Murder Strikes A Pose

 

Murder Strikes Pose full size

By Tracy Weber

Weber and her dog

http://tracyweberauthor.com

Plot

Kate Davidson owns a yoga studio in Seattle. She tries to live in peace and harmony but her life soon has neither. A homeless man who sells newspapers is murdered near her place of business and Kate finds herself caring for his only buddy, a very large German Shepherd. So, in addition to her business having financial difficulties and contemplating an attraction to a pet store, she decides to solve the murder mystery. No end of suspects: an estranged daughter, the dog’s former owner, a coworker. With each new piece of information, the danger mounts and a killer gets closer.

I like the combination of yoga and dogs in a formula murder mystery. Something new with a different angle.

Characters

Kate Davidson: 32, 5’3”, owns a yoga studio in Seattle, loves dogs, father dead,

George: paunchy, dark-haired, owns a German Shepherd, sells newspapers, yellow bad teeth, homeless, former dot.com business owner, divorced, alcoholic, has a daughter

Michael: 6′, blue-green eyes, bearded, owns a pet store

Rene: Kate’s friend, married, allergic to animal dander

Alicia: 33, Kate’s friend, one of her students, and business landlord, wealthy, suffers from stage IV malignant melanoma, married

Jake: married to Alicia, goatee

John O’Connell: friend of Kate’s dad, cop

Sarah Crawford: George’s daughter, married with a son

Not much detail on a lot of the characters, including last names. I enjoyed Rene’s spunk. Weber has put a wide variety of characters into the mix and I think this helps keep the story from being dull.

Dialogue

Pretty good voices. Again, with Rene, her voice sounds best. Michael was a bit rude and out of line in one scene and I thought Weber did a good job of letting time pass before Kate re-accepted him.

Writing

First person from Kate’s POV. Yoga and dogs. What a combination. I think an author who writes about personal knowledge of a subject and can include that knowledge in the stories adds authenticity to any book. Cooking mysteries, of course need recipes; craft mysteries need sewing or knitting. I was intrigued by the yoga aspect of this book…and of course any mystery with a dog tends to get an extra ounce of attention. Weber knows both and puts plenty of both in the book. So sad if an author purports to be, if not an expert, at least knowledgeable about something but doesn’t include enough of it to educate or keep the reader’s interest. No problem here on that front. It’s a cozy, so the worst profanity is a damn. Some nice humorous moments and, of course, you’re rooting for the dog. Good mix of human and dog interaction. I’d rate it right up there with Sparkle Abbey and the Pampered Pet mysteries as well as parallel in quality to Nancy Pickard’s mysteries. Definitely worth reading and watching out for the next in the series. I’d give NP a solid blue rank but with Weber, I thought about it for awhile and the enjoyment factor kicked in so this one gets a:

Brown Belt

 Brown

Silver Cross

cover

by B. Kent Anderson

B kent Anderson

www.bkentanderson.com

Plot

Ann Tolman: Deputy Director of Research and Investigations. Nick Journey: history professor. Tolman learns of a friend’s death in Wilmington and an enigmatic phrase ‘the rose and the silver cross’. Teaming up with Journey, they proceed to unravel a mystery concerning a Confederate spy and a deal with Napoleon III to obtains troops and materiel. However, there are other players in the game, including an assassin trying to avenge herself of her employers’ double cross. Who’s scamming who? How does a terrorist group blowing up federal buildings around the country fit into the scheme? It’s a complex puzzle and if Tolman and Journey don’t find the answers, more people are going to die.

This is not your usual straight forward good vs. evil adventure story. I love these types of books but found this one even better than expected because of the political shenanigans and the infighting from the bad guys. Plus, there’s fact mixed in with fiction which is always a winner.

