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 nine 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!

The Fifth Woman                                

 Author:  Henning Mankell               Mystery                     

This is the 6th novel in Mankell’s Kurt Wallander series. The book opens with the murder of four nuns and an unidentified “fifth woman” in a convent in Africa, a crime that is covered up by the local police. About a year later, Inspector Kurt Wallander must investigate two murders in Sweden - the death of an elderly retired car dealer/bird watcher and a florist. Both of the murders are quite brutal and Wallander suspects that they are somehow related - but how? When a third murder occurs, Wallander still does not have many clues, so he must use experience and intuition to pursue the investigations. Is the killer a man or a woman? Are the three murders related? What possibly could be the motive? This is a typical Scandinavian crime novel, with the police using minimal force and maximum thought to figure out and pursue the villain. I had read the previous 5 books in the series, but the last one was five years ago. While it was not as good as I remember, it was still worth the time.

Memory Man                                           

 Author:  David Baldacci                                    Fiction

This is the first of currently three books in Baldacci’s Amos Decker series. For those of you who follow my reviews, I usually go back to the beginning of a series, but I read the 3rd book first, and in that review, I said I wish I had gone back to book 1. Because it explains a lot about the main character, Amos Decker. Decker was a star football player who made in all the way to the NFL only to be knocked silly in his first (and last) game. As a result of the traumatic brain injury, he has emerged a savant - able to remember everything he sees and hears - right down to the minute. During his recovery, he decides to become a policeman - he rises to detective in a successful career that comes to an abrupt halt when he returns home one night to find his wife and daughter and brother-in-law brutally murdered. The crime is never solved. This sends Amos into a tailspin - he leaves the force and basically lives on the street until he realizes he must do something. A little more than a year later, living in the local Residence Inn in Burlington (not sure which Burlington, but in the Midwest), a man confesses to the murders. And a short time later, Decker is approached by the local police to assist in the investigation of a multiple homicide at the local high school, committed with the same gun that killed his family. Reconnecting with his former partner, Mary Davenport, and a couple more characters (a reporter and an FBI agent, who were in the later books), they must unscramble a maze to find the killer. Baldacci is one of my favorite authors - a great storyteller with good main characters and interesting cases.

The Doll                                                      

 Author:  Taylor Stevens                     Fiction             

This is the third Vanessa Michael Monroe book. Monroe is one screwed-up person because of her childhood in Africa where she was taken by a band of gunrunners and tortured by a very brutal man. Now she has some interesting, if not legal, skills and can blend into her surroundings as she hunts for justice. She is now living with Miles Bradford, another battle-tested operative, where she has finally found some peace. The story opens with Monroe being kidnapped off the streets of Dallas and whisked off to Europe where the Doll Maker, a purveyor of girls and young women to hidden and perverted clients, requires her skills to deliver a young woman to one of his clients. At the same time, Logan, characterized as her "surrogate brother and star-crossed soul mate,” is kidnapped as a way to control Monroe as she must carry the Doll Maker’s demand. With her U.S. friends using their unique skills and Monroe using all of her intelligence and experience, Monroe battles to save both her friends and herself as well as those she encounters during a fast-paced adventure. It had been a while since I read the earlier books in the series, so the writing style was a little off for me. But that does not mean that the tension and action should keep you away.


Final Girls                                           

 Author:  Riley Sager                    Fiction                     

This is the first thriller written by Riley Sager (but it actually isn’t as this is a pseudonym for an apparently well-known male author who is writing about women so needs a gender neutral name). The book opens with Quincy Carpenter racing through a forest fleeing from a massacre at a remote cottage. She is the only survivor of a vicious attack that leaves 5 of her friends dead. There are two other “final girls,” survivors of mass killings themselves (Lisa Milner and Samantha (Sam) Boyd. Quincy is now living with her fiancé-to-be and thinks that she is past the horrors of ten years earlier. That is until Lisa, the first of the final girls, is found dead in her bathtub, an apparent suicide. And Sam shows up at Quincy’s New York City apartment. Did Lisa really commit suicide? And why has Sam resurfaced? A good read that will keep you guessing - every time it looks like you have figured out what is going on, a curve is thrown your way.