Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tempest at the Helm by David Hunter ****

Tempest at the Helm by David Hunter is a police procedural set on Knoxville, TN with a couple of murders - the mayor's wife and lover, some crazy people, and generous helpings humor and local color. I found this short novel to be an enjoyable whodunit.

 The characters and the setting were well drawn and engaging. However, three of the men were involved with women exactly 20 years younger than themselves. This seemed a little odd.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, until the end when the author climbed up on a soapbox and got down-right preachy about the problems of veterans.

I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway on October 31, 2013. I received the book on November 7, 2013.

The book starts with a prologue which is confusingly titled foreword.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Hijack in Abstract by Larissa Reinhart ****

Hijack in Abstract by Larissa Reinhart a hybrid of a zany world reminiscent of Carl Hiaasen and a class of spunky heroine like Kinsey Millhone (created by Sue Grafton). Cherry Tucker lives in the small Georgia town of Halo ... where the men are good looking and the women carry shotguns. Where she is an artist with classical aspirations and, as is typical in the genre, an all around busybody with several love interests, but no sex life to speak of.

The current adventure involves hijacking, murder, copper thieves, meth, immigration fraud, lots of different firearms, indentured servitude, blackmail, and small town politics. Cherry is concerned about the welfare of a newly orphaned boy, his destitute grandmother, and the numerous men who maybe or may not be interested in getting into her pants, protecting her, or attacking her, among others. Throughout it all she ignores all the well-meant advice and pushes forward to mess things up ... no ... I meant ... solve the mysteries.

A wonderful light mystery novel, as you might expect from any of the authors mentioned above.

I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway on September 24, 2013. I received the book on October 4, 2013.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Thief of Secrets by Calma Ribeiro ***

The Thief of Secrets by Celma Ribeiro is journey of self discovery written in protagonist Marina's subjective time ... jumping from memories as early as 1979 when she was 12 or 13 to the present the present (1994). Marina is a lost soul, searching herself and the secret of Magellan - as a Brazilian, Magellan is an ancestral hero from a long-lost time of discovery and importance.

Marina's search begins at the most powerful moment of her life when she pulls the trigger on an old rifle and kills her mother's murderer. However, rather than being empowered by this act, she seems to give up her personal agency and, like a message in a bottle at sea (my metaphor), gives herself and her search up to the currents and winds. This search takes across the Atlantic between Brazil and Portugal and back, again and again.

With her mother gone, Marina is raised by her grandmother and the witches net door. These few women in her life offer some comfort, but little support or direction.

Direction in particular is left to a group of men, men who know each other, and appear at unexpected moments and for unknown reasons, during Marina's journey. These men all seems to have unexplainable power over her, both in the physical world directing her movements, and in the mental world, overwhelming her thoughts. Oddly, their direction has more to do with Magellan than with Marina.

Though Marina's voyage is sometimes confusing and often frustrating, I found her to be a sympathetic and engaging character, and in a captivating way, this book was a page turner.

I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway on September 23, 2013. I received the book on September 26, 2013.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Field of Vision by Michael Jarvis ***

Jake Mayfield is an angst-ridden photographer on a small Caribbean island searching for ... well ... I'm not sure what he is looking for.
Every day I go a little farther, working my way up to the cloud forest. Every day I see less sun and spend more time hiking. But the forest is so sublime that I've begun to experience a disorientation ...
The clear focus in Field of Vision by Michael Jarvis is imagery. As Jake Mayfield searches, he voices his photographer's field of vision.
She lies beside me, breaks baked brie over her breasts, flakes of crust litter her skin like confetti and warm cheese drools like blond mud over mounds, drops of apricot almond glaze trickle on the tips and soak nutty-sweet to the skin inside the cloth, quantity far surpassed by flavor, a buttery blob of cheese in my throat and stains of glaze licked from the ends, the sheer lace encasement a barrier now and not to be removed by me the feeder, for I understand my only task.
Jake is hard to pin down. Beyond his photographer's vision, he passes through the rest of his experience without volition or comprehension. This island serves up an ample supply of sex and violence, both of which Jake, like a fantasy explorer, accepts as his due, along with the food and shelter that others provide him along the way

In the end, I found the poetic vision of the tropics more satisfying than Jake's hipste-cool odyssey through a jungle of graphic sex and violence.

I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway on September 7, 2013. I received the book September 11, 2013.