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Reykjavik Nights
Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indridason (Mystery/Suspense)
It's kind of funny when the two brothers are watching an old chestnut called "Ironsides" and they become glued to the TV set. I have my own old chestnut called "Columbo" because Erlendur, the protagonist of "Reykjavik Nights," is just like Columbo because he doesn't know when to leave! Like Columbo with his "one more thing," Erlendur just keeps hanging on. Answering a domestic violence call, the young detective is reminded of an unsolved case from a year ago in which a homeless man named Hannibal drowned not far away. It may have been an accident, but Erlendur's instincts tell him otherwise. Maybe it's just because he took a liking to Hannibal. Flashbacks depict their budding friendship as Erlendur methodically investigates on his own time. He questions some of Hannibal's homeless mates and tracks down his sister, a possible lover and a pair of brothers who lived next door to him as a child and may have brutalized him. The deeper he probes, the more secrets he uncovers and the more he suspects foul play. Hannibal's is the most involving, but far from the only, case that the ambitious Erlendur is tackling. He makes a habit of trawling through police archives to study missing persons cases from the past and present. He's particularly intrigued by the disappearance of a young woman named Oddny from nearby Thorskaffi that he thinks just might be connected to Hannibal's death. I would give it 3 out of 4 stars. -- Added by billrye on 02/26/2016

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How the Light Gets In
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (Mystery/Suspense)
"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." -Leonard Cohen Christmas is approaching, and in Québec it's a time of dazzling snowfalls, bright lights, and gatherings with friends in front of blazing hearths. But shadows are falling on the usually festive season for Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Most of his best agents have left the Homicide Department, his old friend and lieutenant Jean-Guy Beauvoir hasn't spoken to him in months, and hostile forces are lining up against him. When Gamache receives a message from Myrna Landers that a longtime friend has failed to arrive for Christmas in the village of Three Pines, he welcomes the chance to get away from the city. Mystified by Myrna's reluctance to reveal her friend's name, Gamache soon discovers the missing woman was once one of the most famous people not just in North America, but in the world, and now goes unrecognized by virtually everyone except the mad, brilliant poet Ruth Zardo. As events come to a head, Gamache is drawn ever deeper into the world of Three Pines. Increasingly, he is not only investigating the disappearance of Myrna's friend but also seeking a safe place for himself and his still-loyal colleagues. Is there peace to be found even in Three Pines, and at what cost to Gamache and the people he holds dear? I would give it 3.5 out of 4 stars. -- Added by billrye on 02/23/2016

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The Promise
The Promise by Robert Crais (Mystery/Suspense)
This book features Elvis Cole (the world's greatest detective), his buddy Joe Pike, his buddy Jon Stone, a policeman named Scott James, and his buddy Maggie (a bomb-sniffing dog). Amy Breslyn, is a chemical production engineer working for the government who disappeared with $460,000 in company money and a newly purchased gun. Cole is directed to a bungalow in Echo Park, where James encounters him after a man is beaten to death inside, surrounded by a stash of munitions and explosives. We learn that Amy has infiltrated the arms-dealing culture hoping to get close to people who know the identity of her son's murderers. Persecuted by the LAPD, Cole and his taciturn partner, Joe Pike, slowly unravel bad information and false identitieshelped by James reluctantly at first, since he's not sure Cole isn't dirty, and then wholeheartedly after attempts on the lives of both the K-9 officer and his Afghanistan-traumatized dog. The story unfolds with supreme ease, energized by the enigmatic presence of mercenary Jon Stone. James' undying love for Maggie can be a bit much, as can Crais' decision to narrate a nightmare sequence from the dog's point of view. But the book speeds along at an agreeable clip, lifted by the author's command of the setting, and those military canines do deserve their plaudits. I would rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. -- Added by billrye on 02/21/2016

