Showing posts with label Tamera Hayle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tamera Hayle. Show all posts

Saturday, May 25, 2019

OUT TUESDAY (5/28/2019)! Tracy Clark's New Release TIME (Sisters in Crime)

"In Tracy Clark’s electrifying new mystery featuring Cassandra Raines, the former Chicago cop turned private investigator looks into a suspicious death as a favor to a friend—and makes some powerful enemies . . .
Sitting in cold cars for hours, serving lowlifes with summonses . . . being a P.I. means riding out a lot of slow patches. But sometimes the most familiar paths can lead straight to danger—like at Cass’s go-to diner, where new delivery guy Jung Byson wants to enlist her expertise. Jung’s friend, Tim Ayers, scion of a wealthy Chicago family, has been found dead, floating in Lake Michigan near his luxury boat. And Jung is convinced there’s a murderer on the loose . . . 
Cass reluctantly begins digging only to discover that Jung neglected to mention one crucial fact: Tim Ayers was terminally ill. Given the large quantities of alcohol and drugs found in his body, Ayers’ death appears to be either an accident or suicide. Yet as much as Cass would like to dismiss Jung’s suspicions, there are too many unanswered questions and unexplained coincidences.   
Why would anyone kill a dying man? Working her connections on both sides of the law, Cass tries to point the police in the right direction. But violence is escalating around her, and Cass’s persistence has already attracted unwanted attention, uncovering sinister secrets that Cass may end up taking to her grave."

Sunday, March 9, 2014

March Mystery Reading Madness

March Mystery Reading Madness is here, as corny as it sounds.  This month I’m not planning on buying any books!  Even as I lurk through my Amazon Wishlist, tempted to finally order Villian by Shuichi Yoshida and Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin.  And damnit I really am about ready to read Haruki Murakami's 1Q84.  But nope.  Not gonna go there!  However, what I intend to do is read the books I already have on my shelf, and it appears that I have an abundance of mystery series that I’ve either started or have yet to dive into.  These books have been on my shelf for years, some upsetting me with each glance.  Somewhere along the lines of my reading journey I’ve been distracted from either proceeding with either of these series or starting them up.  Now is the time--I‘ve decided.  Sure, my income taxes are on their way.  And it looks nice and inviting for a Barnes & Nobles spending spree.  But we’ll save that money to buy new books in April… maybe.

So on to catching up with my favorite genre.  As always, I’ll share the books I intend to read each month and as I finish them, write a post/review concerning my experience.  I have yet to decided which book/series I want to commander first, so I’ll just list them randomly at this point.  Okay, wait.  Let me backpedal a bit and be honest in stating that Sujata Massey’s third book in her Rei Shimura mystery series was the first book I grabbed.  So we’ll start there.  And as always if you are familiar with either of these series and want to share your experience reading them, I invite you to please comment and get the discussion ball rolling.

Rei Shimura Mysteries by Sujata Massey

For some reason I forgot that I have The Pearl Diver (the 7th book in the series), therefore, it’s not in the picture.  Nevertheless, the first three books read as follows: The Salaryman’s Wife, Zen Attitude, and The Flower Master.  As stated, I stopped the series at the second book and am currently reclaiming Rei Shimura with the third title, The Flower Master.  I stopped reading this series about three years ago for a simple reason: the second book [Zen Attitude] was a complete and utter disappoint, whereas the first book [The Salaryman’s Wife] was wonderful.  Let me backtrack and explain how I discovered this series.  I was doing my usual research, looking for mystery series that featured a female lead of Asian descent.  

See, while I love my Kinsey Millhone and Kay Scarpetta, I wanted to read mysteries featuring women of color.  Rei Shimura popped up rather quickly, despite her popular counterparts.  I was ecstatic; Rei is Japanese-American and the mysteries take place in Japan.  Additionally, she’s an antiques dealer before an amateur sleuth.  The first book won me over probably because of the setting and character lead.  Massey was giving me what I wanted, so I wasn’t disappointed, just enthralled.  However, the second book was extremely weak.  Besides the nods to Japanese culture and language, the mystery element seemed detached.  I hardly even remember the book.  Only something about a girl who did martial arts at a temple and Rei stuck in the rain hiding from the book’s assailant (correct me if I’m wrong).  There was just no punch.  Nevertheless, I had ordered the third book thinking the previous was a fluke.  Just never got to it till now.  And something tells me The Flower Master is going to soar, dedicating me to the rest of Rei’s journey. 

