Staff Choices

Posted by Uncle Will on 02/07/11
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This is the 5th installment of Patterson's Michael Barrett series.  The densely populated NY detective
takes a much needed Long Island vacation with his 10 adopted children and their nanny, Mary Catherine,
in tow.  The springtime romance of Michael and Mary Catherine has blossomed into a summer fling.  Just as
the 4th of July of all relationships is about to set off fireworks, a different set of fireworks explodein the city.

A copycat killer is reproducing some of NYC's most sinister past crimes.  Bombs are booming.  Bodies are
bouncing and it isn't even safe to sit and smooch in a parked car anymore, since Son of Sam Part II is playing at a parking lot near you!  

While Michael juggles his vacation and his assignment as chief investigator of the mounting multiple homicides, a couple of local Long Island bullies are beating-up some of the Barrett boys on the beach. 

If that isn't enough, FBI beauty, Emily Parker, is asked to team with Michael again.  The sparks were flying high the last time the two lawmen occupied the same zip code and Michael's new feelings for Mary Catherine are tested.  

Which lovely lady will Michael choose?  Will the Barrett boys survive the beatings?  Will the killer be captured
before completing his mission of death?  Will Michael survive his daily round-trip drives on the Long Island
Expressway before both he and his vehicle come to a crashing halt?  

Patterson once again has written the perfect murder mystery.  As the title suggests, every thing comes down to the last stimulating second.  Tick tock. Tick tock.

Posted by Ultra Violet on 02/07/11
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This is Toby Ball's debut novel, and I can't wait for his second. The Vaults is a suspenseful tale of three men who get in over their heads while they try to unravel the secrets of a crooked mayor. It's an alternate history set in the 1930's in a nameless city that feels very real. Ball starts his story with Arthur Puskis who is the city's police archivist. For nearly 20 years Puskis has only left the vaults to go home and occasionally stop at the corner store. One day, he discovers a duplicate file. To his exacting mind, this is unthinkable. When he discovers a second forged file, he is compelled to leave his safety zone and investigate. Meanwhile, reporter, Frank Frings, is investigating the suspect mayor and his cronies. A bomb destroys the home of one of the mayor's underlings, and the local union is blamed. More bombings are on the way. One of the union's supporters happens to be a private investigator and he gets involved too. All three men spiral around each other as they piece together the complex mystery and reveal the truth behind the bombings.
Mystery
Posted by mingh on 02/01/11
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Anton Waker grew up in a family of cheats and frauds. When he leaves the business of making false passports and other IDs which his cousin runs, the family begins to wonder. After all, he will need to become another person to escape his past and the past of his family.  Leaving his wife on their honeymoon in Italy to do one last deal with his cousin, Anton reviews his life, his loves and what binds a person to another.
 
When a corporate investigator blackmails a former client and girlfriend to dig into his and his family's background, Anton wonders whom he can trust. Can he trust his friend, his former girlfriend, his wife, his cousin, even his parents? This suspenseful swirl of a novel keeps you guessing along with Anton. Is someone setting him up to die?
Suspense
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 01/30/11
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Set in rural Mississippi, this is a murder mystery with a twist. The protagonist is a black man. Silas "32" Jones is a constable with the local sheriff's department, who was the town's football hero. Hence his nickname - "32".  The chief suspect is a white man, Larry Ott, who 20 years ago, was Silas' friend for a short time, and was the last person to see a girl whom he taken to a drive-in movie, but never returned home. She was never found and Larry Never confessed. More than 20 years later, another girl has disappeared and Larry, who was never able to rise above the town's suspicions, is once again blamed. Silas and Larry, who once called each other friend, must now confront their past in order to find the killer.
 
Set against the steamy backdrop of the South, and full of creepy characters, any of whom could be the killer, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Edgar award-winning author Tom Franklin, is a must read for mystery lovers.
Mystery
Posted by mingh on 01/28/11
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Vish Puri is India's most Private Investigator. He and his very colorful crew spend the majority of their time investigating potential marriage partners for parents of young people. But now he has a dangerous mission investigating the death of a servant to one of Jaipur's most respected judges. When the judge is arrested and charged the heat is on Puri to find a resolution fast.
 
Most of the action takes place in New Delhi and author Hall really gets the atmospherics of the place right. All of the colors and smells and tastes of the reqion come through along with the relationships of people both familial and stranger. It is like visiting India with a beloved and knowledgeable friend who is willing to take you down the side streets and shortcuts. There is a glossary at the back for specifics on some of the words--most can be ascertained from the context.
 
Vish Puri is a wonderful addition to the long list of colorful private Investigators. Even when he is being shot at he retains his cool. This is a great read-alike for Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. The violence and sex levels are the same, and although it takes place in a different continent, you really get a sense of the place and a genuine liking for characters.
Mystery
Posted by Uncle Will on 01/27/11
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Dara is a three-time award winning documentary film maker.  She has only made three films in her life.  One won an Oscar.  She's very good at what she does.
 
Xavier is her 6' 8" Afro-American assistant.  He is spry for being in his seventies.  He too is very good at what he does;  which is mainly lust over and look after Dara.
 
This time around the two are in Africa making a film about modern day pirates on the open seas.  Somalia is the pirate capital of the world and they have an abundance of material to choose from to film.  When they show up there are over 12 ships being held hostage.  Although the pirates have requested more than 300 million dollars in ransom, the pirates have only netted about 30 million. 
 
