Quick Kick – The Woods

Cover of Woods

By Harlan Coben

Coben

https://www.amazon.com/Woods-Harlan-Coben/dp/0451221958/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494983598&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Woods%2C+coben

Plot

Paul Copeland, a New Jersey county prosecutor, is still grieving the loss of his sister twenty years ago—the night she walked into the woods, never to be seen again. But now, a homicide victim is found with evidence linking him to the disappearance. The victim could be the boy who vanished along with Paul’s sister. And, as hope rises that his sister could still be alive, dangerous secrets from his family’s past threaten to tear apart everything Paul has been trying to hold together…

My Analysis

First off, I listened to the audio and enjoy, for the most part, Scott Brick as narrator. He does goo voices, good tonal quality, and his voice holds onto you.

For Coben, he likes these something-happened-in-past-and-now-I’m-going-to-slowly-reveal-it plots. They take awhile to develop and usually there is a secondary plot that may or may not connect to the main.

In The Woods, there is a court case that Copeland is trying. I was more interested in that case than finding out what happened to his sister twenty years before. At least a lot of the times I was. There were clues to the past mystery sprinkled hither and yon and there were a few twists and surprises. A few times I figured out what the development was before it was revealed.

The ending was a little blasé. It tied up the pieces and just…sort…of…drifted to…the end.

This is not to say I didn’t enjoy the book. Sometimes I think Coben doesn’t quite know what to do at the end of these types of mysteries and just…sort…of…well, you get the idea.

Still, worthy of:

Blue Belt

Blue

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Dead Eyes

cove

by Stuart Woods

Stuart woods

http://www.stuartwoods.com/

Plot

Chris Calaway is on the road to stardom. She’s in a new film that looks to be a potential hit and she’s having a new house built in Malibu. However, she’s also attracted an admirer who sends note with no name or return address. One day into the new film, an accident causes blindness. Now she has to deal with recovery, being able to find work, and her admirer evolves into a serious problem.

Actress versus stalker. Blind woman versus bad guy. Nothing new but Woods has done his version of Strangers on a Train and I enjoyed that book so I was interested to see how he’d handle this.

Characters

Chris Calaway: 31, actress in Bel Air, drives a Mercedes 500SL convertible, was a dancer on off-Broadway in New York, graduated from the University of Georgia with a BA in drama and dance, took acting classes at the Actors Studio, divorced, father is a pharmacist

Mel Parker: owns Keyhole Security, blond, wiry, athletic, scar on upper lip, hooded eyes, attractive

Jason Quinn: actor, working with Calaway in a new film

Brent Williams; film director

Ron Morrow: Calaway’s agent

Jack Berman: Calaway business manager, mid-fifties

Danny Devere: 40, Calaway’s hairdresser, homosexual, ws in the Navy

Jon Larsen: late thirties, 6’2”, blond, very white, 180 pounds, detective with the LAPD Threat Management Unit, has a blind younger sister, attended UCLA, passed the bar exam but never practiced law, father was a lawyer, parents dead

Chuck E. Ripley: MD, developed a profiler program, stout, balding, was a staff psychiatrist at San Quentin

The cast is what you might expect. Woods only goes as deep as is necessary to get a good feel for the character.

Dialogue

Fast-paced. Short sentences. Conversations are to the point and don’t wander, However, there are a few that get a little b-movie-ish. Not typical of Woods.

Writing

Fast read. Fairly short chapters. I’ve read most of Woods’ novels from the Stone Barrington series to the Eagle series and have only been disappointed in one (only because he brought together characters from different series but left nothing solved. The bad guy got away and the good guys went on with their lives.) Woods keeps his stories interesting with just the right amount of tension, intrigue and mystery. There is one sexual scene in this one. The action is quick and decisive. He keeps things simple. Technical details are explained in everyday language. Many times I enjoy stories written decades ago mainly because of the technology in use. This was written in ’93 so cell phone popularity hadn’t exploded and I had to pause to remember the year because caller ID on landlines was fairly new. Sometimes I don’t mind a fast read and few details, but in this one I could have used a little more depth.

