Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich or Stephanie's wild ride!

Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, and she’s flying back to New Jersey solo. Worse still, her seatmate never returned to the plane after the L.A. layover. Now he’s dead, in a garbage can, waiting for curbside pickup. His killer could be anyone. And a ragtag collection of thugs and psychos, not to mention the FBI, are all looking for a photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying.
Only one other person has seen the missing photo—Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target, and she doesn’t intend to end up in a garbage can. With the help of an FBI sketch artist Stephanie re-creates the person in the photo. Unfortunately the first sketch turns out to look like Tom Cruise, and the second sketch like Ashton Kutcher. Until Stephanie can improve her descriptive skills, she’ll need to watch her back.
Over at the bail bonds agency things are going from bad to worse. The bonds bus serving as Vinnie’s temporary HQ goes up in smoke. Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls in love with their largest skip yet. Lifetime arch nemesis Joyce Barnhardt moves into Stephanie’s apartment. And everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii?

Morelli, Trenton’s hottest cop, isn’t talking about Hawaii. Ranger, the man of mystery, isn’t talking about Hawaii.  And all Stephanie is willing to say about her Hawaiian vacation is . . . It’s complicated. ( synopsis from

Bantam books, Hardcover, 320 pages

Ah Stephanie, could your life get any more messed up!  Our intrepid heroine finds herself on a plane flying home from Hawaii all alone. She sits next to a noisy guy who misses the connection and disappears. Later, at her mother's she finds a photo that isn't hers and tosses it in the trash. Everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii and there is a lot of speculation about the stripe of white flesh on her tanned ring finger.

As usual, Stephanie finds herself in the middle of a big mess with little to no understanding of why.  She has lots of bad dudes, good dudes, bad dudes posing as good dudes and the like chasing her around Trenton.  She and Lula go after some interesting FTA's which leads to more confusion and trouble for Stephanie. Joyce Barnhart makes a significant appearance and continues to be a major fly in the ointment. A good part of this story we have seen before in other incarnations but it still works.

I have to admit I did not have any laugh out loud moments but I did find the suspense level was kicked up a bit to compensate.  The never ending question of Ranger vs Morelli continues but I think there are some definite leanings in this book. Ms. Evanovich is not completely back to the hilarious early books but this one is an improvement on the lackluster numbers 14-16 books. 
RPL Notes: This book will be available on November 22, 2011 in the Adult New book section. The audio version will also be available around that time

Monday, November 14, 2011

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

A woman with a murky past who kills herself-or was it murder? A spoiled kid awash in gambling debt who thinks he can beat the system. A lovely woman whose life is about to splinter into a thousand fragments. A professional shoplifting ring working for the Mob, racking up millions from stolen goods. A wandering husband, rich and ruthless. A dirty cop so entrenched on the force he is immune to exposure. A sinister gangster, conscienceless and brutal. A lonely widower mourning the death of his lover, desperate for answers, which may be worse than the pain of his loss. A private detective, Kinsey Millhone, whose thirty-eighth-birthday gift is a punch in the face that leaves her with two black eyes and a busted nose.
And an elegant and powerful businessman whose dealings are definitely outside the law: the magus at the center of the web.
V: Victim. Violence. Vengeance.   ( synopsis from B&

Penguin Group (USA), Hardcover , 400pp

V is for Vengeance starts off with the story of a young man who meets a bad end at the hands of a loan shark and his brother. The book then moves to the present day of the book (1988) and starts off with Kinsey Milhone witnessing a shoplifting incident with two women.  One gets caught and the other literally drives over Kinsey in the parking lot making her escape.  Two days later, the woman who was arrested ends up dead in the same spot as the young man in the beginning of the book.  Kinsey is hired by the man who was engaged to the dead woman to find out what really happened because he does not believe she committed suicide. Kinsey is soon involved in uncovering a ring of professional thieves, a police conspiracy, blackmail, and a man with interesting family connections known as “Dante”. All the while she has an obnoxious reporter dogging her investigation and causing trouble.
Also weaving through the book is the story of an unhappy wife named Nora, who realizes her husband is cheating and takes steps to protect herself.  In the course of covering her bases financially, she meets Dante and begins an unlikely relationship with him. There is an interesting twist in the book that involves both of these people and ties into the modern day activities.
One of the things I enjoy about this series is the fact that it is set in the 80’s. Kinsey has to rely on research, hard work, and legwork to get her job done.  She has no internet or cell phone to do work for her.   I love it when she needs to get to a pay phone to call someone when she is out working on a case or making a carbon copy of something.  I find myself thinking “If she only had a ………”
Kinsey is a solitary person who has very few real relationships in her life.  She can only rely on herself this book reinforces that fact.  Her ex-boyfriend Cheney is working with a cop who hates Kinsey so she feels cut off from one of her resources. Her neighbor and best friend Henry is gone to visit an ailing relative so Kinsey doesn’t have him to run things by. She works and lives alone with the occasional acquaintance that comes into her life.  Her solitary nature is a running theme through all 22 books in the series and I felt she was particularly alone in this book.  It is a common theme for a male detective to be a “loner” but not so common for female sleuths.  It is possible the lack of people distracting her contributes to her strong intuition about cases and her excellent observation skills.
This book has plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader interested. The continuity of the story from earlier books makes it enjoyable for long time readers but it can be enjoyed by a new reader as well. I wonder what we will all do when Ms. Grafton reaches the end of the alphabet!
RPL NOTE: This book will be available after 11-14-2011 in the Adult New Books section.  The audiobook will be available later in the month.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wyoming Tough by Diana Palmer

