McBain, Ed. Fuzz. New York: Warner Books, 2000.
Reason read: to finish the series started in July in memory of McBain’s passing.
McBain is a master of character development and dialogue detail.
The 87th Precinct has met its match in Fuzz. After a prominent citizen of a fictitious New York City is gunned down witnesses can only say they saw a man wearing a hearing aid. Dubbed the Deaf Man, it isn’t long before he strikes again. His modus operandi is to call the precinct to extort a sum of money or else someone is going to die. In the case of Parks Commissioner Cowper, it was $5,000. The next threat was aimed at the deputy mayor for $50,000. Finally, it was the mayor’s turn to die. Meanwhile on a different assignment, Steve Carella tries to figure out who is setting homeless people on fire. Dressed as a derelict Carella puts himself in danger and isn’t fast enough to get out of harm’s way…
Quotes I liked, “In a city notorious for its indifference, the citizens were obviously withdrawn now, hurrying past each other without so much as eyes meeting, insulating themselves, becoming tight private cocoons that defied the cold” (p 23),
Author fact: So, here’s a really odd one. McBain can describe the weather so well the heat detailed on the page can send trickles of sweat down your back or the lack of it can freeze your fingertips. Impressive, considering all the while you are in the comfort of your own temperature controlled home.
Book trivia: Fuzz was made into a movie in starring Burt Reynolds.
Nancy said: I read Fuzz and Big Bad City out of order because Pearl listed Big Bad City before Fuzz. I should have known better than to trust Pearl to put the series in the order in which they should be read. It’s an attention to detail I would have appreciated.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “I Love a Mystery” (p 120).
Roberts, Nora. Holding the Dream. New York: Berkeley Books, 2012.
Reason read: to continue the series started in honor of August being Dream Month.
The “Dream” series sets you up to meet the Templeton family one by one. In Daring to Dream Margo Sullivan (now Templeton after marrying Josh) dared to give up a life of glamour to own her own second hand shop. In Holding the Dream, it’s Kate Powell who takes center stage. If Margo is the sexy one, Kate is the outwardly dowdy accountant, the sexy-behind-the-scenes-but-good-with-numbers one. Orphaned by a childhood tragedy, she joins the Templeton household as the ugly and odd duck; she grows up to be the ambitious accountant striving to pull her weight and forever indebted to the Templetons for their generosity. She is no nonsense and serious and to the letter with everything she does so how it that Kate is accused of embezzling from the firm she wants to make partner? Of course it’s a Templeton connection who swoops in to save the day.
Spoiler: It’s a little gimicky, but you meet Roger Thornhill briefly. Roger is someone Kate dated briefly within the firm. As a coworker he used her to get at her client list and snag her largest account. Frustratingly enough, I knew he was behind the embezzlement because he doesn’t factor into the story again until the very end. The scene between him and Kate early on is a vehicle only to introduce his character so that later on his guilt will make sense.
Book trivia: As with every Roberts romance, the fight scenes are a little cheesy. The “I’m in love with you but I hate you” push-pull is totally in play.
Nancy said: Holding the Dream is an example of a romance novel in which “the answer is always yes” according to Jayne Ann Krentz (Book Lust p 204).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Romance Novels: Our Love is Here to Stay” (p 203).
McBain, Ed. Big Bad City. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999.
Reason read: to continue the series started in July in memory of McBain’s passing (2005). Confessional: I don’t know how I continue to do this, but I read Big Bad City out of order. Big Bad City was published in 1999.
As with Cop Hater, the locale in Big Bad City bears a strong resemblance to gritty real-life New York City. While McBain never writes the words “New” or “York” together readers can imagine a 1990s version of the Big Apple. The three different story lines weave around each other like a Celtic knot in The Big Bad City: first, a young nun with breast implants is discovered murdered on a park bench. Unbeknownst to Carella, the man who murdered his father has been stalking him, waiting for the right time to gun him down survival-of-the-fittest style; and speaking of guns, how did notorious Cookie Boy the burglar go from petty theft to two counts of murder in fell swoop? Precinct 87 has their hands full with these seemingly unrelated crimes.
Quotes I liked enough to mention here, “Do it. do it, but he had not done it, he had not killed the man who’d killed his father because he’d felt somewhere deep inside him that becoming a beast of prey was tantamount to having been that beast all along” (p 54), and “…and he drew his own nine at once, so there were three nines on this bright September morning, all facing each other with nowhere to go but murder” (p 270).
Author fact: Have you seen the number of things McBain has written? The list goes on and on and on. Most surprising was the screenplay for “The Birds.”
Book trivia: This was the first time I had seen COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) referenced in a mystery novel.
Nancy said: nothing specific about Big Bad City.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “I Love a Mystery” (p ).
Bird, Isabella. A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1960.
Bird, Isabella. A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains. London: John Murray, 1881.
Reason read: Colorado became a state on August 1st, 1876.
In what started as letters to her sister Isabella Bird paints vivid pictures of a very young Colorado as she travels from the Sandwich Islands to Estes Park, Colorado. Because the trip to the Hawaiian islands is so fresh in Bird’s mind, she can’t help but make interesting comparisons between the tropical island and the wild western plains. She even wears the same clothes in both climates. As with Bird’s other adventures, her courage and tenacity shine through her prose. Most memorable for me was the fact Bird would don a long skirt and ride polite side saddle in the company of men but alone she would wear pants and ride western style. Comfort, not propriety, was her ultimate goal.
