Happy first day of March. I don’t know about you, but I’m happy spring is just around the corner. With a new month, it’s time to post reviews for the books I read in February.
I’m averaging about one book a week so I’m right on track with my reading goals this year. Last week, I went through the books on my Kindle and shelved several of them in the “did not finish” list. A few of them had me wondering what I was thinking when I bought them.
Last year I read a lot of psychological fiction and I have a few on my list for this year, but I’m getting back to my preferred genre of mystery and suspense. Enough about that. Let’s get to the reviews.
Okay, I admit I’ve gotten hooked on William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series. So much so that I purchased a box set of the first three books. Boundary Waters is the second of the series. In Krueger’s own words it was his exploration into writing suspense. It picks up about a year after book one Iron Lake.
A popular young country-western singer named Shiloh has disappeared in the vast Quetico-Superior Wilderness. When her father arrives in Aurora, he enlists Cork’s help to find her.
But someone doesn’t want her to be found alive. Who and why? Kreuger weaves in a cast of characters that keeps the reader guessing. It wasn’t until near the end of the book that I figured out who the guilty party was. Like with his other books, Krueger is a master of description. He puts the reader right in the heart of the story. Although I enjoyed Iron Lake a bit more, this was an excellent read.
Jan Sikes has a winner on her hands with her White Rune series. I’m intrigued by Native American folklore and customs. Jagged Feathers includes some of that and it’s also set in my home state of Texas.
Vann Noble is a wounded warrior who suffers from PTSD after a tour in Afghanistan. Together with his trusty canine companion, Champion, he lives a somewhat secluded life in a remote cabin.
Nakina Bird suddenly finds herself mixed up in a dangerous situation. Vann comes to her rescue and together the two of them travel to Dallas to deliver a mysterious package Nakina’s boss gave her.
The book is a mixture of suspense and romance. Nakina has Native American heritage, and I loved reading some of their customs and beliefs. Jagged Feathers blends lots of action and plenty of romance.
Nine Perfect Strangers
I said last month that I would only post four-star and five-star reviews but changed my mind. This time I’ve included a couple of three-star reviews. (This one is actually 2.5 rounded to three.) I checked it out through my library and I’m glad I didn’t spend money on it.
I probably haven’t read another book with such a cast of flawed characters. Nine strangers come together at a resort for a ten-day transformational retreat. Each character has plenty of issues to overcome.
While I thought things were a little strange at Tranquillum House, the first half of the book was nicely paced and I had high hopes for the story.
Then came the second half. The action slowed. There was a large amount of internal dialogue from each character. Still, I kept reading.
The book also took a rather disturbing turn. I don’t believe I’ve ever disliked an antagonist as much as I did Masha. Her superior attitude was over the top. She thought she was smarter and better than everyone. What’s the old saying about genius being next to insanity? She was certainly insane and should have been locked away for life.
The last few chapters were more of the author’s rambling and the last two were in my opinion utterly ridiculous. Although other reviewers say this isn’t Moriarty’s best work, I doubt I’ll bother with any of her other books. And by the way, all nine aren’t perfect strangers. Did the author intend this as satire? A play on words? Who knows? (Or cares?)
The Happy Family
I’ve had this book sitting on my Kindle for a few months and decided it was time to read it. The Happy Family is another book that I have mixed feelings about.
Single mother Beth lives a good life. She’s the practice manager for a surgery (medical) clinic, has two children, and lives in a nice home. She has friends—even though they are older than her. Life is not without problems. Beth’s elderly father lives in a Senior care facility after having suffered a stroke, and her mother left when Beth was only ten years old.
The story opens as the date of her mother’s sixtieth birthday approaches. Beth was bitter over the abandonment but has often thought of the woman who gave birth to her and wonders if she’s still alive. When a woman shows up on Beth’s doorstep claiming to be her mother, she readily accepts this person into her life.
That’s when things begin happening—Beth misplaces things, she’s convinced a man is watching her, and Beth’s friendships begin to fall apart. Things go from bad to worse. What’s more, Beth has a secret from her past she’s kept from everyone, and she’s terrified it could cost her everything, including her children and her job.
It didn’t take me long to figure out who was responsible for all the strange events. That part was obvious. I had a problem with Beth being portrayed as such a weak-willed person. Why was she so blind to the obvious?
There was a secondary “surprise” reveal near the end, but I figured that out as well. Still, this book intrigued me enough to continue reading it. Although it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read (far from it), and I wanted to knock some sense into Beth, there was something about the book that kept me reading.
If you’re looking for fast-paced psychological fiction, this isn’t for you. But if you enjoy slow-burners that delve a bit into the psychological aspects of love, life, and loss, it’s a decent book.
Wrapping up the month is another in William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series. It might be my favorite so far.
William Kent Krueger was coming into his own as a writer of mystery and suspense when he wrote Purgatory Ridge.
Former Sheriff Cork O’Connor is working hard to get his life back on track. He’s reunited with his wife, and they are working through their marriage issues.
Tensions are already high between the Iron Lake Ojibwe and wealthy industrialist Karl Lindstrom, as well as many of the area residents who depend upon logging to make a living. Add to that a group of environmentalists who had ascended on the small town of Aurora to protest logging in what had been a protected area.
When an explosion happens at Lindstrom’s lumber mill, killing a member of the Ojibwe tribe, it’s sure to set off a battle. Cork finds himself in the middle of the investigation, and he also discovers he’s missed being in law enforcement.
There is a secondary story with a character whose brother perished in the sinking of a freighter a decade earlier in Lake Superior. As the only survivor, John LePere has his own demons to deal with.
In a twist of fate, Cork’s wife Jo and his son are at the wrong place at the wrong time and become the victims of a kidnapping.
Krueger spun a masterful web of intrigue. I didn’t figure out who was the mastermind behind the events until about two paragraphs before the person’s identity was revealed. Any time an author keeps me guessing, that’s a big plus.
Jo O’Connor takes on a bigger role in this book. I wasn’t sure how I felt about her in books one and two, but she came into her own in this one.
Krueger has fast become one of my favorite authors. Despite his overuse of similes in this one, I enjoy his style of writing and will be reading the rest of the series.