Review Round-up: Mystery / Thriller

I might have mentioned before that I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers this year.  I’ve already reviewed a few of the standouts – the P.J. Tracy books and P.T. Deutermann’s Cam Richter books, #1 and #2.  Here’s a quick run through the rest (all of which came from the library):

Let There Be Blood (1997, 196pages, paperback)

The Egyptian Coffin (1998, 263 pages, paperback)

The Fool’s Gold (1999, 248 pages, paperback)

by Jane Jakeman

I came across this trilogy when seeking books set in Egypt, but not in Ancient Egypt.  The second book was in that category, and I grabbed the whole trilogy off the shelves.  They read quite fast.  I was done with the first by the time I was picked up from arrivals at the airport.  The main character, Ambrose Malfine is a half-Greek, war-scarred recluse who is a lord of an estate in 1830’s England.  In each book, Malfine becomes (sometimes reluctantly) involved in a mystery.  A book blurb describes Malfine as a blend between Mr. Rochester and Byron, and as the narrator, he is guarded, and unapologetic for his standoffish manner and lifestyle.

A couple of books from supernatural thriller series:

Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs (2009, 304pages, paperback)- *Love* the Mercy Thompson series and this fourth book is just as good as the previous ones.  Mercy has some interesting (read: scary) interactions with vampires and ghosts.

Poltergeist by Kat Richardson (2007, 352pages, paperback) – Second in the Seattle-based Greywalker series.  I like the main character, private investigator Harper Blaine and this mystery was better than the first of the series, as Harper is more acclimated to her special ability to see and navigate through the supernatural.

In late August and in September, many books I checked out from the library were from authors expected at the National Book Festival in D.C.

I read Eagle Catcher (1995, 186 pages, hardcover), the first of Margaret Coel’s mystery series set on the fictitious Wind River reservation.  The two main characters are Father John O’Malley and Arapaho lawyer Vicki Holden.  In mysteries, I’m intrigued by unusual settings and good characters.  The plot here was okay, but because the book had those two other elements, I’m sure I’ll be reading more in this series.

I also read China Trade (1995, 275 pages, paperback), the first of S. J. Rozan’s series with NYC-based private investigators Lydia Chin and Bill Smith.  I liked it and also will be reading more of this series, especially as Rozan switches perspective with each book.  The first book was from Lydia’s perspective and the second is from Bill’s and so on.

The Hard Way by Lee Child (2006, 384pages, hardcover), number something or other of the Jack Reacher series, was another book I picked up in anticipation of the Book Festival.  I did not care for this one.  I liked that the main character was wrong and thus not infallible, but did not like Jack Reacher overall.  I found him a dull sort of hero.  I also did not care for the writing style, which came across rather clinical and cold, at least in my memory.

Non-book festival related:

North Korea-based A Corpse in the Koryo by James Church (2006, 288p, hardcover) had an excellent main character in Inspector O: he makes a distinct and engaging narrator of the story. There was some cheeky dark humor that made me laugh out loud, but also the book conveys the impossibility of the world our narrator inhabits. My one complaint is that, in the end, the cryptic nature of the book interfered with my enjoyment of the story. I didn’t need to have everything tied up neatly, but I felt rather lost by the end.

Very unique YA-mystery:

Cathy’s Book: If Found Call (650) 266-8233 by Jordan Weisman (2006, 144pages, hardcover)

The book is structured as a journal, with hilarious addendums and interesting sketches placed in the margins.  There is even an instant message conversation at one point.  Cathy is a teenager who is far too inquisitive for her own good.  So when her mysterious older boyfriend suddenly ends their relationship, she senses that there is more going on than he said.  The book comes with supplemental clue documents that Cathy finds during the story.  The best element of Cathy’s Book is Cathy’s friendship with Emma, a whip-smart teenager who is Cathy’s voice of better reason.  The plot twist was also unexpected and rather cool.

1 Comment

Filed under Mysteries & Thrillers, Year in Review

One response to “Review Round-up: Mystery / Thriller

  1. The trilogy by Jane Jakeman sounds especially good and one that I’ll have to check out. I love, love, love Patricia Brigg’s series as well but haven’t yet read Bone Crossed. I’m looking forward to it though.

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