Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Alafair Burke - Angel's Tip (Ellie Hatcher Series, Book 2)

Fresh faced Indiana college student Chelsea Heart is so excited to spend the final hours of her spring break in the VIP room of an elite New York City club that she remains behind when her girlfriends call it a night.
The next morning, as her concerned friends anxiously pace their hotel lobby, joggers find Chelsea's body in East River Park, her wavy blond hair brutally hacked off.

NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher catches the case and homes in on a group of privileged men who were last seen plying Chelsea with free- flowing alcohol. But before she can even gather the preliminary evidence, the gruesome murder is grabbing headlines and drawing unwanted media attention to the department. So when Ellie builds a tight case against Jake Myers, a young hedge fund manager, the department brass and the district attorney's office are elated: the case will soon be cleared, the media will tout the departments quick work, and Ellie will be a dream witness at the trial against Myers.

But Ellie has her doubts. Chelsea's murder is eerily similar to three other deaths that occurred nearly a decade ago: the victims were young, female, ad in each case, the killer had taken her hair as souvenir.
Ellie's investigation pulls her into a late-night world of exclusive clubs, conspicuous wealth, and hedonistic consumption.
And her search for truth not only pits her against her fellow cops but also places her under the watchful eye of a psychopath eager to add the prideful young female detective to his list.


In this second novel starring Ellie Hatcher our heroine just finished her jump into the homicide bureau, two month after the incidents of Dead Connection, clearly feeling the disapproval of her colleagues and boss who feel like she made a career jump she didn't deserve after just five years as a cop.
Still having her brother as a roomer they take on a running routine in the morning when they stumble over a fresh corpse propped against a pile of pipes, with strangulation marks around the neck, the hair hacked off and deep stabwounds on body and face, resembling the outlines of a tic-tac-toe game.

Together with her new partner, J. J. Rogan, Ellie soon finds out who the victim is, where she was and with whom. The case seems to be solved when evidence nails a Jake Myers as the last person seen with her in public.

Ellie asks herself if solving the case wasn't too easy when she answers a call from a man who's daughter has been killed years ago. The case around Chelsea Hart reminded him so much of his own daughter that he felt he had to tell this to the investigating detectives. He tells Ellie that detective Flynn McIlroy, who died in Dead Connection mentioned a few years ago that he found cases similar to his daughters case and asked him questions.

With the seed planted Ellie begins to investigate what McIlroy investigated years ago and finds cases strangely similar to the current Chelsea Hart case. Her suspect in custody is way to young to be the possible killer of these old cases.

Someone killed three girls years ago and now was triggered to do the same again and soon in becomes very clear that Ellie is the addressee and the ultimate victim for a psychopath just awaken from hibernation.


What I liked in Dead Connection got lost a bit in this second novel: the character development of Ellie Hatcher. She still is ambitious and smart but ultimately we didn't learn much more of her or her life but that's probably because of the short timeframe which has just passed since Ellie lost McIlroy in the first book.

The idea of the young, smart detective getting into the killer's focus isn't exactly knew to the mystery reader and the plot development is similar to the first book.
Who the killer actually is caught me of guard for the second time but that won't happen the next time. So Mrs. Burke definitely has to come up with something new in her next book otherwise it gets really boring.

However, overall the book was entertaining and finely written.

Visit Alafair Burke.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Harper (August 19, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061561029
ISBN-13: 978-0061561023

Bill Lavender - Obedience

When the students in Winchester University's Logic and Reasoning 204 arrive for their first day of class, they are greeted not with a syllabus or text, but with a startling assignment from Professor Williams: Find a hypothetical missing girl named Polly. If after being given a series of clues and details the class has not found her before the end of the term in six weeks, she will be murdered.

At first the students are as intrigued by premise of their puzzle as they are wary of the strange and slightly creepy Professor Williams. But as they delve deeper into the mystery, they begin to wonder: is the Polly story simply a logic exercise, designed to teach them rational thinking skills, or could it be something more sinister and dangerous ?

