Thursday, January 25, 2007

Web of Evil by J.A. Jance

In this second Ali Reynolds book, she is finally getting her divorce from the philandering husband she refers to as Fang. She drives from Arizona to California only to find that her soon to-be-ex missed the meeting. He couldn't quite make because he was murdered the night before by being stuffed into a trunk of a car and left of the railroad track. You can imagine what happened. Ali is the prime suspect since she was alone on her drive which actually passed the crime scene, and since the murder occurred before the divorce, she inherits everything despite the pregnant fiancee in the picture. Ali's mother and police detective friend come to California to help her out of the mess.
I am a big JA Jance fan from the acclaimed Joanna Brady series to the grittier Beaumont series. Both of those series with their corresponding characters are highly anticipated by me. I did read the previous Ali Reynolds novel and while the story was not as good as the other series', I did like the cast of primary characters. I'm not sure what happened in this book. Again, I was really looking forward to reading this novel, but a few chapters in, I was wondering if I was actually reading a JA Jance book. I still liked Ali as a character, but that whole blog gimmick is not needed. I started skipping the blogs and the comments. I know this is a new era of technology and everyone and their mother has a blog, but don't use one in book. Boring. The story itself was totally ludicrous and ridiculous. It reminded me more of a Evanovich Stephanie Plum Novel than a JA Jance novel. Maybe that was the point since for some ungodly reason the Stephanie Plum novels are popular, but if it was, then JA took a wrong turn. Tripe maybe be popular, but it doesn't mean it's good. Bring back Joanna and Beau or write a traditional mystery for Ali. She deserves better.
Last comment--I think it is unacceptable when a book goes to press with blatant errors. Several times the character of Tracy was referred to as Terry, and the character of Jake was referred to as Jack.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Unnatural Selection by Aaron Elkins

Gideon Oliver's wife Julie is attending a consortium on conservation in the Scilly islands off the coast of England. Gideon accompanies his wife who is invited by Russian host, Vasily Kozlov. Every year Vasily invites guests with varying opinions on environmental issues.

Gideon doesn't have much interest in attending the conference but his experience as a forensic archaeologist is called upon when bones are discovered on a local beach. After some research and testing, Gideon determines the bones to be that of a guest who was murdered and dismembered two years previously. Gideon is asked by the local police chief to help with the investigation, but before there are answers to the many questions that arise in this case, another guest at the consortium is murdered.

I've read almost all, if not all, of the Gideon Oliver series. The last several have been lacking something. I could never really pinpoint what was off-- weaker plotlines, uninteresting stories, or just a series getting old, whatever it was, happily the newest Gideon Oliver book is reminiscent of the earlier ones. I was happily riveted to the story from the beginning. One minor flaw is that sometimes the story got bogged down in the very technical jargon of forensic anthropology. Learning is well and good, but when something is dry and tends to go on a bit too long, it stops the story in its tracks. Also the secondary cast of the guest at the hotel was not very well-developed. I had to flip backwards in the book to figure out who everyone was. They are introduced and then not really part of the story until the end. Regardless of a few flaws, I found the story very enjoyable.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

True Evil by Greg Iles

Alexander Morse, former FBI Hostage Negotiator, turned rogue agent after her 35-year old sister sister dies of a stroke, but not before accusing her husband of killing her. She begs Alex to save her son from his father. Alex vows to honor her sister's last wish. She works effortlessly until she stumbles upon a plan between unscrupulous lawyer and a diabolical doctor who have inflicted a number of people with terminal diseases after their spouses seeks out the lawyer for divorce proceedings. Alex's brother-in-law was one of those spouses. Now Alex has identified the next victim, Dr. Chris Shepard, husband of a bored wife who doesn't want to give up her son or the money. When Alex approaches Chris with a plan to entrap his wife, Chris is at first dubious, but after evidence of an affair, he agrees to help Alex.

The story had me from page one, not something I can say about most books. The plot was intricate and suspenseful, a true page-turner of a book, even though the plot was a bit far-fetched. What made this story so enjoyable were the characters of Alex and Chris. They were so multidimensional, fallible humans...totally sympathetic characters. I was rooting for Alex the whole way through. My one quibble is that this almost 500 page book could have lost at least 50 pages at the end of the book. The ending seemed to go on too long once the culprits were revealed. The last scene on water seemed totally extraneous.

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