Sunday, April 29, 2018

Dressed for Death in Burgundy (A French Village Mystery)

Author:  Susan C. Shea
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781250113023
Minotaur Books
288 Pages$26.99; $12.99 Amazon
May 1, 2018

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After finding herself mixed up in a murder investigation the previous summer, Katherine Goff's life simply has not been the same.  Her husband has been in the US recording a new album, the Burgundy region locals are finally starting to see her as a real neighbor, and Katherine has even started helping out with "tourist" excursions.  It seems she's finally found her place in the small community of Reigny-sur-Canne.

But when Katherine stumbles across a body in the local museum during a tour, she finds herself caught up once again in a whirlwind of gossip and speculation.  When the police zero in on her friend Pippa as a suspect, Pippa and Katherine team up to find the real killer and clear her name.

However, the more clues they discover, the more the real killer wants them off the trail.  When Katherine and Pippa start receiving threats, they must decide what they are more afraid of - the police getting it wrong, or possibly becoming the killer's next targets.

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Katherine Goff, American expat who lives in a small town in France with her musician husband and pets, is trying to live a quiet life, interrupted only by the fact that her husband Michael is in the states recording an album with a famous country star.  It's getting close to Christmas, and she can't wait to have him back home for the holiday.

But all does not stay quiet for long.  While doing a favor for a friend - driving American tourists on a museum tour - she encounters the worst possible scenario.  While touring the museum, they find a dead body that turns out to be the wife of the local butcher.  While Katherine would like nothing more than to leave it behind her and allow the local gendarmes to handle it, her friend Pippa, a British aspiring writer, wants to solve the murder and use it in her novel (fictional, of course).  But when Pippa starts looking for clues, she doesn't realize that it makes her look suspicious, since she seems to be where the clues are found.

So Katherine feels the need to help her friend, albeit reluctantly, and just wants the matter settled before Michael gets home and finds out she's been digging around in another murder.  Only Pippa won't let it go, and now she's dragging Katherine's little friend Jeanette into the mix, and Katherine has no choice but to help and try and find out who wanted the butcher's wife dead...

This is the second book in the series, and I will say that it has improved over the first.  The plot was better and there weren't so many people as to be confused about who was who, which is a good thing in any book.

I did begin to wonder if these people ate anything but sausage, though.  (Their cholesterol must be sky high in France).  Every time you turned around that's all anyone was eating.  Anyway...I found this book to be darker than the first.  Winter in France in this small town was depressing; and there was really no feeling that Christmas was an enjoyable time of year.  No visiting each other's homes, no decorations, no baking, etc.  I was surprised about Katherine's financial situation, because in the first book we were given the impression that if they could just pick up and move to another country they must have had the financial means to do so, but in this book they are just struggling by and hoping Michael can make a go again of his career.  It was as I said, a surprise, to say the least.  Pippa also appears to be struggling, and since she doesn't seem to have a job, where is her income coming from? (I pay attention to details).  It may have been mentioned in the first book, but if so, it was only a sentence or two and should have been reiterated in this one.

While I would have liked to enjoy this book more, unfortunately, I didn't feel a connection with any of the characters, and that's a big plus in a book.  If you don't feel a connection, then the book doesn't have any kind of an impact on you.  Not the death, not the solving of it.  In this case, because I never really connected with Pippa or Katherine, I didn't really care about what was happening to them at any given time.  Also, there is a bit of a spoiler below, but I have hidden it.



Other than that, I do believe that this book has promise if the series continues; I would actually say that it was a 3-1/2 star book well on its way to four stars, especially if Katherine and Michael's financial situation continues to improve, as well as Pippa finally finding herself a published author.

https://smile.amazon.com/Dressed-Death-Burgundy-Village-Mysteries/dp/1250113024/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2376729544

More on Susan C. Shea's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/s/susan-shea/

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Love and Death in Burgundy (A French Village Mystery #1)

Author:  Susan C. Shea
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Digital Book; Audiobook
ISBN #:  9781250113009
Minotaur Books
272 Pages
$13.74; $2.99 Amazon
May 2, 2017

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After three years of living in the small town of Reigny-sur-Canne, all Katherine Goff really wants is to be accepted by her neighbors into their little community.  But as an American expat living in the proud region of Burgundy, that's no easy task.

