Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Passenger 19

Passenger 19 is my first Ward Larsen novel and I found it to be intriguing and leaving me wanting to read another.

The main character, Jammer Davis, is an aircraft accident investigator for the Government. The present tragedy he is called to investigate is unique… for Jammer anyway, because the crashed plane’s manifest list shows his own daughter as a passenger. Davis is flown to Bogota and the jungles of Colombia to the flight scene hoping against hope he will find his daughter alive. However, the odd twist, his daughter’s body, along with 2 others, is not on the scene, but missing.

Behind this disaster is a surprising plot involving drug cartels and Washington undesirables. Jammer, himself is quite a character - both likable and endearing. An edge of your seat book you will want to check out.  ~ Patsy Scott

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

What She Knew

Gilly Macmillan"s debut novel is an emotionally intense psychological/police procedural mystery about the kidnapping of a child.  Rachel Jenner has taken her young son and his new puppy to a local Bristol (England) park  for exercise and fun.  She is still obsessing about her recent divorce-her husband left her for another woman and she feels her life is over.  She allows Ben to run ahead to the playground-a normal mother decision, but when she arrives just minutes later, Ben and the puppy are gone.  After searching the park frantically and finding no trace of either, she calls the police and her ex-husband.  The nightmare begins. 
When the police search the woods, they find Ben's clothing and the puppy whose leg is broken.  Everyone is questioned, the ex, his wife, neighbors, friends, school, and Ben 's classmates.  The parents are frantic and so are the police.  They know they need to find him quick to find him alive.  And the media/bloggers are already questioning Rachel's fitness as a mother.
 This is a very emotional story told from the point of view of the mother and also Jim Climo, the policeman in charge of the case.  He wants to solve this case to further his career. Some of his story is told through the therapy sessions he has been ordered to attend. 

Everyone is questioned and secrets are revealed.  There are many twists and turns and emotional ups and downs.  Can Rachel trust even her own family?  If you stay away from novels about child kidnapping and murder, here is a spoiler.  *Spoiler Alert*  Ben does not die.

Monday, February 01, 2016

The Drunken Spelunker's Guide to Plato by Kathy Guiffre

I picked up The Drunken Spelunker’s Guide to Plato because of its quirky title; I kept reading because of the inventive writing and engaging storyline.

Author Kathy Giuffre is a sociologist and professor specializing in social networks and cultural sociology, and has written a number of academic books on those topics. This, her first novel, combines Plato’s allegory of the cave from the Republic and stories from Greek mythology. This may seem a stretch for her, but personal networks and cultural norms are at the heart of this book.

Set before the advent of the internet, the social networks formed here are those among a group of outcasts in a small college town in the South. Feeling trapped in her small Appalachian town, young Josie hops a bus to nearby Waterville. Waterville is like any small college town, full of misfits, dreamers, drunks, and musicians, all converging at a dive bar called The Cavern Tavern, aka “The Cave.” Josie and her friends create a family of sorts as they navigate through life around the time of the first gulf war.

Each chapter is preceded by a portion of Plato’s allegory or a mythical tale that applies to the events that follow. In less talented hands, this could feel very heavy-handed or forced, but Giuffre winds them together with ease. It is easy to see Josie finding solace in these ancient stories reflecting the events of her own life. The Drunken Spelunker’s Guide to Plato tells a universal story of first love, loss, and redemption. It’s about the families we build for ourselves, pulling each other out of the darkness of the cave and into the light of day.

While the events of the story could easily make this book depressing, the characters (especially Josie) and their outlook on life make the book feel hopeful. As the book jacket says, “Just because we’re all prisoners in the cave doesn’t mean we can’t have fun.”

-Portia Kapraun

Friday, January 29, 2016

Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand

In Winter Street we are introduced to Kelley and Mitzie Quinn who run the Winter Street Inn on Nantucket Island.  Between them they have four grown children, an ex-wife, and a lover.  The story runs from December 23 to Christmas Evening as the family and their significant others gather.  Within the group, there are multiple issues going on, leading to a wide swath of emotions ranging from sheer joy to utter agony.  One might say that it is a bit unbelievable that so much drama could be happening at once.

It wasn't a happily ever after ending but it kept my spirits high.   The characters were all distinctly individualistic ones.  The story lines and setting were credible and the warmth of the season crept through the book.                                                                      

Everything She Forgot by Lisa Ballantyne

  Some things aren't meant to be remembered...Margaret Holloway was told this as a child.  Margaret Holloway was one of two deputy teachers at Byron Academy, and the only woman on the senior management team.
     As Margaret was driving home, she had her mind elsewhere, on a troubled student, her daughter's acting class, the next day's meeting when she rear-ended another vehicle and was trapped in her car.  The news was calling it the worst pileup in London history.
     Margaret is trapped in her car while other vehicles are piling up on the road behind her.  She tries to get out of the car but finds that she is trapped. Just as she begins to panic, a disfigured stranger pulls her from the car seconds before it's engulfed in flames.  After he has broken the window out and helped Margaret get as far away from the flames as possible, he simply disappears without a word.
     Margaret escapes with minor injuries, but she feels that something's wrong.  She's having trouble concentrating. She's having flashbacks to the crash and also dredging up lost memories from her childhood.  Whatever happened when she was a child, she chose to forget. Somehow, Margaret knows deep down that it has something to do with the man who saved her life. Margaret uncovers a mystery with chilling implications for her family and her very own identity.
      Everything She Forgot is a great mystery with a surprise ending that will keep you reading and guessing until the end.