Tag Archives: mystery

Sookie Stackhouse Saga to End

Sorry, vampire lovers. There will be no more new adventures in the Sookie Stackhouse saga.

You’ll still be able to watch Anna Paquin get her bloody sex on, on HBO’s True Blood, but the series of novels on which hit TV show is based is ending with the release of its final book in May 2013, author Charlaine Harris recently announced.

According to this article by USA Today, Harris is leaving Stackhouse behind for a new venture into graphic novels.

It will be new territory for the author, who has only written novels to date. The graphic novel trilogy will tell the story of a teenaged girl who has amnesia and grew up living alone in a cemetery. The first novel will be aptly titled Cemetery Girl. Harris plans to release it in 2013.S

She says graphic novels are a good fit for this concept, according to Deirdre Donahue.

In a press release from her publisher, Harris said “I’d had the bones of the plot for Cemetery Girl in my head for a year when Chris suggested I re-imagine it as a graphic novel. Suddenly, the project made a lot more sense. Since Chris has more experience in the graphic novel field that I do, we agreed to team up for my first-ever collaboration. This is an exciting venture for both of us.”

But there’s still more Sookie to come. The next Sookie Stackhouse novel, Deadlocked, is set to be released May 1, 2012.

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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.

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Review: The Lost Symbol

Recap: The Lost Symbol begins in much the same way all of Dan Brown’s books in the Robert Langdon series do: Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is abruptly interrupted to respond to a symbol emergency. In this particular novel — the third and most recent in the series — Langdon’s mentor, Peter Solomon, requests that he give a speech at the United States Capitol. So Langdon flies to Washington D.C. But he’s in for much more than he imagined. 

He soon learns he’s been tricked. In fact, Peter Solomon has no idea Langdon is in town. And as Langdon attempts to find him, he instead finds his mentor’s severed hand, lying in the middle of the Capitol Rotunda. In a moment of chaos, Langdon learns Solomon has been kidnapped by a man named Mal’akh. Mal’akh tells him the only way Solomon will be spared is if Langdon locates the Lost Word and Mason’s Pyramid.

And so begins a new symbolic saga for Langdon, who must find the Lost Word, the Mason’s Pyramid, Peter Solomon, and deal with the CIA in its attempts to find the kidnapper.

Analysis: It’s apparent that Brown uses a specific guideline for his Robert Langdon stories. They all start the same and take Robert Langdon to another city on a quest to find or decode something. Always, there is an exotic woman involved — in this case, Peter Solomon’s younger sister and brilliant scientist Katherine — and the entire long-winded story takes place in the course of an evening.

Brown not only uses similar formatting in his novels, but common themes as well: religion, symbology, ancient art, architecture, and history. The same holds true in The Lost Symbol, in which the reader is taught about the world of Freemasonry. Also included is information about the architecture in Washington D.C. and the art that adorns it. You know when you’re reading a Dan Brown novel, it’s going to be  heavy. There’s a lot for the readers to wrap their heads around. And as overwhelming and intimidating as it looks, the background information is necessary in the long run.

In The Lost Symbol, Brown also focuses a lot on character development. Learning about Katherine’s Noetic science research and the many transformations of Mal’akh are particularly fascinating.

But there’s nothing like Brown’s pacing and storytelling. The short chapters help the novel move along quickly, and the major twist toward the end is breathtaking.

MVP: Katherine Solomon. Girl power! This woman is brilliant and kicks ass. She works well with Langdon to try to uncover the Ancient Mysteries and the location of her brother. There’s an underlying tone of romance between her and Langdon, but Brown keep its realistic. But most importantly, Katherine’s emotional ties to their work –namely, trying to saving her brother’s life — makes the reader feel for Katherine and the pressure she is under.

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Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

Recap: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is the third and “final” novel in the Millenium series. It picks up with the protagonist, Lisbeth Salander, being transferred to the hospital after she narrowly escapes death in the second novel. Salander spends the majority of the book in the hospital, healing and waiting to stand trial for the attempted murder of her father, Alexander Zalachenko. Nest  centers on the way in which Mikael Blomkvist (a reporter, who is also a good friend and former lover of Salander’s) furthers his investigation. With his investigation also comes revelations about The Section, the group within Sweden’s Security Police, or Sapo, that has been covering up illegal activity for some 30+ years.

Analysis: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is everything a last story in a trilogy should be. It ties up loose ends, gives the reader a desirable ending, and still leaves a bit of room for growth should the author  change his/her mind and decide to write more. (**In this case, Stieg Larsson wrote half of a fourth book before he died in 2004, but more on that later.)

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is a direct sequel to The Girl Who Played With Fire. Whereas Fire explains Salander’s background and history to the reader, Nest reveals this information to the other characters. Salander is an undeniably jaded woman, but Nest confirms that she isn’t crazy. Her innocence is proven as the complicated web of lies, cover-ups, and murders unravels.

The best part of the book is learning about the Section – its function, power, and disregard for those hurt in the crimes they work to cover up. In Fire, we learn there are a bunch of rats, but we don’t care. In Nest, however, we learn how integral the Section is to the story. And let’s be honest. Audiences love a good story about a rat getting crushed. As a reader, one becomes more caught up in this plot than the fallout of the murders that happened in the second book.

The one downfall of the novel is the access Blomkvist gains regarding the police’s murder investigation. Yes, he’s a journalist and has the ability to investigate. But as a journalist myself, I know the police would never give media the access Blomkvist receives. Though one might say it makes sense because he is a part of the story being investigated, I don’t believe he’s so involved to be allowed to sit in on private meetings among the police and the Prime Minister.

MVP: Monica Figuerola. Figuerola is introduced in this novel as a Sapo investigator, assigned to look into The Section. The Section, of course, is made up of fellow officers, putting Figuerola in a tricky position. But she does her job successfully. We also learn Figuerola is a former bodybuilder. Herein lies her purpose: she is the anti-woman – a female with a male role. She takes charge and gets results. She’s actually a parallel to Salander, but a stable one. This is why we like her. (Plus, she sleeps with Blomkvist, and we’re jealous. )

**Stieg Larsson died of a heart attack in 2004. By then, he had written 3 novels and half of a fourth. His longtime girlfriend, Eva Gabrielsson, who has published her own memoir, could potentially publish the fourth. But right now, she has her own legal matters to contend with.

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