Book Review: Another Man’s Ground by Claire Booth—and a Giveaway!

Another Man’s Ground
Sheriff Hank Worth Mysteries #2
Claire Booth
Minotaur Books, July 2017
ISBN 978-1-250-08441-5
Hardcover

From the publisher—

It starts out as an interesting little theft case. Branson, Missouri’s new Sheriff Hank Worth is called out to look at stands of trees that have been stripped of their bark, which the property owner had planned to harvest for the booming herbal supplement market. At first, Hank easily balances the demands of the investigation with his fledging political career. He was appointed several months earlier to the vacant sheriff position, but he needs to win the fast-approaching election in order to keep his job. He thinks the campaign will go well, as long as he’s able to keep secret the fact that a group of undocumented immigrants – hired to cut down the stripped trees – have fled into the forest and he’s deliberately not looking for them.

But then the discovery of a murder victim deep in the Ozark backwoods sets him in the middle of a generations-old feud that explodes into danger not only for him, but also for the immigrants, his deputies, and his family. He must rush to find a murderer before election day, and protect the vulnerable in Branson County, where politicking is hell and trespassing can get you killed.

When I discover a new—or, new to me—author and they knock my socks off, I’m always a little trepidatious that the next book will let me down, be a bit disappointing. That sad occurrence has happened more often than I like to think but, happily, I had no need to worry this time. The Branson Beauty was a wonderful book and it made my 2016 Favorite Books list; Another Man’s Ground is every bit as entertaining and Sheriff Hank Worth is still one of my best-loved smallish-town cops.

Hank is a man who loves what he does, protecting and defending others besides using his considerable intellect to solve crimes. He left the Kansas City police department in hopes of finding a more congenial place for his family and, indeed, he did but detective work is in his blood and he enjoys being Sheriff. Not so enjoyable is the campaigning he has to do for the upcoming election and looking into what he thinks is a fairly simple theft is a welcome distraction but, of course, it’s anything but simple.

Claire Booth brings the Ozarks to life and, in what I can only call a touch of love, she lets us come to know the people of this rural area as far more perceptive and quick-witted than stereotypes from the past persisting today would lead us to believe. The good folk of Branson and its environs are likeable and intelligent and its criminals have their own brand of cleverness. On the other hand, the notion of a decades-long feud is straight out of the hills and adds an element of curiosity and intrigue to what should have been, as I said, a simple theft.

With a little help from a deputy named Sheila Turley and not so much from the DEA and some US Marshals, Hank brings sanity back to Branson but it’s Guapo, a kind of ridiculous dog, who steals hearts on the campaign trail and all the townfolks together make me add this to my favorite books read in 2017. And now I’m really curious about what’s in store next time for Guapo and friends 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2017.

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Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iTunes
Amazon // Indiebound // Books-A-Million

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About the Author

Claire Booth spent more than a decade as a daily newspaper reporter, much of it covering crimes so convoluted and strange they seemed more like fiction than reality. Eventually, she had enough of the real world and decided to write novels instead. Her Sheriff Hank Worth mystery series takes place in Branson, Missouri, where small-town Ozark politics and big-city country music tourism clash in, yes, strange and convoluted ways.

For more about Claire, her books, and some of the true crimes she’s covered, please visit www.clairebooth.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

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Follow the tour here.

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“The second in Booth’s regional crime series … is both an
excellent police procedural and a surprisingly humorous
look at politics and family feuds.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Booth’s affectionate treatment of the decent and shrewd
people of Branson and Worth makes this a series
worth following.” – Publishers Weekly

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To enter the drawing for a print copy
of Another Man’s Ground, leave a
comment below. The winning name will
be drawn Saturday evening, July 15th,
and the book will be sent after the tour ends.

Open to residents of the US and Canada.

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Book Review: Scents and Sensibility by Spencer Quinn

Scents and SensibilityScents and Sensibility
A Chet and Bernie Mystery #8
Spencer Quinn
Atria Books, July 2015
ISBN:978-1-4767-0342-8
Hardcover

If there’s anyone out there in Readerland who hasn’t tuned into the Bernie and Chet mysteries, I’ve got one thing to say to you: Why not?

