen when her husband, Theodore, left her to raise two young children alone. They’ve raised their children together and through the years their friendship has endured as well. Now, they are in their 40s and are facing larger, more painful crisis. Jane comes home early to find her husband, Arnold, in bed with another woman. Their marriage has never been a strong one. Arnold’s always been an empty shell of a man, more concerned about his needs than hers. And when Arnold attempts to walk right back into her life, rather than conceding to him like she’s done for their entire marriage, Jane begins to think first about what she wants. And when their daughter, Caroline, comes to her with news that will change their lives, Jane must be there to support her in a way her own mother was never able to do. Gwen has been in a relationship with Daniel, a married man, for several years. When he tells her that he’s going to leave his wife, she begins to wonder if this is what she really wants. She’d become used to having her own space, but now Daniel wants to move in with her. She can’t help but flash back to her marriage to Theodore and all she was forced to give up for that relationship. Is she ready to give up her independence again? Schieber tells an endearing tale about the friendship of two women. Despite the many challenges they each suffered in life, they never take for granted their friendship. Through the years as their friendship grows, they both discover a bit about themselves as well. Shieber’s lesson is an important one: value the needs of others but never forget the value of one’s self. 03/09 Jennifer Lawrence

THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE: A DARK TOWER NOVEL by Stephen King: As Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy make their way from the Green Palace to Calla, they find themselves stuck in a massive stormfront. The Starkblast is so rare that it’s the stuff of legend: always headed up by an unusually warm front, the storm is a sudden and sharp drop in temperature paired with massive winds that leaves destruction and death in its wake. As Roland and his ka-tet take refuge in an abandoned city hall, Roland regales the group with two stories from his youth. The first is one of his earliest adventures as a gunslinger, tracking and facing down a murderous skin-changer. The second is a story called “The Wind Through the Keyhole,” an old tale Roland’s own mother used to read him as a child. In series order the book falls between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla, but it brings very little to the series itself. Instead, The Wind Through the Keyhole is a small taste of Mid-World but it’s a welcome return to the series nonetheless. 1/13 Becky Lejeune

WINDWALKER by Natasha Mostert: In an attempt to escape from the memory of her brother’s recent death, photographer Justine Callaway takes a job as the caretaker of the English manor called Parradine Park. She knows nothing of the house’s dark history but is immediately drawn to the neglected estate. Justine soon finds herself becoming obsessed with events that took place in the home nearly a decade ago. Parradine Park was once the not so happy home of the Buchanan family. One evening, eldest son Adam snapped and murdered his own brother. Adam was never seen again. Unable to deal with the loss of her favorite son, their mother committed suicide and Adam’s sister abandoned the home shortly thereafter. Justine is haunted by this tale and to learn as much as she can about Adam Buchanan and the event that tore his family apart. Thousands of miles away, in a town called Kepler’s Bay, Adam Buchanan has made a new life for himself. He lives in almost complete solitude and never forgets the crime that caused this punishment. He does dream, however. Adam has long believed that his soul mate awaits him somewhere, in this life or the next. By strange coincidence, he happens across a magazine carrying and article about Justine. From that moment forward, he knows that she is the one. Will these two fated lovers meet or will their own tragic pasts keep them forever apart? As someone who does not typically read romance, I must say that this melancholy tale is very atypical to the genre. Mostert’s style is much more suitable to literary fiction and I think she would be much more appreciated there. I highly recommend Windwalker if you are looking for a great modern gothic read. 06/07 Becky Lejeune

WINGS TO THE KINGDOM by Cherie Priest: Eden Moore has been trying to keep her talent under wraps, but those seeking to connect with their dearly departed keep tracking her down anyway. When a friend mentions a recent spectral appearance at the Chickamauga battlefield, Eden’s curiosity is piqued. The area has always been host to a bevy of ghost stories but this latest stands out. A pair of professional ghost hunters has even come onto the scene to investigate. Then very real—and deadly—gunshots begin to once again ring out across the battlefield and Eden is caught in the crosshairs. Cherie Priest is admittedly one of my favorite authors. Her debut, and first in this series (Four and Twenty Blackbirds), was a chilling Southern ghost story and she doesn’t lose any steam in this second installment. Eden is a fantastic character and Priest makes excellent use of actual history and folklore in her tales, with some creative license of course. 12/10 Becky Lejeune

A WINTER HAUNTING by Dan Simmons: It’s been four decades since the summer when Dale and his friends fought evil in Elm Haven. Four decades since Duane McBride was murdered. Dale’s memories of that year are hazy at best, but after a failed suicide attempt, he’s decided that it’s time to return. His plan is to rent Duane’s old farmhouse and spend the next nine months writing his latest novel. But the farmhouse holds secrets as well as a lingering presence and Dale’s visit to his childhood hometown is plagued by strange events. Dale doesn’t believe in ghosts, but the alternative, that he might be finally losing his mind, is even worse. Simmons’s tales run the gamut from science fiction and horror to historical fiction and mystery, and each one I’ve read so far has been a complete masterpiece of fiction. I particularly love the atmosphere he’s able to build, which makes books like A Winter Haunting and its companion (they can each be read alone), Summer of Night, particularly chilling and exceptional horror reads. 03/11 Becky Lejeune

WITHER by Lauren DeStefano: After conquering cancer and creating a stronger, healthier generation of children through genetic manipulation, life expectancy strangely plummets: boys live to be twenty-five and girls live to be only twenty. No one has found a cure and many have lost hope altogether. To make matters worse, girls are being kidnapped and sold into polygamist marriages. Rhine and her twin brother Rowan have been taking care of each other since their parents died. At sixteen, they know that Rhine is at risk and their fears are realized when she is taken and forced to marry a wealthy Florida man. But Rhine is unwilling to play the role of token wife and breeder, and from day one, she begins hatching a plan for her escape. But Rhine never counted on becoming attached. She finds friends and allies in her fellow brides and a boy who works in the house, placing all of them in danger. A post-disaster, futuristic teen book that’s impossible to put down, Wither is definitely worth all of the hype. This first in the trilogy will leave readers breathless with anticipation of what will come next. 05/11 Becky Lejeune

WITHOUT MERCY by Lisa Jackson: Julia “Jules” Farentino is an unemployed twenty-five-year-old teacher battling the memories of her father’s murder. The nightmares and headaches were terrible enough to cause her issues at work, but it’s her sister who’s suffered the most. Shaylee’s behavior in recent years has landed her in enough trouble that she’s now been ordered to attend the Blue Rock Academy, a boarding school cut off from the outside world that is said to turn problem children around. In fact, the testimonials from past students and their parents would make the place seem like the perfect solution for Shay, but Jules is not convinced. A recent scandal involving one of the Academy’s teachers paired with a missing student who disappeared without a trace makes Jules certain that the school is hiding something sinister. Jules manages to obtain a teaching position at Blue Rock and arrives the same day that two students are attacked and left for dead on campus. Can Julia unravel the mystery of Blue Rock in time to save her sister or will she herself become a victim of whatever is stalking the campus? Lisa Jackson can always be relied upon for a thrilling read with plenty of twists. The surprise ending was bit expected and predictable, but didn’t make Without Mercy any less enjoyable. 04/10 Becky Lejeune

WICKED BREAK by Jeff Shelby: In his second outing, San Diego surfer PI Noah Braddock is hired by Peter Pluto to find Pluto’s brother Linc, a college student whose apartment has a stash of guns. In short order, Linc’s neighbor is shot, Pluto is killed, and Braddock is severely beaten. From there on out, its gangbangers and skinheads and lots of manly action. Throw in some love interest and a problem parent and you have a good fast read with some humor and plenty of action. Kind of what you would expect from a surfer PI. 08/06 Jack Quick

WICKED GAME by Jeri Smith-Ready: Ciara Griffin is a con-woman looking for a real job. She manages to get hired on as a Sales and Marketing intern at WMMP Radio. Unlike many stations out there today, WMMP’s djs really care about the music. You see they’re all vampires. Apparently, the vamps have a hard time letting go of the era in which they were alive and the station was set up to help them deal with the change in times – the music provides them something concrete that they can hold on to, which makes it easier for them to cope with the time that has past. The problem is this, the owner, a vamp herself, is looking to ensure her retirement and a big corporate conglomerate has offered to buy out the station which would leave the rest of the undead djs out of a job. Ciara is supposed to help figure out a way to boost the station’s popularity and bring in enough cash to discourage the sale. She does, but her plan involves outing the vamps themselves in hopes that it will prove to be a great marketing gimmick without actually convincing people that the undead really do walk among us. Unfortunately, her campaign is not so popular with other area vamps. Smith-Ready’s urban fantasy is both sharp and witty, Ciara is a spunky and sarcastically funny heroine, and the whole book is a fresh spin on the classic vampire mythology making it a stand-out title amongst its peers. 05/08 Becky Lejeune

WILD CRIMES edited by Dana Stabenow – Nicely done paperback anthology of eleven short stories of mystery set in the wild. Authors include Stabenow, Loren Estleman, Laurie King, and S.J. Rozan. A good “waiting room” book to kill those odd few minutes. For sure, it takes you away from “street crime.” 08/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

Wild Justice by Phillip Margolin: Very scary, gruesome thriller that kept me up half the night reading, then too scared to sleep! What more could you want from a book? Definitely his best work yet.

WILD JUSTICE By Phillip Margolin: Somebody gave me a well read paperback of this and told me I’d like it…
I did. This one is made a good read by the fact that it’s very much an ensemble piece. No one character in the thread of the story stands out. In fact, you actually find yourself rooting for the bad guy here in spots!.
No brief synopsis could describe what goes on in this one. Imagine part legal stuff, vs. some truly sick and motivated people, all with their own agendas and risks. Think along the lines of a print Robert Altman movie.
I have to admit that I figured out who the bad guy was early on.. But that’s only because I’ve been reading this stuff for nearly four decades. I know the signs when I see ’em. But this is a really good yarn, skillfully told from both the legal and action standpoints. And the interaction between all the sets, and subsets, of players makes this a unique thriller, one that does not depend on a sole hero, but allows ALL the players in the tale to have their fame or misfortune. This is a good one. 05/06 DOC

THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE by Haruki Murakami: First, Toru Okada’s cat goes missing. Then, Kumiko, his wife goes missing as well. Toru is told, both by Kumiko and her family, to leave her alone and grant her wish for a divorce. He is told that she has been seeing another man. Toru believes, however, that something is amiss. He believes that Kumiko is being held, against her wishes, and he vows to continue to search for her and win her back. Along the way, Toru meets some very unusual characters including his teenage neighbor who is recovering from an accident that caused the death of her boyfriend, a pair of psychic sisters, and an ex-military man who is finally ready to tell his story. All of the people that Toru meets will prepare him in some way for what ultimately needs to be done to discover the true fate of his wife. Murakami’s prose is both lyrical and bewitching. Each new character has his or her own tale to tell, creating little vignettes or breaks from Toru’s own story. This strange, and sometimes confusing, tale is one that will leave you guessing until the end. 03/07 Becky Lejeune

THE WINTER GHOSTS by Kate Mosse: Freddie never recovered from the loss of his older brother. In fact, Freddie found himself temporarily installed in a sanatorium after a nervous breakdown. When his car goes off the road in a remote part of the Pyrenees, Freddie manages to find shelter at an inn in a small mountain town. That evening, he attends a local celebration and meets an entrancing young woman. The following morning, however, all evidence of the woman is gone and Freddie finds himself in the throes of a terrible fever. No doubt others believe Freddie is of a delicate mental state, but surely the girl was not his imagination. As with Mosse’s other books, the inspiration for The Winter Ghosts lies in actual French history. This time, it’s the fourteenth-century massacre of the Cathars that is the basis for the tale. The Winter Ghosts is written in the style of a classic Victorian ghost story and is an intriguing read. 12/11 Becky Lejeune

WINTER MOON: Three novellas by Mercedes Lackey, Tanith Lee and C. E. Murphy: This is one of those books that I would suggest, not facetiously, that if you like this sort of thing, you’ll like the book. Mercedes Lackey’s “Moontide” is a totally enjoyable story about a kingdom where power is up for grabs, marriages are made to cement relationships and the lead character, the king’s daughter, isn’t having any of it. There are overtones of Celtic/Irish lore and a “saturnine” “bearded” ally who seems vaguely Arabic, but it’s an interesting realm and a good adventure It didn’t need to be as long as a novella; I got it long before the story ended.
C.E. Murphy’s story, while set in my home of Seattle, bugged me; the character seemed far too young, whiny and immature to be a cop. The story relies too much on references to events that happened before this tale began and there are measly little errors that should have been fixed; “Tetris” does not involve anyone “dying horribly” and Indians do not have skin “as red as brick” – which any adult, especially a Seattle-based cop, should know. We have Indians here in Seattle. Go look. Okay, it’s in her imagination but I lost patience with her. And naming your car and insisting It’s a “her not an it”? Please.
And I apologize to the Tanith Lee fans; while her “The Heart of the Moon” seemed well-written as far as I got, it’s too spiritual and goddessy for my taste and I could not finish it. If you like stories about spirituality and power, if you were into moon goddess stuff back when, or even now, you’ll likely enjoy all of these tales more than I did. 10/05 ~This review contributed by Andi Shechter.

WINTERWOOD by Patrick McCabe: This disturbing novel is the story of one man’s sick obsession and eventual downward spiral into madness. Redmond Hatch hails from the mountain village of Slievenageeha, a place where it’s not unusual to hear more urban Irishmen refer to folk as being inbred and country, amongst other things. Redmond, a reporter for a Dublin paper, has returned to cover a story on mountain folklore. While writing the story he befriends a man named Ned Strange, who the locals lovingly call Auld Pappie. Ned has been teaching the young children the art of ceilidh – a sort of barn dance with folk music – and also entertains the villagers with tales of the old times. Ned is revered for keeping the culture alive but he is not the pure soul he first appears to be. Under the influence of some pretty heavy homebrew, Ned reveals to Redmond some startling information about his past. Years later, Ned is imprisoned after sexually assaulting and killing a local boy. Redmond becomes fixated on Ned and his crime to the point that he soon destroys his own family. Redmond’s own life even begins to resemble Ned’s stories and the two become somewhat indistinguishable from one another. Although the use of a non-linear storyline certainly lends belief to Redmond’s crumbling sanity, it also makes the story very hard to follow. This is ultimately a bleak and depressing, not to mention somewhat confusing, book. 01/08 Becky Lejeune

WISHFUL SINFUL by Tracy Dunham: After losing a highly publicized capital punishment case, attorney Tal Jefferson leaves her big city law firm and hectic life, returning to the small Georgia town where she was raised. For a while she finds comfort in memories and booze, but when a childhood friend is accused of a brutal murder, Tal must quickly clean up her act as she finds her own life in danger from the consequences of small town secrets with big time implications. First in the series. A little uneven but shows promise. 04/06 Jack Quick

THE WITCH’S DAUGHTER by Paula Brackston: Elizabeth Hawksmith has been running for such a long time. For centuries she’s been tracked by Gideon Masters, an evil sorcerer who was once her only hope. After her family was killed by the plague, Elizabeth and her mother were accused of witchcraft. Gideon was her savior but he wished to keep her as his own. Elizabeth has narrowly escaped him throughout the years, hiding in plain sight and adopting new identities, always using her powers to help those around her. But when Elizabeth finally decides to take on a pupil of her own, she will be forced to choose: continue running or take a stand. The Witch’s Daughter is a wonderful combination of historical fiction and paranormal. Brackston’s story alternates between past and present as she mixes tales of Elizabeth’s early life with the present day, tying in historical events including Jack the Ripper and the horrors of WWI. I did find the ending to be a bit brief considering the build. Overall, a really enjoyable read, though. 1/11 Becky Lejeune

