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review 2017-05-20 05:26
Above the Paw (Paw Enforcement, #5)
Above the Paw - Diane Kelly

Another so-so entry.  Kelly has the plotting down pat, but she struggles with the amount of research to share with her reader; even when it's interesting stuff, it's over-bearing.

 

Megan and Brigit go undercover at a local University to try to break up an ecstasy dealing ring.  Kelly writes this series from multiple POV: Megan's, Brigit's (which is, thankfully, usually only a paragraph or two, because there's only so much doggy POV a reader can take) and the villain's.  She does a bit of slight-of-hand with the villain's POV here and I'm not sure it totally worked.  It did obfuscate things nicely, but she failed to tie it all together in any satisfying way.  

 

It was a good enough read to hold my attention but not quite strong enough to suck me in.  I'd read another one happily, but I won't wait on the edge of my seat for it.


 

 

 

Total pages: 370

$$:  $3.00

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review 2017-05-17 03:19
Mycroft Holmes
Mycroft Holmes - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,Anna Waterhouse

The title of this book was the first thing to catch my eye; the second was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's name on the cover as one of the authors.  How can I possibly pass this up?

 

As an avowed fangirl of Sherlock Holmes, I've learned to stay away from almost all pastiches and mysteries featuring my fictional hero, but his brother... Mycroft makes few enough appearances in the canon that I thought perhaps it might work for me.

 

I thought wrong.  I've realised reading this book that in my mind Mycroft is a distillation of Sherlock; a purer essence of all the things that make Sherlock so formidable.  Put another way, Sherlock is Mycroft with an added touch of humanity (just a touch).  The canonical Mycroft is only ever found in his home, and in his club.  His club, the Diogenes Club, of which he is a founding member, is described thusly in The Greek Interpreter:

 

There are many men in London, you know, who, some from shyness, some from misanthropy, have no wish for the company of their fellows. [...] It is for the convenience of these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now contains the most unsociable and unclubbable men in town. No member is permitted to take the least notice of any other one. Save in the Stranger's Room, no talking is, under any circumstances, allowed, and three offences, if brought to the notice of the committee, render the talker liable to expulsion. 

 

So a Mycroft that hares off on a rip-roaring adventure on the high seas with his best friend, in pursuit of the love of his life and fiancee, is rather an anti-canonical Mycroft.  Sure, he has the stunning faculties the Holmes family is renowned for, but he's also a romantic and, even if this book takes place when he's quite young, entirely too social and emotional a creature to truly call himself Holmes.

 

BUT... boy is this a good story.  In spite of all my grumpiness above, I could not put this book down.  I don't know exactly how accurate it is from a historical perspective, but it certainly felt very, very accurate.  The authors didn't shy away from some of the less savoury aspects of the Victorian age, but thankfully didn't beat the reader over the head with it either.  The atmospheric picture of Trinidad, from balmy weather to superstitious panic felt almost like a character itself. 

 

I don't want to touch too much upon the plot, because the dawning reveal of the plot is, I think, somewhat central to the success of the book.  Suffice it to say that it's a fitting subject for the Victorian time it takes place in, but probably not one that would immediately come to mind when thinking about Victorian fiction.

 

There are some rather extraordinary action scenes, especially at the end; extraordinary in the sense that they are wholly unrealistic and require the reader to suspend disbelief, but I suppose from a statistical point of view, it is almost impossible for an adventure mystery written by a man to begin and end without fisticuffs, gunfights and explosions.

 

If you know nothing about Mycroft Holmes, or can divorce yourself from the canonical Mycroft, definitely check this out if you're in the mood for a fun action adventure.  I truly enjoyed it for that alone, in spite of myself.

 

 

 

 

Total pages: 336

$$:  $3.00

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review 2017-05-15 09:45
Don't Go Home (Death on Demand, #25)
Don't Go Home - Carolyn Hart

25 books in, and Hart still writes a fairly decent murder mystery.  

 

Annie is flying solo for the first time, as Max has gone fishing for a week, and even the three stooges (long-time recurring characters that include her mother-in-law, a best-selling island author, and Annie's best customer) are off cruising the Mississippi.  This group exodus allows Annie to work with her friend and island crime reporter Marian Kenyon, who has a very personal interest in the latest murder.

 

Hart is an excellent author, if at times a bit too emotional for my tastes, and most of the time disturbingly good at plotting a crime.  This is one of her few books where I was able to single out the murderer before the denouement, but her writing is so atmospheric and her characters are so vivid that knowing whodunnit doesn't ding my enjoyment of the story.  What did was the introspective angst and a morally questionable stunt at the end.  If it had been developed a little more carefully and allowed to build up naturally along with the story, it would have made an excellent springboard for a 'does the end justify the means?' discussion, but whether by design or by poor editing, it felt tacked on instead, leaving it firmly in the 'stunt' category.

 

After 25 books, I'm too heavily invested in this series to quit, but I'm crossing my fingers that the 26th will be a stronger showing.

 

 

 

Pages:  263

$$:  3.00

 

(Takes place on Broward's Rock Island - fictional island off South Carolina)

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review 2017-05-05 13:34
Michelangelo's Ghost (Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery, #4)
Michelangelo's Ghost - Gigi Pandian

I'm always reluctant to start these and then love them once I do.  Jaya Jones is an historian specialising in Indian history (India Indian) and I admit, that's not my historical catnip.  But Pandian always ties the plot to other cultures too, and then there's the female Indiana Jones vibe with a touch of art thief, and each book pretty much ends up as a fun adventure.

 

This time, Jaya gets information about an unknown renaissance artist rumoured to have worked with Michelangelo; this artist spent many years working and learning from artists in India and could be a long missing link between Indian and renaissance art.  This information sends her to Italy, where it's said the artist hid his artwork in the Parco dei Mostri - The Park of Monsters.

 

Pandian manages to weave Jaya's brother into the story line - although I have to say, I think I was meant to like him, but he just came across as a stick-up-the-backside prat.  More romantic progress is made and many startling revelations revealed, but this doesn't take up much story space.  

 

While there are a few elements I disliked, for the most part it was a fun story: art, adventure, thieves, ghosts, and big gothic statuary.  It would be hard not to like it.

 

As always, Pandian includes an author's note at the end explaining what in the story is historically accurate, and what is fiction/creative license. Parco dei Mostri is a real place, as is the fact that Michelangelo spent time in the vicinity around the time of the Park's creation.

 
 

 

 

 

 

Total pages:  273

$ Earned: $3.00

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review 2017-04-30 11:51
Against the Paw (Paw Enforcement, #4)
Against the Paw - Diane Kelly

I generally like this series; I think the story lines are better than average and the characters are people you can get behind.

 

Against the Paw is probably the least cozy of the 4 I've read, venturing into the slightly darker territory of voyeurism.  As a police officer, Megan has the agency to investigate, and she does so more or less realistically (the last scene dings credibility a bit).

 

I still find the dog POV chapters weird, but they are super short so it's easy to over look it. It's obvious Kelly has done her research; unfortunately I found it a little too obvious.  There's a bit of over-explaining done about the law and about the honour of being a police officer and it makes the narrative lean towards the clunky.

 

Generally though, it was a good read and I'll happily read the next one.

 

 

 

 

Page Count:  352

Virtual dollars: $3.00

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