R.A.M. 2001-2004

Jag har försökt att samla mina inlägg om böcker från nyhetsgruppen
rec.arts.mystery. Tyvärr finns det ibland referenser till de vänner jag hade bland R.A.M-besökarna, men kanske kan man hitta något matnyttigt om böcker här.

MARK BILLINGHAM – “SCAREDY CAT”

I have to pipe in with the quire on this one – This is a great book! The story is tight, with attention paid to every detail. The characters are well developed, interesting and engaging. But what impressed me most of all was the language; it’s so perfectly anchored in the characters and the setting. Gave me a much better understanding for Mark Billingham’s reservations regarding awarding translated books.

I also have to admit that he had me fooled in the “who dunnit” matter. And that’s not easy anymore. Looking forward to “Lazybones”.

EMMANUEL CARRERE – “THE ADVERSARY”

I don’t usually read true crime books, I was only waiting for Mitchy when I happened to read the back of this book; 

"On the morning of Saturday January 9th 1993, while Jean-Claude Romand was killing his wife and children, I was with mine in a parent-teacher meeting…".

Jean-Claude Romand had fooled everyone around him that he was a MD working for WHO, including his parents and his wife, sustaining a well-off life style, when in fact he didn’t have a medical degree or a job.

This information made me very curious; why would anyone do something like that, how could anyone get away with it for nearly 20 years, how and why did he kill his wife and children. So I bought the book. I was looking for the facts, for information but unfortunately for me a big part of the book deals with the writer’s reactions to and feelings around what had happened and how Romand had lived. The book also has a strong religious undertone. It’s probably not a bad book, it just didn’t’ meet my expectations. The story is quite fascinating though, you’d never have bought it in a work of fiction.

MICHAEL CONNELLY  – “CITY OF BONES”

Michael Connelly has yet to disappoint me. And Harry Bosch has always been one of my favourite fictional characters. I want more… 

ROBERT CRAIS – “STALKING THE ANGEL”

I still enjoy the humour and banter of Elvis Cole and company. Didn’t care much for the women characters, but I guess a girl can’t have everything. I will keep reading the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike books. And I’ve got Hostage waiting in the TBR pile, but that’s only because I want to read about Sarah Weinman… ;-)

JAMES CRUMLEY – “THE LAST GOOD KISS”

Fantastic language, almost like poetry at times. The book didn’t feel so much like a mystery to me as an epic journey, an “On the road” with a touch of crime. Sughrue (how do you pronounce that name?) is appealing, but I find his alienation and loneliness a little hard to handle, there’s too much of that in real life, so I’m glad this is not a long series. I will have to read more by James Crumley.

STELLA DUFFY – “CALENDAR GIRL”

I really enjoyed the writing in this book, language and phrasing seemed to be in sync with my brain. Despite the characters having a different life style from my own I could relate to their thought patterns and they felt very real to me. I appreciated the understated plot, liked how the focus was on the characters. Also it made sense how Saz worked things out and the ending had a realistic quality to it that was quite refreshing. The plot offered a few surprises as well, without making 180 degree turns on previous character presentation.

JANE HADDAM – “SKELETON KEY”

This almost felt like two books to me. One book is the classical, puzzle mystery that doesn’t demand too big an emotional engagement. The victim is introduced in such a way that we feel sympathy and a need for the killer to be caught. The suspects are introduced, revealing possible motives, means and opportunities. Then witnesses. You try to sort statements and clues in your brain to solve the problem but you don’t have to care too much. Quite comforting really –
brainwork without emotional commitment.

But then there’s the other book within the book. The story about Bennis and Gregor et al. These characters have more depth, feel more real and suddenly you have to care and worry again.

I will keep reading Jane Haddam’s books. I’m also tempted to go back in the series to see what the previous books were like, because of comments from Madame Haddam herself about this book being a sort of turning point in her writing. But as I’ve said before; so little time, so many books. I think I’ll just go forward.

JAMES W HALL – “ROUGH DRAFT” and “BLACKWATER SOUND”

This is Florida fiction at its best. The plots are like carefully planned roller coaster rides; just enough surprising turns, build ups to breath taking drops, slow sections allowing you to get your bearings and suddenly a loop that turns everything on its head. Once you get off you want to get back on again.

