Book Review: Bad Karma in the Big Easy by D. J. Donaldson

bad karmaI was intrigued by the prospect of reading Bad Karma in the Big Easy by D.J. Donaldson since it deals with post-Katrina New Orleans. My family also survived Katrina, although from about 200 miles away.

The setting of the story is the time immediately following Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005. Chief Medical Examiner Andy Broussard is tired and overworked in the temporary morgue. He is perplexed by the bodies of three women who were found naked in the lower Ninth Ward, the scene of much of Katrina’s destruction. There are unusual similarities – the primary one being that these women were murdered.

Kit Franklin, forensic psychologist, is drawn into the case. There are many unusual twists and turns in this mystery. People are not who they seem to be and the killer surprises everyone.

Although part of a series, Bad Karma in the Big Easy reads just as well as a stand-alone novel. Connections to prior books only bear a brief mention and are not crucial to this story. The book is an enjoyable read, although some of the situations are quite horrifying and reluctantly believable. The characters all have depth and I was sympathetic to both Kit and Andy.

I give Bad Karma 4 stars. It’s a good mystery with a satisfying ending. I highly recommend it.



The More You Read . . .


“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

~ Dr. Seuss –  “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut”

Books Read 2013

1. 1-1-13 Camping and Woodcraft ~ Horace Kephart

2. 1-4-13 The Barefoot Executive: The Ultimate Guide for Being Your Own Boss and Achieving Financial Freedom (A) ~ Carrie Wilkerson

3. 1-5-13 Get Lucky: How to Put Planned Serendipity to Work for You and Your Business (Did not finish – it was OK) ~ Thor Muller and Lane Becker

4. 1-10-13 Defending Jacob: A Novel (A) ~ William Landay

5. 1-17-13 Alex Cross’s Trial (A) ~ James Patterson & Richard DiLallo

6. 1-19-13 Les Miserables ~ Victor Hugo

7. 1-21-13 The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (A) ~ Timothy Ferriss

8. 1-23-13 The Most Successful Small Business in the World: The Ten Principles (C) ~ Michael Gerber

9. 1-30-13 The Boy in the Suitcase (B) ~ Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis

10. 2-5-13 In the Night Room (A) ~ Peter Straub

11. 2-11-13 Folly (A) ~ Laurie R. King

12. 2-15-13 Sharp Objects: A Novel (A) ~ Gillian Flynn

13. 2-19-13 Notorious Nineteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel (A) ~ Janet Evanovich

14. 2-20-13 Dark Places: A Novel (A) ~ Gillian Flynn

15. 2-23-13 Down the Darkest Road (A) ~ Tami Hoag

16. 2-24-13 Greedy Bones (A) ~ Carolyn Haines

17. 2-25-13 Phantoms (A) ~ Dean Koontz

18. 2-26-13 The Glass Rainbow (A) ~ James Lee Burke

19. 2-27-13 The Handmade Marketplace: How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally, and On-Line (A) ~ Kari Chapin

20. 3-6-13 After Dark (A) ~ Phillip Margolin

21. 3-8-13 Icebound (B) ~ Dean Koontz

22. 3-10-13 Shattered (A) ~ Dean Koontz

23. 3-13-13 And the Soft Wind Blows (B) ~ Lance Umenhofer

24. 3-14-13 Hero at Large (A) ~ Janet Evanovich

25. 3-16-13 June Bug (Murder-by-Month Mysteries, No. 2) (A) ~ Jess Lourey

26. 3-19-13 May Day (Murder-by-Month Mysteries, No. 1) (A) ~ Jess Lourey

27. 3-22-13 Knee High by the Fourth of July (Murder-by-Month Mysteries, No. 3) (A) ~ Jess Lourey

28. 3-25-13 August Moon (Murder-by-Month Mysteries, No. 4) (A) ~ Jess Lourey

29. 3-31-13 The Knightmare (A) ~ Deborah Valentine

30. 4-4-13 The Passage: A Novel (A) ~ Justin Cronin

31. 4-10-13 The Disillusioned (A) ~ D.J. Williams

32. 4-14-13 The Twelve (Book Two of The Passage Trilogy): A Novel (A) ~ Justin Cronin

