Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Something Missing by Matthew Dicks

Something MissingSomething Missing by Matthew Dicks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Martin's a thief--a very peculiar kind of thief. He keeps going back to the same places time and again, mostly stealing staples--food, household supplies, etc.--enough to get by on, but never enough to get noticed. This book takes effort to get through--the quirky, even funny, premise will carry you through the first chapter or two, but then the excruciating detail that the Narrator gives about every little thing threatens to drag the story to a halt. I wanted to stop more than once, but there's something about Martin that made me want to stick with it.

I'm so glad I did, it was so worth it. After all the painstaking detail about how Martin gets into people's homes, learns their habits, decides how much to take, and then inventories it and so on...a new side of Martin starts to break through. One that cares about people. He starts taking risks--and everything, every dull, obsessive detail that you trudged through pays off.

The book becomes thrilling, endearing, the end, I couldn't believe how much I liked Martin and was pulling for him.

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Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (Flavia de Luce, #2)The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The plucky young chemist with a nascent obsession with death is back in action. The case is a little less personal for Flavia de Luce this time, but that doesn't stop her from jumping in whole hog to get to the bottom of it.

Flavia runs into a couple of traveling performers with some car trouble and before you know it, she's got them some help--and a gig. While she hangs around the TV star and his assistant, she finds herself surrounded by some of her town's darker history and then face to face with a murder. And Flavia being Flavia, she can't resist sticking her nose in and making sure all the knots are untangled--particularly the ones adults are ignoring, despite them being painfully obvious to her.

We get less of Flavia's sisters (and the rest of the household, come to think of it) in this installment--but when they're around, their impact is greater. Clearly, as this series continues, there's going to be some serious drama on the homefront with some major implications for the de Luce family, I hope Bradley tackles that quickly, the foreshadowing's getting old quickly.

Unlike with so many other amateur sleuths (particularly juveniles), it's nice to see that her reputation and track record are acknowledged by some in the community -- which is both a help and a hindrance, I hope to see more of that in the future.

My only major quibble with this installment is that it takes far too long to set the main action of the novel up--in a 348 page mystery novel, you'd better get to the central crime before page 150 or so. Unless you've got a heroine like Flavia to focus on, I can't imagine being patient enough to wait that long to get the ball rolling.

Another fun (occasionally hilarious) read, with a mystery satisfyingly twisty, with just enough red herrings to get you through it. Highly recommended if you've read the first in the series.

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