Friday, May 30, 2008

Rebecca Stott - Ghostwalk

A Cambridge historian, Elizabeth Vogelsang, is found drowned, clutching a glass prism in her hand.
The book she was writing about Isaac Newton's involvement with alchemy - the culmination of her lifelong obsession with the seventeenth century - remains unfinished.

When her son, Cameron, asks his former lover, Lydia Brooke, to ghostwrite the missing final chapters of his mother's book, Lydia agrees and moves into Eliszabeth's house - a studio in an orchard where the light moves restlessly across the walls.
Soon Lydia discovers that the shadow of violence that has fallen across present-day Cambridge, which escalates to a series of murders, may have it's origins in the troubling evidence Elizabeth's research has unearthed. As Lydia becomes ensnared in a dangerous conspiracy that reawakens ghosts of the past, the seventeenth century slowly seeps into the twenty-first, with the city of Cambridge the bridge between them.


What can I say about a book I gave up on after struggling through the first fourth of pages. I couldn't´t find anything that kept me reading or interested in any way. I don't really think I made it to the point where the story is supposed to become exciting or in a way "ghostly" or mystery-like.

I figured time is to precious to waste it on a book that doesn't really fulfill my needs when there are so much other books on my shelf that certainly are better.

Visit Rebecca Stott.

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (May 8, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385521065
ISBN-13: 978-0385521062

Friday, May 23, 2008

Joe McGinniss - Never Enough

At thirty-nine Nancy Kissel had it all:
glamour, gusto, garishly flaunted wealth, and the royal lifestyle of the expatriate wife. Not to mention three young children and what a friend described as "the best marriage in the universe."

That marriage-- to Merrill Lynch and former Goldman Sachs investment banker Robert Kissel-- ended abruptly one November night in 2003 in the bedroom of their luxury apartment high above Hong Kong's glittering Victoria Harbour.

Why ?

Hong Kong prosecutors, who charged Nancy with murder, said she wanted to inherit Rob's millions and start a new life with a blue-collar lover who lived in a New Hampshire trailer park.
She said she'd killed in self-defense while figthing for her life against an abusive, cocaine-addicted husband who had forced her for years to submit to his brutal sexual demands.

Her 2005 trial, lasting for months and rich in lurid detail, captivated Hong Kong's expatriate community and attracted attention worldwide. Less than a year after the jury of seven Chinese citizens returned its unexpected verdict, Rob's brother, Andrew, a Connecticut real estate tycoon facing prison for fraud and embezzlement, was also found dead: stabbed in the back in the basement of his multimillion-dollar Greenwich mansion by person or persons unknown.

Never Enough is the harrowing true story of two brothers, Robert and Andrew Kissel, who grew up wanting to own the world but instead wound up murdered half a world apart; and of Nancy Kissel, a riddle wrapped inside an enigma, a modern American woman for whom having it all might not have been enough.


Reading this book felt like a story for a movie only that no one would believe it. The reader learns about Rob's and Nancy's life which became more and more delusional.
We learn that Robert Kissel was a caring, very attractive man, driven to success and very competitive but never stingy with the money his wife spent. Growing up in a family where affection and emotion was rare he never really learnt to show his love to his wife. So he gave her what he had: presents and money. At least in the beginning. He tried to safe his marriage while Nancy already found love in a TV-system man who installed the Kissel's very own system.

Nancy had it all. Money to spend, fame, she was someone in Hong Kong's society but it was never enough. She always wanted more. The better car, the larger apartment, the best dresses, everything. She didn't like motherhood. She didn't like what pregnancy did to her body and blamed Rob for her flaws.

After month of collecting sedative drugs she gave her little daugther a milk shake for her father. In this milk shake where five different sedative drugs which made Rob collapse on the bed. She then stroke him five times on the head with a little statue.
It was the day Rob announced to two persons that he's going to talk to her that he was filing for a divorce.

To disguise what she did she forbid the housekeeper and nanny to enter the bedroom, bought carpet, tape and cushions and rolled the body into the new carpet. She removed stains in the bedroom and had the maintenance crew remove the carpet into the buildings storage room. By then the body had begun to stink and the nanny finally alarmed a friend of Rob in San Francisco.

Nancy was taken into custody and claimed in trial she killed him in self-defense. She recollected in every detail how the alleged abuse went on for years but in the end the jury didn't believe her and she was sent to prison for the rest of life.
She didn't stop sending daily letters to the man she loved in Vermont. She didn't accept that Michael meanwhile was married and didn't want her letters. A year after the verdict Michael contacted authorities to stop her from sending love letters.


