Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Measure of a Lady

The Measure of a Lady by Deanne Gist was just as great as her first novel. The combination of a clean read, with the same romantic implications as a romance novel, makes it very enjoyable. The story is based on Rachel Van Buren’s trials in a very rowdy San Francisco. The historical part of the story is based on the difficulties in being one of the very few women in an undeveloped gold rush town. Rachel has a younger brother and sister to take care of; beginning with a place to stay, income and the basic necessities. The stress that goes into this is apparent immediately as she finds no proper hotels, and no proper church to ask for assistance. The story of course includes a romantic interest for Rachel, in the form of a gambling hall owner. She struggles with his choice of profession, and her love for him. It all is combined very well in the storytelling, and you really feel for Rachel throughout her struggles and accomplishments. Great, quick, inspirational read!

Monday, November 27, 2006

In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming

I love when I come across a series that is new to me and I get to play catch up on all the rest of the books. Our mystery bookclub chose to read Julia Spencer-Fleming’s In a Bleak Midwinter for December. The first in a series, this award-winning novel is set near to the New York Adirondacks in the little town of Miller’s Kill. A “kill” is actually the Dutch word for creek and isn’t it clever to use that as a town name for a setting of a mystery novel. In this small town on a bitter winter night, the newly hired Episcopalian priest, Clare Fergusson finds an abandoned baby at the doorway to her church. Promptly involving the proper authorities, Clare is now committed to the well-being of this infant. Despite the note left with the baby, asking it be given to a couple in the parish, Police chief Russ Van Alstyne is charged with the task of finding the true parents. The need quickly escalates as the body of a young female college freshman and possible mother to the infant is discovered murdered by the river just outside of town. As the leads keep pointing in different members of the community Clare and Russ must work together to find the killer. As they work together, their attraction for one another grows beyond friendship, slightly problematic since Russ is married. The quick pace, the remote setting and the intricate plot compliments each other very well. I only jumped ahead once to make everyone would be okay and it was towards the end of the book (I know, very bad habit of mine but I can’t stand the suspense). I look forward to discussing the novel at our next meeting and reading the rest of the series. Her fifth one in this series, All Mortal Flesh, just came out just this past October.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Vegas: One Cop's Journey by Kim Thomas

The November selection for our Mystery Bookclub was by a local author, Las Vegas Metro police detective Kim Thomas. Vegas: One Cop's Journey is set in current day Vegas with a new recruit, Cam Madden, dealing with the pressures of his job the police department. As Cam advances through the department, he must find the right balance of work and home life. The novel reads almost like a true crime novel as we go through Cam’s daily work life and the addition of his home life, dating paramedic Karrie Mae, seemed to be a bit thin. To me, being a Las Vegas native, I was visualizing almost all the locations (like I do on the television show CSI) and I would find myself thinking “…oh, I know where that street corner is with that panhandler!” Definitely made the novel more fun to read and I thought it was an alright novel and looked forward to listening to his talk.

Let me tell you, I was very impressed by Detective Thomas. He did not go up there and limit his talk to cop stories. He spoke of the writing process and how he came to write this novel. I was even more impressed by the fact that in addition to working a full time job with Metro, he got an MFA in creative writing with UNLV and this novel was his MFA project, which got published! After hearing this, I could forgive the small discrepancies, especially since he knows his own weaker writing aspects. And what a great speaker…sometimes, authors are not the best speakers (they must be saving themselves for the written page) but he spoke for a good hour and fifteen minutes. And we did get a couple of additional cop stories out of it as well! We had to stop him for the book signing portion but I believe he could have gone on. For more info on Detective Thomas and his book, check his website (which includes an interview he did with KNPR) at http://www.vegasonecopsjourney.com/index.html