Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Review: Relentless by Dean Koontz

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Bantam; First Edition first Printing edition (June 9, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0553807145
ISBN-13: 978-0553807141

We are introduced to the sweet but goofy Cubby who is a best-selling author. His wife, Penny is the daughter of survivalists and also an author, but of of children's books. They are the parents of six year old Milo who is a genius and currently working on a project he is unable to even begin to explain to his dad. They have a very interesting dog who, although not a collie, is named Lassie. Lassie is indeed, a very special dog.

Cubby and his family are plunged into a nightmare when book reviewer Shearman Waxx reviews Cubby's recently released book and skewers it. Despite Penny's warnings to "let it go", Cubby just can't. When he finds out that the reviewer frequents a restaurant where he and his family dine, he takes Milo to lunch in order to check the guy out. A brief encounter in the restaurant bathroom soon has Cubby wishing he'd followed his wife's advice.

Koontz has done a great job developing the characters and plot. The good guys were thoroughly likable...the bad guys thoroughly evil. At times funny, always terrifying, this book has it all. If you're a Koontz fan, you will enjoy this book. I know I did...I read it in a matter of hours.


Bestselling novelist Cullen 'Cubby' Greenwich's book is an across-the-board triumph - except for the vicious, inaccurate remarks by the much-feared, seldom-seen critic, Shearman Waxx, in the nation's premier newspaper. Cubby knows he should ignore the review. His wife, Penny, a children's book author and illustrator, knows it. Their brilliant six-year-old, Milo, affectionately dubbed 'Spooky,' knows it. Even their non-collie, Lassie, seems to know it.
Cubby only wants to get a look at the mysterious recluse whose mere opinion can make or break a career - or a life. But Shearman Waxx isn't what Cubby expects; and neither is the escalating terror that follows what seemed to be an innocent encounter. For Waxx has ways of dealing with those who cross him that Cubby is only beginning to fathom. Soon the likeable family man finds himself in a desperate struggle with a relentless sociopath. And just when things can't seem to get any worse, he and those he loves are introduced to the mother of all evil in a character only Dean Koontz could invent: Shearman's mom.

A Review: Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd; First Edition edition (November 1969)
ISBN-10: 0002311178
ISBN-13: 978-0002311175

Although I enjoy reading mysteries, I'd never read anything by Agatha Christie. I really didn't care for it and I found myself becoming rather bored at the drawn out pace of the narrative.

During preparations for a Halloween party, 13 year old Joyce Reynolds announces she had witnessed a murder. Since she was known for not telling the truth, no one paid much attention. After the party she was found dead, drowned in an apple bobbing tub. Present at the party is Ariadne Oliver, a famous mystery writer, who turns to her old friend Hercule Poirot to solve the crime.

During Poirot's investigation he discovers that it is entirely possible that Joyce really did witness a murder. It is rather interesting to observe Poirot making his rounds of all the characters, asking what appear to be pointless questions, then drawing the past and the present together to solve the mystery.

I will admit, the book got more interesting once I got past the pointless narrative in the beginning. The plot was interesting but other than Poirot and Oliver, the characters were not really well developed. Over all I found this book to be merely mediocre. However, after reading some reader reviews referencing some of her other books, I'm going to give it another try and read another one.


At a Hallowe’en party, Joyce – a hostile thirteen-year-old – boasts she once witnessed a murder. When no-one believes her, she storms off home. Within hours her body is found, still in the house, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub.

That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the ‘evil presence’. But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or a double-murderer …

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Completed: 2009 1st in a Series Challenge

Finished! Click on the titles to read my reviews.