I really enjoy Hall’s characters and dialogue as well. There are even some interesting women in his books. Not all of them nice though.

A special thanks to Beth because she keeps reminding us of James W Hall.

PETER MAY – “THE KILLING ROOM”

This book offered a welcome change of tone. I don’t know if it comes from an attempt to convey the Chinese custom of communicating, but the tone in the book is mild, despite the horrible crimes depicted. I liked the insight into a different culture, with different customs and ways of behaving. But I prefer banter and open conflict to the agony lack of communication all too often leads to. I’m not sure I’ll put Peter May high up on my “To look out for” list, but am willing to change my mind if anyone else want to recommend another book of his.

DENISE MINA – “GARNETHILL” and “EXILE”

I suppose this genre would be Glasgow Grey. It is almost depressingly real, what little love, hope and friendship there is in the books is just as fickle, treacherous and undependable as in real life. But it is really nice to read about women you can actually relate to, and you can’t fault the plots. I also like that these books are consistent, the characters remain in character and the tone of the book doesn’t fluctuate. Planning to buy “Resolution” next time I go to CIS.

MARCIA MULLER – “POINT DECEPTION”

I liked this book. I was a bit wary because I’d found the latest Sharon McCone books a bit disappointing, but this was a book with a true mystery. I liked how the immediate mystery tied into the old, unsolved mystery. The characters made sense and how the mystery was solved made sense as well.

ABIGAIL PADGETT – “BLUE”

A slightly demanding read; a lot of big words, especially for a non-English person, and quite a bit of philosophising and theorising about human, and primate, behaviour. But great characters and an interesting, fairly complex plot.

S J ROZAN – “CHINA TRADE”

I really liked the characters in this book, and the dialogue, especially between Lydia Chin and Bill Smith. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. I believe that is told from the perspective of Bill Smith so it’s going to be very interesting to see if that changes the tone of the book. Not to mention to be given an “outside” perspective of Lydia.

ROB RYAN – “TRANS AM”

I heard Rob Ryan on Crime scene 2002 and he came across as an astute observer, a balanced, somewhat quiet family man. Well the astute observations are present in this book but where is the quiet family man? This is a wild ride, more reminiscent of Carl Hiaasen than any British author I’ve read.

The book starts with several different story lines so it demands a bit of concentration, keeping the time lines, settings and characters straight but it’s certainly worth it when it all comes together in the end. And I suppose I shouldn’t have claimed that the family man was missing since the topic of the book, well part of it anyway, is about the worst thing that could possibly happen to a father, or mother for that matter.

The plot is clever and interesting and it made me think a lot about the chain of events that can be started by one wrong move, something done out of stupidity or mere lack of concentration. Are we any less likely to crave revenge or restitution when harm was caused unintentionally?

JENNY SILER – “ICED”

I could relate to the cold and the snow, but I found it more difficult to relate to the female lead character. There was nothing wrong with the story but it was quite traditional I thought. It’s probably going to take some nudging from RAM for me to try any of Jenny Siler’s other books.

DANIEL WOODRELL – “THE DEATH OF SWEET MISTER”

One of those books where the writing is so appealing that I want to read really slowly and savour every word. But where the story is, for me, so disturbing and depressing that I want to read really quickly so that I don’t have to live in the reality described too long. When I recommend this book to anyone it’s going to be a “I’m sorry to do this to you, but you just have to read this book”. Am I the only one who can’t stand the idea of children having to live this kind of life, who despises the mother for not putting her child first and who is distraught by what this boy is turned into, what he feels compelled to do in the end? (I hope that was more of a teaser than a spoiler.)

 

ANDREA BADENOCH – “MORTAL”
 


I liked it, actually I surprised myself by liking it. The book is very much taking place in the mind of one character and she’s riddled by grief and angst and usually I don’t like that at all. But the
characterisation is very strong in this book, the story is set in London and I felt like I was allowed insight into a reality that is close but still very exotic to me. I’ll probably be trying another book by Andrea Badenoch.

 

JOHN BAKER – “SHOOTING IN THE DARK”

 


John Baker stays on my ‘must read’ list. This is the fifth Sam Turner book and still the story is new. The characters have evolved, and approach life and crime in new ways. Already longing for the next book in the series.

 

ADAM BARON – “SUPERJACK”
 


Another book set in London. I’ve read Adam Baron’s previous two books; "Shut Eye" and "Hold back the night" as well so I knew not to expect an English Dennis Lehane as the book cover stated. The lead character in all three books is Billy Rucker, a former police detective turned private. His main mission is to find missing teenagers. Only he refuses to reveal their whereabouts to their parents. He feels there are often reasons for them leaving home, but he also feels the parents have a right to know their children are safe and will let them have pictures and information reassuring them of that. Now the two first books do concern missing kids, and also deals with the subtext of Billy Rucker and why he left the police force. This third book however is more adult in every way, even if all three books have got Billy involved in murder
cases. The plots have been strong in all three books and there are plenty of characters to like.

 

STEPHEN BOOTH – “BLOOD ON THE TONGUE”
 


Excellent book! I still don’t like Diane Fry much, and we’re still not given much insight into why she is who she is. Ben Cooper is growing though and I have high hopes for the next
book.


 

JOHN CONNOLLY – “THE KILLING KIND” and “THE WHITE ROAD”
 


I guess I should have mentioned Charlie Parker, Angel and Louis as one of my favourite crime solving teams. I find John Connolly’s books very intriguing because they’re the darkest, most cruel, gory books I’ve read and yet they also make me laugh and show that there is hope, love,
friendship and compassion in the world. And I love the way John Connolly writes, I even had to read parts from ‘The White Road’ to my brother over the phone and I don’t particularly enjoy trying to read English out loud over the
phone.


 

ROBERT CRAIS – “THE MONKEY’S RAINCOAT”
 


I wasn’t particularly taken in by “Demolition Angel”, but since so many people here on RAM speak so highly of Robert Crais and the Elvis Cole books I figured I’d give them a try. And yes – I did like this book very much and will try to get hold of more Elvis Cole
books.


 

JEFFERY DEAVER – “THE STONE MONKEY”
 


Too curious about how long you can possibly carry on having a quadriplegic man as your lead character I had to read this book. It’s definitely a page turner. It doesn’t have as many drastic 360 degree turns to the plot as some of Deaver’s books, but he does keep to his usual trick of relaying the facts in such a way that you jump to a conclusion that is later proved to be wrong. Upset about having been lied to you go back and check, only to find out that he hadn’t actually
lied, just worded it in such a way that you were lead to believe the wrong thing.

 


 

MICHAEL DIBDIN – “DIRTY TRICKS”
 


As the song goes: “It’s a dirty book about a dirty man and his clinging wife doesn’t understand”. It’s a well written book and quite interesting because of it’s slightly unusual point of view. But I couldn’t find any character that I felt any kind of sympathy for. As far as I was concerned they might as well all be killed or sent to jail. I’d be quite interested in hearing if anyone else has read any other Michael Dibdin books and what they thought of those
books.


 

LINDA FAIRSTEIN – “THE DEADHOUSE”
 


Linda Fairstein clearly has a lot of experience and old cases to tap into, the investigations and police and DA office intrigue all rings true, but as a whole the book feels slightly detached. Of course that can be quite refreshing after having read books too occupied with the
lead characters’ marriage, relationship, drinking or general life problems. There were nothing wrong with the plot, all the clues coming together nicely in the end. Still don’t understand why, just because you have a female lead character, the climax of the book has to be of the
female lead character being placed in physical danger – I wonder how often that actually happens to district attorneys in real life.


 

NICCI FRENCH – “THE RED ROOM
 


Again a London that should be right around the corner but is still galaxies away from my reality. A good book but nothing I’d necessarily be nagging my friends to read.

 


 

STEVE HAMILTON – “A COLD DAY IN PARADISE”
 


After a few melodramatic sentences like

“The red, the red, all that red”

this actually turned into quite a good book. I’ll be looking for the next book by Steve Hamilton on my next book shop
trip.



