Up in KRL
this morning reviews and giveaways of some more mysteries for your end of
summer reading-"Let’s Fake a Deal": Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery
by Sherry Harris, "Killer in the Carriage House": Victorian Village Mystery
by Sheila Connolly, "Knot on Her Life": A Quilting Mystery by Mary Marks,
and Needled to Death: A Helping Hands Mystery by Annelise Ryan
who prefer to listen to the podcast directly on KRL the player for the new one
can be found here-This one features the mystery short story "Murderous
Lies" by Peter DiChellis read by local actor Rene A Ponce
Harley Quinn: Mad Love:
A Batman Novel by Paul Dini and Pat Cadigan. This novel is adaption and
expansion of the original Mad Love Comic. This novel makes
several changes to the original comic and serves as a Harley Quinn origin
novel. The book addresses such questions such as, what was Harley Quinn’s
childhood like? How and why did she fall in love with the Joker and other
questions. This novel helps explained why Harley Quinn behaves the way she does
and answers things I never conceived.
It is an enjoyable
novel adult novel that is told in multiple perspectives. Several of the
perspectives are unreliable and clearly have biased interpretations of the
events. I enjoyed this detailed look into Harley Quinn’s mind and the
psychological analysis of various characters in the Batman mythos such as
Joker, Poison Ivy, and several minor characters in the Batman Universe like Mad
Harriet, Magpie and more.
The story is pretty
good, but there is one major logical flaw in the novel. It requires the belief
that people don’t use google to look at the background of people they
hire.The book is set in current time,
in our frame of reference, when everybody is looking at the backgrounds of
everyone and yet the characters in this book never once examine the social
media history of anyone else. This aspect is a huge problem that I can’t go
into further without ruining the novel.
Despite that obvious
flaw in the story I enjoyed it, even if the story lets Harley Quinn lets her off
easy for her actions and does not delve very deeply into the her often toxic
relationship with Joker. The ending is different than the original comic and is
more consistent with how DC Comics is portraying the character now instead of
then. DC comics is trying to rebrand Harley Quinn from being the “evil girlfriend”
to an “abuse survivor antihero” type character that can also occasionally work
with the Justice League. DC Comics would prefer these days to blame her crimes
on the Joker and her own mental illness that have the fact that she was always depicted
as willingly making her choices that led to bad things.
All in all, I
enjoyed Harley Quinn: Mad Love: A Batman Novel by Paul Dini and Pat
Barry Ergang is back this week
with another all new review. For the full list of reading suggestions,
check out Todd Mason’s Sweet
15 SECONDS (2012)
by Andrew Gross
Reviewed by Barry
The premise is intriguing: successful plastic surgeon Dr.
Henry Steadman (who, we eventually learn, has his share of emotional baggage) is
pulled over by a cop for a minor traffic violation, a cop who refuses to listen
to Steadman's side of events. Steadman has flown from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
to attend a medical conference and play a round of golf with a friend. The cop
treats him like a criminal rather than one guilty of a traffic offense, even to
the point of arresting and cuffing him and putting him into the back of a
police car. Several other police vehicles arrive and Steadman is questioned
about the whereabouts of his wife. When he explains that he doesn't know
because he's divorced, he's told he was seen driving around with a woman in his
car an hour earlier.
The police persist in questioning him, making additional
accusations, and denying his protests of innocence of their various charges
until they finally cease and depart—all except the one who initially pulled him
over. This one tells him, "I'm going to write you up a warning...Just take
a seat back in your car." Steadman complies, and a moment later another
car pulls up alongside the police vehicle. Steadman hears two loud pops, after
which the car takes off. When he gets out and looks into the police vehicle, he
sees that the cop is dead from gunshot wounds.
When he recovers from the shock of both the cop's murder and
the realization that he'll be the prime suspect, Steadman sets off after the
murderer's car and kicks the rest of the novel into play. Besides Steadman,
whose narrative is in the first person, we follow those in the third person of
a "plucky" female cop (one with baggage), and the villain of the
piece (who also has baggage—are you sensing a trend yet?).
In addition to trying to save himself and prove his
innocence, Steadman must also save the greatest love of his life in what turns
out to be a "sinister scheme" with him as the primary target.
Yes, it's all quite formulaic, and written and structured in
a manner calculated to generate page-turning suspense. The problem—for this
reader, at least—was the delivery, particularly the author's predilection for
depicting his characters' emotional reactions to events via impossible bodily responses.
When he discovers the cop has been murdered, Steadman tells us, "My heart
surged into fifth gear." When circumstances put him close to one of the
cops who interrogated him, he says, "My heart almost clawed its way up my
throat as I vividly recalled what he had warned me of if our paths ever crossed
again." Three paragraphs later: "My heart clawed its way up my
Several chapters later: "I felt the sweats come over me
and my insides slowly clawed their way up my throat." A good deal further
on: "Carrie closed her eyes and let out a breath she'd been holding in for
Carrie, poor oxygen-bereft baby, suffers still further: "She
saw whom the bill was made out to, and her stomach fell like a ten-ton weight hurled
off a cliff." Four paragraphs later: "Her breath felt cut in
half." Somewhere along the way we also learn, "Her heart
One of the most unintentionally comical moments, due to poor
editing, occurs when Steadman comes upon a shed in a wooded area and gives us
this: "My heart started to pound. It had a slanted roof and one window and
what looked like a storage hut attached to it...."
