Thursday, February 26, 2015

Night is the Hunter (Book Review)

Title: Night is the Hunter (third is a series featuring Harlan Donnally)
Author: Steven Gore
Publication Information: William Morrow trade paperback, 2015
Genre: Suspense
Plot: When San Francisco Police Detective Harlan Donnally got caught in a rival gang confrontation and took a bullet, the injury forced him into retirement and he now runs a small cafe in Northern California. But when Judge Ray McMullin asks him to look into a 20 year-old case in which the defendant is facing the death penalty, Donnally soon realizes the case is related to the incident in which he got shot.  While he explores the recollections of those involved and learns that the underlying investigation was flawed, he also becomes consumed with a family issue: whether his father, a well known movie producer, has Alzheimer’s.  As Donnally gets closer to the truth, he becomes afraid that Judge McMullin may similarly be suffering from ominous memory lapses, and wonders whether his current quest for the truth is legitimate and worth pursuing. 

Audience: Fans of suspense, legal thrillers. 

What I liked: This was a fast paced and unusual story with a vast array of characters from judges, police, lawyers, gang members, and long-suffering family members. It explored a little-considered concept: whether judges and lawyers are haunted by the death-row cases they preside over/litigate and what options, if any, are available if they have misgivings about the course of justice. These issues are relevant to everyone affected by the justice system although (unsurprisingly) those who favor the death penalty will likely be unswayed by the varying elements of murder and to what degree a defendant’s actions were deliberate.

Author Steven Gore is a private investigator and his knowledge of the process adds dimension to the story, although Donnally gets a lot more cooperation than I would have expected for someone with no authority to conduct an investigation.  You can visit Gore on Facebook or on his website.

What I disliked: I am a big fan of suspense and even before I was a lawyer, I enjoyed legal thrillers, but I had a hard time keeping the characters and gang members straight.  Donnally himself wasn’t the most engaging of characters. I didn’t care for the sub-plot involving Donnally’s father which seemed very heavy handed. However, maybe it would have made sense or seemed more convincing if I had read the first two books in the series, so I will now go back and try Act of Deceit.

Source: I received Night is the Hunter from the TLC Book Tours and invite you to visit other stops on the tour to read other reviews of this entertaining book.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Winter Woes

Why one should not make a TBR pile on the floor with one's new Robert Goddard books, ordered specially from England:
because when the pipe breaks due to frigid temperatures, those are the first casualties!   I am hoping they will still be readable once they dry out...   Happily, this one is bouncing back after a day on the radiator.  The old laptop from law school that was stored in that bench was not so lucky but can still be recycled.
The room is recovering but I am still traumatized.   I had that "what do you save first when the house is on fire" moment and grabbed the lower shelf of Elswyth Thanes, figuring that long before the time the water rose to the Lovelace or Weber shelves the plumber would arrive (which turned out to be the case).

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Swimmer (Book Review)

Title: The Swimmer
Author: Joakim Zander,
@joakimzander
Publication Information: Harper Collins, 2015 (originally published in 2013 in Sweden)
Genre: Suspense
Setting:  Sweden, Syria, Brussels, United States 
Plot: Klara Walld√©en, raised in a remote part of Sweden by loving grandparents, studied law at the university in Uppsala, where she fell in love with Mammoud Shammosh, a student with a dark past unknown to her.   He ends their romance when Klara is offered the chance to study at the London School of Economics, and when the story begins Klara is working as a legislative aide in Brussels for the EU Parliament.  When Mammoud comes to Brussels as a successful Ph.D. student to give a lecture, an old acquaintance reveals long-held secret that puts Mammoud in immediate danger.  Once he contacts Klara for help, she is also in risk of her life.   The only person who can help Klara is the American father she never knew.  He gave up all claim to her as a baby but has never stopped checking on her safety from afar.  When the past catches up to the present and he realizes she is in danger, he leaves his long-cherished anonymity to race across the word to her side but will he be in time to save her?

Audience: Fans of suspense; Swedish crime fiction

What I liked: I have not read any Swedish fiction since my childhood devotion to Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren and The Mysterious Schoolmaster books by Karin Anckarsv√§rd (both of which I recommend), and may be one of the few who never got around to reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I think that was one of the reasons I was interested in reading this book.   After a very slow start and initial difficulty in keeping the characters’ back stories straight, I found the plot unusual and compelling, although I still had some questions after it ended and thought there were a few too many coincidences.  

Klara is an interesting heroine, raised to hunt and fish (not that such skills better equip someone to flee from masked killers but I suppose it makes one more intrepid) but able to excel in the classroom and appreciative of vintage fashion and obscure music.   I especially liked her loyal friend from law school, Gabriella, about to make partner at a Swedish law firm who has a lot to lose by getting involved in an international scandal, yet doesn’t hesitate to come to Klara’s aid.  Although Klara gets drawn into the intrigue by accident, it is her involvement that makes the book compelling.  The reader might not care about the other figures in this drama.
Source: I received The Swimmer from the TLC Book Tours in return for an honest review, and invite you to visit other stops on the tour to read what others thought of this entertaining book.

Here's the tour schedule:

Tuesday, February 10th: Bibiotica
Wednesday, February 11th: Man of La Book
Friday, February 13th: Dreams, Etc.
Monday, February 16th: My Bookish Ways
Wednesday, February 18th: Jorie Loves a Story
Thursday, February 19th: Annabel & Alice
Friday, February 20th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, February 23rd: Stephany Writes
Tuesday, February 24th: A Dream Within a Dream
Wednesday, February 25th: Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Thursday, February 26th: Ace and Hoser Blook
Monday, March 2nd: The Discerning Reader
Tuesday, March 3rd: Novel Escapes
Thursday, March 5th: From the TBR Pile
Friday, March 6th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Wednesday, March 11th: Many Hats