Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell
(G.K. Hall, 1994, 422 pages)
After reading Body of Evidence, I decided to read some more from Patricia Cornwell. This is the first in the Scarpetta series. Dr. Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner for the state of Virginia, receives a call from Richmond homicide detective, Pete Marino. They meet at the murder scene of a brutally strangled woman and discover little evidence that would be helpful. They realize the murdered woman is the fourth victim in a string of mysterious rape and torture cases. The only clue they have is the shiny powder residue left on each victim’s body, which eventually leads them to the killer. The book is fast-paced with really good plot twists.
Having started in the middle of the series, it was interesting to read the background on the main characters, their personal/work issues, and to meet some of their family members. The relationship between Dr. Scarpetta and Detective Marino is intense and intriguing. It was amusing to read about the dial-up modems and main frames that were the norm 20 year ago. If you enjoy a good thriller with a medical twist and don’t mind some forensic details, you should check out Postmortem.
The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media
by Brooke Gladstone
(W. W. Norton & Co., 2011, 170 pages)
I think graphic novels are a great medium because of the entertaining way they present information. When working with non-fiction I think they’re even more beneficial because it doesn’t feel like you’re “working” to learn something. Brooke Gladstone is an NPR reporter who focuses on the way media affects our society. This graphic novel offers an overview of the history of media and the way it has affected us from the very beginning.
Gladstone offers a really interesting perspective on things – and I definitely learned a lot about the ways media can influence you and present all kinds of biases, in such a way that you’re not even aware of what’s happening. There are references to the roles of newspapers during the Civil War, the impact of having the press embedded in the military and how that influences the things they report, the different kinds of biases that affect the news we receive… It was a really interesting read, especially in light of the fact that the role of media in today’s world and the emphasis on the various biases of different news organizations is treated as if it were something new.
There were references to a lot of journalists and important pieces they wrote that I plan on picking up after reading The Influencing Machine. I’d definitely recommend this graphic novel.
Crunch Time by Diane Mott Davidson
(William Morrow, 2011, 480 pages)
In Crunch Time by Diane Mott Davidson, fictional caterer, Goldy Schulz, once again faces murder and mystery. Crunch Time is the 15th book in Davidson’s murder mystery series featuring Goldy and her catering business, Goldilocks Catering. All the books in the series have food-related titles (Dying for Chocolate, Cereal Murders, etc.). All the books feature recipes used by Goldy while solving the murders.
In Crunch Time, Goldy’s friend and sometimes co-worker, Yolanda, finds herself being harassed and intimidated. Her rental home burns down under suspicious circumstances. Then, the person who gives her temporary shelter is murdered and his house is burned down. The police aren’t having much success in solving these crimes so Goldy steps in to help investigate. Goldy finds that food goes a long way in helping to solve a mystery.
Crunch Time features most of the characters that readers know from Davidson’s earlier works. As usual, the story takes place in Aspen Meadows, Colorado. The story moves along quickly even though it is over 400 pages long. Warning, with all the mention of food, this novel may leave you hungry as well as reluctant to say goodbye to Goldy until the next novel is written.
Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight about Animals
by Hal Herzog
(Harper, 2010, 326 pages)
This non-fiction book with an eye catching title did not disappoint me. It was fascinating and provocative. Each time I opened the book, I felt like I was sitting in a Philosophy class being lectured to by this enthusiastic professor.
Why do we like some animals but not others? Browse the chapter “The Importance of Being Cute.” Ever wonder which sex loves pets the most? Find the research data from page 132 to 137. Why do we look at the exact same animal very differently depending on context? Most of us think of cockfighting as cruel but would have no problem stopping at KFC for hot wings. In reality gamecocks are treated very well when they are not fighting, and most poultry headed for the table lead short, miserable lives and are killed quite painfully. The author, an anthropologist, shares with us his intensive research on how humans and animals interact. This book got me to think and re-think my relationships with animals.
