Book Review: The Wicked Wives by Gus Pelagatti

The more I read The Wicked Wives by Gus Pelagatti, the more my mouth dropped open. The lengths to which some women will go to “off” their husbands and collect the insurance! What makes this book even more delicious is that it is based on a true story.

The Wicked Wives is a great book and a pleasure to read. The characters are believable (even if what they do is almost unbelievable) and the story fantastic. For a real dose of escapism – read it!

Book Review – The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones

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The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold was the first library book I checked out on my Kindle! I just love free stuff. It took two weeks to get it but I’ve been busy reading other things.

This beautiful story is about fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon who is brutally raped and murdered by her serial killer neighbor, George Harvey. Her body is chopped up into little pieces, put into a safe and dropped into a deep sinkhole in town.

Susie narrates the story, first on earth and then in her heaven. She watches her family and friends fall apart over her death and how each copes – or doesn’t. Able to travel between heaven and earth, Susie comes to accept her situation with the help of some new friends.

Susie sees her parents drift further apart, each dealing with the unspeakable situation in a destructive way. Her sister, Lindsey, focuses on becoming the family geek and her baby brother, Buckley, withdraws into his fort in the yard. The one boy she ever got to kiss dreams of her and even in heaven, Susie dreams of what might have been. An acquaintance, Ruth, feels a strange connection to Susie after her death and knows she is near.

Susie watches her killer hide his tracks and her father follow his suspicions of their neighbor. Friends all handle her death in a different way.

The story is tragic but full of hope at the same time. I can’t wait to see the movie.

Book Review: Winter Moon by Dean Koontz

Cover of "Winter Moon"

Cover of Winter Moon

As you can tell from my book reviews, I have become a huge Dean Koontz fan. When I discovered Winter Moon for a quarter at my favorite used bookstore, I was thrilled both to be getting another Koontz book I hadn’t read AND it only was twenty-five cents. It turns out I was fortunate on both counts.

The frenetic pace of this book kept me occupied – dare I say obsessed – until I finished it. I am always enthralled when reading Koontz’s books but I truly could not put this book down. All my favorite elements are present here – mystery, murder, gore, humor, fantasy, sci-fi and drama. I will probably have to reread it soon since I skimmed some parts to get to the action more quickly.

Jack McGarvey, a Los Angeles policeman, is shot down while on a call. After months of hard recuperation, he and his wife, Heather and their son, Toby, learn that they have inherited a multi-million dollar estate in Montana from Jack’s deceased partner’s dad. Ready for a change from the gang-ridden and dangerous city, the family packs up, pays their large medical bills and other mounting debts and moves out to the country.

The farm is beautiful. The Victorian home, caretaker’s house and barn are breathtaking. Eight-year-old Toby gets the golden retriever he always wanted but could never have in the city. Everyone is healthy again. However (of course), things are not as perfect as they seem. Strange feelings of dread, hypnotizing sights and sounds from the TVs and computer are confusing and frightening and the decayed smell from parts of the house are disturbing. Then, when Heather discovers a journal hidden in the freezer noting even stranger events documented by Eduardo Fernandez before he died of a massive heart attack, things get really interesting.

An evil alien force seeks to control the family, both mentally and physically. It seems impervious to destruction but they use all the resources they have in the attempt. It’s a wild ride.

Review of Eyes of a Child by Richard North Patterson

Cover of "Eyes of a Child"

Cover of Eyes of a Child

Eyes of a Child by Richard North Patterson is a murder mystery thriller. It was slow to start but by the end, was exhausting. The pace picked up and went faster and faster until the unexpected conclusion.

Richie Arias is divorcing his wife of six years, Terri Peralta, and seeking full custody of their five-year-old daughter, Elena. Richie is a manipulative sociopath and brilliantly fools everyone with whom he comes in contact except Terri. She is devastated that she is not chosen to be Elena’s custodial parent and seeks to fight Richie for that right. When Elena withdraws completely and exhibits signs of being sexually abused, Terri and Richie reluctantly agree that she needs professional help. Terri’s widowed mother, Rosa, slowly reveals truths about the past throughout the book that send Terri reeling but do provide answers about her recurring nightmares.