33. 4-18-13 September Morn (Murder-by-Month Mysteries, No. 5) (A) ~ Jess Lourey

34. 4-23-13 The Cuckoos of Batch Magna (A) ~ Peter Maughan

35. 4-30-13 The Storm Protocol (B) ~ Iain Cosgrove

36. 5-18-13 Flush (A) ~ Carl Hiaasen

37. 5-22-13 October Fest (Murder-by-Month Mysteries, No. 6) ~ Jess Lourey

38. 5-25-13 November Hunt (Murder-by-Month Mysteries, No. 7) (A) ~ Jess Lourey

39. 5-29-13 Star Island (A) ~ Carl Hiassen

40. 6-4-13 The Moonlit Mind: A Tale of Suspense (A) ~ Dean Koontz

41. 6-8-13 Victims: An Alex Delaware Novel (A) ~ Jonathan Kellerman

42. 6-13-13 Inferno: A Novel (A) ~ Dan Brown

43. 6-18-13 Oddkins: A Fable for All Ages (B) ~ Dean Koontz

44. 6-22-13 Odd Interlude #1 (An Odd Thomas Story) (A) ~ Dean Koontz

45. Odd Interlude #2 (An Odd Thomas Story) (A) ~ Dean Koontz

46. Odd Interlude #3 (An Odd Thomas Story) (A) ~ Dean Koontz

47. Odd Apocalypse (A) ~ Dean Koontz

48. Murder for the Bride: A Novel (A) ~ John D. Macdonald

49. Murder Passes the Buck: A Gertie Johnson Murder Mystery ~ Deb Baker

50. Breathless: A Novel (A) (re-read) ~ Dean Koontz

51. Murder Grins and Bears It (A) ~ Deb Baker

52. Murder Talks Turkey (A) ~ Deb Baker

53. Murder Bites the Bullet (A) ~ Deb Baker

54. Revenge (A) ~ Christine Carminati

55. The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (A) ~ Michael Scott

56. The Magician (A) ~ Michael Scott

57. The Sorceress (A) ~ Michael Scott

58. The Enchantress (A) ~ Michael Scott

59. The Necromancer (A) ~ Michael Scott

60. The Warlock (A) ~ Michael Scott

61. Walking Across Egypt (A) ~ Clyde Edgerton

62. Dance Hall of the Dead (B) ~ Tony Hillerman

63. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (B) ~ Muriel Spark

64. The Appeal (A) ~ John Grisham

65. The Floatplane Notebooks: A Novel (B) ~ Clyde Edgerton

66. Joyland (A) ~ Stephen King

67. Sunset Limited (A) ~ James Lee Burke

68. Dr. Sleep (A+++) ~ Stephen King

69. Fatal Burn (A) ~ Lisa Jackson

70. U is for Undertow (A) ~ Sue Grafton

71. The Bad Place (A) ~ Dean Koontz

72. Hide (A) ~ Lisa Gardner

73. Time Bomb (B) ~ Jonathan Kellerman

74. Servants of Twilight (A) ~ Dean Koontz

75. The Face of Fear (A) ~ Dean Koontz

76. Skinny Dip (A) ~ Carl Hiassen

77. Secrets to the Grave (A) ~ Tami Hoag

78. Wicked Game (A) ~ Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush

79. Heart and Soul ~ Maeve Binchy


Book Review: The True Detective by Theodore Weesner

The True Detective by Theodore Weesner is a compelling story of a twisted young man who kidnaps a little boy, what happens to them and to others affected by the tragedy.

I always find it interesting to learn about each of the characters in a book and what makes them tick, but I think that there are so many extraneous details provided here about each person that it takes away from the plot. The story of the kidnapping and of the detective who tries to solve the mystery are enough to satisfy the reader. I think most people expect detective and murder mysteries to be fast-paced page-turners and this was not one of those. I found myself skipping over some of the character-study extrapolations to get to the more exciting parts of the book.

As I side note, I was also rather repelled by the explicit language, situations and themes in the book. I blame myself for not researching this further before reading.

In all, I pretty-much enjoyed reading The True Detective and give the book a grade of B.

Book Review: Drift by Andrew Hudson

Drift, by Andrew Hudson, is an intriguing story of Travis Benson. Travis seemingly has a simple life working at a marketing firm in Connecticut. As the book progresses, however, the reader realizes Travis’s life is actually quite complicated.

The book opens with a brutal murder in Colorado. There is no reference to that murder again until Chapter 18. The suspense builds page by page as the reader wonders what this terrible thing has to do with Travis.

Each chapter rotates from past to present circumstances involving Travis’s friends and family. We learn that there is a connection with the murder but I won’t spoil the surprise. The book is well-written and a compelling read. I really enjoyed it.

Book Review: Reel Life Crime by Cary Pepper

I was intrigued by Reel Life Crime by Cary Pepper when I was approached to review it.