There are questions I am asking myself. Rob knew she was up to something. After discovering he was seeing a man he installed spy ware on her PC. He read all the emails she wrote to this man and he saw she researched sedative drugs on the Internet. Once he even called his friend in San Francisco and told her he had the feeling she was drugging him so that he quit drinking in the house. He only drank what was still closed and sealed.

During the trial computer experts talked about their findings on the Kissels home PC's. They found what Rob researched on his PC. He searched for words like gay sex, hot male sex, anal, cocks, male ass and other catchwords. This findings might have backed up Nancy's story about an abuse. At least they indicated Rob wasn't as flawless as everybody saw him.
Also a lot of former working colleagues of Rob are still funding Nancy's trial costs and lawyers. They might have a reason but those together with the persons funding remain anonym.

The appeal against her conviction began on 14 April 2008.

In the end the questions open are those one needs to ask oneself: Is it possible the author's research was too one sided and not really focused on the circumstances that led to the murder. There wasn't much we learned about Robert Kissel and his daily life and past.


The second, more shortly part is the death about Andrew Kissel in 2006. The less successful brother and con man. After Nancy was arrested the three children went into Andrew's custody. Soon after that his wife Haley filed for divorce. She felt overwhelmed with five children and a husband that cheated on her. She once wrote an email to Andrew's sister Jane, telling she sometimes imagined to shoot him.
The day she left the house with her own two children, Rob's children where meanwhile moved to Jane, she called Jane and his father Bill with concerns. She just left him and she feared he might do something to his life.
The next day he was found dead in the basement. He was cuffed, wore a shirt over his head and had been stabbed multiple times into the back.

The list of subjects in a con man's live is a very long one and the case remained open for a long time. A chauffeur and his cousin were charged in the death of Kissel on March 23, 2008. Kissel's driver Carlos Trujillo and his cousin Leonard Trujillo have been charged in his death. Kissel was murdered days before he was going to plead guilty in a multi-million dollar fraud case. Haley has never been accused or been mentioned as a subject.

Joe McGinniss on Wikipedia.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (October 14, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0743296362
ISBN-13: 978-0743296366

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Patricia Cornwell- The Front

Peril is what comes to them all:
D. A. Lamont has a special job for Win Garano. As part of a new public relations campaign concerning the dangers of declining neighborhoods, she's sending him to Watertown to come up with a "drama", and she thinks she knows just the case that will serve.
Garano is very sceptical, because he knows that Watertown is also the home base for a loose association of municipal police departments called the FRONT, set up so that they don't have to be dependent on the state - much to Lamont's anger.
He senses a much deeper agenda here - but he has no idea just how deep it goes.
In the days that follow, he'll find that Lamont's task, and the places it leads him, will resemble a house of mirrors - everywhere he turns, he's not quite sure if what he's seeing is true.

"Falsehood rules", warns his grandmother.
Andy they can also kill.


Win Garano, still buying used brand name clothes to impress his boss, D. A. Lamont, gets a new assignment: He has to solve the murder of a young British blind girl in Watertown. The case was never solved and Janine Brolin was killed in 1962. District Attorney Monique Lamont smells a huge press spectacle behind this story and already sees herself again rising to be the star in the newspapers. She ties Win into working together with one of the lead investigators of Watertown, and a member of the so called "The FRONT", pretty much independent from the state police. The FRONT are around sixty departments joined in one coalition, sharing their resources and investigation techniques.

When Win's gym bag is stolen from his grandmothers house, he instinctively follows his boss into an empty house and finds evidence that his shoes and the forgotten bottle of wine where used there he doesn't know who to trust. His boss is out of question, his partner from the FRONT seems to follow another agenda: keeping Win away from the case.

He's lost in confusion but still tries to figure out which part belongs to what.


The second book in Cornwell's Win Garano series isn't
much better than the first one, "At Risk". The characters again or still are a mix of wish-wash, though the reader learns a few new things about one of the main characters D. A. Monique Lamont. Unfortunately she still won't get any sympathy, not from me and probably not from other readers. Her character is still a huge question mark and so much unlikeable. Poor Win doesn't get much character either. If it comes after me, his Nana and her neighbor Miss Murphy, which gets a part of half a page, are more memorable than the rest of the book.

However, I found the book slightly better than "At Risk" but still a huge failure and disappointment. Like in "At Risk" the plot just won't get paced and it seems that the reader has to drag oneself from page to page. Also the book description is highly misleading as the so called FRONT doesn't really play the role of a loose association.
The ending well, it's similar, almost the same, as in "At Risk". No surprises there or anywhere.

