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review 2019-01-07 18:09
Puppet for a Corpse by Dorothy Simpson
Puppet for a Corpse - Dorothy Simpson

I picked up one of these Luke Thanet books for a couple of bucks at the UBS before Christmas - I am always looking for new classic mystery series, and this looked like a decent option.

 

This is the third book in the series I've read at this point. I read the 6th book, Dead on Arrival, first, and then I bought the second and third books because they must have been on sale, as I got them both for under $3.00 each, and the price has now increased to $6.50, which is more than I'm willing to spend. I read the second book, Six Feet Under, at the end of December, and then read this one yesterday. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the series at this point.

 

The books are set in Kent, England, in the fictional town of Sturrenden (interestingly, Thanet is the name of a district in Kent). Inspector Thanet is a bit cerebral, and is more-or-less happily married to Joan, with two children. His marriage takes up quite a lot of screen time, as he is grappling with Joan going back to work now that the kids are a bit older, and he doesn't like not having his meals served hot and ready at his beck and call when he gets home.

 

Puppet for a Corpse was originally published in 1983, although it has a bit more regressive of a feel than the eighties - when I looked up the publication date I was surprised that it wasn't the early seventies, given the interactions between Luke and Joan. I graduated from high school in 1984, and there was never any expectation between myself and any man I have ever been involved in that I would be his domestic servant. On the other hand, I suppose Luke and Joan are closer to the ages of my parents than they are to my age, and Thanet's attitude was pretty much the same as my dad's attitude was when my mom went to work after my brother and I had graduated from high school. 

 

In terms of the mystery, I've read enough of these older police procedurals to have had an inkling of what had likely happened, although I didn't quite figure it out. There isn't a lot to them- it takes me about 90 minutes to read one from beginning to end. I'll keep my eye out for them at my library/UBS, and would consider buying more if they went back on sale, but overall, they are in the "take it or leave it" subcategory of mystery fiction.

 

This books fits well into my Century of Women Authors, though, fulfilling year 1983.

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review 2019-01-07 04:57
Ice Blues (Donald Strachey #3)
Ice Blues - Richard Stevenson

I do love a snarky bastard, and Don Strachey is up there with the best of them. <3 He's not always easy to love - like when he's bemoaning his forced monogamy due to the AIDS crisis - but he keeps Detective Newman and the bad guys on their toes. Even when they think they have him where they want him, he's always one step ahead, if only just. Timmy is way too good for Donald. I honestly don't know why he puts up with half the stunts Don pulls in this one. He has way more patience than I would.

 

The case is kookier than ever, as Don finds himself unexpectedly neck deep in political intrigue, possible dope dealers and millions gone missing - all thanks to some dude he met once at a party. Which really is all the more reason not to go to parties and stay home with a good book, if you ask me. Poor Timmy is put through the wringer in this one, but I think I felt most sorry for the anonymous men and women at Don's call service. You know they gossip about him during their lunch hour! Watching Don scrambling to stay ahead of the game, and the ease with which he lies and schemes and snarks his way through one scene after another was a treat. 

 

There were a bit more typos than I could put up with, especially in the last third of the book where "he" and "be" were constantly mixed up. There was also some punctuation misuse and so on. 

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review 2018-10-30 18:41
In Times Like These by Nathan van Coops
In Times Like These (Volume 1) - Nathan Van Coops

Ben and his friends just wanted to play a bit of softball but that lightning strike zapped them back in time, going from 2009 to 1986. Ben, Fresca, Carson, Robbie, and Blake. They’re all in their mid-20s and quite baffled by the common fashion sense of the average 1980s Florida resident. The story has a bit of nostalgia to it but also plenty of action. Once they come to terms with their reality, sort of, they decide to address their immediate needs: shelter & food & perhaps clothes. Luckily, Robbie’s grandfather lives in the area in the 1980s and luckily he’s bored enough or lonely enough to give these young people a chance.

I love the pace of the story. The tale doesn’t linger over the how and the characters don’t get to wallow in self pity. Sure, some are more concerned than others (Blake – I’m looking at you pining away for Mallory) and some take longer to deal with the shock of it, but pretty soon our fab 5 are hunting for some scientists to help them figure things out. That’s there Dr. Harold Quickly comes into the picture, along with this well traveled daughter Mim.

