Review of A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny (2007) (Three Pines Mysteries #2)

Bottom line: A strong continuation of a very good series.

Rating: Recommended

Blurb:

CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone in the hamlet of Three Pines, right up to the moment she died. When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache begins his investigation, it seems like an impossible murder: CC was electrocuted on a frozen lake, in front of the entire town, during the annual curling tournament. With compassion and courage, Gamache digs beneath the idyllic surface of village life to find long buried secrets, while his own enemies threaten to bring something even more chilling than the bitter winter winds to Three Pines.

Review:

I went into this book expecting it the all-too-common sophomore slump – a great debut followed by a much less than stellar number two. I was pleased to discover that I enjoyed this one almost as much as the first book. I was even more pleased when I picked it up at the library in November, knowing only that it was the second book in the Inspector Gamache series (see a quick review of the first here) and discovered that it was set during Christmas. Yay!

I would definitely recommend that you read Still Life first, as many of those characters reoccur here. There were still the frequent POV changes that irked me from the first book, and several times she wrote scenes to be intentionally misleading or used words like “the object” to keep the suspense up, which I hate (though this may have been magnified since I had just read Dan Brown’s Inferno), but overall it was a very good mystery. She wove some trouble into Gamache’s life in such a way as to leave me dying to get my hands on the next seven or so books to see how that will resolve itself.

There was also an underlying theme of how brokenness can be passed down through the generations – something that I’ve been thinking a lot about as I’m finishing up my first year as a parent. Nothing will make you more aware of your own faults than raising a child and wanting desperately not to screw up too badly.

But anyways, it was very good, and I can see that I’m going to have to continue haunting my library’s on hold section as I work my way through the series. The depictions of village Christmas life were a charming backdrop to the murder – so get in the holiday spirit and read about a murder!

Get it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Have you read any Louise Penny? What did you think?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Review of A Rumpole Christmas by John Mortimer (2009) (Rumpole series)

Bottom line: A fun holiday read with a little murder, theft and blackmail thrown in here and there.

Rating: Recommended

Blurb:

Of the late Sir John Mortimer’s many beloved characters, it is widely agreed that Horace Rumpole was his greatest fictional creation. Here, collected in book form for the first time, are five delightful tales that capture the beleagured barrister at his grumpy, yet warm-hearted best.

Rumpole isn’t particularly fond of Christmas Day-he finds it has a horrible habit of dragging on as She Who Must Be Obeyed leads him through the usual rituals. But at least the criminal fraternity rarely takes a holiday. Whether it’s a suspicious Father Christmas, or an unseasonably nasty murder trial, there’s always something wonderfully unlawful to liven up Rumpole’s dull holiday plans.

Review:

This is a collection of short stories set over the Christmas holidays. It is very light in tone and feels like you’re sitting down over a glass of the horrible wine Rumpole drinks while he tells you these stories in his own, slightly meandering way. It is a fun read to get you in the mood for the holidays – especially if you prefer you holiday spirit with a little crime and mayhem on the side. It’s very short, and could easily be read in an evening – cup of tea and Christmas cookies optional. 

Get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Review of The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Lee Huber (2012) (Lady Darby Mysteries #1)

Bottom line: A powerful mystery with a great new detective.

Rating: Recommended

Blurb:

Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister’s estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes.

Kiera wants to put her past aside, but when one of the house guests is murdered, her brother-in-law asks her to utilize her knowledge of human anatomy to aid the insufferable Sebastian Gage—a fellow guest with some experience as an inquiry agent. While Gage is clearly more competent than she first assumed, Kiera isn’t about to let her guard down as accusations and rumors swirl.

When Kiera and Gage’s search leads them to even more gruesome discoveries, a series of disturbing notes urges Lady Darby to give up the inquiry. But Kiera is determined to both protect her family and prove her innocence, even as she risks becoming the next victim…

Review:

This was one of those books where I finished it and had the awesome-new-author-discovery jitters. The more I look back on it, I’m able to think more analytically about it and figure out what I liked and what I didn’t like and so on, but not many books actually make me giddy with joy when I’m done with them. So, as I do my review, keep that in mind.

First my complaints – I didn’t really like the male lead, and didn’t think he was extraordinarily well handled. We get interesting hints about him, that he pretends to be shallow and pretentious, but underneath is a serious and intelligent detective, but we’re only told the former for a few pages in the beginning, and suddenly he’s the latter, with no hints as to why he would pretend otherwise in the first place. Also, I’m not crazy about the “reformed rake” style hero (or in this case “could-possibly-reform-in-the-future-for-the-right-woman rake”). My other annoyance was that this novel takes place in high society in 1830, where apparently everyone cheats on their spouses with hardly any consequences, or batted eyelashes. Perhaps that’s true to the time, I’m not a historian, but it did irritate me.

Apart from those things, I loved it. This might be one of the few novels where I’ve seen angst well handled, and certainly one of the very few novels written in recent times where this is the case. The heroine is both strong and suffering from things in her past. Her level of angst over it, as well as society’s reaction seemed very believable considering the novel’s time and place.  Remember that these were things no one would have been able to see on TV and therefore become desensitized to. (If my wording here seems more awkward than usual, it’s because I’m trying to avoid spoilers, even little ones, as is my policy.)

The murder plot/discovery was very good, as were the pace, supporting characters (for the most part), and setting. I thought the author did an excellent job conveying the time period and location without overdoing it. There were several interesting facts dropped about oil painting in that time, but again, you never felt like you were listening to an info dump. She also conveyed what was necessary about clothing to help you picture the scene without making my eyes glaze over about corsets and petticoats and whatever else people wore back then (I’m even less of a fashionista than I am a historian).

However, despite really loving Kiera, the main character, the best part of this book, in my humble opinion, was how well the author handled Kiera’s emotions after the murder takes place. Authors all too often seem to err either on the side of “character barely affected by gruesome murder” or “character overly affected by murder of someone she barely knows and spends the whole book fainting and throwing up.” The horror Kiera feels at what is a particularly terrible murder is extremely well depicted. Though I have read far more graphic and violent murders, I was drawn in to all the pain and injustice that accompanied this one, much more than in other mysteries I’ve read. Reading about Kiera’s feelings seemed to echo and magnify my own in a powerful way. So, consider yourself warned.

Clearly, as you can see by how much I had to say about this book, it was one that really did affect me, and I mean that in a good way (I’ve got book two on hold at the library). If you are at all interested in historical mysteries – or willing to try them – this one is well worth the read.

Get it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Review of Inferno by Dan Brown (2013) (Robert Langdon Series)

Bottom line: Take all the negative aspects of Dan Brown’s writing, leave out the good stuff, and add in a very thorough self-guided walking tour of Florence.

Rating: Not Recommended

Blurb:

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.

Review:

I have been on the waitlist for Dan Brown’s Inferno since its release in May, and finally picked it up from the library last week. I was really disappointed. Dan Brown’s books at their best are like an action movie – completely unbelievable, non-stop roller coasters with twists and turns and lots of suspense – combined with a fun puzzle to solve. This book was not that. There was so much detail given about settings, names of artists, museums, writers, works of art, etc. that my eyes glazed over frequently. There were so many twists and turns that it just felt tedious – oh, wait, now we’re trusting that person. Ok, now we’re not? Wait, are we again? Am I done yet? Nope, only a couple hundred pages left. The scavenger hunt from clue to clue that characterizes a Dan Brown novel felt entirely forced – there was absolutely no reason for the bad guy to leave the trail of clues in the first place. I had a really hard time caring about any of the characters, they were exceptionally wooden, uninteresting, and unrelatable. In addition, a great author will provide misdirection and red herrings while still providing the clues the reader needs to solve the mystery. In that type of book, you get to the final reveal and you’re saying, “OH! I get it! That makes complete sense and is why X, Y, and Z happened earlier!” Brown has to rely on essentially lying to the reader or using code names so he can shock them later on with the truth. Although he often uses such tactics, it felt particularly bad in this book. Also, there were a lot of heavy handed rants about overpopulation and utilization of resources. Lastly, though I won’t critique Brown’s actual writing style, I will say that if you read this book, watch out for all the whispering that happens in odd places. If I were to wake up in a hospital and the doctors were whispering to me I would be supremely annoyed.