The mystery soon takes over the lives of three students as they find disturbing connections between Polly and themselves. Characters that were supposedly fictitious begin to emerge in reality. Soon, the boundary between classroom assignment and the real world becomes blurred - and the students wonder if it is their own lives they are being asked to save.

Reading this book it sort of felt like not only were the characters in the book played big time but the reader as well. Here's the assignment: Solve this case and you save a fictitious, innocent life and it took me into a world of memorizing clues that were given to the students.
I had a clue which way this book would go after a certain intimate talk between two characters but by then the book was far away from being finished. Over a flood of new information I almost forgot about my own theory but wasn't surprised to find it affirmed in the end. But nevertheless the book keeps the a lot of surprised and twists your mind.

In case you decide to read it keep in mind, there is no randomness and distractions take way of track. ;-)

The book would have gotten five stars from me if it weren't for the ending. It was a logic ending from my small point of view but it also fell flat and didn't hold up to the rest of the book.

Visit Bill Lavender.

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Shaye Areheart Books (February 19, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 030739610X
ISBN-13: 978-0307396105

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Amanda Stevens - The Devil's Footprints

The footprints were etched in the snow for miles, passing through walls and crossing rivers ... appearing on the other side as though no barrier could stop them.

In 1922 a farmer in Adamant, Arkansas, awakes to noise on his roof and finds his snow-blanketed yard marked with thousands of cloven footprints.
The prints vanish with the melting snow ... only to reappear seventy years later near the gruesome killing of Rachel DeLaune.

Years after her sister's unsolved murder, New Orleans tattoo artist Sarah DeLaune is haunted by the mysteries of her past. Sarah has always believed that her sister was killed by a man names Ashe Cain. But no one else has ever seen Ashe.
He had "appeared" to Sarah when she needed a friend the most, only to vanish on the night of her sister's murder.
The past bleeds into the present when two mutilated bodies are found near Sarah's home, the crime scene desecrated by cloven footprints.


What a twisted book. I needed a few chapters to get into the story but then I literally flew through the pages.

Sean Kelton needs the help of his ex-girlfriend Sarah DeLaune as an tattoo artists. Two women have been killed in the most gruesome ways imaginable. The killer left a precise tattoo on both victims and Sean hopes Sarah might be able to offer some information about the tattoos. As soon as Sarah enters the first crime scene she's baffled. Something doesn't seem to be right

Fragments of her past and her sister's killing have always haunted her and made her and mde her a nervous wreck. She can't remember what happened on this disastrous day but the ritual signs she sees at this scene bring out a painful resemblance to those at her sister's crime scene over a decade ago.

Things get tight when she has to leave town to look after her dying father and Sean's jealous wife and her friend vanish.
Back in her hometown she's confronted with her past, struggling to remember what happened. Where did Ashe Cain go and did he really exist or was he just her imagination ? Is it possible that she killed her sister and her brain doesn't allow her to remember that ? Is she the crazy one or is everything that happens, including her father found murdered in his hospital bed, a masquerade to set her up.

When everything seems to point to her as being the suspect for the past and current killings there is only one way for her to find out who killed Rachel and who's responsible for the current killings. She needs to convince her psychiatrist to finally agree to hypnotize her fragile mind.


This plot is tight until the end. The reader doesn't know who's the killer until the last chapters open the door to a darkness that creates chills and goosebumps. Although the end came quick I enjoyed the book very much and couldn't put it down.

Visit Amanda Stevens.

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Mira (March 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 077832530X
ISBN-13: 978-0778325307

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

John Lutz - In For The Kill

An invitation written in blood...
A madman is stalking women in the city. By the time his victims are found, they've been dismembered with careful precision, their limbs stacked into a gruesome pyramid and completely cleansed of every last drop of blood.

To catch a killer - or die next...
Accustomed to working on the most grisly homicides, detective Frank Quinn#s nerves don't rattle easily. But when the last names of the killer#s victims spell out "Q-u-i-n-n" , the veteran cop feels a chill run down his spine.
Then a fresh victim is linked to the one woman Quinn can't stop desiring.
Hunting down killers is what Quinn does best.
But this time, Quinn is up against a psychopath that will test him a never before... .


