Blog Posts by Uncle Will

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 Uncle Will on 10/03/11
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New to our collection, this book is a collection of short fiction stories (some never published in book form) by arguably the greatest mystery write of all time.  It includes Hammett's first ever published work, The Barber and his Wife (1922), Black Mask (1924), and This Little Pig (1934) that includes a recently discovered alternate ending.  It also has the first time published story, Another Perfect Crime.
Besides the fact that previously unpublished stories were discovered and printed, what makes this book a little more interesting is the format.  A great deal of reference work was done by the editor, Vince Emery.  Stories are introduced with background notes that set the table with the why, when, and  the where, Hammett's creations were served. 
These editor notes put into perspective the drive Hammett had to be a writer and the turmoil he had to overcome to feed himself and his family.  He was paid a penny a word for his first published story.   The sum was a whopping $1.13.  Emery goes one step further and lets his readers know what a penny could purchase back in the day.
One of the ways to measure an artist's success is if his work is still in demand long after he passes.  Hammett died in 1961.   Loyal fans still crave his craft.  Just seeing this book on a shelf in AHML brought back memories of nights tucked under the covers, escaping to fantasy worlds made up of hard-bitten private-eyes, leggy molls moaning in distress, and rich, power-hungry elitist forcing their will upon the meek.    
Posted by Uncle Will on 09/26/11
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Dr. Martin Harris is a leading scientist in his field.  A ground-breaker.  He is at the threshold of a major scientific breakthrough.  Plants talk to him.  He has a beautiful wife and promising life.  Or does he?  

Martin wakes one day in a Paris hospital where he finds he has been in a coma for several
days.  He learns that while traveling in a taxi he was involved in an accident resulting in
his hospitalization.  Thankfully his injuries are minor.

His minor injuries soon become a major problem.  It seems that while he was out cold, Martin's
identity was stolen, on a grand scale.  Even Martin's wife denies knowing him; along with the
man she's sharing her bed with who claims to be the real Dr. Harris.  With no passport or
wallet, Martin turns to the cabbie that was driving the taxi during their accident and the
physician who is treating him for some support.

Martin's support circle grows thin, while evidence keeps mounting that Martin might not be
who he claims. Even Martin starts to wonder if he is the brunt of some elaborate hoax or
slowing going insane.  What follows is a tightly constructed suspense story that leads to an surprising ending.

This book is new to our collection; however, it was previously published under the title: Out
of My Head
.  It also was adapted to film with Liam Neeson in the starring role.  It is less than 200 pages and adapted well to the big screen.  Like in most adaptations, reading the book first before viewing the film is the best course.   

Posted by Uncle Will on 09/14/11
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James Patterson has the uncanny ability to create characters that his readers can care about.

In his latest non-series book, his main character, Matt Bannon, is a struggling artist living meagerly in New York City.  He comes from a generational family of Marines on his paternal side.  Maternally he's inherited the traits of a talented, creative, caring person. In order to not disappoint his parents, he enlists in the Marine Corps and becomes a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.  Upon his discharge he begins a life as a struggling artist.

Matt, next chapter in his artistic life, begins to brighten when he meets a beautiful art instructor, falls in love, and gets the opportunity to enroll in her prestigious school. His world is rocked when he accidently stumbles upon the assassination of a dirty diamond dealer by a smoke and mirrors professional hit-man called The Ghost.

The plot gets convoluted when the Russian mobster who hired the hit wants the bag of diamonds returned to him that Matt stole from the murder scene. Nathaniel Prince and his incestuous daughter, Natalia, are forces to be reckoned with.  Prince orders the services of The Ghost to find the diamonds at any cost.  

Like any successful mob kingpin, Prince's power structure is well insulated.  His orders are channeled through his long-time childhood friend and mob-captain, Chukov; a despicable derelict who will stop at nothing to save his own hide. Chukov in turn, has a pair of New York's finest who he orders to find the bag of gems and the thief. This thickening plot takes on the appearance of a guppy swimming in a sea of sharks.

