Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
The Drop by Michael Connelly is a good classic police work mystery. Detective Harry Bosch who works cold cases has been requested by a councilman to investigate the death of his son. Bosh is also working a cold case. We get a lot of insight to police work and what they have to do to make sure that their case is ready for court and the scrutiny of the defense lawyer. In some ways they spend way too much time on telling the protocols the whys and wherefores of proper police procedure. The two mysteries that Bosh has to solve; one is the councilman’s son is found splat on the concrete and had apparently jumped from the seventh floor of a hotel (or was he pushed or tossed) the other is a twenty year old cold case of a 19 year old female who was raped and murdered. I listened to this as an audio book downloaded from KPL’s overdrive, so flipping a page and scooting ahead through the boring detail parts of police work was not an option but I was kind of glad I was forced to listen. It gave me a better feel for how tedious the plodding along and building a case was and how crucial it was or your work is all for naught as a defense lawyer gets the bad guy off on a technicality. If you like true crime, you might like this. Michael Connelly is a well know famous author and has many other books for you to choose from also.
The Striker is a book by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott. You can interpret that as by Justin Scott with Clive Cussler taking credit and providing guidance. This is another Isaac Bell Adventure and takes place in 1902. In this book Isaac Bell is just starting out with the Van Dorn Detective agency. This story takes place in Pittsburgh in the coal mines. The Van Dorn agency is hired to find out who has been sabotaging the operations. I could relate to the geographical area of this book. I went to college not too many miles outside of Pittsburgh and used to hitchhike in to town for a weekend. When they described the area they wanted to move their tent city to, they talked about the area where the three rivers came together and then they said just imagine a baseball diamond here. Well, since this book was written in 2013 we know that the famous Three Rivers Stadium home to the Pittsburgh Pirates was built there. I know the area well. I spent the night sleeping in a phone booth just outside of the stadium. I was a college kid with no money, it was snowing and the phone booth offered protection from the wind. The police did make me vacate and find another place, the bus terminal offered warmth. These Pittsburgh police were nice, the ones in book took easily to swinging clubs, cracking heads and putting people in jail or the hospital. In this book they develop the Isaac Bell character. He is young and has a hard time being viewed as a lead detective of a team due to his youthful looks. It is suggested he grow a mustache. In the other Isaac Bell books his mustache is constantly referred to when describing him. Archie, his best friend is an apprentice in this book and just learning the ropes. It seemed odd to have the great Archie being subservient. In the books I have already read, we have experienced Isaac’s and Archie’s love interests and their marriage, their getting shot, they are seasoned professionals. So to now discover them as neophytes was interesting. In this book we are introduced to why Isaac carries a derringer in his hat. We read of him buying the derringer, and the hat and of the many many hours he spent perfecting his drawing the gun, all the time knowing that he has used this trick of a hidden gun to save his bacon later in his life. I think what I liked best about this book was the development of Isaac’s character and the description of what it was like in 1902; the living conditions, the unions, coal and our dependence on it for fuel. This could make a good movie, steam boats blow up, people get shot all the elements of a good movie.
Artemis Fowl is a 12 year old boy genius who kidnaps a fairy in order to get her gold. This is the first in a series and is titled Artemis Fowl. Artemis is what every 12 year old boy wants to be. His mom has dementia so he is not hampered by her rules and having to go to school, yet he does miss her and would still like to have her back as his mom. Artemis has a man servant with the last name of Butler who is huge and protects Artemis. The first thing that happens is that Artemis captures a fairy book. With this first chapter we are introduced to Artemis and find out that he has a castle, has a great computer network, that he is always two steps ahead of everyone and that Butler is very strong and dedicated. Artemis uses the knowledge in this fairy book to ambush Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon fairy unit. He holds her hostage and demands a ton of gold. The fairies try to get Holly back but are defeated time after time by Artemis. Root, a commander in the LEPrecon unit decides to send in a dwarf named Mulch. This book is written for a teen age audience. It is heavy into to fairies, dwarfs, goblins, trolls etc. It also has the gassy fart humor that teen age boys enjoy. The drawf can unhinge his jaw and tunnel through dirt. Prior to starting he also opens the back flap of his tunneling pants because what goes in the jaw comes out the other end. He also builds up a tremendous amount of air pressure and he actually is able to use this to incapacitate Butler. This book is full of details about fairy life. This is book one of a series. I got my copy from KPL's digital audio collection but we also have them in hard copy. I look forward to “reading” (having them read to me) the others.
