Review: The Book Thing by Laura Lippman

The Book Thing by Laura Lippman

I am a fan of Laura Lippman, books and short stories. The Book Thing combines all three. Win win! I have mostly read Lippman’s stand alone novels, but this short story falls within the Tess Monaghan series. The Book Thing contains not-so-subtle commentary on book stores vs. e-books. The underlying question throughout the story seems to be: Do we, as a society, still value paper books?

A short, fast read for fans of Laura Lippman and Tess Monaghan. I love that this falls within a series of Bibliomysteries. I think I need to pick up others in the series.

Thank you to MysteriousPress.com and Open Road Media for providing me with a copy to review.

Book: The Book Thing | Author: Laura Lippman | Published: MysteriousPress.com and Open Road Media; January 15, 2013 | Format: e-Galley | Source: NetGalley | Rating: 4 out of 5
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Review: Bad Intentions (Inspector Konrad Sejer #9)

Bad Intentions by Karin FossumIn Bad Intentions, the newest installment in the Inspector Sejer series since The Water’s Edge in 2009, Konrad Sejer must face down his memories and fears as he struggles to determine why the corpses of troubled young men keep surfacing in local lakes.

The first victim, Jon Moreno, was getting better. His psychiatrist said so, and so did his new friend at the hospital, Molly Gram, with her little-girl-lost looks. He was racked by a mysterious guilt that had driven him to a nervous breakdown one year earlier. But when he drowns in Dead Water Lake, Sejer hesitates to call it a suicide.

Then another corpse is found in a lake, a Vietnamese immigrant. And Sejer begins to feel his age weigh on him. Does he still have the strength to pursue the elusive explanations for human evil?

Karin Fossum has been on my radar for a while. I love a good Scandinavian crime novel. Unfortunately, Bad Intentions left me with a ho-hum feeling.

Let me say right away that there is graphic violence towards an animal near the end of the book. I understand that the point is to show that one of the characters is evil and unfeeling. However, after reading that portion of the book, I had to put the book down for a few minutes and think about whether I wanted to finish reading. It is rare that I do not finish a book, but this portion of the story really bothered me.

The premise of Bad Intentions is that three friends are harboring a dark secret. During a camping trip, one of the friends drowns in Dead Water Lake. Prior to the camping trip, the drowning victim, Jon Moreno, had been staying at an institution where he was receiving counseling for depression and anxiety. The remainder of the novel is spent revealing the secret and how the three friends are connected to the second drowning victim.

The book is narrated by several different characters; including Jon Moreno, Moreno’s mother, Konrad Sejer and Moreno’s friend Reilly. Konrad Sejer plays only a minor role in Bad Intentions. I was not sure if this is normal for the series, but other reviews indicate that he normally plays a larger role.

The plot of Bad Intentions seemed pretty average. On a positive note, the book is a quick read. The character of Reilly is complex and proved to be one of my favorite parts of the novel.

Book: Bad Intentions | Author: Karin Fossum | Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; August 9, 2011 | Format: e-Galley | Source: NetGalley | Rating: 3 out of 5

Review: Collecting Cooper

People are disappearing in Christchurch. Cooper Riley, a psychology professor, doesn’t make it to work one day. Emma Green, one of his students, doesn’t make it home. When ex-cop Theodore Tate is released from a four-month prison stint, he’s asked by Green’s father to help find Emma. After all, Tate was in jail for nearly killing her in a DUI accident the year before, so he owes him. Big time. What neither of them knows is that a former mental patient is holding people prisoner as part of his growing collection of serial killer souvenirs. Now he has acquired the ultimate collector’s item—an actual killer.

Meanwhile, clues keep pulling Tate back to Grover Hills, the mental institution that closed down three years ago. Very bad things happened there. Those who managed to survive would prefer keeping their memories buried. Tate has no choice but to unearth Grover Hills’ dark past if there is any chance of finding Emma Green and Cooper Riley alive.

Collecting Cooper is the first book by Paul Cleave that I have read. A little research tells me that all of his books are set in Christchurch, New Zealand. Cleave portrays Christchurch as the worst place on earth to live, a city full of serial killers and people down on their luck. It made me wonder if Christchurch is as desolate a place as portrayed. Apparently, Cleave is asked this question often. From his website:

In your books, you make Christchurch look very bleak. Is the city really that way? Or do you just see it that way?

