REVIEW: “Malice” by Lisa Jackson

I had heard of Lisa Jackson, but hadn’t read her novels, so I thought I’d give her a try.

“Malice” is the story of Rick Bentz, New Orleans police officer and guy with a past, who thinks he sees his dead wife everywhere. When people from the past start winding up dead, Bentz works to get to the bottom of the twisted criminal mind behind his “haunting”.

As I mentioned, this was my first Jackson novel (which I found at the library). I like a good thriller (though I don’t like extreme violence) and I particularly like psychological thrillers. This book held my attention and kept me guessing. However, in my opinion, it was TOO LONG (over 400 pages). I don’t mind a long book (look at how I love the “Outlander” series), but I felt the ending just dragged and dragged and then suddenly we tied all the loose ends together in a few paragraphs. Another beef I have with this book (and this is a SPOILER ALERT!): I found the plot totally far-fetched. Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned, but come on — this was a bit much. I would have found a ghost more believable!! I also felt for Bentz’ current wife who (for some reason) tolerated his chasing after his dead first wife’s ghost and then almost got killed herself.

I did find it entertaining, and I am listening to one on CD in the car right now,too. I will try another of hers in the future.

I’d give it 3 Stars!

Have you read Lisa Jackson’s novels? Which ones do you recommend?

REVIEW: 9th Judgment by James Patterson and Mazine Paetro

Somehow – in all my ramblings in the local library – I missed the fact that Patterson and Paetro had published another Women’s Murder Club novel last spring. So it was my happy day to find it on the new release shelf. I really like these novels, and particularly like Lindsay Boxer, the main heroine. Lindsay is tough and intelligent, but not perfect. As a police office in San Francisco she has her hands full. Lindsay’s love life (as well as her girlfriends’ who make up the murder club with her) often figures in to these novels, and I sometimes have a hard time keeping track of who is sleeping with whom, etc. and personally couldn’t care less. The novels are fast-paced and thrilling. They are similar to Sue Grafton’s alphabet series, in my opinion.

In this installment, Lindsay is chasing after two killers: one who apparently randomly guns down mothers and their young children and one who is a cat burglar. I find the concept of a cat burglar so “Hitchcockesque” – I couldn’t help but be intrigued! Both of the perpetrators are narrators in the novel and their paths cross in an interesting (though for me, predictable) way. While one is a deranged psycho, you can almost find yourself feeling sympathetic for the cat burglar.

This book was also touted as Lindsay struggling with her feelings of attraction for her partner, Rich Conklin (even though he is dating her friend Cindy – whom I find the most annoying of the bunch – and Lindsay is engaged to near-perfect Joe). Now – is it just me? Call me old-fashioned but I sometimes feel like yelling: “Don’t mess us a good mystery with all this silly love triangle stuff!!” I almost feel like the authors feel compelled to add some sort of romantic fluff since their audience is presumably women. This is personally insulting, but what can I say (except the above comment!). Anyhow, I was thrilled that this love triangle business did not figure prominently in the novel and did not detract for me from the main plot lines!

I enjoyed this novel and plowed through it in two days. I’d give it 3 1/2 stars!

Quickie Review: Ford County: Stories by John Grisham

I bought this book of short stories by Grisham while in the Orlando airport, waiting to head home. I like Grisham’s legal thrillers and I like short stories, so I thought I’d give it a try. This was an interesting departure for him, in my opinion, as these stories took place in Ford County – the setting of “A Time to Kill” I believe- and read – or at least the ones I read did and I didn’t get to them all – like character analyses. I found them well-written, but somewhat disturbing in terms of content (e.g. a family goes to visit their brother on death row for his execution – certainly not happy fare). This was a good little airplane read!

“A Reliable Wife” by Robert Goolrick

I had heard good things about “A Reliable Wife”, so I was excited to purchase it at my local Border’s for my trip to Florida. At some point I had read that this novel was historical fiction, and if you know me, you know I love historical fiction!

My first issue with this novel was that it seemed less historical fiction and more historical romance. You may ask: what’s the difference? Personally I draw a difference between them. In historical fiction I find that I learn things about the time because the time and setting are integral to the plot and to moving the plot forward. In historical romance I find that it is a romance that could take place any time, it’s just taking place a long time ago. Now please note that these delineations are NOT based on some literary dictionary but are mine alone! It’s how I classify books in my head. That said, my beloved Outlander series by Gabaldon will never be “historical romance” to me – which it is classed as usually – but “historical fiction” as I feel the time period is critical to moving the plot forward — and how much have I found out about natural remedies and early medicines and Scottish history from reading those novels? A lot!

Anyway – back to our novel. It will be hard to discuss this one without using SPOILERS, so please be warned!

When wealthy businessman Ralph Truitt places an ad for “a reliable wife”, gold digger Catherine Land answers his ad. Catherine has had a rough life and has survived by her wits and by using her body. She deceives Ralph about her past (though he knows from the start that she has lied to him about who she is — she has sent a picture of another woman to him). SPOILER: Catherine’s goal is to marry Ralph and then poison him slowly and inherit his money so that she can live comfortably – with her lover. Does she or doesn’t she I won’t tell you — you can read it for yourself!

I have to say – this book is touted as surprising and thrilling and that you won’t be able to predict the conclusion. Well I did right from the start. If you have experience reading gothic novels – especially those from earlier times – I think you can guess what’s going to happen. Of course guessing what would happen made me less invested in reading it!

I also found the writing in this novel to be inconsistent. It was well-written, but some of the passages had SO much sexual fantasy/memory in them that they felt bogged down. There was a lot of “he wanted to….(half a page to a page of what he wanted to do to her)”.  I felt that using the Wisconsin desolate winter landscape as a metaphor for Ralph’s (and Catherine’s) emotional well-being was a bit heavy-handed as well.

This is Goolrick’s first fictional novel, and I’m sure it won’t be his last.

I’d give it 3 Stars.

Where did Beth go??

Gentle Readers — I know you may be thinking:WHERE is Beth? Why hasn’t she been posting? Has she stopped reading?!?
Never fear – I could never stop reading! I have had some incredibly busy times lately, with a family trip to Florida (Disney) for a wedding and some fun, plus other commitments. I started a few books before our trip, but didn’t finish them and had to return them to the library. I read one on our trip (review forthcoming – “A Reliable Wife”) and started another that I’m reading now (short stories by John Grisham). I also have been working on my manuscript for my cozy mystery and that is going S – L – O – W – L – Y!!! So – I have not forgotten you! Another post to follow soon! -beth 😉