December 09, 2009

Book # 59: Kindred in Death

Kindred in Death is Nora Roberts' (writing as J.D. Robb) 30th novel in the In Death series (also referred to as the Eve Dallas series).

We return to kick-ass homicide detective Eve Dallas in 2059 New York City. Eve's rare holiday weekend with her hot husband is interrupted by murder as usual. This time a fellow cop's teenager daughter has been brutally raped and murdered in her own home, and her father has requested Dallas take the case.

Eve and her team pursue the needle in a haystack by trying to find who would want to harm a cop's family, before he goes after others. She also has to squeeze in her matron-of-honor duties for Louise and Charles' impending wedding. And as has been established numerous times, Eve handles vicious murder far better than social obligations.

The later novels in this series have lacked the grit and drama of the earlier stories. The cases are getting fairly predictable, but it seems like it would be impossible for that to not happen after 30 books. However, this series continues to be a solid entertainer.

Book # 58: An Echo in the Bone

An Echo in the Bone is the seventh novel in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I’ve been reading this series since high school and it’s one of my all time favorites. It centers around World War II combat nurse Claire Randall, and her accidental journey back in time to the 1700’s and Jamie Frasier, the Scottish warrior she falls in love with there.

Outlander novels are a big commitment, with nearly all of them topping 800 pages. They’re also an extremely dense combination of historical fiction, war strategy, political intrigue, botany, and medicine. The newest one in the series takes place 33 years after the series begins, and unless you’ve read all of the previous ones- and even if you have- you could find yourself hopelessly lost.

Gabaldon spends a lot of time taking her characters on solo journeys, which can get a bit boring, to read only one person’s thoughts and observations on the landscape for such a long time. She catches up with her sprawling cast of characters and even adds some new ones in the form of an adult William Ransom (Jamie’s illegitimate son) and a Quaker brother and sister. The entire first half of the book was a bit tedious to get through, but the second half had tons of twists, action and surprises.

The book did end on a nearly absurd cliff-hanger (given the frequency of hair-raising adventures amongst this family). Which seems a bit cruel considering it takes Diana Gabaldon about four years to write the next Outlander novel.

Book #57: A Touch of Dead

Charlaine Harris' A Touch of Dead is a collection of all of her Sookie Stackhouse novellas. They have all previously appeared in other compilation collections featuring various authors.

I had previously read two of the five short stories in A Touch of Dead. Harris writes these to fit in between books in the Sookie series. So unless you've read the entire series already, the circumstances in the stories might not make as much sense.

These were mostly light entertaining fluff. There's not a whole lot of details in this collection that you couldn't live without, though they do help provide a little backstory. Like I always wondered when reading the series, when had Sookie met Claude the fairy, or found out Hadley was dead, or gave her grandfather a tie for Christmas? Now I know!

The only story that really didn't work for me was 'Dracula Night'. The whole situation just seemed too far out of character for Eric. Don't re-write my Eric, Charlaine.

Book #56: Desperate Duchesses

Eloise James' Desperate Duchesses takes place in 18th century England among the landed gentry and London's notorious "ton".

Robert St. Giles is intent on marrying the Duke of Villiers. Why? I'm not quite sure. He's rude, quite possibly gay, and has hardly noticed her. But he's the most sought after catch in England and Roberta is tired of living with her father in the country, and tired of being a laughingstock thanks to her father's horrendous poetry and scandalous liasons with showgirls.

Roberta goes to London and shows up uninvited on a distant counsin's doorstep, desperate for entré into the Duke of Villiers' social sphere. Luckily her cousin Jemma is just eccentric enough to take her on.

After that, there are sexual escapades, confusing social politics of the time and chess, chess and more chess. This novel is 400 pages and I hardly remember a thing except that those people were obsessed with their chess.