Monday, June 25, 2007

Spare Change by Robert B. Parker

A serial killer known as "Spare Change" resumes killing after a thirty year hiatis. The Boston Police Department calls on original task force member, now retired Phil Randall to investigate the new killings. Phil enlists the help of his daughter, Private Detective Sunny Randall to help solve a case that has been haunting him for three decades.

Robert B. Parker writes three series: Spenser, Jesse Stone, and Sunny Randall. Sunny seems to be a female combination of Spenser and Jess Stone. As all of Parker's females, she's beautiful. She tough and a bit of a wiseass like Spenser, and she has relationship issues like Jesse Stone with whom she has had an affair in novels that featured both characters. It all feels a bit incestuous. Parker's characters are a stereotypical and not all that dimensional. The dialogue always seems a bit stiff and unnatural. The plots are usually straightforward. For all the reasons I can think of why I might not really like the Parker novels, I have read almost all of them, and have enjoyed them for the most part. I can't really figure out why. The characters aren't very complex, really they're a bit caricature, but I like them. The stories are simple, but they move along. They are an easy read, and you don't have to invest too much brain power into them. Sometimes they are just what is needed for a lazy afternoon.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child

A decade has passed since a Reacher and seven others were members of an elite military team of special investigators. They had a slogan, "You do not mess with the special investigators". When one member of the team turns up dead, thrown out of a helicopter in the desert, Reacher receives a call for help in code from another member of the team. Reacher is on the next plane to avenge his comrades untimely death.

When I pick up a Reacher novel, I can count on action-packed suspense. Reacher has to be one of the most interesting protagonists on the crime fiction scene. He's such a complex human being, it's hard to figure him out. He's a charismatic man who's a bit of an anti-hero, a drifter, a loner, a man of honor and steel. In BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE we get insight into Reacher's past. While in most Reacher novels, he is very much a loner, in this outing he is part of a team. The dynamic is different, but still compelling and still very much Reacher. The characters introduced as part of the team are well written and developed. I hope that Lee Child uses them in a future novel. The plot was well-paced. There was never a dull moment in the unravelling of the story. It's not essential to read the other books in the series to enjoy this one, but the whole series is excellent and I recommend reading them all.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

The Overlook by Michael Connelly

Dr. Stanley Kent is found on an overlook near Mulholland Drive with two bullet holes in the back of his head. Dr. Kent was a medical physicist with access to every hospital in the area. Harry Bosch is called to the scene by as part of LA's Homicide Special Squad where he meets up with his ex-lover, FBI Agent Rachel Walling who also happens to be on the scene. Highly radioactive cesium is missing from a gynecological-cancer laboratory and Dr. Kent is responsible for taking it. What was an execution-style killing has become a matter of national security.

Michael Connelly is one my top 5 favorite authors. I'd rather read an average Michael Connelly then many other author's best work. I enjoyed the story, but this wasn't one of Michael's Connelly's best efforts. The problem might have been expanding a magazine series into a full-length novel. I found the references to Echo Park in the beginning of the book. Not everyone reading THE OVERLOOK read ECHO PARK, or as in my case, I didn't remember the plot of that book. Connelly has a talent for keeping the suspense level high, and I wasn't disappointed on that front. There are some nice twists and turns to keep the reader interested and the story moving forward. I felt a little frustrated at the ending since we are left-hanging as to the state of Harry's health. We'll know as soon as the next Harry Bosch book is written which I hope will be soon.

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