Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Lawyer’s Lawyer

coverby James Sheehan

Sheehan

http://jamessheehanauthor.com/

Plot

1991: Jack Tobin, successful attorney considers doing something else with his life other than the practice of law. 1993: A serial killer is terrorizing the college campus in Oakville, Florida. Detective Danielle Jansen suspects one of the students, Thomas Felton. After a couple more deaths, including the police cheif’s wife, Felton is subsequently arrested for murder. 2001: Jack Tobin has switched to defending death row clients gratis but accepts a case to help a basketball player at the Oakville campus from being charged with rape. He also begins a short-lived affair with Jansen who is close to retirement. 2003: Tobin agrees to help Felton, who is schedule to die in six weeks’ time. What he discovers sets off a chain reaction that will put Tobin himself on trial and uncover secrets buried for eight years.

This was a difficult story to summarize because to give any more would tell too much. This didn’t go where I thought it would go and I was disappointed that certain things didn’t happen or that certain characters didn’t return. Still, a good story, especially the trial at the end. This is basically three stories with the serial killer investigation, Tobin’s involvement with Felton, and Tobin’s own trial.

Characters

Jack Tobin: Lawyer who opened his own firm, 6’2”, plays basketball and participates in tri-athelons, married and divorced three times, grew up in NYC, his fourth wife died of cancer, owns a Sig Sauer, physically fit

Danielle Jansen: homicide detective, tanned, short hair, single parent with a daughter,

Alan Peterson: FBI agent and Jansen’s serial killer task force partner, tall, handsome, blond hair, has a law degree

Jane Pellicano: Prosecutor, thick bodied, plain features, wears little make-up and conservative clothing

Wanda Reardon: black, single with five children, nurse

Ted ‘The Eel’ Collins: sports agent, drives a Mercedes, smoke cigars, uses narcotics

There are other major characters but as mentioned above I was disappointed that some of the minor one didn’t return even though I thought they might have a hand in later events. I like the characters but because of the long story wasn’t too connected to them. Actually, I enjoyed Tobin’s lawyer the most.

Dialogue

Good voices. The narrator did use different voice inflections which helped bring out the personalities. I enjoy that in a narrator.

Writing

I listened to the audio version. Book separated into Parts. Some profanity. This was a long book. Not boring, but long. The story was very drawn out, almost unnecessarily. Some parts of the build up and proceeding to the ending trial could have been summarized. Omnipresent POV. Subdued action but it’s not an action thriller. It’s a long story. Not boring, but long. I was disappointed in some places and intrigued in others. There weren’t any surprises even at the end. When it comes to courtroom dramas/mysteries I expect good stuff in the courtroom. The give and take, the strategies from each side. The objections and the judge’s personality. I wasn’t disappointed in this.

My Ranking:

Blue Belt

Blue

Gun Machine

cover

by Warren Ellis

Warren Ellis, author of "Gun Machine"

http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=14572

Plot

New York City. Officer John Tallow and his partner respond to a naked man wielding a shotgun in a run down apartment building. Quickly, the situation turns deadly and Tallow’s partner pays the ultimate price. In the aftermath, the crime scene unit discovers a barricaded door of a nearby apartment. After forcing their way they discover a huge cache of guns. Subsequent investigation determines these guns have been used in years’ of unsolved murders. Tallow and his crime scene investigation team also determine that they possess guns which have a connection to past notorious and nefarious characters in New York’s past. Tallow must wade through the cases to find a devious and prolific killer who is adapting to the abrupt change in his lifestyle, and whose schemes are ever evolving.

This story went so much deeper than an investigator tracking a gun freak. With each chapter I sunk into deeper and more complex levels. There are connections to when the Indians lived on the land, a security company, and a financial corporation. I loved the puzzle.

Characters

John Tallow: New York City detective, likes to read, smokes, thrifty

The Hunter: killer who owns the gun cache, doesn’t use pre-paid cell phones but likes to use public pay phones

Andrew Machen: owner of Vivesy a company involved in finance, wide shoulders, chest, snake hips

Good depth and intensity to the characters. Even the minor and supporting characters are vividly imagined. They work well to show how evil The Hunter is and how determined Tallow is.

Dialogue

Good voices. Conversations stay on point and none last too long but those centering on the clues were just enough to keep me interested.

Writing

I listened to the audio version. Profanity. Various lengths of chapters. Phrasing is precise, intense even in the ‘down’ times. This could be due to the narrator’s voice, the inflection and tone. Action is on target, no wandering, not quite emotionless, but not filled with an over emphasis on feelings, especially on The Hunter’s part. This is good because it shows more of that character’s personality and thought processes. I was hoping for more connections to history but what was there was intriguing.

My ranking:

Brown Belt

Brown

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