Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
When Humperdinck Jehoshaphat van Dumpty, better known as Humpty Dumpty, falls off the wall once too often and is shattered beyond repair, Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his partner Mary Mary of the Nursery Crime Division of the city of Reading are assigned the investigation. The case turns from accidental death to one of murder. Dumpty was a womanizer and con man who had been involved in a lot of shady dealings and who had lots of enemies. Jack is still stinging from not being able to bring the three little pigs to justice for their wanton murder of Mr. Wolff. He wants to shake his reputation for having a poor solve rate for his cases, so cracking the Dumpty case is important to him. How can he solve this high-profile case and prevent the maligned Nursery Crimes Division from being disbanded? How can he keep superstar Detective Friedland Chymes from stealing the investigation from him? Why was Dumpty buying up all the shares of Spongg's Footcare stock before his untimely death? And most important of all, how can the resolution of this case make good copy for a future issue of Amazing Crime Stories magazine?
Author Jasper Fforde has switched gears from his Thursday Next series to begin a new series of hard-boiled police procedurals based on Nursery Crime cases. "The Big Over Easy" has many funny moments as Fforde places familiar nursery rhyme characters in unusual situations. There are puns galore, and humorous character names such as Hercule Porridge, Miss Maple, Lord Peter Flimsey, and Winsum & Loosum. Each chapter is prefaced with an excerpt from an imaginary book that covers a literary topic in this topsy-turvy world. Examples include the Ugly Stepsisters suing fairy tale publications for defamation of character, the testing of a transmutation device that worked temporarily when it turned a pumpkin into a coach, and the banning of the use of twins as plot devices in crime stories.
Whether the concept of satirizing a mix of nursery rhymes and detective
stories will quickly become tedious or not remains to be seen (the next
in the series will feature Jack and Mary in the case of "The Fourth
Bear"). But in the meanwhile, this is an entertaining literary
The Innocent by Harlan Coben
Allen & Unwin
Those familiar with Harlan Coben's series featuring sports agent sometimes detective Myron Bolitar will delight in this gifted author's latest book, The Innocent.
Matt Hunter is 20 years old when during a vacation from a college vacation,
he is involved in a brawl and accidentally kills a college student.
Although he had little do with instigating the fight and merely was
trying to help a friend, Matt is found at the scene while others scurry
away and he stands trial for the death of another college student.
Now it is nine years later, Matt's brother is dead from a brain aneurysm
and his father is also gone. Matt's mother and sister live far away
but he still helps out his sister in law and his two nephews. Matt also
continues to work for the same law firm as before but he is now married
to a wonderful woman, Olivia and they are expecting their first child.
He is also about to close on a home in his old neighborhhod and Matt
can't help but think that life is good. But when his wife convinces
him to buy two cell phones which can send pictures, this sets in motion
a series of events which have Matt wondering who Olivia really is and
why is his life spiraling downwards.
Medical examiner Sara Linton has had an uneasy relationship with her ex-husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, for years. In spite of their differences, Sara and Jeffrey have never stopped loving one another. Now, the two are taking tentative steps towards a reconciliation, but obstacles still remain. Lena Adams is a detective who works under Jeffrey's supervision, and she is one messed up woman. Although Lena is a good cop, much to her secret shame, she is also a human punching bag for her abusive and cruel boyfriend. Lena's personal problems have a way of interfering with her work, and Jeffrey is losing patience with her. Jeffrey, Sara, and Lena do not have the luxury of concentrating on themselves for very long. Much to his shock, Jeffrey literally stumbles on the grave of a young woman named Abby who may have been buried alive. His investigation brings him into contact with a strange family of religious fanatics who are harboring dark secrets.
"Faithless" is an uneven effort by Karin Slaughter. Readers who have been following Jeffrey, Sara, and Lena for some time, admire their complexity, sensitivity, and vulnerability. These are flawed people, who are sometimes jealous, insecure, impetuous, and unforgiving. They are also caring individuals who have compassion for others. Their imperfections, as well as their strengths, endear these characters to us, and we hope that someday they will find peace of mind.
The mystery, however, is the weakest element in the book. It involves a closely knit group of people who attend church, quote the Bible frequently, and run a prosperous soybean farm. They also routinely take in miscreants, hoping that their exposure to religion and good works will inspire them to change their ways. When a second girl disappears without a trace, Jeffrey fears that she may have met the same fate as Abby. He racks his brain for some clue that will break the case. Who killed Abby--a stranger, a member of her family, or perhaps an ex-criminal?
Unfortunately, as the book progresses, it loses some of its momentum, and the convoluted conclusion is both melodramatic and far-fetched. Still, Slaughter is not one for tying up all loose ends neatly; and she leaves some plot lines unresolved, perhaps in preparation for the next installment in the series. Although "Faithless" is not a first-rate mystery, the lead characters are so charismatic that you'll be willing to stick with them in order to find out how they resolve their problems.
Not her best, but still a good read.
Lazybones by Mark Billingham
Thorne is involved this time in what appears to be some kind of vigilante
killing. The posed naked dead body of a released rapist is found in
a seedy hotel room. The victim had just been released from prison and
is found posed rather prayerfully, his neck garroted, masked, etc. Thorne
also finds out that someone called the local florist to arrange for
a wreath to be sent to the hotel room. Through this accidental phone
call, Thorne becomes involved with Eve Bloom, the lovely florist who
took the call.
RLK! QUICK LOOKS...
Backwoods by Ed Lee
Let's face it, Lee is on everyone's top 5 favorite horror writers list,
and the Backwoods proves why. This is very much an occult horror story
with a sophisticated murder plot weaving through it.
Lee fans don't fear, there's enough hangings, curses, rapes, whacked out autopsies, and one of the most gruelling offstage murders in fiction to keep you all more than happy.
Possibility of a sequel? Well, you never know. Excellent.
The Character Naming Sourcebook
by Sherrilyn Kenyon
This book is not just for writers, but for researches or anyone who wants to know the history and meaning behind a name; their own name or that of a child soon to be born.
Beginning with The Importance of a Name you discover ways to make people care about the person simply by choosing a name. Next is the importance of Characternyms, or what does the name impart? One of the examples is Magnum from the Hawaii based TV series starring Tom Selleck. Magnum is not only a wine bottle that holds twice as much, but it is also a very powerful bullet. We are presented with a hero that is "bigger than life" but who also is effervescent, strong, and brings the ring of sex appeal that champagne, laughter and a stunning force carry with them. It was a masterful name selection.
There are names by genre, gender, country (including illusive Native American, Latin, Greek, Russian and more) as well as notes in how to use the names to create the right impression: for example "...the Norman invasion in 1066...English were referred to by occupation...Aiken the Miller or Aisley of York."
Without doubt this is one of most complete histories of names available, and is a great source for writers, or those who just want to know more about names.
The Closers by Michael Connelly
Allen & Unwin
In Connelly's previous novel, The Narrows, Harry Bosch was seriously considering coming out of "retirement" and returning to service with the LAPD, despite several misgivings, one of which was the entrenched corruption throughout the force. However a new police chief is on board with a mission to clean house. Harry's old enemy, Deputy Chief Irving, a self-serving political player, wants Harry to fail and will do anything to achieve this end. Bosch has been assigned to the Open-Unsolved Unit, (cold cases) teamed up with his old partner, Kiz Rider, a no nonsense police woman in a predominately male domain, embark on an unsolved seventeen year old murder of a young girl, shot through the chest and taken out of her bedroom and dumped in a field. Harry attacks this unsolved murder with calculated zeal, leading to possible corruption in the force, pushing the case to it limits to find the perpetrator. The Closers begins at breakneck speed and doesn't let up until the last page is turned.
As a piece of crime fiction, The Closers is by no means a character study, it is entirely plot driven, following Harry Bosch at work to every twist and turn of the case. Connelly knows how to write a crime novel and does not leave anything to the imagination.
Modern detective fiction doesn't get any better, and in the hands of Connelly, one can be sure the ride will be thoroughly entertaining; and The Closers delivers on all counts.
Countdown by Iris Johansen
The legend of Cira and her gold intrudes once again on Jane MacGuire's
life. In Blind Alley, the streetwise adopted daughter of forensic sculptor
Eve Duncan and Atlanta detective Joe Quinn became a serial killer's pawn.
Now she's a target for terrorists who believe she has the key to a lost