Book Review: The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly @Connellybooks @littlebrown

The Law of Innocence
A Lincoln Lawyer Novel #6
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown and Company, November 2020
ISBN 978-0-316-48562-3
Hardcover

When Mickey Haller, The Lincoln Lawyer, is pulled over by the police after leaving a bar, he’s sure there’s nothing to worry about. But the cop seems intent on asserting his authority, telling Mickey his license plate is missing. Surprised, Mickey exits the vehicle, but when he’s asked to open his trunk he’s reluctant, sensing something’s up. He complies and that’s when things get decidedly worse. There’s a dead body in the trunk, a body that belongs to an old client of Mickey’s, a client who’d owed him money.

Because he’s a well-known lawyer with a reputation for getting criminals off, Haller isn’t exactly loved by the L.A. Police. He’s handcuffed, taken into custody and charged with murder. Bail is set at 5 Million and Mickey, opting to defend himself, is confident, with the help of his trusted team, he can sort this out. Housed meantime in downtown L.A,’s Correctional Facility, he is somewhat of a thorn in the eyes of the local Police and silently acknowledges that the DA, a long time adversary, is both confident and determined to make the charges stick.

Mickey’s in a difficult situation. He must exonerate himself, otherwise this charge will forever hang over him. He’s been framed, and working from his jail cell to prove his innocence is no easy task. His team, including his half brother Harry Bosch and his ex-wife, begin to investigate the charge intent on uncovering the real murderer.

The stakes are high and time is of the essence. He’s also aware of a threat to his own safety, not only from fellow prisoners, but also the guards. He has to use all his skills to walk a fine line and stay within the boundaries of the law.

Connelly does a masterful job of taking us through the investigation process, following leads that at times take him nowhere. Personally I would have liked to see more of Bosch, but of course he does get his own spotlight in the novel – Fair Warning.

This is another winner for Connelly and not to be missed…

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, December 2020.

Book Review: A Song for the Dark Times by Ian Rankin @Beathhigh @orionbooks @littlebrown

A Song for the Dark Times
An Inspector Rebus Novel #23
Ian Rankin
Orion Books, October 2020 (UK)
ISBN 978-1-4091-7697-8
Little, Brown and Company, October 2020 (US)
Hardcover

Retired Detective John Rebus has just moved one floor down into the ground floor flat in Edinburgh where he’s lived for a number of years.  He has COPD and stairs had become a problem. Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke, his friend and once his partner in solving crimes, has been helping him move.

Leaving Rebus to unpack,  Siobhan returns to the Leith Police Station to rejoin the Major Incident Team currently working on the murder of a young, rich, Saudi named Salman bin Mahmoud, who was stabbed to death in what might be a hate crime.

Meantime Rebus gets a call from his daughter Samantha, now living in Tongue, 250miles to the north, with her partner Keith and daughter Carrie. Keith has gone missing and Samantha is at her wit’s end. Rebus immediately abandons his unpacking and hops in his car, heading to Tongue.  Sam and Rebus aren’t exactly close due to the fact that during her early years Rebus spent more time cracking cases and catching killers than spending time with his wife and daughter.  Now he sees this as an opportunity to get closer to his daughter and granddaughter.

On his arrival Rebus is met by Detective Sergeant Creasey who is in charge of the missing person case, and who is quick to let Rebus know he won’t tolerate interference.  When Samantha tells her father she’d had a fight with Keith before he disappeared adding that they’d recently been going through a rough patch, Rebus is prepared to do everything he can to track down Keith.  But Sam is fearful her father will only make matters worse.  And when Keith’s body is found, Samantha becomes the prime suspect.

Determined to prove his daughter’s innocence Rebus talks to a group of the locals Keith had become involved with on discovering that a POW camp was once located in the area. Keith had been interviewing several members who had been prisoners at the time and who had opted to stay around once the war was over.

When Rebus gets a call from Siobhan he asks how her murder case is proceeding and learns there might be a connection between the death of the Saudi man and Lord Strathy aka Ramsey Meiklejohn a landowner in Tongue.  Intrigued, Rebus turns his attention to the landowner paying a visit to his stately home.  Lord Strathy isn’t in residence, but when Rebus tries to question the housekeeper,  he’s quickly shown the door, leaving him to wonder if he’s found a fresh trail to follow in search of Keith’s killer.

All is not what it seems in the town of Tongue, and Rebus has his hands full as he pokes into the past to uncover the truth.

