Friday, September 24, 2010

August Books (Part 2)

Featuring Inspector Porfiry Petrovitch (borrowed from CRIME AND PUNISHMENT), this mystery set in St. Petersburg in the 1860s has good setting and atmosphere but didn't really ring my bells for character. Well-plotted and ably written, but maybe Russian mysteries will have to join Scandinavian mysteries as just not for me.

Gregor Demarkian is back in fine form in this latest mystery from Haddam, who has a gift for mixing great characters with biting social satire. In this installment, a reality show is being filmed at Engine House, the estate where Gregor met his wife and solved his first private case. The host of the show has already been shot at once during filming (the eponoymous Sheila) and tensions run high between the contestants. Then a girl is murdered and Gregor begins to think this isn't about the show at all, but something from the past. This is Haddam's best in recent years.

The fourth in the Wicked Lovely series, RADIANT SHADOWS once again takes a minor character from previous books and gives us that story. Ani is part Hound and belongs to the Dark Court of faeries. Devlin is of the High Court, Sorcha's assassin in the mortal realm. Their paths cross when Bananach, faerie of chaos and war, comes after Ani. Can Devlin protect her without betraying Sorcha? And what will happen to all the faerie courts if Bananch wins? Although these were interesting characters, I'll admit I can't wait to get back to some of the other characters who have only been minimally touched on the last couple books.

Almost a year ago, Mathilda's older sister died on the train tracks. Mathilda herself is left to come to terms with grief in her own way, as her mother is too devastated to help and her father is too remote. The strength of this novel is Mathilda's voice--blunt as a child but perceptive as a wise adult. The weakness (for me) is that Lodato is a playwright/poet, two mediums in which every word counts. I prefer story to style, and this story petered out on me before the style did.

Lucas Page is in St. Louis to give a reading of his latest history. In attendance is Lola Faye, the other woman in his father's life who Luke believes triggered a tragedy that has blighted his life since adolescence. Over a night of drinking and talking with Lola Faye, Lucas revisits the past and comes to terms with mistaken viewpoints and unchangeable decisions. An unexpected ending lifted this story.

MOCKINGJAY/Suzanne Collins/A-
Katniss Everdeen is in District 13, the one long thought to be a myth. But it's all too alive, and ready to wage war on the Capitol. Katniss is the war's symbol, but she isn't happy about. A brutal book that doesn't spare the reader the horrors and ethical complexities of rebellion, the weakest part is actually Kat herself. She spends far too long being around like a chess piece before taking matters into her own hands. When she does, it's not pleasant or easy. I found it a satisfying end to the Hunger Games trilogy, but I won't let my 11-year-old daughter start the stories yet. This ending is for an older audience.

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