Matt is no guppy nor minnow.  Unknowns to all the villains involved, the past and present events will be more like sharks swimming with several other sharks in a blood-frenzy.

This is one of Patterson's more suspenseful novels.  It is Hitchcockian in style and storyline.  Anyone fortunate to have this book be their first cast into the James Patterson pool of popular prose will undoubtedly be hooked.

Posted by Uncle Will on 09/06/11
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Not certain if Krueger has any native American Indian blood running through his family tree, but his Cork O'Connor novels surely show their reverence to that culture.  Reading this series is a spiritual experience.   It is as if Kitchimanidoo is turning the pages.
Kitchimanidoo, as called by the Ojibwe tribe, is the god of heaven and earth .  His hand reaches out and touches Cork O'Connor and his daughter, Jenny, while they are on a boating adventure near the Canadian border of Minnesota.  Caught in a small craft by a huge storm, the two must take shelter on a deserted island.
The island has an old trapper's cabin where they find a tortured, dead girl.  She took to her death the secret of where she hid her deformed baby.  Jenny finds the infant boy hidden in the brush in a wicker basket and her maternal instincts take hold.  From the moment the baby and Jenny look into each other's eyes, a bond is created that will withstand many a test. 
In this 12th book in the mystery series by Krueger, bonding is one of the main themes.   Whether it be between husband and wife, mentor and student, brother and sister, father and daughter, it is the life force that connects loved ones that conquers all.  The O'Connors are running for their lives and that of the newly born babe.  Some demon is hell-bent on erasing all evidence of its brutal crimes.  The O'Connor clan is just a minor speed bump.
Set in the remote North, this mystery is as engaging as the elements its characters must overcome.  Krueger supposedly was said to have wanted to end this series with his previous book, Vermilion Drift, but was talked out of it by his publisher.  It is the more fitting ninoododadiwin or "path of harmony" that was chosen.
Posted by Uncle Will on 08/22/11
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Writing this Staff Choice recommendation is justified.   Even though this collection of short stories has been on our shelves since 2009, it is justified.   There is not one weak story out of the nine that appear.  That is justification in itself.
Justified is the FX television series starring Timothy Olyphant.   The  show still emits a buzz even though it is in its second season.  It is based on the short story Fire in the Hole that is included in this book.  The TV adaptation is dead-on in the pilot episode.  That alone speaks volumes about the kind of writer Leonard is.  Two of his strengths are being able to write descriptively and capture everyday dialog.
What other popular writer can create a cute encounter between two retirees that encompasses both a fading past and sweet future in only five pages? Such is Hanging Out at the Buena Vista.
In Karen Makes Out, U.S. Marshall, Karen Sisco, of film fame and former TV series Out of Sight, shows another unsuccessful slice of her sex life.
Sparks is the aptly titled story about an insurance company investigator looking into the suspicious house fire of a young widow of a recently departed millionaire.
The title story has a former burlesque dancer turned bored rich wife getting marriage counseling from her Columbian murdering maid.
Available in both written and audio book formats in our collection.  
This checkout would be most justified.
Posted by Uncle Will on 08/08/11
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Why is Sweden suddenly emerging as the forerunner in publishing suspense novels?  Is it the lack of a sufficient satellite signal sent to Swedish television sets?  Could it be that during the cold season, darkness dominates by mid afternoon?   
This dark first novel by husband and wife team, Lars Kepler, demands the international press that preceded it.  A family is sadistically slaughtered.  One of the victims, a teenage son, survives.  His older sister might be the perpetrator or possibly the next casualty.  A highly successful police investigator demands the case, and enlists the services of a doctor who at one time specialized in the use of  group hypnosis to clinically treat his patients. 
The hypnotist, Dr. Erik Maria Bark, promised, ten years in the past, never again to apply his craft, ever since a former patient unjustly accused him of malpractice.   Forced to return his grant money and expelled from his high class hospital role, Bark turns to swallowing synthetics to soothe his humiliation.   This drug addiction leads to a sour marriage.  His only son is born with a blood disorder that adds to the physician's guilt.
