NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Friday, February 19, 2010

No One You Know by Michelle Richmond

4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and haunting..., February 19, 2010

A sister's quest to find out the truth behind the murder of her sister ends with self discovery and revelations about the nature of relationships between loved ones. How well do you really know your family? Are they keeping secrets from you? What truths are revealed simply by living together and being related?

Twenty years after the fact, Ellie Enderlin is haunted by the death of her reticent and secretive older sister, mathematical genius and Stanford prodigy, Lila. In the aftermath of the shocking murder, Ellie turns to a former English professor who fashions her memories and pain into a bestselling true crime novel -- and exposes Lila's married lover and colleague, Peter, as the suspected killer. Ellie is embarrassed and upset by the book and not satisfied with the fact that justice has not been served and Peter never convicted.

Ellie, unable to settle down, travels the world as a coffee buyer when she runs into Peter in a coffee shop where he gives her Lila's notebook. As she reads the notes, she starts to investigate her sister's past life to try to find out the truth about her sister's death. Who murdered Lila, and why? She follows a very thin line of clues, each interview leading her closer to the truth that has eluded her. The answer surprises Ellie and brings about a certain kind of closure.

Full of math terms, equations, proofs, and tidbits, the book sometimes reads like a text but there is a certain type of poetic beauty in the narrative even with all the scientific prose. The story is both a mystery and a literary work that will keep the reader turning the pages until the satisfying conclusion.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay

4.0 out of 5 stars Do you really know the ones you love?, February 13, 2010

I have read all of Linwood Barclay's back-list and I must say that this one is better than the last two and I'm relieved that he's pulled back a little with the unbelievable endings and returned to writing a taut mystery thriller that is both fast paced and suspenseful. I found both Fear the Worst: A Thriller and Too Close to Home: A Thriller to be just way too over the top and am glad that Barclay has returned to a style similar to the one used with what I consider to be my favorite of his novels, No Time for Goodbye. Yeah, all his books require a bit of suspension of disbelief at the scenarios, but the main character -- almost consistently a family man with a wife and child -- is usually a sympathetic protagonist and one whom you want to see get to the bottom of the mystery.

In this novel, newspaper reporter David Harwood is investigating what might be corruption with regard to a new privatized prison that is being hawked as the next best thing for the small town of Promise Falls, New York. He's married to Jan and they have a 4 year old son named Ethan. One day, while they're at an amusement park, one of them disappears!! David races from place to place to figure out what is going on and, although several subplots are brewing simultaneously, the energy and the narrative keep the reader glued to the pages. Even though the reader knows what is happening and why, it's a fun romp to the end.

If you like a good mystery thriller, you'll enjoy this one. Recommend.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley

A good pandemic novel..., February 8, 2010

I love an apocalyptic novel! Whether it be meteor strike, nuclear event, or medical meltdown - I'm your reader. For some reason, the stark portrayals of humans trying to survive against insurmountable odds always draws me in. This one did too!

The H5N1 virus (avian flu) strikes and the entire world is held hostage against the scourges of the disease. Of course it's winter (flu season IS in winter) and it's cold and the weather is bad -- which makes everything just enough worse to create an even bleaker picture. In this book, a family takes refuge in their home -- a mother and two daughters allow an estranged husband and his lab assistant in -- and events spiral out of control from there.

Peter is a veterinarian testing water samples after a teal duck die-off when the flu hits with a vengeance. He and his assistant, an exotic Egyptian woman, come back to his house to be with his ex wife Ann and their two daughters. There is the usual scramble for food and water -- supplies and gas. The power goes off. The days are long and cold and tedious -- you get the picture. Everything is about survival. Nothing else. Neighbors come outside but everyone keeps their distance. To each their own. No sharing, no partnering or working together. Everyone is suspect. People die. The very fiber of being human is tested. How far will a person go to protect his/her family? Others in need? Will anyone help?

This is a great viral pandemic novel and I enjoyed it. There were a few things that never got answered and the book lagged a bit with a bit too much detail at times. The ending seemed a bit rushed, but all in all -- read it an enjoy!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Think Twice by Lisa Scottoline

3.0 out of 5 stars Another doppelganger tale..., February 5, 2010

OK -- does anyone but me have a problem with a book that uses the old "switched places" thing between identical twins? I remember this ploy from way back in the old Patty Duke Show days (sorry, I date myself), and it was lame then and remains so now. I don't care if Alice and Bennie are IDENTICAL twins -- they are NOT so much of a mirror image that their intimate friends can't tell the difference! The most recent novel I read that uses this device, the doppelganger theory as I call it, was The Likeness: A Novel, and I felt that it failed miserably too. The truth is -- twins come weigh in on this -- there are so many variations and subtle differences between even identical twins that no one would be able to get away with this charade as Alice does when attempting to impersonate Bennie. COME ON! What kind of friends and business associates does Bennie have that they don't even realize that the demon Alice is pretending to be their boss?

Despite that weak premise of a plot device, the story was interesting enough to give this an "ok" rating. Problems with the narrative include, however, the short, cliffhanger ending chapters -- each told from a different point of view which I found irritating, and the predictable outcome of the whole charade. We have harrowing encounters, near death experiences, love lost and found, and ultimately resolution and redemption of a kind. Still, of course, leaving a bit of wiggle room for a follow-up novel.

I like Bennie Rosato and her lawyer stories - this novel however was not one of those. Having read all her previous books, I beg Lisa Scottoline to return to her usual storytelling and typical legal thriller tale. This is a story that really didn't need to be told. It didn't endear me any more to the characters in her series that I've grown to know and love. It was just FILLER. It served no purpose and lacked even a rationale for being written. We already knew Alice was a problem and she's still on the loose. I hope Scottoline doesn't revisit this twin thing. I've had enough of Alice and hope you have too!

All in all, the novel was fast paced but offers nothing new in suspense thriller literature.
If you want to read it, borrow it.