Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blood Trail by C.J. Box

Title - Blood Trail
Author - C.J. Box
ISBN - 978-0399154881
Series - 8th in the Joe Pickett series
Genre -mystery/thriller
Number of pages - 320
Rating - 4.50 out of 5

Evoking the natural beauty of Wyoming's Big Horn Mountain, C.J. Box has penned a novel that is fast paced, packed with suspense, with more twists and turns than a forest trail.

Joe Pickett has been summoned by the governor to investigate the death of a hunter who was found hung in a tree and field dressed. A red poker chip is found near the body. Now forced to work with Randy Pope who had him fired in his last outing Joe discovers that this is not simply an isolated event - two other hunters have been murdered. A serial killer is hunting the hunters. This sends the state into a panic and the pressure mounts to find the killer.

Blood Trail holds your attention and is filled with local colour. There are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing who the killer is. The book contains more graphic violence than in his earlier books but is not overdone. The characters are well rounded and the plot is well executed. I look forward to reading more of C.J. Box's books.

Judgment Fire by Marilyn Meredith

Title - Judgment Fire
Author - Marilyn Meredith
ISBN -978-1-59426-484-9
Genre - Mystery
Number of pages - 139 pages
Rating - 3.75 out of 5

I probably have mentioned before in previous posts that I enjoy books that have First Nations and Native American protagonists. Once again Marilyn Meredith has produced another good novel starring Tempe Crabtree of Yanduchi heritage.

While on patrol Tempe Crabtree, the resident deputy of Bear Creek, comes across a van on fire. Behind the wheel is a local Shaman who warns Tempe that her life is in danger. When a house fire is used to cover up a murder, Tempe is once again warned by the Shaman and undergoes a ritual for protection that awakens old memories and puts her in danger.

Marilyn Meredith continues to deliver a good story that both informs the reader about Native spirituality and the prejudices that American Natives experience while at the same time giving the mystery lover a good "whodunnit." The tale is well plotted and the characters are well developed. Those who have been following the series will enjoy the growth in understanding and tolerance of Tempe's family and new readers will enjoy meeting Tempe and the new and reoccurring characters for the first time. My only complaint regarding the book is that it was too short.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cold Plague by Daniel Kalla

Title - Cold Plague
Author - Daniel Kalla
Genre - Thriller
ISBN - 978-0-7653-1833-6
Number of pages - 335
Rating 4 out of 5

I enjoy thrillers. A few weeks ago I came to the realization that I had not read any thrillers written by Canadians. I decides to remedy that situation and I am very glad that I did. Daniel Kalla's Cold Plague is a fast paced and smartly written thriller that kept me turning the pages to find out how it would end.

Scientists have discovered a way to tap the water from an unspoiled lake miles beneath the ice shelf in Antarctica. These waters are pristine, free from pollution, and filled with healthful minerals. Plans are made to bottle this water and sell it world wide.

Dr. Noah Haldane and his World Health Organization team are sent to examine an outbreak of Mad Cow disease in rural France. This outbreak is different in that rather than taking years to kill, those infected die within a 2-4 weeks. In spite of pressure to declare the outbreak as a rare occurrence, Noah begins to suspect that that there is something else contributing to the outbreak. As he searches for answers, Noah discovers unexplained deaths, disappearances, and finds his own life in danger.

Daniel Kalla has written a fine thriller. The intricate plot moves along quite well with enough clues that the observant reader will make important connections. The main characters are well developed and well rounded out. The medical and scientific aspects of the book are easy to understand and are accurate. The story is quite chilling because it engenders the feeling of "this could really happen." Cold Plague is a recent book by Kalla (2008). I plan to find his back list and read them as well.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Prepared For Rage by Dana Stabenow

Title - Prepared For Rage
Author - Dana Stabenow
Genre- Thriller
ISBN - 978-0312369736
Number of pages -304
Rating - 3.0 out of 5

Dana Stabenow has produced another coast guard thriller that is very up to date in its content and theme. Cal Schuyler is captain of a Coast Guard cutter and his mission is to keep the waters around Cape Canaveral clear of surface ships during during a space launch. Kenai Munro has dreamed of being an astronaut all her life . She now has her chance aboard the space shuttle Endeavor. Akil Vihari, a terrorist, has set off on his own to prove himself by committing an act of terror that will get the attention of the world.

Written with power and accuracy, Dana Stabenow has written another thriller filled with action. She spent two months aboard the real USCG cutter Munro to learn about life at sea and the work that the Coast Guard faces daily. She uses this experience to create the well developed characters in this novel. The plot, however, is quite predictable. Overall I enjoyed the book but I didn't feel that it was one of her best.

