Countdown City by Ben H. WInters

I was so excited to get the call from the library that Countdown City, book 2 in The Last Policeman trilogy arrived.  This book picks up where The Last Policeman left off, the world is still ending, Detective Hank Palace has been “let go” from the police department, people are off bucket listing, and Nico is still involved with conspiracy theorists.

These books are well written, exciting and contain fantastic black dead-pan humor.  Ex-detective Hank Palace is a man who just “keeps on keeping on”, he is not super hero or a larger than life character, more of  a regular man in extraordinary circumstances.  Hank meets a wide cast of characters as he works his missing person case, each person has their own story and their own way of handling the impending doom.  The reader meets Dr.  Fenton again, in the first books she was performing autopsies, now with the need so great, she works on the living.  Her bedside manner provides some of the humor in the book,  as this excerpt of her conversation with a shooting victim shows:

“As circulation improves over the next couple weeks, you’ll start to get a persistent tingling, and then you’ll need physical therapy to work toward regular functioning.  Then, around early October, a massive object will strike the earth and you will die.”

The mystery is well plotted and believable  with several threads of the plot coming together.  I can’t wait for the final book to come out.

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True Grit by Charles Portis

A classic western that was dramatized by John Wayne in a film by the same name.  In this case, I saw the movie years before reading the book.  I haven’t read a western in years, not since indulging myself as a child in my father’s guilty pleasure, the Edge pulp fiction western series.  I picked this book up from the library after it was selected for a book club on Goodreads.  It is quite a change of pace for me, but a welcome one.  The character of Mattie Ross shows herself, like Rooster Cogburn, to have true grit.  This is Americana at its best.  All the determination and strength and loyalty that were values America held in high regard are displayed here.  The action is non-stop and the dialogue is well written and engaging.   This is a book that might not be popular today, not always politically correct, no romance at all, and the theme of retribution and justice served is not popular in this time of forgiveness themed books.

The very plain speaking, straight forward Mattie’s narration of the story lends an authentic air to the book.  You can visualize this stubborn, “old before her time”, no nonsense girl demanding nothing less than justice for the murder of her father.  The ending is perfect, not Hollywood perfect as it is not the ending of the John Wayne move, but perfect.  As an aside, John Wayne was the ideal Rooster Cogburn.

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

 

This is my first Elizabeth Peter’s book.  It was a selection for the Cozy Mystery Corner group at Goodreads last month but I just got to it now.  My library has a rather large selection of the books in this series.  I am glad that I got to this book.  Amelia Peabody is a fantastic character, as are Evelyn and Mr. Emerson.  They are well developed three dimensional characters,   The plot was well developed with a lot of depth through the details and description.   Ms. Peters skillful writing immersed me as a reader in Amelia’s adventures.  The humor is well done.  It doesn’t overwhelm the story or become ridiculous.

In humor, mood, and some characterizations, the book reminds me of the series of Mummy movies starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, which I loved.  Great cozy mystery that reads more like an adventure.  I will definitely read more in this series.

 

Covet by Tracey Garvis Graves

I received an ARC of this novel at BEA in New York from the publisher.

I have not read the author’s previous work, On the Island, but the cover really grabbed my attention and that is primarily why I accepted the copy.

This is not a typical read for me.  I am not a fan of “infidelity is something that just happens” kind of stories.  But there is really nothing typical about this book.  The author is a very talented writer.  The characters are drawn so sympathetically that the reader is drawn into their lives. These are characters that under other circumstances or in a less talented author’s hands might just be seen as another group of overprivileged whiners.

I particularly am impressed with the author’s ability to convey the stresses and strains on a marriage that come with the loss of a job and financial hardship.  The treatment of emotional infidelity, feelings of abandonment, and depression are all sensitively handled. Chris, Clare and Daniel are all given voice in this book.  I will say that, for me, the sections about Chris and Clare and their marriage were much stronger than Daniel’s voice in the book.