I barely made it through this book and obviously it took me a long time. The books description is pretty much precise so I don't want to add too much to it.
I sort of quit counting how many women were killed in this book because after a while the killers MO got literally boring and a repetition of the one before. Also the brief introduction of the victims, how they were killed etc. was the same over and over again. Why the killer addressed Quinn in the first place isn't exactly explained.
Overall the characters were quite shallow. We have Quinn and his ex-girlfriend working the case. While Quinn still has feelings for her she's engaged in a relationship with one obvious suspect that briefly dated one of the victims. The whole thing gets really unprofessional and hardly to imagine that someone from the field stumbles into something like this.

Whatever it is, I didn't like the book at all.

Visit John Lutz.

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Pinnacle (November 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0786018437
ISBN-13: 978-0786018437

Sunday, September 14, 2008

George R. Stewart - Earth Abides

The planet has been overwhelmed.
A new and unknown disease of unparalleled destructive force has sprung up almost simultaneously in every corner of civilization, overrunning all attempts at quarantine, all but destroying the human race.
One survivor, strangely immune to the effects of the epidemic, ventures forward to experience a world without man. What he, who will ultimately become the last American, will discover will be far more astonishing - than anything he'd either dreaded or hoped for.


Earth Abides is a classic post-apocalyptic tale about what might be and what might happen after humanity has been visited by a great plague, killing most of the humans. Although written in 1949 George R. Stewart knew how to implement what scientist already knew all those years ago.

He describes how young Isherwood Williams, also called Ish, survived a snake bite which might have conquered the greater disease that had fallen upon him and saved his life.
The young student soon learns that he isn't alone left in what he knew as civilization. He travels through the U. S. now and then finding survivors who were either under shock and crazy or hostile against him. Sometimes it was even him who feared them. He sees how fast nature takes but men took from it a long time ago.
Domestic animals vanish or become hostile. Whole animal species seem to vanish overnight while other thrived from what men left. Insects and rats without boundaries overrushing towns destroying what's eatable and vanishing when the resources are eaten. What's left are cans and bottles and other goods that aren't eatable.

Getting back to his hometowm he meets Emma and in an desperate attempt for love and ending the loneliness they become a couple and later a family. With the months passing more people enter the little community, bearing children who bear children.

The community grows and with it the thoughts about future and what might become of Ish's children and their children. During his whole lifespan Ish tries to teach them how to read without understanding that the new generation isn't interested in reading and knowledge but likes the careless life they life, indulging what is left of a civilization they never knew, slowly learning to adapt to the world they know.


Sometime in the beginning of this year I saw a documentation on the history channel which was named Life After People that pretty much described with impressing pictures what happens to what's left of the civilization we know today.
Earth Abides is just one example of how things might go on if there are people left capable to go on.
A plot that can't be outdated, at least not yet, but nevertheless gives impressions and lots of thoughts.

George R. Stewart.

Mass Market Paperback: 337 pages
Publisher: Fawcett (September 12, 1986)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0449213013
ISBN-13: 978-0449213018

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lisa Jackson - Lost Souls

Twenty-seven-year-old Kristi Bentz is lucky to be alive. Not many people her age have nearly died twice at the hands of a serial killer, and lived to tell about it.
Her dad, New Orleans detective, Rick Bentz, wants Kristi to stay in New Orleans and out of danger. But if anything, Kristi's experiences have made her even more fascinated by the mind of the serial killer. She hasn't given up her dream of being a true-crime writer - of exploring the darkest recesses of evil - and now she just may get her chance.

