Showing posts with label Alafair Burke. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alafair Burke. Show all posts

08 February 2016

You're Reading What?

by Jan Grape

As I've spent time watching the Super Bowl I've tried to come up with a worthy subject to write about. Nothing has bubbled up from the sub-conscious and my time is getting shorter. The muse finally stirred and asked "What are you reading?" At that moment I realized what I could write about. Then turn around to ask my readers what they are reading?

A couple of months ago I noticed the title of a book by James Lee Burke, called House of the Rising Sun. I loved the song with that title for many years and books by Mr. Burke almost as long. This story has a little known character named, Hackberry Holland. A retired Texas Ranger. Yes, I know this is the fifth book, James Lee has written with Hackberry. It's just that the Texas Ranger isn't a well-known as Dave Robicheaux novels or even the Billy Bob Holland books.

True to all of Mr. Burke's books, Hackberry is a realistically drawn character. Full of Piss and Vinegar as my pappy used to say. The book ranges from Mexico to south Texas as the ranger tries to reconnect with his estranged son, Ishmael, a captain in the United States Army.

Hackberry comes into possession of a stolen artifact, believed to be the Chalice of Christ. Along the way the Ranger is in trouble from a cruel Austrian arms dealer who grabs the young Army Captain in order to claim the precious Chalice. Three extraordinary women, Ruby Dansen, Ishmael's mother, Beatrice DeMolay, the madam of a house of ill repute and Maggie Bassett, the sometimes lover of the Sundance Kid all trying to help Hackberry.

The next book I've been reading is The Ex by Alafair Burke, who is the daughter of James Lee Burke, in case you are unaware of that fact. Alafair is a former prosecutor and now law professor in Manhattan where she lives with her husband and two dogs. Ms Burke doesn't lean on her dad's name she has written eleven novels on her own and has reached Best Selling status. She recently was asked to join in a collaboration with Mary Higgins Clark and the co-authorship has produced two titles.

In The Ex, Olivia Randall is one of the top criminal defense attorneys in NYC. Her ex finance, Jack Harris, whose wife was killed three years ago, is arrested for a triple homicide. Jack's daughter, sixteen year old, Buckley Harris calls Olivia for help. The problem, one of the people killed is the brother of the young man who killed Jack's wife. The police don't seem to believe Jack's wild story alibi but Olivia agrees to help the man who she had callously hurt twenty years ago. How could the man she cared about ever commit murder?

My third offering is by Halan Coben and titled Fool Me Once. Coben has penned eight consecutive Number 1 New York best-selling thrillers and this one doesn't detract from his legacy. If you like strong female characters you will appreciate former special-ops pilot, Maya Burkett.

Maya's husband Joe was brutally murdered two week earlier and her best friend convinces her to set up a nanny cam in her living room to watch after Maya's two year old daughter and nanny. After watching the replay from the nanny cam one evening Maya is shocked to see her husband Joe, playing with their little daughter, Lily. Maya now has to discover if she can believe her own eyes? One thing she knows for sure is that if Joe is still alive. How can she not hope that somehow her husband really is still alive? How do you deal with thinking you know the truth? And finding out the hard truth is you know nothing.

House of the Rising Sun, by James Lee Burke, came out December 1, 2015 from Simon and Schuster.
The Ex by Alafair Burke was just released January 27, 2016 from Harper Collins.
Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben is due for release from Dutton on March 22nd.

Now why don't you readers write and tell me what you're reading?

06 October 2014

What Are You Reading?

Jan Grape
by Jan Grape

I didn't think I had done much reading this summer but looking back, I did.

 First, I was on the Shamus Committee to pick the Best Original Paperback. The Shamus is given by the Private Eye Writers of America. I always enjoy reading for awards because I quickly learn how important a great first line, first paragraph and first page actually are. I think we sometimes forget those important elements as writers. But I think you absolutely have to grab the reader immediately.

As a book seller for nine years, I quite often watched as customers picked up a book. I believe we all know the book cover and title are extremely important. My friend Bill Crider titled one of his early Sheriff Rhodes books, SHOTGUN SATURDAY NIGHT. I can't recall his other titles but I never forgot that one. And I really enjoy Bill's work and that character. Another friend, Susan Rogers Cooper wrote two titles that I remember well, THE MAN IN THE GREEN CHEVY and HOUSTON IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR. All three titles are memorable and intriguing. You better believe I'm going to pick-up a book with a title like that and read the back jacket and maybe the first page. And most likely I'll buy that book. The only other title that really intrigued me was on a non-fiction book, HOW TO SHIT IN THE WOODS. That book was in the visitor's center of the Rio Grande Gorge, near Taos, New Mexico, where I volunteered three summers. I think it still remains their best seller.

After reading a number of the thirty-five or forty book our committee chose our nominees and our winner (you'll have to wait until the PWA banquet at Bouchercon on Nov 14th to find our who won.)
I did purchase a few books that I really wanted to read. One paperback I bought was CITY OF BONES by Michael Connelly. I  always enjoy Michael's books, especially the Harry Bosch novels and I had read it before but the new TV series featuring Harry Bosch and starring Titus Williver as Harry is the main storyline. It had been quite a while since I read it and I wanted to get back in the "Bosch world" and be ready for the upcoming TV shows. The title is another memorable one and the mystery of the bones of a child found, by a dog, located up in the Hollywood Hills presented a page-turner for sure. To add even more suspense the skeleton had been buried around twenty years earlier.

A hardcover that I bought new, which I seldom do anymore since I live on a fixed income, is Alafair Burke's ALL DAY AND A NIGHT.  I'm sorry to confess that I have not read Alafair before...been intending to, but somehow just hadn't. However, I began to be interested in her as a person on FB. She is bright, witty, beautiful and very likable. I wanted to see if I might possibly like her books. I called my favorite mystery bookstore, Murder By The Book in Houston, as Alafair was going to be there and ordered a signed copy. And I must tell you, I enjoyed the heck out of it. Ellie Hatcher is a homicide detective for the NYPD and is a wonderfully strong and strong-willed female character. Exactly the kind of woman I like to read about. She and her police detective partner work with a female lawyer who believes the man in prison is NOT the serial killer. I love the back and forth between the women and between Ellie and her partner. This book kept me on the edge of my seat.

Next is a book by Les Roberts, titled WET WORK. His editor asked me to read and review if I wanted to do so.  I read it and it's very compelling. The main character, first seen in THE STRANGE DEATH OF FATHER CANDY is a anti-hero, Dominick Candiotti in that he's a paid assassin for the Brownstone Agency.  The agencies leader, a man with the code name "Og" is the boss of a shadowy CIA-type black ops group. They hire assassins to kill traitors, dictators, despots of the world, pedophiles, drug kings, the scum of the earth. Turns out that Dominick is one of the best assassins. He learned his trade in Viet Nam. But he grows weary of the killings, the violence.  Og calls again with a new hurry-up assignment and Dominick says, "no, he's quitting." His boss is NOT happy, trying to make Dominick see that you don't quit the agency ever. Suddenly, he's the mark. Brownstone assassins are after him. Dominick has to use all his skill and cunning and brains to stay one step ahead of the people sent after him. The story takes us from one U.S. city after another as Dominick tries to save himself and try to track down his nemesis  Og. This is one thriller you will not want to put down.

The final book on this short list is one whose title I will always remember, TO HELL AND GONE IN TEXAS by Russ Hall. If you like reading about Texas and good guys and bad guys, then this is a book for you. It starts off with two brothers, Al and Maury who've not been speaking for twenty years. Maury seems to think and act as if he's God's gift to women and all women want him. And it does seem that they do. Which is the major cause of the brother's feud. Maury managed to get to Al wife and that cause a riff that so far hasn't healed. But right now, Maury is quite ill and someone is trying to kill him. Al, who is a retired deputy of Travis County has his lovely Hill Country lake home,  where he can fish, feed the deer that come around and ignore the world. All good things must come to an end and the Austin Police Detective, Fergie and the nurse who has been taking care of Maury talk Al into letting Maury stay at Al's house. Maury is in such bad shape he has to be sedated.

In the meantime, someone takes pot shots via drive-by boating, hoping to kill Maury or Al, but not succeeding. Then someone takes a match to the lake house. It's saved and now Al is trying to get Maury to explain what has he been into that someone actually wants him dead. Maury isn't inclined to talk. Al finds out that ICE and a Mexican Mafia are both interested in Maury.  To add a little extra tension, Al discovers than all that time spent alone might have been wasted. He finds himself coming alive with Fergie, they've known each other since high school and who knew things might change. However, unless Al can figure out the source of Maury's problems, things are liable to get tough as Hell.

Hope everyone has had a good reading summer. Now it's time more reading and cooler weather.