Monthly Archives: February 2013

Resuscitation

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By D. M. Annechino

Annechino

http://www.amazon.com/Resuscitation-D-M-Annechino/dp/161218071X

Plot

Two years after almost dying at the hands of a serial killer, former San Diego homicide investigator Sami Rizzo is studying to be a social worker while taking care of her ailing mother. Her live-in lover, Detective Diaz, becomes involved in a series of gruesome murders with clues that are numerous but don’t lead anywhere. When Diaz is forced to travel to the bedside of his dying sister, the homicide captain recruits Rizzo back to work the cases. Weaving through lazy detectives, vague eye witness statements, a hard-nosed judge, and a host of personal problems, Rizzo races against time to find the killer before more people die. Things heat up, though, when one of the killer’s targets is found alive…

A very well thought plot with a lot of dimension, subplots. This isn’t just a police procedural. Annechino brings in personal lives and problems and does a fine job of keeping everything well contained and not letting things get out of hand.

Characters

Samantha ‘Sami’ Marie Rizzo: former San Diego homicide detective, has a daughter and ailing mother, wants to enter social work, enjoys Corona beer

Alberto Diaz: 40, Rizzo’s boyfriend of two years, homicide detective, former smoker, unsure about his relationship with Sami, has a sister

Julian: early 40s, blue eyes, jet black hair, handsome, medical researcher, married ten years, two daughters, came from an affluent family but lacked familial love, his female cousins sexually used him when he was a pre-teen, enjoys Johnny Walker Blue

These are characters with real life problems. Very well defined. Even the minor supporting characters are very well depicted. I very much enjoyed Julian’s ‘devolution’ and his justification for his actions. His adult life is so much a result of an awful childhood. Yes, he is evil, but you get to go inside his head a little deeper than some serial killers. There are a few layers worth exploring.

Dialogue

Tight, with no long lectures. Pretty well defined voices. Not too long conversations. Police procedural type questions and answers.

Writing

Very strong. A with the plot, very contained. Some profanity and instances of rape, but not graphically described. This deals with internal surgery but the medicalese is not you cannot understand. There are some explanation on the procedures. Pick up on the depiction of the three cousins in the story. Not coincidental and very good. I like the personal issues the character deal with. Annechino didn’t write surface people here. These are day to day problems people have. Strong sentence structure with proper use of language and grammar. There are two instances where Annechino plays the guessing game. In one instance relating to Rizzo herself, you may guess correctly from the start. I did. The other involving Julian…well, I won’t spoil it.

My ranking:

Brown Belt

Brown

The Accomplice

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By Charles Robbins

Robbins

http://www.chasrobbins.com/

Plot

Henry Hatten, politico, is hired by the staff of presidential hopeful, Tom Peele, a Nebraskan Senator as a communications director. Even before he begins his duties, he knows Peele is not the clean cut farm boy, ex actor that is too be portrayed to the country. Ensconced mostly in Iowa, Hatten faces not only keeping Peele’s dirty secrets and extra marital affairs, but a dangerous foe in a campaign manager. Hatten falls for a staffer while still battling his feelings for an ex lover who is currently in the enemy camp. As the weeks and months pass, Hatten is pulled deeper into the underworld of political campaigning, but when the situation turns murderous, he’ll have to use some slick spinning of the facts to come out on top.

Yes, it’s another dirty game of politics. I was hoping for something special here and I was mildly satisfied. Nothing new here but a solid plot

Characters

Henry Hatten: 31, attended Trinity Prep School, wrestled in high school, communications director for Senator Peele’s campaign, English major at Dartmouth, father works as a warehouseman, former press secretary, knows aikido, thick brown hair, owns a cat, mom dead.

Thomas Pritchard Peele, Jr: moderate republican Senator from Nebraska, cleft chin, thick graying hair, blue eyes, just under six foot tall, 190 pounds, wears reading glasses, attended but didn’t graduate Columbia, former Nebraskan governor, has asthma, former television actor, troubled marriage, has a daughter

Fran: cobalt eyes, chestnut hair, Henry’s former lover, political campaign researcher

Some standard characters. You knew going in Peele was going to be dirty up to his armpits, but the campaign manager, Gill Cass is the real dirt bag sleaze. Cass constantly calls everyone Comrade and a Communist and spouts ‘Freedom and prosperity’ as his farewell line. I wanted to see him taken down a little bit more forcefully.

Dialogue

Good distinctive voices. Conversations don’t run on, but stay on track.

