About a month ago I suddenly got a "hankering" for some crime fiction. I was in the mood to re-read some I hadn't read in a while, but I sneaked a new one or two in there, too. I'm not a big fan of gory crime fiction. I like technical novels like Kathy Reichs' Temperence Brennan books (I like the TV series "Bones", but the books are much, much better), cloak and dagger stuff from Tom Clancy, law-related crime drama from John Grishom, light and funny detective fiction like the Stephanie Plum novels from Janet Evanovich, and even lighter, but very witty and funny books like Diana Mott Davidson's amateur sleuth caterer, Goldy Bear.
I thought I'd share a few of the books I've read recently.
Michael Connelly never disappoints. Harry Bosch is one of my very favorite characters. He's a real man's man and a homicide detective's homicide detective. I like him because he comes off so real because of the way Connelly creates him. I can't remember the first Bosch novel I read, but I've since read most of them. Somehow The Concrete Blonde had escaped me until recently, so it's a new addition to my shelves.
In The Concrete Blonde a serial killer's widow is suing Bosch and the LAPD for killing the wrong man. And when a new victim is found with the "Dollmaker's" signature marks, it looks like the widow may be right. It's a fast-paced thrill ride as Bosch tracks the blood-thirsty killer. The Concrete Blonde is more than detective fiction, more than courtroom fiction (although there is a really, really good courtroom scene), it's a great who-dunnit, which is probably my favorite kind of crime fiction. Check out a copy at your local library if you haven't read it yet.
The first book I read by Catherine Coulter was Eleventh Hour, and it is still a favorite of mine of her novels. Point Blank is an FBI crime thriller that I had never read before. I was a bit disappointed in it. It featured the recurring characters of married (to each other) agents Savitch and Sherlock, whom I have come to like and respect. My personal favorite Coulter-created character Agent Dane Carver is in this one, too, and Agent Ruth Warnecki, whom I have to admit is an interesting character. Actually I like all the main "good guy" characters, but the book itself just wasn't as seamless as I like a good mystery to be. There are two plots going on simultaneously. Savitch and Sherlock (and Dane and everyone on their FBI team) are after an insane, hate-filled old man (who has a grudge against Savitch) and his psychotic and blood-thirsty girl friend. I really had to suspend disbelief with a lot of the plot twists and a lot of the dialogue as well. There were just too many passages that seemed to be either hastily stitched together or written with one hand while the author was yawning behind the other. The other plot involves a fortune in Confederate gold that amateur-spelunker Warnecki is searching for in a cave in Virginia. A dead body found in the cave opens up a whole other investigation, led by the local sheriff. Ruth and the sheriff provide a nice romantic sub-plot, but it's too little to save the book for me. Savitch and Sherlock drift in and out, helping with Ruth and the sheriff's investigation while they keep looking for the insane old man. Of course, there are completely happy endings in the end, but I actually had to make myself finish it -- mainly because I wanted to know the answer to the who-dunnit of the cave murder. It wasn't who I thought it would be. This is not a book that I'll read again, so I'll pass it on to someone else. There were too many "huh?" moments for me. It was not the serious detective novel that I want to read from Coulter.
Next I turned to an old favorite spy-mystery that I haven't visited in several years. Dorothy Gilman created a wonderful Marple-esque character in Mrs. Emily Pollifax. We are introduced to her in the first of a lengthy series, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax. She's an elderly widow who has decided she is not going to go gently into that good night -- she takes martial arts lessons when she's not busy with her gardening club -- and suddenly she takes it into her head to fulfill a childhood ambition that she should volunteer her services to the CIA. She applies in person and through a misunderstanding is given a courier's job. Of course the simple courier's mission turns into something quite unexpected, and Mrs. Pollifax finds herself a prison in a prison in Albania with a very important piece of microfilm that she doesn't even know she has. She acquires a very interesting "partner", and between the two of them, using each one's unusual skills and resourcefulness manage to escape from the enemy and return to the States with the microfilm. I really do love this book. It's comical and witty, and Mrs. Pollifax is very endearing. She takes a personal interest in everyone she meets, and that always seems to pay off. If you've never read any of these books, start with this one and then go on to the others, of which I'll write soon -- because now that I've read the first one, I have to go through the whole series. Oh, and the "partner" she acquires in Albania? Well, he graces the pages of subsequent Pollifax novels. Yes, you may have to suspend disbelief, but it's well-written, so you don't care. It's a fast, funny, smooth, enjoyable read, and if it's new to you, I recommend you give it a try.
Well, that's it for my shelves tonight. I'll be back soon with a few more picks.