Tag Archives: mystery

Review of Ice Cream Man, by Charles Puccia

I received an audio copy of Charales Puccia‘s Ice Cream Man for review. A copy of the ebook can be downloaded for free from Puccia’s blog.

Description from Goodreads:
Solving a marital problem can create bigger problems –ones that lead to murder.

For the love of his boss, Vinnie pays. He should know that benefits don’t always accrue to the person paying.

VINNIE BRIGGS will do anything to help his boss DAN LIVORNO at Del Vecchio & Neal, Inc. Dan is the most beautiful and intelligent man Vinnie’s ever met, and he has met a lot of men in his short twenty-two years. Dan’s problem derives from his wife –GINNY LIVORNO’s obsession with super strong, muscular men: sthenolagnia. Jealousy consumes Dan, and for good reason: Ginny’s drop-dead gorgeous, the kind of woman you rarely meet, if ever.

Dan’s believes to help Ginny he must remove her from the source of her obsession, the champion pro bodybuilder BEN HAUSEN, and Ginny’s personal trainer. Out of sight, out of mind. Just because Ben’s gay doesn’t reduce Dan’s jealousy, leading to irrational decisions.

Dan knows his marriage is at stake. Ginny agrees, but not because of her so-called obsession, which she denies. A fortunate circumstance presents Dan his solution: apply for the DV&N’s directorship of European Financial Services in Paris.

LINDA LORDS, Dan’s rival in financial analysis, has the same goal. With the help of BILL BARRINGTON, the executive vice president at DV&N, she has a better shot at the Paris job. Linda and Bill have their obsession to satisfy–greed. As co-conspirators, with Linda in Paris, they can embezzle enough money to begin new lives. Joining the superrich, they’ll abandon family obligations and morality. The have visions of unbridled sex, gambling, and any other vice they choose, not necessarily with each other. All they need do is eliminate Dan as challenger for the directorship.

Lucky for Dan he has Vinnie to help him, and unlucky for Vinnie, Bill has the Brooklyn mob. Dan has no idea his easy solution to resolve Ginny’s sthenolagnia will change his understanding of the world. Straight arrow Dan must learn about real passion, gay sex, bodybuilding, and cheaters.

Dan’s apparent simple solution begets a complex one. He’ll need Ben’s help, the very muscle hunk he despises. Dan’s new problem is not to solve his marriage, but Vinnie.

I have really mixed feeling about this book. The writing is fine, as is Derrick McClain‘s narration, but the story seemed to go off the rails at some point and I still can’t quite finger it’s location on the genre spectrum. There is a mystery to be solved by the characters (the reader knows who done it), but there is too much focus on relationships and sex to be a mystery novel. There is focus on a relationship, but not the right sort of focus to be a romance. There is erotica-level sex (in fact, the last 1/4 or so of the book is basically just sex), but it’s clearly not an erotic novel. In the end, I’m not sure what it is. All the disparate pieces just don’t fit together quite right. The graphic sex especially seemed out of place. And I say that as someone who loves a good, dirty erotica.

Similarly, this is a “Vinnie Briggs” novel, but Vinnie isn’t the main character. In fact, he’s in a coma for most of the book. (Though I did find him by far the most endearing character.)

Lastly, some aspects of the book simply made me uncomfortable. Some of the language grated. I know bad guy characters can be expected to use derogatory language. But I didn’t enjoy having it scrape against my backbone, thus it detracted from my enjoyment of the book as a whole. There are gay characters and they’re represented well. But I also felt that there was a certain discomfort with them. It was in some of the subtleties of language and the way they themselves are used by straight characters. Lastly, Ginny has a sexual obsession that she clearly coerces others into participating in. If she was a male character, treating female characters as she does Dan and Ben there would be outrage. As it was, I hated her throughout the whole book.

In the end, I didn’t dislike the book. But I think I’d only continue the series if I found the next book free. So, I liked it enough to read, but not enough to allocate funds for it. That makes it a fairly middle of the road read.

