Friday, 18 June 2010

Thriller and Suspense Challenge: Wrap-Up Post

This is what I wrote for the introduction:
I am going to read primarily J.D. Robb, but I also want to try Julia Spencer-Fleming’s In the Bleak Midwinter which was recommended to me by a non-book blogger  blogger friend. I will probably be reading the J.D. Robb books in order starting with Naked in Death, plus there is a new book out in the series in January (or possibly February depending on which site you look at) called Fantasy in Death that I am very excited about.
So what books did I end up reading, and what did I think about them? I’ve included the synopsis from my review as well as part of my review. Hope it captures the attention of someone who hasn’t seen the individual posts!
flickan som lekte med elden 
Synopsis: In the second instalment of Stieg Larssons Millennium Trilogy Lisbeth Salander has returned from a longer stay abroad when a series of events conspire to put her well concealed past into the forefront not just of her life but for all the world to see. Only a handful of people believe in Lisbeth’s version of events and they must now figure out the puzzle that is Lisbeth before it is to late. At the front of this effort is journalist Mikael Blomkvist. There is a problem however, for some reason Lisbeth has severed all contact with Mikael and he doesn’t know why. What follows is a dramatic search for a truth that has been protected by the highest powers in the country.
My Thoughts:I liked this book better than I did The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but I am still not convinced that it is as amazing as people keep saying.

I enjoyed the development of Lisbeth…

 luftslottet som sprängdes
Synopsis:The third and final instalment of the Millennium series continues the story where The Girl Who Played With Fire left off. Lisbeth Salander did survive being buried alive but her problems are far from over. Zalachenko was previously an assassin with the Soviet Secret Intelligence. He is also Salander’s father and he is the one who has been trying to kill her. Strong forces are trying to shut her up for good. (Own translation from
My Thoughts: I liked this one. Not loved but liked. The issues I’ve had with previous books didn’t seem quite as prevalent in this one. Yes it could still have done with a good edit but I think I have gotten more used to the writing style…
Immortal in Death
Immortal in Death by J.D. Robb
Synopsis: Lieutenant Eve Dallas best friend gets accused of murder and it is up to Eve to find the real killer. While planning a wedding.
My Thoughts: I love the In Death series but part of me had forgotten how laugh out loud funny some of the earlier books are. This one had me giggling several times. The funnies lines are often the kind of throw away lines between characters and this contributes to the feeling of the characters are real. The realism of the characters is something I really appreciate…
 Rapture in Death
Rapture in Death by J.D. Robb
Synopsis: A series of suicides where the victims have nothing in common except a smudge on their brains puzzle New York cop Eve Dallas.
My Thoughts: This book disturbs me a bit. The thought of people being able to manipulate our brainwaves in order to get us to do something is incredibly frightening. Yes music can heighten an experience. Lyrics can give us ideas. But they can in no way be altered to fit individual brain patterns. That is just scary…
Ceremony in Death by J.D. Robb
Synopsis:A sturdy well respected cop dies and his granddaughter contacts Eve in fear for her life. What follows is a journey into the occult with black candles and blood. Will Eve be able to figure out who is murdering people and why?
My Thoughts: This book is actually quite creepy. I’m not normally a superstitious person but I would have to agree with Peabody, I would want some form of protection against all this witchcraft.

I do like the fact that Robb, through her characters, do not condemn all witchcraft…

 vengeance in death
Vengeance in Death by J.D. Robb
Synopsis: This instalment sees Robb explore one of the supporting cast, Summerset. A man is murdered in a rather gruesome  way and all things point towards Roarke’s majordomo Summerset, especially when the murdered man has connections to Roarke and to Summerset’s dead daughter.
My Thoughts: Vengeance in Death sees the introduction of one of my favourite characters, McNabb, so it has a special place in my heart. I like McNabb’s youthful enthusiasm and his love of all things technology. I am no computer geek myself but both my dad and my brother are so I always find the techgeeks in the In Death series to be particularly endearing…
Fantasy in Death
Fantasy in Death  by J.D. Robb
Synopsis: Bart, Cill, Benny and Var are best friends and are living their dream, they design and sell video games. However one day Bart is killed in a locked holoroom while testing the latest game. Eve Dallas and her partner Delia Peabody are put on the case.
My Thoughts: Oh my! How I loved this book. Robb is back in fine form! The last few books in this series have felt a bit lacklustre. I still liked them but they didn’t bring me the same joy that the earlier books did. This one. This one totally did.

