Tuesday, June 3, 2008

More New Authors...

for me anyway. I finished reading the Mystery Writers of America short story collection, The Blue Religion, and Thomas Holland's One Drop of Blood.

The Blue Religion is a collection of police procedural short stories. When I started reading, I knew four authors who contributed to the collection. Now, having finished reading, I've added several of these authors to my "to read" list.

T. Jefferson Parker was true to form with his "Skinhead Central". I found a sly smile on my face as I finished up his story. Parker has a way of reminding you that there are bad things all around us; so when we find the "good" things, they seem so much greater.

Michael Connelly edited the collection and contributed a short story with his beloved Harry Bosch, "Father's Day". I almost expected to hear the Law & Order "dun dun!" because this story was a "ripped from the headlines" plot. You can't help but love Harry.

Alafair Burke's short story "Winning" was outstanding. When I first started the story, I was a bit jolted by the plot. I simply wasn't expecting it. But, I loved how she made use of gender stereotypes and blurred the lines by the conclusion of the story. This is one talented writer whether it be in short form or novel-length.

James O. Born contributed a story entitled "The Drought". I read one of Born's full novels and wasn't overly impressed, but this short story was probably one of my favorites in the book. I thought his main character, Ben, had a lot of dimension to him. I enjoyed the conflict both internal and external in his character.

And finally, "Burying Mr. Henry" was my favorite story of the book. I had not heard of Polly Nelson before this short story, and she's actually only published a few other short stories, but this was an O.Henry-caliber story. The characters were colorful, as was the setting. I hope we see more from Polly Nelson

Novels consume the biggest percentage of my reading time, but it was an enjoyable experience to take a break and indulge in these short stories. Kind of a form of instant gratification almost.

Thomas Holland's crime fiction novel, One Drop of Blood, involves Kel, an anthropologist from the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii (CILHI) and Mike Levine, a black-sheep FBI agent from New York City. The two characters find themselves in small-town east Arkansas trying to solve their respective cases that seem to be somehow intertwined. Kel has unidentified remains from Vietnam that don't match either of the possible men they could be, but the DNA from the remains connect to an unsolved, 40-year-old murder case that Levine is investigating.

I thought this book was absolutely outstanding. I listened to it on audiobook, read by Patrick Lawlor. He was phenomenal. I believe he is my favorite audiobook reader to date. He truly made the book come alive. He handled the subtle innuendos well; he nailed the dialects; and he somehow managed to make his female characters sound realistic and not like a male in drag.

The regional colloquialisms in this novel were hysterical. And the dynamics of all the characters were exceptionally well developed. His characters were human, and that I admire above all else in a good story. The interaction between Kel and Levine contributed to the humor of the story, but it also contributed to the realism. No character was completely lovable or completely detestable. They were real people with quirks and flaws and strengths.

The setting was so realistic, I almost found myself scratching jigger bites, too.

Holland made me laugh, he tugged at my heart strings, and he kept me guessing. I did figure a few details out early, but there were plenty of surprises awaiting me throughout the well-focused plot. I don't recall any elements throughout this novel that I felt could have been safely eliminated without harming the story.

I am DEFINITELY looking forward to Thomas Holland's next book.


le0pard13 June 15, 2008 at 10:41 AM  

I agree that Mr. Lawlor is a very good audiobook reader. I think one of his best works is on David Morrell's Creepers. I think his voice and characterizations were perfect for that book. And while I'm a fellow Craisie, like yourself, I've made no secret that I think he's not a good fit Elvis, Joe and the gang. He does perform, among the many, as a reader for Brilliance Audio's series of Elvis Cole audiobooks. His first was on the abridged Voodoo River, performed a few years back.

He also read the new 2008 unabridged releases of The Monkey's Raincoat and Stalking the Angel, again for BA. You may like them. For the short time I've glanced at it, I have enjoyed your blog--and it inspired me to finally take the plunge and take a tentative web log myself. But if my wife gets exasperated at me, I'm blaming you ;-). Keep up the great work.

Jen June 15, 2008 at 11:26 AM  

The only audiobook I've heard from RC is THE TWO MINUTE RULE - which, by the way, I promptly went out and bought afterward.

I've found, personally, that a reader can be PERFECT on one book - because he/she just fits the character well - and horrible on other books. I guess it's kind of like acting.

Thanks for stopping by. Let me know where your blog is so I can lurk! :)

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