Creepy as a super disturbing mannequin

The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln
3 words:
creepy, long-winded spree
filling in gaps in my thriller reading, I finally (finally!) read a book by Preston and Child. 
I remember way back in
the dawn of time, reading a review of Relic
and thinking it sounded amazing. Then I proceeded to ignore Preston and
Child for roughly 20 years. 
yeah. Now I know why some people light up when you say, “Preston and Child,” to
This is
some fun stuff to read. There’s crime and history and science and a museum
setting and a bit of the supernatural, and it’s all wrapped up in this
wonderfully zippy quest to solve some darn horrific murders in New York. 
“cabinet of curiosities” plot element is pretty creepy. Basically, they were
like combination science museums / freakshows, and they were huge during the
late 1800s. Eerie as all crap, guys.
reading this book, I learned that Pendergast, the mysterious Southern gentleman
FBI agent who is vaguely the main character of the book, is the basis for
Preston and Child’s series. Dude’s pretty weird, but in a good way. And he does
this great time-traveling-in-his-head thing that threw me back to Jack Finney’s
Time and Again. (I also kept
thinking of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist because
of the creepy murders in Victorian New York.)
My only
complaint is that this book is long, long, long, and some of the scenes drag
out even longer. Especially the suspenseful scenes. Seriously. I was
practically rooting at one point for the diabolical killer to just get it over
with so we could move on with the story.  
there were sections of this book I had to skip because they got too creepy and
horrible. Surgical torture scenes? Ain’t gonna happen on my watch.
The good
news: you can skip ‘em and…
a) no one
will know unless you tell them,
b) you
won’t miss anything vital, and
c) you’ll
avoid seeing images in your head that you can’t erase
(like that horrid mannequin*)
*You’re welcome. 

Girl + train = bestseller

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
3 words: unputdownable, dark, surprising
So this
book blew onto the scene like a gale-force wind. Biggest debut blockbuster inthe history of the universe. They’re printing copies night and day. 
So when
the word began to spread (months ago),
I placed a hold and then read this thing in like two days. 
the kind of book it is. If people return it as soon as they finish it, the
waiting lists at libraries are gonna move fast—because once you start reading,
it’s hard to put the book down.
premise: Rachel is divorced and alcoholic and lonely, and on her daily train
commute, she watches a young couple who live near her old house. And she makes
up a story about how they have this beautiful marriage and are living the life
she’s been denied.
Then the
wife goes missing.
Rachel discovers that while she was in a drunken stupor, she was in the
vicinity, stalking her ex-husband.
So all
the comparisons to Gone Girl are
apt: we’ve got an unreliable narrator, an entire cast of screwed-up characters,
and a woman disappears under suspicious circumstances.
similar to Gone Girl, the book grabs
hold of you and doesn’t let go.
meaningful? No.
Fun, in
a rather dreadful, voyeuristic way? Heck, yeah.  

She likes it!

The Last Patriot by Brad Thor

3 words:
tough, macho, action
likes it, she likes it!

the hot news about this one.

I’m in
the midst of a crime fiction genre study, so my reading habits have gotten
skewed. I’ve always been a mystery reader, so when we were reading mysteries, I
was cruising right along comfortably.

Then we
started reading thrillers and suspense, and it became an item on my to-do list.
It became work.

realize this sounds ridiculous, but that’s the way it’s felt.
And I
also found that Brad Thor ends up in the positive column. 
been writing his Scot Harvath series for a number of years now, and I picked a
book from midstream, since it was well-rated by readers. This actually worked
out fine, since Thor gives a sense of the characters’ back story—enough that
the plot and the relationships made sense.

(photo credit: U.S. Navy photo 040709-N-0295M-005)

this book is about action. Harvath is a Homeland Security agent who gets all
the cool assignments. This one involves a text once owned by Jefferson that
could change the course of Islam, and the militants who want to make sure the
text is destroyed. So Harvath and his lady friend and his other associates dash
around to take care of business.

a lot of adrenaline flowing here.

the plot can seem farfetched (probably not more so than the plot of the
standard cozy mystery, in which the village yarn shop is once again the scene of a murder), once you accept the premise, you
just roll with it. It’s very much like watching a well-done action movie.

And I
learned some cool stuff about the equipment used by operatives in this line of
work, which Thor says, in an afterword, is actually real equipment. (Pants with
built-in tourniquets!)

happily, Thor has a very pleasant writing style. After reading Baldacci, I have
renewed appreciation for authors who construct sentences skillfully and

Thor has
been one of my go-to authors for thriller readers, and now he’s even higher on
my list of authors to recommend.

I read the law, and the law won

Sycamore Row by John Grisham

3 words:
detailed, solid, storytelling
tell anyone, but this is the first Grisham novel I’ve ever read. And it was
rather an enjoyable experience.
course, everyone knows he’s the reigning monarch of the legal thriller. But
just because someone is popular doesn’t necessarily mean he’s terrifically
Grisham’s a skilled storyteller. The plot here canters along steadily. There’s
a fair amount of legal detail, but nothing tedious—he keeps it moving. And the
characters are more than cardboard cutouts, so characterization isn’t
sacrificed in the name of plot.
In other
words, Grisham has everything you’d want from a storyteller.
In Sycamore Row, Grisham returns to his
roots: handsome, young attorney Jake Brigance, the legal star of his first
novel, A Time to Kill, is again
called upon to take a complex and somewhat unpopular case in his rural
Mississippi county. This time around, a local millionaire has left his fortune
to his nurse, which raises some eyebrows around town—and seriously stirs up his
wasp’s nest of a family.
job is to prove that the will should be upheld. Sounds simple, but obviously
isn’t, or we wouldn’t have a big old novel to read.
Grisham was perfectly pleasant. I had the sensation of being on board a plane
flown by a capable, long-time pilot who takes the scenic route for the benefit
of the passengers. Takes a little longer to reach the destination, but the
journey is part of the fun. 
P.S. Thanks to the two kind people who lent me their copies.