Monthly Archives: November 2019

Lust, Money and Murder Book 1 – Mike Wells

Lust, Money and Murder – Mike Wells 2014 from Amazon Digital Services at 130 pages.
It’s very umm narrative. It’s all narration. There is very little dialogue and the style doesn’t show aspects of the characters,  it simply tells you about them in a third person voice that seems as still and lifeless as the story it’s telling.

The tales starts off with a fairly well constructed prologue and I found that to be the most compelling part of this book. The rest of it is a lengthy narrative of Elaine Brogan, her complete life’s story about growing up in a poor neighborhood of Pittsburgh, her father, a construction worker stealing to put her through private school, her brief foray into a modeling school scheme, her father’s subsequent arrest, imprisonment and suicide, her finishing school and going to college for design with the ultimate goal of becoming a secret service agent and avenging her father’s death.

It tells us the story of what it takes to make an special agent and the trials and travails Elaine must overcome to become an agent. Then we follow her to her first posting in Montana. The story continues with a case of sexual harassment and her being reassigned to an office in Bulgaria,  where, low and behold she meets the man of her dreams, her new boss, Nick is so much better than her old boss, so caring, so kind, so handsome. .. and yet the story is so bland. .. is creeps it’s was to a climatic ending that will resolve itself in the next book…

I feel perfectly comfortable waiting for the cliff notes version.

“We’ve got to get you laid, girl,” Ashley said frankly, when Elaine felt comfortable enough to talk openly with her. “What kind of guys do you like?”
“I don’t know,” Elaine said. “Strong, but kind.” Like her father.
“Strong, but kind,” Ashley said. “Hm. That eliminates about ninety-eight percent of the male population. What about looks? Tall, beefy, slim? Blonde, dark? Blue eyes—”
“I don’t know, Ashley. Does it matter? I just need somebody to get the job done.”
Ashley laughed. “Boy, you are jaded.”
Elaine had long given up on the idea that the process of losing her virginity would be a romantic event. It was simply a barrier she wanted to break—both literally and figuratively. She thought it would not only make her feel more comfortable with boys, but would make her feel like she was a complete, fully functioning female.

Alley Girl – Jonathan Craig

Alley Girl – Jonathan Craig from Planetmonk Pulps published in 1954. I read the kindle version.

Ah, a cautionary tale of greed corruption and rank arrogance.  Lieutenant Steve Lambert, we hardly knew ye. This is a typical story of a bad cop running roughshod over the citizens around him. Seems a florist is killed, shot in his apartment, and a former alcoholic is passed out at the screen and taken into custody as a material witness and suspect.  Lieutenant Lambert and his partner Sargent Dave Kimberly catch the case with the only clue to go on is a witness who says he saw a woman flee the apartment after the shot and she ran down an alley. While Dave heads to the station to correct some reports, the lieutenant goes to talk to the suspect’s wife. The newly married Mrs Nolan turns out to be a young blonde bombshell with a body that get Steve’s libido revving. He extorts a roll in the back bedroom promising to spring her husband if she “cooperates”.

An element running through the story is the material witness clause which gives the detectives only 72 hours before they have to charge or release Mr Nolan. So it would seem the Steve’s fun with Mrs Nolan is going to be short-lived unless he can find a way to charge him. And then a man comes forward approaching lieutenant Lambert with an offer of compensation she he not pursue the figure that the witness spotted running into the alley. The lieutenant never met a bribe he didn’t like and five grand would be good, for starters… and he figures he could frame Mr Nolan and keep Mrs Nolan shelling out the “cooperation” for quite a bit longer.

With lieutenant Lambert busy with these to cross purposes, Sargent Kimberly is working the case straight, following up on witness statements reviewing the crime scene, taking notes… with the 72 hours counting down, can Sargent Kimberly find the person who fled down the alley, and how does she impact the fate of Mr Nolan…

The tale is your basic morality play and a decent working story. No bright shining metaphor gems like you would find reading Raymond Chandler or Mickey Spillane, but Steve proves to be a thorough bastard, Dave proves to be a good detective and the story throws you a nice curve ball there near the end.

He followed her through the dining room, watching the lithe swing of her rounded hips beneath the thin fabric of the housecoat. She paused at a half-opened door leading into a bedroom and turned to face him. Her lips were pale now and she spoke as if she had scarcely enough strength to articulate the words. “How do I know you aren’t lying?” she asked. “How do I know you won’t just … just … ”
He smiled at her. “You don’t,” he said. “It’s a gamble, like everything else in this world.” He let the smile grow wider. “But you’re going to be reasonable, Mrs. Nolan. You’ll damn well have to. You’re smart enough to know it’s the only hope Tommy’s got.”
She hesitated a moment more then turned slowly in the direction of the bed. “Let’s get it over with,” she said.