There’s a challenging foe in the story as well. Strenger is an arsonist who doesn’t mind killing people along the way. Somehow he also got sucked back into 1986 and he is also hunting for answers. I liked this aspect of the story because it complicated matters for our heroes. As if accidental time travel wasn’t bad enough; here’s this murdering evil fire bug to stop.

There was so much I liked about this story. It’s all about the adventure and avoids the often drawn out drama of time travel that can bog a story down. Things keep going wrong and there were a few times that I wanted to give Ben a little shake for making such a simple mistake. There’s side characters that help our heroes and there’s those that do them wrong. I also loved that not all of the fab 5 decided to put everything on the line just to get back to their natural timeline. After all, there’s plenty of time travelers that live when they want to.

The one issue I have with this story is the dearth of female characters. Fresca holds potential but she’s pretty one dimensional in this book. There’s a handful of female side characters, and they do get names and a few lines. However, I had to get about 5 hours into the book before we got another main female character: Mim. And, of course, she’s immediately slotted into the role of main love interest. She contributes little else for the rest of the story. There’s no female scientists or individual time travelers and they make few plot related decisions.

The story leaves us with enough wrapped up to be satisfying but plenty open enough for the sequel to just stroll right in. I was especially happy with Robbie and his choices. I can see Ben becoming the great time traveler we all need him to be. 4.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Neil Hellegers is a shear delight to listen to. He gives Ben the barest goofiness to his voice which makes him sound like the relatively innocent young man he starts off as. I loved his rough, angry voice for the villain Strenger. His female voices are believable and I liked his very light accent for Fresca. His Montana cowboy voice was also well done. There were no technical issues with this recording. 5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Nathan Van Coops. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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text 2018-10-07 22:17
Possible Halloween Bingo read
The Sandman's Eyes - Patricia Windsor

I'm doing this massive work project to add subject headings to records that don't have any, concentrating on our children's and young adult stuff (1,315 to go!), since the most knowledgeable staff member in that area is planning on retiring in a year.

 

As a result, I keep stumbling across things that look interesting. This might become one of my Halloween Bingo reads - a book about an 17 or 18-year-old who was sent to a mental institution ("school for disturbed juveniles"?) after a girl's murder. It sounds like most of his small town believes he committed the murder, and only his grandfather believes him when he says he witnessed it.

 

The 1985 Kirkus review for this says the ending is melodramatic, but I feel like a lot of 1980s and 1990s YA thrillers and mysteries had at least a little melodrama. Look at Killing Mr. Griffin (okay, it was published in 1978), which ended with a maniacal villain attempting to burn the heroine alive in her own home. And, like, all of Christopher Pike's earlier works. (Now I kind of wish I had another Christopher Pike book on hand. I don't know that an ILL request would get me one fast enough to read it before the end of Halloween Bingo, though.)

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review 2018-07-15 06:25
On the Other Hand, Death (Donald Strachey #2)
On the Other Hand, Death - Richard Stevenson

Don Strachey uses his powers of snark and observation to help a pair of old women being targeted for hate crimes. Wrapped up in the mystery are some eccentric neighbors, a shopping mall tycoon, one of Don's old lovers and a gay advocate trying to put together a national gay strike. Part-time helper/part-time foil Detective Bowman, who drops homophobic slurs like they're going out of style (hey, it's the 80s and it's New York) but somehow still manages to do his job and take Don seriously.

 

I thought I had this figured out at one point, but I was so wrong, lol. There are plenty of potential suspects to go around. The snark was off the charts, the characters were fun and well-written, and even Bowman got some ironic chuckles out of me. 

 

Timmy and Don are, well... Don's not the best boyfriend in the world. (These books are NOT romance.) Timmy finally puts his foot down but the conclusion of that was kind of confusing to me. It was left somewhat up in the air. 

 

The formatting is again terrible. There are no page breaks between chapters. It goes into italics for pages or chapters at a time for absolutely no reason, and at one point even switched to a smaller font size. I'm not sure if that's because I got these first few books at Kobo and so they're not Kindle-formated, or if that's just how the books are no matter where you get them from. But it was annoying.

 

Oh, and the author does that thing where he constantly shoehorned the title into the dialogued and text, which is a pet peeve of mine.

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