Four girls have disappeared at All Saints College in less than two years. All four were "lost souls" - troubled, vulnerable girls with no one to care about them, no one to come looking if they disappeared.
The police think they're runaways, but Kristi senses there's something that links them, something terrifying.
She decides to enroll, following their same steps. All Saints has changed a lot since Kristi was an undergraduate.
The stodgy Catholic college has lured edgy new professors to its campus and gained a reputation for envelope-pushing, with classes like the very popular "The Influence of Vampirism in Modern Culture and Literature" and elaborately staged morality plays that feel more like the titillating entertainment of some underground club than religious spectacles. And there are whispers of a dark cult on campus whose members wear vials of blood around their necks and meet in secret champers - rituals to which only elite have access.
To find the truth, Kristi will need to become part of the cult's inner circle, to learn their secrets, and play the part of lost soul without losing herself in the process.

It's a dangerous path and Kristi is skating on its knife-thin edge. The deeper she goes, the more Kristi begins to wonder if she is the hunter or the prey.
She's certain she's being watched and followed - studied even - as yet another girl disappears, and another. And when the bodies finally begin to surface in ways that bring fear to the campus and terror to the hearts of even hardened cops like Detective Bentz and his partner Reuben Montoya - Kristi realizes with chilling clarity that she has underestimated her foe. She is playing a game with a killer more cunning and bloodthirsty than anyone can imagine, one who has personally selected her for membership in a cult of death from which there will be no escape.


Kristi Bentz survived encounters with a serial killer twice and now is ready to finally pick up her life to fulfill her dream and become a true crime writer. She enrolls in the All Saint College she used to go to before her life took dramatic changes. So much the better that there already seems to be a story only waiting to be written by her. Packed with the necessary information about the missing girls she begins her time at All Saints just to discover her high school sweetheart Jay McKnight is her new teacher in criminology.

Tough all the animosity Jay soon becomes involved in her investigations which were hugely influenced from some suspicions her former roommate voiced.

Kristi puts herself into the killer's focus without knowing he's already behind her wherever she goes, with her name on the top of his list.
Some people are intrigued by classes about Vampirism but for some people it goes much further: they not only believe in vampires, they think they are a vampire and they live it.


Having read lots of Lisa Jackson's books I felt totally detached from this one and its bland characters which weren't too much but the hopping between them and the short chapters were quite tiresome, taking away the little suspense the story had to offer. The book drags, giving the reader the feeling of just putting the book away and read another one.

Visit Lisa Jackson.

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Kensington; Doubleday Large Print (April 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0739494538
ISBN-13: 978-0758211835
ASIN: 075821183X

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Jesse Kellerman - The Genius

Ethan Muller is struggling to establish his reputation as a dealer in the cutthroat world of contemporary art when he stumbles onto a decaying New York slum, an elderly tenant named Victor Cracke has disappeared, leaving behind an enormous trove of original artwork.
Nobody can say anything for certain about Cracke except that he came and went in solitude for nearly forty years, his genius hidden and unacknowledged.

All that is about to change.
So what if, strictly speaking, the art doesn't belong to Ethan ? He can sell it-
and he does just that, mounting a wildly successful show.
Buyers clamor. Critics sing. Museums are interested, and Ethan's photo looks great in the New York Times.

And that's when things go to hell.
Suddenly the police are interested in talking to him. It seems that Victor Cracke had a nasty past, and the drawings hanging in the Muller Gallery have begun to look a lot less like art and a lot more like evidence.

Is Cracke a genius ? A murderer ? Both ?
Is there a difference ?
Sucked into an investigation four decades cold, Ethan will uncover a secret legacy of shame and death, one that touches horrifyingly close to home.


Art gallerist Ethan Muller sees a lot of success when his father right hand Tony Wexler shows him an apartment filled with drawings of the vanished Victor Wexler and how he saw and imagined the world.
He sets Cracke's drawings up for success and soon becomes topic number one in all the big papers when an ex-cop approaches him.
He saw one of the pictures printed in the newspaper and the little Cherub in it looks just like a little boy who was killed in the 50's.
Ethan soon discovers that a few other pictures with Cherubs resemble other boys who have been raped and killed. He now begins to feel that Victor Cracke might be a serial killer and together with the ex-cop and his daughter his life takes a turn when he begins to search for Cracke in need to find out if he is what his drawings indicate.