 

CHARLAINE HARRIS – “DEAD UNTIL DARK”
 


Recommended to me by the delightful MrE. Unfortunately this wasn’t my cup of tea at all. A perfectly good mystery is obscured by the presence of mind readers, vampires and shape changers. I suppose the official recognition and integration of vampires into society is a good allegory for our fear and resentment of any strangers and to us strange cultures
that we are forced to relate to. But at least the vampires in Ann Rice’s books are tortured and sexy, or cruel and sexy. The vampires in this book I just found disgusting and uninteresting. The lead character was blonde and just happened to be there to watch the mystery unravel. So to
speak – feel free to disagree with my interpretation of the book, MrE, I might very well have misunderstood it all.


 

TONY HILLERMAN – “THE BLESSING WAY”
 


For some reason I’ve been resisting Tony Hillerman but now someone I really respect recommended his books to me by so I gave him a try. I found myself liking this book a lot and am happy I have so many more books by him to look forward to. It was really interesting to suddenly be part of a completely different culture and both reassuring and depressing that human nature remains the same whatever
culture.


 

PAUL JOHNSTON – “THE BONE YARD” and “WATER OF DEATH”
 


I really like the way Paul Johnston writes. I like his irony and sarcasm. I’m fascinated by this tale of the future, have mixed feelings about the outcome of his Edinburg utopia and again – human nature remains the same. The plots are well put together and the characters are interesting, some to like and some to detest. I’ll keep going through the Edinburgh series and am very curious about what his new series set in Greece will be like; will there be as much sarcasm I
wonder.


 

JONATHAN KELLERMAN – “FLESH AND BLOOD”
 


Kellerman delivers what he always delivers; I like the interaction between Alex and Milo and there is seldom anything to complain about regarding how the plots are built up. I did feel that Alex showed unusual lack of sound judgement in this book but all in all it wasn’t a disappointing read.

 


 

ROSS MACDONALD – “THE CHILL”
 


So refreshing to read a book where the private detective is involved with a case that is just that to him – a case that he will pursue as long as someone pays him to do that. So scary when a book that is almost 40 years old feels like one of the best crime books you’ve read
lately.


 

FIDELIS MORGAN – “THE RIVAL QUEENS”
 


Again I find myself in 1699 London and I’m having so much fun. There’s something truly amazing about a writer who can transplant you so effectively in another time period and still make references to Watergate and big city traffic problems. I’m certainly nagging my friends to read Fidelis Morgan.


 

HÅKAN NESSER – “EVA MORENOS FALL” (“Eva Moreno’s case”)
 


It was quite nice to read something in Swedish for a change. Out of all the books I’ve been reading lately it was the female character in this book, written by a man, that I felt most related to. Nesser works a lot with atmosphere and moral dilemmas. There are no corrupt police in this book but there are police more interested in justice than following the letter of the law. I hope that makes sense – I found it an interesting and somewhat comforting approach.


 

JAMES PATTERSON – “2nd CHANCE”
 


A bit jumpy in style, perhaps due to it being a collaboration between two writers. As always with Patterson the chapters are short and that makes the book a quick read. Unfortunately it’s not a very memorable book, already I can’t really remember what it was
about.


 

IAN RANKIN – “STRIP JACK”, “THE BLACK BOOK” and “MORTAL CAUSES”
 


I didn’t like John Rebus much after having read the three first books in the series, but after having read these I’ve changed my mind. Rankin establishes places and people very well and the plots are complex and interesting. The only thing that annoyed me in these books were the
women, even the supposedly nice women didn’t seem very nice to me at all. I find it quite interesting that Rebus feels he is in the wrong when he is dedicated to his job, when he isn’t, in his late 40s, able to change his likes and dislikes to completely fit with his girlfriends
likes and dislikes. Why if she feels he needs to change so much did she fall for him in the first
place?


 

PETER ROBINSON – “AFTERMATH”
 


Undoubtedly a very good book, but I guess the novelty has worn off because I did like the previous two
better.


 

CAROL SMITH – “UNFINISHED BUSINESS”
 


A colleague gave me this book. It’s set in London and it wasn’t bad but the only thing I remember about it now is that the characters were slightly un-real and the ‘villain’ was all
wrong.

