Friday, November 6, 2009

November 2009 Reading

1. VANISHED by Kat Richardson. #4 Greywalker paranormal series sees main character Harper Blaine off to London. Her visit is two-fold: first, she's been having disturbing dreams about her ex-boyfriend Will and is worried about him. And Seattle's master vampire, Edward, wants her to find out what happened to his agent in London. He believes there's another takeover attempt that is beginning in Europe. Harper would likely have refused the request were it not for her horrific dreams, but sees it in her best interest to help Edward--he's the devil she knows and all of that. Harper also learns some new information about her father and his death, which ties into her own life and why she became a Greywalker. That storyline also sets up some potentially really interesting future books. Action-packed adventure, taking Harper, Will's young brother Michael and another Greywalker named Marsden through London's long-abandoned underground river system and through the Grey which allows Harper to see things as they were centuries ago. Marsden also helps Harper to understand more about her abilities, about Greywalkers in general, and about her father. Enjoyable entry in the series, but wasn't quite as good as the last one--the ending was rather abrupt and left a lot of loose ends dangling--which of course, means the wait til the next in series is more difficult. A-

2. WHITE NIGHT by Jim Butcher. (AUDIO) #9 Harry Dresden paranormal mystery. Harry is consulted "off the record" by Sgt. Karrin Murphy (demoted after the fiasco in the last book) in a series of killings that were made to look like suicides. One of the women has a strange altar in her bedroom and Murph's gut tells her something's hinky. Harry confirms this when he sees a magical signature on the wall (visible only to wizards or those who use magic) and to their horror, they discover that these women were all members of a group of Pagans and magick users. Further clues show that they wanted to attract Harry (now a Warden of the White Council) and even make it look as though he might be the killer--since the women were observed talking to a tall man in a gray cloak before they disappeared. Harry discovers that his half-brother Thomas (a White Court vampire) may be tangled up in the mess that soon dissolves into an out and out escalation of the war between the Red Court, the White Court and the White Council. Excellent entry in the series as Harry continues to school his apprentice, Molly Carpenter, and works with Warden Carlos Ramirez to bring down those preying on the magick-using women. Well-read once again by James Marsters who captures the tone of the books and Harry's wise-cracking humor very well. A.

3. A PLAGUE OF POISON by Maureen Ash. #3 Bascot de Marins "Templar Knight" historical mystery set in 1201, Lincoln UK. Bascot, attempting to make a decision as to whether or not he should leave the Templars and accept King John's offer to have his father's lands restored to him and allow him to name an heir. He worries that his ward, Gianni, a ragamuffin that he rescued from a life of poverty on the streets, will end up back where he came from if he were to go back to his Templar brothers rather than leave the order and remain one of Nicolaa de la Haye's retainers. He's distracted from thinking about his choices, however, when a rash of poisonings plague Lincoln, with several deaths both in castle and town, apparently through honey laced with a deadly herb that lead to a quick and violent death. Near-panic begins to take the townsfolk, with people suspicious of everyone around them. Lady Nicolaa places the castle cooks under orders to serve only plain, unspiced foods, and charges Bascot with finding the vile murderer. His first task is to determine the motive of the killer, and to do that, he must try to figure out if the actual victims were the intended victims. I like this series and am beginning to like Bascot more each book, but one thing I have found is that there are too many peripheral characters, such that when the killer was revealed, I barely remembered who they were. While not a wholly satisfying book, I'll definitely read on--a great sense of time and place and interesting major characters overshadow the meandering investigation. B.

4. THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT by Diane A.S. Stuckart. #1 in the Leonardo da Vinci historical mystery series, set in 1483 Milan. Told from the point of view of one of Leonardo's apprentices, Delfina della Fazia, an eighteen year old girl who has disguised herself as a boy named Dino. Female apprentices are not allowed, and Delfina wanted nothing more than to be an artist so with her father's help, she escapes her small home village and an arranged marriage to run off to Milan seeking apprenticeship with Leonardo. During a live chess match in which one of the players disappears, Leonardo asks "Dino" to go find the Conte di Ferrara, who was playing one of the bishops. The Conte is found, all right--with a knife in his back in one of the gardens! Dino tells Leonardo and they begin a charade in which Dino assumes the role of the bishop in the chess match while Leonardo explains to the Duke why his game is held up and the Duke charges Leonardo with solving the crime. Which he eventually does, with "Dino's" help--but only after a couple more bodies are thrown into the mix. Several theories as to the killer float about, although I had no problem sussing them out right from the start. Several times during the book, Dino's disguise almost comes unraveled, although she does eventually have one confidant who helps her maintain the illusion of being male. I have to admit I was a little leery of this book given that the author writes romances also, and I am NOT a fan of romances, nor especially of romances disguising themselves as mysteries. I was pleasantly surprised in that there was none of that going on at all. (Thank you, author!) I'm also often leery of books featuring prominent historical figures as sleuths--I don't know why, as I really don't know enough about any given historical figure to scoff at any errors that might exist. LOL I enjoyed this book, although I started it almost expecting not to. It didn't take long before I was well past the 50 pages I'd promised to give it and immersed in the story. I can't vouch for the accuracy of the historical settings or known information about Leonardo, but as this is historical FICTION, it wasn't something I worried about anyway. While not a stellar read (and I can't readily put my finger on what makes me downgrade this just slightly) it is a good start to a promising new series--I've got the second one here and we'll see how it holds up. B+

5. THE DEAD CAT BOUNCE by Sarah Graves. (AUDIO) #1 Home Repair is Homicide mystery featuring Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree in Eastport, Maine. Jacobia is a former financial adviser who lived in New York and had some pretty high-flying clients--including some unsavory 'connected' folks. A year ago, she decided to abandon the rat race and bought a 200-year-old house in Eastport, Maine and moved in with her teenage son Sam. Since then, her life has been one big instruction book in how to fix up her house, and it's not been easy. Still, she's made a few friends and seems to be settling in relatively well, even though she's "from away." She certainly doesn't expect to find a dead body in her storeroom--especially not the body of one of the world's richest men! Nor would she have expected her best friend Ellie White to be arrested for the murder, but Ellie's confessed. It's up to Jake to figure out who Ellie is protecting--since they have a confession, the cops don't seem especially eager to do a lot of investigating themselves. I enjoyed this book on many levels, but I did find the reader to be somewhat annoying. She did really well with the different accents, especially that Maine 'down East' twang, but her way of reading and the tone of the book gave Jake a really superior-sounding attitude which grated on my nerves. I'm going to try the next in series in print and see if that makes a difference. If the author intended the main character to have this air of smug superiority, I'm not sure I'll continue on much longer. Most of the immediate secondary characters were interesting and beginning to flesh out well, including Jake's pompous brain surgeon ex-husband (he sounds so much like a neurosurgeon I used to work with, it's not even funny!) and her son Sam is a real treat, so I'm hoping I like the print version better. B.

6. NECESSARY AS BLOOD by Deborah Crombie. #13 Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James British police procedural. This book's theme is London's East End, specifically the Brick Lane area, notable for its rich Indian/Pakistani/Bengali culture. Gemma is visiting her friend Hazel, newly back in London, when Hazel's soon-to-be-ex-husband Tim calls Gemma and asks her to look into the disappearance of a friend. Nasir, a Bangladeshi lawyer, was supposed to pick up his three-year-old daughter from the sitter several hours previously but hasn't turned up. Since Naz is normally very responsible, the sitter frantically calls Tim. Gemma is intrigued when she learns that the man's wife, Sandra Gilles, a white textile artist, vanished into thin air about three months previously. When Naz turns up dead, the welfare of Charlotte, the young child now apparently orphaned, hangs in the balance. Scotland Yard is called in and Duncan and his sergeant Doug Cullen are on the case, with Gemma investigating in an unofficial capacity while she tries to deal with her mother's illness and planning her and Duncan's upcoming wedding as well as her normal work duties as a Detective Inspector at the Notting Hill station. Once again, I very much enjoyed this entry in this stellar series. Crombie's writing style leaves you totally absorbed into the neighborhood she's focusing on in each book and this one was no exception. She balances well the investigation of the mystery of the day with the personal lives of the major players and smoothly shifts back and forth between the point of view of several different characters. The only bad thing about this book is that now I'm going to have to wait many months for the release of the next entry! A+

7. THE GATES by John Connolly. (AUDIO) YA fantasy about an odd boy named Samuel Johnson (who has a dog named Boswell! LOL) who goes trick or treating three days early, and accidentally sees his neighbors, the Abernathys, engaged in some weird ritual that ends with them transformed into demons and with the gate to Hell in their basement at 666 Crowley Rd. When they learn that Samuel has seen them, they set out to try to keep him quiet about their plans--even as Sam is trying as hard as he can to get someone to believe him about what he's seen. On the other side of the inter-dimensional portal, we also get to meet a demon named Nerd, who isn't very demonic and who keeps botching the assignments given to him. Brilliant and imaginative and very well read by Jonathan Cake, I enjoyed this humorous horror story very much, and the ending found me hoping that there will be a sequel. A.