1. Rules of Prey by John Sandford (Prey series)
2. Along Came a Spider by James Patterson (Alex Cross series)
3. 1st to Die by James Patterson (Women's Murder Club)
4. Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell (Scarpetta series)
5. Hornet's Nest by Patricia Cornwell (Andy Brazil series)
6. The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver (Lincoln Rhyme series)
7. The Cold Moon by Jeffery Deaver (Kathryn Dance series)
8. "A" Is For Alibi by Sue Grafton (Alphabet series)
9. Split Second by David Baldacci (King and Maxwell series)
10. At Risk by Patricia Cornwell (Win Garano series)
11. Shallow Graves by Jeffery Deaver (John Pellam series)
12. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (Twilight series)

A Review: Hornet's Nest by Patricia Cornwell

Hardcover: 377 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam & Sons 1996
ISBN-10: 0399142282
ASIN: B0002Z0HW4

Finishing this books means I've finished the 2009 1st in a Series Challenge on J. Kaye's Book Blog. This means I've read 12 books that are the first in any series by any author.

This is the story-about two women top cops and a young male newspaper reporter in Charlotte, N.C. A series of murders of men from out of town who are pulled from their rental cars, sexually mutilated, marked with orange spray paint and shot, creates tension in Charlotte. And there the credibility ends.

Reporter Andy Brazil is assigned to ride along with Deputy Chief Virginia West in order to report on police activity. West is not too happy about having to go back on the streets, especially with this naive young man. Andy is just too perfect...gorgeous, well-built, gifted tennis player, outstanding reporter, has a photographic memory, and still a virgin at's just too much. Add that to his goody-two-shoes personality and he's just a bit too precious.

Police Chief Judy Hammer, who wears kick-ass suits and is loved by everyone except the local politicians and her husband, has to deal not only with the growing number of serial killings, but also her selfish, self-destructive husband. I really like Chief Hammer and don't believe she deserves to be immortalized in this mediocre writing.

And then there's West's cat Niles. I don't know what Cornwell was thinking when she put this character in the story. Not only does Niles think human thoughts, he knows he is descended from the Egyptians and believes that the USBank tower, which he can see from a window, is his King. By staring at the tower, he percieved that crime was going to be committed and even gave West a clue about it. Puh..leese!

It amazes me that Cornwell could create such a strong, credible characters in the Scarpetta series, yet fail so miserably with a new series. The addition of animals who think and plan is just so silly. I appreciate that maybe she was trying to write something not so serious and more light-hearted but it just doesn't work.

Synopsis (from the author's website)

The creator of Kay Scarpetta, the most fascinating character in contemporary crime fiction, now cunningly reveals the heart and soul of a metropolitan police department. With Charlotte as her simmering background, she propels us into the core of the force through the lives of a dynamic trio of heroes: Andy Brazil, an ambitious younger reporter for The Charlotte Observer and an eager - sometimes too eager-volunteer cop; Police Chief Judy Hammer, the professionally strong yet personally troubled guardian of Charlotte's law and order; and her deputy chief, Virginia West, a genuine head-turner who is married to her job. To walk the beat with Hammer, West, and Brazil is to learn the inner secrets of police work - the tension and the tedium, the hilarity and the heartbreak, the unexpected pump of adrenaline and the rush of courage that can lead to heroics ... or death.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Review: B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton

Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (November 29, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312939000
ISBN-13: 978-0312939007

I really like Grafton's Alphabet series. Her heroine, Kinsey Milhone is easy to, tough and resourceful.

Kinsey is hired by Beverly Danzinger to find her sister Elaine Boldt, a wealthy widow who was last seen leaving her California condo and boarding a plane to Florida. It seemed like a pretty straightforward case until Kinsey discovers that just before Elaine's disappearance, a woman was murdered next door to Elaine's condo and the house was torched with the body inside.

Kinsey travels between California and Florida in her quest to solve the mystery. While in Boca Raton where Elaine has a condo, she meets Julia Ochsner who is an absolute hoot and is delighted to help Kinsey. She's 88 years old with arthritis, a dowager's hump the size of a backpack and hair that looks like dandelion fuzz. She claims that all her dear friends have died and now she's stuck with the crabby ones. When Beverly tells Kinsey to stop searching, Julia is so excited about the case that she hires Kinsey to keep looking.

