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Hackin' & Detectin', Minnesota-style... review (Monkeewrench returns!)

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One of the funny things about reading a series is that if/when there’s a longish wait between books, you can forget how much you like—and how much you’ve missed—those characters, and all the little details of their lives that you’ve learned.
So it was with me and the “Monkeewrench” gang (which first appeared in  the 2004 book by the same name), and whom I’ve eagerly followed ever since. I’d check the web every once in awhile to see if a new book—the ninth in that series, now—was due, only to be disappointed.

The wait is finally over, though, and—thank the stars—The Guilty Dead does not disappoint.

The Monkeewrench team of cyber-tech experts (aka hackers)—a cobbled-together oddball squad of misfits who share, among other things, sordid/unhappy pasts, distrust/dislike of Big Government, and, obviously, solid geek skills—is intact, and still working from their “office” digs in one of the member’s fancy Minneapolis mansion. They still operate mostly on the down-low, although they’ve taken …

The Family You Lose, Choose, & Find Again... (Night & Silence review)

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There comes a time when things must end. It’s one of those inescapable truths and, as humans—keenly aware of our own mortality—we get this.
But carbon life forms don’t hold a monopoly on the concept; eventually, everything hits a point of being past its prime.
Most of us hope to reach a place of some decrepitude before it’s time to stop walking this mortal coil. (Being “old” is sorta the goal, for most humans.) Big-ticket items such as computers, phones, and cars are all designed with an expected obsolescence built in (which typically has more to do with corporations making money than with a sudden lack of functionality or usefulness, but I digress…). When it comes to series, though—whether books, movie franchises, or TV shows—the object is definitely to go out on a high note… before whatever-it-is seems tired and long-in-the-tooth.
And that notion is what kept popping into my mind when reading Night and Silence, the latest in Seanan McGuire’s ever-engrossing (and long-running) October D…

The Stars Now Unclaimed... Bad-Ass Chicks with Space Guns!

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What do you get when you throw a tough fighter pilot (with her own sporty little starship); a wunderkind (who can manipulate some Seriously Big Stuff with her mind); a would-be space pirate (with a distinctly romantic side); a robot preacher (as in, clergywoman made of metal); an older, wiser space spy (somehow everything just sounds cooler when you put “space” in front of it, doesn’t it?); and a sentient spaceship (a female ship with Artificial Intelligence, who is as persnickety about keeping her surfaces spiffy-clean as she is about trying to keep her captain alive) together… then toss ‘em smack-dab in the middle of an about-to-erupt, epic space battle (see? totally cooler than just “a battle”) against a hodgepodge horde of the galaxy’s meanest hombres, who’re hellbent on destroying your worlds and adding you to their vast number, if possible (or killing you dead, if not)? 
Pure. Unadulterated. Awesomeness. (Well, duh, right?
Or, to put another way, you get Drew Williams’ rip-roar…

Scott & Bailey: Binge-worthy Brit Show that Really "Gets" Women

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Whether police procedurals are strictly your “thing”, you need to check out Scott & Bailey (on Amazon), if seeing women depicted as smart, flawed, and entirely human, is.
The British show centers around two detectives working on a Manchester police division’s murder squad: middle-aged Detective Constable Janet Scott (Lesley Sharp, in a splendid performance) and her younger partner, Detective Constable Rachel Bailey (the absolutely-spot-on Suranne Jones)—who, when the show begins, have been partners for about a year. Over the course of five seasons (33 episodes, in all), Janet and Rachel (along with the rest of the squad) solve a lot of cases… but just as importantly, we get to watch the ups and downs in their friendship, other relationships, family lives, and their careers.
To say that Rachel is the “crazy” one (into casual sex, messed-up family, aptitude for flying off the handle) and Janet the “proper” one (married for a quarter-century, cautious, in the habit of thinking before s…

Providence Isn't Always a Good Thing... But This Book, Is (review)

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Let’s just start this off by cutting to the chase, hmm? Caroline Kepnes’ newest release, Providence, is one of the most beautiful stories I’ve read in, well… a long, long time. Actually, one of, in ever
Yeah, I know… way to build up the suspense and make sure everyone reads to the end of the review, GlamKitty. Well, so be it. I mean, how often does anyone heap that sort of praise on a detective-slash-coming-of-age-slash-supernatural-slash-horror tale (that’s also a love story)? Pretty much never. But okay, since you don’t want to just take my word for it, let’s peel a layer off the onion and get a taste of Providence... ______________________________ Jon is a nice kid. He brings the mouse from one of his classes home from school over the holidays to care for it. He’s kind, funny, quiet and… okay, a little “different” from other kids his age (but especially the other boys, who pick on and bully him mercilessly). 
Chloe is Jon’s only friend, and is all of those things, as well… but she man…

