21. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal

Fatale Vol 2: The Devil's Business by Ed Brubaker, read by Brian, on 05/20/2014

fatale2Ed Brubaker’s second book in the “Fatale” series focuses on Los Angeles in the 1970s.  Our leading lady, Josephine, is trying to escape the Satanic Cults.  All seems fine until she comes across an actor crosses her path.

 

20. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Mystery

Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas, read by Brian, on 05/08/2014

veronicaYou cannot say “Veronica Mars” without hearing, “we use to be friends” in your head.  Veronica Mars was a popular but short lived television show about a high school girl doing detective work in her community. Creator, Rob Thomas, is now starting a series of books based off the lead character.   The first book takes place ten years after Veronica has graduated high school.

 

15. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Award Winner, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery · Tags:

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, read by Angie, on 05/15/2014

Sometimes I read a book and wonder what happened when I was a child that I missed reading it then. Maybe I was just too preoccupied by The Babysitters Club or Sweet Valley High and didn’t pay attention to books that might be considered quality. Maybe I only read things I could get through Scholastic Book Club. Whatever the case, I am glad I have the opportunity to read some of these as an adult and to introduce them to kids. 

The Westing Game is one of those books I never read as a kid but know I would have loved. It did when the Newbery when I was a pre-reader, but I am sure it was on every library shelf throughout my childhood. It is a wonderfully engaging mystery that reminded me a lot of the movie Clue (not an exact match I admit, but some elements were there). I liked that it is not a dumbed down mystery for kids, but one that made me think even as an adult. In the introduction, it states that Rankin never “wrote-down” to children, but instead wrote to the adult in children. I think this perfectly describes this book.

The story begins with the Sunset Towers and its new occupants. They are all carefully chosen, except for the mistake, and all are connected even though they do not realize it. Sunset Towers is in the shadow of the Westing House whose mysterious owner, Sam Westing, disappeared 20 years ago. Then Sam Westing is found dead in the house and the occupants of the Sunset Towers are notified that they are heirs to the Westing Fortune. The sixteen heirs are paired up and given clues to solve the mystery of who murdered Sam Westing. They winner of the Westing Game will receive the Westing fortune. Along the way we learn so much about each of the characters and their connections to each other and Sam Westing. In the end there is only one winner of the Westing Game, but everyone who plays benefits in some manner. 

07. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Claudia, Fiction, Mystery

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, read by Claudia, on 05/03/2014

In the 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas “32″ Jones were boyhood pals in a small town in rural Mississippi. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry was the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, black single mother. But then Larry took a girl to a drive-in movie and she was never seen or heard from again. He never confessed . . . and was never charged.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry lives a solitary, shunned existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has become the town constable. And now another girl has disappeared, forcing two men who once called each other “friend” to confront a past they’ve buried for decades.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant, read by Madeline, on 04/15/2014

Gaby Mortimer is the woman who has it all. But everything changes when she finds a body on the common near her home. She’s shaken and haunted by the image of the lifeless young woman, and frightened that the killer, still at large, could strike again. 

Before long, the police have a lead. The evidence points to a very clear suspect. One Gaby never saw coming . . . 

Full of twists and turns, this is a dark and suspenseful psychological thriller that will make you secondguess everything. Because you can never be too sure about anything, especially when it comes to murder.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

By Its Cover by Donna Leon, read by Madeline, on 04/01/2014

Donna Leon’s critically acclaimed, internationally bestselling Commissario Guido Brunetti series has attracted readers the world over with the beauty of its setting, the humanity of its characters, and its fearlessness in exploring politics, morality, and contemporary Italian culture. In the pages of Leon’s novels, the beloved conversations of the Brunetti family have drawn on topics of art and literature, but books are at the heart of this novel in a way they never have been before.

One afternoon, Commissario Guido Brunetti gets a frantic call from the director of a prestigious Venetian library. Someone has stolen pages out of several rare books. After a round of questioning, the case seems clear: the culprit must be the man who requested the volumes, an American professor from a Kansas university. The only problem—the man fled the library earlier that day, and after checking his credentials, the American professor doesn’t exist.