Review of The Flinch Factor, by Michael A. Kahn

I picked up a used copy of The Flinch Factor, by Michael A. Kahn. He’s a local author, but I’ve never met him.

Description from Goodreads:
Several years have passed since we last saw Rachel Gold. The stunning and savvy attorney was then engaged to be married. Since, she’s become a mother, then a much-grieving widow, and now she is embroiled in a lost cause—the Frankenstein Case—where she represents a blue-collar neighborhood fighting a powerful developer intent on bulldozing their homes to erect a swanky gated community. Who’s pushing her here? Of course, her mother.

Rachel’s strategy will be based on the wild card that is the judge on the case—a judge so wacky he’s known to the St Louis Bar as The Flinch Factor (think the spawn of Judge Judy and Pee Wee Herman).

Plus Rachel gains another new client: Susannah, sister of Nick Moran, the heartthrob of every woman whose kitchen he remodeled. Nick has been murdered, found slumped on the front seat of his pickup along an isolated lane known to the vice squad as Gay Way, his pants unzipped, a coil of rubber tubing on the seat, an empty syringe on the floor. His female groupies are, to say the least, stunned. Gay? No way.

Although Susannah seems the classic blindly adoring younger sister, a skeptical Rachel agrees to check it out. To her surprise, she turns up facts and witnesses suggesting that maybe, just maybe, Nick’s death was staged as an overdose during sex. Then things rapidly grow darker in what increasingly becomes a realFrankenstein of a case….

I enjoyment this. While not really relevant to others’ experience of the book, part of what I liked so much was that the book is set in Saint Louis, where I live. I alway love seeing characters going to familiar places and enacting local quirks. Kahn did right by our fair city.

More widely relevant is how diverse the cast is. I always appreciate this. Rachel is Jewish (and fully adult, no 24-year-old heroine with a miraculous law degree here), her best friend is fat and successful in both his professional and romantic life, her legal partner is transgendered and hit on repeatedly (as well as being like 6′ 2″ and about 250lbs), the main police detective is old, one of her friends is gay, and the individuals Rachel encounters through the book came in a rainbow of races.

The mystery isn’t hard to figure out. In fact, it’s pretty obvious. But being a legal thriller, not a mystery, the fun is in Rachel figuring out how to prove it. I did think she took too long to put the pieces together, considering how smart she’s obviously supposed to be. But all in all, a good read.

An additional note: This is book eight in a the Rachel Gold Mysteries series. I’ve not read 1-7, but had no problem picking this one up and following it.

Review of Mind Games, by Polly Iyer

I grabbed a copy of Polly Iyler‘s Mind Games when it was free on Amazon last year.

Description from Goodreads:
During a New Orleans Mardi Gras Ball, psychic entertainer Diana Racine touches the hand of a masked Cyrano de Bergerac and is instantly transported into the icy-cold body of a dead woman submerged in water. As Diana crumples to the floor, water filling her lungs, she hears Cyrano whisper that the game has begun. Diana has been called every epithet in the book: charlatan, cheat, publicity hound…and genius–all at least partially true. But convincing New Orleans police lieutenant Ernie Lucier that her vision of the dead woman is the real thing may be her hardest act yet. He becomes a believer when Diana leads him to the alligator-infested bayou and the woman’s remains. When another vision leads to another body, it’s clear that the two dead women are a prelude to the killer’s ultimate victim–Diana.

I’m torn about how I feel about this book. The writing isn’t bad, though the first half is better than the second. The pacing is fine and the editing is too. Here’s the thing though, I am just so damned tired of reading books predicated on female victimhood, whose plot hinges on some obsessed man stalking and abusing a woman (or women). How many times have I read this?!!! This book spices it up a little by including psychics, but even that I’ve read before (Example: Conduit, by Angie Martin). And that’s not even the only over used plot device here. Sexual sadist with a history of sexual abuse and identity issues? Nope, neeeevvveeerr seen that one used before. (Silence of the Lambs?) I mean, this book could be ok, except it all just BEEN DONE BEFORE ad nauseam.