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John R. Lindermuth "J. R. Lindermuth, author of Watch The Hour" RSS Feed (Coal Township PA)

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Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living (Icons)
Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living (Icons)
by Paul Collins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.97
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Recommended Read, July 23, 2014
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Edgar Allan Poe was among my earliest reading experiences and I still enjoy going back to him. It’s like visiting a somewhat odd but cherished old friend.

I’ve also read much about him, including some lesser known than deserved early books about his life and career such as Hervey Allen’s wonderful “Israfel” and Eugene Didier’s “The Poe Cult.”

So I wasn’t expecting to learn much new about the man in this short book by Paul Collins. He offers the facts on Poe’s life, literary adventures, his self-destructive habits (including his problems with alcohol and his poor people skills), his successes and failures and, finally, his tragic death, all in a concise, readable style.

He reminds us that while Poe considered himself first and foremost a poet, it is the short stories for which we honor him most today, that and his virtual invention of the detective story.

There’s an excellent selection of notes and suggestions for further reading at the end.

If you’re curious about Poe’s life and haven’t time for any of the more detailed biographies, I highly recommend this short volume.

Spider Woman's Daughter: A Leaphorn & Chee Novel
Spider Woman's Daughter: A Leaphorn & Chee Novel
by Anne Hillerman
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $9.72
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4.0 out of 5 stars Looking Forward To More, July 10, 2014
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When Navajo Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito witnesses the shooting of legendary retired officer Joe Leaphorn she and her husband Sergeant Jim Chee are plunged into a puzzling investigation with links back to Leaphorn’s past.

Though Chee is officially assigned the case and Bernadette is forced on leave as primary witness, she can’t help becoming involved, action that leads to a dangerous encounter with the killer and a nail-biting climax to the novel.

I’ve read all of Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn and Chee series and have sorely missed these Navajo cops. When I heard his daughter Anne was resuming the series, I couldn’t wait to read her first effort.

Anne Hillerman is an award-winning reporter and author of a number of non-fiction books. Some reviewers, probably unfamiliar with the difficulties of transitioning from non-fiction to fiction, have faulted a few minor flaws in this, her first novel. Personally, I was drawn immediately into the story and felt right at home with the characters. I think she was wise to focus on Bernie as protagonist and tell the story from her perspective.

I’m also pleased the current story connects to one of my favorites in the series, A Thief of Time. In fact, as soon as time permits, I think I’ll take Anne’s advice and re-read it.

It’s not easy to assume the role of continuing a beloved series. Anne Hillerman has done her dad proud and I look forward to the next episode.

Saints of the Shadow Bible (Inspector Rebus)
Saints of the Shadow Bible (Inspector Rebus)
by Ian Rankin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.94
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Partnership, June 30, 2014
Rebus and Malcolm Fox working together?

Odd as it may seem to longtime fans of this series, the unusual “partnership” adds a unique twist to the story.

Rebus, newly back on the job, barely tolerated by his superiors and demoted to boot, is initially assisting Inspector Siobhan Clarke with what at first appears to be a routine traffic accident. Then he’s drafted to “assist” Fox in investigating a 30-year-old cold case which has links to some members of Rebus’s first posting who operated by their own rules in what was termed the Shadow Bible.

Fox is also under the pressure of change. Reorganization is shifting him from the Complaints back to CID and this is only a temporary assignment for an official with possible political motivations pending his reassignment.

The Saints, one of whom is now a wealthy entrepreneur, don’t take kindly to interrogation and expect Rebus to side with them. This doesn’t make life any easier for Rebus who is caught between loyalty to old friends and duty to the law.

As is often the case in Rebus novels, separate threads unite, tying one investigation to another and increasing the complications. As usual, Rebus manages to aggravate everyone around him—especially those in power—and still unravels those complications.

Rebus and Fox don’t actually becomes buddies through their association. They do seem to develop some respect for one another. And that may be a forecast of other joint ventures in the future.

The King's Grave: The Discovery of Richard III's Lost Burial Place and the Clues It Holds
The King's Grave: The Discovery of Richard III's Lost Burial Place and the Clues It Holds
by Michael K. Jones
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.49
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing History, June 22, 2014
In the summer of 2004 Phillipa Langley, a screenwriter and secretary of the Scottish Branch of the Richard III Society, walked into a car park in Leicester and experienced an intuitive impression she stood upon the grave of the last Plantagenet monarch.

