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.

Michael Phillip Cash’s Pokergeist

I received this book courtesy of Mr. Cash’s publicist, Ms Bass, for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Clutch Henderson wants to win the International Series of Poker. He came close last year. Second place, losing to an upstart playing in his first tournament. Now, the Series is coming around again. There’s just one problem for Clutch. He died last year. But hope is not lost. You see, a young IT guy, Telly Martin, can see and hear Clutch. Clutch isn’t passing this chance up. Telly wouldn’t mind getting a ring for his girlfriend, so this should be a perfect partnership, right?

Story Telling: We have an Urban Fantasy, albeit, a bit of a grittier version than “Witches Protection Agency” and “The After House”

Likes: Telly did seem to want to do the right thing by his girlfriend. And we had a few cameos from “The After House.”

Dislikes: Okay, there’s just something that will usually irk me when I run across it. I have yet to find a situation that it won’t. It comes down to Harriet and Frank Martin. More Harriet than Frank. Harriet put a lot on the fact that Telly received the best education in the family. Yes, she was worried about him, but not in a good way. See, Harriet was worried that Telly would squander his life and not be able to take care of his bi-polar actor of a brother. Telly’s sister hadn’t married well enough for Harriet, so Telly was tapped to financially support both his brother and his parents when the time came.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Children, and other family members, should be able to pull up the slack–so to speak– when the parents need help. But you shouldn’t imply that: I’m going to need you someday, so forget about your dreams, and get a steady job so you’ll be there. That will do nothing but kill a child’s spirit, and make it so that you don’t have that child’s help when you do need it. Frank fits here, because he didn’t temper his wife’s fears.

And Buster Henderson never realized his mistake. You cannot teach a child all there is to know about poker, ignoring the other more important things to life, and be surprised when that child grows up to be a person whose relationships die at the poker table.

Oh, while we’re on the subject, someone ought to tell Chrissy that money isn’t everything. Riches won’t buy you happiness. You might end up miserable in flamboyant surroundings.

Favorite Character: It would be Telly.

Favorite Quote: When Adam finally lost his ‘partner’ he gave a good quote, one that truly summarized what Buster claimed poker was about. “Nicely played. Congratulations.”

Favorite Scene: I loved it when Gretchen was talking to Telly’s cab fare at the poker tournament.

Conclusion: This book was a bit depressing for my taste. Maybe Mr. Cash’s next novel will be a return to the same spirit of “The After House” or “Witches Protection Agency.” I’ll be looking forward to his next one.

Michael Connelly’s The Black Box-Harry Bosch 18

Overview: Harry has a chance to solve a case close to his heart. Twenty years ago a Danish reporter, Anneke–known as Anne for the rest of my review–was murdered during the Rodney King Riots. Now the gun used to kill her has been tied to two other murders. Harry is all for solving this case, though the higher-ups aren’t as enthusiastic. You see, Anne was a petite blonde white woman, found murdered in a predominately black neighborhood. There were a lot of black people murdered at the same time. Can the powers-that-be convince Harry that the city doesn’t need a new set of riots? I wouldn’t hold my breath if I was in their place.

Story Telling: Harry Bosch still delivers us a third-person police procedural. This time around, though, it seems like there’s a showing of the political side of police work.

Likes: Harry shows a strong vibe of fatherly concern when it comes to Maddie. Chu seems to have settled into a nice partnership with Harry as well.

Mendenhall was lined up with the honest reason that IAD was created for. No, I don’t care what the new chief wanted to call it, it’s still the IAD.

Dislikes: Hey, Mr. Connelly! For the most part, we read Harry Bosch novels to watch Harry hunt down the jerks who think that they can get away with murder. Or we read to see how his relationships with his family and would-be lovers are going. But, politics are very low on that list. And for this reader, it doesn’t even make the list.

Shawn Stone has serious problems, and that was before he got a name in the series.

Hey, Harry. Here’s a hint. Try not snooping into personalized bags. You trust somebody until he or she proves that trust is overrated (see Stone for an example).

Favorite Character: Bill Holodnak. He played a jazz game with Harry, and he set up one of the best scenes in the book.

Favorite Quote: ““Kid,” Holodnak said. “You’re doing better than most of the cops who come through here.””

Favorite Scene: Harry took Maddie to a specialized gun range. A nice start to a new life in law enforcement.

Conclusion: Once you get past the politics, this is a pretty good novel. Enjoy.

Michael Connelly’s The Reversal-Mickey Haller 3, Harry Bosch 16

Overview: Mickey Haller has been given a chance to cross the aisle this time around. Gabriel Williams needs an independent prosecutor to try the case of Jason Jessup. Jessup was convicted of a child’s murder, but that conviction was reversed to a DNA test’s results. Mickey agrees as long as he can choose his second chair and his chief investigator.

Story Telling: Now this is interesting. Mickey Haller, Maggie McPherson, and Harry Bosch on the same side of a court case? Can Jessup’s defense team actually survive this combination? We have Mickey’s first-person legal thriller, literally, crossed with Harry’s third-person police procedural.

Likes: Mickey picked a good prosecutor team. Maggie knows how the prosecution game is played. Harry really is like a dog with a bone, if you need something for the case, he can sniff it out. And Mickey was a perfect prosecutor, he knew how the defense would work. See, a perfect team.

Maddie and Hayley have finally met up. I envision a painful partnership for their parents to deal with.

Dislikes: Gabriel Williams is a pain. Poor Mickey. The DA was trying to use him as the fall guy.

Jason Jessup seemed to have a problem with his station in life. And this was before he went to jail in the first place.

Favorite Character: I have to pick Judge Diane Breitman. She was aiming to be fair. Her allegiance laid with the rule of law. As long as no games are played in her court, she was content to let the case go as smoothly as the opposing counsels would let it.

Favorite Quote: This paints a picture of Mickey’s feelings about his ex. “You have a way of convincing people, Mags. It’s a gift.”

Favorite Scene: I liked it when the Hallers and the Bosches had diner together. It was great.

Conclusion. This was a great story. But, I do think that Gabriel Williams never intended for Mickey to stay as a prosecutor. Also I think that Jessup was revisiting his abduction sites, not his dump sites.