As the investigation proceeds, the suspects multiply. And when a seemingly harmless theologian, who had spent three years at the library reading the Fathers of the Church, turns up brutally murdered, Brunetti must question his expectations about what makes a man innocent, or guilty. 

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa, Mystery

Twelve Minutes to Midnight by Christopher Edge, read by Lisa, on 04/30/2014

Penelope Tredwell is the feisty thirteen-year-old orphan heiress of the bestselling magazine. The Penny Dreadful. Her masterly tales of the macabre are gripping Victorian Britain. even if no one knows shes the real author. One day a letter she receives from the governor of the notorious Bedlam madhouse plunges her into an adventure more terrifying than anything she ever imagined – A thriller with a fast-paced cinematic style. Twelve Minutes to Midnight is an electrifying story from an exciting new author.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Lisa, Mystery

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage, read by Lisa, on 04/20/2014

The eagerly anticipated followup to the Newbery honor winner and New York Times bestseller, Three Times Lucky

Small towns have rules. One is, you got to stay who you are — no matter how many murders you solve.

When Miss Lana makes an Accidental Bid at the Tupelo auction and winds up the mortified owner of an old inn, she doesn’t realize there’s a ghost in the fine print. Naturally, Desperado Detective Agency (aka Mo and Dale) opens a paranormal division to solve the mystery of the ghost’s identity. They’ve got to figure out who the ghost is so they can interview it for their history assignment (extra credit). But Mo and Dale start to realize that the Inn isn’t the only haunted place in Tupelo Landing. People can also be haunted by their own past. As Mo and Dale handily track down the truth about the ghost (with some help from the new kid in town), they discover the truth about a great many other people, too.

A laugh out loud, ghostly, Southern mystery that can be enjoyed by readers visiting Tupelo Landing for the first time, as well as those who are old friends of Mo and Dale.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb, read by Leslie, on 04/30/2014

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In a decrepit, long-empty New York building, Lieutenant Eve Dallas’s husband begins the demolition process by swinging a sledgehammer into a wall. When the dust clears, there are two skeletons wrapped in plastic behind it. He summons his wife immediately—and by the time she’s done with the crime scene, there are twelve murders to be solved.

Dallas and Roarke do it again, solve murders while juggling the home life and love.  I hope they never make these books into a movie because no actors could ever live up to what I imagine in my head.  While in some of her books, Dallas is hot on the heels of a murderer who is still out in her city committing more murders, these are old ones.  The ages of the victims, bring out her past, as well as Mavis’, something that hasn’t been delved into very deeply in past books.  The twist at the end is very neat, you can sort of catch a glimpse of it early on, but you can’t quite be sure that what you think is true of the storyline.  If you like J.D. Robb, you will surely enjoy the newest installment of this series.

01. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Noelle

Alexandria by Lindsey Davis, read by Noelle, on 04/28/2014

Little known fact about me:  I was a Latin nerd in high school.  I still heart ancient Rome.   I was in the mood for something along these lines this month, and a Marus Didius Falco mystery did the job.  The plot dragged a little at times, and there were a few elements of the ridiculous (scholar eaten by crocodile), but the Latin nerd inside me thoroughly enjoyed it.

In first century A.D. Rome, during the reign of Vespasian, Marcus Didius Falco works as a private “informer,” often for the emperor, ferreting out hidden truths and bringing villains to ground. But even informers take vacations with their wives, so in A.D. 77, Falco and his wife, Helena Justina, with others in tow, travel to Alexandria, Egypt. But they aren’t there long before Falco finds himself in the midst of nefarious doings—when the Librarian of the great library is found dead, under suspicious circumstances. Falco quickly finds himself on the trail of dodgy doings, malfeasance, deadly professional rivalry, more bodies and the lowest of the low—book thieves! As the bodies pile up, it’s up to Falco to untangle this horrible mess and restore order to a disordered universe.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

Hold Fast by Blue Balliett, read by Angie, on 04/28/2014

Dash, Summer, Early and Jubilation Pearl are a family of four. They may not have much, but they have each other. Until the night Dash disappears, then the family of four becomes a family of three and not quite so stable. The police don’t seem to be worried about Dash and think he is just another dead-beat dad. Summer, Early and Jubie know that is not the case. They wonder if his disappearance could be related to the mysterious book job he was doing on the side. No one at the Chicago Public Library (where Dash worked as a page) seems to know anything or want to help. Then the Pearl family is forced to leave their home and seek refuge in a shelter after someone breaks in and threatens the family and steals all their valuables. It is up to Early to try and figure out what happened to her dad and to find a way to save her family. 

