Blog Posts by David

  • "The Vault" by Boyd Morrison: Book Review

    "The Vault" by Boyd Morrison
    Touchstone/Simon&Schuster, 438 pp., $24.99
    Reviewed by David Marshall James


    Picture a red Ferrari 458 Italia tearing down the Autobahn at 200 mph, and you've got a taste of the pacing in Boyd Morrison's follow-up thriller to "The Ark."

    The author brings back Dr. Tyler Locke, young engineer extraordinaire, heavy into all things Archimedes, and a grand hand at defusing a bomb.

    Herein, Locke's talents are turned against him, although he will be driving that Ferrari in due course.

    Locke's co-victim turned cohort is TV host Stacy Benedict. Unlike the worse-than-average number of nitwit members of her profession, Benedict has a brain, and she puts it to good use with her knowledge of classical antiquities and multiple languages, including Greek.

    Following cryptic (to put it mildly) clues left by Archimedes, Locke and Benedict are pressed into a quest for King Midas' fortune, the price of gold being what it is.

    And it's about to go up, if madman Jordan Orr

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  • "Smokin' Seventeen" by Janet Evanovich: Book Review


    "Smokin' Seventeen" by Janet Evanovich
    Bantam, 308 pp., $28
    Reviewed by David Marshall James

    Long before HD, there was a TV ad for a TV that claimed to "grab your picture, to align it and define it."

    That's a fair assessment of what Janet Evanovich has accomplished with her Stephanie Plum series.

    She's aligned it and defined it-- and refined it.

    Principally, she always brings back your favorite characters, and in the proper doses.

    Stephanie. Her Grandma Mazur. Her 'rents.

    Her paramours, Joe Morelli and Ranger.

    Lula-- the Ethel Mertz to Stephanie's Lucy Ricardo. (Naw, better make that the Laverne to Stephanie's Shirley.)

    Stephanie's employer, bail bondsman (and cousin) Vinnie.

    His pulled-together secretary, Connie.

    And lately, Mooner-- the Dude.

    (Incidentally, until construction is complete on its burned-out former location, the bonds office is operating out of Mooner's bus. Business has plummeted, but wait till you get a load of Vinnie's advertising scheme.)

    There are

    Read More »from "Smokin' Seventeen" by Janet Evanovich: Book Review
  • "Chihuahua of the Baskervilles" by Esri Allbritten: Book Review


    "Chihuahua of the Baskervilles" by Esri Allbritten
    Minotaur/Thomas Dunne, 275 pp., $23.99
    Reviewed by David Marshall James

    As strange as it may seem, this debut mystery may put one in mind of "Scooby Doo" meets "The Philadelphia Story."

    "The Philadelphia Story"-- Wherein several magazine journalists (writer and photographer) mix and mingle inside a household to the extent that they become more wrapped up in the family's private lives than in the event they are supposedly covering for the publication.

    "Scooby Doo"-- Wherein a foursome of self-proclaimed mystery solvers with limited wardrobe accoutrements (plus the titular, ruh-ro-ing pooch) become entangled in paranormal-- or, allegedly paranormal-- mysteries.

    "Chihuahua of the Baskervilles"-- Wherein three magazine journalists (two writers and a photog) are assigned to cover a paranormal mystery, then become the principal snoops in a murder mystery tied to the family whose members they are interviewing.

    Debut author Esri

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  • "The Devil Colony" by James Rollins: Book Review

    "The Devil Colony" by James Rollins
    William Morrow, 480 pp., $27.99
    Reviewed by David Marshall James


    Pesky kids-- when a cave not far from Provo, Utah, is said to carry an ancient Native American curse (as in, stay the heck out of it, or the world will be doomed), then keep the freak out of it.

    They're not the only teenagers who are taking the law-- and the world-- into their own hands in James Rollins's latest thriller.

    At least his crack team of spies, soldiers, scientists, and enigma unravelers, Sigma Force, can swoop in from their secret headquarters under the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, D.C., in order to commence damage control.

    Sigma is bigma on weaponry. If they're in a jam, with an immediate need for a Humvee, a Harley, or even a Pontiac, one of them will whip out a Sig and shove it in the driver's face.

    Works for me-- here're the keys.

    The entertainment/adventure/action quotient shoots off the chart in this Saturday-matinee melange of American history, Native

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  • "Trespasser" by Paul Doiron: Book Review

    "Trespasser" by Paul Doiron
    Minotaur, 310 pp., $24.99
    Reviewed by David Marshall James

    Maine's a mess, and so is Mike Bowditch.

    It's "mud season"-- Maine's version of "March Madness"-- when winter pauses anxiously upon the doorstep of spring, with quick-melting snows, ice storms, and lots of slush on the roads.

    As for Maine game warden Mike Bowditch, he's about as pulled-together as a men's-small parka on an NFL lineman.

    His "problem father" issues came to a head in author Paul Doiron's debut mystery novel, "The Poacher's Son."

    Mike's back-to-living-in (Mike's leaky-roofed cottage in the woods) girlfriend, elementary-school teacher Sarah Harris-- whom he met when thery were students at Colby College-- urges him to talk to someone. Anyone trained in counseling.

    How about the wardens' chaplain? She's a nice lady, has helped many people. Even does floors.

