July 29, 2010 by Reader's Connection
That blogpost title and all of these write-ups are courtesy of the West Indianapolis Branch´s Cheryl Holtsclaw. Even if you have issues with her definition of “lite” (Darkly Dreaming Dexter?) you may find something here to enjoy. My thanks again to Cheryl.
The Monkey’s Raincoat by Robert Crais
Elvis Cole is a Vietnam vet, currently a detective in Los Angeles. In his office he has a Pinocchio clock on the wall and Jiminy Cricket figurines on his desk. If those don’t deter potential clients, Cole’s wisecracking manner will seal the deal for most of the rest. In a lot of ways, Elvis Cole is the West Coast counterpart of Parker’s Spencer in Boston: They’re both wisecracking private eyes with an eye for the women. They both have tough-guy sidekicks they call on when they’re outnumbered. And they’re both extremely good at what they do. Cole seems a bit more lighthearted, but no less talented at solving the case. If you’re going to miss Spencer, you could do worse than spend some time getting to know Elvis Cole.
Murder Makes Waves: A Southern Sisters Mystery by Anne George
Patricia Anne Hollowell is a retired Alabama schoolteacher. She is petite, proper, and long-patient. Mary Alice, her sister, is big and boisterous and seemingly a magnet for crime. First, Mary Alice buys a country-western club and the previous owner is murdered, then one of the suspects is one of Patricia Anne’s former students. The sisters are hopelessly inept and particularly unsuited to crime-fighting, and yet luck and perseverance favor them. They’re not talented and certainly not hardboiled, but a whole lot of fun as they blunder their way to solving crimes.
Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
It’s hard to imagine a likable serial killer, but Dexter Morgan is just that. How in the world can you root for a man who kills people? Some authors have tried it, but few have succeeded, and none as magnificently as Jeff Lindsay. Dexter lives in Miami, is a blood spatter expert for the police, and enjoys his morning and evening commutes to the office, routinely filled with drivers shouting expletives and indulging in bouts of road rage. What fun! And then the Dark Passenger takes the wheel and Dexter must go out and do what he must do. Lindsay performs that most difficult of writing feats—making a seemingly despicable character likable.
Past Due by William Lashner
Lashner, a lawyer himself, apparently is well aware of the fondness with which the public regards lawyers. Victor Carl is a Philadelphia defense attorney with a penchant for dancing perilously close to the line when it comes to legal ethics. All in the best interest of his client, of course. Carl finds something “perversely cheerful about a crime scene in the middle of the night.” Until he realizes that he knows the victim, Joey Cheaps, a criminal bottom-feeder, who had left Carl’s office only hours before. Carl, perhaps the attorney version of Cheaps, feels compelled to investigate and so he does. Technically a legal thriller, Past Due manages to maintain a lighter tone as the gritty mystery unfolds, and, yes, in the end, Carl does turn out to be—dare we say it?—a likable lawyer.
Bad Move by Linwood Barclay
Zach Walker is a science fiction writer who moved his family out of New York to the suburbs. Zach’s imagination serves him well when it comes to science fiction, less well as he imagines the perils posed by unlocked doors, toys left on steps, cars left unattended. Zach is a nervous, paranoid everyman, trying to safeguard his family and inadvertently sabotaging them even as he tries to assure their wellbeing. Turns out Zach is right though, as murder invades his quiet neighborhood and he is drawn into the investigation. Funny, well-plotted, and touchingly human, Bad Move is a good move if you’re looking for mystery-lite.
Sudden Death by David Rosenfelt
The cliché for writers is “write what you know”. In real life, Rosenfelt runs the Tara Foundation, a dog-rescue organization that has found homes for over 4,000 dogs. Not only that, he and his wife take those dogs too sick or old to be adopted into their own home. Which might be reason enough to give Andy Carpenter—who unsurprisingly mirrors Rosenfelt—a quick read. Andy’s a lawyer who rescued a man unjustly sentenced who now runs Andy’s dog-rescue operation. Andy, now financially independent, is a reluctant lawyer, taking on only those cases he cannot turn down. Turns out Carpenter is not only a dog-lover, but a pretty doggone funny lawyer, too.
The Burglar in the Closet by Lawrence Block
Bernie Rhodenbarr is a bookstore owner by day, burglar at night. Or day. Whichever works better. But the thing is, when he finds himself in his dentist’s apartment, that close to the jewels he’s come to steal, and the lady of the house returns home only to be killed while Bernie’s hiding in the closet and the killer makes off with Bernie’s (well, they were about to be Bernie’s) jewels, well, what’s Bernie to do but track down the killer? Watch out for larcenous Bernie Rhodenbarr, he might just steal your heart.