I thought this book had some strong points but the story got a bit muddy. I really liked the idea of a book exploring what it is like to live in a shelter; however, everyone in the shelter seemed more like caricatures instead of real people. There is also a heavy reliance on the poems of Langston Hughes in telling the story. I don’t have anything against poetry or Langston Hughes, but I think this will turn some young readers off of this story. This is a story for people who like words and books and the meaning of words and how they come together. It isn’t a story for someone who wants to read a thrilling mystery about a disappearing dad. I think the combo of the shelter story and the missing dad mystery are what muddied things up. One or the other would have made a stronger story. 

28. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Ashes of the Earth: A Mystery of Post-Apocalyptic America by Eliot Pattison, read by Tammy, on 04/27/2014

ashes of the earth  Thirty years after a nuclear holocaust, survivors struggle to rebuild society in the few remaining areas not poisoned by radiation and germ warfare.

One of the founders of the colony of Carthage, Hadrian, joins forces with a police woman to solve mysterious murders that have started happening. The most painful for Hadrian is that of his close friend and the colony’s leading scientist, Jonah. Is it a government plot? Have some mobsters from the days before infiltrated and re-established a crime syndicate? Why would either of these groups encourage stories among the children of a better life in the afterlife that has lead to so many child suicides?

24. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

When the Butterflies Came by Kimberley Griffiths Little, read by Angie, on 04/23/2014

Tara Doucet is devastated when her Grammy Claire is killed in a car accident. Then she starts receiving letters from Grammy Claire. The letters point to a mystery that has to be solved about the nipwisipwis (butterflies). Grammy Claire’s study of the butterflies had taken her from her home in Louisiana to an island in the Pacific. Tara and her sister Riley are taken in by Claire’s butler Reginald and whisked away first to her Louisiana home in the swamp and then to her tree house on the island. Tara continues to receive letters and clues and mysteries keys from Grammy Claire. She has to solve the clues, figure out what the keys open and find out who is trying to endanger the nipwisipwis. 

This is a fabulous mystery for kids. I think they will really enjoy following the clues along with Tara. I loved the relationship between Tara and Riley. Even though it is prickly it is still very sisterly and they do truly care for each other. I did find it a little strange that the girls just went off with Claire’s butler leaving their mother at home suffering from melancholy. I liked the fact that we are left guessing a little bit about the true power of the nipwisipwis. It made it a little more believable. There are many mysterious plants and animals in the world so who knows if butterflies could really have restorative properties.

17. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin, read by Tracy, on 04/16/2014

In 1872 the American merchant vessel Mary Celeste was discovered adrift off the coast of Spain. Her cargo was intact and there was no sign of struggle, but the crew was gone. They were never found.

This maritime mystery lies at the center of an intricate narrative branching through the highest levels of late-nineteenth-century literary society. While on a voyage to Africa, a rather hard-up and unproven young writer named Arthur Conan Doyle hears of the Mary Celeste and decides to write an outlandish short story about what took place. This story causes quite a sensation back in the United States, particularly between sought-after Philadelphia spiritualist medium Violet Petra and a rational-minded journalist named Phoebe Grant, who is seeking to expose Petra as a fraud. Then there is the family of the Mary Celeste‘s captain, a family linked to the sea for generations and marked repeatedly by tragedy. Each member of this ensemble cast holds a critical piece to the puzzle of the Mary Celeste.

These three elements—a ship found sailing without a crew, a famous writer on the verge of enormous success, and the rise of an unorthodox and heretical religious fervor—converge in unexpected ways, in diaries, in letters, in safe harbors and rough seas. In a haunted, death-obsessed age, a ghost ship appearing in the mist is by turns a provocative mystery, an inspiration to creativity, and a tragic story of the disappearance of a family and of a bond between husband and wife that, for one moment, transcends the impenetrable barrier of death.

07. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

Lawless by Jeffrey Salane, read by Angie, on 04/05/2014

M Freeman has gotten accepted to the Lawless School. After a very strange interview, she is whisked away from her mother and her home. Her life before of tutors and homeschooling is over. But the Lawless School is not what it seems. The classes are not your normal classes and this is not your normal boarding school. It is a school where the children of exceptional criminals come to learn their craft. Turns out her parents aren’t art restorers and dealers, but art thieves. Her dad was a graduate of Lawless and may have been killed because of something he learned there. M (yes that is her full name) discovers that her tutors have been preparing her for this life of crime her entire life. She has been born a thieve and she is good at it.

This is a crazy thrill-ride of a book. The school itself is insane in the extreme, but really fun. M never knows who she can trust and that seems to change on a daily basis. There is of course a huge mission, a secret code, a message from her dead dad, and an end of the world scenario. The story is in no way believable or possible and the twist at the end is just a little too strange for my tastes. However, it is a fun book if you don’t think about the improbability of it all.

03. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery · Tags:

The Shadow Collector's Apprentice by Amy Gordon, read by Leslie, on 03/31/2014

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In the summer of 1963, after his father has inexplicably disappeared leaving Cully with his three eccentric aunts on their barely profitable apple farm, Cully goes to work for a mysterious antiques dealer who has the strange hobby of collecting shadows.

Another good read for both boys and girls, from Amy Gordon.  A bit of mystery rolled in with suspense and history.  Some of it is a bit far-fetched for me, but not for kids.  They will enjoy this one as a Mark Twain nominee.

03. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery · Tags:

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner, read by Leslie, on 03/30/2014

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When the original Star Spangled Banner is stolen, seventh-graders Anne, José, and Henry, all descendants of the Silver Jaguar Society, pursue suspects on airport carts and through baggage handling tunnels while stranded at a Washington, D.C., airport during a snowstorm.

A great first in a mystery series for young readers.  While easy for me to see where the plot is heading, kids will definitely enjoy the twists and turns the author takes them on.  A Mark Twain nominee, I can recommend this to both boys and girls.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

Death of the Black-Haired Girl by Robert Stone, read by Madeline, on 03/14/2014

In an elite college in a once-decaying New England city, Steven Brookman has come to a decision. A brilliant but careless professor, he has determined that for the sake of his marriage, and his soul, he must extract himself from his relationship with Maud Stack, his electrifying student, whose papers are always late and too long yet always incandescent. But Maud is a young woman whose passions are not easily contained or curtailed, and their union will quickly yield tragic and far-reaching consequences.

As in Robert Stone’s most acclaimed novels, here he conjures a complex moral universe where nothing is black and white, even if the characters—always complicated, always compelling—wish it were. The stakes of Brookman and Maud’s relationship prove higher than either one could have anticipated, pitting individuals against one another and against the institutions meant to protect them.

Death of the Black-Haired Girl is a powerful tale of infidelity, accountability, the allure of youth, the promise of absolution, and the notion that madness is everywhere, in plain sight.

01. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb, read by Leslie, on 03/14/2014

Thankless in Death (In Death, #37)

As the household of NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke prepares for an invasion of family and friends for Thanksgiving, an ungrateful son decides to stop the nagging from his parents – by ending their lives.

I find it amusing that Eve does not know what to do with all the family she is slowly accumulating.  And while trying to solve a murder used to give her an excuse to not attend family functions and parties, you can see her character evolving enough to enjoy them.  Another great Eve Dallas murder novel.

01. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Calculated in Death by J.D. Robb, read by Leslie, on 03/07/2014

Calculated in Death (In Death, #36)

When Marta Dickenson, a well-off accountant and a beloved wife and mother, is murdered, Lieutenant Eve Dallas immerses herself in her billionaire husband Roarke’s world of big business to discover who arranged a hit on an innocent woman.

Another good Eve Dallas murder, with all the right twists, enough to keep you guessing.  I like this series because it has just the right amount of romance (not much, but steamy when it’s there), and her characters are mostly believable (enough you could see the possibility.) I always recommend this series to anyone who enjoys mysteries.