Saturday, November 30, 2013

Inherit The Dead

Inherit the Dead is a novel written by 20 top selling mystery writers, (names below), each writing one chapter of the same story.  Did it work?  Not really.  As a mystery the plot relied on an overdone storyline and far, far too much going over background that was already covered.  It was as though each writer had to fix in his or her own mind exactly where the plot was headed pulling the reader along with them.  I wouldn’t call it boring, just tedious.
What was good about it?  It was a fascinating study of twenty creative minds closing in on one central character and the subsequent supporting cast.  I found it amazing that, for the most part, they kept the character in character except for the chapter written by James Grady.  I thought he completely lost the concept.  I found it interesting to note the subtle, and not so subtle, writing styles brought into each chapter.  My favorite authors were true to their craft and didn’t disappoint even in this unusual medium.  The authors I didn’t know (and will probably never read) most likely true to theirs.  Some relied heavily on the ‘F’ word for shock effect, or to fill space I’m not sure which.  That word is vastly overused both in spoken and written speech and long ago lost whatever sensation it was supposed to generate.
Why should you buy the book?  It’s a passable read – interesting concept and proceeds from its sale go to, Safe Horizon, a victim assistance agency. More information about their mission can be found at   As sad as it seems without victims of crime, crime writers would have no plots. In an awkward sense you are supporting the genre by buying this book.
 If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, it’s a great book to read and re-read.  Knowing, as you do, that each of these authors are best sellers in the mystery field.  Analyzing how they were able to move within a structured framework and carry the storyline is a lesson in writing discipline.  And, that’s your homework for today!
 Contributors include: Lee Child, Jonathan Santlofer, Stephen L. Carter, Marcia Clark, Heather Graham, Charlaine Harris, Sarah Weinman, Bryan Gruley, Alafair Burke, John Connolly, James Grady, Ken Bruen, Lisa Unger, S.J. Rozan, Dana Stabenow, Val McDermid, Mary Higgins Clark, C.J. Box, Max Allan Collins, Mark Billingham, Lawrence Block, with an explanation about Safe Horizon from Linda Fairstein.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Daddy's Gone A Hunting

Kate Connolly is in a coma. Gus Schmidt is dead. The Connolly Fine Antiques Reproductions factory rests in ruins in Long Island City from a massive explosion that was obviously set. What were Kate, and former employee Gus doing in the museum section of her family’s furniture factory at 4 AM.?  

Since the boating accident that claimed the life of Kate and Hannah’s mother and uncle there has been something not quite right. Hannah, just a baby when the accident occurred, is now a promising clothing designer, older sister Kate a highly respected CPA. Douglas Connolly, the girl’s father, seems to have lost interest in the factory, and his daughters, and turned over the everyday business to a man named Jack Worth. Clyde Hotchkiss is a decorated Vietnam War veteran who has been living on the streets for nearly 30 years and lately sleeping in a wrecked Connolly factory van.  Is he responsible for the death of a young college student whose body was found floating in the river? And, did he have anything to do with the disappearance of a young actress, twenty-eight years ago?  Or, was that Jack Worth?

Mary Higgins Clark, infamous for her one-page chapters, spins a yarn in “Daddy’s Gone A Hunting” that dates back almost 30 years. With a master’s touch for suspense she brings together seemingly unrelated characters into a scenario of intrigue and mind-boggling bewilderment. Nothing is ever what it seems in Clark’s books. You always have to look beneath and beyond the obvious. What was the meaning of the recurring dream in Kate’s coma?  What were Kate's only spoken words?  They pretty much tell all.

Mary Higgins Clark is the author of 32 suspense novels, each one more spellbinding than the last. This book was sent to the reviewer by Simon and Schuster publishing company. Release date for this new mystery is April, 9.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Only the Truth

Just who was the blue-eyed girl with the red suitcase that forever changed Billy Ray Hutchins life?  She called herself Charlene.  She told him she didn’t remember anything about her past.  Slow-witted, illiterate, Billy Ray took her into his home, an Arkansas mountaintop cabin, and into his heart. She liked Big Dog and she made great biscuits.  Charlene and Billy Ray settled into a nice way of life; until the old man moved in across the road.

Arson, murder and mystery wend their way through the pages of this book. Unspeakable acts on innocents; a heart-wrenching crime scene that brings tears to the eyes of a seasoned police chief, false accusations that tear at the very thread of Billy Ray’s existence.  When the attorney, Mr. Green, gave up his defense of Charlene, Billy Ray remained doggedly determined to find Only the Truth.  Simple in mind and spirit he could see what professional investigators were missing.

It takes great skill, as a writer, to build an unforgettable character like Billy Ray Hutchins. Pat Brown has accomplished a remarkable feat allowing the reader into those special thoughts and emotions.  Companion characters like Charlene, Mrs. Covey, the kindly over-the-road trucker, the sheriff and chief of police lend depth and interest to a story well told. The ending seems abrupt, leading the reader to believe we haven’t heard the last of Billy Ray’s story.

I recommend reading Only the Truth not just for its content but for Pat Brown’s unique style of writing.  It’s refreshing, straight-forward, and doesn’t rely on contrived circumstances or ill-timed humor.  You might want to start reading this book when you have a favorable block of time – it’s hard to put down.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mama Does Time

Is Southern humor, dysfunctional but loving families, and light romance on your reading list for 2013? Then give Mama Does Time, by Deborah Sharp, a try.

When middle daughter, Mace Bauer, gets the call that Mama, adorned in her sherbert-colored pants suit with matching scarf and shoes, has been locked up in jail suspected of murdering the man found in trunk of her turquoise blue convertible, she rushes to the rescue.  Joined by sisters, Marty and Maddie, a mixed bag of personalities at best, Mace is faced with a less then congenial big city, turned rural, cop who is convinced of Mama's guilt.

Soon in the lineup of suspects and complications are Mama's dubious boyfriend with a mysterious past, an hysterical police dispatcher who just happened to be engaged to the deceased, and a shady cowboy who's also Mace's ex-lover. Throw in a little illegal lending, blackmail, mob connections, and a preacher with a roving eye and you've got the makings of fun read. 

The plot is complicated enough to keep you guessing.  The characters sharp and delightful. This book is one of a series of Mace Bauer Mysteries written by  Sharp, a former USA Today reporter, who sets her books in the 'sweet tea and barbeque' part of her native state of Florida.

Oh, did I mention the alligator?