Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ray's Reviews: Make Me by Lee Child (Jack Reacher)

  “Make Me” by bestselling author Lee Child (Delacorte, $28.99) is another exciting, fast-paced novel featuring Jack Reacher, a well-trained, quick-thinking former military cop.

        Reacher gets in more trouble than virtually any other fictional character. While he’s always journeying to a different location, he’s usually sidetracked, getting into a deadly fight with a group of nasty characters.

        This time is no different – he’s taking a train to Chicago, when on a whim, he decides to take a break along the way at a small town called Mother’s Rest. He’s not really looking for trouble, he just wants to find out how the town got its name.

        It seems innocent enough, but in earlier books, Reacher’s almost been killed when he just stopped in at a restaurant for a hot cup of coffee. 

        At the train station, a woman steps out of the shadows. Michelle Chang, a private detective, is looking for Keever, a colleague, but nobody else got off the train.

        Chang, a pretty former FBI Special Agent, mistakes Reacher for Keever; soon Reacher joins in the search for her missing associate.
        Their quest leads to vicious attacks; they must leave the small town if they’re going to come up with plausible answers to their many questions.

        They travel to Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix and San Francisco as the storyline gets more complicated.  An enterprising journalist provides useful information and joins the pair.

        Throughout the novel, the reader is likely to be as baffled as Chang and Reacher. But assorted clues lead to unnerving discoveries about the small town’s terrible secret.

        The plot of this high-octane thriller is darker than most of Child’s books; it delves deep into shadier aspects of modern technology.

        The author deftly uses crisp dialogue and short sentences to speed the reader along; it’s impossible to predict the violent conclusion.

        The series, which started with “Trip Wire” and “Die Trying”, showcases Reacher as an anti-hero up against incredible odds as he fights off determined, often-crazed villains.

         While this is the twentieth book in the exceptionally popular series, it certainly can work as a stand-alone novel.

        If you start reading the series in order, you’ll quickly discover why many consider Lee Child to be one of America’s best crime fiction

        Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop,
has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

Find this book and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on September 27, 2015.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ray's Reviews: Dance of the Bones by J.A. Jance

        “Dance of the Bones’’ by best-selling author J. A. Jance (William Morrow, $26.99) is likely to please most of the author’s loyal fans, causing them to try out some of her earlier books.

        It’s a solid police procedural crime novel that utilizes main characters from two of her popular mystery series.

        Retired Seattle homicide detective J.P. Beaumont has appeared in over 20 novels and retired Arizona Sheriff Brandon Walker has been a major part of four earlier Walker Family novels.

        This time they join forces in solving an unusual case involving a man who’s been sentenced to life for a murder he claims he didn’t commit.

        After a brief prologue, where the real killer is revealed, Jance adds an interesting, relevant touch. Each chapter begins with a short italicized section that offers insights from the story-telling viewpoint of the Tohono O’Odham (Desert People) of Arizona.

        “Big Bad John” Lassiter was arrested for the 1970 murder of Amos Warren, a grizzled treasure-hunter; he was arrested by Walker, but has proclaimed his innocence ever since.

        Now, in ill health, Lassiter refuses a plea deal that would set him free. The case draws the attention of “The Last Chance”, an organization of criminalists, legal experts and others who investigate flawed cases.

        As Walker digs for the truth, he unearths facts that lead to an unsolved murder in Seattle. He joins forces with Beaumont, who discovers that there may be a clever killer responsible for both murders.

        A sub-plot takes on major importance as an aging sociopath decides to cover her tracks permanently, carefully arranging for the deaths of others.

        Another sub-plot centers around Walker’s adopted daughter Dr. Lani Walker-Pardee and Gabe, a troubled teenager who’s the son of a tribal elder.

        Soon the action intensifies and the case becomes significantly more complicated, striking close to home for Walker and assorted family members.

        Jance masterfully ties together assorted plot threads, creating a believable, deadly conclusion.

        While it’s probably best to read others in the separate series to fully appreciate the growth of the characters, it’s not essential.

        Readers who enjoy this prolific author’s entertaining latest novel may also like Jance’s two other crime novel series that showcase Joanna Brady, (Sheriff of Cochise County) and Ali Reynolds.

        Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious book Shop, 

has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

Find this book and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on September 20, 2015.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mid-September Curious Book Shop Newsletter

Join us for MIDWEST'S LARGEST Antiquarian Book & Paper Show...

The Midwest's LARGEST show of its kind, the 62nd Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show, is coming to Lansing on Sunday, October 11th!
If it's on paper you're likely to find it at the Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show. Organized by the Mid Michigan Antiquarian Book Dealers Association, this show has become a regular event for book and paper enthusiasts from across the country.
Over 160 tables and specialty dealers from across the United States will offer vintage, antiquarian and collectible books, magazines and paper items of all kinds for sale. There is something for everyone, including first editions and signed books, children's and illustrated books, regional histories, noir mysteries, newspapers back to the Civil War (and before), original movie posters, WWII posters and sports collectibles galore.
Antique photographs, lithographs along with autographs. Vintage advertising art, framed prints, beautifully-detailed maps and so much more! You'll find things you always wanted but never new existed!

This family-friendly event is sure to be a wonderful experience for booklovers of all ages and interests. 

Come and spend the day in a literary wonderland. In addition to the countless paper treasures you'll see, guests are encouraged to sit and enjoy the live acoustic music. Lunch is a snap, too! Refreshments (drinks, salads, wraps, pretzels and more) will be available for purchase from the Lansing Center concessions stand.
When: Sunday, October 11th
9:30 AM to 5 PM (Sorry, no early admission)
Where: The Lansing Center,
333 E. Michigan Ave.
Lansing, MI
How: Admission is $5.00, children 13 and under enter free
Please note that parking is not included. There are many parking options at and near the Lansing Center.

And in Curious Book Shop news...

Stop by the shop this month and save 30% on used items in these sections:

Essays & Memoirs
Hardcover Mystery
TV Books
Football Books
Magazines Priced $5 or Less

New Acquisitions:

Movie Posters! Dr. Who Stuff! Manga!  Mystery Novels! Science Fiction! Fantasy! Classic and Modern Fiction Bestsellers! Horror Novels! Military History! Books for Kids!

We've beefed up the New Books section, which is brimming with bestsellers and shop favorites.

Ray has trotted out a selection of ultra-rare SF books. Many are SIGNED, most are First Editions. Authors include L. Sprague De Camp, Lovecraft, Dunsany, Gibson, Asimov, Bradbury, and some hard-to-find Arkham House publications. Stop by the shop and have a look at these treasures before the book show. They're currently on display behind the front counter.

Literary(ish) September Birthdays:
Edgar Rice Burroughs (Sept. 1); Queen Elizabeth (Sept. 7); Roald Dahl (Sept. 13); James Fenimore Cooper (Sept. 15); Arthur Rackham (Sept. 19); Coleridge (Sept. 19); Daniel Defoe (Sept. 20); H.G. Wells (Sept. 21); Stan Berenstain (Sept. 29)

Current Shop Hours:
Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Sundays Noon - 5 p.m.

If there's a specific book you're looking for, please let us know! We're happy to keep your request on file, or help you with a special order.

Thank you for your continued interest in the Curious Book Shop.

Without your support, we simply wouldn't exist!

Many thanks,
Ray, Mark, Audrey and the Curious Gang


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ray's Reviews: Badlands by C.J. Box

 “Badlands”, by C. J. Box (Minotaur, $26.99) is a compelling, violent
crime novel that continues the saga of Cassie Dewell, a strong-willed
woman who gets into a lot of trouble.
        Working as a Sherriff’s investigator in Lewis and Clark County, in
Helena, Montana, she has many frustrations; she’s applied for a new job
as the Deputy Investigator in the boom town of Grimstad, North Dakota.
        She’s trying to track down a multi-state serial killer known as “The
Lizard King”; she flies down to North Carolina, where a trucker is being
held for further questioning.
        Dewell has little luck breaking the suspect; later, she gets confirmation
on her application and goes to North Dakota to take her new job.
        At first, it seems a bit overwhelming – Grimstad is part of “the new Wild
West”, a boom town where oil fracking has significantly changed the
economy and the safety of the area.
        She’s the only woman on the force, there’s resentment from others within
the department who were passed up for the job. She doesn’t know who she
can trust.
        Kyle Westergaard, a twelve year old newspaper boy on a bicycle, witnesses
a deadly car roll-over and salvages a white bundle that was ejected from
the vehicle.
        He’s developmentally disabled as a result of fetal alcohol syndrome; and
doesn’t communicate very well.
        Kyle’s mother is a former pole-dancer now working at a fast-food
restaurant.     They’re living with her low-life boyfriend, who has his own
ideas about what to do with the cash and drugs that were in the bundle.
        Meanwhile, two nasty Salvadorian gang members, who were responsible for
the roll-over, are out to recover the loot.
        Soon, people are disappearing; body parts are turning up all over town.
While Dewell and her crew know who’s responsible for these crimes, the
situation becomes considerably more challenging.
        Cassie Dewell, who also appeared in “The Highway”, is well- developed
character – she’s a widowed mother with a young son who has to make many
tough decisions.
        The author deftly changes points of view, raising the tension level
slowly but surely.
        While this isn’t one of Box’s excellent Joe Pickett novels, it’s still a
solid procedural mystery, offering tense suspense and unexpected plot
twists in a memorable setting.

        Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime
novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

Find this book and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on September 13, 2015.