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Year End Books

December 31, 2013

Wow, with all the cookie-baking and holiday hullabaloo I didn’t realize that I hadn’t updated my books for so long!  It’s New Year’s Eve, and it looks like it will be a quiet one for us this year.  Snow is falling, temperatures are low, and it doesn’t look like any of our local friends are having a party this year.  Still, a peaceful evening at home has its appeal after a family Christmas last week, party with friends over the weekend, and the 12th Night event coming up in just a few days.  Happy New Year to anyone who reads this!

So I’ve got a big batch of books to finish out the year, in no particular order…

W WastedI finished up with the latest “Alphabet” mystery from Sue Grafton, W is for Wasted.  California private investigator Kinsey Millhone is drawn into a mystery involving the death of a homeless man who had her name on a slip of paper in his pocket.  Ultimately, we find out that Kinsey is a distant relation of the man and is named the sole heir in his will.  This is one of the longest of Grafton’s books at nearly 500 pages, and it seemed maybe a little unnecessarily convoluted with flashbacks and another PI’s case connecting to Kinsey’s explorations.  An unsatisfying reappearance of Kinsey’s sometime boyfriend Dietz complicates things as well.  So now we’re on letter 23 of the 26 in our alphabet – will Z be the end of Kinsey Millhone?

Watching DarkWatching the Dark comes from Peter Robinson, one of my favorite British police authors.  Inspector Banks is called to investigate the death of another police officer at a rehabilitation facility and uncovers a connection to a human trafficking ring.  The investigation takes Banks overseas to Estonia and brings him back into touch with Annie Cabot, his previous policing partner and romantic interest (though that seems to have waned).  As always, this author does not disappoint – his descriptions of places and people create a detailed vision of the events of the story and the hero’s no-nonsense approach carries the story to its end.

EnchiladaDiane Mott Davidson’s The Whole Enchilada is a cozy mystery that brings us back to the Colorado catering world of Goldy Schultz.  Once again, Goldy’s life and business are rocked by the murder of someone she knows and Goldy must navigate the social world of Aspen Meadow and her own memories as she “helps” her detective husband solve the mystery.  These books are always fun to read, but really unlikely in terms of how involved these civilians are with police investigations!  The nice thing about these is that they also include many of the recipes Goldy cooks in the course of the story, though I didn’t find any of these unique enough to save in this case.

TamarackWilliam Kent Krueger is another of my favorite authors who also does not disappoint in his latest work, Tamarack County.  Once again, we are brought back to the small town of Aurora in Tamarack County, Minnesota.  At the height of a blizzard an elderly local resident disappears, the pet dog of another resident is decapitated, and the hero’s son is nearly killed by a hit-and-run driver.  Cork O’Connor, once the county sheriff, is forced to uncover who is committing these acts and why, looking back to crime committed more than 20 years earlier.  As always, Krueger’s writing is tight and suspenseful and the story moves forward quickly and with intensity.  I’ll always be looking forward to the next of these books.

BonesKathy Reichs’ Bones of the Lost features forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, this time looking into the hit-and-run death of a young girl who appears to be an illegal immigrant.  I was a little disappointed in this book – it seems to have been written more with the TV show Bones in mind rather than as a novel.  I kept catching myself wondering whether an anthropologist would really be accompanying police investigators to the extent that Brennan does, and many of the situations seemed to be more than a bit contrived to add TV-style drama.  Still, the science was interesting, as it always is.  Hopefully Ms. Reichs will be able to separate her novel writing from the TV show better in the future.

Eagle's PreyI did something out of character for me with this one – read a book out of order in the series!  However, at the time I got The Eagle’s Prey by Simon Scarrow, the correct book in the sequence was already checked out and these don’t necessarily rely on having read things in order.  Here we find Roman Centurions Macro and Cato struggling with the rest of the Second Legion to crush the native resistance in Britain.  After a failed encounter, the commanding general orders a unit he believes to be at fault to be decimated – one in every ten men will be executed – and Cato is one of those who draws the black stone!  I’ll have to go back and catch the previous book before I go on with this series, but these have been a fun read and a little bit of a change from my standard mystery fare.

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