WITCHLING by Yasmine Galenorn: The D’Artigo sisters are half fae, half human. Each has their own ability, but their human genes have an inconvenient effect on their powers. Camille is a witch whose spells don’t always come out just right, Delilah is a shapeshifter who transforms into an orange tabby when she’s stressed, and Menolly is having a hard time adjusting to life as a vampire. But they’re all doing their best and they’ve been working in the human realm as agents with the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. When a fellow otherworlder is murdered, all signs point to a new and evil boss in the Subterranean Realm. If he’s able to get through the natural barriers between the worlds, all hell would surely break loose. The D’Artigo sisters learn that there were nine spirit seals created ages ago as protection for the realms. Defending the seals is the only way the sisters can ensure that the realms remain safe. This first in the series has a wonderful fairy tale feel about it that sets it apart from others in the paranormal romance/mystery genre. It’ll be interesting to continue the stories and learn more about the sisters as well as the realms and other creatures introduced. 05/10 Becky Lejeune

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE by Sally Koslow: While some people are lucky enough to hang onto friends for a lifetime, others find that life can sometimes lead friends in different directions. Talia, Chloe, Quincy, and Jules are all facing big life changes. And when two of the friends betray each other in ways that seem unforgivable, it starts to look unlikely that the group will make it through and remain close. Quincy is house hunting for the perfect home when luck finally comes her way in the form of a fantastic apartment that’s an even more fantastic deal. Problem is, Jules’s boyfriend lives in the same building and wants the place for himself. Meanwhile, Talia is finding it hard to make ends meet when she accidentally intercepts a call for Chloe from one of New York’s best headhunters. Sally Koslow’s story is one concerning the tricky balance of true friendship, something that many women can and will relate to. A bit snarkier than Leah Stewart’s The Myth of You and Me, With Friends Like These touches on the same issues in a much lighter way. 09/10 Becky Lejeune

WITH THIS KISS by Eloisa James: This is a three part, e-book only novella. The main character is Lady Grace, the daughter from The Ugly Duckling. Lady Grace has grown up with Colin Barry, but when she turns into a teenager, she falls in love with him. He is in the Royal Navy and hates it, and Grace writes him upbeat letters about their families and all the gossip. Eventually, he comes home but he falls in love with Grace’s younger sister, a natural siren who has men falling at her feet right and left. He goes back to sea, Grace stops writing, and she eventually meets a man from Scotland who falls for her. She agrees to marry him even though her heart belongs to Colin. Lots of angst and several twists keep the pages turning until the requisite happy ending. This is a fast, fun read and Eloisa James fans won’t want to miss it. Right now you have to buy each part separately for $.99 each. Amazon does list the complete book for $2.99 but it won’t be available in that format until 6/25/13. 5/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
With This Puzzle, I Thee Kill by Parnell Hall: As a cruciverbalist of long standing, I have really enjoyed Parnell Hall’s series about The Puzzle Lady. As readers of these books know, the Puzzle Lady is not really Cora Felton whose picture appears on the Puzzle Lady’s publications, but her attractive young niece, Sherry, who really constructs the puzzles. The efforts of both of them to conceal this deception is a basis for on-going hilarity in all of these stories since Cora has no idea how to solve a crossword, much less create one.
This story begins as the oft-wed Cora is about to commit matrimony one more time. Of course, this time it is Mr. Right. As we start across and down, we can guess two things. First, that he will turn out to be Mr. Wrong and secondly, that his chances of actually making it to the altar are slim to none. Correct on both counts.
The complication in the plot is Sherry’s ex-husband who physically abused her. He is now engaged to her best friend. He suggests that they have a double wedding with Cora and her intended so that Sherry can serve as the Maid of Honor in both weddings simultaneously. This cannot be good.
Everything that can go wrong, does. With very funny results.
One word of caution, this time out Mr. Hall has eschewed crosswords in favor of cryptograms and letter substitution. Nonetheless, this is a great holiday read and will be enjoyed by all of us who worship at the altar of Will Shortz.
Readers who enjoy wrestling with language may also enjoy Reginald Hill’s last two books, Dialogues of the Dead and Death’s Jest-Book, although they are lengthier and more complex than Mr. Hall’s delightful tales. 12/03 ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.

Without Fail by Lee Child: I couldn’t put down this gripping thriller involving an attempted assassination of the Vice President. I’ve never read Mr. Child before, but I loved his main character, Jack Reacher. I am looking forward to catching up on his backlist.

WITHOUT MERCY by Jack Higgins: Either you enjoy Higgins as a “comfort read” or you don’t. Personally I do, and if his characters aren’t the deepest or his plots the most complex, he still knows how to tell a tale and involve the reader. Sean Dillon–former IRA enforcer now working for British intelligence–seeks revenge on the Russian agents responsible for murdering his colleague Hanna Bernstein. Meanwhile the Russians are trying to salvage their plan to obtain a steady supply of oil from Iraq. It probably isn’t possible, but there is always the underlying thought that maybe there is something to this premise, after all. 01/06 Jack Quick

WITHOUT WARNING by Eugenia Lovett West: Now in her late forties, with her children grown and gone, Emma Streat should be looking forward to starting the next chapter of her life, but she never counted on that next chapter beginning with her husband’s death. Just before their latest trip to London, Emma’s husband begins acting jumpy: nervous and snapping at her for seemingly no good reason. After an abrupt departure back to the States, Emma’s husband is killed in what is initially thought to be a hit-and-run accident. Emma’s discovery of a note regarding one of his coworkers is just the first clue that something is amiss. As Emma digs into her husband’s death, she uncovers a web of intrigue involving spies, dangerous weapons developments, and state secrets that those in power are dying to keep under wraps. This first in Lovett West’s series is a surprisingly different read than one would initially expect. Much darker than a cozy, Without Warning is a mystery edging into the world of political thrillers. An exciting start to what promises to be a smart new series. 11/09 Becky Lejeune

WIVES AND SISTERS by Natalie R. Collins: I’m always intrigued by books about a different culture, and this one is an in depth look at the Mormons told from the perspective of a woman who feels her whole life has been lived under a cloud, and with good reason. The author knows her subject; she was raised in a Mormon home in Utah.
I loved the opening line of this book: “I was six years old the first time I had an inkling God would not always protect me.”
And I couldn’t put it down until I read the last line.
Six year old Allison Jensen and her best friend are playing in a field when they hear a gun shot. The shooter, an older man with a beard, yells at the girls to take off their clothes. Instead, they take off running, hand in hand. But when Allison turns to look behind them to see if they are being chased, she falls and is knocked unconscious. When she awakens, her friend is gone and never is found. But that is just the tip of the iceberg of Allison’s problems. As she grows older she also has to deal with a religion she doesn’t understand and doesn’t quite believe in, an abusive father, the deaths of loved ones and a rape, but most devastating of all is the suspected cover up of these tragedies by her family and her church. It makes for a most heartrending and compelling story that will not be easily forgotten. 02/05

THE WOLF AT THE DOOR by Jack Higgins: Higgins’s 17th Sean Dillon thriller (after A Darker Place), starts with a bang. Presidential advisor Blake Johnson is shot at the dock of his place off Long Island. In London, General Charles Ferguson, who’s just left a late-night meeting of Commonwealth ministers, is walking toward his car when it explodes, killing his driver. In New York City, Major Harry Miller, who’s in the U.S. to attend a U.N. meeting, goes for a stroll in Central Park, where he neatly turns the tables on another hired hit man. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is behind all this as payback for their being such a thorn in his side over the years. Good eventually triumphs as it always does in Higgins outings but not before there is some heart stopping action and even a wee bit of whisky drinking. Another good one. 02/10 Jack Quick

WOLFBREED by S.A. Swann: 1221, Eastern Europe: An outpost of Christian knights from the Crusades is attacked and wiped out by what appears to be a giant wolf. One knight survives, killing the wolf and discovering her lair—and her offspring. For the next eighteen years, the Order of the Hospital of St. Mary will train these creatures to be their own beasts of battle. Their single goal is to kill the enemies of their masters. Lilly was raised to be a powerful weapon, but the knights will soon discover that she is not a mindless creature. It is 1239 when Lilly finally escapes, but her master and his fellow knights will not give her up so easily. In fact, Lilly’s escape may be the catalyst in a conflict that’s been brewing between the nearby landowners and the knights who have ruled them with an iron fist for over a decade. Whether Lilly’s protectors will stand by her once the truth of her identity is revealed is the biggest question, though. I really enjoyed this blend of historical fiction and paranormal. Wolfbreed is a great standout amongst the werewolf titles of late. The sequel, Wolf’s Cross, is due out this month. 07/10 Becky Lejeune
THE WOLFMAN by Nicholas Pekearo: Marlowe Higgins is a bit of a loaner. He moves from town to town, never settling down in one place. You see, Marlowe Higgins is a werewolf. For years the Wolf existed, uncontrolled and killing at random. Until Marlowe trained the Wolf to only kill those he deemed bad enough to die. A serial killer, The Rose Killer, has begun to kill young women in the small town where Higgins is currently residing. He works closely with Daniel Pearce, a local police detective, to obtain details regarding the crimes and focuses his attention on alleviating the small town of this horrible killer. Pekearo did a wonderful job with this amazing thriller/horror novel. The descriptions of the Wolf’s actions were downright gory and added to the intensity of this book. This is definitely a book that would attract readers from several different genres, ranging from paranormal thrillers to true crime. The Wolfman was Pekearo’s first and only published work. Pekearo was a volunteer for the NYPD Auxiliary Police Officer and was killed in the line of duty in 2007. 06/08 Jennifer Lawrence

WOLVES EAT DOGS by Martin Cruz Smith: Senior Investigator Arkady Renko is investigating the death of Pasha Ivanov, the wealthy president of Moscow’s NoviRus Corporation, who plunged 10 stories to the pavement from his designer apartment. Renko’s boss, Prosecutor Zurin declares the death a suicide but Renko, being Renko, isn’t so sure and wonders about details like the 50 kilos of salt in Ivanov’s closet and the fact that he was clutching a salt shaker at the moment of his death. Renko’s persistence causes him to be sent to Chernobyl and the Zone of Exclusion. Can he solve the case before the radiation permanently affects him? Dark and brooding, but very well written. 11/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

THE WOMAN IN BLACK by Susan Hill: As a young man, Arthur Kipps experienced unspeakable horror. For decades, he’s attempted to put the events at Eel Marsh House behind him, but now it’s time to once again dredge up the past and face the truth. One of Kipps’s first assignments as a solicitor was to help with the handling of Alice Drablow’s estate. Alice, a widow who had recently passed away, had no one else to close out her affairs. Arthur was sent to Eel Marsh House, a dreary estate in the midst of a marsh and accessible only during low tides, as a representative of the firm where he’d recently been hired on. The locals were of no help and Kipps knew that there was more to Eel Marsh House and Alice Drablow than anyone would admit. Still, he was determined to do the job right. But Arthur would soon find that there are some forces that cannot be reasoned with. The Woman in Black is a chilling and atmospheric ghost story, recently adapted for the big screen. The book is wonderfully dark and creepy and I can’t wait to see what the movie has in store. 2/12 Becky Lejeune

A WOMAN TO BLAME by Marthanne Shubert: Gin Ritchey is the re-incarnation of Travis McGee. She lives on the Blue Jasmine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and works as a private detective when she feels like it. She is financially secure as the result of the books her husband published before his untimely death. Would be singer Agnes Stierholz, AKA “Bunny” is having it on with Nick Rossano, one of the retired New Jersey snowbirds about three times her age when her fiancé arrives from Flint, Michigan, at Ritchey’s door, or boat slip, as it were. A couple of weeks later when Nick, a diabetic, is found dead in bed, Ritchey begins to wonder if there might be more here than meets the eye. Not bad for a beach read, but nothing challenging. 02/09 Jack Quick

THE WONDER BREAD SUMMER by Jessica Anya Blau: It all begins with a dressing room and some coke. Allie Dodgson is flat broke after loaning her boyfriend all of her savings and her scholarship money. He said it was a guaranteed return – he just needed the funds to buy out a local bar and then he’d pay her back with interest. Then he dumped her. Tuition is due and Allie’s behind on rent but her boss keeps promising her he’ll pay up and then reneging on the deal. Spurred on by the drugs, Allie decides enough is enough. She steals a Wonderbread bag loaded down with cocaine and hits the road. Now with her boss’s henchmen on her tail, Allie’s becoming desperate. Convinced her folks can help, she drives to LA where she runs into an old friend, a paraplegic porn producer, and Billy Idol. This latest from Jessica Anya Blau is a blast. It’s a quirky read set in the 80s and loosely based on Alice In Wonderland – if you’re easily offended you probably won’t like it, but if you’re into oddball humor and overall fabulously fun stories Wonder Bread Summer is not to be missed. 6/13 Becky Lejeune

WONDROUS STRANGE by Lesley Livingston: In Central Park lies the Samhain Gate, a thin connection between the worlds that King Auberon tried to seal and failed. Each year at Halloween, the gate opens and Auberon’s Janus guards — changelings chosen specifically to guard the gate — are set to work. Sonny Flannery, Auberon’s favorite Janus, can sense beings from the realm of the fey, comes in handy tracking down troublemakers as part of his job. One night, though, he senses something else, something he is not familiar with. His search leads him to a teenage girl, by all appearances a normal human. He leaves her to begin his duties, only to discover later that there is something very special about this mortal. He is able to track her, but will he be able to figure out what she is and can he protect her from what is to come, or will he even need to? This is a fairy story, but not a fairy tale. The fey are not cute or sweet, in fact, this tale draws from just about every dark myth there is, and, of course, from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream as well. Wondrous Strange is a great teen read but is fun for adults as well. If you enjoy mythology and stories of the fey, then I’d recommend snagging this one for yourself before passing it along. 03/09 Becky Lejeune

THE WOODS by Harlan Coben: This book came out several months ago and I wasn’t really planning on reading it; I gave up on Coben after the ridiculous ending in No Second Chance. But so many people raved about this new one, I decided to give him another try. Coben writes these twisty, gripping thrillers, taking ordinary people and putting them in extraordinary circumstances, but he inevitably winds up writing himself into a corner with endings that are either too neatly tied up or even worse, don’t make sense. With The Woods, he’s redeemed himself. The premise is the stuff legends are made of – Paul Copeland was working in a summer camp and was supposed to be on night duty, but instead, snuck off into the woods with his girlfriend. But four teenagers were murdered that night, including Paul’s sister. Spring forward twenty years and Copeland is now a county prosecutor with political ambitions. He’s asked to identify a body that he believes to be one of the teenagers that was supposedly killed that night at camp, unraveling twenty years of history and then some. Tons of suspense, lots of twists and intricate plotting overcome the shallow characters to make this a furiously fast, fun read with an ending that made sense. 09/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE WOODS by Harlan Coben: Paul “Cope” Copeland was the counselor on duty the night his sister and three other campers were killed. Years later he still lives with the guilt he associates with that night. It was his responsibility to make sure the kids were safe and he failed. Maybe, if he hadn’t been on duty they would have lived. The bodies of two of the campers, his own sister and a boy named Gil Perez, were never found. Two decades after the murders Cope is once again being questioned by police. A man calling himself Manolo Santiago has been found murdered. In his pocket, he carried a magazine article about Cope. Cope believes the man may actually be Gil Perez. Faced with this, and the possibility that his own sister may have survived, Cope begins to reinvestigate the crime that so devastated his family and changed his life forever. Oh, Harlan Coben, you keep me up so late at night! Though regrettably this is not one of my favorites, The Woods is still a guaranteed edge of your seat thriller that will satisfy Coben fans until next year. 06/07 Becky Lejeune

The Wooden Nickel by William Carpenter, Little Brown: I read this book for two simple reasons. First I have an interest in Maine (grandparents). Second I have an interest in lobsters (live ones, no butter). I got what I wanted and I got Lucky Lunt. I loved the main character Lucky. He was so politically incorrect, so crazy, so fierce, and so wrongly named! I kept thinking “he’ll stop now- he’s gotta” but he never did and I was glad he didn’t. Lucky lives in Orphan Point, Maine and spends his summer, when he ought to be watching his health and looking after his family, turning his life upside down. Carpenter’s writing is terrific and it was fun to be out on the ocean with Lucky or having a Rolling Rock with him. Here is your comp title: if you like Richard Russo (and I do) you will like this book. A great read and an unforgettable character. I’ll leave it to the scholars to explain the meaning of the rogue whale, or you can when you read it.

