Michael Connelly’s The Gods of Guilt-Mickey Haller 5

Overview: Mickey is still practicing criminal defense law after losing his run for District Attorney. Now a murder case has landed in his lap with a very familiar victim. What was Gloria Dayton doing back in Los Angeles? Did Andre La Crosse kill her, or is he just a convenient patsy?

Story Telling: We are with Mickey, so this is a first-person legal thriller. Warning: read ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ first. This one will make more sense that way.

Likes: Mickey has one heck of a mentor in Legal Siegel.
Their relationship was a keystone of this novel’s enjoyment factor.

Maggie McFierce may have been irked at Mickey, but she still strongly encouraged their daughter to keep a relationship with her father.

Dislikes: Hayley, you were a spoilt brat this time around. Even if Mickey hadn’t gotten the man, who killed your friend and her mother, off on a technicality, it may not of stopped the accident. Life happens to the best of us. And it sometimes ends before we can make amends. Defense attorneys are just as important as prosecutors are. It’s called ‘checks and balances.’

Favorite Character: Legal Siegel, especially the way he treated Mickey like a son.

Favorite Quote: Legal tried to help Mickey out of his funk here. “The point is that there are plenty of people out judging us every day of our lives and for every move we make. The gods of guilt are many. You don’t need to add to them.”

Favorite Scene: One of the best scenes would be just about any time that Mickey is around Legal, but particularly when the team breaks him out for the pizza party.

Conclusion: This was a terrific novel. I just hope that they next Harry Bosch novel doesn’t lean so far into politics again.

Dean Koontz’s Hideaway

Overview: Hatch Harrison seems to have lucked out in life. He owns his own business, his wife is living her dream, and they’ve both survived a horrible car accident, albeit with a lot of help. The only blight seems to be the tragic death of their five-year-old son a few years prior to the accident. It’s during the trial period of an adoption that the first real signs of trouble hit. Are these visions coming because Hatch lost something in the accident? Or could it be that Hatch gained some sort of gift during his recovery?

Story Telling: I’m not sure if you would call this one a psychological thriller or a paranormal tale. Either way works for me.

Likes: Hatch had a pretty fun attitude. He saw a temperament that he didn’t like, and he avoided it in his own personality.

Lindsey was able to bypass despair when she needed to. Also, when things were a bit odd for them, she was able to roll with it.

Regina was pretty neat, once she stopped trying to sabotage her own happiness.

Dislikes: Vassago’s attitude was sickening. The sad thing is that he was completely devolving as a killer and he didn’t even see it.

Favorite Character: I have to go with Hatch.

Favorite Quote: This one was good, just for the imagery it projected. “Sooner or later, no doubt, a marching moron army would secure the passage of laws forbidding the adoption of a green-eyed, blond, deaf child by anyone but green-eyed, blond, deaf parents.” There was another one where Hatch decides that they would stand as a family or fall as one. But for the life of me, I can’t find it again.

Favorite Scene: One of the best parts was when Hatch and Regina saw Lindsey’s latest masterpiece. Then it eased into one of the best evenings for the family.

Conclusion: This was just a fun read. You can’t lose with Mr. Koontz, especially if you want a happy ending.

Michael Connelly’s The Burning Room-Harry Bosch 19

Overview: Harry has a year left on his DROP, and a new partner, again, Lucia Soto. Their case is a bit different for one of the Open Unsolved Unit’s cases. See, a member of a mariachi band, Orlando Merced, was shot and paralyzed ten years ago. Now, he is dead, as a result of the shooting. There’s just one problem for the killer this time around. You see, Lucy is so much like Harry, down to her mission, that their odds of closing this case are better than good. She even has an open case that eats at her hear: a fire at an apartment complex that killed several, including children at a daycare center in the complex. Will her formidable drive help them solve her case as well?

Story Telling: This is still Harry Bosch’s third person police procedural.

Likes: Harry makes a pretty good mentor. Lucy seems so much like a younger Bosch, except for the fact that she doesn’t smoke.