8. THE PATIENCE OF THE SPIDER by Andrea Camilleri. #8 Inspector Montalbano mystery set in Vigata, Italy. Supposedly recuperating from the wound he sustained at the end of the last book, with the lovely (and yet curmudgeonly in her own way!) Livia visiting and tending to him, Montalbano is instead dragged into a kidnapping case, "just to consult" while another detective has the lead role. Susanna Mistretta has disappeared, presumed kidnapped, although motive seems a bit unclear as her family has lost most of their money years previously. Several days pass with no ransom demand and Montalbano is beginning to believe she just went walkabout or else was taken by the proverbial sex maniac and is long dead. Then the ransom call comes in. Montalbano suspects that things aren't quite what they seem--as did I, having figured out the mystery well in advance of our grumpy detective friend. Enjoyable visit to Sicily, with Montalbano enjoying his fabulous fresh Italian meals, waxing philosophical, all the while cogitating until he pieces the clues together to solve the case. Strewn with a host of interesting, diverse secondary characters and ripe with the essence of Italian culture, I always enjoy a read in this series--but they read so quickly I decided that reading just one was like having a snack and I decided to dive right into the next in series--very uncharacteristic of me, I know! A.

9. THE CRUELEST MONTH by Louise Penny. #3 Armand Gamache "Three Pines" mystery in which the Sûreté du Québec detective and his team head back to the village of Three Pines to find out who scared a woman to death during a séance at the old Hadley House. The house, which Gamache has had the displeasure of seeing before, is said to be haunted, and the scare tactic was helped along with a real witch to bring the dead--and, for the victim, a lethal dose of ephedra, the diet medication. But from all reports, Madeline Favreau was a wonderful person, kind and loving, and it's hard for anyone to imagine why someone would want her dead. But villages hold their secrets, and it's up to Gamache and team to discover those hiddeen in Three Pines, all the while Gamache continues to search out a spy among his ranks who is still feeding information to his enemies in the higher ranks at the Sûreté. Gamache is the victim of some vicious attacks in the newspaper, publishing lies and misleading photos about the Inspector and his family, all linking back to the Arnot case which exposed a huge conspiracy a few years previously headed by one of the Sûreté's most popular detectives. I love this series--very atmospheric setting of a rather provincial French-Canadian village with a wonderfully eclectic set of secondary characters, descriptions of foods that make your mouth water and always a longing to go to this imaginary place and find a home. I didn't figure out who had done it ahead of time, although I suspected them all at one point or another, I think--Penny does a great job of laying out several red herrings along the way. I can't wait to get to the next in the series! A+

10. THE PAPER MOON by Andrea Camilleri. #9 Inspector Montalbano series set in Sicily, Italy. Once again, beautiful women and corrupt men pepper Inspector Montalbano's investigation into the death of one Angelo Pardo, a pharmaceutical representative. There's Angelo's sister Michela--who reported him missing and his mistress Elena, whose husband is older and impotent and allows his wife her sexual freedom. Both seem to be playing off one another, blaming each other for Angelo's death, and both are definitely suspects and not telling the whole truth, but when Angelo's connection to some corrupt politicians comes to light, there are a whole host of other possibilities as well. While the mystery was rather obvious, as always, I enjoyed the whole package of being deposited into Sicily, with its weather, the food, the atmosphere of Montalbano's world. These books read very quickly but are by no means cozy--there's a lot of sexual innuendo and content and graphic descriptions of the violent crime scenes. It's hard to know since it's written and set in a different culture if the author is trying to be 'sensational' or if this is just what's expected of crime fiction in Italy. At any rate, I loved this entry in the series no less than others but since I read two close together, am now content to wait another couple of months before I get to the next one. A.

