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Rated: 18+ · Review · Sci-fi · #2020132
seven reviews of books I read in November 2014, sci-fi,crime, mystery

1. The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout (a library audiobook)
         This story moves between Shirley Falls Maine and New York City. 

There are many different characters.  It is a story about people, so the characters are vibrant and descriptive.  Three children grow up in Maine. Jim, Bob and Susan lead totally different lives mentally and physically.

Jim and Bob become players in law firms  in New York city.  Susan remains in Maine in her home town.

Bob starts the story when his neighbors become tangled in a domestic dispute.  How that dispute pushes the story into a tangled situation is a human consequence.

Jim often calls the apartment complex Bob lives in “The graduate dorm.”  This is just one of the many ways Jim shows his older brother superiority.  He is quick to put down almost all of Bob's accomplishments and ideas.  It turns out to be another of the twists in this story that the reader might not see before it hits.

Zach is Susan's teen age son and is a major part of the plot.  The child throws the head of a butchered pig into a synagog during Ramadan.  The legal aspects of this humiliating situation are large.

Shirley Falls is the recipient of an influx of Somali refugees who are looking for a better life in the United States.  As a Somali community they cling to their Muslim roots and try to integrate into the U.S.

The book is a well written story about life.  It is full of reality and social interest and shows the  modern USA and the struggles people are finding in the twenty first century.

2. “W is for Wasted”  by Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton wrote stories about a private detective named Kinsey Millhone.  Each story  is titled with a letter of the alphabet.

The thing about Kinsey Millhone that is enticing is her blunt honesty as she describes her life experiences.  She is a private detective in California.  Kinsey is twice divorced which is part of  the background that molded her into a cautious person with regular habits and a few close friends she can count on when she needs help.

Even though Kinsey is a private detective she has worked as a police officer and is always concerned with the specifics of a case. In the story she says, “Most of this is circumstantial.”

One of her friends is detective Chainy.  In a conversation with Chainy he questions,”I don't understand how we get from fraud to homicide?”

This particular story details 5 deaths.  It rambles around medical studies and fraud but still shows details about families and how they deal with the situations in which they find themselves enmeshed.

The central theme for “W is for Wasted” is about the homeless.  It centers around the year 1988 when the plight of the homeless in the USA was becoming a well published concern.  The first death occurs on a beach that is along the path Kinsey takes as she runs every morning.  One of Kinseys'  business cards is found in the pocket of a dead homeless man. Kinsey is mystified about why it is there.  But the story reveals the answer in a twist of circumstances beyond the ordinary guess.

A new main characters is introduced in this story we hope Ed the cat continues to be a regular.

I've read most of the Kinsey stories and was glad to be able to download this as a kindle book from the library.

3.AMP 1 Messengerr by Stephen Arseneault  (kindle e book—science fiction)

That man is alone in the Milky Way has haunted our species for ages.  When I started reading Amp 1 Messenger I thought I had wandered into Star Wars however it does have its own hearty story. 

The first chapter explains the Grid, the lost history of humanity and sets the scene for the rest of the story.  A story that leaves earth behind and deals with living in space.

The Grid is not a planet but it is home base for mankind.

There are pirates, a species that is trying to rule the galaxy and messengers.  “ The Messenger Service was a collective of private ships that were used to ferry anything---” The messengers earned their living running errands through space for anyone who could pay. 

Two people crew the Swift, Mr. Grange and Frig.  You can learn more about them in the first chapter.

Rythium pirates are someone you don't want to come across in any universe.  They are cruel, unintelligent and heavily armed.

The Milgari is out to take over any and all planets that are inhabitable.  If you won't give up and become their subjects they simply annihilate you.  And, they have been chasing the Grid for sometime.

The Swift is always running from someone. Frig comments, “We are 82 percent complete.” Without Frig the Swift would not escape. By the way Frig is not human.

There is romance, war and sneaky messengers in this story plus AMP (vol 2) Private War continues the story. How the Swift sails through all problems with the crew in tact is an adventure. 

4. Sodium 1 Harbinger by Stephen Arseneault (kindle e book)

Sodium 1 takes place on the earth, it starts in the summer, in the year 1957. Five people take a wilderness trip together.  It was suppose to be a fun, adventure filled trip, into the wilderness
of Yosemite National Park in California. 

Right from the first it was an adventure.  Even before they saw the red eyes in the night.
The red eyes were a clue that the “Yosemite Sportsman Adventure Package” might be more than the average hiker wanted to tackle.

The first part of the story will introduce you to the characters and the reason for the trip.  The red eyes have a body and probably a history but the story does not tell their heritage. Yep! It is aliens and they don't seem to have mankind’s health in their hearts.  I had such a good time reading this story I think I have to go find the second book in the series.