Okay, so the adventures are written up by Chet, the dog—also known as Chet the Jet for his unique abilities—and he sometimes has memory problems, but don’t let that stop you. Chet can’t count beyond two, either, but it doesn’t keep him from being an Einstein of sorts. Anyway, Chet and Bernie Little are partners in the Little Detective Agency, and when these two are on a case, you can be sure the perp is going to wind up breaking rocks in the hot sun, often with tooth marks on his ankle. I didn’t say the path to justice runs easy for this pair. There’s always someone trying to take them out, and in Scents and Sensibility, they’re both in for a hard time.

Bernie and Chet have been away from their California desert home, solving tricky cases in Louisiana and Washington D.C. Now they’re back, only to find their neighbors, an old couple named Parsons, in deep trouble. Mrs. Parsons is in the hospital in a bad way when the cops arrest Mr. Parsons for stealing, and transplanting a giant saguaro cactus into his yard, the saguaro being a protected species. The person in charge isn’t about to give the old man a break, either. But is he the real criminal? As if that isn’t enough, Chet smells his best friend’s, Iggy Parsons, a little dog, scent in his house. And then he and Bernie discover their most valuable object, an antique watch, is missing. How this all intertwines when they find the officer murdered is a real puzzler. Good thing Chet and Bernie are up to the task.

I adore this series. Great characterization—yes, even of the dog. Especially of the dog. I love the way it shows the mutual bond between man and his partner canine. The underlying mystery is, as always, center stage. There’s always derring do and great peril. And in this story, the ending will leave you on pins and needles, panting for the next one. I, for one, can hardly wait.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, September 2015.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.

Book Reviews: Yappy Hour by Diana Orgain and Faux Paw by Sofie Kelly

Yappy HourYappy Hour
Diana Orgain
Minotaur Books, November 2015
ISBN 978-1-250-06911-5
Hardcover

Maggie has left NYC and her life as a financial adviser (thank you, economic turn-down) to return to her hometown, Pacific Cove, CA, and apply for a purser’s berth at a local cruise line. But before she can, her sister Rachel texts, asking her to take over The Wine and Bark, Rachel’s bar, which caters to a dog-loving clientele. Maggie isn’t a dog person and knows nothing about mixing drinks or running a business and there’s a dead body on the tile floor of the bar. What is she to do?

This book has a slapstick vibe. I thought of Evanovich right away. Maggie sometimes acts like an idiot, but at least she knows it. Rachael’s customers, especially Yolanda, and her horse-race-mad Uncle Ernest, AKA Grunkly, provide plenty of complications as she tries to figure out who killed Dan, a man Rachel once dated, now possibly her enemy. And where is Rachel? On a cruise? Eloping? Running from the cops? A hunky policeman and a hunky chef-next-door add even more complications for our heroine.

I enjoyed the story and the setting. Yolanda’s Beepo, a Yorkie who behaves badly at every opportunity, made me laugh. He also made me glad I have a sweet, friendly Papillion. I’d happily read another book about Maggie and her new world.

Reviewed by Marilyn Nulman, October 2015.

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Faux PawFaux Paw
A Magical Cats Mystery #7
Sofie Kelly
Obsidian, October 2015
ISBN 978-0-451-47215-1
Mass Market Paperback

Librarians are my heroes. And I love cats. Especially magical cats, like Owen and Hercules. So I was happy to find Sofie Kelly‘s latest book about Kathleen Paulson and her boys. A traveling art exhibit is about to grace Mayville Height’s library. As library director, Kath is excited and a bit nervous. If all goes well, the show will benefit the library and the local artists who were invited to contribute to it. But disaster crashes her hopes. Kath finds the exhibit’s curator dead on the library floor. Murdered.

This is a small-town mystery, so Kath knows who to ask about this and that as she tries to help her policeman boyfriend discover the killer. Ryan has built an interesting cast of characters who help move the investigation forward, or shove it sideways. I was glad to see old friends and meet some new ones.

Though magical (Owen can become invisible, Hercules can walk through walls,) they are still cats, with all the charm and all the ability to frustrate and annoy of their kind. They are feuding. Why is another mystery to be solved, if possible.

I was happy to return to Mayville, where friends help each other and the gossip is not toxic. Most of the time. I recommend this book.

Reviewed by Marilyn Nulman, October 2015.

Book Reviews: Forevermore by Cindy Miles and Summer of the Woods by Steven K. Smith

ForevermoreForevermore
Cindy Miles
Point, July 2013
ISBN 978-0-545-42622-0
Trade Paperback

Ah, the quintessential love story.  This is the Hershey’s chocolate bar.  It is the song that makes you grin, pump up the volume and dance.  It is, in a word, awesome.

