Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry

The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry

Cotton Malone's ex-wife shows up from the USA at his Denmark store to tell him that their son has been kidnapped. He's told that he must find the Alexandria link, which will help find the lost library of Alexandria. It is suspected that this library holds the original Testament written in Old Hebrew. Many people want to get their hands on it because there are theories that the translations of this document were incorrect and the Holy Land is actually not Palestine. Having this knowledge at hand would give a lot of power. The Israelis, Saudis, Americans, and many others are after this and would kill to get it.

The quest takes Malone and his ex-wife to London, Portugal, and Egypt. Malone also enlists the help of his past boss back in the USA who has a lot of political maneuvering to do in order to help out Malone.

This book was packed full of action and intrigue. The premise of the story leaves you wondering what would happen to the world if something like this was uncovered. How would people of Jewish, Islamic, and Christian faith react if they learned that the claims to land weren't what they thought and the Bible was translated incorrectly?

I quite like Cotton Malone as a character. He's a pretty smart guy and has some good one-liners. I enjoyed this more than the last Berry book I wrote, The Templar Legacy. It moved fast and was an easy read.

First Line: "George Haddad's patience ended as he glared at the man bound to the chair."


Monday, December 17, 2012

Rivals for the Crown by Kathleen Givens

Rivals for the Crown by Kathleen Givens
Historical Fiction

In 1290, the young Queen of Scotland dies en route to the crown, which causes the entire Scottish nation to take sides of who should next be on the throne. Highlander cousins Rory and Kieran are sent to Berwick by their parents to keep them out of trouble and get some intel. They meet Rachel, a Jew that was kicked out of London with her family who then moved to Scotland and opened up an inn. She had to abandon her best friend Isabel who was about to become a lady in waiting for the Queen. Rachel and Kieran lust after each other and she convinces him to send a message through to Isabel. When Rory and Kieran visit London after the Queen dies, they meet Isabel who Rory can't stop thinking about.

With King Edward I trying to take back Scotland, there is a lot of turmoil. As the cousins try to help keep their country independent, they are also trying to woo their ladies.

The Scottish element of this novel brought the life to the book. The two cousins had a lot of character and helped progress the novel along. This was just as much historical romance as it was historical fiction. Parts of the romance were definitely corny but not bad enough to make me want to stop reading the book.

There were some interesting history lessons in this novel although I felt like the end was quite rushed.

First Line: "Rachel! Rachel, wake up!"


Friday, December 07, 2012

Naked by David Sedaris

Naked by David Sedaris

David Sedaris grew up in an incredibly odd family and, as such, has some incredibly odd stories to tell. Naked is a series of short essays about Sedaris' life, however I felt that it almost read like a novel rather than short stories because the stories weren't overly disjointed.

For the most part, the stories were pretty interesting. That being said, they were so off-the-wall that I was always questioning whether or not they were truthful or not. I wasn't laughing out loud at anything, however overall it was ok.

First Line: "I'm thinking of asking the servants to wax my change before placing it in the Chinese tank I keep on my dresser."


Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Dance Upon Air

Dance Upon Air by Nora Roberts
Nell Channing arrives on Three Sisters island with nothing. She happens to walk into the bookstore/cafe just as the present cook is leaving and gets the job. Nell is running from a horrid past. She faked her own death in order to escape an abusive relationship.

Nell finds a place where she can heal. She finds out her boss is a witch and furthermore so is she. And most important she finds Zach. Zach is the local policeman and a genuine good guy.

This is a fairly typical romance. It is nice that Nell grows and becomes the woman she can be instead of a scared rabbit. It is also nice that Zach seems to be just an ordinary nice guy instead of one of those hunks that are usually in romance stories.

First Line: "In the dark grren shadows of the deep woods, an hour before moonrise, they met in secret."

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Mobile 9 by Bill Haugland

Mobile 9 by Bill Haugland

It's 1969 in Montreal, Quebec and Flash News is a popular English-language news television show of which Ty Davis is a crime reporter and Greg Peterson is a young up-and-coming cameraman. When a woman is beaten and a news truck is reported at the scene, all of the guys that have access to the trucks are brought in for a line up. Peterson is ID'd as the perp but he didn't do it. The news team starts to investigate what is going on. Soon they dig up connections to the mob and all the fun stuff that comes from mob-related activities; drug smuggling, murders, etc.

This book is a bit of a different perspective than what I'm used to, which is almost always the cop hunting for the killer. This time, it's the journalists that are piecing together the puzzle and hunting down the killer.

Written by a Canadian author, this book has a lot of Montreal and general Canadiana included, which is great to read. The general story was good but I feel that Haugland tried to cram too much in to this book. The Grey Cup, multiple mob stories, boxing matches, characters opening their own businesses, it just got to be too much to handle in one book. Perhaps as Haughland's first novel he just tried to take on too much at once.