PS: William Carpenter has written one novel and three books of poetry. He is a professor at College of the Atlantic in Maine. He lists American Psycho and The Satanic Verses as some of his favorite novels – – gotta love that. Check out his bio on the Little Brown website. ~This review contributed by Ann Nappa

WORKING FOR THE DEVIL by Lilith Saintcrow: Dante Valentine is a Necromance – she has the ability to raise the dead. She uses her talent mostly to aid her clients in tying up legal matters and various loose ends. Occasionally, she also offers her services as a bounty hunter. Now she’s been given an assignment that’s a bit different. She’s been hired by the Dark Prince himself to track down and assassinate a rogue demon. Dante is not inclined to accept the assignment until she discovers the identity of said demon. Vardimal Santino almost killed Dante last time they met. He did kill her best friend. Now, Dante is literally hell-bent on getting her revenge. The first in this complex new urban fantasy series is sure to grab readers’ attentions. Dante is a gritty and tenacious heroine with a somewhat mysterious past who lives in a bleak future incarnation of our world. Saintcrow combines elements of mystery and fantasy to bring readers an exceptional page turning read. Although Working for the Devil was originally published last year, it has been reprinted and released simultaneously with the second and third books in the series, which is a good thing because I promise you will be scrambling to pick up the next book. Books four and five will follow in November and January, respectively. 09/07 Becky Lejeune

WORLD WAR Z by Max Brooks: Okay, so as usual I have to start with a disclaimer—EVEN IF YOU HATE ZOMBIES, YOU MIGHT LIKE THIS BOOK ANYWAY. I mean, of course, everyone hates actual zombies, but I like stories about them and I’m sure a lot of people don’t.
Anyway. I finished reading this book on the same day I saw the movie I Am Legend, and I have to say I was a bit twitchy when walking into dark places for the rest of the week, but this is not really a horror novel. It’s actually told as an oral history (many people compare it to Studs Terkel, who I haven’t read, so I can’t speak to that, but if that sounds cool to you, go for it). According to the book, (and the jacket copy and everything is completely written as if this was a TRUE STORY) there was this major zombie war sometime in the near future, and the author has traveled all over the world interviewing people about their experiences during the conflict. It’s absolutely realistic in terms of what might really happen if a huge army of zombies started attacking people all over the world. Really unusual and creative. Jenne Bergstrom 03/08

THE WORST KIND OF LIES by John Patrick Lamont: Billed as the first of the Sum of Life Trilogy, The Worst Kind of Lies is a tell-all about greed, deceit, betrayal and even murder (??) in the modern insurance industry. At 500 pages it contains more minutiae than most would care for about that industry. Moreover the fact that the company being dissected is Titanic Insurance Company of Kansas should tell you most of what you need to know. If you get your kicks watching MSNBC and the stock market ticker, you will love this one. Otherwise, might want to stick to lighter fare. 05/09 Jack Quick

WORST NIGHTMARES by Shane Briant: Best-selling and award-winning author Dermot Nolan has a problem. It seems the well has run dry, at least for now. Nothing is inspiring him and he has already run through his million-dollar advance, with no possible way of paying it back. When he first receives the Dream Healer’s journal, Dermot is annoyed and disgusted. Annoyed that yet again someone has approached him to get their book published, and disgusted with the writing and the story. The “journal” recounts the murders of victims chosen based on their worst nightmares. Each of these people approached the Dream Healer through his website, thinking that he would cure them of the dreams that plague them. Instead, they were brutally murdered and all of it has been recorded for Dermot to read. He and his wife, Neela, never thought that it was real, though. In fact, when the author kills himself, it is Neela who convinces Dermot to take the story and make it his own. But Dermot never told his wife what he found at the so-called murder sites. And then someone dies in a scene straight out of Dermot’s new bestseller. Briant’s debut, a thriller/horror reminiscent of both King’s Secret Window, Secret Garden and Saw, is a twisted read. I would have liked more from the Dream Healer’s perspective, but given that he dies in the beginning… or does he? 05/09 Becky Lejeune

WORTH DYING FOR by Lee Child: Child continues to prove that a series can keep getting better with this 14th entry of the Jack Reacher series. Reacher is still recovering from the ending of 61 Hours; he can barely lift his arms and moves like a man in pain. He ends up in a small town in Nebraska, where he overhears a conversation in a bar where a doctor won’t attend to a woman with a bloody nose that won’t stop bleeding. He intervenes, driving the inebriated doctor to the woman’s house, setting off a course of events that could not have been foreseen.
It’s obvious to Reacher that this woman was beaten by her husband and not for the first time. Reacher, with his unflappable sense of justice, seeks out her husband and breaks his nose. The Duncan family runs this small part of Nebraska, and a punch in the face will most certainly be retaliated. After Reacher takes care of the two ex-football players sent to teach him a lesson, the whole thing just escalates into what it really is: something illegal is underfoot and making the Duncan family rich, and there is a decades old cover-up of a missing child. Reacher decides to hang around and right these wrongs. Lots of action, some interesting characters, and a small town with that sense of desolation that Child does so well makes this a book that I couldn’t put it down. 10/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
WORTH DYING FOR by Lee Child: Physically, Reacher is recovering from the after effects of his adventures in 61 Hours. Mentally, he is in the “Don’t Mess With me, I Am An Angry Bear” mode. In an isolated Nebraska town where he has been dropped off from a hitchhike, he comes across an alcoholic doctor that he takes to Eleanor Duncan, who’s married to the abusive Seth, for a “nosebleed”, the result of Seth’s anger. Turn about is fair play, so Reacher breaks Seth’s nose after disposing of his bodyguard. This prompts members of the Duncan clan, who are involved in an illegal trafficking scheme, to seek revenge, which leads to two more would-be heavyweights lying in the dust. Now firmly committed, Reacher winds up trying to solve a decades-old case concerning a missing eight-year-old girl. With each succeeding book Reacher assumes even greater superhuman capabilities, but he remains entertaining as he goes from crisis to crisis. Continue to recommend this series. 12/10 Jack Quick

THE WOUNDED AND THE SLAIN by David Goodis: Hardcase Crime #31 is a reprint of 1955 classic. Although not as widely known as his contemporaries – Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammet – Goodis was noted producing some first rate fiction, turning out some five million words for pulp magazines, as well as serial novels and scripts for radio adventure shows. This one is the tale of a troubled married couple who fly to Jamaica for a last chance at patching things up. James ends up in a Kingston slum battling for his life, while Cora falls victim to another man. And to top it off, it has an awesome cover. Very much recommended. 05/07 Jack Quick

THE WRECK OF THE TWILIGHT LIMITED by Joe Formichella: I had just assumed the position of Program Director at a Dothan, Alabama television station when the Twilight Limited Amtrak train plunged off a bridge deep in the Alabama bayou near Mobile on September 22, 1993. Forty-seven people were killed in the tragedy; which was ultimately determined to have been caused by a barge striking a railroad bridge on a foggy night, displacing the rails. Our television station was one of the first on the scene providing coverage to the nation. Joe Formichella tells the story of the accident, alternating between the time of the wreck and five years later. I enjoyed the book because of my personal connection to the event, but would not recommend it for everyone. 06/10 Jack Quick

WRECKER’S KEY by Christine Kling: Nestor Frias calls tugboat Captain and owner Seychelle Sullivan for help after he runs a millionaire’s yacht aground in Key West. Nestor insists the GPS navigation system was somehow compromised, but while Seychelle is towing the yacht to Fort Lauderdale, Nestor is killed in a windsurfing accident that his pregnant widow insists was murder. An unexpected reunion with an old childhood friend, Ben Baker, once a nerd, now a hottie, provides some romantic tension while Seychelle tries to get to the truth behind Nestor’s accidents. Go ahead, admit it, the ending surprised you, right? 04/07 Jack Quick

THE WRITING CLASS by Jincy Willett: Amy Gallup has pretty much succeeded in cutting herself off from the world. Her last remaining connection, and only significant human contact, comes from the creative writing class she teaches. It’s an extension course – continued education for adults, some of whom are actually interested in writing; some of those are actually good. Amy is enthusiastic about this group and grows to like them more than most. But then one of her students reveals a strange critique she received after sharing a piece with the class. The following week it happens again with another student. Soon what seems no more than a mean prank escalates to something violent and terrifying. Amy and her class are determined to continue, against the odds, and discover the culprit behind these terrible acts. Willet’s whodunit is packed with witty sarcasm and clever humor. She’s also managed to give a significant voice to each of her characters which makes the reading (and the readings in the reading) that much more interesting and believable. A light mystery full of dark and sarcastic humor. 06/08 Becky Lejeune

THE WRITING ON MY FOREHEAD by Nafisa Haji: In the aftermath of 9/11, Saira Qadar is forced to make some tough decisions. As she faces the recent death of her sister, she recalls the stories that have accompanied her throughout the years. Stories of bravery, pain, and secrecy shared by many of the members of her family, stories that have affected each decision in her life. See, even from a young age, Saira had the ability to get others to tell her their tales and gossip. Through them, she learned about one grandfather’s torrid love affair — an event that literally ripped his family apart — and another grandfather’s attempts to change the world. She also learned about her great-aunt’s decisions to go against the expectations of a woman to marry and raise children. Consequently, it is her story that has most influenced Saira’s decisions to follow her own heart, a choice that has sometimes left her on the outs with her own family and culture. But Saira’s own story also shows a profound love of family and, through its telling, an understanding of her culture and the way each generation has helped to shape it. A touching debut from a very talented author. 03/09 Becky Lejeune

THE WRONG KIND OF BLOOD by Declan Hughes: LA private eye Edward Loy has returned to his boyhood home of Dublin for his mother’s funeral. On the way home from the service a friend asks him to find her missing husband – leading to bodies, danger, and a fearsome organized crime gang. Loy is hampered by the fact that the Dublin he grew up in no longer the Dublin of today. This should please fans of Dennis Lehane and George Pelecanos – as it did me. 03/06 Jack Quick

XOMBIES: APOCALYPSE BLUES by Walter Greatshell: Lulu Pangloss lives a bit of a nomadic life: off the grid and sometimes relying on the kindness of others for basic necessities. As a result, she and her mother miss the news reports about the outbreak and spread of Agent X, a highly infectious contagion that has turned much of the population into zombies, or xombies. It’s discovered that the outbreak began with women, but Lulu seems to have a rare genetic disorder that leaves her immune. Her mother is not so lucky. Lulu barely escapes, hitching a ride with a man who could very well be her father as he races toward a nuclear sub set to carry top-secret information that could be mankind’s last hope. The ship’s crew, a handful of soldiers and boys barely trained for service, are suspicious of Lulu, but she soon proves herself to be an important and resourceful asset to the survivors. As the sub treks north, towards a destination known only to the captain, Lulu and her fellow travelers fight against all odds to avoid infection and live another day. Greatshell’s zombie apocalypse tale was originally published in 2004. Now retitled and reprinted, with a sequel on the way, Xombies: Apocalypse Blues makes for an amusing zombie-filled read with a bit of a twist and a cliffhanger of an ending. 11/09 Becky Lejeune

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What’s Wrong with Dorfman by John Blumenthal: An entertaining read about a whiny hypochondriac. Well written and funny.

THE WHEEL OF DARKNESS by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child: Agent Pendergast is back. Pendergast and Constance Green have sought out the most reclusive monastery in Tibet. Here, Pendergast hopes that Contance will finally come to peace with the death of her manipulative captor, his own brother, Diogenes. Upon learning that Pendergast is an investigator, the monks present him with a problem and a task. Their monastery had been assigned the responsibility of keeping watch on a very dangerous and holy item, an item that has been recently stolen. They have asked Pendergast to retrieve the item before its evil can be set loose on the world. Pendergast follows this item from Tibet to England and traces it to the ocean liner Brittania, a massive ship about to make its maiden voyage to New York. He secures passage for himself and Constance and, true to form, maneuvers his way into the reluctant graces of the ship’s staff. Shortly after the ship sets sail, passengers come up missing. Then, passengers begin to show up dead and Pendergast must find the item in question in order to stop the madness that has only just begun. Although the authors are adamant (and right) that each of the titles featuring Pendergast can be read as stand-alones, I personally recommend reading them in order. Pendergast, a strange FBI agent who first appears in The Relic grows more and more captivating with each new book. This title especially draws some of those characteristics that fans know and love about the character into question making it a wholly absorbing and thrilling read. 01/08 Becky Lejeune

THE WHEELMAN by Duane Swierczynski: On the back flap of the jacket it says: “A receipt for This Here’s a Stickup, Duane’s nonfiction book on American bank robbery, was found in the getaway car of a San Francisco bandit who’d hit at least thirty California banks.” The leap to fiction wasn’t that bold – this is the story of the very quiet Lennon, the getaway driver for a big bank robbery gone awry in Philadelphia. It’s always interesting when the hero is the bad guy, and this book is no exception to that. Throw in a loosely knit community of bank robbers, the Russian mob, the Italian mob, and crooked cops who are all chasing the money and you start to get the picture of this fast paced, violent yet funny book. Swierczynski may well be the future of crime fiction writing. 11/05 Stacy Alesi

WHEN THE DARK MAN CALLS by Stuart Kaminsky: Ten-year old Jean Kaiser discovered her parents murdered in their bed in North Carolina. Now, twenty-five years later, Jean, a Chicago radio talk-show host with a daughter of her own, is being stalked by a man she knows only by a slow, sinister voice on the telephone. Soon she discovers that the man who killed her parents 25 years ago has been released and is now in Chicago. Reminiscent of Play Misty for Me and just as intriguing. 12/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

WHEN A MAN LOVES A WEAPON by Toni McGee Causey: Bobbie Faye is back and in the biggest trouble ever. After she and Trevor Cormier survive their run-in with Sean MacGregor, Bobbie Faye is in need of some domestic bliss. Though Trevor has proposed (and she’s accepted, of course), the two only have a short time playing house before Trevor is sent out on a new op. He’s supposed to be back in two, three days tops, but it’s been seven and Bobbie Faye’s more than a little antsy. Convinced that MacGregor couldn’t possibly be a threat—and so not caring at this point if he is—Bobbie Faye sets out to find (and save) her fiancée. Unfortunately, the only person she can really trust to help her just happens to be her ex, Cam Moreau. His skills as a detective make him perfect for the job, but Cam’s determined to win Bobbie Faye back and won’t let a little diamond ring stand in the way. And although MacGregor, the Irish mobster, has been MIA, he’s been waiting for his chance and is not going down without a fight. Add in a bomb expert with a major grudge, and our favorite Contraband Queen doesn’t stand a chance. This outing is much darker than the previous titles in the series, and though the humor is still there, When a Man Loves a Weapon pushes the series into more of a romantic suspense category than before. I think it shows that Causey is just going to continue to get better and better. A must-read. 08/09 Becky Lejeune

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka: This tiny book packs a big emotional wallop. This is a story about a Japanese-American family living in Berkeley, California during World War II. The father is arrested and sent to a New Mexico prison. A few weeks later, the mother and children are sent to an internment camp in Utah, and they, like the reader, never knows why any of this happens. We are never told the family member’s names, and the story is told very matter-of-factly and without too many grisly details, which just made it all the more powerful for me. Their day-to-day existence is bleak while in the camp, but the harsh realities of freedom don’t come any easier after they are released. The lyrically written final chapter sadly illustrates that this family’s story is really the story of every Japanese-American family that was living in America during the early 1940s. When the Emperor Was Divine is a beautiful homage to an ugly and shameful piece of American history. Don’t miss it.

