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review 2017-04-29 04:03
This is how you launch a PI series
Down Don't Bother Me - Jason Miller
She was about my age, early forties, though I had to look at her hands to tell it. She was good-looking, too. Good-looking is putting it mildly, maybe. I looked around vaguely for a priest to strangle. She was tall and lean, with the kind of green eyes a lazy novelist would describe as "piercing." Her copper hair was pulled back from her face with a strip of brown cloth. I imagined that its more honest self was touched here and there with gray, but that was just a guess. . . . I put down the picture. She looked at me and it and frowned the kind of desperate, exhausted frown that turns the room upside down and shakes the sympathy from its pockets.

Yeah, the spirit of Raymond Chandler is alive and well in the Midwest.

 

I first heard about Jason Miller through this episode of Mysterypod and thought his conversation with Steve Usery was fascinating. I finally got the chance to read his first book this week -- We spend the first 3 and change pages with Slim in a coal mine in Little Egypt, Illinois. There were so many things in those pages I just didn't understand -- but somehow, Miller still created a fantastic sense of place. Claustrophobic, dark, dirty, and dangerous. I was hooked almost immediately. Then we started meeting people -- and it got better.

 

Slim works in the Knight Hawk -- one of the remaining coal mines in the area -- he's known for tracking down a couple of people that no one else seemed capable of finding, and was willing (and able) to get violent as necessary. More importantly, Slim's a single father to a 12 year-old named Anci. He's dating a teacher and has a best friend named Jeep, who's sort of a Joe Pike-figure.

 

Matthew Luster is the owner of the Knight Hawk -- and probably just as ethical as you'd expect. Just as rich, too -- at least by small-town standards (and then some). He talks Slim into looking for a newspaper photographer who went missing about the same time as the reporter he worked with was found dead inside the mine. Roy Beckett, the photographer, is married to Luster's daughter -- and it doesn't really seem like they're really close. Why Luster wants him found is a bit murky, too -- primarily, he seems curious about the story that Beckett and the photographer are working on.

 

The top contender is a blossoming meth trade in Knight Hawk and another mine in the area. But there's an environmental group making noise, too. Throw in Beckett's reputation as a womanizer, and you have any number of potential reasons why he's scarce. Slim makes a token effort in tracking him down -- when bodies start piling up, and bullets fly near Slim, his girlfriend and daughter. Which just makes him buckle down and get to work.

 

Overall, it's a pretty standard PI tale from this point out. Entertaining enough in and of itself, a solid story that will keep mystery fans reading. But what makes this book shine and stand out is Slim and his perspective -- like any good PI novel, it's about the narrator primarily. And Slim is, right out of the gate, right up there with Spenser, Walt Longmire, Patrick Kenzie, and so on. Right there, Miller's given people a reason to enjoy this book and come back for a sequel or three.

 

But it gets better -- the way most of these people talk. I loved it -- I'm not saying Little Egypt is full of Boyd Crowders, but it's close. A ritzy-subdivision's security guard, one of Beckett's mistresses, Slim, and others -- I made notes to quote them all, but I won't -- just a sample of the dialogue (and narration, which is pretty much just internal dialogue):

  • That old man is so bad, they'll have to come up with a new definition of the term just so ordinary bad men won't get all full of false piety.
  • You ever see one of these Taurus Raging Judge Magnum things? . . . I know it sounds like a gas station prophylactic, but let me tell you, it's enough gun to kill the Lincoln on Mount Rushmore.
  • ...the public defender system is a good thing--but you got the feeling that, in this guy's hands, you could walk into to donate to the policeman's fund and end up tied to a metal table.

Anci, I have to say, is the coolest kid in Crime Fiction today -- that's not saying a whole lot, I grant you. But she is. I like Maddie Bosch, but she's no Anci (and outside of Bernie Little's and Andy Carpenter's sons are okay, too -- but we don't get that much time with them). She's smart, she's brave, she's vulnerable, funny, well-read . . . and more mature than Flavia de Luce (and doesn't seem to go looking for trouble). All without being too cute and therefore annoying -- she's a kid, but an important part of Team Slim.

