The East Bay Mystery Readers' Group -
3 February 2004 Meeting Recap
ONE GRAVE TOO MANY (Amateur Sleuth) - Beverly Connor - Good
Her new job as director of the RiverTrail Museum of Natural History in Georgia takes forensic anthropologist Diane Fallon out of the game-until a former love and a murdered family bring her back in.
We enjoyed this the best of the three. On the minus side, we didn't feel the characters were very well developed and there were too many subplots. On the plus side, the plot was good and it definitely kept us interested and reading.
REEF DANCE (Legal Thriller) - John DeCure - Okay minus / Not Recommended
J. Shepard, is a twentysomething attorney marking time in L.A.'s Juvenile Dependency Court. In his off hours, he surfs with his old cronies and tries to make headway with his monied girlfriend. Then he lands a headline-grabbing case involving parents who are accused of selling their newborn son to the highest bidder. Jolted from the lethargy of his routine, J. goes one-on-one with the adoptive parents' cutthroat lawyer, hires surfing legend Jackie Pace as his investigator, and is inspired to solve the mystery of his own mother's disappearance 10 years prior.
This was our least favorite. It started out very well. None of us surf, but his description was wonderful and the first time any of us felt we could understand the passion one could have for the sport. However, the book went downhill quickly from there. First, it wasn't really a mystery in the traditional sense. The characters weren't interesting or appealing. Two of us didn't couldn't finish it.
NOT QUITE KOSHER (Police Procedural) - Stuart M. Kiminsky - Okay
With a passion for pure justice, Chicago police detective Abe Lieberman (The Big Silence) chases thieves, tracks a man who predicted his own death, and plans for his grandson's bar mitzvah. His Irish partner, meanwhile, tries to deter an Asian crime syndicate member who is interested in his girlfriend.
The best thing about the book is that all the bad guys die at the end. Otherwise, for a police procedural, we just felt it was too cute-sie; and murder just isn't cute. We all finished it, but only because it was short and a fast
We do have great hopes for the books for March 2nd, which are:
THE BALLAD OF FRANKIE SILVER (5th of the Ballad series) - Sharyn McCrumb
The Ballad of Frankie Silver is the fifth in the Ballad series, and it might well be the best. The blend between the old story and the new is perfect, as Sheriff Spencer Arrowood digs into the 1832 case of the first woman ever hanged for murder in North Carolina--18-year-old Frankie Silver, charged with dismembering her husband--while some disturbing new evidence is surfacing about another, much more recent capital crime.
THE ADVENTURESS (Amateur Sleuth) - Carole Nelson Douglas
Diva/detective Irene Adler and her bridegroom, handsome barrister Godfrey Norton, are honeymooning in Paris when they become embroiled in an investigation: a drowned sailor's body has been recovered from the Seine, and on his chest is a tattoo. A tattoo like one Irene once saw in London--on another sailor's chest, while the corpse lay upon Bram Stoker's dining room table. This clue will lead Irene to the first beautiful blond American princess of Monaco, political and matrimonial treachery, and a sword duel as she and her new friend Sarah Bernhardt unravel the mystery--with, of course, the help of Godfrey, Irene's faithful chronicler Miss Penelope Huxleigh, and Sherlock Holmes himself.
ISLAND OF BONES (P.I. Mystery) - P.J. Parrish
Set in the late 1980s, a young woman's bullet-ridden corpse is found tangled in mangrove roots on Florida's seacoast. Kincaid, a former cop turned private investigator, is hired by a woman who fears that her father, Frank Woods, a middle-aged, nondescript librarian with murky connections to several missing women dating back as far as 35 years, may be the killer. Although all signs point to Woods's guilt, his confession and apparent suicide never sit well with Kincaid. He reluctantly teams up with Mel Landeta, a gruff but ultimately likable local police officer who's losing his eyesight, and they return to the last place Woods visited-the Island of Bones.
Books for April 6th are:
THE FIFTH ANGEL (Thriller) - Tim Green
ON BEULAH HEIGHT (Detective Fiction) - Reginald Hill
THE RUBY IN THE SMOKE - Philip Pullman
(Gothic thriller for those 12 and older--that includes us--highly recommended by Blaire)