The Dark Wind by Tony Hillerman

Filed under:Chee/Leaphorn,Mystery — posted by Randolph on October 14, 2018 @ 2:32 pm


The Dark Wind by Tony Hillerman

Jim Chee has been transferred to a team commanded by Captain Largo. His duties are to investigate the repeated sabotage of a windmill, solve the killing of a man by a witch and to solve a robbery case. When a drug-running plane crashes and several people are killed, things get more bizarre. The crash and related murders are outside of Chee’s jurisdiction, but all the events seem interrelated.

The story takes the reader into the Navajo and Hopi cultures as Chee tries to sort things out. Even the cultures are tied into the crimes.

When the solution unravels, Hillerman has intertwined everything into a fully satisfying solution.

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

Filed under:Mystery — posted by Randolph on September 13, 2018 @ 2:46 pm


How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

This is the ninth novel in the Inspector Gamache series of books. Gamache is investigating the apparent suicide by a woman who is using an assumed identity. He unveils a tragic story of the woman’s past. This investigation provides a background to the culmination of events involving his former second-in-command and friend, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and the Chief of the Sûreté, Sylvan Franceur.

Gamache returns to Three Pines for his base of operations because of it’s lack of connectedness to the outside. This allows all the familiar characters of Three Pines to become a part of the story.

This is a well-told mystery, although it deviates from the traditional mystery in that it has major themes continuing through the series. This book brings it all to a close and set up what looks like a change in the series with the next book. The writing is excellent and the characters engrossing. But the series should be read in order!!

The Wailing Wind by Tony Hillerman

Filed under:Mystery — posted by Randolph on September 29, 2017 @ 1:50 pm


The Wailing Wind by Tony Hillerman

Another book in the series of Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn. In this book, Jim Chee is investigating a murder which may be related to a self-defense murder in the past. In a complex plot involving gold mines, abandoned military bases and a missing wife, Joe Leaphorn get his curiosity up and starts his own investigation.

This book starts out following Jim Chee and one of his officers, Bernadette Manuelito. These characters eventually take a back seat to Joe Leaphorn who does a lot of the investigation.

This book gets involved in some of the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni (?) cultures. It is one of Hillerman’s better stories.

The Barsoom Project by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes

Filed under:Adventure,Mystery,Science Fiction,Series — posted by Randolph on May 19, 2017 @ 4:16 pm


The Barsoom Project by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes

This books is a follow-on to Dream Park. In this, the Dream Park business is running a new simulation, an end-of-the world scenario with mythological connections. But things are going on behind the scenes. When a player dies before it should be possible, an investigation begins turning up murder and conspiracy – and a return character operating under an alias and with a hidden past.

The dream story is interesting. It was well-researched and involves some Inuit history and mythology, and we see the players drawn into an interesting culture.

However, I didn’t feel the story was as good as the previous one. The characters are a bit shallow, which is moderately typical for Niven. But the story is very creative, which is also typical. In the end, I didn’t feel as if everything was adequately explained, such as the code modifications which had to get around security and have a very good understanding of their technology. The mystery player seemed to be far to uninteresting in the end, she had a lot of potential and should have been more complex. With the weak ending and the lack of character development I can’t recommend this book.

Ochoco Reach by Jim Stewart

Filed under:Mystery,Series — posted by Randolph on March 20, 2016 @ 8:46 am

Ochoco Reach by Jim Stewart

This is Jim Stewart’s first book, and he is establishing himself among the big names in mystery novels. This novel is in the style of John D. MacDonald with a special forces-trained and capable hero, Mike Ironwood, who has a PI office in Portland, Oregon. Mike has a half-brother, Daniel, who is more spiritual and half Nez Pierce. Daniel, who was trained as a Navy Seal, provides some support.

Here, a green-eyed woman, Willimina Hayes, who has a ranch near Prineville. Someone seems to be trying to gain control of her ranch, by hook or by crook. She came to Mike just to get some answers.

In an adventure taking Mike into Mexico to deal with a drug cartel and a rogue DEA agent, there is a good mixture of suspense and action with a few surprises thrown in.

