mystery

“The Brass Verdict” by Michael Connelly

 

 

The Brass Verdict CoverI discovered this book (and author) while at Thrillerfest, a thriller/mystery/suspense  writers’ workshop held annually in NYC during July. During breaks between sessions, Barnes and Noble opens a store for the guests, both writers and speakers. I rubbed elbows with bestselling author, Steve Martini, who was checking out the competition and buying books like the rest of us mere mortals. He picked up “Brass Verdict” and I followed his lead.

 

“Brass Verdict” is a gritty legal thriller featuring a lawyer (Mickey Haller) and a police detective (Harry Bosch) who bring scum to justice.

 

Each character has been featured in a Connelly series of his own, but in “Brass Verdict,” the two work on the same case, not always together. Bosch is the investigating detective dealing with the murder of a lawyer and Haller inherits the dead man’s practice. That inheritance places Haller in danger and also gives him a chance to try his biggest case yet. Bosch will stop at nothing to catch the lawyer’s killer and Haller just might be his prime suspect.

 

Bosch and Haller are both flawed in their own grumpy, wrinkled way, each has interesting baggage and the pairing of the two characters is terrific!

 

In the big reveal near the end of the book, we find out why they have been brought together in “Brass Verdict.” The novel is so well crafted that I became a big Connelly fan and have read several other titles since, most notably "The Lincoln Lawyer" and "The Black Echo."

 

Connelly famously sat in on poker games (playing himself) in “Castle,” the TV show, and when he once ribbed the fictional author about only writing one book a year, I wondered how many Connelly himself, had written. The man is prolific, having published twenty-five novels in twenty years. Fifty million copies of Connelly’s books have sold worldwide and have been translated into thirty-nine languages. He has won the Edgar Award, Anthony Award, and Macavity Award, among several others.

 

For more information about Connelly, his various series as well as movies based on his books, visit www.michaelconnelly.com

 

 

 

 

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“T is for Trespass” by Sue Grafton

 

Book Cover - T is for Trespass

 

Kinsey Millhone, the prickly star of Sue Grafton’s California based alphabet series, is no slouch detective. She follows the details, writes notes on 3×5 cards as she gathers information, and is great at ferreting out the facts. In “T is for Trespass,” she still eats way too much fast food, cuts her own hair, takes morning runs near the beach when she’s in the mood, but now drives a ’70 Mustang instead of the beat up ‘74 VW that was totaled in the last book.

 

Along with other legal detail work, Kinsey is a process server to take care of the bills in between the big cases, and is conscientious about everything she does in her professional life. So, when Kinsey does a cursory background check on a home health aide as a favor, and unwittingly places an elderly neighbor in harm’s way, she feels obligated to undo the damage. The problem is that no one, especially not the neighbor’s reluctant niece who hired Kinsey, wants to be bothered with the inconvenient truth.

 

The villain in “T is for Trespass,” an evil psychopath, is one of the best that Grafton has written. Grafton has placed us inside the mind of the twisted caregiver and created a chilling character study. I was alarmed, gripping the pages and worried that Kinsey might not survive this one – and we were only up to “T.”

 

The search for a missing witness to a car accident (with surprising results) unexpectedly overlaps the search for the primary villain. Grafton has set the scenes in the two stories in such a way as to make the overlap seamless and absolutely believable.

 

Grafton has taken on two issues that affect enormous segments of the 2013 American population – identity theft and health care for senior citizens. She handles the senior care concerns with ripped-from-the-headlines accuracy as she reveals the stark reality of what can happen when our parents/relatives become the victims of elder abuse. Sobering – and it reads like fact, not fiction.

 

Not too much changes in Kinsey’s personal behavior through the series – the twenty books take place over a five year span in the ‘80s, before cellphones. This way, Kinsey gets shot at, arrested, threatened and harassed, all without backup coming anytime soon.

 

What a life just to avoid a 9 to 5 schedule. What a ride!

 

Grafton received the Ross Macdonald Literary Award in 2004 and was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 2009.

 

For more about Sue Grafton and her most recent work, please visit www.suegrafton.com

 

 

 

 

 

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“Innocent” By Scott Turow

Book cover - Innocent

 

When a bestselling author returns to a book he wrote twenty years ago (“Presumed Innocent”) and writes a sequel to it (“Innocent”), we wonder whether he might just have run out of new ideas. In Scott Turow’s case, that wondering would be dead wrong.  What Turow has done is lift the art of the sequel to new heights.

 

Rusty Sabich, now a sitting appellate court chief judge, has been accused of murdering a second woman in his life and Tommy Molto, prosecuting attorney, is out to get him again, this time with a bigger grudge and bigger stakes.

 

Both men are at the top of their careers and neither wants to lose the case, because the loser’s life achievements would be forgotten in the media bloodbath that follows. But, Molto knows in his heart that Sabich was guilty the first time and got away with it. Sabich has secrets to hide and Sandy Stern is back as Rusty’s lawyer, trying to keep his client from tossing away everything.

 

Nat, Rusty’s son, plays a pivotal role in this courtroom drama – no plot spoiler here, but it’s a good one! Can a family ever recover from the fallout of a criminal case? Do the rifts caused by affairs ever heal? Do the children caught in the middle ever forget? Are people doomed to hold onto their flaws throughout life?

 

As I lay awake through the night reading “Innocent,” I was gripped with the questions: Did Sabich do it this time or didn’t he? And…my mind began to doubt whether he really did do it in “Presumed Innocent” after all.

 

Enough information is given about the case in “Presumed Innocent” to inform the reader, so "Innocent" can be a stand alone, but don’t let it be. The first book was a genre breaker and a great read as well. If you can’t find “Presumed Innocent” on the shelves anywhere, pick up a DVD of the Harrison Ford movie of the same name to catch the dynamics that drove the old rivalry between the major players.

 

For more information about Scott Turow and his body of work, visit www.scottturow.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Dead Cat Bounce” by Sarah Graves

Book Cover - Dead Cat Bounce

The ‘Home Repair is Homicide’ series gets off to a hammering start with this first installment, “Dead Cat Bounce.” Jacobia Tiptree has purchased a fixer-upper on an island in Maine and while handy with a wrench and other assorted tools, she is not prepared for the corpse she discovers in her storeroom one murky morning.

 

When the body is revealed to be that of a local billionaire and Tiptree (the newcomer in town) begins to investigate why he wound up in her house, her safety and that of her son is threatened. Family trust is tested, an ex-husband proves to be a forever jerk, and Tiptree relies on her Wall Street savvy to uncover the truth behind the murder. Graves reveals that ‘dead cat bounce’ refers to stock market jargon for a temporary rise in a stock’s trading price after a sharp drop…“even a dead cat will bounce if dropped.”

 

Along the way, we learn handy home repair tips for old houses. I now know why sagging floors have to be jacked up slowly and that if repairs turn out to be extensive, “you might as well stick your checkbook on the back door and let people fill out their own.” “Dead Cat Bounce” is a witty take on murder in a small town, with home repair as the source for many of the plot twists. A gal with a tool belt cannot be underestimated.

 

This mystery is completely guilty of solid character development and deeply felt relationships, and because of that, Tiptree is someone we’d like to help, invite over for coffee, get financial advice from, and especially have her on our side if we were ever accused of murder. I’ve read several of Graves’ fifteen books in the series and the people surrounding Tiptree are so real, they could be my own neighbors. Except for the killers, I hope.

 

The most recent in the series, “Dead Level,” was published in 2012, and “A Bat in the Belfry” is coming out in April, 2013.

 

For more information, visit www.sarahgraves.net

 

 

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