Posts Tagged ‘multiple plotlines’


October 17, 2012

Author:  Sara Paretsky

Title:  Breakdown

Genre:  Mystery

Publication Date:  2012

Number of Pages:  431

Geographical Setting:  Chicago, Illinois

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series:  The V.I. Warshawski Series (#16)

Plot Summary:  Chicago private detective V.I. Warshawski investigates the potential involvement of a group of preteen girls interested in the Supernatural in the grisly vampire-style murder of a local private detective.  Meanwhile, a polarizing cable TV news host ratchets up his attempts to smear a candidate for the U.S. Senate by digging up dirt on wealthy businessman Chaim Salanter, an elderly Jewish supporter of the candidate and the grandfather of one of the girls discovered at the scene of the murder.  Plotlines converge at breakneck speed when Salanter’s granddaughter is kidnapped.  With the girl’s life hanging in the balance, Warshawski races to determine how the original murder and Salanter’s well-kept secrets are related to the kidnapping, a vicious attack on an old friend, and the death of an orderly at a state mental facility.  As the plot twists and turns, it seems clear that someone is willing to go to great lengths to make sure events of the past stay buried. 

Subject Headings:  Warshawski, V.I. (Ficticious Character)—Fiction; Women Private Investigators—Illinois—Chicago—Fiction;  Murder—Investigation—Fiction; Rich People—Fiction; Political Campaigns—Fiction;  Chicago (Ill.)—Fiction

Appeal:  fast-paced, compelling, suspenseful, dangerous, dark, gritty, sarcastic, engaging, series characters, intricately plotted, multiple plotlines, plot twists, investigative, rich and famous, contemporary, urban, political, details of Chicago, candid, earthy, straight-forward

Three Appeal Terms that Best Describe Book:  fast-paced, intricately plotted, suspenseful

Fiction Read-alikes:

A Trouble of Fools by Linda Barnes

Fans of Sara Paretsky’s tough, female private investigator V.I. Warshawski may also enjoy getting to know Carlotta Carlyle, the smart, hard-nosed female P.I. at the heart of Linda Barnes’ fast-paced mysteries, which are set against the gritty urban landscape of Boston. In this first title of the series, Carlotta’s investigation into the disappearance of a missing cab driver soon draws her into intrigue involving the IRA, a major drug ring, the FBI, and a member of the Mob.

The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Readers who enjoyed following the nasty political campaign and related media tie-ins at the heart of Breakdown may also enjoy this suspenseful and intricately plotted mystery involving murder and sleazy politicians.  Plotlines converge as Detective Jake Brogan investigates a series of murders of young women in Boston, while disgraced reporter Jane Ryland covers a seemingly-unrelated sex scandal involving a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

The Chicago Way by Michael T. Harvey

Readers of the V.I. Warshawski series who enjoy its gritty Chicago setting may also enjoy this first title in Harvey’s series about ex-Chicago cop and private detective, Michael Kelly.  At the request of his former partner, Kelly agrees to investigate a cold case involving a violent rape committed 8 years ago.  After his partner is found dead the next day, Kelly’s investigation soon points to the possibility that a serial killer/rapist is currently on the loose.  In this fast-paced mystery, the body count mounts as Kelly races to expose a cover-up related to the original crime.

Related Non-Fiction:

Politics on Demand: The Effects of 24-Hour News on American Politics by Alison Dagnes

A major plotline in Breakdown revolves around the efforts of a popular, politically polarizing host of a major cable TV news program to influence the outcome of a campaign for the U.S. Senate.  This book examines the proliferation of the 24-hour news cycle perpetuated by cable news stations, and the resulting shift in coverage away from substantive treatment of political issues to opinion-based reporting.   Also discussed is the impact this type of coverage has had on Americans’ understanding of politics and government, changes in the ways in which news organizations use politicians, and vice versa.

The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-1944 by Herman Kruk

A significant plotline in Breakdown involves an investigation into a major character’s experience as a youth living in the Jewish Ghetto of Vilna, Lithuania during WWII.  This book is a translation of a diary kept by Herman Kruk, a Polish Jew who lived in the Vilna Ghetto, who ultimately perished in a labor camp in Estonia.  The diary provides a heartbreaking account of the conditions, violence, and cruelty that marked everyday life in the Ghetto.

Vampires, Zombies, and Shape-shifters (Secrets of the Supernatural)  by Rebecca Stefoff

Secret rituals surrounding membership in a book club for a (fictitious) popular series of books about vampires and shape-shifters inadvertently connects a group of preteen girls to a dangerous murder plot in Breakdown.  This book provides a review of the legend and folklore surrounding the enduring myth of vampires, zombies, and shape-shifters (e.g., werewolves).

