Finding a new mystery or thriller that I like is a
great way to start the new year. How have I not heard of these books before? The
Girl at the Deep End of the Lake by Sam Lee Jackson (Piping Rock Publications, 2016) is an exciting start in a series
featuring Jackson and Blackhawk, two former covert operations agents
who moved to unsuspecting Phoenix, Arizona. Jackson sustained permanent
injuries in his last fire fight and is now living quietly on a boat, occupying
his time with fishing, swimming, and reading. He’s awakened one night by a
couple of thugs who are dumping a plastic-wrapped girl in his lake. Jackson has
a wide streak of the rescuer in his psyche, and he immediately dives in and
drags her out with the help of another lake-side resident.
The girl tells Jackson a story full of holes but
sufficient for him to understand she’s associated with one of the local gangs and
that she is in danger, even if she doesn’t realize how much. When she
disappears the next day, Jackson goes looking for her and the story takes off.
Fast-moving and full of fresh, interesting
characters, not the least of which is Jackson himself. (Although, really, the
author couldn’t think of a different name?) He has re-invented himself, it’s
clear, as one of the law enforcement officials he encounters points out that
there is no paperwork or history on him preceding the purchase of his
houseboat. He’s quixotic and not particularly observant of laws if they are
inconvenient. His problem-solving approach combines the loyalty and
ruthlessness of Joe Pike with the wit and affability of Spenser. Also presented
for our consideration are a Catholic priest who runs an underfunded women’s
shelter in the worst part of the city, a South American consul searching for
his granddaughter, a singer in a local night club who wants to fix Jackson up
with her best friend, and gangbangers aplenty. There are enough bar-room brawls
and shootouts to satisfy the bloodlust of any reader, as well as the obligatory
I enjoyed this book so much I am afraid to pick up
the next in the series for fear it won’t be as good as this one. Highly
·Paperback: 332 pages
·Publisher: Piping Rock
Publications (August 5, 2016)
Again this year, Kevin’s Corner, is up for consideration as
Favorite Review Site. As always, we are up against many sites most of which
have teams of reviewers and are active in many genres across multiple forms of
media. Currently, this blog is in third place behind two mega sites that do positive reviews only and provide various other services. If you think we are worthy of your vote, please go cast your vote today.
Remember, you have to respond to the confirmation email for your vote to count.
On behalf of Barry Ergang, Jeanne of the BPL, Kaye George,
and the numerous guests that have visited the blog during 2018, and myself,
thank you for your support.
SIGHT ZERO by Gerald Seymour, reviewed by John Cleal
extremists plan to smuggle assault rifles into Britain for a series of deadly
SACRED NIGHT by Michael Connelly, reviewed by Linda Wilson
Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch work together to reopen a cold case in the hope
of finally bringing the killer of a teenage runaway to justice.
THE DARK by Robert Olen Butler, reviewed by Arnold Taylor
American journalist is in Paris when a bomb goes off and sets out to find the
HUNTERS by Chris Ryan, reviewed by Linda Wilson
Black has been sent to Afghanistan on a mission to hunt and kill the Taliban,
but soon finds that he’s the one being hunted – for a war crime he didn’t
WE TELL by Kristina Ohlsson, reviewed by Ewa Sherman
Swedish-American lawyer Martin Benner must prove the innocence of dead woman
Sara Texas, accused of a string of murders in the US, while looking for her
missing son Mio. At the same time he finds himself framed for crimes he didn’t
DEATH by Peter Lovesey, reviewed by John Cleal
demolition of a terraced cottage lands Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond
with the coldest of cold cases when a skeleton in 18th century clothes is
GROWN HERO by Khurrum Rahman, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Qasim helped to foil a terrorist attack but neither MI5, who compelled his
assistance, nor the terrorists are prepared to leave him alone.
DEAD by Stephen Booth, reviewed by Linda Wilson
woman falls to her death in the fog on the bleak moorland of Kinder Scout, DI
Ben Cooper is faced with the age-old question – did she fall or was she pushed.
GRAVEDIGGERS’ BREAD by Frédéric Dard, reviewed by Arnold Taylor
finds a wallet belonging to an attractive blonde woman who had made a telephone
call from a kiosk shortly before he did. It contains her photograph and 8,000
francs, and he decides to look for her in order to return the wallet.
DEATH by Quentin Bates, reviewed by Ewa Sherman
Gunnhildur Gísladóttir’s new task is to protect an enigmatic guest of the
Iceland’s controversial Minister of Justice. Ali Osman is either a saviour of
war zones’ refugees or a manipulative arms dealer.