The book has two parts: The present and interludes beginning in 1847 when Solomon Mueller tries to make a living in the USA. It shows how the family Mueller, later Muller built an empire of companies and money. It really gets interesting when it comes to little boy, David Muller, Ethan's father, how he was raised and the terrible secrets his mother and father kept secret for centuries without letting the public know that a "deep shame", a mongoloid child in 1918, has been born into their family.
It tells how strangely and loveless David has been raised by his parents. His discovery that on the fifth floor lived someone who was removed shortly after he made an accidentally discovery. And how he has to deal with it in the 60's.


In the beginning I didn't care about the book at all. Two thirds into the book I couldn't wait for the next interlude because those were far more interesting than reading about Ethan's attempts to learn about Cracke's whereabouts. More than once I thought about putting it away until the interludes arrived at the point where David sees the hidden Ruth and she is removed from the big house.The story then made sense to me and I think Kellerman did a fine job to built the story on those interludes.

In the end I felt like the present, Ethan's story, is more like an interlude than anything else. I didn't care for him or what he does at all.
What I care for is the intelligent way the story was built by Jesse Kellerman. In the end he made it to close all lose ends and there were a lot.

Visit Jesse Kellerman.

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult (April 10, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399154590
ISBN-13: 978-0399154591

James Patterson & Howard Roughan - Sail

Set sail
Only an hour out of port, the Dunne family's summer getaway to paradise is already turning into the trip from hell. Carrie, the eldest, has thrown herself off the side of the boat in a bid for attention. Sixteen-year-old Mark is getting high belowdecks. And Ernie, their ten-year-old brother, is nearly catatonic. It's shaping up to be the worst vacation ever.

Soak up the sun
Katherine Dunne had hoped this trip would bring back the togetherness they'd lost when her husband died four years earlier. Maybe if her new husband, a high-powered Manhattan attorney, had been able to postpone his trial and join them it would all have been okay....

Prepare to die
Suddenly, a disaster hits–and it's perfect. Faced with real danger, the Dunnes' rediscover the meaning of family and pull together in a way they haven't in a long time. But this catastrophe is just a tiny taste of the danger that lurks ahead: someone wants to make sure that the Dunne family never makes it out of paradise alive.


Katherine Dunne and her three children Carrie, Mark and Ernie each carry their own package and it didn't get easier with the family when the husband and father died four years ago. The children out of control, Katherine find a new man after three years: renowned celebrity attorney Peter Carlyle.

As a last attempt Katherine decided to take the two teenagers and little Ernie on a boat cruise together with her ex brother-in-law Jake. From the beginning things go bad. From water in the boat to a rupture in an important hose and a storm nearing that wasn't supposed to be there. Hardly surviving the storm the boat suddenly explodes leaving the family swimming in the ocean without any help to come.

Meanwhile back in New York Peter Carlyle plays the distressed husband, secretly dreaming about of his wife's inherited millions which soon will be his.
When suddenly a fisherman shows of his huge catch and a Coke bottle, containing a desperate message written by the family Dunne that they are alive on an island, falls out of the animals mouth.

The pressure is on. Who will find the family first ?
Peter, who didn't take into account a suspicious coast guard and an alarmed DEA agent. Or those two trying to unravel the mystery behind the families disappearance and find the evidence to nail Peter Carlyle ?


During the families experience, losing their uncle Jack to his third-degree burns, survival on an island and it's dangers, it felt good to read how the family found back together out of their need. They find to each other and discover themselves anew.
I was in shock when in a moment of shear happiness the boat exploded. It really got to me. Unfortunately it was the only moment where I wasn't able to put down the book. I understand that James Patterson is a mass market brand name but I honestly didn't understand that this book got published written as it is. The plot is easy but could be much more refined with details and most of all with action. In the end the family is sitting on an island trying to survive.

Visit James Patterson.

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (June 9, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316018708
ISBN-13: 978-0316018708