As you may have gathered from the previous paragraph, I wasn’t a huge fan of the book. It was an ok read, but there are so many better books out there. In general, I enjoy Dan Brown’s books, but this one just felt tedious and forced. There were some fun moments – for me the best part was that the final destination ended up being a place I’ve been, so I was able to picture that scene very vividly. If you’re going to read a Dan Brown, I’d recommend The Da Vinci Code or Deception Point. Both are ridiculous yet fun, while Inferno was simply ridiculous.

Available: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

The Da Vinci Code: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Deception Point: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Review of Whiskey Sour: A Jack Daniels Mystery (2004) by J.A. Konrath (Jack Daniels Mysteries #1)

Bottom line: Definitely worth a read for hard boiled fans who don’t mind a little cliché and dose of humor in their gruesome detective stories.

Rating: Recommended

Blurb:

Lieutenant Jacqueline ‘Jack’ Daniels is having a bad week. Her live-in boyfriend has left her for his personal trainer, chronic insomnia has caused her to max out her credit cards with late-night home shopping purchases, and a frightening killer who calls himself ‘The Gingerbread Man’ is dumping mutilated bodies in her district. Between avoiding the FBI and its moronic profiling computer, joining a dating service, mixing it up with street thugs, and parrying the advances of an uncouth PI, Jack and her binge-eating partner, Herb, must catch the maniac before he kills again….and Jack is next on his murder list. Whiskey Sour is full of laugh-out-loud humor and edge-of-your-seat suspense, and it introduces a fun, fully drawn heroine in the grand tradition of Kinsey Millhone, Stephanie Plum, and Kay Scarpetta.

Review:

This book was recommended to me years ago, but I put off reading it because I was afraid it would be too gory for me. Make no mistake, this book certainly has its disgusting and violent moments, but for me the light tone interspersed throughout the book (it works better than it sounds like it would) helped me stomach the bad moments. It was suspenseful, interesting, and well written. There were several clichés throughout, but I genuinely liked the main character. It is difficult to create a tough-as-nails female cop/detective that is also feminine (in the “feels like a woman” sense, not necessarily the “pink high heels” sense) and realistic, not to mention likeable, but Konrath has managed that with Jack Daniels.

Two things that annoyed me the were the way over the top incompetent and cardboard FBI agents and the bad guy’s giggling. Other than that it was a very strong read – I will certainly be reading more of the series when I have the time.

 Get it! Amazon, Barnes & Noble

What did you think? I know the series has been around for almost a decade now – have any of you read it?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Close Encounters of the Fourteenth Century Kind

Howdy! I’m on vacation in Brazil for most of September, so I turned the tables on my readers and opened up the blog for guests posts while I’m gone. Today’s post comes from John, a.k.a. Mr. Lector’s Books.

I have a confession: I listen to a lot of audiobooks.  Where most people listen to music, I would much rather hear a story.  This is why (other than my utter lack of mathematical ability) I majored in history.  History courses and books are most engaging to me when I get to know the people involved and understand how situations and perceptions affect decisions and events.  One of my favorite books, and one assigned in my American History 101 class, is Killer Angles by Michael Shaara.  Killer Angles is a novelization of the Battle of Gettysburg and tells the story of the battle from the perspective of soldiers from both the Union and Confederate armies.  To study a battle is one thing, but to read/hear it coming from the voices and conflicted inner monologues of real people brings depth to a war that divided our nation and shaped its future.

I enjoy historical non-fiction and books on current events, but, if I’m completely honest, most of the books I listen to are pure sci-fi escapism.  I love the world building of authors like Robert Heinlein, C.S. Lewis, Susan Collins, and John Scalzi.  When I need something outside of my trusted authors, I will randomly pick a sci-fi book from an author I haven’t read or heard of before.  Sometimes I end up with a dud, but other times I find gems like Eifelhiem by Michael F. Flynn.  This wonderfully strange book combines elements of actual history and sci-fi to produce a work of fiction that is truly unique and speaks to my historical and alien-loving geekiness.

