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Showing posts from January, 2012

Four Days to Die

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Say you knew with absolute certainty the day--down to the hour--of your death... how would you spend those last months, weeks, days, and hours?  Maybe you'd hole up alone somewhere, helpless against the inevitable. Perhaps you’d go all hedonistic, trying to cram in every fabulous experience possible before time ran out. Or, you might opt to spend all your waking hours preparing yourself physically and mentally to "rage, rage against the dying of the light".... on the off-chance that you could somehow change the outcome.  Door number three is the choice one woman picks in Lisa Gardner’s positively chilling new thriller, Catch Me. After dealing with an abusive mother for her first several years--during which time the woman did things so awful to her that she's blocked all memories of them from her mind--it's safe to say that twenty-eight-year-old Charlene Rosalind Carter Grant's life has been anything but a bed of roses. Fortunately, she was taken in by an aunt wh…

Lipstick Red & Dead- The Caddy in the Lake

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Wise-cracking detectives--from the rank amateurs who somehow stumble into the practice of investigating, to the licensed professionals with their fancy gizmos and snazzy Yellow Pages listings--are a dime a dozen in mystery novels... but a wise-cracking, ex-fashion-model, crop-dusting sleuth? That puts a quirky new spin on the genre, in R.P. Dahlke’s peppy debut, A Dead Red Cadillac. Lalla (short for--or preferable to--Eula May) Baines is reaching a memorable conclusion to her thirty-ninth year. Still limping around, recovering from a recent on-the-job accident--one which ended spectacularly when she crash-landed her plane in a big field of tomatoes around Modesto, California--while dealing with all the usual problems such as difficult employees and an irascible boss (who happens to be her dad), and still smarting from her second divorce (from another of the two-timing losers she seems to gravitate toward), the former-model-cum-crop-duster is primarily concerned with avoiding the tradit…

Wedding Day Blues: The Case of the Down Under Runner

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Of all the things that could go wrong on your wedding day, being jilted would have to rank right up at the top of the list as the worst.  Learning that you'd been dumped via a Post-it note stuck to the fridge would certainly add a whole new level of awful, though... and finding out your formerly-significant other had also just absconded with your life savings? Well, that would pretty much be the icing on top of your suddenly-useless wedding cake. Putting your broken heart and humiliated pride aside for the moment, though, the real issue would be, what would you do next? Aussie author Jennifer Rowe blithely offers up one possible scenario in the clever and cheeky new caper, Love, Honour,andO'Brien. Holly Love had always considered herself a happily-ordinary sort of girl, with average looks, respectable intelligence, and a certain degree of competence in most things. No, she wasn't likely to win any beauty pageants, earn big money appearing on a TV quiz show, or find herself ens…

The Proud, the Prejudiced... and the Murderous?

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It is, I’d wager, the rare person who hasn’t read an awesome story, only to turn the final page, realize there’s nothing more, and wail, “But... what happensnext?!?” Leading the pack in the insatiable wishing-for-something-“more” department is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. That delightful classic alone has spawned countless prequels, sequels, and “inspired-by” tales, ranging from prim-&-proper continuations of the same story lines, to mysteries putting Elizabeth Darcy’s keen mind (and fine eyes, no doubt) to the test, to bawdy bedroom romps and zombie battles--the likes of which must’ve surely made Miss Austen do several spins in her grave. The resulting works, as one would imagine, vary wildly in their successfulness; not every idea translates well (the zombies--much as I enjoy reading about their insatiable brain-munching and the thought of such a quirky mashup--got old very quickly), while others sort of ooze inappropriateness (graphically-smexy scenes featuring heaving Benn…

The Demons within... and the Monsters without

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“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche Those ominous (if somewhat cryptic) words are most often seen as a kind of warning, cautioning us to guard ourselves against the dangers of lingering too long in the presence of evil lest it rub off, infecting us with its insidious malevolence.  Sage advice, to be sure. But, what happens to someone who’s already been exposed to more than a taste of genuine evil... is that person more, or less, apt to become a monster, in turn? That question is at the core of much-lauded British crime author Val McDermid’s latest tour de force, The Retribution. ❖  ❖  ❖ It’s the beginning of the end for Bradfield PD’s special murder squad, long helmed by the determined Carol Jordan and manned by her elite group of detectives. Despite being able to boast of an enviable success rate, intradepartmental politics have effectively pulled t…