Book 19 (of 52) – Broken

Broken – Karin Slaughter

When Sara Linton returns to Grant County for the first time since leaving following her husband’s death, she stumbles across a murder, a suicide, and a chance to settle some long-standing grudges.  GBI agent Will Trent joins her to investigate the crimes, and the local police department that seems to be covering up the whole thing.  When a second murder occurs, the coverup falls apart and one local detective puts her career on the line, comes clean, and teams up with Will to find the truth.

Broken, the fourth entry in Karin Slaughter’s Will Trent series and my fifth overall, feels like the wrap up of Slaughter’s Grant County series, which predated this one.  Having not read any of those books, I will say that I am now interested to see how there characters got to where they are here.  But first, there is the remaining entries in the Trent series to get to, all of which are waiting on my Kindle, except for the tenth which was just published last August.

 

Book 18 (of 52) – The Watcher Girl

The Watcher Girl – Minka Kent

In The Watcher Girl, Minka Kent’s latest, a young woman, who has avoided her family for years, returns home to apologize to an old boyfriend, whom she believes to still be hung up on her.  When she accidentally runs into his wife, literally, she finds that he may not be the man she remembers.  Can she help her newfound friend escape before things go too far?  Or is the man she once loved still there somewhere, ready to return when she least expects it?

Minka Kent is a writer whose work has circled my awareness for some time now, but, thanks to the Amazon’s First Reads program, I was able to get this one early and free.  She doesn’t waste many words, with the book clocking in at under 240 pages, and the plot moves along quickly.  I found out after that many of these characters show up in a different novel, the story of which is touched upon here, and I was able to pick that up cheaply, so I will be revisiting Kent, and these set of characters, some time in the future.

 

Book 17 (of 52) – Football For A Buck

Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL – Jeff Pearlman

Originally conceived in 1965, the United States Football League finally took shape in 1982, taking the field for the first time in the spring of 1983.  While not a huge success, the fledgling league showed promise.  For the 1984 season, the league, unwisely, expanded and brought in new ownership, including a young, brash real estate developer from New York named Donald Trump.  Angling for a merger with the NFL, Trump pushed the USFL to abandon the concept of spring football and, following that second season, the league announced that it would move its schedule to the fall and take the NFL on head-to-head.  Following a lame duck season in the spring of 1985, the future of the USFL depended on the vision of Donald Trump and the outcome of a lawsuit he thought would pave the way to NFL riches.

Even if you have never heard of the USFL, if you’ve lived through the past 5-6 years of American history, you can imagine how this turned out.  The NFL’s lawyers used Trump’s general unlikability and inability to be truthful against him.  When the dust settled, the USFL did indeed win their lawsuit against the NFL. with damages assessed at $1.  The league had followed Donald Trump into the abyss and, as a result, was out of business after only 4 years.

Jeff Pearlman recaps the strange experience that was the USFL in Football for a Buck.  The players, a mixture of over-the-hill NFL pros looking for one last chance, college players who couldn’t quite make it at that next level, and actual college star who were showered with money in an attempt to legitimatize the upstart league, joined a motley crew of owners, many of whom were not fully vetted and did not actually have the funds necessary to run a franchise, to make an entertaining product in hindsight, even if they didn’t get the full recognition at the time.  The parallels between Trump’s actions as the ringleader of the USFL’s destruction and his actions as president are uncanny.  All told, the story of the USFL is one that deserved to be told, and Pearlman does an admirable job in doing so.

 

Book 16 (of 52) – The Cold Moon

The Cold Moon – Jeffery Deaver

The Cold Moon, the seventh entry in the Lincoln Rhyme saga from Jeffery Deaver, puts Rhyme on the trail of The Watchmaker, who seemingly is targeting random victims with vicious attacks while Sachs, leading her first investigation, stumbled upon potential dirty cops.  When the two cases come together, they both get wrapped up a little too neatly.  Can Rhyme and Sachs figure out what the Watchmaker is truly up to before he kills again?

I’ve now read 11 of the (soon to be) 15 entries in the series, though I am going about it in no particular order.  This entry also introduced the Kathryn Dance character, who has a small series of 4 novels dedicated to her as well.  I still have a few entries waiting on my Kindle, with a new book being published in November, so I will catch up on of these days.

Book 15 (of 52) – Anxious People

Anxious People – Fredrik Backman

In Anxious People, Fredrik Backman tells a story about a bridge.  Or, maybe, about idiots.  Or about a bank robbery that wasn’t, which turned into a hostage situation that, again, wasn’t.  With nothing quite what it seems, a group of people, connected by circumstances new and old, are interviewed by the police as they try to find the hostage taker.

I first heard of Anxious People when it finished second, to The Midnight Library, in the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Fiction novel of 2020.  It kept popping up, since my friend Val had read it, and it seemed interesting.  Backman’s style her was something completely different, giving away hints and facts about the characters in the story, and the story itself, in bits and pieces as the tale moves along.  I’d be interested in seeing what else Backman has done and hope he can deliver again.

 

Book 14 (of 52) – The Case of the Terrified Typist

The Case Of The Terrified Typist – Erle Stanley Gardner

When a temp typist goes missing, Perry Mason finds himself drawn into a mystery involving a multi-national diamond company, a jewel heist, a dead smuggler, and, ultimately, a client who refuses to cooperate.  When Perry’s client is found guilty of murder, he comes up with a unique way to get out from underneath the verdict, keeping his record clean.

The Case of the Terrified Typist is the 49th entry in Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason series and the fifth of six novels rereleased last year in conjunction with the new HBO adaptation.  This story was adapted for an episode of the Raymond Burr version of the show during its first season, so I’d like to catch that sometime soon and compare the filmed version with the original.

Book 13 (of 52) – The Other Mrs.

The Other Mrs. – Mary Kubica

Dr. Sadie Foust has seen her world turned upside down.  She’s moved across the country from Chicago to Maine after her husband’s sister commits suicide.  She suspects her husband has been cheating.  Her niece and children act strangely around her.  And when a neighbor is killed in the middle of the night, she finds that she is the chief suspect, despite having never met the woman.  Or has she?

The Other Mrs., the sixth entry from Mary Kubica, moves the action outside of Chicago and heads to the east coast, to a tiny island off the coast of Maine, where claustrophobia may as well have been another main character.  There are two big twists, which turns out to be a good thing because the first you could see coming from a mile away.  The second was probably just as predictable if you weren’t so focused on the first.

Netflix is said to be making a movie based on the book, but there’s been no word on casting, let alone a release date.  In the meanwhile, Kubica has another new book due out next month.  Like her previous outings, I’ll be sure to enjoy it once it shows up on sale for the Kindle.

Book 12 (of 52) – The Battle Of Betazed

The Battle Of Betazed – Charlotte Douglas and Susan Kearney

With the Dominion War going poorly for the Federation, the Enterprise and Counselor Troi are tasked with a mission to free Betazed from Cardassian control.  While Troi tries to grapple with a decision that may help win the war but will change the Betazoids forever, Riker leads an away team to destroy Sentok Nor, the new space station the Cardassians built in orbit around Betazed, using their knowledge of Deep Space Nine.

Last summer, during the throes of the pandemic, I finally watched all of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  One of my biggest questions during the Dominion storyline was, “Where is the Enterprise?”  Now, I know the real world reasons, but they never really addressed a in-universe reason as to why the Federation flagship was nowhere to be seen.  In The Battle Of Betazed, Charlotte Douglas and Susan Kearney try to address that question, giving the Enterprise and her crew a decisive battle, even though it was away from the front lines.

Book 11 (of 52) – Raise The Bar

Raise The Bar: An Action-Based Method For Maximum Customer Reactions – Jon Taffer

Jon Taffer, the host of TV’s Bar Rescue, offers his no-nonsense strategy for running bars, nightclubs, and restaurants in Raise the Bar.  Taffer’s overall business philosophy, Reaction Management, can be applied to any customer-facing operation, but Taffer’s focus is on the hospitality industry.  He references some of the bars he’s rescued (or tried to rescue) on his show and explains how and why they were failing and what needed to be changed in order to succeed by managing the reactions of their patrons.

While there are some lessons that can be applied to businesses overall, Taffer’s focus is on how to apply his philosophy to bars and nightclubs.  He takes a more subtle approach than he does on the show, with much less yelling and cursing.  It was a decent enough read for an occasional fan of the show who has no direct interest in the bar business.

Book 10 (of 52) – Later

Later – Stephen King

Later, Stephen King’s third effort for the Hard Case Crime imprint, tells the tale of a young man who has the ability to see and interact with the dead, at least for a few days after their passing.  Unfortunately for him, when he is forced to use his “talents” to help his mother save her struggling business, he exposes himself to her girlfriend, an unstable cop with IA on her tail.  As he grows up, she twice kidnaps him, looking to use him to her advantage, first to stop a serial bomber who had just committed suicide and, finally, to set herself up with a huge drug score after killing her dealer.

The horror elements that one usually associates with Stephen King mostly take a back seat here, although there is a mysterious ghost/demon that shows up from time to time, as King once again uses this imprint to tell a different kind of story.  I’ve enjoyed this side of King’s work in the past and will look forward to more of it in the future.