The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaver

The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaver is an excellent short book.

Special agent Kathryn Dance—a brilliant interrogator and body language expert and her partners at the California Bureau of Investigation hunt down escaped killer Daniel Pell, a self-styled Charles Manson.

Both Dance and Pell are fascinating characters.

Jeffery Deaver creates plots with so many twists and turns they could “hide behind a spiral staircase” (People), and The Sleeping Doll has Deaver’s trademark twists in spades. It is guaranteed to keep readers guessing right up to the breathless end.

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The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy has written 12 novels, mostly Western and post-apocalyptic genres. …

His 2006 novel The Road won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The Road was hard to read. But excellent.

You probably saw the film.

16 years after The Road, McCarthy published The Passenger (2022).

It’s literature — not easy to follow.

Perhaps I’m not smart enough to appreciate the plotless long sections of dialogue — with no action.

Philosophical. Diversions into the stupidity of the Vietnam war. The potential of science. Physics. War. The assassination of JFK. Formula 2 racing. Smart stuff that doesn’t relate in any way to the story.

The novel follows Bobby Western, a salvage diver, across the Gulf of Mexico and the American South. Western is haunted by his father’s contributions to the development of the atomic bomb. …

Following a salvage dive to recover any survivors from a submerged airplane, Western discovers that the pilot’s flight bag and data box are missing. Within a few days, he returns to his apartment to find two agents of some kind who ask questions …

Bobby goes on the run.

The love of his life was his sister Alicia, a mathematical prodigy and paranoid schizophrenic, who killed herself years before.

Guardian critic Xan Brooks praised the novel, calling it a “glorious sunset song of a novel… It’s rich and it’s strange, mercurial and melancholic.”

I probably won’t read the short sequel, Stella Maris.

Desert Star by Michael Connelly

In the novel published 2022 Bosch is older. Grumpier. Long retired.

LAPD detective Renée Ballard had quit the force, as well, in the face of misogyny, demoralization, and endless red tape.

But Renée’s convinced to return and rebuild the cold case unit at the elite Robbery-Homicide Division.

With no budget, she recruits volunteers. Who’s #1 on her list? … Harry Bosch.

Two cases play out in parallel. As always, Bosch is the worst kind of underling. But certainly keeps momentum to try to solve the cases. Ballard needs him.

One thing I love about Bosch books is how they include their mistakes. And never downplay the challenges of Los Angeles traffic. It makes these meticulous police investigations feel much more real.

Not the best of Connelly’s procedurals, but nobody else does them better than his second-best.

Kirkus Reviews

I quite like the end of the book. Surprising, yet believable.

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A Connecticut Gumshoe in Sherwood Forest by Randy McCharles

My brother’s 2021 book is available in paperback and Kindle formats.

This one is #2 in the Sam Sparrow series.

Sam is a private eye who keeps being whisked away from modern day to fictional historic locations.

The story is a humorous mashup of speculative fiction with a hardboiled detective character.

This time Sam must help rescue Robin Hood and Maid Marian from the evil Sheriff of Nottingham.

And it doesn’t go all that well. The Sheriff anticipates Sam’s every move — and there’s a lot of hobbling on badly blistered feet. Until the climactic final confrontation.

The 6:20 Man by David Baldacci

Mixed feelings about his book published 2022.

The whodunnit kept me going. But the resolution was too unlikely for me to believe.

Sara Ewes, Travis Devine’s coworker and former girlfriend, has been found hanging in a storage room of his office building—presumably a suicide, at least for now—prompting the NYPD to come calling on him.

If that wasn’t enough, before the day is out, Devine receives another ominous visit, a confrontation that threatens to dredge up grim secrets from his past in the army unless he participates in a clandestine investigation into his firm.

This treacherous role will take him from the impossibly glittering lives he once saw only through a train window, to the darkest corners of the country’s economic halls of power . . . where something rotten lurks. And apart from this high-stakes conspiracy, there’s a killer out there with their own agenda, and Devine is the bull’s-eye.

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Long Shadows by David Baldacci

Long Shadows is the 7th Amos Decker murder mastery.

Amos Decker is a BIG former professional football player who was violently hit on his first NFL play, resulting in severe injuries and changes to his brain.

He’s called the “memory man” because he’s unable to forget anything.

In this book Amos is sent to Florida with a brand-new partner, FBI Special Agent Frederica White, to investigate the murder of a federal judge. Both partners are pissed at their last-minute pairing, and they immediately see themselves as a bad fit. 

Later they discover they are being set up to fail and possibly dismissed for failure.

But Amos Decker never fails. His success rate in finding the murder is 100%.

A good tale.

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The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths

Elly Griffiths is the pen name of Domenica de Rosa, a British crime novelist.

Her Ruth Galloway book series is super popular.

Ruth is a forensic archaeologist who lives in a remote seaside cottage near King’s Lynn in Norfolk and teaches at the University of North Norfolk.

She had a daughter, Kate, with on-again, off-again love interest DCI Harry Nelson.

I tried the most recent — The Locked Room #14 (2022) — mainly because it was set just at the start of the pandemic. And that was interesting.

The murder mysteries were complicated by Covid lockdown rules.

It is a good book. But I’m not sure I’ll ready more Ruth Galloway. I’m keener on her Harbinder Kaur book series.

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

The Last Kingdom is the first book in the Saxon Stories, a historical novel series written by Bernard Cornwell about the birth of England in the ninth and tenth centuries. …

The first book is excellent — but I doubt I’ll continue as I don’t like the gore and ultra violence.

The books have been adapted to a successful TV series, also called The Last Kingdom.

It reminds me of the TV series Vikings — which I quit due to excessive violence.

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His Dark Materials – 3 seasons

Somehow I managed to get through most of 3 seasons of His Dark Materials.

It really isn’t very good.

The books are much better – His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass)

And the big budget 2007 film is better – The Golden Compass. GREAT cast.

My favourite character on the TV adaptation might be Ruth Wilson as Mrs Coulter. That’s a tough role when you know you’ll be compared with Nicole Kidman who’s perfect in the film version.

The show follows the orphan Lyra, played by Dafne Keen, as she searches for a missing friend and discovers a kidnapping plot related to an invisible cosmic substance called Dust.

Ultimately, I didn’t care much about the plot. The prophecy. The Magisterium. Nor many of the characters. Dust. Angels. I really didn’t care about anything in this show.

Most interesting are the animal companions called daemons.

And there are some interesting special effects and speculative fiction touches.

Read the books. Watch the movie. Skip the TV series.

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