Characters

Nick Allan Journey: 43, history professor at South Central College in Oklahoma, overweight, high blood pressure, was a minor league baseball star, has a 13 year old autistic son, drives an old silver minivan, parents and siblings killed in a car accident when Nick was 7, divorced, has a Ph.d

Margaret ‘Meg’ Isabel Tolman: deputy director of Research and Investigations, part-time concert pianist, short blonde hair, short, ice blue eyes, graduated from the Curtis Institute, mother died in car accident when Meg was 16, father works for the Secret Service, owns a cat, attended the Federal law Enforcement Academy

Ann Gray: forties, freelance assassin, married with a 13 year old son, tall, shoulder length brown hair

Victor Zale: member of The Associates, came from Georgia, missing three fingers on his right hand, gray buzz cut hair, served in Vietnam, licensed pilot

I like these characters. Each has a unique personality and that personality fits with the job they’re doing and the actions they take. More characters are introduced as he story moves along and that’s okay because Anderson seems to be able to fit them all in very nicely. The ‘bad guys’ of Zale and Gray are an interesting pair in that Gray has killed but in this tale has morals that when she’s screwed over, she’s not going to sit by and do nothing. Zale doesn’t mind a few innocents dying to stay on the ‘right’ path.

Dialogue

Informative. Not too much distraction from the main plot, just enough to include personal issues. The lectures aren’t long but make the point. Pretty distinctive voices.

Writing

Some profanity. A fast read. Chapters differ in length. Action is graphically detailed and lacks a little ‘punch’ (no pun intended). Sometimes Anderson uses unnecessary words. For instance, after a tag line he’ll use the pronoun ‘she’ three times when the reader knows the reference. Descriptions of settings are fine and I had pretty good imagery of the scenes.

My Ranking:

Blue Belt

Blue

The Trajectory Of Dreams

The-Trajectory-of-Dreams6

by Nicole Wolverton

Wolverton

http://nicolewolverton.com/

Plot

Lela White works for a sleep study center in Houston. Part of her study involves the psychological condition of astronauts for upcoming shuttle missions. Not part of her study is her enigmatic compulsion to break in to the astronauts’ homes for a closer study on how they sleep…and to possibly kill them if she suspects they will be a danger to the mission. However, when she meets cosmonaut Zory Korchagin, who quotes poetry and speaks of his grandmother, her plans go awry as her attraction to him grows. Also messing with her plans are: a pesky librarian, a coworker and unwanted roommate and a janitor with whom she trades sexual favors for information. How does solve her dilemma of whether Zory will be an asset or a liability to the upcoming space flight? Find a way to put him in mortal danger.

This is a weird plot. No other word for it. I’ve never read anything quite like it. Part mystery, part romance, distinctly surreal. I had read a summary of the book before I read it and hesitated a long while before starting. This is definitely not one I would have picked up from the bookstore.

Characters

Lela White: 32, polysomnographic technician at a sleep study center, volunteers at local library, dad dead over a year, mom gone from life, owns a cat with which she ‘converses’, lives in her childhood home, wears glasses, consciously focuses on breathing techniques, paranoia tendencies, tiny feet, wears glasses

Zory Pavlovich Korchagin: Cosmonaut, broad shoulders, brown goatee and mustache, elfin ears, gray eyes, bushy eyebrows, single, grandmother had bipolar disease, attended Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and trained at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center

Three other characters feature in the story (not including the sleeping astronaut at the beginning). The librarian, the janitor and the roommate. I suppose one could include the Lela’s cat as a character. Not too much physical description for Lela and Zory. Lela relies on her hatred for her mother and shared wisdom of her deceased father to get her through the days.

Dialogue

Bland. Not boring but on an even keel. Even Trina, the roommate’ brusqueness isn’t overpowering. Actually, I considered the most interesting conversations to be between Lela and her cat.

Writing

First person from Lela’s POV. Each chapter is titled. The problem I had with this book is that I didn’t understand it. I’m sure there is some hidden depth that I’m not comprehending. As I mentioned, it’s a surreal type of book that rolls along on a flat road with little tension. Constantly I tried to catch what was going on underneath, but couldn’t.

Part of problem is that I don’t see any emotion from Lela throughout most of the story. Her expressed feelings on death and sex are virtually the same. Maybe this was intentional by the author, but because of it, I feel I’m missing something vital. There is a definite shredding of her outer core because of the paranoia that brings out some emotion, but even then, in one sense it was still veiled if thinly.