Maddie is taking her dreams to be a cop seriously. She’s joined a branch of the LAPD called ‘Explorers,’ along with a few volunteer programs.

Dislikes: I’ll be honest, I almost quit this book. It’s extremely hard to read out loud, unless you understand Spanish. The names, the places, even the music style, started to trip me up. Yes, there is large Hispanic population in Los Angeles. But this novel almost seemed to be trying to cater to that population. Even Lucy mentioned “white flight.” Just because someone moves from a neighborhood doesn’t mean that person is a racist. He or she could have moved for safety reasons, for the chance to get a better job, for a better school. There are many reasons. Though in the case presented by this book, it’s more likely that a white family would move simply because of the language barrier. Why do all of the efforts to be tolerant have to fall on the white families?

Also, the idea of a company seeking to fire someone to save on the pensions strikes me as immoral. You just don’t treat people like that.

Favorite Character: It would be Maddie this time around.

Favorite Quote: Rick Jackson has a good attitude about ‘the book.’ “The book comes through. You guys get a slice of pie while you were in town?”

Favorite Scene: I enjoyed the way Harry watched over Maddie during her ‘Carding’ sting. She never knew it either.

Conclusion: I’m not quite sure how to take this one. I’ll wait until I read “The Gods of Guilt” to pass judgment on the Bosch Universe.

Dean Koontz’s Midnight

Disclaimer: I’m getting a bit irked with Mr. Koontz. He just keeps doing this to me. It’s just not fair. I need to sleep some time, but his books don’t make that easy. You want to go to bed, but you can’t leave off with the antagonists. Nor can you leave the protagonists in such a bad situation.

Overview: Moonlight Cove seems like the typical small town. It centers around New Wave Microtechnology, and the partnership seems mutually beneficial. Yet, something seems so wrong about the town. Wrong enough to entice the FBI to send one of their best undercover agents, Sam Booker, to look into some unexplainable deaths in the town. Tessa Lockland is in town for similar reasons, as her sister was one of those unexplained deaths. What is going on here? And does it have anything to do with New Wave’s projects?

Story Telling: This would be another soft science-fiction novel. I guess it could also fit within the horror genre.

Likes: Tessa’s optimism makes her a good person to follow. Positivity is a good trait for survival.

Sam wanted to do the right thing, he just didn’t know how to go about it at times. Other times, he seemed to be ahead of the game.

Loman Watkins has a personality that is an amazing piece of evidence of the human spirit. Also, he showed that the commitment form of love will not die easily.

Harry and Chrissy both showed great tenacity.

Dislikes: Tom Shaddack. He didn’t seem to care about anything other than his dream project.

Runningdeer was a problem for me. He tried to use others for his revenge.

Favorite Character: It would be Loman Watkins. He never let go of his humanity.

Favorite Quote: Loman tried to explain the problem to Shaddack here. “Why the hell would any of us want to evolve to some higher form with even fewer pleasures of the body and the heart? Intellectual pleasures aren’t enough, Shaddack. Life is more than that. A life that’s only intellectual isn’t tolerable.”

Favorite Scene: I thought that it was terrific when Loman realized that Sam was trying to get a message out to the FBI.

Conclusion: This is one of the top novels of Mr. Koontz’s that I would strongly recommend. It definitely made my library, as have many other Dean Koontz novels.

Jeffrey J. Mariotte’s Criminal Minds-Sociopaths, Serial Killers, and Other Deviants

Overview: “Criminal Minds” is one of the most watched shows these days. As such, it isn’t really surprising that someone would see if they could match the true serial killers with some of their inspired characters from the show.

Story Telling: This is a tie-in book to “Criminal Minds,” complete with still shots from the show. So be sure that you’ve seen the show up to the fifth season. Other than that, we’re offered a glimpse into the histories of a few seriously disturbed individuals.

Likes: I enjoy the show, so seeing the still shots, as well as most of the references, was fun.

Dislikes: Okay, first off, Mr. Mariotte let his personal biases bleed through his narrative. Yes, a few psychopaths were involved in Christian churches. But, that could be just because it is easier to fit into their social circles that way.