I've read several of Grafton's other alphabet books and so far this one is my favorite. Kinsey is just a delight and the plot is complex but no so much that you can't follow it.

Synopsis (from the author's website)

Beverly Danziger looked like an expensive, carefully wrapped package from a good but conservative shop. Only her compulsive chatter hinted at the nervousness beneath her cool surface. It was a nervousness out of all proportion to the problem she placed before Kinsey Millhone. There was an absent sister. A will to be settled -- a matter of only a few thousand dollars. Mrs. Danziger did not look as if she needed a few thousand dollars. And she didn't seem like someone longing for a family reunion. Still, business was slow, and even a private investigator has bills to pay. Millhone took the job. It looked routine.

Elaine Boldt's wrappings were a good deal flashier than her sisters, but they signaled the same thing: The lady had money. A rich widow in her early forties, she owned a condo in Boca Raton and another in Santa Teresa. According to the manager of the California building, she was last seen draped in her $12,000 lynx coat heading for Boca Raton. According to the manager of the Florida building, she never got there. But someone else had and she was camping out illegally in Mrs. Boldt's apartment. The job was beginning to seem a bit less routine. It turned tricky when Beverly Danziger ordered Millhone to drop the case and it took on an ominous quality when Aubrey Danziger surfaced, making all kinds of wild accusations about his wife. But it only became sinister when Millhone learned that just days before Elaine Boldt went missing, her next-door neighbor and bridge partner had been murdered and the killer was still at large.

A house destroyed by arson. A brutally murdered woman. A missing lynx coat. An apartment burgled of valueless papers, another ransacked in a melee of mindless destruction. And more murder. As Millhone digs deeper into the case, she finds herself in a nightmarish hall of mirrors in which reality is distorted by illusion and nothing -- except danger -- is quite what it seems.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Review: Whispers by Dean Koontz

Publisher: Putnam (January 1, 1980)
ASIN: B001O5N39A

The story begins with a fairly simple plot. Successful screenwriter Hilary Thomas does not know she is being stalked by Bruno Frye, a winery owner she met while doing research for one of her movies. That is until he confronts her in her home and attempts to rape and murder her. She scares him off by shooting at him but when she reports the incident to the police, they do not believe her. Detective Tony Clemenza is the only police officer who gives her the benefit of the doubt. However, when Frye returns to kill her, she stabs him to death and after finding his body, the attitudes of the police change.

Here's where it begins to get complicated. Frye believes that his dead mother, who abused him terribly as a child, is returning from the dead in the bodies of women who resemble her. But when Frye returns even after he has been found dead, autopsied and embalmed the terror returns for Hilary and Detective Clemenza.

If you read the author's words you will learn that writing this book took a physical and emotional toll. At first he didn't realize why. A decade later, he could look back on the book and understand that he was writing out of painful personal experience. The main characters in Whispers suffer terrible, violent childhoods. Some overcome those traumas, and some do not; indeed, one of them becomes a serial killer. Koontz had lived through a childhood marked by physical and psychological violence and although his experience was not like that of Hillary, and certainly not like that of Bruno, he was nevertheless drawing upon his own life for the emotional content of the novel.

This book is a definite page turner, absorbing and full of suspense.


Hilary Thomas is still struggling to cope with the nightmarish memories of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her parents. Tony Clemenza is a police detective who dreams of earning a living as an artist. But he lacks faith in his talent and takes refuge in the fact that he is, at least, a good cop. Bruno Frye is rich but unhappy, insecure. Frye is a killer, compelled to slaughter beautiful women. But there's a special dark place, filled with menacing whispers, where something hideous waits to kill Frye. Some people think Hilary/s report of Frye/s first attack on her is a lie or the work of a fevered imagination. But Tony believes and tries to help her. Tony and Hilary fall in love, but their chances of living to enjoy each other are slim. Frye is a persistent, efficient killing machine. Nothing will stop him; not even death.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Review: 7th Heaven by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Hardcover: 376 pages
Language: English
Women's Murder Club
Publisher: Little Brown & Co Feb 2008
ISBN-10: 0316017701
ISBN-13: 9780316017701

