Blog Posts by Uncle Will

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by Jon Loomis

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02/12/10
This is the second book in the Frank Coffin mystery series by Loomis.  The story takes place in Provincetown or P'town as the locals refer to it.   Frank was a former homicide detective who saw one to many murders and decided to leave Baltimore and move to a city that whose crime rate was limited to most burglaries and indecent exposures.
 
In a town where it appears that everyone has some sort of strange sexual preference, Frank has professionally partnered-up with the beautiful lesbian police Sergeant, Lola Winters, and personally with yoga instructor, Jaime, who still longs to become pregnant and is ovulating throughout most of the novel. 
 
This story is pregnant with colorful characters.  A popular single, rich woman who is the town tramp is murdered and Frank must again investigate a brutal crime scene.  This tale gets twisted when it's discovered that the victim videotaped her dominated, sexual conquests, causing the list of suspects to sweep far and wide.
 
It is refreshing to read a new mystery series where the hero is not some Bruce-Willis-clone, punching his way through life and always quick on the trigger.  Frank Coffin is out of shape, in his forties, and drives a beater because he still pays alimony and also nursing care for his mother (who doesn't even know his name).   He is an average Joe with good days and bad days.  Good news and bad news.
 
The bad news is he his smoking again.  The good news is that his sperm count is up!
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by Antony Beevor

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02/04/10
This book is the product of a great deal of in-depth research.  Beevor is a best selling historic author and this latest work proves it. 
 
There are not that many remaining survivors of World War II.  Time has caught up to many.  This book is a tribute to all those military and civilian survivors and casualties.  Being somewhat of a student of this war, I found this book to be quite comprehensive from the point that all the major nations involved were researched.  It is not just an American or British point of view.
 
This is important when one remembers that the battle for Normandy was fought on French turf and that occupied nation had the most to lose. 
 
Hopefully there will never be another battle such as this one; with so many men being sacrificed with the goal of establishing a firm beachhead.  Tension was at it's height in the months leading to June 6, 1944. Logistical problems surrounding the invasion were monumental.    Surprising the Germans was foremost.  This book  evokes a great many emotions.
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by Pete Larson

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01/28/10
In the never-ending search for good, new mystery writers, I found Pete Larson, a former resident of a suburb of Chicago.
 
In this debut novel, Stuart Carlson is an ex-minister who lost his faith after finding his wife and his best friend in bed together.  He moves to a Texas town and gets a job as a bartender.  One night a mysterious, but beautiful, one-eyed lady slinks up to one of his bar stools and they meet nice.
 
Stu is pleasantly surprised when he closes the bar and finds this lady awaiting him on his doorstep.  A romantic night is had by all.  In the morning Stu wakes with a smile; however, the lady is gone. 
 
It's not a mystery unless there's a body and the body belongs to Andrew Washburn, a cocky, condescending college Professor of Art, with questionable morals and ethics. At a social gathering, Stu serves up a single-malt Scotch to Washburn and minutes later is performing mouth-to-mouth to no avail.  Stu doesn't realize that the mysterious lady is Washburn's current wife, Gwen, and the former wife of Daniel, an artist who is a regular at the bar.  The professional cocktail mixer decides to personally investigate the murder out of 2-parts guilt and 2-parts friendship. 
 
This is not great fiction, but it is the type of mystery that has little or no blood, sex, and/or raw language.  I don't think that it is the first in a series of books because there really isn't a lot of demand for a bartender conducting independent sleuths.
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by Jon Loomis

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01/21/10
This is the first mystery novel of poet Jon Loomis and it is a good one.  The story takes place in Provincetown on Cape Cod.  The hero is an ex Baltimore Homicide Detective that hit the wall.  He witnessed one too many gruesome crimes and had a panic attack.  This character has a great name, Frank Coffin.  He is former smoker and dates a Yoga instructor who wants to get impregnated.
 
Frank doesn't think he is ready for playing the role of daddy.  His father was a rum-runner/fisherman who was killed at sea.  Frank hates boats.
 
Frank does like his job in P'town, but not during the tourist season.  P'town is known worldwide for being a place that is accepting of alternate lifestyles.  Beaches are packed with hand-holding couples of the same-sex; most immodestly attired.   Wild behavior is the norm.
 
So it is no surprise when a popular TV minister is found strangled on the beach one night dressed is a cheap wig and floral Mu Mu! Check that, the surprise is that a person is found dead.  The last homicide was over 10 years ago.  This was one of the reasons that Frank took the job.  He thought he could cruise through this new career opportunity without ever having to view another dead body.
 
Bodies begin to pile up and Frank is placed in a difficult situation.  He is ordered to begin an illegal investigation mirroring that of the State Police; which is the town council's knee-jerk response to the sudden bell-curve-breaking fatality count.  Frank partners-up with the beautiful lesbian Police Sergeant, Lola Winters, and the hunt is on.
 
This mystery is followed by the second book in this new mystery series entitled:  Mating Season. For readers looking for a new series that does not contain a lot of blood and sex, but is clever and has many interesting, diverse characters, this is a good choice.
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by W.E.B. Griffin

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01/11/10
This is Griffin's latest book in his Badge of Honor police mysteries' series.   Even though it was 2003 since he wrote Final Justice, the 8th in the series, I had no problem remembering the main characters. 
 
Character development and topic research are his strengths as a writer.  This series of books takes place in Philadelphia.  It is about Irish policemen, their families, and their trials and tribulations. 
 
