Heat Rises – Richard Castle

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Boy, were WE confused!  Turns out this is a book based on a t.v. series, written by a guy who doesn’t really exist, about characters that are based on characters from the t.v. show.  Or something.

Joan’s head hurt just trying to figure this out.

Some in the group knew what was going on and loved it, others hadn’t a clue and still loved it.  So there you go.

On the whole, we enjoyed this.  It had aspects of Nick and Nora Charles/Thin Man mysteries which we enjoyed.  Witty repartee, hot characters, all around fun.

But if a reader hadn’t seen the show, they felt like there wasn’t enough depth or background, and, ironically, the story felt scripted.  We found it predictable, and yet unpredictable and it was generally agreed that if you’d seen the show, it was hard to read.

The book didn’t just re-create one episode of the show.  It would seem that this story stretched out over a number of episodes.

We thought Nikki Heat was an interesting character and it was an interesting, albeit convoluted, story.  The boyfriend was charming in a rogue-ish way though Joan kept waiting for him to do something asinine and then they’d break up.  The relationship is a little too perfect and cutesy.

Which brings us to the story.  It’s ALL a little too perfect.  Stereotypes abound, from the top of the PD pile all the way down to the hooker on the street.  There were a number of incongruities and it felt like the writer(s) were trying to trick the reader.

But will all that, we enjoyed the book.

Favorite – Jameson Rook, the boyfriend.  I mean how can you NOT be charmed?  People liked his jokes and puns.  Nikki, as well as the two as a couple.  Team Roach.

Least Favorite – Sharon, the Hammer, Phyllis, the crooked cops, Nikki (professionally great, in her private life she was all messed up).  Montrose.  Those of us who hadn’t seen the show had never seen him when he wasn’t acting the ass.

 

Don’t forget — our book in June has been changed to Midnight in Peking by Paul French

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Rain Dogs – Adrian McKinty

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Ah, the Irish.

Byanka asked that we do a St. Patrick’s Day themed party for our March meeting.  And then she couldn’t make it!  The food was quite fine with people bringing Green Goddess dip and green vegetables, various green pastries, and “15s”, an Irish sweet mentioned in earlier Sean Duffy novels.  Joan had planned to bring Irish Soda Bread, but alas, was felled by the crud and didn’t make the meeting either.

And it’s a good thing, too.  She would have been overwhelmed by the group because she definitely had a minority opinion about this book.  Joan found it to be dreary and depressing.  She claims she started drinking more just reading this.

However, everyone else in the group really really really liked the book.  The group loved the humor and the irony.  They found it to be reasonable and realistic.  Meaty with a lot of intriguing plot to it.  They liked how real people were incorporated into the plot.

Favorite characters – Duffy, Lawson.  Smart, eager, cheeky, Tony, Crabbie, lady Finnish cop

Least favorite – All the pedophiles, Ek, Lasko, Twins, Beth, Payne, the forensic guy, Dalziel, Anthony, Spineles, Tony.  Used his history with Sean to no good.

While Joan gave this one (1) star, everyone else gave it five stars and wanted more.

We’re making a change to our book list.  In June, we were supposed to be discussing “Monuments Men” as our non-fiction selection.  But it’s awfully thick, so instead, we’re going to read “Midnight in Peking” by Paul French.

Poodle Springs – Raymond Chandler/Robert B. Parker

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poodlesprings-300pxThe meeting started off, as we usually do, with a look at the author’s life.  Raymond Chandler was a drunk, a genius, a hound dog, and a very funny guy all rolled into a hardboiled noir bundle.

Raymond Chandler wrote the first four chapters of our book and then Robert B. Parker finished it.  Parker also wrote a sequel to The Big Sleep.  But while Chandler was influenced by Dashiell Hammett, Parker was so obviously influenced by Chandler.  While we agreed that we couldn’t really tell where Chandler ended and Parker picked up, Joan found herself wondering why Spenser was in California and where Susan was.  Marlowe and Spenser seemed interchangeable to her.

There’s a feel of smart-alecky-ness and of trying too hard to be witty and funny that may have once been novel and entertaining, but now only feels dated and forced.

We found the characters are entertaining, if a bit over the top, two-dimensional, and not terribly believable.  But if a reader is looking for some good escapism fare, this will do.

The big question — What’s in a gimlet?

Favorite characters – Eddy, Linda, Marlowe (He stays so true to himself).  Angel (Nicest person in the book, even though she was clueless).  Muriel.  She was fun bunch of crazy.  Some people liked all the characters, others didn’t like any of them.

Least favorite – Linda (She’s kind of a bitch).  Larry, Lippy, Blackstone, Marlowe, the police officer with the sap.

3.5

 

Keeper of the Keys – Perri O’Shaughnessy

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keeperThis was one of those books that the group either loved or hated, so we had plenty to talk about.

We pretty much agreed that the characters were unlikable and the plot unlikely.  We objected to being manipulated.

Watching the dysfunction unfold was pretty entertaining, though, particularly for Byanka who felt that it captured the essence of the Southern California world.

Others waited for something good to happen and were disappointed.

