Mephisto Club – Tess Gerritsen

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You just never know what will tickle this group’s fancy.  Blood and gore?  Bring it!  We ain’t skeert!  Well, Joan felt like her brain cells had been tainted, but no one else did.

Rizzoli & Isles was just the thing the group wanted.  We thought this was a compelling story with well-developed characters.  We were fascinated by the symbology and the concepts of good and ancient evil.  We liked the multiple points of view, which amped up the tension considerably.  And then there was the idea of nurture vs. nature.  So many things going on in the plot.  And the amping up of tension was well-done.

We enjoyed the multiple threads of the murder investigation, and absolutely adored the family problems, which were HILARIOUS.  Then there was the love that shall not be spoken of.  All with a background of freezing hell of Boston.

Some things caught us by surprise (no spoilers here), but a careful reading revealed the clues.  Some of us read more carefully than others…

The description of Dominic surprised us, but as the alleged ancestor of an angel, it was probably to be expected.  The Hounds of Hell were a nice touch.

Joan’s biggest question was how Dominic got back and forth to Europe to torment Lily if there was no record of him anywhere.  This question really bothered her and made it a little more difficult to suspend her disbelief.

Most people didn’t care and are eager to read more by this author.  One is even starting at the beginning of the series.

Favorite characters – Lily Saul (resourceful), Mama Rizzoli (hilarious), Maura, Jane, Gabriel (the only nice person), Sansone (who was compared to Bruce Wayne)

Least – Dominic, Sansone (way too slick), Joyce O’Donnell, the phychiatrist, Lily (what a wuss!), Edwina

 

 

 

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Fiddlers – Ed McBain

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We had a great turnout for our meeting and we had a lively discussion about the book.  We tend to do that when we disagree.

The bottom line?  In this “cautionary tale of vigilante-ism” we found the plot to be an intriguing story which kept us intrigued and wanting to know what the motive for all the mayhem was.  It moved right along and kept the group engaged.  We enjoyed the police procedural aspect, though not all of us enjoyed the multiple points of view.

The sparseness of description and rapid-fire dialogue was appealing.  We liked the tension of the “will they figure it out in time” suspense, but some found the various backstories distracting.

On the other hand, while we thought the plot was good, the characters were found to be lacking.  First of all, it was confusing to have so many character names to remember.  Then, the characters weren’t developed terribly well.  We knew one thing about each character without much additional development.  They were declared to be flat and one-dimensional.

Audio was too jumpy and bouncy to enjoy and best selling point for listening to the book on audio was that it was only six hours long.

Favorite Characters – Reggie, Chuck, the librarian Sadie, Teddy, Ollie, the lead detective Carella.

Least Favorite Characters – It was kind of a “target rich environment.” Ollie, the victims, though some were disliked more than others, Chuck, the man Chuck’s mother left Chuck’s father for, the pimp/white slaver; the teacher victim; the mean girl; Cling – the guy with the black girlfriend.

 

Christmas Carol Murder – Leslie Meier

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Well, we sure didn’t like this one!  Luckily, there was homemade ginger snaps and fudge to make this drivel more palatable.  The group found the book to be farfetched, annoying agitating, ho-hum, political with the issues laid out in black and white with no shades of gray, an easy read, perfect holiday fare, and just barely worth the $1.99 on Kindle.
With the hope of it turning into a fun take on “A Christmas Carol,” we plugged on, waiting for the fun to start, but it NEVER DID.
Yes, the mortgage guys were two cranky old bastards, but the whole mortgage crisis was portrayed in such a black and white way, and the way people were losing their homes and/or had sick kids, we felt terribly manipulated.  We don’t like being manipulated.
Joan wanted to know why people were so down on just the mortgage guy who voted to lay off people, and not the other two guys who also voted the same way.  The mortgage guy may have been the most grumpy of the bunch, but they voted like the he did, yet didn’t suffer the wrath of the town.
Lucy Stone was declared to be an annoying busybody and we wanted to know why something similar to Sparks’s Big Nickel contained feature articles.
Favorite Characters – The group ranged from not liking any of the characters and wanting to know if there was a dog they could pin their hopes on (there were two — the police dog Boomer and Lucy’s dog Libby), to naming a series of fairly inconsequential characters.  Sadly, the main character didn’t make the cut, though her daughter Sara did.  The girl had gumption and was contrary to the rest of the goody-two-shoes community.  The students who were squatting. Elsie was declared to be an entertainingly awful bitch.  We also liked the husband, the restoration carpenter, Virginia, the ex-husband, and Scribner for redeeming himself at the end.
Least Favorite Characters – Sara, Seth was a conflict-stirrer, Lucy was annoying as well an invader of her husband’s privacy, Jake, Elsie, Rachel the whiner/worrier.
We even had someone rate the book 1/2 star!

