Monday, April 22, 2013

More Whitneys

This week's post was getting ridiculously long, so I decided to split it into two posts. Here's the second half:

56. Gregg Luke, Deadly Undertaking (Whitney, Suspense) Rebekah Smith enjoys her job at the Medical Examiner's office, even though other people might not get why she likes it so much (her boyfriend's coworker calls her CK for "crypt keeper"). However, when her office starts receiving several bodies of centenarians who have been partially embalmed before their bodies were discovered, she enlists the help of her law enforcement boyfriend, Josh Logan, to help her solve the mystery. Unfortunately for Rebekah, she's up against a killer with a cause, and her interest in these cadavers just might prove deadly.

The book was reasonably well written (there were a few typos), and the plot moved quickly. However, the book was not quite the mystery I envisioned; the reader discovers the murderer fairly quickly (several chapters are told from his point of view), so the book is more a suspense/thriller than a mystery. Genre quibbles aside, I didn't connect terribly well to the characters--Josh and Rebekah alternated between witty banter and serious, medical terminology, and although they both had serious struggles in their past, they never quite felt real to me. I find it interesting that a lot of reviewers (on Goodreads) mention that this book is "creepy." Now, I'm the kind of person who had to have her husband pre-screen Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because I do not do creepy or tense well--but I didn't have a problem with the book. Maybe that's because I wasn't super emotionally invested in the characters? I also found the clinical/medical descriptions the most interesting part of the book.

57. Rachel Ann Nunes, Line of Fire (Whitney, Suspense) 3.5 stars. This is one of a series of books about Autumn Rain (so named by her hippie adoptive parents), who has an unusual gift: she can sense "imprints," or strong emotional residue left by owners of physical objects. This gift proves useful in helping her solve crimes, the right object can lead her to the perpetrator. Autumn is also a nicely flawed character: she's recently met her twin sister (separated at birth) and is coming to terms with her past. In this story, Autumn's sister Tawnia asks Autumn to investigate their biological father, a man who's believed to be involved in the disappearance of a 14-year-old girl. While some aspects of the plot (particularly at the end, when things seem to work out suspiciously well for the main characters) were a little far-fetched, I thought the writing was solid and I enjoyed the character interaction. I also liked that the mystery wasn't completely predictable. The story reminded me, in good ways, of Charlaine Harris's Haper Connelly series (only not nearly as gruesome and without the sex).

58. Traci Hunter Abramson, Code Word. (Whitney, Suspense). This is book #6 in Abramson's Saint Squad series, about a Navy SEAL team that is predominantly Mormon. In this particular novel, Jay Wellman has just been granted two weeks leave after a nearly-fatal mission as part of the operation to kill Osama Bin Laden. Jay anticipates a relaxing two weeks spent with his father; he doesn't expect Carina, the older sister of one of his father's swimming students--and the daughter of a Chicago mobster. Although Carina and her sisters have put the family behind her, the family hasn't forgotten about them. When the new head of the family sends men to find Carina (and something that Carina has), she reluctantly turns to Jay for help. The story flowed well and I liked that Carina was a strong woman who didn't have to be saved. However, I have to admit that there were some parts (mostly when the characters were discussing their plans) where I got a little bored. The romance and Jay's growing interest in the Mormon church seemed a little too pat and predictable for me. I would have liked to feel a little more surprised (or suspenseful) about how the story turned out. Also, coming into the series late, there were lots of side characters that I had a hard time keeping track of (I did have the sense, though, that all these characters had their own story and their appearance would mean something to fans of the series).

59. Jude Morgan, Indiscretion. This is my second Jude Morgan book, and while I didn't enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the first (An Accomplished Woman), I still enjoyed it a great deal. Since this is primarily a comedy of manners, it's a little hard to describe the plot, which centers primarily around the interactions between individuals. After Caroline Fortune's father runs through what little remains of their fortune, Caroline takes a job as a companion for a truly horrible, manipulative old woman, Mrs. Catling. This plunges her into Ms. Catling's social millieu, where Caroline meets Mr. and Miss Downey, along with the dashing Richard Leabrook--none of whom are quite what they seem at first inspection. After being summarily dismissed from Mrs. Catling's, Caroline takes refuge with an aunt and uncle and meets the delightful Milner family. Things seem to be going well until Caroline encounters ghosts from her past in the form of Mr. Leabrook and the Downey's. I really enjoy the author's distinct characterizations, the witty and sly observations, and the general Regency atmosphere of these books.

60. Jessica Day George, Princess of the Silver Wood. This is the final book in a trilogy retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. In this book, Petunia, the youngest of the twelve princesses, is on her way to visit a Duchess when her carriage is attacked by the Wolves of the Westfalin Woods (a fun nod to red riding hood). Petunia is inadvertently kidnapped by their leader, Oliver, who is not quite what he seems. At the same time, Petunia's nightmares about the King Under Stone (who forced her and her sisters to dance before his death) have returned. When Oliver is tasked with seeing Petunia safely returned to the Duchess, he discovers that Petunia's dreams are in fact quite real, and Petunia, Oliver, and the remaining princesses and their spouses will have to face the sons of the King Under Stone one last time. While it was difficult to keep track of all the characters, I thought George did a pretty good job keeping them distinct and I thought the story was generally charming, if not particularly profound.

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