Sunday, June 26, 2011


Identity CrisisIdentity Crisis by Debbi Mack

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Just another Chick Dick this case, though, she's an attorney with a Nancy Drew streak....a decent amount of moxie..a married boyfriend....and a temperamental automobile. The story is set in and around Baltimore...old CHARM CITY herself.

This little tale of identity theft and murder-most-foul (with a back story of High School hijinks gone wrong, and the revenge that followed) was a sweet respite from heavier fare. Nothing earth shaking, mind you...but it flowed smoothly, without too much Romantic mush (though the ending tends toward SAPPY CITY)...a few car chases...a little gun play...a scar-faced Mafioso...put it squarely in Chick Dick territory. It reminded me of Sue Grafton's KINSEY MILLHONE/Alphabet the character of Sam mcRae, that is..

My version of "fluff"...rates 3 stars..

*this was an ePub version...i read it on my NOOK)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Look Out, Sam's on the Case...

Judgment Calls (Samantha Kincaid #1)Judgment Calls by Alafair Burke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One more in a long line of novels featuring a female PI/cop/lawyer...this is the first of a series, and the author's first novel. It possesses all the necessary elements: a smart, savvy protagonist(ess)....a semi-hunky love interest/foil.....a corrupt DA...some honest cops....and less-than -brilliant criminals. Ms Burke drew on her own experience in the legal profession, here.....the characters seem more 'believable" as a result.

We have here a teenage prostitution earlier death-penalty case that is "on the rocks"since those incarcerated for the crime could well be "innocent" of the crime.....several degrees of Bad Guys, from the seriously psychotic to the merely confused....and DAs playing both ends against the middle.

The book dragged in spots due to over explanation of the trial process/police procedure....but Ms Burke (daughter of James Lee) at least kept the "lectures" in the character's voice...less hectoring. Alafair has her Daddy's gift for dialogue and fast pacing....i look forward to reading her other offerings.

As I said, this is the first of a series featuring Samantha Kincaid...there is another series starring Ellie Hatcher, which joys I have yet to sample...Books like this are my idea of "fluff" and I recommend it to anyone who likes sassy, smart women in somewhat tough situations....anyone who likes the work of Sue Grafton and Laura Lippmann. Ms Burke is one writer to keep an eye on

3 Stars (***)

View all my reviews

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We Are Family???

So Many Ways to BeginSo Many Ways to Begin by Jon McGregor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

David Carter - Curator of a local museum; obsessive collector and archivist of his own life

........until a senile relative reveals a long-buried family secret. Then David's life slips out of orbit. So begins his own personal Reconstruction..and his coming to terms with the fact that his life has not been what it seemed....that he isn't who he thought he was. so begins his search for "self".

Add to this a wife with bipolar disorder and its attendant strains...troubles in the workplace both personal and professional.....a daughter turned rebellious...and David's own batch of demons and weaknesses..and you have a heartbreaker of a story.

The author has an engaging style that moves the story along without undue sentimentality or "drama"...The ending could have been "tighter", but that's a minor quibble..and seems perfectly correct, in hindsight. The book has a definite British feel to it...."brave stoicism" with hysteria and rage lying just below the surface.

I liked the way McGregor portrayed David's situation as his life spiraled downwards- the confusion, frustration and anger so well-contained....only bursting forth at intervals..then receding quietly..until the next time. McGregor also writes about sex between married people in a healthily realistic fashion- no "throbbing" or "heaving" here...just "the way it is" in all its glory...the blessed "routine" of it all.

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys intelligent Soap Opera......who enjoys a good story, well told, without a patent "happy ending"...who is still "searching for self" (though maybe not this thoroughly)......I say give this one a try...

4 Stars (****)