Tag Archives: New York Times

Gift Yourself

Thanks to Tyrus Books of New York City, we have a gift for all e-book readers.   Between now and Christmas Eve, you can use your Kindle, Nook or personal computer (or tablet) to download a free copy of Hurt Machine: A Moe Prager Mystery by Reed Farrel Coleman.   Publishers Weekly has already listed Hurt Machine as one of the the best novels of 2011, and The New York Times is publishing a major review of this gritty Private Investigator mystery on Christmas Day. But you don’t have to wait to get your copy – nor do you have to pay for it.   Just go now to Amazon, Barnes & Noble or other e-book selling sites, enter the title Hurt Machine and enjoy your free download.   Merry Christmas!

Joseph Arellano


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When Johnny Comes Marching Home

A Lonely Death: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd (William Morrow; $24.99; 352 pages)

Thirteen is not an unlucky number for author Charles Todd (actually the mother/son writing team of Caroline and Charles Todd).   A Lonely Death is, of course, the thirteenth mystery in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series.   Although the series has been in publication since 1998, this is a first read for this reviewer.   A classic blend of personal feelings, intellect and mayhem makes the tale set in the English countryside more than a mystery story.   The period piece in a charming setting enhances the believability of the tale and slows the pace of the story line.   The Todds’ grammar is excellent and their wording is confident without being ostentatious.   There is no doubt of the authors’ intent as they lead the reader along a winding path of discovery.

The story is set in post-World War I England.   The characters’ lives and, in some cases, their bodies have been injured during the Great War.   These men and women base their actions on their underlying motives and class beliefs.   In other words, they are congruent.   Due to the time period, the detecting is more about good old sussing out of details than gimmickry or technological tricks.   Three soldiers are found dead, one after another – similarly posed with a dog tag in the mouth and death by garroting.

This isn’t a page turner – per se; rather, it is an assignment upon which the reader is invited to share with Inspector Rutledge as he traverses England’s countryside.   Solving the crimes takes a backseat to the interactions and power plays among the law enforcement teams investigating the crimes.   Some things never change and the Todds make the point that people are sure to bully and intimidate when control and power are at stake.

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   A Lonely Death will be released by William Morrow as a trade paperback book ($14.99) on December 20, 2011.   “Masterly.”   The New York Times

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A Book Giveaway: Beat the Reaper

We’re going to give away five (5) trade paperback copies of Beat the Reaper, a fun debut novel from author and M.D. Josh Bazell.   This is a debut thriller “so utterly original you won’t be able to guess what happens next.”   (Google Books)   Beat the Reaper is about Pietro Brnwa, a contract killer for the Mafia, who winds up entering the federal Witness Protection Program.   In order to keep him safe, the feds turn Pietro into Dr. Peter Brown, a reknowned surgeon.   Well, it turns out that mobster Eddy Squillante, who knows Pietro, is scheduled to have surgery for stomach cancer.  When “Dr. Peter Brown” comes to consult with Squillante prior to surgery, the jig may be up.   Or is it?

It seems that Squillante may be willing to bargain with “Dr. Brown,” and keep his identity safe if Pietro/Peter can keep Squillante on planet Earth.  This sounds like a real fun ride…   As per the New York Times, it’s a tale of a person who now “heals people instead of murdering them”!

Thanks to Valerie at Hachette Book Group for providing the giveaway copies.

Are you ready for the simple and easy contest rules?   To enter, you must be a resident of the United States or Canada with a valid street address; not a post office box.   Send your entries to josephsreviews@gmail.com by October 2, 2009.   To be entered once in this contest, send in your name and e-mail address; the latter will only be used to contact you if you are a winner.   To be entered a second time, tell me what identity you would assume if you were to enter the Witness Protection Program – doctor, lawyer, baker, candlestick maker, rock star, book reviewer?   Feel free to have fun and be creative!Beat the Reaper

All entries received by the end of the day on Friday, October 2nd will be placed in a very large and inexpensive plastic container and Munchy the cat will pick out the 5 winners.   The winners will be notified by e-mail on October 3, 2009.   Note:   The winners of our prior two book giveaways are not eligible for this contest; everyone else is.

That’s it.   Good luck and good reading!              


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Tell the Truth

Alibi: A Novel

This book is of special interest because it is the new novel from Teri Woods.   Woods went from being a self-published author, literally sleeping in her car while selling her book on the hard streets of the Big Apple, to New York Times bestselling author.   That book was True to the Game.

Here, the main character Daisy Fothergill is a victim of circumstance, much as her mother was before her.   Woods spares no detail in describing the sordid life of a young African-American woman with few options in life in 1989.   As we meet Daisy, she survives by working as a stripper and bar maid in Philadelphia.   She elects to make some quick money by providing an alibi for a multiple murderer without realizing or considering what consequences will ensue.

Clearly, Ms. Woods favors her female characters, as their feelings, longings and betrayals are triggered by the actions of the males in this tale.   Although this has touches of a morality play, it is a fast-paced read.   While the first chapter seemed less-than-promising, the pace soon picked up.   As Daisy runs from both the FBI and a cold-blooded killer, the action takes the reader from Philly all the way to Nashville and back.

Teri Woods is quite a good writer.   Be aware, though, that the language and some scenes are R-rated.

Grand Central Publishing, $21.99, 257 pages

Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.Alibi 2

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Do You Believe in Magic? (A Review of Busted: Inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown)

Veteran New York Times economics reporter Edmund L.  Andrews uses two distinct voices as he chronicles his and the world’s recent descent into near bankruptcy.   Andrews uses simple sentences and overtly simple logic when he focuses on his own life.   At times the reader is treated to some crude expressions of frustration and hostility as he spreads out his marital dirty laundry.   His new wife, Patty, is often described as the true love and soul mate in his life.   But she is also painted as the primary source of his frustrations and money woes because she is not a “go getter” in the corporate world after being a stay-at-home mom for 20 years in a prior relationship.   Andrews apparently was unaware that people do not change their nature, no matter how much one may want it to happen.

Although Andrews could barely afford a decent apartment in the aftermath of his divorce, he financed an over-priced home on a tree lined street outside Washington, D.C.   His rationale was that he and his new love would be cozy and happy in a cute new abode.

In contrast, Andrews’ accounting of the U.S. and world-wide economic tailspin appears to be simply a compilation of many articles he wrote for the Times.   The polished diction is markedly different from the narrative of his personal tale.   We are told that bogus assumptions were used to justify absurd conclusions and the assumptions were rationalizations for judgments that had no basis in fact.   Andrews often adopts the patronizing tone of a disgruntled professor, to the point where the reader fears the dreaded and inevitable pop quiz!

Subsequent to this book’s publication, it was revealed that new wife Patty twice declared bankruptcy, once during the period covered here.   Andrews’ omission of this fact appears to be a glaring and highly relevant defect in the telling of this flawed morality tale.   At one point, Andrews casually writes “it was easier to borrow a half-million dollars and buy something,” as if he were writing about Monopoly money.   There is something very troubling in the contradiction between the reporter-author’s learned big picture view of the U.S. economy, and his seeming inability to focus on the poor habits that resulted in his own economic distress.   It is a bit like reading a Guide to Good Health written by a four pack-a-day cigarette smoker.

This review was written by Joseph Arellano.   Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.Busted (right)

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