The Shell Game by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

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The Shell Game by Janet Evanovich and Lee GoldbergThe Shell Game by Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg
Series: Fox and O'Hare #0.25
Narrator: Scott Brick
Published by Random House Audio on October 7, 2014
Genres: Crime Fiction, Short Story
Format: Audiobook
Length: 48 mins
three-stars
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Con man Nick Fox is after Garson Klepper’s golden Peruvian relics. For Fox, convincing Klepper to hire him as security for the relocation of the relics to the Getty museum in L.A. was easy. Problem is, Fox wasn’t planning on Klepper also enlisting the help of the FBI. Fox also wasn’t planning on being paired up with rookie special agent Kate O’Hare. She’s smart, she’s tenacious, and when she’s conned, she holds a grudge. Life for Fox and O’Hare will never be the same again.

Short stories are always tough to talk about – I want people to know why I did/didn’t enjoy it, but I don’t want to give away too much. It’s even tougher when it’s a prequel to a series that I’ve read all the rest of, like this one.

The Shell Game details Nick Fox and Kate O’Hare’s first meeting. Nick’s a con-man/thief and Kate’s FBI. HE’s charming, she’s dedicated. They’re both intelligent and good-looking, although I’m not sure you get a feel for how attracted they are to each other in this mini-episode. Nick gets to show off his cleverness, Kate gets to show off her ability to see through him, but I missed their interactions with each other that are so much of the fun in the series.

Scott Brick does a good job as always as the narrator. His tone of voice fits the story, not melodramatic, but not straight either. Does that make sense. He knows the type of story it is, how over the top the characters can be, and just goes with it.

Over all it’s a good introduction, but I’m glad I read the full length stories first. I’m not sure this one would have made me immediately pick up the others and it’s a series I really enjoy- fun and light, adventure and sexual tension.

About Janet Evanovich

Janet2011Bio1

Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Trouble Maker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.

About Lee Goldberg

lee goldberg

New York Times Bestselling author Lee Goldberg is a two-time Edgar Award and two-time Shamus Award nominee whose many TV writing and/or producing credits “Spenser: For Hire,” “Monk,” and “The Glades.” He’s also the author of the Fox & O’Hare series with Janet Evanovich, “The Walk,” “Watch Me Die,” “King City,” the “Dead Man” series, as well as the “Diagnosis Murder” and “Monk” series of original mystery novels.

Thursday’s Tale: Henny Penny

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henny penny

“Henny Penny” is one of the variations of folktales that are cumulative tales about a chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. There is also a very relevant moral.

Henny Penny was scratching around the farmyard looking for food when something hit her on the head. She leaps to the conclusion that the sky is falling and heads off to warn the king. Along the way she meets Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey. In turn, she tells each of them that the sky is falling and they join her on her trip to warn the king.

They run into Foxy Loxy and tell him their story. He agrees to go with them to tell the king and says he knows a short cut. He leads them into the woods (don’t go into the woods!) and to a dark hole. Of course, it’s the door to his house, and inside his wife and kids are waiting for dinner. One by one they follow him in and Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey all get eaten.

Luckily Cocky Lock crows in fear before he is eaten. Henny Penny realizes what is going on, turns around, and runs back to the safety of the farmyard. There she stays and she never does tell the king the sky is falling.

There are other variations that have a happy ending for all the creatures, but not this one. Only Henny Penny escapes the fox. The moral is, be careful who you believe. The friends wouldn’t have gotten into trouble if the hadn’t believed Henny Penny’s ridiculous assertion that the sky was falling. And they wouldn’t have gotten eaten if they hadn’t believed the fox about his shortcut.

“The sky is falling” has become part of our vocabulary, indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent- not that people every have that problem.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.

The Ice Queen by Nele Neuhaus

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The Ice Queen by Nele NeuhausThe Ice Queen by Nele Neuhaus
Series: Bodenstein & Kirchhoff #3
Narrator: Robert Fass
Published by Blackstone Audio on January 13, 2015
Genres: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Length: 14 hrs 38 mins
four-stars
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The body of ninety-two-year-old Jossi Goldberg, Holocaust survivor and American citizen, is found shot to death execution style in his house near Frankfurt. A five-digit number is scrawled in blood at the murder scene. The autopsy reveals an old and unsuccessfully covered tattoo on the corpse's arm, a blood type marker once used by Hitler's SS. Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver Bodenstein are faced with a riddle. Was the old man not Jewish after all? Who was he, really?

Two more, similar murders happen, one a wheelchair-bound old lady in a nursing home, the other a man with a cellar filled with Nazi paraphernalia, and slowly the connections between the victims become evident: All of them were lifelong friends with Vera von Kaltensee, baroness, well-respected philanthropist, and head of an old, rich family that she rules with an iron fist. Pia and Oliver follow the trail, which leads them all the way back to the end of World War II and the area of Poland that then belonged to East Prussia. No one is who they claim to be, and things only begin to make sense when the two investigators realize what the bloody number stands for and uncover an old diary and an eyewitness who is finally willing to come forward.

First off, a minor complaint. Neuhaus’ series is being translated from German, but out of order. So the first I read was Snow White Must Die #4, then Bad Wolf #6, and now The Ice Queen#3. Each is a self-contained mystery, but Pia and Oliver’s personal lives come into play a fair amount and it’s a little odd going back in time to see where their relationships were, knowing how they change over time. It doesn’t bother me too much, but I feel like it would be a stronger series read in order.

The story is absorbing, a mystery involving an influential family and secrets that go back to WW2. The blurb above gives the basic plotline, but it gives you no idea of how inter-connected theses people’s lives are, how horrible their secrets are. It’s a large cast, and the narrator, Robert Fass, does a reasonable job. I found a few of his voices jarring, but I do understand that it can be difficult to keep that many people differentiated from each other. I like listening to translated mysteries, rather than reading them. The narrator is so smooth with the places and names that I would totally be stumbling over, and I just like the way they sound. Amber may have caught me repeating German towns and surnames on more than one occasion over the last couple days.

The mystery itself is well-done. There are a lot of suspects and a variety of motives that kept me guessing. I was honestly shocked by who the killer was, even though once the whole things was wrapped up it made complete sense. There are a lot of threads running through the story though, and people have different reasons behind their actions. It’s a difficult case for Pia and Oliver to sift their way through. But for once it’s the male officer who puts himself in a sticky situation that he ends up paying for, although his punishment is way more lenient than I think it should have been, at least from his wife’s point of view. Usually, at least in books I’ve read recently, it seems to be the woman who gets herself into a stupid dangerous situation. Pia does end up in danger, but not because of a bad decision she made, but because the other characters are making their own unrelated decisions at the same time.

This is a solid book, and, at least for me, an interesting look at how WW2 is still shadowing people’s lives. And a reminder not to underestimate people.

About Nele Neuhaus

nele neuhaus

Cornelia “Nele” Neuhaus is a German writer. She is best known for her crime thrillers.

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