Category Archives: Reading and reviews

Reading, no writing, and arithmetic

I always wondered about “The Three Rs: reading, writing, and arithmetic” and why they were called The Three Rs when only one of the words begins with an R. Was it a pirate’s turn making up rules that day? Did the pirate work in an office with a bunch of teachers and won the office pool that day? “There’s three arrrrs, I tell you: rrrrreading, wrrrriting, and arrrrithmetic.” Then the pirate slams back a mug of grog and invites everyone to the ship for some rrrrum.

Anyhow, I have been doing quite a bit of reading, as one might tell from the reviews starting to pop up on this here blog. There are some people who will say it’s just refilling the creative well, but really it’s just something I can do between flurries of activity in the server migrations we’re doing. Fortunately, I read incredibly quickly and always have, so I’ve been pounding down books – mostly mysteries, as that’s my jam these days – courtesy of ARCs (advance reading copies) I get from publishers. In return, I do reviews of those books, on Goodreads and on Amazon when the books are released. I figured as long as I’m doing the reviews, I might as well stick them on the blog as well.

No writing: no real time. I know the old “If you want to write, you’ll find the time” but most of the things we’re doing with migrations is all hands on, with just brief periods¬† in between the various things that have to happen to get the migrations of done. Fortunately, as we approach nine months of non-stop migrations, we are reaching the end, so it isn’t as hectic. The next couple of servers we’ll start Monday. Between now and then, I’m working on mail-related stuff. It’s mostly to make my life easier, and give me some time back that would otherwise be spent on mail. Between this and the end of migrations, which is so close I can feel it, and with the addition of not doing a garden this year, I’ll probably be able to have some uninterrupted/unbusy time to get some writing done. I hope.

Arrrrrrithmetic: counting down to when the migrations will be done and over with, really, and counting the number of servers left to migrate. It will be nice to get that number to zero. Then we can sit back and say: we did it.

I hope all is good with you, peeps, and until next time: be well.

Review: Past Deeds (Brandon Fisher FBI #8)

Special Agent Brandon Fisher of the FBI’s BAU team investigates the sniper death of a prosecuting attorney in Arlington, VA.

That’s a bit misleading, as Fisher is not the AIC (Agent in Charge), but rather a member of the team under Jack Harper, who is the AIC and who I found to be both unlikable and annoying. This book is labeled a Brandon Fisher book, though, and we spend a lot of time in his head as we do in the head of Kelly Marsh, formerly Miami-Dade PD and who is (based on us getting hit over the head with it multiple times) new to the team.

Darrell Reid is killed by a sniper as he’s leaving a residential building. For some reason that isn’t made entirely clear, the BAU is called. But out they roll, to the scene. It’s pretty difficult to me that they would be, since at this point, there’s a single victim. It’s a real “it’s in the script moment”, to be honest.

In any case, back at the BAU, there’s the requisite computer geek who can pry records out of any system, anywhere, and soon it becomes clear there are three other killings, in other states, that match this particular one. The team splits up, with Jack and Kelly staying in Virginia, and Brandon and Paige (with whom he apparently slept with in a previous book) sent out west to revisit the previous killings to see what links they can find.

From there, it’s a standard procedural whodunit, with the agents going around to scenes, interviewing people, checking for video, and so on, until they make the connection and close in for the arrest.

I can say it’s reasonably well written, although there is more than one character who says “In the least” instead of “At the least” – a quirk of the writer, perhaps. I’m afraid I didn’t really care for any of the BAU agents. Jack’s an asshole (in my opinion), and maybe I just think that because I’ve not read the seven books in the series before this. Kelly does way too much second guessing of herself instead of just realizing Jack is an asshole, making her feel small. Brandon is wishy-washy and annoying, constantly going back to the time he and Paige slept together while he was still married, as if one, he’s still married to his wife and two, he doesn’t have a new girlfriend. Paige was just eh, she’s there and throws in her two cents now and again, although she nearly gets herself and Brandon killed by an oncoming vehicle because she’s zoned out, thinking about her and Brandon. The characters were cookie cutter and could be swapped out in any other book of this type without a beat being missed by anyone.

That said, the whydunnit was okay, and the sniper clearly nuts but doing the killing from what in her mind is a rock solid foundation. The fact that not one agent guessed at what the killer was going to do at the end of the book was disappointing, considering that they had all the information on the killer and certainly could have done a profile on that. That they didn’t says to me they may not be very good at their jobs.