KEITH SNYDER – “THE NIGHT MEN”
 


A wonderful book. I’m not sure I would have labelled it a crime novel or that I understood all the music terminology but this book is written in a way that makes me want to savour every
word.


 

JEFFERY DEAVER – "THE BLUE NOWHERE"
 

I liked it. The idea of being targetted, investigated and stalked over the internet holds a special terror for me. So I liked the plot. I also liked
that Deaver avoided too many twists and turns to the plot. The last book I read by him made so many that I started to feel like I was taking part in an figure-skating performance rather than a
mystery.


 

JUDY MERCER – "SPLIT IMAGE" and "BLIND SPOT"
 

Ariel Gold is a researcher, later correspondent, for a TV newsmagazine. Her work, and her life for that matter, is made extra difficult by the fact that she only has one year of memory, the rest is erased by amnesia.
It’s an interesting concept, but I can’t help wondering for how long it will stay interesting and not turn into the same old… I really liked Ariel in
the first book I read, "Split image". She was strong, intelligent, caring and open-minded. (I guess you have to be open-minded when your mind’s essentially empty.) She was also quite methodical and logical in solving the puzzle presented with her. She paid attention to the details. But in the second book she suddenly seemed to make up her mind about people really quickly, didn’t listen to what they were saying and didn’t pay attention to the important details.

Still the plots were very good in both books and the clues were all there for the reader to find. I’ll probably be reading more by Judy
Mercer.


 

ALINE TEMPLETON – "SHADES OF DEATH"
 

My birthday gift from Rik and Carol. I think their inscription to me will give you a fair idea about the book; "Just in case you thought Stephen Booth’s Peak District was too sunny and jolly". Like I would have…. ;-)
I really liked this book though. Lots of different characters with different emotions and destinies. Quite a few people and events not being what they portray themselves or seem to be. The "hero", DS Tom Ward, is intelligent and interesting. He has enough empathy to be caring but doesn’t let his feelings cloud his mind. Not too much anyway.
I liked the plot as well, I’ve not read anything similar before. It’s also the kind of plot that turns out to be a lot more complicated than it seems
at first, turning into several different mysteries rather than one. Definitely keeping Aline Templeton on my "Authors to read" list.


 

PETER ROBINSON – "IN A DRY SEASON" and "COLD IS THE GRAVE"
 

I’m in love with Alan Banks! And that’s all I’m going to say about these books; quite a lof of you have read and liked these books and I can’t really add anything to what’s been said here already.
It was quite interesting though to read Peter Robinson’s books after the Aline Templeton books. They’re quite similar in style. Seems in English
police mysteries there’s always an intelligent, competent but misunderstood detective with a complicated personal life and an almost incompetent higher command. Whereas in American police mysteries there’s police corruption instead. Not that I would ever stoop to generalisations. :-) Adding Peter Robinson to my ever growing list of authors to read.


 

PERRI O’SHAUGHNESSY – "MOVE TO STRIKE"
 

I seem to have missed quite a few books in the series about Nina Reilly. Circumstances had changed and there were references to events I had no
knowledge of. That nagged at me a bit, almost made me want to put this book down and go out and find the previous books. But the plot was really interesting in this one so I kept reading.

I like Nina Reilly and I feel that she and the other characters are consistent through the books, without having stagnated or being
one-dimensional.


 

IRIS JOHANSEN – "THE SEARCH"

 
I liked it even if it was more Robert Ludlum than Agatha Christie. I liked the familiarity of the characters and that the focus had shifted to Sarah Patrick and John Logan without losing touch with Eve Duncan and Joe Quinn. It’s going to be interesting to see what her next book will be
about.


 

FRANCES FYFIELD – "STARING AT THE LIGHT"
 

This is a fantastic novel, but to me it’s not a mystery. Oh it’s mysterious all right, mysterious and intriguing and filled with suspense, but this is
the kind of book that is more likely to fill me with a lot of emotions than to engage me intellectually. Although this book has stayed with me even after I finished it. It presents quite a few dilemmas to ponder; moral and relationship-related. I still think I prefer Fyfield’s more traditional mysteries, where there’s actually a mystery I can try to
solve.