First Line: "TV cameraman Greg Peterson was exhausted."


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mortal Prey

Mortal Prey by John Sandford
Clara Rinker was a hitman. Lucas Davenport from the Minneapolis police was almost killed by her in the past. Clara retired and went to Cancun to live. She was all set to live an idyllic life with her boyfriend and soon-to-be child when it all goes wrong. Her boyfriend is killed and she miscarried as a result of her injuries. She knows she was the target of the hit and now vows to kill all those responsible.

Clara returns to St. Louis in order to kill the four men she thinks ordered the hit. These men are extraordinarily protected and Clara uses everything at her disposal to kill them off. Davenport is brought in because of his association and his knowledge of her methods.

Davenport is in the middle of his own plans to marry the pregnant Weather and finish his new house.

This was one of the best prey books yet. Non-stop action and many thrills keep this story very much alive.

First Line: "The thought popped into her head as she lay in the soft-washed yellowed sheets in the hospital bed."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell

A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell

It's the middle of WWII and Italian Jews have spread throughout Europe to try to escape the Germans and their own government. When Italy surrenders to the Allies, Italian Jews need to trek over the Alps to find freedom. Claudette Blum and her father have been separated from him mom and brothers but they must put that behind them to stay alive. They travel with other families and Italian soldiers that are also in danger. Claudette becomes smitten with one of the soldiers and he helps her and her father find places to hide in the countryside.

They meet many Italians and Italian Jews alike that want to fight against the Germans within Italy. One is Renzo, who takes on many identities to sabatoge the Germans and help hide Jews and the Italian resistance. His story is a tragic one as he's fought in a previous conflict and can't quite move past that.

I don't think I've read a book about Italy during WWII in the past and there were some quite educational parts of the book. There are also a lot of characters, too many. I had problems throughout the book keeping track of which character was which, which impacted my ability to completely enjoy the novel.

I found the last two paragraphs of the book the most meaningful. They explained that Hitler himself never fired a gun during the entire war. "One hollow, hateful little man. One last awful thought: all the harm he ever did was done for him by others."

First Line: "This is what everyone would remember about his mother: her home was immaculate."


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Play Dead

Play Dead by Anne Frasier
Elise Sandburg and David Gould are homicide partners in the Savannah Police department. They are called in when a mortuary assistant finds out one of his clients is not really dead but like a 'zombie'. Someone is drugging people to resemble the dead but their minds are fully aware. Creepy!!

Elise is a native Savannahan. Her father is believed to be a famous root doctor but she was left in a cemetery as a baby to die. Elise knows about Gullah and the spells and culture.

David is a stand-offish Yankee. He is anti-social. David was a former FBI agent when something horrible went wrong. He is very strange.

All these factors make for an interesting dark and creepy mystery.

First Line: "Savannah medical examiner John Casper believed in what scientists termed the cluster effect."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Carrot Cake Murder

Carrot Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke
Cozy Mystery
Hannah Swensen is the owner of a bakery in Lake Eden, Minn. Her co-owner Lisa and her husband are hosting a family reunion out at the lake and Hannah has offered to co-ordinate the meals.

Lisa's long lost uncle Gus shows up for the reunion. He skipped town 25 years ago, owing money and favours. He now shows up in a brand new car and flashing scads of money with lots of charm and smiles.

Gus does not show up for a family photo session and Hannah goes to find him dead. Hannah starts to unearth more than a few nasty secrets about Gus. Mike, her policeman boyfriend wants to collaborate with Hannah but it really is one-way street with Hannah feeding Mike the information but Mike clamming up when Hannah questions him.

Moishe, Hannah's cat is displaying some strange behaviour and Hannah tries to find out what is going on with him.

Fluke really enjoys filling in the narrative with boring long bits of minutiae. Apart from that this is not a bad story. And maybe a good carrot cake recipe to try out

First Line: "The Amen couldn't come fast enough to suit Hannah Swensen."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Plum Island

Plum Island by Nelson DeMille
John Corey, a NYPD homicide detective was shot and is now convalescing on Long Island.  When a couple, Tom and Judy Gordon, who he befriended are murdered, the local Sheriff Max asks for Corey's help.  John reluctantly sets out to find out who murdered his friends.

The Gordons happened to work on Plum Island, a US Agricultural facility researching dread animal diseases.  Enter all the agencies concerned, FBI,CIA and any others who want the public not to think some chemical terrorism is going on.

Corey solves this crime in a nail-biting thriller.  There are good bits and bad bits to this book.  The good is the story is a twisty riveting mystery.  The bad is that Corey is a chauvinist and too sarcastic for my liking and also some of the narrative is too long-winded ( the tour of Plum Island being a prime example).  I will seek out the sequel and see what Corey gets up to.

First Line: "Through my binoculars, I could see this nice forty-something-foot cabin cruiser anchored a few hundred yards offshore."