 

The novel ends making it clear that there are more stories about Anci and Slim to tell. There's another novel and a short story in this series -- hopefully with more to come. I had so much fun reading this and totally dug this one and can't wait to read the others. Give this a shot, folks. 2017 Library Love Challenge

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/04/28/down-dont-bother-me-by-jason-miller
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review 2016-09-21 18:54
The Skin Collector
The Skin Collector (Lincoln Rhyme) by Deaver, Jeffery (2014) Hardcover - Jeffery Deaver

3 Stars

don’t bother

 

I was so excited when I came back to reading that there were two more Jeffrey Deaver Lincoln Rhyme Novels.  I love this series but I don’t really like the Katherine Dance novels that much.  I read the Kindle edition and there were some minor formatting errors which were a little annoying but I lived with them.

 

The beginning is a bit slow and a bit formulaic (is that a word?).  But just when I didn’t think I could take the play by play content of going over the crime scene again things begin to get interesting.  And of course all the damned tables which make up filler space for me have shown up..  Those are really annoying to me. And I was hoping they were dropped.  

 

What is interesting about the book is the premise.  Like most of the novels in this series, the book starts with a murder of a youngish girl.  The murder killed her by tattooing her with poison.  I have no idea if that’s even possible but it’s an interesting topic.  I love tattoos (I think I have close to 10 individual tattoos) so this concept is pretty cool to me.


I read somewhere around 75% of the book and I think that’s a fair amount to give a review of the book.  This was way to formulaic and it got very boring. I don’t want to waste my precious time finishing the last of this book when I don’t really cares what happens that much.

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review 2015-07-14 00:20
You Can Read Anyone (or how to be the creepiest creep in creepdom)
You Can Read Anyone: Never Be Fooled, Lied To, or Taken Advantage of Again - David J. Lieberman

I spend the majority of my time working with computers, and (with the exception of a system glitch here and there) we (computers and I) get along pretty well. So, when tasked with attending a symposium involving *gasp* other humans, I naturally turned to books for guiding me through it. I know, I know—I could have just practiced actual human interaction, but that seemed like a lot of work.

 

I don't know exactly what I was expecting from David J. Lieberman's book. If I had bothered to read beyond the first half of the title,“You Can Read Anyone,” I probably wouldn't have clicked ‘borrow.’ But apparently I just wasn't on my A-game. And thus, I ended up reading a book for which a more appropriate subtitle might have been something to the effect of How To Be The Creepiest Creep In All Of Creepdom.

 

My Findings 

I'm no social savant, nor am I a behavioral psychologist, but I do know quite a bit about the scientific method, and a thing or two about being sketched out by weirdos. So, with those credentials in mind, I'm gonna tell you that this book is rife with horrible advice and some seriously distorted views on the application of statistically significant findings from experimental studies in real life.

 

The Pen and The Gorn

In 1982 a man by the name of Gerald Gorn published a study that, in essence, showed that a given participant in a study was more likely to choose a pen that had been paired with pleasant music than one that had not. Basically, it was good old classical conditioning in action, which set off a storm of excitement about using music in advertising.

 

So, how might you use this to “read anyone?” Well, to find out whether or not someone liked your presentation, of course. Here's Lieberman's take:

“A person is listening to your presentation. You are both seated in blue chairs. Afterwards, he is taken to a new room with a round table and four chairs: two blue and two gray. If he has a favorable impression of the talk, statistically speaking, he is more likely to choose the blue chair over the gray one.”

Lacking access to Gorn's paper in its entirety, I'm not sure exactly how strong his findings were. However, Gorn had a sample size of at least 122. In Lieberman's presentation scenario it seems that your sample size would be hovering around one or two.

 

Also, given that the pen study was in a peer-reviewed journal, I would hope that the methodology involved some serious isolation of variables. So, unless you've some how jerry-rigged your post-presentation debriefing room layout to have chairs that are, by forces unknown, equally appealing (ease of access, person's handedness, leg room, etc.), chair choice isn't going to be all that revealing. My advice: Spend all that time you would have spent maneuvering seats working on your presentation.

 

How To Lose A Guy in 10 Seconds

Lieberman's advice isn't restricted to the office, though. Luckily, he's got some helpful hints for us ladies out there trying to find the right man too. Scenario: You're out on the town with potential Mr. Right, and it occurs to you that he might be on “some kind of substance—prescribed or otherwise.” What's a girl to do?

“To find out, she can ponder aloud, ‘Isn't it interesting that people can use drugs and think that others don't know?’ Alternatively, she could say, ‘I was just reading an article that said 33 percent of adults have tried recreational drugs at one time or another in their lives.’

I'm not even going to get into just how said lady can “read” his reaction because, at this point, I'm pretty sure the date's over. My advice: If a yes-or-no answer to “Dude, are you high right now?” doesn't suffice, then maybe it's time to call it quits.

 

Mythical Math

For a while, I considered going into quantitative psychology. My mom's a therapist, and my dad's a data guy, so it seemed like a natural fit. Though I ultimately went in a different direction, I still feel the need to defend the field by pointing out that Lieberman's liberal use of the term “psychological math” would make any real practitioner cringe.

“No matter how much a person appears be happy with himself, if he has a big ego, he is not—he is miserable. The statement is not conjecture, but a law of human nature—it is psychological math.”

If I thought I could stomach it, I'd take on his misappropriation of the “transitive property” to draw out “true feelings without arousing suspicion,” but I can only handle so much.

 

My advice: You can read ANYTHING…I just hope it's not this.  

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review 2015-07-02 15:33
The King of Lies
The King of Lies - John Hart

The King of Lies just didn't do it for me. Normally I would just toss this in my ever-growing pile of unreviewed ‘meh’ books, but, since a couple people were curious what I thought/would think along the way, I'll offer my lame two cents. (Note: For actual review-reviews with summaries and stuff, I recommend you check out the superior commentary given by James Thane and/or Brandon).

 

I knew nothing about John Hart going into this, the audiobook was on sale for $4.95 as part of some audible editors' picks thing, and we all know you make money by buying things on sale (*sarcasm*), so I bought it without much thought.

 

The protagonist, Work, is a middle-aged lawyer whose much-reviled father has just been murdered. The setup reminded me a bit of Michael Connelly's Mickey Haller series, minus the character's likeability. I don't need perfect— I like my character's flawed, but Work just rubbed me the wrong way. 

 

Sometimes I fail to relate to characters others love (e.g. Walt Longmire), and chalk it up to my own inability to relate to their lives, but Work was somehow exhausting. I can be a cranky reader, and that was certainly some of it, but the plot felt less mysterious than it did confusing.

 

So this one gets, at most, a shoulder shrug from me.

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review 2015-06-03 15:50
Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai
Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai - Stan Sakai

 

Overall: 2.5 stars, don’t bother

 

Story: 2 Stars

Art: 3 Stars

 

Self Purchase, Humble Bundle.

 

First Impression: like the art well enough

 

Very simplistic story line . Expected more from this. I know this is meant for kids but I like kids stuff and just don't think this is all that great. It didn’t need to be this simplistic for kids.Dialogue was unexciting and everything was pretty predictible.   Also it was really short. The art was better than the story but not by much. I don’t think I’ll read more of these unless they are included in an awesome Humble Bundle again.

 

Description (Comixology): Yokai are the monsters, demons, and spirits of Japanese folklore, such as the shape-changing kitsune, the obakeneko demon cats, and the evil oni ogres. Usagi faces all these and more when a desperate woman begs for his help in finding her kidnapped daughter. Tracing the abducted girl deep into the forest, Usagi finds it haunted by creatures of Japanese legend and discovers that they are amassing for a great raid on the countryside! Fortunately, Usagi is joined by Sasuke the Demon Queller, who is also fighting to prevent the invasion, but things aren't always as they seem, especially when dealing with the supernatural!

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