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Sunday, September 27, 2015


3.5 stars out of 5

It's a case of star-crossed lovers (think Romeo and Juliet) with a bent for murder (add a touch of Bonnie and Clyde). That's who Manhattan police Lt. Eve Dallas and her crew are chasing here. It begins when a victim turns up in an alley, the body so mangled that Eve nearly misses the heart with two initials - E and D - carved into the victim's skin. That leads the team to believe this might not be the first victim, and sure enough, further investigation turns up a string of bodies from Arkansas to New York and the possibility of a pair of serial torturer/killers who most likely have no plans to stop any time soon.

Then a couple more missing persons come to light in Manhattan, and it becomes a race to identify the killers and catch them before they get away with two more. But even by putting to use all the technology they have at hand - notably more in the year 2061, when this book is set, than today - it's still a race to the finish. 

All in all, it's an exciting ride as usual, but somehow, this one fell a bit short of my expectations (because half-stars aren't possible here, I rounded up my actual rating of 3.5 stars to four only because it's better than rounding down to three). Why? It sounds simplistic to say the book is a bit lackluster compared with the others - the plot, after all, is interesting and moves along just as a police procedural should. 

But somehow, the whole thing felt a little flat, starting with Eve's super-rich, super technology talented and impossibly handsome Irish husband, Roarke, who anticipates, and caters, to her every need even before she knows she needs it. He is, in fact, near the top of my 10 all-time favorite "heroes" in mystery/thrillers. But here, his usually helpful concerns almost seemed forced, as if he was more intent on imposing his own opinion on his wife than trying to support her. It's a thin line and maybe it's just my imagination, but if he didn't cross it here, he came way too close for my comfort.

Besides that, none of the other characters seemed to be as feisty (for want of a better word) than in previous books. The only real bright spot was a cop from a backwoods town where the murder spree began who suspected foul play and didn't stop till he got to New York and convinced Eve that his hunches were on target. 

All things considered, while I enjoyed reading this book, it's not the best in the series. That said, I'll be ready and waiting for the next one, if for no other reason than I've still gotta love Eve. When asked for her "take" on opera, for instance, she responds, "You can't understand anything anybody's saying, then they all die."

Yep, my kind of woman.

Devoted in Death by J.D. Robb (G.P. Putnam's Sons, September 2015); 384 pp.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


4 stars out of 5

I'm far from a sports fanatic, but on the other hand, I've got a long history of mostly non hands-on participation that dates back to the 1950s, when I loved to watch the Gillette-sponsored Friday night boxing matches with my dad - on our black-and-white TV set (complete with rabbit ears, no less). Later, I was a diehard viewer of ABC's Wide world of Sports that launched in 1961, and I waited impatiently for the every-four-year coverage of my beloved Olympic games. My heart was in my throat as my hero, Jean-Claude Killy, schussed his way to wins in all three Alpine events in the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. And who could forget late sportscaster Jim McKay's emotional, "They're all gone" as he reported on the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics?

Except for the Olympics, which now come at us every two years (and with far less impressive TV coverage, IMHO), those other programs have long since come and gone. But on Sept. 7, 1979, another sports phenomenon emerged: ESPN (the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network). It hit the ground running, and - although I learned from this book that it didn't turn a profit until 1985 - it's pretty safe to say it's become a household acronym. In 2014, as the author points out, ESPN was named the "world's most valuable media property."

Today, I'd bet the farm that not a day goes by that my husband and I - separately or together - tune in to some kind of ESPN show. Virtually every weeknight, you'll find our set tuned to one of my favorite shows, Pardon the Interruption, to watch the sparring between hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. 

So it was that when I was granted the opportunity to read and review this by the publisher (via NetGalley), I jumped at the chance. Let me be perfectly clear, though: This is a scholarly publication. If you're expecting witty quotes from famous athletes or network executives or smack-on-the-butt locker room jokes, you'll be disappointed. Rather, it's a straightforward and exceptionally well-researched documentation of how ESPN and all its offshoots - from the magazine to books to made-for-TV movies and docudramas - came to be. 

Initially, it was to a degree a matter of right place, right time, given more public interest in sports, the emergence of cable TV and increasing deregulation of the communications industry. But transforming that beginning into the media powerhouse as we know it certainly didn't happen by accident; the author details almost every step of the route to success, such as the launch of "SportsCentury," a concept headed by Mark Shapiro, that helped bring much-needed credibility to the network. 

The well-written book reads almost like a doctoral dissertation - albeit a much more interesting one than the few I helped edit back in my days as a university administrator - complete with extensive references at the end (close to 25% of the book is comprised of footnote and other resources, most arranged by chapter). In short, it's exactly what I would expect from a university press. That said, there's no way I can condense all the information that's in here; but I will say that if there was a stone left untouched, I'm confident it isn't an important one.

ESPN: The Making of a Sports Media Empire by Travis Vogan (University of Illinois Press, October 2015); 288 pp.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


4 stars out of 5

Rule No. 1: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

I'm not sure who said it first - quick research led me to author Joseph Heller in Catch-22 - but it popped into my head within the first few chapters of this book and hung around for the duration. Even the ending, in which all the loose ends are tied up, reinforced the say-it-ain't-so notion that everybody's got an agenda.

Many characters come and go throughout - virtually all of them carrying secrets they'd rather not share with the world - which means good guys and gals can turn into baddies at the turn of a chapter. That's a good thing; those twists held my attention from beginning to end - and I thank the publisher, via NetGalley, for granting me the opportunity to read and review the book.

Given my not-too-infrequent tendency to walk to the kitchen only to forget why I'm standing there, an overload of characters usually is a bit frustrating; so, too, is the shift in chapters from various perspectives and settings. But here, the author utilizes the latter technique well;  each chapter adds stepping stones that build to the conclusion as well as enough background to help my aging mind keep everyone straight.

The concept certainly is intriguing: Creation of a "Jury Town" in which 200 citizens will be sequestered for two years, thus (in theory, at least) avoiding the threat of jury tampering that appears to be running rampant in the outside world. This community of jurors will hear cases from inside a secured, refurbished prison, paid handsomely for their 24-month disconnect from anyone and anything that isn't related to the trials to which they're assigned. The effort is led by Victoria Lewis, former Virginia governor, backed by a couple of powerful behind-the-scenes partners. Burned by her own father's years-ago wrongful conviction at the hands of a tainted jury, Victoria is intent on doing whatever it takes to make the project a model for the rest of the country.

Enter Rule No. 2: There's many a slip 'tween the cup and the lip. Almost before the first trial begins, possible corruption inside the walls rears its ugly head, threatening to pull the rug from under the entire project and threatening a few lives as well. But who can Victoria trust? For an answer that won't reveal spoilers, see Rule No. 1 above; just know that for Victoria, it's touch-and-go, trial-and-error (pun intended) all the way to the end.

If I have a nit to pick, it's that the wrap-up chapters seem a tad too rushed; action-packed is to be expected (and desired), but it almost felt like this little corner of the Old Dominion state got blasted by a tsunami. Of course, that also means I didn't have to wait as long to learn the outcome, but given that I was enjoying the book, I'd like to have savored it a little bit longer. 

Jury Town by Stephen Frey (Thomas & Mercer, September 2015); 352 pp.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


4 stars out of 5

This was not, I must say, the easiest of books to read. That's not because it isn't good - it is (and I thank the publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review it). Rather, it's just tough when there's no one to "root" for. Every single character here is flawed in some way - some more than others; and much of the story centers on how those flaws impact their personal and professional lives (some in more ways than others). So while I was chomping at the bit to see how things turned out all around, I can't say it mattered much who was left standing. 

The star of this show, Detective Helen Grace, certainly has her share of secrets (heck, let's just call a spade a spade; she's got some real doozies). Some of her baggage apparently is carried over from the first book in the series, Eeny Meeny, and it threatens to weigh her down here. She's also got a witch of a female boss who'll use anybody to get ahead, a co-worker who's hesitantly returning to active duty after suffering slings and arrows in the previous book, a spiteful reporter who'll sell her soul for a "big story" and kinky relationships with a couple of other strange dudes. What could possibly go wrong?

Not much, at first; a man's eviscerated body is found, and then his family gets a gruesome "gift" in memoriam. But when a second murder is committed in a similar manner, it begins to look as if a serial killer is off and running. The trail leads to some exceptionally sleazy neighborhoods and dead ends (pun intended), and there's no shortage of gory details. I won't speak to those, of course, lest I reveal too much; but suffice it to say that in the end, no one comes away unscathed. 

Twists and turns? Too many to count, with almost none of them expected. Needless to say, though, since this is the second book in the series featuring Detective Grace and a third is on the way (The Doll's House), it shouldn't come as a surprise that she survives. As to how the rest of the lot fares, well, you'll just have to read it for yourself.

Pop Goes the Weasel by M.J. Arlidge (NAL, October 2015); 416 pp.

Friday, September 18, 2015


5 stars out of 5

This book had my name on it right from the git-go. First, I'm a diehard fan of the late Ian Fleming's James Bond books - and of the motion pictures as well, though for the most part they have little in common with the books. Second, Anthony Horowitz also authored Moriarty, to which I happily awarded 5 stars (yes, I love Sherlock Holmes as well).

For the first few chapters, though, I began to wonder if this one was destined to be not much more than name-dropping of people and places from other Bond books (it begins as Pussy Galore is ensconced in Bond's flat as a protective measure after the Goldfinger affair). Okay, I expected some of that - this one marks Bond's return after an electrifying exchange with Oddjob at Fort Knox. But would there be a real plot here with enough substance to stand on its own?

So, I consulted my Bond expert husband, who had just passed the book on to me, and his answer was a resolute yes. Even more impressive, he said, is the authenticity of writing style compared with that of Fleming. Now that I've finished, I totally agree; especially when the action began to heat up as the end was near, I really felt as if I were immersed in the pages of From Russia with Love or You Only Live Twice

Interestingly, author Horowitz says in the acknowledgements that the concept for this book came from outlines Fleming had created for a possible TV series that was being discussed in America prior to the success of the film, Dr. No. Once that took off, the series idea was scrapped, and a couple of those outlines were used as the basis for subsequent movies. But five remained and were given to Horowitz; he picked one that piqued his writing interest and actually used about 500 words of Fleming's own dialogue in one chapter of this book. 

The story here, set about a dozen years after the end of World War II,  is that Bond learns his old nemesis, SMERSH, wants to kill the chances that a leading racecar driver will win an international Grand Prix in West Germany, thus allowing a Russian driver to win and demonstrating the power of the Soviets. Bond's boss, M,  sends him in to prevent that from happening (yep, that means he'll have to impersonate a real driver and do laps around the track himself). But prior to the race, he spots a meeting between a top SMERSH official and a shady Korean millionaire dubbed Jason Sin, and suddenly Bond is convinced there's much more afoot than winning a road race.

Needless to say, Bond is right on the money, and the chase begins to find out what the secretive Mr. Sin really is up to (and, that accomplished, convincing the U.S. and British powers-that-be of the need to stop him). As Bond fans should expect, the whole thing comes down to resolution by the very capable secret agent, who must pull out all the stops to keep the world safe for democracy. Again.

I've missed you, Mr. Bond - great to have you back!

Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz (Harper, September 2015); 320 pp.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


This 20th book featuring former U.S. military police guy Jack Reacher puts him smack dab in the middle of nowhere - a tiny place with the strange name of "Mother's Rest" that is surrounded by endless fields of wheat. Since he's been wandering around aimlessly for a while, stopping wherever and whenever the mood strikes, he figures finding out how the town got its name is reason enough to get off the train and squat for a bit. Almost immediately, he spies Michelle Chang, who turns out to be a former FBI agent who's now a private investigator looking for her missing partner. This godforsaken place, she says, is her partner's last known destination.

Lacking anything better to do, curiosity about what happened to the partner (and the town's name) prompts Reacher to agree to help. They manage to learn that the partner booked a room at the local motel, but he's not there or anywhere else they look. And instead of being the helpful denizens that are common in small communities, the rather odd townsfolk are almost hostile - giving Reacher and Chang grief over everything from buying new pants to paying for a hotel rooms of their own even though vacancies are plentiful. Clearly, they conclude, something's not right here.

More sleuthing leads the pair to another man who's looking for a missing relative and a newspaper reporter and, as the search widens, possible (and very dark) connections begin to unfold that take Chang and Reacher out of Mother's Rest to places like Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, Phoenix and Chicago. All roads lead to Mother's Rest, though, where they must return to bring the whole thing to conclusion. In between all the travels are ventures deep into the Dark Web (technology plays a major role here even though Reacher considers anything beyond a basic cell phone beyond his comprehension and interest).  And not surprisingly, lots of folks turn up dead - and ferreting out the truth tests Reacher's mental and physical limits to the max. 

Accordingly, there's plenty of literal blood and guts (not that there's anything wrong with that in my mind, but forewarned is forearmed). An unexpected twist at the end is especially gory, but - given the rest of the story - it comes as a fitting conclusion. In fact, when I finished the last page, the line from Walter Scott's epic poem Marmion immediately came to mind: "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!"

The book is easy to read with short, almost jab-you-in-the-ribs sentences (many are non-sentences, BTW - which always takes some getting used to by a grammar freak like me - but the book is good enough that I was able to overcome that concern early on. Which beings me to another conclusion. I wish I had a quarter for every sentence that started with "Which"...

Make Me by Lee Child (Delacorte Press, September 2015); 416 pp.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


She's earned chops at other forms of writing, but this is the author's first at-bat with a novel. And by golly, she's hit a home run with the bases loaded. Put another way, WOW!

The book begins in England in 1995 with a peek into the life of 15-year-old Amy Stevenson - a young girl with a few good friends, a mother and stepfather she adores (well, most of the time - she's 15, after all), a sweet boyfriend -  and a big secret. Fast-forward 15 years and we see Amy again; this time, we learn she's been in a coma for all those years, the victim of a vicious assault. Her secret , it seems, still is safe.

Now, though, that could change. Amy is unable to communicate, but freelance reporter Alex Dale is chomping at the bit to do a human-interest story on comatose patients and zeroes in on Amy. Alex, though, comes with secrets of her own; she's got an ex-husband she still loves (a cop), a former but once-promising career as a journalist and an addiction she just can't sweep under the rug. But as she begins to dig into what really happened to Amy - police investigated the case back then but found no conclusive evidence - Alex becomes more determined each day to get to the truth and, at least in some measure, bring closure both to herself and to Amy. 

Chapters of the book, which for the record I received for review from the publisher via Netgalley, shift from present to past - a technique that works perfectly here for a couple of reasons. First, each chapter is subtitled with the year and name of the character whose perspective is showcased; that alone alleviates the confusion I've experienced in other books over who's who and what's what. More importantly, each chapter reveals just enough information to compel me to keep going. In fact, I read this book over two days, setting it down with great reluctance and telling my very hungry husband, "Just one more chapter, honey" so often that he finally rolled his eyes, picked up the phone and ordered a pizza. 

There's a lot more I'd love to say, but because the layers of truth are peeled back slowly in successive chapters (very skillfully, I might add), doing so would spoil things for other readers. But one thing I'll shout from the rooftops: This is one of the best books I've read in a while. Highly recommended!

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon (Ballantine Books, February 2016); 368 pp.

Friday, September 11, 2015


4 stars out of 5

Reading works by writers who are picking up the character bandwagon that halted when the original authors died (Robert B. Parker's Spenser and Jesse Stone and Ian Fleming's James Bond come to mind immediately) has always been a bit of a bittersweet experience for me. In those instances, it's almost impossible not to compare the new with the old (although in some respects, that's as it should be; after all, they're writing about the same characters and, intentionally, in a similar style). 

This one, to which I was given access by the publisher through Netgalley, continues the work of the late Carolyn Weston, whose characters Sgt. Al Krug and his partner Casey Kellog became the basis for the TV show The Streets of San Francisco. To that end, I'm at a disadvantage; I've never read any of Weston's books. I was, however, a big fan of the TV show - which aired from 1972 to 1977 - and in particular of a very young and very talented Michael Douglas. So whether the author managed to capture the essence of Weston's books I can't say, but I do think it's reminiscent of the show and is an excellent police procedural in its own right.

It begins as Krug and Kellog - the latter new to the San Francisco Homicide team and mismatched with his partner in age, experience and attitude toward the job -  investigate a series of murders by the  "Landmark Strangler" (so named because the victims are found near well-known city landmarks). But when they take a look at the most recent, the fourth in just four months, something just doesn't seem right even though the body was found near the Presidio. Then, a nosy reporter with her eye on a Pulitzer questions the relationship of much-earlier murders to those of the strangler, adding a potentially new dimension to the investigation. When more clues lead to the office of a prominent politician, though, things really start to heat up: Krug and Kellog not only are under the gun to solve the cases, but under orders to avoid ruffling feathers of the powers that be.

The story held my interest from beginning to end, and for sure I'll be in line when and if the next edition is published. Meanwhile, I plan to check out some of the other books the accomplished Ms. Burcell has written!

The Last Good Place by Robin Burcell (Brash Books, November 2015); 289 pp.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


4 stars out of 5

This is, I believe, the 10th book in the author James Patterson's Private series, and while it's nowhere near my favorite of the bunch, it helps cement my opinion that this is one of the best of all the ongoing series with which he's involved. For obvious reasons, I suppose, the co-author on this one is Kathryn Fox, who lives in Sydney, Australia, and is an accomplished author in her own right. If reports that co-written books are written by sending chapters back and forth between Patterson and the co-author du jour are correct, if nothing else it would account for inclusion of Australian British spellings liberally sprinkled throughout (fittingly, given the location).

If you're expecting much from elite Los Angeles-based detective agency founder Jack Morgan, though, you'll be disappointed; except for a couple of phone calls, he's pretty much nonexistent. This time, the focus is on the Sydney operation and its top dog, Craig Gisto, and his team. From the start, there are two storylines; one involves the sudden and total disappearance of high-profile Australian research company CEO Eric Moss. The request for help came via the CEO's daughter, who happens to be a close friend of Jack Morgan (one phone call down).

The other case came about when Gisto meets a couple asking that the agency do a background check on a potential surrogate mother who has agreed to bear a child for them. To be sure, it's not the sort of case Private Sydney would consider, but for purely personal reasons, Gisto agrees to take it on over the objections of his office mates. Early on, however, it turns into a case murder and kidnapping of an infant - vindicating Gisto for his decision but putting him on the wrong side of Australian law, which prohibits the sale of surrogate services.

The chase to find the missing CEO commands the lion's share of attention throughout the book (in fact, by the end it almost seemed to me as if the Babygate scheme, while interesting and well written, was concocted more to fill up pages than anything else). Efforts to conduct any investigation of the CEO's disappearance from the company headquarters quickly run into stonewalling by the new head honcho - who clearly has no love for the missing guy - and further efforts to discern his whereabouts lead only to dead ends (both figuratively and literally). Clearly, there's more to this story than meets the eye, and sticking to their investigative guns could destroy the stellar reputation of Private Sydney and jeopardize the future of the agency.

Private Sydney by James Patterson and Kathryn Fox (Cornerstone, August 2015); 400 pp.

Monday, September 7, 2015


4 stars out of 5

X marks the spot, I must confess, where I became a teeny bit happy that there are only two letters left in the alphabet. Don't get me wrong, though; this is nowhere near a bad book - nor is any of the others in this series (I've devoured every single one and by now, P.I. Kinsey Millhone feels like a good friend). But early on in this one, precious little action and endless descriptions of who had what for dinner, what clothes who wore but shouldn't have and how many complimentary envelopes were in a hotel desk drawer rendered me almost as bored as Kinsey was on one of her stakeouts (or so she said). 

The book begins as Kinsey takes on a client who's looking to be reunited with a son she gave up for adoption years ago. At the same time, Kinsey's been asked by the widow of a P.I. who was killed off in an earlier book (nope, won't tell), to help sort through her late husband's boxes of papers because an IRS guy is threatening an audit. When it turns out the client may not be totally on the up-an-up - and the late husband's papers turn into clues related to an old crime - Kinsey is off and running to find answers.

Lovable characters from past books get involved, of course - like octogenarian landlord Henry, his even older brother William and Henry's cantankerous cat Ed, who strayed into Henry's life in W is for Wasted. Adding to their woes is that their little part of California has been in the midst of a longstanding drought, and Henry is consumed with finding new ways to lower his water bill. Ever the consummate gentleman, he's also taken a shine to the elderly couple who moved in next door, readily offering assistance to the wife as she cares for her invalid husband.

The plot itself is both intricate and intriguing, and on the plus side, once I reached the 60% mark or so, the action started to heat up on all fronts and the ho-hum parts dwindled to a minimum. The primary whodunit was all but confirmed (the only thing remaining was the thrill of the chase, with Kinsey in the lead). The subplots began to take on new relevance, and from that point on I didn't put the book down till I reached the end. 

X (A Kinsey Millhone Novel) by Sue Grafton (Marian Wood Books/Putnam, August 2015); 416 pp.

Saturday, September 5, 2015


4 stars out of 5

Leah Mills was involved in something awful 14 years ago when she was a teenager, and it's dogged her mind ever since. Although she fled from the town in which it happened (moving to London, where she works in a library and lives almost as a recluse), the thought that her past will catch up with her is always in her mind. Almost as a lark, she visits an online dating site and has a virtual meet-up with site moderator Julian. Second-guessing herself every step of the way as she apparently has done since early childhood - she could be the poster child for insecurity - she begins to think a real relationship with Julian may be possible.

But then, she gets a nasty surprise: Someone, it seems, has discovered her true identity which, on the anniversary of that horrible event, threatens to disrupt her already miserable life. She tries to ignore the message, but as usual, her self-doubt wins out, prompting her to question even more than usual the words and actions of her co-workers (as for friends, fuhgettaboutit; she has none). As it becomes clear that her tormentor isn't going to leave her alone, her self-esteem nosedives to new lows. Meanwhile, neither her Mum, who still lives in the family home near London, or the psychologist she sees every once in a while, is able to help - mostly because she refuses to open up to either of them - but she manages to find a bit of solace through interaction with Julian and a kindly gentleman who frequents the library but in whom she has no romantic interest. 

Chapters shuffle back and forth from the present to Leah's school years, a technique of which I'm usually not a fan. But the author uses it to good advantage, here, with each switch adding just enough background and clues to make me reluctant to put the book down till the end, when everything comes together and the realities of past and present are revealed. Early on, I reached my own conclusions  - correctly, as it turns out - but it really didn't matter; the devil is in the details, after all. 

One thing I never did figure out, though: How is it possible to cradle a mug of hot tea to keep your hands warm while simultaneously surfing through photos on a laptop? Multi-tasker that I am, that's a secret I'd really love to know!

For the record, I received a copy of this book for review at no cost from the publisher through

The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft (Bookouture, October 2015); 261 pp.

Friday, September 4, 2015


5 stars out of 5

In many ways - none of which I can specify without spoiling it for others - this book was disturbing to me (not that there's anything wrong with that). Put another way, it's twisted just enough that I enjoyed it thoroughly.

For those who don't already know, this one "stars" a psychologist, but it's not the author's popular Dr. Alex Delaware (although he does get a few mentions here). Instead, this stand-alone novel is about Dr. Grace Blades, a child prodigy who watched her parents die in a murder-suicide when she was just 5 years old. That, and living through a foster care system notorious for undesirables, left her with emotional scars that never healed even after she finally found loving adoptive parents. Thanks to her intelligence, drive and well-honed survival instincts, she accomplishes her goal of becoming a much sought-after psychologist capable of treating the most troubled of patients with success.

But then, she opens her office door to a man with whom she quite recently had a brief encounter in a parking deck. He really needs her help, but  Grace decides that because of that encounter, she must say no and turns him away. Shortly thereafter, the man is found murdered. Curious and feeling a little guilty for not agreeing to take him on as a patient (inasmuch as she's able to have feelings for anyone or anything), she temporarily shuts down her office and sets out on an investigation of her own. 

Once she ferrets out the almost-patient's real name, she realizes there's more to their connection than the parking deck meetup - a dark connection that requires her to bring to the forefront the childhood experiences she's compartmentalized in her mind over the years. Her sleuthing does seem to yield results faster and with less to go on than seems realistic for the average human, but after all, she's been way ahead of the intelligence game since she was a toddler.

As I said at the beginning, I really enjoyed this book. But I will add this: If you're expecting to "connect" with any of the seriously flawed characters here, it's likely you'll be disappointed. Not a single one - not even Grace herself - exhibits anything close to a warm and fuzzy personality. But IMHO, for the purpose of this story, that's exactly as it should be. 

The Murderer's Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine Books, August 2015); 384 pp.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


4 stars out of 5

As a long-time writer of nonfiction (that's right, all you storytellers out there, you'll never have to worry about competition from me), I've thought about publishing an ebook a few times. What kept me from actually trying to do that, though, is one of the first requirements mentioned in this book: You have to know enough about something - from personal experience - before you can pass it on to others. The author does, however, point out that the knowledge doesn't have to be extensive enough to fill hundreds of pages; find a particular niche, narrow your topic to fit and stick to it.

He does exactly that in this short (71 pages) ebook, explaining what you need to do - assuming, unlike me, you really do have information to share - from concept to outline to first draft to publication. And while he says it's possible to get from start to finish in 21 days, he emphasizes that speed is secondary to quality (hmmmm, I know a few big-time fiction writers who would do well to remember that one). 

Still other helpful points that yanked my "you betcha" chain include reading your finished work aloud (to make sure you didn't inadvertently leave out words or make other grammatical errors) and get yourself a proofreader (to which I'd add make that two or three). This book won't do the job for you, of course, but it does provide a solid framework for getting you on the right track.

How to Write a Nonfiction eBook in 21 Days - That Readers LOVE! by Steve Scott (Amazon Digital Services Inc., January 2014); 71 pp.