Monday, October 4, 2010


by Riley Adams
Berkley Prime Crime
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 9780425235539

Lulu Taylor is matriarch of a family that runs Aunt Pat’s barbeque restaurant, a favorite eatery in Memphis, TN. Hoping to win a spot on the Cooking Channel show, Lulu intends to wow the show’s scout, Rebecca Adrian, when she visits. But Rebecca is arrogant, rude, and not so easily impressed with the food or colorful characters gracing Aunt Pat’s. Rebecca manages to insult most of the people she meets, and when she’s found dead in her hotel room from food poisoning, all eyes turn to Aunt Pat’s, the last place she ate. In hopes of saving her restaurant’s reputation, Lulu turns amateur sleuth, but suspects keep adding up, most of whom are patrons of Aunt Pat’s, some of whom are members of Lulu’s own family.

Readers who enjoy eccentric characters will not be disappointed with Adams’ first book in her Memphis BBQ mystery series. Adams places the series against an appealing backdrop: Memphis, Tennessee, with its gentle Southern charm, charming vernacular and mouth-watering food. Although the plot at times takes a second seat to a plethora of zany characters, Adam’s witty narrative and dialogue move the story along in a fun, entertaining way. An added bonus: great recipes at the end of the book.


by Steve Cushman
Canterbury House Publishing
Vilas, North Carolina
ISBN: 9780982539637

Fifteen-year-old Julian Hale is not the typical teenage male. Instead of playing sports or actively dating, Julian loves spending time cooking with his mother. Julian’s world is upended when his mother unexpectedly moves to Florida and suspects her reason, to manage her parents’ motel, is just an excuse. Julian, who rarely interacts with his father, blames him but remains behind, determined to move to Florida after the school year ends. When an elderly neighbor befriends Julian, he begins to enjoy his time with her, feeding and watching the birds in her yard. Through her, Julian begins to understand it’s important to know someone other than superficially and to follow one’s passion. Since Julian’s passion is cooking, he begins to make dinners for his father and befriends a young woman who shares his love for cooking. When school ends, Julian is faced with the decision to move to Florida or stay at home with his father and new friends.

This well-written coming-of-age novel is heartwarming and poignant. Characterization is exceptional and realistic, the plot meaningful and intriguing. The development of the relationship between Julian and his father as it evolves is insightful and well-done. Through Julian’s narrative, the reader witnesses his journey of self-discovery, acceptance of his parents’ estranged relationship, and love of family and friends.


by Jane Sasser
Finishing Line Press
Georgetown, KY
ISBN: 9781599244976

Jane Sasser’s eloquent poems speak of life’s journey via memories of childhood, parents and relationships.

Of her mother’s infirmity:

Uncertain on her feet, my mother
stumbles like a toddler, each step
a whole new learning of the world—
as thought she were not the woman
who at thirteen strode around the bend
of a country road right into
the midst of a chain gang…

Of the death of her father:

I see no final sadness
which I cannot resign
no regrets left
like half-done sketches,
just these haunting memories
my bones will not let go.

A relationship:

Lying awake, I thought about endings,
how sometimes there’s an explosion
of tangled limbs and veined leaves,
but sometimes there’s simply a slump,
the quiet droop of riven wood
sinking from the green canopy.

The words tumble pleasingly off the tongue with a soothing cadence, filled with emotion and wistfulness, subtle humor, and profound insight, each poem executed with great skill and deftness, instilling the need to return to read and savor again and again.


by David Rosenfelt
St. Martin’s Press
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
ISBN: 9780312373948

Chris Turley, reporter for the Bergen News, lives in the shadow of his father, award-winning investigative reporter Edward Turley. Chris’s anonymity comes to an end when he witnesses the explosion of an office building while waiting to meet a source. Chris rescues five people and is hailed a hero, finding himself an instant celebrity. Chris’s life and career take a dramatic turn when his source subsequently feeds him information that establishes Chris as an investigative journalist. But Chris’s celebrity status fades as the mysterious source begins randomly killing people, using Chris as his reason for doing so. Law enforcement personnel and the FBI initially suspect Chris is the culprit but eventually turn their investigation outward, following clues that lead to nowhere.

Rosenfelt is best known for his light, comedic Andy Carpenter mystery series. This standalone thriller offers a fast-moving plot filled with twists and turns. Chris is a likable character, an everyday guy thrust into a complicated situation from which there seems no escape. Although some may question the reason behind the murders, the psychopathic killer is well portrayed and adds a thrilling dimension to the plot.


by Dean Koontz
Bantam Books/
Random House Publishing
ISBN: 9780553807158

Recluse Grady Adams and his Irish wolfhound Merlin spot two white, unidentifiable animals while on a walk one afternoon. That evening, the two animals make their presence known and Grady calls his good friend, veterinarian Camillia Rivers. Camillia is fascinated by the animals, who show distinct human characteristics, but can find no record of such species. When she calls two former colleagues, she puts in motion a series of events that could lead to the destruction of the two friendly animals. Homeland Security shows up, declaring the two could be a threat to national security, and Grady and Camillia fear for their safety, unaware more animals of like nature have appeared across the globe and strange things are happening around them.

This standalone is hard to classify as to genre, enveloping a bit of most into its content. The plot moves along at a fast pace, offering suspenseful scenarios and a mystical feel. Koontz’s usual characters are evident: man, woman and dog, each involved in a suspenseful plot, and all well developed and essential to the story.