Becky King

Strange Bedpersons

October 26, 2011

Author: Jennifer Crusie

Title: Strange Bedpersons

Genre: Romance

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 328

Geographical Setting: Kentucky

Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary: Tess and Nick are no longer together; chalk it up to being completely different people. She’s a feminist teacher who grew up on a commune and is extremely outspoken. He’s a conservative, womanizing lawyer who wants to make partner. Of course, underneath his outer-shell, Nick is a decent guy. So when he needs a fake-fiancé for a weekend trip to Kentucky to help his career, she’s willing to play along. See, Nick has to court a Rush Limbaugh-esque writer to get a promotion, and he’s on the school board for a school Tess wants to work at. Will Tess and Nick be able to get his help, and will their closeness affect their relationship?

Subject Headings:

Thirties (age), men/women relationships, lawyers

Appeal: fast-paced, humorous, lighthearted, romantic, upbeat, steamy, conversational, heartwarming, multiple plotlines , charming, breezy, character-centered

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: romantic, lighthearted, humorous

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Brooks, David. “The Social Animal.” Brooks writes about a hypothetical couple and details and discusses soft-science about human nature as he views how the couple changes over the years, much as Tess and Nick change during the novel.

Dowd, Maureen. “Are Men Necessary?” A humorous look at changing gender-roles and relationships; quite possibly a book Tess would have on her shelf.

Gray, John. “Men, Women and Relationships: Making Peace with the Opposite Sex.” By the author of “Men Are From Mars…”, this book details overcoming differences and says not to change your partner—something Tess and Nick learned about.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Dahl, Victoria. “Bad Boys Do”. A HQN romance about wrong first impressions, women in their 30s not wanting to change to find a husband, and a light, goofy, tone.

Donovan, Susan. “Knock Me Off My Feet.” Both books have ‘tomboyish’ main characters with an opposites-attract romance plotline and witty tone.

Higgins, Kristan. “Just One of the Guys”.  Both have tomboy main characters, and a light, breezy, tone, although this romance here has a “will he notice me” vibe.

Name: Brian C

Nobody Runs Forever

October 7, 2009

October 7, 2009 by cassie67

Author:  Richard Stark

Title: Nobody Runs Forever

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 304

Geographical Setting:  Eastern United States

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series (If applicable): Parker series

Plot Summary: Parker, a hard-as-nails career criminal, is at a poker game when one of the men is discovered to be wearing a wire. After the man’s body is disposed of, Parker is contacted by one of the men at the game about a bank heist he wants to do, robbing armored cars carrying money from one bank to another. The other players in the heist are introduced, and the details of the heist are revealed, although some of the people involved don’t know what they’re doing and keep changing the plan. A bounty hunter shows up looking for the man killed at the poker game, a police detective starts nosing around, and the robbers have to be quick on their feet to get the goods and stay away from the law.

Subject Headings: Adventure/thriller, Crime & mystery, Bank robberies, Criminals, American Mystery & Suspense Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Mystery & Detective,

Parker (Fictitious character), Suspense fiction, Crime & Thriller

Appeal: This edgy, compelling look at the inside workings of a bank heist has a complex plot line with multiple points of view. The writing style is stark and unembellished, and the explicit violence and language add to the sense of these characters as shadowy, menacing figures with their own immoral code. The story starts out action driven and plot driven, but it takes a few detours to flesh out some of the characters’ motivations.

3 Terms that best describes this book: Gritty, menacing, plot-oriented

Similar Authors and Works (criminals, heists and plans gone wrong):

Killing Castro by Lawrence Block (killers brought together to assassinate Castro, showing their motivations and outcomes)

The Asphalt Jungle by W. R. Burnett (a jewelry heist is planned by a group of seedy con-artists, written in gritty style)

Damaged Goods by Roland Jefferson (a convicted bank robber gets a gritty group together to pull off a bank heist)

3 Non-fiction Works (bank robberies and heists gone wrong)

Heist! The $17 Million Loomis Fargo Theft by Jeff Diamant presents what happened from the point of view of a bank employee and the FBI investigation.

Robbing Banks, An American History, 1831-1999 by L.R. Kirchner gives the inside scoop on bank heists, including details of criminal incompetence and ingenuity.

Ballad of the whiskey robber: a true story of bank heists, ice hockey, Transylvanian pelt smuggling, moonlighting detectives, and broken hearts by Julian Rubenstein had to be included just for the title, but it also traces the story of a Hungarian bank robber and what he did to stay alive.