A cowboy through and through, ranch owner Mallory Kirk knows what it means to put in a full day's work. But does his new cowgirl? He has his doubts that Morie Brannt will be able to pull her own weight, even if the petite young woman does seem to have a lot of spirit. As they spar over events at the ranch and a past that threatens their hopes for the future, sparks begin to fly, and Mallory can't help but notice Morie in a new light. But is this tough Wyoming man ready to love? (synopsis from B&
 Harlequin. Mass Market Paperback , 320pp

Wyoming Tough is the first in a Trilogy by Diana Palmer. It features Morie Brannt and Mallory Kirk. Morie is the daughter of Shelby & King Brannt from "To Love and To Cherish" an older Diana Palmer favorite.
Morie is working at the Kirk ranch as a ranch hand. She has kept her real identity a secret because she is trying to be herself not the rich daughter of a well-known cattle baron. Mallory Kirk is her boss, one of the brothers who own the ranch. The chemistry between them is strong ,but Mallory has been betrayed before and is cautious. Morie is inexperienced in the love department but knows how to handle a rough, tough cowboy, having grown up with one for a father.
As happens in many Palmer books, there is a poisonous girlfriend who does everything she can to destroy Morie and turn Mallory against her.
Even though we have seen this before, it still works in this book because Ms. Palmer does such a good job of setting up the inevitable confrontation between the two would be lovers and again between the two women. There is nothing as satisfying as when Ms. Palmer makes the hero and villainess pay for their actions against the usually spunky heroine.
The Kirk brothers have lots of issues between them and I can't wait to read the books about Cane and Dalton Kirk. After I read this book, I had to go back and read the original book about Morie's parents. I enjoyed it as much as this book. That is the great thing about Diana Palmer, many of her books are connected and you can read them over and over and still get a lot of enjoyment out of them. This book will not be any different in that regard.

RPL NOTES: This book is available in the Adult New Paperback section. RPL has many of Diana Palmer's other books in the Adult Fiction section.

Murder by Mocha by Cleo Coyle

Clare's Village Blend coffee beans are being used to create a new java love potion: a "Mocha Magic Coffee," billed as an aphrodisiac. The product, expected to rake in millions, will be sold exclusively on Aphrodite's Village, one of the most popular online communities for women.
But at its launch, one of the website's editors is murdered. Clare is convinced a bitter killer wants the secret formula. Can she catch who's gone loco for mocha? ( synopsis from B&

Penguin Group, Hardcover , 384pp

Clare Cosi finds herself embroiled in yet another murder in this, the 10th book in the Coffeehouse Mysteries.  Clare gets a call from her ex mother in law to come to a hotel and help with a sticky situation.  The situation turns out to be a dead body, which subsequently disappears when the police arrive.  The supposed murderer is Alicia, a woman that Clare is working with on an aphrodisiac coffee using beans from the Village Blend.  The Magic Mocha coffee has an interesting effect on several characters in the book and the company distributing it, Aphrodite’s Village, is central to the murder and mayhem in this book.  Aphrodite’s Village is quite the little hotbed of
intrigue and backstabbing as Clare learns to her dismay.

Like the earlier books in the series, this is a solid mystery with interesting characters and more than one subplot winding through the book.  Clare is finally in a stable romantic relationship but her history makes her unable to commit to the other person.  In this book, she works through many of her issues and the relationship grows in a realistic way. Madame Dubois, Clare’s former mother in law, plays a big part in this book and we learn more about her earlier life. In previous books, she spoke about events in her past and we get a look at the history behind the events in this book.  Madame is the driving force behind the contact with Aphrodite’s Village to sell the Magic Mocha coffee, as she is friends with Alicia. Clare has doubts about the whole deal but has to go along, as Madame is the boss. 
A twist in this book is that the murderer has a point of view in the book and we get to see the motivation for the crimes beforehand.  Ms. Coyle skillfully blends all of the twists, turns, and keeps the reader guessing right up until the end. One of the best things about this series is all of the information about coffee and the recipes that are included in the book.  I myself am not a coffee drinker but I still enjoy all of the information so I can play coffee snob with my friends and have the facts to back it up.
RPL Notes: This book is available in the Adult New Book section. Earlier books in the series are shelved in the Adult Mystery Section.