This book makes the late Stieg Larsson appear to have created his craft using crayons.  This book is suspenseful and sophisticated.   It examines the complexities of relationships in all types of groups, be it family, work or other.  It not only points to their pitfalls, but at the same time proves promise on the horizon.
Posted by Uncle Will on 08/01/11
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What a cleverly conceived question for a mystery book premise:  "...Is it more difficult to think of the solution to a problem yourself or to ascertain if someone else's answer to the same problem is correct...?"
Yasuko is a divorced mother who is trying to piece together her life and her teenage daughter's after surviving an abusive marriage.  Constantly changing living locations and livelihoods couldn't stop her ex-husband from tracking them down.  The latest confrontation causes the daughter, Misato, to accidently aid in the killing of her father while she's defending her beaten mother. 
It seems that once again life has beaten down this pair.  In a panic they turn to a neighbor who has a secret crush on Yasuko.  He is a genius math teacher and lives in the apartment across the hall.  He views the murder as a mathematical  challenge.  He convinces the mother and daughter to follow his exact instructions and swears that they will not be implicated in the ex-husband's death.
Thus begins the mouse and cat game betwixt the math scholar formerly known as The Buddha and his long lost college friend, Dr. Yukawa, known affectionately as Detective Galileo by the homicide detectives he sometimes aids in their investigations. 
Higashino is one of the most widely known and bestselling novelists in Japan.  To date, he has at least five TV movies and three TV series to his credit.  His characters are all sympathetic.  This plot, based on a famous math premise, is similar to reading  the play-by-play of a chess game between two masters.
English majors need not hesitate from picking up this book even though math whizzes will be in undoubtedly cast into the calculus clouds.
Posted by Uncle Will on 07/27/11
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This modern Mephistopheles has an exotic twist.  Set in a secluded section of the Smoky Mountains, two animal activists are in the process of relocating their sixty large, rescued, endangered, wildcats to land that they recently purchased.  They are going to build their dream sanctuary.  Little does the husband and wife team realize that their new property is on the border of a place that has a history of victims being terrorized by some foul force.  
The town drunk is well aware of this foul force.  He has erected a towering lighthouse in the middle of his property that, from dusk till dawn, beams a blinding beacon of light into the dense forest.  So fearful of the dark, Wyatt French has chosen to live in the top of his lighthouse. 
The local deputy sheriff, Kevin Kimble, reluctantly partners with the town's local reporter, Roy Damus, in attempts to solve the mystery to a pattern of present and past accidental deaths.   Has a pact been made with a demon?  Could unspeakable evil be behind blatant disregard for human life?  One thing is certain.  The large cats are hip to what's happening.  They just need to be asked. 
By combining unsuspecting characters with big game action; while set in the backdrop of moody, misty mountains, Koryta has once again created an atmosphere of eeriness and terror.  What is that old saying about dancing with the Devil? 
Posted by Uncle Will on 07/15/11
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Richard Kilmer is a journalist who thinks he might be going crazy.  He has a good career, a loving girlfriend he wants to propose to, and his health.  But an innocent trip to upstate New York to meet Jennifer's parents becomes a living nightmare for Kilmer. 
His nightmare begins with a car crash that has Kilmer waking up to a perplexing state of events.  Jennifer cannot be found at the scene of the accident.  Furthermore,  it appears that Jennifer never existed.  All traces of her have vanished.  Friends have no recollection of her ever being with Kilmer.   Desperate, he publishes a story depicting his plight and becomes a national punch line. 
Kilmer finds nothing humorous in his situation.  As he backtracks on his recent past, he realizes that he remembers things that appear to have never taken place and has forgotten those that have.  Who can he trust if he cannot trust himself?
Readers have learned to trust that Rosenfelt will supply them with a story that is gripping and thought provoking.  Reading this book is like driving on Mulholland Drive in L.A.  There is an abundance of twists and turns to make the ride interesting and memorable. 
Want recommendations on what to read next? Email and we will be happy to assist you in finding a great book to read.
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