Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Thankless in Death (In Death #37), by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts)

Putnam, ISBN 9780399164422, September 2013

It's a few days before Thanksgiving, and Roarke's entire Irish family will soon be arriving to spend the holiday with him and Dallas. She loves him, she loves them, but really, she'd rather deal with a nice, straight-forward murder investigation. At least in theory.

When the call comes in about the murder of the Reinholds, a nice, quiet, responsible, middle class couple, it's a tragedy. When Dallas and Peabody realize that their grown son killed his mother, waited around until his father came home, and killed him--and then sat around eating and emptying his parents' accounts into his own accounts--it's horrifying.

What they don't know yet is that the killing has only started.

Eve Dallas, her friends and colleagues, and especially, of course, Roarke, are old friends now, and they don't disappoint in Thankless. Dallas, Peabody, and Roarke, in particular, have grown deeper and richer as characters in every book. In this addition to the series, Eve has to make a big career choice she wouldn't have been ready for earlier, and Roarke has his own, related but separate, challenge to overcome.

If you've enjoyed earlier In Death stories, you'll enjoy this one. If you haven't encountered the series before, this isn't the best place to start, but the story is sufficiently self-contained that it should be no real problem to follow. There are references to earlier cases, but you don't need more information than is included.


I bought this book.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Trial of Dr. Kate (Round Rock #2), by Michael E. Glasscock III

Greenleaf Book Group, ISBN 9781626340138, October 2013

It's the summer of 1952, and Lillian Johnson, just 32, is found dead in her home. She's been suffering from multiple sclerosis and colon cancer, but neither of those caused her death. She died of an injection of Seconol--and it's not clear that she administered it herself.

The prime suspect, indeed the only one, is her friend and physician, Dr. Kate Marlow. And Kate can't prove she didn't, can't even be sure what she did that morning, because she's been experiencing alcoholic blackouts, and doesn't remember that morning before she found herself parked on the road to Static.

Old friend Shenandoah Coleman is a reporter in Memphis now, but comes back to Round Rock to cover the trial--and to reconnect with friends and family she's avoided because of the burden of the Coleman reputation.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Pedigree to Die For (Melanie Travis #1), by Laurien Berenson

Kensington, ISBN 9780758208545, August 2004 (original publication 1995)

School's out for the summer, and single mother and teacher Melanie Travis is not enjoying the easy summer days.

Her boyfriend has dumped her for a chorus girl, her summer job as a camp counselor has fallen through, and her Uncle Max  has died suddenly of a heart attack. All that would be bad enough.

But then her Aunt Peg, Max's wife, calls with the news that one of her and Max's prize poodles, Beau, has been stolen. She wants Melanie to help her convince her brother Frank to help track him down. This can only go one way, and it does: Frank is completely dismissive of the importance Peg places on this dog, believes she's making it up about the dog's dollar value, and refuses to become involved.

So Peg settles for Melanie instead, and Melanie can't say no. Suddenly she's embarked on a crash course in dogs, genetics, and the politics of dog shows. It's even kind of fun, until she discovers a dead body.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

From a Changeling Star (Starstream #1), by Jeffrey A. Carver (author), MacLeod Andrews (narrator), September 2012 (Original publication 1988)

Willard Ruskin has survived being killed twice, nearly killing his girlfriend before he recognizes her, and having his memory seriously compromised by the nanobots warring for control of his mind.

And that's just for starters.

Ruskin is an astronomer, part of a project studying the star Betelgeuse, which is about to become a supernova. But that project, Starmuse, is a cover for the real project, Breakstar--a project with a far darker purpose. But with much of his memory missing, Ruskin doesn't know who he is, or was, working for, or who, if anyone, he can trust.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Night Calls (Tales of Alfreda Golden-Tongue #1), by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel

Book View Cafe, ISBN 9781611383201

This is a really enjoyable YA novel set in an alternate North America, where the settlement patterns were similar if not necessarily identical to our own world. We don't know for sure where the history diverged, but there is, in passing, a reference to "King Washington." Date is pretty vague; there are references to trains for long-distance travel to larger population centers, but the story is set in small settlements where the technology is that of the frontier. Any reader of the Little House series will recognize it.

Except that, as we gradually discover, magic works.

Eleven-year-old Alfreda Sorensson's life takes a dramatic turn when her father and brothers, along with neighboring men, kill a wolf that turns out to have been a werewolf. In the aftermath of the werewolf killing, death and tragedy stalk the community of Sun-Return, and Allie discovers she has true dreams as well as other skills that help her family and neighbors to weather the crisis.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Complexity and the Arrow of Time, by Charles H. Lineweaver, Paul C.W. Davis, and Michael Ruse

Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9781107027251, August 2013

In recent years, a new scientific discipline has begun to grow around the concept of complexity. It's still very new, and even definitions and measurements are still up in the air, with no general agreement. It's further complicated by the fact that physicists and biologists, the two disciplines most interested in complexity, have very different perspectives on it.

