Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mysteries x 3

Time is short and the holiday chores are piling up so I’ve decided to write short reviews for three books I’ve finished in the last week or so. All are mysteries and have many things in common. This is my go to genre so I read a lot of these stories and I can be fairly critical but I liked each of these books. They have plots that are complex and interesting, characters that are well defined and endings that worked for me. The first two have recurring characters – Kinsey Millhone in V is for Vengeance and Harry Bosch in The Drop. I like the familiarity of these series; I feel like I know these detectives and enjoy the minor characters that recur in the narrative as well. These detectives are always righteous and after the bad guys even if they bend the rules a bit – they are easy to like. The third book – Headhunters – has an unsympathetic and unethical hero that somehow you end up rooting for possibly because the villain in this story is so wacko!

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton, Putnam, November 2011 – We reconnect with Kinsey who is working her way alphabetically through the crime in the fictional town of Santa Teresa in California. Kinsey is a reluctant detective who when she interrupts a shop lifting gang is drawn into a complex mystery that includes gangsters, a dirty cop, a lonely senior citizen mourning the loss of his fiancée, and a society woman flirting with danger. Kinsey continues to be Kinsey – not caring about her appearance, continuing her penchant for junk food, drinking bad wine at Rosie's and partaking in her daily jogging routine. The plot is way too complex to summarize but it is as good as any in this enjoyable series.

The Drop by Michael Connolly, Little Brown & Co. November, 2011 – Harry Bosch, the LAPD homicide detective is back and after the bad guys. In the last couple of books he has had this annoying partner, Stephen Chu and he is again in this story. A prominent city hall lawyer (aka fixer) is found dead on the pavement of a plush Hollywood hotel. Was he thrown from the balcony or is it suicide? The dead man is the son of one of Harry’s old enemies, Irvin Irving. At Irving’s request Harry is assigned the case. Concurrently, Harry is investigating a cold case murder of a young woman raped and killed 20 years ago in Venice Beach. Each of these cases takes multiple twists and turns before they are solved. Harry also continues to be Harry – he still likes jazz, he has a new girlfriend in every book (here it is Dr. Hannah Stone), his daughter is a key part of his life and he is hell bent to find out the truth in each case he works. Highly recommended. I listened to the audio book of this story that was read by Len Cariou. Cariou did a good job on the narration but I could not get his Blue Blood character (Henry Reagan) out of my head. I kept picturing Reagan instead of Bosch.

Headhunters by Jo Nesbǿ, Vintage, September, 2011 – This is a Norwegian story that has been translated into English. It is a little quirky. It is first person narrated by the protagonist Robert Brown. Brown is a half Norwegian, half English employee of a headhunting firm responsible for filling most of the executive positions in Norwegian industry. He has a glamorous wife who is an art dealer. They live beyond their means and we slowly come to realize that Brown has a second career as an art thief. He meets his match in Claus Greve, a Dutch executive who Brown courts for a CEO position in Norway. Brown arranges to steal an expensive piece of art from Greve. Greve is not what he seems and Brown soon has the tables turned finding himself running for his life. This story moves right along, it has plenty of black humor and the prose is spare and descriptive. There is at least one plot twist that the author has that I never saw coming. The body count was a little high for me but the violence is contained to one or two scenes. Somehow the author is able to get your sympathy for Brown and I found myself rooting for him to succeed. This book is a standalone mystery, the author Jo Nesbǿ has a series with a detective (Harry Hole) that I’d try after reading this story.


Zibilee said...

I just found out about this standalone from Nesbo, and have to admit that I am intrigued. I have been interested in the Harry Hole books too, but I am a little nonplussed that all the books haven't been translated in order! I don't think there is any way for me to read the first two at this point in time!

These were great mini-reviews, and I enjoyed reading them. Thanks for sharing them with us today!

Anonymous said...

nice idea, thanks for sharing...