Victim Six – Gregg Olsen

victim sixPublished in 2010 and running 429 pages. A Mystery of the police procedural subgenre. A novel of a graphic violence graphically depicted. You’ve been warned!


Gregg Olsen is quite the writer. I will say the level of detail is impressive. He paints his characters with such clarity and dimension you get a feeling that he’s writing a true-crime novel based on real people he really knows. But this is a work of fiction and a wonderful story of a serial killer preying in and around the community of Port Orchard in Washington state. As a woman disappears, detectives Kendall Stark and her partner Josh Anderson begin investigating what will become a series of violent sexual serial killings.


In bringing us these killings, Olsen is also bringing us a series of relations and relationships that are at the heart of this story. The relationship between the two detectives and their relation to the local newspaper. The conflicts and the cooperation of these two institutions. Then there’s the relationship between Stark and her husband and her autistic son and Josh’s relationship to a younger local newspaper reporter Serenity, and how this later relation ties into the larger police/press relation, and then how the killer plays into this relation.


Then there is the killer and his relationship with his wife, and how they fit in relation to the victims that make up this story. Then Olsen digs into the relation between the killer’s wife and their son. This will be a little nugget we’ll see develop in the epilogue, not to give anything away… and how the killer’s wife relates to her estranged sister. It would seem that all the characters he’s creating have numerous connection throughout the novel, except the killer himself. He, with the exception of his wife, isn’t really explored in as much detail… even as it come to his own son. But we do get quite the view of what’s going on inside of him… and that’s a view we as readers will not easily forget.

“You know the beginning and the ending, Serenity.”

“I think so. I guess so.”

“You want to know the middle, don’t you?”

Serenity nodded.
“Everybody does.”

“Tell me,” Serenity said, her eyes welling with tears. She Knew that the woman on the other side of the glass was no longer her sister. She was an imposter. A shape-shifter. A Thief of all her memories.

Witch Way To Spellbinder Bay – Sam Short

witch way to spellbinderAmazon – Kindle – Witch Way To Spellbinder Bay

This whole paranormal-YA-cozy mystery genre appears to be quite the rage these days, if my kindle recommendation feed has any say about it. So I bought a copy of this book as it’s a first in a series and gave it a quick read.

It starts with the introduction of our main character a down-on-her-luck young lady, Millie, living in a basement flat in London. She is the victim of an employment scam and has been conned out of her money but unwilling to accept defeat and set sail for Australia where she would go back to living with her aunt and uncle. She comes off as likeable, plucky and somewhat skeptitacle about the turn her life is about to take.

But curiosity wins and the story progresses as Millie begins taking steps to explore her new position in life, and the mysterious town of Spellbinder Bay. This is where she encounters many quirky denizens, a taxi driver, an elderly lady, a policeman and the sharp witted cockatiel, who assure her that things going on there will be explained to her later, and later, and later… which fortunately they do over time as the story progresses.

As Millie settles in to her first day here in town she is introduced to an elderly neighbor. Its his tragic accident that Millie witnesses. An accident? Or is it something more? And that is where the mystery is afoot! As Millie helps the policeman with his investigation she comes to learn more and more about herself, and her past, and her place in this strange new town.

The mystery ends in a well conceived way. I was left with a sense of completion as far as that goes, but then there are other levels to this story which help to sell me on the sequel to come… So, I do look forward to consuming the next of these sweet confections.

As George started the engine, he shouted to Millie. “Enjoy the walk back. I’ll see you around.”
“I’m not sure how long I’ll be around,” said Millie, her voice competing with the engine’s grumble. “I don’t think I’ll be staying.”
“Wait until the Board of Governors have spoken to you before you decide to leave,” said George. “They’ll explain the things you want to know.”
“The Board of Governors?” yelled Millie, as George pulled away in a spray of gravel and sand. “What’s that?”
“You’ll find out!” shouted George, speeding away in a cloud of dust.
Millie frowned. What on earth was going on? The day before she’d been living in a basement flat, unsure of how she was going to pay the rent, and now she was about to take a scenic walk from a lighthouse, back to a beautiful seafront cottage which she’d been told she owned. She pinched her thigh. The sharp pain told her that she was indeed awake.