There are some gratuitous “thank you for your service”s and a short commentary by Kelly on providing for veterans after they’ve exited the services. Neither did anything for the book or the characters.

Will I pick up earlier books in this series? Unlikely. But if you like Criminal Minds the show, you’ll probably enjoy this much more than I did.

Three stars out of five.

Thanks to NetGalley and Hibbert & Stiles for the advance copy.

Review: One Minute Out (Gray Man #9)

Court Gentry (aka the Gray Man) is in Croatia to snipe a war criminal. As he watches the old man through his scope, though, he decides that far away through a scope just won’t do, and this man needs an up close and personal visit. Despite the presence of a small personal army and a couple of dogs guarding the war criminal, Gentry makes his way into the house only to find the old man not in his bed. Following sounds he hears, he makes his way into a basement and finds over twenty women and girls chained to the walls there. One woman, who was loose because the old man was about to bring her upstairs and assault her, runs out of the house (despite the presence of that small army and a couple of dogs). Gentry kills the old man and then wants to free the women, but one of their number tells him to leave, as he can’t protect all of them, and they will be punished worse if they leave and are recaptured.

Gentry reluctantly leaves them but vows to find them again and free them, and also to bust the human sex trafficking ring he has stumbled across.

The story moves from Croatia to Italy to the US, as Gentry follows the pipeline of women moved from country to country. Along the way, he picks up an ally – one of the womens’ sister, who works in financial fraud for EUROPOL – and she heads off on a side trek to engage the services of a hacker. after telling Gentry that not only is there a sex trafficking ring, there’s an ocean of bad money being laundered in the process. Meanwhile, Gentry keeps dogging the pipeline, killing quite a number of people in his path and getting beat up at various locales.

SPOILERS FROM HERE

The evidence continues to pile up, and when it points to a US-based businessman and movie exec as the ringleader, Gentry calls his office – the CIA – and asks for help. When it’s denied for reasons he isn’t told, he requests help from another, more personal source: a bad guy in Italy, where the women will be sold at auction. The bigshot US businessman will also be in attendance at this particular stop even though his head of security advises him against it, and Gentry wants to get to him somehow, and kill him. On the evening of the auction, Gentry spots members of a special ops team, realizes they’re hunting him, and eventually there’s a big firefight, with the bad guys hoping on a private plane with two women marked for “special handling” – that is, to serve as sex slaves for he crooked businessman.

Gentry makes his way back to the States via a pretty humorous (considering the circumstances) method, and gets to California. Based on information provided by the EUROPOL analyst, he makes his way to the bigshot’s house. He realizes he can’t take the entire compound by himself, so enlists the help of some old operators (and I mean older in ago, as in, this sort of thing is a young person’s game). After killing some more bad guys, and talking the bigshot’s personal security out of protecting the bigshot, Gentry has come face to face with the bad guy – but he promised the CIA he wouldn’t kill the guy, because the guy is an asset to the CIA, providing information on the flow of money and arms around the world. Since Gentry can’t kill the bad guy, he shoots the bad guy right in the crotch, blowing his junk off. I guess that means no more sexytimes for him, assaulting or otherwise, although the way medicine is these days, and the fact that he’s a billionaire, it could be entirely possible bad guy could get his nether regions redone and go right back to his evil ways. On the other hand, it’s made clear in the last few chapters that the gad guy needs ED drugs and coke in order to be able to perform, so maybe not.

Gentry then walks away from the house, despite the LAPD showing up in huge numbers. He climbs into a van holding some CIA dudes, and they drive off into the sunset.

END SPOILERS

The end of the book evokes The Shawshank Redemption (or, for the pedants, “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”) with a litany of “hopes”. This book really does seem to be one of the more adaptable ones of the series for the big screen, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see it adapted into a screenplay and made into a movie starring some actor everyone will either love or hate, with the hate side pointing out all the ways X could not possibly be the Gray Man.

Overall, if you like the Gray Man series, you’ll like this book. I do, and I did.

Four solid stars out of five.

Review: You Again: A Novel

One day while sitting in a cab, Abby Willard spots a young woman on the sidewalk, only to realize moments later that it’s a younger version of herself.

From this opening, we delve into Abby becoming slightly obsessed with the younger her, and she begins to go to various places she went to when she was young, knowing she will find herself there. Surrounding the mystery of why she is seeing herself, and why there are gaps in her memory, are various other stories: her soul-sucking job for a big pharmacology company as a graphic designer, her husband’s work woes, her oldest son starting to run with a group of antifa protestors with his new friend Dmitri, who may or may not be what he seems, and her interaction with a detective after her son is arrested.

Amidst all of this, Abby continues to follow the younger her, eventually speaking to her, trying to talk her out of the mistakes Abby knows she will make. Interspersed with this are notes from therapy sessions, and a neurologist reviewing medical records and images – at the outset, we’re not sure what those records are or who they are about.

Along the way, we learn that both Abby and her husband are very talented artists, but both gave up their art when it wouldn’t pay the bills. The younger Abby then starts appearing to older Abby at random moments – proving the oddball nature of this goes both way – offering her own advice to the older Abby.

Events reach a crescendo in the last third of the book, with a fire, a death, and a question about space and time.

The writing is almost stream of consciousness, with sentence fragments scattered widely throughout the book, and this works well with the story, since we are watching Abby experience some very existential questions about herself and the world in which she now lives.

A solid three and a half stars out of five.

Thanks to NetGalley and Ecco for the advance copy.

Review: A Most Wicked Conspiracy: The Last Great Swindle of the Gilded Age

In the sunset of the days of the last real political bosses, robber barons, handpicked judges, and laws designed to help only them, Alexander McKenzie tries to wrest control of Alaskan gold mines from rightful claimants.

Author Paul Starobin has created an exceptionally readable book that traces McKenzie’s beginnings from poor and broke to wealthy kingmaker. It is superbly researched, and conveys not just the sentiment of the day – moguls say who will be sent to Congress, who will be President, and woe be unto you if you buck their requests for money and/or support – but also the aspirations of those seeking their golden fortune in Alaska after the California gold rush had settled.

McKenzie, already a rich man by the time the Alaskan gold rush begins, decides there is never too much wealth, and ropes in various people to assist with his takeover of the existing (and some not yet existing) gold claims in Alaska. Among them are Senators, judges, lawyers, former lawmen, and every day people who believe they are buying shares of McKenzie’s new company. He agitates for and receives the judge of his choice to be placed in Nome – and coincidentally, this same judge will hear the suits of the claim holders against corrupt lawyers and McKenzie. This is the same judge who (illegally) places the claims into receivership – with McKenzie as the receiver, thus freed to start taking gold out of the ground even while the other suits grind through the system, deliberately slowed by McKenzie and his cronies.

It’s a fascinating look at the politics of the times – one might even be inclined to say the politics of our times haven’t changed all that much.

It’s also a great look at some unrecognized heroes, standing against corruption on a massive scale. They include Senators, Federal judges in the 9th Circuit Court in California, lawyers not taken in by McKenzie, and, as always, journalists.

In the end, the punishment for these misdeeds – as is so terribly often the case in circumstances like these – is not befitting the bad actors. In that respect, there certainly have not been many changes from then to now.

Fans (as I am) of books about businesses and their leaders behaving badly (such as The Smartest Guys in the Room about the downfall of Enron), history buffs, and anyone ever tantalized by treasure should appreciate this book.

This is an eminently readable and enjoyable book. Five stars.

Contains photos and extensive notes.

Thanks to NetGalley and PublicAffairs for the advanced copy.

Review: The Words I Never Wrote

Warning: rape

Jane Thynne brings us an epistolary novel set in London and Berlin in the late 1930s in the runup to WWII.

In the present, Juno Lambert, a photographer working her way through divorce, comes across an ancient Underwood typewriter. The typewriter shop owner tells her it was once the property of Cordelia Capel, a journalist who covered fashion in Paris and then the aftermath of WWII. In the case for the typewriter is a partially-finished manuscript written by Cordelia. Juno purchases the typewriter. Her editor has asked her to go on assignment to Berlin, and she accepts with a double purpose in mind: to perform this assignment, and find out all she can about the Capels to complete the story the manuscript began.

In the 1930s, as the decade comes to an end, the Capel sisters Irene and Cordelia are about to head their separate ways. Close for their entire lives, this brings along a bit of angst, especially as Irene is marrying a German industrialist, who has also joined the Nazi party in order to expand his business. Cordelia, a bit later, heads to Paris to act as the secretary to the news bureau chief there, and eventually begins writing columns about her coverage of fashion there.

At first, the sisters write one another often, detailing the happenings around them – there are many historical people named in the novel, from fashion designers, writers, painters, and assorted other cultural icons in France on Cordelia’s side to Nazi leaders in Germany on Irene’s.

As the storms of war ramp up, Cordelia begs Irene to leave Germany and head home to London with her. Irene refuses, and after being warned by Mary Dodd (daughter of the US Ambassador) as well as a handsome Nazi officer (Abel Hoffman) to watch what she says and writes, and knowing that she will never be able to leave without her passport (now locked in a safe to which she does not know the combination), decides to restrict her letter to Cordelia to only the social goings-on she is party to as the wife of a wealthy and influential industrialist. She tells herself, however, to memorize the things she is seeing and hearing.

Cordelia, exasperated with Irene, tells her that the letter she is writing now will be her last, since Irene has apparently chosen the Germans over her family. Cordelia falls in love with her station chief, who decides to go to Spain, where a civil war is underway. She pleads with him not to go, but eventually she returns to London, alone. There, she works with British intelligence to prepare people to act as spies. She works with Kim Philby, the notorious double agent who penetrated the intelligence service.

Back in Germany, Irene makes a fateful decision to work with resistance fighters. Not in the field, but by bringing them materials they can use to fake papers, work orders, and so forth. Eventually, she also begins working in a hospital, to treat Germans injured in the war.

Thynne does a wonderful job of describing the environments in which the two sisters lived, but not to the point of it affecting the story negatively. The bustling of both Paris and Berlin prior to the war is depicted, as is the effect of war on the Germans as WWII grinds down on the country with the advances of both US and Russian troops.

The story is strongest when it is focused on Cordelia and Irene and the milieus in which they find themselves. Juno is certainly the weakest link, and when the book reached the last quarter, it was all Juno and what she had been able to discover, with her egocentric ex making an unwelcome appearance – an unneeded push to the story, as he served no purpose other than to reinforce to Juno that she was doing the right thing.

I won’t go into the very end so as not to spoil it. I will say this is one of the best books I’ve read this year so far, and very well written. It is dramatic without being melodramatic, romantic without being cliche, and descriptive without being flowery.

4 out of 5 stars.

Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine books for the advance copy.

Review: A Field Guide to Homicide

In this cozy mystery from Lynn Cahoon, Cat Latimer, her business partner Shauna, and Cat’s boyfriend Seth host a writer’s retreat at the bed and breakfast run. While the group is out hiking, Cat takes a photo of one of the couples. While looking at the photo to ensure she hasn’t committed any stranger photo faux pas, she notices a leg sticking out of a huckleberry bush behind the couple. The unfortunate owner of the leg is an old Army buddy of Seth’s, Chance. The problem is that Chance supposedly died in Germany years ago.

Cat’s uncle Pete leads the investigation, and his girlfriend, Shirley (formerly law enforcement herself) is down from Alaska visiting. Both Shirley and Cat put themselves into the investigation. Seth also has some of his former Army buddies in town for a reunion. It’s a little busy in this small Colorado town. The dead man was sitting on a gold claim, and according to his bank records, was receiving two grand a month into his bank account. Since he was living under an assumed name, was completely off the grid, and rarely visited town, who killed him, and why?

I’ll admit that cozies are not really my jam these days. It isn’t that they don’t have gore or explicit scenes. It’s just that I like more detail than often is given about crime scenes and procedures. For instance, we don’t find out much of anything about the initial crime scene here. Chance’s body is just kind of found and it kicks off the investigation. A journal the dead man kept and that Cat reads a couple of times doesn’t really yield much to push the story forward (except the romance part, as the dead man writes about how Seth, Cat’s high school sweetheart, bought a ring and was going to ask her to marry him back in the day, before she married another man).

The writer’s retreat aspect of the book could easily have been left out or swapped for anything else. We rarely see the two couples and the young man who make up the five people at the B&B. One of the characters even makes a comment about how little interaction there is between Cat, who is presumably running the thing, as a published writer, and the others. What we do get an awful lot of, though, is talking. Pete shows up now and again to fill Cat in, Seth tells Cat a teeny bit about his Army past, Shirley shows up to tell Cat about something she has gleaned by hanging out with Pete – you get the idea.

We also get a ton of food: breakfast, lunch, dinner at the B&B, restaurant food, people eating, people talking about eating, and so on. Shauna, it turns out, is writing a cookbook, with Mrs. Rice, the next door neighbor Cat doesn’t particularly like, as her beta eater.

There is a little bit of chat from Cat about publishing and how it works, and a pep talk to the young man about writing what he loves, a few scenes where Cat goes off to write, but again, all of this could have been left out, as it really adds nothing to the story. It’s as if the retreat group was simply a box to tick because the series demands it. Yes, the series is about a writer running a writing retreat; however, there’s nothing in this book that requires they be there.

The “who” in the whodunnit comes a bit out of nowhere, with an ending that wraps things up nicely with a bow, although a bit improbably.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington for the advance copy.

Review: A Criminal Justice (Philadelphia Legal #4)

Note to potential readers: to truly understand what’s going on in this book, you should read A Criminal Defense (the first book in the series). While there is a precis in the form of a small infodump in the first chapter, it could be quite easy to get confused by the players and the conspiracy if the reader is not familiar with the previous goings-on.

Mick McFarland, first introduced by author William L. Myers, Jr.  in A Criminal Defense, is back Рthis time being arrested at the very start of the book as his firm celebrates winning the release of an innocent man from prison.

When he, and everyone else, protests, the arresting officer smugly informs him (albeit obliquely) that there is video of him committing cold blooded murder.

Way back in my review of book one in this series, I said that with the possible exception of McFarland’s very young daughter, there wasn’t a single character that I liked. I’m sorry to say that this has not changed at all. The most authentic character is Catherine Nunzio, who heads up a crime family of the same name. While she’s evil and a murderer herself, at least she understands in this author’s universe what the hell she’s doing. This book, like the first, is also in present tense, although in third person. Not my thing, and if it isn’t yours, you might want to skip it.

McFarland insists he’s innocent, but is held without bail due to the premeditation of the murder and video evidence that supposedly shows him killing Edwin Hanson – the president of HWI, and the brother of David Hanson, who McFarland managed to get off at HIS trial for killing a reporter back in book one.

McFarland wins up cellies with a Russian gangster, and there’s a bit of a subplot that appears midway through the book between his criminal org and the Nunzios. It isn’t very interesting except when McFarland is used as a tool by both – I found that pretty amusing.

Spoilery stuff ahoy:

Tredesco’s new partner – he appeared in the first book, and was peeved he couldn’t lock McFarland up forever for the reporter’s murder – Murphy (naturally a hot, red-haired woman from Boston) gets involved with McFarland’s brother Tommy, and starts working on the wrong side of the case as far as the powers that be are concerned. I’d be a bit concerned too, if one of my detectives took it upon themselves to go to Puerto Rico to hunt down one of the prosecution’s witnesses with the brother of the dude accused of the killing. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but there were various moments like that for me throughout the book.

Piper – McFarland’s wife, who provided a bogus alibi for David Hanson in book one, is despised by David’s wife Marcie for….reasons. I don’t know, I think I’d be grateful for someone perjuring themselves on the witness stand for my loved one, even if I didn’t like them for what they did. But nope, Marcie’s a cold-hearted bitch through and through.

Then there’s Brian Yamura, brother of the slain reporter, convinced McFarland killed his sister, who is somehow magically able to create havoc at HWI, which David now heads, including running ships aground and causing a quarter of a solar farm to burst itself into flames from halfway around the world. All it takes for him to come around is Team McFarland using Catherine Nunzio to get his adoption records and have his pops have a heart to heart with him.

None of it makes any sense, really. A bunch of people hate McFarland so frame him for a murder using – again, just as it’s used in the first book – video, with an explanation that strains credulity and courtroom antics that do the same. The number of people in on the conspiracy to get McFarland put away is amazing, from the DA to the cops, to the security people at HWI, to the Hansons. There apparently isn’t anyone who can’t be bribed or murdered in order to achieve this goal. I don’t like him very much either, but there are a lot worse ways to hurt someone than just getting them thrown in jail with the possibility of the death penalty if found guilty at trial. And none of it involves doctored surveillance video.

I’ll probably not read another in this series. I did like the second and third books better than book one, but this is like Book One Redux: The Return of Bad Video Use.

3.5 stars out of 5. Mainly because all this video stuff is wrapped up now. Maybe we can move on to other things?

Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the reading copy.

Review: Broken Genius

There’s nothing like a widget that could be used to rule the world to build a book around.

Look, it wasn’t terrible. It just wasn’t very good, not to me. Drew Murray novel features wunderkind Will Parker, formerly the CEO of a tech startup, who goes to work for the FBI after he makes a mistake in one of his programs that leaves a young woman dead.

That’s my kind-of-unbelievable-thing number one. Number two was the Fukishima Unicorn, the previously mentioned widget that could be used to control everything, which has gone missing after the 2011 tsunami that took out most of Fukishima. I suppose if you’re going to go big, you might as well go BIG.

Parker is called in on a case involving a dead guy at a comic convention. Also turning up is Dana Lopez, a detective with the local police department (and who I bet would share a bed with Parker before the book was over). Decker, a buttoned down FBI agent is Parker’s partner on the case. Clues start building, and eventually it’s discovered that the dead man had (at some point) the Unicorn, which technically still belongs to Parker’s old company. But there are other people after it: Russians, a Chinese hacker named Dragoniis, and a couple other mysterious bidders. To up the stakes, the dead man’s daughter is taken hostage, which brings in the requisite “guy who failed previously has a chance at redemption” part of the story.

I won’t go into a lot of detail about how the teams tracks down the bidders and the killer – pretty standard thriller/mystery story there, with some chases and SWAT teams and hunches.

It was ok. I didn’t particularly care for Parker, as i found him a tad too full of himself, and some of his thoughts (repeated “Gross.”, for instance) seemed to be more something a teenager would say, versus a billionaire whiling away time working for the FBI in cybercrimes. I think it also bugged me that this is yet another entry in the field of “million/billionaires working for peanuts in law enforcement and who can also use their own resources/money/companies to push the story forward”.

Overall, it wasn’t unreadable. It sounds like faint praise, but if you’re into tech, as I am, you might want to take all the IT stuff with a giant grain of salt and just enjoy a murder mystery/saving the world thriller that takes place at ComicCom.

2.5 stars out of 5.

Review: A Deathly Silence (DCI Helen Lavery #3)

A cracking good mystery.

A Deathly Silence is book three in a series where I’ve not read books one or two. I rarely do that, because there’s often backstory that either doesn’t make its way into a later book cleanly (i.e., the author does big infodumps) or the later books cannot be read as a standalone (i.e., it’s just a continuation of a cliffhanger in the previous book).

I’m quite happy to say that this can be read as a standalone, and Jane Isaac has a deft hand at including enough information from previous happenings to let us know what went on before and how that shapes the current book.

DCI Helene Lavery, currently on leave to recover from incidents in the previous book, where she was injured and a fellow officer killed, is called back early to work a case. A young woman – and a police officer, at that – is found murdered in an empty factory/warehouse, tortured before a fatal slit of the throat.

Questions abound: why her? Why here? Who had access?

There are a lot of people in this book. If you’re not good at keeping track, it might be helpful to jot a couple of notes here and there. Those include: two boys, playing in the factory, who found the body but didn’t report it. Their mothers – and in the case of one boy, his sister as well, plus their father (who is in prison, and who is named but never appears in the book). A next door neighbor who recently went through cancer treatment and who exchanged a lot of texts with the victim, as well as her husband. The victim’s husband, also a police officer. His ex-girlfriend. The victim’s friend who is possibly more than a friend, and her brother. An ex-con with sadistic, sexually driven tendencies. Plus all the assorted officers in homicide, management, medical examiner and technician, and the crew who monitors the organized crime outfits.

The story is great. There isn’t a lot I can give specifics on, for spoilery reasons, and that’s one of the reasons the story is quite a good read. There is a great combination of action and thinking/conversation, and the clues (bar one that only makes an appearance at the end) are spun out, gathered by the reader as the police work the crime and the associated crimes that arise after it.

The only thing I’d have to nitpick about would be some curious sentence constructions, where a sentence rings a bit oddly because it should have been part of the sentence before it. Instead, it’s a bit of a dangler, completing the thought of the sentence previous to it. But that and the clue at the end are very, very minor things: the former because the thought still comes across, and the latter because we know by that point toward the end (or way earlier, in my case) who the killer is.

Overall: five stars, not a rating I use often.

Now I’m off to get the first two in the series.