Saturday, November 12, 2011

Missing by Karin Alvtegen

Foreign Mystery Authors

Review Courtesy of Megan Ingegno

Author: Alvtegen, Karin

Main Character: Sybilla

Title: Missing

Setting: Stockholm, Sweden

Point of View: First person

Style/Pacing: Current events occur over about a week's time.  Flashbacks in alternating chapters help to move the story along.  There is no action until the concluding chapters. 

Main Character Traits: 32-year-old homeless woman.  Grew up privileged, but ran away at 17.  She is a self-described outsider. 

Language/Writing:  Compelling, quick read

Emotional Impact/Degree of Violence: Violence and descriptions of gore are minimal.  The main character never encounters the victims directly, only reads about what happened to them in the paper. 

Humor?:   None.  Focus is more on the psychological drama.

Vulgarity/Sex?:  Again, minimal.  Sex is referred to using gentle/ vague metaphors. 

Issue Driven?:  Homelessness, adoption, grief, homosexuality, organ donation.  Psychological study as much as a murder mystery. 

Special Points:  Karin Alvtegen was dubbed Sweden’s “Queen of Crime.” 

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo


The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

Review Courtesy of Cassandra Alpaugh

Main Character: Police Detective Harry Hole

Series/Title: Harry Hole Series; The Redbreast

Setting: The story takes place during the final months of World War II to the present, and from the Russian front to contemporary South Africa and Oslo. 

Point of View: The author uses the multiple point of view method in the book and due to this the readers can get a glimpse into the minds of the protagonists as well as the antagonists; this creates a reading experience which is not only interesting because we get to know what happens next an who is behind all the crimes committed, but because we get very deep and thorough descriptions of the thoughts and motivations of the characters.

Style/Pacing: The story has a slow start but picks up pace especially on the Eastern Front and in Oslo when all the parts of the story start to collide together.

Main Character Traits: Police Detective is a lonely alcoholic who is terrible at relationships and has difficulty interacting with his coworkers, but develops great relationships with his beat partners.

Language/Writing: Intricate characters; lengthy subplots; well-drawn secondary characters

Emotional Impact/Degree of Violence: There is a lot of mental and physical carnage on the Eastern Front. A main portion of the story also deals with the violence of Neo Nazis and the “black stain” of soldiers from Norway who fought for the Nazis during World War II who are slowly being killed off.

Humor?: It is a very dark story.

Vulgarity/Sex?: Occasional swearing, sex is mostly off the page. Rated: PG

Special Points: This is the first book in the Harry Hole Series. I started with the 5th book in the series so it isn’t terribly important to start at the beginning. This is a difficult book to listen to on audio since the setting jumps time periods and the character’s names are very tricky.

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

Private Investigators

Review Courtesy of Cassandra Alpaugh
Moonlight mile by Dennis Lehane

Main Characters
Patrick Kenzie-P.I., Angela Gennaro-P.I., Amanda McCready – Sequel to Gone, baby, gone


11 years after Gone, baby, gone Kenzie and Gennaro are still in Boston, MA. Kenzie has mellowed with age and fatherhood and is looking to find more stable work and income. The start of the book does a good job expressing what it feels like to live in the current recession. Gennaro is a stay at home mom who is finishing up her degree but is pinning after the excitement of her P.I. days.


Kenzie is called back to once again find Amanda McCready. Amanada is missing, again. Amanda’s aunt has Kenzie and Gennaro are determined to do the right thing by Amanda but once again there are legally right and morally wrong decisions that need to be made.

Point of View

First person point of view from the character of Patrick Kenzie.

Has a nice pace in the beginning as the character’s current situation is explored and then takes off at an explosive pace as the investigation gets underway.

Main Character Traits

Matter of fact personalities laced with dark humor. The characters are getting older but they are balanced, yet prone to handling situations with violence.


Lehane has an amazing command of the first person narrative which stays consistent throughout the entire book. There is gritty language used.

Degree of Violence

There are Russian mafia folks who like to shoot people. Kenzie has a tendency to shoot people. Bubba has a tendency to shoot people … so it is pretty violent.


There is a lot of dark humor sometimes so understated that it may take you a while to get the job. Bubba has a few good one-liners.