WHEN THE LAST MAGNOLIA WEEPS by Mary Saums: Willi Taft has multiple challenges this Christmas – a series of warehouse thefts, a murdered priest, and a defaced statue of a civil war general. Who says being a PI is boring? Decisions, decisions, decisions. Okay, lets set the warehouse theft case aside for the next book, focus on the murdered priest since a friend is a suspect there, and in the meantime be on the lookout for anyone dastardly enough to paint a Santa Claus suit on the general, and put wooden reindeer antlers and a shiny red nose on his horse. The plot thickens. The priest isn’t who he said he was, and neither are some of the others. All the mysteries eventually are solved, except the warehouse thefts, and Willi’s life is forever changed. Lets just hope this is not the last we see of her. Recommended. 06/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS? by Kate Atkinson: Jackson Brodie was trying to return to London after a secret trip north to meet the boy he believes is his son. He hops a train, but soon finds that he’s headed in the wrong direction, then the absolute worst happens. The train is derailed and Brodie almost dies. Sixteen-year-old Regina (Reggie) Chase just happens to be in the area when the accident occurs. With her quick thinking and first-aid training, she manages to revive Brodie long enough for the paramedics to arrive. Meanwhile, Reggie’s employer, Dr. Joanna Hunter has learned that the man who murdered her family thirty years ago has just been released from prison. Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe is the sad bearer of that news and suggests that Joanna leave town until the expected media frenzy runs down. Louise’s involvement though, is a result of Joanna’s husband and the investigation into his business practices. All four of their stories collide in a most unexpected way. This carefully constructed mystery is a complete surprise for readers. Each character and their respective tales are like pieces of a puzzle, by the end of the book they fit together perfectly. This is my first Kate Atkinson, but it is the third to feature Brodie. It can, as far as I can tell, be read as a complete stand-alone quite easily. 09/08 Becky Lejeune

WHERE THE DEAD LAY by David Levien: PI Frank Behr returns in this follow-up to Levien’s debut, City of the Sun. When Frank discovers his Jiu-jitsu mentor dead, murdered in his own studio, he becomes blinded to everything but the case. Meanwhile, a high-end agency has hired Behr to look into the disappearance of two of its agents. Behr discovers that the two cases share a common link and becomes determined to solve it, no matter the cost. The investigation leads him to a ring of illegal suburban gambling houses and one twisted family hiding a secret. Levien’s sophomore release is a good mystery and a worthwhile read. Where the Dead Lay doesn’t quite pack the punch that City did, but in some ways it is a heavier read. Levien adds more layers to his hero and will leave readers wondering what comes next. 07/09 Becky Lejeune

WHICH BRINGS ME TO YOU by Julianna Baggott & Steve Almond: The debate rages on: can you call a book “chick lit” when the author is a guy? How about if only one of the authors is a guy? This is an epistolary novel about Jane and John, who meet at a wedding. Just as they are about to get intimate, he decides he likes her too much to go through with it, and they decide to try and get to know each other first – through letters. Not even email, but through regular snail mail letters. They return to their respective homes in NY and Philadelphia and commence writing. They tell each other everything, and still they continue. Lots of sexy letters, some amateur psychoanalysis and frankly, it’s rather like being a voyeur, peering over someone’s shoulder and reading their mail. Lots of fun. 06/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHILE DROWNING IN THE DESERT by Don Winslow: Another “Don Winslow Lite” outing for Neal Carey. Cary is a reluctant operative for the Friends of the Family, a private investigation firm owned by “The Bank” in Providence, R.I. for the benefit of their wealthier clients. This time Neal is sent to Las Vegas to pick up one 86 year old Nathan Silverstein and return him to his California home. Turns out Silverstein is actually the aging, legendary vaudeville comedian Natty Silver. Neal thinks the most dangerous part of the assignment is being forced to listen to Silver’s shtick nonstop. (Says Silver, I was the one who taught Costello the Who’s on First? Routine). Turns out there are some bad guys after Silver – Heinz, a German money-launderer, and his Lebanese sidekick, Sami, who’s dumber than wood. Meanwhile, Neal’s girl, Karen, is in a raging hurry for marriage and motherhood; and Hope White (billed as “The Great Hope White”), a Vegas performer no longer as young as she once was, is rekindling an old torch for Natty. Neal isn’t a tough guy, but he’s pretty lucky. Lucky enough to find water in the sand and ferry the irascible Natty to safety. 08/10 Jack Quick

WHILE GALILEO PREYS by Joshua Corin: The bodies pile up faster than you can count in this serial killer thriller with political and religious overtones. Former FBI profiler Esme Stuart is caught in the middle after closing the door on her promising FBI career with her marriage to Rafe Stuart and move to Long Island to start a family. Her mentor and ex-boss Tom Piper needs her back to find the link to this madman. Doing so endangers her marriage, her life, and the lives of her husband and daughter Sophie. Corin overplays the career versus family conflict but all in all an acceptable thriller with a deliciously twisty ending. 08/11 Jack Quick

WHILE I DISAPPEAR by Ed Wright: In his second outing, John Ray Horn, a disgraced former movie cowboy and ex-con walks the mean streets of post-WWII Los Angeles in search of the brutal killer who snuffed out the life of Rose Galen, a faded leading lady who co-starred in one of Horn’s films. A shameful secret from the victim’s past forces Horn to challenge the official theory of the crime-that the killing was a random act. Aided by his current boss (and former faithful movie sidekick) Joseph Mad Crow, Horn pounds the pavement and reaches out to old friends to identify the source of Galen’s guilty conscience. 04/06 Jack Quick

WHIPLASH RIVER by Lou Berney: Shake Bouchon has left behind his life of crime and is the proud owner of his very own restaurant. Located in tropical Belize, Shake is confident that he can make it work – and he has to considering he owes a ton of cash to the local drug boss, Baby Jesus, in return for the loan it took to buy the restaurant in the first place. So when someone comes in shooting up the place, Shake knows it’s going to be bad for business. Unfortunately, after playing hero in the event, he finds himself the target of an assassin. When the restaurant goes up in flames, literally, Shake knows he’s got to get out of town quick. Thankfully he has made one friend in the ordeal: Quinn, the man whose life he saved in the shootout. It’s Quinn who turns Shake onto a heist that could bring in some big bucks. Unable to resist, Shake calls on his ex to lend a hand and soon finds himself and his entourage in Egypt planning said job. But can Shake shake those who are after him and get the girl and the cash? This is the second in Berney’s new series but it reads just fine on its own. His style is quick and the dialogue in particular is snappy and funny. Whiplash River is a fun caper mystery that begs to be read in one sitting. 8/12 Becky Lejeune

WHISPERS UNDER GROUND by Ben Aaronovitch: The murder of a US Senator’s son in London stinks of something supernatural, so of course Peter Grant has been called in to investigate. As a representative of the Folly, Peter’s job involves anything with a suspected magical slant. With the newly apprenticed Lesley by his side, Peter follows the leads straight to London’s underground and beyond. But according to his governor, there’s nothing strange in London’s multitude of below ground tunnels. Even the River sisters whose waterways crisscross the very same tunnels have reported nothing untoward in their territory. Undeterred, Peter soon finds evidence of something very strange indeed, something that places this case firmly in Folly purview. Aaronovitch continues to gain traction as the series continues, adding to an already fabulous premise and also expanding on the overall arc of the story with the mystery of the faceless man and the continued investigation into Folly enemies. 8/12 Becky Lejeune
WHIRLWIND by Joseph Garber: Charlie McKenzie is the best – even though he is now disgraced, dismissed and discarded, he is still the best. So when a secret weapon called Whirlwind is stolen by a gorgeous Russian spy Irina, the establishment has no choice but to bring him back. Charlie and Irina are the main characters but there is no absence of villains including a corrupt national security adviser and an evil South African mercenary who are also pursuing Irina. It’s pure escapism, but very nicely done and suspenseful to the very end. Of course there are plot holes if you look closely enough, and enough coincidences to also strain credibility, but hey, when a guy moons the national Security Advisor and threatens to do the same with the President, why can you not go along. Highly recommended. 10/08 Jack Quick

WHISKEY AND WATER by Nina Wright: Not a bad cozy once you get past the cutesy names. The protag is Realtor Whiskey Mattimoe who has a new shitzapoo pup named Velcro and an Afghan hound named Abra (cadabra?). Then, there’s MacArthur the hunky Scotsman, self help author Fenton Flagg, and one Jeb Halloran, who promotes a hormonal reaction from Whiskey, along with other assorted characters. The town of Magnet Springs, Michigan is already uneasy, what with the sightings of former mayor Gil Gruen who drowned last winter (in a previous Whiskey Mattimoe outing) when Abra happens on a crime scene on the shores of Lake Michigan. The victim is Twyla Rendel, newly hired cashier at the Food Duck grocery and tenant in one of Mattimore’s properties. Was Twyla the victim of a rip tide or some other cause? As with most series cozies, all is well at the end in preparation for round five. 06/08 Jack Quick

Whiskey Sour: A Jack Daniels Mystery by J.A. Konrath: I wanted something to escape into, that would make me laugh but even more importantly, keep me turning the pages, and this sure fit the bill. This new series features a Chicago police lieutenant named Jacqueline Daniels, Jack for short – she’s single, middle-aged, and definitely has some history. The story revolves around a serial killer called The Gingerbread Man, who is not only is on a killing spree, he is torturing his victims before killing them, a definite gruesome and gore alert. The secondary characters are well drawn and real, the setting somehow makes Chicago seem intimate, and the story flows. Konrath did a great job, it is so well written that it is hard to believe this is a first novel. Check out the author’s website, http://www.jakonrath.com/ for an excerpt.

WHISKEY SOUR by J. A. Konrath: Chicago Police Department Lieutenant Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels has a particularly gruesome series of homicides on her plate. The “Gingerbread Man” is torturing and killing attractive young women, and then leaving their bodies in very public places. Somewhat uneven and certainly not breaking any new ground, hopefully Konrath, like good Tennessee whiskey, will improve with age. 05/06 Jack Quick

A WHISPER TO THE LIVING by Stuart Kaminsky: Unfortunately Stuart Kamisnky died in the fall of 2009, so A Whisper to the Living is probably our last look at Inspector Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov, an honest policeman in a very dishonest post-Soviet Union. Rostnikov and his team are searching for a serial killer who has claimed at least 40 victims. Also on their plate is the job of protecting a visiting British journalist who is working on a story about a Moscow prostitution ring. In the middle of all this Rostnikov and his team uncover a chain of murders that lead to a source too high to be held accountable if the police want to keep their jobs or their lives. A typically good Kaminsky read with an eerie title, under the circumstances. If this is the end of the series, it is a fitting one. 01/10 Jack Quick

THE WHISPERER by Donato Carrisi: Mila Vasquez’s specialty is finding the missing. And so, when a mass burial site containing six human arms is discovered, Mila is called in to help. Each of the arms belongs to one of five missing girls. No one knows who the sixth might be. Criminalist Goran Gavila and his team are assigned the case, but Mila is expected to be the key to solving it. Together they will work to unravel a crime that is so heinous and twisted, it will turn all their worlds around. The idea of a killer who never lifts a finger in the act of the crime is disturbing and Carrisi’s twists make it even more so. The Whisperer is dark – really, really dark. It’s definitely one that stays with you long after you put it down. Originally published in 2009, The Whisperer has made its way around Europe before landing on shelves in the States. Hopefully we’ll all be seeing more from this author very soon. 2/12 Becky Lejeune

WHITE by Christopher Whitcomb: This is a follow-up to Whitcomb’s first novel, Black. Hopefully he has good color sense because this is another first rate techno-thriller. Three simultaneous bombings rock the United States. As the President goes on the air to calm the nation, three foreign airline jumbo jets crash at different American airports. In Indonesia, a CIA black operation against a terrorist cell is successful, but three of the six terrorists are good old- fashioned American boys. Post 9/11 elevates to a higher gear with evidence that active support for the Islamic Jihad is coming from within the United States. Special Agent Jeremy Waller from Black has his work cut out for him in this one, as the trail leads all the way to the White House. 09/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

The White by Deborah Larsen, Knopf: Larsen is a poet and short story writer. This is her first novel. Mary Jemison’s capture in 1758 by a Shawnee raiding party is a story that is well known, but under Larsen’s skilled hand it is fresh, intriguing, full of life and beautiful details. I loved the authenticity that Larsen brought to living on the land. The destruction of Mary’s family and her adoption into the world of the Seneca will challenge you . . . and would make a great book to discuss with a group.

PS: Larsen herself is an interesting story: she was a nun who left the convent in the 1960’s and her next book will be a non-fiction memoir which I can’t wait to read! ~This review contributed by Ann Nappa

THE WHITE DEVIL by Justin Evans: Andrew Taylor screwed up. His college acceptances have been revoked and now he’s given one last chance to clean up his act and get back on track when his father sends him overseas to Harrow School. The four-hundred-year-old British private school has played host to foreign statesmen, eight former Prime Ministers, even royalty… and Lord Byron. It is this famed alumni who is the subject of a play in progress at Harrow and Andrew, who everyone says looks remarkably similar to the poet, is picked to play the lead. But when Andrew witnesses the murder of a friend and classmate, everything at Harrow starts to go wrong. The coroner says the dead student was very sick, but Andrew knows what he saw. And when the murderer appears to him again, Andrew decides he must find out the truth—the truth about the famous Lot ghost and the truth about his friend’s death. This is just Evans’s second novel, but as with A Good and Happy Child, he’s managed to create another completely enthralling tale this time in a modern gothic style with a supernatural twist and famous literary characters. 05/11 Becky Lejeune

WHITE HORSE by Alex Adams: They called the virus White Horse, in honor of the apocalypse it brought with it. Most of the population died of the infection, a small portion appeared to be immune, and the rest became horribly mutated creatures, barely resembling the humans they once were. Before it all came crashing down, Zoe Marshall was just a cleaner at Pope Pharmaceuticals. Recently widowed, Zoe’s main concern was what to do next. Then the jar appeared. An innocent enough container slipped into her apartment while she wasn’t there. The appearance coincides with some of the first deaths, but Zoe is too afraid to see what’s inside. Now, not only does she seem to be immune, but she’s also carrying a child. In the wake of the outbreak, Zoe travels to Europe, following the small shred of a clue that may lead her to the father of her unborn baby. White Horse is an amazing debut. The tale transitions back and forth between the beginning of the outbreak—what led up to Zoe’s current quest—and Zoe’s present. Alex Adams’s writing is poetic even at the most horrific moments of the story. 4/12 Becky Lejeune

THE WHITE LEAGUE by Thomas Zigal: Paul Blanchard and Mark Morvant are college roommates at Tulane University in New Orleans, when both are involved in a tragedy which they cover up. Now in the 1990’s, Blanchard is the respected CEO of the Blanchard family coffee business and a progressive Southerner. Morvant is a white supremacist candidate for governor who threatens to tell all, unless Blanchard not only supports his effort, but enlists the wealthy businessmen from the White League, a secret society that wields great behind the scenes power in New Orleans to back him as well. I’d call this modern Southern gothic if I had to categorize it with overtones of Greg Isles and just a hint of James Lee Burke. With lines like, “New Orleans – The Catholics built it, the Jews own it and the niggers enjoy it,” it’s not pretty but I found it an interesting read which perhaps would have been even better as a prequel to Burke’s The Tinroof Blowdown. 08/07 Jack Quick

THE WHITE MARY by Kira Salak: Marika Vecera is a young war reporter driven by the danger experienced during her assignments. During a trip to the Congo, she is held captive by rebel soldiers and barely escapes with her life. She returns to the States, battered and beaten, mentally worn. Upon her return, she discovers that her idol/mentor Robert Lewis, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, has committed suicide. She devotes her life for the next several months to writing his biography. During her research, she discovers evidence that indicates Lewis is still alive, living in a remote village in Papua New Guinea. Drawn to the possibility that Lewis is still alive, Marika embarks on a journey not knowing what she will find. Her guide is Tobo, a medicine man, provides her with guidance along the way. During this journey, Marika learns a lot about humankind, and more importantly, herself. The White Mary is an incredibly powerful and empowering tale about one woman’s dedication to her career. While the scenes detailing the atrocities that are occurring clear across the world are difficult to read at times, the end result gives you an appreciation for all that we have as inhabitants of the “civilized” world. 08/08 Jennifer Lawrence

THE WHITE MARY by Kira Salak: Journalist Marika Vecera has made her career traveling to some of the world’s most dangerous war-torn countries in search of her next story. When she learns that her idol, famed journalist Richard Lewis, has died as the result of a suicide, she decides to write his life story in hopes of learning what could possibly have caused him to take his own life. Just a few months into her project, however, Marika receives information that leads her to believe that Lewis may in fact still be alive. A missionary stationed in Papua New Guinea had attempted to contact Lewis’s sister claiming that he had seen Lewis in the jungles of New Guinea. Lewis’s sister had written the man off as a flake, but Marika is not so sure. Marike decides to travel to Papua New Guinea herself in an attempt to learn the truth. Her journey is harrowing and at times utterly gruesome. It’s scary and humbling to think that much of Marika’s adventures both in Papua New Guinea and in her job as a journalist are actually based on Kira Salak’s own experiences. Salak alternates chapters between Marika’s current journey and her experiences that led her there, allowing the reader insight into her emotional motivations as well as her physical travels. An amazing read that will absorb and consume readers. 08/08 Becky Lejeune

WHITE NOISE by Don DeLillo: When I first read White Noise twenty-five years ago, I felt that it was an important book and Don DeLillo was an author I should follow. The novel seemed to me to be an amazingly clever and effective satire of our society in the United States in general and of the academic community in particular. I have read most of what Mr. DeLillo has written since that time and not felt myself as moved by these subsequent books. So I was particularly anxious to read White Noise again upon its 25th anniversary re-publication. I am pleased to report that not only has it withstood the test of time, but its messages may be even more relevant to our current society.

