by Gloria & Theodore Feit
Since we weren’t able to get to the movies this weekend, thought it would be fun as the weather begins to cool to share some fun fall mystery reading suggestions. So grab a cup of coffee, or your favorite hot beverage of choice, & check out three mystery novels to consider adding to your list of fall and winter reading!
Forget to Remember By Alan Cook
Reviewed by Gloria Feit
Rigo Ramirez is a bright young man with a master’s degree in psychology and some excellent computer skills. In order to earn a living, however, he works for minimum wage as a dishwasher in a restaurant near his parents’ home [where he resides] in the Palos Verdes Peninsula of CA. In the course of his duties one evening, which duties include taking out the trash, he discovers to his shock the naked body of a young woman in the dumpster outside the restaurant, unsure whether she is alive or dead. Due to Rigo’s quick action, she is taken to the hospital and survives the ordeal with nothing more than relatively superficial injuries. However, she finds she has no memory at all, either of the attack or anything prior to that.
One consequence of the girl’s amnesia – she decides to call herself ‘Carol’ because she likes the sound of that name – is that she is unable to acquire many of the things one tends to take for granted, such as a social security card [for which she needs a birth certificate, which of course she doesn’t have either], a driver’s license, a bank account, etc., nor can she fly anywhere because of her lack of I.D. “Officially, as far as the county, and I guess any state and the federal government, are concerned, I’m a non-person.” A pretty daunting situation in which to find oneself. As if that weren’t enough, she is warned “Somebody wants you dead, which, I suspect, is the reason you were found in a Dumpster. This is beginning to look more like a murder mystery than a search for identity.” And so it turns out to be.
With the help of Rigo, his family, and a friend who is a genetic genealogist, the search for her identity begins, through DNA, statistical analysis, computer searches and the like. Along the way, “Carol” has some problematical encounters with men she meets, but nothing she can’t handle. In a fast-paced tale, which is immediately engrossing, the journey itself becomes as interesting as the quest, and the novel is recommended.
[It should perhaps be noted that the novel is also available in hardcover and as an e-book.]
Kind of Blue By Miles Corwin
Reviewed by Theodore Feit
The author, a former crime reporter for the L.A. Times, has published three non-fiction books prior to this, his first novel. It certainly reflects his deep knowledge of crime and police procedure, and certainly reflects all the past works that have preceded this effort, including such established authors as Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, James Ellroy, Jonathan Kellerman et al.
The protagonist, Asher (“Ash”) Levine, has an unusual background: son of a holocaust survivor whose relatives all perished in the gas chambers, he volunteered to serve in the Israeli Defense Force. Upon returning to Los Angeles, he became a cop and eventually a top homicide detective with an elite felony squad. When a witness to a murder he was investigating and whom he was trying to protect was murdered, he was blamed and suspended for a week. Instead, he quit. A year later, he is lured back on the recommendation of his former superiors when an ex-cop is murdered.
Tenacity is the only word that can be used to describe Ash. His dogged determination and the haunting memory of the murdered witness keep him on a straight path to solving murders. In many ways, the novel is excessive: over-plotted and with much violence, making Ash a violent and over-zealous character, sort of a Jewish Rambo. But on the whole, the novel is well-written, smooth but complex, riveting to say the least. Let’s hope this is the start of another interesting series.
Hollywood Hills By Joseph Wambaugh
Reviewed by Theodore Feit
The patented Wambaugh formula continues to enthrall the reader, even after reaching the Twenty-book mark. Most of the familiar characters from the preceding 19 books are present again, along with some new ones, and the accustomed anecdotes illustrating the madness that befalls the LAPD cops remain at the high level of the author’s past performances.
The plot running through the novel to give it the feel of a police procedural involves an art scam, which is doomed from the beginning, but allows Wambaugh to interweave four characters into the daily activities of the crime-fighting LAPD warriors.
Written at the sophisticated level of past novels in the series, Wambaugh introduces some deeply human and emotional situations to provide a touching pathos, raising the question in at least my mind as to whether or not he is planning to end the highly successful run of this series. At least we have this one to enjoy, and it is recommended.