Framing the Dialogue

Archive for June, 2016

Foreign Agent

foreign agent“Islamic terrorism had exploded in Europe.  Americans had been killed.  The United States had been unequivocal about what it expected its European allies to do.  It was time for the gloves to come off.  They were at war.  The terrorists hid among the very people they were slaughtering.  They used the freedom and openness of the West to strike at soft targets…They were not legitimate combatants.  They were savages…They respected one thing and one thing only – force.

True American Hero – Mike Rowe

mike roweI have not done one of the “True American Hero” posts for over three years!  I hadn’t consciously avoided the topic, but no one jumped out at me until more recently…and that is the latest Hero for me, Mike Rowe.  You may know him best as the “Dirty Jobs” guy who jumped in a sewer manhole to clean crap or one of the many other dirty things he did during his series.  One of the themes about the series if you paid attention was how the folks who did this “dirty jobs” just did the work.  Sure the jobs were often unpleasant, but they did them and many times were damn cheerful about them.

A Taint In The Blood

taint“Kate Shugak wasn’t an especially humble person.  She had a good opinion of her own intelligence and capabilities, and there was very little she had set out to do in life that she had not accomplished…she was comfortable with who she was and what she had done to get there.  Mostly, she did things for people.  Most of the time, it helped, enough of the time it earned her a living, and she was comfortable with that too.”

Murder In A Heat Wave

Murder in a Heat Wave heat wavelooks to be the second in the Martha Patterson mystery series by author Gretchen Sprague.  Martha Patterson is a retired attorney who has just returned to New York City from a trip out West to visit her son and his family.  Patterson lives in a condo community with what appears to be an overbearing board.  Her arrival is greeted by a heat wave throughout the city and her building’s air conditioner is not working.  The heat inside the building exacerbates tempers and murder ensues.  Martha Patterson finds herself pulled into the investigation; one with far too many suspects, many of whom are neighbors.

Guilt by Association

guilt by association“I deliberately kept my eyes turned away from the end of the hall so I wouldn’t see the cop taping Jake’s door.  Even from where I stood, a strange stillness seemed to surround his office.  The memory of all the nights I’d sat with him there, talking about our cases, laughing about something a witness had said, was so vivid I could hear his voice, see him toss a mini pretzel into the air and catch it in his mouth.  Never again.”

Chopping Spree

choppingChopping Spree by Diane Mott Davidson is in the genre of “light” murder mystery novels with a cooking angle.  In the case of Goldy Schulz, she is a caterer who has a knack for solving murders and is married to a police officer.  The book also contains some of the recipes for the food she is catering.

In this book, Goldy is quite busy and has to cater an upscale event at a mall near Denver.  An old college acquaintance has popped up and hired her to cook for some events.  She is happy to see him again, but senses that something is off with him.

The Outliers

outliers“But that was before.  Things are divided up that way now: Before. After.  And in the dark and terrible middle lies my mom’s accident four months ago.  In the after, the no-phone rule is so much more important to my dad.  Lots of little things are.  Sometimes, it feels like he’s trying to rebuild our lives out of matchsticks.”

In The Outliers, we meet Wylie who has always struggled emotionally, but even more so since her mother’s accident.  When an estranged friend reaches out for help she must face her fears and decide whether to help and possibly put herself in danger.  Teamed with an unlikely boy from her school, Wylie’s journey is fast, furious, and takes her closer to mysteries of her life than she may be prepared for.

The Convict and Other Stories

The Convict and Other Storiesconvict and other stories is a collection of short stories by James Lee Burke.  Most of the stories are centered around familiar territories for Burke readers, Louisiana, Texas and the Southwest United States.  They share his ability to create mood through the descriptions of the environment and the characters.  I wondered a few times whether some of them were ideas for novels that couldn’t be expanded to a full book.

If you might guessed from the cover art that this is not a light read, you’d be correct.  The James Lee Burke books that I have read will never pass for light-hearted reading, but each of them has been entertaining.  I enjoyed the short stories as a change of pace from his longer works.