Fiction · Historical Fiction · Jean R · Mystery

Closed Casket | by Sophie Hannah

Closed Casket (New Hercule Poirot Mysteries, #2)

Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah
(William Morrow, 2016, 299 pages)

Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah features Agatha Christie’s famous detective, Hercule Poirot. In this novel, Hercule Poirot along with an inspector from Scotland Yard and several other guests is invited to the Irish mansion of Lady Playford. Lady Playford has decided to change her will. At dinner, Lady Playford announces that she is leaving her entire fortune to her dying secretary rather than her two children. As you might expect, the secretary does not live to see morning. Who killed him? Poirot is on the case.

The estate of Agatha Christie authorized Sophie Hannah to use Hercule Poirot in her novel. Hannah has written one other Poirot mystery entitled The Monogram Murders. Closed Casket did hold my interest, but the mystery is not as intricately woven as a Christie novel.

3/5 stars

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Fiction · In the Library · Jean R · Thriller

The Rooster Bar | by John Grisham

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham
(Doubleday, 2017, 352 pages)

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham is the story of three friends, Mark, Todd, and Zola, who are about to start their final semester at a low-rated, for-profit law school. The friends realize that they have enormous school loan debts and little prospects for high paying careers after law school. The friends decide that are going to quietly drop out of law school, assume new identities to try to avoid their student loans, and earn some money in sometimes, unethical, illegal ways.

In this novel, Grisham highlights the problem with for-profit law schools and school loans from banks with shady practices. He also deals with immigration issues and suicide. Grisham credits the idea for this story to an article by Paul Campos entitled The Law School Scam that was published in 2014 in the journal, The Atlantic.

The Rooster Bar is an interesting story. At the beginning, I did not find the characters very likeable. As the novel progressed, I did find myself hoping that things would work out for them. The Rooster Bar was a worthwhile read.

4/5 stars

Fiction · Jean R · Mystery

Y is for Yesterday | by Sue Grafton

Y is for Yesterday (Kinsey Millhone, #25)

Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton
(Marian Wood Books/Putnam, 2017, 483 pages)

Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton is the 25th novel featuring private investigator, Kinsey Millhone. This book bounces between 1979 and 1989. In 1979, four teenage boys make a four-minute tape featuring a sexual assault of one of their classmates. When the tape goes missing, the leader of the boys accuses another female classmate of the theft. The “thief” ends up dead, one of the boys, Fritz, goes to jail for her murder, and the leader of the group disappears. Fast forward to 1989 where Kinsey gets involved in the 1979 case. Fritz is being blackmailed by someone who says s/he will release the tape unless a $25,000.00 ransom is paid. Since that tape could send Fritz back to jail, Kinsey is asked to locate the blackmailer(s).

Y is for Yesterday is part of Sue Grafton’s alphabet series. Z is for Zero will be released in 2019. Grafton has not yet decided if there will be more Kinsey Millhone stories beyond Z. It is interesting to read these novels because they are all set in the 1980’s. Cellphones and computers were not widely available in those years so Grafton must rely on the tools available at the time to help Kinsey in her investigations. While I didn’t particularly enjoy Y is for Yesterday because of the subject matter, Grafton’s alphabet series has been fun to read. I’ll be sure to read Z is for Zero.

3/5 stars

Fiction · Jean R · Mystery

Dangerous Minds | by Janet Evanovich

Dangerous Minds (Knight and Moon, #2)

Dangerous Minds (Knight and Moon #2)
 by Janet Evanovich
(Bantam, 2017, 319 pages)

Dangerous Minds: A Knight and Moon Novel by Janet Evanovich is the second book in the series featuring Emerson Knight and Riley Moon. In this novel, Emerson’s Buddhist monk friend, Wayan Bagus, asks Emerson to help him find his missing island located near Samoa. The island has vanished into thin air. The only clue that Wayan has is that the men who removed him from his island had distinctive tattoos and uniforms. Emerson traces the uniforms back to the National Park Service and follows the clues from there.

The plots in this series are very improbable, but the quirky characters make the story fun to read. Besides Emerson and Riley, there is Emerson’s cousin, Vernon, who believes in Bigfoot and pretty women. There is the Buddhist monk who loves watching old movies even in the midst of life-threatening events. Then, there is the villain who uses a hatchet as one of his primary weapons. There is no mention of a third book in this series, but it is probably only a matter of time.

4/5 stars

Fiction · Jean R · Mystery

Curious Minds | by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon, #1)

Curious Minds: A Knight and Moon Novel
by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton
(Bantam Dell, 2016, 322 pages)

Curious Minds: A Knight and Moon Novel, by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton is the first book in a new series featuring Emerson Knight and Riley Moon. Emerson Knight is rich, eccentric, and well educated. Riley Moon is a new junior analyst for the Washington DC mega-bank, Blane-Grunwald. Riley is assigned to help Emerson keep track of his money. When Emerson insists that he wants to see his gold, Riley accompanies him to the gold vault under Wall Street. There Emerson and Riley discover that the gold is being stolen and being replaced with look-alikes. The adventure begins!

Emerson Knight and Riley Moon are very likable characters. Emerson lives in a mansion, but sleeps in a tent in his library. Riley was raised in rural Texas and was a bit of a tomboy. While the story is far-fetched, it was enjoyable. The second Knight and Moon Novel is Dangerous Minds. It has been added to my reading list.

4/5 stars

Fiction · Jean R · Thriller

Digital Fortress | by Dan Brown

Digital Fortress

Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
(St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 2008, 525 pages)

Digital Fortress by Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, is the tale of code-breaking and cybercrime. Susan Fletcher, the head cryptographer at the NSA, is unexpectedly called to work on a weekend. There is a threat to the NSA’s highly secret code-breaking machine called TRANSLTR. A former NSA employee has threatened to release a program that will make codes unbreakable and TRANSLTR obsolete unless the NSA tells the world about TRANSLTR. While the NSA is considering its options, the former employee dies and the kill code for the unbreakable code program is not among the employee’s belongings.

Digital Fortress has an interesting premise. The story takes quite a few twists and turns. I enjoyed it until the last 30 or so pages. Brown tried to keep the suspense and solution going for a little too long. Overall, Digital Fortress is a thriller that keeps the reader’s attention.