Friday, October 21, 2011

D is for Deadbeat ~ Sue Grafton

This series started when I was nine.  The newer books should be available in libraries and bookstores everywhere.  Some of the older ones you might have to scour a used bookstore or find online.

DisforDeadbeat

When Alvin Limardo walks into P.I. Kinsey Millhone's office, she smells bad news. He wants Kinsey to deliver $25,000. The recipient: A fifteen-year-old boy. It's a simple matter. So simple that Kinsey wonders why he doesn't deliver the money himself. She's almost certain something is off. But with rent due, Kinsey accepts Limardo's retainer against her better judgment…

When Limardo's check bounces, Kinsey discovers she's been had big time. Alvin Limardo is really John Daggett--an ex-con with a drinking problem, two wives to boot, and a slew of people who would like to see him dead. Now Kinsey is out four hundred dollars and in hot pursuit of Daggett.

When Daggett's corpse shows up floating in the Santa Teresa surf, the cops rule the death an accident. Kinsey thinks it's murder. But seeking justice for a man who everyone seemed to despise is going to be a lot tougher than she bargained for--and what awaits her at the end of the road is much more disturbing than she could've ever imagined…

I accidentally stumbled across R is for Ricochet several years ago while perusing the local library.  Little did I know that that one book would open up a world of mystery for me.  I have since gone back to the beginning and started the series in the order it was meant to be read.  However, if you’re impatient, so far as I can tell, you can read them as stand-alones with only minor references to previous books.

Each novel in the Kinsey Millhone series gets better as we go along.  The mysteries become more tangled and the characters more devious and varied.  One of the biggest draws to this series for me is is the setting.  Having grown up and become a real person in the eighties, I find it fun to watch her walk around town, call everyone and even use the library resources to get the information she needs.  Makes you look at today’s private investigators and think, “Man, they’ve got it easy – they’ve got the Internet!” 

While I had some idea of who the killer was starting about halfway through, I was still shocked at the outcome of Kinsey’s investigations.  I never dreamed it would end the way it did, although in retrospect, it doesn’t surprise me much (now).  Kinsey’s leaps of intuition and her cleverness, however, keep you guessing.  I enjoy that seed of doubt the author is constantly planting in your mind. You’re reading along and screaming silently, “The butler did it! I know he did!” and then you turn the page and think, “Wait, maybe the maid did it…”  That’s a great mystery writer for you.  And who knows, maybe the butler did do it.

I highly recommend this series to anyone and everyone.     

The Hunger Games ~ Suzanne Collins

You can find this book online or at any major bookstore, Target, or wherever you find books.  Seriously.  I’ve seen it at the grocery store for heaven’s sake.

thehungergamesbookcover

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

This book has interested me since I first saw it sitting in the bookstore one day.  After so many of my friends simply raved about how wonderful it was, I had to try it out for myself as well.  When I discovered Amazon.com had the trilogy for the Kindle priced at $4.38, I jumped on it, figuring that if I only read the first of the three novels, I’d still come out ahead (the first book alone was priced over that for Kindle).

There is a lot to love about this book.  The characters are refreshing and encouraging.  Despite living in poverty, they take matters into their own hands and find a way to survive and even, possibly be happy.  They don’t dwell too much on how awful their life is, although their hatred for the Capitol is vivid and understandable.  The characters also evolve quite a bit during the span of the novel, which is a huge plus in my book. 

However, there are a few issues as well.  The resolution of several plot points was overly predictable and while not a wholly awful thing, sometimes that ending you expected is what you needed, in this situation, I think there could have been better resolution.  Despite a bit of a shock at the ending, the ending itself left me a little wanting.  My biggest issue, and this might just have been me and not the author’s writing, but I found two or three places where I was lost and wasn’t sure if Katniss was talking to the reader, or talking aloud to whomever she was with at the time.  I found myself having to backtrack on a couple occasions and re-read a page or two to clear things up.

All in all, this was still a very good book and was well worth the time I spent reading it.  It’s the kind of novel that makes you think and that can only lead to good things, right?  I’m looking forward to reading the next in this series as well and have it waiting on my Kindle at home.   

Warnings: If you are giving this to your teen to read, I’d definitely recommend it for older teens, fifteen and older maybe, because of the level and amount of violence involved.