Christopher Paget, fellow lawyer and later Terri’s lover, and his fifteen-year-old son, Carlo, become hopelessly involved in the case when Richie is found dead, the victim of an apparent suicide. The police determine that Richie was actually murdered and Chris is charged.  Caroline Masters has the massive task of defending him when even she suspects he is guilty. Carlo is suspected of molesting Elena. Complicating matters, this case impinges on Chris’s political aspirations to become senator. Tabloid stories, crooked politicians and insensitive cops don’t help the tenuous situation.

Taking place in San Francisco, the story twines and intertwines storylines until it’s so fantastic it’s actually believable. The murder trial is discussed in agonizing detail and made me think of the Casey Anthony trial.

I really liked the book and learned a lot about jury selection and child custody cases. Hopefully, I’ll never need this knowledge, but you never know.

Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen – A Review

Action-packed, complex and hilarious don’t even begin to describe Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen. So much goes on in this novel, it’s hard to put it all into a short review. I’ll give it my best shot.

Sick Puppy revolves around Florida governor, Dick Artemus; litter-bug lobbyist Palmer Stoat, who can get anything done for anyone if he is paid enough for it; Robert Clapley, the depraved developer, who is obsessed with both real and imagined Barbie Dolls; and a number of other crooked cronies. They want to destroy and develop sparsely inhabited Toad Island into a resort, complete with condos, golf courses, nature trails and airports. Pitted against them are Twilly Spree and former Florida governor, Clinton Tyree aka Skink, the eco-fanatic terrorists who attempt to thwart the project with a variety of questionable methods, including a flatulent black Labrador Retriever named Boodle-McGuinn.  Thrown into the mix are Palmer’s wife, Desie, who is fascinated by and attracted to Twilly; Mr. Gash, the porcupine-headed, 911 tape obsessed hit man; Lieutenant Jim Tile of the Florida Highway Patrol and more twisted, bizarre characters.

This book has it all: an island of toads buried alive, dead animal pieces and parts, bone-crushing construction equipment (literally), big game trafficking, sex, drugs and just a little rock-n-roll. Hiaasen continues his satiric rally against all things modern in Florida. It is a comedic tale that shouldn’t be missed.

Book Review – The Blood Test

Psychologist Alex Delaware is called in to counsel the family of young Woody Swopes, who has just been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  His dysfunctional parents are rejecting the treatment options. Suddenly the family disappears, including little Woody and his nubile older sister, Nona. 

Alex, and his best friend policeman Milo Sturgis, try to locate the Swopes family so Woody can begin medical care.  The book is set in southern California, with Alex and Milo traveling from LA to the Mexican border in their search.

Along the way, Alex encounters many odd characters. Dr. Raul Melendez-Lynch, an atypical cancer specialist in charge of Woody’s care, is a volatile and unpredictable man.  Lawyer turned cult leader, Noble Matthias, still demonstrates his shrewdness under the mask of peace.  Doug Carmichael, a trim surfer and male prostitute is something of an enigma, and Sheriff Houten of the tiny town where the cult has its base sends out “weird” signals, too.

Alex also has a number of unusual adventures.  What may be out of the ordinary for many people, though, is all in a day’s work for Alex Delaware.  He is beaten by a crazy man who disapproves of Alex’s diagnosis, is given the special gift of a dead rat on his doorstep, there are numerous death threats, the murders of several key characters, Molotov cocktails that threaten Alex’s home and others, strange mutant plants, greed, drugs and incest.

Jonathan Kellerman is a master at action-packed, suspenseful novels and The Blood Test is no exception.  He utilizes humor, cunning plot twists and creativity to lead readers on an emotional journey and its surprising conclusion. 

As with all of Kellerman’s books, I loved this one.  I was surprised but pleased to find this novel published in 1986 that I had never read before.  If you love mysteries as I do, I encourage you to read The Blood Test.  You won’t be disappointed.