Believe Me... Nothing is What it Seems (or is it?) --review

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One thing I’ve always loved about mountains is the abundance of twisty, narrow, little roads with all those hairpin curves, winding their way up and around and up… and entirely at their own pace (well, at the pace set by those souls who originally cut, blasted, and paved the treacherous paths, in the first place,,, but you get my meaning, I’m sure).
That predilection for twisty things carries over to tales of suspense. I like to wonder what’s around the next bend… and the next page turn. 
But, if mountain roads were like mazes—with endless wrong turns and wasted energies leading absolutely nowhere—I wouldn’t like them nearly so much. 
The same holds true of mysteries. When an author fashions psychological twists into maddening dead ends over and over (and over) again, at some point I grow weary of following along; there has to be some sort of payoff, here and there, to maintain enough commit to follow all of that incessant winding and meandering to the end.  
And, in Believe Me, author JP…

Look Too Far Into Anything... and You'll Find Something You're Not Supposed to Know

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Those chance encounters. Most of the time, they’re mere blips on the radar of our lives… memorable ones, perhaps, but tiny hiccups in otherwise ordinary days, by and large.
Every once in awhile, though… such encounters turn out to be something more, something with the power to snap us fully out of our norm and change us.
Andrew Diamond’s Gate 76 is the story of one such encounter… and all that follows.  ____________________________________
Freddy Ferguson is a good guy. Oh, he may look a little sketchy—a big man with a would-be ordinary-enough face that’s been pummeled a few too many times in the ring to ever rack up adjectives like “good-looking” or “trustworthy”—but it’s the troubled life he’s had which led first to his boxing career, then made him well-suited for his current gig as a private investigator. That already-seen-the-worst-in-people attitude, the instant suspicion, and a sense of hyper-awareness serve him well when observing others. So, whenever he notices something particul…

Whoever Said the Thing About the Truth Setting You Free... Underestimated What a Mean SOB the Truth Really Is.

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It is, without doubt, a ballsy move to craft any sort of mystery (or psychological thriller) wherein the big question of “whodunit?” is revealed in the first few pages… yet that’s precisely the tack Liz Nugent takes in her wickedly-twisty (and twisted) new page turner, Lying in Wait.

As you may have guessed, though, there’s a brilliant method to her madness, because the pages which follow concern a far-more intriguing question: the “whydunit”, if you will.

To wit, any idea why a respected, middle-aged judge would kill a wrong-side-of-the-tracks young woman—with his to-the-manor-born wife’s assistance, no less—then drive the body to their own home and proceed to bury it in the back garden on their posh estate?
Of course, there’s more to murder than just the act—especially for seemingly “normal” folks, like you or me. There’s the memory of it (and trying to live with same). There’s guilt (for the murderers here are anything but your typical cold, hardened killers). There’s a lifetime of l…

Living with a Jar of Secrets... ("What I'm Reading Wednesday" review)

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I can’t really say that I’ve done many (any?) bad—like, seriously bad—things. Most of us probably can’t, if we’re honest. Plenty of stuff we’re not too proud of, sure. Things we’d take back, not do, or do differently, you bet. But really, truly, awful bad? 
But… what if you had—or, since I don’t know everyone out there who’ll stumble across this, what if you’re the rare beast who has—done something undeniably horrible, that’s been buried deep for however long? What would your life be like, every day, knowing that… whatever… was there, had happened?
It’s a scary thought, and a far-scarier reality, in Jennifer Hillier’s brilliant Jar of Hearts. ____________________________
Teenagers are notoriously stupid… in the sense that they process things differently, often act (or act out) very impulsively, and make some incredibly-poor decisions (of the sort that down the road, as adults, they’d never, ever make).

Fourteen years ago—under the combined (bad) influences of too much booze on an empty st…

Nothing Stays Buried Forever ("Safe" review--"What I'm Streaming")

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Harlan Coben is one of those authors whose books I’ve been reading for a coon’s age (however long that is), because he consistently delivers deliciously-twisty tales peopled with complex characters.

Recently, he’s also gotten into film productions, so as soon as I saw he had a new TV series out on Netflix—Safe, following 2016’s The Five and 2015’s No Second Chance—it was an easy choice as to what I’d be streaming next.
Short verdict? Wow. (No, really. Wow.)

Yeah, okay, I can do better than that. (And totally spoiler-free, natch.)

Set in a suburban area somewhere in England, Safe mostly takes place within the walls of a gated community. (Picturing beautiful large houses on ample lots, with wide, well-manicured lanes gently wending their way through the well-heeled neighborhood? Cool, then you’re in the right ballpark.)
Dr. Tom Delaney (Michael C. Hall, of “Dexter” and “Six Feet Under” fame) has been trying to make a life for himself and his two teenage daughters following the death of h…