The two film-makers quickly make friends with a couple of personable pirates , a British secret agent who is overseeing the high seas lunacy for Queen and his country, and a billionaire traveling the world in 2 million dollars yacht with a bottle of expensive champagne in one hand and his trophy blond in the other.
 
This is Elmore Leonard at his best.  Witty, gritty and always entertaining.  The dialog is at a sonic pace and the characters are diverse and intriguing.  Leonard uses a story-within-a-story technique that is quite creative while he plays around with the narrative. 
Posted by mingh on 01/24/11
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Low-level criminal, Mitchell, gets out of jail and wants to stay clean, but his friends and former associates are waiting for him. He takes jobs hustling the money from people who have defaulted on their fast loans. But a chance meeting with a woman in a pub gets him a legitimate job fixing up the mansion of an older movie star.
 
When a homeless friend is killed, he feels he must take action. Refusing to work with his former associates causes trouble as they go after his family. Mitchell feels turn around is fair play.
 
Ken Bruen uses his knowledge of other crime authors to fill in how Mitchell is feeling. Titles from books by Lawrence Block, James Ellroy and others become prophecies. Although I haven't read all of the authors Bruen uses, it is great fun to see how he uses quotes, and titles, and even poetry from other authors to further his plot.
 
Quick easy read with a great twist at the end. London Boulevard, the movie, starring Colin Farrell, should be coming to a theater near you this Spring.
Thriller
Posted by Uncle Will on 01/20/11
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Carlos (Carl) Webster is the main character in Leonard's novels:  The Hot Kid and Up in Honey's Room.   This book is a collection of three stories with Webster as the protagonist.  
 
Webster, a Federal Marshall,  has the reputation as being a shoot-first-ask-questions-later-type peace officer.  He is married to a former dance hall gal.  The setting is post World War II.   In Showdown at Checotah we are introduced to Webster as a young teen.  He lives on a pecan farm with his father and is a serious young man with a dead-eye ability using firearms.  After killing a poacher, he tells the investigating officer that when he grows up, Carl wants to go into law enforcement.   Years later, that very investigator hires Carl. 
 
In the second story, Louly and Pretty Boy, readers are introduced to Carl's wife, Louly Ring.  She is a complicated and confusing character.   She begins as a young girl who dreams of being a gangster's moll, but later matures into a loving devoted wife.  Her maturation process is hard to empathized with since she we shown only a quick glimpse of his back story.    Hopefully, Leonard is at work creating a more complete connect-the-dots reckoning of  life story.
 
In the novelette, that is the same title as this compilation, Carl is dispatched to one of the many German POW camps in America to investigate the hanging of one of the prisoners.  Initially, the death is ruled a suicide, but soon after Carl starts snooping around, murder becomes more likely the method. 
 
One of Leonard's greatest strengths is his mastery of dialog.   His characters all seem to jump off the page and out of each book he writes.  This probably explains why so many of his novels have been adapted to film.        
Posted by Ultra Violet on 01/19/11
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You may know Chris Kimball as the host of America's Test Kitchen on PBS. This book is a very entertaining account of Kimball's journey through the Fannie Farmer cookbook to stage an authentic twelve-course 19th century supper for twelve in his Victorian brownstone. Kimball's anecdotes about his rather sketchy Boston neighborhood were interesting. But of course, the trials and tribulations he and his staff faced in recreating Victorian cookery were the most amusing parts of the book. Apparently, mock turtle soup is made by boiling a whole calf's head. Kimball tried actual turtle as well, but they are a protected species now, so that complicated matters. There were more adventures with the calves' foot jellies for dessert. 
 
This is a must-read for foodies interested in the history of American cuisine, but it is also of interest to history buffs, in general. Kimball includes quite a bit of information on life in Boston in the late 19th century. 
Posted by Uncle Will on 01/17/11
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This new book in our collection chronicles the U.S. Marines in the Western Pacific, 1944-1945.  The war in Europe was nearly over; just a race to see who could capture Hitler first.  The Japanese Empire still occupied a lot of territorial islands and the U.S. desperately needed to capture much more real estate that would be used for B-29 re-fueling bases.   All these battles were for the anticipated aerial bombings of  Japan.    The United States' biggest fear was that a drawn out war was imminent and many more lives would be lost if the anticipated ground invasion of Japan became a reality.

My father fought on Iwo Jima, a remote island in the Pacific West, from February 19 through March 16, 1945.  7000 Marines were killed and 20,000 were wounded, during the bloodiest battle of World War II. Unfortunately, most Americans today know more about the famously staged flag-raising incident that took place there, than the fact that on an island so small,  so seemingly insignificant,  so many men died fighting for world peace.
 
The Japanese had occupied Iwo Jima for so long that their entire occupying army was networked underground.  After the Marine invasion it was discovered that all the Naval pre-invasion bombing did not even make a minuscule dent in disrupting the island defenses.  The island consisted of black volcanic rock, finely ground, that made traversing difficult.  The Japan forces knew that this island was integral to the defense of their homeland.  They were extremely well-prepared.  Suicide attacks were the nightly norm.
 
The chapter on Iwo Jima is just one of several examples of the sacrifices made and battles won.
There have been many books written about the war in the Pacific and this is one of the better ones; dedicated
exclusively to the final year of WWII and all the U.S. island victories that were lined-up like dominos.  The
pictures are many and the writing is precise and easy to absorb.   It does not read like a high school history book.

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