Name: Christine E.

Tags: Compelling, deliberate, engrossing, distant, evocative, intriguing secondary (characters), multiple points of view, vivid, action oriented, character centered, complex, explicit violence, multiple plotlines, open-ended, plot centered, plot twists, strong language, tragic, contemporary, darker (tone), details of bank heists, edgy, gritty, hard edged, menacing, stark, unembellished

Posted in Thriller

Women’s Lives and Relationships/African American

June 15, 2009

Women’s Lives and Relationships

Title: The Lost Quilter

Author: Chiaverini, Jennifer

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 500 (large print edition)

Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina

Time Period: Pre –Civil War and Present Day

Series: Elm Creek Quilts Novels

Plot Summary: The Elm Creek Quilts Novels focus on women’s lives and relationships. Jennifer Chiaverini has interwoven historical relationships at Elm Creek Farm with present day ties to the farm in her books. The owners of Elk Creek Farm currently live at the home but have turned it into a quilt camp business. This latest book, The Lost Quilter, tells the historical story of Joanna, a runaway slave, who came to the farm when it played a role in the Underground Railroad. Joanna gives birth while at the farm but is subsequently apprehended by slave catchers.  As a result of her capture, Joanna is forced to leave her infant son behind at the farm. The Lost Quilter focuses on Joanna’s difficult life, her desire to one day reconnect with her son, and her eventual escape from slavery. The present day characters find hidden letters, realize a great-uncle was Joanna’s son, and attempt to find out what happened to Joanna. Seeing a historical quilt made during Pre-Civil War days leads the family to uncover Joanna’s story.

Subject Headings: Quilting – Fiction, Quilt makers – Fiction, Slavery – Fiction, African American – Fiction, Underground Railroad – Fiction, Genealogy – Fiction

Appeal: Historical, Multi-cultural, Historical detailed settings, Generational relationships,  Multiple plotlines, Layered, Different Points of View, Varied pace, Engaging, Heartwarming, Spiritual, Issues Resolved.

Three Terms that Describe this Book: Historical, Female Relationships, Heartwarming.

Similar Authors and Works (Fiction)

Dallas, Sandra – The Persian Pickle Club. This book, set during the Depression, weaves a story of friendship during hard times and addresses several issues, including physical abuse, infertility and prejudice.

Brice, Carleen – Orange Mint and Honey is the story of a struggling black graduate student, Shay. Raised by an alcoholic mother, Shay reluctantly returns home to move in with her mom. Although her mother no longer drinks, Shay, her mother, and baby half-sister struggle to forge new family relationships.

Allen, Sarah Addison – Garden Spells. This engaging book, with a whiff of magic, is the story of two sisters. One sister stayed in the family home, and the other left town as soon as she could. The wayward sister returns, with a young daughter in tow, to the family home as a refuge. Both work to form new family relationships and attempt to support one another as they strive to become emotionally healthy individuals.

Similar Authors and Works (Nonfiction)

Wisconsin Public Television – “A Century of Quilts: America in Cloth” is a DVD showing quilts as records of history, symbols of family and community and works of art.

Better Homes and Gardens Books – America’s Heritage Quilts. This books explains traditional quilts and their history. It also includes instructions and pattern pieces to quilt.

Hagedorn, Ann – Beyond the River: the untold story of the heroes of the Underground Railroad gives the history of the antislavery movement, abolitionists, and fugitive slaves.

Name: Donna Mihovilovich

Psychological Suspense

June 11, 2009

Psychological Suspense

Title: Scarpetta

Author: Cornwell, Patricia

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 500

Genre: Psychological Suspense

Geographic Setting: New York City

Time Period: Present Day

Series: Kay Scarpetta

Plot Summary: Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta leaves her practice in South Carolina to accept an assignment at Bellevue Hospital psychiatric prison ward, where her  husband works. An injured man, Oscar Bane, turns himself in to authorities claiming that he had been attacked by a stalker who had just killed someone else. He requests that only Dr. Scarpetta examine him. Is Oscar Bane a murderer, paranoid victim, or obsessed stalker fixated on Dr. Scarpetta? The only thing known for sure is that a woman had been tortured and murdered. There are bizarre twists and turns throughout the book. Dr. Scarpetta uses her technological skills to unravel the mystery and eventually reveal the  horrifying truth that threatens her entire family.

