Pigeon-Blood Red by Ed Duncan ~ 2016

Engaging multi-twist crime noir

Author: Ed Duncan
Publisher: Ed Duncan (September 2, 2016)
Publication: August 23, 2016
Pages: 238
ISBN-10: 0692769471
ISBN-13: 978-0692769478
Language: English
Jacket design: Voyage Media
Author photographer: A friend who likes quite recognition

 "This book was provided by Kelsey Butts in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

4 Stars

Ed Duncan
On this hard-boiled tale of organized crime, Ed Duncan captivates the reader into a twisted thriller that will fill your afternoon with suspense.

Robert McDuffie, is a failing business man / addicted gambler who owes a substantial amount of money to a loan shark, has a two-week notice to pay his debts.  Knowing he probably won't make the deadline, he sees an opportunity - seizing a pigeon-blood red ruby necklace that is priceless while being driven home one evening.

This three part story starts off in Chicago where Rico Saunders, Frank Litvak's goon, has been assigned with getting back his bosses precious ruby necklace.  And teach Robert a lesson for stealing.

After introducing the characters with vivid color and background, the story leads to Honolulu where the story gets twisted with the suspense you look for in a read.

Robert's wife, Evelyn - a college professor in mathematics, has had enough of her husband's story 'things will get better' but decides she will give the relationship a chance.  After trying for a couple of years to get Robert and herself on a vacation to get things out in the open and get that spark back in their relationship, she books a flight to Hawaii and gives Robert an ultimatum - You're coming or I'm going alone!

Well, you're going alone then.  Evelyn talks her best friend Rachel Gatlin (who has her own secrets) into taking Roberts place.  And, now at the last minute, Robert decides to tag along.

Litvak's henchman tags along too.

Here the story folds into a web of twisted coincidences.  Rachel and Evelyn decide to take in a luau one evening and during the day Evelyn runs into an old college flame. Paul Elliott, who had lost his wife, Jo-Anne, a year earlier was dumbfounded when he saw Evelyn.  Smiles all around, Paul decides to ask Evelyn to a luau.

"What a coincidence!  Rachel and I are going to a luau tonight and Robert thinks he's taking us to dinner, so I guess he's officially horned in.  Why don't we all go together?"

The luau turned into a night they would never forget.

Murder and mayhem breaks out - Evelyn and her newly found protector run and try to hide on an island in paradise.  The scenes of the cat and mouse chase need applaud.  Their thinking on trying to out-think the killer was pretty damn good.  Ed Duncan's description of mayhem in paradise gave the story the great atmosphere you would be expecting.

There are numerous characters I have not mentioned, but, each one adds to the loose ends and clarification you need to settle your anxieties during the read.

With a killer on their ass, a marriage that is over as far as Evelyn is concerned, a best friend? with secrets no longer, an old flame who becomes a protector, a priceless ruby necklace, a crime boss who could reach across an ocean to get things done, Ed Duncan wraps the story up back in Chicago with the loose ends tied neatly together giving this story closure with an approval nod from the reader.

The priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace - whose was it anyways?  Where did it go?
Even bad guys have heart?  No, they have their own code of ethics.  What's fair is fair, right Litvak?

There were explanations to the technical verbiage about rubies and precious gems that gave clarification on why this necklace is the star of the show.

Even though the ending wraps up the loose ends it seemed a bit rushed for me.  In some circumstances you could foresee what was going to happen, so, I wished there was a bit more enigma to the end.  This is the first book in his trilogy - it's only going to get better as the next two are penned.

Recommend?  Hell yeah, with many twists and many turns - a great quick-paced afternoon would be in store for you.  Yep, take my word on it.

 Here's where you can get your fingers on Pigeon-Blood Red:
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $4.99 ~ Paperback $14.73 USD

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About the author:

Connect with Ed

Ed Duncan is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He currently lives outside of Cleveland, OH and is at work on the second installment in the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy.

