Thursday, June 10, 2010

Going from dark to light

Even though I'm putting the final touches on INK FLAMINGOS, I still have time to read on my daily bus commute to work. I've read two books lately that couldn't be more different, but I enjoyed each of them.

I've been a huge fan of Faye Kellerman's Rina Lazarus and Peter Decker mysteries for years. I love the way their relationship has developed through the books, and now their children are grown up, too. I haven't read any books by Jonathan Kellerman, Faye's husband, however. But their son, Jesse Kellerman, is now also a writer. I read and enjoyed his first book SUNSTROKE but did not read the next two. But I have just finished his most recent book, THE EXECUTOR, and it blew me away.

There is something about Jesse Kellerman's style, his use of language, his detailed descriptions, his clear understanding of his story and backstory, and his subtle manipulation of characters that makes this book stand out.

Joseph Griest is a languishing philosophy graduate student, 800 pages into a PhD dissertation his adviser declares isn't worth it at all. He gets thrown out of Harvard, his girlfriend throws him out of their apartment, and he begins to couch surf but isn't too amibitious about finding a new direction. He answers a classified ad for a "conversationalist" and meets an elderly woman who brings him into her life and her home. But what seemed to be an easy way out for Joseph may not be so easy after all . . .

I am reluctant to say more about the plot. You need to read it and savor it and find out the books secrets yourself. All I will say is, I read the last 100 pages in one sitting at a breakneck pace, my heart in my throat the entire time. And when you finish, you will feel exhausted and you will see that the story ends the only way it can.

After reading THE EXECUTOR, I decided I needed something considerably lighter, so I picked up BUNDLE OF TROUBLE, a Maternal Instincts mystery, by Diana Orgain. I met Diana at the Mystery Lovers Bookshop's annual festival in Pittsburgh in May, and she was so delightful I bought her book.

While I don't generally read cozies, I found BUNDLE OF TROUBLE to be exactly what I needed and then some. The writing is smooth, easy, and the characters likeable. When the book opens, Kate Connelly is very pregnant and actually gives birth in the second chapter, after finding out her brother in law might have been killed and dumped in the ocean. Once she's out of the hospital with baby Laurie in tow, Kate manages to steal a wealthy client from a private investigator and begins her own investigation into the murder.

While I did suspend my disbelief that a brand new mom with a brand new baby would be able to do the things Kate did (I was annoyed that she went alone to accuse someone of the crime . . . this is what we call Too Stupid To Live), most of it was as believable as it could be and Kate's voice is very engaging. If you're into cozy mysteries, this one should be added to your list, although I'm curious about the fact that Kate is now training to be a private eye. Most of these amateur sleuths stay amateur and never investigate professionally.

What have you read lately?


pattinase (abbott) said...

I am reading THE GLASS ROOM by Simon Mawer, not crime fiction but enthralling. Set in Czechoslovakia in 1930 and going through the war years, but in a personal way. And just read THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG. My book group all almost gave up on page 75 or so but ended up loving it. Now back to crime.
And another clever title. How do you do it?

Dru said...

I just finished LOVE KILLS by Dianne Emley and now I'm reading NOT ONE CLUE by Lois Greiman

Anonymous said...

Wow--I think I need to pick up this Kellerman book! (I have read a few Jonathan Kellerman novels but never one of his wife's...)