Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Restless Sleep, by Stacy Horn

Stacy Horn
ISBN: 0-14-303729-3
Book #07-077

Between 1985 and 2004, there were nearly 9,000 unsolved murders in New York City. The longer it takes to track down information and evidence about a murder, the more likely it is to go "cold," which often means the criminal goes free while the case is relegated to a back burner for lack of progress. In 1995, Jack Maple and Edward Norris came up with the idea that became New York City's Cold Case Squad, a group of detectives whose sole purpose was to examine file cases that had stalled and breathe new life into them in order to find the killer(s) and close the cases.

Stacy Horn has focused on several cases spanning fifty years: the 1951 strangulation of a young wife, the murder of a cop by a meat hook in 1979, the killing of a misfit girl in 1988, and a couple murdered in front of their three young sons in a 1996 drug-related incident. Horn does a good job of switching back and forth between the development of the Cold Case Squad and the details of the crimes and their related investigations. Her account of NYPD politics is riveting and insightful, and her take on the city's unsung heroes is clear-eyed and realistic.

Horn's prose is both compelling and easy to read, although some readers may be put off by her casual profanity. Each case is deftly introduced, and the victims, although clearly flawed, are nonetheless sympathetic figures. Horn is particularly adept at explaining the ins and outs of organized crime and its deterioration since its heyday. Readers will be invested in the outcome of the detectives' investigations and surprised at the differences between reality and popular TV crime shows. Ultimately, The Restless Sleep is a must-have addition to anyone's true crime library.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Book Give-Away for September 1, 2007

For September 1, I'm giving away Ann Rule's book No Regrets and Other Cases--Ann Rule's Crime Files: Volume 11. My review of this book is already posted, for those who would like to know more about it.

To be entered into the drawing for this book, simply comment on this post. I will draw the winner on Saturday, September 1, and mail the book the following Monday. Be sure to check back on the first to see if you won!

No Regrets and Other True Cases, by Ann Rule

Ann Rule
ISBN: 0-7434-4875-8
Book #07-076
True Crime

Ann Rule is probably America's best-known true crime writer. In this volume of her accounts of case files, she focuses on crimes where the perpetrators apparently had no regrets about their actions.

The main case of the book is the mysterious disappearance of ship's pilot Rolf Neslund, an eighty-year-old man whose stellar career was eclipsed by one unfortunate event at its end, the crashing of the ship he was piloting into a bridge. Rolf's wife, Ruth, told various stories to explain his absence, but eventually two of her nieces came forward and claimed that their aunt had admitted to killing her husband and burning the pieces of his body. It took years for Ruth to be brought to justice. The highlight of this account are the limericks by horror author John Saul, whose poetry displays a keen wit and wicked humor.

The other cases in the book all share an improbable pathos. The young mother whose religious fervor led her to kill her two young children is especially tragic, because she sought help from multiple sources, who all brushed her off. The bank robber who shot an elderly man during his escape, the woman whose marriage fell apart after she was kidnapped and raped, and the teen runaway who teased her boyfriend until he murdered her are equally sad. The most memorable case, in some ways, is that of the young prostitute who was savagely beaten and left for dead, but managed to crawl for help. In an unusual oversight, Rule neglects to mention the fate of the young woman's infant son during the many hours of her ordeal.

As always, Rule gives readers her special insight into these cases, and shares her opinions of the various crimes. Her dry, biting humor is again on display. Readers will have NO REGRETS at spending several hours with Rule's rogues' gallery of hapless criminals.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Book Give-Away for August 18, 2007

In memory of Ben, I am giving away two brand new sets of E. B. White paperbacks. They are still in shrink-wrap and do not have BookCrossing labels. I wanted this give-away to be totally altruistic in honor of my little friend, who was a fine reader and will be deeply missed.

Monday, August 06, 2007


I'm giving another book away. Sorry for the delay in the first one--I spent a chunk of my weekend in the hospital to find out why the right side of my face is paralyzed. Turns out I have Bell's Palsy, which, as a diabetic, I was four times more likely than the general population to contract. Sigh. I should see some improvement by the end of the week, and there's an 80% chance of full recovery within three months. Let me just say, I look and feel like a freak.

So, because I'm really stressed about this, my give-away book for the week is INSIDE MY HEART: CHOOSING TO LIVE WITH PASSION AND PURPOSE by Robin McGraw (AKA Mrs. Dr. Phil). There are likely to be several copies of this available in hardcover. These books are brand-new, except that there is a BookCrossing label inside each cover. Winners, please make a journal entry at http://www.bookcrossing.com/ when you recieve your books. You don't have to join BookCrossing, and you can do an anonymous journal entry that simply says that you received the book. After that, I don't care what you do with the books, because they will be yours.

I will choose and announce the winners here on Saturday, August 11th, and mail the books on the following Monday.

I hope to see a lot of entries this time out. Just make a comment on this post, and you will be entered. Good luck, everyone!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Living Dead in Dallas, by Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris
ISBN: 0-441-00923-9
Book #07-061

Sookie Stackhouse is an ordinary young woman with an extraordinary "dis"ability: she can read minds. This ability has caused her grief throughout her life, particularly when it comes to romance, because as she says, how can you make love with someone when you know what they really think about you and your body? When Sookie meets Bill the Vampire and realizes that she can't hear his thoughts, the mental silence is very attractive to her, and before long, she's got a real, live (not) boyfriend.

Being involved with a vampire has its own special problems. When Bill's vampire colleagues save Sookie's life, she feels obligated to accomodate when asked for a favor, she agrees to read the minds of people involved in the case of a missing vampire. Sookie's only condition is that if her abilities reveal the culprits, they must be handed over to the authorities and dealt with through legal channels.

Once in Dallas, Sookie encounters the Fellowship of the Sun, a fanatical anti-vampire group. The resulting chaos and carnage make for fast, frantic reading as Charlaine Harris masterfully pits the vampires and their foes against each other, with the intrepid Sookie smack in the middle. In this second installment of Harris's Stackhouse series, readers get more of Sookie's scrupulously honest self-analysis and her amusingly pragmatic approach to life. Harris has created a detailed depiction of vampire politics, and Eric, Bill's supervisor, proves to be a formidable enemy and a seriously good kisser.

Charlaine Harris keeps the action and the angst coming in this completely delectable page-turner. Sookie is a heroine readers can identify with, and her wise-cracking sense of humor leavens many a tense moment. Harris gives her imagination free rein, and the resultant account of modern vampire life is a marvel of wit and wonder. LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS is a breath of fresh air in a genre that is in high demand with readers, and that popularity shows no sign of declining any time soon. With Sookie Stackhouse, Charlaine Harris has earned her spot on the paranormal keepers shelf.

Mostly Paranormal Bookbox Going Out Soon

I've put together a box of paperback books that I no longer want, and I've made a list of people who would like to play bookswap with me. Basically, you get the box, take out the books you want and replace them with your own books that you no longer want, log the information on the list that you find in the box, then mail it off to the next person. When the box gets back to me, with any luck, I'll find books I haven't read, but more importantly, I've passed along books I've already read.

A few points of interest: all my books are logged at http://www.bookcrossing.com/, so I expect people to make a journal entry on any of my books that they choose from the box. Usually people wait to make entries once they've read a book, but I need instant gratification that I've actually passed a book along, so I ask that the entry be made when a book is taken.

Postage for these boxes can vary, but they generally go media mail with delivery confirmation.

This box contains mostly paranormal romances, but there are books of other genres in it, too. You don't have to match genres, it's simply a one-for-one trade.

I'll have other boxes going out soon. One will be trade paperbacks, and one will be audiobooks on cassette and CD.

If this is something you'd like to do, please go to Bartered_Book@yahoogroups.com and sign up. Once I approve your membership, you will need to send me your mailing address so I can put you on the flight list. This box was supposed to go out a few weeks ago, but I'm notoriously poky about getting my boxes started. I will be sending it out next Thursday, the 9th of August.

Hope to see you there!