There is a hero character. After living the story he can't bring himself to go back to normal everyday life, much like the reader who has to have more of the story and buys book 2 in the series.

Being an insurance salesman was rough but the trail in this story was rougher.  As an insurance salesman he wasn't much of a wilderness trekker.  But as an alien fighter he gained the confidence he needed to succeed at ????? He has a good viewpoint of life “sometimes you have to accept whatever it is that life throws at you-----”

His fascination with a “Ute Indian story” about “Minhafa.” The role Minhafa plays in the story is spiritual and the hero's acceptance of a story that was intended as a joke causes great curiosity in the end result.

So we have aliens, wilderness trekking, beautiful waterfalls and other assorted sites and action in this science fiction thriller.

5. A Cutthroat Business by Jenna Bennett (kindle e book)

Savannah Martin is the character to motivate the reader in this story.  In the first person narrative Savannah says,  “real estate is a cutthroat business.”  Yes, Savannah is a real estate agent just breaking into the business. 

Miz Puckett was suppose to show a house and when she did not show up for her appointment the customer called Savannah.  The customer turns out to be an old acquaintance?  And Miz Puckett turns out to have a good excuse for not showing the house?

All the questions about this scenario are answered in the first chapter.  I like the division lines after some segments of the chapter which give the reader a good place to pause for the problems in life like cooking dinner and letting the dogs out.

This is a murder mystery.  It has good background about real estate.  The characters are believable, the suspense is adequate, and the story is lighthearted enough to keep the reader curious.

Savannah turns out to be young, a little gullible, and yet embodied with some common sense and a foresight  for adventure.

When the police question her about the murder she says, “Yes, I'd probably recognize the young man in the green car if I saw him again; I'd gotten a pretty good look at his face.”
And, she has to explain how she knows Rafe, another character in the story.

Savannah's sense of right and wrong come from her childhood.  She is at odds with her family, the police and Rafe as she examines clues and juggles her personal life. Lots of suspense, hidden social connections and comic problems in this one.

After many different issues are examined a positive conclusion in the story occurs but you have to read it to get the full enjoyment of this murder mystery.

6. Dead Before Morning by Geraldine Evans (Volume 1 of police procedures by Rafferty and Llewellyn)-(a kindle e book)

Detective Inspector Joseph Aloysius Rafferty and his Welsh partner Sergeant Llewellyn are a new police team.

DI Rafferty comes from a large family.  He is divorced so his mom is trying to fix him up with a friends daughter.  His sisters, brothers and cousins are a group of common citizens who are builders and craftsman.

Sergeant Llewellyn is new to the force and new as Rafferty's partner.  He is the opposite of Rafferty.  Sergeant Llewellyn is introverted quiet and educated.  He likes to solve the crime by checking out the proper procedures.  Rafferty uses his wits and intuition.

Rafferty's mother is a match maker and a bargain hunter  She does her best to involve her son in both pursuits.  His mom expects him to use his position on the police force to keep all relatives out of jail and in this story asks her son to intervene on a cousins behalf who has been incarcerated on suspicion of whiskey theft.

Rafferty disgusted with the timing because he is on his way to a murder scene and embarrassed that she is asking him to use his position as a DI in this demeaning manner.

As the case wears on the lack of leads wears Rafferty's confidence down. But, as time goes along his time spent with Llewellyn brings him a closer understanding of the Sergeant and they begin to work better as a team.

After interviewing many witnesses more than once and following some blind leads Rafferty comes across an unexpected  lead through conflict with a relative and the case is solved. In an interview of an older patient, "Dim, rheumy glue eyes peered vaguely out at him from a mass of wrinkles and her head nodded continually on her thin neck."

The many twists in this drama are entertaining and the outcome is unexpected.

7.The Settlers by Jason Gurley (a kindle e book)

The Settlers is an (The earth is dying book) with a solution.  But, will it be the one mankind has to take?

I could not resist this quote from Chapter one.  “man's fail safe: a great home in space------”

If you like science fiction this story may grab your imagination and won't let you go.  It is about technological advancements human kind is now striving toward.  There are a lot of different characters  with different stressors trying to live without the earth and make the living seem relevant.  (It is about building and living on satellite stations.)  These characters still remember earth.  They are a few generations before Amp 1 by Stephen Arseneault.

The story is a trilogy so expect it to continue beyond this book.  It tends to make you think about our present environment. Why don't people react faster and better in response to present environmental warnings. Also, what happens to law and order now and later.  Other questions may come to the readers mind as he reads about each situation with which the many characters are challenged.

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