Conclusive Evidence ~ 
by Al Macy 


*******
Conclusive Evidence
by Al Macy
2019 / 278 pages
read by Nick Sullivan 6h 56m
rating:  B+ / legal drama

*******

 This is an amusing legal drama using the themes of a murder (?) with a deaf defendant, embezzlement, privacy, and twins.   

Taking place in a fictional Northern California somewhere neat the coast in Humboldt county,  Garrett Goodlove is back in the small town aspect of the law. Goodlove has several cases on his calendar but the most significant is that of his twin sister who is deaf and has been arrested for the murder of her estranged husband.  She supposedly pushed him off a cliff into the ocean.  Although it’s short, there are a lot of little threads and aspects to this which make it kind of fun.

It’s pretty good escapist fare for another day of “stay home” rules.

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Chase Darkness With Me ~ by Billy Jensen

 Billy Jensen is the guy who helped finish Michelle McNamara’s true crime book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, which was published after her death in 2016 and went on to win a number of awards in 2018.  It’s the story of hunting down the Golden State Killer and that culminated with his arrest in 2018, just before the arrest was made. 

Chase Darkness With Me
By Billy Jensen
read by the author. 8h 19m
rating –  7.5 / true crime – memoir

 



Billy Jensen is the guy who helped finish Michelle McNamara’s true crime book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, which was published after her death in 2016. In 2018 that book went on to win a number of awards. It’s the story of hunting down the Golden State Killer. A suspect was finally arrested shortly after the book was released .

This is Billy’s story of how he got involved with solving crimes, particularly murders, and went on to develop a social media technique and following to become a highlight in the world of citizen-crime solvers. There are numerous murders described by Jensen,  mostly unsolved which is heartbreaking. But once in a very great while a murder is solved, the. murder gets apprehended, and a family gets closure. Kudos. .

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House on Fire
~ by Joseph Finder


*******
House on Fire
by Joseph Finder
2020 /381 pages
read by Holter Graham
10h 9m
rating –  A+ / crime thriller
(NIck Heller #4)
******* 

Most of us have heard of Oxycontin and the Sackler family which owns Perdue Pharma.  Well, House on Fire is a rip-roaring yarn which uses that scenario as a jumping off place. 

Of course there are lots of differences including the ending, but the overall picture of things is the very similar.  There’s the family’s promotion of a drug, Oxydone in this case, which promises much and delivers addiction.  It also delivers big money to the family which developed it.  And then there’s the art community, protests and sibling rivalry.  Of course, Finder denies the connection. 

Nick Heller is a retired Green Beret now working as a private investigator out of an office in Boston when he receives word that his old army buddy has died of an oxycontin addiction.  At Sean’s funeral a young woman introduces herself to Nick and says she wants someone to look into the Oxydone industry and Kimball Pharma which is mostly run by her father, Conrad KImball.  It has killed too many people she says and it’s a fraud.  Community protests have started.  


So starts Heller’s investigation into the murky waters of  the drug industry. 

Heller is a kick, an action hero with a brain and the action is pretty much nonstop – sometimes overshadowing character development and suspense.  But it’s a fun read – a page-turner.  

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Camino Winds ~ by John Grisham

*******
Camino Winds
by John Grisham
2020 /
read by Michael Beck = 8h 42m
rating – B / crime
(Camino Island series – #2) 
*******

I’ve been reading John Grisham’s books for a long time – maybe 25 years – and he’s gone through some changes, but then so has the genre.  I like his legal thrillers best, especially the ones he wrote in the 1990s; but he’s written some good stuff since. I try to read all the adult novels,  but I’ve missed some.  

In this book Camino Island, the eponymous name of the series, is hit by a the fierce Hurricane Hugo and one of  Bruce Cable’s writer buddies dies in it.  But Nelson is not killed by the storm, but by someone’s attack on him during the storm.  

Bruce and his friends Bob and Nick set out to figure out what they can along with Bruce’s girlfriend Noelle who pops in to help. The story gets going when the threads lead to criminally run nursing homes, millions of dollars and bodies. It’s a thriller, folks .

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Monthly Summary

This is getting aggravating . My blog now looks like a mess. I do not like this “new” block system at all but when I went back to the old way for a few months it messed up so bad I couldn’t even publish new entries. So I returned to the blocks making a few modifications to make that work better. But it works worse in other ways. My main problem, to start with, was not being able to do wrap around text.

But! I just now saw other problems more clearly when I went to write my little summary of books read in April (I don’t usually publish that.) I’ll try this another month but if it doesn’t get easier to post a clean blog I’ll give up and go home.

April Summary:

 “These are the books I read in April –  I read 12 books in all with 7 Crime/Mysteries,  2 General Fiction and 3 Nonfiction and including 5 women authors and no translations. That’s way down from usual but this pandemic has not let me concentrate as usual.  Also, my mother’s health has been worrisome.  (To say nothing of spending a fair amount of time on a couple books which aren’t listed due to not finishing and putting them down.) 

MYSTERIES AND CRIME  
The Big Lie  
by James Grippando
read by Jonathan Davis 11h 22m
rating – A / legal thriller
*******
White Nights
by Ann Cleeves
2015 / 
Read by Gordon Griffin  11h 31m
Rating: A / mystery 
Shetland Island series
*******
Red Bones
by Ann Cleeves
2009 / 
read by Gordon Griffini 11h 21m
rating A / mystery
*******
Blood Defense
by Marica Clark
2017 / Read by Tara Gilbert 11h 50m
rating:  B / legal thriller 
*******
The Best Friend 
by Adam Mitzner
read by Chris Andrew Ciulla , Kate Udall 8h 58m
rating – B / legal crime 
*******
Camino Island 

By John Grisham
2020 / 306 pages
Read by January LaVoy 8h 45m
rating – B+ / crime (Book 1 of a series but maybe only 2 books total)
*******
Eight Perfect Murders
By Peter Swanson
2019 / 288 pages
read by Graham Halstead  8h 3m
rating – A
*******

GENERAL FICTION
The Night Watchman 
by Louise Erdrich
2019 / 464 pages
read by author 13h 32m
rating – A historical fiction   
 (both read and listened) 
*******
The Innocents
by Michael Crummey 
2019 / 293 pages
read by Mary Lewis 9h 5m 
rating: 8 – historical fiction
*******

NONFICTION
St Paul: The Apostle We Love to Hate
by Karen Armstrong
2015 /  159 pages
read by author  – 5h 21m
rating – 8 / Bible history-biography
*******
Front Row at the Trump Show
by Jonathan Karl
read by the author 10h 16m
rating 8 / current events
*******
Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
By David Bayles and Ted Orland
2012 – 125 pages
Read by Arthur Morrey 3h 8m
Rating 3 – nonfiction
(both read and listened) 
*******

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Red Bones ~ by Ann Cleeves

*******
Red Bones
by Ann Cleeves
2009 /
read by Gordon Griffini
11h 21m
rating A / mystery
*******

This is number 3 in Cleeves’ Shetland Island series starring Jimmy Perez as the only detective on the force. The book starts with a bang which is not part of the plot. After the 1st Chapter which acts more like a prologue the book is slow for the first half or so. The real plot starts when an old woman is shot and killed outside her home and the blame is taken by her grandson who out shooting that night. It’s put down to being an accident. But bones have been found in the and then an archeology student turns up dead.

It’s a good book and I’m looking forward to the next in the. series.

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Art and Fear ~ by David Bayles and Ted Orland

*******
Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
By David Bayles and Ted Orland
2012 – 125 pages
Read by Arthur Morrey 3h 8m
Rating 3 – nonfiction
(both read and listened) 
*******

 

I don’t think I’d have looked twice at this book had I seen it on a library or a bookstore shelf but it was nominated and selected by the All-nonfiction reading group so I picked up both an Audible and a Kindle copy.  They were relatively short and cheap. 

The narrative is divided into two Part I concerns being an artist and the fears involved.  Many of the reviewers on Amazon said it was a comfort. Well,  I’m really glad for them.  I’m not an artist although I create stuff sometimes and that feels good. It’s pointed out that the word “create/creative” is not used in the book for some reason.  Yes, everyone is creative – being creative does not make one an artist. Letting go of them and “finding your work” does.  