This is something I get asked a lot. Christchurch is a fantastic city, I love living here, and I don’t see it in the dark way I write about it. I take everything bad I’ve learned about Christchurch and I exaggerate it for the books to create an atmosphere more suitable for a crime novel. Remember, it’s not me who sees Christchurch so darkly – it’s the characters. The books are written from the point of view of a serial killer, or from characters who have suffered and are still suffering, whose lives are in danger. Christchurch is nowhere as bad as I paint it to be – but it definitely has its dark underbelly, and it’s absolutely a perfect backdrop for my characters to live and play in. I like having Christchurch as a ‘character’ in the books now, almost an entity that makes the other players behave badly.

Cleave has written a page turner full of disturbing violence and mentally unstable characters. The story is told from alternating character perspectives, including Emma Green, Theodore Tate, Cooper Riley and Adrian Loaner – the former mental patient. As a reader, I felt for Tate despite his questionable past. What I did not realize is that Tate is featured in Cleave’s other books. The books are not portrayed as a series but apparently some characters overlap. I would like to read Cleave’s other books to learn more about Tate’s history before he went to jail.

Collecting Cooper is out on July 26th, and I definitely recommend this read to anyone who enjoys reading about crime/serial killers and can stomach reading about violent crime. The one aspect that got to me is that animals are killed in the story. I can read about violence towards people, but I am sensitive to violence towards animals. Go figure.

Many thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with a free e-Galley for review, via Galley Grab.

Book: Collecting Cooper | Author: Paul Cleave | Published: Simon & Schuster; July 26, 2011 | Format: e-Galley | Source: NetGalley | Rating: 4 out of 5

Review: The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus SakeyThe Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes is the first book by Marcus Sakey that I have read, but research tells me that several of his books have been optioned for movies and I should probably read them all.

This book is a page turner from the start. A man wakes up naked and cold on a beach with no idea who he is or where he is. He finds an empty car that he figures out must be his car and soon enough discovers that he is in Maine. He stumbles upon the realization that he is being sought by the police, but he does not know why. What follows is a cross country trip focusing on police evasion and a man with amnesia trying to figure out what drove him to leave Los Angeles and end up in the cold waters of Maine.

What is not clear from book blurbs – I don’t think I am spoiling anything – is that the plot centers quite a bit around Hollywood and celebrity type personalities. Interspersed with the normal narrative, the story is sometimes told in the form of a television or movie script.

This is the book equivalent of a popcorn movie. The story is exciting with twists and turns that keep you turning the pages. Then the end throws the reader for a loop. I can definitely see why some of Sakey’s books have been optioned for movies. If The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes were a movie, it would be just the kind of movie I would want to sit down and lose myself in on a Sunday afternoon.

Many thanks to the publisher, Dutton Books, for providing me with an e-Galley for review, via NetGalley.

Book: The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes | Author: Marcus Sakey | Published: Dutton Books; June 9, 2011 | Format: e-Galley | Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5

Audiobook Review: Thereby Hangs a Tail

Thereby Hangs a Tail by Spencer QuinnThe Chet and Bernie mysteries by Spencer Quinn are some of my favorite books! The narrator, Jim Frangione, really makes the audiobooks enjoyable. The series is narrated by Chet the dog. Chet and his person, Bernie, run the Little Detective Agency, which specializes in missing person cases.

In Thereby Hangs a Tail, Chet and Bernie are hired to act as bodyguards for Princess the show dog and her owner, Adelina Borghese. The Borghese family has received mail threatening Princess and want to make sure that she has protection while in town for The Great Western Dog Show. At $2,000 per day, the job seems like easy money. Unfortunately, there is an incident causing Chet and Bernie to be fired before the job ever begins. Then Princess and Adelina are actually abducted, and Bernie is determined to solve the case even though he and Chet were fired.

Chet and Bernie are both lovable characters, as is Bernie’s girlfriend, Susie Sanchez. Chet as narrator works really well, even if you have to suspend logic and believe that a dog can actually understand human conversation enough to tell a coherent story. I think anyone who likes dogs will enjoy this series. Chet has a lot of stories about his life as a dog, many of which he tells you he is saving for some other time. He loves gourmet treats from Rover and Company as much as he loves a stale hamburger. Chet’s narration is often interrupted by his discovery of some food item or a cat distracting him by yawning.

Sherm Galloping

When I listen to Jim Frangione-as-Chet narrate, I am often reminded of my dog Sherman. Sherman is always good for a laugh, and he has mismatched ears like Chet.

If you like dogs and you like books, you absolutely must give this series a try! I recommend the audiobooks. Get a head start by having a look around Chet The Dog.

I have already moved on to the third book in the series, To Fetch a Thief. Thereby Hangs a Tail ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, and I had to find out what happened.

Book: Thereby Hangs a Tail | Author: Spencer Quinn | Published: Recorded Books, LLC; January 5, 2010 | Format: CDs | Source: Library
Rating: 5 out of 5