As an aside, it is encouraging to think there is a wilderness in Colorado that still exists to this day; one that Isabella Bird would say looks exactly the same. How can one not think of Natalie Merchant’s Cowboy Romance?
Lines I liked, “Is common humanity lacking, I wonder, in this region of hard greed?” (p 27), “I longed to speak to someone who loved the mountains” (p 90) and “At this account of the ascent of Long Peak could not be written at the time, I am disinclined to write it, especially as no sort of description within my powers could enable another to realise the glorious sublimity, the majestic solitude and the unspeakable awfulness and fascination of the scenes in which I spent Monday and Tuesday (p 91).
Author fact: Bird was only 72 when she passed away. I like to think about the places she would have explored had she had more time. She was the first woman elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
Book trivia: A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains was originally published in 1879. Colorado was only three years old at the time. The maps and illustrations are wonderful.
Nancy said: Pearl didn’t say anything specific about A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains but she mentioned that Bird was “one of the more dashing and irresistible travelers” (Book Lust p 143).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the simple chapter called “Lady Travelers” (p 142).
Jaffe, Rona. The Best of Everything. New York: Penguin Books, 1958.
Reason read: August is the best time to read Chick Lit.
The year is 1952 and women in the workplace are finding their collective ambitious voice. In The Best of Everything five young women seemingly only have the employment of a New York publishing company in common. Caroline wants to climb the corporate ladder; to go from typist to editor. April is as naive as they come but learns the timeless power of sex appeal. Gregg has the life of a jet setting actress, but secretly wants to settle down and be a housewife. Barbara is a single mother with a young daughter and Mary Agnes is mousy; too shy for words.
One central theme to The Best of Everything is the need women feel to protect themselves from predatory men. They are always defending themselves against the less than admirable advances of the amorous kind. There is a great deal of strategic purse shuffling and genius body blocking at parties and at the office. Yet, they all want to be married to respectable men.
A few quotes (out of hundred) to quote, “It’s like holding hands and jumping off the top of a building; did we think it was going to be any easier because we were holding hands?” (p 95), “It was like trying to categorize something in order to make it exist” (p 118), “The hard mechanical palm he had extended to her in his handshake had not been a unique phenomenon, it had simply been an uncovered part of the entire unyielding whole” (p 164), and probably the most tragic quote ever, “She leaned out the window and all of a sudden the mile long limousine with the two of them in it and the liveried chauffeur and the armful of rises and the soft music and the hip flask if bourbon wasn’t glamorous anymore; it was ridiculous; they were two frantic stupid people speeding through an ugly-smelling countryside to attend the murder of love” (p 194).
Author fact: In 2005 Jaffe wrote a foreword to The Best of Everything. In it she admitted her rise to success happened before she had even published the book. Who she knew helped a great deal.
Book trivia: The Best of Everything is Rona Jaffe’s first novel and it became a New York Times Best Seller and a movie.
Nancy said: The Best of Everything is a given when thinking about the category of fiction that primarily explores the lives of young, single women.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Chick Lit” (p 53).
Roberts, Nora. Daring to Dream. New York: Berkeley Books, 2012.
Reason read: August is Beach Read month.
To understand Margo Sullivan you first have to meet the super wealthy Templeton family. Margo grew up living in the Templeton household because her mother has been the family’s housekeeper forever and the Templetons treat their help like family. I cannot mention family enough! But, even though the super perfect Templetons have always treated Margot like family, she never felt she belonged to them or with them. While every other member of the family stayed close to home, involved with the family’s multi-million dollar hotelier business, Margo always needed more, more, more. Like every character in a Nora Roberts novel, Margo sports a beyond beautiful face and impossibly perfect body. As a teenager she left her mother and the Templeton household in search of fame and fortune as an aspiring model. Jet setting around the world, Margo has been gone for years. She has been seen only in pictures as the face of a well known cosmetics company. At that time nothing could stop her, nothing until a scandal involving drugs, her manager and the bus he threw her under. Suddenly knocked her off her pedestal, Margot has to come crawling back to her mother…and the Templeton clan.
Every good N.R. romance has a beautiful someone fighting off his or her passionate urges towards a seemingly unwilling beautiful someone else. Daring to Dream is no different. When Margo arrives home with her tail between her legs, she alternates between hating and needing heir to the family business, Josh Templeton.
Author fact: Nora Roberts has written over 250 novels.
Book trivia: Daring to Dream is the first book in the “Dream” trilogy.
Nancy said: Daring to Dream is in the category of “contemporary” romance (Book Lust, p 204).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Romance Novels: Our Love is Here to Stay” (p 203).
Stewart, James B. Den of Thieves. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992.
Reason read: July is typically Job Fair month (although this is not the job most would want to have…).
In a nutshell, Den of Thieves recounts the largest insider-trading scandal in the all-about-me 1980s. It is what happens when all-out avarice collides with above-the-law arrogance. Everyone has a hazy remembrance of Milken, Siegel and Freeman (to name a few) but with thorough research Stewart’s book keeps the details in sharp focus.
Confessional: in this criminal climate we currently live in, I had a hard time reading about a group of individuals who had a blatant disregard for the law. Some things never change. I couldn’t finish this book.
Author fact: Stewart likes going after big time dirty deeds. He has written other books on big time falls from grace.
Book trivia: Stewart includes a great selection of photographs.
Nancy said: Nancy called Den of Thieves “frightening” (Book Lust, p 34).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “BBB: Best Business Books” (p 33). How it is considered a “best business book” I’ll never know.