No profanity.

I thought a long time what rank to give this and even when I made the decision, wasn’t sure it was correct. I will admit, part of the rank I give books includes not just the four aspects I discuss, but whether I enjoyed the book. I didn’t dislike this book, but wasn’t too enthused about it. I’m not saying it wasn’t a worthwhile read…for some people. For instance, I didn’t like Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter when I read it in high school. Ditto Romeo and Juliet although I didn’t mind MacBeth. Death of a Salesman was another one I didn’t care for. Am I putting Trajectory of Dreams in the same category as these classics? No. I’m trying to explain how just because I find no grammar/punctuation/spelling errors or the characters aren’t unbelievable and the plot is okay I can still give a lower than expected ranking for the simple reason I found the story not to my liking. Some people would and probably might give it a better review. Maybe others can comprehend the undertones or possible ‘meaning’ to the book. So, in this rare case, I wouldn’t let my ranking sway your decision to read it. Read the summary and take a chance.

My Ranking:

Purple Belt

Purple

The Past Never Ends

cover

by Jackson Burnett

Burnett

http://www.amazon.com/Jackson-Burnett/e/B008R4YDQS 

Plot

In a bustling Oklahoma city, attorney Chester Morgan enjoys his law practice, treats his clients better than other attorneys would, and just wants to see justice done. Weeks after finding the corpse of a prosperous and honest-as-the-day-is-long oilman in the YMCA pool, Morgan is caught up in another enigmatic case, the death of a stripper/hooker in the desperate side of town. The problem: nobody in authority will tell him anything about the death. So, Morgan starts investigating and discovers the sleazy side of life, from dirty cops to a mother who pimps her daughter. And what do the tenuous connections to the oilman’s death mean?

I like the plot. I thought it an interesting mystery with several layers. I wished for more action, more tension, more danger. Burnett provided the clues in a tantalizing manner and I was intrigued enough to want to read the solution.

Characters

Chester Morgan: attorney in Vivia, OK, divorced, graduated University of Oklahoma law, has a slew of catch phrases, doesn’t use a computer, has a sister

Alan Kinman: 24, owns a lawn mowing service, gaunt, acne, muddy water colored hair, sunburned, wears glasses, tattoo on his right hand, squeaky voice

Jeff McNally: police officer

Tamar White: drives a white Lincoln, overweight, bleached blonde hair, translucent skin, dark blue cold eyes, smokes, light freckles on face, pimped out her daughter

A lot of interesting characters. Each has his/her uniqueness. Burnett has put a lot of ‘character’ into his characters…sometimes…sometimes a bit too much. Not too much, but just a little over the top but it’s not too bad. The problem I find with these characters is because of that extra ‘little bit’ they seem off, not quite 100% believable. Close, but…just off and that bothered me. Plus, I wanted to see more of some and less of others.

Dialogue

Not fluid. Morgan wants to wax philosophical or get poetic about the law at times and it’s not natural. Other voices are fine, distinctive.

Writing

Not sure what year this is set in but in one scene it mentions the World Trade Center buildings still standing. Varying lengths of chapters. At times the phrasing and the flow tries to harken back to detective stories of the forties or fifties but can’t sustain that atmosphere. It sounds forced. It tries too hard. Burnett unnecessarily uses both names or a title with the name sometimes after introducing a character. Or repeating a location to remind you of the location. Or repeating a personality trait. Doing this only adds words and it detracts from the story. For instance the landlord yells a lot. Okay, fine, but once the reader knows this, the author doesn’t need to keep inserting reminders. Unnecessary tag lines and confusing add ons. (…she said, argued. Or …he asked, stated). Occasional profanity. Misspelled names or words. (Burnett constantly talks about statutes of people instead of statues. This is just a miss by both author and editor.) Punctuation errors.