Overall, "At Risk" was meant to be published for a newspaper series but ended up as a highly priced Hardcover edition. It wasn't worth the money and so is "The Front": 180 pages of an empty blurb.

Visit Patricia Cornwell.

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult (May 20, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399154183
ISBN-13: 978-0399154188

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Douglas Preston - Blasphemy

The world's biggest supercollider, hidden deep in an Arizona mountain, will probe what happened at the very moment of creation: the Big Bang itself.

The brainchild of Nobel laureate Gregory North Hazelius, Isabella is the most expensive machine ever built.
Will it unlock the mysteries of the universe ?
Will it, as some warn, suck the earth into a mini black hole ?
Or is it, as the powerful televangelist Reverend Don T. Spates thunders, a Satanic attempt to disprove genesis and challenge God Almighty on the very throne of heaven ?

The day is looming when Hazelius and his team of twelve scientists will turn on Isabella...and what they will then discover must be hidden from the world at all costs.
The entire world is holding it´s breath.

Wyman Ford, ex-monk and CIA operative, is tapped by the U.S. government to wrest from the team their secret, a secret that will either destroy the world...or save it.

The countdown begins....


Isabella is the most powerful machine ever built. She's so powerful , that when turned on the lights in Las Vegas sligthly dim, she's a secon-generation superconducting supercollider particle accelerator. She's the one to prove the Big Bang and it's energy levels, she's there to explore exotic ideas for generating power.

When Isabella has her first test-run on 100% of power scientists are puzzled about a greeting-message. Someone must have broken into the system and hid a malware program in to 40 billion project. But who and why ?
The scientists become more quizzed when Isabella answers with intelligence. When she responses to dorect questions with an direct, specific answer. Who are they talking to ? And is it possible that Isabella is who he claims to be ? Namely being God.

Things soon get out of control when Russ Eddy eavesdrop a talk between two of the non scientist members of the small Isabella team. Pastor Eddy fears Isabella is the beginning to the Armageddon and the leading scientist Gregory North Hazelius is the Antichrist. He sends out 2000 emails to 2000 Christians and releases a chain reaction of unexpected extent. The Christians arrive at the underground "hive" to ambush the project and the scientists. Lead by a maniac and heavy armed they don't stop for a single soul. Who doesnt belong to them simply dies.


I am not too impressed by the book. Mainly there is no main character. Or there is one but a very one-dimensional one. The idea of a machine talking as a higher intelligence isn't exactly new so I always thought I knew what is going to happen and wasn't a bit surprised when exactly happened what happened. It cleary lacks of consistence and is poor in execution.

Visit Douglas Preston.

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Forge Books; First Edition edition (January 8, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765311054
ISBN-13: 978-0765311054

Harlan Coben - Promise Me

It's been six years since entertainment agent Myron Bolitar last played superhero, but all that changes when he asks two neighborhood high school students to make him a promise: that they will call him if they are ever in a bind but are afraid to call their parents.
Several nights later, the call comes at 2 am, and true to his word, Myron picks up one of the girls in midtown Manhattan and drives her to a quiet cul-de-sac in NJ where she says her friend lives.
The next day, the girl's parents discover that their daughter is missing. And that Myron was the last person to see her. Desperate to fulfill a well-intentioned promise turned nightmarishly wrong, Myron races to find her before she's gone forever. But this past will not be buried so easily--for trouble has always stalked him, and his loved ones often suffer. Now Myron must decide once and for all who he is and what he will stand up for if he is to have any hope of saving a young girl's life.


Myron Bolitar probably won't make any promises to anyone again soon. When he gave his promise to two young girls it was made out of the moment and impulsive. He didn't know then that it would become a nightmare. 3 weeks after he made the girls promise to give him a call whenever they are in trouble he receives a call in the middle of the night. Aimee Biel, daugther of his long-term friend Claire Biel, calls him and makes him promise to not tell her parents about it. She wants him to pick her up and drive her back to her friends house, only this house isn't her friends house. Myron smells the whole situation is fishy but he trusts Aimee when she leaves the car and enters the front garden through the gate. It doesn't take long until he hears she never was at her friends house and she didn't come back home the next day.
Then there is Katie Rochester who vanished shortly before. They both went to the same High School and Katie's last sign was a withdrawal from an ATM machine. Funnily enough Aimee used the same ATM machine shortly before she made her call to Myron.