V. I. Warshawski Series by Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton go hand-in-hand, and are probably the most admired, as well as popular, writers of the American hard-boiled P.I. female lead in the mystery genre.  Actually, the two are just great freakin’ writers altogether.  Let’s forget all of that “female” and “diversity” mess.  Still, while I have taken on a whole other level of obsession and commitment to Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Series, I found myself over the years having only read the first book in Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski series, based in Chicago.  That hasn't stopped me from buying several of the books in reading advance; I knew that one day I was going to take the same obsessional shine to Warshawski as I did Kinsey many moons (and cases) ago.  I wish I could sit here and analyze exactly why I passed on Paretsky after reading the first book in her series, Indemnity Only.  Especially considering I loved it!  I should also add that it took me over a year to read said first book after I'd purchased it.  Nonetheless, there wasn’t anything in particular that I could find to explain my lack of un-abandoned enthusiasm for the series.  I could attribute a subconscious need for only one female hard-boiled P.I. series to dedicate my time to.  Or maybe I was intimidated by Warshawski, considering she had an edge consisting of a saw blade, as opposed to Millhone’s sort-of-but-not-in-fact kid-gloves approach to solving mysteries.  I really have nothing to draw upon to explain my wrench away from the Warshawski--I liked her just fine.  However, I knew I would one day pick up this series and stick with it.  Besides, like Kinsey, Warshawski’s adventures are still relevant and continuing after 30 years.  This translate to a hive of more mysteries following a female P.I. to gorge myself on.  So this month, it’s back to the gray streets of Chicago with private investigator V. I. Warshawski.

Small, small note.  I have seen the movie version (simply titled V. I. Warshawski) of the second book in the series, Deadlock.  I think that has paused me from reading the actual book, causing me to spend months (which turned to years) deciding whether I wanted to skip the book after seeing the movie first.  However, as we know, I'm not one to favor skipping books in a series.  Therefore, the progress halted.  Till now.

Aurora Teagarden Mysteries by Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris established herself as a cozy mystery writer and still remains so.  Can we all agree on that?  So way before her infamous Sookie Stackhouse Series (sometimes considered Southern Vampire Series), cozy mystery writing was her genre--her writing backbone.  Now that Sookie has ended, she’s starting a new trilogy of books beginning this May that will further her ability to tie cozy writing with paranormal elements.  So I’m led to believe judging by some of the talk surrounding her new series.  In any regard, that new book is titled Midnight Crossroad and I can not wait to read and talk about it here.  Advance copies are welcomed. (^_^)

Having said all of that, I am a fan of Charlaine Harris.  There are a few here or theres that I didn’t too much care for in a certain number of her books, mostly revolving around her portrayal of certain groups.  However, that hasn’t stopped me from diving into her catalog of mystery series and stand-alone books.  And once again I feel the need to strongly recommend her Lily Bard mystery series, provided that I think it's light years ahead of even Sookie Stackhouse novels.  Honestly speaking, the only thing I choose not to commit to is reading Harris’s short stories, as there are way too many spread about throughout different anthologies.  An omnibus would suffice, however.

So having explored Sookie, Lily, and up to three books in her Harper Connelly series, why have I not spent time with Aurora Teagarden?  I’ve been asking myself that since 2010 when I bought the first four books in the series.  Year after year allowed them to collect dust on my shelf.  I think I tried the first book, Real Murders, till about page 10 and passed on the rest.  No rhyme or reason, just a subconscious desire to dedicate myself to the series at the right time.  Now is that time.  Time to relish myself on another one of Harris’s small town mysteries, under the voice of her amateur sleuth being that of a diffident librarian tracking down killers.  This should hold me over till May when Harris’s new series makes it debut.

Lydia Chin & Bill Smith Series by S. J. Rozan

S. J. Rozan drew me in with her first book, China Trade, led by Chinese-American P. I., Lydia Chin.  And Rozan subsequently drew me out with Chin's somewhat a-typical leading partner, Bill Smith.  Unfortunately, that is exactly what prevented me from proceeding into the second book, Concourse.  Rozan’s sudden switch to Bill’s POV from Lydia’s was totally unexpected.  See, China Trade made for an excellent read that won me completely over, mainly because it was under the perspective of Lydia Chin, a young, somewhat developing private detective.  Additionally, we got a glimpse into Lydia’s family and their traditional nuances as a Chinese-American family.  I suppose it is interesting to have a hard-boiled series, taking place in New York's Chinatown, that follows a team duo that swaps directing their cases.  From my understanding, this shift of perspective may be bi-bookly.  

Since I loved Lydia, I managed to hold on to the three books I bought to indulge myself into the series.  I’ve held on to those books, determined to one day make it through them by getting pass the second book that’s underneath Bill Smith’s first person POV.  I can’t recall the exact impact of Smith’s role in China Trade just yet, but perhaps after reading Concourse I’ll become more welcoming to his presence carrying future books as I move forward.  In any case, I refuse to bend and completely disown S. J. Rozan’s series.  Lydia Chin is just too damn rare and valuable.

"Honorable Mentions"

These next three books are somewhat a set of “Honorable Mentions” to my cause to read my collection of mysteries in the month of March.  They are listed as:

1.  Wish You Were Here by Rita Mae Brown

2.  Death's Favorite Child by Frankie Y. Bailey

3.  Takeover by Lisa Black

Should I completely succeed, these are the books I’m moving into.  However, instead of writing about them, I’m going to let the accompany video do all the talking.  Should I get to them, there will definitely be posting about each one.  At this point, they truly deserve one.  Sorry for taking so long, books!