Ripped from her home in sultry South Carolina to start a new life in an ancient Scottish castle, Ivy exhibits courage and strength as she grimly strives to accept her fate.  This reader couldn’t help but fall in love with this spunky, violin-wielding character.  She is pretty much everything I wanted to be as a teen-aged girl.  Her admirable qualities include confidence, a remarkably open mind and a quiet, but unmistakable, resolve as she is forced to face unknown adversaries.  Who doesn’t want to be a tough, cool chick with a huge (hidden) romantic streak?

Speaking of romance, enter Logan Munro.  From the author’s amazing descriptions, I know he is no less than dreamy.  With his rugged good looks, charming Scottish brogue and fierce loyalty and protectiveness towards Ivy, I fell for him immediately.  Of course, life is never so simple.  Despite the obvious attraction and compatibility, Logan and Ivy know that they can never be together, in a conventional sense.  Ivy is alive and well and Logan is…………not.  Being young, they don’t fight their feelings, they simply strive to accept the companionship that they can have…..at least for as long as Logan’s soul is lingering in limbo.

This unique relationship is not the biggest problem Ivy faces.  The malevolent force that seemed determine to destroy her has shifted its focus to her beloved mother.  Ivy must stop the evil quickly or she will lose her mom forever.   Figuring out how to end the black madness is one thing; knowing that her success may cost her Logan is quite another.

With her enchanting words, Ms. Miles paints a gorgeous picture of Scotland and its magnificent architecture.  Feeling emerged in the scenes, the story seemed to wrap around me….almost like falling into a dream.  This is the only book that I can recall that warmed my heart as is simultaneously chilled me to the bone.

**Sidebar regarding Labeling:  I appreciate that this book falls into the Middle Grade genre, as it is most certainly appropriate for that age group; however, I fear that this limits the potential audience.  I have celebrated my 40th birthday (and then some) and I often dig into very serious and heavy non-fiction, “adult-themed” books.  This does not preclude me from enjoying a great story that is told amazingly well.  Forevermore is such a story.   Please, put the label aside and enjoy.**

Reviewed by jv poore, August 2013.

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Summer of the WoodsSummer of the Woods
Steven K. Smith
MyBoys3 Press, May 2013
ISBN 978-0-9893414-1-7
Trade Paperback

If Mr. Smith’s first book is an indication of things to come, he will quickly become one of my son’s favourite authors.  Mine too, actually.  Although The Boy, an 8-year old 3rd grader, loves to read on his own, he still indulges my Mommy Moments and allows me to occasionally read a book with him.  To me, Summer of the Woods is the ideal book for this, because it has something for adults, as well as for children.

As if by magic, Mr. Smith presents the perfect combination of nostalgia and modern day.  This exemplifies the summers I remember.  Freely roaming all around, turning over rocks in creeks, exploring woods and caves while our imaginations provided limitless adventures.  Kids being kids.  Good times, good stuff.

On the other hand, there are some pretty cool tools that we, as parents, have today, that I bet my folks would have welcomed.  Google.  Oh, how I love Google, as a mom.  Kids will always be curious, and the “new” advantage of quickly answering their questions with information and pictures at your fingertips allows their little minds to just keep going and going.  Which is why they are so darn smart, as brilliantly demonstrated in this story.

Two young boys move to Richmond, Virginia; into a large, old house, backed by woods and a winding creek.  So, yes, I am a bit biased, but only because Mr. Smith captures the essence of my home so accurately and vividly.  In no time at all, young Sam finds an old wheat penny, which leads them to the discovery of the legendary mystery.  Supposedly, a valuable and rare coin collection was stolen from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts many, many years ago and was never recovered.  As all good boys would do, the brothers make it their mission to solve the crime and recover the treasure.  What follows is a classic adventure that you simply must experience.

I admit that I went into this book with high expectations.  Not only was I not disappointed, but I was quite surprised to find so many things that I love about this book.  The dialogue and teasing among the family is spot-on.  The mystery was fun, interesting, and authentic.  The boys’ emotions and actions are more than credible—these are typical 8 and 10 year old boys.  The story flowed so smoothly that I actually read this in one sitting, although that wasn’t my plan when I picked it up.

**Sidebar:  For the 3rd consecutive year, all of the students in my son’s elementary school (K-5) will be reading the same book, at the same time, with their families.  The first year was E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan and last year was George Selden’s The Cricket in Times Square.  Both books were fine, but not necessarily captivating.  Neither The Boy nor I had any desire to quickly seek out more books by these authors (because I had already read Charlotte’s Web about 100 times).  Summer of the Woods is this year’s book.  Yes, I cheated.  I read ahead, and on my own.  I am not even sorry.  But, there is one issue that I foresee.  With the other two books it was very easy to read one chapter each day and then put the book down.  I don’t see that being the case with this page-turner; but, as a reader, I honestly can’t see that as a bad thing. 

I can’t wait to see what the kids think of this story, and I’m already very excited about Mr. Smith’s next book: Mystery on Church Hill. **

Reviewed by jv poore, October 2013.

A Handful of Teeny Reviews: The Enchanted Truth by Kym Petrie, Hunt for the Chupacabra by Michael Hebler, A Gnarly Christmas by Lauren Carr, Lucretia and the Kroons by Victor LaValle, and Bruno and the Carol Singers by Martin Walker

The Enchanted TruthThe Enchanted Truth
A Modern-Day Fairy Tale for Grown-Up Girls

Kym Petrie
Greenleaf Book Group, September 2012
ISBN 978-1-60832-368-5
Hardcover

From the publisher—

In this humorous and insightful tale, a modern day princess finds herself single and asking for magical intervention to change her sorry love life. Rather than casting a spell to bring Prince Charming to her rescue, a savvy fairy godmother gives the tenderhearted damsel an unexpected gift. By entrusting her true thoughts and desires to an unlikely confidant, the young royal soon discovers that the person who could make her life everything she dreamed it would be has been with her all along.

As author Kym Petrie herself realized, every woman needs a froggy friend and a secret journal—and enough adventures with the girls to keep her heart pounding and her mind racing. Life is meant to be about happy beginnings . . . you can never have enough of them.

In a departure from the usual fairy tale where Prince Charming sweeps the princess off her feet, the author has crafted a sort of allegory meant for the modern girl who’s looking for her true love. The princess of this tale learns, with a little help from a fairy godmother and a rubber frog, that finding the handsome prince is not enough.

The tale is brief but the message comes through clearly—today’s women need to learn to recognize their own worth if they want men to value them and they also need to value those men who are more than just a pretty face or a fat wallet. Many parents of teenaged girls might want to consider dropping this endearing little book in their daughters’ Christmas stockings.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2012.

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Hunt for the ChupacabraHunt for the Chupacabra
Michael Hebler
Michael Hebler, June 2011
ISBN 978-1-4581321-5-4
Ebook

From the author—

A retired Confederate tracker persues the elusive and legendary creature for some well-deserved revenge. “Hunt for the Chupacabra” is a short story that precludes Book One of the Chupacabra Series, “Night of the Chupacabra”.

Is it real or just a legend, a figment of some very wild imaginations? No one can say for sure but Calvin Hawte is on a mission to avenge the death of his young son and will track the killer to the ends of the earth if need be. He might be surprised at what he will find out there in the desert.

This is a very short story but well-written and, well, creepy as a good horror story should be. It’s a good lead-in to Night of the Chupacabra, first in Michael Hebler‘s new series.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2012.

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A Gnarly ChristmasA Gnarly Christmas
Lauren Carr
Acorn Book Services, November 2012
Ebook

From the author—

Here’s a special holiday treat for mystery lovers who have fallen in love with Gnarly, Mac Faraday’s German Shepherd sidekick, from Lauren Carr‘s Deep Creek Lake Mysteries.

It is Christmas day and Gnarly has been up to his old tricks again. Now he’s in the dog house–or rather the boathouse–after stealing the Christmas feast! Moments after Archie and Mac leave Spencer Manor, Gnarly hears a call for help from Rocky, the Maltese down the street. Four assassins for hire have invaded the home of Rocky’s elderly owners. While the home invaders wait for instructions from a mysterious caller, Gnarly must plot to stop them. Can Gnarly save Christmas with only the help of an 8-pound Maltese dressed in an elf suit?

Need a good laugh? You won’t go wrong with this delightful story of a dog who gets into trouble for swiping the Christmas turkey but who doesn’t forget that he’s a protector. Gnarly teams up with a tiny floofy dog named Rocky to foil the plans of a bunch of bad guys bent on mayhem and how the two get the best of the murderous robbers is a hoot. Gnarly even manages to let Rocky take the credit for saving the day but there’s still a mystery—why has Gnarly been stealing food lately?