Robert B Parker’s Backjack – Robert Knox

8082018This is Knox’s third novel continuing the tales of the old west’s Marshalls Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. Now I haven’t read any westerns since I’ve been in school many moons ago, but I do love the Spenser and Jessie Stone novels. So, I figured I would try this book simply because it quite literally fell into my lap while I was looking for something else in the library. So, I considered it providence and checked it out.

The writing is very straight-forward, loose, and easy to digest. The scenes are written with clear imagery and I do get the ‘feel’ of the old west. The story lays itself out in a good pace. Boston Bill is in town connected with the construction of a new casino in the quick-growing town of Appaloosa. He’s accompanied by a couple of hired hands to serve as bodyguards… seems Bill has left some trouble behind in Denver, but persons connected with that pursue him to Appaloosa.

It does not end well for the pursuer. This brings men of the Denver constabulary for Boston Bill. Light of foot and swift of steed, Bill and associates flee with our marshals in pursuit. Both trouble and violence ensues. Then the capture and subsequent trial of Boston Bill.

But wait! There’s more. Bill wrangles free of justice’s tentative grip only to be chased again, and caught again. But what we find in the chapter just before the final chapter, crashing in from dead left field… the solution to the ‘trouble’ in Denver.

There have been other Parker novels where the ending came right up out of nowhere, but few so abruptly, and this ending may not have come from the heart of nowhere, it was probably near nowhere’s spleen. But it has not deterred me, but rather encouraged me to order the first in the Cole / Hitch novel Appaloosa from amazon… just to see how Parker writes these men.

In closing, a quote from Boston Bill himself…

“Before,” he said, “I met this beautiful woman, I never knew any one brighter, smarter, or kinder … but then there was always … I don’t know, something unusual. There were glimpses of someone other than her, within her, someone other than the bright, smart, and kind woman I got to know and love. I never was certain why I moved away from her but I knew there was something …”

Quarry – Max Allan Collins (1976)

quarryI’ve just finished ready Max Allan Collin’s first Quarry novel. I decided to buy the Hard Case Crime edition of this work published in 2015. Originally this story was published in 1975 as The Broker, but I am working on a goal of reading all of the Hard Case Crime published works so, this is the edition for my library.

Physically dark, aesthetically dark, metaphorically dark the climax comes after midnight, a rainy midnight in a poorly lit rendezvous, a quarry outside of town away from any prying eyes. The ‘quarry’ stone theme runs through the book, but so does this idea of swimming, a cleansing I think… the author keeps coming around to swimming and I think ‘there’s something in the water here’. Peg bathes every time after sex… Mr Collins makes a point of pointing that out.

The story opens up with Quarry in the middle of ‘job’. At the conclusion of this job, Quarry returns to the motel in which he’s staying and we meet him there while he’s swimming in the pool. A broad approaches the pool and coaxes Quarry to return with her to her room to continue their conjugal activities they had evidently been engaged in before

Quarry snuck out to accomplish his job. After completing this new job, he returns to the pool despite the protestations of the broad.

This story ends in a dramatic climax resulting in several fatalities as it were. But more importantly we find Quarry now terminated from his employment with Broker. And since Broker is his only point of contact with the people contracting his services, and the ‘mystery’ being solved in this story stems directly from this work… how is it that Quarry’s story will continue? I know there is a sequel, but how does it start? This novel ends with Quarry, freed of the encumbrances of his ‘work’ swimming after his phone call with Peg. So, what is he going to do with his life next? Is he just going to retire? He seems a bit young for that, and the score from his last jobs isn’t that much money… a nice modest nest egg but certainty not ‘rest of your life’ money…

There’s a passage in the book that really sums things up nicely. Quarry is confronting the person who hired his services…

“… Let me remind you, you smug-ass bastard… you murdered Albert Leroy.”

“No,” I said. “I killed him. You murdered him.”

And I left her to think about it. I hoped she’d think about it a long time. But I doubted it.

But what else can we learn from this work… Well, there’s a passage that sums that up nicely too:

It didn’t make sense, it didn’t make fucking sense. Invisible people nobody wants to kill. Sometimes – like in my case – you get invisible because you want no one to know you. But other guys are born that way. Other guys doctors yank from the womb and can’t find an ass to slap.

The Girl In The Ice – Robert Bryndza

girl in the iceA British police procedural mystery Published by Bookouture, 2016 running 396 pages.

From office politics to police politics to actual politics as one body leads to another…

The body of a young socialite found beneath the ice of a pond in a London park turns a high profile missing persons case into a higher profile murder investigation. The police superintendent overseeing this case brings in Detective Erika Foster back from leave to conduct the investigation, taking over the case from another detective which sparks a bit of departmental conflict that will have repercussions further down the line.

DCI Foster, once a rising star of the police department now has to re-establish herself. But her confrontational style and lack of political skills alienates her from the brass running the department. The lone or rogue cop slavishly following a trail of evidence and their own ‘gut’ is well used here. The conflicts are well written and dynamic.

As the bodies start stacking up, the evidence leads DCI Foster in a direction that the powers that be don’t want pursued. There is a real palpable passion that comes from Erika, is it righteous indignation or blind personal anger? Either way the truth will win out.

Initial Look – Robert B Parker’s Stranger in Paradise

stranger in paradiseI’m just a couple of chapters in, ten maybe eleven, we’ll 50 pages at least, which is one sixth of the total 300 pages… and the story so far refers back to an incident some ten years prior. Since this is the first Jessie Stone novels I’m reading, I’m wondering if it’s like characters in the Spenser stories where they keep popping up. .. oh, one strange crossover is Healy the state police inspector. .. I’ve seen him I’m the Jessie Stone movies and I know he’s a character in several Spenser stories. .. strange coincidence or same guy? My money’s on it being the same guy.


One of the disconnects I’m having between this particular Jessie Stone novels and the movies I’ve seen, is that Jessie’s ex wife is here in Paradise… I thought she was back in Los Angeles. .. did this happen during the series of novels? I know I should start by reading Night Passage, the first of the Jessie Stone series, but I’ve only just ordered it and irate won’t be in until the weekend.


Decisions, decisions… should I push through then read the first book, or wait to read the first book first? I’ve got plenty of other reading to do in the meantime… there’s never a shortage of things to immerse myself in.

Robert B. Parker – The Godwulf Manuscript

s-l1600Spenser’s first novel. Published in 1973

“Love me,” She said in a choked voice. “Make love to me, make me feel, make love to me, make me feel.” A fleeting part of my mind thought “Jesus, first the mother, then the daughter,” but the enduring part of my mind said, Yes, Yes, Yes, as I bore her back on to the bed and turned the covers back from her.

This isn’t one of those ‘who dunnit’ mysteries where the reader gathers clues within a barrel of red herrings and tries to figure out the identity of the guilty culprit before the detective narrates the mystery’s solution after the story’s climax. It’s also written in the first person narrative. We see the story unfold as Spenser sees it.

This is the first Spenser novel, the ‘pre-Susan’ Spenser. I really enjoyed this novel. The quote above shows that Spenser has enjoyed the pleasures of Mrs. Orchard and is now bedding Miss Orchard and although this may be questionable his persistence and perseverance to the case, and the cause of justice in this story, imbues Spenser with the mantle of the uncorrupted ‘White Knight’ in the mode of Raymond Chandler

Robert Parker makes a point of going to lengths to cloth his characters. Many authors, like Stephen King, as he says in his book On Writing, choose not to go into detail when it comes to clothing the character. As king says, he’s writing a story, not a j crew catalogue. There is a benefit of not going into that kind if detail, his book The Shining was written not long after this novel and thirty years later it doesn’t have the ‘period’ feel that Godwulf Manuscript has.

For instance in introduced us to Mr. Orchard Parker writes; “He wore a dark double-breasted blazer with a crest on the pocket, a thick white turtle neck sweater, grey flared slacks and black ankle boots with a lot of strap and buckle showing.” This level of descriptive detail is typical… even inconsequential characters strolling across this stage are wardrobed.

These very physical descriptions, as well as the description of the places where Spenser goes, mostly in and around Boston, give you a really sense of time and place. Like Dicken’ descriptions give his readers a sense of late nineteenth century London Parker gives you a sense of late nineteenth century Boston.

What starts out with the ‘keep it under wraps’ theft of a university manuscript which points to seventies student radicals soon leads to drug and mob influence on campus… we follow along with Spenser as lead begets lead, with the pace quickening as the climax approaches.