Read any of these?  Passionate about mysteries and women leads as much as I am?  Please share your thoughts and recommendations!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

When the Night Whispers Review

“The more time she spent with Asa, the more she couldn’t remember what she’d told or not told her daughter.  Her days away from him seemed blurred and dull.  It seemed as if she forgot everything: the lyrics to songs she’d sung all her life, the titles of books she’d read twice.  She’d stick milk into cabinets and empty bowls into the refrigerator--like some poor soul with dementia, she thought.  It frightened her, this forgetfulness, but then she decided that his presence in her life overshadowed everything else."

I finally managed to obtain a copy of Savanna Welles’ book, When the Night Whispers.  Moved by the fact that Savanna Welles is a pen name to one of my favorite African-American mystery writers, Valerie Wilson Wesley, the need to read this book was undoubtedly paramount.  Nevertheless, I hesitated in ordering a copy after the book released in February.  Maybe I thought it wasn't as absorbing as Wesley’s Tamara Hayle Mysteries (where the last two books actually weren't).  Perhaps it was the synopsis, indicating Wesley’s switch to writing Gothic paranormal under her Welles pseudonym.  Still, as a loyal reader, I knew I was going to get to the book one day.  Finally I did.  I spent two days devouring the novel, but left with that “meh” feeling that kept me from rushing to purchase it in the first place.  That’snot to say that I disliked the book.  However, despite the wonderful imagery, the plot just didn't seem to take off as I hoped.

When the Night Whispers revolves around a divorced mother named Jocelyn, and her eleven-year-old daughter, Mikela.  Separated from her husband for some time, Jocelyn decides to move her single motherhoodedness (yes, I made that up) back to her childhood home, a home passed to her by her deceased mother, Constance.  A house riddled with Welles' descriptions of generations of women gone past, it is here that Jocelyn discovers letters written by her ill-fated great-grandmother, Caprice.  Somewhat ostracized from the family for leaving her daughter behind, Caprice’s letters details the maddening journey she took to separate herself from the charming authority of a dark and influential gentleman.  The novel chops up pieces of Caprice’s personal letters.  Each entry is used to pace alongside the troubles Jocelyn faces when she, too, finds herself suddenly at the sway of another influential gentleman, her neighbor, Asa.  And down the road to the brink of madness does Jocelyn go.  Can Jocelyn salvage herself and break free, or will she fall to Asa’s power and sacrifice her family to please the darkness that he harbors?

Dark stuff, right?  It’s like the paranormal romance without the sappy romance that I so despise (such as Nora Robert‘s Sign of Seven Trilogy).  Another positive is the supporting cast.  Where Jocelyn was nearly out of her mind the entire book, it was characters like Luna and her mother Geneva that really compelled me to continue reading the book.  The novel itself, touched with Southern folklore and porch-songs, had these conscious and aware characters stand out the strongest.  Driven by their intuitive abilities, Luna and Geneva were two who believed in the danger surrounding Jocelyn's neighbor.  So they chose to uncover him.  I love stories surrounding Southern traditions meant to rid people of jinx and haints, and these two characters, buttered with oils and herbs and the will to face the darkness, did not disappoint.  I’ma sucker for cryptic conversations about thwarting the dead; this book had it.

Another supporting character was Jocelyn’s ex-husband, Mike, who did little more than baby-sat their sassy eleven-year-old daughter, Mikela.  Now while this small cast pushed and challenged the main protagonist, Jocelyn, she had some purpose of her own. Besides ruminating about her love/hate relationship with Asa, of course.  It’s through Jocelyn that most of the themes related to the bond between mothers and daughters come about.  As she explores the tension created between her daughter because of a man, she also realizes that those same tensions existed within her family's past.  That realization leads to her desire to keep from making those same mistakes.  And to further the theme of mother-daughter unions was the connection between Luna and her mother (who resided in a nursing home), Geneva.  I believe the secondary theme the book offers is that of relationships and how one can find themselves lost in sustaining one, particularly one that is abusive.

And here is where most of the material fell short to me.  There was a void of concrete sustenance in the development of Jocelyn’s relationship with Asa; toward the beginning to the end.  Their development primarily consisted of pages of told—as opposed to shown—storytelling scenarios revolving around their budding desire.  As someone who likes to dig deep into books and require lots of details to shovel, that wasn't enough for me.  I didn't want to be told about how Asa lured Jocelyn to other countries.  I wanted to see it.  I didn't want to be told how Asa managed to convince Jocelyn to poison her body.  I wanted to see it happen.  And I most certainly didn't want to be told how Asa came to put his hands on Jocelyn.  I wanted to witness it.  I wanted to see those charming good nuggets of things Asa did to win Jocelyn over to the darkness he had to offer.  I wanted to be captured in the moments of their unfolding relationship, but because it didn’t start on such a note, I only ended up humming right through it till the end.  This kind of defeated one of the main purposes of the novel.

Nevertheless, When the Night Whispers was a fantastic read, only because there is enough mystery and cryptic conversations to keep you guessing and reading on into the night.  Some areas could have used a little more fleshing out, but it was still a smooth sail toward some dark satisfaction.

Welles, Savanna. When the Night Whispers. New York: St. Martin's, 2013. Print.

Total Pageviews