Sit down with Gnarly and Rocky for a few minutes of pure fun—and don’t forget that fat squirrel named Otis!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2012.

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Lucretia and the KroonsLucretia and the Kroons
Victor LaValle
Spiegel & Grau/Random House, July 2012
ISBN 978-0-8129-8437-8
Ebook

From the publisher—

Lucretia’s best friend and upstairs neighbor Sunny—a sweet pitbull of a kid, even as she struggles with a mysterious illness—has gone missing. The only way to get her back is for Lucretia to climb the rickety fire escape of their Queens tenement and crawl through the window of apartment 6D, portal to a vast shadowland of missing kids ruled by a nightmarish family of mutants whose designs on the children are unknown. Her search for Sunny takes Lucretia through a dark fantasyland where she finds lush forests growing from concrete, pigeon-winged rodents, and haunted playgrounds. Her quest ultimately forces her to confront the most frightening specter of all: losing, forever, the thing you love the most.

Central to this novella is a 12-year-old girl named Lucretia but this is no story for children. In a flight of fancy, LaValle explores how a child might cope with the death of a friend, a best friend, and these two children both capture the reader’s heart. Not all of us suffer this kind of loss at such a young age and I have to wonder if, perhaps, the author did.

How much Loochie loves Sunny is evident and endearing and the scenes of what’s going on with Sunny are heartbreaking, especially because they let us know what is most probably going to happen. Even knowing that, I couldn’t help admiring Loochie’s absolute belief that she could save her friend when Sunny goes missing. Despite the fearsome Kroons and winged rats and all sorts of fantastical frights, Loochie presses on and her bravery and steadfast loyalty are a lesson to anyone who has to face such a terrible loss.

Lucretia and the Kroons is my first taste of Victor LaValle‘s work and I’ll be looking for more.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2012.

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Bruno and the Carol SingersBruno and the Carol Singers
Martin Walker
Alfred A. Knopf, December 2012
ISBN 978-0-385-35031-0
Ebook

From the publisher—

St. Denis is experiencing its coldest winter in years—bringing the promise of snow and shared chocolats chauds in the village’s cafés—and Bruno is occupied with his Christmastime duties. From organizing carolers to playing Father Christmas for the local schoolchildren, Bruno has his hands full . . . at least until some funds raised for charity go missing. Then it’s up to Bruno to save the day (and perhaps manage a Christmas miracle) in this charming holiday installment of Walker’s best-selling series.

In this appealing short story, Christmas has come to St. Denis and Bruno is right in the middle of the festivities when he gets a call about a paroled convict who has disappeared from the town where he was living while he completed the last months of his sentence.  His ex-wife and son now live in St. Denis, hence the call to Bruno. Is this man bent on harming his family or will Bruno be able to pull off a Christmas miracle?

Fans of Bruno will feel right at home with this French municipal policeman and his friends and will wish they could sit down to Christmas Eve dinner with Bruno, Pamela and the others.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2012.

Book Reviews: The Sparrow’s Blade by Kenneth R. Lewis, Headhunters by Jo Nesbo, The Cut by George Pelecanos, The Infernals by John Connolly, and Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke

The Sparrow's BladeThe Sparrow’s Blade
Kenneth R. Lewis
Krill Press, February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9821443-8-1
Trade Paperback

As in this author’s debut novel, Little Blue Whales, which was warmly received, this one also takes place in Cutter City, OR, and features Kevin Kearnes and Thud Compton.  It is now a few years after the harrowing experience described in the earlier book in which they were almost killed, and their roles have changed:  Kearnes, the former Chief of Police, is now with the Dept. of Homeland Security in Portland, and Compton has replaced him as Police Chief.

The book opens with Kevin traveling to Cutter City with his fiancée Britt McGraw and his sons by a former marriage, to be married as well as to visit with the Comptons.  Little did any of them know that a sword on display at the local library, a relic of World War II when a Japanese pilot dropped two bombs in the vicinity and then crashed, would result in the turmoil that it did when it is stolen.

The excellent portrayal of the characters, coupled with the tension of the plot, maintain reader interest on the same high level of the predecessor book.  The level of writing remains at the high level of Little Blue Whales which presumably will continue in the forthcoming The Helical Vane.  Needless to say, Sparrow (the name for the sword, btw) is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2012.

