Thursday, 30 April 2009

Fire Sale: Sara Paretsky - Book 24, 2009

Fire Sale: Sara Paretsky
Genre: Crime/detective/thriller
Rating: 5.5/10
Comments: Private Investigator V.I. Warshawski agrees to help out coaching her old school basketball team in a run-down neighbourhood in South Chicago. She quickly gets drawn into her charges' lives and starts investigating sabotage at the local factory. But the factory is burnt down in an arson attack, her contacts are running scared and the big conglomerate Buy-Smart starts muscling in.

The plot is thin, the characters are shallow and one-dimentional stereotypes and it's impossible to suspend belief. Also, I am really, really sick of crime novels where the female protagonist has to get physically assaulted at every turn. Paretsky knows how to write a page turner but I long for the more genteel and cerebal detective novels of old.

Friday, 24 April 2009

T is for Trespass: Sue Grafton - Book 23, 2009

T is for Trespass: Sue Grafton
Genre: Crime/detective/mystery
Rating: 7/10
Comments: A fantastic book which unfortunately is let down by an implausible and annoying ending. Private Investigator Kinsey Millhone's elderly neighbour Gus suffers a fall and needs nursing assistance while he recovers at home. Millhone is hired by his niece to do a pre-employment check of Gus' nurse and everything looks fine. Unfortunately for Gus, while his carer has taken on the identity of a real and respectable nurse, she is at heart a predator who only has her own interests at heart. When Millhone becomes concerned at Gus' deterioration, she finds herself in a battle of wits with a cold and manipulative psychopath.

R is for Ricochet: Sue Grafton - Book 22, 2009

R is for Ricochet: Sue Grafton
Genre: Crime/detective/mystery
Rating: 6.5/10
Comments: Private Investigator Kinsey Millhone is hired to pick-up a wealthy businessman's wayward daughter, Reba, who has just been released from jail and deliver her safely home. Reba is beautiful and intelligent but ultimately unstable and self-destructive. Kinsey sees much of herself in this troubled girl and the pair strike up an unlikely friendship. She soon discovers that Reba has taken a fall for her boss and lover. When Reba learns she has been used, she is determined to take revenge, whatever the cost.

Not Grafton's best book, but very readable. I'm fed up though with the fact that Kinsey has to be physically assaulted near the end of every investigation.

Q is for Quarry: Sue Grafton - Book 21, 2009

Q is for Quarry: Sue Grafton
Rating: 8/10
Comments: The is the only book in Sue Grafton's alphabet series that to my knowledge is based on a real case. Kinsey Millhone is employed by two aged law enforcement officers who have been haunted throughout their careers by the unsolved murder of an unidentified girl. Millhone uses all her skills to identify the girl and the reasons for her murder 18 years ago.

The final pages of the book are dedicated to the story of the real "Jane Doe" and include a forensic sculptor's recreation of the unknown girl (paid for by Grafton). While this created a renewed interest in the case and generated several leads, police still have no idea who she is or why she was killed all those years ago.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Not the Costello Memoirs: Walter Slurry - Book 20, 2009

Not the Costello Memoirs: Walter Slurry
Genre: Humour, politics
Rating: 9/10
Comments: Political satire at its best, Crikey's tongue-in-cheek parody provides a much truer (and funnier) portrayal of the life and times of Peter Costello than the original. Reportedly outselling The Costello Memoirs 6:1, it is also considerably cheaper at $10.95 (although possibly not by the time you read this, with the original heading straight for the bargain table and remainder bin in local bookstores).  Read it to recall the 16 glorious years of self-sacrifice and achievement of the Liberals in power.

A is for Alibi: Sue Grafton - Book 19, 2009

A is for Alibi: Sue Grafton
Rating: 7/10
Comments: The very first book in Sue Grafton's alphabet series and a good sign of things to come.  Kinsey Millhone is employed by Nikki Fife who has just served 8 years jail after being convicted of murdering her philandering husband.  While the police are sure the right person was convicted, why would Nikki want to stir up the past if she really was guilty? A really fast and fun read with lots of twists and turns that keeps you guessing to the very end.

From Potter's Field: Patricia Cornwell - Book 18, 2009

From Potter's Field: Patricia Cornwell
Rating: 5/10
Plot summary (from review)
Upon examining a dead woman found in snowbound Central Park, (forensic pathologist) Kay Scarpetta immediately recognizes the grisly work of Temple Gault, a bold and brilliant killer from her past. Now she must hunt down a psychopath whose string of horrible murders is leading inexorably to his ultimate prey: Scarpetta herself.
Comments: If a homicidal psychopathic killer was after you, would you:
(a) move into the FBI's highly protected secure facility for a few weeks;
(b) gratefully accept the offer of a talented police officer and friend, to move into your home and accompany you to work so you could continue to work on your cases despite the threat on your life; or
(c) slip out from the watchful eye of such police officer to go shopping at the local supermarket?
Forensic pathologist) Kay Scarpetta choses (c) and that's basically sums up my major problem with the book.  For someone who is supposed to be so smart she does such stupid foolish things which makes it impossible to continue to suspend disbelief.