Subject Headings: Scarpetta, Kay (fictitious character) –Fiction, Medical examiners (law) –Fiction, Forensic pathologists – Fiction, Women physicians –Fiction

Appeal: Suspenseful, Multiple Plotlines, Complex plots, Scientific, Layered, Bizarre, Twists and Turns, Shocking, Horrifying,  Dark tone, Feminist, Intense.

Three terms that describe this book: Suspenseful, Scientific, Complex.

Similar Authors and Works (Fiction)

Reichs, Kathy – Bare Bones. Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist and uses her scientific training and research to solve this mystery.

Patterson, James – 1st to Die. This is the first in the Women’s Murder Club. Four women, a medical examiner, detective, reporter, and an attorney are friends who team up to solve crimes.

Cook Robin – Chromosome 6. The main character, Dr. Jack Stapleton, a forensic pathologist, and Dr. Laurie Montgomery use their medical training to solve a bizarre crime.

Similar Authors and Works (Nonfiction)

Denega, Danielle – Skulls and skeletons: true life stories of bone detectives. Forensic anthropologists who use their skills to solve mysteries are featured in this book.

Hunter, William – Solving Crimes with Physics.  Introduces and explains how forensic science associated with blood splatter, bullet ballistics, explosions, and other physical evidence can be used to understand crimes.

Nova – “The Perfect Corpse,” a DVD originally aired on television. Forensic scientists examine a headless Iron Age male corpse in Ireland. It is theorized that he had been a sacrificial victim of Celtic ritual.

Name: Donna Mihovilovich

Historical Fiction Annotation

May 28, 2009

Title: Shanghai Girls

Author: See, Lisa

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 309

Genre: Historical Fiction

Geographic Setting: Shanghai and Los Angeles (Chinatown)

Time Period: 1930s- 1950s

Series: NA

Plot Summary: Sisters Pearl and May Chin have grown up educated and wealthy.  They are models whose portraits are used for calendars and advertisements.  Their sophisticated lives of being entertained and wearing western clothes came to an unexpected and abrupt stop when their father arranged marriages for both of them to settle off gambling debts. Married to two brothers, their father-in-law instructs them to join the family in Los Angeles.  As they begin their journey, war breaks out in China. Although their first decision was to run away, difficult circumstances made it necessary to follow their father-in-law’s plan to come to America. While in China, their husbands’ family appeared to be wealthy, but once in America, they learn the all the members of the family must work very hard in family owned businesses and live very frugally. It is a story of the relationship of sisters from young adults to wives with cultural customs, self sacrificing decisions, and several life changing secrets affecting their lives. This complex story of sisters is layered with Pearl and May’s stories of their husbands, the challenges associated with adjusting to their new family and living in America.  While no longer living in China, the war in China still had repercussions on their life in America and how they lived in Chinatown. Everything affected their daily life, especially how they jointly raised the only child, a girl, born into the family and their relationship with her.

Subject Headings: Sister Relationships; Historical Fiction; Chinese Fiction; Immigrant Fiction; Los Angeles Chinatown Fiction; Family Secrets Fiction.

Appeal: densely written, historical situations, cultural tones, custom moral issues, characters slowly developed, sister relationships, complex secondary characters, multiple plotlines, family issue orientated, political, multiple country settings, open ended.

Three Terms that describe this book: relationships, layered, historical.

Similar Authors and Works (fiction): Tan, Amy – Joy Luck Club, a book of mother and daughter relationship colored by earlier immigration from China. Khlaed Hosseini – The Kite Runner: story of how the main characters develop and behave during political turmoil and how it affects their relationship.  Picout, Jodi – My Sister’s Keeper; story of two sister’s lives and the relationship that defines one sister’s role in life.

Similar Authors and Works (Non-fiction): Chai, May-lee and Winberg Chai – China A to Z: Everything You Need to Know to Understand Chinese Customs and Culture. Cho, Jenny: Chinatown in Los Angeles, California. Apter, Terri – The Sister Knot: Why We Fight, Why We’re Jealous, and Why We’ll Love Each Other No Matter What.

Name: Donna Mihovilovich

Tell Me Lies

April 1, 2009

Title: Tell Me Lies

Author: Cruise, Jennifer

Publication Date: 1998 (hardcover); 2004 (paperback)

Number of Pages: 322 (hardcover); 369 (paperback)

Genre: Romance; Contemporary

Geographical Setting: Frog Point, Ohio

Time Period: Contemporary – late 1990s

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: While innocently cleaning her husband’s car, Maddie Faraday, finds a pair of black thong panties under the driver’s seat of his car. Faster than Maddie can confront her husband, Brent, about his extramarital activities, she and her best friend Treva uncover a laundry list of his misdeeds that including cheating, embezzlement, and a plan to skip town and flee to South America. As Maddie’s world begins to crumble an old high school flame, C.L. Sturgis, returns to their small town of Frog Point, Ohio, ready and willing to rescue Maddie and her eight-year-old daughter Em. Things get even more complicated, when Brent is found dead and Maddie becomes the police department’s prime suspect. As gossip in town begins to swirl, Maddie and C.L. work to find Brent’s true killer and exonerate Maddie. As they come closer to the truth Maddie and C.L. become romantically involved. Ultimately, is revealed redeems Maddie, but shocks and stuns the residents of Frog Point, giving them plenty of good gossip.