Matt Payne is a recurring character.  He is a young, rich, highly intelligent Homicide Detective Sergeant.   He has had the misfortune of repeatedly being in the wrong place and the proverbial wrong time.  There are police officers that never discharge their weapon during their entire careers.  There are officers that never even draw their weapons during those careers.  Then there are some, like Payne, who are labeled Wyatt Earp because of the number of firefights he has been involved in during his brief career.
 
Payne must assist a Texas Ranger who comes to town to capture El Gato, a trafficker of drugs and young girls.  El Gato, The Cat, brands all his girls and beheads those that need discipline.  Payne also is aiding in the investigation of the motel explosion that housed a Methedrine lab, killing 2 and critically wounding 2 others; one a former girlfriend-gone-awry.
 
There is a nice romantic subplot that is created between Payne and a new character.  Both story-lines are inner connected and as in many series books, do not get fully resolved by the last turned page.  However, there is an unwritten rule for people that create:  Always keep your audience wanting more.
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by Klutz

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12/31/09
Finally, there is the definitive bible for all those budding class clowns in the world to read.  Impress friends by telling them that you just read an entire encyclopedia, cover to cover.  Omit the part about it being 75% picture book.
 
I was drawn in by the cover art; probably because the cover appears drawn on.
 
Where else can one learn: to juggle, ride a unicycle, the best ever Knock-Knock joke (the jury is still out on this one), what's one's Eman, and how to get free stuff in the mail all in one little book.  This is an appropriate book to read and review at the end of a decade and the beginning of the new.  Happy New Year!
   
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by Christopher Moore

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12/17/09
This book is hilariously irreverent. The premise is:  much has been written about Jesus Christ starting at his birth and when he was thirty-three; however, there is a big gap in his autobiography.  This book fills in those lost years as told by, Levi (Biff), the supposed best friend of The Son of God.  I have not read anything to date by Christopher Moore.  He has written a lot of books and I'm told that he is well-known for his humor.  I found this book spiritual in a weird and wacky way.
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by Michael Crichton

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12/02/09
"Aye, shiver me timbers, matey!"  The late Michael Crichton's estate found this finished manuscript in his files after his death.  When is the last time a good pirate book was published?
 
This story has all the essentials:  A flawed hero:  Captain Charles Hunter;  his sleek sloop, the Cassandra;  his crew of 60 lost souls;  not one, but three fair maidens; the corrupt governor of Port Royal, Jamaica;    a more corrupt assistant;  the Spanish villain, Cazalla, the captain of the warship El Trinidad;  stolen treasure beyond imagination; a sea monster that defies sensibility; a helmsman who is a true artist;  a tongueless Moor assassin; a French pirate who is not what he appears; blazing cannons; swashbuckling swords; menacing muskets; barrels of rum called kill-devil; the development of what is known today as grenades; remote island paradises inhabited by cannibals; sea-battling-sinking-ships; wooden-legged spies; a treasure map of sorts; bawdy wenches; and plenty of action and sex.  The only thing missing from this book is a parrot.
 
Parrot be damned!  This story hooked me from the title page. It has been a while since I read Crichton.  I forgot how visual his books can be.  Hollywood will undoubtedly purchase the rights and cast a spirited crew of actors.  Until then, reading this book will have to fulfill all those dormant piratical needs.
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by Dean Hughes

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11/30/09
I wish this Young Adult book was written about 4o years ago. The story is simple and tragic. Two young teenagers; one German and one American, long to enter the armed forces to defend their country during WWII. Both are underage and fear that their window of opportunity to become a hero is rapidly closing. Both were raised in good families and taught values.
 
However, values can vary country to country. Dieter believes every word that he heard while in the Hitler Youth. Spence is driven more by the love of a girl that loves another.
 
Mid-teens is universally the rough stage for growing up. Boys who should still be playing with toys want to prove their manhood. During a world crisis, boys are compelled to mature more rapidly; especially if they insist on pressuring their parents into allowing them to enter wars underage.
 
This story is a good rite-of-passage. It's two different perspectives on the war and one's responsibilities. In today's world conflicts, reading this book before making the decision to enlist would be worthwhile. There is nothing more noble that wanting to defend one's country with honor. This book tries to make the point that there is a lot of baggage that accompanies that journey and being true to oneself is paramount.
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by Alex Bledsoe

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11/18/09
This is the 2nd installment in the Eddie LaCrosse series.  I am still confused why it is cataloged as Science Fiction instead of a Mystery.  The dead body appears by page 17.
 
Eddie is a medieval sword-jockey; the equivalent of today's private-eye/gun-for-hire/bodyguard.   He is of royal blood and as learned in the 1st novel, gave up his privileged life when the Prince's sister, while under Eddie's protection is brutally killed.  The years that followed were dark for Eddie.  He joined the army and later became a ruthless mercenary.
 
Midlife has mellowed the big brute.  He lives with a young, independent twin, Liz, who runs a 1-wagon UPS business.  He has mellowed so much that Eddie evens befriends a horse and mourns his loss when he, the horse and a near-naked blond are attacked on a forest road and left for the vultures.  A new fire is lit in Eddie.
 
Fire is one of the reasons that Eddie was attacked.  He stumbled upon a damsel who had information that a cult of fire-eating-dragon-freaks coveted. Eddie vows to find the mysterious blonde's killers and get some justice for the slaughter of his horse, Lola.
 
Alex Bledsoe knows how to hook his readers.  The day I checked out this book  I also got new novels by Stephen King, Michael Connelly, James Patterson,  Andrew Vachss,  and a couple of others.  I read some chapters from each book and chose this one to finish. I like authors who don't take themselves too serious.  Try reading the book jacket and Bledsoe's bio tells that he once lived near Elvis and Tina Turner:  two things that must be important in order to become a serious, successful writer.
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