Staff Choices

Posted by Uncle Will on 11/01/11
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Investigator Virgil Flowers is back and in rare form.  He has been sent to a Minnesota river
town that has a mad bomber on the loose. The dead and injured are mounting and Lucas
Davenport, Flower's boss, gives Virgil a week to close the case.

It appears that someone is opposed to the idea that a WalMart-like store (PyeMart) open in
their town.  There is speculation that several of the city council's votes have been bought
to favor the re-zoning and building project.  Even the billionaire Pye has been
unsuccessfully targeted.  Working alongside a team of federal bomb experts, Virgil becomes
despondent with the lack of evidence and growing list of suspects.

They know what the bombs are comprised of and from where the materials were stolen. Virgil
decides to use a marketing tool and mass produce a survey that he has hand-delivered to
selective townfolks.  The survey asks for names of neighbors that might be guilty.  Virgil's
plan is to collect the completed surveys and tally the results.  He will then interview the
names of those most offered as likely candidates in hopes of finding his killer.

This is the 5th installment in Sandford's Virgil Flowers series.  Virgil remains a maverick.  
He still dresses in faded t-shirts, blue jeans, and cowboy boots.  His hair is still long and
disheveled.  He still hates to wear a sidearm and tows his fishing boat behind his pickup to
every crime scene in hopes of getting some "reel time" alone with his thoughts. He's a ladies
man who is a 3-time loser at the altar. Still, he is a lovable character that is enviable and
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 10/31/11
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Since they moved to New York City from a small college town in upstate New York, the Bergamot family have worked hard at making this big adjustment.  Richard is focused on his new job as an executive administrator at a large New York university.  Liz Bergamot, leaving her comfortable life and her own career in academia, has become a full-time Mom to 6-year-old Coco and Jake, who is 15.  They find themselves in a strage new upper-class world since Jake and Coco attend an elite private school.
Jake has made friends with a group of boys at Wildwood school.  They do things on the weekends that most boys their age do - play video games, go to parties, hang out.  The Bergamot's have a beautiful life, or so it seems.  Until the morning after Jake attends an unchaperoned party to find a sexually explicit video from an 8th grade girl in his email.  True to form for an adolescent boy, with a combination of shock and pride, he forwards the video to a friend.  Within hours it goes viral, and the beautiful life of the Bergamot's becomes a living hell.
This Beautiful Life is an intimate examination of a family falling apart under intense pressure.  Helen Schulamn expertly scrutinizes a contemporary nightmare with the precision and acuity of a Greek tragedy, a tragedy that even the most caring and vigilant parents could not protect their children from.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 10/29/11
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Amidst the shadows of the World Trade Center they had grown up the best of friends, full of hopes and dreams.  Markie was the crazy, irresponsible one.  All the boys were in love with beautiful Sally, but her heart belonged to Markie.  Tom was the fixer, and they all knew they could count on him to help them out of a jam.  Vicky and Tom had always been together.  Jack, Tom's half-brother, had always lived life on the edge.  Sensible and smart, Marian had a solid plan for her life, which, of course, included Jimmy.  They called him Superman.  Jimmy McCaffery was the hub of this circle of friends.
Life had always revolved around Jimmy.  That is until one tragic night that changed everything for them all.  20 years later, James McCaffery, Captain of Ladder 62 Firehouse in New York City, died a hero saving people from the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001.  His heroism subsequently became legendary at a time when devastated New Yorkers deparately needed heros.  But then a series of articles in the New York Tribune newspaper called his character into question.  Like a falling house of cards, the search for the truth about Jimmy McCaffery and what happened that night 20 years ago begins to destroy the lives of everyone involved.
Rozen does an excellent job of immersing the reader in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy and its devestating effects on New Yorkers.  Absent Friends bounces back and forth from NYC post-9/11 to episodes in the lives of the main characters as children.  This gives the reader multiple perspectives on, and insight into the depth of their relationships as children and adults.  The author unravels the mystery of Jimmy McCaffery with memories of remorse, regret and guilt as seen through the eyes of his old friends. In the end, a quote from Jose Latour at the beginning of the book rings loud and clear.  "All I know is that the surest way to make enemies is to always tell the truth."
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/25/11
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This is the 3rd book in the Hackberry Holland series.  To better serve memories, Hack is an octogenarian who's the elected sheriff in a small Texas border town.  He's a former Korean War P.O.W. and multiple medals award winner.  He is a recovering alcoholic/whoremonger.  He was a lawyer when younger and has been a widower for over 10 years. His second in command is 40 years his junior and madly in love with him.  