Subject Headings: Small own life; Extramarital relations; Gossiping and gossips; Marriage; Husband and wife; Eight-year old girls; Murder; Truthfulness and falsehood; Deception; Mother and daughter; Mother and adult daughter; Secrets; Ohio

Appeal: easy, fast paced, quirky, well developed characters, character centered, domestic, multiple plotlines, racy, resolved ending, romp, sexually explicit at times, steamy, contemporary, humorous, romantic, sensual, small town, sexy, charming, candid, concise, suspenseful

Similar Authors and Works (Fiction): Philips, Susan Elizabeth – Ain’t She Sweet (small town, second chances, revenge, deception, contemporary romance) Evanovich, Janet and Charlotte Hughes – Full Scoop (secrets, scandal, mother and daughter relationship, mystery, suspense, humorous) Andrews, Mary Kay – Little Bitty Lies (men and women relationships, deception, lies, best friends, suburban setting, contemporary)

Similar Authors and Works (Nonfiction): Dunbar, Robin – Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language (analyzes the human rituals surrounding gossip and how humans rely on gossip to maintain contact); Edelman, Hope – Mother of My Mother: The Intricate Bond Between Generations (examines the relationships between mothers, daughters, and granddaughters and how these relationships can impact a woman’s life and development) Gertler, Stephanie and Adrienne Lopez – To Love, Honor, and Betray: The Secret Life of Suburban Wives (individual stories of suburban wives and their stories of marriage, infidelity and love)

Name: Joanna

Black Powder, White Smoke

March 17, 2009

Title: Black Powder, White Smoke

Author: Loren D. Estleman

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 318

Genre: Western

Geographical Setting: New Orleans, Louisiana; San Francisco, California; Galveston, Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas; Denver, Colorado

Time Period: 1885

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: This western tale about two illicit gunmen and those who seek their capture takes readers on a racially charged and fast-paced journey back to the 1880s. Freed slave, Honore “Honey” Broutrille is the owner of the House of Rest, a New Orleans bordello, flees after he kills a white man in defense of one of his girls. On the west coast, Emerson Emerson or “Twice” Emerson, a union army defect, commits a racially motivated crime and murders a Chinese man in San Francisco. In alternating chapters, readers follow Honey and Twice as they travel across the country committing crimes more shocking than the last. As their list of victims grows, the tales of their crimes become larger than life and attract those seeking their capture. Ernest Tobert, a journalist from Chicago, and Casper Box, a theater promoter, independently pursue Honey and Twice until all four men descend on Colorado for a classic western style shoot out that will leave only one man standing.

Subject Headings: African-American men; African Americans; Freed slaves; Outlaws; Murder; The Eighties (19th century); California; Louisiana; Colorado; Rocky Mountains; Western stories; Historical fiction

Appeal: fast paced, vivid, character centered, dramatic, suspenseful, multiple points of view, explicit violence, multiple plotlines, strong language, thought provoking dark, gritty, raw, tough, hard edged, rural, small town, candid, direct, frank, simple, unaffected, unembellished, unpretentious, tragic

Similar Authors and Works (Fiction): Brandvold, Peter – Once Hell Freezes Over (outlaw western, suspenseful, gritty, race against time); McCoy, Max Hellfire Canyon (likable outlaw, raw, violent, fast paced) Grey, Zane – Cabin Gulch: A Western Story (group of outlaws; hostages, dramatic, tragic)

Similar Authors and Works (Nonfiction): Jameson, W.C. – Billy the Kid, Beyond the Grave (evidence supporting the controversial theory that Pat Garrett did not kill the legendary Billy the Kid in 1881, but that he lived on as William Henry Roberts until 1948); Patterson, Richard M – Butch Cassidy: A Biography (primary and secondary accounts of the life and crimes of Robert Leroy Parker, the infamous Butch Cassidy); Taylor, Quintard – In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West (documentation of the history of African Americans in the American West)

Name: Joanna