Monday, August 27, 2007

IN COLD PURSUIT by Sarah Andrews (St. Martin's)

Nobody every said I can't take a hint. My friend Diane Esterly has told me several times that Sarah Andrews is one of her favorite authors. When this new book arrived in my mailbox, I asked Diane to tell you about it. She was happy to comply. I know you'll enjoy what she says.

Andrews has written another mystery, but with a new sleuth. Valena Walker is an acquaintance of Em Hansen. I happen to an Em Hansen fan, but I found Valena to be a worthy successor. The setting of this mystery is Antarctica. My dislike of frigid weather, notwithstanding, I found myself fascinated by her account of this severe and strange land. As usual, the author has admirably combined education and entertainment. There is no mistaking her intent to teach. Her passion for geology and teaching is evident, and her research for this book is thorough. She combines science, suspense and female sleuthing easily and has a style that is compelling, even when your natural curiosity does not include either the setting or the content. I was fascinated by the information she conveyed about glaciology and geology and their relevance to current issues such as global warming, politics, overpopulation, and our consumeristic lifestyle which uses fossil fuels at an alarming rate despite scientific evidence that it is depleting the earth’s resources. Most fascinating was the amount and kind of information that can be gathered from this frigid land and her glaciers. Her main character again reveals the author’s interest in women who are struggling with their non-conformist lives at the fringe, their struggles to come to terms with themselves, and their innate strength and intelligence which eventually overcome their inner doubts.

Sarah Andrews is a woman of integrity and her books show her to be passionate about her interests and field of knowledge, geology. All of her books have this mark of integrity, but this latest one is most compelling. She describes “the last continent” as painfully, astonishingly, joyously, and severely beautiful. Her descriptions ring true and this book, like the author, is authentic and powerful.
--Diane Esterly

Friday, August 24, 2007

GUN SHY by Ben Rehder

I wouldn't have thought it could be done. Ben Rehder pokes fun at both sides of the gun control issue while spinning a first-rate crime story. The National Weapons Alliance is holding a rally at country crooner Mitch Campbell's Texas ranch this coming weekend. That is, if all the outside forces don't combine to make a hilarious mishmash of the event: Mitch Campbell isn't really Mitch Campbell. Dale Stubbs, director of the NWA, has something going on the side. There's a dead Mexican immigrant to explain. And then there's the team of good ol' boys who just want a little recognition. Blano County, Texas is the place you'll want to be this summer. I surely enjoyed my trip!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

THE CHOCOLATE JEWEL CASE by Joanna Carl (Signet)

It's now a well-known fact: Chocolate is good for you. Personal study (I've read the entire series) has shown that reading Carl's delightful chocolate-themed mysteries provides everything necessary for a well-crafted cozy. Lee and Joe should be on their honeymoon at a cool resort; instead, they're in the middle of remodeling a house during a Michigan heat wave, hosting several house guests, and dealing with business crises. To add more tension to the situation, a man turns up claiming to be Joe's dad (presumed dead for 30 years), Lee and Joe are dinner guests where the entertainment is a major jewel robbery, and one of the house guests is a prime suspect for murder. The metaphor must be made--the "chocoholic mysteries" offer a delightful sampler of crime fiction at its best.


Ed Gaffney always puts defense attorneys Zack Wilson and Terry Tallach in untenable positions--they just have a knack for having the wrong clients. Even Zack acknowledges it this time when he admits to Terry this one "might be something of a challenge." It is, in fact, a petition for a retrial of a convicted serial killer who's been requesting a retrial for nearly 20 years. A recent killing nearly identical to the earlier crimes has convinced a bar association committee that the request has merit. You don't need me to tell you that our intrepid team will take the case. The reader soon follows not only the defense team and the police, but also the killer as he stalks future victims. I don't usually like to see the killer's viewpoint nor attend the crime, but I was mesmerized. Put Ed Gaffney on your list of "must read" legal thrillers. I certainly have.