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman ~ 2012

Fredrik Backman's debut novel is about unexpected friendship, love and the importance of surrounding yourself with the proper tools, centering on an ill-tempered, isolated retiree who has finally given up on life just as an unlikely friendship develops with his boisterous new neighbors.

It is a thoughtful insight of the profound impact one life has on others.

Author: Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (May 5, 2015)
Publication: Published July 15th 2014 by Atria Books (first published August 27th 2012)
Pages: 337
ISBN-10: 1476738025
ISBN-13: 978-1476738024
Language: English
Translation copyright © 2014 by Henning Koch
Interior design: Paul Dippolito
Jacket design: Alan Dingman
Jacket photographs: Getty and Shutterstock
Author photograher: Linnea Jonasson Bernholm/Appendix Fotografi

a Book Clubbin' read

5 Stars

Fredrik Backman
Wow.  One of the best reads I've read in quite the while.

Ove is 59.
He drives a Saab.

People said he was bitter.  Maybe they were right, but, he is the most grumpiest man you will meet.  And with good cause.

Told in alternating chapters, Fredrik Backman's bestselling and humerous debut novel, tells of a grumpy yet loveable man having his self-inflicted solitary world being invaded by 'clueless' neighbors.

Ove is a man who has a short fuse and yells at his 'incompetent' neighbors, does not like Cat Annoyance, and there is no way he will pay a three kronor surcharge.  This lonely old grump who even punches Beppo the volunteer hospital clown for trying to trick him over a five kronor coin is actually hilarious.  After you understand why he does what he does, you'll put a grin on your face for sure.

I personally loved this guy, a man of strict routine.  He gets up everyday, almost for four decades at the same time and makes his inspection rounds through the neighborhood.  As the chairman of the Residents Association, he makes sure there are no cars parked where they're not supposed to park, no vandalism through the night, checks the trash room, checks the traffic signs giving the metal poles a good kick - he checks the status of all things with a good kick.  Even checks door handles by tugging on them three times.  Principled.

Six months after his wife’s death, he’s planning to commit suicide.  Sonja was the world to him.  People said Ove saw the world in black & white.  But she was color.  All the color he had.  It's Tuesday night and he's cancelled his newspaper subscription, switched off the radiators, and turned off the lights.  And tomorrow he's putting up that hook.

But if anyone had asked, he would have told them that he never lived before he met her.  And not after either. 

Suicide and Ove - they didn't mix, time and time again.  The reasons why were actually quite practical and the reasoning behind his thinking was so logical, you grin as you go right along with him.  From bicycles, to radiators, to trips to the hospital, to having to do the most basic things as back up trailers, to even saving a gent's life - these were all hilarious scenes.  Ove just wants to die in peace.  Is that really too much to ask?

The neighborhood is filled with vivid characters, some new and some old, that gave the story depth.  Life is changing around him and when an Iranian immigrant, Parvaneh and her husband Patrick and their two daughter's ages three and seven, move in next door - life definitely had changed.

Her children smile at Ove's grumpiness through the story and I smiled right along with them.
Maybe, in some way the children saw this old bellyacher having a heart of gold.  The pictures they drew for him were very heartfelt, folks.

Here, the story unfolds into a heartwarming and humorous satire tale of a sadness, heartfelt memories, and a love that will always be.  You will be glad to have met Ove.

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Here's a reference I found:

Mr. Backman got the idea for “Ove” five years ago, when he was freelancing for the Swedish magazine Cafe.  A college dropout, he once worked as a forklift driver at a food warehouse, taking night and weekend shifts so that he could write during the day.

A colleague at Cafe wrote a blog post for their website about seeing a man named Ove explode with rage while buying tickets at an art museum, until his wife intervened.

“My wife read the blog post and said, ‘This is what life is like with you,’” Mr. Backman said.  “I’m not very socially competent.  I’m not great at talking to people.  My wife tends to say, your volume is always at 1 or 11, never in between.”

Mr. Backman started writing blog posts for Cafe about his own pet peeves and outbursts, under the heading, “I Am a Man Called Ove.”   Mr. Backman realized that he had the blueprint for a compelling fictional character, and the novel began to take shape.  “There’s a lot of me in him,” he said of Ove.  “When we get angry, it’s about a principle, and we get angry because people don’t understand why we’re angry.”

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How do you say Ove?

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A Man Called Ove

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 Here's where you can get your fingers on A Man Called Ove:
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $12.99 ~ Hardcover $15.57 ~ Paperback $9.74 USD
  •  Barnes & Noble ~ NOOK $12.99 ~ Hardcover $16.40 ~ Paperback $10.66 USD

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About the author  ~

Connect with Fredrik

Fredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the New York Times bestselling author of A MAN CALLED OVE and MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY. 

Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and around the world, and are being published in more than thirty five territories. His latest novel is BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE. 

He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children.

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The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware ~ 2016

She believes there has been a murder, everyone thinks she's crazy

Author: Ruth Ware
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press; Reprint edition (July 19, 2016)
Publication: July 16, 2016
Pages: 384
Language: English
Interior design: Jaime Putorti
Jacket design: Alan Dingman
Jacket photographs: Alamy and Arcangel
Author photograher: Nick Tucker

a Book Clubbin' read

3 Stars

Ruth Ware
I was expecting too much from this read.  All the hype and a NY Times best seller?

It opened up with the protagonist, Lo Blacklock, being burgled.  Lo, a journalist who suffers from childhood panic attacks, works for a travel rag and she has landed her dream assignment that would put her back into being noticed as a legit and unbelievable reporter – a week on the maiden voyage of the luxurious cruise liner the Aurora in the North Sea.

After you try to feel for Lo and her shortcomings, I had to give up on her and wished she was the one thrown over the side.  Being burgled in the beginning of the tale, this I believe, sets the stage for her neurotic behavior.  Her constant repetitive petulant dialogue was unnerving and her character did not grow through the tale.  She whined, complained, always drank too much even when she knows she shouldn’t, and her decision making was immature for an adult.

The story was pretty much about the protagonist rather than the woman in cabin ten.  Sure there is a mystery – one night Lo had seen something or someone being tossed over the side from cabin ten’s veranda.  She tells security and the ship still sails – why?  Well, after inspection all passengers are accounted for.

She tells security she did see a woman in cabin ten and actually talked with her, even borrowed some mascara.  When security opens cabin ten, there is no one there and no belongings in sight.  What?

Okay the mystery begins.  From here on out the story needed all kinds of cliff-hangers and excitement, but, to no avail.  This tale was written with a  monotone level of drawn out whining from the protagonist, a pace that was slower than the tortoise in that infamous race and a plethora of one-dimensional characters that contributed pretty much nothing for the tale.  And, a plot that can only be describe as simple.

I am surprised this read had accolades.  The story could have been better as a short-story and then I could see those accolades.  No, on second thought, the tale was too boring and repetitive with Lo.  The read kept me for a couple of reasons:  One, I hoped for intrigue that was going to be on the next page (never happened); Two, had to find out if those accolades were resourceful (they were not); Three, after ¾ of the read what’s a few more yawns?  And four, had to finish it to see how it ended.

The ending did not satisfy me.  There was some excitement I should say with the chase and how that ended and without giving the ending away, I will tell you it does not matter how rich you are and/or what kind of strings you can pull to have your way, happiness will not be found in a dollar bill when it illegally comes floating your way.

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As an avid reader, I am disappointed in this tale.  Maybe her next one, The Lying Game: A Novel (2017) will be better for my tastes.  Love debuts, maybe - in a dark, dark wood (2015).  At any rate folks, I'd read her work again.

 Here's where you can get your fingers on The Woman in Cabin 10:

  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $11.99 ~ Hardcover $16.48 ~ Paperback $10.03 USD
  •  Barnes & Noble ~ NOOK $11.99 ~ Hardcover $17.41 ~ Paperback $10.55 USD

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About the author  ~

 Connect with Ruth

Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer, and is the internationally bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and the forthcoming The Lying Game (July 2017). She is married with two small children.

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