Pam Tibbs, the dubious deputy, and Hack are once again on the hunt for the machine-gun-toting-serial-killer, Preacher Jack Collins.  The Preacher stumbles upon a government official, Noie Barnum, who was kidnapped and tortured by a crazed Mexican assassin called Krill.  Collins adopts Barnum and offers a strange sort of sanctuary towards the escapee. Barnum has information in his head that makes him also the target of the Russian mob and a rogue U.S. Congressman's hit team.  

If that isn't enough characters, add a Chinese female former CIA agent, who has ties back to the Cambodian Khmer Rouge during the Vietnam Conflict. Anton Ling, nicknamed "La Magdalena" by the refugees she harbors on her ranch, resembles Hack's late wife. Tibbs senses something sensual stirring deep inside Hack and takes an immediate dislike to Ling.  

All the players are desperate to bring closure to their pursuits and this helps make the story fast-paced, not unlike a fire drill.  

Usually a character-rich story with several subplots can get confusing.  Burke's tale unfolds effortlessly.

Posted by Pam I am on 10/24/11
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Sandra Brown is wildly popular for her romantic suspense novels and I recently decided to give her a try.  I thoroughly enjoyed Richocet with its many plot twists and adreniline rushes.  Duncan Hatcher is a handsome, rugged, police detective who is on a mission to put away killer Robert Savich.  The book opens with Judge Cata Laird declaring a mistrial in the Robert Savich case.  Duncan Hatcher is incensed and wants to nail Robert Savich.  Fast forward, and there has been a burglary and subsequent murder at the Laird household and Duncan Hatcher is the investigating detective.  It turns out that Elise Laird shot the intruder.  It also turns out that Elise Laird is beautiful and Duncan is captivated by her.  Duncan and his partner investigate the shooting at the Lairds and uncover inconsistencies.  Elise even makes a claim that her husband hired the intruder to kill her.  Duncan is torn between his attraction to Elise and his duty as an investigator.  This book comes to an exciting conclusion with some definite romance thrown in.  I found it entertaining and exciting.  I would read Sandra Brown again!
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/23/11
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Lee Child truly has found his nitch.  He created the perfect modern day cowboy, Jack Reacher, former Military Police Major turned nomad.   The only thing missing in these formulary mysteries is the quirky horse who has a penchant for imported oats, for Reacher to wander on, from town to town.  
In this 16th installment, Reacher's long awaited back-story forms the plotline.    Readers learn a little of why Reacher decides to leave the Army with only his toothbrush in his pocket and his heavy heart.   The story begins back in Mississippi around 1997 when Reacher is ordered to go undercover to investigate a woman's death.  A soldier is suspected.   Unfortunately, this soldier has powerful friends and Reacher's investigation gets complicated. 
Cowboy Jack forms an allegiance with the town's sheriff, but it is obvious from the start that Reacher will be mostly flying solo in order to close this case. 
Dead body.  Check.  Belligerent townies.  Check.  Mysterious female counterpart.  Check.  Insurmountable odds stacking up against hero.  Check.   Brawls with outnumbering bullies.  Check.  Injustice served by money-grubbing power-hungry elitist.  Check.    In the end, after the dust settles, toothbrush still in pocket.  Check. 
Posted by Ultra Violet on 10/22/11
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Judy grew up in Bavaria because of her military father being stationed there. Her mother was a neurotic and exacting woman who eventually had to be hospitalized. Judy's feelings about her childhood in Germany influenced her choice in becoming a Waldorf school teacher. Waldorf schools celebrate they beauty of childhood and fantasy, encouraging even the teachers to believe in gnomes. Nothing damaging is allowed at a Waldorf school. There is no candy, no t-shirts with Disney characters on them, nothing that could ruin the natural process of growth. In this idealized setting, Judy finds herself estranged from her husband whom she discovers is hooked on pain pills. She is in a state of shock over losing her best friend to cancer, and her children are drifting away. Alone and frustrated, she finds herself attracted to one of her son's friends. Zachary is only sixteen, yet Judy engages in a physical relationship with the boy who is a student at the very school where she teaches.

