Read one, get 2

 

Deceitful Moon: Manny Williams Series, Book 2 (Unabridged)

Author: Rick Murcer Date: 2015 Narrator: DJ Holte Provider: Rick Murcer, LLC Running Time: 8 h 10 min Audible Enhanced Audio Detective Manny Williams and his partner, Sophie Lee, are called to the scene of a disturbing and gruesome murder at Lansing’s local adult playhouse, the White Kitty. The circumstances surrounding the murder rocket deeper into the bizarre as the forensic evidence reveals more questions than answers. As he begins his investigation, Manny is interrupted by a phone call that shakes his world. His nemesis, serial killer Dr. Fredrick Argyle, has killed again and sent the evidence to prove it. Argyle’s heinous actions force Manny and Sophie back to the Caribbean. All the while the body count rises in his home city. Two serial killers. Each threatening to change his life forever. One succeeds.

 

This is an extremely well plotted mystery thriller with 2 beautifully constructed mysteries, and vibrant characters.  It is the second book in the series (I read the first book some years ago), and, while this book can be read as a standalone novel, I think it best if the reader reads this series in order, because these stories interlock so closely.  However, even if you read this one first, I think you will find it absorbing.

 

There are 2 sets of villains, and 2 sets of violent crimes that must be solved as quickly as possible, and one set of crimes affects every major character in the book in stunningly surprising ways.  The villain who is carried over from the 1st book reminded me of Hannibal Lecter in his viciousness and brilliance.  He is a bit less stable, or rather, unstable in very different ways, but his instability in no way impairs his effectiveness.  Of such characters nightmares are born!

 

There is a fairly large cast of characters to keep track of, and all of them are important, and contribute significantly to the development of the plot.  Some are wonderfully sympathetic, and a few are not only that, but charmingly quirky, as well, and the author presents them with verve and compassion.  Not only are these people law enforcement professionals, but they are extremely decent, good individuals, as well, and that makes investment on what happens to them on this reader’s part inevitable.

 

I do have one quibble with the plot, and seeing it surprised me, because the author is so meticulous in every other detail.  When a police officer, of any rank, is either wounded or killed in the line of duty, his family is NOT informed by phone.  Officers are sent to her home or wherever she happens to be, she is told personally, and then escorted to the hospital.  In addition, the closest waiting room will be packed with other police officers, on or off duty, to provide support to their fallen comrade and his/her family.  If the wounded officer is in the ICU and the ICU waiting room cannot accommodate them, they will find the closest available place, and pretty much make it their own. 

 

Mr. Holte provided a stunning narration, the excellence of which fully complimented  this very, very fine book.

 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased review via the courtesy of Audiobookblast dot com

 

 

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An unexpected Delight

Dangerous games DB 48901

Aiken, Joan. Reading time 7 hours, 46 minutes. Read by Patricia Kilgarriff. A production of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress. Subjects: Adventure ; Fantasy Fiction Series: Wolves chronicles volume: 10 Description: Dido Twite has been ordered to find Lord Herodsfoot, King James III’s roving ambassador who looks for new games for the king. She is headed to Aratu, but she must be careful, because the area is inhabited by dangerous creatures. Sequel to Wolves of Willoughby Chase (DB 30653). For grades 5-8.

 

A friend recently chastised me for dismissing a book because of its categorization, and this book makes me glad she did! I am not likely to dismiss a book, if the subject matter sounds interesting again, even if it is classified as YA, or seemingly recommended for certain grade levels.

 

Even though the elements drawn from the world with which we are familiar used as inspiration for the fantasy world of this book are easily recognizable, and even though the conflict between the nontechnological “forest people” and the “foreigners” are a bit clichéd, the author combines all of these elements to create a lovely, delightfully unique world, and imbues her characters with unique and entirely believable personalities, giving each of them depth and complexity.

 

The writing ranges between excellent and exquisite, making this “juvenile” adventure a pure joy to read.

 

Patricia Kilgarriff provided an excellent narration, and her reading style enhanced this book charmingly.

 

A Really Cold Case

Justice Delayed: The Catherine Janet Walsh Story (Unabridged)

Author: Steve Hallock Date: 2015 Narrator: Kevin Pierce Provider: The Artists’ Orchard, LLC Running Time: 7 h 06 min Audible Enhanced Audio An estranged husband who was a former high school sweetheart…. A suitor spurned after a night of boozing and dancing…. A secret early-morning lover…. These were three of the five viable suspects police were investigating after 23-year-old Catherine Janet Walsh’s parents discovered her half-nude body in her bed that Saturday morning of a sultry Labor Day weekend in 1979. But there was not enough evidence to convict any of them. Thirty-two years later, thanks to the emerging science of DNA forensics, Detective Andrew Gall, who was the initial responding officer to the murder scene, had a prime suspect in this cold case. Sperm left on the stored evidence – a nightgown, a robe tie to bind the young secretary’s hands, and a bandana used to strangle her – pointed to one of the five men who had motive and/or opportunity to kill her. But this true saga of liquor- and sex-tinged murder that disrupted a small riverside blue-collar town where crime was rare and everybody was related or friends, was only beginning. Now came the trial – no prosecutorial slam dunk, despite the scientific and forensic evidence – as the story of the murder was told in a courtroom drama involving internationally renowned forensics and DNA experts, conflicting character testimony, questionable alibis, and compromised memories of one long night and early morning of dancing, drinking, partying, and death.