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HeadhuntersHeadhunters
Jo Nesbo
Vintage Books, September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-307-94868-7
Trade Paperback

Turning his attention away from his highly regarded Harry Hole series, the author has written a compelling standalone.  While the background of Roger Brown, as a top headhunter of corporate officials in Oslo, provides some interesting and useful information on how to judge and place candidates, it is the main crime plot and character descriptions that are undeniably gripping.

Roger seems to have it all, except sufficient income to pay for the art gallery he has helped his wife, Diana, establish and operate. Thus, to supplement his need for cash to deal with the operating deficit, he steals art from candidates he interviews for jobs.  Until, that is, he encounters Clas Greve, whom he meets one evening at his wife’s gallery.  And the plot thickens.

Jo Nesbo, in this novel, has proved he is an author capable of writing almost anything.  It is superbly formulated, with humor and irony. The plot has more twists and turns in its concluding pages than a mountain road.  It needs no further recommendation other than to go get a copy and revel in a job well done.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2012.

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The CutThe Cut
George Pelecanos
A Reagan Arthur Book/Little, Brown and Company, September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-316-07842-9
Hardcover

In the first novel of a new series, we are introduced to Spero Lucas, a just-returned Iraq war veteran, working as an investigator for a Washington, D.C. defense attorney with a sideline of recovering “lost” property for a 40 per cent cut of its value.  In the caper he undertakes in this initial foray, he seems to bite off more than he can chew.

The attorney is defending a top marijuana peddler, and the client asks for Spero to visit him in jail.  He tells Spero that his deliveries are being stolen and he is out of money, and would appreciate recovery of either the merchandise or the cash.  The assignment takes Spero off into all kinds of action, some of which is kind of far-fetched.

Mr. Pelecanos is well-known for his characterizations and his use of the nation’s Capital as background, and this book is no exception. Somehow, however, using Spero as an example of a footloose vet just returned from the desert just didn’t quite ring true.  Some of his friends who served with him there do exhibit the plight of wounded, disabled marines, or just plain still unemployed, somewhat more realistically.  That said, the novel is written with the author’s accustomed flair, and the plot moves at a rapid pace.  Certainly, the action is vivid, and the reader keeps turning pages.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2012.

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The InfernalsThe Infernals
John Connolly
Atria Books, September 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4516-4308-4
Hardcover

This novel, the sequel to The Gates, picks up 18 months after the events described in that book, after young Samuel Johnson [just turned 13], assisted by his faithful dog, Boswell, repelled an invasion of earth by the forces of evil.  The two books are quite a departure for the author, whose Charlie Parker mysteries are highly regarded and widely read.  These are categorized as YA books, laced with pseudo-scientific and amusing footnotes.  [It should perhaps be noted that the tenth Charlie Parker novel, The Burning Soul, has also been released.]

This time around Samuel, accompanied by four dwarfs and the truck in which they were riding, an ice cream truck and its vendor-driver, and two policemen and their patrol car, are instead transported by the ogre Ba’al in the form of Mrs. Abernathy to the netherworld to present the boy to her master, the Great Malevolence, as a gift in an effort to regain his favor.  And so we follow their adventures as they experience the strange land and seek a way to get back home.

Written at times with tongue firmly in cheek, the little nuggets of information on a wide variety of subjects are both informative and often just plain funny.  A very enjoyable read that is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2012.

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Feast Day of FoolsFeast Day of Fools
James Lee Burke
Simon & Schuster, September 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4516-4311-4
Hardcover

Against the bleak terrain of southern Texas, a morality play featuring Sheriff Hackberry Holland is played out.  It begins with a man who escapes his captors, who had planned to turn him over to Al Qaeda, for a price, for his knowledge of drone technology.  Not only is he sought by his former captors, but the FBI, among others, as well.  Hack, and his deputy, Pam Tibbs, become involved in the interplay.

This is a complicated novel, one in which the author delves into a wide variety of moral and ethical values, adding Hack’s past experiences as a POW during the Korean Conflict, to raise additional questions of right and wrong.  And bringing in The Preacher as a counterpoint further adds to the complexity of not only the plot, but also Hack’s integrity.

James Lee Burke’s prose is as stark as his descriptions of the Texas and Mexican landscapes, and the characters he introduces are deftly portrayed, both good and evil.  He has presented an intricate plot in this, his 30th novel, and the fifth featuring the Texas sheriff.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2012.