Hardball by Sara Paretsky
V.I. is guilted into trying to find Lamont Gadsden, a man who has been missing for 40 years, for his dying aunt. She figures it’s a lost cause. She doesn’t figure on uncovering long buried secrets stemming from Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to Chicago in 1967, violent gang leaders, and a police cover up. Least does she expect to involve her perky cousin from Kansas city who is in town to work on a new up-and-comer’s political campaign.
Paretski’s plots are complex and many-layered, and V.I.’s character is both impossible to love and impossible not to admire and feel for.
- Indemnity Only
- Killing Orders
- Bitter Medicine
- Blood Shot
- Burn Marks
- Guardian Angel
- Tunnel Vision
- Windy City Blues: V.I. Warshawski Stories
- Hard Time
- Total Recall
- Fire Sale
Storm Front by Jim Butcher
First of a series about Harry Dresden, Wizard. Also set in Chicago, his Yellow Pages ad reads (see pg. 3).
The real world is filled with strange and magical things, and they’re often not friendly. The police use Harry as a consultant when things don’t jive, and often his private cases go hand in hand with what the police are working on. With the help of “Bob the Skull” (a really old spirit that hangs out in an empty skull and provides spell help and information … kind of like a disembodied librarian with a penchant for romance novels), Murphy the police detective, Mister the 30-lb cat and the nearly indestructible VW Beetle, Harry ventures forth to right wrongs and save the day.
Not a feminist, AT ALL.
- Storm Front
- Fool Moon
- Grave Peril
- Summer Knight
- Death Masks
- Blood Rites
- Dead Beat
- Proven Guilty
- White Night
- Small Favor
- Backup (A novella set in the Dresden Files universe)
- Turn Coat
Chalice by Robin McKinley
In the Willowlands, the leaders are members of a small group, “The Circle” who are led by a Master, and his second-in-command, the Chalice. However, when the current Master and Chalice are killed in a fire created by their own foolish behavior, they leave behind no trained apprentices to step in for them, the whole system is thrown off and the land is at risk.
Mirasol is called by the land to be the new Chalice. Being untrained and having no teacher, it takes a full year of desparately reading everything she can lay her hands on in the Circle’s library just to get up to speed. The question of a Master, though, is extremely tricky. The next in line (when his brother was chosen) went to join a sect of elemental priests. Nobody, who has trained as many years as he has to become a Priest of Fire has ever ben able to return to regular human life. But he is called, and he must answer.
So these two must struggle, for the sake of the land, to become leaders, and for the sake of each other, possibly lovers.
Dewey, The Small Town Library Cat who Touched the World – Vicki Myron with Bret Witter [636.8 Myr] Dewey Readmore Books was deposited in the night book drop at the Public Library in Spencer, Iowa, on the coldest night of the year, January 18, 1988. He was rescued by Vicki Myron and her staff, and he became the library cat. He lived there for the next 18 years, fed and cared for by the staff, loved and adored by the whole town.
It’s a great story. Dewey impacts hundreds of people in so many ways. The book also tells the story of Vicki Myron, which is good, although not as good as Dewey’s story. It’s also written with a co-writer, and it’s not the best collaboration ever. There is quite a bit of repetition and the story line gets lost periodically.
Ellie and I read it together, and had to put it aside for several months since two of our cats died this summer, and I had to wait til I was able to read about Dewey’s death out loud without totally losing it. I still bawled my eyes out.
Urban Shaman – C.E. Murphy
Joanne Walker (aka Siobhain Walkingstick) the half-Cherokee, half-Irish police auto mechanic is on her way home from Ireland where she both met, and buried her mother. Out of the window of the plane (“What do you do? Use the Force?”) she spots a woman being pursued by a hunter and a pack of wild animals. So, when she gets off the plane, she snags a semi-willing cabbie and off they go.
Turns out, the woman is being chased by the Wild Hunt. Turns out, after Cernunnos (the leader of the Wild Hunt) fatally stabs her through the heart, she launches into a sort of spirit plane. Here, she meets someone who she identifies as Coyote, and she is offered a choice: die now, or accept the fact that she has the powers of a Shaman, and can heal herself and go back into the world. Whee!
Turns out, despite the fact that Joanne has been raplaced in the motor pool while she’s been gone to Ireland, the police force can’t afford to fire her (female, minority) and so she’s been promoted to officer. Further, she discovers that while her supervisor doesn’t want to hear about any supernatural craziness, he is willing to assign her and quite often Detective Billy Holiday, “Seattle’s only cross-dressing detective” who not only looks better than Joanne in a dress, but sees dead people and is married to a bruja – to look into odd happenings.
The stories are good, the characters are fun, the action is fast paced, and the of Native American and Irish folklore and mythology is really quite interesting.
- Urban Shaman
- Thunderbird Falls
- Coyote Dreams
- Walking Dead
- Demon Hunts
Grave Secret – Charlaine Harris
Book #4 of the Harper Connelly series. Harper was struck by lightning as a teen, which left her with the ability to hear dead people. She can tell where they are buried, when they died, how they died, and sometimes, relive the last few seconds of their lives. She and her “brother” Tolliver travel around the US as private contractors, looking for missing people, solving family mysteries, and trying not to get blamed for them while they’re at it.
When you jog past an office building early on a Saturday morning, and you know that there is a man inside who died at his desk late Friday afternoon who won’t be found until his co-workers appear on Monday morning, what do you do? How do you explain to the police that you know he’s dead?
Harper and Tolliver grew up together in an epically dysfunctional family. Her mother married his father, and they joined forces to become barely functional drug sellers & addicts, but managed to bring two more daughters into the world before Mom died and Dad ended up in jail. Harper, Tolliver, her sister and his brother managed to keep everyone fed and hide the dysfuction so they could stay together and protect one another for years, until Harper’s sister Cameron went missing. Then the family was split up and the two youngest went to live with an Aunt and Uncle.
In the last book, Harper and Tolliver realized that they’ve come to mean more to one another than the overlaid “brother and sister” relationship they’ve had before, and they’ve become a couple. Which is weird for everybody, but it’s the way it should be.
In all their travels, they’ve constantly searched for Cameron, to no avail. In this story, Tolliver’s father is released from jail, and attempts to reunite with the kids – which spins up everyone’s past and shakes loose some information about the family that nobody was expecting.
A very interesting series. Unlike any other mystery characters out there, and unlike any other paranormal characters as well. Well written.
- Grave Sight
- Grave Surprise
- An Ice Cold Grave
- Grave Secret
Frostbitten – Kelley Armstrong
Part of another series, “Women of the Underworld.” The series started off great, but some of the Women are way more fun to read about than others. Elena is one of my favorites. She is a Werewolf. The ONLY female werewolf, currently in existance. And in line to possibly become the new Alpha – which would really shake things up.
In this story, Elena and her bf Clay are sent off to address a pair of “rogue” werewolves – those not belonging to a pack who cause trouble by harming humans – and this pair takes them to Alaska. Once they arrive, however, they realize that the situation is far more complex than they’d initially anticipated.
They have a pair of dangerous characters who are quite obviously killing some humans, a single rogue who is trying to get away from those two, another single were who was originally a member of the pack, but who went out on his own rather than accept the current leadership, a young man just entering the change, and another whole mysterious group of creatures who may be werewolves, or may be something else entirely. And everyone, it seems, is trying to frame everyone else for the killings. It’s up to Elena and Clayton to figure out what role everyone is playing, and what action the pack should take in containing the damage, and either helping or eliminating the players.
- Dime Store Magic
- Industrial Magic
- No Humans Involved
- Personal Demon
- Living With the Dead
- Waking the Witch