This experience and reading of a book on the battle of Bosworth by historian Michael Jones (co-author of this book) spurred a quest for permission and funds for an archaeological dig to confirm her suspicion.

Langley and Jones joined hands in the writing of this intriguing book. In alternating chapters, Langley describes the journey leading to the discovery while Jones addresses Richard’s life and short reign as king.

The Tudor propaganda which led to Shakespeare’s portrayal of Richard as a child-murdering monster has endured far too long. The discovery of his bones has proven the falsity of some of those claims, though uncertainty still clouds the veracity of others.

Obviously, there were few saints among princes of the 15th century and Richard has his share of flaws. Still, the evidence is clear, Richard had a more valid claim to the crown than the Tudor bastard Henry VII. The jury is still out on whether Richard had a hand in the murder of his nephews, a matter discussed in an appendix and in which the authors take opposing sides. Despite all the attention accorded over the years to this charge, little press has been devoted to Henry’s imprisonment and execution of young Edward, Earl of Warwick and son of the Duke of Clarence, who had a more legitimate claim to the throne than he.

Even Richard’s staunchest foes had to admit he showed more courage at Bosworth, galloping through the ranks of the enemy, unseating Henry’s standard bearer and killing one of his bodyguards before he was himself unseated and slaughtered by French mercenaries as Henry cowered behind a wall of pikesmen.

I side with those who believe his bones should be reinterred in York rather than Leicester, though the important thing is the remains be treated with the respect they deserve. The proposed Leicester memorial does serve that purpose.

Rustication: A Novel
Rustication: A Novel
by Charles Palliser
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.09
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Story With Meat On Its Bones, June 18, 2014
This review is from: Rustication: A Novel (Hardcover)
A young man, Richard Shenstone, is rusticated (expelled) from Cambridge and comes home to a cold reception from his mother and sister who are living in reduced circumstances since the death of his father.

Epistolary novels were popular in the Victorian age and Charles Palliser, who has used the form in the past, employs it once more in this tale, putting the reader in the right mood for the story. Palliser employs both diary entries and anonymous letters for his purpose.

Palliser tells us the journal and letters were discovered in a County Records Office and “cast light” on a famous murder which was subsequently forgotten since nobody was ever charged with the crime.

The murder and its aftermath are the target we’re headed for, but the author takes his time in getting us there. I enjoy the occasional Victorian-style novel which allows the reader to become immersed in its spell, though I realize that’s not a popular view today when many put mere action above story.

And what an engrossing story Palliser offers us this time. The Shenstone house, a decrepit old manse which creaks with odd noises and long-concealed secrets; the rural village surrounded by a dangerous fog-shrouded marsh; the good people of the village, all of them with secrets of their own but ever-ready to snipe and gossip about their neighbors. There are times when it seems no one Richard meets is willing to answer questions without raising more.

An opium addict and a young man who has fantasies about nearly every woman and girl he encounters, Richard is not always the most reliable of narrators. He isn’t forthcoming to his mother about the reasons for his shameful dismissal. But, given her attitude toward him, can we really blame the boy? Even the details of his father’s death and a scandal associated with him have been kept from Richard. It isn’t long before his neighbors begin receiving shocking letters and there are brutal attacks on animals. Richard’s habit of wandering about at night make him the prime suspect for both.

Is he guilty? Or is he simply a dupe in a complicated plot? There are many surprises along the way. When I came to the end, I regretted this was not one of Palliser’s longer novels. If you like a story with meat on its bones, this is highly recommended.

The River of Souls
The River of Souls
by Robert McCammon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.13
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read the Earlier Books First, June 10, 2014
This review is from: The River of Souls (Hardcover)
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If you’re already a fan of the Matthew Corbett series, you’ll probably find this an entertaining addition. If you’re new to the series, I’d suggest reading the earlier books before starting this one.

It took me awhile to get into the novel, primarily because I hadn’t done my homework and didn’t realize it was the fifth in the series. References to characters and incidents from those earlier books are peppered throughout and can be confusing to the newcomer.