I really appreciate that the author treats these controversial issues with fairness and neutrality. He doesn’t offer conclusions, he leaves that to the reader. This book is informative, hilarious and disturbing at times. No matter if you are a pet owner, a vegetarian, or a meat eater, you can relate to this book.
Mindblind by Jennifer Roy
(Marshall Cavendish Corp., 2010, 248 pages)
Mindblind is the story of Nathaniel Clark, a high school student trying to understand the world through the eyes of an “Aspie,” or person who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Nathaniel uses mathematical formulas to help himself comprehend certain situations and has a special number for himself based on the Periodic Table of the Elements and the atomic numbers for chloride (Cl), argon (Ar), and potassium (K)–the combination of letters that spell his last name. He is fluent in Chinese and plays keyboard in a band. He is also in the process of applying for graduate school at the age of 14.
The book is filled with interesting characters including Nathaniel’s bandmates, his fellow Aspie friend Mollie, his parents, and young stepbrother who adores him. The author subtly introduces the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome throughout the story and develops Nathaniel into an endearing character. Although there is nothing too complex about the plot, I cared for Nathaniel’s character and what was going to happen to him, so I would recommend this book.
Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertant Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton
(Random House, 2011, 304 pages)
Gabrielle Hamilton is the executive chef and owner of the New York City restaurant, Prune. Her whole life seems to have revolved around food. When she was a child her mother cooked classic French dishes and was one for using fresh ingredients and being able to stretch a dollar to feed her family. As a young adult she entered the restaurant business as a dishwasher and then as a server. Eventually she came into her own as a chef and before long found herself with the unique opportunity of being able to open up her own restaurant – doing things the way she wanted.
Hamilton definitely has a unique background and perspective on life. She went through a rebellious phase as a teenager (I know, shocking) that involved lying about her age to get jobs, considerable drug and alcohol use, etc. but that was how she really got involved in the restaurant business. After being in the culinary world for a little while, Hamilton decided she wanted more. She went on to receive her MFA from the University of Michigan. This didn’t really stick and she returned to the life she knew and loved, a life in the kitchen. Secure in this calling, she made a life change that was surprising even to herself. She went from being a lesbian in a committed relationship to the wife of an Italian doctor and mother of two.
One of the only things I wasn’t really a fan of was that I wasn’t sure what the purpose of this memoir was. One could argue it was about the journey Hamilton took to opening her own restaurant, but it’s about a lot more than that venture. I wish there had been a little more focus on the cooking element because that’s typically what I read “food” books for. Overall I enjoyed it. Blood, Bones & Butter has gotten rave reviews from the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Mario Batali. If food lit is your thing you’d probably enjoy this.
Now You See Her by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
(Little, Brown and Co., 2011, 383 pages)
About the book:
The perfect life
A successful lawyer and loving mother, Nina Bloom would do anything to protect the life she’s built in New York—including lying to everyone, even her daughter, about her past. But when an innocent man is framed for murder, she knows that she can’t let him pay for the real killer’s crimes.
The perfect lie
Nina’s secret life began 18 years ago. She had looks to die for, a handsome police-officer husband, and a carefree life in Key West. When she learned she was pregnant with their first child, her happiness was almost overwhelming. But Nina’s world is shattered when she unearths a terrible secret that causes her to run for her life and change her identity.
The perfect way to die
Now, years later, Nina risks everything she’s earned to return to Florida and confront the murderous evil she fled. In a story of wrenching suspense, James Patterson gives us his most head-spinning, action-filled story yet—a Hitchcock-like blend of unquenchable drama and pleasure.
I am an avid Patterson fan so I’ve read many of his books, but this one is by far one of his best! The twists and turns in this book had me second-guessing myself all the way to the last page. I could not put this book down! Just when I thought I’d figured things out, I would be surprised by something new! What a page-turner!!!! My only disappointment is that I finished it so quickly. Now I have to wait for the next book!
Patterson holds you as if you are bobbing on waves in the sea. Just as you come up for a breath there is a turn in the action that takes you under again. A riveting story! If you like Patterson you won’t be disappointed. I highly recommend it.