Writing

Everything runs just a little above the surface without too many highs and lows. The chapters vary in length and are titled. A little profanity. Slow moving with surface tension until the murder when it picks up a little. Not a big rollercoaster ride into the climax and a typical happy ending.

My ranking:

Blue Belt

Blue

Death Of A Kitchen Diva

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by Lee Hollis

Lee Hollis

http://leehollismysteries.com/

Plot

When Hayley Powell, office manager of a Bar Harbor, Maine newspaper, is assigned to write a food and cocktails column, she doesn’t know what kind trouble she stirs up. After her first column, a competing columnist, Karen Applebaum, from the other paper accuses Hayley of stealing the recipe. Then Hayley is engaged in food fight. To top it off, the other columnist steals Hayley’s clam chowder recipe, then dies after eating some. Of course, Hayley is the prime suspect. To clear her name, Hayley, along with her friends and brother, must investigate the case. Who could be the murderer? Karen’s estranged conspiracy theorist son who lives in the woods? The pharmacist’s wife? What about Karen’s ex husband? Or could it be a mysterious lover man of Karen’s? Hayley must solve the crime before either she is jailed for murder, or the real murderer kills her!

This debut by Hollis is another in a long line of food related mysteries so popular these days. It a distinctive voice in this sub genre and I enjoyed the new take on a familiar favorite theme, food related mysteries.

Characters

Hayley Powell: Divorce for three years, two teenage children, works as an office manager for one of the Bar Harbor newspapers, owns a dog, drives a Suburu, brother is gay and owns a bar, can’t parallel park

Sal Moretti: Hayley’s boss and owner of the paper, stocky, Italian, likes the gym, but also candy and bourbon, loud, likes hazelnut lattes, used to work at a Boston paper

Liddy Crawford: friend of Hayley’s, bossy, real estate agent, auburn curly hair, drives a Mercedes

Mona Barnes: friend of Hayley’s, is involved with her family’s lobster business, wears no make-up, drives a rusty Dodge pickup, has five kids and is pregnant again.

Lex Bansfield: tall, attractive, dirty blond hair, caretaker at an estate

This story is full of fun and quirky characters – the gay police chief who has trouble with the English language; the egotistical crime beat reporter; and Hayley’s typical teenage children. I really enjoyed them and nobody was boring or droll.

Dialogue

Good distinctive voices. Pretty standard conversational fare for these types of mysteries.

Writing

Written with food and spirit recipes included in the form of newspaper columns. I enjoyed the humor liberally added, especially the funeral scene. The action is tight, the writing is lighthearted. The narrative flowed well with expected suspense. This is a very good debut. I will be putting Hollis’ name on my ‘to buy’ list for future food and cocktails mysteries.

My ranking:

Brown Belt

Brown

Storm Lake

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By Alan Loots

Loots

www.alanloots.com

Plot

Michael Lund always wanted to be in the FBI but years before a death in the family curtailed those plans. Now he has a chance to fulfill his dreams. Because of his knowledge of domestic terrorism he is recruited to infiltrate and obtain information from a militant racist group in Oregon. After the mission, his wife is killed and Michael sets out on a personal mission for justice. Meanwhile, Greta Meyer is on the run from an abusive husband. She and her son escape to a small northwest Iowa town where they meet a mysterious stranger.

This was completely different from what I thought it would be. It’s touted as a different kind of FBI story and in a small way, I guess it is. For awhile I wasn’t sure where it was going.

Characters

Michael Lund: 36, Assistant professor and expert on domestic terrorism at the University of Minnesota, attended Wisconsin University for a social science degree, Doctor in Criminology at Ohio State, athlete in college, married, grew up in Wisconsin

Jess Jeremy Ford: scar on left cheek, large man, glasses, sandy hair and beard, two sons, wife dead, leader of The Fort in Oregon, racist

Greta Meyer: attractive, black hair, Houston television reporter, grew up in small town Iowa, father was a reporter for the Des Moines Register and now reports for a small town paper, ex husband is a drinker and is abusive, stays fit, confident, born in Des Moines, attended Columbia, allergic to bee stings

Some good characters here but not much depth. I felt a distance between the characters and me as a reader.

Dialogue

A little stilted. Typical bad guy stuff.Writing

Again, I felt at a distance to the story. Maybe I just didn’t get ‘into’ the book. It was fairly enjoyable. A few punctuation errors. Mild profanity. Loots tends to refer to his characters by reference. Instead of ‘Michael’, he’ll say ‘the writer’ or another term. He does this with a few characters. The twist at the end seemed a little forced. The story is not really slow moving but at the same time I was ready to get to the end.

My ranking:

Purple Belt

Purple