Read Books This will provide a list of the books I've read with a brief review. Users are blocked, contact me for access. I welcome discussions, but I'm tired of spam.

January 16, 2024

Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O’Connor

Filed under: Mystery — Tags: , — Randolph @ 2:23 pm

This is the first book in a series set in an Irish village, a small setting where everyone knows each other and gossip rules.

A young man is killed and his body found in a bistro belonging to the protagonist, Siobhán O’Sullivan. She is the eldest of six children, their parents had been killed in an auto accident the previous year. Siobhán’s brother James is accused of the murder, Siobán feels compelled to find the true killer.

Through her investigations we meet many of the villagers, each is well-developed and unique. The twists and turns of the mystery make the book. Siobhán is somewhat impulsive and doesn’t think through her actions, getting her caught a few times and reprimanded by the guarda.

The writing is decent, the book got off to a weak start. It seemed that the author needed to tell us what emotions the character is experiencing as the actions did not adequately convey them. However, this changed once the murder took place. The murder scene and the initial guarda investigation were well written.

Throw in some sexual tension between Siobhán and both the investigator, Macdara Flannery, and a mysterious American visitor, Chirs; rampant gossip; a few red herrings; and tie-ins to her parents’ deaths makes for an interesting read.

October 27, 2023

The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare by Lilian Jackson Braun

Filed under: Mystery — Tags: , — Randolph @ 1:33 pm

This is the seventh book in The Cat Who series, Jim Qwilleran and his cats are settling into their mansion in Pickax. Jim had turned his mansion into a part-time museum, he is living in quarters behind the mansion above the garage.

This time, the town newspaper, running with outdated equipment and processes is having trouble when the owner dies and the only source of news in the town is threatened. Qwill, being a newsman doesn’t want that to happen, he starts looking into things, including the death. Koko, as usual, knows more than Jim and starts knocking Shakespeare books of the shelf trying to communicate.

There isn’t much of a mystery beyond the investigation of the man’s death, the book ends with a fire in the mansion, I guess to be continued. This wasn’t one of the better in the series, but it is light and fast.

September 15, 2023

Skinwalkers by Tony Hillerman

Filed under: Mystery — Tags: , — Randolph @ 12:33 pm

This is the seventh book in the Leaphorn/Chee mystery series, I’m filling in books I didn’t have originally and it does not disappoint.

Jim Chee is investigating some unsolved and seemingly unrelated homicides that have happened around the reservation, then there is an attempt on his life. There is no evidence of a correlation, leading Leaphorn to consider come illegal activity Chee may be involved in.

Leaphorn is dealing with his wife’s health, dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, and needs surgery for a brain tumor.

Chee’s studies as a medicine man lead him to believe that a skinwalker, a mythical figure who can shape-shift into another man or animal, is involved. If a skinwalker can force a piece of bone into a person, the person will die unless he can kill the skinwalker first.

The correlation to the deaths comes back to a clinic and fraud. Stopping to avoid too many spoilers.

It is one of the more interesting books in the series.

September 1, 2023

Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem

Filed under: Humor,Mystery,Science Fiction — Tags: — Randolph @ 3:51 pm

This is a science fiction-mystery-noir-humor story with a hard-boiled detective, I think I missed a category.

The setting is poorly defined and that is part of the reader’s exploration. Conrad Metcalf is a detective, a private inquisitor in a world where (not-private) inquisitors spy on people doling out or removing credits. Drugs are commonplace and. tailored, people use them to create moods, to forget, to enhance experiences, it seems endless and very personalized.

Society has created intelligent animals, educated babies and a few gadgets. These are revealed slowly through the book.

At the beginning, the book felt like a detective noir story, it read like a Raymond Chandler story. Conrad is approached by a man panicked, being framed for a murder and no means of payment and low on credits. During the investigation, he encounters kangaroo muscle, holographic houses and a few others.

The extensive use of drugs made me feel like the whole book is a drug-induced illusion. The author reinforces this by making use of bizarre idioms and metaphors that get increasingly peculiar as the book goes on.

The title is a reference to a gun that plays music whenever it is drawn, something to do with advertising.

The book started off amusing and new but started to get old toward the end. It ended just in time.