Haunted – James Patterson

Haunted a James Patterson and James O. Born novel from Little Brown and company 2017, 317 pages

One of the Michael Bennet novels. An Irish Catholic detective with the NYPD takes his former partner, Sandy, up on her offer to take his extensive  family on a summer vacation in Maine… but, there’s always a catch. Little does Mike know, this will become a busman’s holiday. And one of the strengths of Patterson’s style is that he knows how to pace a story.

This tightly written adventures starts off with Bennet’s eldest son Shaun arrested for selling drugs. From there Michael tracks down and shoots a young prospective med school  student involved with his son. And after this ‘officer involved shooting’ Mike is encouraged to take a vacation. So, with an offer from a former partner to come up and visit, Mike brings the family to Maine.  With its quiet streets, it’s respect for its police in the forth of July ceremonies, is pleasant neighborly residents, it just seems so idyllic.

But the grass isn’t always greener as Mike finds out when his former partner asks for his help in finding two missing teenagers. The woods are lovely dark and deep… but they also hold there secrets, and when a shallow grave is discovered, and a shoe from one of the missing teens is found, Mike learns that the scourge of drug dealers he though he left back in the city… well, it’s more pervasive than he thought.

   He looked like a cowboy from a 1970s western. Not as dashing as the old-time cowboys, because he had a definite edge to him.
   I took an instant dislike to him when we got out of the car and he said, “Howdy. You have ten seconds to stay your business here.”
   I had to ask, “what happens after ten seconds?”
   “Then somebody’s ass is gonna get kicked.”
   I said, “If that’s the way you want it. But I’m on the tired side, so if you want your ass kicked, you’re going to have to come down to me.”
   It was gratifying to hear my partner laugh at one of my cracks.

The Turn Of The Key – Ruth Ware

Turn Of The Key – Ruth Ware “Full of spellbinding nuance and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.” Quoted from the dust jacket it’s a pretty claim to meet… Scout Press publishing 2019, 336 pages

It has a first person narrative… and the issues of reliability of the person telling you the story is put to question straight away when she tells you where she’s writing from. You see, the novel is not written in chapters, it’s written a a series of lengthy letters. So there really isn’t too many clear points of transition. Which is a bit off-putting as these narratives are a bit lengthy. The book puts itself out there as a ‘suspense’ novel. But as far as suspense goes… we’ll I’ve found the book to be easily put down, and come back to later. But one glaring contradiction in this is the pacing… it’s strange, as I read, the story folds out slowly (part of the reason for being so easily put down) but the timeframe of the story seems abnormally compressed. I’m two thirds of the way through this and she’s only been watching these kids for three days.

Also, there hangs over this story a broken promise. According the the promotion and the blurbs a undertone of surveillance is suppose to be woven into this tale, but I really didn’t see that come up. Although the house is connected to a network that the parents who are away on business can access, they don’t. The mom checks in remotely only twice, when the kids are getting ready for bed… a very normal thing to do… though she does this with her cellphone through the house’s speaker system… I see nothing  overtly ‘surveillance’ about that. Also the husband, Bill doesn’t appear to access the house system at all, when, if the accusation about him is true… he would probably be accessing the cameras.

The story is about a young woman who is looking for a change and finds an opportunity that is… wait for it… too good to be true. And of course it is. The young lady works watching children in a nurse at a daycare facility in London.  While surfing the Internet one day, she comes across a live-in nanny position in Scotland that offers free room and board with an annual salary of over fifty thousand pounds! So, she puts together a ‘mostly true’ resume (CV), and applies for the position. She is selected for an interview and the process goes quite well. She is selected for the position of watching three children, Maddie,  8 Elizabeth, and the infant Petra.

The house in Scotland is a melding of new design and technology,  apps the parents are accomplished architects, an old mansion that they had purchased and have been remodeling. So there is this whole old house with its haunting and the new house with its glitches.  Both of these conditions are gaslight ingredients our poor young nanny who is less ‘perfect’ than she puts herself out to be. And that works it’s way through the novel, the nanny who seems perfect, for a position that seems perfect, for a family that seems perfect, watching children who seem perfect in a house that seems, well, perfect… none of which is true.

   The ghosts wouldn’t like it … I heard it again in Maddie’s reedy little voice and shook my head. Ghosts. How absurd. Just folktales and rumors, and a sad old man, living here after the death of his child.
   It was more for want of anything else to do that I opened up my phone and typed in “Heatherbrea House, child’s death, poison garden.”
   Most of the early results were irrelevant, but as I scrolled down and down, I came at last to a local-interest blog, written by some sort of amateur historian.