The East Bay Mystery Readers' Group - 6 April 2004 Meeting Recap

THE FIFTH ANGEL (Thriller) - Tim Green Blaire / Good-- ; Charlotte & LJ / Okay
Jack Ruskin, a well-respected New York lawyer, is also living every parent's nightmare after his teenage daughter becomes the victim of a sexual predator. As Jack tends to her, his sorrow and pain gradually grow into hot-blooded rage and he decides to take matters into his own angry hands. This is a novel where the "good" guy is the criminal and the "bad" guy is the victim, and you have to decide whether retribution or justice is deserved. The Fifth Angel is not a read for the faint-hearted
None of us liked this very much. While Blaire did find the premise of a serial killer hunting other serial killers interesting, the ending was absurd. Charlotte hated it and found it totally unbelievable. I felt the characters were flat and overdone and, where there should have been an overwhelming moral dilemma, it just didn't come through. This is Tim Green's 9th book, so one would think he's a decent writer, but you really couldn't tell it from this book. But it did move along well and kept us all reading, so we rated it higher than we might have otherwise.

ON BEULAH HEIGHT (Police Procedural) - Reginald Hill Blaire and Libby / VG; Charlotte and LJ / Good
Fifteen years earlier, the quaint British village of Dendale suffered double tragedies: three children were kidnapped, never to be found, while a fourth barely escaped with her life. Then the government forced the villagers to evacuate Dendale so they could flood its homes and shops to create a new reservoir. A decade and a half later, seven-year-old Lorraine Dacre disappears from Danby, the village where most of the Dendale's inhabitants retreated. Dalziel and Pascoe are caught in a painful nightmare. They failed to solve the earlier case; can they solve this one?
We all agreed this was slow going. Blaire liked it alot and didn't see the end coming. She particularly liked the story of the Nix. Libby thought it was well written. Charlotte liked it the best of the three books and felt it was an interesting story. I did see the end coming very early on and felt the lack of having read other previous books in the series so I'd have known the characters better. I felt the main characters were the best part in a rather uninteresting plot.

THE RUBY IN THE SMOKE - Philip Pullman Blaire / Ex; Charlotte - G; Libby and LJ / VG
(Gothic thriller for those 12 and older--that includes us--highly recommended by Jack)
Set in a rogue- and scalawag-ridden Victorian London, 16-year-old Sally Lockhart has no time for the usual trials of adolescence: her father has been murdered, and she needs to find out how and why. But everywhere she turns, she encounters new scoundrels and secrets. Why do the mere words "seven blessings" cause one man to keel over and die at their utterance? Who has possession of the rare, stolen ruby? And what does the opium trade have to do with it?
Libby read all three books in the trilogy and very much enjoyed them all. Charlotte enjoyed it but felt it was rather flat compared to one of his other books "Golden Compass." Blaire and I liked this the best of the three. Blaire through it was a "ripping good story" with good momentum. I particularly liked that it was about a gutsy young woman with brave and loyal friends.

Looking ahead, books for May 4th are:
BURGLARS CAN'T BE CHOOSERS (Amateur Sleuth/Burglar) - Lawrence Block
LORD DARCY - Part I (Alternative Time-Line Mystery) - Randall Garrett
MANHATTAN NOCTURNE (Amateur Sleuth/ Reporter) - Colin Harrison (available in HC at Dark Carnival for paperback price)
Books for June 1st are:
MRS. MALORY AND THE SILENT KILLER - Hazel Holt
FATAL FLAW - William Lasher
COLD SPRINGS - Rick Riordon

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