First Sentence: It was one of those late summer days that sometimes
showed up in early October after a killing front—warm, dry, and hazy;
Sheriff Walt Longmire, best friend Henry Standing Bear, and undersheriff Victoria Moretti are returning from a day of fishing. A distressed call from park ranger Chuck Coon leads them to find Coon and a tourist trapped on top of a campground Porta Potty, having been driven there by a large black bear sow and her cubs. Inside, also trapped, is a special creature who may be a special Messenger for Walt.
It takes a special author whose short stories equal the quality of his full-length novels. Johnson is just such an author. All of the elements of an excellent book are here. He draws you in from the first sentence with evocative descriptions and establishes a sense of place that makes you part of the story.
Johnson has created such wonderful characters in Walt, Henry and Victoria (Vic). Even in this short-story format and had you not read a previous book, they are fully developed; you know who they are and their relationships to one another. Each character’s personality, as well as the affection between them, is very evident.
One of Johnson’s greatest strengths is dialogue. The spoken dialogue is crisp, very natural, and further establishes each character. The internal narrative places us in Walt’s head and allows us to see the story from his perspective. There is excellent balance between the narrative and the dialogue. Both also allow us to enjoy Johnson’s humor.
Learning about the beliefs of the Cheyenne is fascinating. Even more, it takes what could have been a simple and delightful story, and gives it depth and import on Walt’s life. It gives us, the reader, a bit of education, and greater respect and sense of wonder for one of nature’s glorious creatures.
“Messenger” is a wonderfully original story with humor, mysticism and friendship. While you may wish it had been longer, you’ll also appreciate that it is perfect, just as it is.
Two significant benefits of buying this e-book are that a portion of the proceeds goes to the Teton Raptor Center in Jackson, Wyoming, and that it also includes the first chapter of Johnson’s next book, “A Serpent’s Tooth”.
MESSENGER (Pol Proc-Walt Longmire-Wyoming-Contemp) – Ex
Johnson, Craig – Short Story – ebook
First Sentence: The year People magazine selected George Clooney as its Sexiest Man in the World, women in that part of the world known as St. Louis shook their heads.
Attorney Rachel Gold is in the midst of a case representing residents of a community in threat of losing their homes to a wealthy and powerful developer. However, a contractor, Nick Moran, who had done beautiful work on Rachel’s home has been found dead in a scene suggesting gay sex and a heroin overdose. Nick’s sister doesn’t believe any of it and asks Rachel to investigate. The further Rachel investigates the more complicated and intertwined the two cases become.
Mr. Kahn has made me a very happy reader by bringing back Rachel Gold and her friends. Better still is the fact that new readers, those who have no idea that this last book in this very good series came out 11 years ago, will have no problem making this their first Rachel Gold read.
The characters are wonderful, smart, interesting, and just quirky enough to completely enthrall the reader. Rachel, a widow with a son and two step-daughters, is smart and capable but has her mom there to help her. Benny, long time friend and brilliant professor of law with no fashion sense, is the friend everyone would like to have. Add to the cast Jacqui Brand, partner in Rachel’s law firm, and Detective Tomaso, and these are characters you feel you could know and about whom you would care. Even the unique, and often troublesome, Judge Howard Flinch, becomes someone you rather hope to see again.
Kahn’s voice is a pleasure to read. I hate to say that men don’t often write female protagonists well. Kahn does. His dialogue is quick, sharp, natural and often very funny. There are times you do laugh out loud. At one point, Rachel is thinking about her widowed mother and the number of suitors she could have, were she so inclined. “She has gone on record that the developer of Viagra deserves a special place in Hell. I try my best not to think about the implications of that statement.”
The plot has very good twists. The legal aspects of the cases are clearly explained and never overwhelm the reader. The courtroom scenes were very well done and very visual. The pacing of the story has realistic ebb and flow. I even forgive the one portent which could have been left out.
“The Flinch Factor” is a true legal mystery and a very good read.
THE FLINCH FACTOR (Leg. Mys-Rachel Gold-St. Louis, MO-Contemp)-VG
Kahn, Michael A. – 9th in series
Poisoned Pen Press, 2013
Investigators Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson head out looking for mushrooms on the site of an historic, freed-slave commune called The Kingdom of the Happy Land. In addition to mushrooms, Sam also finds a body. Wedged inside a rotting log with a spent bullet, this was no natural death. When Marsha Montgomery asks the pair to investigate the 1967 theft of a rifle and photograph, taken on the same site, Sam becomes suspicious. His concerns are realized with Marsh’s elderly mother is arrested for the murder of Jimmy Lang, believed to be the corpse. The question is whether this is about race, or is it about greed?