Eifelhiem is about humans making contact with alien race that comes to Earth.  What is fascinating about the book is that the author sets this close encounter in fourteenth century Germany and the protagonist is the village of Eifelhiem’s priest.  As the author tells the story of the humans interacting with a “demonic” looking race of beings, there is a secondary plot set in the present.  In the present, a cliometric history professor (a field that uses economics to study the course of history) is trying to piece together why the village of Eifelhiem was abandoned in the fourteenth century and never inhabited again, while his wife, also a professor, ponders the mysteries of theoretical physics.

Like the history professor in the book, I came to admire the village’s priest, Father Dietrich.  Dietrich is a man whose fervor for his faith once led him down a darker path, but he now channels his passion into serving and taking care of the people of the village, his adopted home.  He is a man trained in religion, philosophy, history, logic, and science.  His learning and religious views are tempered by his age and wide array of experiences, making him a gentle and wise man and pastor.  His congregants love and respect him, and feel comfortable enough to make fun of his often technically brilliant yet dry sermons.

Dietrich is the first of the humans to recognize that the aliens, the Krank, are not demons.  He sees them as mortal men, simply different from himself.  However, he is not the first of the humans to offer hospitality.  The story explores themes of racism, charity, and grace.   It also delves into questions regarding the soul and who our “neighbor” is in the New Testament sense.

I would not call this a religious or Christian book.  The intent is to tell a story in the world of medieval Europe.  To tell a story in that place and time, just like when you study Western history, you have to consider the beliefs and motivations of that era’s people.  For Europeans at that time, their views of the world were shaped by the Catholic Church.  The author is not making a statement, just using the resources available to him during the time period of when he is writing.

I would recommend this book if you have any interest in history, economics, sci-fi, physics and/or if you have ever wondered how Christianity would reconcile the existence of sentient extraterrestrials.  I would also warn that the time period lacked our current medical understanding.  There are several scenes of detailed medical procedures that would seem counterintuitive to anyone who has even watched a modern medical drama.  There is serious foreshadowing throughout the book about the eventualities of the humans and the aliens. Even though the fates of the villagers and the visitors can be surmised through information in the book, I found that I still wanted to know how everything played out.  This is yet another unique quality of book I greatly enjoyed.

Thanks for reading,

John

Available (Audiobook): Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Available (e-book): Amazon, Barnes & Noble

What are your favorite audiobooks?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Review of Illusion by Frank Peretti (2012)

Bottom line: A fascinating and intriguing story about love, time-travel, and magic.

Rating: Strongly Recommended

Blurb:

In a world where nothing is as it seems, anything is possible.

DANE AND MANDY, a popular magic act for forty years, are tragically separated by a car wreck that claims Mandy’s life—or so everyone thinks. Even as Dane mourns, Mandy awakes in the present as the nineteen-year-old she was in 1970. Distraught and disoriented in what to her is the future, she is confined to a mental ward until she discovers a magical ability to pass invisibly through time and space to escape. Alone in a strange world, she uses her mysterious powers to eke out a living, performing magic on the streets and in a quaint coffee shop.

Hoping to discover a new talent, Dane ventures into the shop and is transfixed by the illusions that even he, a seasoned professional, cannot explain. But more than anything, he is devastated by this teenager who doesn’t know him, is certainly not in love with him, but is in every respect identical to the young beauty he first met and married some forty years earlier.

They begin a furtive relationship as mentor and protégée, but even as Dane tries to sort out who she really is and she tries to understand why she is drawn to him, they are watched by secretive interests who not only possess the answers to Mandy’s powers and misplacement in time but also the roguish ability to decide what will become of her.

Review:

A friend lent me this book, and I’m so glad she did. It’s not the type of thing that I would have sought out on my own. I’ve never been all that fascinated by magic, and the innate frustration of the storyline – I know you, why don’t you know me? Or am I just crazy? – is the kind of thing that could easily drive ME crazy. And yes, there was definitely some frustration in all of that, but was a remarkably well told story. I found myself racing through the pages, frantically trying to figure out a solution that would let Dane and Mandy be happy and together.