When the elderly Frenchman who lives in the village chateau is found dead at the bottom of a staircase, the town is turned into a hot bed of gossip and suspicion, and Katherine suddenly finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the the small town's secrets.  A motherless teenager, a malicious French widow, a brash music producer, and a would-be Agatha Christie are among those caught up in a storm that threatens to turn Katherine's quiet life upside down.  As more and more of the villagers' secrets are brought to light, Katherine must try to figure out who, if anyone, in the town she can trust, and which one of her neighbors just might be a killer.

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Katherine Goff is an American artist and her husband is an ex-musician who live in a small town in France.  She's tried hard for three years to be accepted by her chosen country, but hasn't been able to truly become one of them.  She does hope that her luncheon on this day will be a help.  While she's only invited the local ladies - which include two other Americans and an Englishwoman - trouble begins to brew when the husband of one of the French women arrives to pick her up and a man he hates, Yves, also shows up.

It seems Yves dropped his daughter Sophie to date another American, Penny, and the Bellegardes hate him.  When Monsieur Bellegarde arrives to pick up his wife, so does Yves, and they get into an argument which culminates in M. Bellgarde breaking a plate over Yves' head.  While it looks like a minor disaster, it soon turns into something worse.

Katherine is called from her bed in the middle of the night because M. Bellegarde is dead, apparently from a fall down the stairs.  But people begin to become suspicious, and now everyone is looking around for suspects.  But will they find the killer or will Yves become murderer by default?

Since this is a first-in-the-series book, I try to give a pass to the author.  But there were so many things that bothered me that I had a difficult time doing so.  First off, the author tells us that Katherine's husband doesn't speak any French.  Why would he want to move to a country where he doesn't speak the language?  He's been there three years and hasn't managed to pick up anything or at least get someone to teach him?  Is he going to have his wife continually translate?  Is he going to use sign language to indicate what he's interested in at market?  Is he expecting the locals to speak his language?  That in itself seemed off to me.

Then I began to wonder why, in this small town, there were so many people from other places - Katherine and her husband, an American country singer and family, a rich woman from Cleveland; and even an Englishwoman.  Is this village advertised as a haven for expatriates?

But here's the kicker where the book lost me, and almost right away (although I did continue reading)  why would you go to someone's home and take a plate from what is obviously a nice set and break it over someone else's head?  Who does that?  I can't imagine anyone who would just help themselves to someone else's dinnerware and destroy it like that - and not even apologize or offer to replace it.  Is this how the French behave?

Then there's Katherine - a weak woman if I ever saw one.  She didn't have a single strong character trait at all, and therefore was not likable and honestly I got tired of reading about Katherine going to flea sales and buying things.  Who cares where she bought her dishes or doilies?  I certainly don't.  Michael never seemed happy - it appeared he wanted to be anywhere except where he was, and I wondered why they didn't just move back to the states.

But it doesn't stop there:  There's the little problem of Jeanette, a young teenager who has a habit of stealing, even from the mouth that feeds her.  She not only steals from Katherine, she plays her for a fool and spies on people...and there's no consequences for her at all; nada, nothing.  Saying her father was a thief or that she had no mother doesn't make it alright.  Why didn't she get in trouble for her actions?  Who would want someone like her around them?  I'd put a mile wide fence around my house if it meant keeping my possessions.