The plot was good. The rest I found wanting. The foundation was solid but the layers on top were too shaky and only the interesting characters barely kept this from falling below:

Camouflage Belt

Camo

Kahawa

cover
by Donald E. Westlake

donald_westlake.png_width284

http://www.donaldwestlake.com/

Plot
1977. Bored with training truckers in Alaska how to fight, Lew Brady, ex Green Beret and mercenary, accepts a job from his old buddy Frank Lanigan to steal a train full of coffee in Uganda bound for shipment to Brazil. With his girlfriend, Ellen, and an ex Ugandan Asian businessman, Lew starts putting together the operation. However, there are other forces at work: Idi Amin, the oppressive Ugandan dictator; Baron Chase, the originator of the coffee theft; as well as other people’s agendas and maybe most devastating of all, sex.

This story was conceived after Westlake heard about an actual incident where Ugandan coffee was stolen. There are shades of Westlake’s Parker stories (written as Richard Stark) in the planning parts but this book encompasses so many more characters and subplots. I was expecting more Dortmunder type antics but was disappointed by not finding them. However, the plot is enticing and with the various aspects actually became a very engrossing story.

Characters
Lewis Brady: Green Beret, former African mercenary, drives a Chevy Impala, lives in a mobile home

Ellen Gillespie: 28, works for the Alaskan pipeline, Brady’s girlfriend, tall, slender, short and dark blonde hair, pretty, father was a commercial pilot, learned to fly planes as a teenager

Baron Chase: 49, smokes cigars, Born in Canada but now a Ugandan citizen, adviser to Idi Amin as Deputy Chief of Protocol, yellow teeth, self entitled Captain, torso scarred

Mazar Balim: merchant, 53, round body, short legs, Asian but born in Uganda, large soft brown eyes, attended Eton

Frank Lanigan: 42, big man, heavy-jawed, employed by Balim as a troubleshooter, drives a Land Rover, enjoys history

Denis Lambsmith: 61, titled Sir, negotiator with the International Coffee Board, maintains a voluminous journal, white-haired, stoop shouldered, widower, has a daughter, was a spy for British intelligence during World War II in America, lives in Brazil

Idi Amin Dada: president of Uganda, black, former Uganda boxing champion, 6’4′”large man, wide mouth, heavy eyes, a score plus of children by five wives

Vivid characters. Each gets adequate time in the spotlight. Even some of the minor characters shine and are more important as the story goes along. I enjoyed how the personalities reflected inner thoughts and history and current predicaments. For many characters, at times, it seemed as if they were all in a melting pot of similar philosophies and emotions and inner battles.

Dialogue
Distinctive voices. Conversations range from the political to the sexual. They don’t wander but do include various topics.

Writing
Books separated in to Parts. Intricate writing. Lots of details but not too much to make it drag. There are some explicit sexual scenes and a bit of profanity. Details are enough to provide good imagery. Some humor, but the story has more serious overtones. There is an introduction in the version I read that reminds the reader the story is set in Amin’s Uganda and Amin was a cruel dictator and slaughterer of men and women. I thought the story would settle mainly on Lew and Ellen but there are sideline stories connected. Very solid and expressive writing. Lots of history to make the locations interesting. Many times the style is to have a short scene, then go back and lead up to it. Westlake is an excellent writer and Kahawa shows just how unique he can be. This is a very different story than his Parker and Dortmunder books. Similar is the complex heist, but different in all the subplots and the extended detailed setting up of the operation. I enjoy both Parker and Dortmunder stories and was intrigued by this one.

My ranking:

Red Belt

Red

Indiana Jones And The Sky Pirates

cover

by Martin Caidin

Caidin

Plot
1930. A billion dollars worth of diamonds is stolen from a South African train, then hijacked en route to Germany by a force operating a fantastic flying machine. Included in the heist was an enigmatic cube rumored to be ancient. However, the cube is all part of a plan put together, in part, by Indiana Jones, famed archeologist and adventurer. Together, with his band of assistants, Indy is off on another world-wide chase to discover the identity of the pirates of the sky.

This is my first story I’ve read about Indiana Jones. Of course, I’ve seen all the movies and enjoy the character. This reads, however, like one of the old Doc Savage stories from the 1930s/40s. It has the same quality of adventure.

Characters
Henry ‘Indiana’ Jones, Jr.: archeologist, professor at the University of London, widower, on sabbatical from Princeton as a professor of Medieval Literature and Studies, uses a whip

Willard ‘Madman’ Cromwell: Royal Flying Corps squadron commander in World War I, fluent in several languages, drinker, portly but muscled, scar on one arm from a friendly fire round as well as other war gotten scars, former member of the Royal Navy, expert in demolitions and weapons, excellent memory, handlebar mustache, smoker

Gale Parker: red hair, ruggedly beautiful, Ph.d in ancient cultures, mother was a Wiccan witch, expert in the ‘black arts’, real name Mirna Abi Kalil, Muslim father, athletic including expertise in jujitsu, archer, expert inweaponry

Tarkiz Belem: Kurd, former pro wrestler and bodyguard, has connections from the Vatican to the gutter dives, exudes an unattractive odor, shrewd but not overly intelligent, multilingual, wanted for crimes in several countries, gold fanatic

Rene Foulois: French, fighter pilot in World War I, tall, slender, thin mustache, wealthy, family is well known vintners, secret agent for the French Foreign Legion

Harry Henshaw: American Colonel in the U.S. Army, in technical intelligence

Jack Shannon: Indy’s long time pal, blues musician, thin, owns a nightclub in Chicago

Again, characters one might expect to see in the Doc Savage stories. Enough information about each to keep them interesting. A nice variety of personalities.

Dialogue
Distinctive voices which you would expect from such a unique cast. Explanatory conversations are broken up to give them a bit of flavor to keep them from being boring.

Writing
At the time of this reading, I was trudging through a few books that were okay, but not especially interesting. I was ready for something different. This is the type of adventure story I enjoy, one that helps the reader ‘escape’ into an exciting world of danger and excitement. Lots of action. Again a Doc Savage feel to it with the use of gadgetry and specialized technology. Delicious fact based detail kept me moving through to see what would come next. A well written story using a movie character.

My ranking;

Brown Belt

Brown

Never Give A Millionaire An Even Break

cover

by Henry Kane

http://www.amazon.com/Never-Give-Millionaire-Break-ebook/dp/B007IX201E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1360587171&sr=8-1&keywords=never+give+a+millionaire+an+even+break

Plot

What do you do when the dead guy in your girlfriend’s apartment disappears? Peter Chambers, New York private investigator, finds the situation thus. The other situation is his girlfriend is being hounded by a millionaire who has problems of his own with an estranged wife. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Enter another millionaire who wants Peter to enter a complex web of blackmail and untangle the threads.

I really can’t say more because this one is a hoot and besides I can’t say more without revealing too much. Kane’s mind is deliciously vicious when it comes to creating plots. This is a wild one all the way through.

Characters

Peter Chambers: private investigator, tall, smokes, drives a Chevrolet convertible

Arlene Anthony: 26, tall, attractive, heart-shaped face, high cheekbones, black eyes, red hair, long legs, crooked teeth, stage actress, smokes, real name Angelina Antoninni, from a farming family, only child, Peter’s girlfriend

Thomas Rutherford Lyons, Junior: millionaire, owns a yacht, married but separated, in love with Arlene, big muscular man, 6’3”, 36, curly blond hair, ice gray eyes, family money from plastics, co-producer on Arlene’s musical, owns Cadillacs, a Continental, and a Rolls Royce

David Holly: 47, millionaire, co-producer of Arlene’s musical, divorced because of infidelity, black hair, black eyes, black mustaches, hawk nose, baritone, slight paunch, tall, capped teeth, smokes

Stereotypical characters for this genre, but that’s all right. You expect them and enjoy them. Chambers, even though he finds himself in tough situations, doesn’t take himself too seriously. Not a comedian, but not a serious Joe either. Everybody drinks and smokes. I enjoyed the over-the-top personalities.

Dialogue

Conversations, for the most part are quick, clipped. A lot of back and forth.

Writing

First person from Chambers’ POV. Flowing words with repetitions every now and then. The story advances at a rapid rate because scenes are to the point. This is, of course, part of the pulp fiction crowd where the women are beautiful, the PI’s can take a punch or two but usually are knocked unconscious at least once, drink and smoke. Instances of profanity but not too many to get worked up about. Original and amusing similes. Kane has a way with words, uses some fancy ones now and then but it’s fun. I also enjoy reading a book from decades ago and reveling in the references: self-service elevators were just coming into use; answering services, and an interesting inclusion of a topic that was particularly interesting back in the day. I thought about brown belt but this is so wonderful I would read it again.

My ranking:

Red Belt

Red

Unbridled Greed

cover

by Barry Johnson

Barry Johnson

http://unbridledgreed.com/about.php

Plot

Incensed by a recent case involving a doctor and medical fraud that blew up because of corruption from his superior Department of Justice agent Bryan Hampton decides to transfer from Chicago to Las Vegas to work for his old college buddy, U.S. Attorney Paul Dixon.Hampton’s first case involves a lawyer collaborating with a doctor to defraud the insurance and medical system. Working with a former FBI agent and state of the art technology, Hampton and his associates discover a tangled web of deceit and murder.

Interesting plot. A bit different from a normal mystery thriller in that it involves medical fraud. Medical/health issue are hot topics in today’s world and medical fraud is wrought with corruption and under the table deals just as much as anything else. It’s a nice change of direction for a mystery.

Characters

Bryan Hampton: 54, Department of Justice investigator living in Chicago, formerly with Florida DOJ, divorced, has two married daughters, attended Utah University, father was in the Army, drives a Corvette

Paul Dixon: U.S. Attorney for the Nevada District, Hampton’s friend from college, attended Stanford Law, former Clark County Commissioner, has married daughters

Gayle Baker: mid 40′s, former FBI agent, working medical fraud investigations in the Southwestern Region, formerly worked in DC, single, attorney, attractive, athletic physique, only child

Josif Stolic: physician (orthopedic surgery), bearded, big man, runs a health care fraud prevention company, married, five children

Ari Mirzoyan: chiropractor, runs the Accident and Health Restoration Clinics, married, wife is a paid consultant whose only client are the clinics, Armenian ancestry, 55, divorce four times, wealthy, practed medicine in six states, drives a Jaguar convertible

Descriptions vary with enough background information, but I never had a clear image of each character.

Dialogue

Lectures and a lot of details spoken by most of the characters. There is so much explanatory dialogue the characters sound the same. Johnson goes into a lot of detail about various aspects of medical fraud but the individual voices don’t carry through because everybody lectures or has lengthy explanations. Agents don’t speak like agents and criminals don’t speak like criminals. Everybody blended into one voice.

Writing

Chapters are headed by Location/Date/Time. Not that it makes any influence on my ranking decision, but I found it interesting to note that the format was not justified, but ragged right. Johnson feels the need to explain a lot more than is necessary up front. The events leading to Hampton’s transfer was too long and could have been done in a few chapters. Because of the explanations beforehand, there was no tension or buildup. POV changes within the scene.

Little action. A lot of meetings between people discussing matters. I realize that it is not a shoot ‘em up type of story, but even what action existed was over detailed.

My ranking:

Camouflage Belt

Camo

Sherlock Holmes In New York

cover

by D. R. Benson

http://www.amazon.com/Sherlock-Holmes-New-York-Bensen/dp/0345255712/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1359980992&sr=8-3&keywords=sherlock+holmes+in+new+york

Plot

Ten years after the fateful incident at Reichenbach Falls, Holmes foils another plot by Professor Moriarty. Days later he is drawn to New York and a renewed acquaintance with Irene Adler, singer and actress who is to star in a new play. Soon Holmes and Watson are engrossed in another mad plot involving their greatest nemesis. Can they solve a kidnapping and a huge theft of gold before all is lost?