This book is in essence a symposium on the subject, with physicists and biologists approaching it from a variety of different angles.

Does complexity have a direction as entropy has a direction--does it inevitably increase over time? How does complexity increase in the inanimate physical universe? How does it increase in biological systems? Do we have any sensible way to arrive at an agreed measure of complexity in living beings and systems?

It's a fascinating subject, and this is a challenging and very interesting read, with contributions from a wide range of perspectives on complexity.


Book trailer:

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Litter of the Law (Mrs. Murphy #21), by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown

Bantam, ISBN 9780345530486, October 2013

Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen and her husband, Fair, are out with their dog, Tee Tucker, and their cats, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, when the animals find a very interesting scarecrow, apparently being torn apart by crows.

Why would crows be attacking a scarecrow?

It's a corpse. His name was Josh Hill, and he was shot through the heart before being dressed as a scarecrow and hung up in the field. It's the start of a frightening October, building toward Halloween and the annual hayride to raise money for the Crozet Library.

Tee Tucker, Mrs. Murphy, and the often reluctant Pewter need to keep a close eye on their favorite human, Harry, as well as doing (in their minds) all the real investigation of this shocking crime.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Moving Violation (Chloe Boston #1), by Melanie Jackson

Brian Jackson/Smashwords, July 2011

Chloe Boston wants to be a police detective. Instead, she's a meter maid.

She's very smart, very capable, and very tiny. At 98 pounds, she will never meet the police physical requirement of being able to lift 100 pounds. But she's the daughter of the former chief of police in her town of Hope Falls, and initially at least, that was a little bit of an advantage and she managed to land the meter maid job.

But Daddy wasn't a very good cop, and especially not a good chief of police, and he's been forced out. Chloe was mocked for her tiny frame and her connection to the chief while her father was in office; now it's worse.

And now her best friend on the force, Jeffrey Little, her fellow parking enforcement officer, has disappeared, and no one is taking it seriously. Chloe decides to launch her own investigation.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Love Overdue, by Pamela Morsi

Harlequin MIRA, ISBN 9780778315377, August 2013

Dorothy Jarrow--D.J.--has just landed her dream job, director of a small town library. It's in Verdant, Kansas, the heart of Kansas wheat country, and the library, long neglected, is in desperate need of revitalization. Offered the job based on her resume with no interview, D.J. packs up her possessions and her dog, Dew (Melville Dewey), and moves from Texas to Kansas without a backward glance.

D.J. presents herself as the librarian stereotype come to life, glasses, bun, severely modest, respectable clothes, but in her mind, she has a reason. Eight years earlier, on her twenty-first birthday, she tried to break out of her emotionally stunted upbringing and went to South Padre Island on spring break. She had an exciting one-night fling with a guy she met in a bar--and when she woke up in the morning, was utterly humiliated by what a stupid, reckless thing she'd done. This fling turns out to be central to the story, as D.J. discovers that the hot guy from South Padre is in fact Verdant's town pharmacist--and the son of Viv Sanderson, her new landlady and member of the library board.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Quin's Shanghai Circus, by Edward Whittemore

Open Road Media, ISBN 9781480433885, July 2013

Quin's Shanghai Circus is a product of the 1970s, written by a man who had an amazing career as a military officer, CIA operative, and manager of a Greek newspaper, among other things. The language is lush, the imagery strange and compelling, the story intricate, and the characters complex.

I'm sorry to say that I didn't actually like it.

A young man named Quin, born in Japan and raised in the Bronx, meets a man named Geraty, who suggests to him that he can learn more about his long-dead parents if he escorts a simple-minded adult orphan, Big Gobi, to Japan. Big Gobi's original guardian and sponsor, Father Lamoureux, knew Quin's parents, and in gratitude for Gobi's return, might be prompted to talk about them. It seems Geraty also knew them, or knew of them, before and during World War II, but he claims to know almost nothing.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Forever, Interrupted, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Washington Square Press, ISBN 9781476712826, July 2013

Elsie Porter is a librarian, estranged from her birth family, content to have the excitement in her life come from her friend Ana's wildly unpredictable dating habits. It's a quiet life, and she's happy with that.

Then on the first day of the new year, Elsie goes out to pick up a pizza for supper, and meets Ben Ross. They are instantly taken with each other, and exchange phone numbers. It's the start of a whirlwind courtship.

Six months later, Ben is dead.

In alternating chapters, we learn Elsie's story of their romance, and Elsie's story of Ben's sudden, pointless death in a traffic accident, and adjusting to his loss. Joy alternates with grief, and Elsie coming out of her shell to build a future with Ben alternates with her collapse into grief and her slow climb out of it.