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Drinking in America
Drinking in America by Susan Cheever (History/Biography)
In "Drinking in America," author Susan Cheever chronicles our national love affair with liquor, taking a long, thoughtful look at the way alcohol has changed our nation's history. This is the often-overlooked story, from Puritans who never drank to Pilgrims who drank too much, alcohol has shaped American events and the American character. Seen through the lens of alcoholism, American history takes on a dynamic struggle missing from many earlier accounts. From the drunkenness of the Pilgrims to Prohibition jesting, drinking has always been a cherished American custom: a way to celebrate and a way to grieve and a way to take the edge off. At many pivotal points in our history-the illegal Mayflower landing at Cape Cod, the enslavement of African Americans, the McCarthy witch hunts, and the Kennedy assassination, to name only a few-alcohol has acted as a catalyst. I especially enjoyed chapter 10, "The Writers Vice" in which she singles our her own father, John Cheever for being a drunk and later, through rehab, stayed sober the rest of his life. Some nations drink more than we do, some drink less, but no other nation has been the drunkest in the world as America was in the 1830s only to outlaw drinking entirely a hundred years later. Both a lively history and an unflinching cultural investigation, "Drinking In America" unveils the volatile ambivalence within one nation's tumultuous affair with alcohol. I would give the book a high recommendation. -- Added by billrye on 02/14/2016

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Blind Goddess
Blind Goddess by Anne Holt (Mystery/Suspense)
I listened to the book. A small-time drug dealer is found battered to death on the outskirts of the Norwegian capital, Oslo. A young Dutchman, walking aimlessly in central Oslo covered in blood, is taken into custody but refuses to talk. When he is informed that the woman who discovered the body, Karen Borg, is a lawyer, he demands her as his defender, although her specialty is civil, not criminal, law. A couple of days later, Hansa Larsen, a lawyer of the shadiest kind, is found shot to death. Soon police officers Håkon Sand and Hanne Wilhelmsen establish a link between the two killings. They also find a coded message hidden in the murdered lawyer's apartment. Their maverick colleague in the drugs squad, Billy T., reports that a recent rumor in the drug underworld involves drug-dealing lawyers. Now the reason why the young Dutchman insisted on having Karen Borg as a defender slowly dawns on them: since she was the one to find and report the body, she is the only Oslo lawyer that cannot be implicated in the crime. As the officers investigate, they uncover a massive network of corruption leading to the highest levels of government. As their lives are threatened, Hanne and her colleagues must find the killer and, in the process, bring the lies and deception out into the open. A good book. -- Added by billrye on 02/13/2016

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The Billion Dollar Spy
The Billion Dollar Spy by David E. Hoffman (History/Biography)
I enjoyed this book immensely. Drawing on numerous interviews and recently declassified documents, Hoffman's latest book is a must-read for aficionados of Cold War spy thrillers but it's non-fiction. Few other works describe in such detail what it meant to run American agents in Cold War--era Moscow: elaborate ruses to fool the KGB, tests to determine whether a promising new agent was in fact a plant, and constant tension between demands for more information and the need to protect agents. At the center of Hoffman's story stands the Soviet radar expert Adolf Tolkachev, who was deeply disillusioned with the Soviet system and determined to hand over whatever secrets he could to the United States. To a remarkable degree, he succeededuntil 1985, when he was betrayed by a disgruntled CIA employee. The picture of Tolkachev that emerges is complex. He sought large payments for his help, not to spend the money but simply to demonstrate his worth, while also gratefully receiving tokens of Americana for his son like a Uriah Heep album. Not only was his information about Soviet technology valuable, but so was his example: he demonstrated that good intelligence could be collected by old-fashioned espionage as well as advanced technology. He was killed, apparently, by a firing squad all because of an CIA drop-out named Howard. -- Added by billrye on 02/02/2016

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The Stranger
The Stranger by Harlan Coben (Mystery/Suspense)
The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world. Adam Price has a lot to lose: a comfortable marriage to a beautiful woman, two wonderful sons, and all the trappings of the American Dream: a big house, a good job, a seemingly perfect life. Then he runs into the Stranger. When he learns a devastating secret about his wife, Corinne, he confronts her, and the mirage of perfection disappears as if it never existed at all. Soon Adam finds himself tangled in something far darker than even Corinne's deception, and realizes that if he doesn't make exactly the right moves, the conspiracy he's stumbled into will not only ruin livesit will end them. Other than I didn't like the fact that they killed his wife, it was fine. -- Added by billrye on 01/30/2016

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Prayer by Philip Kerr (Mystery/Suspense)
The first half of it was tremendous but the second half was vulgar and strident. I certainly wouldn't recommend it to anyone. -- Added by billrye on 01/30/2016

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