Once we get to the meat of the story—the murder of a young girl and the quest to bring her killer to justice—there’s enough action to keep you turning the pages. McCammon has a knack for giving his characters memorable names and slips easily from comedy to drama.

The most interesting part of the book for me was the journey up the aptly named river where the characters encounter hungry alligators, a band of demented Indians, a seemingly supernatural beast and the worst to be expected of their fellow men.

The conclusion—which really isn’t an ending but a cliffhanger leading to the next in the series—was almost a let down.

Wide Spot in the Road (The Drifter Detective Book 4)
Wide Spot in the Road (The Drifter Detective Book 4)
Price: $1.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Tale, June 9, 2014
Jack Laramie just wants a bowl of chili when he stops at a diner on a remote crossroads. What the private eye finds is unanticipated trouble.

He’s barely in the door when the rejected suitor of the waitress storms by him after disabling the only phone in the place. That angry action adds a predicament when a young couple pursued by an angry motorcycle gang show up in need of help.

Laramie isn’t the kind to turn his back on those in need and he’s ready to face down the desperadoes. Dundee adds a few surprises to the mix in this fast-paced addition to the Drifter Detective series.

If you like your action a little hard-boiled and your chili hot, this is a tale you’re sure to enjoy.

The Murder Farm
The Murder Farm
by Andrea Maria Schenkel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.36
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't Resonate With Me, June 4, 2014
This review is from: The Murder Farm (Hardcover)
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A dysfunctional family and their maid are murdered on a remote farm in Germany.

Based on an actual unsolved murder that occurred in the 1920s, Schenkel moved the scene to the 1950s and provided a satisfactory resolution. No problem with her change of time period or motivation for the crime.

But why this novelette resonated with so many people, winning awards, stellar reviews and was even made into a film isn’t clear to this reader. The prose style is bland; the murders, though brutal, are not particularly shocking by today’s standards, and the identity of the killer is obvious early on.

The book reads like a journalistic account of the event and interviews with neighbors, none of whom appear to have much sympathy for the victims. And, unfortunately, there’s a lack of individuality to the voices of those interviewed. The German perspectives on the war and Hitler are interesting, though they have little to do with the murder.

The Keeper
The Keeper
by Luke Delaney
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $9.83
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, May 31, 2014
This review is from: The Keeper (Mass Market Paperback)
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Thomas Keller is looking for Sam, the girl of his dreams, a quest that has him kidnapping a string of women as substitutes who, ultimately, must disappoint him and be killed.

Detective Inspector Sean Corrigan, an investigator with an uncanny ability to enter into the minds of serial killers, and his team are trying to find one of these missing women before it’s too late.

The novel, written by a former murder squad detective, didn’t live up to my expectations. Too many shifting viewpoints in the same scene kept me from identifying with any of the characters. I felt Detective Sergeant Sally Jones was more fully developed and sympathetic a character than Corrigan. And Keller comes across as more of a caricature of a serial killer than one I could find believable.

I found it difficult to accept that Keller, having found the real Sam and stole personal items from her house, would then ignore her and devote himself to kidnapping substitutes who failed to satisfy his obsession.

Others have lauded this series. Me, I don’t buy the comparisons with Mark Billingham and Peter James.

No Man's Nightingale: An Inspector Wexford Novel
No Man's Nightingale: An Inspector Wexford Novel
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $11.89

3.0 out of 5 stars A Crankier Reg, May 27, 2014
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There are aspects of the Victorian novel in this latest Wexford and the slow pace probably won’t appeal to those who prefer more action and less ratiocination.

The plot centers on the murder of a female vicar whose sex, race and status as a single mother have not won her much sympathy among her conservative flock. These factors open the door to multiple suspects and numerous red herrings.

Reg Wexford in retirement seems to have become rather stuffy and even a bit of a crank, though the intelligence and humor are still to be found as Burden “allows” his former boss to participate in the investigation. We are reminded repeatedly that Reg has no legal authority, yet he still seems to get more cooperation from the people they encounter.

Though I prefer her psychological suspense novels to the Wexford series, Rendell still delights with her quirky characters, sharp insights and convoluted plots. She even managed to include a trademark linguistic clue and I missed it.

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