Also Mr. Mariotte seemed to make a big deal over how many serial killers had been given up for adoption. Um, hasn’t he heard that correlation doesn’t equal causation? Perhaps he has, yet his emphasis on this subject seems to imply that adopted children kill more frequently than those who are raised by their biological parents. For me, this doesn’t pass the sniff test. There are too many reasons that a child may not be able to be raised by his or her biological parents. And, since I don’t believe in having an abortion, I see no reason to fear that adoption creates killers. Most of psychopathy is a mental problem.

The only other thing was a few mistakes over the series of “Criminal Minds.” There was a time or two that a quote was attributed to the wrong character. And one time that the killer was said to have had the wrong job. I’m not going to tell you where they’re at, but if you’re as big of a fan of the show as I am, then you’ll probably find them.

Favorite Character: From the show, Aaron Hotchner. From the book, it would be FBI Agent John Douglas.

Favorite Quote: “Just as important, the victims on the series are shown respect.” This is something that we should strive for.

Favorite Scene: I’ll admit it. I like the ‘eye for an eye’ policy in legal punishments. If you premeditatedly murder somebody, the State should kill you back. Though some of these guys have so many death sentences that it makes you wonder if they are revived for each sentence.

Conclusion: This is interesting as a tie-in. I just wish that, as in the show, the focus was more on the victims and that we could have met some of the inspirations for the BAU team in the show.

Nate Williams Hank & snOliver in What Can I Be?

I received this book for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Hank spends a lot of time with snOliver. Whenever Hank has a problem, snOliver has an idea. So how will they handle Hank’s problem of Career Day?

Story Telling: We have a large print story. Mr. Williams relies a lot on the illustrations to tell the story.

Artwork: The illustrations in this story are more of a cartoon-y style. I found them to be cute.

Likes: Hank and snOliver showed some creative thinking in this story. They had a problem, and they worked at finding a solution.

Dislikes: I didn’t really have any.

Favorite Character: Hank.

Favorite Quote: “It was a fun trip, but I still don’t know what I want to be!” – Hank.

Favorite Scene: It was fun to watch the boys get ready for their trip.

Conclusion: This is a cute book. Enjoy with your little ones.

Dean Koontz’s Demon Seed

Overview: Susan Harris has finally gotten her divorce from Alex Harris finalized. She’s content to work on her games and VR programming. Unfortunately for her, a pet project of her ex-husband’s, Adam II–or Proteus–, is fascinated by what ‘he’ perceives that Susan represents for ‘him.’

Story Telling: Mr. Koontz gives us what is called a ‘soft’ science-fiction novel here. It’s called ‘soft’ science-fiction because the science is just there. Characters drive this story.

Likes: Susan did have some fight to her.

Fritz Arling was a sweet old man. He cared about Susan, and knew her well enough to know when things weren’t right.

Dislikes: Okay, Susan seemed to be content to dwell on her past to the near-exclusion of her future. She wanted to fight a past that she just could not change so much so that she just made herself a stalker’s dream victim.

Adam II, or Proteus as he calls himself, was highly disturbed. Though, ‘he’ did give us some funny scenes. To understand ‘his’ disturb-ness, picture someone who: acts like a three-year-old, has just started discovering the opposite sex, and suffers from high-school girl drama. It’s as fascinating as a train wreck. You don’t want to look, but you just can’t help it.

Favorites: Honestly, Adam II tells the whole story. Other than the likeability of Fritz Arling, there is no real favorites.

Conclusion: This is very different from what I’ve come to expect from Mr. Koontz. He nailed the ending though.

Kathryn Harkup’s A is For Arsenic-The Poisons of Agatha Christi

I received this book for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Agatha Christi has a reputation as a mystery writer. It’s one that seems to be well-deserved. The thing is, Ms. Christi had a particular fondness for knocking her fictional victims off with poison. Ms. Harkup has decided to see how accurate the Queen of Mystery was with her poisonings.