Murder in the Latin Quarter – Cara Black

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On the whole, the group liked this book, as evidenced by the number of stars given to it.  But someone (Joan!) didn’t finish it and someone else thought it was just “eh.”  Some found the scope broad and confusing, and thought that it bounced around a lot. While the map was helpful, it could have provided more detail and the overabundance of French words just created a lot of work for readers.

That being said, the group enjoyed the book and not all of them threw it against the wall (Joan!).

Favorite characters – Generally, there weren’t too many to choose from, but in the end, Aimée Leduc, even though she was called lawless criminal liar, Mademoiselle Léonie, and René Friant.

Least favorite characters – Jérôme Castaing, Dr. Severat, Professeur Benoît because of the way he stirred things up, and the illegal Haitians.

 

Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle – Dorothy Gilman

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While we had a good turnout for the meeting, only three of us actually read this book all the way to the end.  It made for a rather lopsided discussion because we who finished it, liked it.

Mrs. Pollifax is a fascinating mix of grandmotherly and kick-ass determination, all set in a rather awful place and time. She’s reminded us of an edgy Miss Marple.

Joan had recently finished a Colin Cotterill, also set in Thailand, so there was a familiar atmosphere and language to this.  She particularly liked the two contrasting points of view, which added a sinister tint to things.

So many things are going on, from a coup, to smuggling, to kidnapping, to drug production, and running.  And threaded through it all is the theme of love, be it romantic, friendship, Buddhist, or familial.

At times we found Emily a little annoying, but that can happen when a reader spends too much time in a character’s head.  All that internal monologues usually slow the action down too much.

This book is full of angst and worry about the missing Cyrus, as would be expected.  But there are also some lovely sections where Emily just soaks in her experiences.  The meditation scene is particularly memorable.

Favorite characters – Bonchoo (I love his hat).  Emily, Cyrus, though we don’t really see him enough, the holy man.

Least favorite – Mornajay, with his mean shiny boots (he’s not really bad, he’s just drawn that way).

Please note that revisions have been made to the 2018 Reading List.  Out with Sandford and Grimes and in with Ed McBain and Jussi Adler-Olsen!

The Bishop at the Lake – Andrew M. Greeley

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A rather mixed review for this.  Some people loved it and have read more by the author, while others either didn’t start it or didn’t finish it.  We lost Byanka with the title.

It was declared to be interesting, though oddly constructed.  While some liked the Catholic stuff, others were less enthused, particularly those who had grown up Catholic.  It also felt dated, though it came out in 2007.

We had a very interesting discussion about what we perceived to be Spike trying desperately to retain an old way of life.  There was an argument for the fact that this is how the rich live, but also an argument for the fact that long summer vacations at the lake are just not a thing any more, even for those can afford it.

But in general, we agreed that it was a fun read.  Light, no death, a little romance, interesting Catholic Church details.  Some declared them to be over done.  But since the author and the main character are priests, it seemed appropriate.

The setting was great and it was a nice summer read.  Makes Joan want to go away to a lake for a month! Joan also liked how Margaret referred to God as a she.  Fun!

Favorite – Joseph, Spike, Lady Anne, Blackie, Margaret, Loretta because she was so wonderfully awful.

Least favorite – Loretta, Blackie (people got very tired of “arguably”), Iggy, Spike (because he didn’t seem “real”), Consuela, Malachi (distasteful, name-dropping boob).

Motive – Jonathan Kellerman

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A small group, to include a paper review, but we did have our opinions!

Some of us found this book less than memorable and had to be reminded of the story, while others loved it but thought it was too long.  It was declared to be a page-turner, yet a little slap dash.  Someone said that it felt as if the author, a psychologist, threw a couple of random cases together and made a book.

It had all the things we take issue with and/or find entertaining — psychological weirdness, creepy murderer, snobby girls, smarmy lawyers, bitchy ex-wives, prized pets being sent away to slaughter, eating and descriptions of food, and exotic dancers entertaining cops.  A lot to like or at least be entertained by.

And yet….

We didn’t understand the title.  And what’s with the maze on the cover of the book?  We didn’t think Alex contributed all that much to the investigation even though we were dealing with a serial killer.

Not a stunning recommendation, and yet we gave this book a lot of stars.  Except for someone, who shall remain nameless.

Favorite characters – Milo, the busty broad Kashmeer (Joan loved her antics in the interrogation room), Earl Cohen, Alex’s girlfriend, Kleffer, and the arrogant chef.

Least favorite characters – Creepy bad guy John Jensen Williams, Ursula, Corey, all the murderers, and the daughters

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