Katie is considered a runaway but things don't add up with Aimee's disappearance. Katie has been seen once since her parents notified authorities about her 18-year old daugther's disappearance. Aimee's 18, too, but the investigating police officers have a hard time to believe her to be a runaway, too.

What happened to the girls ? Where did they go and what made them supposedly run away ?

Myron promises Claire to get her daugther back and the clocks ticking. With more then one subject Myron has to figure out what Aimee had to do with two teachers and how his ex-boyfriends father comes into the game.
In the end nothing is like it seems but everything is connected.


Book 8 of the Myron Bolitar series and the first book by Harlan Coben I've ever read. I enjoyed reading it even if I didn't know the characters and their history. I liked how everything was easily connected to each other but still a surprise and unexpected for the reader. I don't know what happened to Myron or his friend Win in the past but I will definitely know what's going to happen in the future. :-)

Visit Harlan Coben.

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult (April 25, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0525949496
ISBN-13: 978-0525949497

Friday, May 9, 2008

Michael Palmer - The First Patient

Gabe Singleton and Andrew Stoddard were roommates at the Naval Academy in Annapolis years ago.
Today, Gabe is a country doctor and his friend Andrew has gone from war hero to governor to President of the United States.

One day, while the United States is embroiled in a bitter presidential election campaign, Marine One lands on Gabe's Wyoming ranch, and President Stoddard delivers a disturbing revelation and a startling request.
His personal physician has suddenly disappeared, and he desperately needs Gabe to take the man's place. Despite serious misgivings, Gabe agrees to come to Washington.

It is not until he is ensconced in the White House medical office that Gabe realizes there is strong evidence that the President is going insane. Facing a crisis of conscience - as President Stoddard's physician, he has the power to invoke the Twenty-fifth Amendment to transfer presidential power to the Vice President - Gabe uncovers increasing evidence that his friend's condition may not be due to natural causes.
Who ? Why ? And how ? The President's Life is at stake. A small-town doctor suddenly finds himself in the most powerful position on earth, and the safety of the world is in jeopardy.
Gabe Singleton must find answers, and the clock is ticking... .


There isn't much to add to the book description, taken from the books dust jacket, without telling too much.
The whole story has a very slowly start and it takes a while until the reader is sucked into the suspicion of who are the bad and who are the good guys. Ultimately it comes to a point where the story becomes quite racy but unfortunately too much things come together at the same time and the book gets boring.
One has to admit that the idea of nanotechnology used to control certain reactions in one's brain is a bit far fetched but then, who knows ?!
I expected a bit more than slapdashing fiction. The story could have been more suspenseful to me. Could have had more strain on the significance of the president being the victim of secretly drugged etc. .

Overall, the book has it's grabbing parts but they are far too short.

Visit Michael Palmer.

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (February 19, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312343531
ISBN-13: 978-0312343538

C. J. Box - Blue Heaven

A twelve-year-old girl and her younger brother go on the run in the woods of North Idaho, pursued by four men they have just watched commit murder - four men who know exactly who William and Annie are and who know exactly where their desperate mother is waiting for news of her children's fate.
Retired cops from Los Angeles, the killers easily persuade the inexperienced sheriff to let them lead the search for the missing children.

William and Annie's unexpected savior comes in form of an old-school rancher teetering on the brink of foreclosure. But as one man against four who will stop at nothing to silence their witnesses, Jess Rawlins needs allies, and he knows that one word to the wrong person could sealed the fate of the children or their mother.
In a town where most of ranches like his have turned into acres of ranchettes populated by strangers, finding someone to trust won't be easy.


Annie (12) and William (10) are mighty upset with her mother letting her new boyfriend stay overnight when they take his fishing vest to go fishing. They didn't know what they were going to witness when they eavesdrop on some strangers in the woods, when all of them draw a weapon and shot a man, when all of them chase them because their presence wasn't unnoticed.
They find shelter in a barn on one of the oldest, still existing ranches, owned by now loner Jess Rawlins. The kids know, one of the killer is one of their mother's many boyfriends and he's waiting for them at their home right now.
With nowhere to go they don't have a choice and desperately lay their fate into Jess Rawlins hands.

Unsure what to believe and what to do, but clearly seeing the far in two children's eyes, Jess decides to snoop around in town, maybe try to figure out what's going on and why the sheriff put all the investigation work into the hands of four retired ex-police officers from the LAPD.

At the same time a retired cop enters town searching for clues in an old file, the only one he hasn't been able to solve. The one that's nagging at him for years. The Santa Anita Racetrack - file.