11. FLOWER NET by Lisa See. #1 Liu Hulan mystery set in China. Hulan is an inspector with the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing. American-educated, she seems to be the natural choice to work with an American delegation who arrives to sort out the murders of two men--one Chinese, one American. The American happens to be the ambassador's son, and the Chinese man was a friend of his, and was found stuffed into a closet on a ship carrying illegals to California. These deaths are destined to trigger a diplomatic explosion if they aren't solved quickly. David Stark, the attorney chosen to go to China--and coincidentally, Hulan's former lover--believes that the deaths have something to do with the Chinese mafia, the triads, particularly one called Rising Phoenix, but is short on proof. Working together with Hulan in China and in America, their delegation works to sift the clues. I must admit I was quite disappointed in this book, having read some of Lisa See's other "literary" fiction which I enjoyed a lot. There are three books in this mystery series, all written earlier than her other works, and it shows. This was rather amateurishly written, the plot was full of holes and the characters were two-dimensional. It was also just....boring, for lack of a better word. I didn't care about either of the main characters and wasn't really sure "who" they were, actually. I did finish it, but I skimmed the last 50 pages and in retrospect, rather wish I hadn't bothered. I really have no desire to read on in the series at all. C-/D+

12. GRAVE SECRET by Charlaine Harris. (AUDIO) #4 (and final--according to the author) Harper Connelly paranormal mystery in which Harper and Tolliver head back to Texas at the behest of the well-moneyed Lizzie Joyce, who is seeking to find out how her grandfather died a few years previously. When Lizzie leads them to a small family graveyard and deliberately doesn't point out which grave is her grandfather's, Harper sighs and begins 'reading' each grave, with the name and how they died--but springs a surprise on the family by telling them that Mariah, Richard Joyce's caregiver after his stroke, died from an infection after childbirth--NOT from a ruptured appendix as they were told. While in Texas, Harper and Tolliver stop to see their young sisters (who have been adopted by Harper's aunt) and learn from Tolliver's older brother Mark that their father is out of prison on parole and has been asking to see him. Harper also touches base with the police, trying to find out if there have been any new leads in her sister Cameron's disappearance. Once they poke all their irons into the various fires, Tolliver is shot, there is an attempt against Harper's life and other people are killed. As the author strives to wind down this series by tying up all the loose ends, the plot careens a bit and latches on to several very convenient coincidences, but the ending was satisfying if a bit rushed. I have enjoyed this series of Harris' more than any of the others she writes and was very intrigued with Harper's strange gift. Once again the reader (Alyssa Bresnahan) did a stellar job. One note: you really must start from the beginning of this series or you will be sadly lacking in the understanding of events as the backstory is very important as are the twisty relationships in the Lang-Connelly family. A-.

13. IF IT'S NOT ONE THING, IT'S A MURDER by Liz Wolfe. #1 Skye Donovan "photographic" mysteries, although I have to say for most of this book, the main character was Skye Williams (she gets divorced and takes her maiden name back) and doesn't even pick up a camera til the last quarter of the book. Skye Williams nee Donovan is a woman who discovers her husband is cheating on her--with another man. While all that drama is going on, her best friend Bobbi Jo is accused of murder, then Bobbi's husband dies after having a massive stroke, and her other best friend Lily has a relationship crisis AND a daughter's wedding to plan also. At first I wasn't sure I was going to finish the book. It was really scattered with a bunch of different subplots, there was too much going on, not enough details about the mystery--which almost seemed to fall through the cracks as the book went on--and I had a hard time relating to Skye, who struck me as just another SUV-driving yuppie suburbanite trying to stave off boredom with various hobbies, clubs and friend-activities. There was a lot of set-up, a lot of going 'round and 'round in circles, and while the main character did grow on me somewhat after awhile, there are too many relationship/romance-like sides to the stories for my taste. I'm going to try the second one in the series (probably from the library though, rather than acquiring it) and see if things have improved. I didn't really feel as though this was a mystery--more like chick lit with sort of a mystery (I figured it out well in advance) attached. If you like that sort of mystery, you will probably enjoy this more than I did. C+