    Mike, however, brushes her off like a mosquito.

    You do need help, buddy boy.

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  • "Highway 61" by David Housewright: Book Review


    "Highway 61" by David Housewright
    Minotaur, 326 pp., $25.99
    Reviewed by David Marshall James


    It all begins with a favor.

    For his inamorata's, Nina Truhler's, scummified ex-husband, no less.

    However, Rushmore McKenzie has a soft spot for the split couple's daughter, Erica, a high-school senior.

    And Erica would really (times infinity) like McKenzie to help her daddy, Jason Truhler, out of his pickle.

    (Actually, his pickle is a large part of his problem.)

    So, McKenzie hits Highway 61 in his beloved Audi, headed up from the Twin Cities to Thunder Bay, Canada, on the shore of Lake Superior, where Jason's woes commenced during an outdoor jazz fest.

    McKenzie quickly discovers that Jason is not just in a pickle-- he's in the freakin' Heinz factory-- so he heads back to "The Cities" (St. Paul and Minneapolis), where most of the remainder of the plot transpires.

    While McKenzie is backtracking on Highway 61, let's do the same: Born and raised

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  • "Misery Bay" by Steve Hamilton: Book Review

    "Misery Bay" by Steve Hamilton
    Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's, 294 pp., $24.99
    Reviewed by David Marshall James

    When many people think of Paradise, they look up.

    For ex-cop Alex McKnight, Paradise is on the UP.

    As in, "Upper Peninsula" of Michigan; as in, a small town called Paradise.

    It's all about the weather up there, with ice and snow and lots of it, even into April, when much of this story transpires.

    Actually, it begins right after New Year's, with the apparent suicide of a Michigan Tech student at the titular locale.

    The young man's father, a U.S. marshal, happens to be a close friend (from their days with the Michigan State Police) of Roy Maven, chief of police in the Soo.

    That's what the locals call Sault Ste. Marie, about an hour's drive (as Alex takes it, and that's fast) from Paradise.

    They may reside on the UP, but relations between Alex and the Chief have been decidedly down.

    Well, everyone in the Soo-- and even beyond

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  • "The Pack" by Jason Starr: Book Review

    "The Pack" by Jason Starr
    Ace, 341 pp., $25.95
    Reviewed by David Marshall James


    Revenge fantasies focused on bosses are nothing new nor rare, particularly in cases wherein a perfectly good employee is made rendundant, then ordered to some smarmy human-resources dweeb, then summarily escorted to the closest exit by security personnel.

    Have a nice day, drop dead, goodbye.

    Thus transpires the fate of New York City advertising accounts executive Simon Burns.

    How will he afford the mortgage on his Upper West Side apartment?

    His working wife thinks maybe this has all happened for the best, in a roundabout way. That is, Simon can adapt to the new role of stay-at-home dad to their three-year-old son, Jeremy.

    Naturally, the maid will have to be made redundant in turn-- ripple effect, and all that.

    Simon gets off to an inauspicious start as an S.A.H.D. Well, Jeremy has bonded with the maid.

    Fortuitously, Simon encounters three fellow dads way

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  • "Summer Rental" by Mary Kay Andrews: Book Review

    "Summer Rental" by Mary Kay Andrews
    St. Martin's, 402 pp., $25.99
    Reviewed by David Marshall James


    Back in the day, taking a house-rental at the beach was just one step above camping outdoors.

    No TV, no AC, and the stove and the refrigerator were usually "vintage," to put it kindly. Dishwasher? That was you, my friend.

    Lumpy matresses, rump-sprung chairs, and assorted castoff furnishings that couldn't even make the cut up to the owners' attic may not have been de rigueur, but were certainly expected.

    Such are the bygone conditions in which three best friends from Catholic-school days back in Savannah, Georgia, find themselves for a monthlong August reunion on the beach at Nags Head, North Carolina.

    Ellis, the trio's hyper-organized coordinator, has been downsized out of her career as a large-bank marketing manager in Philadelphia.

    Married fleetingly and disastrously, fresh out of college, "Elly" has substituted fun with spreadsheets for fun on the sheets.

    Thus Read More »from "Summer Rental" by Mary Kay Andrews: Book Review
  • "The Measby Murder Enquiry" by Ann Purser: Book Review


    "The Measby Murder Enquiry" by Ann Purser
    Berkley Prime Crime, 325 pp., $7.99 (paperback original)
    Reviewed by David Marshall James

    Ivy Beasley-- her name couldn't be more apt.

    No doubt she's been referred to as "Ivy Beasleybody" more than once, yet certainly never to her formidable face.

    As for the "Ivy"-- she clings tenaciously to a cause, to a task, to a belief-- in the manner of the vine.

    This second mystery novel starring the most active resident of a small, private, British-village retirement home finds her little investigative group, Enquire Within, running strong, if not profitably.

    Thankfully, Ivy's cousin and fellow EW member, Deirdre Bloxham, is rolling in it-- and a Rolls-Royce at that.

    And, Cousin Deirdre has got time enough on her hands, being a widow rambling about a large house, when she's not rambling about in her posh ride.

    Also with time on their hands are the fellow EW participants rounding out the foursome. First, there's Roy Goodman,

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