 

The events of this True Crime book are related carefully, and the reader is guided through this complicated case.  In addition, the author provides the background context that make the people interesting, believable and multi-dimensional.

 

The book is beautifully documented, too, with extensive transcripts from testimony, police interviews and forensic reports.  This documentation adds to the interest, and deepens the understanding of what happened over a very long period of time.

 

However, this book is more than the story of a crime.  It presents significant information on the science behind the use of DNA evidence in criminal investigation, and also presents some of the issues surrounding this relatively new forensic tool, including political, ethical and moral issues that are being considered, and the potential effects the use of DNA information could have on criminal investigation and prosecution, both positive and negative.

 

Although reading some of this material required concentration, which removes this from escape reading, I found this book both interesting and thought provoking, and I was impressed with its meticulous attention to detail.

 

Kevin Pierce provided his always superb narration.  He reads nonfiction in a low key style, but he is never bland, monotone or lacking in expression.  He never dramatizes, but doing so would be inappropriate and distracting in this kind of book, and he always finds, and stays in, just the right “key”.

 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased review via the courtesy of AudioBookBlast dot com.

Love, danger and rain forests

The edge DB 48769

Coulter, Catherine. Reading time 9 hours, 54 minutes. Read by David Hartley-Margolin. A production of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress. Subjects: Romantic suspense fiction Series: FBI thriller volume: 04 Description: Recovering from a car bomb, FBI agent Ford MacDougal experiences a drowning sensation. The next morning he learns his sister Jilly is in a coma from driving her car over an Oregon oceanside cliff. As Jilly awakens and disappears, Ford begins tracking down clues. Strong language, violence, and explicit descriptions of sex. Bestseller.

 

This is, I believe, a Harlequin Romance, and while reading it, I was struck by the thought that Harlequin Romances had certainly grown up since I was introduced to them in my teens. If this series is an example of the quality of what they are now producing, they have matured, too.

 

Yes, the romantic elements are all pervasive in this book. Everyone seems to be involved with someone, and those involvements, both positive and destructive, are treated in loving detail by the author, but the Romantic elements do not distract from the story, because the author is skillful enough to weave them into her main plot and make them seem natural developments of that plot.

 

But this is also a thriller, and here, the author shines. We are taken from a small town in Washington State to a rain forest In Costa Rica, and along the way, the characters (most of whom are very well drawn) are subjected to more dangers than any life should hold in its entirety. However, the characters have the skills to deal with them, and what they do is usually credible both within the context of the story and human capabilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A nice little lecture on morality

Road to Revenge: A Stripper’s Story: The Garbage Collector Series, Book 10 (Unabridged)

Author: Justice Gray Date: 2015 Narrator: JP Braukus Provider: Reality Today Forum Incorporated Running Time: 5 h 04 min Audible Enhanced Audio The 10th book in the Garbage Collector Series! Cheri was a stripper, when she met her husband, Spike. Spike was a biker and a customer at the strip joint where Cheri worked. She got pregnant soon after they met, and she convinced him to marry her. Cheri quit being a stripper, but Spike didn’t quit going to the strip clubs. Their marriage lasted for a few years, but after the son they had together died in a horrible accident, things began to fall apart, and Spike got into gambling, Spike was never the same; things were never the same. After maxing out credit cards, and then losing their home, Cheri filed for divorce and moved away. After the divorce, Cheri was going to move out of state with her daughter, Megan, to begin a new life. Being homeless they ended up sleeping at the side of the road, and were abducted, but after some struggles and a couple days later, got away. After that, Cheri was able to get help for herself and her daughter, and eventually started working at a local truck stop café as a waitress, where Cheri met Jim. Cheri soon moved in with Jim, but while she was off working, Jim was after Megan, who was a good looking young teenager, wanting to be her pimp. The money attracted Megan and she ended up being a teenage hooker. When Cheri found out, she was furious with Jim and with Megan. Megan ran away, Cheri became sick with grief, which made life miserable for Jim and for her. Oftentimes, she would not get out of bed, and refused to do anything. Suddenly Cheri passed away, and Jim was suspected of drugging her, although it couldn’t be proven, as Jim was quite clever in covering his tracks. The body was cremated almost immediately, so an autopsy was never done. Megan got word of her mother’s death, and so plotted revenge against Jim, changing her appearance, and…. Justice warns that you should be cautious of who you spend your time with.