The main character in the novel, Jack Gladney, is a college professor in an archetypical small town. He is the creator and head of the Department of Hitler Studies within the college’s cultural studies division. He is envied by his peers for having created an entirely new discipline (despite his secretly never having learned to speak German). The interactions of Jack and his colleagues underline the potential for vacuity in such studies – a seminar in car crash movies, for example. And although these academics speak with heavy portent, the content of their discussion is almost always without significance. Surely, that has relevance to our present society in which the communications industry wants “content” rather than ideas and financial institutions are selling “product” rather than investments.
One theme of the book is the ever-present noise in our society. The “white noise” discussed by DeLillo’s book involves television and radio and commercial messages. Surely, the noise level is even higher (and less meaningful) today with the internet, social networking, iPods, texting and twittering. In this day and age, White Noise seems not just relevant but prescient.
A second major theme is the fear of death. Jack is exposed to probably lethal chemicals during an “airborne toxic event.” This airborne toxic event is at the core of the story – Jack and his family first hear about it simply as a part of the noise, then they can see it drawing closer, then they are ordered to evacuate. Subsequently, Jack is told by his doctor that, at some point, the substance he has ingested will kill him.
Jack’s wife, Babette, has an obsessive fear of death of her own. This leads her to submit to a sad and sleazy affair with the manufacturer of an illegal drug designed to control the fear of death. The juxtaposition of “white noise” and the fear of death poses the question of whether we generate this white noise simply to avoid that fear.
I don’t know if I would call White Noise a classic, but it is a good work-out for your brain and surely a book that you should read. 03/10 Geoffrey R. Hamlin
WHITE MEAT by Peter Corris: “She’s a blonde, thin, a bitch and a bloodsucker. She acts freaked out, you know? But she’s really ice-cool. Know what we call her down here?” Hardy shook his head. “White Meat.” Noni is the missing, beautiful, spoiled daughter of Hardy’s bookie, Ted Tarleton. Tarleton wants her found and is willing to pay for his wishes. Hardy is in that business and can stand a few knocks if it keeps him in tobacco and booze, even if it means taking on a killer of a case. Another strong outing for Australia’s foremost private enquiry agent. 12/07 Jack Quick

The White Road by Robert DeMaria: Set in the 1950’s, this finely written novel of friendship and love is both moving and thought provoking. The depth and personality of the characters were extremely satisfying, as were the historical references to the time period. A truly lovely book. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WHITE SHADOW by Ace Atkins: I have tried the Nick Travers series twice and couldn’t get into them. I thought this one would be different. It’s about the unsolved murder of real-life Tampa crime boss Charlie Wall in 1955. The plot turns on the quest to find the killer, taking detective Ed Dodge and a local reporter on a journey from Tampa’s Latin Quarter to pre-revolutionary Havana. I don’t know whether it’s my prior experience, excessive detail, too many characters or just my own Tampa experiences conflicting with Atkins’ remembrances, but I just couldn’t ever get into this one either, so laid it down near the half way point. 07/07 Jack Quick

WHITE SHOTGUN by April Smith: In the language of the mafias, a murder where the body is never found is called lupara bianco, or white shotgun. It is such a murder combined with the surfacing of a previously unknown half-sister that sends Ana Grey down the rabbit hole of an FBI undercover operation into one of the ‘mafias.’ Nicoli Nicosa, a new breed mafia associate who operates as a coffee magnate, is a primary person of interest for the FBI. When it becomes known that Nicosa’s wife, Cecilia, is a half-sister Ana never knew existed, and has reached out to Ana for an unknown reason, the FBI brass force Grey into a deep-cover op to gather intelligence. When Cecilia is kidnapped, Ana finds that a red sense of family inspires her to step outside the FBI and risk her career by working “off the books” with her sister’s mobster husband to bring Cecilia home. Enlisting the help of her ex-Delta-Force boyfriend, Sterling McCord, and a tactical force of recruited mercenaries, Ana hangs her life and career over the edge to recover her sister, dead or alive. Nicely done. 07/11 Jack Quick

White Teeth by Zadie Smith: Amazing first novel but didn’t live up to it’s hype, at least not for me. But then again, what book does? (Harry Potter excluded!) This book has been short listed for what seems like every award, without a win yet.

THE WHITE TIGER by Aravind Adiga: If not a “must read”, Aravind Adiga’s debut novel, The White Tiger, certainly qualifies as a “should read.” It was the recipient of this year’s Man Booker prize in the face of very stiff competition. (Salman Rushdie was not even short-listed). Adiga, who describes himself as influenced by Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, tells the story of Balgram, a precocious but extremely poor Indian child, who through use of his wits and a disturbing crime of opportunity, converts himself into a successful entrepreneur in the New India. The story is told in epistolary fashion in a series of letters to the premier of China in order to facilitate the premier’s understanding of India before he comes to visit. While it is told in humorous fashion, the magnitude of Indian poverty, corruption, and class restrictions are starkly outlined and a reminder to us all that even during times of economic miracles, many are left behind. And after his success, Balgram remains as invisible to the authorities as he was as a poor child in the keeping of a corrupt school master. 12/08 Geoffrey R. Hamlin

WHITE TIGER by Michael Allen Dymmoch: In 1992, Michael Allen Dymmoch won St. Martin’s contest for “best traditional mystery” for THE MAN WHO UNDERSTOOD CATS, which was anything but a “traditional” mystery. From the start, I’ve been a fan of this author and her series featuring John Thinnes and Jack Caleb.
Why isn’t it traditional? For one thing, a major focus of the book is the very real and hard-won friendship between the two men. Caleb, a psychiatrist is gay and Thinnes, a pretty traditional sort of guy, is a Chicago police detective. The stories often delve into real life issues, real life people and they have always made me think.
The newest book in the series is WHITE TIGER which was just nominated for a “Lammy Award” in the category of “Gay Men’s Mystery” from the Lambda Literary Foundation. The issue is Vietnam, which for many Americans still has enormous influence and consequence. Hue An Lee is found dead; twenty-five years ago, she mattered to Thinnes back in Saigon, where he served as an MP. His connections to her and her son Tien Lee, mean that he’s too close to investigate the murder. Caleb served as a medic, and the alternating stories of then and now from the perspectives of the two men, are at times fascinating, at times sorrowful. If you have no interest or understanding of this period of American history, WHITE TIGER might not appeal. But it’s not a diatribe, it’s not for or against the war or the Vietnamese people, it’s just a story of a time in people’s lives that had a huge impact, and how they all, separately and together, dealt with it and the ways in which the conflict still affects people.
Dymmoch always knows what she’s doing when she writes. The series isn’t flashy, but the books never fail to impress me and WHITE TIGER is no exception. 03/06 Andi Shechter

WHITEOUT by Ken Follett: When you are Ken Follett, even an “off work” is still pretty darn good. The setting is Scotland and the action revolves around Christmas at a pharmaceuticals company that makes antiviral drugs. Two doses of an experimental drug are missing, a technician and a lab rabbit are dead, the owner’s estranged son is planning to break into the lab because of his gambling debts, the female head of security is falling for the widowed owner whose daughter’s are on the edge of a husband swapping episode. In the middle of this soap opera a pretty good actual mystery breaks out and is eventually resolved. Unfortunately the characters are not as fully developed as they could be and the plot is quite predictable. Not his best effort, but still readable. 10/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

WHITEWASH by Alex Kava: Sabrina Galloway’s once close-knit family has crumbled in the wake of her mother’s death. Her father has had himself committed to an institution and her brother has seemingly disappeared, so Sabrina has dropped everything to move to Florida and be closer to her father. A position in the lab at EchoEnergy and participation in what could be the greatest scientific achievement of the century is something Sabrina is excited to be a part of. EchoEnergy has come up with a way to accelerate oil production through special processing of meat by-products. This new technology promises to free the United States from its dependency on other countries for oil. Sabrina is surprised and worried, however, when she discovers that EchoEnergy’s innovative processing plan may not be working quite as expected. Her boss, the man who developed the technology, has gone missing and no one else seems to be concerned with her discovery. Then, Sabrina witnesses the murder of a co-worker and news reports are calling her the killer. It looks as if someone has taken her suspicions seriously after all and means to shut her up permanently. Kava is well known for her profiling series featuring FBI agent Maggie O’Dell. Whitewash, an eco/political thriller, is her first stand-alone. The plot is interesting and the political aspect is not so heavy that the average reader will feel bogged down. Fans will love it and it’s the perfect opportunity for new readers to give Kava a try. 06/07 Becky Lejeune

WHO IS SHAYLA HACKER? by Evan Kilgore: Five different people – a lonely systems analyst in a large city, a 17 year small-town girl abandoned by an older brother, a groom who is a self mutilator who abandons his wife on their wedding day, a retiring police detective, and a female blue collar contractor working to renovate an airport terminal. All are connected by a single question – Who is Shayla Hacker? Thus begins a strange journey in a book I personally found fascinating. Driven by an obsession the five strangers don’t fully understand they cross the country and the world, passing through each other’s lives, in search of a girl and an answer. In spite of being warned off by authorities they continue until the answer is finally revealed, or is it? An unusual and very enjoyable outing. 07/07 Jack Quick

THE WHOLE TRUTH by David Baldacci: Viral marketing is a marketing technique that uses pre-existing social networks to achieve marketing objectives through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. When the huge advertising and lobbying budget of mega-defense contractor, Ares Corporation, seem to be losing its effectiveness, Nicholas Creel, the billionaire founder of the company, decides to use viral marketing to generate new demand. As he says, “I’m not interested in wars that stop at a hundred days or devolve into gloried gangland street fights. That doesn’t even pay the light bill.” Starting by planting fake news stories on the Internet about Russian atrocities, the propaganda campaign soon turns violent with the massacre of the members of a London think tank, the Phoenix Group, apparently by a Russian hit team. It’s all high tech and high suspense, with only a shadowy operative named A. Shaw and a disgraced female journalist to thwart Creel’s evil plot. Better leave the lights on for this one which is reminiscent of some of the early Robert Ludlum thrillers. 05/09 Jack Quick

WICKED APPETITE by Janet Evanovich: For the past few years, Evanovich has been serving up a smaller, lighter version of her Stephanie Plum books called “Between the Numbers” novels, all based around holiday themes, i.e. Plum Spooky, Visions of Sugar Plums, and so forth. The major differences between the regular Plum books and these were size (these were 200 page books) and a supernatural character named Diesel. This new book is based on that character.
Diesel is an “unmentionable” giving him certain powers like the ability to open any locked door by merely touching it. He’s also a very hot blonde, with a dark, sexy cousin, Gerwulf Grimoire, who is his evil counterpart. In this novel he shows up in Salem, Massachusetts, at the home of Elizabeth Tucker, cupcake baker extraordinaire. Turns out she’s an unmentionable too, only she didn’t know it. Diesel is on the search for stones that represent the “7 Deadly Sins” so that he can keep them safe from his cousin. The first, gluttony, is supposed to be in Salem. Lots of Plum-inspired hijinks ensue as they hunt down the stone.
I enjoyed this book as it showcased Evanovich humor without the usual cast of characters. I liked the new characters; Tucker, a young, single woman who has inherited an old ramshackle house from a dead relative; Clara, her boss at the bakery; Glo, a co-worker who keeps trying out spells from a book she bought, instead creating havoc; and the setting. Salem, home to the infamous witch trials and now a tourist trap replete with magic shops on every corner, seems like yet another character in this light, funny book. Whether or not you’ve grown tired of the Plum books, but still enjoy Evanovich humor, then this book is for you. 09/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WICKED AUTUMN by G. M. Malliet: When one of my favorite authors, in this case, Mary Kay Andrews, personally recommends a book, I tend to take it seriously and get that book quickly. Wicked Autumn is the first book of a new English mystery series featuring Max Tudor, a former MI5 agent turned vicar of St. Edwold’s in the charming little village of Nether Monkslip. Tudor is an intriguing character as are the rest of the inhabitants of this sleepy little town. When Wanda, the unpopular leader of the Women’s Institute, is found dead in the village hall during the Harvest Fayre, the annual charity she arranged, no one really seems to mourn her but her husband, leaving a list of suspects that looked suspiciously like the census list. This is a traditional cozy English mystery with a touch of humor found in these characters and a well constructed plot that for me gets bogged down a bit by all the description. Nonetheless, it is a charming story. 3/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WICKED BUSINESS by Janet Evanovich: This is the continuing saga of Lizzy and Diesel, those other-worldly characters in search of the missing stones representing each of the deadly sins. We met Diesel years ago in a “between the numbers” Stephanie Plum book but he has moved from New Jersey to Massachusetts. Part romance, part fantasy and part mystery, these books are entertaining if you are easily entertained. Luckily this was my week for mindless fluff and this worked for me. This book centers on the search for the stone representing Lust, but despite that there is no sex in this book, just a hint of longing now and then. There are regular characters, and in this case by regular I mean reoccurring, because there is nothing regular about Wulf, Diesel’s evil cousin, Glo, who thinks she is a wizard, and of course Diesel’s pet monkey who is brighter than most people I know. There is also a new character, Anarchy, a wild woman who is also after Wulf’s powers and the stone and has a penchant for torching buildings. The plot is simple, the mystery forgettable but there are some laughs here if you like Evanovich’s broad sense of humor, and I do. 8/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WICKED CITY by Ace Atkins: “WELCOME TO PHENIX CITY, Alabama, population 23,205. Located across the Chattahoochee River from Columbus, Georgia we offer all the basic amenities of small town Southern life. There’s Cobb’s Barber Shop, where kindly grey-headed gentlemen discuss local politics and current affairs between the buzz of the clippers and local radio ag reports. And we have the friendly Elite Café, where Mr. Ross Gibson will cook you up the best plate of eggs and grits with red-eye gravy you ever tasted. We have a Bentley’s Grocery Store, the Phenix City Pharmacy, and the wonderful Palace Theatre, where on Saturdays a kid can get in for fifty cents and watch the latest B westerns or the new adventure of Francis the Talking Mule. Phenix City also boasts Idle Hour Amusement park – you can take a miniature train from downtown into the hills and roller-skate, bowl, and swim. There is even a little zoo there with bears and lions and monkeys. All of this mixed with dozens of churches, Christian and civic clubs, and one of the best hospitals in east Alabama make Phenix City an ideal place for the family. Not to mention the world-famous nightclubs, clip joints, and brothels. Phenix City is probably best known for its whores.” Thus begins Atkins’ fictional account of the cleanup of Phenix City, which began after the state Attorney General-elect Albert Patterson, was shot and killed on June 18, 1954, after running a campaign to clean up Phenix City (He was succeeded by his son who carried out his father’s plan). Larger than life characters include Ex-boxer and appointed sheriff Lamar Murphy, opposed by crooked Deputy Bert Fuller, Madame (in the traditional sense) Fannie Belle, and the redneck mafia determined to keep Phenix City sinful and profitable. Although the ending is obvious, the journey is most enjoyable, particularly if you have a personal interest in the area, as I, a native Alabamian do. 05/08 Jack Quick

