In the beginning...

...there were The Flyaways, a family who traveled in their miraculous flying machine having daring adventures with Goldilocks and Cinderella. The first in the 3-book series by Alice Dale Hardy was published by Grosset and Dunlap in 1925 and copies are almost extinct. Few people remember Ma and Pa, Tommy and Susie Flyaway now.

I became acquainted with them on my grandfather's lap, my dear Grandpa Baker who read and read and read to me every evening for as many years as I can remember. I would hold my breath as each chapter ending neared, hoping he would not stop. I would keep begging for "just one more" chapter until his voice got so hoarse I would have to run to his room to get his throat lozenges.

Over the years we covered all of Uncle Wiggly and Honey Bunch, the Bobbsey Twins, the Five Little Peppers, the Wind in the Willow series, some of them more than once. He read to me until long after I could read everything for myself, until I was into Beverly Gray, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. I was safe and happy snuggled up on the couch with him and that feeling has never left me. I still read and read and read, and it still makes me feel safe and happy.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Steven Cannell and James T. Hall

When Shane Scully was growing up abandoned in Huntington House, Walter "Pop" Dix became the closest thing to a father he would know. Early mornings at the beach, Dix would shepherd six youngsters out into the surf and give them life lessons along with teaching them how to ride the waves. Scully grew up to lead a successful life as a police detective with a smart, beautiful wife and a great son, but, ashamed of his painful beginnings, turned his back on the early years and the love he felt for the man who meant so much to him. When he learned that Pop had committed suicide, Scully was overwhelmed with remorse and guilt, especially when he found out that Dix had requested that Scully be one of his pallbearers. The other chosen five turn out to be colorful and well drawn characters whose determination to prove Pop's death was not a suicide bonds them in a fast moving plot. Stephen Cannell has been one of my favorite authors for years and I raced through this novel with characteristic enthusiasm. The Pallbearers is a definite winner.

I love Florida mysteries and I am fond of James Hall’s protagonist Thorn and his trusty sidekick Sugarman, a black/white relationship similar to Robert Parker's Spenser and Hawk. Thorn is abducted from his own ranch and spends a portion of the book trapped in a deserted pit terrorized by a pair of psychotics, resulting from his philanthropic attempt to designate a huge tract of Florida land as forever wild while Sugar and Thorn’s woman Rusty try to track him down. The Silencer is well worth a read.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I have read other Tami Hoags

but don't remember enjoying them as much as this one, Deeper than the Dead. Kept me guessing til almost the end. Semi-retired FBI profiler falls for school teacher involved in a gruesome set of torture murders when some of her students find a body. Suspects include some of the kids' parents, including a bad cop. Family secrets unfold and the kids are traumatized. Very readable.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Trying to catch up

I'll never catch up, but here are the good vacation books I just read in FLorida. More Vincent Zandri, Albany author with a great PI named Jack Marconi, plots good stories in familiar locations which I like. In Godchild, Marconi accepts the challenge of rescuing a beautiful journalist from a Mexican prison in the hopes that it is a connection to the man who killed his wife. Drug running, double crossing, and danger ensue to a satisfying and surprise conclusion. You can keep track of Zandri on Facebook and at local book signings of his newest book Moonlight Falls, which I haven't read yet.
Sailed through Dirt by Sean Doolittle, an author I learned about through Marcus Sakey (one of my new favorite who you can also follow on FB). This one starts off with a bang and never lets you off the hook as it romps through an expose of the funeral industry and its chicanery. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Involuntary Madness was more difficult to get through. Written by Nora VIncent, the lesbian who fed you the male perspective on women and dating by disguising herself and living as a guy for over a year and writing about it in Self-Made Man. Vincent subsequently suffered a breakdown and writes of her several committments to mental health facilities. Interesting. Enlightening. Depressing.
Finally got around to reading Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, which I had been meaning to read for years. It was a lighthearted gavort through the life of an empty-headed and superficial financial writer who can't control her own finances. I was quite fascinated by the woman's thought processes as she rewards herself with chocolate biscuits, lattes and cashmere sweaters, both to celebrate happy occasions and cheer herself up through hard times. Perfect beach read because you can doze off in the middle and not miss much. Don't think I'll waste time on another Kinsella, but this one was fun.
The last one I read on the plane home was another winner. PJ Parish, who is actually a pair of sisters, tempted me into buying The Little Death (we all know what that is, don't we?. It sucked me right in and I read straight thru getting my roots touched up today. The snooty women of Palm Beach are screwing the beach boys while their husbands are out making the big bucks. Problem: the gigolos are turning up dead in nasty ways, and three down-and-out investigators are attempting to solve the crimes. It was a great read and I am now going to finish the last chapter before bed and back to work tomorrow.