Hmm...Did it make storing gardening tools and a lawn mower
among the aorta and valves vexatious?
As you have doubtlessly surmised by now, 15 Seconds
is not, in my estimation, a stellar example of a thriller. Yes, it will keep
many readers turning the pages, but they'll have to forgive a predictable and
formulaic approach while doing so, along with tolerating a great many lame
passages that can render the intended drama fatuous. I've read books aimed at
children and young adults whose prose is far more artful and evocative.
If the silliness described isn't a turnoff for some readers,
the use of raw street language might be.
IN THE GALWAY SILENCE by Ken Bruen,
reviewed by John Cleal
Former cop-turned-PI Jack Taylor is
pitted against a vigilante assassin who uses the name ‘Silence’ – and the clash
quickly becomes personal.
THE LADY IN THE CAR WITH GLASSES AND A
GUN by Sebastien Japrisot, reviewed
by Chris Roberts
Dany Longo borrows her boss’s
Thunderbird to leave Paris for a trip south, but a liberating trip to the coast
becomes a nightmare when strangers along her route assure her that they have
MAIGRET’S PATIENCE by Georges Simenon,
reviewed by Arnold Taylor
A series of daring robberies bring
Maigret together with an old adversary.
HUNTED by Arne Dahl, reviewed by Ewa
Private investigators Sam Berger and
Molly Bloom are on the run from the authorities, burned from previous
investigation, and hiding in the depths of snowy north Sweden. But soon they
are asked to follow up on the letter from a distressed and seemingly paranoid
woman who knows secret details of a murder case from long ago.
LIFE RUINS by Danuta Kot, reviewed by
Becca is certain she knows the girl who
was attacked so brutally that no one can identify her. But at best, the police
think she is an unreliable witness.
THE LISTENERS by Anthony J Quinn,
reviewed by John Cleal
Newly appointed Detective Sergeant
Carla Herron is called to a psychiatric hospital after a patient confesses to
murdering of one of the psychotherapists. His confession is detailed, but
impossible, as he was in a secure ward under 24-hour surveillance.
GRAB A SNAKE BY THE TAIL by Leonardo
Padura, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Havana detective Mario Conde is
persuaded to take the case when an elderly Chinese man is found hanged, marked
with arcane symbols and missing a finger.
LOST YOU by Haylen Beck, reviewed by
It only took an inattentive moment to
plunge Libby into every parent’s worst nightmare when her three-year-old son
Ethan goes missing on holiday. And from some nightmares, there’s no waking up.
THE DEAD by Lin Anderson, reviewed by John Barnbrook
Glasgow a murderer is killing people in subtle ways and leaving the signs of a
sin eater. It appears that this killer is well informed in the ways of forensic
science, probably attending a course part run by forensic scientist Dr Rhona
FRIEND by Joakim Zander, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Seger, a new recruit to the Swedish diplomatic service in Beirut, meets Yassim
at a party and falls under his spell. But is Yassim the photographer he claims
to be, or is he mixed up in something far more sinister?
Thomas Enger, reviewed by Ewa Sherman
school in a small Norwegian village becomes a double-murder scene. Immediately
everyone points at 17-year-old Even who has been recently dumped by Mari
Lindgren, a girl found dead after the school concert.
TO HERSELF AND OTHERS by Alyssa Sheinmel, reviewed by Linda Wilson
Gold doesn’t understand why she’s been consigned to a secure mental facility.
After all, it wasn’t her fault that her roommate fell from a window and ended
up in hospital in a coma.
POISON by Julia Chapman, reviewed by John Cleal
O’Brien is in deep trouble, framed by a gang out to destroy him. When his
godson goes missing, accused of dealing drugs, can he persuade his estranged
partner Delilah Metcalfe to help him find the boy?
CINDERELLA PLAN by Abi Silver, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Salisbury heads a company pioneering autonomous vehicles in UK. When his car is
involved in a horrific crash, lawyers Burton and Lamb come to his defence.
WINDOWS by Robert Pobi, reviewed by Linda Wilson
is terrorising New York, preying on law enforcement officers. The FBI call in
Dr Lucas Page, a man who sees the world in a different way. Unlike anyone else,
he has a chance of working out where the killing shots came from.
MIDNIGHT by Candice Fox, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor
A boy has
gone missing from the hotel. But with the clock ticking, former detective Ted
Conkaffey doesn’t know if he’s looking for a child or a body.
POPULAR by Sue Wallman, reviewed by Linda Wilson
illicit party at an elite boarding school ends in a death. Did the dead girl
fall or was she pushed?
HARVEST by Paul Cleave, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor
will soon be seeing life through the eyes of his adoptive father – things that
he will never be able to un-see.
FORENSIC SCIENCE by Sue Black and Niamh Nic Daeid, reviewed by
quick-fire look at the fascinating and varied world of forensic science by two
of the leading experts in the field.