De Castrique provides us with a very good, compelling first chapter that makes us want to read more. His voice is easy with natural dialogue, although the bantering and self-deprecating humor can become a bit heavy-handed.
One of his great strengths is mixing the factual with the fictional. Learning new things is always wonderful and theirs is so much to learn here, both about recent and distant historical figures, regional and American history, ballistics, and of working with vets at the VA hospital. All of this is seamlessly woven into the story giving it a richness and veracity which enhances the experience. There is even a delightful nod to author Lee Child and his Jack Reacher series of books.
Sam, Nakayla—is partner in the firm and in life—and attorney Hewitt Donaldson are very good characters. Even if this is your first experience with the series, you are provided enough background to know who they are and their relationships to one another. If anything, a bit of editing could be recommended as we are reminded way too many times of how Sam and Nakayla met. It’s a smallish criticism but it was an element of which I became very aware.
On the other hand, it’s nice when an author uses coincidence as a deliberate element of the plot structure, rather than the only way they can think to get to the next point. That’s good writing.
“A Murder in Passing” has a very good plot filled with twists, turns and an excellent surprise. I very much enjoy Mr. de Castrique’s writing, both in this series and in his Barry Clayton series.
A MURDER IN PASSING (Lic Invest-Sam Blackman/Nakayla Robertson-North Carolina-Contemp) – G+ Mark de Castrique – 4th in series Poisoned Pen Press, 2013
When first I created this blog, the intention was for it to be about books--mysteries, in particular. Then I discovered GoodReads.
GoodReads provided things Blogger did not. Specifically, organization. Being a Virgo, I do love organization. So this blog rather morphed into other things and, since May of 2012, has been focused on photographs to daily prompts.
However, "the time has come, the walrus said..." From today on, "It is purely my opinion" will return to being about mysteries and my reviews thereof. Never fear, GoodReads fans, my reviews will also be posted there as well.
I have now created two new blog sites.
With Hook In Hand will focus on one of my other great passions, crochet. Whenever I am not reading, I am crocheting. Most of my work is done for charity.
I always manage to stay busy. There are books to read and review--three by the end of April, the rest in May, plus there are books coming. Some reviews are easy to write, others can take three day.
I'd like to get at least three more blankets done for Stitch from the Heart by May 23, when they'll all be picked up. I also have six more scarves to make for the athletes of the Iowa Special Olympics.
It's wonderful hearing that people enjoy and follow my reviews. However, yesterday I laughed to receive a message asking why I'd not yet posted a review of Ken Bruen's book "Headstone". That's someone who really follows my reviews. Fortunately, I found a copy for $4, including shipping, so it's on it's way and will be added to the stack above.
Boy, how I miss the days of working and being able to order new books.
I finally took pity on my poor Christmas cactus and decided to give them a good drink. However, it more turned into fun with the spray nozzle on my hose. I shot water into the air to capture the spray; and drops running off my front landing. But every day needs a rainbow, even if it's one you create yourself.
My friends and I were having so much fun catching up with each other, I completely forgot to photograph what was on my plate today. So, instead, you get what was on my plate last Thursday...except it never did make it to a plate. I do love steam-table Chinese.
Photo-a-Day - April 2013 - Day 04: This Happened Today
RAIN!!! I know; for you who live in areas where it rains throughout the year, this is no big deal. However, for us, our rain season is usually over by now, so it's exciting. We didn't have nearly enough rain this winter, so I'm thrilled to see it for that reason as well. I do love the rain!
Photo-a-Day - April 2013 - Day 03: Starts with "A"
This is actually a two-for as it's antimacassars on an armchair. Antimacassars were small coverings, usually ornamental, placed on the backs and arms of upholstered furniture to prevent wear or soiling, particularly in an age when men used brilliantine (macassar oil) on their hair. They started in the Edwardian age, continued through the Victorian period and can still be found. These were crocheted by my Gram Nissen.
I am a reader and reviewer of mysteries; a compulsive hooker--the crochet kind, not the street kind--and one who never leaves home without my camera. I can be reached at:
firstname.lastname@example.org ------------ My reviews are seen by over 14,000 people/review. I am a Top 1% Reviewer with over 1,300 followers on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/250195, as well as in the magazine Mystery Readers Journal, and on numerous online sites. My monthly email of reviews has over 500 subscribers. I started reviewing formally in 2004, spent four years evaluating manuscripts for Poisoned Pen Press, and was a paid reviewer for The Strand Magazine.