30 October 2008

Mystery author #49: Karen Kijewski

Title: Katapult
Series detective: Kat Colorado
No. in series: 2
Year of publication: 1990
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Private investigator
Setting & time: Sacramento, California, USA; late 20th century

Private investigator Kat Colorado is upset and angry when John, her friend and cousin by informal adoption, is found murdered. Their grandmother (John’s real and Kat’s informally adopted gran) sends Kat on a quest to find John’s killer and discover the whereabouts of his sister, who has been missing for 4 years. Kat is soon in over her head, dealing with determined criminals who will stop at nothing to stay out of jail. There is also a family drama brewing and a young streetwalker who needs to be rescued.

Review and verdict:
Kat Colorado is a typical hard-boiled female PI with a nose for trouble, a heart of gold and a troubled past that she wears like a medal. Unlike Jill Smith in Susan Dunlap books that I reviewed earlier, she is an almost instantly likable character with a distinct voice and personality (and a sense of humour). Kat’s “grandmother” is an indomitable old trooper who I am sure will remind many readers of their own grannies, but John’s sister is made out to be an unbelievable innocent who on top of that behaves like a spoiled rotten 14-year old, which I find rather implausible after all that is supposed to have happened to her.

The plot is well written and there are some unexpected twists in it that make the story an entertaining read, even if the main plotline itself is predictable for the most part. All in all, I would not mind reading more of the Kat Colorado books. 3+ stars.

28 October 2008

Reading rut

I’m in a reading rut. After my reading marathon in September I first did not pick up a book for 2 weeks, then went into a rereading cycle which is what I do to jump start myself when I temporarily lose interest in reading, and now I have fallen into an old familiar rut where I start reading one book after another but after the first session I don’t feel like reading any more of the book, put it down somewhere and start reading another book. And another. And another. It’s pathetic, but I can’t help it.

In addition to the usual half-dozen or so books I am reading page-by-page or chapter-by-chapter over a long time (3 years in one case, and I’m only halfway through), I have several of these start-stop books scattered around. The book that started the rut, Clive Barker’s Abarat, I put down when I discovered halfway through that it was the first episode in a 5 book series, the last of which is still being written. I think I will shelve it and not read it until the last book is published and I have them all together, because it’s the kind of story one wants to read all the way through in as few sessions as possible.

In the last seven days I have started to read and then put down one book a day, all of which are scattered around my apartment, asking to be finished, but I just continue to go and get more books. I loved the magic realism of Alice Hoffman’s The Probable Future and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Mistress of Spices, but found myself uninterested in picking either up again after reading about 20 pages of one and 100 of the other. Fortunately I think I have finally found one that can help me break out of the rut – it will become apparent when I go home this afternoon, but it’s looking good, because as I am writing this (during my lunch break at work) I am thinking about the book and that is always a good sign.

27 October 2008

This is pretty cool: Wordle

I Wordled this blog, and this was the outcome:

Click on the image to see the large version.

04 October 2008

Mystery author #48: Camilla Läckberg

The first book in this Swedish series, The Ice Princess, was published in English earlier this year, and according to Amazon.co.uk, this one will be published (in hardcover) in February 2009, under the title The Preacher.

Icelandic title: Prédikarinn
Original Swedish title: Predikanten
Series detective: Patrik Hedström (assisted by his colleagues and his girlfriend, writer Erica Falck)
No. in series: 2
Year of publication: 2003
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Police
Setting & time: Fjällbacka, Sweden, contemporary

The corpse of a young woman is found in a ravine in the small Swedish town of Fjällbacka and beneath the body lie two skeletons of young women who had disappeared more than 2 decades earlier. All three had been tortured in similar ways before dying of strangulation, so everything points to the same killer. Patrik Hedström of the local police heads the investigation while his heavily pregnant girlfriend deals with invasions of visitors seeking to stay in their house (Fjällbacka is a popular summer resort), and a local family seethes with passion and resentment as old wounds are opened up by the discovery of the bodies.

Wow! This mystery totally blew me away. Not only is it excellently written (and well translated), but also beautifully plotted and none of the characters, however insignificant, is a stereotype. I don’t often read a book in one sitting, but I did this one and even found myself skimming the occasional passage in order to get to the resolution faster. I can’t wait to read the other books in the series. As others feel the same, I may have to go on a waiting list at the library to get the other two that have been translated into Icelandic, or I may just go out and buy them.

Rating: A fantastic mystery/thriller. Highly recommended. 5 stars.