Saturday, September 3, 2011

New Book Reviews

New books deserve a look. See what our reviewer, Susan Arthen, has to say:

Hotwire by Alex Kava

This book is described as a thriller and is apparently the 9th book by Kava featuring Maggie O'Dell as an FBI profiler. I haven't read any other of the novels featuring O'Dell but I plant to do so after reading this one. She is skillfully drawn as a talented, intelligent and resourceful character which is of course, requisite. However, just a skillfully revealed are her "ordinary" qualities- her anxiety about her life partner, the mistakes she realizes she has just made, her confusion while sorting out a bizarre case of electrocuted teens and so she is more readily perceived as a regular person. The mystery she is working on is interwoven with the case her FBI partner is working on, a deadly pathogen showing up in school lunches, and this leads to a USDA corruption scandal. Sound too predictable? I can guarantee there are enough well thought out twists and sub-plots in Hotwire to keep you interested!

Lot's Return to Sodom by Sandra Brennan

This book begins with Liv Bergen visiting her family in their hometown territory in the Black Hills of South Dakota while recuperating from the injuries she received in the 1st book of this series, "In the Belly of Jonah". During Liv's visit, her brother's girlfriend is murdered during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which draws over 500,000 bikers to the Black Hills each summer. I liked that it is a stand alone book, and that I didn't feel as though I was missing something by not having read the first book. You are drawn into the story and that she ended up in the middle of this particular investigation is smoothly handled. Puzzling out who the killer was and in the end having the killer be both surprising and someone who was woven into the action all along makes this a great read for those who loves the suspense novels.

A Grown Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson

Jackson takes you on an interesting journey as she builds the story in A Grown Up Kind of Pretty. It is multi-generational, though Ginny, the oldest is only 45, and bases the narrative on the fact that every 15 years some kind of trouble up ends her life. One story line is about her daughter Liza, and her daughter Mosey, whose blood connection comes into question when a grave with an infant's skeleton is found in Ginny's back yard. Another is about Ginny's relationship in the past with the love of her life, who was married (but separated!) at the beginning of their relationship and is now divorced. A third story line is about Liza, and who fathered her child, and who now is recovering from a stroke. Each story line is well thought out, holds hidden information that gets revealed with excellent timing and weaves in with the other story lines pretty seamlessly. You get attached to the characters immediately and can't wait to see how everything works out.

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard

This book works well for readers of history and readers of fiction as well. Taking the facts of the assassination attempt on President Garfield, Millard narrates a totally believable story about Garfield, elected president by acclamation, an office he attempted to avoid. It was clearly a loss to the nation, a bad case of what might have been had he lived, that rises up off the pages. What was even more horrific is that Garfield, shot by a deranged man within weeks of taking office, is basically killed by his own doctor. I was cringing every few pages as the story reveals his medical care from the moment he fell to the floor of the train station right up to his final moments because I knew how much was going wrong based on medical knowledge today. What is tragic is that the idea of germs, of keeping things sterile, and finding the exact location of the bullet within Garfield were all just newly known then but not accepted at all. And so a possibly great President died a painful and tragic death. Since I do not, as a rule, read non-fiction history books, the combination of fact and story was quite appealing and informative.

The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams

This is a terrific thriller with an extremely talented serial killer as the focus. Of course you immediately root for Keye Streete, the ex-FBI profiler who has been getting by on small investigative jobs after getting sober. As she gets closer to the killer, the killer seems to be making attempts to keep her out of the way of the investigation, which confuses things of Keye. A decent amount of solid red herring work, a twist near the end that works even though it seems to come out of no-where, a stupid ex-husband and a current but unacknowledged love interest provide a fully fledged book that intrigues right to the last page.

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