Private detective Ed Sampas is approached by an “odd couple” for an interesting case. Aristocratic Thelonius Noble and 300 pound Pago Mundy have a problem. Their authentic movie prop (one of only two that exist), the Maltese falcon, has been stolen and they want it back. The recovery must be done quickly and quietly. No police involvement.

Complicating matters are Sampas’ two totally different friends. McNulty, an up-and-up cop, is on the law side and Hank, the gay antiquities dealer, sometimes operates on the other side. Both become intricately meshed in the case.

Comic relief comes with two doped up computer geeks, a beautiful young photographer named Phoebe and Sampas’ nephew Ralph. There is mystery, plot twists and turns, revenge and near-death experiences. The ending is not what one would expect.

I thought this was a great read and highly recommend it. I enjoyed the suspense and the characters were believable and likeable. I have never read The Maltese Falcon or seen the movie but I will now.

Book Review: Gone by Lisa Gardner

I know I’ve been on quite a Koontz kick (I like the sound of that) for awhile so I’m taking a (brief) breather. Gasp!

I’ve read some books by Lisa Gardner before and have forgotten how much I enjoyed them. I picked up Lisa Gardner’s Gone for a whopping $.90 at my favorite used bookstore in Knoxville, TN – McKays. It took me all of one day to read the suspenseful thriller.

Rainie Connor is missing. Her white Camry is abandoned on the side of the road, in the pouring rain with the engine running, the windshield wipers swishing and the driver’s door wide open. Her purse is on the seat. As if that’s not bad enough, her husband is ex-FBI profiler and current private consultant to law enforcement Pierce Quincy. And, they’ve been separated for about a week.

To make matters even worse, someone else is missing – seven-year-old Dougie Jones, a foster child gone wrong and expert fire-starter. Ransom is demanded of Pierce and officials are scrambling against the clock.

The action switches back and forth between what’s going on with Pierce and then what is going on with Rainie and Dougie. It’s easy to follow and builds more suspense. The book is an exciting read.

Book Review: Breathless by Dean Koontz

Cover of "Breathless: A Novel"

Cover of Breathless: A Novel

Yes, I know I tend to go on and on about Dean Koontz, but the man’s a genius. After attempting to read two of Peter Straub‘s books and positively dragging through them I gave up.

Luckily I came across Breathless. There is mystery here but not really horror. There is more wonder and excitement. This book took me all of about four hours to read. Yet another book I couldn’t put down.

Strange things are happening. Grady Adams and his dog, Merlin, have two unusual intruders and they are not evil. Dr. Cammy Rivers, the local veterinarian, witnesses bizarre, trance-like behavior in some rescue dogs and in animals on a nearby farm. Henry Rouvroy returns to visit his twin and his wife after many years’ separation and goes berserk.

Cammy and Grady name the creatures “Puzzle” and “Riddle.” They have solid white fur and black hands and feet. Their hands are like primate hands, they are extremely intelligent and curious. They like to be cuddled and are interested in how things work. The dog loves them.

The beautiful beings inspire Cammy to contact two colleagues for advice who, in turn, are compelled to notify the authorities. The Department of Homeland Security brings all reinforcements to inspect these creatures.

What I really like about this story is the element of fantasy that, maybe, could even be real. Who knows?

Book Review: Hideaway by Dean Koontz

Cover of "Hideaway"

Cover of Hideaway

I loved the quote at the very end of Hideaway by Dean Koontz – “After that, everything got weird.” Actually, though, I think this quote belongs at the beginning of the book because it is definitely weird. A combination of medical science, murder, psychics, Satanism and more make this Koontz book a thrilling read.

Lindsey and Hatch Harrison are slowly putting their lives back together after the death of their five-year-old son several years ago from cancer. Lindsey is a successful artist and Hatch operates an antique gallery. Then, a car accident changes things dramatically for the couple. Hatch is dead for eighty minutes before he is “reanimated” by Dr. Jonas Nyebern, a specialist in the field. 

Hatch recovers amazingly quickly and the only side effect he has are vividly strange dreams where he seems to occupy the body of another man. The other man is Vassago, a prince of Hell, who is an accomplished murderer. His latest victims include everyone that angers Hatch and Lindsey. Vassago also sees Hatch’s life through his eyes. Neither man understands what is going on. Lindsey and Hatch try to solve the mystery. Vassago seeks Lindsey and Hatch and their newly adopted daughter, Regina, to kill them all and bring them to his “hideaway,” the abandoned fun house in a defunct amusement park.

A brilliant twist of writing connects Vassago and Dr. Nyebern in an ironic way, adding to the drama. This book is a roller coaster ride of the wildest kind. Buckle up and hang on!