03 December 2015

Library Limelights 96

Michael Harvey. The Governor's Wife. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.
A Margaret Cannon recommendation, I believe, and worthy of a byzantine-puzzle label. P.I. Michael Kelly agrees to search for the governor of Illinois who escaped and disappeared after his court sentencing on corruption charges. Kelly agrees ― without knowing who hired him ― for an enormous sum, slyly setting the tone for a widespread conspiracy of greed. The governor's wife Marie is a cypher, just one of many challenges Kelly faces. An attractive political assistant might help Kelly forget the girlfriend he lost. But where is the governor, alive or dead? Who among the governor's staff can Kelly trust? Who is keeping a close secret watch on him? Are there inconsistencies in the story? Let's hope real-life movers and shakers in our midst are not quite as avaricious and ruthless as this.

Two-liner: Stale air and old age had made their bed in there and weren't leaving any time soon. At least not until death came along and put them out of a job. (20)

Waiting, New Age business office:
The reception area featured floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Millennium Park. The receptionist, a matchstick of a woman dressed in black from head to toe, had already offered me fourteen different flavours of herbal tea. I told her I was fine. Then she brought out a selection of apples from six different states. Again, I took a pass. Finally, she told me they were having a yoga class for everyone in the office at one. They had spare workout clothes, towels, and a mat if I was interested. I showed her my gun and told her I had some people to shoot later on and wanted to keep my edge. The receptionist pretty much left me alone after that. (23)

Daunting:

Rodriguez pulled into the lot at the jail, and we got out. Cook County Jail is the largest of its kind in the country. It covers ten city blocks and houses almost ten thousand inmates. Rodriguez led us through security to the prisoner-intake area. It looked like a terminal at O'Hare, except all the passengers were murderers and rapists and all the flights were nonstop to hell. A row of cages ringed the outside of the room and were filled to capacity. Someone yelled Rodriguez's name, but he kept going. In the center, jail employees sat in front of green computer screens and processed detainees into the facility. We charted a diagonal course through the human debris. (52-3)

Nathan Dylan Goodwin. The America Ground. [Orders: nathandylangoodwin.com]
The third in the "Morton Farrier, Forensic Genealogist" series, is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. The author chose a little-known (to North Americans) historical Sussex setting for the characters in Morton's latest case. Hired by a flamboyant antiques dealer, his job is to uncover the story behind the painting of a woman who was murdered in 1827. Dual narratives follow Eliza Lovekin's life and Morton's own search for his biological father. For good reason he must keep secrets from his patient fiancée Juliette. It's engaging reading, replete with a twisting genealogical trail and well-calculated (sometimes sinister) surprises.

Be prepared for a vivid stay in the 1820s Hastings area; the injustices of nineteenth-century poverty are deftly portrayed. Goodwin's writing is more polished and mature this time. I do find the pages very dense with long paragraphs. The only thing an insatiable sleuth-reader might request would have been a local map. Self-published, the book is available in paper or e-book editions. Attractive covers, excellent pacing between narratives; all in all, a very fine job. The fan club is growing!

Word: flagitious = criminal or infamous behaviour

A Lovekin funeral:
Harriet slowly paced across the parlour to the coffin.
She looked at her father for the first time and cried. Neighbours who had earlier come to pay their respects had said that he looked peaceful, but to her he looked horridly altered and dead. Her mother had done her best to wash and disguise the cuts and wounds on his face, but nothing could hide the fact that when the seawater had emptied from his lungs last night, it had taken with it whatever had made him her father. The lifeless man before her, who bore a passing resemblance to him, was without a soul.
Harriet held his cold white hand and continue to sob. (121)

A mini-holiday:
Juliette flashed awake and shot a disbelieving look at him. "Here? Hastings? This is where you've brought me for two nights away?"
"Nice, isn't it?" Morton said, drawing into a parking space at the rear of the hotel.
"Are you actually joking?" she asked.
Morton shook his head.
"Why here?"
"I just wanted to get away, plus I've got a ton of research to do in toiwn so I just thought it would be nice to have a couple of nights in a hotel."
He made more of a meal parking her car than was strictly necessary, so that he could avoid her penetrating gaze as she attempted to work him out. "Why didn't we just stay at your dad's house, then?"
He turned and gave her an I can't believe you just said that look.
She sighed. "And why's she coming with us?" Juliette asked, turning behind her to face Eliza Lovekin's portrait.
"She fancied a break, too," he quipped. (188)

John Lescroart. The Keeper. New York: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster, 2014.
This is typical Lescroart fare, with lawyer Dismas Hardy, district attorney Wes Farrell, homicide chief Devin Juhle, but especially ex-cop Abe Glitsky. Corruption and killings in the San Francisco jail system are always lurking on their minds with no solid evidence whatsoever. Meanwhile Hardy represents a jail guard, Hal Chase, accused of murdering his wife; Chase is locked up in the said suspicious jail. Hardy's wife Frannie was the dead woman's marriage counsellor — yes, it's a comfortable Lescroart world.

Glitsky might be said to go overboard in his zeal to find connections among a handful of murders, to the dismay of Hardy and Farrell. But potential leads fade in the stoney face of what Glitsky calls "blue-collar-cop culture." By the time a killer was unmasked, I had created my own viable alternate scenario for naught (but proving to myself I don't have ADD). Lescroart's snappy dialogue among these characters who know each other so well is always fun. P.S. to Simon & Schuster: the tight binding on this paperback was very annoying!

Word: zygote = a fertilized egg cell

Early morning call:
"Why aren't you at work?"
"Because I'm at home, Wes. As should be obvious, since you called here."
"That's not a very civilized way to answer the phone."
"Yes, well, no civilized person makes phone calls between nine at night and nine in the morning. So we're even."
"Who made that up? The nine-to-nine rule."
"Alexander Graham Bell. It was the first thing he invented after the phone itself, and a damn good invention it is." (152)

New opportunity?
Abe had left Hardy's office not knowing whether to be amused or outraged by his friend's apparently serious suggestion that he join the district attorney's Investigations Division as an inspector. The irony was that he would have taken that job in a heartbeat if Wes had offered it only a few weeks ago. Maybe, because it was Hardy's idea, he felt pressured, even coerced. But he could not deny that he was starting to care a lot about this case, following his own rhythym. He had something to prove about himself: He was still a more than competent investigator. After he'd spent a lifetime following strict procedures and protocols, he found the freedom to investigate in his own way more than appealing. (237-8)


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