There's a couple more things that bother me, including my feeling about the ending, but since I didn't want to give it away, I put it in a spoiler below:



All in all, I hope in the next book Katherine will have gained a backbone and actually not be afraid to stand up to people and treat her husband a little bit better than she does.  I will read the next in the series to see if it has improved.
 
https://www.amazon.com/Love-Death-Burgundy-Village-Mysteries/dp/1250113008/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2375633528

More on Susan C. Shea's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/s/susan-shea/

Friday, April 27, 2018

Nun After the Other (A Giulia Driscoll Mystery #5)

Author:  Alice Loweecey
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781635113297; 9781635113266
Henery Press Publishing
298 Pages
$30.76; $15.95; $4.99 Amazon
April 11, 2018

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Nuns and murder and ghosts, oh my!  Here comes Giulia Driscoll again, and boy, is she in for it this time.  It all starts when a frenzied Chihuahua leads Giulia and Frank Driscoll to the body of a nun in the street near a convent.  The nuns fear they're being harassed by the biggest developer in town and quickly embrace Giulia as their savior.  Of course, the former nun who exposed the drug ring run by a priest and nun will save their home and discover the murderer.  And of course, Giulia not only takes this job, but also all the other jobs clamoring for her attention.  The result:  Driscoll investigations is pushed to its limit.  Then Giulia's brother falls into a coma and she brings his kids to her house.  Talk about a crash course in parenting for pregnant Giulia!

Did we mention convent ghost?  She loves the house, hates the nuns, and chain-smokes.  Why couldn't Giulia's first honest-to-goodness ghost be shy and sweet?  More important, does the ghost hate the nuns - or the developer - enough to indulge in a bit of murder to liven up the afterlife?

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Giulia Driscoll is an ex-nun private investigator, and her husband Frank is a police detective.  One evening on date night they hear a scream and follow it, only to discover a dead nun on the ground, with a barking Chihuahua licking her face and hand.  After they call the police, they corner the dog and allow him to lead them to her home nearby.  What Giulia finds is a house full of nuns, and that the dead woman was Sister Matilda.  She also finds that they're being forced out of their home by a developer who wants to tear it down and renovate the area.

She also discovers that they've all heard of her past deeds and want to hire her to find out who's been vandalizing their home and has (probably) caused Matilda's death; and act as their advocate with Eagle Development.  Giulia agrees to take the case, but letting them know that she won't interfere in the police investigation of the death.

When Giulia starts her probe she discovers that Victor Eagle has bought up many homes in run down areas and turned them into modern housing. It's also apparent that only the nuns and a small coffee house are the holdouts, and the coffee house is on the verge of folding.  But if the nuns lose their home, they'll be split up and will have less than they have now.  While Giulia is advocating for more money, she discovers another secret the house holds.

Giulia encounters the ghost of the original inhabitant - a Gibson Girl who refuses to leave, and hates the nuns.  She designed the house and considers it hers; and it doesn't help when a dead body is discovered in the basement and only furthers the nuns' impression that Eagle is willing to do anything to get them to leave - even if it means burning them out.

It also doesn't help that her brother Salvatore - who hates her for leaving the convent - has fallen into a coma and she must temporarily care for his children until their mother Anne is able to take them home; Anne and Salvatore have been separated and he has refused her contact.  But Giulia decides she'll worry about it when - or if - he wakes up.

With everything going on in her life, including her pregnancy, Giulia has more than enough on her plate, and will need any help she can get, even if it comes from the psychics across the street who know how to deal with belligerent ghosts...

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this book.  Giulia is one intelligent woman, she's brave and has  plenty of self-assurance and she doesn't fold easily.  She basically can handle everything life can throw at her and come out ahead of the game.  Even when suddenly thrown in adverse situations - as in a ghost appearing in front of her - Giulia manages to keep calm throughout the encounter.

I loved the ghost aspect of the story; it fit in perfectly and even helped Giulia somewhat along the way (by things she said).  It was an interesting twist, along with the secondary story line of the elderly nun and, of all people, The Scoop's cameraman, Pit Bull.  I liked the background we received on him; it made him more human and more of a likable person.

