Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 books, #126-130

Blood ties, by Lori G Armstrong. Kindle edition.

Julie Collins is a sheriff's secretary with a huge chip on her shoulder and the unsolved murder of her half-Native American half-brother hanging around her neck.  Then a girl's body is found in a river, and an investigation is launched.  Shortly afterwards, Julie's best high-school friend Kevin, a private investigator Julie helps out on occasion, tells her that the dead girl's family had hired him to find her.  The plot twists and turns nicely and stays pretty gripping from start to finish.  Julie is a bit irritating, and her choice in men is absolutely terrible, but her relationship with Kevin is interesting and makes the book more likeable than it would otherwise be.  One criticism - did it have to be set in a county called Bear Butte when no other humour is derived from this??

A cold day for murder, by Dana Stabenow. Kindle edition.

Former detective Kate Shugak is a hermit of sorts, after the end of an investigation left her with a ruined voice and a huge scar on her throat - she has retired from Anchorage to her homestead a long way outside Niniltna, Alaska.  However, a game warden has gone missing, and the investigator sent out from Anchorage has vanished too; the investigator was a friend and former colleague of Kate's and she reluctantly agrees to pursue the case.  The cast of characters here is interesting, and the Alaskan scenery is fascinating (and very, very, very cold...)  I'm hoping there are more of these.

A land of ash, by David Dalglish et al.  Kindle edition.

Five authors imagine a catastrophic volcanic eruption in the Yellowstone National Park, with an eastward drift of an enormous ash cloud.  A dozen or so short stories tell stories of the event, the deaths, the immediate aftermath and the struggle for survival as the ash hardens and begins to destroy buildings.  There are one or two stories which make very little sense, but most of them are fascinating in the John Wyndham tradition, and show the best and worst of humanity in the face of an apocalyptic event.

The water room, by Christopher Fowler [audiobook]. Read by Tim Goodman.  Rearsby, Leics.: W F Howes, 2004.

A Bryant and May mystery, and oddly the one I listened to after Rivers of London - there are many of the same elements here, with a supernatural component to the underground historical rivers of London, and a number of deaths in inexplicable circumstances.  The Peculiar Crimes Squad with octogenarian detectives John May and Arthur Bryant investigate.  The plot is maybe a little over-complicated in places but the relationships between Bryant and May and the other characters are beautifully written.

Flash and bones, by Kathy Reichs. London: Heinemann, 2011.

Tempe Brennan investigates a body found embedded in asphalt in a metal drum in a landfill site near a NASCAR race-track.  This leads in turn to the cold missing-persons case of a young couple who were seen leaving a nearby site almost 20 years before.  One of the investigators of that case is working as head of security for NASCAR, having been discredited as a policeman.  It's a good Tempe case, spoiled only by some really unconvincing scenes between Tempe, her ex-husband Pete and Pete's airhead fiancĂ©e Summer, and the lack of Andrew Ryan; but if you like the plot bits of Reichs's story but get fed up with the female members of her family, this is a good one.

1 comment:

AlisonK said...

There are loads of Kate Shugak books - must be up to 18 or so by now. Not all on kindle though, I don't think. They are one of my favourite series of books. I have enjoyed everything Dana Stabenow has written (that I have been able to get my mitts on).