Monday, June 25, 2012

Reviewing Books Old and New

Don't you just love this cover? The font is clean and attractive, and the background dark enough to nicely set off the framed pictures. This is the kind of cover that draws the eye to a book and practically screams,  "Check me out!"

Well, Carl Brookins did just that. Did he enjoy the book? Read his review for the answer!

A Fair To Die For                        
by Radine Trees Nehring
ISBN: 9781610091220
A 2012 release from Oak Tree Press
238 pages (without recipes)

In spite of continual bumps in their road of life, Carrie McCrite and her second husband, Henry, forge onward. They both have healthy, positive attitudes. That’s mildly surprising for Henry. He’s retired from a career as a cop in Kansas City. They expected to live a quiet, typical retiree life in the Ozarks. Fate intervenes, in the form of a long-forgotten  cousin named Edith Embler. Edith blows into town looking for family history and bringing behind her a variety of really bad dudes who seem to hang around craft fairs with evil intent.

The story rests in a really clever idea, and the author handles the plot necessities carefully and responsibly. Her skill as a writer puts this novel very much in a positive cozy sort of grouping. Like a lot of traditional American mysteries, this story has a harder edge than is typically found in the classical, traditional, stories from the UK.

Carrie’s experience and generosity of spirit in wanting to help Edith in every possible way play out nicely against her husband’s more suspicious and cautious nature. The novel is interestingly peopled with several unusual characters who add to the richness of the scene. I’ve been reading this author over a number of years and am pleased to recommend this novel. It is in the end a satisfying mystery involving nice people who are truly competent. In the end, one might view with a certain hesitation, if not suspicion, the abrupt arrival of long-lost relatives.

Carl Brookins, author of The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky


A FAIR TO DIE FOR is a 2012 release. Now let's go back to 1994 to check out a book that began one of the most engaging P.I. series in recent history, the Lydia Chin/Bill Smith novels. 

S. J. Rozan debuted her series with CHINA TRADE, in which Lydia Chin is hired by the Chinatown Pride Museum to recover some stolen antique porcelains. Lydia is not your every day run-of-the-mill P.I. An ABC (American Born Chinese) living in New York, Lydia must contend with a disapproving mother and brother, both of whom believe that like any good Chinese girl, Lydia should be looking not for trouble, but for a husband. While her mother shows her displeasure in words, Lydia's brother Tim relies on counter-offensive actions to persuade Lydia to give up her fledgling business. His interference proves costly, though, when it leads to a murder at the museum. 

Lydia and her sometimes-partner Bill Smith follow a winding trail of clues that points first at a respected Chinatown art dealer, then at the Chinese gangs that "own" the streets around the museum, and finally at an international antiquities-laundering business run by a clever but deadly character.

Booklist called CHINA TRADE "A promising start to what shapes up as a top-flight series".Boy! Were they right! If you've never read S. J. Rozan, start at the beginning of this 11-book series with CHINA TRADE. You'll enjoy getting to know Lydia and Bill and the other characters who inhabit N.Y.'s Chinatown. Subsequent books in the series alternate POV between Lydia and Bill. Book #11, GHOST HERO, was released in September, 2011.


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