Thursday, January 31, 2013

CROSS THE LINE by Jack Patterson

Cross the Line is the second in the Cal Murphy series of thrillers.  I haven't read the first one but that posed no problem in my enjoyment of this novel which would have had me chewing my nails, if I had any, worrying about the characters involved particularly a boy and his family.  

The reason for this Partners in Crime blog tour is that the story is set during the week leading up to the Super Bowl.  Quarterback Noah Larson of the Seattle Seahawks will, according to most people, lead his team to Super Bowl victory over the Miami Dolphins and their decidedly second-rate quarterback.    That quarterback is a blowhard who would never admit it was their defense that got them to the Super Bowl.  He thinks it's all his doing.  Larson is of course thrilled that his career will end this way; he has promised his wife that he will retire after the game.  His six-year-old son Jake will finally have his dad home.  Dad can watch him play the game he loves - soccer.

Then Jake is kidnapped on his way to the school bus and Larson is told that unless he loses the game, Jake will be killed.  He is warned not to tell the police, etc. and tries to keep it quiet, only telling his wife.  Another aspect is that the FBI is informed by Las Vegas casinos about wild bets being placed on the Dolphins.

Will Jake be treated well or killed?  Can Larson save his son?  Will he throw the biggest game in his career?  Cal Murphy, sportswriter for the The Times in Seattle knows Larson well enough to see something is very wrong.  Murphy's former college roommate, an FBI agent, gets in touch with him, and suddenly Murphy is right in the middle of this dangerous hostage situation.

I really like Cal Murphy and I will certainly find the first in the series, Cross Hairs, and then settle in to wait for the third book.  It helps if you're a football fan like me, but if you aren't, no worries.  It's just a heck of a good thriller that just happens to be about football's biggest game.  There are also issues that will be very interesting to journalists.  Ethical issues that will give a journalist pause.

Highly recommended reading.
Source:  Author through Partners in Crime Tours

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

EIGHTY DAYS by Matthew Goodman

In the 1890s Jules Vernes' novel Around the World in Eight Days was popular.  An ambitious young woman reporter for The World newspaper in New York suddenly thought she could possibly beat that record in real life, alone.  She studied timetables and planned before approaching her boss and talking him into the journey.  She would set out by ship from Hoboken, NJ and finish there in less than 80 days.

News of her race against time spread quickly.  It inspired the editor of Cosmopolitan (which was a totally different publication pre-Helen Gurley Brown) to send one of his columnists in the opposite direction in hopes of beating the World reporter.

So Nelly Bly, reporter extraordinaire, and Elizabeth Bisland, beautiful, sophisticated literary type set out on their race.  Nelly Bly was a pseudonym taken from a popular song of the day.  She didn't know about Bisland's attempt until they practically crossed paths in the Far East.

This is a long book of nearly 400 pages but my interest in it never flagged.  One ad I saw compared Goodman's handling of the story to Erik Larson and I agree.  There are pictures of the people and places and modes of transport to help the reader feel part of the exciting trip.  Complications abounded for both women as weather, miscommunications, and mechanical problems with ships and steamers conspired to slow them down.  

One funny part of Nelly Bly's story is that she was suddenly approached by several young men, one at a time, who seemed eager to marry her.  Rumor had it that she was an heiress who was traveling to mend a broken heart.  Her sudden suitors were looking for someone wealthy to support them, and at least one didn't mind saying so.  Finally she told one young man that it was all an act; actually she was quite poor and a friend had paid for her trip.  That was the end of the suitors.

I won't ruin the story by telling you who won the race but even afterward the story of the two women and the rest of their life is fascinating.  In retrospect, I suppose I could have predicted their fate, but then again maybe not.

Highly recommended reading
Source:  Amazon Vine

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Final Update on My Health - Probably

I think everyone can stop worrying about my health now.  I have just three radiation treatments left, meaning next Wednesday will be my last one.  I feel great now that all my chemo side effects have disappeared except for my fingernails.  They are growing out healthy but it will take a long time.  I also tire easily and I don't have my normal energy and stamina yet, but it'll be months before I don't have any signs of the beating my system took from the drugs.  

I've lost 13 pounds and my primary doctor would be thrilled since he's been on my case for years about losing weight.  However, my oncologist and the radiation oncologist are horrified and want me to gain.  The problem is merely that I don't have much appetite so I don't eat as much, and I'm much more active now.  Since I overate before and was overweight, I'm not thinking this is much of a problem.  I'm going to have fun getting into a smaller size of jeans.

I have tons of housework and other things to catch up on but I'll do that stuff in small increments as I have the energy.  Dave says I'm milking this excuse as long as I can, but then he turns around and tells me not to overdo.  Since his Parkinson's symptoms are progressing and he's able to do less, I figure it's high time I get back to housework, etc.  

We're learning patience this year as our Binghamton University basketball teams are losing much more than they're winning.  The men have a new coach and a young "phenom" they're counting on but he's a freshman.  As for the women, I don't know what the problem is but we regular attendees at the games are gluttons for punishment I think.  I'm glad we get season tickets since it gives us something else to stew about besides our own problems.  Not that I wouldn't prefer a winning season, but as a long-time Cubs fan I'm used to looking on the bright side of a losing season.  :-D

I am more grateful than you can possibly understand for the messages of concern from my blogger friends, your prayers, and your thoughts.  Together with the help of neighbors and friends here, I've felt surrounded by love as I fought to get and stay well.  It hasn't been an easy road this past year but I've come through just fine.  I'll know a bit more after I have CT scans next month, but as of now everything looks really good for me to be a cancer survivor for many, many years.  Thank you very much, my friends.

Monday, January 14, 2013


This is part of "The Unbridled Series" but the first book I've read by this author.  That didn't make any difference though, because it read like a stand-alone.

The setting is a horse farm just outside Pittsburgh where the West family has gained a reputation for excellence.  The father is a widower and his two sons work on the ranch.  His daughter is a veterinarian; she lives at the ranch but works at the nearby racetrack.  Mike, the eldest son, is divorced and all business; Shane, the younger, is the local handsome playboy.  Both love the ranch and are quite knowledgeable about horses.

My only quibble with the story is a personal one.  I'm no spring chicken myself so when McDonald has 55 and 61 year old men referring to their age as over the hill, it hits a nerve.  I suppose their careers have a lot to do with it though.  Eric West, ranch owner,  is the 55 year old complaining about his aches and pains, but long-time employee Vic Deveaux used to be a jockey.  After his days of racing were over, he works on the ranch, at 61 still riding every day in workouts for the horses.  To me his stubborn nature and inability to listen to anyone are more to blame for what happens to him and the West family in this story.

Disgruntled employees come up with a get-rich-quick scheme that puts everyone in real danger.  The plot also involves a violent biker gang and a delightful woman hidden away in a deserted mansion.  The characters are what make the story so readable.  It's scary throughout and you'll hold your breath that everyone will come out of it alive.  I really enjoyed it.

Source:  author through Partners in Crime Tours
Recommended reading

Monday, January 7, 2013


This novel is one of the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series, a favorite of mine.  It's the Victorian era in London and in this story Thomas has been removed from the police in Bow Street to work in Special Branch.  I love the characters, not only Thomas and Charlotte, his wife, but her aunt Lady Vespasia, the Pitt's servant girl Gracie, and Gracie's fiance Tellman who used to work with Pitt at Bow Street.

In this story anarchists are bombing poor neighborhoods and no one can understand why.  As Pitt responds to a bombing, he and his boss Narraway follow the bombers to Long Spoon Lane where a shoot-out ensues.  Afterward, a body is found and identified as the son of a member of Parliament who just happens to be a friend of Lady Vespasia's.  What was he doing with the anarchists?  Was he a hostage?  Surely he couldn't have been one of them.

The investigation unearths police corruption  in several stations including Bow Street which involves some high officials.  Not knowing who to trust, except Tellman, Pitt sets out to get at the root of the problem and discovers very disturbing evidence.  As usual, Lady Vespasia plays a vital role in the investigation.

Along the way as you read Perry's books you learn about Victorian London.  There are scenes with the wealthy and powerful and others with the poorest of the poor.  Tellman takes Gracie to the theater and you see what appealed to the masses at the time.  There are scenes along the Thames and others in the slums, then the scene shifts to a drawing room of a wealthy family.  I love this kind of thing and Perry is an expert at putting the reader right into each setting.

I dread the day I run out of Perry novels to read so I save them for just the right time.  This one was certainly worth the wait.

Source:  Trade with friend
Recommended reading