This is not an easy book to read, especially if you have dealt with any of the myriad of issues explored on the pages of this book.  For fans of women’s fiction that deals with contemporary real life issues, this is definitely a worthwhile.

Top Ten Tuesday

This meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish to be found here.  The theme for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is:

top ten words/topics that make me not pick up a book

 

 

  1. World War II – Spending a childhood attending Department of Defense Schools in Heidelberg Germany complete with field trips to former concentration camps did this in for me.
  2. Christian – I don’t read to be preached at by someone I don’t know.
  3. YA – Just has no appeal to me (often tends to be bad romance in disguise)
  4. Infertility – depressing
  5. Suicidal – depressing
  6. Cancer – depressing (see a theme yet)
  7. Cassandra Clare – see Books of Amber for explanation
  8. Historical – usually just does not appeal although I will read non-fiction and memoirs.
  9.  forgiveness of infidelity – the books where the ex wife ends up best friends forever with her ex and his new wife that he cheated on her with and everything is soooo much better this way and rainbows and flowers and sunshine just shine down on all of us because we forgive each other….

ok…I’ve recovered from puking quietly in the corner

10. Urban fantasy – while I love epic fantasy like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, urban fantasy does nothing for me.  (often just tends to be romance in disguise)

Practically Perfect by Katie Fforde

 

I was introduced to Katie Fforde’s books by chance.  My local library happens to have quite a large selection and they caught my eye one day and I began reading through them one after the other.  I’ve really enjoyed them all, well written books with realistic characters in the romance/women’s fiction genre with satisfyingly happy endings. Somehow in my binge, I missed this one, it must have been checked out at the time.  Practically Perfect does not disappoint.  I particularly connected to this book because I had two points of commonality with the protagonist, Anna, extensive DIY home renovation and dog rescue.  In her case, it was Greyhound and in mine, Siberian Husky.

Anna has purchased a small cottage as an investment property.  It was gutted by a previous owner and not put back together and she is renovating it herself.  Anna has an ulterior motive for purchasing a cottage in this particular area involving an unresolved love interest from her past.

Anna is a great character, funny, independent, and a great friend to Chloe, her next door neighbor.  She is someone I could see myself being friends with easily.  Through the course of the story, Anna meets an irritating, or maybe not so irritating, building official, Chloe and her family, a lovely greyhound, and her long lost crush.  The story lines and characters weave together in a seamless fashion making it easy to get lost in the Anna’s world.  I love it when a book can pull me into the character’s life and out of the real world.

Although, I usually see Katie Fforde’s books classified as romance, I don’t feel that classification does them justice.  In Practically Perfect, just as much attention is paid to the other threads of the plot, such as friendship, family, and work as to the romance story line.  This makes reading the book a richer experience than just a romance novel.

Highly recommended read!

 

 

Death’s Autograph by Marianne MacDonald

 

I just found this series by Marianne MacDonald and my library system had the first book, Death’s Autograph. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more in the series.  The protagonist, Dido Hoare, is a book shop owner/book antiquarian, in her 30s and divorced.  She is smart and independent, a really likable character still reeling somewhat over her divorce from Davey.  Barnabas is Dido’s father, a retired professor, and her main support system. The love interest is a police officer who is working the case.

The main characters are interesting and fully developed, no ridiculously off beat people wandering around the story.  There is a slightly more menacing tone to this than most cozies, which often displace the danger or fear in a situation with humor. That is probably a marked difference from this and many newer cozies is the darker mood that it evokes.  The theme and the setting are both well done and ones that I enjoy.

The mystery has many threads that are all tied together with a common motive at the end.  In the last few chapters, everything comes together neatly.  This was a well constructed mystery with evidence of thought and care taken by the author.  I am wondering if the series is finished, the last book was published in 2006 and the website has not been updated.  Does anyone know if Marianne MacDonald is still writing?