June 7, 2023

The Cat Who Played Post Office by Lilian Jackson Braun

Filed under: Mystery — Tags: , — Randolph @ 5:29 pm

In the opening of the book, Qwill is suffering from amnesia following a bicycle accident. This provides a good opening and sets the stage for the book.

Qwill has inherited a lot of money, if he can live in the mansion in Pickaxe City for five years. While swearing that he doesn’t want the money and likes the simple life, he spends a lot of his time hiring staff, having a lavish party and feeding his cats caviar and other fine foods. While taking inventory of his new home, Koko shows him clues to a missing girl.

The newspaper investigator in him cannot let it go, he investigates the girl while trying to manage a large estate. Archie, Qwill’s former boss, tries to convince him to stop investigating as it appears someone my be trying to kill him. Then a random murder happens, is it tourists? If Qwill dies the money goes to a company in New Jersey, would they stoop to murder? Although Qwill continues his investigation, it is Koko who has the answers, if only Qwill would listen.

The book is fun in the typical style of the author but it had two disappointing parts. The accident at the beginning of the book happened before his investigation began. And the denouement came through a secondary character, not Qwill, although Koko had the information he needed. It is still a good story.

May 29, 2023

Murder in the Queen’s Armes by Aaron Elkin

Filed under: Mystery — Tags: , — Randolph @ 11:21 am

Gideon and Julie are on their honeymoon in this book, the third book in the Gideon Oliver series. Gideon wants to visit a local museum where he notices that an old skull is not what it seems. Then he visits a dig site where a friend is managing a dig site, while the friend is excited with a secret he is waiting to reveal, that the Micenean cultural diffusion to England might be related to an actual landing instead. One of his students is anxious to share some important information with Gideon, after making an appointment with Gideon, he goes missing.

With a missing skull, a missing student and a friend who is possibly about to make a fool of himself and destroy his career, Gideon has to explore the dig site and talk to people about the mysteries. Trying to find time for his very understanding wife, he works with the police to find the truth and weave everything together.

May 17, 2023

The People of Darkness by Tony Hillerman

Filed under: Mystery — Tags: , — Randolph @ 10:44 am

This is the fourth book in the Chee/Leaphorn stories, I’m filling in a few books I missed when reading the series. Jim Chee has an offer to join the FBI which he is considering, or to continue his studies to become a Hataalii, a tribal medicine man.

There is a backstory of an explosion at a well logging event that killed a number of people. Years later a bomb explodes in a pickup as a tow driver is hooking it up for towing, the target was a man already dying from cancer. Then someone steels a keepsake box from a rich man, B. J. Vines, leaving many valuables that are in sight. Chee’s first involvement was when Mrs. Vines asked Chee to recover the box.

The People of Darkness are involved, somehow. This is a religious sect that worships the mole. It is not recognized by most Navajo for its use of peyote.

During his investigation, he finds himself and a woman, Mary Landon, who finds herself wandering with Chee during his investigations, the target of an assassin.

The locals believe Mr. Vines is a witch, Chee must find a solution that satisfies the local cultures and the white men.

The book is excellent and rich in Navajo culture.

April 8, 2023

Come to Grief by Dick Francis

Filed under: Mystery — Tags: , — Randolph @ 4:42 pm

Sid Halley, ex-jockey turned detective, returns in a new book. Someone is cutting of the off-hand leg of yearlings, just below the fetlock joint. When the person injures the horse of a terminally ill child, it becomes more personal. A few clues point to a famous jockey, loved by many, friend to Halley, and who wasn’t present, the mystery deepens and the the political cost to Sid is high.

March 25, 2023

Master of Souls by Peter Tremayne

Filed under: Mystery — Tags: , — Randolph @ 5:08 pm

A ship has run aground, an abbess has been killed, the nuns traveling with her disappeared and an elderly scholar has been killed. Although at peace, some members of the Ui Figente seem to be rebellious, several scholarly text are missing and destroyed. It is up to Fidelma, with Aedulf’s help, to understand these mysteries and weave them into a single tapestry.

September 28, 2022

The Cat Who Saw Red by Lillian Jackson Braun

Filed under: Mystery — Tags: — Randolph @ 5:39 pm
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