September Mini Reviews - SEVEN short book reviews in a variety of genres
Donna and I will share some quick reviews here on books we read during the month but that didn't warrant a full review. This month you'll find seven reviews: Open Season by CJ Box, Damage Control by Robert Dugoni, Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley, We, The Jury by Robert Rotstein, Lost Dog by Bill Cameron, Scorpion Strike by John Gilstrap, and The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty.
Open Season - Pickett #1, C.J. Box
Genre: Mystery, Western
Published 2001, 278 pages
A pleasant, quick read; a good solid mystery though not particularly twisty. A Wyoming game warden, new to the job and wants to make a good impression, finds himself at odds with powerful people as he gets drawn into a murder mystery that everyone wants to "just go away". The mystery centers around an endangered animal, which is a somewhat unusual premise. We meet his family and people in the small town in the mountains of Wyoming. It's the beginning of a series and since I bought several in the series at the library sale this year, I'll be reading more......
Damage Control, Robert Dugoni
Published 2007, 401 pages
In general I enjoy this author’s books and this is no exception. Dugoni writes mysteries and legal dramas. This is strictly a mystery about Dana’s twin brother James being murdered in a burglary gone wrong and the discoveries she makes about his life as she searches through his belongings. Eventually it leads her to suspect a Washington State Senator, and new presidential candidate, of having her brother murdered. Side stories include Dana learning she has breast cancer, her husband’s infidelity, and a budding romance with Detective Logan who is investigating her brother’s death.
Lily and the Octopus, Steven Rowley
Genre: General Fiction
Published 2016, 307 pages
Terrie's read (audio)
This book was NOT for me. The construct of the octopus and the dog Lily was just too bizarre. And the whole octopus hunt, the hand wringing, the whole book just left me cold. I get that it was supposed to be an ode to a well-loved pet, but that got lost in all the octopus ridiculousness and I did not feel his pain at the illness of his dog. The story totally failed to elicit the type of response I'm sure it was trying for.....
I listened to this book and found the voicing for Lily inconsistent and a little odd. Otherwise the narration was adequate.
We, the Jury, Robert Rotstein
Genre: General Fiction
Published 2018, 304 pages
This is a quick, easy, but satisfying read. I like the unexpected structure of the story where each chapter is a different juror and court person involved, usually told in first person from their perspective. We learn of the murder and trial through the jury's deliberations and occasional transcript excerpts. We also learn about each person's back story, personality, and biases through their personal chapters.
I also liked that the jurors didn't have names but instead were identified by their "job", housewife, clergy, student, etc. That actually made it a little easier for me to keep track of everyone and when I read "housewife", I immediately knew the personality of the character.
There are a few gentle surprises along the way, but the story moves in a nice, linear way to its conclusion. This would be a good summer read and a good option for people who like legal novels with a different way of telling the story.
Lost Dog (#1), Bill Cameron
Genre: Animals, Mystery
Published 2007, 360 pages
Surprisingly good for a debut novel. It's not really a mystery, since you know from the beginning who the killer is, but it's a good, quick read that moves right along and keeps pulling you with it. The "average Joe" that gets caught up in the murder investigation is totally believable as a random guy in a boring life that just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. All he wants to do is find the stuffed dog!
I read it right after Educated by Tara Westover and was ready for something lighter (so obviously a murder mystery, right?!) and this fit the bill as a good change of pace. Recommended for a quick mystery-like story - I didn't realize till I finished it that it's the first in a series featuring one of the cops.....I would definitely read the next one.
Scorpion Strike (Jonathan Grave #10), John Gilstrap
Published 2018, 512 pages
Vacationers at a tropical island resort are awakened by gunshots. Two skilled operatives who escape the terrorists attempt to rescue the hostages.
“Aged somewhere between fifty and seventy, the lady was clearly a sun worshipper, with skin that made a football look pretty.”
This is an action-packed thriller right from the start, and it really doesn’t let up. There are a lot of casualties throughout the book, but it’s not presented in a too-graphic way. I have read most of Gilstrap’s books and generally enjoy them. This one was no exception.
Returning characters Jonathan (Scorpion) and Gail (Gunslinger) are a couple of bad asses. Normally, in past books, they rescue people who have been kidnapped, this time they are in need of being rescued. Scorpion and Slinger join up with Tyler, a young man (whose Dad owns the island and resort) who also manages to escape the terrorists. With their cell phones they are able to connect with partner Boxers and friend/administrator Venice (Mother Hen) who help them devise a plan to take out the terrorists.
I especially enjoyed the comic break when the government hacker Derek is introduced, unfortunately, fairly briefly. He's a real kick in his admiration of Mother Hen, a fellow hacker and computer geek.
There is quite a bit of description of trekking through the tropical forest, the various weapons used by both sides, and the escape plan. I skimmed a little bit on some of this but don’t feel that it slowed down the story. If you like action, tough people fighting for their lives, and details about how that is accomplished, this is the book for you.
Terrie and I love a good thriller - what would you recommend?
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone, Jaclyn Moriarty
Published 2017, 512 pages
A young girl’s parents die and leave her instructions in their wills that she must follow exactly.
This is a Young Adult book but one that adults will also enjoy. I certainly did. When both her parents are killed, Bronte receives specific instructions that must be carried out or her village will be destroyed. As she sets out to deliver her parents’ gifts to each of her 13 aunts as their wills directed, Bronte encounters water sprites, dragons, and magic potions. There’s a great deal of action, danger, fun, laughter, kindness and overall a good feeling comes from reading this book. It’s a light, quick read that moves right along. Highly recommended.