Nightlife by Thomas Perry read by Shelley Frasier

When a computer salesman comes home she greets him with a smile which denies the need to talk about the bill, all the bills, for things he wants to deny her. Later, in the bath, she shoots him. His name is Dennis Poole. He is the kind of man who tips exactly 15% and not a penny more and is proud because it shows he can figure it out in his head. He is a man with a soft belly and thinning hair who sells equipment to other men like himself and he is the cousin of a Los Angeles hood who hires Joe Pitt to find out who killed him.

Dennis Poole is introduced on page 2, killed on page 4, but we have a clear and exact idea of him. Enough to groan a little when his blood drains into the bath. Just enough of a character to make us curious.

There are more clear and distinct ideas, probable, precise images of characters, types, and encounters. The character of the murderess, amateurish, superficial, but conniving, good at imitating emotions but unempathetic, is a live sketch of a psychopath.

The dialogues are witty and fun.

” ..I just sell sound-imaging machines to doctors and hospitals…I’m Brian Corey.” “Pleased to meet you. I’m Marsha.” “No last name?” “Corey. I’m going to be Marsha Corey, right?”

“The life she had constructed for herself was good. But this evening with Joe Pitt was better.”

Joe Pitt is cool, a private detective, hired to find a murderess who is getting better and better and a good match for the serious homicide detective on the case, Catherine Hobbes.

A smart, well crafted and engaging crime novel.

The Coroner by Jennifer Graeser Dornbush read by Sophie Amoss

From the very first paragraph, when she almost breaks her tooth on something hard that her mouth found in her peanut butter cupcake, Emily is interesting. Yes, she says yes to an engagement ring. But this is not another goofy romance in which the female not only saves the universe but also spends a lot of time thinking and talking about her lust for various male bodily bits.

Emily is a physician, a surgeon, and the estranged daughter of a medical examiner in a small town. She goes home to see after her father after his heart attack and becomes involved in a murder investigation… with her old boyfriend from highschool.  A good mystery – hopefully the first of a series.

 

Lea Wait, Thread and Gone read by Christina Delaine

Stitched into textiles by young girls in the early 19th century, some terribly bored,  are poems.  These needlepointed poems are featured as epigraphs in  another “cozy” mystery about a woman who returns to Maine.  Life in a small town in Maine is mostly monotonous and cold.  It is also cumulative. For some, local accumulations are the stuff of identity; for others they are the stuff of profit. For Lea Wait  they are the stuff of mystery.

The Ghost & Mrs. Fletcher

An old, sick and unhappy man tells Jessica to write down his last wishes: sell the house, give the proceeds to my grandson. She formalizes it, he dies, the real estate agent gets to work. Jessica arranges for the hundreds of old books in the house to be sold at a library charity sale. A possible female ghost brings in a woman who ‘smudges’ the house and films the ritual for her TV reality show… Of course, a murder is announced, but afterwards and without much ado. The old man did not die a ‘natural’ death, he was suffocated in his hospital room by something with green threads…

Jessica snoops and pries and busy-bodies her way into the house and its history. While searching for old Hobart pot-boilers in the basement with her antiquarian bookshop owner friend, she finds bones, a body, and another murder still.

Reliable and punchy.

No Questions Asked by Ross Thomas read by Malcolm Hillgartner

An old book, a tits and bits insurance agent, an ex-intelligence bully, a rich chick on Malibu beach, a bitter ex-girlfriend somebody called “Virgie”, a short tight crooked alcoholic cop, and a Go-Between man who gets an Eviction Notice and a letter from the Wall Street Journal saying he could get rich if only he subscribed for six months.

In six months and a week, Philip St. Ives has earned $75,000, received 2 invitations to live and play with a woman, one in NYC and one on Malibu Beach, failed but then found an old book, but not before somebody shot a bullet through it.

At the end, on his way back to New York, his trusty helper asks him if there’s anything he can study in University to help him become a Go-Between man. St. Ives thinks about it for a while and says “Ethics, you might study Ethics.”

The Night Detectives by Jon Talton read by Jim Meskimen (A David Mapstone Mystery)

Interesting detective novel about an ex-Mexican ex-sheriff and his deputy-historian. A little bloody but lots of clean writing, and a sharpening style.

Good lines.

Cartwright was spry and walked fast… he led me around a lush Palo Verdi tree.  It reminded me of the way trenches had been constructed on the Western Front in WW 1; They zigzagged so that an emery soldier couldn’t stand above the trench and take out an entire company with his rifle. We were on the verge of the 100 year mark of that cataclysm that changed the world, but few Americans paid any attention to the past…. The Sheriff’s a good man in a shitty situation.

It was a 48 star flag, the way it would have looked after Arizona was admitted to the Union in 1912. Beside it were highly detailed US  geologic survey maps of the area. The map fiend in me wanted to study them.

The place was surprisingly free of dust and noticeably cooler than the outside but I could feel myself only a few internal degrees from heat exhaustion. I tried to be convivial, in an end of the world way, complementing his bunker.

The Day the Rabbi Resigned by Harry Kemelman read by George Guidall

The last of the Rabbi Small series narrated with an annoying over-aggressive punkishness by Guidall — to intimate, perhaps, the intellectual aggression of Rabbi Small, the clever not-to-be socialized puzzle solver and prayer leader of the Conservative Jews of Barnard’s Crossing Massachusetts. The characters are at least as alive as the Jews next door and just as argumentative and recognizable and relevant. Best read from the book, but worth hearing too.

Oath of Office by Michael Palmer read by Robert Petkoff

Fury in the doctors office: odd thinking and odder emotions find their way into clinical space. The Emergency Room doctor as addict, as alcoholic, as James Dean, or James Bond.
Genetically modified foods unregulated by the Department of Agriculture served with grandmotherly love by a local eatery are at the basis of another entertaining tale of greed and corruption.