Monday, December 27, 2010

The Babylonian Codex

C. S. Graham
Harper Collins
December 2010
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-06-168936-9
358 pages
$ 7.99

What if you had the ability to actually envision stolen objects where they are presently located? Would this be most valuable to the police, the public, the government, or the thieves?

October “Tobie” Guinness is known to have remote viewing capabilities. This involves concentrating on a sealed envelope and picturing what is inside it. Then she looks at the objects where it is presently stored. This allows her to view the object and its surroundings and gives clues to investigators where to find the stolen treasures.

She has been asked to find some of the missing treasures from the museum that was ransacked in Babylon, Iraq. Unfortunately, while she was engaged in this task, the F.B.I. agents, that were protecting her and the information, were shot. Since she managed to get away, currently she is being pursued by the F.B.I. as a person of interest. Where can she go?

Fortunately, she is well acquainted with a C.I.A. agent, Jax Alexander who immediately realizes her danger and the problems that can be associated with even knowing her. The two decide to pursue the stolen antiquities while trying to clear Tobie of any criminal involvement.

Jax and Tobie have an old and trusting friendship. The two decide to discover what is so valuable from Tobie’s viewing and why people want to kill her. While searching for this, the two also discover that they need to find the biblical translation of a missing artifact that seems to be a life-threatening secret.

The history of Christianity in Iraq is an underlying plot. It is written in a manner that is fascinating and informative as well as valid. It also brings to light another aspect of our involvement with Iraq.

THE BABYLONIAN CODEX is non-stop action. As a reader, it is difficult to take a break in this story due to its intensity. The characterization is believable in this well-written novel.

What is most frightening in this fictional novel is the events and the correlations with present day situations. Even though there are author’s notes at the conclusion of the novel, it does leave you wondering about where the line between fiction and factual information really exists.

C.S. Graham is the partnership of the husband-wife writing team of Steven Harris and Candice Proctor. Mr. Harris worked as an Army intelligence officer in the remote viewing program. Ms. Proctor has written more than a dozen fictional and nonfiction novels using the names of C.S. Harris and C. S. Graham. The twosome lives in New Orleans.

For an informative and adventurous novel, read THE BABYLONIAN CODEX.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Key to Joy-Filled Living

By Robert C. Jameson, MFT
Morgan-James Publishing
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-60037-467-8
228 pages

How many people wished that life came with an instruction book? Here it is. THE KEYS TO JOY-FILLED
LIVING is that book. What will make you happy? Do each of us have mannerisms or bad habits that
prevent us from being happy? Are there things that we can do that could make us much happier and
more content in our daily lives? What does it take to actually feel fulfillment in our lives?

THE KEYS TO JOY-FILLED LIVING is about us connecting with others and ourselves. All of us have choices
and our choices are what determine who we are and our personal happiness. Sometimes these choices
are not instinctive and we need some guidance into the steps that can give our lives more purpose and
meaning. This gives each of us the opportunity to find our purpose and to achieve our personal

The author ‘s approach is simple and down to earth. He believes that each of us can improve
ourselves while improving our relationships with others. He believes in self-talk and in how to control
your emotions in a positive manner that can benefit you and others. This is the book that guides each
of us to a higher level in all our relationships that most people only dream about or believe only exist in

Many people have never experienced these basic foundations for a fuller and contented life. THE KEYS
JOY-FILLED LIVING allows everyone to know these basic life skills lessons that we missed in our
developing years.

The author, Robert C. Jameson, MFT is an experienced Marriage, Family Therapist. His approach helps
everyone to better approach the challenges of life and how to focus your thoughts on the positive
aspects. He currently resides in California.

All of us at times need life’s instruction manual. You’ll find that the name of the book is THE KEYS TO

Teri Davis December 12, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Gar Fish and Long Gravy

Author: Alexander Devereux
Copyright 2010
Outskirts Press
Paperback $ 12.95
ISBN 978-1-59800-675-9
78 pages

“If sense were common, everybody would have it.”
A A small town in Mississippi is not where most people would expect to learn the most important lessons of life but this short memoir for Alexander Devereux proves to be a wonderful experience for every reader.

Alexander Devereux would by today’s terms be considered “at risk” as a child. Fortunately for him, he had a grandmother who taught him lessons in real life about what was important. These lessons made him a successful person due to the realistic common sense attitudes and beliefs which allowed him to grow and overcome his childhood hardships.

The lessons are learned from making mistakes and developing your personal character based on how you handle the situation. The advice from Grandmama Lia is as important today as it was to a small, disadvantaged black child.

The lessons were written first from the point-of-view for someone with a problem. Usually when someone has a problem, a wise person is not always available to share their wisdom. The advice for this small black boy is surprising as useful for everyone today as it was in his past.

This is a book of common sense and unfortunately, most sense isn’t common since we have to use the term “common sense.” Much of the sense is unusual in the viewpoint and the bluntness, also it’s logical.

Personally, I was thrilled with this book. Even in a hardship situation, the advice and approach to difficult situations are reassurances to all of us as we go about our everyday challenges. I was surprised about the mention about “church tithing”. For me, this allowed a guilt-free perspective that certainly makes more sense than the organized church perspective.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Devereux has successfully completed college and is now a strong contributing member in society. He currently lives in Atlanta and is working on his second book.

GAR FISH AND LONG GRAVY should be required reading for everyone. Don’t let the shortness of this book make you apprehensive about buying it. This book has value from the viewpoint of a young child looking back at his past and offering a different perspective to today’s sense.

Don’t expect GAR FISH AND LONG GRAVY to be a quick read. It is reflective and introspective in a way that makes all of us stop and think about how to make each of our own lives better.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Three Seconds

Roslund & Hellstrom
Silver Oak
Sterling Publishing Co.
January 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4027-8592-4
486 pages

Do all life threatening events come down to the three seconds it takes most of us to make a decision? Do those who do not hesitate have an advantage over those who think through their choices?

Informants can’t have an easy life while literally living in two worlds with the constant threat of death from one wrong move.

Piet Hoffman has worked for years as a police informant infiltrating the Polish mafia. As an ex-con, this opportunity actually put his real life back on track and allowed him to be successful financially while establishing a family including having two sons, who he truly loves. Even though he knows that his life is dangerous, Piet feels fortunate with his life until the incident.

In his role as an informant, Piet is placed in an awkward situation, either he is exposed or a policeman is killed during an illegal drug transaction. Even though many of the upper echelon of the police department are involved with the scenario, there are too many questions by those not directly involved. The questions cause the upper echelon to make a decision. Piet is to be permanently unavailable. The logical method is to have him arrested and to become the main drug supplier for the Polish mafia inside the prison system. Piet is guaranteed safety for this assignment.

Unfortunately, Ewert Grens, a Detective Inspector, will not let go of the investigation of the dead police officer. He decides to question Piet inside the prison. However, it is determined that Piet cannot be questioned and a burn notice is placed on him immediately.

This is an intense novel in which the action never stops. Granted that few of us are police informants, but the realism and the situations make this novel very genuine. The characters are logical and believable.

Rosland and Hellstrom are really Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström. Anders is a journalist and Börge has worked is an expert on the Swedish correctional system. Together they made their debut with THE BEAST in 2004. Their books are translated into German, English, and the Nordic languages.

With the recent interest in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy and The Wallander series on PBS, this Nordic twosome are obviously looking to the world of English for expanding their audience. Personally with a story this dark and intense, they will have a new welcome readership for their future novels.

Teri Davis November 28, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Grove

John Rector
Amazon Encore
November 2, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-935597131
254 pages

What would you do if you found that your tractor was stuck in a ditch on your property and there was the dead body of a teenager in your grove? Most people would have called law enforcement, but being that Dexter McCray had already spent time in prison for assault and has a history of alcoholic blackouts, he chooses to investigate himself. He figures that the best way to prove that he is not guilty is to really find out who killed Jessica.

Added to this is the fact that Dexter is not taking his medicine to help him with self-control and alcohol. He is not certain about his own actions. Could he have blacked out and killed the girl without any memory of the incident? He has no memory of anything last night. What could you do?

This story is haunting. Dexter’s choices are limited and his decisions are not always the wise thing to do. Also in his past is the horrendous death of his own daughter that now causes heartache for both his wife and himself. It is disturbing to witness Dexter’s frequent conversations with his hallucinations of the deceased teenager. While the body is rotting, Dexter has a personal affection for the dead victim. For someone who knows that he has mental issues, the story really does allow the reader to view this disturbed person from their own point of view.

The characterization in THE GROVE is superb. Each character is believable and is motivated by their personal issues. The story is gripping in that your thoughts never leave this tale.

John Rector lives in Omaha, Nebraska. He has had an eclectic work history with working as a musician, a record store clerk, a cemetery worker, and a telephone psychic. His previous book, THE COLD KISS, is currently in development for a film production.

I did have one problem with THE GROVE. The publisher erroneously printed part of another novel in place of the last seventy pages of the book. Please check your copy of this book carefully so that the entire story is concluded for you.

THE GROVE is a haunting novel that you will not soon forget.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Secret Eleanor

Cecelia Holt
The Berkley Publishing Group
Penguin Group
ISBN: 978-0-425-23450-1
362 pages
$ 15.00

When someone lived almost a millennium ago, that is in the 1100s, how can we know what really happened in a person’s life? We know about their major events, but the actual details are left to the imagination.

THE SECRET ELEANOR begins with Eleanor of Aquitaine as being the Queen of France and being married to Louis VII. She is unhappy with this marital relationship even though they have two daughters. This novel is about what might have happened when she first met Henry of Anjou, her soon to be second husband and the future king of England.

Having read many books regarding Eleanor, this one took a slightly different approach. The involvement of Petronella, her younger sister, is interesting bys turning the divorce and marriage into a romance novel with hunky muscular males and curvaceously sultry females. While this drama is occurring, there are also the constant battles for more castles and land between Eleanor, her husband, her husband to be, and also his brother.

THE SECRET ELEANOR is quick and easy to read. The fictionalizing of minor events revolving around the documented actions is definitely a unique approach. Since no one from the time period actually wrote down the little details, all that we are left with is the skeleton of the puzzle without all the pieces. How Cecelia Holland created these details was masterful.

The characters are believable and human in their decisions. Eleanor’s intelligence and slyness made her a legend and continues with her many dangerous and risky escapades that became a part of her everyday life. The story is well-organized and engaging. Even though I was aware of what the outcome of the events would be, THE SECRET ELEANOR made we want to keep turning pages to find out the resolutions of various situations.

Cecelia Holland is known for writing in many genres including historical romance in which this book would be categorized. She has written numerous books and currently resides in California.

Personally, though I am not a fan of romance novels, I plan to read more by Cecelia Holland. She turns a predictable storyline into an unpredictable adventure.

Teri Davis November 14, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

On Target

Mark Greaney
A Jove Book
The Berkley Publishing Group
Penguin Group
October 2010
ISBN: 978-0-515-14845-9
534 pages
$ 9.99

What happens to former operatives of the C.I.A.? Their job skills don’t always match the needs of today’s job market for reemployment.

Court Gentry found out four years ago that the C.I.A. was not a loyal employer when a particular job was compromised and he ended up being a wanted man. Since then, he has chosen to lay low and to work as a mercenary soldier. He also needs to avoid his former comrades and only chooses those jobs where he feels a need to level the scales of justice.

The Russian mafia has assigned Court the job of assassinating the leader of Sudan. Though complicated, Court reluctantly agrees to this. However, the entire job is slightly altered by his former employer, the C.I.A., when they also contact Court with the challenge of kidnapping this same leader instead of killing him. The plan is for Court to act and to follow the Russian instructions and to alter the plan with the kidnapping at the last minute. In return, the C.I.A. will not attempt to eliminate him if he succeeds.

Interwoven through this is a woman who is also looking for justice throughout the world and naively joins and opposes Court as he flounders from one misstep to another.

ON TARGET is your typical action-adventure novel. There is the damsel-in-distress for the predictable romantic tendency. The underdog hero, Court, who possesses superior athletic skills, abilities, intelligence, and luck to those chasing him who greatly outnumber him and seem to have unlimited resources race through every page.

ON TARGET is fun to read. Yes, much of the story is predictable, but it is a well-organized story. Court lacks a bit realism. No matter who or what is the challenge, he always finagles his way around the problem. However, the flawed characters, especially when dealing with former friendships and loyalties demonstrate a side of these operatives that is distinctly human. It also makes the reader wonder about what really happens to former operatives? Are they all dysfunctional and can never assimilate back into normal society?

Mark Greaney currently resides in Tennessee. He has studied international relations, political science, and criminal intelligence. THE GRAY MAN was the first book in this series featuring Court Gentry.

I enjoyed ON TARGET. This fast-paced page turner is an exciting adventure into a lifestyle that none of us probably would want to live. Live dangerously and read ON TARGET.

Teri Davis November 13, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Land of Mountains

Jinx Schwartz
Treble Heart Books
322 pages
$13.95 U.S. and Canada

“Gooey tarmac oozed around my brand new patent leather shoes, and damp heat wilted the Shirley Temple curls my mother forced my hair into earlier in the day. I could practically feel the ringlets springing back to their natural orange frizz. I began to glow. Southern girls don’t sweat, they glow. Rivers of glow ran through my scalp, down my neck.”

How can a ten-year-old girl cause so much trouble?

When your father works in the construction business of building dams, you find that this gives you the opportunity to explore the world. Texas born and raised, Lizbuthann finds that relocating to Haiti in the early 1950s is quite an educational experience.

Unfortunately, Haiti is in the tropics and for a redhead, the sweat, the humidity as it frizzes the hair, and the touchy and highly reactive skin that tends to show every blemish don’t always agree with the move.
Not to mention, the unladylike behavior that upsets the perfectionist in your mother.

In Haiti, during the early 1950s, this is a third-world country. The governmental leadership wants to develop the country and sees the future through the restriction of the water system by building a dam. This requires foreign expertise, so Lizbuthann’s father is part of this enclosed community temporarily living in the country at a base camp. Life within the camp is much different from her life in Texas and the community has many privileges and riches that are not even imagined in the general population of Haiti.

This time period is prior to living under a dictatorship. The current leader wants a democracy, just not elections. The country has its own language and still has the religious influences of voodoo mixed with Catholicism. For a Southern Baptist family from Texas, this is quite an adjustment.

Adopting a baby parrot is intended to keep Lizbuthann distracted and hopefully out of a little trouble, but Pee Wee manages to cause plenty of awkward and hilarious situations all by him.

Jinx Schwarz, the author, actually based this series on her life in Haiti during this time period. The sense of time and place superbly transports the reader back into the early 1950s and living in Haiti. Having read many of Jinx’s other mysteries, this book does not let me done. Everything Jinx writes is outstanding.

LAND OF MOUNTAINS is fun to read. The character Lizbuthann is delightfully troublesome and just the type of person who questions life and makes every normal day laughable. The story is extremely well-organized, and has a personal voice that makes a true connection with each of the characters.

For being categorized as a young adult mystery, there is more everyday adventure than there is a mystery. Even though the intended audience is young adult, everyone can have quite a few laughs by reading LAND OF MOUNTAINS. Personally, I think that the targeted audience should be toward middle-aged women who have an understanding of the changes in societal standards since the 1950s. This book is an humorous adventure into a different setting and time period.

LAND OF MOUNTAINS is fun to read. It’s memorable and vividly explains life in a different time and place in a fun and humorous manner.

The biggest problem I see with LAND OF MOUNTAINS is where to buy it. Because it is printed through a small press publication, our local Barnes & Noble will not carry it, nor order it. If you don’t have an Amazon account, either call or contact MYSTERY BOOKSTORE on South 13th by the Bohemian Café or THE BOOKWORM which is also in Omaha. Either store will be thrilled to order it for you.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Snow Day

Billy Coffey
Hatchette Book Group
October 2010
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-446-56826-5
208 pages

Sometimes everyone needs a day of unplanned life, a day of reflection, a snow day.

Early in the morning, Peter Boyd listens to his radio station that is encouraging everyone in this small Virginia town to take a snow day. This is the type of snow that is growing in inches every hour. He decides to call in to work to actually take a snow day being that his wife and kids are home for the day. Even though he is aware that his position at his factory is about to be cut, Peter realizes that he needs o get away, just for a break from the daily grind.

His wife’s first priority is to send him to the store. They desperately need milk, bread, and there are about twenty more items on the list. There go his plans to hibernate and take it easy. However the lessons he learns and the people that Peter interacts with make this a memorable and worthwhile day with reflections all of us need to be reminded exist. We all need to look for these gifts throughout every day.

SNOW DAY is Billy Coffey’s debut novel written in the first person listening and learning from the normal daily events that many of us choose not to see or are just too busy to look, listen, respond, and act. From needing help in a supermarket, to finding the real Santa Claus, to a reunion with the class loser, to finding a caring UPS worker, and to observing the teen-aged speed demon driving a sports car on ice are all lessons that many people miss in their everyday life. Peter discovers these and more.
Sometimes everyone needs a day of unplanned life, a day of reflection, a snow day.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Murder to Mil-Spec

A Crime Fiction Anthology to Benefit Homes for our Troops
Wolfmont Press
October 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60364-028-2
234 pages

There are numerous causes that many people find worthy today. However, some causes are unquestionably just the right thing to support. Homes for our Troops is definitely one of those that need present home cannot accommodate their needs, this agency allows them to have a new home that is specially adapted for their needs and at no cost to the veteran.

Wolfmont Press yearly donates an anthology to benefit a charity and this year they have chosen Homes for our Troops. The authors donate their stories and also promote the book while accepting no funds for compensation. Wolfmont also donates all their profits from the book to this charity.

MURDER TO MIL-SPEC is a collection of twelve short stories by Terrie Farley Moran, Dorothy B. Francis, Big Jim, Williams, Elizabeth Zelvin, Lina Zeldovich, Charles Schaeffer, Howard B. Carron, Brendan Dubois, Janis Patterson, Barb Goffman, S.M. Harding, and Diana Catt. These are all authors who are not well-known and are fairly new to publishing.

Each story is based on a military crime featuring various conflicts around the world from World War II to the present.

Most of the stories are simple with believable characters and events based on real events with conflicts. Each story is engaging and my personal criticism is that the stories are not longer and that they end. The variety of the settings as well as the conflicts within each story is superb illustrations into a realistic military life. These stories are gems.

“Salome’s Gift” by Diana Catt is outstanding. Salome is a fourteen-year-old girl whose brother is fighting for our country in Iraq. He sends her a birthday gift with a puzzle. When her brother is reported as being missing, her grief and reactions make the story feel all too real. The conclusion was perfect.

Read MURDER TO MIL-SPEC. It is definitely worth the money which goes to a worthy cause and you will also have a wonderful collection of stories.

Don't Look Now: Emmy Budd Volume 2

Jean Blasiar
Charles River Press
July 2010
ISBN: 978-1-936185-14-6
128 pages

“That man in the phone booth. He’s looking right at me again. Look someplace else.”

Emmy Budd is speaking these words to T.J. Blake as the two are planning on seeing a movie. In the small town of Jerseyville, Ohio in the 1950s where everyone knows everyone else, this stranger’s actions scare Emmy Budd.

What would a twelve-year-old do when there’s a strange man watching and following her? Emmy Budd is somewhat relieved when her best friend, T. J. Blake shows up and joins her. However, the twosome is not pleased when they are being followed and someone seems to be trying to run them down while they are riding their bikes.

When T.J. and Emmy go to the local pharmacy, they are surprised to find a new manager in the store.
They both find this strange as Mister Foster with his sister, have always owned this pharmacy. So why have both of the owners all of a sudden left town? How is this strange man that has been following related to the Fosters and why is he so interested in two twelve-year-olds?

DON’T LOOK NOW is the second book by Jean Blasiar featuring Emmy Budd. The first book, EMMY BUDD AND THE HIJACKED TRAIN is also written in much of the tradition on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, Emmy Budd and her best friend, T. J. Blake investigate and assist the local police in solving crime.

Jean Blasiar has written seven young adult novels, including the Emmy Budd series. She has also written eight full-length productions in the Los Angeles area. She lives in Southern California where she is writing more Emmy Budd novels.

DON’T LOOK NOW is a well-written simple mystery novel with realistic characters who smartly investigate crimes. The story is aimed at the tween audience with no inappropriate words or insinuations. I look forward to new additions in this series.

Music of the Spheres

By Michael Burke
A Caravel Mystery
Pleasure Book Studio: A Literary Press
December 1, 2010
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-929355-70-9
180 pages

What is “The Music of the Spheres”?

“You can’t hear it. It’s not audible; it’s just there. It’s based on the rhythms of the universe. Pythagoras came up with it.”

When Hank Menotti decides to return to his home from spending twelve years in prison, the local bartender is concerned about conflicts. LeRoy calls his longtime friend, Blue Heron, to look in on Billy Windsore, son of the murdered man. Since Hank pleaded to the lesser charge of manslaughter, there have always been questions about who really killed George Windsor.
Blue decides to drive over to Bill’s house and nicks a car’s bumper while avoiding a collision with another vehicle. Instinctively, he feels a need to continue to Bill’s house immediately. When he knocks on the door, there is no answer. He then starts walking around the house and looks in through a window to see Bill’s body laying face down. Blue tries the back door and finds it unlocked. He rushes in and rolls Bill over. Bill is barely alive and whispers, “Blue, red, green, red, yellow, green,” and dies.
Logically, Hank would be the obvious suspect, but Blue begins to work with the police to investigate both the original murder as well as Bill’s. Someone with money makes it obvious that Blue is stepping on their toes. Also, what did Bill’s last words have to do with anything, except maybe a traffic light?
Michael Burke graduated from Harvard and has spent time in the army as well as working with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. He also worked for New York City with urban planning and taught at Columbia University. For the past thirty years, he has developed a career in painting and sculpture.
MUSIC OF THE SPHERES is a short, high-action, adventure in the old detective style of many years ago. The style refers to when men fought, drank, smoked, spent much time in bars, and did manly things while all women were extremely curvaceous and enjoyed being ogled. This is a tightly strung together novel that keeps you wondering even after you finish the last page.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fever of the Bone

By Val McDermid
First published in Great Britain 2009
Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-0-06-198648-2
512 pages

Very few people welcome change and Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan now finds that she has a new boss, James Blake as her chief constable. One of his actions is to let her know that there will be changes, especially with her team and the use of Dr. Tony Hill, the experienced psychologist who contractually develops profiles of offenders. He also is questioning if this experienced successful team would be more cost effective if they were split up. Carol feels the need to prove their worth, including Tony.

In nearby Worcester, a fourteen-year-old girl, Jennifer Maidmont, was brutally murdered. Tony Hill is called in to assist since the local authorities seem to have no leads. Jennifer was a nice, sweet girl who hadn’t been in trouble before or caused anyone any concern. She was an only child. Why was she murdered? The only lead the police have is that she spent time on the internet on RigMarole, a social networking site. Apparently Jennifer was going to meet someone who knew her secrets. What secrets? Jennifer’s family and best friend had no idea what secrets were not being shared.

In Carol Jordan’s local community, fourteen-year-old boys seem to be following this same pattern. All the victims seem to also be involved with RigMarole and only children. They also were all murdered in exactly the same manner. How do you stop a serial killer when you are not certain why these children are being targeted? Is there a connection between the boys and the one girl victim?

FEVER OF THE BONE is the sixth novel by Val McDermid featuring Dr. Tony Hill. This story is masterfully woven. Each piece interlocks and connects to the others but only when the reader begins to view the entire picture. Added to the deaths is a cold case involving the disappearance of a mother and her daughter as well as the natural death of Tony’s estranged father. Added to this are the awkward sexual situations regarding lesbian relationships. The characters are all realistically flawed but driven to do the right thing and completely committed to their investigations. The story flows at an increasing pace, much as a real investigation would develop. This is definitely one novel that you might want to read in one sitting. The story is haunting and driven in such a way that you cannot leave the story.

The strength of FEVER OF THE BONE is definitely the overlapping and the interweaving of the crimes. This technique causes the story to have intensity and an internal drive. FEVER OF THE BONE is fast-paced, intelligent, insightful, and definitely a must-read for any mystery lover.

Teri Davis October 17, 2010

Late for School

By Steve Martin
September 2010
Grand Central Publishing
Hachette Book Group
ISBN-13: 978-0-446-55702-3
32 pages

“If I’m late there’s misery
I won’t be up on history
I’ll be in the English grammar slammer
And I’ll get a C!”

Who hasn’t at some time in their life been worried about being late for school? Steve
Martin looks back Into his childhood with the help of illustrator C. F. Payne and reflects on
his personal daily struggle of being on time and the responsibility of learning in school.

The poetry is a little unconventional in that it has forced rhymes through use of a
backwoods type of country slang. The music on the CD is perfect for the mood with the
rhythm and rhyme of the poetry.

The illustrations are phenomenal. Besides bearing a strong resemblance to the real Steve
Martin at an early age, these are well-drawn portraits of definite moments in the author’s

Steve Martin is best known as a comedian but he has also written books and screenplays as well as being an actor and screenwriter. He’s won Emmys and Grammys. He continues to write s and frequently his work appears in THE NEW YORKER and THE NEW YORK TIMES.
C. F. Payne is an illustrator who has worked collaboratively with numerous children’s authors and most notably, John Lithgow on The Remarkable Farkle McBride and Micawber. His artwork has been in almost every notable magazine published and most memorable has been his recent drawing of President Obama on the cover of Time Magazine.
With this book is a CD of Martin singing the poetry with accompaniment on the banjo. The second selection on the CD is strictly the banjo music.

LATE TO SCHOOL is fun to read, listen to, and definitely has outstanding artwork. Even though its targeted audience is for children from four to eight years of age, everyone will truly enjoy this glimpse of a memoir into the life of Steve Martin.

Teri Davis October 17, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Permanent Damage

By Dean Barrett
Village East Books Florida
ISBN: 978-0-9788888-2-4
392 pages

Scott Sterling is a washed-up detective barely surviving. He manages to live by living cheaply in Thailand above a bar and giving scuba lessons to tourists. He doesn’t think much about returning to the states in that he enjoys this lifestyle. He was introduced to this area as an ex-CIA operative in Vietnam. He has found that his former skills and training are perfect for being a private detective in Bangkok, Thailand.

Kylie Winters wants to hire Scott to investigate her father’s death many years ago. Supposedly, her father’s death was considered to be a suicide, but with the disappearance of bearer bonds worth millions and his gorgeous lover, Kylie wants answers to many questions. She is convinced that Jiab, the lover, killed her father for the bonds. . She wants this woman found and will pay by the day. Since Scott is in need of money, he agrees to take this investigation.

The adventure has intrigue, twists, and turns. The characters are believable and the investigation is written is such a manner that is realistic. This is a fast-paced, high-adventure novel. The references to the former events in Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand are accurate and pull the reader into the history of this region.

Most people understand that chic books are for females favoring those in their late teens and early twenties. Like this specific genre, PERMANENT DAMAGE is for Vietnam vets who even today daydream about the beauty of Thailand’s women. In blunt terms, this is a guy novel for Vietnam veterans. Yes, it can be read by those outside of this specific description, but it is obvious that there is a targeted readership.

Even though I am not in his intended readership audience, I enjoyed this novel with the constant intrigue and twists throughout the investigation. The motion of this is almost a narrative from Scott Sterling in remembering the involvement of the C.I.A. many years ago. This picture into the past was hypnotic with real events at the end of the war.

I was bothered by the lack of editing in the first half of this novel. With the usage of numerous acronyms, multiple errors in capitalization were distracting from the story. The second half of the novel had no obvious errors which made the reading more enjoyable and faster.

Dean Barrett has written numerous novels based in Thailand such as KINGDOM OF MAKE-BELIEVE, MEMOIRS OF A BANGKOK WARRIOR, SKYTRAIN IN MURDER, and IDENTITY THEFT. Those which are set in China are HANGMAN’S POINT, MISTRESS OF THE EAST, and DRAGON SLAYER. He has also written a musical set in Hong Kong, FRAGMENT HARBOUR and the additional novels of MURDER IN CHINA RED and DON QUIXOTE IN CHINA: THE SEARCH FOR PEACH BLOSSOM SPRING. He bases these books on his life as a Chinese linguist and has lived and traveled in Asia for thirty years.

PERMANENT DAMAGE leaves a permanent impression of the ending of the Vietnam War as well as what happened to those who stayed behind. This is definitely well-worth reading for everyone.

Teri Davis October 10, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Leaving Yesler

By Peter Bacho
Pleasure Book Studio
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-929355-57-0
286 pages
Fiction – Young Adult

Growing up in the 60s in Seattle, Washington is a special challenge especially when you are a biracial
teenager living in the projects and your older brother just died in the Vietnam War. Bobby Vincente
was different from his older brother in that he was the pretty one, the one who was sent to a private
school, the one who just didn’t fight and preferred the quiet life of reading rather than fighting.

Being the surviving son living alone with a father who recently lost his wife to cancer, enabled Bobby to
develop his cooking abilities. Dad though missed his favorite son who was most liked him. The
deceased son was the one who would fight for Bobby, protecting him, teaching him to be a man.
Naturally, now that no one can defend Bobby, his father decided it was time for him to learn
how to box. Surprisingly though, Bobby was a natural. He appeared thin and weak, but quickly he
discovered that he was a fast sparring partner who threw a powerful punch.

In order to stay out of the draft, Bobby hopes to attend the local community college but first he has to
pass his test for his GED. Then he discovers the love of his life, or so he believes.

Much of this novel involves Bobby’s communication with his brother who seems to be a ghost intruding
on Bobby’s life and guiding him lovingly towards success. These events were what added a sense of
personal depth of each character. This bizarre communication with ghostly dreams is
what makes this special and allows the characters to show care for each other.

Peter Bacho has won a variety of awards including an American Book Award for CEBU, a Washington
Governor’s Writers Award, and The Murray Morgan Prize. He is proud of his heritage as a Filipino
American writer and expresses this through the character of Bobby. He teachers at The Evergreen State
College in Tacoma, Washington.

LEAVING YESLER is about dreaming and allowing the dreams to be motivating by being open to changes
that you never imagined. The story is hypnotic and engrossing. This is one of those novels that you
can’t put down. Ideally the readership should be upper high school readers through adults. Everyone
deserves a chance to enjoy and live through Bobby Vincente.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Disappearance

by Bentley Little
ISBN: 978-0-452-23103-1
400 pages

Gary is successfully enjoying being a student at U.C.L.A. living far away from his native Ohio. He views every choice now as one step up the ladder to a future life in California. He even has the girl, granted it has only been a few weeks, but he has the feeling that this is the one person for him, Joan.

With their friends, Gary and Joan decide on an adventure at a Burning Man Festival. When they arrive, the festival is just beginning its climatic events. The actual events after this are a little confusing because the group discovers that they were drugged and now Joan is missing. With little assistance from the local law enforcement, the friends return to U.C.L.A. to discover that any records of Joan at the school have now disappeared.

Gary has to make the decision of whether to focus his energy on searching for Joan or to just continue his life on campus. He knows that she is the one for him so he begins to investigate. He attempts to contact her parents but it appears that they left their home in a hurry. Joan’s roommate doesn’t know what happened to her, but then she disappears. The girl in the dorm room next to the two wants to be helpful but she is killed by a hit-and-run driver. Why all the mystery? Where is Joan? Added to this, now Gary’s record at U.C.L.A. does not exist.

The characters are quite realistic and visual. The intensity of the storyline is tremendous and moves quickly. As to organization, THE DISAPPEARANCE is well-planned and leads to an unusual climax. This story is fast-paced. The story is not a thriller, or a horror novel, but one that puts you as one with the main character and feeling his fear.

Bentley Little has won the Bram Stoker Award for his previous short stories and novels. He has had a variety of work experiences that has helped him in the development of his characters. He currently resides in Arizona.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rich Boy

by Sharon Pomerantz
Hatchette Book Group
August 2010
ISBN: 978-0-446-56318-5
528 pages

There will also be the “haves” and the “have-nots” in the world. There seem to be those people who even though they were not born into a wealthy family appear to be destined for better things.

Robert Vishniak was born into a middle class Jewish family in Philadelphia after World War II. His father was employed as a mailman with his mother, naturally, being a stay-at-home to care for the family. It took a few years but finally the family of four found their own house and being that they lived in a large city, they had no need to own an automobile.

By going away to college, Robert discovers that his roommate is from a wealthy family that has multiple homes and cars. Being naturally handsome, he discovers that it is easy for him to develop the friendship with his roommate and the circle of wealth that surrounds him and exposes Robert to a world that he never knew existed.

RICH BOY is the saga of Robert and his family through the changes of American culture in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Their reactions, adapting, and attempts to further their lives with the challenges of the times including the draft, drugs, sexuality, the real estate boom, and the stock market and commodities trading, greatly influenced this family.

RICH BOY is the showing of differences between the middle class of the 1950s and the changes in personal wealth and education during that time period. It was common in the 50s and 60s for a family to have the father in a civil service job with one income and the mom staying at home to raise the children and economize by saving green stamps.

Robert’s natural gifts of ambition, intelligence, and looks gave him advantages. His friendships with the ultra-wealthy were the perfect mix for his success. The main problem he had was the feeling of not belonging with his job, his family, his sexual partners, and his friends.

The vulnerability of Robert’s first love and that of his daughter, contrasted the public vision of him. Also, his awkward relationship with his mother made this memorable. This contrast of his daily relationships is what made this story forceful and realistic.

RICH BOY is Sharon Pomerantz’s debut novel that took ten years to write. She has won various awards for writing short pieces and teaches at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

This is one book that becomes an inner part of your thoughts and you don’t want it to end. The experience of reading RICH BOY is truly memorable, thought-provoking, and moving. I hope that it doesn’t take another ten-years for the Sharon Pomerantz’s next novel.

Teri Davis September 19, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Staying Fit After 60

Author: Calvin Hill
Copyright 2010
Hillcrest Publishing
Hardback $ 24.95
ISBN: 978-0578037608
158 pages

Who would be the most likely person for writing a fitness book than someone who is a living example of a particular program?

Calvin Hill realized as he was approaching the age of sixty, that he was not living a healthy lifestyle. Determined to live life to the fullest, he developed his own fitness program for people who are not planning to spend immense amounts of money on equipment or a health club.

For the past seventeen years, Calvin Hill has been the walking billboard for his program. He is his best endorsement for this particular series of exercises for keeping fit mentally and physically

As Hill approached the age of sixty, he began exercising and started to search for simple activities that would strengthen every muscle and bone group in his body. The results were the loss of thirty pounds, feeling more mentally alert, and discovering less stress on his joints resulting in less pain.

The positive aspects of his program include simple exercises and directions. A DVD is also available of his program.

This short novel is interspersed with his personal poetry surrounding his life style philosophy and the actual exercises. The actual exercises are not difficult and do not require any special equipment. The repetitions for each exercise do seem large usually fifty or more repetitions.

One exercise did concern me that was the “brain bounce”. In this particular exercise you rotate and bounce your head while lying on the floor. This is to increase the circulation of the blood through the brain. How can bouncing your head slow down or stop Dementia or Alzheimer’s? This former boxing enthusiast is convinced that the increased circulation is the reason.

For Calvin Hill this program works. If you are considering trying his system, consult a doctor before beginning any exercise program and start slowly.

STAYING FIT AFTER 60 by Calvin Hill is a self-published book.

Calvin Hill was born in Michigan and received training in mechanical engineering. He found success in the world of selling and marketing through much of his life. He has previously written THE ART OF POWER AND CONTROL SELLING.

Further information about this program is available at

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Ghosts on 87th Lane

Author: M. L. Woelm
Copyright 2007
Llewellyn Publications
Paperback $ 12.95
ISBN 978-0-7387-1031
278 pages

Most people really do not believe they have ghosts in their home. What would you do though if there seems to be evidence that you have one or more of these creatures living in your house and treating you like you are the guest in your own home? What if you cannot afford to move? How do you make peace with the other questionable entities abiding in your abode?

That is the problem this author had beginning with her move to new home in Minnesota in 1968.

Living in an apartment with a husband and two small children is a challenge. Needing space for the family prompted Paul and Marlene Woelm to begin the house hunting process. They finally discovered a bungalow that needed some work and the owners were definitely motivated enough to lower the price. Everything now should calm down in their lives. Shouldn’t it?

Marlene, as a stay-at-home mom was puzzled after the family moved in by the voice asking for mommy. Her children called her, “Momma”. Granted that wasn’t a big issue, but it was a concern. Then things began to disappear. Things began to be dropped. There were loud noises where the house should be silent. It felt like someone was watching her. The house just didn’t feel right. Added to that was the discovery that one of the children who had previously lived in the house had died of a ruptured bowel. Could that child be a ghost?

The author, Marlene Woelm, has stated that she has always been “sensitive” to the supernatural. As a child, she saw what others were incapable of seeing. Did this make her more inviting then to the ghostly world?

THE GHOSTS ON 87TH LANE is Marlene’s tale of living with what she believes to be a variety of ghosts through almost forty years of their occupancy of this house. The problem the author had was how to constantly get rid of these squatters. (Or was her family the squatters?) From denial to seeking ghost busters, Marlene has tried them all.

Overall, the story was enjoyable and engaging to read. There were a few difficulties with the sequence organization which was perplexing. Also, THE GHOSTS ON 87th LANE is an experience, but not a hair-raising haunting. Think of this book as a kind of everyday haunting that is if haunting exists.

Do you believe in ghosts? Read the book to look for the evidence.

Maybe This Time

Author: Jennifer Crusie
Copyright September 2010
St. Martin’s Press
Hardcover $ 24.99
ISBN 978-0-312-30378-5
352 pages

Andromeda (Andie) Miller feels that she has successfully placed the past in the past and has moved on with her life since her divorce ten years ago. In fact she feels so confident about this, that she decides that it is time to face her past and to return all the alimony checks to her former husband. She doesn’t need or want them. She chose not to cash them. This confrontation is what she needs to move to her new life with her soon-to-be husband who happens to be a well-known and successful writer.

However Andie did not expect her ex-husband, North, to offer such an intriguing temporary job. She is to be a nanny to two distant relatives who have been orphaned and apparently are convincing people that their estate is haunted. The twosome has successfully eliminated nannies recently. North would like her to settle the children so that they can be moved closer to his home. The clincher is when he offers to pay Andie ten-thousand a month for this challenge. How awful can this situation be for that much money?

Andie agrees to this arrangement and discovers the estate to be run-down with an eccentric and aged housekeeper, Mrs. Crumb, a distant and silent preteen, Carter, and an eight-year-old fashion-disaster, Alice. Added to this is what appears to be ghosts which Andie has difficulty believing really exist.

Andie is just beginning to develop a relationship with the two children when South, North’s brother, appears with a local television celebrity and her camera man who are anxious to exploit the house and the children for a story.

Yes, this is a predictable romance novel but the methodology is definitely intriguing. The running ghost story and the relationships between the housekeeper, the children, and Andie make this a delightfully quick read. Also, the conflict between the ghost believers and the reasoning for the haunting is a continual drive within this novel.

Jennifer Crusie has also written many novels including TELL ME LIES, CRAZY FOR YOU, WELCOME TO TEMPTATION, FAST WOMEN, FAKING IT, and BET ME. Yes, I would say that the book is female oriented and for those who enjoyed well-written romance novels. Crusie is a pseudonym for Jennifer Smith. She has lived the life of an Air Force wife as well as being a public school teacher.

MAYBE THIS TIME is an updated version of Henry James’ TURN OF THE SCREW. Personally, I enjoyed this unpredictable story within a predictable romance.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Language of Trees

Author: Ilie Ruby
Copyright July 2010
Harper Collins Imprint
Paperback $ 14.99
ISBN 9780061898648
368 pages

“Trees are the most trusting of all living creatures between they trust enough to put their roots down in one place, knowing they’ll be there for life.
-Author unknown”

Grant Songo is having difficulty finding out his purpose in life. He has moved back to his family cabin that he inherited after the death of his parents. This past year as a teacher was not successful and he was given a leave of absence allowing him time to heal from two broken marriages, the second one failed following three miscarriages.

Unfortunately, this cabin is the surrounding the lake where years ago a small boy drowned during the night when in a small boat with his sisters. However, Luke, the boy, continues to haunt the area and continues to intermingle with the community leaving dimes and small yellow paper airplanes in the town. Added to the mystery is that this area is in upstate New York near the Finger Lakes which were at one time inhabited by the Seneca and also are known to have their own spiritual ghosts.

The story of Luke and how his family continues to deal with their guilt and grief along with Grant’s guilt about his personal life, the return of Grant’s first wife are beautifully overlapping into this novel. Additionally in the story are literally a lone wolf, the haunted area, and most importantly the disappearance of Luke’s sister, Melanie. As each day, the community varies between searching for her and wondering if she ran away again while Lion, her long term lover, continues to care for their child and fearfully wondering if she is back using drugs. These are all beautifully interwoven into an entrancing tale while rooting the characters to this mysterious area of Canandaigua Lake.

THE LANGUAGE OF TREES is a debut novel by Ilie Ruby who has published numerous poems and short stories in a variety of literary and online magazines. With her three children and her husband, she currently lives near Boston.

The characters are believable. The choice of words is truly masterful and poetic. The multiple storylines perfectly overflow each other while intermixing and developing. The flaws of all the characters, as well as their personal abilities and gifts, are lovingly blended into this mystery with both real and remembered hauntings that are not as a horror or a thriller but as a way of caring and remembering. This is not a romantic love story, but a story of realistic love and caring for other people.

THE LANGUAGE OF TREES is a story of eloquence revealing the raw nature of humanity growing in trust with those who care and learning how to extend their own personal roots to become the trees of this community.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Bone Chamber

By Robin Burcell
Poisoned Pen Press
December 2009
Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-06112-229-3
400 pages
Mass Market Paperback

You can be killed if you have the third key. What is the third key to? What about the first and second key? Sydney Fitzpatrick quickly feels the need to answer these questions in THE BONE CHAMBER. She also has the feeling that she is always in the wrong place at the wrong time.

THE BONE CHAMBER begins with Sydney being summoned to Quantico to create a drawing from a skull of a possible victim who was obviously murdered and so extremely disfigured that she was not recognizable. Since she is a forensic artist for the FBI, this does not seem unusual except that the FBI is not involved with investigation. No one will tell her who is in charge or why she is to work with another agency.

To complicate matters, Sydney’s colleague and friend is also killed in a hit-and-run incident once she has begun this investigation. She is being followed but has no clue as to why. Added to this is the hunky, Zach Griffin who just wants her safely out of this case.

The victim turns out to be an archeological student who seemed to have made a recent discovery or to be near a discovery. To complicate matters, this particular student is also the daughter of the ambassador to the Holy See. Supposedly, she had found one of the three missing keys left by the Templar Knights and seemed to know where to find the long-hidden map to their treasure.

THE BONE CHAMBER is written as an action/adventure where no one ever sleeps. The characters are believable. It also leaves you frequently wondering who are the good guys and the bad guys that greatly added conflict and excitement to the story.

Personally, I think authors need to look for other hidden treasures and give the Templar/ Freemason connection a rest. There have to be a multitude of worldly treasures lost that have never been found with secrets that could upset many people just waiting to have someone write about them.

Robin Burcell actually trained to be an FBI-forensic artist and has worked for over twenty years in law enforcement. She has previously written the novels EVERY MOVE SHE MAKES, FATAL TRUTH, DEADLY LEGACY, and COLD CASE. THE BONE CHAMBER is actually the second book in the Sydney Fitzpatrick series. It works as a standalone but I think I would have been more attached to the character if I had read the first book, FACE OF A KILLER which I do intend to read now.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Randolph Women and Their Men

Author: Ruth Doumlele
Copyright 2010
Book Publishers Network
Paperback $ 19.95
ISBN 978-1035359-25-8
292 pages

Some names of particular families are well-respected from the viewpoint of the general public. Randolph in Virginia is such a name and instantaneously brings in the vision of wealth, prosperity, respectfulness, and properness. However, all the glistens is not gold.

The Randolph family perhaps is best known for their relationship with Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s daughter, Martha, married Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr. who later became the Governor of Virginia.

THE RANDOLPH WOMEN & THEIR MEN really centers on Ann Cary Randolph, nicknamed Nancy who supposedly was impregnated by her brother-in-law while living in her sister’s house. When she “miscarried”, there was considerable investigation as to whether or not the baby was murdered. Nancy denied that the baby belonged to her sister’s husband. Everybody just assumed this. Adding more intrigue and resentment is the fact that Nancy remained under this same roof for years.

Being that travel was an immense burden during the Revolutionary times, the only exposure to people was frequently only to those within a family. The number of marital relationships within cousins is startling, as well as the frequent births and deaths due to lack of medical knowledge at that time. Also, the gossiping rivaled any reality show of our modern age. The women tended to actually feed upon any tidbit or assumption that could be twisted into a rumor.

Hidden in the soap opera of the family feuds, infidelities, disloyalties, and affairs is the behind the scenes history of our country that is not well known to the general public. Also, the viewpoint of Thomas Jefferson from an observer was invigorating. His relationships, attitudes, and decisions regarding Madison, Monroe, Washington, Lafayette, and John Adams were insightful.

The constant instability of the slavery situations was an issue discussed in THE RANDOLPH WOMEN & THEIR MEN which allowed you to better understand the time period as well as the people and their economic dependency of this system.

At times, the many similar names became confusing. The history of lesser known events or how they related to a major happening though was enlightening. I found the gossip from two-hundred years ago to be petty and tiresome yet, the book was thoughtful and realistic. The characterizations were well-researched and developed. Yes, the author certainly had opinions and viewpoints regarding certain people and their reputations.

All in all, I enjoyed the book. I look forward to reading anything written by Ruth Doumlele in the future.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


By Dr. Laurence B. Brown
BookSurge Publishing
2007, 2008, 2010
ISBN-10: 1419673238
ISBN-13: 978-11419673237
332 pages

Is there a tidbit of knowledge somewhere that could challenge thebeliefs of most Christians? What
could threaten the Western Christianity beliefs, the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Jewish

THE EIGHTH SCROLL is an action-adventure journey centering about the life of the fictional archeologist,
Dr. Michael Hansen. Having parents that were well-known in the academic world of archeology and
anthropology, Michael’s childhood and education was spent with his parents on their explorations
throughout the world. By intermixing fact with the fictional lives, this novel tells a story while also
questioning our beliefs with this character’s pursuit of the truth.

THE EIGHTH SCROLL reveals the circumstances beyond the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls written in
a simplistic conversational adventure. There is much history about the circumstances of the discovery
as well as the new discoveries and reaffirmations after the scrolls were read and studied.

What makes an excellent book? In my opinion, it is one that has you still thinking and questioning the
events long after you have read the last page. Even with the conclusion of the story, you still have
are left with thoughts of unsettled beliefs.

The characters are believable, likable, and well-developed. The action is fast-paced. The story line is
logical and realistic. What makes this novel outstanding, is the intermixing of factual events and findings
with a completely fictional story, similar to THE DAVINCI CODE.

Dr. Laurence Brown has graduated from Cornell University, Brown University Medical School, and
George Washington University Hospital to become an ophthalmic surgeon. He currently lives in Saudi
Arabia, but has spent extensive time also in America, England, and Jordan. He has also written two
books about comparative religion, THE FIRST AND FINAL COMMANDMENT and GOD’ED which further
document his personal religious beliefs.

One of my burning issues questions about THE EIGHTH SCROLL regarded the use of Book Surge, a self-
publishing agency. Why wasn’t this novel with an established publishing firm? Were the issues
questioned in this book too upsetting to general publishers?

I look forward to more adventures from Dr. Brown.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Author: Tess Gerritsen
Copyright 2010
Ballantine Books
Hardback $ 26.00
ISBN 978-0-345-51548-3
336 pages

Most adults live fairly predictable lives. As a medical examiner, Maura Isles, is cautious. She is not a risk-taker. So while at a pathologists’ convention in Wyoming, she is offered the opportunity for an adventure from a former college classmate and fellow pathologist. Since her love life is not doubtful now, maybe this chance will change her life into something more meaningful. She agrees to a ski trip for the weekend.

When GPS gives directions, we tend to believe it is correct. As snow is falling and getting increasingly deeper, you definitely are hoping it is correct. However, when you are stuck in the snow, then you could care less about the GPS and just look for some place safe and out of the weather.

Maura, the other pathologist and his thirteen-year-old daughter, and another couple decide to leave the vehicle and hike to safety, trudging through the snow. They are relieved to come upon a small village of twelve identical houses. They enter one whose door was unlocked and are surprised to find the house is not equipped with the usual comforts of everyday life, such as electricity and central heat. Also, puzzling is the dinner that was left on the table, not eaten.

Meanwhile, the local police find Maura’s burned body with those also on this ski trip. They inform Maura’s employer in Boston and her best friend, Jane Rizzoli with her husband, Gabriel Dean, who works with the FBI as well as her left-behind love, Father Daniel Brophy of her death. Something doesn’t seem right by this and the threesome decides to go to Wyoming for answers.

Being the eighth book in a series is always difficult for an author and a reader. The reader doesn’t always understand the characters and the relationships if they have not read the previous books. That does not hold true in ICE COLD. This novel works as either a part of a series or as a stand-alone novel. Ms. Gerritsen is masterful with this combined task.

Obviously, by the timing, the release of this novel is to also promote the new series of Rizzoli and Isles on TNT. Tess Gerritsen is a graduate of Stanford University with her degree in anthropology. She also has a medical degree and has worked as a physician in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Tess bases her stories on her experiences such as her first novel, Harvest which is about orphaned children being killed for their organs. The idea for her first novel came from her visit in Russia. Her first Rizzoli and Isles thriller was The Surgeon. She has also written a historical thriller, The Bone Garden. Now, Gerritsen lives in Camden, Maine and is married while being the mother of two sons.

ICE COLD is fast-paced and haunting. The characters are believable and extremely realistic.

This is the perfect novel to read while in the sweltering summer temperatures. Reading ICE COLD will definitely chill you to the bones.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Author: Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Copyright July 2010
Harper Collins Publishing
Paperback $ 9.99
ISBN 978-0-06-155824-5
608 pages

“Dusk was still many hours away, and he was impatient. Now that everything was in motion – the strain spreading throughout New York City with the sure exponential force of compound interest, doubling and doubling itself again every night – he hummed with the glee of a greedy banker. No financial success, of which there had been plenty, ever enlivened him as much as did this vast endeavor.”

Between Stephanie Meyer and Charlaine Harris most readers feel that they already are experts on vampires. Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan together have created a new aspect to the present day vampire trend. THE STRAIN treats the infection from the bites as a virus and involving the CDC with Dr. Ephraim Goodweather attempting to save the world from this infection. The vampire restrictions are a little different especially with the manner of biting the victims and the reflections of mirrors are actually more sensible. Overall, the vampire lifestyles are extremely detailed and explained well in this novel.

Dr. Goodweather is assisted by Nora Martinez as the two begin their quest to saving our country from the infection of evolving into vampires. They are called to the airport when a plane has landed but appears to be shut off, just sitting on the runway. When investigated, all the shades in the airplane are closed and there is no sign of life. Finally, as the doctors are investigating inside the plane, they discover that everyone has died, except four people. There is no logical reason though as to why these people died.

At the morgue, the autopsies have shown no logical reason as to why these people died. Also, the bodies have not begun to decompose at all. There is no evidence of rigor mortis. The next morning, the bodies of the dead are all missing. Again, there is no logical explanation.

Dealing with all this is demanding on Dr. Goodweather’s personal life. The demands of his career with the CDC have caused his marriage to fail and to now be fighting for the custody of his son.

Abraham Setrakian is an elderly, pawnbroker in Spanish Harlem who is a Holocaust survivor and a former professor. Abraham’s knowledge and research, as well as his supply of ancient and unusual weapons greatly boost the effectiveness with killing these vampires. Added to that is an exterminator, Vasily Fet, who views himself as the Savior of pest control. These two characters are definitely an asset in this story with their humanness and flaws.

Much of the story deals with the lives (or deaths) of the four survivors from the plane. When the story follows the experiences of these four, especially the father who was forced to kill his dogs, these glimpses into their everyday lives were added strengths to the reoccurrences of violence and death.

Guillermo Del Toro was born and raised in Mexico and studied filmmaking. He is known for his work on the film, Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy.

Chuck Hogan is a recognized and known author for books such as PRINCE OF THIEVES, DEVILS IN EXILE, THE KILLING MOON, and THE TOWN which won the Hammett Prize for outstanding crime writing. He lives near Boston.

THE STRAIN is the first book The Strain Trilogy written by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. Although there is much violence and repetition of vampire attacks, the strength is the relationships between the characters. What I found amazing in THE STRAIN was how little action was occurring as the pages whirled by as I was reading. The descriptions were vivid. The characterization is the area that is outstanding in this novel.

I definitely look forward to the next installment in this trilogy.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Author: Laura Lippman
Copyright August 17, 2010
William Morrow
Harper Collins Publishing
Paperback $ 25.99
ISBN 978-0-06-170655-4
384 pages

When a child has been kidnapped, usually they are killed. Occasionally, one of the kidnapped children manages to live through the harrowing experience. Logically, this victim cannot easily return to their former life. They also are always questioned by the community. Why are they alive? What did they have to do to live? What type of deal did they make with the monster? These lingering questions about why this child survived when others did not continue in the minds of the survivors and the victim’s families.

After spending many years in England, Eliza Benedict moves with her husband and children back to the general area where she lived both before and after she was kidnapped. She left her former life as Elizabeth Lerner behind when her parents moved to a nearby community after her return and the trial. Since that time, she took the name Eliza and was happily hidden by taking her husband’s name and being a full-time mother and housewife. Naturally, it is easier then to live in England, but now her husband’s job has returned them to the states.

Everything seems fairly normal until she is contacted by Walter Bowman, her former kidnapper, who is currently on death row. He wants to talk to her before he dies by lethal injection. He discovered her picture in a publication with her husband. Even though he had been on death row longer than his cell mates, when he saw the picture he immediately recognized Eliza. His comment about the picture, “I’d know you anywhere.”

I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE is Lippman at her best. The tale is haunting with the reader actually in the shoes of Eliza and viewing everything through her eyes. The voice is sincere and the intertwining of the past events with the present was beautifully written. Each page reveals a little more of each character. The pacing is fast and intense.

Laura Lippman has won the Edgar, Quill, Anthony, Nero Wolfe, Agatha, Gumshoe, Shamus, Barry, and the Macavity for her previous novels. This Baltimore native has also worked as a journalist in her home town.

I am always amazed at how each of Lippman’s novels seem better than the previous ones. This is definitely an author that everyone should read as an outstanding mystery writer and to also discover more about humankind. I always look forward to anything written by Laura Lippman.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Author: Ishmael Beah
Copyright 2007
Sarah Crichton Books
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Hardback $ 22.00
ISBN 978-0-374-10523-5
242 pages

Children who grow up using guns, obviously are not typical in our global society today. Responsible adults everywhere try to prevent children having access to guns. How does this affect a teenager when they discover themselves in the middle of a civil war in their native country?

This is Ishmael Beah’s story of his life in Sierra Leone which begins when he joins his friends in a nearby village for a talent show where they are dancing to hip-hop. While there, their home village was attacked by a rebel army leaving few people alive.

Stranded, confused, and now homeless, the boys search for surviving members of their families while trying to keep themselves alive. Naturally, the rebels discover the boys and they are persuaded to either join the group or be killed. This begins their lives as soldiers who tend to have sociopathic leaders and are constantly controlled by fear and drug usage.

Ishmael finally finds himself with UNICEF and gradually being rehabilitated back into acceptable society.

The strength of this account is the personal voice of the author and the atrocities he witnessed. The weakness is definitely the verification and the accuracy of the events. Perhaps it was because the country was not strongly connected with technology that some of the events are confusing and seemed out of sequence.

Also, I am concerned about anyone who has killed others with no remorse and justifies the deaths because of their age, being on drugs, or the conditions of the times. I found myself interested in the story, but not trusting the author.

Overall, the book is thought-provoking. I finished the book though with more questions than answers.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Author: Jeanne R. Kraus
Illustrator: Diana R. Arneson
Copyright 2010
Paperback $ 19.95
ISBN 978-1-45-020085-1
256 pages

If you are over fifty, female, have difficulty losing weight, and do not like the entire aging procedure, then this book is for you. Other preferable criteria would be for those of us in the education field, especially elementary education, we can truly relate to the experiences in WRINKLES, WAISLINES, AND WET PANTS. For the rest of the world, they would fail to connect with the daily challenges for those of us in this grouping.

How many of us have been frustrated with our current look and always wonder about having a make-over? That’s what Jeanne Kraus experienced. However, her make-over did not have the results that she expected. (You need to read the book to discover what really happened)

Another issue is attending important social events, especially weddings, and having to deal with either getting sick or the emergency bathroom visits. I’ll let you read the book to discover how unsuccessfully some of us handle those incidents.

WRINKLES, WAISTLINES AND WET PANTS is one person’s aging experiences through humorous eyes. It’s light and enjoyable reading that is all-too-truthful about the daily challenges many people experience.

Jeanne R. Kraus lives in Tamarac, Florida and works as a reading specialist in an elementary school. Her sister, Diana R, Arneson illustrated the book. Other books Ms. Kraus has written are CORY STORIES: A KID’S BOOK ABOUT LIVING WITH ADHD which is about her son and ANNIE’S PLAN: TAKING CHARGE OF SCHOOLWORK AND HOMEWORK.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Author: M. L. Malcolm
Copyright June 8, 2010
Paperback $ 13.99
ISBN 978-0-06-196218-9
336 pages

There is something special about a book that makes you love each character, flaws and gifts. That is HEART OF LIES.

Leo Hoffman was born in Hungary with a natural ability to easily learn languages. This unusual ability allows him into circles of influential people whom he would not otherwise interact. Due to his being part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his country allying themselves with Germany during World War I, Leo discovers that his good-looks and his ease with languages opens opportunities to become almost another person. This person is someone educated, handsome, influential, and wealthy. Through his association with some unscrupulous characters, he finds himself being involved with stealing diamonds and murder.

Just at this time, he falls in love with Martha while instantaneously spotting her in Paris. Both are truly victims of love at first site. Promising to meet her but having to flee for his life, he rebuilds his life in Shanghai and eventually sends for Martha to become his wife. Even there, he uses the stolen diamonds to reestablish himself as a rich and powerful player in the business world.

Leo’s story revolves around events in America, Asia, and Europe from the 1920s into the next World War. He always is involved with the shadier side of business while appearing to be legal, while actually having international illegal business interactions.

Besides the characters, the strength is the accurate historical references to numerous events that are not well-known in this country such as the Hungarian counterfeiting scandal of 1925, the rubber market fiasco in 1925, the stock market crash of 1929 and the effects around the world, events involving Chiang Kai-shek in China, Shanghai’s bombing in 1937, forging passports, the Japanese invading Shanghai, Hitler’s influence in Germany and the world in the 1930s, the Irish immigration into America, and the expulsion of the Jews through Europe.

The lies involve Leo with his family who has no idea of these problematic situations in his businesses. Leo’s wife, Martha who is Jewish, has difficulties with her family and has no clue of Leo’s promiscuous or risky behavior. Maddy is the daughter of Leo and Martha who has musical gifts that unfortunately are overlooked in the strict Catholic educational system. Amelia, who is Leo’s mistress, has her own values and priorities.

M. L. Malcolm is a graduate of Harvard Law School. Now, as a recovering attorney, she has lived in Florida, Boston, Washington, D.C., France, New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. She has already won recognition in the Lorian Hemingway International Short Story Competition and the silver medal from ForeWord magazine for the Historical Fiction Book of the Year.

HEART OF LIES is the third printing of this exquisite account based on the author’s husband’s family with an added poetic license. Originally this was published in 2005 by Longstreet Press and again in 2008 as SILENT LIES by A Good Read Publishing.

My regret with HEART OF LIES is that there will be a sequel. The story concludes, but not completely. I definitely plan to read that sequel and anything else written by M. L. Malcolm.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


By Karen E. Olson
Obsidian Mystery
Penguin Group
ISBN-13: 978-0-451-22549-8
320 pages
$ 6.99

Once someone is rid of a husband who really is a criminal, they are not looking forward to the day when
the ex-spouse reappears. So when Annie Seymour is at a bachelorette party, she is surprised to
discover her ex as the manager of the establishment. When Annie hears gunshots outside, she is
shocked to discover Ralph, her ex, on the sidewalk facedown and dead.

So who would gain the most from this death? Who would have the means, motive, or opportunity for
killing him? Logically, the ex-wife who immediately viewed the dead body would be an obvious suspect.
Of course, it doesn’t help that Annie’s gun was discovered under the seat of her car by a police
detective, who also was a former boyfriend, and is missing four bullets.

The newspaper that employs her, temporarily reassigns her to cover the social engagements rather than
the police reporter while she is being investigated. However, that doesn’t stop her investigating the
death herself. Of course, it does complicate issues when Annie discovers that her mother was the
attorney for her ex-husband. Why did he need an attorney?

Added to this is a reunion with a former friend, a male stripper who seems to always be wherever she
appears, and a local community pastor who seems to have no church, but does have a following. Also,
who is following her and why?

SHOT GIRL is the fourth and final installment in this series by Karen E. Olson.

Karen E. Olson has lived most of her life in Connecticut. She began her writing career by working in any
writing opportunity she could find. She has spent twenty years in the newspaper business. Now, she
edits a medical journal part-time at Yale which allows her more writing time.

Teri Davis June 20, 2010


By Michael Bowen
Poisoned Pen Press
September 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-667-9
238 pages
$ 24.95

Living at a service academy can be a difficult adjustment. For Harold Lindstrom, his life as a plebe at the
U. S. Naval Academy, just became extremely difficult when a marine discovers him naked, unconscious,
almost dead, and in need of resuscitation in a cheap motel in Annapolis.

Added to that, Harold’s closest relatives, Ole and Lena Lindstrom, are also having challenges with their
politically active lives and decide they need an attorney for their copyright ideas, as well as for Harold.
They have finally found the newest political candidate to support for the state attorney general,
Veronica Gephart who is focusing on a domestic violence platform.

Rep Pennyworth is the lawyer chosen and with the companionship of his wife, Melissa, who is an
English professor, the two discover that Lena and Ole lead a dramatically opinionated and boisterous life
together. When Lena is arrested for supposedly hitting Ole in the back of the head with a frying pan.
She claims that she heard an intruder and is completely innocent. The two have had numerous conflicts
over their years and they have had many accounts of being violent with each other. It’s just the way
they are even if their candidate is against domestic violence.

SERVICE DRESS BLUES is the fifth mystery with Rep and Melissa Pennyworth. This is a series where it
would have helped to have a little of the background of the Pennyworth’s characterizations and
relationships which were likely in the previous novels.

The strengths of this novel are in the trivial events within the story such as the baseball trivia regarding
the Milwaukee Brewers and the everyday life of being a plebe at the Naval Academy. Also of interest is
the political activities involving having a successful election and the little things that make all the

Overall, SERVICE DRESS BLUES was an enjoyable book to read.

Teri Davis June 20, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Doomsday Key

By James Rollins
Harper Collins
May 25, 2010
Mass Market Paperback
ISBN-10: 006123141X
ISBN-13: 978-0061231414
560 pages

Back in the middle ages, King Edward in England sent one of his trusted advisors to take a census of
those within his boundaries for the purpose of discovering all the taxable income. This was knows as
Domesday Book. Oddly, a few areas that were visited were listed as “wasted”. Why? What did wasted
mean? Why would any area be listed as that?

Also listed in the book was the prophesy listing all the future popes until the end of time. Each was
properly named and described in the book. Unfortunately, the book has been misplaced or hidden.
What other secrets do the book hold?

Sigma (the good guys) and The Guild (the bad guys) are racing to discover the secrets in The Domesday
Book and the two follow no rules in keeping the other from discovering what is in the book. Added to
that are challenges of today such as overpopulation and world hunger.

This Indiana Jones like adventure, combines the old with the present day, and logically connects polar
bears, plagues, saints, Merlin, peat bogs, prophesies, the Black Madonna, the declining population of
the bumblebees, and more into an enthralling novel.

THE DOOMSDAY KEY is the sixth novel revolving around Sigma, and uses characters and
relationships from the previous novels, but masterly continues with the characters whether or not
people have read the previous books.

Fortunately, after completing the novel, the author allows the reader a glimpse of the real world with
details concerning the novel on what is truth and what is fiction. With “the truth being stranger than
fiction”, this leaves you with a little uneasiness at how close the novel could turn into reality.

Although slow at the beginning, I thoroughly enjoyed safely reading the book while allowing the
characters into the dangerous situations. I was not pleased with Mr. Rollins’ choice of who had to die.
Even with this, I am anxiously waiting for the next book in the series.

Teri Davis June 13, 2010

Broken Glass Park

By Alina Bronsky
Translated from the German by Tim Mohr
Europa Editions
Original in German printed in 2008
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-933372-96-9
221 pages

Sascha is not your normal teenager. Having been born in Russia but now living in Berlin, Germany
required learning a new language, culture, and trying to assimilate into the everyday life. Sascha
is additional blessed, or cursed, with an exceptional intelligence that separates her from others.
Another issue for the immigrants is the poverty that they experienced while living in the Russian Ghetto
in Berlin is quite similar to life in the inner cities in this country.

When her stepfather murders her mother, Sascha is horrified by the crime, the loss, and the fear of also
losing her half-brother and half-sister to social workers. Fortunately, her step-father’s cousin, Maria,
comes to take over the position of parenting. Unfortunately, Sascha is too intelligent, detached, and
obsessed with killing her step-father to allow anyone to have any influence over her.

Feeling frustrated about a news story regarding how her step-father is changing and has regrets, Sascha
approaches the news’ source. Volker Trebur is an editor who had met Sascha’s mother and wants to
help. Volker invites her to spend the night and Sascha quickly enjoys the advantages and wealth that
she had never experienced before. Added to Volker is also his teenaged -son who is magnetically
attracked to her.

BROKEN GLASS PARK is an excellent photograph into the life of this brilliant teen who wants to cared for
and valued. Sascha’s knack for survival and always landing on her feet makes her a wonderful, but
realistic heroine. Her courage in living everyday life is the hope and the encouragement which is the
motivation for the novel. The characterization is outstanding and the pacing is fast.

My only complaint is that the author uses a pen-name. With such a wonderful debut novel, why
hide? I definitely want to read more by this author, whoever they may be.

With any book that is translated, there needs to be consideration about the original story and the skills
of the translator. BROKEN GLASS PARK is an exceptional novel that literally haunts your thoughts

Teri Davis June 13, 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English

By Natasha Solomon
Little, Brown, and Company
June 21, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-316-07758-3
368 pages

The best time for living in Berlin and being a Jew probably would not have been at the beginning of World War II. However, that is where Jack and Sadie Rosenblum found themselves with their young daughter, Elizabeth. The three of them along with Sadie’s immediate family asked to leave for England. The family was allowed three exit visas. It was decided that Jack, Sadie, and Elizabeth should go leaving Sadie’s parents and brother in a futile situation.
Upon arriving in London the family receives a pamphlet which attempts to give advice on how to best become English. Jack immediately discovers that the British tend to stay to themselves and do not really want Jews immigrating into their society. Jack thrusts himself into learning the language and the people. He is convinced that if he were accepted into a country club to golf, then he would be fully English. Jack also has never played golf in his life. He speaks only English, buys Savile Row suits, has an elegant vehicle, and owns his own carpet-making business. Continually, he is still trying to fit in and be a part of a country club, but not one club will accept this small Jewish man as a member.
Finally, Jack decides to take another avenue towards acceptance. Since no club will take him as a member, he’ll just build his own golf course which will entail others wanting a membership from him.
He quickly moves his wife and daughter to Dorset where they live in a “charming” house surrounded by land for the golf course. “Charming” is in the eye of the beholder as the house’s roofing leaks, there are birds in the house, no running water, and it is filthy. This is far from Sadie’s dream which was their home in London.
The characters are wonderful in MR. ROSENBLUM DREAMS IN ENGLISH. Each one has a distinct voice with their own quirky attributes that makes them flawed, but lovable. The writing is lavishing done. The pacing perfectly matches the story. MR. ROSENBLUM DREAMS IN ENGLISH is truly a gem.
Natasha Solomons based this story on her own grandparents. The affection and realism of each character is demonstrated on every page. I look forward to many more books by this author.

Teri Davis May 30, 2010

Remembering the Ladies

By Ann Covell
Outskirts Press
March 31, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4327-5402-0
324 pages
$ 18.95

Jackie Kennedy changed how our nation views First Ladies. Her natural elegance and poise created an almost magical charm that made each person believe in the government doing the right thing for every person. The sequential First Ladies have taken her example and changed it to meet the needs of the times while constantly balancing the needs of their family, their husband, the press, and their country.

This was not so though for Martha Washington through Francis Cleveland. Their situations were much different with developing the country and customs. Without the luxury of modern appliances, many of the wives were caring for a large family, their own land, and now the added responsibility of being the hostess for a new country.

In REMEMBERING THE LADIES, each chapter focuses on the positive attributes as well as the challenges. Also important, were the ladies who greatly took time from their families to meet the needs for our country and the President. Why were some successful and others were barely surviving in the Washington limelight? From numerous slavery issues, to bigamy, assassinations, snubs, suffrage, and seating charts, each left their mark on the country is even some small way.

REMEMBERING THE LADIES read as fiction even though it is obviously factual and well-researched. Each vignette tells of the background, how they met their spouse, rumors, challenges, and a general overview about each person. With twenty-two subjects, the pictures help tremendously in relating to each. Also, there is much history into each presidency from the woman’s point-of-view, especially during a war or an economic struggle..

Ann Covell lives in both the UK and Spain. She spends time writing for regional magazines and newspaper in both countries. This is her first book.

Personally, I look forward to the next book in this series.

Teri Davis May 30, 2010

Sweet Misfortune

By Kevin Alan Milne
Center Street
Hatchett Book Group
June 10, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-59995-297-0
288 pages
$ 19.99

Lasting happiness only, Nothing that fleets.
Please send suggestions to ……………….

“The world may be your oyster, but your oyster lacks the pearl.”

Sometimes life makes lemonade out of lemons. That is exactly what Sophia Jones has done. She owns a chocolate store and after being jilted at almost the altar, she went back to her store and created the “Misfortune Cookie” with a depressing fortune and covered with a bitter chocolate. To her surprise, these were a hit and people love them.

Sophie’s parents were killed in a car accident on her ninth birthday so she has difficulty aging as she meets each birthday. For her 29th-birthday, her best friend, Evalynn, accompanies her to work and spends the day helping, really “munching” throughout the day. However, Sophie was not prepared for Evalynn’s surprise. When her former fiancé, Garrett, appeared in the shop, Sophie was really wondering about why Evalynn would allow such a thing.

When Garrett broke off their engagement, Sophie was given no explanation. He just disappeared from her life. Now Garrett wants a date with Sophie to explain his actions. She comes up with an idea about what happiness is and if he wants the date, he will have to place an ad in the local newspaper asking for people’s responses about happiness. If she receives one hundred acceptable answers, she will go on the one date with Garrett. If there are not a hundred, oh well.

SWEET MISFORTUNES is Sophie’s journey into what caused her parents’ death and what will make her happy. This is also just fun to read. Sophie’s pessimism is so realistic and her attitude makes the character likable, but spunky.

This book is for anyone who needs to get over the past to move on with their life. The storyline is romantic, yet comical. SWEET MISFORTUNE would be the perfect summer beach book.

Teri Davis May 30, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Death Without Tenure

By Joanne Dobson
Poisoned Pen Press
January 2010
Hardover, ISBN: 978-1-59058-585-6, 240 pages, $24.95
Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59058-709-6, 240 pages, $14.95
Large Type Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59058-586-3, 340 pages, $22.95

After spending six years teaching at Enfield College, Professor Karen Pelletier is finally seeing an opportunity for security, she is eligible for tenure. After publishing many articles, she feels that this should be a logical next step and that there should be no objections. She feels betrayed when she learns that she is not favored for receiving tenure, but that another professor who has published nothing will be the choice. He has one advantage that she does not have. Professor Joe Lone Wolf is from a minority.

What’s the logical thing to do now? She immerses herself in her classes and prepares her box for the tenure application process anyway. With her daughter traveling in Nepal and her fiancé in Iraq, Karen is grateful for her friendship with Earlene, the dean of students at Enfield to take away some of the loneliness.

Unfortunately, Joe Lone Wolf is found dead. So who would gain the most by his death? Karen quickly discovers that she has the most logical motive for wanting someone dead. Her logical choice then is to investigate his death before she is arrested for it.

The character of Professor Karen Pelletier was exceptional especially with her personal relationship with two students. One was a Muslim woman and the other was a coal-miner’s son whose college and future depended strictly on his scholarship.

By my count, this is the sixth mystery to feature Karen Pelletier, an English professor at Enfield College. Other books in this series are QUIETER THAN SLEEP, THE NORTHBURY PAPERS, THE RAVEN AND THE NIGHTINGALE, COLD AND PURE AND VERY DEAD, and the Agatha finalist, THE MALTESE MANUSCRIPT. Being that this is a part of a series, I was surprised at how well this novel worked as a alone without knowledge of the previous books. The characterizations are well-written and not repetitive or skimpy.

The pacing is quick. The book is engaging and enjoyable to read. The only unclear stem was the computer that was taken by the police. Another computer, a laptop, magically appeared but apparently did not have the job related information that was needed. If something was important to keep, wouldn’t most of us have the information backed up on a flash drive?

Joanne Dobson lives in Brewster, New York and teaches English at Fordham University.