YOUNG DEAD by Jessica Fellowes, reviewed by John Cleal
hunt at the 18th birthday party of Pamela Mitford ends in tragedy when a guest
falls to his death from a church tower. The police identify a maid as the
killer, but Louisa Cannon, chaperone to the Mitford girls, sets out to clear
by David Gordon, reviewed by Chris Roberts
is a strip club bouncer with a Harvard education and a military career about
which no records exist. Against her best instincts, FBI agent Donna Zamora
finds him very attractive.
STRANGERS’S HOUSES by Elizabeth Mundy, reviewed by Linda Wilson
Szarka’s best friend goes missing, she has problems getting anyone to take
notice, so she decides to combine her day job as a cleaner with some sleuthing
to find out what’s happened to Timea.
LIZARD STRATEGY by Valerio Varesi, reviewed by Sylvia Maughan
man with dementia goes missing, a telephone ringtone can be heard from a lonely
river valley and the council is in chaos. Commissario Soneri has to make sense
of all these events.
ALADDIN TRIAL by Abi Silver, reviewed by Chris Roberts
hospitalised for a minor operation is found dead after a fall from the 11th
floor. An immigrant cleaner is accused, and defended by Burton and Lamb.
OF LIES by Michael Russell, reviewed by John Cleal
Special Branch Inspector Stefan Gillespie, investigating the IRA murder of a
Garda, a pitched battle between racecourse gangs and the partly burnt bodies of
a family of five, is called off for a sensitive mission to Berlin, but soon
discovers all the incidents are connected and that his own life is in danger.
LITTLE LIES by Laura Marshall, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor
friend has gone missing, but Ellen is the only person taking her disappearance
CASTLE AND THE EYEBALLS OF DEATH by MB Vincent, reviewed by John Cleal
Castle PhD, historian and failed lecturer, returns to her home town of Castle
Kidbury and becomes involved in a series of gory murders.
DOLL by James Hazel, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Charlie Priest has a high-profile case which he looks like losing when his star
witness fails to show in court, and subsequently turns up dead.
LOVES JACK by Mel Darbon, reviewed by Linda Wilson
loves Jack, but her father wants to keep them apart, especially when Jack is
sent away to a special home in Brighton. But Rosie isn’t prepared to give up on
her boyfriend, even when he stops contacting her.
have reviews and giveaways of another great group of mysteries-"The Name
of the Rosé": A Rose Avenue Wine Club Mystery By Christine E. Blum,
"Slay in Character": A Cat Latimer Mystery by Lynn Cahoon,
"Hooks Can Be Deceiving": A Crochet Mystery by Betty Hechtman,
"Botched 4 Murder": A Sophie Kimball Mysteries by J.C. Eaton,
"A Moment in Crime": A Santa Fe Revival Mystery by Amanda Allen,
"Downright Dead": A B&B Spirits Mystery by Pamela Kopfler -
For those who are not on Facebook and did not know about it... Scott woke up yesterday morning with severe pain behind his navel. No fever, no throwing up, no nausea...just this really bad pain he had never felt before. After I did some internet poking around, it became very clear that something bad could be happening. Got him in to our doc who said it might be appendicitis and to go to ER. We did and it took the day to do blood work, ultrasound, and then a CT with contrast. After they pushed on it big time he hurt for the next couple of hours way worse and then it stopped hurting. They prescribed a pain killer to deal with any lingering pain issues. Everything came back as being fine so they do not really know what happened.
They don't think his appendix is an issue. Though, if it is going bad and very early in the process, they say a CT would not catch it. Because the pain moved up above the belly button and to the right, they seem to think it could have been his gallbladder, though that looks fine near as they can tell. They really don't know. So, they sent us home with lots of instructions about following up and what to do if the pain comes back depending on where it is.
Very glad he seems to be okay, but worried as to what the hell happened.
Glad to get out of there....the hospital is full of patients so folks are stacked the Presbyterian Hospital waiting room and many of them have the flu or something with little ones throwing up. God knows what we got exposed to during the day there yesterday.
Today I spent considerable time with followup people from the hospital as well as the doctor's office who called to see how he was and if we needed anything. The doctor's nurse was new to me and wonderful. The pain killer is safe for him to take while on her other meds so she reassured me on that and some other things regarding what had gone on yesterday. While talking to her the topic of Sandi came up and I broke down. She spent extra time with me talking about Sandi and my loss and all. She is going to check back with me in a week or so once Scott's school needs are figured out as the only way he can get there is with me driving. Once we know what he is looking at beyond the assigned class days when he has to be there, the nurse and I are going to see about me getting into some sort of grief counseling. After a year of trying to deal with missing her and working hard to stay sober, things just are not getting better and after the stress of trying to cope yesterday it is clear that I have to get some help.