THE LINE OF DUTY by Neil Root, reviewed by John Cleal
account of how senior CID officers fraternised with underworld figures, paid
off witnesses and struck dodgy deals to imprison innocent men.
Ways of Wolfeby
James Carlos Blake (Mysterious Press, 2017) is the fourth book by Blake about
the Wolfe crime family whose business interests lie on both sides of the
Texas-Mexico border. Axel Prince Wolfe, his father’s planned heir to the family
law firm, decides to join his high school friend and a stranger in the theft of
three-quarters of a million dollars’ worth of bearer bonds. Already married
with a small daughter, he is planning to drop out of college and focus on the
family’s criminal enterprises, despite the family rule that everyone must
obtain an undergraduate degree before joining the company. [The Rules of Wolfe (Mysterious
Press, 2013) goes into this requirement in more detail. I raved about this book
in a post to DorothyL while attending the 2016 Left Coast Crime convention and
still refer readers to it at every opportunity.] They successfully acquire the
bonds but the getaway goes sideways, and his partners abandon him to save
themselves. He refuses to give up the names of his cohorts to reduce his prison
term, and he is sentenced to an onerous 30 years.
His relatives turn their backs on him, and he
becomes fixated on the daughter who won’t visit him or write him. After 20
years in confinement he joins a young Mexican inmate with hidden ties to a
cartel in planning a jail break, and they escape during a driving thunderstorm,
leaving several bodies in their wake. After they manage to cross the river into
Mexico, Axel is invited to join the cartel and helps them in an ambush of a
rival gang. He desperately wants to see his now-grown daughter though, and off
Blake is an exceptional writer of fast-moving crime
dramas. His grim descriptions of border desert crossings are meticulous in
their hair-raising detail, and his depictions of shootouts and other action
scenes are intense and pulse-pounding. While he’s received a good deal of
recognition from critics, he is still not widely known among the thriller and
mystery reading community, which is truly unfortunate for everyone.
Comics Vol 1: Invisible Mafia by Brian Michael Bendis is a spin off from the Man of
Steel miniseries also by this author. Superman is dealing with the
gossip at work about why is wife left while dealing with the fact someone is
setting fires across Metropolis. This is the work of a new group of villains
called the Invisible Mafia. Their plan had been to get away with stuff while
working by not drawing attention.
Instead, they have
been dropping bodies because of the actions of “Red Cloud.” She is a meta-human
who is young, arrogant, and believes she is powerful and smart enough to hang
with Superman. She thinks she can fight and beat Superman because she can turn
into a red toxic cloud. She also now has the attention of Lex Luthor.
This means Red
Cloud and her origination, Invisible Mafia, have the attention of the two
powerful people of Metropolis. Before now, neither dealt with them because they
never noticed and never cared about them. They now do. Instead of leaving town,
they double down on the stupid and start covering up what they are doing. That
just makes their situation worse.
In addition to the
great artwork, there are a lot of little jokes throughout the story. One
example is when as Superman investigates a crime; his clue is that a bad guy
who is bald did it. Some he checks his multi-page catalog listing of bald bad
guy villains and does so with this oh so serious look on his face. Another
funny moment is when he is question one criminal who claims he barely knows the
other criminal he is with. The other guy shouts out about how the two are
A lot of new
characters are introduced in this book and most of them will most likely be ignored
by future writers because there just not that interesting and kind of stupid.
One of the better parts of this story is Perry White, the Daily Planet Editor, who
points out why people are stupid throughout the read. This is especially true
in regards to the rumors the Invisible Mafia is trying to spread about
Superman. They are pushing the story that Superman killed somebody though
Superman has a perfect and very public alibi. At the time in question, Superman
along with several other heroes, were fighting an alien invasion in Seattle and
the whole deal was broadcast on live television. This was going on at the same
time he supposedly was killing a low level criminal. Instead of killing Lex
Luthor, Darkseid, Brainaic, and other powerful villians, he allegedly killed
some random low level criminal. Yeah that makes sense… Lol.
This story is a good place to start for new readers and is fairly
enjoyable. Red Cloud has the ability to turn in to a toxic red cloud and she
thinks she can beat Superman who is busy shattering asteroids and stops an alien
invasion from space. She seriously over estimates her abilities. What does not
work so well is the fact that Lois makes some questionable parenting decisions
that Superman is very cool with for some reason. While I can’t go into it
without giving spoilers, it is clear to this reader that she is a pretty bad
Despite the flaws, Superman
Action Comics Vol 1: Invisible Mafia by Brian Michael Bendis is a funny
story with original villains and interesting plot. This Superman story is not
the best, but it is enjoyable and fun.
The latest published read from Barry Ergang is a short story. Originally published in 1982 in Stereophile Magazine , his short story, ...
Supporting The Blog
In my wife's memory and honoring a promise I made to Sandi, the blog continues...at least for now. If you would like to make a donation of support, you can do so at the links below. Most of the donated funds go to the purchase of medical supplies for me. Some of it goes to the purchase of various short story anthologies and collections which eventually are read and reviewed here.