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!

Look for Me                                                

 Author:  Lisa Gardner                     Fiction                     

This is the 9th book in Gardner’s Detective D. D. Warren series. For those readers who follow my reviews, I generally read such series in order, but I did not in this case. Detective Warren catches a particularly nasty murder scene - four members of a family of five have been shot to death. The fifth family member is a teenage girl, Roxanna Baez. Roxy, however, has disappeared. Assisted by Flora Dane, a character from the previous book in the series, becomes a CI to Warren because the missing girl had recently become part of her “recovery” group - young girls who have been victimized in various ways but are now survivors. Roxy’s family had its fair share of issues in the past, not the least of which was an alcoholic mother and stepfather, which causes the three children to be placed in a foster home (and this becomes the underlying social issue of the book - the issues with the foster system). The family is reunited and a live-in stepparent brings them back to Brighton, MA, the location of the foster home and of some very bad memories for the kids. Told from the prospective of D. D.. Flora, and Roxy, in somewhat alternating chapters, this is a race to find out the why of the murders before the who. A well-paced story with plenty of suspense. But methinks reading the series in order might be better in this case. Thanks to Edelweiss and the Dutton division of Penguin Random House for the prepublication copy of the book for my review.

Shut Your Eyes Tight                         

 Author:  John Verdon                                   Fiction

This is the second book in the Dave Gurney series. Gurney has retired from the NYPD where he was a top homicide detective and moved to the Catskill Mountains with his wife, Madeleine, to live a simpler life. When he is called to look into a gruesome murder, the beheading of a bride on her wedding day, he can’t resist despite having barely survived the first time he was called upon post-retirement (the subject of the first book in the series). He accepts the assignment, paid for by the mother of the dead girl, and soon is confronted with a series of clues that lead this very logical, deep thinking man to recognize that there is a lot more going on than just this one crime. Little does he know how bizarre this case will become. Working with Jack Hardwicke, another hard-nosed detective from the Bureau of Criminal Investigations, he must follow some very strange leads to a fast-paced conclusion. Verdon know how to write a thriller.

A Death in Live Oak                          

 Author:  James Grippando                     Fiction             

This is the 14th book by Grippando featuring Jack Swyteck (although it is only the second one I have read). First things first - you do not need to read them in order, or at least so far that is my opinion. Set in northern Florida, the book tackles both the historical and the present state of racism, white supremacy, and the southern justice system. The story opens with the taking of a black teenager in 1944, the story of which is then interspersed throughout the book. Fast forward to the present. Jamal Cousin, the president of a black fraternity at the University of Florida, is found hanging in the swamplands of the local river, brutally hog-tied. Suspicion quickly falls upon the president of a prominent white fraternity, Mark Towson. The state’s attorney seems hellbent on convicting Mark as he is running for reelection and is pressured by outside forces. The Towson family retains Jack Swyteck to defend Mark against the charges. What ensures is a study of overzealous prosecution fueled by politics and an outsider with considerable influence in the black community. Swyteck must sort through multiple stories, witnesses, and legal opponents. Grippando does a good job of recognizing many of the current issues in our society regarding race - both good and bad - without preaching or trying to make a statement. I am becoming a big fan of this series and will look forward to going back to other Swyteck tales. Thanks to Edelweiss and HarperCollins Publishers for the advance copy of this book.


Last Seen                                           

 Author:  Rick Mofina                 Fiction                     

Cal and Faith Hudson reluctantly take their son, Gage, to the Chambers of Dread at the local county festival in suburban Chicago. As they exit the attraction, Gage is no longer with his mother and father. What ensues is a study in family and loss. The local police do not have the resources to solve the case so the FBI, and its most successful agent in missing chlldren cases, Tibor Malko, is called in. Malko is ruthless, to his staff, the local police and to Cal and Faith as he tries to find the missing boy before it is too late. His no holds barred demeanor bring suspicion on the family, and the tension causes many issues in their relationship to appear. And I suspect that most readers will not like Agent Malko. While the first part of the book seemed to drag a bit, perhaps even seeming repetitious, the pace certainly quickened as the investigation did and the secrets of the characters are revealed. This is the first book I have read by this author, and it won’t be the last. Thanks to Edelweiss for the advance copy of this book.