14. THE LOST SYMBOL by Dan Brown. #3 Robert Langdon thriller/mystery. Professor Langdon, specialist in symbology, is summoned to Washington by (he thinks) his good friend Peter Solomon on very short notice. Once there, he discovers that Peter has been captured by a madman who expects Langdon to unlock the centuries-old Masonic secret of the Ancient Mysteries--a portal, a pyramid hidden under Washington DC or his friend will be killed. As with the other two books, this one proceeds at breakneck speed, slowed down only by the flashbacks each character has, as Langdon and a cast of other interesting characters race against time in an effort to save (or destroy) Solomon and the secret he has hidden. It's up to the professor to decode various items and bring practical interpretation to the fore, while barely having time to stop and wipe the sweat from his brow. I did enjoy the book on the whole, but as this is the third in the series, the plot twists and turns are now expected and somewhat formulaic rather than surprising. The author provides some nuggets of information, trivia and arcana centering around the Masons and their legends and I do enjoy this sort of a mystery and probably will do more of my own research on these topics at a later date. If you enjoyed the others in the series you will probably like this one too, as I did. That said, I can't say that it's worth all the hype leading up to it, but then again, how could ANY book live up to that much hype!? LOL Not great literature by any stretch of the imagination--but still a worthy read. B+.

15. SAND SHARKS by Margaret Maron (AUDIO) #15 Judge Deborah Knott mystery. Deborah is off to the beach at Wilmington for a judges' conference while new husband Dwight takes his son and Deborah's brother Will north to Virginia to clear out his murdered ex-wife's house and ready it for selling, while attending some seminars of his own in that area. Deborah is looking forward to a few days of relaxing on the beach, seeing old friends and scarfing down some fresh seafood, but of course ends up smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation when she discovers the strangled body of Judge Pete Jeffries in the water. She didn't know him well but had witnessed him being quite a butthead in just the few hours before his death that evening at Jonah's, a local restaurant. Her colleagues then fill the gaps with other stories of his greed and incompetence and the suspect list burgeons. When an older judge who is about to retire is deliberately run down on the way to a retirement reception for him, putting him into a coma, the local police detective and (privately) Deborah begin trying to figure out if the two incidents are related--and if so, how. There was a lot of different personal things going on in this episode, and the mystery seemed somewhat secondary. Which is okay, because I love visiting with Deborah and her family and friends. Another wonderful episode in this series, which has become one of my very favorites, and probably THE favorite audio series for me now, since reader C.J. Critt does such a fantastic job of interpreting who Deborah is and also all the secondary characters as well as the peripheral characters who exist for just a short time. The down side? I have to wait many moons for the release of the next one! A.

16. BAKING CAKES IN KIGALI by Gaile Parkin. This is a story about Angel, a menopausal woman living in Kigali, Rwanda with her husband and five grandchildren. Both of her children have died in her native Tanzania, and she and her husband move to Kigali when he is offered a consultancy with the university there. Angel bakes cakes, and while she runs her business out of her apartment, she considers herself "a professional somebody." The story encompasses life in and around an apartment compound, featuring a variety of people from all over the world who have come to Kigali for various reasons. It tells of the struggle to beat back the myths about AIDS, about learning ways of dealing with centuries-old traditions that keep women firmly in their places, about a commingling of people who speak one or two of several different languages who practice different religions and have different outlooks on life surviving and even sometimes happily co-existing. At first I thought this book was going to be kind of lame, too cozy, too much like Mma Ramotswe goes to Kigali. But it wasn't, and by the time I was done with it, I was very satisfied, felt I had gained much cultural (and geographical!) knowledge about different African traditions and was glad to have read it. I found much that I could relate to with Angel despite our many differences--especially her descriptions of her hot flashes! LOL It's simultaneously silly, heart-breaking, depressing, poignant and yet hopeful. It's a story of survival, and so much more. Highly recommended! A+

17. STEEL GUITAR by Linda Barnes. #4 Carlotta Carlyle mystery set in Boston, MA. Carlotta, a private investigator who drives cab to fill in the monetary gap, picks up a fare she recognizes--Dee Willis, a blues singer/guitarist who has increasingly gained fame and fortune over the years. The same Dee Willis whom Carlotta used to play with in a blues band. The same Dee Willis who stole Carlotta's husband Cal, now ex. Carlotta saves Dee from a bunch of hungry hobos who attack when Dee begins waving money around looking for 'one of their kind.' When they've escaped and Dee realizes who she is, she hires Carlotta to find an old mutual friend of theirs, another musician named Davey Dunrobie. Against her better judgment, Carlotta agrees, but when Dee's bass player Brenda ends up dead in Dee's bed, she begins to wonder how that event ties into Dee's hiring Carlotta. As angry as she has been with Dee in the past, Carlotta can't imagine her having anything to do with murder. So who did kill Brenda, and what has it got to do with Davey Dunrobie? Another good entry in the series, and one in which we get a closer look at Carlotta's past and where she's come from. A-.

18. GROUNDS FOR MURDER by Sandra Balzo. #2 Maggy Thorsen mystery. Maggy is co-owner of Uncommon Grounds, a coffee shop in Brookhills, a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She and her business partner Caron are struggling to keep things going, what with the death of their other partner in the last book, and trying to stay ahead of the chain coffee stores springing up. Maggy, planning to attend Java Ho, a coffee convention being held locally, agrees reluctantly to host the Barista Competition, hoping for some good publicity for Uncommon Grounds. But things turn messy when Marvin LaRoche, owner of the HotWired coffee chain and the convention's organizer, is bashed on the head with the trophy--and Maggy finds his body. Being a power-hungry self-centered man and having delivered a very controversial speech at the opening ceremonies of the convention, there is no shortage of suspects with a motive to clobber LaRoche. Maggy is even added to the list as she had a rather loud argument with him just hours before his death. So she has a reason to investigate, and doesn't share all she knows with her love interest, Sheriff Jake Pavlick, which gets her into even more trouble. I had a gut feeling about the baddie in this book, but didn't really know why or how the murder was done until close to the end. Enjoyable read, this series seems to be what I'd call a "semi-cozy." There are definitely some adult themes and a little mild cussing, but it's not terribly edgy. I like the author's writing style and down-to-earth characters and am looking forward to the next one in the series. A-

19. THE CHALK CIRCLE MAN by Fred Vargas. #1 Chief Inspector Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg mystery set in Paris. Adamsberg, the new Commissaire recently transferred from his home in the Pyrenees, comes with a stellar reputation for solving big cases, but on the surface he appears more like a bumbling Columbo-esque sleuth who doesn't use any of the usual techniques for solving crimes. Working more by his senses than by deductive reasoning, Adamsberg begins taking interest in a person who draws blue chalk circles around various objects around the city and writing an odd little quotation next to the circle. He feels that something bigger is coming, and that soon the chalk circle man will be encircling dead bodies with his chalk rather than discarded plastic toys, broken watch straps and the like. And so it happens, to the disappointment of Adamsberg's colleague Danglard, an often-tipsy man who views Adamsberg's reputation skeptically--but comes to respect it by the end of the case. This book was a little hard to get into at first, possibly in part due to the translation, not sure. The writing style doesn't seem to flow well at times, but when it does, it's brilliant. The main character was also quite an enigma, with his personal foibles intersecting with his professional work. It was difficult to get to know him and his methods, but by the end of the book I was more comfortable with him and with the whole situation. Although there have been several later books in the series translated into English in past years, and I've had a couple of them on my TBR for awhile, I was glad I waited to get this one (the first in series) and read it first. I'm hoping future books will make more sense due to the groundwork laid by this one. B+

20. CHARLIE BONE AND THE SHADOW by Jenny Nimmo (AUDIO) #7 Children of the Red King YA fantasy series. Charlie and his endowed friends, all descendents of the fabled Red King, all attendees of Bloor's Academy, are once again under attack by the nasty side of the family tree. Charlie's parents are still away on their extended second honeymoon, and Charlie's nasty Grandma Bone brings a wrapped package into the basement, knowing that Charlie's curiosity will get the better of him, and it does--he and his friend Benjamin's dog Runner Bean are sucked into the painting to the stark, foreboding land of Badlock. There, Charlie meets up with one of his ancestors, Otis Yewbeam, and a nasty stone gargoyle dog named Oddthumb. Charlie eventually manages to get out, but Runner Bean remains trapped inside, much to Benjamin's dismay. Charlie plans to bring Billy Raven, an albino boy who's an orphan, home the following weekend to try to speak to Runner (he speaks to animals) to try to figure out how to get him back. Meanwhile, Dagbert "the Drowner" Endless begins plotting his revenge against Charlie and his friend Tancred Torsson, but behind all these attacks is the evil Count Harken, an enchanter set on eliminating all those who work against him. Another excellent entry in the series with yet another cliffhanger at the end! A.

DNF: GHOST AT WORK by Carolyn Hart. I tried the audio version, and while the fact that the reader was annoying influenced my decision to stop somewhat, I wasn't getting into the book itself at all either.

Current reads: CHRISTMAS IS MURDER by C.S. Challinor, BONE CROSSED by Patricia Briggs and listening to THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY by Siobhan Dowd.