Private Berlin is another James Patterson, Mark Sullivan novel. This one takes place in place in Germany, bet you could tell that from the title. This mystery revolves around six children who were in an orphanage pre the Berlin wall coming down. Chris, who works for Private in the Berlin branch, see where they cleverly got the name for the book, goes missing. As Mattie and the rest of Private try to find out what happened to Chris they find that it is about these six children now grown up and getting murdered. They are one step behind this mystery man who calls himself the invisible man. Some of the chapters have us following Private and some of the chapters are told by the murderer. We learn that this man likes masks and has many disguises which make it hard to find him. Everyone they talk with describes him differently but he does make a unique clicking noise in his throat when he gets excited. Most of the book has us with the murderer, describing how he gets access to an apartment and kills his victim and then we flip and follow Private on his trail and discovering the aftermath. I don’t want to give too many details as this is a who could this be type novel. Enough people do get killed, usually with a screw driver to the neck and there is enough hot on the trail to keep you interested. They also dredge up the past atrocities that occurred behind the Berlin wall as this excerpt shows “They used torture and execution at Hoshenschonhausen Prison to make family members testify against one another. Starvation, sleep deprivation, mock drowning” I did find it a little difficult with some of the German names and was glad to be reading to myself and not having to read out loud and trying to pronounce these words.
James Patterson books are what you call quick reads, nice big print, short chapters and it is engaging. Alex Cross, Run is written by James Patterson alone, none of that plastering his name on a book with another author and you know James Patterson read it, gave guidance but really the other author wrote it. This book is chucked full of killings. It spends more time on describing killing after killing than sharing the hunt for the killer. Usually I complain that we have to hear about the detective’s theory of what is happening, he thinks it, he tells someone, he sums it up for someone who is helping him determine if the criminal was really putting his full weight on his steps and aha he has a limp. Its filler for the book, nothing new just hammering home a summary for those of you who put down the book and are now picking it up again a week later and you forgot what had happened.
This starts out rather abruptly with Alex and Samson busting up a party that a wealthy plastic surgeon Elijah Creem and his buddy Bergman, who owns a modeling agent are having complete with drugs, underage girls and lots of naked people. It seemed to me to just toss you in the deep end bang lets arrest some slimy people. It was a way to introduce these two guys. For the rest of the book these two have a competition killing people. Creem kills young perfect looking blonde females and Bergman kills young attractive gay guys. There is not a lot of build up to the killings, no long chapters on stalking the victim. It’s just bang Bergman killed and now Creem has to kill to keep up. Creem will keep his phone turned on so Bergman can listen.
The other running story is of a young man, Ron Guidice, who blames Alex Cross for the death of his wife. It doesn’t matter that it was the bullet from another officer’s gun that actually killed her. This guy is a blogger and he writes edgy pieces about Alex painting him to be a bad policeman. And of course any one who had read the Alex Cross books knows that Alex is the best, greatest policeman ever, at least according to Alex Cross. I find him a bit pompous. Ron Guidice does come up with some interesting ways to tweak Alex Cross. I especially like when at a crime scene Ron calls out to Alex Are you high, you look like you are high. Of course Alex doesn’t just walk away, just the opposite, he walks to Ron. Ron sticks him with a needle quickly and with no one else seeing injecting him with a high getting drug. Alex enraged punches Ron several times. Everyone in the crowd is filming it with their camera phones. Alex tests positive for drugs, gets desk duty, his foster kid is taken away and Ron blogs away happily complaining about police brutality and how Alex is a menace. Nicely played Ron. It is not that hard to enrage Alex Cross. Another good one was when Ron keeps shoving his recording device in Alex’s face. Of course Alex does not do the Gandhi and just walk away, he grabs the device and chucks it into the woods. Ron is tickled pink because he now has more fodder for his blog.
The book alternates between Ron’s antics and Creem and Bergmans killings . Truth be told I was rooting for Ron. I like it when Alex gets his comeuppances.
