Friday, July 05, 2013

What YOU are reading: Mysteries and Thrillers

Our adult summer reading program allows Burbank adults to share what they're reading with their peers in the community. If you are signed up, you can see some of the book reviews at the log-in site for the book club; but we thought we'd also feature some of them here, on the blog. If you want to sign up, click here, choose the adult program ("Eat, READ, Live!"), choose "sign me up!" and start writing book reviews!

First, I reread The Big Sleep for the fourth time. I needed the comfort of Chandler's quirky style and his allusions to Los Angeles. Then I happened on a review of a new young author, Steph Cha. The reviewer alluded to Chandler's influence on her writing, so I thought I'd read her book, Follow Her Home.

It's her first book, and because it is, I was more tolerant of her emerging style. Cha's protagonist is a young Korean woman, Juniper Song, and she plays at being hard-boiled. She is a tough cookie. Murder, betrayal, and a surprise ending keep the plot in motion and the reader interested. Would I recommend it? Yes, it is a fast read, and it was fun to read about a young, female private investigator.

Reviewed by Elizabeth J.

And here's what Llyr H. had to say about Follow Her Home:

Juniper Song is a young woman in Los Angeles who loves noir and, especially, Philip Marlowe. So when her best friend asks her to investigate some doubts he has about his father, she has the opportunity to play detective. If you're looking for a quick beach read, then this might be the novel for you. If you're hoping for a gripping noir thriller that envelops you in the story, setting and characters, you may want to turn to the original master, Raymond Chandler.

Sounds like our two summer readers agree!

Inferno, by Dan Brown
Reviewed by Kare P.

Dan Brown has once again taken his history- and art-loving readers on a thrilling, adrenaline-spiked journey through the adventures of Robert Langdon in this new book. Much like The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, and The Lost Symbol, the brief chapters filled with description keep you glued to the page. There are plenty of introductions to new iconic literary works, paintings, cities, museums, churches and statues. And what would a Dan Brown book be without a diabolical plot aimed at a global threat (this time in the form of biological warfare), and a massive, all-encompassing scavenger hunt that renders the hero and his new sidekick desperate to figure out clues to keeping the world safe? I won't spoil the book for you, but I will give you a brief intro: Robert Langdon, the ever-popular Symbology professor from Harvard, finds himself heavily sedated 3,000 miles from home, in a hospital bed in Florence, Italy, suffering from a bullet wound to the back of his head, with retrograde amnesia causing him to have no recollection of what has transpired within the past 48 hours. An assassin breaks into the hospital, shooting and killing the Italian doctor, and the doctor's assistant springs into action to spare Langdon's life. Recurring dreams featuring disturbingly graphic images from Dante's Inferno replay in Langdon's mind like a stuck record. And all this happens within the first five chapters! If you are a fan of Dan Brown's descriptive narrations, then this book will not disappoint!

And here is Louise P.'s take on the same book:

Dan Brown's books are entertaining, whether you consider them good fiction or not. He fills his storylines with interesting historic and literary facts. His latest, Inferno, is no different: Harvard Symbologist Robert Langdon is on the run once again with a beautiful woman at his side. His mission is to stop a brilliant adversary from letting loose an unstoppable "plague" upon the world. The book is set in Italy, mainly Florence and Venice. Having visited both towns, I was filled with nostalgia while reading the book's descriptive passages.

Hard Magic, by Larry Correia
Reviewed by Daryl M.

What if Phillip Marlowe and Sam Spade were able to use magic to assist them in solving mysteries? And what if the culprits they were tracking had magic as well? What would a pre-World War II world infused with magic be like?

Jake Sullivan is a decorated World War I vet, an ex-con, a private eye, and an Active (person with magical abilities). He was released early from the Special Prisoners’ Wing of Rockville State Penitentiary for agreeing to use his magical abilities to assist Federal Agents in the capture of criminal Actives. But when Jake is asked to assist in the capture of Delilah Jones, an Active accused of murder and bank robbery (and his former flame), he’s conflicted, and when Delilah manages to evade capture, the Feds blame Jake.Then it turns out that the Feds are lying about Delilah--she hasn’t killed anyone! Now Jake has two mysteries to solve: Why are the Feds lying about Delilah, and who are the Actives who intervened to prevent her arrest?

Hard Magic is a genre-blurring romp that combines elements of pulp detective fiction, urban fantasy, science fiction and alternate history. The action and suspense are non-stop, and the book should appeal to anyone interested in any of these genres!

The Affair, by Lee Child
Reviewed by Laura B.

The 16th novel in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child takes us to Carter Crossing, Mississippi, in 1997. Jack is still an MP in the army in this book, and has been sent on a mission to uncover a murderer in the small base town. In this story we find out how Reacher ended his military career and how he evolved into the man with no luggage and no address that we know from the rest of the series.

A Dilly of a Death, by Susan Wittig Albert
Reviewed by Neva M.

A great book by this author, 12th a series that is based on the character China Bayles. She was once a big city lawyer in Texas, but decides to leave that life to open an herb shop in a small west Texas town. She still manages to get involved in mysteries, and always solves them. A good relaxing read that also features herbal recipes.

If you're looking for an exciting escapist read for the 4th of July weekend, try one of these, recommended by our adult summer readers!

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