Ms. Loweecey manages to give us characters who are vivid and convincing; she is a skilled writer who can bring one into a compelling story and keep one's interest throughout.  When the end finally comes, everything is pulled together nicely, giving us a satisfying conclusion.  I look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended.

https://smile.amazon.com/After-Other-Giulia-Driscoll-Mystery/dp/1635113261/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2374749766

More on Alice Loweecey's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/l/alice-loweecey/

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Murder on Union Square (A Gaslight Mystery #21)

Author:  Victoria Thompson
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780399586606
Berkley Publishing
336 Pages
$26.00; $12.99 Amazon
May 1, 2016

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Sarah and Frank Malloy are enjoying married life and looking to make their family official by adopting Catherine, the child whom Sarah rescued and has been raising as her daughter.  The process seems fairly straightforward, but at the last minute, the newlyweds discover that Parnell Vaughn, Catherine's legal father, has a claim on the child, and his grasping fianceé is demanding a financial settlement to relinquish parental rights.  Even though exchanging money for a child is illegal, Frank and Sarah's love for Catherine drives them to comply.

When Frank returns with the money and finds Vaughn beaten to death, all evidence points to Frank as the culprit.  A not-quite-famous actor with modest means, Vaughn seems an unlikely candidate for murder, particularly such a violent crime of passion.  But Frank soon uncovers real-life intrigue as dramatic as any that appears on stage.

Sarah and Frank enlist those closest to them to help hunt for Vaughn's killer as Frank's own life - and the future of their family -- hang in the balance.

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Frank Malloy is an ex-policeman who now owns a private detective agency.  He and his wife Sarah, a midwife, are planning to formally adopt a little girl named Catherine.  But they find out from an attorney that in the eyes of the law, Catherine's father is an actor named Parnell Vaughn, even though he's not the biological parent.  He was married to Catherine's mother at the time of her birth, so unfortunately he still has parental rights.

When Frank and Sarah visit Vaughn at the theater, they discover that he is perfectly willing to sign whatever papers need be in order to relinquish his legal hold on her.  He states quite soundly that she is not his child, and he is not in a position to raise one regardless.  But before Frank and Sarah leave, the young woman with Vaughn, Eliza, demands they pay one thousand dollars in order to gain custody.  While exchanging money for a child is illegal, they are still more willing to find out a way to do so in order to keep the girl; and set a date for Vaughn to sign the papers.

However, when Frank arrives at the theater upon the appointed time, he finds Vaughn's body covered in blood.  When he checks for a pulse, he manages to get some blood on himself, and Eliza arrives shortly after and starts screaming that he killed him.  When the police arrive, Frank is arrested and charged with the murder.  Now it's up to he and Sarah, along with friends Maeve and Gino, to clear Frank's name and find the true killer.

While I enjoyed reading this mystery, set in an historical era, I did feel that it was a tad bit slow going at some points.  Although I do understand that there is a lot to do with murders, and you must ask many people questions in order to find out the truth, I did find it odd that there was never a police officer about who was curious.  While I understand the lead detective believed Frank was the murderer, there was never anyone who even thought that the case might just fall apart unless their one witness was infallible (which, of course, we know she wasn't); and that they would question others just to make sure the case would stand.  But it seemed the only people questioning were the 'Malloy clan'.  Not one officer on the force (it seemed) was even considering that Frank just might be telling the truth and not be a murderer.  It doesn't say much about his time on the force if everyone thought he was guilty.  It seemed to me that if he wasn't liked by even one co-worker, how could he be likable by anyone, including his family and friends?  For people who have never read any other books in the series, this might be a huge question mark, in my opinion.

Aside from that, there was quite a bit of detail, and the separate questioning was thorough; I enjoyed the fact that Frank and Sarah work together a team.  Their talk sessions, where everyone gathers 'round and shares information, trying to sort out fact from fiction, was quite fun to read.

While it was enjoyable to read about theater people 'back in the day', I also found it nice to watch the Malloys as they traveled through their investigation.  While the clues were there it took time to decipher them; and while it wasn't a surprise as to who the murder was, it definitely was engaging in the process.

