Books Read in 2010

new.jpg (1359 bytes)Running Blind by Lee Child
"Settling down" is upsetting to wanderer Jack Reacher, who has been left a house by his former commanding officer on his death.  Now Reacher has a house, a car, and a girlfriend and when he's picked up on a murder charge and, as Reacher always does, is found innocent and enters into the investigation, he begins to enjoy the freedom the investigation  gives him.  

Women are found dead in their bathtubs, full of military-green paint.  The murderer leaves not a single clue.  It's up to Reacher to find the killer before another woman on the list is dead. 

Very inventive, very clever story...and so gripping that it kept me up waaay past my bedtime as it came to the conclusion.


Rose in a Storm by Jon Katz
This is a fiction dog story, loosely based on the author's beloved sheepdog, Rose.  It was a good read, if overly long.  Rose becomes the lone hope for the animals of Sam's farm after Sam is injured in a fall off a roof during the worst blizzard in many years.  I suspect that Katz fairly accurately describes a dog's thought process, though there is obviously a bit of poetic license taken.  At times the book seemed long, but I did enjoy it.


The Reversal by Michael Connelly
I actually read this book, rather than listening to the audio book (I had an autographed copy that I bought when I went to hear Connelly talk).   It blends three familiar characters --Mickey Haller, his half brother Harry Bosch, and Mickey's ex-wife, Maggie McPhearson (otherwise known as Maggie McFierce), but they are in unfamiliar roles--Haller is a prosecutor rather than a defense attorney, Bosch is working for Haller, rather than as a member of the police force, and Maggie takes second chair to Mickey.  FBI agent Gretchen Waller also makes an appearance.

The situation is that a man who has spent 24 years in prison because he was convicted of murdering a 12 year old girl has had his case overturned based on new DNA evidence.  They have decided to re-try the case and put him back in jail.  This is a great book for learning how a court case is crafted, but it lacks a lot of the tension and adventure that permeats most of Connelly's books.   Oh there is a bit of tension, there is a hint of nefarious plotting and planning but I felt the ending petered out and could have been a bit more gut-wrenching.   There were also lots of loose ends that never got tied up.

But my brother in law LOVED it.  It was only his second Connelly book, so I think I would recommend it to anybody, but I, personally, didn't think it was one of his best.  At least not for my tastes.   Maybe I just needed Dick Hill's narration on an audio book!


Word by Florence Petheram
This is a kids' book that I ordered by mistake.  It is probably written for about a middle age school child, but it is based on a true story and...hey...it's about a dog, so I took about half an hour last night to read it.  The story goes that this puppy and his mom escaped from their yard, had an encounter with a couple of women, who tripped over them and then filed charges against the dogs for "attacking" them.  Word's mother died of cancer in a shelter and Word himself spent 8 years locked up in the shelter while his owner tried to petitition for his release.  He is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest dog incarceration on record.  He finally finds home at The Pigs' Peace Sanctuary (which is a real place), where he ends up rescuing a bunch of animals from a barn in a fire and ends up a hero.  Obviously an easy read.  The link has a photo of Word and completes the story.


Tripwire by Lee Child
This was such an improvement over "Die Trying."  Oh there is lots and lots and lots about boy toys, guns, cars, etc., but there is a much better plot about an investigator who comes searching for Reacher, having been hired by some people Reacher has never heard of.  Following the murder of the investigator, Reacher ends up partnering with an old friend to find out, first, why he was being sought in the first place, and then they work together to find a soldier missing in action in Vietnam for 30 years.  The side plot involves extortion against a failing businessman.  The tenseness and terror when the two plot elements cross will keep you reading quicker and quicker as it gets closer to the finale.  This was a weird book to read, since a good part of it takes place at the World Trade Center, and the "war" in question is Vietnam.  Strange to be reminded of what life was like before 9/11.


Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin
I have been a fan of Maupin's "Tales of the City" series since the very first tale was serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle a bazillion years ago.  I was thrilled when "Tales" was first published in book form and have followed each subsequent book as it has been published (I think I read three of them in serialized version in the Chronicle).  This latest book does not disappoint. 

All the major characters are back, all older now.  Mary Ann is pushing 60 and has returned from New York to be with her best friend Michael (Mouse) as she deals with a major life crisis.  Mrs. Madrigal has sold the place on Barbary Lane, and is now living in an old house, with a roommate (new character).  She's older, slower, but still rolling those funny cigarettes and giving sage advice.  Mouse is happily married to Ben, whom he married before it was outlawed in California again. 

Mostly it's familiar characters having talks like old times and I have to admit that part of the way through it, though I was enjoying it, I was wondering what the point of it all was, as the chapters rolled by.  But then Something Happened that brought all the seemingly disparate pieces together and that reminded me of why I enjoy Maupin's writings so much. 

I also love Maupin because he mentions places I know intimately and tosses out lines like "Was it fun...Johnny O?" and I know instantly that it's from Vertigo, a movie which has a scene filmed just a couple of blocks from the house where I grew up.

If you've been a fan of Maupin's books before, you'll enjoy this one too.  I don't know that he has another in the Tales series in him....everybody is getting too old for a sequel!


Oogy, the Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin
oogypic.jpg (17279 bytes)Oogy shouldn't be alive.  As a puppy, he was used as a "bait dog" to teach other dogs to fight.  He was rescued when a dog fighting house was raided.  Nobody thought he would live, but someone at the hospital where he was brought saw something in him and they decided to work on him.  Half his face had to be reconstructed and he lost one ear.

Just by chance, the Levin family happened to be in the hospital taking their beloved cat to be euthanized when they saw Oogy and fell in love with him.  The book tells how Oogy blended into their family and what a beautiful family dog he became.  You also learn a lot about the damn people who perpetuate the whole dog fighting business.

And in the process you probably learn more about the Levin family than you might want to know, but overall the book is very readable and informative.


Die Trying by Lee Child
This is Book #2 in Child's Jack Reacher series.  I read the first one, "Killing Floor" earlier this year.  This time Reacher is abducted by accident when he tries to help a woman when she trips coming out of a dry cleaning establishment.  It turns out her father is the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Holly Johnson is going to become the pawn of a militia group determined to overthrow the U.S. Government by force and violence. 

It's a good story, but the first third to half of it covers the van in which Reacher and Holly have been abducted and its very long ride to wherever they are being taken (a Ruby Ridge sort of encampment in Montana).   The last half to 2/3 is escaping, recapture, re-escaping, and the government's attempt to rescue them.  If you like learning every single minute detail about guns, ammunition, other weapons, and what goes into the firing of a weapon -- in exhaustive detail -- is this ever the book for you.  But if you'd just rather get on with the story, you might want to skip over this one and try Child's third Reacher book, "Trip Wire," which will probably be my next audio book.

I'm not giving up on Jack Reacher, but I sure don't want to hear another word about a gun...or many, many types of guns...ever, ever again.


The Woman I Was Born to Be:  My Story by Susan Boyle
I am so glad I decided to read this book.  This is a very candid, very honest story of Susan Boyle's life until her mid-40s when she literally became an overnight international superstar by appearing on Great Britain's Got Talent.   If you have followed her career at all, you've read the tabloids, the rumors of tantrums and depression and all sorts of things.  This book tells it all, from what it's like to go, literally overnight, from a bullied, somewhat mentally challenged woman living on her own for the first time in her life (following her mother's death) to being the most famous woman in the world, with paparazzi camped out in front of her house and following her every move.  You understand the times when there were problems, you see how kind everyone was to her, and you'll cheer her success.  It also talks about the process of making her first album (which has sold more copies than any other album in history).  It's really a very good book and, as I said, I'm very glad that I read it.


Swimsuit by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
I picked this book up at Borders at Dulles Airport after I realized I'd left my iTouch in Walt's cousin's car, and thus had nothing to read on the plane.  It's a quick, easy read, lots and lots of sadism and gore about a serial killer who wants his life story to be written and terrorizes an author into doing it.  It has a gripping beginning that catches you right away, but the further you read, the more boring it becomes (ho-hum, another murder...) and it has an unsatisfying ending that just peters out, but somehow you keep reading.  Patterson is churning out these formulaic books with co-authors at a regular rate.  It's obviously become a factory that is more about the money than about the quality writing that got me hooked on his books in the first place.  His solo books, like the Alec Cross series, are much more worth reading.


The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly
I thought I had finished all of Connelly's older books but this one, his third in a series of 22, somehow had been missed.  I heard it as an audio book and finished it on the plane to D.C.  Four years after Harry Bosch kills a serial killer known as "The Dollmaker," he's on civil trial by the man's family, who swears Harry killed an innocent man.  At the same time new bodies turn up, which appear to have the mark of the Dollmaker.  Harry has to prove that he killed the right man, and that there is a copycat killer out there.  A lot of the book takes place in the courtroom, but there's plenty of action, blood and gore for any Connelly fan.


Dirty, Sexy Politics by Meghan McCain
This may seem like an odd book for someone who was an Obama supporter to read, but after seeing McCain on several talk shows, I was impressed by her.  I looked thru a few pages and it seemed to be something I wanted to read.  This book is a refreshing look at a political campaign from the view of a family member who gets swept up in a campaign, as do all family members.  What comes across strongly in this book his McCain's love of her father, but also the difficulty that her free-thinking lifestyle caused (she was raised to speak her mind and then it became a problem when she did).  It certainly gave me a view of what it's really like to campaign.  She deals with Palin a bit, but most of the book is her trying to be helpful to her father and continually running amok of "the campaign."


The Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
This is the fourth in Gabaldon's "Outlander" series.  The Frasier family all ends up in "the colonies" in pre-revolutionary days.  I have good and bad feelings about this book.  I am totally caught up in the series and intend to finish it--eventually--through the 6th book (each book runs around 1,000 pages).  But this wasn't one of the best.  It dragged terribly.  One of Gabaldon's strong points is her ability to paint a picture with words...you see, smell and hear the time and place that she is describing.  But by the same token, sometimes you just don't care about the bloody smell of the wood or the sound of the birds or the feel of crisp leaves under the foot, when you're desperate to find out what's going to happen next in the story.  Also, Brianna Randall-Frasier takes a large part of this story.   There is a long part of the book where I wanted to slap her for being such a whiny ninny.  But overall, this was another page-turner in the saga of the time-traveling Frasier family.


The Art of Racing in the Rain: a Novel by Garth Stein
This is really a different kind of book.  The narrator is a dog, for one thing.   But it tells the story of the life of a race car driver--you'll learn more about professional auto racing then you ever wanted to know!  Enzo is his lab/terrier mix companion who loves watching racing videos and who knows that when he dies he will be   reborn as human.  Enzo eloquently tells of Denny's  marriage, the birth of his daughter, a family tragedy that turns life upside down for the little family and the dirty tricks that almost destroy Denny's career and his will to live.  Enzo's story is beautiful and I quote my friend, who recommended this book to me:  "I just finished it. It is a pile of mawkish, sentimental claptrap, but I was weeping at the end of it."

Yep, I guess that sums it up pretty accurately.   Read it; you'll love it.


How to be Sick by Toni Bernhard
I am not sick, so this seems a strange book for me to be reading, but Toni is a friend and I wanted to be supportive.  I knew Toni when our kids were in the jazz choir and we went on trips as chaperones together.  She and her husband Tony (yes--Toni/Tony) were lovely people and we enjoyed spending time with them.  But we hadn't seen them in many years, which was not really surprising, given that we don't cross paths with most of the people we know from our kids' school days any more.

I ran into her again on Facebook and learned that she has a chronic illness, which has been labeled Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (which often is just a catch all phrase for "I don't know what's wrong with you and I can't cure you") developed on a trip to Paris in 2001.  She has been unable to leave her house, and sometimes her bed, except on extremely rare occasions, in all those years.   She has now written a book, the complete title of which is subtitled "a Buddhist-inspired guide for the chronically ill and their caregivers."

Not only am I not sick, I am also neither a student of Buddhism, nor a caregiver.  Yet I found this book beautiful and readable and a guide for many things that touch our day-to-day lives.  Yes, there are a lot of technical terms "metta," "karuna," "mudita," and "upekkha," among others, but she makes the terms user-friendly and relates them to experiences to which we can all relate.

Who should read this book:  people who are chronically ill (I bought a copy for my cousin), caregivers, and anybody who wants a approachable guide for dealing with the negative things in their lives.


City of Bones by Michael Connelly
One of the last Connelly books I had left to read.  Reading this one was a very strange experience because I read it on my iTouch and somehow skipped something like 15 chapters, which I didn't relaize until the end of the book.  I missed two huge things that happened in the middle of the book, so after I finished it, I went back and read the middle!  The story concerns a bone that was discovered in the woods by a dog.   This leads to the discovery of a very old burial site of a child, who turns out to be a 12 year old boy and Harry Bosch's investigation of the murder.  A good story, even if you read it inside out!  It was so engorssing that I finished it in a day and then an hour or so the next morning.


The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
And so the Lisbeth Salander saga comes to an end.  This book was overly long.   It contained waaay more information about Swedish history and the police system than I wanted to read, and just when it ended, it went on for another couple of long chapters, but when it dealt with Salander and her story and her struggle to gain her independence and free herself of the charges that were leveled against her in Book 2, it was a riveting page turner.  And it wrapped things up very nicely.  Before his death, Larsson said he could write 100 more books in the series, but I don't know.  I think he did just fine with these three.

I'll miss Lisabeth and Blomkvist


The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles by Hala Jaber
Someone on Facebook mentioned this book she could not put down, and I immediately went and got the Kindle edition and also found this story engrossing.  Jaber is a Lebanese-British correspondent reporting for London's Sunday Times.  The book tells the very personal story about the attempt to save a two children, orphaned when their car was bombed in an American attack on Baghdad.  Three-year-old Zahra was burned over most of her body and in dire need of sophisticated emergency attention, while her baby sister, Hawra, tossed from a car window, survived unscathed. The rest of their family of seven were killed.

In her search to find a photogenic child to raise awareness of the plight of civilians during the attack, Jaber became very involved in the lives and the outcome for these two little girls.

In telling her story, she gives a picture of what is really going on in Iraq and, again, makes me wonder just what in the hell we are doing in that country!

This is a beautifully written book, which is short enough to be read in one or two sittings...and trust me, you won't want to put it down.


The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
OK.  There are those who hate this series, but this kept me glued to a chair all day today until I finished.  I'm glad to see that Book 3 starts the day after Book 2 ends.

Salandar is suspected of killing three people and has become the most sought after criminal in Sweden.  She hasn't spoken with Blomkvist in 2 years, during which time she has been traveling around the world on a fabulous fortune that she has  amassed by manipulating through all those crazy internet deals where you can move money into and out of accounts.

The book brings up more of her background, hinges on her computer expertise (which is probably better than Tim McGee and Peneope Garcia combined) and is just one heck of a thriller.  Yeah, there's lots of graphic sexual torture, lots of violence, lots of blood and gore, but if you can watch CSI or Criminal Minds without blinking, you'll love it.

I'd make this review longer, but I'm anxious to start Book 3...


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Well, I had two reactions from friends about this book, the first of a trilogy by this author, who, unfortunately, died before he could write any more.  One friend said that that it was so good I'd want to have the other two to read right away; the other said that it so glorified violence against women that it sickened her and she refused to read more of Larsson's work.  After having finished the book, my reaction is more in line with the first--the second person obviously hasn't seen as many crime dramas as I have!

Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch--and there's always a catch--is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson's novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don't want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo. [can't improve on this review   from Amazon.com]


7th Heaven by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
I just realized why I couldn't place one of the characters in the book--because I didn't read the two previous books.  Duh.  But anyway, kidnapped Michael Campion, adored son of California's governor is (still) missing (apparently he was kidnapped in the previous book) and now there has been a lead, and the women of the Women's Murder Club are hot on the case, but things don't seem quite right when an anonymous tip leads them to the home of a young prostitute who confesses that Michael died during sex with her.  It just gets weirder and weirder.  A good Patterson read.


The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
I wanted to finish this book before we got to Leningrad, and I'm so glad that I did not, because I could eat it up while we were in the city about which it was written, while I was touring The Hermitage, which features prominently  in the story.   Marina, now 82, who now lives in the United States, suffers from Alzheimers and straddles two worlds, the here and now, where she is traveling to attend her daughter's wedding in Seattle, and her years as a young woman, working at The Hermitage, in the days before the Siege of Leningrad.  In the weeks before the Siege began, volunteers packed up all of the treasures of the Hermitage and had them shipped out of the city and into the country, to save them.  Having been there and seen the photographs of the work of these people, I could appreciate Marina's story much better, as in her mind she wanders through the museum, stopping at spots on blank walls to describe the paintings that would be there if they hadn't been removed.

This is a lovely, poignant, bittersweet book and I recommend it highly.  Especially if you have visited The Hermitage, or plan to.


The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
We all know that food can be sexy...Bauermeister, in her first novel, shows the "sensual" side of eating.  Not in a "Tom Jones" way, but in how our senses can guide us to getting the most out of the cooking and eating experience.   The story focus on the students in a cooking class taught by "Lillian," whose goal is to teach people about using their senses to create their dishes.  Devoting a chapter to each student, we learn their backstories, their loves, their heartaches, and how they draw strength from the cooking class.   This really is a remarkable book (and I loved the chapter which spent some time in Provence because I could visualize everything!).  The book also makes me feel inferior for my inability to paint such beautiful pictures with words.  It's sometimes a bit heavy on metaphor, but definitely a tasty experience.  (I also want to taste that roasted crab in the first chapter!!)


The Killing Floor by Lee Child
It had to come eventually.  The end of the Harry Bosch books.  I was in the mood for finding a new author and my cousin recommended the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child.   Unlike I had done with Michael Connelly's Harry Bosh series, I researched these books and started with book #1, "The Killing Floor."  This was an audio book and, coincidentally, it was read by Dick Hill, who read many of the Bosch books, so it was like finding an old friend.

There are currently 14 books in the Reacher series, so that should get me through the next year or so nicely, interspersed with other books.  Jack Reacher is a wanderer.  He's an Army brat whose family moved all over the world.  He joined the Army when he got out of school, has completed his time in the service and now wants to leave no trail.  He goes where he wants, has no home, no bank account, no credit cards.  He travels by bus, by car, by foot.  Owns nothing.  Buys clothes at a second hand store when the clothes on his back need changing. 

Unfortunately, he walks into Margrave, a small town in Georgia where his brother (whom he has not seen or heard from since their mother's funeral 7 years before) once mentioned that the famed blues guitarist Blind Blake died there and he's curious to see the town (interesting that Lee Child incorporates music into his novels, the way Connelly does).  Anyway, getting off the bus at Margrave proves to be a bad idea, as he is arrrested on suspicion of a murder which was committed a few hours before--and he's the new lone stranger in town.  The plot takes Reacher to jail, an attempted killing behind bars, release, a counterfeit plot, and the shocking discovery of exactly whom he was supposed to have killed and how extensive the town's corruption really is.  It's a great read and I'm looking forward to more from Lee Child.


The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal by Lilian Jackson Braun
You can sure tell these murder mysteries are written by a woman.  I don't know a man who would go into such exhausting detail about tapestries and theatrical productions and restaurants and clothing for men and women, but Braun has created her exquisite little town of Pickaxe and its residents, especially the semi-retired newspaper man Qwill (Jim Qwilleran), who seems to stumble upon and then solve the town's murders, with the help of his two Siamese cats, Koko and YumYum.  The victim this time is the school principal, who also just directed the highly successful amateur production of Henry VIII.   The cats keep giving Qwill hints that finally lead him to the identity of the killer, of course.  Braun's books are good when you want something shorter and lighter.


The Last Jihad by Joel C. Rosenberg
This is a guy's book.  It started out like a pretty good political thriller--and that it definitely is--but so much of the book was taken up with guys and their war toys, as we are poised on the brink of World War III with Iraq and the US having nuclear weapons pointed at each other that I really got bored with it.   I did have to laugh that communication seemed to be primarily by AOL -- does anybody use AOL any more?   And there was a LOT of description about guns, missiles, bullets, battles, etc.   There are some assassination attempts and graphic descriptions of the homes of rulers and some good guys who aren't, which was mildly interesting.  And more than you ever want to know about our government's ability to spy on you. 

The book was published in 2007 and in the world Rosenberg has created, 9/11 has happened, Osama is dead and Saddam is not and a lot of the plot depends on Saddam being alive, which was hard to relate to.

This was an audio book, so I listened to the whole thing to see how it came out (you don't want to know), but if I had been reading it on my Kindle or a real book, I would have tossed it aside long before the end.


The Granny Diaries by Adair Lara
I adore Adair Lara's writing when I find it in one of our newspapers.  I was eager to read her book, which is a 119 page book basically about how best to deal with things when your daughter has a baby.  She devotes 2-1/2 pages to the possibility that it might be your SON who is the parent (rules considerably different for when it is your daughter who is the parent).   Enuf said.


Void Moon by Michael Connelly
What an unusual Connelly book.  Not only no Harry Bosch, but the heroine is actually the villain...sorta.  Cassie Black  is trying to make a life for herself after her stint in prison, following the death of her partner, Max, falling from a penthouse suite at a Las Vegas casino. But now comes the chance of a lifetime, the chance to make up for a decision she regrets, and to have more than enough money to disappear forever.   She takes the job, which brings her back into the Las Vegas underbelly.  Just when you know where it's going, it takes a u-turn and it's not going in that direction any   more.  Connelly is the master of the redirect and he's really on his game in this book.


This Time Together by Carol Burnett
You can read this book in a day and I pretty much did, if you add all the hours for the two days I read it together.  It's very easy reading, but reads like watching one of Burnett's pre-show Q&As with the audience (which, in fact, it was designed to be).   Her stories are warm and funny and touching, just like I imagine the author herself to be.


Cake Wrecks by Jen Yates
I wasn't going to add this to this list, because it's basically a photo book.  I had been following Jen's Cake Wrecks blog for some time now and when she came out with a book, I had to buy it.  It's been sitting, unopened, on a shelf since before Christmas.  I don't know why because you can "read" it in an hour.  I picked it up tonight, and what a delight! 

CakeWrecks.jpg (144247 bytes)

Jen has collected hundreds of photos of decorated cakes that are so horribly, horribly wrong.  Her criterion is that they have to be "professionally made" (which means that someone paid money to someone for making it...I guess I would have qualified as a "professional" in my cake decorating years).  And it is hilarious, not only the cake pictures, but her witty comments that accompany them. 

I started laughing at the picture of the sheet cake with the word "nothing" written on it (obviously the customer had said she wanted a cake with nothing written on it) through the "Poo Phenomenon" to disasterous wedding cakes and holiday cakes, this book is a delight from start to finish.   Enjoy it and then pass it along to someone else who might decorate a cake now and then...and if you are or have been a cake decorator, this will make you feel SO much better about those cakes that didn't quite turn out the way you expected them to!


Darkside by P.T. Deutermann
Peter Deutermann is a new author to me.  Having finished all of the Michael Connelly books, I was looking for a new audio book and went with something that was read by Dick Hill, who has done so many of the Connelly books.  This was a good choice.

The story starts with a plebe taking a dive off the 8th floor of one of the dormitories of the Naval Academy at Annapolis.  What seems on the surface to be an accident, or (worse for Academy image) a suicide, starts becoming suspicious when Midshipman First Class Julie Markham, whose father is a professor at the Academy,  is implicated in some way, because the dead student was wearing her underwear when he took his plunge. 

NCIS gets involved in the death investigation and at the same time academy security chief Jim Hall discovers strange doings in the academy's underground tunnels, which may or may not involve pseudo-vampire activity, and a character who calls himself "The Shark."  Could the two events be connected?  (Well, of course they are, silly!)

There is budding romance between Julie's widowed father and Liz deWinter, the high-powered attorney he hires for her, as well as between Jim and NCIS Special Agent Branner (whose first name apparently nobody knows--and she wants to keep it that way).  There are terrifying chases through the tunnels that seem to go on endlessly--but somehow never bore--and an ending I felt was predictable...and then wasn't. 

This was the best book to listen to on the 10 hour drive I was making by myself.  The miles flew by, as did the hours. 


Izzy and Lenore by Jon Katz
I had previous read Katz' "Dogs of Bedlam Farm" and have been following his posts on Facebook, so I decided to check out "Izzy and Lenore."  What a lovely book.  Izzy is an Australian Shepherd Katz rescued from a house where he had been abandoned for several years (fed by neighbors) who became a first class therapy dog for Hospice.  Lenore is a Lab that Katz adopted as a puppy, who helped bring Katz himself back from the depth of depression.  Just a nice, good story of a man and his dogs and how they all help each other. Highly recommended.


Alex Cross's Trial by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo
Despite the title, this book is not about Patterson's hero, Alex Cross.   Theoretically, detective Cross is taking a little time out to write a book about his ancestor, Abraham Cross.  But this isn't as much about the Cross family as it is about attorney Ben Corbett, sent by President Theodore Roosevelt into his old hometown, the sleepy little town of Eudora, Mississippi, to investigate the rumors of escalating lynchings of black people in the South.  The trip to Eudora reunites Ben with many of his old friends and his estranged father, a judge.  This is an eye-opening book, with its ugliness, racism, and violence, but it keeps you reading to the end.  I found the outcome of Ben Corbett's "mission" disappointing, but the book's ending was very satisfying.


Marrying George Clooney by Amy Ferris
Though I went through menopause in 1996, many woman in a group discussion were raving about this book, so I got it.  It's the most different--and possibly the most honest--look at menopause you'll ever read.  In a sometimes angry, often funny way, she chronicles the things she thinks about when lying awake in the middle of the night, the things she googles in the middle of the night and later, her problems with her severely demented mother.  Its a quick, but entertaining--and mostly enlightening book that will make any woman approaching or going through (or even having gone through) menopause know that she's not alone.


Lost Light by Michael Connelly
Harry Bosch has quit the LAPD but finds retirement boring, after all his years of chasing the bad guy, so he gets a private investigators license and starts checking into one of his old unsolved cases, the unsolved murder of Angella Benton, linked to the theft of $2 million from a movie set.  As he begins his investigation, it takes him to the disappearance of an FBI computer expert, gets him in trouble with all sorts of law enforcement types and, when all questions have been answered, he gets the biggest surprise of his life coming at him from left field.

As with all his other books, "Lost Light" does not disappoint Connelly fans!


The Narrows by Michael Connelly
Terry McCaleb's ("Blood Work") wife Graciella has come to Harry Bosch to ask him to investigate her husband's death.  It was supposedly a heart attack for this heart transplant patient, but Graciella thinks there is more to it.  Harry quickly agrees with her as he begins to check McCaleb's papers and his actions in the last days of his life.  It soon become a possibility that "the poet," a serial killer everyone thought was dead, was not only not dead, but was responsible for McCaleb's death.   Connelly tells this story in two voices, one is the voice of Harry Bosch and the other is a third-person account and he alternates the two throughout the book.

I like the way that Connelly mixes his characters from one book to the next.  Several book characters appear in this one and the conclusion will leave your heart racing.


The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen
When Boston's Crispin Museum decides to do a CT scan on a mummy they found hanging around the basement, Medical Assistant Maura Isles is invited to watch.  Imagine everyone's surprise when the mummy, wrapped in genuine ancient cloth, not only has a filling in a tooth, but also a bullet in her leg.  This and the discovery of several other gruesome souvenirs of other killings sets the tone for another gripping Gerritsen thriller with more surprising identities than you can shake a stick at.  I didn't realize until after I'd finished the book, though, that there is a big question left unanswered at the end.  I guess now I'll never know....


The Closers by Michael Connelly
After a period of "retirement," Harry Bosch returns to the LAPD and is assigned an "open unsolved" case (TV calls 'em "cold cases").  Rebecca Verlorn, a young high school girl, was murdered 17 years before and the case was never solved.  In the hunt for her killer, departmental mistakes are uncovered and there is a fear that things are more complicated than they seem on first look.  Eventually a suspect is apprehended and a confession is made and once again, in true Connelly fashion, there is a twist.  I thought this book preceded "The Narrows," and was surprised to hear so many references to Bosch's daughter, whom I had not encountered in any of the previous books--and I've read nearly all of them.  Now I have to go read "The Narrows" to find out how Harry happened to acquire a daughter!


City of Thieves by David Benioff
Based on Benioffs grandfather's tales of surviving WWII in Russia, "City of Thieves" tells the story of 17 year old Lev Beniov caught looting the body of a German paratrooper found on the streets of St. Petersberg.  The penalty is supposed to be execution, but since Col. Grechenko is planning daughter's wedding, he is in a generous mood and instead charges Lev and Kolya, a Russian Army deserter also facing execution, with the task of finding a dozen eggs for the wedding cake.  The book covers their search for eggs in a country that hasn't seen eggs in months.  They set off on a journey that takes them through a series of nightmarish war zones, populated by cannibals, prostitutes, starving children, and demonic Nazi chess enthusiasts. Benioff finds a good deal of humor amid the grisly absurdities of wartime.


The Weight of Gold by Ruth Chambers
Written in the voice of "The Widow Chambers," this book tells the story of the overland treck to the gold country in 1849, losing her husband, finding a new "career" in Sacramento, the gateway to the gold country.  It is replete with lots of colorful characters, fictionalized to give the reader an idea of what life was like in the gold rush days.  Chambers works as a story teller in Old Sacramento and has set several of her stories into this self-published book that could use an editor to tighten the stories and catch the typos, but if you look hard enough there are some real golden nuggets contained within the book.


Trunk Music by Michael Connelly
Tony Aliso's body is found in the trunk of his car with a couple of bullets through the back of his head.  The security guard phones the crime to the LAPD and Harry Bosch's team gets the case.  It seems Tony was doing money laundering for the mob and the investigation takes the team to Las Vegas, where they learn more than they neeed to know...and Harry finds an old friend.  Just when it looks like they have the killer, Bosch is in for the surprise of his life and the investigation takes him in a different direction.  As usual Harry will butt heads with most of the people in charge, but in the end, like Jack Bauer, Harry will save the day.


The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly
This is an early Harry Bosch novel, which begins with Bosch's probation from the police force following an angry confrontation with his boss.  With time on his hands, Harry decides to investigate the murder of his mother, a prostitute, years before, a case that appears to have been ignored by the investigators at the time.   As with all Connelly's books, this one takes unexpected twists and turns but I haven't read a Connelly book yet that was boring!


Books read in 2009
Books read in 2008
Books read in 2007
Books read in 2006