Part II is about the rest of the world as it concerns artists and it’s rather interesting, more theoretical.  This is the reason I gave the book a 3.  

This book is written for artists who are, perhaps, finding themselves in that endeavor.  I wish them all well.  

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The Big Lie by James Grippando

*******
The Big Lie  
by James Grippando
read by Jonathan Davis 11h 22m
rating – A / legal thriller
*******

 I’d read a couple of Grippando’s prior works and apparently hadn’t taken to them because I read one, gave it an A and then read another which I gave a B and never read another one until now.  The two I read were. Most Dangerous Place and A Death in Live Oak.  

But The Big Lie caught my eye before it was released because there’s a caricature of Trump in there.   The whole book is nowhere near that great but the Trump character is hilarious.  The plot revolves a fictional election in which the incumbent  (the Trump wanna-be) only wins in the electoral college – he loses the popular vote . However, one of the delegates is going to switch her vote and the “Trump” supporters really do NOT want her to for a variety of reasons.  There are a lot of political angles but there’s are legal issues as well. (This is a legal thriller after all.) 

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White NIghts
 ~ by Ann Cleeves

White Nights
by Ann Cleeves
2015 / 
Read by Gordon Griffin  11h 31m
Rating: A / mystery 
Shetland Island series

I read the first in this series a couple years ago and kind of wanted to get into the series but there was no time.  This is the second – finally. 

The setting of the Shetland Islands, where the long days and white nights of summer,  is one of the draws on this delicious who-done-it.  The characters are interesting and nicely developed while the plot is twisty and surprising.  The overarching relationship between Jimmy Perez, the island’s detective and the protagonist of the series, and Fran Hunter, a local artist, is interesting but it never takes over.  

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Blood Defense
 ~ by Marica Clark 


 *******
Blood Defense
by Marica Clark
2017 / Read by Tara Gilbert 11h 50m
rating:  B / legal thriller 
*******

I read one other Marcia Clark years ago and wasn’t

too keen on it but I thought I’d try again.  This is the first in a series with a kind of bad-ass type female lawyer.  Someone in a reading group recommended the series so I got the first one.  

Um … no – the narrator is too sweet for it. Other than that the plot and action are kind of over-my-suspension of disbelief by a bit.  I got through the book and it was okay. 

 I looked at the next volume in the series and it was read by a different narrator – one with a somewhat deeper voice. Then I read the description. – Oh my.  Nope.  

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The Best Friend ~ by Adam Mitzner

*******
The Best Friend
by Adam Mitzner
read by Chris Andrew Ciulla , Kate Udall 8h 58m
rating – B / legal crime

*******



I decided to take a break from the 3 (I think) heavier books I’ve been reading because this coronavirus makes me tired and not quite able to focus like I used to. So I take breaks while reading The. Mirror and the Light (Mantel) or The Gates of Europe (Plokhy) and A Strangeness in My Mind (Pamuk). The Best Friend was to give me one such break.

I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read to date by Mitzner so I took a stab at another one. It was good, nothing special except that the plot was a bit extra convoluted. It was a good fun read in a favorite genre. I’ll do another by Mitzner after a bit.

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The Night Watchman ~ by Louise Erdrich

The Night Watchman 
by Louise Erdrich
2019 / 464 pages
read by author 13h 32m
rating – A historical fiction   
 (both read and listened) 

I love the writing of Louise Erdrich but there have been a couple books which, because she reads them herself, don’t quite cut it.  So I tried listening at 1.25 speed and that cleared that up.  

 Like many of her books this is historical fiction dealing with the Turtle Mountain Reservation in north central North Dakota in 1953 and thereabouts There is one thread which takes the reader to Washington DC and Arthur Watkins who originated a bill to “emancipate” the Natives from their reservations – their land. 

It’s a beautiful fictionalizaton of the story of Patrick Gourneau,  Erdrich’s grandfather who organized to fight that bill. And won.

 But it’s more than that. Erdrich puts Gourneau into her signature setting on the Turtle Mountain Reservation as it was in those days with all the family problems including love and death and drunkeness and leaving for the city.  Great characters!  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Vivian_Watkins

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