WICKED PREY by John Sandford: All books give you a sense of time and place, sometimes generic and sometimes specific. Sandford’s latest is very specific – the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN. For Lucas Davenport the headaches are just beginning. In addition to the usual assortment of protestors and hangers-on associated with this kind of event, Lucas has a crew of professional stickup men in town who’ve spotted several lucrative opportunities, ranging from political moneymen with briefcases full of cash to that armored-car warehouse with the weakness in its security system. A while back, a stray bullet put a pimp and petty thief named Randy Whitcomb in a wheelchair, and, ever since, the man has been nursing his grudge into a full head of psychotic steam. He blames Davenport for the bullet, but it’s no fun just shooting him. That wouldn’t be painful enough. Not when Davenport has a pretty fourteen-year-old adopted daughter that Whitcomb can target instead. And then there’s the young man with the .50 caliber sniper rifle and the right- wing-crazy background, roaming through a city filled with the most powerful politicians on earth. This may be the wildest “prey” yet, certainly one of the most adrenaline filled. Go for it, even if you are a Democrat. 07/09 Jack Quick

WIDE OPEN by Deborah Coates: Hallie Michaels has just ten days to find out what happened to her sister, Dell. Rumor has it that Dell committed suicide, but Hallie knows that can’t be the case. With Dell’s ghost trailing along, Hallie becomes determined to discover the truth behind her sister’s death. As more ghosts follow, it becomes clear that something strange is going on in Grand Rapids. While Wide Open has its own clear conclusion, it helps knowing that it’s just part of a larger story. What comes next for Hallie and her ghosts is unclear, but Coates has definitely created an intriguing heroine and a “wide open” range of possibilities for the follow up titles. 3/12 Becky Lejeune

WIFE 22 by Melanie Gideon: This book has garnered quite a bit of buzz and it is most deserving. And if the title, Wife 22, brings to mind that classic, Catch 22, it should; in “Q&A with Author Melanie Gideon” on Amazon.com, Gideon says she thinks of marriage as a “catch 22”. And so it is in this quirky epistolary novel about a couple who have been married for almost twenty years. Alice is feeling sort of stuck in a rut; she knows William loves her but is he bored with her? Is she bored with him? When Alice receives an email asking her to participate in a marriage study, she signs up and is assigned the anonymous moniker, “Wife 22” and is asked questions, via email, by the also anonymous “Researcher 101”. As the study goes on, Alice gets to relive the highlights and lowest points of her marriage and starts to have feelings for her researcher. Will they meet? Is she ready for an affair? Using emails, Facebook postings and such to propel the story along brings a fresh twist to this examination of marriage in the twenty-first century, along with a lot of laughs, and a lot of heart. These characters spring to life on the page and we can’t help but get emotionally invested. I loved this book and couldn’t put it down. 6/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

WIFE 22 by Melanie Gideon: Alice and William have been married for almost twenty years. The spark has become something of a fizzle of late and Alice isn’t sure what to do. When she receives an email regarding participation in a survey study on marriage in the 21st century, Alice signs up. Her anonymous contributions as Wife 22 allow Alice to look back at her relationship and remember the things that brought her and William together. Her online conversations with Researcher 101 (her anonymous contact at the study) makes Alice realize what’s missing in her relationship—just the kind of interest and attention Researcher 101 has been paying to her. Is Alice’s marriage reaching its end or is it possible to start again? Wife 22 is a truly sweet and heartwarming read. I loved Alice and all of her quirks and paranoia. Gideon’s whole cast of characters shines. 6/12 Becky Lejeune

WILD LAWS by Jim Hansen: The ninth entry in the Laws series sends Denver homicide detective Bryson Coventry half way around the world to the mean streets of Hong Kong seeking a killer who has targeted a mysterious woman for death. It doesn’t take Coventry long to hook-up with a beautiful young Hong Kong detective. As his Denver homicide partner, Shalifa Netherwood says, “You’ve done this a thousand times, Bryson…you meet a woman and – bam. – everything else in the universe disappears.” Together Bryson and his Hong Kong cohort travel from the highest of high society haunts to the seediest underground hideaways to catch their prey. Throw in art and money, and s-e-x and you have the wildest Laws adventure yet. Not only is Coventry’s life potentially at stake – he may also lose his job in Denver. That would be a real bummer. And to top it off, Coventry isn’t even trying to solve the right crime. Can’t wait for the sequel to this one. 03/10 Jack Quick

THE WILD ROAD by Marjorie Liu: A woman wakes in a smoky hotel room with no memory of how she got there – no memories at all, actually. There are three dead bodies on the floor and a note pinned to her jacket that reads simply, “Run.” With nowhere to go and no other options, she escapes into the world outside. She ends up bumping into Lannes Hannelore, one of the few remaining gargoyles in the world. In spite of Lannes’s fear of letting anyone get to close, for reasons of his own, he feels compelled to help this woman. They soon find themselves on the run from an unknown assailant who seems to be able to find them anywhere they go. Their only solution is to track him down themselves and try to unravel the mystery of the woman’s identity along the way. The Wild Road is a steamy paranormal romance/mystery that reads like an adult fairytale. It is also the latest installment to Liu’s Dirk and Steele series. Dirk and Steele is a paranormal detective agency that links each book together. However, each title seems to focus on a new set of characters – readers can jump into the series at any point and skip around as much as they like without feeling at all lost. 11/08 Becky Lejeune

WILD THING by Josh Bazell: You should have no problem picking out this book at your local library or bookstore. Its the one with the international orange cover trimmed with bright white and egg yolk yellow. Inside the contents make the cover look tame. Dr. Lionel Azimuth, aka Dr. Peter Brown, aka former mob hit man Pietro Brnwa, is hired by a reclusive billionaire to go on an expedition looking for a legendary Loch Ness type monster in Minnesota. He sends along a sexy but self-destructive paleontologist to “assist” our hero. After working their way through an army of murderers, mobsters, and international drug dealers will they find the elusive lake monster? Better yet, will they even survive? If you enjoyed BEAT THE REAPER, you will love this follow-up. 3/12 Jack Quick

WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW? by Ed Gorman: Richard Conners, a notorious liberal in the small Iowa town of Black River Falls where PI and lawyer Sam McCain makes his living, shows up at McCain’s door, near death, and succumbs without naming his attacker. McCain has no faith in the investigative ability of local law enforcement, so he proceeds on his own. In short order, he’s also confronted with the deaths of a former FBI agent now fronting an anti-Communist organization and two other right-wing activists. Just as Ed McBain made the fictitious 87th precinct famous, Gorman has created a microcosm of late 1950’s America and populated it with interesting and sometimes offbeat characters who reflect the thoughts and conflicts of that time. A most enjoyable series. 01/10 Jack Quick

WILLING SPIRITS by Phyllis Schieber: Jane Hoffman and Gwen Baker have been friends for decades. Jane was there for Gwen when her husband, Theodore, left her to raise two young children alone. They’ve raised their children together and through the years their friendship has endured as well. Now, they are in their 40s and are facing larger, more painful crisis. Jane comes home early to find her husband, Arnold, in bed with another woman. Their marriage has never been a strong one. Arnold’s always been an empty shell of a man, more concerned about his needs than hers. And when Arnold attempts to walk right back into her life, rather than conceding to him like she’s done for their entire marriage, Jane begins to think first about what she wants. And when their daughter, Caroline, comes to her with news that will change their lives, Jane must be there to support her in a way her own mother was never able to do. Gwen has been in a relationship with Daniel, a married man, for several years. When he tells her that he’s going to leave his wife, she begins to wonder if this is what she really wants. She’d become used to having her own space, but now Daniel wants to move in with her. She can’t help but flash back to her marriage to Theodore and all she was forced to give up for that relationship. Is she ready to give up her independence again? Schieber tells an endearing tale about the friendship of two women. Despite the many challenges they each suffered in life, they never take for granted their friendship. Through the years as their friendship grows, they both discover a bit about themselves as well. Shieber’s lesson is an important one: value the needs of others but never forget the value of one’s self. 03/09 Jennifer Lawrence

WINDWALKER by Natasha Mostert: In an attempt to escape from the memory of her brother’s recent death, photographer Justine Callaway takes a job as the caretaker of the English manor called Parradine Park. She knows nothing of the house’s dark history but is immediately drawn to the neglected estate. Justine soon finds herself becoming obsessed with events that took place in the home nearly a decade ago. Parradine Park was once the not so happy home of the Buchanan family. One evening, eldest son Adam snapped and murdered his own brother. Adam was never seen again. Unable to deal with the loss of her favorite son, their mother committed suicide and Adam’s sister abandoned the home shortly thereafter. Justine is haunted by this tale and to learn as much as she can about Adam Buchanan and the event that tore his family apart. Thousands of miles away, in a town called Kepler’s Bay, Adam Buchanan has made a new life for himself. He lives in almost complete solitude and never forgets the crime that caused this punishment. He does dream, however. Adam has long believed that his soul mate awaits him somewhere, in this life or the next. By strange coincidence, he happens across a magazine carrying and article about Justine. From that moment forward, he knows that she is the one. Will these two fated lovers meet or will their own tragic pasts keep them forever apart? As someone who does not typically read romance, I must say that this melancholy tale is very atypical to the genre. Mostert’s style is much more suitable to literary fiction and I think she would be much more appreciated there. I highly recommend Windwalker if you are looking for a great modern gothic read. 06/07 Becky Lejeune

WINGS TO THE KINGDOM by Cherie Priest: Eden Moore has been trying to keep her talent under wraps, but those seeking to connect with their dearly departed keep tracking her down anyway. When a friend mentions a recent spectral appearance at the Chickamauga battlefield, Eden’s curiosity is piqued. The area has always been host to a bevy of ghost stories but this latest stands out. A pair of professional ghost hunters has even come onto the scene to investigate. Then very real—and deadly—gunshots begin to once again ring out across the battlefield and Eden is caught in the crosshairs. Cherie Priest is admittedly one of my favorite authors. Her debut, and first in this series (Four and Twenty Blackbirds), was a chilling Southern ghost story and she doesn’t lose any steam in this second installment. Eden is a fantastic character and Priest makes excellent use of actual history and folklore in her tales, with some creative license of course. 12/10 Becky Lejeune

A WINTER HAUNTING by Dan Simmons: It’s been four decades since the summer when Dale and his friends fought evil in Elm Haven. Four decades since Duane McBride was murdered. Dale’s memories of that year are hazy at best, but after a failed suicide attempt, he’s decided that it’s time to return. His plan is to rent Duane’s old farmhouse and spend the next nine months writing his latest novel. But the farmhouse holds secrets as well as a lingering presence and Dale’s visit to his childhood hometown is plagued by strange events. Dale doesn’t believe in ghosts, but the alternative, that he might be finally losing his mind, is even worse. Simmons’s tales run the gamut from science fiction and horror to historical fiction and mystery, and each one I’ve read so far has been a complete masterpiece of fiction. I particularly love the atmosphere he’s able to build, which makes books like A Winter Haunting and its companion (they can each be read alone), Summer of Night, particularly chilling and exceptional horror reads. 03/11 Becky Lejeune

WIRED by Liz Maverick: L. Roxanne Zaborovsky, Roxy, is having a bad night. While walking to the neighborhood convenience store, Roxy is interrupted by two men who seem to be fighting over her. One of the two men, Mason Merrick, just happens to be her ex-roommate’s old boyfriend. She decides to trust Mason, for now, but what he reveals to her may be just a little too much to handle. Mason is a wire crosser, he travels through time attempting to restore the original lines of fate altered by Leonardo Kaysar, the other man in the fight. Roxy soon discovers that Mason’s motives may not be so altruistic after all. It seems that each man is trying to manipulate the future to benefit his own cause. Unsure who to trust, and unable to rely on even her own memories, Roxanne is forced to play this deadly game through to the end. This pulse pounding, nonstop race through time is like no romance novel you’ve ever read before.
Maverick’s title is the first to be published by Dorchester under their new SHOMI imprint – am imprint devoted to cutting edge romance for a less traditional, and younger, romance audience. 07/07 Becky Lejeune

WITHER by Lauren DeStefano: After conquering cancer and creating a stronger, healthier generation of children through genetic manipulation, life expectancy strangely plummets: boys live to be twenty-five and girls live to be only twenty. No one has found a cure and many have lost hope altogether. To make matters worse, girls are being kidnapped and sold into polygamist marriages. Rhine and her twin brother Rowan have been taking care of each other since their parents died. At sixteen, they know that Rhine is at risk and their fears are realized when she is taken and forced to marry a wealthy Florida man. But Rhine is unwilling to play the role of token wife and breeder, and from day one, she begins hatching a plan for her escape. But Rhine never counted on becoming attached. She finds friends and allies in her fellow brides and a boy who works in the house, placing all of them in danger. A post-disaster, futuristic teen book that’s impossible to put down, Wither is definitely worth all of the hype. This first in the trilogy will leave readers breathless with anticipation of what will come next. 05/11 Becky Lejeune

WITHOUT MERCY by Lisa Jackson: Julia “Jules” Farentino is an unemployed twenty-five-year-old teacher battling the memories of her father’s murder. The nightmares and headaches were terrible enough to cause her issues at work, but it’s her sister who’s suffered the most. Shaylee’s behavior in recent years has landed her in enough trouble that she’s now been ordered to attend the Blue Rock Academy, a boarding school cut off from the outside world that is said to turn problem children around. In fact, the testimonials from past students and their parents would make the place seem like the perfect solution for Shay, but Jules is not convinced. A recent scandal involving one of the Academy’s teachers paired with a missing student who disappeared without a trace makes Jules certain that the school is hiding something sinister. Jules manages to obtain a teaching position at Blue Rock and arrives the same day that two students are attacked and left for dead on campus. Can Julia unravel the mystery of Blue Rock in time to save her sister or will she herself become a victim of whatever is stalking the campus? Lisa Jackson can always be relied upon for a thrilling read with plenty of twists. The surprise ending was bit expected and predictable, but didn’t make Without Mercy any less enjoyable. 04/10 Becky Lejeune

WICKED BREAK by Jeff Shelby: In his second outing, San Diego surfer PI Noah Braddock is hired by Peter Pluto to find Pluto’s brother Linc, a college student whose apartment has a stash of guns. In short order, Linc’s neighbor is shot, Pluto is killed, and Braddock is severely beaten. From there on out, its gangbangers and skinheads and lots of manly action. Throw in some love interest and a problem parent and you have a good fast read with some humor and plenty of action. Kind of what you would expect from a surfer PI. 08/06 Jack Quick

WICKED GAME by Jeri Smith-Ready: Ciara Griffin is a con-woman looking for a real job. She manages to get hired on as a Sales and Marketing intern at WMMP Radio. Unlike many stations out there today, WMMP’s djs really care about the music. You see they’re all vampires. Apparently, the vamps have a hard time letting go of the era in which they were alive and the station was set up to help them deal with the change in times – the music provides them something concrete that they can hold on to, which makes it easier for them to cope with the time that has past. The problem is this, the owner, a vamp herself, is looking to ensure her retirement and a big corporate conglomerate has offered to buy out the station which would leave the rest of the undead djs out of a job. Ciara is supposed to help figure out a way to boost the station’s popularity and bring in enough cash to discourage the sale. She does, but her plan involves outing the vamps themselves in hopes that it will prove to be a great marketing gimmick without actually convincing people that the undead really do walk among us. Unfortunately, her campaign is not so popular with other area vamps. Smith-Ready’s urban fantasy is both sharp and witty, Ciara is a spunky and sarcastically funny heroine, and the whole book is a fresh spin on the classic vampire mythology making it a stand-out title amongst its peers. 05/08 Becky Lejeune

WILD CRIMES edited by Dana Stabenow – Nicely done paperback anthology of eleven short stories of mystery set in the wild. Authors include Stabenow, Loren Estleman, Laurie King, and S.J. Rozan. A good “waiting room” book to kill those odd few minutes. For sure, it takes you away from “street crime.” 08/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

Wild Justice by Phillip Margolin: Very scary, gruesome thriller that kept me up half the night reading, then too scared to sleep! What more could you want from a book? Definitely his best work yet.

