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text 2017-09-22 11:15
Reading progress update: I've read 219 out of 357 pages.
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards

From the chapters covering some of the key locations of classic British mysteries (the countryside, including and especially country manors, as well as London -- of course -- and domestic and international vacation resorts), we've now moved to an exploration of how the various writers used their "original" professional experience in their writing, and how classic mysteries worked when set in the worlds of science, engineering, politics, teaching -- and of course, the world if the professional investigator, the policeman. 

 

I find I am particularly enjoying these chapters; while those dealing with the various geographical settings were a huge enterprise of cramming as many titles into the introductory chapters as possible (with considerable "name recognition" value -- this is, after all, the Golden Age mystery world 101, and you can't possibly read classic British crime fiction without coming across at least a fair share of the novels mentioned in those chapters somewhere or orther eventually) -- now we're back to an analysis as to what exactly made the novels, and their writers and protagonists, tick ... and how it impacted the various storylines.  That, in addition to being introduced to a plethora of new authors to read, was a major draw for me in the initial 5 chapters, too, where the focus was on how the "conventions" and hallmarks of classic British crime fiction were shaped.

 

Now off to working on another "books mentioned" reading list ...

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review 2017-09-21 22:35
Go Down Together by Jeff Guinn, narrated by Jonathan Hogan
Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde - Recorded Books LLC,Jeff Guinn,Jonathan Hogan

 

Turns out that a lot of things I thought I knew about Bonnie and Clyde were not true. They were not a tall and handsome couple like Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. They were also not very smart-both of them spent some in jail and for Clyde that was some hard time. I guess that old adage is right: crime does not pay.

 

 

 

I started to list here all the things I learned from this book, but then I realized that would be spoiling things for everyone else. I decided I'm just going to stick to the main points:

 

As I said above, they were not smart criminals. They were repeatedly jailed, chased, shot at, etc... They were often injured in these gunfights with police and when I say injured, I mean badly hurt. They were great at stealing cars though, and Clyde liked the Ford V-8's so much he wrote Henry Ford a fan letter about them.

 

They loved their families and made arrangements to see them often: which just illustrates how clueless and unprepared the law was for fugitives like these. They didn't stake out the houses of Clyde or Bonnie's mothers or their other relatives, until near the very end. If only they had done that, many lives could have been saved.

 

Clyde and Bonnie loved lavishing their relatives with money and gifts, (when they could), and they both liked to dress nicely. That was about the only luxury they could enjoy, because they were almost always on the run, never able to relax or enjoy themselves. Most of their robberies netted them so little in the way of booty, they were hardly worth the trouble.

 

 

Lastly, they truly did love each other. When Bonnie's leg was badly injured, (due to a car chase and subsequent wreck where battery acid leaked all over her), Clyde forever after carried her wherever she needed to go. Bonnie's poetry and writing all showed that she knew they would both come to a bad end, but she loved him and wanted to be with him, even in death. So, I guess that one part of the Hollywood myth is true.

 

I listened to the audio version of this book. It was detailed, but not too much, and the narrator even added a little humor when the time was right. I learned a lot.

 

Recommended!

 

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review 2017-09-19 09:42
Portrait of Vengeance (Gwen Marcey #4) by Carrie Stuart Parks
Portrait of Vengeance (A Gwen Marcey Novel) - Carrie Stuart Parks

Gwen Marcey has done a good job keeping the pain of her past boxed up. But as she investigates the case of a missing child in Lapwai, Idaho, details keep surfacing that are eerily similar to her childhood traumas. She doesn’t believe in coincidences. So what’s going on here? No one knows more about the impact of the past than the Nez Perce people of Lapwai. Gwen finds herself an unwelcome visitor to some, making her investigation even more difficult. The questions keep piling up, but answers are slow in coming—and the clock is ticking for a missing little girl. Meanwhile, Gwen’s ex-husband is threatening to take sole custody of their daughter. As Gwen’s past and present collide, she’s in a desperate race for the truth. Because only truth will ensure she still has a future.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

Let me start off by saying that if you haven't read any of the previous Gwen Marcey stories, I'd recommend checking out the earlier books with this particular series. While the cases themselves could technically make for stand-alone works, there are characters and certain details of Gwen's life that are carried through all the books. 

 

In this fourth installment in the series, forensic artist Gwen Marcey is investigating the murders of a married couple within the Nez Perce tribe (Lapwai community) as well as the whereabouts of the victims' missing (presumed kidnapped) young daughter. Some of the particulars of the case, as far as clues at the scene and specifics regarding the profiling of the killer, appear to echo traumatic events from Gwen's own childhood. As the case / plot progresses, Gwen becomes more and more convinced that finding the answers within this present case will, in turn, answer questions about her own traumas that have plagued her for years.

 

The journey to the truth proves to be a solidly uphill battle, as Gwen finds that many of the key witnesses she is relying on for information have deep-seated prejudices against Caucasian people. In what's now become a signature mixture within this series as a whole, author Carrie Stuart Parks creates her characters and environments by bringing forth a compelling blend of historical fact, details / inspiration from actual true crime cases, and occasionally details from cases Parks herself worked during her own years as a forensic artist. While working within the Nez Perce tribal lands, our protagonist Gwen gets a crash course in the history of such traumatic events as Wounded Knee / Pine Ridge, as well as the development of AIM (the American Indian Movement). It takes little time for Gwen to see that she will need to tread lightly when working with the descendants of people involved in these painful moments within Native history. Though the years have passed, the hurt has hardly diminished. 

 

Having followed this series from the beginning, I couldn't help but laugh and shake my head to find 8 pages into this latest book that Gwen is STILL having fights & custody battles with her ex-husband. I couldn't help but think "it's been four books now, that kid can't have too much high school left for this argument to be relevant much longer.." I feel for Gwen there. On the happier side though, I'm loving that the stories within this series seem to be quietly steering toward a "Gwen & Beth Investigate" kind of trend. Beth has a bigger role in this book than in some of the previous ones. She's such a hoot, I love to see her getting more of the spotlight! Keep your dictionary nearby though. Beth loves her some "word of the day" usage and Parks works in some words that definitely had me feel like I was back in SAT prep days! 

 

The true star for me though has to be Winston, Gwen's Great Pyrenees dog. While Parks always gave him quite the humorously entertaining dog personality, he, like Beth, was more in the background in much of the previous books. In Portrait of Vengeance however, Winston gets solid book "screen" time, scenes that will make dog lovers cheer at the protectiveness of pups over their humans. Go ahead, hug your own pooch after this one. :-)

 

So far, the very first book in the series, A Cry In The Dust, still proves to be my very favorite. But this one is now in a close second. This book proved to be slightly more gruesome in parts than its predecessors -- in one scene, Gwen likens a crime scene to a Jackson Pollack painting. Yeaaah, I'll just let you art fans visualize that one. But if you're not scared off by a little edge, Parks yet again gives the reader one fun ride full of twists and turns that have you wondering who in this story is to be trusted! 

 

It was neat to read in Parks' acknowledgements that she wrote this story (at least in part) while participating in a writing retreat at author Colleen Coble's home. She further notes author Frank Peretti as a mentor in the process of developing this series as well. For fellow fans of Gwen's investigations: when asked whether a 5th book was in the works, Parks answered (via Goodreads):

 

"As of now, book 5 will be a stand-alone about an artist (caught up in a case) in Kodiak Island, Alaska. My publisher wanted me to take a break from Gwen. You'll be meeting Murphy."

 

 

I, for one, am looking forward to meeting this Murphy fella! 

 

 

FTC Disclaimer: BookLookBloggers kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book with a request that I might check it out and share my thoughts. The opinions above are entirely my own. 

 

------------------------

ICYMI -- My reviews for the previous books in the series:

 

#1 A Cry In The Dust

#2 The Bones Will Speak

#3 When Death Draws Near

 

* Gwen Marcey also makes a cross-over appearance in Colleen Coble's Mermaid Moon AND Twilight At Blueberry Barrens

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review 2017-09-19 01:04
One Good Man (American Heroes: The Texas Rangers) - Alison Kent

You'd kinda think that a Texas Ranger would be a little smarter than your average bear. Unfortunately, a lot of these books featuring some nameless bad guy seem to have law enforcement heroes who seem...careless?

 

Ok, so 10 years ago, an armed robbery took place at the diner the h worked at. She was the only survivor, and it was mostly due to being grazed - head - and the addlepated robber not checking. I never really understood why he made the owner drive to the middle of nowhere and killed him elsewhere. The h's parents split up due to dear old dad not being able to handle this, the h's mom got a legal name change (and was able to continue being a vet. Huh). And they reinvented themselves.

 

The owner's remains have been found and our H shows up shortly after the h gets a newspaper and finds this out. He wants her to undergo hypnosis to see if she remembers anything. She comments that she'd always sort of had the impression the killer knew where she was but since she didn't seem to remember anything, he left her alone.

 

Undergoes hypnosis, remembers a detail or three, goes home. Ok yes; sex does happen shortly after the hypnosis, and he stays the night after taking her home, but he leaves her there. No-one to watch her or anything.

 

The killer shows up at the office she works in. She recognizes the tattoo but keeps her cool until well after he's left (and her co-worker comes back from break). She quickly calls H and tells him. He collects her and takes her to his mountain hideaway (that everyone at the office knows about). And then he decides to set a trap. Of course, they go to the pond unarmed and without a phone. He goes back to fetch and well...

 

We never learn the ID of the killer - there was some speculation that his brother worked with the Rangers but it's never clarified. And even when he's suspicious that there might be a leak, he doesn't exactly make much effort to cover his tracks. And why, if you're setting a trap, would you ever be unarmed, let alone without the phone?

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text 2017-09-18 22:30
Reading progress update: I've read 50%
Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde - Recorded Books LLC,Jeff Guinn,Jonathan Hogan

These must be the most inept criminals I've ever read about in my life. They're constantly getting caught, jailed, breaking out and doing it all over again. 

 

The last time they got into a car chase/gun fight, their car was wrecked. The battery was damaged and all the acid leaked out of it- right onto Bonnie's bare leg-from hip to ankle. At some points, it was said, the bone could actually be seen. 

 

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