I do enjoy Holmes stories and I haven’t read very many I haven’t liked. This one is a quick read, about half the length of normal novels. It has the usual deductive reasoning and puzzle.

Characters

James Moriarty: Professor, vulpine face, sharp nose, beady eyes, pale gray thin hair, knowledgeable about mathematics

Sherlock Holmes: private investigator in London, hawk-like nose, tall, lean, ancestry is half French, plays the violin, master of disguise

John Watson: doctor, friend of Holmes and shares his lodging, twice a widower, writer of the cases of Holmes, former Army man,

Irene Adler: actress, singer, met Holmes in a previous case, has a son

Thomas Mix: former cowboy, sings, former cavalry member in Cuba and the Army in South Africa

Ms. Reichenbach: German, governess to Adler’s son, light blue eyes, hair in a bun, just past thirty years of age

Lafferty: Inspector with the NYPD

Mortimer McGraw: around 60, portly, President of the International Gold Exchange

Pretty standard fair for a Holmes novel. Not too much detail about any particular, but just enough.

Dialogue

Nice New York voices. The main characters come across well.

Writing

First person from Watson’s POV. I really enjoyed the period references-cost of theater tickets, the building of the subway and the elevated trains, steamships-and the language used. Also, the inclusion of real people of he time period, including a famous writer. Well written for a novelization of the movie. Typical Holmes.

My Ranking:

Blue Belt

Blue

The Hanging

Cover

by Wendy Hornsby

Wendy1

http://wendyhornsby.com/

Plot

Who killed Park Holloway, president of Anacapa Community College? Maggie MacGowan, investigative filmmaker on a short-term contract teaching film production is on the case. And she has plenty of suspects: The art student whose award winning project Holloway wanted scuttled? The college’s fund raising chairperson who discovered Holloway’s illegal financial shenanigans? The interim vice president of the college? A donor who was duped by Holloway? While Maggie deals with a new love in her life and seeking background information for one of her students, she steps closer each day to exposing the killer. Will her final film project end in her death?

A nice standard mystery with a few subplots for filler. Hornsby presents a well rounded mystery with the usual action and suspect cast.

Characters

Margot ‘Maggie’ Eugenia Duchamps MacGowan: 40+, investigative filmmaker on a short-term contract to teach film production at Anacapa Community College, has a nineteen year old daughter, has a stepson, father was a professor of physics, attended Berkley after convent school, widow for almost a year, afraid of thunder/lightning, dating, has an aging mother, has a dog and three horses, has a sister, brother dead, has had comsmetic surgery on her nose

Ronald ‘Sly’ Miller: 19, sculpture, brown hair and eyes, wolf-like face, was in foster care or on the streets since a baby

Max Duchamps: Maggie’s uncle, dark featured, round stature, lawyer

Lew Kaufman: chair of the Anacapa C.C. Art Department, Sly’s mentor, 6’5”, thin, near 50, stoop-shouldered, nearly bald

Kate Tejeda: Maggie’s friend and former roommate in school and college, History Professor at Anacapa C.C., chair of the Academic Senate, husband is Anacapa’s chief of police, wealthy

Joan Givens: director of Anacapa C.C. Foundation, tall and slender, just past fifty, single, pretty

Tom Juarequi: round frame, has a mustaches and wears a bad toupee, chairs the college Board of Trustees

There are a lot of characters in this one with plenty of good background information. Especially regarding Maggie. This is well done so that new readers won’t be lost in questions about where Maggie has been in past stories.

Dialogue

I think the voices were fairly distinctive. Conversations stayed on point and more often than not ended up veering back to the mystery.

Writing

First person from Maggie’s POV. Some profanity. Varying lengths of chapters. Even though the subplot made, as I said for a well rounded story, I would have enjoyed a bit more focus on the main mystery. Hornsby presents a good day in the life of Maggie with her responsibilities toward her mother and her horses and students. There’s always an open door to keep Maggie from staying in one place too long. Action is subtle, tension stays medium low.

My Ranking:

Blue Belt

Blue

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 693 other followers