There is a lot of talk about sex and a teenage pregnancy. It isn’t terribly descriptive but could be almost Rated PG-13.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Cold Touch of Ice by Michael Pearce

Foreign author
Review Courtesy of Bryan Eichner
Series/ Title
Mamur Zapt Mysteries;  A Cold Touch of Ice  by Michael Pearce
Main Characters
Gareth Owen:  The Mamur Zapt- A private investigator the serves as a liason to The British and Egyptian leaders. He is investigating the murder of Sidi Morelli, an Italian citizen living in Egypt.
Egypt in 1912 during The British occupation. Italy has invaded Tripolitania and tensions are high against foreigners.  Public opinion is shifting from tolerance to xenophobia (fear of foreigners) and this shift must be controlled before its supporters have a chance to destroy British/Egyptian relations in the government.
Garreth Owen, The Mamur Zapt  visits Cairo, Egypt because of Mahmoud’s wedding. Local Italian, Sidi Morelli is killed in front of a coffee house on Mahmoud’s street. Gareth and Mahmoud are then sent to investigate the case of Sidi’s death and uncover the truth behind his relationship with the local Egyptians.   Gareth and Mahmoud are also sent to investigate a gun smuggling ring in a Cairo warehouse.
Point of View
Third person, but Gareth and Mahmoud are mentioned the most frequently.
Starts off at a slower pace, but progressively becomes faster as the mystery is revealed. There are some chase scenes as Gareth and Mahmoud pursue suspects for questioning. While the steps in the investigation are noted (research and conversations) they do not take precedence over the thrill of the chase.
Main Character Traits
British, a sharp observer, and fair.  Gareth’s physical traits are rarely touched upon in the book. The Mamur Zapt is very sensitive about issues on sides of both The British and The Egyptian.
 Egyptian culture and language is used in part of the book. Action-oriented
Degree of Violence
One murder. Weapons (knives and guns)
Some light humor
Occasional flirting and fighting. Rated: PG- 13
Special Note:
The reader might want to keep an Arabic/English dictionary handy because some of the words in the book are Arabic terms that are not widely used in The English language. The reader does not have to look at the entire series unless they would like to see Egypt at different points in the 20th century.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Private Investigators

Dana Stabenow

Main Character: Private Investigator Kate Shugak

Series/Title: Kate Shugak Mysteries; Though Not Dead

Setting: Current day Alaska in “The Park” a rural area about a two hour trek/drive outside of Anchorage as well as Anchorage. Small native village feel contrasted with a modern day city. In Though Not Dead there is a lot of historical materials and passages which really fleshes out the history of the area.

Point of View: Third person but the reader only sees what Kate (or in the case of this book with the historical bits her Great Uncle) sees

Style/Pacing: Slower paced with periods of intense action. Life, when you need to worry about hypothermia at every turn, takes a different pace. Thinking about what to bring and also thinking through when to journey where is an important part of life. As is moose meat, which you get a lot of details about how to prepare.

Main Character Traits: Native Alaskan; small statured; in a stable relationship with a State Trooper; well known and loved by the community; inseparable from her Wolf-Husky mix Mutt; spunky; tenacious; involved with the politics and future of her village

Language/Writing: Detail oriented; step-by-step crime solving; great on audio for correct name/place pronunciations

Emotional Impact/Degree of Violence: Violence is kept to a minimum as are descriptive passages about gore. The body count is quite high in this book.

Humor?: Some light humor

Vulgarity/Sex?: Occasional swearing, all sex is off the page. Rated: PG

Special Points: You don't need to start with the beginning of the series, but some readers may want to see Kate and the villagers grow. There are some stories mentioned in this book which would be missed or uninteresting to someone unfamiliar with the series. A great suggestion for those interested in learning more about Alaska. A good read-alike choice for Sue Grafton – the PIs have similar personalities and investigative styles.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Private Investigators

Sue Grafton

Main Character: Private Investigator Kinsey Millhone

Series: Alphabet Books, A is for... etc.

Setting: Santa Teresa, CA in the 1980s -- even though the series started in 1982, the character has only aged seven or eight years.  The 80s pop culture references and lack of computer sleuthing can be a draw for some.

Point of View: First person

Style/Pacing: Slower paced with periods of action.  All steps in the investigation (conversations, research, etc.) are described in detail.  Some may find the writing too detailed.

Main Character Traits: Relationship shy; quirky; 80s fashion victim

Language/Writing: Detail oriented; step-by-step crime solving

Emotional Impact/Degree of Violence: Violence is kept to a minimum as are descriptive passages about gore. 

Humor?: Some light humor

Vulgarity/Sex?: Occasional swearing, all sex is off the page.  Rated: PG

Issue Driven?: Depends on the book.  S is for Silence deals with elder abuse.  She tries to go with different types of crimes for each entry in the series.  In R is for Richochet Kinsey is beginning a new relationship and she deals with all the difficulties that comes with starting again.

Special Points: You don't need to start with A; author fills the reader in on Kinsey's life in each story.