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review 2017-02-05 18:51
Played to Death
Played to Death - B.V. Lawson

The first in a new series featuring "consultant criminologist" Scott Drayco, once a child-prodigy whose hopes of a great career as a concert pianist were dashed when his right arm was crushed by a car door during a car-jacking incident.

 

Now he is ex-FBI and working on his own. A grateful client has left him the old Opera House in a run-down west-coast resort named Cape Unity. A white elephant, he assumes, but as he makes plans to pay a visit and see about selling the place, he receives a request to act on behalf of a certain Oakley Keys, who lives right there in Cape Unity. They arrange to meet at the Opera House to discuss Oakley Keys' problem.

 

When Drayco arrives, he finds Keys lying on the stage, dead. Murdered and mutilated.

 

There is a good mix of characters, all the various types you would expect to find in such a setting plus some you wouldn't, and it is so well-plotted that I for one did not know whodunit till the very end. All right, it's a bit slow and chatty at times, but there are patches of very fine writing, and I would definitely recommend it to all who enjoy a small-town murder mystery with a visiting private eye who has to cope with the all-too-predictable small-town xenophobia.

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review 2016-05-29 18:07
THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND by Katarina Bivald
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend - Katarina Bivald
 

What a delightful book! Sara comes from Sweden to visit Amy who has died before Sara arrived in Broken Wheel. The community decides to show the tourist a good time while she is there. Sara becomes an integral part of the community.

 

I loved this book! Wonderful characters. A wonderful story. I laughed. I cried. I went to bed after reading the book in Broken Wheel and woke up the next morning still in Broken Wheel. I loved that town and its competition with Hope, the next town over. I loved how they took on the INS and even got the sheriff on their side. Just fantastic! Definitely a keeper.

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review 2015-11-02 19:18
An intriguing case and even more intriguing investigator.
The Blue Crimes - Enrique Laso

The Blue Crimes is the first book in Enrique Laso’s collection of Ethan Bush Thrillers. Ethan Bush is a young FBI agent, one of the most promising, top of his Psychology class at Stanford and self-assured, or so he seems. He arrives to Jefferson County fresh from solving a serial murder case in Detroit and expectations are running high.

The story is told in first person from the point of view of Bush, and that is one of the most interesting aspects of the novel. If the actual procedural investigation, the process of solving the murders of two young girls that are very similar in details to a murder committed 17 years ago is gripping (and I particularly enjoyed the setting in small town America, with the prejudices and the difficulty understanding and fitting into the mentality of the place that it brings to the big city investigators), I found the insight into Ethan Bush’s mind even more interesting. Why?

Well, he is an intelligent man. He knows it and he’s reminded of that by quite a few of the characters he comes into contact with (sometimes in great contrast with some of the witnesses they come across). His intelligence does not always help him, though. Characters who are far less intelligent than him (the sheriff, local investigators, even his mother…) contribute greatly to the success of his mission. He acknowledges and admires the morality of some people (Jim Worth, a solid character that would make his perfect side-kick and foil, and I hope we’ll come across him again in the series), but he’s not squeaky-clean and has no qualms crossing the line of the ethically correct when he thinks it’s necessary to solve a case (not strictly for his own benefit). He has weaknesses that include his irresistible attraction to Vera, one of the witnesses, but also a suspect. He is somewhat obsessive in his methodology and has to be in control of everything, to the point of preferring keeping handwritten notebooks (in Moleskin, that become his trademark) as he does not like to be dependent on technology that could let him down. And during the book, he becomes as obsessed with running as he is with everything else, to the point of putting off the questioning of suspects to not disturb his running schedule. Running means more to him than the simple exercise, but we only become aware of this later on. (By the way, I am aware that the author is a runner himself and he has written non-fiction books about it so this would add to the interest for those who are keen runners.) Despite Ethan’s constant analysing everything and thinking non-stop (to the point of getting severe headaches although they could well be psychosomatic), he is not the most self-aware of characters, and keeps missing clues and hiding stuff because of his own unresolved issues. But those issues are what make him fascinating.

Ethan Bush is not the most likeable hero and has many flaws, and that is a plus for me. He is a man searching for explanations, about the case and about himself. And he never gives up. He’ll go as far as he has to, whatever that might cost him.

I’m not sure how challenging you’ll find the book if you’re one of these people whose main enjoyment is working out who the guilty party is (I did guess who it was early on, but I kept wondering if I was right) but if you enjoy complex characters, a solid story and interesting dynamics, I think this series could keep us guessing for a long time.

