Mystery Mayhem

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a fan of a good (and even some not-so-good) mysteries.  I thought I’d share some more quick thoughts on what’s new in some of my favorite series.

last word

The Spellman Novels follow the antics of Izzy Spellman as she fumbles her way along as a private investigator working for the family business, Spellman Investigations.  Izzy is a disaster, professionally and personally, but she knows it, and that’s what makes these books so much fun.  Most of the mysteries are pretty low key, not a lot of death or blood or high-stakes crime, but it’s not really about the mystery anyway – you know that is going to work itself out.   The real joy comes from reading about this amazingly dysfunctional family and their interactions.  Hilarious and touching at the same time.

In this latest installment, The Last Word, Izzy has arranged a hostile takeover of the family business and has discovered that being the boss isn’t that much fun.  Her parents are boycotting work and if they do show up at the office it may be in their underwear.  And are they having marital difficulties?  Dad didn’t come home last night…  Her sister is off starting her own questionable side business with the help of another wayward employee.  Her brother keeps trying to make her babysit his completely obnoxious toddler.  Her benefactor is literally losing his mind, but someone seems to be trying to rush it along, and he wants Izzy to have a conversation with his assistant about personal hygiene.  Like real life, not everything has a happy ending, but getting there is worth it.

Title: The Last Word
Author: Lisa Lutz
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 352
Publication: Simon & Schuster, July 2013


The FBI Thriller novels follow Savich and Sherlock as they solve crimes as part of the FBI.  The crimes ten to be pretty gruesome, but the bad guys never win for long with this married couple on the case.  Their relationship is warming as they balance doing their job with raising a family and their urge to protect one another.

In this latest installment, Bombshell, they are joined by Griffin Hammersmith, last seen in Backfire, who has been recruited by Savich to join their unit of the FBI.  On his way to D.C. Hammersmith decides to stop in Maestro, Virginia to visit his sister Delsey, a music student.  Before he gets there he receives a phone call telling him that his sister has been found naked and unconscious in a pool of blood that is not her own.  As Hammersmith tries to protect his sister and solve the mystery of what is going on in Maestro, Savich and Sherlock are dealing with the dead body of a young man that was found displayed in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

The book jumps back and forth between the stories of what is happening in Maestro and D.C., but it isn’t distracting, instead keeping to book moving along at the quick pace I’ve come to expect from Coulter’s FBI novels.  Hammersmith is a nice addition to the team, his seeming ability to “see” what is going to happen is not overplayed, but an interesting twist.  A fun, fast ride through two completely different worlds of crime.

Title: Bombshell
Author: Catherine Coulter
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 400
Publication: Putnam, July 2013

never go back

The Jack Reacher series follows the former MP as he wanders the country aimlessly, with no possessions to weight him down, and becomes entrenched in one disastrous situation after another, usually to help out a beautiful woman.  These books are mysteries, but are heavy on the action and suspense, with healthy doses of romance and humor.

In this latest installment, Never Go Back, Reacher has finally made it to Virginia to look up Susan – the woman currently running his old MP unit – who he felt a connection with during a series of phone calls made several books previously.  When he gets there a number of surprises are waiting for him – Susan is in jail, he’s being accused of murder, and he may be the father of a teenager.  Forcefully re-enlisted into the military Reacher will need to unravel this latest mystery and find out what’s really going on.  Overall, what we’ve come to expect from a Jack Reacher book, fast-paced and fun.

Title: Never Go Back
Author: Lee Child
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 416
Publication: Delacorte Press, September 2013


The Goldy Schulz novels follow the caterer as she manages to blunder over one dead body after another in Aspen Meadow, Colorado.  And no matter how much the police chief (who also happens to be her husband) wants her out of harm’s way, she seems to stumble into that as well as she tries to get justice for the recently deceased.

In this latest installment, The Whole Enchilada, her friend Holly drops dead after leaving a birthday party catered by Goldy.   Even as the police try to figure out whether she was actually murdered, and if so, how, it becomes apparent that Holly had plenty of secrets and there are plenty of available suspects.  Why was she broke?  Who were all those boyfriends she kept talking about?  Why did someone also try to hurt Holly’s son and their priest?  And who’s after Goldy and why?  She doesn’t think she knows anything, but someone is convinced that she does.  Joined by her friend Marla, some friends from the police department, her catering partner Julian, and her husband Goldy unravels yet another mystery.

Title: The Whole Enchilada
Author: Diane Mott Davidson
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 384
Publication: William Morrow, August 2013


Jack Reacher

one shotOne Shot is the ninth book in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child and was recently made into a movie starring Tom Cruise.  In the books Reacher is 6’5”, 250 lbs, with a 50” chest, blond hair and blue eyes – Tom Cruise?  Not seeing it, but since I haven’t seen the movie I can’t complain too loudly – I’ve heard that it actually works…  I’ll let you know what I think once I’ve actually seen the movie!

Anyway…  Reacher is a former military policeman who now wanders the country freely – no vehicle, no luggage, no home, no credit cards – and manages to get entrenched in one disastrous situation after another.  Not only is he a really large and well-built and apparently good-looking guy, he is smart, resourceful, and does not hesitate when doling out justice according to his own moral code.  Much of his world is black and white with very little room for gray, he always sticks up for the innocent and the downtrodden, he always gets his guy (often brutally) and he always saves the day before he moves on and leaves another love-struck woman behind him.  While the books are mysteries, they are heavy on the action and the suspense, not simple whodunits.  The stories in the series are smart, suspenseful and fast-paced with just enough humor and romance thrown in to keep all that action from getting boring.

In One Shot six shots are fired from a parking garage into a crowded street leaving five people dead.  The police quickly gather a watertight case against James Barr, a former military sniper.  Barr denies his guilt and only asks for one thing – Jack Reacher.  Reacher is already on his way having seen the story on the news, but he and Barr have a history, and he is no friend of Barr’s.  When Barr is severely beaten while in prison, Reacher, Barr’s attorney, his sister, a reporter, and a private investigator will have to find out what actually happened and bring about Reacher’s own brand of justice.  Like all Reacher novels that I’ve read, this one keeps you guessing (who’s the traitor, what part did Barr play, why did any of this happen?) and in suspense until the very end (even though you know – logically – that Reacher isn’t going to die – there ARE more Reacher books!).

If you like action and suspense in your mysteries, this series is definitely worth checking out at your local library (and if you don’t like it they have an excellent return policy!).

Title: One Shot
Author: Lee Child
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 384
Publication: Delacorte Press, June 2005

Top Ten Characters I Would Crush On If I Were Also A Fictional Character

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week the challenge is to list the characters that we would “crush on” if we were also a fictional character (because of course no real person ever actually crushes on a fictional character – that would just be silly and we are all firmly planted in reality…).  This was actually a really difficult list for me, I don’t tend to crush on fictional characters all that  much – I might like them, think they’re funny, inspiring, intriguing – but the idea of having a “crush” on them was a little weird for me, and I may have ended up with a list of male characters that I like, but don’t “like-like”, but I tried…

  1. Jack Reacher  – The main character in Lee Child’s Reacher series (the way that he is written – NOT Tom Cruise!!!), he is certainly characterized as being smart, tough, good-looking, and good with women.  He’s a tough guy, and you know that he’s going to move on after the current catastrophe is resolved, but hey – not a bad guy to have around if your life needs saving…
  2. Morelli vs Ranger – For fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series I will provide my thoughts on the Morelli vs Ranger question.  My vote?  Morelli.  Sure, Ranger is supposed to be crazy hot, but so is Morelli and wouldn’t it be nice to have a guy who was there even when your car wasn’t on fire?
  3. Edward vs Jake – For fans of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight stories – I pick Jake.  Sorry, but vampires are creepy – all that undead, blood-drinking, not sleeping, pale skin – doesn’t do anything for me.  Jake may be a werewolf, but at least they’re living, somehow makes it less weird, I guess?
  4. Atticus Finch – The dad in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is definitely crushable – honest, ethical, a great single dad – and always Gregory Peck in my mind…
  5. Lucas Davenport – The main character in John Sandford’s Prey series is intense, well-dressed, extremely wealthy from his former dork-days (I’ve always been a sucker for a cute dork), and always catches the bad guy – what’s not to like?
  6. Robert Langdon – I have a soft-spot for smart guys, and Langdon from the Dan Brown books is definitely uber-smart, travels all over the world, and has crazy history-changing adventures.  Sounds like fun to me… as long as I don’t get killed…
  7. Cliff Janeway – Cliff Janeway is a former cop turned rare book dealer in John Dunning’s Janeway series.  A tough guy, always saves the day, who knows and loves books – what’s not to love?
  8. Rhett Butler – I’m much more reasonable than Scarlet ever dreamt of being, Rhett wouldn’t have to curse at me…
  9. Inspector Gamache – Inspector Gamache from Louise Penny’s mystery series is probably just a character that I really want to know – not necessarily a crush – I would be happy to have him as a friend, an uncle, a colleague – his constance, his sincerity, his intelligence, his kindness – I have always wished that I could actually meet him!  Plus, he’s married to a librarian… 😉
  10. Rudy – The perfect childhood crush – filled with innocence and adoration – the boy that will do anything for you while begging for a kiss and annoying you – Rudy from Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief is my definition of great childhood love.