The book has interesting characters and is well-paced. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Morning Spy, Evening Spy by Colin MacKinnon

Filed under:Mystery — posted by Randolph on February 22, 2016 @ 6:26 am

Morning Spy, Evening Spy by Colin MacKinnon

In the months leading up to 9/11, an agent is killed in a targeted shooting. The story is about tracking down his killer. The main character, Paul Patterson, is a middle-aged agent in the CIA. He is tracking down the killer in a methodical, research-oriented process. There is very little action in the story, it is more about the CIA and how it operates. As you meet each character, you get a dossier on him. There were too many for me to remember.

The book wasn’t able to make me care much for the murder victim, nor the main character. It wasn’t bad, but I wanted more.

Death Dance: A Novel by Linda Fairstein

Filed under:Mystery,Series — posted by Randolph on January 28, 2016 @ 10:14 am

Death Dance: A Novel by Linda Fairstein

This is another in the series of Alexandra Cooper. She is investigating the apparent suicide of a ballerina at the NY Met. Unfortunately, she isn’t someone the reader cares about, nor are the incidental characters. Most are flat and uninteresting, although there is some interest in a few of the interactions.

The book opened with a drug-rape scene and its ensuing courtroom actions. The judge was a mysogenist, although way over the top. He was too extreme to be believable as a character. Although probably within the realm of reality, he was too much for a book. This plot line was more interesting and more appropriate for Alexandra. Unfortunately it was a subplot and happened in the background and was resolved without much interest.

Overall the story felt flat. It wasn’t a bad mystery, but just barely held my interest.

Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King

Filed under:Mystery,Series — posted by Randolph on January 12, 2016 @ 5:24 pm

Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King

This is book 13 of the Mary Russel stories of Sherlock Holmes. This book is more a cultural story of Japan and Japanese culture in the 1920s than a true mystery, I’m not sure there’s enough information for the reader to solve the puzzle.

The story opens on a cruise from India to Japan. Sherlock cannot relax and enjoy the trip, he finds questions to ponder, a suspicious English lord and an odd acrobat are part of a growing mystery that involves royalty and extortion.

The Japanese culture is exposed through two unusual characters. They become closely intertwined in the mystery for most of the book. They present a cultural experience that seems extreme, but can be forgiven due to the nature of these characters.

One of the books minor themes are haiku by Basho. Each chapter begins with a haiku, presumably in the style of Basho. The haiku does relate to events in the chapter and can provide additional meaning. They are well worth reading for content.

Overall, the book has good pacing and is interesting enough to keep the reader involved. Laurie King does not disappoint her audience.

Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs

Filed under:Mystery,Series — posted by Randolph on October 3, 2015 @ 8:19 pm

Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs

A woman, Lucky Strike, approaches Dr. Brennan with questions about a disappearance, a case that was closed years ago. The woman is a web sleuth, a hobbyist detective who spends a lot of her free time investigating closed cases and discussing them on the internet.

The woman comes across as a nut, but naturally provides Temperance enough to become curious, which leads into twisty passages of an investigation.

Ramsey, a sheriff she has to deal with, is a reluctant partner, and a comes across as a bit of a chauvinist. He contrast a bit with Andrew Ryan, who wants to get married. Then things get complicated with Lucky is killed.

The solution to this one surprised me, and the story was very good, I looked for those moments when I could read a few pages. This is better than some of the more recent books, a very good read.

The Triumph of Caesar: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Steven Saylor

Filed under:Mystery — posted by Randolph on September 22, 2014 @ 8:40 pm

The Triumph of Caesar: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Steven Saylor

The investigation of the murder of a friend, Hieronymous, leads to a plot to Assassinate Caesar. Caesar is preparing to celebrate his conquests, a series of three days celebrating different campaigns. What better setting for an assassination?

The story is interesting, the reader gets an interesting glimpse into Roman life and culture. The writing is good and easy to read. This is the tenth in the series on Gordianus the Finder.


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace