“Nancy Ain’t No Yellowback Girl” – Review #1: Secret of the Old Clock

The Secret of the Old Clock

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Hello, before I get this review on the road, I will be outlining these only slightly differently than my normal reviews. This is for my Summer 2017 Project, “Nancy Ain’t No Yellowback Girl”. I absolutely love the series, and decided it would be best to re-read them this summer! I hope you all enjoy this review, and the ones to come. 🙂 

Author: Carolyn Keene

Pages: 180 pages

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Released: 1987 (first published 1930)

Series: Nancy Drew Mysteries

Character(s): Famous teen sleuth, Nancy Drew; Carson Drew, successful lawyer and father; Josiah Crowley, deceased man who promised money to like…. everyone.

Setting: River Heights

Began: May 26th, 2017

Finished: May 27th, 2017

Goodreads Summary

Nancy, unaided, seeks to find a missing will, and the search not only tests her keen mind but also leads her into a thrilling adventure.

Stream of Thoughts 

Chapter One – The Rescue

  • Where were Edna and Mary Turner when Judy was in the middle of the road?? For cripes sake, they’re losing their minds.
  • DON’T SELL FURNITURE TO STRANGERS. Bottomline.
  • Such vintage names for all of the characters so far, love it.
  • “They kind of had large noses.” Don’t be so judgmental Mary, you barely can watch your own great niece.

Chapter Two – A Missing Will

  • They use the word “ruefully”. YOU WILL RUE THIS DAY NANCY DREW, RUE IT!
  • Ada and Isabel Topham. Blech.
  • Hannah Gruen is ACTUALLY a character?! Score one! I love her, and I hope she appears in later books.
  • Also, Hannah is petty as heck and I love it.
  • Apple pudding? That’s a thing? Drools.

Chapter Three – An Unpleasant Meeting

  • Hannah is such a motherly figure, awwweeeee. 
  • Ada and Isabel Topham: the Real Housewives of River Heights.
  • Does everybody freaking know about Josiah Crowley’s money?

Chapter Four – Racing the Storm

  • Are the papers to be delivered to Judge Hart in Masonville reminiscent of Tubby’s Telegrams in Titusville?
  • Nancy has lunch with a random judge and his wife. I wish I had this life of free food. 
  • Who jacked up Nancy’s convertible roof?
  • I love how she finds no fear driving to random places continuously. 

Chapter Five – A Surprising Story

  • GIRL. If you hit someone with your car, you would’ve felt it. 
  • A shadowy figure, ooooooh.
  • “Nancy was attracted to both girls”. Okay, okay, I can roll with this. 
  • How can you not afford company? Like, you don’t always have to pay to entertain.
  • Cake with chocolate frosting? I’m starving just writing this review.
  • I see a lot of myself in Allison Hoover.
  • “Don’t let it worry you, Allison. It’s your birthday.” Okay, listen Nancy, if you bring up something upsetting and then tell this girl to not get upset, then…????

Chapter Six – An Exciting Appointment

  • I wonder if Nancy named her car.
  • The word mystery is mentioned for the first time in this chapter!!!
  • Signor Mascagni. What a name.
  • Nancy talks to herself a lot.
  • Nancy is also super charitable. 
  • Isabel and Ada Topham need to leave River Heights, now.
  • Nancy is a very good eavesdropper.

Chapter Seven – The Angry Dog

  • Nasal voice? Ew.
  • “Mother watched him like a hawk.” Rude. He was a nice man.
  • Isabel and Ada Topham are extremely reliable on their parents.
  • “putting up with him” Again, rude! He literally was nice to EVERYONE. Even you scumbags.
  • Carson Drew is a smart-ass.
  • ” I promise to be as careful as a pussycat walking up on a slippery roof.” What the hell?
  • Reference to Titusville!
  • Nancy gets nearly attacked by a dog. Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake?

Chapter Eight – A Forgotten Secret

  • The word fracas is fun to say.
  • “I guess William and I counted our chickens before they were hatched.” Hm, interesting. 
  • Nancy is literally begging an old eighty year old woman to remember things, even after someone told her her mind was slipping.

Chapter Nine – Helpful Disclosures

  • Helen Corning shows up!
  • Moon Lake? Now, why does that sound familiar?

Chapter Ten – Following a Clue

  • Nancy gets a flat tire. Bad shit is always happening to this girl.
  • Is Barby even a name? I’ve heard of Barbie, but never Barby.
  • “He’s the tallest man I’ve ever seen outside of the circus.” Helen, be nice.

Chapter Eleven – An Unexpected Adventure

  • Nancy frequently handles motorboats? She is definitely a jack-of-all-trades. 

Chapter Twelve – A Desperate Situation

  • Nancy’s the type of girl to run upstairs, even though she knows the culprit is coming up there.
  • I’ve learned Nancy can’t hold in a sneeze to save her life.

Chapter Thirteen – The Frustrating Wait

  • “That old Greek scientist, Archimedes…” Resourceful, Nancy, resourceful.
  • Does the caretaker really believe she’s one of the culprits throwing their voice off as a female? 
  • Hornswoggled. This book is chocked full of fun words. 

Chapter Fourteen – A Tense Chase

  • There is a picture of the caretaker in this chapter, and he is literally shorter than Nancy, despite what Helen said about him earlier.
  • Nancy stopped at the police to tell them to chase after the culprits, yet she could’ve just done it herself and saved time.

Chapter Fifteen – Nancy’s Risky Undertaking

  • “I must notify the police at once … now’s my chance to look for the Crowley clock!” Girl, make up your mind!
  • So. Much. Coincidence. 

Chapter Sixteen – The Capture

  • I love how Nancy just runs into the police at all times of the night.
  • Does everyone know who Carson Drew is? Even a few counties over??

Chapter Seventeen – Strange Instructions

  • Nancy seems reluctant to get in the car with a state trooper?
  • Hannah thinks food fixes everything. And she’s pretty much correct.
  • Cinnamon cake with hot applesauce? Are you for real?

Chapter Eighteen – A Suspenseful Search

  • Nobody seems to care for the Tophams.

Chapter Nineteen – Startling Revelations

  • Not many thoughts on this chapter. Just yay for conclusions!

Chapter Twenty – A Happy Finale

  • Hahah, suck it, Tophams!
  • Literally though, they’re the worst.

What I Enjoyed

  1. It was Nancy Drew’s first mystery! Imagine being a small girl in the 1930’s, picking up your first yellowback book. I would’ve been so excited!
  2. The simplicity of this mystery is classic.
  3. I love how eager Nancy is to be like her father, he is most definitely her idol.
  4. Hannah Gruen!!!

What I Didn’t Like

  1. The Tophams suck butt.
  2. Missing Bess and George even though I know I have to wait till the fifth book for them. 😦
  3. Such a run all over the kind of place mystery. She had to go like three counties over to solve the darned mystery. 
  4. The fact that Josiah Crowley just couldn’t get his crap together, even though I love the old man.

Wrap-Up

All in all, this was great for a first mystery! I remember first picking this one up when I was a little girl, and it was so fun to re-read it again for nostalgic purposes. I can’t wait to get into The Hidden Staircase, as I completely forgot what that one was about! My favorite part of this book was honestly Hannah Gruen.

Rating

4stars1

ISBN: 

0448095017

Buy it at:

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Amazon

Thriftbooks

Stay Sleuthy,

Clue

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Black & Blue – Review

Black & Blue 

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Author(s): James Patterson with Candice Fox

Pages: 176 pages

Publisher: Little Brown

Released: June 2nd, 2016

Series: James Patterson BOOKSHOTS and Detective Harriet Blue

Main Character(s): Harriet Blue, a young detective in Australia; Tox Barnes, a stubborn, arrogant detective with a past

Setting: Australia

Began: May 12th, 2017

Finished: May 12th, 2017

Goodreads Summary

James Patterson’s BookShots. Short, fast-paced, high-impact entertainment.

A beautiful young woman is found murdered on a river bank, and Detective Harriet Blue is convinced she’s the next victim of the worst serial killer Sydney has seen in decades.

But the more Harriet learns, the more she realises this murder is not what she first thought. And her own life might be tangled up in the case. 

What I Enjoyed

  1. I adore the idea of BookShots. Sometimes, novels can take so long to read and that causes less enjoyment, but I finished this little story on the couch in about two hours. 
  2. THE ENDING. Yes! It was such an unexpected turn, and I really hope that the story-line is continued within the actual Harriet Blue series. I would honestly read this little BookShot again to pick up on clues that may have been included within. 
  3. Harriet Blue is a tough, headstrong female detective that doesn’t take any crap from anyone. Who doesn’t love a good character that can hold her own?

What I Didn’t Like

  1. Detective Tox was stubborn throughout the entire book, and I didn’t particularly enjoy it. He seemed to be someone that doesn’t work well with others, and I wasn’t sure if it was specifically because Harriet was a woman or not. Either way, I could see him growing on me if he changed attitudes, but so far, meh.
  2. Seemed like there were two plots at once? I’m not sure what they were trying to get out of that.

    Wrap-Up

 

All in all, this was a great little read for one day. I am definitely going to pick up more BookShots when I get the chance. Thanks, Mom. 😉 (This was a Christmas present). I would recommend this book to anyone who was going on a plane, train, or automobile ride that want a quick, impressive read. My favorite thing about this book is the ending. 

Rating

4stars1

ISBN: 

1786530163 (ISBN13: 9781786530165)

Buy it at:

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Amazon

Thriftbooks

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Clue

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Isadore’s Secret – Review

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Isadore’s Secret

Author: Mardi Link

Pages: 280 pages

Publisher: The University of Michigan Press

Release Date: August 28th, 2009

Series: n/a

Main Subject(s): The disappearance of Sister Mary Janina from Holy Rosary Church in August of 1907.

Setting: Isadore, Michigan

Began: April 30th, 2017

Finished: May 11th, 2017

Goodreads Summary

A gripping account of the mysterious disappearance of a young nun in a northern Michigan town and the national controversy that followed when she turned up dead and buried in the basement of the church.

High Points

  1. From the moment I read the first page, I was already enthralled. That’s pretty impressive if a book can do that for me.
  2. The fact that the nun backstory within The Skeleton Box by Bryan Gruley was loosely based off of this true crime story was a HUGE plus for me, because the book above turned out to be my favorite in the trilogy. 
  3. The way the author wrote it was very detailed and descriptive. She put a TON of research into this book, and that made it even more enjoyable.
  4. The cast of characters at the end explaining who everyone in the book that she mentioned was in little excerpts. 
  5. Pictures, yay! Helped me visualize it better as if the book was a movie playing out in my head.
  6. The way the author divided the information up was in a clear and concise way.

Low Points

  1. Sometimes it seemed as if the author would go onto a small tangent, not a huge one, mind you, but small. Perhaps, when she was mentioning the bloodhound that was involved early on in the searching for Sister Mary Janina, she continued by explaining the history of bloodhounds up until that timeframe. It added to the page length of the book, but not very much to the story. I didn’t much care for that aspect.
  2. I felt bad for Sister Mary Janina the entire time. 😦 She didn’t deserve to pass the way she did, even if she was pregnant with the Father’s child. Sad, sad, sad. Obviously this isn’t something against the book, but something I just didn’t like, personally. (I also believe Stella did it, so if anyone wants to compare standpoints of the murderer, please feel free to message me!)

Wrap-Up

This was an extremely well-written true crime novel. I don’t believe the author personally was biased towards any one solution to the murder of Sister Mary Janina, but instead stated the facts and what was truly known through interviews, other books, newspaper articles, etc. I hope to find another book that covers this murder, even if in a general crime book, and see if it has another standpoint on the outcome. My favorite part about this novel was honestly the integrity of the writer. I could tell she put so much effort and work into this, and that made it even more the better. 

Rating

4_5_StarRating.png

ISBN: 

0472050796 (ISBN13: 9780472050796)

Buy it at:

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Thriftbooks 

Stay sleuthy,

Clue

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The Hiding Place – Review

The Hiding Place

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Author: David Bell

Pages: 400 pages

Publisher: Berkley

Released: October 2nd, 2012

Series: n/a

Main Character(s): Janet Manning, still recovering from the death of her little brother 25 years ago; Ashley Manning, daughter of Janet; Detective Stynes, the deputy during the original case and the sheriff during the present case.

Setting: Dove Point, Ohio

Began: April 17th, 2017

Finished: April 28th, 2017

Goodreads Summary

Twenty-five-years ago, the disappearance of four-year-old Justin Manning rocked the small town of Dove Point, Ohio. After his body was found in a shallow grave in the woods two months later, the repercussions were felt for years.

Janet Manning has been haunted by the murder since the day she lost sight of her brother in the park. Now, with the twenty-fifth anniversary of Justin’s death looming, a detective and a newspaper reporter have started to ask questions, opening old wounds and raising new suspicions. Could the man convicted of the murder — who spent more than two decades in prison — really be innocent? Janet’s childhood friend and high school crush, who was in the park with her that day, has returned to Dove Point, where he is wrestling with his own conflicted memories of the events. And a strange man appears at Janet’s door in the middle of the night, claiming to know the truth.

Soon, years of deceit will be swept away, and the truth about what happened to Janet’s brother will be revealed. And the answers that Janet has sought may be found much closer to home than she ever could have imagined.

What I Enjoyed

  1. Ashley. From the very beginning, she struck me as a very strong female character, and she continue to be just that throughout the novel. She was by far my favorite character, perhaps because she was so close to my own age that I felt I could relate to her more.
  2. The storyline. Very enthralling, and I wanted to continue to read to find out what clue Janet, Detective Stynes, or Ashley would discover next.  No spoilers, though, so read it for yourself. 😉
  3. Detective Stynes was a nice treat, though sometimes he did tend to get on my nerves.

What I Didn’t Like

  1. Janet. Sad, because she WAS the main character. But, she just seemed too sensitive for my liking. I will give her the fact that her little brother died, but that was twenty-five years ago. Some scars never heal, but she seemed a little too eager to mourn so long after. 
  2. So. Many. Characters. They were either badly written or sparsely mentioned.
  3. Writing style. Every chapter was in a third person omniscient point of view, but it would switch EVERY single chapter to where it was almost from Ashley’s point of view, then Janet’s, and then Detective Stynes’. Way too jumpy for me. I got confused a lot. 

Wrap-Up

Overall, it was a good book. But I wouldn’t read it again. The only character I truly liked was Ashley, and every other character was so-so or terrible for me. Even with a good storyline, that’s still a disappointment. My favorite thing about this novel was the character of Ashley Manning. 

Rating

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ISBN: 

045123796X (ISBN13: 9780451237965)

Buy it at:

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Amazon

Thriftbooks

Stay sleuthy,

Clue

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Happy One Month Anniversary! 

I’m happy to announce that I’ve had this blog for officially one month. I hope for many, many more to come. Here are a few things coming up.

  1. I recently finished The Hiding Place by David Bell, and I will be reviewing the novel sometime this weekend!
  2. I’m currently reading a true crime book that was loosely the basis for Bryan Gruley’s last Starvation Lake novel, The Skeleton Box. It’s named Isadore’s Secret, and revolves around the true story of the murder of Sister Mary Janina, a nun of the Holy Rosary Parish, in Michigan in 1907. It’s one of my favorite reads so far, and I can’t wait to finish it!
  3. School is ending soon, which means… SUMMER PROJECT. I am literally so excited. I have entitled it, “Nancy Ain’t No Yellowback Girl”. I’m going to be reading all of the original Nancy Drew series written by Carolyn Keene and reviewing every single one of them. I hope you’re excited, too.

Stay Sleuthy,

Clue 



The Skeleton Box – Review

Skeleton Box-Bryan Gruley

The Skeleton Box

Author: Bryan Gruley

Pages: 336 pages

Publisher: Touchstone

Released: June 5th, 2012

Series: Starvation Lake Trilogy

Main Character(s): Gus Carpenter, former befallen hockey star for the River Rats; Bea Carpenter, Gus’ aging mother; Darlene Esper, Gus’ former girlfriend

Setting: the small town of Starvation Lake, Michigan,

Began: April 9th, 2017

Finished: April 16th, 2017

Goodreads Summary

Anthony and Barry Award-winning author Bryan Gruley returns with the third novel in his critically acclaimed Starvation Lake mystery series. A series of mysterious break-ins is plaguing the small town of Starvation Lake. Someone is slipping into the homes of elderly people when they’re out playing Bingo. Oddly, the intruders take nothing, despite evidence that they rifle through personal files.    

Worry turns to panic when a break-in leads to the death of a beloved citizen. Phyllis Botranger is found dead in the home of her best friend, Bea Carpenter, mother of Gus Carpenter. Bea, suffering from worsening dementia and under the influence of sleeping pills, remembers little of the break-in. Her son, editor of the local newspaper, must pursue a terrible story: the death of a woman he has known all his life, who also happens to be the mother of his ex-girlfriend, Darlene.     

With the help of Luke Whistler, an ex-Detroit Free Press reporter who came north looking for slower days and some old-fashioned newspaper work, Gus sets out to uncover the truth behind Mrs. B’s death and the “Bingo Night Break-Ins.” What he doesn’t know is that Whistler has his own agenda, and the secrets he’s determined to unearth—involving the long-ago killing of a nun—could forever change Gus’s perceptions about Starvation Lake and even his own family. 

What I Enjoyed

  1. So. Much. Literally. SO. MUCH.
  2. Finally, Gus Carpenter’s mother, Bea, was actually developed as a character other than static. Sympathy welled in my heart for her constantly throughout the course of the story, and we slightly learned things about Gus we wouldn’t have learned otherwise. In the other stories, we believe she is a simple small town mother with a perished husband. But in The Skeleton Box, we learn that her past is full of dark, deep hidden secrets that never came out long ago. There has been a sense of turmoil in her life ever since the events occurred, and I feel for her greatly. I think she is an amazing character, and if Bryan Gruley were to ever write another book, that she should be included largely.
  3. The mystery. The two mysteries included in this novel were past and present. The first is ultimately to find out what happened to Phyllis Botranger and find out who committed her homicide. But the second one, and my favorite, was about the murder of a nun that happened over forty years ago right there in Starvation Lake. I thought it was extremely well thought out and that Bryan wrote it with impeccable taste.
  4. Regarding the second mystery above. ^^^ I was surprised to find out at the end of the novel, that the mystery regarding the nun was actually based on a true story. How cool is that?! With that, I have now ordered the true crime book associated with it from my local library, and will hope to finish it sometime soon for my first true crime book review!
  5. The return of Joanie! She was a reporter for the Pine County newspaper in the first novel, and she was slightly more developed within this story. I really wanted her and Gus to get together, but that wasn’t bound to happen, as he is still utterly hung up on Darlene. Burns my darn buns… But whatever.
  6. Gus Carpenter. Forever and always.
  7. Just the way he wrote this novel. Everything was coherent and fluid, unlike the previous novel. I couldn’t put it down, quite honestly. I read over half of it in one sitting, if that tells you anything.
  8. The atmosphere wasn’t there for me in the second novel, but was in the first, and made yet another reappearance for me in the third. I really felt like I was in a Michigan winter once again.
  9. All of the characters to me felt really realistic, not forced whatsoever, and I really felt like everyone interacted together well.

What I Didn’t Like

  1. The annoying freaking culprits. BYEEEE! (You’ll just have to read to find out, whoops.)
  2. I literally loved this book so much, though. There was really nothing I can critique, personally. This is by far the BEST book in the Starvation Lake Trilogy.

Wrap-Up

Love, love, love, love, LOVE. This was by and by my favorite book of the entire trilogy. If you were going to read one book in this trilogy, and none else, I would most definitely recommend reading this one. It was the one out of the three that was very difficult for me to put down, and I think this mystery was the most enthralling out of all of them. Eloquently written, wonderful characters that will stick with me forever, and an atmosphere that can’t compete. My favorite thing about this novel was the mystery regarding the murder of the nun.

Rating

five-stars.png

ISBN:

1416563660 (ISBN13: 9781416563662) 

Buy it at:

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Thriftbooks

Stay sleuthy,

Clue

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The Hanging Tree – Review

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  The Hanging Tree

Author: Bryan Gruley

Pages: 314 pages

Publisher: Touchstone

Release Date: August 3rd, 2010

Series: Starvation Lake Trilogy

Main Character(s): Gus Carpenter, former befallen hockey star for the River Rats and recovering journalist; Darlene Esper, former girlfriend of Gus.

Setting: the small town of Starvation Lake, Michigan, 1999

Began: March 20th, 2017

Finished: April 9th, 2017

Goodreads Summary

When Gracie McBride, the wild girl who had left town eighteen years earlier, is found dead in an apparent suicide shortly after her homecoming, it sends shock waves through her native Starvation Lake. Gus Carpenter, executive editor of the Pine County Pilot, sets out to solve the mystery with the help of his old flame and now girlfriend, Pine County sheriff deputy Darlene Esper. As Gus and Darlene investigate, they can’t help but question if Gracie’s troubled life really ended in suicide or if the suspicious crime-scene evidence adds up to murder.

But in such a small town it’s impossible to be an impartial investigator Gracie was Gus’s second cousin; Darlene’s best friend; and the lover of Gus’ oldest pal, Soupy Campbell. Yet with all the bad blood between Gus and Gracie over the years, Gus is easily distracted by other problems. His employer is trying to push him out, the locals are annoyed that his stories have halted construction on a new hockey rink, and Darlene’s estranged husband has returned to reclaim his wife.

When Gus tries to retrace Gracie’s steps to discover what happened to her in the eighteen years she was away from Starvation Lake, he’s forced to return to Detroit, the scene of his humiliating past. And though he’s determined to find out what drove Gracie back home, Gus is unprepared for the terrible secrets he uncovers.

The second book in Bryan Gruley’s irresistible Starvation Lake series, The Hanging Tree is a compelling story about family and friendship, sex and violence, and the failure of love to make everything right. 

What I Enjoyed

  1. Personally, I believe the sequel had a quality that the first Starvation Lake novel lacked. Perhaps I felt more attached and connected to the characters because I had already gotten to know them within the first, but something just felt different and I enjoyed it more!
  2. The character development of Gus Carpenter greatened, in my opinion, more than it did in the first book, and I absolutely LOVE Gus so this was a huge plus for me.
  3. Darlene was mentioned and developed within this book when she was barely touched upon in Starvation Lake, and I loved that Bryan did this. (But I will add to this comment in the latter column).
  4. Overall, the storyline was well-developed and played out well.
  5. Philo. I just like him. He sounds adorably cute and nerdy.

What I Didn’t Like

  1. Even though Bryan Gruley developed Darlene’s character more within this novel, I have come to find out that I do not really care for her character. I have a huge spot in my heart for Gus, and the fact that she constantly blows him off in this story, even though they are technically back together, really burns my buns. It makes me think that even with their deep past together, that she doesn’t deserve him. I was tolerating her until her husband/ex-husband returned, and then she started getting downright annoying.
  2. Where. The. Hell. Did. Gracie. McBride. Come. From?!?! She literally wasn’t mentioned once as even his cousin in the first book, and she comes into this one like a blazing fire. I didn’t really care for that transition, and I didn’t really understand why there wasn’t even a small mention of her in Starvation Lake. Even though she wasn’t close to Gus, it seems she was very, very close to his mother. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
  3. Just like the first, sometimes there were parts that left me feeling extremely detached.

Wrap-Up

All in all, I actually care for this novel less than the first one. Character development was there, along with the signature atmosphere Bryan Gruley brings in his other books, but something was lacking my interest that I couldn’t quite shake. I did enjoy the storyline, but some parts were confusing, and didn’t seem to add up. My favorite thing about this novel was still, Gus Carpenter.

Rating

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Literary Awards:

  • Barry Award Nominee for Best Paperback Original (2011)
  • Anthony Award Nominee for Best Paperback Original (2011)

ISBN:
1416563644 (ISBN13: 9781416563648)

Buy it at:

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Thriftbooks

Stay sleuthy,

Clue

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