Their forbidden romance cannot end well, but the culmination of Julia's punishment is a taut, intense story. This is a difficult topic to read about, but the author manages to balance the raw passion with modesty of language. I was particularly interested in the layering of symbolism of the Bavarian folk tales and Catholicism juxtaposed with our contemporary values and social mores. This is a dark, primal, and often disturbing love story.

Posted by jfreier on 10/18/11
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Daniel McEvoy is a bouncer at a dive bar in New Jersey scraping by in his very strange life when things really go south. The love of his life Connie is murdered and Daniel ends up neck deep in the case, along with his drunken Army psychologist, a crazy detective and a ghost. Daniel becomes the target of bad cops, mobsters, his unstable neighbor who thinks they are soul mates. The pacing is non stop with great and very funny banter, and a bevy of weird characters. The first adult novel by the author of the "Artemis Fowl" series, would appeal to fans of "Carl Hiaasen", "Elmore Leonard" and "Tim Dorsey".
Crime Caper
Posted by cclapper on 10/12/11
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From Malone, New York, 1960 -- to Today: Do you ever listen to  Sound Opinions on NPR (National Public Radio)?  Those two guys are just so into music that their passions open my eyes to all kinds of expression that I've never even thought about.  And what I'm talking about right now is Punk.
I've never been a Punk fan (that I know of) but Greg and Jim have spoken often -and highly- of the seminal Punk band Hüsker DüI heard their interview with one of the founding members, Bob Mould, and his story caught me.  Growing up for him  wasn't easy.  The early Punk scene wasn't easy, either.  Almost nobody made money, and bands commonly gave each other a place to crash when they were touring.  But  this band made it work for some time, and went on to influence many of the biggest bands out there today.
So when I saw Bob Mould's new biography,  I picked it up.  Mr. Mould's story is impressive.  From an early love of music and math, to his growing involvement in the first beginnings of the Punk movement, to the stresses of managing the band's growing success. From growing up in a very conservative home, then struggling with his sexuality and concerns with how it might affect the perception of the band, he's had a wild ride.
Professional wrestling even works its way in there.  Some odyssey.
You may not feel unalloyed admiration for anyone in this book- including Mr. Mould.  He is exceptionally honest about a great many things, including some of his own failings.  But his honesty and his simple words about how he faced many of the concerns in his life led me to respect him.  Many folks, especially people coming to terms with their own sexuality, will find great strength here.
Plus a great many really interesting details about life in the Punk age, and beyond.
Thanks Greg and Jim!  ROCK ON!!
Posted by mingh on 10/11/11
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Scottish Detective Sargeant Alex Morrow, five months pregnant, is investigating the brutal murder of a 24 year old woman whose mother has just died. The woman was able to call 999 but was not able to talk directly to Emergency Services. So they have the phone call and can hear some of what happened but they are struggling to find a reason for the attack.
However, Alex Morrow has some secrets of her own. Her Father was a notorious criminal as is her brother and nephew. She has left the family behind and their name, but lives in fear that her co-workers in the police department will find out
In Kent, England, an older man who has invested and lost people's money in the recession has just hung himself. His son and daughter, both schooled in posh private schools, rush home to their Mother. Then the phone calls from their Father's other family begin.
Author Mina takes the reader on an adventure of secrets, finance, and what family and love means in this absorbing mystery. We get to see how DS Morrow starts put the pieces of these different events together into one puzzle. She struggles to work in an environment where men are suspicious of female officers and even more suspicious of pregnant ones.
Great characters are developed in this literary mystery. The action moves along at a steady pace as DS Morrow begins to see the big picture. This is Denise Mina's second crime novel and here is hoping we have more.
Mystery, Scotland
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