Tag Archives: Pittsburgh

Worth Waiting For

Tomorrow and Tomorrow (large)

Tomorrow and Tomorrow: A Novel by Thomas Sweterlitsch will not be released by G. P. Putnam’s Sons until July 10, 2014. But you might want to put it on your to be read/purchased list now. This is an extraordinarily unique science fiction-like work set in the future. It is a time when each person in the United States has an Adware personal computer system installed, literally, in their brains. And everything that happens in this brave new world is captured on camera – including every transaction at every Starbucks, allowing persons to magically visit the cities and people of the recent past via fully interactive, 3-dimensional hologram-like, digitally stored recreations.

It’s been a full decade since the entire city of Pittsburgh was destroyed in a mysterious explosion, with all of its residents killed. John Dominic Blaxton survived because he was attending a conference in Columbus, Ohio at the time. He lost his wife in the tragedy and his mourning has led him to battle the demons of depression and drug abuse.

Blaxton, who investigated mysterious deaths for State Farm Insurance, comes to lose his job and enters a court-ordered rehabilitation program. He eventually gets the chance to become a respectable citizen again, but only if he can find the missing daughter of a very rich, successful and powerful figure. Unfortunately, someone has been working very hard to delete all evidence of this young woman’s existence. Can Blaxton find her and save her, in the process saving himself?

Joseph Arellano

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Something’s Gotta Give

Simple (nook book)

Simple: A Mystery by Kathleen George (Minotaur Books, $24.99, 322 pages)

Simple is not only a really well-crafted police procedural mystery; it is also the story of a mother’s love and her son’s gentle nature. Cal, who has been a victim all his life, is accused of the brutal murder of Cassie, a newly-minted attorney who has bought a house in a less-than-desirable part of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Cal seems to be more than a bit simple; however, considering the battering he endured over the years by bullies, he is remarkably able to quietly work as a handyman on neighborhood homes including Cassie’s.

There are times when she studies the shoes and hair and clothing of the people who come to the Connolly house and tries to figure out what about these things costs so much money. The black dresses she will see tonight, the sundresses, the sandals with decorative knots or jewels, cost a month’s salary. But she’s not always sure these things are pretty, that’s what bothers her.

Elinor, a woman with mixed racial blood, works for a wealthy man with high political ambitions. She diligently runs the Connolly household year in and year out, first for the senior Mr. Connolly and then for his son. Her son Cal, who has passed for white all his life, is the center of her world. She has unwavering love for him even when he is considered the prime suspect in Cassie’s murder.

Cal’s being a victim may seem like a sure segue to anger and violence. Main police characters, Detective Colleen Greer and Commander Richard Christie are willing to look past the obvious and consider alternative scenarios. The racial issues that are a considerable factor in this tale are particularly relevant with 2012 having been an election year. The aspects in this tale are about mixed race folks (like President Obama) rather than black vs. white tension. There are strong contrasts presented in Simple and relationships aren’t what they appear to be on first glimpse.

Author Kathleen George peels back the twisted layers of her story to reveal an undercurrent that is full of evil. Her book is sort of like a John Grisham work, but not really. It has more of an old-fashioned Dragnet approach, not so dramatic, rather, simple.

How shallow life is, that because nature handed her physical beauty, she should have such power.

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher. “If anyone’s writing better police thrillers than George, (we) don’t know who it is.” Entertainment Weekly

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A review of Simple: A Mystery by Kathleen George.

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Hold On Hold Out

Hideout: A Mystery by Kathleen George (Minotaur Books, $15.99, 320 pages)

“But to live outside the law,  you must be honest…”   Bob Dylan, “Absolutely Sweet Marie”

In Kathleen George’s Hideout two hooligan brothers, Ryan and Jack Rutter, become entangled in a late night hit and run accident in Pittsburgh that results in the death of the victim.   Both have a tendency to abuse virtually any chemical substance ever invented, though throughout the story the younger brother Jack is portrayed as having some redeeming qualities and a semblance of conscience.   The same cannot be said for Ryan.Hideout (nook book)

Colleen Greer is the detective most involved in the search for justice.   At the beginning of the story, George attempts to create some depth in her that would bring a measure of human interest to the whodunit, but mostly falls short.   That’s the real problem with this book.   It can’t decide if it wants to be a story that grabs the reader because the character interests them; or if it simply wants to be your basic copy thriller.   For this reason, it falls short on both counts.

The action of the story spans the time from Saturday evening to Thursday of the following week.   As the brothers flee, they continue to commit various crimes from robbery to what might be construed as attempted murder.   Make no mistake about it, these two are stupid.   The most surprising part of the story just might be that it takes the police over five days to catch them.

The author attempts an interesting twist when the brothers are separated for the first time, but, they soon reunite.   The story continues on as they discover that the authorities are on to them.   They must try to find a way to avoid capture with less money and less of a plan.   In the end, Jack enjoys some compassion upon his capture, but the resolution as to what that might mean for his future is not explored.   (It seems that including this element at the closing of the book serves little purpose.)

Fans of the genre will probably enjoy this book the same as others, but the general reader might give something else a try.

Recommended for crime novel fans.

Dave Moyer

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   Hideout is also available as a Kindle Edition and Nook Book download.   Kathleen George’s latest novel is Simple.

Dave Moyer is the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel, and is a public school administrator in the Midwest.

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A review of Hideout: A Mystery by Kathleen George, author of The Odds and Simple.Hideout (300)

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