Monday, July 3, 2017

Fire and Ashes (Death Investigator Angela Richman Book 2), by Elaine Viets

Elaine Viets' s new "Death Investigator" series is a world apart from her "Dead-End Job" and " Mystery Shopper" mysteries. While the protagonists in those novels lead problematic lives (including hiding from court orders by staying off the grid), Viets's new Angela Richman novels are interestingly darker. In both the first book in the series, "Brain Storm," and this second novel, Viets successfully depicts a physically and emotionally flawed stroke survivor who investigates often gruesome deaths while grieving for a recently deceased husband. In addition, although not as stark as "Brain Storm," "Fire and Ashes" pulls no punches when describing the white privilege demanded by the wealthy residents in Angela Richman's town of Chouteau Forest, Missouri.

Richman, back to investigating deaths after recovering from six strokes and a coma, is tasked with investigating the deaths of a wealthy, but grubby sexist-70 year old, and a seventeen year old heroin user. In both cases, in order to find the truth, Richman must push back against assumptions of guilt made by the police, prosecutor, and leaders of society, based on bigotry concerning local Mexican-Americans.

Viets's mastery of criminal forensic science is impressive, as is her skillful ability to give voice to the characters depicted. Several years ago, her narrative concerning overt law enforcement and prosecutorial bigotry probably would have been viewed as unrealistic and over the top. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said today.

Without a doubt, this book should be at the top of summer reading lists.

(In return for an honest review, I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.)

* Print Length: 288 pages
* Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1477848800
* Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (July 25, 2017)
* Publication Date: July 25, 2017
* Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Grumpface, by B.C.R. Fegan, (author); Daniela Frongia, (illustrator)

This is a book about a clever, but clumsy, inventor, Dafty Dan, who secretly loves the girl selling flowers in his village. While searching the nearby forest for a rose to give to her (since roses will not grow in her garden), he is trapped by a very grumpy, green creature with warts on his nose, called "Grumpface." Grumpface will not let Dan go free until he performs three difficult tasks. As Dan sets out to solve the tasks by inventing, he somehow never manages to invent what he intended, and so the story unfolds.

B.R. Fegan's artful, rhyming prose is reminiscent of children's fairytales from earlier times. Together with Daniela Frongia's glorious whimsical illustrations, this book will capture the attention and imagination of both parents and children.

(I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

* Print Length: 34 pages
* Publisher: TaleBlade (May 1, 2017)
* Publication Date: May 1, 2017
* Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC