Tag Archives: detective

Review: Dead If You Don’t

Recap: It was supposed to be a fun Saturday soccer (football) game. Everyone and their mother seemed to be going — or father as the case may be. But the day quickly turned as stadium officials received threats of a terrorist attack at the game, threatening to kill and injure hundreds of fans. But that was just the beginning. Before the game even began, Kipp Brown realized his son, Mungo, was missing. They’d been fighting earlier, but surely his teenage son wouldn’t leave the biggest game of the year over a fight with his father.

The police are slammed, facing both a potential terror attack and kidnapping. The kidnapping is no big surprise considering who Mungo’s father is; Kipp is a well-known and successful business. Anyone would go after him for his money, but they’d be sadly surprised to learn that Brown also has a massive gambling problem and little to no money to his name.

The ransom calls start coming in, and soon Detective Superintendent Roy Grace must step in to deter the terror attack and find Kipp’s son. The investigation leads him to a group of dangerous Albanian men who have made a life for themselves in England by killing anyone who gets in the way of their greedy quest for money, wealth and power. But where is Mungo? And will they get to him in time before he becomes another victim?

Analysis: A straight-up crime detective novel, Dead If You Don’t pulls no punches, getting right to the many tropes that make a crime novel a good one: lots of characters, winding and intertwined storylines, good guys and bad guys, unforeseen turns and short chapters with little cliffhangers that help move the story along quickly.

It didn’t, however, necessarily feel like Roy Grace was the main character of the story. I was more invested in Kipp Brown, his family and his financial stupidity — hoping and praying that he’d learn his lesson when it comes to money. To be fair, of all the officers, Roy Grace was the one whose name I knew the best; he was clearly the star of the unit and the man in charge, but his story was less compelling than some of the other characters in the book. Basic in its structure, but effective in its plotting, Dead If You Don’t was the perfect read if you’re in the mood for a quick and easy crime novel.

MVP: Roy Grace, for the sole reason that he saves the day and Kipp Brown never quite lives up to his full potential.

Get Dead If You Don’t in paperback now for $14.35.

Or on your Kindle for $7.99.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Review: Walk Into Silence

517dhybyiol-_sx332_bo1204203200_Recap: When Detective Jo Larson moves from Dallas to a small town nearby, she expects she’ll be able to avoid major crime. But she soon learns that’s not necessarily how things work — not when it comes to hate, jealousy and betrayal. Patrick Dielman shows up at her office one day, explaining that his wife has gone missing, but clues in their conversation make it apparent to Jo that Patrick may have been a pretty controlling husband. There’s a good chance, she thinks, that he may have something to do with her disappearance. As she digs deeper into the missing woman, Jenny, she also learns that it’s a week shy of the three-year anniversary of the death of her young son — a death that affected her so deeply, she and her first husband divorced.

That’s when Jo finds Jenny’s body. At that point, Patrick is still a person of interest, but she and her partner also begin to consider that this could have been a suicide. Jenny was depressed about the death of her son and a near-anniversary would make a suicide likely.

So was it a suicide? Was it Jenny’s husband? What about her ex-husband? His new wife? Or Jenny’s odd neighbor who seems to have more than just a crush on Jenny’s late husband? There’s a lot to investigate and not much evidence to go off of. What’s worse is Jo learns Jenny was abused growing up — something to which Jo can relate. Suddenly, this case is hitting closer to home that Jo would like it to.

Analysis: In many respects Walk Into Silence follows many formulas for detective and crime novels. After all, the killer is not the most obvious suspect, and the detective herself is troubled in some way (actually, in this case a lot of ways). Both of these are common tropes in this style of book. The mystery was compelling initially, and the random pages of Jenny’s journal, which are included in the novel, gave the reader great omniscient background knowledge of Jenny. But the mystery seemed to lose steam as the novel continued. It became pretty clear who was likely involved in Jenny’s death earlier than I expected; it took a while before it was actually solved by Jo.

That said, Jo was an extremely compelling character. She got a lot of setup: her abusive childhood, her sick mother, her boyfriend, Adam, who left his wife to be with Jo. I liked that her story and background was so similar to that of the victim in her case. It made the case more difficult for her to solve in that it brought up a lot of other emotions.

MVP: Jo. I recognize that this is meant to be the first in a series of detective novels with Jo as the central character, and I would absolutely be willing to follow her just to see her developed even more.

Get Walk Into Silence in paperback for $6.99.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

J.K. Rowling/”Robert Galbraith” To Release New Detective Novel in Series

Another detective novel from bestselling author Robert Galbraith (reminder: the pen name for bestselling Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling) is on the way.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the next Cormoran Strike novel is due to be released this fall. The novel is the third in the detective series, following The Cuckoo’s Calling in 2013 and The Silkworm in 2014. The third novel is titled Career of Evil, and an official date has not yet been released.

Rowling planned to release a total of seven novels in the detective series, similar to the Harry Potter series. As previously reported, the books are also being adapted into a TV series.

Leave a comment

Filed under Author News, News Articles

J.K. Rowling Updates ‘Harry Potter,’ Plans More Detective Novels

rowlingWhen Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling ended her acclaimed children’s book series about the most famous wizard of all time, fans worried that would be the last we’d hear from the bestselling author. But time and time again, she’s proved us wrong.

First, she created Pottermore, a web site with games, stories, and details about the universe of Harry Potter. Then she wrote an adult novel, The Casual Vacancy. She penned a Harry Potter spin-off story collection called “The Tales of Beedle the Bard.” Then came two adult crime detective novels under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. And now there’s more.

Earlier this month, Rowling released on her Pottermore web site a new Harry Potter story, the first she’s written and released since the seventh and final Potter novel was released in 2007. According to Huffington Post, the online story describes Harry Potter and his friends in their 30s. It details what they’re up to now, how they look, and how they’re faring. It’s written in the form of a gossip column, penned by Rita Skeeter, a well-known character from the novels.

The story was such a huge deal for Potter fans that it crashed the Pottermore web site. It’s also led to speculation that J.K. Rowling would write another Potter novel. But so far, that’s just speculation.

In fact, it’s Rowling’s adult crime detective series that she’s more focused on at the moment. She’s already released two novels, The Cuckoo’s Calling and the recently-released The Silkworm, under the Robert Galbraith pseudonym. It was recently reported that she would pen seven novels in the so-called Cormoran Strike series — the same number of books she wrote in the Harry Potter series. But according to Time, she’s changed her mind and now plans to write more than seven Cormoran Strike novels, as Nolan Feeney explains:

“I really love writing these books, so I don’t know that I’ve got an end point in mind,” Rowling said at a crime-writing festival, the BBC reports. “One of the things I absolutely love about this genre is that, unlike Harry, where there was an overarching story, a beginning and an end, you’re talking about discrete stories. So while a detective lives, you can keep giving him cases.”

Rowling is apparently already halfway through the third novel in the series and has ideas for the fourth. Could this be her new legacy? Will Potter fans ever get more than the latest 1,500-word story about it?

Leave a comment

Filed under Author News, News Articles

Review: The Cabinetmaker

Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 10.33.03 PMRecap: The beating death of Patrick Hare is one of John McDaid’s first murders to investigate as a cop. In Glasgow, Scotland, the murder doesn’t get much media attention. After all, the case is pretty cut and dry. A gang of young men confesses to the crime. But poor policing and investigating as well as false confessions allow the men to go free. Typically, for an officer, that’s the end of the case. After a trial, there’s not much left to do.

But John McDaid can’t just let it go. And neither can Patrick Hare’s father, Francis. Francis befriends John during the investigation, hoping to have someone who will give him insight into the investigation. But the bond grows much deeper than that. Francis is a cabinetmaker and spends his spare time playing soccer, as does John. Soon the two men are playing on the same soccer team, and Francis is teaching John the art of cabinetmaking.

Over the years, Francis and his wife Deborah seemingly adopt John. John mirrors the Hares’ dead son Patrick even more when he begins to date Patrick’s ex-girlfriend Sarah. Years go by and all of them remain haunted by Patrick’s death. But then Francis and his wife die suddenly, and John starts to wonder if there might be more to the story about the gang that killed Patrick.

AnalysisThe Cabinetmaker is a story that lends itself to the question “How well do you really know someone?” John McDaid has made a friend for life in Francis Hare. They know of each other’s personal crises, of each other’s hobbies, of the people in each other’s lives. But is that everyone you need to know to know a person? Unfortunately, John McDaid starts to question this a little too late.

In fact, a little later than the reader. Foreshadowing allowed me to figure out the basic gist of the twist before the main character did — something I don’t generally like in a story. For the remainder of the novel, I kept waiting and waiting for John to figure it out. When he did, it turned out there was even more of a twist to uncover than I expected. That, I have to admit, was a nice touch.

The Cabinetmaker could have moved along a bit faster. It takes place over decades of time, and at points, it feels that way. But what starts out as a novel about a seemingly closed case with little direction becomes an exciting mystery that proves everyone has a closet full of skeletons.

MVP: Francis. At first, Francis is a sad, but nice and talented man — one who wants to know anything and everything about how his son was killed. But as we later learn, Francis is also an angry man, and very smart. It’s hard to not respect his genius and the way he uses it for power.

Get The Cabinetmaker for your Kindle for just $3.48.

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews

J.K. Rowling To Pen 7-Book Detective Series

rowlingIt’s only been about  a week since I told you the last bit of J.K. Rowling news — that the famed Harry Potter author is penning a sequel to her bestselling detective novel from last year, The Cuckoo’s Calling.

But according to Entertainment Weekly, the sequel, entitled The Silkworm, is not all we can expect from Rowling. Like the Harry Potter series, she plans to write a total of seven novels in the detective series. The series follows Detective Cormoran Strike, his sidekick/secretary/assistant Robin, and whatever crazy case they happen to be investigating.

The Cuckoo’s Calling sets itself up for a sequel, and let’s be honest; most detective novels are just one in a long line of books about the detectives. It’s an easy formula to follow. Plus, considering how much success Rowling has had with the Potter series and the first Cormoran Strike novel, it’s no surprise she plans to write more. The series will be published under her pen name Robert Galbraith.


Filed under Author News, News Articles

Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling

Recap: It’s a death that has as much media coverage as the death of a One Direction member would warrant. Lula Landry, one of newest, youngest, and most gorgeous models in Britain has died. Lying on the ground next to her apartment building in London, Lula Landry appears to have fallen from her balcony. But was she pushed or did she jump? Considering her troubled history with drugs and mental instability, it is widely assumed that she jumped. After all, who would want to kill Lula Landry? But with all her fame, money, and beauty, the better question is who wouldn’t want to kill her?

That’s where Detective Cormoran Strike comes in. He’s hired by Lula’s adoptive brother, John Bristow, to delve deeper into Landry’s death. The offer couldn’t come at a better time for Strike, who’s been recently dumped, kicked out of his apartment, and is on the verge of bankruptcy. Considering how long it’s been since he’s had regular work, he’s a bit rusty. But when a new temporary secretary, Robin, starts working for him, she becomes more of an asset than he ever imagined a secretary could be.

Ultimately Strike and Robin unravel the case of Lula Landry, with lots of key players and lots of evidence previously overlooked by police.

Analysis: In one of only two books in her post-Harry Potter days, author J.K. Rowling (under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith) proves yet again that her easy-to-follow writing and complex web of characters with oh-so-many motives makes for a book that’s tough to put down. The more each character is described, the more we want to know what happens.

That being said, The Cuckoo’s Calling is — for the most part — your average detective novel. It also feels quite a bit longer than it needs to be. Written in third-person, the book comes from the perspective of Strike, so as readers, we get to play detective right along with him.

But Rowling/Galbraith does one thing that sets The Cuckoo’s Calling apart from the rest of today’s detective novels: considering Strike’s recent professional misfortune, it’s unclear if he’s actually capable of doing the job. Usually in a mystery like this, the detective is described as being one of the best, so it’s no surprise when he solves the case. Here, there’s some uncertainty – can Strike solve the case? Is there even a case to be solved? Those are the questions that keep the book moving.

MVP: Strike and Robin, collectively. The two make a good team. Even with little history or experience working together, their determination makes for a solid bit of detective work, while a friendship between them blossoms.

Get The Cuckoo’s Calling in hardcover for $15.19.

Or get it on your Kindle for $5.99.


Filed under Reviews

Review: Painted Ladies

Recap: Not a new book, not a new author, and not a new character, but still the same old awesomeness. Robert B. Parker’s Painted Ladies follows the next case in the long list of those covered by Spenser, a private detective from Boston. In his latest triumph, Spenser works as a bodyguard for Ashton Prince — a world-renowned art expert — as he attempts to give a criminal ransom money for a stolen painting. But Prince is killed, and Spenser –unable to accept failure — seeks to find out who killed Prince and why.

Spenser works to solve the mystery with the help of his buddies in the Boston Police. They quickly find themselves stuck in a complicated case concerning paintings, daddy abandonment issues, and the Holocaust. Along the way, Spenser discovers Ashton Prince is a Jewish man with relatives who were murdered by the Nazis during WWII. But he must determine if this stolen painting case dates back that far or not.

Analysis: As a newcomer to Robert B. Parker’s prolific detective fiction, I didn’t know what I was getting into. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that Parker’s fast-paced storytelling and quick-witted dialogue are his best literary assets. The dialogue is snappy and had me laughing out loud at parts. I’m always impressed by an author who can describe a character without having to write a set “description paragraph.”

His dialogue also works well to describe the relationships between people — like that of Spenser and his long-time girlfriend, Susan. From their conversations, we see what a charmer Spenser is and how much these two characters really love each other — despite their decision not to live together.

Susan’s role in this particular story is also fairly relevant, as Spenser questions her about her Jewish background in regards to the Holocaust parts of his case.

One important thing to note is that this was the last book Parker published before he passed away — his last (not counting posthumous) publication of roughly 40 books in The Spenser Series. 40! To have readers turning pages after 40 books with the same character is highly commendable.

MVP: Spenser — no first name. Spenser is undeniably smart and suave — in the same way many detectives in these novels are. But more importantly, he’s likable, which isn’t always the case in this kind of story. Often the good-looking, smart detective comes across as snooty. But Spenser is the kind of guy I’d like to grab a beer with at a bar. And that’s pretty great.

Get Painted Ladies for just $10 or in a special 4-for-3 deal.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews