Thursday, August 25, 2016

J is for Judgment (Grafton)

J is for Judgment, Sue Grafton, 1993

Summer's here, so I'm back to reading a couple more Sue Grafton Alphabet mysteries, featuring Kinsey Millhone, although had I been keeping up, I probably should be nearly up to date by now.

I'm pretty sure that J is for Judgment was totally new to me. That is, it's not one of the novels I heard on tape back in the 90s. It takes place a few months after the events of I is for Innocent although it was released a year later. This will probably become a timing issue somewhere down the line, particularly with Kinsey lugging around her portable typewriter and not owning a cell phone. She even uses pay phones on occasion.

Okay, so the plot goes something like this: she no longer works for California Fidelity, but they hire her to investigate whether or not a person spotted in Mexico is someone who disappeared five years ago. When he was declared dead, CF had to pay out half a million on his life insurance. They want to know if he's still alive and if the wife is part of a long-term scam. Wendell Jaffe ran a Ponzi scheme (Bernie Madoff, two decades earlier, but not quite as rich) and disappeared when it collapsed, leaving his partner holding the bags, and his wife and two sons with lives in ruins. His boat was found after an apparent suicide.

Kinsey goes to Mexico, finds the man who looks somewhat like Jaffe's pictures, allowing for aging and surgery. He's also traveling with a woman, Renata Huff, posing as her husband. Kinsey's investigation involves a little breaking and entering, and Wendell is scared off -- or was it the news that his troubled son has broken out of prison and has been recaptured. Figuring that Wendell would check on his family, Kinsey moves her investigation. Until now, she has no proof that Dean Dewitt Huff is actually Wendell Jaffe.

Family plays another role in Judgment: while canvassing the neighborhood, she meets someone who recognizes her last name and thinks she looks familiar. Before you know it, Kinsey discovers that she's not as alone as she was always led to believe. This will be a thread that will play out over successive novels, similar to the romance that sparked in the last installment between the brother of Henry, the landlord, and Rosie, the local Hungarian restaurateur.

Another fun, quick read. I'm a little biased: I like this series.

This was a library e-book loan, which amusingly ran out while I was reading the last chapter. I had to borrow it a second time.

Next up, installment 11. K.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Side of Good (Ackley-McPhail, ed)

The Side of Good, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, ed., 2015

First off, this is a bit of a cheat for me, because this is only half of a book. The printed edition of The Side of Good is actually a flip book: if you flip it, you will find The Side of Evil. If you order the ebook, you will get two downloads, each with its own cover (as seen above).

As the names might suggest, this pair of books are anthologies filled with stories of Super Heroes and Super Villains. I get the Heroes precedence and read their tales first.

Editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail has assembled seven stories by Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, Bryan J. L. Glass, John L. French, Walt Ciechanowski, Kathleen O'Shea David, Robert Greenberger, and James Chambers.

The stories range from the non-powered to the super-powered to the oddly-powered (is it really a superpower?). They not only deal with their heroics but how their actions impact their own lives and the ones around them. And when does it get to be too much?

If I had to pick a favorite, I might go with "Making a Difference", by Robert Greenberger, which reads like an old indie-comic low-powered hero on a motorcycle story, emphasis on old. "Ghost Wolf" by Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, would come a close second. For fans of Kathleen David, if you're expecting puppets to play a role in her story, you won't be disappointed.

You won't be disappointed with The Side of Good unless you're, say, Lex Luthor. In that case, flip the book over.

* * *

Current reads:

  • ebooks: mostly short story anthologies, flipping back and forth, The Side of Evil or The Weird Wild West
  • hardcover (for commuting w/o an ereader): Once Upon a Time (she said)
  • manga: started getting One-Piece books from the library. Number 11 has been "in transit" for over a week now.
  • in the pool: old paperbacks and sci-fi mags that I don't mind if they get a little wet and won't cry over if they fall in. Right now, an old issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction from 1987

Reminder: for anyone stumbling across this site. These entries aren't really meant to be reviews. I mostly write them for myself because I have a tendency to forget about some of the books I've read -- either about the characters or plot of a book, or sometimes even the book itself. But writing summaries is boring, especially for anthologies, and some of my friends actually like reading this blog, so I'm trying to make it more enjoyable to read, which is all I can ask in a book.