 

While both the writing and the narration of this book were competent, the characters were one dimensional, shallow, predictable and fairly uninteresting.  In addition, there was nothing either original or unique in this plot.  In fact, it could have come entirely from any number of TV soap operas.

 

This wasn’t a bad book, but neither was it particularly good, because its message was entirely too blatant, its plot elements were too trite and stereotypical, and its characters were too clichéd and one dimensional. Frankly, this book read more like a morals lecture for pre teens than a novel.

 

I received this book in exchange for this unbiased review via the courtesy of Audiobookblast dot Com.

Fire and Ice

Tipping Point: Action-Adventure Thriller (Unabridged)

Author: Simon Rosser Date: 2015 Narrator: Chris MacDonnell Provider: Simon Rosser/Schmall World Publishing Running Time: 15 h 33 min Audible Enhanced Audio In 1903, the Arctic’s fabled Northwest Passage is navigated for the first time. In 2012, an eminent climatologist is found dead in his London apartment. For Robert Spire, an environmental lawyer, what seems like a standard executor’s appointment in his client’s will turns out to be anything but, as he is thrust into an international conspiracy involving a plan to push the Arctic to its tipping point and the world to disaster…. Tipping Point is a fast-paced, climate-fiction action thriller with a perfect blend of action, suspense, adventure, and thrills to keep you listening until the very end. Two dead climatologists… When eminent climatologist Dr. Dale Stanton – in the process of studying the Atlantic Ocean’s thermohaline circulation – is found dead in his London apartment, environmental lawyer Robert Spire is given the task of administering a large legacy left to global warming organizations. The job is straightforward until a second climatologist, Dr. Jack Bannister, drops dead on the other side of the Atlantic. An international conspiracy… Spire’s client – suspicious of her son’s death – asks him to travel to San Francisco to investigate Dr. Jack Bannister’s death. While there, he meets French climatology professor Francois Trimaud, who is working on a geoengineering project to seed the Arctic Ocean with an experimental substance – the aim to prevent, or at least slow, the Arctic’s melting ice. Spire soon discovers that someone has other plans for the region and wants the climatologists dead at all costs. A looming ecological disaster… As evidence of increased glacial melt in Greenland and reduction in the Arctic ice mounts, Spire becomes determined to join Trimaud on the research vessel Mercure Blanc, on a joint US/French expedition to the Arctic. He soon finds, however, that the lives of all onboard are in peril….

 

Although there is plenty of action in this book, murder, mayhem, International conspiracy at its most Byzantine, and semi-natural disasters, this book provides fascinating insight into some crucial issues dealing with the effects of global warming, and what could happen with the melting of Polar ice.  While the hero isn’t a law enforcement officer, he also isn’t the usual “innocent who stumbles into danger” either.  He has, as we learn early in the book, had over 14 years of Martial Arts training, and, as an environmental lawyer, he is familiar with these issues, as well.

 

While eminently instructive, this is high test fiction, and the author weaves fact and story together in ways that make the factual material an integral part of the thriller fiction.

 

The narrator gave an extremely professional performance.  Though his style is low key, that quiet, sometimes almost casual narration highlights the relentless action and the violence of the conspirators.

 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased review via the courtesy of Audiobookblast dot com.

A Matter of inheritance

God save the Queen! DB 47615

Cannell, Dorothy. Reading time 8 hours, 19 minutes. Read by Mitzi Friedlander. A production of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress. Subjects: Humor ; Mystery and Detective Stories Description: Sir Henry Gossinger’s only heir, Vivian, is not interested in Gossinger Hall. So he has decided to leave the mansion to his butler, Hutchins–an act that will right an old wrong done by his Gossinger ancestors. But then Hutchins is murdered. Vivian and Hutchins’ granddaughter uncover other family secrets while searching for the killer.

This is an absolutely charming, gently humorous cozy mystery, and it is classic in its construction.  Cozy mysteries have become popular, but all too many of them depend on what I call “hooks” for their primary appeal, and all too often, the mysteries are not well constructed, no matter the lure of everything from gourmet cooking to dog breeding and showing to crossword puzzle construction.

 

There are rules for a good cozy mystery, and this author follows all of them.  The result is a mystery that is as delicately and intricately constructed as a piece of the finest needle lace.  Each element of the story, even the seemingly trivial incidents, dialog and descriptions have a definite place in the story, and such trivial things, when explained, help to resolve the puzzle.  Each element interacts with, and is interdependent on, every other, and observing the way the author has shaped her mystery is more than half the fun of reading it.

 

Add to this a cast of delightful and often quirky characters, an easy, sometimes slightly old fashioned writing style, and the narration of Mitzi Friedlander, and the result is a treat that melts on the mind like the very best meringue.  I highly recommend this book to just about anyone.  Oh, and the romance is handled with grace and delicacy, too!