Quite a fast paced, thoughtful thriller which I couldn't put down. The character of Jess Rawlins is such appealing and full of substance. I have to admit having trouble to imagine his real age with a son a little older than the kids mother. He's the kind of novel character everyone would wish the best and recognizes as a real hero in the book. One that sticks to you after closing the book.

I always welcome authors stepping out of series writing and this first stand alone novel by C. J. Box is something every mystery/thriller reader will enjoy.


Visit C. J. Box.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur (January 8, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312365705
ISBN-13: 978-0312365707

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Margaret Maron - Hard Row

As judge Deborah Knott presides over a case involving a barroom brawl, it becomes clear that deep resentments over race, class, and illegal immigration are simmering just below the surface in the countryside.
An early spring sun has begun to shine like a blessing on the fertile fields of North Carolina, but along with the seeds sprouting in the thawing soil, violence is growing as well.

Mutilated body parts have appeared along the back roads of Colleton County and the search for victim's identity and for that of his killer will lead Deborah and her new husband, Sheriff´s Deputy Dwigth Bryant, into the desperate realm of undocumented farm workers exploited for cheap labor.

In the meantime, Deborah and Dwight continue to adjust to married life and to having Dwigth's eight-year old son, Cal, live with them full time. When another body is found, these newlyweds will discover dark truths that threaten to permanently alter the serenity of their rural surroundings and their life together.


I tried but I couldn't finish this book. I actually made it through more than 2/3 of the book but decided than I don't want to waste more time on it. After all this pages the book hasn't even been near to what it was described and I just got too bored. This is probably because it is the 13th book in a series, some might say it's a cozy mystery only, without much mystery up until where I stopped reading.
Unfortunately I don't have anything positive to say about it.

Visit Margaret Maron.

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (August 22, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446582433
ISBN-13: 978-0446582438

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Jonathan Nasaw - Fear Itself

Injecting fresh potency into the phrase "scared to death," the wickedly talented author of The Girls He Adored has delivered a spine-chilling follow-up introducing an unforgettable villain who confronts his victims with their phobias.

The charmingly disheveled FBI Special Agent E. L. Pender is strapping on his non-regulation calfskin shoulder holster one last time. Last day on the job, showing the ropes to his eager successor, Investigative Specialist Linda Abruzzi.

Then a letter from Dorie Bell arrives at FBI headquarters. Last year Dorie attended a phobia disorders convention in Las Vegas. Since then, three attendees have died under suspicious circumstances. A man with fear of heights jumped from the nineteenth floor of a building. A woman with fear of blood managed to cut her own wrists in the bathtub. A third victim with fear of suffocation was found in her bathtub, with a plastic bag over her head.


In the beginning Nasaw introduces Linda Abruzzi, the one taking Pender's place in the Liaison Support, because he really is happy and can't wait for his official retirement. Linda isn't happy about taking his outlaw post because besides the pain she feels 24/7 it reminds her that it was this or leaving the FBI, which graciously already degraded her from Special Agent to Investigative Specialist.

In this book Pender shows himself from another side, one much more personal than in the first novel The Girls He Adored. Nevertheless his reputation hasn't changed much, he's still known of being the worst dressed agent.

So when Pender receives a letter from Dori Bell, suffering from a terrible fear of masks, about friends that officially committed suicide untypical for persons with phobia, he leaves a possible investigation to Linda and takes off for a golfing vacation.
Didn't he know his vacation spot isn't far away from Dori's home.

So things come together and when Pender visits Dori there is an instant connection between them. She seems to be very much like him and not to mind his clothing and Pender's just Pender-Mr-Cool from the outside. But then Dori's already in the killer's focus and is captured the next day.

She knows who he is. She knows she did tell Pender about the convention she visited and that Simon Child's has been the main contributor moneywise but will he be able to rescue her before she is killed by Child's who enjoys torturing his victims with their fears until they ultimately die.

A lot of people will die and already have died through Simon Child's hands and he always seems to be one step further of the people chasing him.


The sad thing with this book is, that the whole plot somehow is there but that it isn't executed well. I missed the investigation. Instead it seems Pender always knew where to look and what to look for. Unfortunately reality isn't that simple.
I find it really sweet to read about Pender and Dori which seems to be a perfect match, complementing each other but other than that I really don't have much to say about this book.
It is one of those you read and pretty soon forget about it.


Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Atria (January 7, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0743446518
ISBN-13: 978-0743446518