My Rank:

Purple Belt

Purple

Drunken Angel

Drunken Angel-angel on cover

By Charles Stoll

chipocean - Copy

https://www.amazon.com/Drunken-Angel-Charles-Stoll-ebook/dp/B07CN85258/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526778979&sr=8-1&keywords=drunken+angel%2C+stoll

Plot

Daisy Perlman’s life is opened up and examined. From her early days as a neglected child, to her striking out on her own and learning how the world-or rather her world-works, to her exploring new territory, to finding few and far between friends, to her falling back on old habits…in a new way. From youth to old age, Daisy’s life is lived her way.

Doesn’t explain too much, but I think it’s enough. Why play spoiler with trying to get into the finer details of the plot? Just know that Daisy is not a nice person…at times, but the plot shows the choices she makes because of the circumstance. It delves into a bit of mysticism (in a unique way), and there is character development. The basic lot of writing about Daisy’s life, at first doesn’t seem like much, but there are interesting bits.

Characters

Daisy Perlman: large woman, short orange curly hair, freckles

Willy: Lean, black, has 2 brothers

Mama: Scrawny

There are other characters who come and go in Daisy’s life. The pastor, Irma the Salvation Army woman, Lucy.

Although I know the book was solely about Daisy, I would have liked to have know what happened to some of the other characters. What happened to Willy during the time that he was missing from Daisy’s life until he’s seen at the end? Why didn’t the relationship work between Daisy and the pastor and what was his life like afterward?

Some of the characters were interesting, but when they left the story, hardly anything is ever heard about them and the reasons for their departure aren’t explained.

Dialogue

Okay, at first I had a problems with the backwoods hick accent. Sometimes it was difficult to follow, especially since every character, for a while, talked the same. Daisy does come out of it and there is more ‘normal’ speech.

Some of the long philosophical speeches by Daisy get a bit winded, especially when much of it is repetitive in their ideas.

Writing

Profanity. Daisy’s moving through life is sectioned by what age she is.

The book starts near the end of her life and then jumps back to when she was a youth. Yes, it circles back to the scene at the beginning.

I was okay with the book going along with her developing throughout the years, jumping to the next scene and having her older. There was a huge jump and I wondered about that and what happened in the intervening years.

This was a shorter book and it might have been longer to have some of those missing years and explanations on those missing years included.

I was a bit thrown by the mystical scenes with the forest creature (gnome? Wizard?) Those were interesting, but nothing was really solidified with those scenes. I think they helped Daisy with her view on life but they seemed outside the norm, like the book wanted to have an element of the supernatural, without going too deep.

I understand the Daisy character. I didn’t like her. What I mean is, I didn’t think she was an awful character type. I just didn’t like her as a person. I couldn’t empathize with her and she didn’t strike a note of sympathy. Maybe a bit when she was younger, but even though she stayed in the same general area throughout her life, I found it difficult to believe she didn’t develop in a more positive manner. How was she able to contact a publisher for the books she wrote? She didn’t care too much about money, but her books were successful, so what did she do with the royalties?

There was a lot of information about Daisy missing. A lot of questions unanswered. Maybe another reader will like her.

My Rank:

Camouflage Belt

Camo

Quick Kick – The Lost Key

cover

By Catherine Coulter & J. T. Ellison

 

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Key-Brit-FBI/dp/0515155802/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479066710&sr=8-1&keywords=the+lost+key%2C+coulter

Plot

After working with Special Agents Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich, Nicholas Drummond has joined the FBI. Now, he and partner Mike Caine are in an eleventh-hour race to stop a madman from finding a cache of lost World War I gold—and a weapon unlike anything the world has ever seen…

My Analysis

I’ve enjoyed Coulter’s FBI novels for years. This one brings in two new characters on a quest adventure.

There were a several characters to remember. The narrators did a good job of presenting the book with different voices for the characters.

Nice intrigue, good action. Good interplay between the two protagonists.

I wasn’t sure about the climactic scene and the defeat of the bad guy. I thought it was good, but a bit convenient in the method.

Anyway, still a very good read (or listen to) and I would add more of these stories to my collection.

My rank:

Blue Belt

Blue

Confessions, The Private School Murders

cover

by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

http://www.jamespatterson.com/

Plot

Three months ago, amateur sleuth Tandy Angel solved the murder of her parents. Now, a few months free of the mood altering drugs she’d been forced to take by her father, she is faced with other problems. Her older brother, the football hero is in jail for murder. A new strict guardian has entered the household. Private high school students are being murdered. Tandy’s memory of Jake Rampling, a past love, who mysteriously disappeared is returning to haunt her. Plus, there are venomous creatures crawling and slithering around Tandy’s apartment building. Plagued by memories of Jake, both false and true, Tandy sets her mind to solving all of the crises in her life.

Patterson and Paetro throw a bunch of subplots into one story. I like a good murder case and with Patterson, you know there’s bound to be a twist or three.

Characters

Tandoori ‘Tandy’ Angel: 17?, named after the chicken dish, parents were murdered and she solved the murdered, father was a pharmacist, she was given experimental mood altering drugs, drug free at beginning of story, has a younger brother, older sister died years back, attend a private high school in New York City, thin frame, dark- haired and eyed, studied forensic science as a hobby, perceptive, speaks multiple languages

Harry Angel: Tandy’s twin brother, handsome, quiet, mopey, asthmatic, master pianist

Matthew Angel: older brother of Tandy, Heisman Trophy winner, plays professional football, has a temper

Hugo Angel: 10, Tandy’s younger brother, smart, strong, tends to exaggerate things

Capricorn Caputo: police sergeant detective, gangly, slicked back hair

Ryan Hayes: police detective

Jacob Perlman: tall, 50ish, guardian for the Angel children, brown eyes, small scar by his ear, lean, muscular, ex-commando

Claudia Portman: nicknamed ‘CP’, Tandy’s best friend

Good characters with enough descriptive information for them to be likeable. Each has just the right amount of interaction with Tandy so that no one dominates and hogs the story.

Dialogue

Good voices. Hugo’s comes through the strongest.

Writing

Written in first person from Tandy’s POV. Story divided by Parts. Short chapters. Tandy’s narration is somewhat like an oral or written reports at times to a close friend (the reader), especially when she offers several ‘confessions.’ I know Patterson has sort of a bad rap with some but I don’t care. I still like his style and his mysteries. They’re fast-paced, action-packed, and don’t load you up with a lot of scientific or technical jargon. Familiar with the Cross, the Private, and the Women’s Murder club series, I tend to look carefully at any new series or stand alone books. Usually I’m not disappointed.

This could be considered a young adult or older teen type of story. I think there is one mild swear word. I’m usually not a fan of this genre, but with Patterson, the murders, and a spunky detective, I stayed interested and enjoyed it.

My Rank:

Blue Belt

Blue

Quick Kick – Keeping The Dead

cover

By Tess Gerritsen

author

https://www.amazon.com/Keepsake-Rizzoli-Isles-Novel-ebook/dp/B0015DTUSO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497124969&sr=8-1&keywords=keeping+the+dead%2C+gerritsen

Plot

For untold years, the perfectly preserved mummy had lain forgotten in the dusty basement of Boston’s Crispin Museum. Dubbed “Madam X,” the recently rediscovered mummy is, to all appearances, an ancient Egyptian artifact. But medical examiner Maura Isles discovers a macabre message hidden within the corpse–horrifying proof that this “centuries-old” relic is instead a modern-day murder victim. When the grisly remains of two other women are found, it becomes clear to Maura and Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli that a maniac is at large. Now Maura and Jane must unravel a murderer’s twisted endgame before the Archaeology Killer adds another chilling artifact to his monstrous collection.

My Analysis

I’ve enjoyed many of the books in this series. The narrator of this one also does the Stephanie Plum series, so I had to get past her voice because SP is the only other books I’ve heard her read.

For the most part, she does all right with the voices.

The story is a complex, creepy tale that held me to the end. This one has secrets to be revealed all the way through and twists that are difficult to unwind. This crosses states and finds murders all across the country.

The characters have their own little subplots going which is fine. They tend to span books and don’t get resolved all in one shot. New readers don’t have to be worried about missing something. I think it’s easy to pick up on the side stuff.

Good book. Good plot. Good voices. Good action.