Alex Cross, Run
The Fiddles Go On Strikeby Bobby Claeys is cute children’s book with a message. It starts out with a child asking is mom how does this or that work. The mom doesn’t know how our gadgets work, they just work. Then one day they stop working. The TV will not turn on, the computer will not work, the toaster will not make toast. Why? Repair people come and find a note inside each broken gadget saying “We Quit” We find out that the Fiddles or as some called them the purple dudes wrote the note. The Fiddles make a statement “BEHOLD! We are the reason your lives are easier. For too long, we have been working without any appreciation. You humans go through each day using your gadgets without even thinking ‘How does this work’” The humans hold a party thanking the Lil’ Purple Dudes. This is a cute entertaining book and especially dear to me as my sons best friend Bobby Claeys is the author. We look forward to more books by the soon to be famous author Bobby Claeys.
The Fiddles Go On Strike
Do you watch Downton Abby? When I read The Husband List I was reminded of the affluent people in Downton Abby. Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly wrote the novel The Husband List. Janet Evanovich is best known for her Stephanie Plum Bail Bondsman books which all have a number, One is for money up to the current one Notorious Nineteen.The Husband List is set in 1894 and centers on some very wealthy families. This is where I saw the similarities to Downton Abbey. Their focus is on parties and social status. They have their main home which is of course huge and they have their vacation home. They travel in style and have plenty of servants. A warning, this is a very mushy book. Caroline Maxwell longs for Jack Culhane but her mother wants her to marry Lord Bremerton who will be the fourteenth Duke of Endsleigh. This excerpt will give you a flavor of the book “Though she wasn’t in physical contact with him, she could feel the warmth rolling off him. It made her shiver in a most delicious way.” I enjoyed this book, you just have to glide over the mush or be in the right mood.
The Husband List
Now this book was written by James Patterson with no co-writers. This is his famous Alex Cross series. I like how James Patterson writes but I am not a fan of the famous Alex Cross. I find him smug. He keeps saying how great of a dad he is but then then he is never home. Course he is fictional, which is a testament to James Patterson’s writing ability that he can get me to feel this way about a fictional character, or maybe I’m a bit bent and need to see someone professionally. James Patterson had a book titled “Kill Alex Cross”, I was routing for the bad guys. In his latest “Merry Christmas, Alex Cross” Alex is trying to have Christmas at home with his family but of course he gets called into action because he is the best and there is no one else they could conceivably call. The book starts out with a hostage scene and they need Alex. I’m thinking they must have other hostage negotiators call one of them, don’t they rotate the on duty roster. I think they put this in the book to show how Alex is “ripped” away from his family on Christmas Eve. Personally I think he could have waved off this one. The next bit he is indeed needed for as he was involved in the first terrorist attack so he knows how they operate. Hala Al Dossari is back. Alex and Mahoney worked together (in a previous book) to catch Al Dossari and Alex had constructed an extensive profile of her. He even laments being called in and away from his family on Christmas. This is from chapter 49: “Seemed like everybody in the District had given up on going outside and settled in for a sweet night. Everybody, of course, except me. When do I start saying no, I thought, instead of just reacting to whatever crisis life sends my way? When do I begin to live Alex Cross’s life? “ Then he goes on about how great his kids are and how spry his 90 something nana is, blah blah blah. Luckily we get back to Hala and she is shooting people while her cohorts are stealing dangerous chemicals from a train. One thing I really like was how he described the stopping of the train and the problems they had with the physical removal of heavy drums of chemicals in winter. I especially like when the snow plow came along. You could feel the frustration of the bad guys at having to traverse through the snow especially since they were desert people and not dressed or used to snow. I enjoyed this even if I kind of did want Alex to fail and for sure wanted him to quit telling me how great a dad he is.
Merry Christmas, Alex Cross
I like James Patterson’s books. The last few years a lot of “James Patterson” books are written under his guidance and he has a co-writer. I still read them. I like his solo books better but I read them all. “Private London”, soon to be followed by “Private Berlin” (reserve your copy now) is written by James Patterson and Mark Pearson. This series follows cases by a detective agency called “Private” because they handle cases for famous, rich people privately. In this one we are in the London office. You get a hint it will take place in London from the title. We are introduced to a new detective Dan Carter, who runs the London office. His ex-wife works for the London Police force, DI Kristy Webb. My synapses made a leap in my brain and I was thinking of Dragnet and Jack Webb, no connection and nothing to do with the story but thought I share that tidbit. Hannah Sahpiro as a child was abducted along with her mother. Jack Morgan, of Private USA found her but too late to save her mother who was raped and killed in front of her. Then we jump ahead seven years and Hannah is on her way to London to go to school and Dan Carter is charged with protecting her. Well, surprise surprise she gets abducted again. It would have made a boring mystery if she hadn’t. Dan Carter draws on the whole resources of Private International, a phrase they use over and over to show you how important they are. They even use it as an excuse for why Jack Morgan failed to save Hannah’s mother, he didn’t have the resources of Private International like he would today. I found the use of the phrase irritating but the actual mystery kept my attention. So if you can stomach that phrase, give it a read.
