You know sometimes things don’t get done?

I have to confess that blogging is not something I intuitively think of doing, and so you’ll note that I don’t have a lot of blogs. This section is a good example. Although I love to read, I’m not good at remembering to blog about the books when I finish them.

So let me just mention a couple of books I recently read and what I’m reading now:

LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE by Clare O’Donohue — This is the second in the Kate Conway series, and it’s very entertaining. In it, freelance television producer Kate Conway (who is a lot like Clare, in my humble opinion), is offered the opportunity to create a documentary about lifers in an Illinois state prison. It’s a big change from her current other gig, which is producing a documentary about the opening of a new restaurant. Or is it all that different? Because when one of the restaurant’s investors is murdered, Kate finds herself getting advice from the killers on death row on how to solve it. Complicating matters is that one of the other investors in the restaurant is her dead husband’s mistress Vera. In fact, Vera is one of the main suspects.

The best thing about this series is Kate herself. She’s cynical, funny, and lovable. Her complicated relationship with Vera adds to the mystery here, as it did in the first book. I enjoyed watching her solve the mystery, moving between her two lifers, Brick and Tim, and the restaurant cast, one of whom is likely a killer. The lifers offer advice, but Tim may be conning her, and Brick may be coming on to her. At the restaurant, Kate finds herself siding with Vera and trying to prove her innocent, even at the point of getting herself in trouble with the law.  How she sorts it all out makes for an enjoyable read.

FONDUING FATHERS by Julie Hyzy — This is the sixth in Julie’s popular White House Chef series, and let’s face it, I’m a fan. In this outing, White House Chef Ollie Paras is looking into her father’s death. She’s always believed he was an honorable man, and so she’s devastated when she finds out from her mom that he was dishonorably discharged from the Army. But that’s not all–she also learns he was brutally murdered because someone at the company he worked for believed that he was selling company secrets. Anyone who knows Ollie knows she going to get down to the truth, and even the highest levels of the United States government are not going to stop her, which they try to do.

Ollie is as resourceful as ever in this latest mystery. She enlists the aid of her boyfriend, Gav, who has connections that she doesn’t, to prove her father innocent. Even when there are major roadblocks in her way, and let’s just say that everyone in National Security doesn’t want her to know the truth, she won’t stop until she proves her father is innocent. Although it’s a cozy mystery, Ollie has a hard edge and the type of plots she has to unwind often feel more like thrillers. I love reading cozies and thrillers, so this is a perfect combination for me. FONDUING FATHERS doesn’t disappoint, and it has the best ending of all of the books in this series. I’m looking forward to the next.

THE LAST POLICEMAN by Ben H. Winters — This novel won the Edgar this year for Best Paperback Original, and it’s well deserved. The premise is this: an asteroid is hurtling toward the earth and the earth won’t survive the hit. With everyone doomed, society is falling apart. Money isn’t worth anything anymore, most people aren’t working, and chaos reigns. And yet, in Concord, New Hampshire, newly minted detective Hank Palace wants to do his job. When he comes across a suicide that just doesn’t ring true to him, he sets out to find out the truth even though the few other detectives still on the force think he’s crazy. Despite spotty cell phone reception, the death of key witnesses, and episodes from his family life to distract him, he ultimately solves the case and finds the reason for the man’s death.

Hank Palace is a terrific character, but what really makes this book stand out is Winters’ vision of what life would be like if everyone knew the world was going to end in a certain number of days. He makes this chaotic world believable and manages to weave in a terrific mystery plot that keeps you reading. The book is the first in a trilogy (the world IS going to end, after all) and I’m looking forward to reading the second, COUNTDOWN CITY. It just came out July 16.

As of today, I’m reading THE JEFFERSON KEY by Steve Berry. I expect to finish it soon, and I hope I remember to post a review!


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