What form that will take I don't know. I am not one who is into sitting in some sort of group and talking about things. Which is why, among other reasons, AA never worked for me. What would work now, I don't know. But, things have to change.
you check out the full list of reading suggestions on Patti Abbott’s blog.
THE MYSTERY OF THE INVISIBLE
THIEF (1950) by Enid Blyton
Reviewed by Barry Ergang
I first learned of this title and the series of which it’s
a part from a
post on TomCat’s excellent “Beneath the Stains of Time” blog. Between the
ages of 7 and 10 or 11, I had read my share of books from the Hardy Boys’ series
before graduating to adult authors including Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie,
and Erle Stanley Gardner, but had yet to encounter an impossible crime mystery,
let alone one fairly-clued and aimed at juvenile readers. TomCat’s post
rendered it an imperative that I check out this one, and I was fortunate to
find an epub version to download. (More about that later.)
This entry in the phenomenally prolific British author Enid
Blyton’s series starring the so-called “Five Find-Outers” opens when the
children so named are depicted as yearning for a mystery to solve during their
summer vacation from school, having solved several in their English village of
Peterswood during previous school holidays with, I inferred from references to
their prior cases and a Wikipedia
entry, the approval of the district’s Inspector Jenks as well as the
disapproval of local constable Mr. Goon, the latter being one whom the children
frequently embarrass by outwitting. (<--I’d like to
think Henry James and William Faulkner would approve of that sentence.)
Inspector Jenks is in the neighborhood because his
goddaughter Hilary is participating in in gymkhana at local Petters Field. When
it turns out that Hilary’s home has been robbed, the Five are frustrated
because they aren’t immediately invited by Jenks to investigate. They eventually
do so uninvited, of course, and learn that although the housekeeper was present
during the theft and in a position to see whence the thief departed, she saw
nothing of the sort.
Two more thefts ensue before the Five, whose names I’m not
going to list here—see the Wikipedia entry if you’re curious about them—will solve
the case and its seeming impossibilities to the satisfaction of local authorities.
I have little doubt experienced mystery readers will solve
the whodunit and howdunit elements as easily as I did. Ms. Blyton did not
engage in the kind of brilliant misdirection you find in John Dickson Carr,
Agatha Christie, and other Golden Age giants. I thought the book got off to a
slow start, but once the children began their investigations, it moved along
nicely and proved to be a pleasant, if not exactly dazzling (for an adult),
The downside to the epub version is that whoever converted
the book to the digital format decided that original publication information is
unnecessary: no title or copyright pages, only a cover and then the story
itself. The same person also decided that except for periods, commas, and
question marks, other punctuation is unnecessary: e.g., there are no quotation
marks around dialogues, and no apostrophes in contractions. I saw an Amazon
review complaining about the same problems in the Kindle edition, so it’s a
reasonable to assume that the digital version was created by the same person in
multiple formats. This was all very annoying, as you can imagine, but I had
relatively little difficulty getting through the book in spite of it. But if
you prefer actual books and are a mystery-reading kid at heart, search out the
hardback or paperback edition.
As regular readers of this blog know, some of
Derringer-winner Barry Ergang’s work is available at Amazon
His free e-book Criminalities includes
the essay “Impossible Pleasures,” about impossible crime fiction.
Trail of Echoes is third in the series that began with Land
of Shadows and opens in the middle of March as the rains repeatedly
pound the Los Angeles area. Free from her marriage to Greg by court decree and
yet not free from his allure or many other ghosts physical and otherwise, Detective
Norton’s plans for a normal lunch crash and burn. Such is the life when you are
homicide detective for the LAPD and a body has been found.
Thirteen year old Chanita Lords has been found in a bag in Bonner
Park. A beautiful park surrounded by homes owned by wealthy African Americans,
it also is the site for the body of Chanita Lords. A teen that came from the
same housing project that Detective Norton called home all those years ago. The
young teen is one of several in the local area that have gone missing in recent
weeks Who killed her, why, and is her case linked to the other recent missing girls are just some of many questions to be
answered in Trail of Echoes.
As in the previous books in this series, the personal plays a
major role in this police procedural. That is true whether one considers
Detective Norton’s relationship with her Mom, her relationships with female
friends, her relationships with her police family, and others. Each novel
builds on those relationships as they evolve and change over time while also
giving Detective Norton a major case to solve. The result is a very complicated
police procedural in each installment and an overall very complicated series
that must be read in order.
Like the earlier books in the series Trail Of Echoes is very
good and well worth your time.
Trail Of Echoes: A Detective Elouise Norton Novel Rachel Howzell Hall http://www.rachelhowzell.com Tom Doherty Associates, LLC http://www.tor-forge.com May 2016 ISBN# 978-0-7653-8117-0 Hardback (also available in paperback and digital formats) 320 Pages $25.99
by the good folks of the Dallas Public Library System.
is a case where reading the book and writing the review is more than a bit
difficult. I considered Bill Crider a good friend though we never met. Years
ago when my world rocked with news of Sandi’s cancer diagnosis, Bill was one of
several people who reached out to me to provide support. His wife, Judy, was
fighting the same fight against one of the two types of non hodgkins lymphoma
the months passed we traded tips, advice, and more as our spouses fought with
everything they had. Sandi and I cried at the news Judy passed. Then, more than
a few months later, Sandi left. Bill kept telling me afterwards one could
survive the worst thing possible. He had and served as an inspiration. Especially
in those darkest early days when everything was blur and tears. It wasn’t long
after Sandi passed that Bill passed after his own fight against prostate
is that somewhere Bill and Judy are hanging out with Sandi talking about books
and how odd Sandi’s husband is. I also hope that Angela Crider can find a way
to pick up this series and keep it going. I have quietly suggested a couple of
ideas to her so who knows? I remain very good at suggesting ideas for
others to pursue in a book…
It isn’t a good thing to come across a man with a gun. Especially
when the man with the gun is tweaking on meth. It is a hot August day in
Blacklin County, Texas and while Rhodes is sweating because of the heat and
having a gun pointed at him; the meth head is sweating and shaking because of
Some sort of road rage incident just happened before Rhodes came
by in his patrol car. When all was said and done, the meth head decided to put
a real scare in the other driver to teach him one heck of a lesson. Then
Sheriff Rhodes went and showed up making things very complicated in the mind of
the meth head known to one and all as Kenny Lambert. He has a history with
local law enforcement going back a few years so Rhodes knows the man is not
terribly bright on a good day. This is not a good day.
also knows he screwed up by not figuring out what was going on fast enough and
getting backup headed to them. He is on his own and things do not look good.
That is until Kenny Lambert gets distracted by the victim. His action allows Sheriff
Rhodes to get the gun and arrest Kenny.
All things considered, the victim is relatively okay and
introduces himself as Carl Stinson. He plans on going home and cleaning
himself up. He promises to come by the jail later and do the paperwork to bring
charges against Kenny. Charges that Kenny will get along with the ones Sheriff
Rhodes plans to bring because of having a gun pointed at him.
While it is not exactly normal procedure to let a victim go home
and change before coming by the jail later to do the paperwork, Carl Stinson did
promise to come by and should be in town for a while as he said he had plans to
go look at the old school building nearby in Thurston. Some of the locals
are pushing hard to finally bring the old building down before it comes down
and maybe kills somebody in the process. The place is not very safe. Stinson
says he is in town to see it as his grandmother went to school there. With another
promise to appear at the jail, Sheriff Rhodes agrees and Cal Stinson drives
Rhodes will come to regret that decision.
He is never seen alive again. Instead, he is soon found very much
dead in the old school building. His name was not Cal Stinson either. Who he
was and why he was shot in the back of the head are just two of the questions
that Sheriff Dan Rhodes must answer in that ThatOld Scoundrel Death: A Dan Rhodes
As one would expect, this is billed as the final installment of
the great series. The book features all the usual characters that readers have
enjoyed for so long. At work, as has been the case for many years now, is a primary
mystery, a couple of secondary ones, a dash of humor, plenty of Texas wisdom
and scenery, and the occasional Dr Pepper with the real sugar reference. Stir
all that together under the able touch of author Bill Crider and you have
another very good read. If ThatOld Scoundrel Death: A Dan Rhodes
Mystery is to be the final installment of the series, it ends well and in
a very good place. One can’t ask for more than that.
Thank you for your prayers, thoughts, and support for the past six years plus as Sandi did everything she could to be here with all of us. She is now free and not hurting anymore. I am still trying to pay off her past treatments at Medical City Dallas Hospital as well as at Texas Oncology. While the hospital can't handle direct donations, if you can help and would prefer to donate directly, please contact Debra, the financial counselor at TEXAS ONCOLOGY in SUITE 220 of Building D at Medical City Dallas Hospital in Dallas, Texas. We thank you for your prayers, thoughts, and support for the past six years plus as Sandi did everything she could to be here with all of us.