I guess the only issue I really had with the book was that there were a lot of characters, and I had a hard time remembering who was who. Genre-wise, I’d say it was kind of sci-fi light – there aren’t an excruciating amount of details given about the mechanics of the time/space travel, in fact, I could have used a little more explanation myself, but it wasn’t all that important. This is a story about love.

The writing and storytelling were excellent. I seem to vaguely remember reading some of Peretti’s other works as a child, but I can’t remember what. I’ll have to do some research. I’m not very good at names: real people, characters, or titles, so I’ll have to dig into some of his storylines and see if they ring any bells. I’m very interested in trying some of his other works (or retrying as the case may be). This was a book that captivated me from page one.

Side note: The pain and loss felt by Dane at the opening of the book when Mandy dies is vivid and real. I teared up several times during the story – something that is rare for me. Because of that, I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone who has recently lost a loved one. There are also strong Christian elements in this book, again, this was something that was handled remarkably well. It felt very natural to the story and the characters, which is not always the case.

Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Have any of you read the book? Read any of Peretti’s other works?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Review of The Host (2008) by Stephenie Meyer

Bottom line: A fun science fiction story with great characters, action, and romance.

Rating: Recommended

Blurb:

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, didn’t expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she’s never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST
is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human.

Review:

Ok, I have to get this off my chest. Stephenie Meyer is not a terrible author. Please don’t flame me. I know it’s cool to hate on her, and a lot of very smart people have put a lot of creative energy and time into mocking her and her works. Much of which I have enjoyed. (I wanted to link to some, but I couldn’t find any that were solidly within this blog’s…ah…high ideals).

And no, I don’t think she is one of our age’s great literary talents. However, she is a great storyteller. She is actually pretty good at world-building, and her dialogue can be funny and clever. I don’t want to do an in-depth analysis of the Twilight series, but I will say that I’ve read the books, more than once, and I enjoyed them. It started with my sister-in-law, who is several years younger than me and in high school at the time. She had rented the movie, so I, my husband, his brother and his wife all watched it, basically so we could tear it apart. It was horrifically bad. The acting was atrocious, the dialogue was terrible, and I couldn’t think of any reason why ANYONE could possibly have enjoyed that experience. So after that, I had to read the books to see why so many people were passionately devoted to it. As a side note, I think the movies failed (I only saw the first two, then lost interest) because they took out much of the dialogue, which was one of the better features of the books, and the humor. And I will address one of the main points critics bring up: that these books don’t portray a healthy teenage relationship between Edward and Bella. Well, no. But it’s not like Meyer is the first person who has done that. Can you say “Romeo and Juliet”?

Anyways, like I said, I didn’t want to do a full in-depth analysis of the Twilight series here, but I did want to give some background as to how I got into the Host, and you can’t talk about Stephenie Meyer without mentioning Twilight. So, on to the main attraction:

The Host is a sci-fi romance. It’s a very clean romance, and the love story parts of it were handled well. But the world-building in The Host is VERY good. Meyer created interesting and believable species of aliens, and you get some very great details and stories of life on other planets without it feeling like she’s showing off this universe she’s made up (which I occasionally feel with some sci-fi or fantasy authors). There’s action and suspense and tension, and I think her skill as a storyteller really shines through with The Host. I even have, and this is my coup d’état here, a real life MAN who enjoyed it. My husband listened to it on audiobook and thought it was, and I’m quoting verbatim here, “pretty good.” High praise from an actual male.

Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

Side note: We just watched the movie a few nights ago (it’s now available to rent), and I thought it was a fairly good adaptation. They changed quite a few things, as they do, but they captured the main essence. They did leave out quite a bit of the world building that I had enjoyed so much in the book, but I can see why they did. The casting was pretty good, and I liked how they changed the opening. The last couple of scenes were handled much better in the book, but that’s life. It was a fun way to pass an evening. The only thing that annoyed me was that there was a LOT of kissing. If you took out all the kissing scenes, it would have been like a 45 minute movie. I felt like that kid from the Princess Bride movie, and wished we could just skip over most of them.

Movie available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

Ok, confess. Any Meyer fans out there?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Review of by Miss Pym Disposes (1946) by Josephine Tey

Bottom line: A quirky novel with a murder. A good read for fans of the Golden Age mystery era who are looking to add some more authors to their list.