I very much enjoyed following Rebus on his latest outing…

Check this one out.… You won’t be disappointed.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, November 2020.

Book Review: The 19th Christmas by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro @JP_Books @littlebrown

The 19th Christmas
Women’s Murder Club #19
James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Little, Brown and Co., October 2019
ISBN 978-0-316-42027-3
Hardcover

Lindsay Boxer has only one Christmas wish: to spend the day with her husband, daughter and their beloved Border Collie. She’s been with San Francisco Police Department long enough to know that “wish” is the right word.

Accustomed to the typical increase in crimes during the holidays, Boxer and her partner fully expect a frenzy the few days before Christmas. But, even their combined experience in law enforcement did not prepare them for the full-out chaos created by the most unassuming of men.

This recent addition to The Women’s Murder Club Series by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro embodies everything I’ve come to expect from this righteous writing team.  Flipping pages fast enough for paper cuts, I was mentally juggling the balls being hurled at Boxer—not in a confused way, but in a wholly engrossed, moral-support sort of way.

If you are already a fan of the four brilliant, hard-working women that make up the self-dubbed Murder Club, The 19th Christmas is sure to hit the spot when you reach for your next fast-paced, suspense-filled read. But, there’s no need to have read the previous stories, this series can be started at any point…but you may not be able to stop.

Huge thank-you to Goodreads First Reads & Hachette Book Group for this copy!

Reviewed by jv poore, January 2020.

Book Review: Fair Warning by Michael Connelly @Connellybooks @littlebrown

Fair Warning
Jack McEvoy #3
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown and Company, May 2020
ISBN 978-0-316-53942-5
Hardcover

Jack McEvoy is a reporter working for Fair Warning, an Internet news site dedicated to alerting the public to scams and schemes perpetrated by con men.  On arriving at his apartment, two LAPD Detectives approached and asked to speak to him.  Once inside the Detectives tell him they are from the Robbery-Homicide Division, and are working a homicide and Jack’s name had come up. Tina Portrero, a woman Jack had dated a year ago, had been found dead in her apartment.

The Detectives asked the usual questions re his whereabouts at the time of the murder and while he isn’t thrilled with their attitudes he agrees to give a DNA sample knowing full well the results would come back negative. He’d been on an assignment at the time of the woman’s death.

Jack is a credited reporter, is determined to find out what happened to Tina He tracks down her mother, who has arrived to identify the body and from their conversation learns that Tina was adopted and had recently sent a DNA sample to a local company in the hope of finding other siblings.

When the Detectives find out he’s pursuing the case they warn him off.  Refusing to be intimidated he continues to investigate, calling on Rachel Walling, an ex-FBI agent and one time lover to enlist her help.   As they delve deeper they begin to believe that a serial killer is at work.

I’m a fan of Michael Connelly, but in the beginning of this novel and for the first third of the book I was sorely tempted to set it aside. I was struck by the fact that the author seemed to be telling the reader step by step how a reporter tracks down information, somewhat elementary and unnecessarily frustrating leaving me with a strong urge to say ‘get on with it’… which eventually he did.

The pacing picked up in the second half of the book and raced to an exciting conclusion… well almost….

This wasn’t one of my favourite Connelly books….but no doubt worth a look especially if you are a fan….

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, June 2020.

Book Review: How It Happened by Michael Koryta

How It Happened
Michael Koryta
Little, Brown and Company, May 2018
ISBN: 978-0-316-29393-8
Hardcover

Inspired by an actual event in the author’s hometown, this novel recounts the ups and downs in the life of Rob Barrett, an FBI specialist in interrogations, who is sent to a little town in Maine years after the disappearance of a man and two women.  Barrett finally reaches a witness who confesses to having participated in the murder and disposal of the bodies of a man and a woman in a shallow lake. Unfortunately, when the lake is inspected, the bodies aren’t there.  Barrett insists he believes the confession, but the prevailing view is that it is unreliable because the confessor is a known liar and drug addict. Moreover, absence of the bodies where they’re said to be is further proof.

Barrett is sent to a remote FBI office in the Midwest in disgrace, but the confession still haunts him.  Eventually, he returns to Maine on his own nickel to find the truth, which, of course, is elusive. The story becomes more complex, as he investigates more deeply, and the scope widens.

Michael Koryta has written a gripping tale about a grisly murder and cover-ups and subterfuges to hide a variety of motivations as each layer of the story is unveiled.   It is a novel describing perseverance and investigative skill.  The novel has its origins in a murder investigation which the author covered for his hometown newspaper as a young reporter, and is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, August 2018.