WILD JUSTICE By Phillip Margolin: Somebody gave me a well read paperback of this and told me I’d like it…
I did. This one is made a good read by the fact that it’s very much an ensemble piece. No one character in the thread of the story stands out. In fact, you actually find yourself rooting for the bad guy here in spots!.
No brief synopsis could describe what goes on in this one. Imagine part legal stuff, vs. some truly sick and motivated people, all with their own agendas and risks. Think along the lines of a print Robert Altman movie.
I have to admit that I figured out who the bad guy was early on.. But that’s only because I’ve been reading this stuff for nearly four decades. I know the signs when I see ’em. But this is a really good yarn, skillfully told from both the legal and action standpoints. And the interaction between all the sets, and subsets, of players makes this a unique thriller, one that does not depend on a sole hero, but allows ALL the players in the tale to have their fame or misfortune. This is a good one. 05/06 DOC

THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE by Haruki Murakami: First, Toru Okada’s cat goes missing. Then, Kumiko, his wife goes missing as well. Toru is told, both by Kumiko and her family, to leave her alone and grant her wish for a divorce. He is told that she has been seeing another man. Toru believes, however, that something is amiss. He believes that Kumiko is being held, against her wishes, and he vows to continue to search for her and win her back. Along the way, Toru meets some very unusual characters including his teenage neighbor who is recovering from an accident that caused the death of her boyfriend, a pair of psychic sisters, and an ex-military man who is finally ready to tell his story. All of the people that Toru meets will prepare him in some way for what ultimately needs to be done to discover the true fate of his wife. Murakami’s prose is both lyrical and bewitching. Each new character has his or her own tale to tell, creating little vignettes or breaks from Toru’s own story. This strange, and sometimes confusing, tale is one that will leave you guessing until the end. 03/07 Becky Lejeune

THE WINTER GHOSTS by Kate Mosse: Freddie never recovered from the loss of his older brother. In fact, Freddie found himself temporarily installed in a sanatorium after a nervous breakdown. When his car goes off the road in a remote part of the Pyrenees, Freddie manages to find shelter at an inn in a small mountain town. That evening, he attends a local celebration and meets an entrancing young woman. The following morning, however, all evidence of the woman is gone and Freddie finds himself in the throes of a terrible fever. No doubt others believe Freddie is of a delicate mental state, but surely the girl was not his imagination. As with Mosse’s other books, the inspiration for The Winter Ghosts lies in actual French history. This time, it’s the fourteenth-century massacre of the Cathars that is the basis for the tale. The Winter Ghosts is written in the style of a classic Victorian ghost story and is an intriguing read. 12/11 Becky Lejeune

WINTER MOON: Three novellas by Mercedes Lackey, Tanith Lee and C. E. Murphy: This is one of those books that I would suggest, not facetiously, that if you like this sort of thing, you’ll like the book. Mercedes Lackey’s “Moontide” is a totally enjoyable story about a kingdom where power is up for grabs, marriages are made to cement relationships and the lead character, the king’s daughter, isn’t having any of it. There are overtones of Celtic/Irish lore and a “saturnine” “bearded” ally who seems vaguely Arabic, but it’s an interesting realm and a good adventure It didn’t need to be as long as a novella; I got it long before the story ended.
C.E. Murphy’s story, while set in my home of Seattle, bugged me; the character seemed far too young, whiny and immature to be a cop. The story relies too much on references to events that happened before this tale began and there are measly little errors that should have been fixed; “Tetris” does not involve anyone “dying horribly” and Indians do not have skin “as red as brick” – which any adult, especially a Seattle-based cop, should know. We have Indians here in Seattle. Go look. Okay, it’s in her imagination but I lost patience with her. And naming your car and insisting It’s a “her not an it”? Please.
And I apologize to the Tanith Lee fans; while her “The Heart of the Moon” seemed well-written as far as I got, it’s too spiritual and goddessy for my taste and I could not finish it. If you like stories about spirituality and power, if you were into moon goddess stuff back when, or even now, you’ll likely enjoy all of these tales more than I did. 10/05 ~This review contributed by Andi Shechter.

WINTERWOOD by Patrick McCabe: This disturbing novel is the story of one man’s sick obsession and eventual downward spiral into madness. Redmond Hatch hails from the mountain village of Slievenageeha, a place where it’s not unusual to hear more urban Irishmen refer to folk as being inbred and country, amongst other things. Redmond, a reporter for a Dublin paper, has returned to cover a story on mountain folklore. While writing the story he befriends a man named Ned Strange, who the locals lovingly call Auld Pappie. Ned has been teaching the young children the art of ceilidh – a sort of barn dance with folk music – and also entertains the villagers with tales of the old times. Ned is revered for keeping the culture alive but he is not the pure soul he first appears to be. Under the influence of some pretty heavy homebrew, Ned reveals to Redmond some startling information about his past. Years later, Ned is imprisoned after sexually assaulting and killing a local boy. Redmond becomes fixated on Ned and his crime to the point that he soon destroys his own family. Redmond’s own life even begins to resemble Ned’s stories and the two become somewhat indistinguishable from one another. Although the use of a non-linear storyline certainly lends belief to Redmond’s crumbling sanity, it also makes the story very hard to follow. This is ultimately a bleak and depressing, not to mention somewhat confusing, book. 01/08 Becky Lejeune

WISHFUL SINFUL by Tracy Dunham: After losing a highly publicized capital punishment case, attorney Tal Jefferson leaves her big city law firm and hectic life, returning to the small Georgia town where she was raised. For a while she finds comfort in memories and booze, but when a childhood friend is accused of a brutal murder, Tal must quickly clean up her act as she finds her own life in danger from the consequences of small town secrets with big time implications. First in the series. A little uneven but shows promise. 04/06 Jack Quick

THE WITCH’S DAUGHTER by Paula Brackston: Elizabeth Hawksmith has been running for such a long time. For centuries she’s been tracked by Gideon Masters, an evil sorcerer who was once her only hope. After her family was killed by the plague, Elizabeth and her mother were accused of witchcraft. Gideon was her savior but he wished to keep her as his own. Elizabeth has narrowly escaped him throughout the years, hiding in plain sight and adopting new identities, always using her powers to help those around her. But when Elizabeth finally decides to take on a pupil of her own, she will be forced to choose: continue running or take a stand. The Witch’s Daughter is a wonderful combination of historical fiction and paranormal. Brackston’s story alternates between past and present as she mixes tales of Elizabeth’s early life with the present day, tying in historical events including Jack the Ripper and the horrors of WWI. I did find the ending to be a bit brief considering the build. Overall, a really enjoyable read, though. 1/11 Becky Lejeune

WITCHLING by Yasmine Galenorn: The D’Artigo sisters are half fae, half human. Each has their own ability, but their human genes have an inconvenient effect on their powers. Camille is a witch whose spells don’t always come out just right, Delilah is a shapeshifter who transforms into an orange tabby when she’s stressed, and Menolly is having a hard time adjusting to life as a vampire. But they’re all doing their best and they’ve been working in the human realm as agents with the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. When a fellow otherworlder is murdered, all signs point to a new and evil boss in the Subterranean Realm. If he’s able to get through the natural barriers between the worlds, all hell would surely break loose. The D’Artigo sisters learn that there were nine spirit seals created ages ago as protection for the realms. Defending the seals is the only way the sisters can ensure that the realms remain safe. This first in the series has a wonderful fairy tale feel about it that sets it apart from others in the paranormal romance/mystery genre. It’ll be interesting to continue the stories and learn more about the sisters as well as the realms and other creatures introduced. 05/10 Becky Lejeune

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE by Sally Koslow: While some people are lucky enough to hang onto friends for a lifetime, others find that life can sometimes lead friends in different directions. Talia, Chloe, Quincy, and Jules are all facing big life changes. And when two of the friends betray each other in ways that seem unforgivable, it starts to look unlikely that the group will make it through and remain close. Quincy is house hunting for the perfect home when luck finally comes her way in the form of a fantastic apartment that’s an even more fantastic deal. Problem is, Jules’s boyfriend lives in the same building and wants the place for himself. Meanwhile, Talia is finding it hard to make ends meet when she accidentally intercepts a call for Chloe from one of New York’s best headhunters. Sally Koslow’s story is one concerning the tricky balance of true friendship, something that many women can and will relate to. A bit snarkier than Leah Stewart’s The Myth of You and Me, With Friends Like These touches on the same issues in a much lighter way. 09/10 Becky Lejeune
With This Puzzle, I Thee Kill by Parnell Hall: As a cruciverbalist of long standing, I have really enjoyed Parnell Hall’s series about The Puzzle Lady. As readers of these books know, the Puzzle Lady is not really Cora Felton whose picture appears on the Puzzle Lady’s publications, but her attractive young niece, Sherry, who really constructs the puzzles. The efforts of both of them to conceal this deception is a basis for on-going hilarity in all of these stories since Cora has no idea how to solve a crossword, much less create one.
This story begins as the oft-wed Cora is about to commit matrimony one more time. Of course, this time it is Mr. Right. As we start across and down, we can guess two things. First, that he will turn out to be Mr. Wrong and secondly, that his chances of actually making it to the altar are slim to none. Correct on both counts.
The complication in the plot is Sherry’s ex-husband who physically abused her. He is now engaged to her best friend. He suggests that they have a double wedding with Cora and her intended so that Sherry can serve as the Maid of Honor in both weddings simultaneously. This cannot be good.
Everything that can go wrong, does. With very funny results.
One word of caution, this time out Mr. Hall has eschewed crosswords in favor of cryptograms and letter substitution. Nonetheless, this is a great holiday read and will be enjoyed by all of us who worship at the altar of Will Shortz.
Readers who enjoy wrestling with language may also enjoy Reginald Hill’s last two books, Dialogues of the Dead and Death’s Jest-Book, although they are lengthier and more complex than Mr. Hall’s delightful tales. 12/03 ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.

Without Fail by Lee Child: I couldn’t put down this gripping thriller involving an attempted assassination of the Vice President. I’ve never read Mr. Child before, but I loved his main character, Jack Reacher. I am looking forward to catching up on his backlist.

WITHOUT MERCY by Jack Higgins: Either you enjoy Higgins as a “comfort read” or you don’t. Personally I do, and if his characters aren’t the deepest or his plots the most complex, he still knows how to tell a tale and involve the reader. Sean Dillon–former IRA enforcer now working for British intelligence–seeks revenge on the Russian agents responsible for murdering his colleague Hanna Bernstein. Meanwhile the Russians are trying to salvage their plan to obtain a steady supply of oil from Iraq. It probably isn’t possible, but there is always the underlying thought that maybe there is something to this premise, after all. 01/06 Jack Quick

WITHOUT WARNING by Eugenia Lovett West: Now in her late forties, with her children grown and gone, Emma Streat should be looking forward to starting the next chapter of her life, but she never counted on that next chapter beginning with her husband’s death. Just before their latest trip to London, Emma’s husband begins acting jumpy: nervous and snapping at her for seemingly no good reason. After an abrupt departure back to the States, Emma’s husband is killed in what is initially thought to be a hit-and-run accident. Emma’s discovery of a note regarding one of his coworkers is just the first clue that something is amiss. As Emma digs into her husband’s death, she uncovers a web of intrigue involving spies, dangerous weapons developments, and state secrets that those in power are dying to keep under wraps. This first in Lovett West’s series is a surprisingly different read than one would initially expect. Much darker than a cozy, Without Warning is a mystery edging into the world of political thrillers. An exciting start to what promises to be a smart new series. 11/09 Becky Lejeune

WIVES AND SISTERS by Natalie R. Collins: I’m always intrigued by books about a different culture, and this one is an in depth look at the Mormons told from the perspective of a woman who feels her whole life has been lived under a cloud, and with good reason. The author knows her subject; she was raised in a Mormon home in Utah.
I loved the opening line of this book: “I was six years old the first time I had an inkling God would not always protect me.”
And I couldn’t put it down until I read the last line.
Six year old Allison Jensen and her best friend are playing in a field when they hear a gun shot. The shooter, an older man with a beard, yells at the girls to take off their clothes. Instead, they take off running, hand in hand. But when Allison turns to look behind them to see if they are being chased, she falls and is knocked unconscious. When she awakens, her friend is gone and never is found. But that is just the tip of the iceberg of Allison’s problems. As she grows older she also has to deal with a religion she doesn’t understand and doesn’t quite believe in, an abusive father, the deaths of loved ones and a rape, but most devastating of all is the suspected cover up of these tragedies by her family and her church. It makes for a most heartrending and compelling story that will not be easily forgotten. 02/05

THE WOLF AT THE DOOR by Jack Higgins: Higgins’s 17th Sean Dillon thriller (after A Darker Place), starts with a bang. Presidential advisor Blake Johnson is shot at the dock of his place off Long Island. In London, General Charles Ferguson, who’s just left a late-night meeting of Commonwealth ministers, is walking toward his car when it explodes, killing his driver. In New York City, Major Harry Miller, who’s in the U.S. to attend a U.N. meeting, goes for a stroll in Central Park, where he neatly turns the tables on another hired hit man. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is behind all this as payback for their being such a thorn in his side over the years. Good eventually triumphs as it always does in Higgins outings but not before there is some heart stopping action and even a wee bit of whisky drinking. Another good one. 02/10 Jack Quick

WOLFBREED by S.A. Swann: 1221, Eastern Europe: An outpost of Christian knights from the Crusades is attacked and wiped out by what appears to be a giant wolf. One knight survives, killing the wolf and discovering her lair—and her offspring. For the next eighteen years, the Order of the Hospital of St. Mary will train these creatures to be their own beasts of battle. Their single goal is to kill the enemies of their masters. Lilly was raised to be a powerful weapon, but the knights will soon discover that she is not a mindless creature. It is 1239 when Lilly finally escapes, but her master and his fellow knights will not give her up so easily. In fact, Lilly’s escape may be the catalyst in a conflict that’s been brewing between the nearby landowners and the knights who have ruled them with an iron fist for over a decade. Whether Lilly’s protectors will stand by her once the truth of her identity is revealed is the biggest question, though. I really enjoyed this blend of historical fiction and paranormal. Wolfbreed is a great standout amongst the werewolf titles of late. The sequel, Wolf’s Cross, is due out this month. 07/10 Becky Lejeune
THE WOLFMAN by Nicholas Pekearo: Marlowe Higgins is a bit of a loaner. He moves from town to town, never settling down in one place. You see, Marlowe Higgins is a werewolf. For years the Wolf existed, uncontrolled and killing at random. Until Marlowe trained the Wolf to only kill those he deemed bad enough to die. A serial killer, The Rose Killer, has begun to kill young women in the small town where Higgins is currently residing. He works closely with Daniel Pearce, a local police detective, to obtain details regarding the crimes and focuses his attention on alleviating the small town of this horrible killer. Pekearo did a wonderful job with this amazing thriller/horror novel. The descriptions of the Wolf’s actions were downright gory and added to the intensity of this book. This is definitely a book that would attract readers from several different genres, ranging from paranormal thrillers to true crime. The Wolfman was Pekearo’s first and only published work. Pekearo was a volunteer for the NYPD Auxiliary Police Officer and was killed in the line of duty in 2007. 06/08 Jennifer Lawrence

WOLVES EAT DOGS by Martin Cruz Smith: Senior Investigator Arkady Renko is investigating the death of Pasha Ivanov, the wealthy president of Moscow’s NoviRus Corporation, who plunged 10 stories to the pavement from his designer apartment. Renko’s boss, Prosecutor Zurin declares the death a suicide but Renko, being Renko, isn’t so sure and wonders about details like the 50 kilos of salt in Ivanov’s closet and the fact that he was clutching a salt shaker at the moment of his death. Renko’s persistence causes him to be sent to Chernobyl and the Zone of Exclusion. Can he solve the case before the radiation permanently affects him? Dark and brooding, but very well written. 11/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