 

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review 2015-11-02 19:10
Un caso con mucha intriga y un investigador aún más intrigante.
Los Crímenes Azules (Spanish Edition) - Enrique Laso

La historia está narrada en primera persona desde el punto de vista de Bush, y ese es uno de los aspectos más interesantes de la novela. Si la investigación en sí y el proceso de resolver los asesinatos de dos chicas jóvenes que se parecen mucho a un asesinato cometido hace 17 años es fascinante (y a mí me gustó en particular el que la historia se desarrollara en una pequeña población americana, lo que conlleva prejuicios para los investigadores de la gran ciudad a los que se les hace difícil integrarse y entender la mentalidad de los habitantes), yo encontré las revelaciones de los procesos mentales de Ethan Bush mucho más interesantes. ¿Por qué?  

Bueno, él es un hombre inteligente. Él lo sabe y se lo recuerdan muchos de los personajes (y no todos los testigos son tan inteligentes como él ni de lejos). Su inteligencia no siempre le es de gran ayuda. Personajes que son bastante menos inteligentes que él (el sheriff, la policía local, incluso su propia madre… ) hacen contribuciones importantes al éxito de la misión. Él reconoce y admira la moralidad de algunas personas (especialmente Jim Worth, un carácter muy sólido y que podría convertirse en su mano derecha y su conciencia, y confío en que nos lo encontremos más adelante en la serie), pero no es intachable y no lo duda a la hora de cruzar la línea de lo éticamente correcto si cree que es necesario para resolver el caso (y no estrictamente en beneficio propio). Tiene sus debilidades, incluyendo la atracción irresistible que siente por Vera, una de las testigos, pero también una sospechosa. Es algo obsesivo en sus métodos y tiene que tenerlo todo bajo control, hasta el punto de preferir escribir notas en un cuaderno (Moleskin, que se convierte en su marca personal) ya que no le gusta tener que depender de la tecnología ya que podría fallarle.  Y durante el libro se obsesiona con volver a correr, hasta el punto de retrasar el interrogatorio de un sospechoso para no tener que cambiar su programa de entrenamiento. Correr significa para él mucho más que simplemente hacer ejercicio, aunque solo nos damos cuenta de ello más adelante. (Por cierto, sé que el autor es un corredor avezado y ha escrito libros sobre el tema así que eso podría hacerlo aún más interesante para gente a le que le guste correr.) A pesar de que Ethan está constantemente analizándolo todo y no para de pensar (lo que le lleva a sufrir severos dolores de cabeza, aunque también es probable que sean psicosomáticos), no se conoce muy bien a sí mismo, y se le escapan pistas y oculta detalles debido a sus propios problemas sin resolver. Pero esos problemas son los que lo hacen fascinante.

Ethan Bush no es un héroe de atractivo irresistible y tiene muchas imperfecciones, y eso es un punto a su favor, en mi opinión. Es un hombre a la búsqueda de soluciones, para el caso y para sus propios problemas. Y nunca abandona. Irá tan lejos como haga falta, le cueste lo que le cueste.

No sé si a los lectores que disfrutan especialmente del reto de averiguar quién es el culpable lo encontrarán a la medida de sus talentos (yo sospeché quién lo era bastante temprano, aunque me hizo dudar muchas veces) pero si disfrutáis de personajes complicados con relaciones interesantes y una historia bien escrita, creo que esta serie tiene el potencial de engancharnos y mantenernos en vilo por mucho tiempo.

 

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review 2014-04-12 20:57
The Lost Continent
The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America - Bill Bryson

I love Bill Bryson's travel memoirs, and I consider A Walk in the Woods to be one of the best books I have ever read. However, I have to admit...I found A Lost Continent to be slightly disappointing. 

 

I think that the problem was three fold. The first problem was that this book is dated. It was published sometime in the 80's I believe, and it definitely feels that way, Its not dated to the point of being unreadable and as it's not exactly a reference book...so no problem there but it does effect the enjoyment if only to make you depressed just how much prices have gone up.

 

The other things that I found disappointing was Bryson's sense of humor. Usually, that it the thing that attracts me to his books. They are typically very informative but also extremely funny and entertaining so you generally forget that hey, this guy is really smart and he's trying to make me really smart as well! With this particular title, I felt that Bryson was trying to be all funny, but not very informative. I didn't feel as though I gleamed much knowledge from this book and a lot of the humor seemed almost mean spirited.

 

I gave this book a four star rating, though I'm not sure why. I'm going to change it to a three star rating as I just don't feel as though it deserves four stars.

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