Part of the reason I loved this one so much was because it was set in a subculture that I can somewhat relate to…

Murder at the Vicarage  by Agatha Christie
Synopsis: Colonel Protheroe is not a well liked man, as a matter of fact he is disliked by most, so when he is found dead in the Vicars study no one is really sorry. They are however curious as to who dun it!
My Thoughts: I had some problems with this. I often felt like I was supposed to already have a relationship with these characters. Know things about them that I couldn’t possibly know. Take the narrators nephew who is described as “young”. How young is young? As the story unfolds one finds out how young he is but this bugged me at the time. In addition to this we never really do find out what he is doing there. Why is he living with his uncle and not his own parents?

I also found the ending to be very rushed…

 in the bleak midwinter
In The Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Synopsis: Reverend Clare Fergusson has only just started her new job as the priest of St. Albans Episcopal Church in Miller’s Kill, upstate New York. One cold winters evening when she is heading out for a run she finds a new born baby abandoned in a box on the church step. This is the start of a mystery that will bring new people into her life and also grave danger.
My Thoughts: The first thing that struck me about the book was the similarities between Miller’s Kill (where the book is set) and my own home town. Many of the same social and economic issues are present. Although here it is not necessary to have money for college (we do not pay tuition) it is still the issue of there being very little future for those who do want to stay here. The inclusion of the social problems that the lack of a future cause really show the real problems faced by many people in the western world.

These social problems also become the backdrop for the crime Reverend Clare Fergusson and Police Chief Russ Van Alsyne are tasked with solving…

 a fountain filled with blood
A Fountain Filled With Blood by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Synopsis: When two gay men are badly beaten followed by the death of an out of town developer the inhabitants of the little town of Millers Kill, New York don’t know what to think. Are the attacks linked to the victims sexual orientation or does it have something to do with the new spa the developer was building. Reverend Clare Fergusson and Chief of police Russ Van Alstyne are once again thrown together to solve a crime where they disagree on the causes.
My Thoughts: This book had less of the info dump. It didn’t have to establish as many characters as the first book did. Those characters that were introduced were done much more organically. I loved loved loved Margy Van Alstyne, Russ’s mother. One of the funniest incident in the book revolves around Russ having to arrest his mother for breaching the peace and her then refusing bail because she wants her day in court. It was a hilarious scene. I was sitting here laughing my head off.

This is a fairly simple murder mystery in and of itself, I like it because it tackles the issue of intolerance against the gay community…

 Out of the deep I cry
Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Synopsis: This is a murder mystery that is really a Cold Case. Although it takes a long time before anyone actually finds out that there is a murder victim at all. It is also the story of a missing person and a parents right to choose. In the middle we find Reverend Clare Fergusson and Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this instalment of the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series by Spencer-Fleming. There were two aspects of the book that really contributed to my enjoyment of it. The first is the social issue this book deals with (each book covers some social issue) and the second on is the structure of the book…
 To Darkness and to Death
To Darkness and To Death by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Synopsis: 24 hours in Millers Kill, NY. A missing young woman. A big business deal that could mean the start of one career and then end of several others. A relationship moving forward. And in the middle we find Reverend Clare Fergusson and Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne.
My Thoughts: Each of these smaller sections follows a part of the story. I really enjoyed this way of forwarding the storylines. It means that even though the book only covers a short space of actual time it also manages to cover a great deal of story.

By switching between the different characters Spencer-Fleming manages to create a very rich story…

Looking at the list I realise that ALL of my selections have strong female characters as at least part of the sleuth team. In most of them the main character is the sleuth herself.

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the books I read for this challenge but my favourites were probably Fantasy in Death; Out of the Deep I Cry; and To Darkness and To Death. I liked Fantasy in Death because it was a sympathetic view on a world where I am on the periphery. I recognized and understood the world the characters were in. Also it is a book in a series I absolutely adore for its humour and warmth (yes warmth in a murder mystery :D)

Thank you very much to Carolyn of Book Chick City for hosting this great challenge! I hope it continues next year!!

And thank you so much for the prizes I won in January’s draw. I am really looking forward to reading them!



Copyright ©2010 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.


Carin said...

Congratulations on finishing the challenge! I still need to read the last two Larsson books. I really liked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (and the movie was excellent too). I definitely will keep some of these books in mind in the future. I have never read J.D. Robb, but everyone raves about her so I need to read her stuff.

Have you ever read Jo Nesbo? I've heard his books are good, and I want to try reading them at some point. I think he's Norwegian?

Zee said...

Thank you! I love J.D. Robb and highly recommend them!

I have heard of Nesbo but haven't read any yet. They are on my to be tried pile :D

Book Chick City said...

Congrats on completing the challenge, and in really good time too! I'm so pleased you enjoyed it, I certainly will continue and bring it back again next year, so I hope you will join in again! :)