THE WOMAN IN BLACK by Susan Hill: As a young man, Arthur Kipps experienced unspeakable horror. For decades, he’s attempted to put the events at Eel Marsh House behind him, but now it’s time to once again dredge up the past and face the truth. One of Kipps’s first assignments as a solicitor was to help with the handling of Alice Drablow’s estate. Alice, a widow who had recently passed away, had no one else to close out her affairs. Arthur was sent to Eel Marsh House, a dreary estate in the midst of a marsh and accessible only during low tides, as a representative of the firm where he’d recently been hired on. The locals were of no help and Kipps knew that there was more to Eel Marsh House and Alice Drablow than anyone would admit. Still, he was determined to do the job right. But Arthur would soon find that there are some forces that cannot be reasoned with. The Woman in Black is a chilling and atmospheric ghost story, recently adapted for the big screen. The book is wonderfully dark and creepy and I can’t wait to see what the movie has in store. 2/12 Becky Lejeune

A WOMAN TO BLAME by Marthanne Shubert: Gin Ritchey is the re-incarnation of Travis McGee. She lives on the Blue Jasmine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and works as a private detective when she feels like it. She is financially secure as the result of the books her husband published before his untimely death. Would be singer Agnes Stierholz, AKA “Bunny” is having it on with Nick Rossano, one of the retired New Jersey snowbirds about three times her age when her fiancé arrives from Flint, Michigan, at Ritchey’s door, or boat slip, as it were. A couple of weeks later when Nick, a diabetic, is found dead in bed, Ritchey begins to wonder if there might be more here than meets the eye. Not bad for a beach read, but nothing challenging. 02/09 Jack Quick

WONDROUS STRANGE by Lesley Livingston: In Central Park lies the Samhain Gate, a thin connection between the worlds that King Auberon tried to seal and failed. Each year at Halloween, the gate opens and Auberon’s Janus guards — changelings chosen specifically to guard the gate — are set to work. Sonny Flannery, Auberon’s favorite Janus, can sense beings from the realm of the fey, comes in handy tracking down troublemakers as part of his job. One night, though, he senses something else, something he is not familiar with. His search leads him to a teenage girl, by all appearances a normal human. He leaves her to begin his duties, only to discover later that there is something very special about this mortal. He is able to track her, but will he be able to figure out what she is and can he protect her from what is to come, or will he even need to? This is a fairy story, but not a fairy tale. The fey are not cute or sweet, in fact, this tale draws from just about every dark myth there is, and, of course, from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream as well. Wondrous Strange is a great teen read but is fun for adults as well. If you enjoy mythology and stories of the fey, then I’d recommend snagging this one for yourself before passing it along. 03/09 Becky Lejeune

THE WOODS by Harlan Coben: This book came out several months ago and I wasn’t really planning on reading it; I gave up on Coben after the ridiculous ending in No Second Chance. But so many people raved about this new one, I decided to give him another try. Coben writes these twisty, gripping thrillers, taking ordinary people and putting them in extraordinary circumstances, but he inevitably winds up writing himself into a corner with endings that are either too neatly tied up or even worse, don’t make sense. With The Woods, he’s redeemed himself. The premise is the stuff legends are made of – Paul Copeland was working in a summer camp and was supposed to be on night duty, but instead, snuck off into the woods with his girlfriend. But four teenagers were murdered that night, including Paul’s sister. Spring forward twenty years and Copeland is now a county prosecutor with political ambitions. He’s asked to identify a body that he believes to be one of the teenagers that was supposedly killed that night at camp, unraveling twenty years of history and then some. Tons of suspense, lots of twists and intricate plotting overcome the shallow characters to make this a furiously fast, fun read with an ending that made sense. 09/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE WOODS by Harlan Coben: Paul “Cope” Copeland was the counselor on duty the night his sister and three other campers were killed. Years later he still lives with the guilt he associates with that night. It was his responsibility to make sure the kids were safe and he failed. Maybe, if he hadn’t been on duty they would have lived. The bodies of two of the campers, his own sister and a boy named Gil Perez, were never found. Two decades after the murders Cope is once again being questioned by police. A man calling himself Manolo Santiago has been found murdered. In his pocket, he carried a magazine article about Cope. Cope believes the man may actually be Gil Perez. Faced with this, and the possibility that his own sister may have survived, Cope begins to reinvestigate the crime that so devastated his family and changed his life forever. Oh, Harlan Coben, you keep me up so late at night! Though regrettably this is not one of my favorites, The Woods is still a guaranteed edge of your seat thriller that will satisfy Coben fans until next year. 06/07 Becky Lejeune

The Wooden Nickel by William Carpenter, Little Brown: I read this book for two simple reasons. First I have an interest in Maine (grandparents). Second I have an interest in lobsters (live ones, no butter). I got what I wanted and I got Lucky Lunt. I loved the main character Lucky. He was so politically incorrect, so crazy, so fierce, and so wrongly named! I kept thinking “he’ll stop now- he’s gotta” but he never did and I was glad he didn’t. Lucky lives in Orphan Point, Maine and spends his summer, when he ought to be watching his health and looking after his family, turning his life upside down. Carpenter’s writing is terrific and it was fun to be out on the ocean with Lucky or having a Rolling Rock with him. Here is your comp title: if you like Richard Russo (and I do) you will like this book. A great read and an unforgettable character. I’ll leave it to the scholars to explain the meaning of the rogue whale, or you can when you read it.

PS: William Carpenter has written one novel and three books of poetry. He is a professor at College of the Atlantic in Maine. He lists American Psycho and The Satanic Verses as some of his favorite novels – – gotta love that. Check out his bio on the Little Brown website. ~This review contributed by Ann Nappa

WORKING FOR THE DEVIL by Lilith Saintcrow: Dante Valentine is a Necromance – she has the ability to raise the dead. She uses her talent mostly to aid her clients in tying up legal matters and various loose ends. Occasionally, she also offers her services as a bounty hunter. Now she’s been given an assignment that’s a bit different. She’s been hired by the Dark Prince himself to track down and assassinate a rogue demon. Dante is not inclined to accept the assignment until she discovers the identity of said demon. Vardimal Santino almost killed Dante last time they met. He did kill her best friend. Now, Dante is literally hell-bent on getting her revenge. The first in this complex new urban fantasy series is sure to grab readers’ attentions. Dante is a gritty and tenacious heroine with a somewhat mysterious past who lives in a bleak future incarnation of our world. Saintcrow combines elements of mystery and fantasy to bring readers an exceptional page turning read. Although Working for the Devil was originally published last year, it has been reprinted and released simultaneously with the second and third books in the series, which is a good thing because I promise you will be scrambling to pick up the next book. Books four and five will follow in November and January, respectively. 09/07 Becky Lejeune

WORLD WAR Z by Max Brooks: Okay, so as usual I have to start with a disclaimer—EVEN IF YOU HATE ZOMBIES, YOU MIGHT LIKE THIS BOOK ANYWAY. I mean, of course, everyone hates actual zombies, but I like stories about them and I’m sure a lot of people don’t.
Anyway. I finished reading this book on the same day I saw the movie I Am Legend, and I have to say I was a bit twitchy when walking into dark places for the rest of the week, but this is not really a horror novel. It’s actually told as an oral history (many people compare it to Studs Terkel, who I haven’t read, so I can’t speak to that, but if that sounds cool to you, go for it). According to the book, (and the jacket copy and everything is completely written as if this was a TRUE STORY) there was this major zombie war sometime in the near future, and the author has traveled all over the world interviewing people about their experiences during the conflict. It’s absolutely realistic in terms of what might really happen if a huge army of zombies started attacking people all over the world. Really unusual and creative. Jenne Bergstrom 03/08

THE WORST KIND OF LIES by John Patrick Lamont: Billed as the first of the Sum of Life Trilogy, The Worst Kind of Lies is a tell-all about greed, deceit, betrayal and even murder (??) in the modern insurance industry. At 500 pages it contains more minutiae than most would care for about that industry. Moreover the fact that the company being dissected is Titanic Insurance Company of Kansas should tell you most of what you need to know. If you get your kicks watching MSNBC and the stock market ticker, you will love this one. Otherwise, might want to stick to lighter fare. 05/09 Jack Quick

WORST NIGHTMARES by Shane Briant: Best-selling and award-winning author Dermot Nolan has a problem. It seems the well has run dry, at least for now. Nothing is inspiring him and he has already run through his million-dollar advance, with no possible way of paying it back. When he first receives the Dream Healer’s journal, Dermot is annoyed and disgusted. Annoyed that yet again someone has approached him to get their book published, and disgusted with the writing and the story. The “journal” recounts the murders of victims chosen based on their worst nightmares. Each of these people approached the Dream Healer through his website, thinking that he would cure them of the dreams that plague them. Instead, they were brutally murdered and all of it has been recorded for Dermot to read. He and his wife, Neela, never thought that it was real, though. In fact, when the author kills himself, it is Neela who convinces Dermot to take the story and make it his own. But Dermot never told his wife what he found at the so-called murder sites. And then someone dies in a scene straight out of Dermot’s new bestseller. Briant’s debut, a thriller/horror reminiscent of both King’s Secret Window, Secret Garden and Saw, is a twisted read. I would have liked more from the Dream Healer’s perspective, but given that he dies in the beginning… or does he? 05/09 Becky Lejeune

WORTH DYING FOR by Lee Child: Child continues to prove that a series can keep getting better with this 14th entry of the Jack Reacher series. Reacher is still recovering from the ending of 61 Hours; he can barely lift his arms and moves like a man in pain. He ends up in a small town in Nebraska, where he overhears a conversation in a bar where a doctor won’t attend to a woman with a bloody nose that won’t stop bleeding. He intervenes, driving the inebriated doctor to the woman’s house, setting off a course of events that could not have been foreseen.
It’s obvious to Reacher that this woman was beaten by her husband and not for the first time. Reacher, with his unflappable sense of justice, seeks out her husband and breaks his nose. The Duncan family runs this small part of Nebraska, and a punch in the face will most certainly be retaliated. After Reacher takes care of the two ex-football players sent to teach him a lesson, the whole thing just escalates into what it really is: something illegal is underfoot and making the Duncan family rich, and there is a decades old cover-up of a missing child. Reacher decides to hang around and right these wrongs. Lots of action, some interesting characters, and a small town with that sense of desolation that Child does so well makes this a book that I couldn’t put it down. 10/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
WORTH DYING FOR by Lee Child: Physically, Reacher is recovering from the after effects of his adventures in 61 Hours. Mentally, he is in the “Don’t Mess With me, I Am An Angry Bear” mode. In an isolated Nebraska town where he has been dropped off from a hitchhike, he comes across an alcoholic doctor that he takes to Eleanor Duncan, who’s married to the abusive Seth, for a “nosebleed”, the result of Seth’s anger. Turn about is fair play, so Reacher breaks Seth’s nose after disposing of his bodyguard. This prompts members of the Duncan clan, who are involved in an illegal trafficking scheme, to seek revenge, which leads to two more would-be heavyweights lying in the dust. Now firmly committed, Reacher winds up trying to solve a decades-old case concerning a missing eight-year-old girl. With each succeeding book Reacher assumes even greater superhuman capabilities, but he remains entertaining as he goes from crisis to crisis. Continue to recommend this series. 12/10 Jack Quick

THE WOUNDED AND THE SLAIN by David Goodis: Hardcase Crime #31 is a reprint of 1955 classic. Although not as widely known as his contemporaries – Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammet – Goodis was noted producing some first rate fiction, turning out some five million words for pulp magazines, as well as serial novels and scripts for radio adventure shows. This one is the tale of a troubled married couple who fly to Jamaica for a last chance at patching things up. James ends up in a Kingston slum battling for his life, while Cora falls victim to another man. And to top it off, it has an awesome cover. Very much recommended. 05/07 Jack Quick

THE WRECK OF THE TWILIGHT LIMITED by Joe Formichella: I had just assumed the position of Program Director at a Dothan, Alabama television station when the Twilight Limited Amtrak train plunged off a bridge deep in the Alabama bayou near Mobile on September 22, 1993. Forty-seven people were killed in the tragedy; which was ultimately determined to have been caused by a barge striking a railroad bridge on a foggy night, displacing the rails. Our television station was one of the first on the scene providing coverage to the nation. Joe Formichella tells the story of the accident, alternating between the time of the wreck and five years later. I enjoyed the book because of my personal connection to the event, but would not recommend it for everyone. 06/10 Jack Quick

WRECKER’S KEY by Christine Kling: Nestor Frias calls tugboat Captain and owner Seychelle Sullivan for help after he runs a millionaire’s yacht aground in Key West. Nestor insists the GPS navigation system was somehow compromised, but while Seychelle is towing the yacht to Fort Lauderdale, Nestor is killed in a windsurfing accident that his pregnant widow insists was murder. An unexpected reunion with an old childhood friend, Ben Baker, once a nerd, now a hottie, provides some romantic tension while Seychelle tries to get to the truth behind Nestor’s accidents. Go ahead, admit it, the ending surprised you, right? 04/07 Jack Quick

THE WRITING CLASS by Jincy Willett: Amy Gallup has pretty much succeeded in cutting herself off from the world. Her last remaining connection, and only significant human contact, comes from the creative writing class she teaches. It’s an extension course – continued education for adults, some of whom are actually interested in writing; some of those are actually good. Amy is enthusiastic about this group and grows to like them more than most. But then one of her students reveals a strange critique she received after sharing a piece with the class. The following week it happens again with another student. Soon what seems no more than a mean prank escalates to something violent and terrifying. Amy and her class are determined to continue, against the odds, and discover the culprit behind these terrible acts. Willet’s whodunit is packed with witty sarcasm and clever humor. She’s also managed to give a significant voice to each of her characters which makes the reading (and the readings in the reading) that much more interesting and believable. A light mystery full of dark and sarcastic humor. 06/08 Becky Lejeune

THE WRITING ON MY FOREHEAD by Nafisa Haji: In the aftermath of 9/11, Saira Qadar is forced to make some tough decisions. As she faces the recent death of her sister, she recalls the stories that have accompanied her throughout the years. Stories of bravery, pain, and secrecy shared by many of the members of her family, stories that have affected each decision in her life. See, even from a young age, Saira had the ability to get others to tell her their tales and gossip. Through them, she learned about one grandfather’s torrid love affair — an event that literally ripped his family apart — and another grandfather’s attempts to change the world. She also learned about her great-aunt’s decisions to go against the expectations of a woman to marry and raise children. Consequently, it is her story that has most influenced Saira’s decisions to follow her own heart, a choice that has sometimes left her on the outs with her own family and culture. But Saira’s own story also shows a profound love of family and, through its telling, an understanding of her culture and the way each generation has helped to shape it. A touching debut from a very talented author. 03/09 Becky Lejeune

THE WRONG KIND OF BLOOD by Declan Hughes: LA private eye Edward Loy has returned to his boyhood home of Dublin for his mother’s funeral. On the way home from the service a friend asks him to find her missing husband – leading to bodies, danger, and a fearsome organized crime gang. Loy is hampered by the fact that the Dublin he grew up in no longer the Dublin of today. This should please fans of Dennis Lehane and George Pelecanos – as it did me. 03/06 Jack Quick

XOMBIES: APOCALYPSE BLUES by Walter Greatshell: Lulu Pangloss lives a bit of a nomadic life: off the grid and sometimes relying on the kindness of others for basic necessities. As a result, she and her mother miss the news reports about the outbreak and spread of Agent X, a highly infectious contagion that has turned much of the population into zombies, or xombies. It’s discovered that the outbreak began with women, but Lulu seems to have a rare genetic disorder that leaves her immune. Her mother is not so lucky. Lulu barely escapes, hitching a ride with a man who could very well be her father as he races toward a nuclear sub set to carry top-secret information that could be mankind’s last hope. The ship’s crew, a handful of soldiers and boys barely trained for service, are suspicious of Lulu, but she soon proves herself to be an important and resourceful asset to the survivors. As the sub treks north, towards a destination known only to the captain, Lulu and her fellow travelers fight against all odds to avoid infection and live another day. Greatshell’s zombie apocalypse tale was originally published in 2004. Now retitled and reprinted, with a sequel on the way, Xombies: Apocalypse Blues makes for an amusing zombie-filled read with a bit of a twist and a cliffhanger of an ending. 11/09 Becky Lejeune

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