dinsdag 15 september 2009

Dead Write (Claudia Rose) by Sheila Lowe

Forensic handwriting analyst Claudia Rose is hired by N.Y. matchmaker Grusha Olinetsky to analyse the writing of several of her clients. She discovers several clients died mysterious deaths, though the police writes them off as accidents. Compelled to investigate she finds herself in grave danger.
The forensics are fascinating... I wasn't very familiar with handwriting analysts and the details Sheila serves up are very interesting. The mystery itself is satisfying, although a bit slow at times. Luckily enough surprises turn up at just the right times to keep your interest.
Claudia Rose is a likable, 'real' protagonist with as is revealed tragic past. I'm looking forward to meeting her again.

dinsdag 8 september 2009

The Keepsake (Maura Isles & Jane Rizolli) by Tess Gerritsen

When a perfectly preserved mummy turns out to have a bullet inside Boston Medical Examiner Maura Isles turns to Homicide detective Jane Rizolli. When other dead bodies turn up that have also been mummified in several ways it soon becomes clear there's a sinister serial killer at work. A great deal of the story is told from the viewpoint of a young archeologist with a stunning secret. Her story ensures the plot stays fresh and different from earlier Isles & Rizolli tales. Series regular Barry Frost also get spotlighted a bit more than usual. Unfortunately it seems that, aside from the beginning, Maura Isles has little to do this time around and the inclusion of one of the Mephisto Club characters from the novel with the same name doesn't really go anywhere. Also the mummification M.O. of the killer doesn't add much to the conclusion of the story and seems to be added just to spice up the tale a bit. What is interesting is the Ross McDonald-like web of family secrets Jane manages to expose.
Thrilling as every novel by Tess Gerritsen, but maybe not up to her usual high standards.

vrijdag 14 augustus 2009

Scattered Graves (Diane Fallon) by Beverly Connor

There's a lot going on in this novel, almost too much it seems at times. Still Beverly Connor manages to keep your attention enough to follow the plot.
Diane Fallon, leading lady of the Rosewood forensics lab has to deal with a new mayor and a coup on her lab. There's also a body to identify and some murders to solve, a big conspiracy and some thrilling attempts to kill off Diane.
Probably a bit less gruesome than Cornwell, Beverly tells a good crime story with an enjoyable, realistic but powerful forensic investigator. It was also nice to read a thriller without a serial killer for once. It's a shame the ending takes us a bit into the world of SF but maybe there's more possible with computers these days than I thought.

zaterdag 30 mei 2009

Q & A with Chris Mooney

Q: What makes Darby McCormick different from other fictional forensic detectives?
A: The most obvious thing is that Darby is a woman. And while she’s working in a predominately male atmosphere, what makes her different is that she’s someone who is as physically tough and strong as a man. She can handle herself in any situation. I think of her as a cross between Kay Scarpetta and someone like Jack Reacher or Dirty Harry – brilliant with forensics, but don’t you dare try to push her or cross her.

Q: What are your thoughts on the popularity of the forensic detectives these days?
A: In the old days, you had a detective who would work clues, interview witnesses, etc. Now you have the benefit of all this fantastic cutting-edge forensic equipment. And more often than not, the evidence always leads back to the culprit. There’s a comfort in knowing that the killer will be caught. Take the BTK killer for example. He eluded police for years. How did the find him? Through evidence left on a computer disk – evidence that only a computer expert could detect. With all of this technology, it’s almost impossible to hide.

Q: What made you switch from standalones to a series?
A: The Missing was going to be a standalone book, and given the international reception to the book and Darby, I thought it would be a new challenge. How can I make a series character exciting from book to book? I’m a big fan of series. I love reading the series done by John Connolly, Lee Child, and James Lee Burke.

Q: Has your writing changed much since the first novel?
A: I hope so. My first novel is Deviant Ways. I still love the story, but sometimes when I look at the writing, I cringe. A lot of profanity, a lot of what I call “over-description.” What I’ve learned over the years is to let the reader’s imagination do the work.

Q: Is it hard for you to write about a female protagonist? I personally think you're doing a great job at it.
A: Thanks for the compliment. I wouldn’t say it’s hard, but I’d say it’s different. For example, since Darby is a woman, I’ve got to try and look through the world through her eyes. She’s attracted to men. Being a married man, I’m not, so those sorts of things are somewhat, ah, challenging.

