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FOTEP Book Reviews

Drama / Suspense Books


The Cat Who Books (1966)
by Lilian Jackson Braun

There are 29 Cat Who books and the first half of them are worth reading; after a while, the writing got weak, but the first 10 or so are great.

The books feature James Qwilleran, a newspaper writer, and his two cats Koko and Yum-Yum and they solve mysteries.

To give you a taste, the first book, The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, finds Qwilleran (Qwill) meeting Koko (Yum-Yum joins him in The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern). Qwill has been assigned the art beat by long-time friend Arch Riker. He meets and befriends art critic George Bonifield Mountclemens III and happens on the murder of an art gallery owner Earl Lambreth.

The number of suspects mounts and it is up to Qwill and Koko to find the killer.

The series finds its stride when Qwill move out of the big city and into Moose County where he inherits the Klingenschoen fortune and buys the to-be-named Moose County Something formerly the Pickaxe Picayune and starts living in a renovated apple barn.

Here is another series that is older than I expected.

Amazon Score: 4.5/5
Thrift Books: 5.0/5

The Jack Reacher Series (1997)
by Lee Child

Jack Reacher is a rough-around-the-edges retired Military Police officer with his own sense of justice. The Army is downsizing and Jack just doesn't have a place in the future, so he opts out.

With some severance and savings, he hitchhikes and takes the bus around the country just to see it, explore. But things don't always go smoothly for him.

In the first book, Killing Floor, Jack stops in Margrave, Georgia because of an off-hand comment by his brother about a musician buried there. Not one hour later, he's arrested for murder.

Jack has to clear himself, and find the real murderer. What is going on in idyllic Margrave and how did this murdered stranger fit in?

(The Movie, Jack Reacher is based on the novel One Shot (4.5/5) the 9th book in the series.)

Amazon Score: 4.0/5
Thrift Books: 4.0/5

The Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Mysteries (1982)
by Sue Grafton

In her first book, A is for Alibi, we meet Kinsey Milhone, an ex-cop and now private investigator. When she's not doing odd jobs for an insurance company she takes on private cases.

The case in this book is to find the real murderer of Nikki Fife's husband. You see, Nikki was sent to jail for the murder and now that she's on parole, she wants to see the real murderer brought to justice.

Kinsey is a wise-cracking self-sufficient woman and you'll enjoy not only the mysteries, but the action and peril in these books.

Amazon Score: 4.0/5
Thrift Books: 4.5/5

The Lords of Discipline (1980)
by Pat Conroy

In a rare departure from my daily intake of Science Fiction/Fantasy, I read The Lords of Discipline.

This drama was fantastic! I tried to read another Pat Conroy book and wasn't able to finish it, but this one was great.

Will McLean is attending a military academy but really insn't interested in a military career. He makes fast friends with his roommates Tradd, Dante and Mark. Joining the academy is its first black cadet, Tom Pearce.

Will hears about "The Ten" who make sure all cadets are worthy or are run out of the academy, which, for a Southern school includes blacks. Will needs to look out for Tom and may face The Ten.

It is probably my military youth background, but I really enjoyed this book and it's on my list of books to re-read.

I haven't seen the movie (4.0/5) yet, but I fear disappointment.

Amazon Score: 4.5/5
Thrift Books: 5.0/5

The Stephanie Plum Number Mysteries (1994)
by Janet Evanovich

Also featuring a female protagonist, the Stephanie Plum mysteries offer a different slant on the mystery novel.

Stephanie Plum is out of work and desides to be a bounty hunter for her cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsman, I mean, how hard could it be?

Stephanie is joined by Joe Morelli, a vice cop, Ranger, a bounty hunter and ex-hooker Lula. Each come to the rescue in various books and provide color.

In the first book, One for the Dough, Stephanie blackmails her cousin into hiring her and gets the job of finding Joe Morelli, who appears in later books. Also in the book, Stephanie attracts the interest of a boxer who is involved in the murders of several women and now he's fixated on Stephanie.

The Number Mysteries are more edgy than the Alphabet Mysteries so readers may be turned off by some of the content.

Amazon Score: 4.5/5
Thrift Books: 4.5/5

The Magical Cat Mysteries (2011)
by Sofie Kelly

Kathleen Paulson moved from Chicago to Mayville Heights, Minnesota to get away from her one-time fiance. She's the head librarian for the town and is in charge of the restoration of the old library building. She's is adopted by two cats that lived wild at an old mansion. But the cats turn out to have magical abilities (a little lame) in that one can turn invisible and the other can walk through walls.

Like others in the genre, the cats help solve mysteries (usually murders).

The first book is funnier than the follow-ons, but all contain a good mystery.

The series is still being written, but the books so far are:

Overall this is a solid series with a little humor and the obligatory cat involvement.

Amazon Score: 4.5/5

The Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries (2012)
by Molly MacRae

Kath Rutledge was in town to see to her grandmother's estate. While she was in town, she lost her job, inherited a house and a yarn shop. Being a fabric expert, she steps in as owner, capably assisted by the existing staff.

That would be fine, but there's been a murder and her grandmother is a suspect. It's up to her, her staff, and a knitting group to solve the murder and exonerate her grandmother.

The series is still being written, but the books so far are:

Overall this is just a fair series. The ghost is a bit annoying, but less so as the series moves on. The mysteries also improve as the series progresses.

Amazon Score: 4.3/5


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