My rank:

Blue Belt

Blue

Tribal

cover

By Robert Everhart

https://www.amazon.com/TRIBAL-Robert-Everhart-ebook/dp/B07BHS9QCM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1521770897&sr=8-1&keywords=Tribal%2C+everhart

Plot

It’s December, and what better Christmas present than to go on a sailing tour…in Thailand. Bryant Williams and his family book a sailing adventure…but the adventure turns into a terror filled ride. A storm, hostile island natives, wild beasts, maybe worse. To survive, they’re going to need all their wits, bravery, and a helluva plan.

The concept was decent. Some danger, some adventure. Everhart puts a lot into this plot.

Characters

Bryant Williams: drives a pickup

Alan Williams: 15, Bryant’s son

Danae Williams: Bryant’s daughter

Cass Williams: Bryant’s wife

Peter West: 40s, tan

Chatri Sakda: 59, small build

Kusa: 35

Not much physical description of these characters so I had a difficult time getting a mental picture. Maybe it was the fact Alan was building a snowman in the beginning that made me think he was younger than 15. Danae seemed more mature, although Alan came into his own as the story developed. I just always pictured him about 12.

The other characters were pretty good. Some interesting baddies.

Dialogue

Not too bad. Good give and take. Conversations stayed on track. Decent voices

Writing

No profanity. Short story which could have been longer to fill in more detail. I wanted to know more about the inner workings of the native people and their relationship with outsiders…and why they were different with some outsiders.

The baddies needed more background. As the book moved along, the characters got split up, so there were many scenes going on in different places.

Some of the writing could have been tighter. No real hard examples, just some things throughout. I think I saw one punctuation error.

Other than that it was a decent story for a short adventure. The author shows that he can write a good story and a longer adventure would be worth the effort.

My Rank:

Green Belt

Green

The Cleaner

cover

by Paul Cleave

Cleave

http://www.paulcleave.co.nz/

Plot

Meet Joe. He’s an average guy with an average job as a janitor in the Christchurch police station. He lives in an apartment, visits his mother often, and owns two goldfish. He’s also a serial killer and he has a problem. Not that he’s a murderer or that the police are investigating. No, the problem is that he didn’t kill one of the women found and he wants to avenge the frame-up. He has access to the police evidence and is intelligent enough to use logic and deductions to figure out who his nemesis may be. However, he also has to contend with the variety of pesky women in his life who get on his nerves, including one who may just kill him.

A killer looking for a killer. Cleave unfolds this plot in such an interesting manner, it’s difficult not to get sucked in despite the gruesomeness of some of the scenes.

Characters

Joe: lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, janitor for the police department, serial killer, lives in an apartment complex, mother alive, dad dead, owns 2 goldfish, doesn’t own a car

Sally: 25, maintenance worker, a bit overweight, blonde, brother died when he was 15, father has Parkinson’s and doesn’t go outside but on rare occasions

Carl Schroder: 39, homicide investigator, buzz cut graying hair, baggy eyes, stress lines on his face, has a new baby

Melissa: 27-ish, dark brown hair below her shoulders, blue eyes, defined nose, attractive, architect, has a cop fetish,

Joe is a complex character. He’s upset at homosexuality but not about the violence he commits. He uses people and animals as tools to get what he wants, but rescues an injured cat. He loves his mother while at the same time wishes she were dead. He wants to be the only serial killer in town, but is okay with another one tying up police investigations. Melissa is a real baddie but I wanted to see more of her. She’s not introduced until farther into the book. I was also concerned about Joe’s mother because after her last phone call with Joe (said scene is filled with some good humor), she’s gone from the book. I would have liked to have seen her one more time as a wrap up to show what happens with her.

Dialogue

When Joe plays Slow Joe his dialogue works. Sally has a good voice as does Joe’s mother, who I think is the best for voices. Conversations are fairly short.

Writing

First person from Joe’s POV is mixed with third person from Sally’s POV. Present tense. Some profanity. Some scenes are pretty graphic and this is not for the squeamish. It’s written with some dark humor but the circumstances are serious. Its graphic details left me cringing but Cleave has presented this serial killer as-almost-likeable in a strange but morbid fashion. I didn’t really become a fan of Joe in the sense of seeing him as the hero. He’s definitely not, but there was something about the book that urged me to follow behind him-although not too closely-to see what happened next. I didn’t get a sense of the town but I don’t think setting was too important.

My ranking:

Blue Belt

Blue

Quick Kick: Top Secret Twenty-One

cover

By Janet Evanovich

author

https://www.amazon.com/Top-Secret-Twenty-One-Stephanie-Plum/dp/0345542924/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477260001&sr=8-1&keywords=top+secret+22

Plot

Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti, was caught selling a lot more than used cars out of his dealerships. Now he’s out on bail and has missed his date in court, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is looking to bring him in. Leads are quickly turning into dead ends, and all too frequently into dead bodies. Even Joe Morelli, the city’s hottest cop, is struggling to find a clue to the suspected killer’s whereabouts. These are desperate times, and they call for desperate measures. So Stephanie is going to have to do something she really doesn’t want to do: protect former hospital security guard and general pain in her behind Randy Briggs. Briggs was picking up quick cash as Poletti’s bookkeeper and knows all his boss’s dirty secrets. Now Briggs is next on Poletti’s list of people to put six feet under.

My Analysis

Well, this is the 21st book and any faithful reader knows what’s what. Lula, Connie, Morelli, Bob, Ranger, blown up car, goofy skips, viewings at the funeral home, food, wild adventures. Heat between Stephanie and Ranger. Heat between Stephanie and Ranger.

I don’t know if I’ve ever read any this series. I’ve listened to them all on CDs. I think this is the best way because the narrator does an excellent job with voices.

Another romping good fun story with Plum and I’ll look forward to the next.

My Rank:

Blue Belt

Blue

The Suspect

cover

by John Lescroart

Lescroart

http://www.johnlescroart.com/

Plot

Stuart Gorman, writer, reflects on his failing marriage. He’s taken a fishing break after his wife announced she wanted a divorce. But he doesn’t have a solid alibi when, after arriving home, he finds his wife dead in the hot tub. Enter Gina Roake, attorney, who is returning from a needed break. She takes on Gorman as a client and as her first murder case. So who would gain from the wife’s death? Stuart himself stands to come into a lot of money. The sister in-law who has an attraction for Stuart. The wife’s business associates who may have felt threatened by clinical trials gone wrong on a new medical device. When Gorman decides the investigator is not moving fast enough to find another, he begin his own investigation.

Standard fare for Lescroart. That’s why I like them.

Characters

Stuart Gorman: 50, outdoors writer, likes fly fishing, marriage in trouble, medium length dark brown hair, deep tan, has a cabin on Upper Echo Lake, lives in San Francisco, daughter in college, attended Reed College, port wine birthmark on his cheek,

Gina Roake: 47, partner in a SF law firm, fiancee died in an accident, muscular tan legs, trying to write a book

Devin Juhle: Inspecter Sergeant of SF homicide, works solo because previous two partners were killed, married

Wyatt Hunt: chief investigator for Roake’s law firm, computer whiz

Jedd Conley: Gorman’s friend and was his roommate in college, a State Assemblyman, six feet tall, youthful face, former attotrney, former lover of Roake’s, married,

Debra Dryden: Gorman’s sister in-law, divorced

Wes Farrell: lawyer, dresses very casually at the office, long grey-brown hair worn in a ponytail, likes to wear epigrammatic T-shirts, owns a Lab puppy, has a live-in girlfriend

Dismas Hardy: managing partner in a law firm

If you’ve read Lescroart before you’re familiar with the characters. With a large firm, there is ample opportunity to delve into the lives of the characters. The good combination of characters and plot help make Lescroart’s books worthwhile.

Dialogue

Pretty good voices. Conversations stay on track.

Writing

Some profanity. Some missing quotes and other punctuation but I wonder if that isn’t the fault of the Kindle formatting. I’ve read several novels by Lescroart and they’re good legal mysteries. I can’t nail it down, but this one seemed to miss…something. Maybe I didn’t make a good connection with the characters or maybe the writing wasn’t as tight as it could have been. This is still a good mystery, though, and I’m glad to add it to the collection.

My ranking:

Purple Belt

Purple