Q: Do you do a lot of research?
A: Yes and no. The problem with writing books that include forensics is that I’m looking for something that hasn’t been done yet – technology that hasn’t made its way into the field. What I’ve learned to do is to write the book first, then add in the forensics information afterwards. Why? Because you can waste a lot of time in the beginning researching something that may not make its way into the book.

Q: What's next for you and Darby?
A: I wrote The Secret Friend, which was published last year, and I just delivered the next Darby book called The Dead Room. That comes out in the UK this August and in Europe next year. There’s a lot of excitement about it – a twist that will blow you away and a new direction for Darby.

Q: Which crime writers do you like?
A: I’m huge fans of Dennis Lehane, John Connolly and Gregg Hurwitz. They keep surprising me.
I really don’t read that much in the genre. I’m a huge fan of Stephen King – he’s the reason I became a writer – and I think guys like Lehane, John Connolly and Gregg Hurwitz are fantastic.

Q: What does the future of forensic science / law enforcement look like in your opinion?
A: Personally – and this is just my opinion – I think the two fields of forensic science and law enforcement will merge into one. I have Darby as both a forensic technician and a detective. It’s an unusual combination.

Q: Meg Gardner came up with the following question: What's the best thing about writing novels?
A: Delivering a book that you can’t put down. I love hearing from readers who say they missed sleep or missed their bus stop because they were engrossed in one of my books. That makes all those days at the computer worth it.

Q: What question should be asked every writer we interview and what would be your answer to it?
A: I’ve always liked this question: What one thing would a reader be surprised to learn about you? My answer is that I’m a huge fan of any movie or TV show having to do with high school. I’m a fan of watching 90210. Yeah, I know, that’s embarrassing – I’m almost 40 – but the reason why I think I enjoy these things so much is that I went to an all-male Catholic high school. I don’t recommend that to anyone.

Scarpetta (Kay Scarpetta) by Patricia Cornwell

This novel starts out maybe a bit slow as a result of the soap opera mess the Scarpetta-series has become. When the forensic murder mystery starts to be the focus it becomes another enjoyable entry in this long running series.
A little person is murdered while another little person asks Kay Scarpetta for help. Meanwhile there's someone putting nasty messages about Kay on the internet, now a famous media figure, dubbed Dr. CNN. Marino tries to come to grips with the near rape of Kay while Benton Wesley tries to come to grips with being a married man.
As always with Cornwell's novels the forensic details are fantastic and the last 100 pages are very thrilling.
You can see a bit where Cornwell's going with this one, setting the stage for the future Scarpetta novels, hopefully going back to the quality of the first five novels.

donderdag 30 april 2009

The Missing (CSI Darby McCormick) by Chris Mooney

This novel welcomes CSI Darby McCormick to the new breed of forensic detectives. Struggling with the traumatic clash with a psycho killer she's now a Boston CSI investigating the case of some missing women. What she encounters is a sadistic bunch of killers right out of SAW. Darby feels like a real person as does her partner Coop.
We are treated to a great number of twists and turns, a very readable writing style and nailbiting suspense. Although the real importance of forensic investigation is minimal it's a very satisfying thriller and will appeal to fans of Tess Gerritsen and Meg Gardner in particular.

vrijdag 6 maart 2009

Bones (Alex Delaware) by Jonathan Kellerman

Psychologist Alex Delaware and gay cop Milo Sturgis return in this by the numbers thriller. When people end up dead in a swamp they set out to investigate, dealing with an environmental activist and a rich family. As always the duo follow several clues, talk to a lot of suspects and discuss their theories with each other.
There are a number of twists and surprises but no jaw-dropping ones. I did enjoy the characters of Moses Reed and Aaron Fox, two unlikely brothers who will be appearing again in True Detectives, the newest by Kellerman.
I always enjoy Kellerman’s books because of the banter between Alex and Milo. I’ve been reading about them for years they feel like old friends. It can not be denied however this series has turned into a standard police procedural instead of a psychological thriller. Just a bit too much like Law & Order to stand out. It seems Stephen White’s Alan Gregory offers the better plots these days.