Rating: Recommended if you are a fan of Golden Age mysteries.

Blurb:

Miss Lucy Pym, a popular English psychologist, is guest lecturer at a physical training college. The year’s term is nearly over, and Miss Pym — inquisitive and observant — detects a furtiveness in the behavior of one student during a final exam. She prevents the girl from cheating by destroying her crib notes. But Miss Pym’s cover-up of one crime precipitates another — a fatal “accident” that only her psychological theories can prove was really murder.

Review:

Reading something by Josephine Tey has been on my “to be read” list for a while – I’m a huge fan of other Golden Age mystery authors and she is ranked up there with Sayers, Christie, Allingham and Marsh (see a recommended reading list for those authors here). Tey has several standalone novels (as opposed to a series), so I picked this one because it was a) at my library and b) set in a college (I have a soft spot for the academic world).

It’s been a few days since I read this now, and I’m still trying to decide if I liked it. It is very different from a standard murder mystery, in fact, if I hadn’t read the blurb (which I think gives away too much), I wouldn’t have realized I was reading a murder mystery. You’re more than two thirds of the way through the book before anything unpleasant happens.

However, despite that, it was an enjoyable read. Miss Pym, the heroine, is a quirky but fun character, and the occasional humorous non sequitur reminded me a little bit of Douglas Adams humor. The setting in a women’s college and some of the themes throughout the book reminded me quite strongly of Gaudy Night (published in 1935 – just over a decade earlier), though it didn’t feel like a knockoff, just familiar.

As I said earlier, I’m not entirely sure that I liked it. I would certainly rank it below the other four authors previously mentioned. It didn’t follow the normal conventions of a mystery, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it did take some recalibrating. I think I would read more Josephine Tey, but I’m in no hurry to run out and get another one. If we can borrow from the collegiate world, I would consider this a Golden Age 201 course – after you’ve taken Golden Age 101 (Sayers, Christie and so on) and want to pursue the subject, this would be a good next step. 

Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Review of Temperance Brennan (A.K.A. Bones) Series by Kathy Reichs

Bottom line: A good look at the behind the scenes of police work and what a forensic anthropologist does – extremely violent and sometimes sub-par storytelling.

Rating: Recommended if you’re a fan of police procedurals or the TV show Bones.

Review:

I watched several seasons of Bones before giving up. It’s a good mystery show, but I got tired of the sexual tension being the main focus and the jerry-rigging done by the writers to keep that tension…tense. That being said, if you’re a mystery fan, it’s worth checking out, especially the first couple seasons or so. Anyways, a few years ago I had been wandering my library looking for something fun to read and randomly grabbed one of the Temperance Brennan mysteries that inspired the show. It was very good, although the show has practically nothing in common with the books except the name of the main character and the fact that she’s a forensic anthropologist. So I read a few more over the years and always found them to be clever and entertaining.

On my recent library run I had picked up several first-in-a-mystery-series books to review, and Deja Dead was one of those. I was looking forward to reading it, based on my previous experiences with Kathy Reichs. This, my friends, is a good example of why I’m not an optimist. I didn’t enjoy it at all. It was tedious and gruesome and slow. I didn’t identify with the main character at all, and despite the extremely graphic nature of the violence, didn’t find it all that interesting until the last 70 or so pages. For a book that clocks in at 532 pages, that’s kind of a big deal. I did see some hints of why I enjoyed some of the other books in the series. Towards the end, the characters felt more fleshed out. The murder(s) part of the plot was believable if grisly. The ending was genuinely a page turning, oh-no-what-next kind of thing for me. So overall I’m going to rate the series as a “Recommended If” with the first book a “Not Recommended”. From what I recall, the murders/violence stay pretty graphic but less so than this book (I’d skip the series entirely if you’re not a fan of that sort of thing), but the writing improves tremendously: the action starts rolling earlier in the book and the characters feel more realistic. I will say that I found the science-y parts to be well done and interesting.

Available:

Deja Dead (Book 1) Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Death Du Jour (Book 2) Amazon, Barnes & Noble

First Season of BonesAmazon, Barnes & Noble

What did you think? Did you like the series?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.