Dead Man’s Puzzle – Parnell Hall

Leave a comment

This had SUCH potential!  The concept of including crossword puzzles and a Sudoku puzzle as part of the way to solve the crime was inspired.  Until they became annoying and confusing.  As for revealing clues, we totally didn’t get it.  And we totally lost interest.  There was a lot of skimming by the group, some of us missed later murders, and some of us didn’t finish the book.

While we liked the mystery itself, with its ties to a really old crime, we found there to be too many red herrings, the legal process was completely disregarded in both the murder cases and the probate, and police and legal procedure as depicted was laughable.  And if Mobile, Alabama hasn’t cleaned its drains in 50 years, Joan is a monkey’s uncle.  A completely unbelievable bunch of nothing.

We didn’t like the main character, Cora, which is never a good sign.  She was declared to be an annoying busybody with delusions of hotness.  She was described as being a cross between Jessica Fletcher and Groucho Marx and some of us completely agreed.  She was not believable and not competent at anything she did, though she did seem to have a weirdly wired brain that allowed her to see the stranger byways of crime.

Favorite characters – Cora, who was declared to be spunky.  There were those who liked how she was brave and got to climb in windows, etc.  Cora’s dog, the poor thing.  The coroner, who at least retained some control over his world by locking the door and not answering the phone.  Chief Harper, who had is own bumbling way of going about things.  The niece’s new husband, who took a chance at happiness and married into the crazy family.

Least favorite characters — The author.  Dennis Pride.  Cora.  The heirs, real and otherwise.  Chief Harper, the pantywaist who allowed Cora to run roughshod over him, his department, the victims, the suspects, and pretty much anyone who lived in town.  The killer — an opportunistic despicable person wrapped up in his own self-interest with no scruples.

(And I rounded up!)

Bones Never Lie – Kathy Reichs

1 Comment

Joan really loves Bones, the t.v. show, so she went into this book pretty excited to read about Temperance Brennan.  But this was no Bones.  There was a dearth of strong female characters, too much autopsy gore, relatively little interaction with Ryan, and not enough of the quirky humor that marks the t.v. show.

That being said, the group liked the book.  It was a compelling look at the investigative process and we found the multiple locales really interesting.  We need more mysteries set in Canada, Quebec in particular!

The story wasn’t always believable — do lab folk REALLY go into the field?  And if they did (or didn’t), would they constantly complain about not being kept in the loop?  Sadly, we felt the police department folk were portrayed as boobs, mostly because they weren’t lab folk.  We felt the police investigative work was realistically portrayed and the psychological stuff was good.  But it wasn’t always fun to read — the group has previously expressed its distaste for crimes against children.

Tempe’s internal world was interesting and we liked watching her thought processes as she went through evidence and tried to bring things into focus.  We did find the author’s need to end chapters with comment along the lines of “little did I know that it would go all to hell” annoying.  And usually, the warning was a lot worse than what actually happened.  A way to keep the reader reading, true, but annoying nonetheless.

Joan had the killer pegged by the middle of the book, though the twist [NO SPOILER HERE] threw her.

Favorite characters – Tempe, Tempe’s mom, Tempe’s cat, Tempe’s cat-sitter.  Joan found Stinky Slidel amusing.

Least favorite – Ryan.  What a pill.  At least make an effort to be pleasant.  Someone commented about his “slithering in and out.”  Slidel was annoying, though humorous.  Tawny McGee; the doctor in the E.R., Ajax, and Yoder, who was pivotal, but a compared to a slug.

We all agreed we’d probably read more by this author.