 

JOYCE HOLMS – "PAYMENT DEFERRED"
 

Rik and his girlfriend gave me this book, complete with best wishes to me from the author herself. I figured it would be good company on the plane ride, and it was. Lead characters are Tam Buchanan, solicitor, and Fizz, the young woman he is forced to accept as his assistant while volunteering for the Legal Advice office in Edinburgh. For quite some time I thought Tam was at least 50 judging by his behaviour and prejudices but apparently he’s only in his 30’s. Fizz on the other hand looks like a girl, and milks this as much as she can, but has cunning well beyond her mid 20’s. Enter old school friend of Tam’s; Murray Kingston. Released after a three-year sentence for molesting his daughter Debbie he now wants Tam to help him prove he was really innocent so he can get his daughter back.
I can’t say I liked Fizz much, she’s self-serving and she uses people. And Tam is close to boring, far too wooden than I’d expect anyone in his early
30’s to be, even if he is a lawyer. But the plot is interesting and the book moves forward in a pace that keeps you from being bored or really having the time to be annoyed by either Fizz or Tam.


 

NANCY PICKARD – "THE WHOLE TRUTH"
 

After a trip to Borders in Fort Lauderdale I was armed with a whole pile of Florida books and I chose to start with this one. True crime writer Marie
Lightfoot lives in Bahia Beach in South Florida and she’s working on a book called "The little mermaid". Six year old Nattie McCullen is found dead in one of Bahia Beach’s 327 canals, she’s wearing her favourite "Little Mermaid" t-shirt. The case finds a surprisingly quick solution and Raymond Raintree is standing trial, accused by irrefutable evidence, as Marie Lightfoot writes her book. But is the solution as simple as it seems, and who is Raymond Raintree?

I really liked this book, chapters from Lightfoot’s "The little mermaid" is interspersed with "true time" narrative, both moving the plot forward, both relating facts, the "book chapters" offering more depth and background to the different players. Marie Lightfoot is intelligent, compassionate and strong and I’m looking forward to reading more books featuring
her.


 

JAMES W HALL – "BODY LANGUAGE"
 

The first book featuring Alexandra Rafferty, a photographic specialist for the Miami PD. Alexandra is carrying emotional luggage from her early childhood, her marriage is in trouble and her father is wrestling some kind of senility problem (I’d assume Alzheimers but the diagnosis is never spelt out). Alex tries to hold it all together, tries to find ways to care for her father and mend her marriage but in this book things are inevitably coming
to a head. A serial rapist-killer is rampant in Miami, he leaves his victims in so far unexplained poses and Alex is there to photograph the scenes. The case bothers Alex more than any other she’s worked on and it soon becomes personal.

This book is very much in what I would call Florida style, judged by the few Florida writers I’ve read before- Carl Hiaasen and Charles Willeford. A lot
of different characters are introduced and so are several different sub plots that eventually get intertwined and we get to observe different events through different characters’ eyes. It’s also a "by the book" mystery; several characters are set up with characteristics that would suggest that they are the perpetrator. They’re all given a personal relationship with
Alex, offering the special tension of knowing that she might be getting too close to someone she really shouldn’t trust. I don’t know if I’ve read too many mysteries but to me it felt like a simple trick and this time I wasn’t fooled by it. I did however like Alex a lot, I like Hall’s writing style;
the way he handles the language and builds up his characters – I’m definitely going to try to get hold of more books by
him.


 

TIM DORSEY – "FLORIDA ROADKILL"
 

This book really had my head spinning to start with; this is Carl Hiaasen on speed. But once I got into it and started to get all the characters sorted out I really enjoyed it. It’s not so much a mystery as a wild ride all over Florida. When I read this I had already been to Key West and Orlando and enjoyed recognising names and places I had seen in real life.

LAURA LIPPMAN – "BALTIMORE BLUES"
 

After "Florida Roadkill" it started to feel almost scary just to be in Florida so I decided I needed a break from Florida literature. I had a long
list of American authors I can’t find here and one of them was Laura Lippman. I really enjoyed this book about Tess Monaghan’s first stumbling experience as an investigator. The plot was intelligent with unexpected twists and turns and I’ll definitely keep reading this series.

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