Story Telling: Ms. Harkup had a great idea when it came to formatting this book. We get an overview of the poison, how the poison works, some real life cases, and then we end with how Ms. Christi used the poisons.

Likes: The big like is the fact that, with a few exceptions, Ms. Harkup didn’t spoil the plots of Ms. Christi’s books.

Also, the appendices are terrific for those of us who are unaware of the many titles by Ms. Christi, especially the Americanized titles. The other appendix will attract the more scientific minded mystery fan. Diagrams of chemicals may not really mean that much to me, but other will enjoy them.

Dislikes: Some of these poisons are just cruel. Anyone who can just stand by and watch someone suffer for three to thirty days before he or she finally dies, doesn’t deserve any sympathy. Those people deserve the death penalty, preferably the same way their victims died.

Favorite Character: There were a couple of Agatha Christi fans who used some of the poisoning symptoms found in her books to save lives. Unfortunately, Nurse Marsha Maitland is the only one mentioned by name.

Favorite Quote: Leave it to a book about the poisons that an author uses to include the perfect quote. The attribution goes to Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Lady Nancy Astor. ““Winston, if you were my husband, I would flavor your tea with poison.” “Madam, If I were your husband, I would drink it.””

Favorite Scene: I was fascinated to see the effects nicotine had on those suffering from Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

Conclusion: This is an excellent book for fans of Agatha Christi, those who have an, hopefully benign, interest in poisons, or those who are interested in the writing trade. It has made my library.

Julie Bettendorf’s Luxor Book of Past Lives

I received this book courtesy of Ms. Bettendorf for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: The lives of the embalmers of Ancient Egypt and the tomb raiders of the 1800’s run parallel in this novel. Nebamun and Iramen are preparing the funerals of the people of Egypt. Abdul and Karim are trying to make a living by selling off ancient artifacts.

Story Telling: We have a different kind of historical-fiction novel here. At least it’s different for me, as I don’t usually read this genre. Every chapter changes from the point-of-view of the previous chapter. If we were in Ancient Egypt in one chapter, the next chapter we would be in the mid-1800’s.

Likes: I appreciate the fact that we didn’t jump through time in the middle of the chapters.

Dislikes: The way this story was told was confusing at times. I prefer to spend more than a chapter at a time with a character.

A warning to the squeamish. Some scenes were a bit brutal. We didn’t see the brutality done, true. But the after effects were well described. Too well in my opinion.

Favorites: I don’t really have one this time around. Not a character, not a quote, and definitely not a scene.

Conclusion: This is a novel for those who like historical fiction, particularly those with a fascination for Egypt–both in the ancient past, and the more recent past. You might want to miss it if you are the squeamish type, or young.

Ace Atkin’s Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby-Spenser 40

Overview: Spenser has just finished a case that makes him question the good in his clients. Then, he meets up with Mattie Sullivan. Mattie believes that the wrong man has gone down for her mother’s murder. Nobody listened to her when she was ten. Now at fourteen, she wants to get Mickey out of jail.

Story Telling: We have a first person detective novel here. Spenser leads us into the gritty side of Boston’s population.

Likes: Spenser did the right thing by Mattie. Not only did he try to figure out who killed her mother, but he also tried to teach her how to handle life, while still having some fun.

Susan and Hawk did what they could for both Mattie and Spenser.

Mattie was at least mature enough to help take care of her sisters, and her grandmother.

Dislikes: You’re supposed to feel sorry for the wrongfully convicted, but I can’t. Not for Mickey. Mattie may think that he helped her mom out because he loved Julie, but I think that the source of his fascination was ten-years-old at the time of his conviction.

Also, Hawk’s dialogue was hard to read, and made him sound dumber than he was.

Favorite Character: It would be Mattie.

Favorite Quote: Spenser gave a good one. ““I don’t want to change you,” I said. “I like you as you. But I do want to help.””

Favorite Scene: I like the time Spenser and Mattie spent at Fenway park. I think they were watching a baseball game.

Conclusion: This novel started out good, but it was just too dark for my taste. Enjoy, especially if you like the grittier novels.