Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Love And Lament by John Milliken Thompson

One dead child after another and then their mother.  How could Cicero stand any more?  He only had three of his nine children left and was constantly worried they would be gone too. His worry wasn't over with the three that were still living. 

LOVE AND LAMENT was the saga of Mary Bet Hartsoe and was set in the late 1800's when typhoid was rampant, when deaths were on a daily basis, and when inventions of machinery were beginning to surface to make factories and lives easier. The late 1800's was a time of change for everyone both personally and historically.  The book dealt with many social issues and is very deep, thoughtful and intellectual.  
LOVE AND LAMENT was beautifully written.  The author had amazing prose and detailed, remarkable descriptions. At times the descriptions were so vivid, you could feel the grass under your feet, smell the aromas in the air, and share the pain of the characters. Despite the marvelous writing, it was a bit tedious and difficult to get into at first, but once I became attached to the main character, Mary Bet, it held my interest.  
Mary Bet was the youngest of the nine children, the one who stayed with her father, and the one who was quite headstrong for a woman of that era.  It was amusing to see the social protocol of that time especially the "rules" for courting and the woman's role in following these "rules."
It was a book about family, suffering, and living life no matter what circumstances are thrown your way.  If you enjoy historical  fiction, description at its finest, but details a bit too drawn out at times, you will enjoy LOVE AND LAMENT. 4/5
This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

A simple letter, but was it really that simple?  A letter written long ago.  A letter indicating it was not allowed to be opened.  A letter that made John Paul’s wife, Cecelia, quite curious.

What harm would be done by opening the letter?  Cecelia was dying to open it, but the message  John-Paul wrote on the front of the envelope said it could not be opened until his death.  When Cecilia asked her husband about it, he said he had been sentimental when he wrote it, and that she should just put it away.  Obediently Cecilia, the good wife, put it away without opening it. 

Hints about the contents of the letter will peak your curiosity as it did Cecelia’s.  When she did open the letter and found out what John-Paul had written, she couldn't believe it. How could this be true? Cecelia the perfect wife and fixer of everything couldn't fix this. 

Cecelia was the perfect wife, mother, and town citizen.  She knew everyone in town, and she knew everything about the city residents.  She remembered Tess when she came back to her childhood town because her husband didn't love her any more.  Rachel was also part of Cecelia's circle.  Rachel had a few heartbreaking situations in the past.  But…what Cecelia found in that letter was going to be more than a heartbreak for Rachel. 

THE HUSBAND'S SECRET was focused on this letter, Tess, Rachel and Cecilia.  The letter’s secret had to do with an unknown connection between Tess, Cecelia, and Rachel and something that happened in the past that linked them together and something in the present that caused more heartache and pain.  

When the book begins, you will think it is going to be a book about a husband’s affair, but it is more sinister than that.  It actually is a tragic secret. 

THE HUSBAND’S SECRET is about more than keeping secrets,  though.  It deals with a parent’s love for his/her child and about the lengths parents go to in order to protect their children. It deals with right and wrong, and it deals with the thought - do we really know our spouse or significant other?

Don’t be mislead into thinking it is simply a book about secrets between a husband and his wife.  It is far more than that.  It is a book about secrets whether they are large or small and about our decisions to reveal the secret or to not reveal the secret.

THE HUSBAND’S SECRET is an excellent read that will keep you pondering life, pondering the decisions we make, and thinking about the secrets most of us have.  What is your secret?  5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher and LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

An Interview with Steven Gore

It is my pleasure to feature Steven Gore today as he talks about his newest thriller.



Gore is a former private investigator whose international thrillers draw on his investigations of murder, fraud, money laundering, organized crime, political corruption, and drug, sex, and arms trafficking in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The author of Act of Deceit and Power Blind, Gore has been featured on 60 Minutes for his work and has been honored for excellence in his field. He is trained in forensic science and has lectured to professional organizations on a wide range of legal and criminal subjects. 

His latest thriller, A CRIMINAL DEFENSE, is his second book in his thrilling series featuring ex-SFPD detective, Harlan Donnally.

“Rich, gritty, and terrifically twisty…crackles with legal and psychological authenticity.”

—Lou Berney, author of Whiplash River
In Steven Gore’s page-turning second installment, A CRIMINAL DEFENSE by Steven Gore (Harper Mass Market; July 30, 2013; $9.99; ISBN: 9780062025074), readers find ex-SFPD detective Harlan Donnally running a small cafe north of San Francisco. But when Mark Hamlin, a criminal defense lawyer with a slimy reputation, is found murdered underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, Donnally is drawn back into a twisted and corrupt world he thought he’d left behind.
Over three decades, Hamlin's practice devolved into just another racket: intimidating witnesses, suborning perjury, destroying evidence, laundering money. But is he the victim of murder—or of a dangerous sexual encounter gone wrong? And when law enforcement believes justice has already been done, who can be trusted to find out?
Despite a mysterious request left in the dead man’s hand, Donnally had resolved it wouldn't be him. He had no desire to immerse himself in the deceit that was Hamlin's career . . . nor entangle himself in the corrupted loyalties that turned the dead lawyer's associates into both co-conspirators and suspects . . . nor make himself the proxy for the hatreds and betrayals Hamlin left behind.
But the presiding judge demanded otherwise—and that might cost Donnally his life.


If there is single word that characterizes my encounter with writing crime fiction after decades as a criminal investigator, it’s counterintuitive. 

And it’s part of the explanation why true crime makes for lousy crime fiction, why so few career-long law enforcement officers and private investigators succeed in crime writing and why most of those who do have only worked in the field briefly. In truth, much of what readers want from investigator protagonists are characteristics and habits that experienced investigators have to train out of themselves and train out of young investigators in order for them to succeed.

Readers want different things from investigators than do law enforcement agencies and private investigator clients. Readers want to feel increasing tension, while, with the rarest of exceptions, experienced investigators aim to lower it; readers want to watch investigators overcome obstacles, while experienced investigators aim to avoid them; readers want to read about characters who are uniquely qualified, while in the real world there are only investigators who are especially qualified; readers want to watch investigators run up against walls and then force their way through them, while experienced investigators aim how to slip around them; readers want spontaneity and surprise, while experienced investigators plan and plan in order to limit surprises; readers want to see investigators try and try again, while clients want real investigators to get it right the first time; readers are not troubled by brash, aggressive protagonists injecting conflict into a scene, while real investigators don’t inject it, they anticipate potential conflict inherent in a situation and work to mute it. 

In the end, in the real world, doing all these things in these ways is both the criteria of competence and the conditions for successful investigations.

There is one kind of law enforcement that matches readers’ expectations: narcotics. But it isn’t at heart a crime solving assignment. Narcotics cases are generally built from leaning on people who’ve already been caught dirty—by patrol officers and street drug task forces and through search warrants and wiretaps--to give up those above them. It’s less about solving crimes and more about discovering crimes already in progress or creating crimes by means of informants or undercover agents. The problem is that since the skills and attitudes that succeed in narcotics enforcement fail in investigations, few narcotics officers become first rate homicide detectives. Observe the contrast between the drug enforcement reality shows and A&E’s The First 48. In The First 48, at least during the first few years of the show and before detectives began to play to the camera, nearly all of the excitement came from the music and the jump cuts. The detectives themselves were generally low key and methodical.

The problem for me was to translate the reality of investigation into fiction. That is to say, there could be no “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand” of Raymond Chandler or “My way of learning is to heave a wild and unpredictable monkey-wrench into the machinery” of Dashiell Hammett. Rather, plots had to be driven internally and conflict had to be exploited from within, rather than imposed from without and the methods used had to be those that succeeded in real life.

On the domestic front, I’m making this effort in the Harlan Donnally novels of which A Criminal Defense is the latest, and on the international front, in the Graham Gage thrillers of which Power Blind is the latest. In each series, the central problem I faced was investigative competence: the protagonists had to apply real world methods and approaches in a realistic way. That meant applying the techniques of genre fiction to stories whose aim is realism. And the challenge was to make the stories not only informative about the real world of crime and investigation, but exciting for readers. In the end, it’s the readers who will judge whether I have truly bridged the gap between the real and the fictional.

  Contact: Heidi Richter
  (212) 207-7478


Monday, July 29, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading - 7/29/13

Hope you have a good week.


This is a weekly meme run by Book Journey!

Post the books completed last week, the books you are currently reading, and the books you hope to finish this week. 

Books Completed Last Week:


Excellent historical research, but a bit slow for me.

Book Currently Reading:

Books Up Next:

I added a few more, but they are not necessarily in the order I have planned to read them.  I normally read in order of publication or tour date.

And....these are not for reading in the upcoming week.  

The "list" is a means of keeping me organized.  A visual display helps a lot for organization along with my Excel lists.  :)