Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Dead as a Doornail" The Southern Vampire Mysteries book 5 by Charlaine Harris

"Dead as a Doornail"
The Southern Vampire Mysteries book 5
by Charlaine Harris
Published 2005 by Ace books

Damn you Charlaine Harris, Sookie Stackhouse, & HBO's "True Blood" series. You got me addicted to an fun series of books. Okay, that's a bit about just, "Darn you?" While most of the blame for my addiction goes to Charlaine Harris, I have to also blame HBO for turning these books into a series. I watched the first episode and was hooked and then had to read the books, now I'm hooked on those. I guess there are worse situations.

Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries not only contain vampires but they also contain most of the folk from the supernatural world, there are werewolves weretigers, werepanthers, shape shifters of all sorts, menads, fairies, witches, goblins and even dwarves of myth. Not only that but each story is a real mystery thriller that is fun to solve, at least for the reader, maybe not so much for Sookie Stackhouse, who is always getting beat up.

Sookie Stackhouse is a bar-maid at Merlotte's bar in Bon Temps, Louisiana. She has what she calls a disability, she can hear other people's thoughts. She tries her best not to but sometimes it is necessary. Sookie also lives in a world where vampires have "come out of the coffin," in other words, the vampires have let the world know they exist. It's not such a bad thing because now they can drink a newly concocted synthetic blood (True Blood) and not have to feed off humans. Not all the vamps are full supporters of this which lead to some chilling moments. Sookie's boss, Sam, is the owner of Merlotte's and he has a secret, he's a shape-shifter. Now this is the interesting part, shape shifters and other mythical folk have not let their presence be known to the world, they are waiting to see how the vamps fare.

So now you have the back story, here's what goes on in this book.

Vampires, were-creatures, shifters and one fairy godmother are all up against a sniper with an apparent aversion to non-humans. As if trying to discover who's behind the shootings isn't enough, the telepathic Sookie has to cope with a few other distractions: her "Were" friend, Alcide Herveaux, needs her help in his father's bid to become the next leader of the local werewolf pack; her boss gets shot; her house partly burns down. So as you can see Sookie's calendar is full.

These books are very creatively written and, being told from Sookie's point of view, provide some great humorous moments. Humor, romance, supernatural beings, mysteries to solve all wrap up into some great stories that bring out the Scooby Doo feeling for adults. Check them out they are fun.

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posted by Gil T. @ 10:04 PM Comments: 0

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Bad Things Happen" by Harry Dolan

"Bad Things Happen"
by Harry Dolan
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons

So do you ever get bored with a whodunit novel because by the first chapter you've already figured it out? I do, and the more I read mysteries and detective stories it seems easier to figure out. Well, this is definitely not the case with Harry Dolan's debut novel "Bad Things Happen." In fact just when you think you've got it figured out Dolan throws in another possibility and suspect and red herring, you have to figure out which is which. That's what makes reading this book fun.

From the very first sentence, "The shovel has to meet certain requirements," the reader is thrust into the world of mysteries, writers, publishers and murder.

David Loogan is a man with a past. A past he doesn't want anyone to know. Maybe that's a red herring or maybe that's true. Maybe he's just a private person. When asked what he does for a living he says he's a gardener or a juggler depending on the person. But when he picks up a copy of a magazine called "Gray Streets," David becomes a writer. David writes a story that fits into the realm of the magazine, full of whodunits, mysteries, murders and thrillers. The magazine is published in Ann Arbor, where David has recently rented from a professor who is on sabbatical.

David takes the manuscript, in an unmarked envelope, and anonymously delivers it to the magazine's editor. The next day David rewrites the story making it a little better and does the same with the rewrite. He does the same with a third re-write but this time when he goes to drop off the manuscript the owner of the magazine, Tom Kristoll, catches him and makes David an offer to become editor of "Gray Streets." David and Tom hit it off and become good friends. When David begins having an affair with Tom's wife the future is changed.

Tom calls David late one night and asks for his help in burying the body of a man killed in Tom's house. Soon Tom is found murdered. (or is it suicide?) The primary suspect in what is probably a murder is found dead in his car, at first it looks like suicide but Elizabeth Waishkey, the homicide detective is not sold on that idea. When the man who was supposed to have been buried by David and Tom shows up to help David solve the murder of Tom Kristoll the mystery moves on further.

With the constant turns and twists and subplots this is the kind of book that keeps you wondering what could possibly happen next. Let me be the first to tell you that this book does not give up it's secrets until the very end, and even then leaves you wondering. This is one of those perfect reads that you need to snuggle down next to a warm fire and read the night away.

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posted by Gil T. @ 7:53 PM Comments: 0

Friday, February 15, 2008

Book Review: "Mistress of the Art of Death" by Ariana Franklin

I have just read another very interesting historical fiction. But I was fooled as I was reading it. Let me clarify that a little, Ariana Franklin writes of murders and death around the year 1171 in Henry II's England. But Franklin uses the prose and style of today's thriller writers mixed in artfully with the language of the time. The story never falters nor did it leave the me confused by archaic language. I guess what I'm trying to say that without the Historical Fiction label this was a great thriller/mystery.

I think the best way to describe the synopsis of the book is to take the tv series CSI and plop the characters down in 12th century England. Adelia Aguilar, a female doctor (unheard of to the Brits, in fact a woman even dabbling in healing would probably be punished as a witch) specializes on listening to the dead and determining cause of death, much like modern medical examiners. Adelia is sent by the King of Sicily to help King Henry II with her companions to root out who is killing the children. The locals are accusing the Jews, but 3 of the 4 murders occured while the Jews were locked in the castle. The Christians don't let this stop their wild stories of Jews taking flight and eating children.

Adelia's companions are Simon of Naples, a Jew and investigator, trusted and employed by various European monarchs to sort out their more intractable problems. Mansur, a Marsh Arab, helped and sheltered by Dr Aguilar who found him running away from the monks who had him castrated as a child in order to preserve his soprano singing voice– a not uncommon occurrence. He is Adelia’s devoted protector.

Not does this book involve the thrill of the chase of tracking down a child killer but the prejudices and superstions of the time are explored and even at times hinder the investigation. The murderer, it is determined, is a returned Crusader, this puts nearly every male in town in suspicion. Even the tax collector Sir Rowley Picot. Notice the "Sir." Sir Rowley was knighted upon taking Henry II's first born's sword to the Holy Land during the crusade. He has his own motivations for tracking down the murderer. These are discovered when he tells his tale of his "adventures" on the Crusades.

There are several humorous occasions in the book to break the dark story line. My favorite, for some reason unknown to me, is when Adelia asked if the coroner looked at the children and the response was (paraphrasing here)yes but he had no info on their death, the coroner has no need to know medical things.

All in all this book has great characterization and the strong female lead character of Adelia at times seems out of place for the century but makes the book that much stronger. If you are a fan of CSI, turn off your TV and pick up this book and get lost in a great thriller.

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posted by Gil T. @ 10:02 PM Comments: 0