I've always been a fan of Patterson's Women's Murder Club series and this novel is no exception. It was gripping and suspenseful with characters you can relate to. Someone is setting fires to homes of the wealthy in and around San Francisco, leaving the residents dead, burned alive. We know who is committing the murders, but we don't know why. Detective Lindsay Boxer and her partner, Rich Conklin, are trying to find the arsonists while already working on another prominent case, the disappearance of Michael Campion, the son of a former governor. This is one of Patterson's strengths as a writer...the ability to weave together two separate mysteries and tie them together at the end, delivering a satisfying conclusion.

The other members of the Women's Murder Club, DA Yuki Castellano, news reporter Cindy Thomas and medical examiner Claire Washburn, don't play as prominent a role as in past novels. The focus, as it pertains to the characters' personal lives, is on Lindsay, her devotion to her work and her partner and how that relationship affects her relationship with her boyfriend, Joe.

I would easily recommend all of the Women's Murder Club books to anyone who enjoys suspense and mystery. It is not really necessary to read them in order although they occasionally refer to something in a previous book. But even so, these references don't confuse.

Synopsis (from the author's website)

The beloved son of California's former governor disappears into the ether. The angel-faced prostitute Junie Moon admits to the crime and Yuki Castellano is faced with the media circus surrounding her prosecution. But is Junie Moon really to blame? At the same time, a serial arsonist is torching some of San Franciso's most beautiful homes and leaving it's occupants to suffer terrible deaths in the flames. It doesn't add up, but Lindsay Boxer is charged with finding the truth.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Review: Sail by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

Hardcover: 388 pages
Language: English
Publisher: Little Brown & Co Jun 2008
ISBN-10: 0316018708
ISBN-13: 9780316018708

I guess an author can run out of ideas for a believable plot and multi-dimensional characters after he or she has written dozens of books. The last two Patterson novels I've read have been disappointing, including this one (although not as disappointing as Cross Country). There was really nothing new here. Unusual for Patterson though, he reveals the villain early in the book.

Katherine Dunne is a cardiac surgeon who inherited 100 million dollars and a large sail boat when her husband died at sea. She has three bratty kids, although the youngest is pretty likable, and a second husband, Peter Carlyle, a fancy schmancy defense attorney. Unbelievably, Katherine decides that two months at sea with her children and ex-brother-in-law Jake will bring the family together. First, Peter isn't going (although her supports her decision), and second, her brother-in-law is in love with her. Not a good combination for building a stronger family.

As soon as they are out to sea everything falls apart. The oldest son is caught smoking pot, the daughter jumps overboard in a suicide attempt and the boat begins taking on water. It only gets worse from there. I won't spoil it for anyone who wants to read it, but let's just say they escape sure death time after time, and in ways that just made me shake my head. It seems that the author fell back on sensationalism and exclamation points instead of substance to keep you reading.

Still, it wasn't a bad book if you don't expect it to be up to the quality of Patterson's Women's Murder Club and Alex Cross series.

Synopsis (from the author's website)

A perfect family vacation turns into a life-or-death nightmare.

Only an hour out of port, the Dunne family's summer getaway to paradise is already turning into the trip from hell. Carrie, the eldest, has thrown herself off the side of the boat in a bid for attention. Sixteen-year-old Mark is getting high belowdecks. And Ernie, their ten-year-old brother, is nearly catatonic. It's shaping up to be the worst vacation ever.

Katherine Dunne had hoped this trip would bring back the togetherness they'd lost when her husband died four years earlier. Maybe if her new husband, a high-powered Manhattan attorney, had been able to postpone his trial and join them it would all have been okay....

Suddenly, a disaster hits–and it's perfect. Faced with real danger, the Dunnes rediscover the meaning of family and pull together in a way they haven't in a long time. But this catastrophe is just a tiny taste of the danger that lurks ahead: someone wants to make sure that the Dunne family never makes it out of paradise alive.