Book Review: The Crimes of Paris by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler

The Crimes of Paris
Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler
Little Brown & Company, April 2009
ISBN 978-0-316-01790-9
Hardcover

The book begins with the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911 from the Louvre. It ends only a few years later when an artist of some renown named Marcel Duchamp drew a mustache on a small reproduction of La Gioconda which, in effect, as the authors say, transformed the painting from a “masterpiece of Renaissance art to an icon of modernism.”

That was in 1919. A mere eight years had passed, during which Paris had experienced a World War and been the host to nearly every giant of science, literature, the arts and politics. It was an amazing time when Trotsky and Marx, Hemingway and Picasso and Cezanne met and drank and socialized in Montmartre and Montparnasse and attended original short plays at the Grand Guiginol.

It was a period when the first professional private investigator appeared and the science of forensic investigation developed as a recognized arm of law enforcement. And it was a period during which some of the most vicious and creative gangs of criminals roamed the streets of the City of Lights.

The book is engagingly written and organized in a thoughtful way to encourage readers to delve more deeply into intriguing topics with voluminous notes, and an extensive bibliography. Yet, a reader who is only casually interested in the period and the players will find this book a fast and enjoyable read. But a casual reader will be drawn in, to the writing, the style, the language and the content. This is a fascinating work of great consequence.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, June 2018.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: I’m Keith Hernandez by Keith Hernandez

I’m Keith Hernandez
A Memoir
Keith Hernandez
Little Brown and Company, May 2018
ISBN: 978-1-3350-1692-8
Hardcover

Full disclosure:  A Die-hard Mets fan, I have had full-season tickets for 32 years, and attend an average of 75 games each season.  I have also been an avid fan of Keith Hernandez, formerly the Mets first baseman and currently a member of the broadcast team that announces each Mets game, and the author of this wonderful memoir.  So I cannot lay claim to impartiality.  That said, this book is every bit as terrific as were/are the talents of its author.  When a book begins with the words “I Love Baseball,” what else can it be to its readers, most if not all of whom feel the same emotion?

To say that the book is replete with statistics and historical recreations of wonderful moments in the sport would be an understatement.  But that is all to the good!  To quote the author: “I want to talk about my development as a baseball player and how it got me to the major leagues; I want to talk about how I gained the confidence to thrive in the bigs despite a grueling haul; and, finally, I want to talk about how my development as a young player affects how I see the game today from my seat in the broadcast booth.”  And he does all of that, and more!  As he also says: “I want to get to the core of my baseball story.”  And he does just that, and more.

The tale begins in 1972, when Keith Hernandez “was getting ready to go to my first spring training.”  I should state here that the biggest influences on this young man – 18 years old at this point in time, were, and always continued to be, his father (a former professional baseball player), and his brother Gary (the starting first baseman for the University of California Golden Bears baseball team), to both of whom he pays tribute throughout the book, deservedly.  His Dad is a first-generation American, his parents having emigrated from Spain via the Pacific, arriving in San Francisco in 1916.   His father “broke all kinds of school records, leading his team to a championship game at Seals Stadium, Mission High School, was named MVP, and was christened by the city as the next big star to come out of the Bay Area.’ Keith had been signed by the St. Louis Cardinals minor league team, whose spring training complex was in St. Petersburg, picked in the 42nd round of the June 1971 amateur draft, one of the 500 players taking part in the spring training games, with a mind-set of “baseball superstar or bust.”  At age 18 he played in the Florida State League in 1972  “Some execs, scouts, and coaches claimed that young Keith Hernandez was the best defensive first baseman – at any level – they’d come across in quite some time.”  He talks about Pacifica, in 1961, when he was 7 and Gary 9, both trying out for Little League.  We then jump to the time after the 1972 season in St. Pete, when he was “itching to get back home to San Francisco.” But unexpectedly he joined the Tulsa Oilers, the Cardinals’ AAA team, at his father’s insistence.

The author’s prominence in his chosen field of endeavor is indisputable.  He earned more Gold Glove Awards (11) than any first baseman in baseball history.  Since 2000, he has served as an analyst on Mets telecasts for the SNY, WPIX and MSG networks, and is a member of the Fox Sports MLB postseason studio team.  Personally he and Gary Cohen are the absolute best in the business, and if I ever have to miss a game, at least I make sure I always have his play-by-play in close proximity.  His book is reflective of all of that brilliance, and it is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, August 2018.