Winter Study By Nevada Barr

Title - Winter Study
Author - Nevada Barr
Series - number 14
ISBN - 978-0399154584
genre -mystery
Number of pages - 384
rating 5 out of 5

Winter is not my favourite season. Living in various parts of Canada has made me very acquainted with ice , snow, and cold. So I am familiar with how cold affects the human body, mine in particular. I found the natural scenes Nevada Barr's novel Winter Study to be terrifyingly accurate.

Park ranger Anna Pigeon returns to Isle Royal in winter to collect information from a famous wolf/moose study that has been ongoing for fifty years that will aid her work when wolves are introduced at the Rocky Mountain National Park. She joins a research team conducting the study that has two extra people that are evaluating the study for the government with the idea of shutting down the study and keeping the park open all year round. When one of the researchers dies apparently from a wolf pack attack, Anna persists in investigating, an act that put her own life in danger and pushes her own limits in order to survive.

Nevada Barr has written another taut novel that is rich in character development. Her ability not only to portray the savage scenes in nature but also to depict savage ruthlessness of human nature is excellent. I particularly enjoyed that Anna is more introspective and cognizant of her limitations. The plot is well paced and suspenseful. This is the best in the series so far and very highly recommended.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Deadly Errors by Allan Wyler

Title - Deadly Errors
Author- Allen Wyler
Genre- Medical Mystery/Thriller
ISBN - 978-7653-5167-8
Number of Pages -306
rating 3.50 out of 5

I'm a person who does not like to go to doctors or hospitals. Medical thrillers make me nervous because there is a part of me that does not like to feel helpless and in the hospital one does feel quite helpless. That being said, Deadly Errors by Allen Wyler is a good medical thriller that kept me turning the pages to find out how it ended.

Dr. Tyler Matthews is a San Fransisco neurosurgeon who is accused of possession of illegal drugs. Matthews maintains that he is innocent and is pressured into accepting a plea bargain. He enters a program for impaired physicians and is forced to relocate his practice. Now settled into Seatle Washington he resumes his practice at Maynard Medical Center. When one of his patients dies under unusual circumstances, Matthews tries to find out the reasons and discovers that there have been other irregular deaths leading him to suspect that a new electronic medical records system designed to prevent human error may be the cause.

Allen Wyler, himself a Neurosurgeon, has written a taut thriller. His experience in the medical profession including hospital administration and medicine have made this story quite believable and chilling. The story is well paced and the patient care scenes are well portrayed. I will be on the look out for more books by this author.

The Ragged Edge by John Christopher

Title - The Ragged Edge
Author - John Christopher
Genre - Apocalyptic Thriller
No. of Pages - 254 pages
Rating 4.50 out of 5

Way back in 1965 I read a book that got me started reading thrillers and mysteries. The book was the Ragged Edge by John Christopher. To my delight I recently found a copy of it in a local used book store. I read it again and found that I enjoyed it as much as I did back in 1965.

Devastating earthquakes hit New Zealand, tidal waves hit Malaya and North Borneo, and a chain of volcanoes rise in the China Sea. For Matthew Cotter, divorced, living comfortably in contentment on Guernsey in the channel Islands, these events are far away disasters, quickly forgotten newspaper headlines. One night he wakes up to hear to hear a dog howling and goes out to investigate when a violent earthquake occurs. Cotter's attempt to survive the cataclysm, his journey across a shattered continent to find his daughter, and his self realization as a man of strength and conviction enable him to survive.

This book held my attention right from the opening paragraphs. When I found book I wondered whether or not it would stand the test of time. It most definitely has. The characters are well developed and the plot fast paced. I read the book in one sitting. If you have the opportunity to find this book I encourage you to do so.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Deadly Omen by Marilyn Meredith

Title - Deadly Omen
Author - Marilyn Meredith
Genre - mystery
ISBN 1-891940-03-1
series - 1st in the Tempe Crabtree series
rating -3.50 0ut of 5

Tempe Crabtree, part Yanduchi, is the resident deputy of a small community called Bear Creek. Recently married to a Christian minister, raising a teenage son, Tempe in in the process of learning about her own heritage. Assigned to keep peace at a native American Pow Wow Tempe find finds the body of a young woman who was a candidate for princess. Tempe finds herself drawn into the investigation in spite of clear warnings from the male detectives to stay out of the case.

Marilyn Meredith has written a fine character driven mystery. The characters are well developed. The plot moves along quickly with plenty of suspects. I particularly enjoyed her ability to seamlessly integrate Native American culture into the mystery. She accurately describes the tensions a working mother in a male dominated profession experiences and the prejudices Native Americans experience from white Christian folk. I enjoyed this book and will read more in this series.

Poison Pen By Sheila Lowe

Title- Poison Pen
Author - Sheila Lowe
Genre -mystery
series- 1st in handwriting forensic series.
ISBN - 978-451-22369-2
No. of pages - 311
rating - 4 out of 5

I read a lot of mysteries usually somewhere in the neighbourhood of 75 a year and I have done so for several years. It is very refreshing to to find a novel with a new story line. Claudia Rose is a forensic handwriting analyst who often works with the police. When ex friend Lindsey Alexander is found dead in her Jacuzzi, the police label it as suicide. Claudia overhears a comment at the funeral that lead her to question that conclusion. When Ivan, Lindsey's business manager, asks her to prove that the note was not written by Lindsey, Claudia takes the case and soon finds herself the target of the killer.

Sheila Lowe's handwriting forensic novel is a new exciting foray into the scientific mystery genre. The characters are well developed and believable. The plot moved along quickly and contains twists and turns that kept me guessing as to who the is killer was. A bonus for me was learning about forensic handwriting analysis, a subject I new little about. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Baby Shark's High Plains Redemption by Robert Fate

Title - Baby Shark's High Plains Redemption
Author - Robert Fate
ISBN - 978-0-9799960-2-3
Series - 3rd in Baby Shark series
Number of Pages - 287
rating -4.50 out of 5

This is the third installment of the Baby Shark novels and is by far the best of the series. Kristin Van Dijk ( Baby Shark) and her partner Otis Millet are hired to deliver a ransom for Savannah Smike the girlfriend of an Oklahoma bootlegger. Before they know it they find their mission to be a set up that is designed to leave no one left alive. As Otis and Kirstin try to find out why someone wants to kill them and Savannah they find themselves caught between two feuding outlaw clans.

Once again Robert Fate has continued to produce a fine fast paced novel. The dialogue is witty and the characters are more fully developed and colorful. I particularly enjoyed seeing Baby Shark playing pool again. Kristin continues deal with conflict by shooting her way out of trouble but she is beginning to reflect upon how easy it has become for her to kill and has a deeper recognition of how much her past has contributed to who she presently is. I found that this hard edged introspection made her more endearing. Robert Fate's captivating style of story telling kept me reading well into the night. I highly recommend this book and I look forward to reading the next one in this series.

The Sacred Bones by Michael Byrnes

Title - The Sacred Bones
Author -Michael Byrnes
ISBN - 978-0-06-123390-6
Genre- thriller
Number of pages- 386
rating 3.75 out of 5

I have to admit that fiction and thriller books that contain religious themes often trouble me. As a clergy person I am acutely aware of the misuse of biblical text to substantiate religious claims that can lead the reader to think that these claims are truth. This bias declared I found that I quite enjoyed The Sacred Bones by Michael Byrnes.

A bold and violent crime occurs in the heart of Jerusalem where Christian, Islamic, and Jewish faiths intersect. A secret vault hidden beneath Temple Mount for centuries has been plundered of ancient artefacts and thirteen Israeli police and soldiers are killed.

American forensic scientist Charlotte Hennesey is invited by the Vatican to join Giovanni Bersei, an Italian anthropologist to examine the bones from a recently unearthed burial box. As Charlotte and Giovanni try to unlock the secret of the ancient bones they find themselves caught up in the sinister plans of religious fanatics and cold blooded killers which threaten to ignite the explosive atmosphere of the Middle East.

Michael Byrnes has written a taut thriller that accurately portrays the tensions found in the Middle East. He combines biblical dilemmas with modern day archaeology and the vast knowledge that can be garnered by forensic science.. The novel is fast paced, action driven from the start, and the plot well executed. I found, however, that some of the characters were a bit stereotypical and needed more rounding out. Overall the book is a good read. Readers who enjoy thrillers with religious overtones will enjoy this book.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Review - Demolition Angel by Robert Crais

Author - Robert Crais
Genre:mystery/ thriller/ police procedural
Number of pages -374
ISBN 0-345-43448-X
Rating 4.5 out of five

Three years ago Carol Starkey, a top-notch bomb squad technician came back from the dead. Her partner and lover died. Since then she has been burying her survivor's guilt with alcohol and Tagamet. While assigned to LAPD's Criminal Conspiracy section, Carol lands a case in which a seemingly easy bomb to diffuse kills another technician. She soon finds herself investigating a series of bombings in which the bombs were deliberately designed to kill the technicians.

Robert Crais has written a fast pace novel with twists and turns that will keep you turning the pages until you are done. He has successfully created a complex multi-dimensional wounded character in Carol Starkey while at the same time immersing you in the authentic world of bomb making and the dangerous world of the bomb technicians.

This is the first book I have read by Robert Crais and I now have a new author to add to my To Be Found (TBF) and To Be Read (TBR) piles. I highly recommend this book.