We liked how the tension ratcheted up.  How the plot had surprising twists.  Selective head-hopping was good and timed well to add to the tension.  The interweaving of plot lines was well done, adding to the ebb and flow of action.  The impact of past events on the current events was well-presented and explained people’s characters.  And there were some really messed up characters, but they were doing the best they could with the tools they had.

Favorite character – Kat, though she was a messed up bitch, she was the most positive.  Ray.  I know, both sides.  But I liked his dedication to his art and to his vision, though in many ways it bit him in the ass.  The old Indian gentlemen.  Tom didn’t like any characters and Byanka like them all.

Least favorite character – Martin.  Slimy creep with no redeeming qualities.  Initially, Ray.  But by the end, he came off much more sympathetic.  Tom.  He seemed to bring out the worst in people.  Leigh’s dad — he was so cruel to Tom.  Esme.  Leigh — bad from the beginning

3 stars (1)

Gathering Prey – John Sandford

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prey25splashWe found this book to be wonderfully creepy.  While some didn’t finish it (or even start it), others really enjoyed it.  The bad guy was Manson-like and we were kind of horrified by the tenacity of his evil.  The depiction of multiple law enforcement agencies working together was declared to be accurate and our Wisconsin contingent liked reading about places they know.

While Joan enjoyed the book, she felt it was a little Keystone Kops-y, what with the running here and the running there.  But that, too, was said to be an accurate portrayal of the area.

But it was a compelling story.  Creepy bad guys are compelling and it was fascinating that in the end, Pilate’s identity was never fully discovered.  And really, he was just a figurehead Creepy Guy.  The women in the gang were mostly second class citizens and just tools to be used to maintain power, but interestingly enough, the brains behind the operation seemed to be Kristen, she of the pointy teeth.  Henry and Skye had a naive likeableness that made the reader sympathize with them, all the while wanting to smack them upside the head for being such dopes.

We found the depiction of the traveler culture interesting.  And while Letty’s actions made us crazy, we all understood the impulsiveness of the young.

Favorite characters –Laurent, Frisell, Lucas, Letty (feisty, though misguided), Pilate, Kristen, the law enforcement agencies, the fat clown.

Lease favorite – Pilate (ick), Kristen, Letty (a little too precocious for Joan’s taste), Lucas’s boss Sands, the gang.

3.5

REMINDER — due to the library’s holiday schedule, January’s meeting will be the FOURTH Sunday, January 22, 2017.

Endangered – C.J. Box

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endangeredAn interesting look at so many things – environmentalism, bureaucracy, obsessive love of a mother, how siblings relate to each other.  A fun comparison of two very different families.

Joan also found it interesting that the book selections have moved away from corrupt policemen and to crazy mothers.  Nice change.

Some of us did have some issues with the writing.  For instance, while the rodeo parts were portrayed well, bull-dogging elk seemed unlikely seeing as how it was a season when the elk have no antlers.  The characters didn’t seem to be terribly well-rounded, but as this is part of a series, maybe it was assumed that a few brushstrokes would do.  The political stuff was declared to be a problem, and someone thought Joe could have been smarter.

That being said, we still overwhelming liked this book as evidenced by our rating below.

Big question — What happened to the birds of prey?

Favorite characters – Joe Picket – a nice balance of family man/game warden.  Joan loved his barely-contained fury.  Liv was declared to be spunky and “ferocious”.  The judge – reminded Joan of local Judge Mills Lane.  Brenda Cates.  She’s so wonderfully awful.  Her brushing Liv’s hair just made Joan’s stand up.  Nate and Joe’s wife Marybeth.

Least favorite characters – Dudley.  With a name like “Dudley,” you know not to like him.  Dallas.  Wentworth.  Ick, even though he was icky for love.  Brenda and her whole family.

 

4.5 stars1

Brush Back – Sara Paretsky

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brushback300The group had a rather odd reaction to this book – while we mostly enjoyed it, we sure had a lot to complain about.  We found V.I. to be a mostly strong, smart, and likeable character, but she sure got into some bad situations.  We’re not sure how she supports herself because she doesn’t really have any paying clients and she doesn’t seem all that good at what she does.  She’s a bit incongruous with her odd interests and living situation, and she’s a bit of a bulldog.  And not in a good way.

We liked the flavor of Chicago and there was a general agreement that the gritty city was portrayed true to life.

The mystery was interesting enough, though a little confusing.  But we learned that the confusing city politics and neighborhood loyalties were also true to life.

Joan didn’t understand the chapter titles and we generally agreed that there was a lot of unnecessary description which only bogged down the story.

The characters were what kept us engaged and boy, were there a lot of characters!

Favorite – Mr. Contreras; V.I.; Jake was just decoration.  Mr. Villard, the Cubs guy; Bernie, even if she was just a fuse.

Least – Bernie was declared to be useless.  Stella, Anne, Rory, Frank, Father Cardinale.  The cop was awful and unnecessarily snarky.  And then he left V.I. in a terrible neighborhood.  Stella Guzzo was wonderfully awfully awful.  As was Betty Guzzo.  They’re like peas in a pod.  Viola, the girl with the missing brother.  What a whiny little thing.  We wanted to smack her, knowing she wouldn’t smack back.

 

3.5

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