Steve's Reviews

I first met Nancy when she was the manager of the highest grossing (per square foot) B. Dalton store in the country and I was still in the midst of a 40+ year banking and investments career. She introduced me to many authors that rekindled my love of reading. Spending a lot of time on airplanes (or waiting for them) was made a lot easier with my new "friends." I am now retired and split time between Florida and Indiana with reading and golf competing for my time. I have eleven grandchildren and most of them are readers as well - one of my favorite things to do is take them to our local bookstore and turn them loose!

Live to Tell                                   

Author:  Lisa Gardner                      Fiction

This is basically the story of three female characters. Victoria is the mother of a troubled 8-year old, Evan, determined to raise him despite his anti-social behaviors. Danielle is a nurse in the pediatric psych ward of the local hospital who has her own history - she is the lone survivor of the murders of her parents and siblings 25 years earlier. And of course, Detective D. D. Warren of the Boston PD. In the present day, a family of four is brutally murdered, with the father being the prime suspect. Is it murder-suicide, or, when a second large family is similarly killed, something bigger? It is a complex plot that brings the women together centered around some pretty uncomfortable issues regarding mental health, the killings, and one more unlikeable character, Andrew Lightfoot, an ex-investment banker turned “counselor” (to use the term lightly). How does he fit in is the question.

Chronologically, this is the fourth book in Gardner’s Detective D. D. Warren series, and the fourth I have read (though I have not read in order), but the first I have rated this low. The story just did not work for me as the detective side was really absent for most of the book and the other characters were really not very likeable. I am not giving up on the series though.

The Fallen        

 Author:  David Baldacci                          Fiction

This is the 4th book in Baldacci’s Amos Decker series (with the 5th released in April). Amos and his FBI associate, Alex Jamison, are visiting Alex’s sister in Baronville, Pennsylvania, a city that has seen better days, not to mention the current rampant drug problem. A former mining and mill town controlled by the Baron family is, however experiencing a rebirth with the massive fulfillment center that was built there and which drew Frank, Alex’s brother-in-law, and his family here. On the first night of their visit, Amos discovers two dead bodies in the house behind them, this on top of four other murders in the previous two weeks. When yet another victim hits too close to home, Amos must use his skills of perfect memory and incontestable logic to figure out why, and who, avoiding false leads, before it is too late. A story in typical Baldacci style with a hero of unique style, I thought the first half of the book dragged a bit. But once it got going, there was no putting it down.

The Drifter                               

 Author:  Nicholas Petrie                                   Fiction

Peter Ash is a Marine veteran, having served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He, like many others, is having difficulty returning to civilian life, his PTSD issue being the white static that he hears whenever he is indoors. So he heads up into the mountains and lives in the outdoors until he learns of the suicide death of Jimmy Johnson, one of the sergeants that reported to him in Milwaukee. He tells his widow that he is part of a VA program to help surviving spouses. While he is fixing the porch, underneath he discovers a suitcase filled with money and explosives, along with the biggest, meanest, and filthiest dog he has ever seen. Peter is determined to find out exactly why Jimmy committed suicide which draws him into a conspiracy that explains the suitcase. Each year I accompany my better half to Mackinac Island for her quilting seminar. On a day off, we wandered into The Island Bookstore, an independent bookseller and I had a wonderful talk with the owner. We always like to support these small but usually fascinating places, and this was her recommendation for a new author (at least new to me). An action filled story with plenty of tension, fans of Jack Reacher will enjoy this read.

The Reversal                                         

 Author:  Michael Connelly                              Fiction

Mickey Haller, aka The Lincoln Lawyer (a defense attorney whose office is the back seat of his Lincoln Continental), is approached by the Los Angeles District Attorney to come to the other side. Jason Jessup was convicted of the murder of a 13-year old girl some 24 years earlier but new evidence has gotten him a new trial. Haller agrees to take on the case as long as his ex-wife, Maggie McPherson, and LAPD detective Harry Bosch can be on his team. Jessup has somehow gotten a celebrity defense attorney to take on his case. With Bosch reinvestigating the case and Maggie guiding his trial strategy, Mickey is convinced of Jessup’s guilt, but as always, one can never underestimate how juries will perform. Connelly is, in my opinion, one of the better authors in this genre, and this book is no exception as his insight into the criminal justice system is on display. A fast-paced narrative with characters we are familiar with makes for an enjoyable read.

The Last Thing She Remembers   

 Author:  J. S. Monroe                           Fiction             

A woman gets off the train in the small English village of Wiltshire. She wanders through the town eventually knocking on a door and telling the occupants that she cannot remember her name - in fact all she can remember is arriving at Heathrow Airport where she says she lost her handbag - her passport, cell phone, wallet are gone. But she says that this is her house. The occupants, Tony and Laura, allow her to stay the first night, and this begins a short stay in the village where she tries to remember how and why she is her. Some of the locals try to help her, including Luke, the local reporter, who is convinced that she is the daughter he has never seen. But all is not as it seems as the story builds with some unexpected twists and turns. Thanks to Park Row Books and NetGalley for the ARC of this novel.



Smokin’ Seventeen                     

 Author:  Janet Evanovich                       Fiction

This is obviously the 17th book in Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. I needed a little relief, and who better to turn to than Evanovich and her crew of misfits, Stephanie, bail bond enforcer, and her associates, Lula, Connie and Vinnie, her love life, Joe Morelli and Ranger, and, of course, her family, especially Grandma Mazur. The bail bond office has burned down and Vinnie and company are working out of an RV owned by Mooner when dead bodies start showing up at the construction site where the vehicle is parked. While there are several candidates for the killer, no one really has any idea who he or she is, but they apparently are trying to kill Stephanie as well. As always, her family is pushing her to get married - choose between Joe Morelli, the cop, or Ranger, the security expert - or add a new guy into the mix, Dave Brewer, former high school football star who got down on his luck but is back in town. Add in Stephanie’s adventures in recovering bail skips. As always, lots of laughing out loud as you read. Evanovich is not the world’s best writer, but her books are always entertaining.



Those People                                   

Author:  Louise Candlish                      Fiction

Lowland Gardens is an oasis within the city of London - nice houses, friendly neighbors, and the recipient of a community award for their “Play Out Sunday” where the street (Lowland Way) is closed to traffic and the kids take over and play. But when the owner of 1 Lowland Way passes away and her heir moves in, everything changes. Darren and Jodie will not follow the unwritten rules of the community - playing loud music at all hours, running a used-car business from the home, and a mess created by their renovation project. Their neighbors, Ant and Em at #3, brothers Ralph and Finn and their wives at #5 and #7, and Sissy across the street at #2 are up in arms without a plan to bring the new owner into line. And when a guest is killed in a terrible accident, the police investigation rattles the residents even more. Everyone has their secrets, and these secrets will change the neighborhood and the relationships in each home and in the neighborhood. Rating this book was very difficult for me. There wasn’t a character in the book that I liked (even the one I thought I liked turned out to be unlikeable!) but the plot line was intriguing which kept me reading. And, spoiler alert, the ending was less than satisfactory. Thank you to Berkley Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to review the ARC of this book.