Whispers in the Mist

Lisa Alber writes about a quaint little village on the Irish coast that has an annual Matchmaker festival where the town is inundated with romantics looking for love and so many others taking advantage of the festive occasion. When the grey skies start rolling in, the myth of Grey Man starts scaring the children and when a stranger shows up dead, it begins to scare the adults as well. Whispers in the Mist was a great read with so many unique characters who all have history with one another, as happens in small towns.

The clues left along the way seem to cloud the story even more, but the ending was suspenseful and unexpected.

Enjoyable read. March 2017.

Advertisements

Carthage

Carthage, by Joyce Carol Oates, is a crazy story of a seemingly perfect, public family gone awry. When the oldest daughter’s engagement to a PTSD stricken Iraqi veteran ends, it seems like the family will be able to recover. Until the younger daughter goes missing.

She was last seen with the ex-fiance who was later found drunk in his car and blood stains in the passenger seat. Due to his heavy medication and his use of alcohol, he remembers nothing of the last evening. The whole search for the daughter and the conviction of the vet tears the family apart.

It seems like a sad family ending but we’re only halfway through the book. The twist is sad and strange and changes the whole perception of the perfect family.

Great, slow read.

Read October 2016

A Voice from the Field

Neil Griffin’s main character, Tia Suarez, is one of the most interesting detectives I’ve read in a long time. First, she’s a woman and most of the interesting characters in crime novels are men. She’s also a Mexican-American who in the past year was shot on the job and had a public mental breakdown in a courtroom.

At the beginning go A Voice from the Field Suarez is working undercover as a prostitute who is the only only who sees a hispanic girl tied up in the back of the guy that gets away. With her past, no one believes that the girl was really there and Suarez starts spiraling into a drunken stupor. There are many other complications to her investigation, including a white supremacist organization, a drug operation, and the multiple other government agencies vying for the score.

Great read! I’ll look out for another Neil Griffin.

Read April 2016.

The Silent Sister

Early on Diane Chamberlain warns her character Riley Macpherson that “When someone dies unexpectedly the way your father did, they don’t have the chance to clean everything up. You know, erase sites he’s Googled or whatever. So don’t dig too deeply into his personal things. Don’t upset yourself.” The The Silent Sister wouldn’t be very interesting if Riley had listened to that advice. Instead Riley moves into her father’s home to help clear it out to sell. Her brother lives close to her dad’s house, but he’s messed up on alcohol and memories from childhood and wartime, so its up to Riley to deal with her father’s estate.

Quickly, Riley learns of a secret girlfriend her father had, her mom’s best friend. Apparently, after her mom’s death, her dad and Jeannie became good friends and then more. This is the first of many secrets that her dad kept, including that her dead sister was really alive and hiding. Lisa was a child prodigy who’s schedule ruled her family. She travelled, practiced, committed murder, and then drowned herself, supposedly. Riley believed that story her entire life and its only upon her father’s death that the story starts to unravel.

Riley is alone. No longer in a relationship, there’s no one in her life that she can confide in and she’s unsure who she can trust in her father’s world. Jeannie is intrusive. The Kyle’s, who live at her father’s RV park, seem nice and confide more about her father than they probably should, like that Riley’s adopted. Another blow to Riley’s world. Her sister died or disappeared more than 20 years ago. Her mother died 7 years ago. Now her dad is gone and her brother’s lost. And it might be true that this wasn’t even her biological family.

Riley is determined to uncover the truth in her family. Why would her sister murder her violin teacher? How did she fake her own death and then escape? She was only 17 when she left. In Riley’s lonely world, the search for her sister becomes the link that holds her together. Diane Chamberlain shows how crazy family ties can be, but at the same time they’re all someone has.

This was a great read! Thoroughly engaging with so many twists along the way.

Read February 2015

The Hour I First Believed

Several friends have recommended that I read a Wally Lamb novel for a couple of years now. Their recommendation was based on how well Lamb grasps characters and the intense emotions he shares. Every story told about his books ended with the friends describing how they cried throughout the whole book.

Its hard to begin a book that you know will emotionally rip you apart. Which is why it took me awhile to pick any of them up. I found The Hour I First Believed while randomly browsing my local library, so I figured that fate was telling me that it was finally time to read Wally Lamb.

The Hour I First Believed begins the weekend before the Columbine school shooting. It uses the killers real words and the victims real names so that the victims are not forgotten. Just from that description, I’m sure any reader can guess why this story is emotional. But Lamb takes it further. Not only do the main characters work at the school, Caelum is a teacher and Maureen a school nurse, but Maureen was in the library in the middle of the rampage. Caelum luckily (?) wasn’t there because he was across country taking care of his dying aunt.

Caelum races across the country to find out what happened to Maureen. When they reunited, they need to face their own grief and Caelum finds himself in a strange teacher role dealing with the kids who have less life experience to deal with the tragedy that the teachers themselves.

Without fulling dealing with their emotions about the Columbine shooting, Caelum and Maureen return east to Caelum’s family farm in Connecticut. Its in Connecticut that Caelum must deal with his past, both personal and family past. Lamb reveals one thing after another, to make it seem that the life Caelum and Maureen are trying to save, just won’t let them. There’s bad luck and then theres the luck that these two have. Affairs uncovered. Hit and runs. Jail time. Alcholism. Throughout its hard to tell whats keeping them going. Is it guilt? Obligation?

I can’t answer those questions, but I can say that I cried throughout the book. Just like my friends recommendation, this book emotionally ripped me apart but by the end I was hopeful. Ripping my heard out through reading is tough, but putting the hope back in is even harder. Wally Lamb truly gets real human emotion. Its complex, but amazing.

I heartily recommend this novel, but with a box of tissues.

Read December 2014.

The Abominable Man

The Abominable Man by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo is the 7th novel in the Martin Beck series. Sjowall and Wahloo have a fantastic grip on the difficulties facing modern day police officers that are trying to work in a corrupt system. Former Chief Inspector Nyman is murdered and throughout the investigation, the truth of his brutality confronts the investigating officers.

As Nyman lay dying in his hospital bed, a sadistic madman breaks in and kills him with a bayonet. Beck and his officers discover that throughout the years Nyman and his men earned numerous complaints of police brutality against innocent men and women with little to no repercussions. The police always backed their own, and Nyman went unscathed. The list of complaints leads the investigation to a man with a terrible grievance against Nyman and many other police officers, including Martin Beck.

Sjowall and Wahloo maneuver this story and masterfully tell what can happen when you cannot trust the police who should be there for your protection. How the brotherhood of police needed to be disbanded to protect those from the sadistic nature of police officers gone bad. Even our beloved Martin Beck fell prey to the policeman’s allegiance in the past and must suffer his own consequences.

I love the Martin Beck stories because its told from the minds of a cerebral officer who takes his time to trust his instincts and doesn’t offer endless violent scenes to tempt the reader. He’s a great investigator and Sjowall and Wahloo tell his story clearly.

Read November 2013