Charlie Collier: Snoop for Hire
Growing up I read every Encyclopedia Brown book. Recently Donald Sobol, the author of this series died and I was feeling nostalgic. Then I came across Charlie Collier, Snoop for Hire by John Madormo. It's not nearly the caliber of the Encyclopedia Brown series (Sorry John) but it was good enough to scratch the itch. If you recall Encyclopedia Brown had a desk and charged to solve crimes and had a girl named Sally as his "enforcer" and a bully named Bugs Meanie. Charlie has a desk in his garage and his "enforcer" is named Henry. Encyclopedia Brown had the support of his parents (his father was the police chief). Charlie has to sneak his detective work and if his parents come home too soon Henry and Charlie have to hurriedly clean up the garage. But luckily Charlie's grandmother is supportive, in more ways than you would think, but you have to read the book to find out more. Some of the solutions Charlie comes up with are a bit of a stretch. For example, his father reads in the newspaper that a man was found on the beach in Miami, no foot prints, his bones were broken but they were broken after death, cause of death was hypothermia. Charlie has the one and only possible solution, The man was a stowaway on an airplane . He stowed away in the landing gear and when it got to thirty thousand feet he froze to death, when the landing gear came down, he fell out and on to the beach. Throughout the main story there are little brain teasers like this, mostly from his assistant Henry who wants to try and stump him. You can find this book in our Children section of the library.
Charlie Collie Snoop for Hire
The bad guys do not have to follow the rules. Dealing drugs makes you lots of money. It seems like a never ending battle. In James Patterson's latest book, written with Michael Ledwidge "I, Michael Bennett", Detective Michael Bennett arrests a major drug lord called The Sun King. Just because this drug lord is in jail doesn't mean he can't reach out and cause harm. Michael Bennett is trying to take a vacation with his 10 adopted children, his nanny, Mary Catherine, who is in love with him (the fool keeps putting his job before his happiness, he needs to just marry her), and his grandfather Seamus a Priest. He and his family go off to "Hicksville" as his kids call it. Of course this small town has changed since Michael has been there and now it is run down, boarded up and drug infested. Guess who supplies the drugs to this town, yep the Sun King. The Sun King orders a hit on Michaels kids and two of them get shot (but not killed). Michael gets mad and working with other agencies tries to clean up the little town all the while traveling back and forth to the big city to testify in the Sun Kings Trial. Of course he cleans up the town, but does he put away the Sun King? The ending of this book was not what I expected. At first I was like Hey, but now I am eagerly waiting for the next book to see what happens next, so I guess the author's ending did what he wanted it to, make me read his next book. I recommend reading them in order, you don't have to but the Mary Catherine love piece, I think, feels better read in order.
I, Michael Bennett
If you are looking for a book that has a guy who can open any lock, one who can disappear in a puff of smoke, a guy who dresses in medieval armor and carries around a sword, spells that only partially work and an extremely smart monkey then Janet Evanovich's latest book "Wicked Business" might be for you. (You should read "Wicked Appetite" first). In "Wicked Business" Lizzy, the cupcake maker and sensor of magical objects, and Diesel, a magically enhanced good guy are tracking down the Luxuria stone (Latin for lust) one of the seven ancient stones that hold the power of the seven deadly sins. Professor Gilbert Reedy is tossed out of his fourth floor window. When Diesel and Lizzy show up with Carl the monkey, Carl runs up the professor's body and comes away with a tiny key in his hand. Lizzy and Diesel have to find out what the tiny key opens, solve some riddles, and find the magical stone before Wuff the magically enhanced not good guy cousin of Diesel. The fun of reading Janet Evanovich's novels is not so much the actual solve the mystery, but the journey, all the mishaps that occur along the way. Enjoy.