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Monday, January 22, 2018

The Demon Crown

James Rollins' latest Sigma Force thriller, The Demon Crown (#715) combines a theft from the Smithsonian Institution with a particularly nasty threat to the modern world.  It certainly creeped me out.

In Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton posed the question of whether dinosaur DNA could be resurrected into living creatures.  We know from the movies that it didn't go well.  In The Demon Crown, prehistoric wasps from ancient caches of amber have been weaponized.  Two Sigma agents responsible for the downfall of  their nemesis, The Guild, have been chosen as the unwitting subjects of a trial run of this new biological weapon as they vacation on Maui.  The experiment is so successful that it could mean the destruction of every other living being on earth.

Sigma Force is racing against an impossible timeline to save two of their own, and solving James Smithson's connection to a theft from the Institution bearing his name during World War II.  Just when you think the stalwarts of Sigma can't survive another deadly peril, they use their brains and skills (and occasionally their brawn!) to find a way out.

What makes Rollins' thrillers so frightening and gripping is the plausibility behind the premise.  It's not too difficult to imagine the Hawaiian Islands being used as a launching point for a biological invasion, nor scientists trying to re-grow extinct animals with modern technology.  It's definitely the stuff to keep you awake at night!


I knew a copy of Andy Weir's second novel, Artemis (#714) was going to be under the tree for me when a library notice came that it was being held for me a few days before Christmas, and my husband told me to cancel it.

Jazz Bashara has lived most of her young life on the moon in the modular city of Artemis.  She's smart, but has had a falling out with her father, a skilled welder.  Although he has tried to pass along his knowledge, Jazz isn't interested in doing welding for the rest of her life.  In fact, she hasn't really figured out exactly what it is she wants to do with one exception: she wants to make enough money to be rich.  Her low level job as a courier frees her to run her own money-making scans, but it's also put her in the cross hairs of the security forces on the moon.  One more strike against her record, and Jazz faces permanent deportation back to her home country of Saudi Arabia on earth.  But one of her customers for her illegal smuggling business has just offered her a job that could set Jazz up for the rest of her life.  It's just too good to pass up, and that's the problem.  It gets him killed and paints a target on Jazz's back.  With literally no place to escape to, can Jazz use her wits to come out of things alive, when she's not even sure what's at stake?

It's your classic locked room mystery set in exotic locale of a moon colony with a healthy dose of caper thrown in for good measure.  Lots of twists and turns, a heroine who is likable, smart and ethical in her own crooked way.  Some interesting science mixed with humor, as in Weir's previous novel, The Martian. I found it thoroughly entertaining.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Midnight Confessions

Stephen Colbert's Midnight Confessions (#713) won't keep you up late, I promise.  In fact, one of his confessions is that for this book he used large font and big margins.  He certainly told the truth there.  It will only take you a few minutes to read, but it is amusing.  Glad I borrowed it from the library, though!

The Woman in the Window

No wonder The Woman In The Window (#712) is soon to be a major motion picture!  A.J. Finn's debut novel is one twisted tale.

Anna Fox lives in a Harlem brownstone, but she hasn't been outside in months.  She does, however, watch her neighbors through the lens of her camera, like Jimmy Stewart's character in the Hitchcock classic Rear Window.  Like him, Anna thinks she's witnessed a crime committed in one of her neighbors' homes.  But is it real, or has she imagined the whole episode?

To say much more would be to spoil the book.  It does get off to a rather slow start, but just as I began to get a bit impatient with Anna, Finn ramps up the tension until you can't let go without finding out what happens next...

Read it.  It's worth the buzz.

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Christmas Return

My Christmas reading wouldn't be complete without Anne Perry's annual Christmas novella.  This year it's A Christmas Return (#711).  One of the reasons I always make it a point to read these is that besides being interesting mysteries, Ms. Perry's stories center around the theme of redemption; a striving to be better and to do the right thing, not only for one's self but for others as well.  And isn't that the true message of Christmas?

This time around, Mariah Ellison, Charlotte Pitt's grandmother, is summoned to the village of Haslemere by the grandson of her former friend Rowena Wesley.  It seems that the embers of a twenty year old unsolved murder are being stirred up again by the very person who was acquitted then of a brutal murder.  But this time, Owen Durward has a new victim in his sights: Rowena.  Mariah, if she chooses to do so, is the only one who can help her now...

I really loved the way the octogenarian Mariah managed to catch the perpetrator in this one!  A great way to finish up my holiday reading.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Wanted

Teenagers will be teenagers is what Private Investigator Elvis Cole thinks when a mother approaches him to find out how her son acquired an expensive Rolex watch, and the source of considerable cash he shouldn't have.  But Devon Connor is a single mother, and sincere about getting to the bottom of her son's changed behavior, so Elvis reluctantly agrees to look into the matter.

When he finds out that Tyson Connor and his friends have stolen the wrong item from a rich and powerful person who is leaving a trail of corpses behind him in pursuit of his missing property, everything changes.  Even the police investigation into the matter is hush-hush, and getting involved could get Elvis Cole and his partner Joe Pike killed right along with the missing Tyson and his girlfriend.  It's a matter of life and death for the kids who finds them first...

Robert Crais' Elvis Cole crime series is so popular that our local library has extra copies for short term loans, but The Wanted (#710) is such a page turner, both my husband and I read it in less than the allotted seven days.  Dealing with teen angst is so difficult for most adults, it did make me wonder a few times reading this whether or not Elvis and Pike would wind up strangling the kids themselves before they could get them safely into police custody, or whether the teens would be the death of them!

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Ghost of Christmas Past - A Molly Murphy Mystery

I stayed up late to finish The Ghost of Christmas Past (#709) by Rhys Bowen.  It's the latest in her Molly Murphy Mystery series.  I did figure things out before the end, but I wanted to see if I was correct in my assumptions.  I mostly was.  None of this stopped it from being an entertaining mystery, with Molly's passion for justice served in a satisfying way at the conclusion.

Molly is still recovering emotionally from a miscarriage after her recent involvement with a case in San Francisco, and her husband Daniel's continued involvement with cases in Washington, D.C.  She's looking forward to a quiet Christmas with friends at her own snug home in New York City, after helping her mother-in-law convalesce from a serious illness.  The senior Mrs. Sullivan is well enough to accept an invitation to a house party at a Hudson Mansion.  Soon an invitation arrives for the younger Sullivans as well, which Daniel accepts with alacrity.

All is not well at Greenbriars, however.  As Molly gradually discovers, ten years ago at Christmas time, the three year old daughter of the house vanished, leaving only a single pair of footprints ending at the frozen brook on the property.  She was never heard from again, until there is a knock on the door Christmas Eve and a small voice announces "Would you tell then that I'm Charlotte?"

Is the girl who she claims to be?  And if so, where has she been all these years?  Molly is determined to get to the bottom of things, since all is not as it appears to be in the Van Aiken household...