Blog Posts by Uncle Will

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. 
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 07/07/11
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Make no mistake, this book is not a true mystery by definition.  There really isn't a dead body.  New to the AHML collection, but first published in 1952, this book has been resurrected under the category of "hard-boiled noir."   It is short, not sweet, and packs a punch.  There is a plethora of low-life characters with Willa Ree as their poster boy.
 
Given a female name at birth, Ree is a immoral hobo who descends upon a virtueless oil town in Texas like a sweeping vulture.  It turns out that the town's mayor is looking for a man with Ree's talents to become police chief.  One of Ree's talents is that he is unscrupulous and mercenary.  While hired under the guise of defender of law and order, Ree establishes his goal of robbing the town blind and splitting before being caught and convicted.
 
What is fascinating about this book is that the tale is timeless.  Trains still run.  Towns are still corrupt.  Men prey upon the weak.  Woman are still used and spit out.  Politicians are corrupt.  Bullies prevail. 
 
Davis' novella is not dated.  There are no descriptions of old cars, clothing, or any other telltale signs of fiction created over 50 years ago.  It simply reads like "a hot kiss at the end of a wet fist."  
Posted by Uncle Will on 06/20/11
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This book's jacket says that author Nesbo is a Norwegian musician and composer.  This helps explain why this book reads like listening to a great piece of Classical music.  The plot is multi-layered, as if recorded on a sound stage using talented musicians interpreting the score.  
 
Nesbo is a grand conductor.  A multitude of characters is no deterrent.  Each uniquely adds to  the coloring of this story.  In some series, reading in chronological order is paramount.  Not with Nesbo.  Back-story be damned.  He has so much to say and say well, that each book stands on its own.   If anything, each book leaves the reader wanting more - the ultimate compliment for anyone that creates art. 
 
The hero is Harry Hole.  He's an Oslo Police Inspector with more baggage than a train porter with six arms.  He is a recovering alcoholic who falls on and off the wagon more times than a toddler trying to hold onto a Radio Flyer racing on a rock pile.   He is tragic and sympathetic.  He's a person that is in need of being smacked upside the head at times, just to get his attention.  He is unlucky with women to a fault.  The fault is that women close to him all seem to die.  
 
In this book, Harry is juggling several investigations; some assigned, some assumed.  It doesn't help his peace of mind that he is trying to prevent becoming the prime suspect in one of these investigations.  
 
Harry Hole is a trapeze artist who is presently plodding through life without a safety net.  Readers should plan on getting to the circus tent early and bring plenty of popcorn. 
 
The act at center stage is remarkable, if not death-defying. 
 
 
 
     
Posted by Uncle Will on 06/13/11
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Back in 1966, Argosy Magazine ran a picture of Adolph Hitler and a gold .32 automatic pistol on their cover.   The fascination with this pistol's history started back during WWII when it was found in a desk drawer in one of Hitler's homes.  This book documents the events leading up to the pistol's discovery and the soldier that smuggled it back to the States.
 
Teen Palm is an unlikely name for a hero.  Palm was a talented and promising singer and musician before the war in Europe beckoned for his services.  He was a devout Christian; and his faith was the foundation for this story. 
 
This story includes a historic perspective that is not widely known or written about.  It chronicles internal German guerrilla warfare that was taking place just prior to the downfall of Berlin.  It also tells of an assassination attempt on Hitler that failed.   History fans of that period will enjoy the telling of those lesser known facts.
 
Spoiler alert!  If the intention when reading this book is to get answers about the infamous pistol...this will not happen.  Questions remain to this day.  If the intention when reading this book is to gain some insight on how man's faith in his God and his country prevails, then there'll be little disappointment.
Posted by Uncle Will on 05/26/11
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Sweden's biggest selling mystery writer is back with the second in her series of English translated novels.
 
In the first book, The Ice Princess, Erica helps solve a murder mystery and has her account of the investigation published.  It goes on to become a best seller.  Erica is now pregnant and trying to cope with the hottest summer to date in Fjallbacka.  Her boyfriend, Det. Patrik Hedstrom, and father of their expected baby, is trying to find a missing girl while she is still alive.  One girl's body has already been found on what turns out to be the remains of two other girls' skeletons.  The murder victims appear to have been previously buried and their corpses dug up.   
Anna, (Erica's younger sister), and her two children, have left her abusive husband and started divorce proceedings.  Anna has never pressed any criminal charges against her former husband after all the times she was beaten.  This proves to be a big legal mistake.  Her ex is spinning a web of lies in court that do not reflect favorably on Anna as a caring mother.  Anna is trying to move on with her life, but again makes the wrong choice in male companionship -  to Erika's dismay.
 
Patrik's police team are all trying, in their own quirky ways, to cope with the pressure of finding the missing girl in time and solve the murder mystery that appears to be both serial and predated back to the '70's. 
 
Fjallbacka is a small town with limited resources.  A five-man police force, that is comprised of a professional golfer wannabe, a publicity-seeking Chief, a lazy brown-noser, and an inexperienced over-achiever is not the supporting cast that Patrik would have chosen.  The suspects are a generational family with religious and criminals pasts.  
 
As is her M.O., Lackberg supplies multiple characters and subplots to her mixture of suspense and storytelling.   Supposedly there are another five books, already published and best sellers in Sweden, that continue this series.  Avid fans should hunker-down for a long ride.  
 
 
 
Want recommendations on what to read next? Email advisory@ahml.info and we will be happy to assist you in finding a great book to read.
 
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
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