This is the 21st entry into the Gaslight Mysteries, but it can be read as a stand-alone.  There is nothing referencing earlier books so as to be confusing to the reader, aside from incorporating some characters from those novels.  When all is said and done and the killer is revealed, it was a satisfying ending to a very good book.  Recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Murder-Union-Square-Gaslight-Mystery/dp/0399586601/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2372991417

More on Victoria Thompson's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/t/victoria-thompson/

Monday, April 23, 2018

39 Winks (A Maggie O'Malley Mystery Book 2)

Author:  Kathleen Valenti
Genre:  Mystery

Digital Book
Henery Press Publishing
$2.99 Amazon
May 22, 2018

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Former pharmaceutical researcher Maggie O'Malley is losing sleep.  Constantine's aunt is a multitasking sleepwalker who, in addition to wandering her stately home, prepares meals, folds laundry and, one winter night, stumbles across her husband with his throat slit.

It's a rude and gruesome awakening that upsetting to Aunt Polly.  And interesting to the police.

Maggie and Constantine work to uncover who killed the cosmetic surgery mogul and why.  As they dig into the lives of those who knew him best, they discover that the truth is only skin deep and doctoring perception is a treatment with deadly side effects.

A gripping page-turner with more twists than a surgeon's suture, 39 Winks is a tale of lies, betrayals and greed that will keep you up at night.  And looking over your shoulder.

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Maggie O'Malley is an ex-pharmaceutical researcher who was basically forced out of her job after exposing a company scandal.  She's now working for a high-end lingerie company as a sales clerk - that is, until she confronts the owner with a wrong and loses her job.

Things go from bad to worse when she receives a call from her boyfriend Constantine telling her that his aunt Polly has had a bad sleepwalking incident and found her husband murdered in the kitchen of their home.  While Maggie doesn't want to get involved - she's had enough of murder, thank you very much - she really has nothing to prevent her from going to Polly and seeing if she can help.

But Maggie's 'help' only puts Polly in more danger and higher on the suspect list of a cop who already hates Polly for a perceived wrong done long ago.  Now she has to find out who really killed Polly's husband because if she doesn't, Polly is going to be on the wrong side of a jail cell for a really long time...

Maggie O'Malley is back again trying to put some order in her life and figure things out.  Unfortunately, before any of that can happen, she finds herself smack dab in the center of another murder.  And this one, unfortunately, hits closer to home when it's her boyfriend Constantine's aunt.  It's not long before Maggie's curiosity gets the better of her and she knows there's more to the death than what appears.  Maggie's medical knowledge leads her to questioning why Polly has been sleepwalking, and the past of Polly's late husband.

Soon Maggie discovers that Polly's husband Howard had a previous life before Polly...a previous life with a different name.  Once Maggie and Constantine start to dig into Howard's past, Maggie starts learning that Howard left his past behind for very unsavory reasons.  And those reasons might be what got him killed.  But proving it is something entirely different, especially when the detective in charge of the investigation hates Polly, and by extension, Maggie; and is determined to see Polly convicted of Howard's death.

The one light in the tunnel is that Maggie's ex-boyfriend Austin is also on the case and seems (sort of) willing to listen to her.  But it's almost too late when Maggie discovers that what she knows might get her killed, too, if she doesn't get someone to believe her.

This is the second book in the series and just as suspenseful as the first.  Maggie is an intelligent, independent woman who wants to do things her own way, and sometimes she doesn't realize that she just might need help to survive.  But she never backs down, and through her own perseverance manages to find all the pieces she needs to complete the puzzle before it's too late.

I liked this fact most of all - that she wasn't a weak-willed woman who just 'happens' upon things but actively looks for answers; and while she at times can be a little too independent and put herself in danger, she never does so with others.

The plot was extremely well done, the story filled with subplots that while at first seemed to be separate from the death pulled together in a nicely woven tale of murder, fraud and revenge that left surprises right until the end.  Ms. Valenti is a skilled writer who is able to keep her readers involved from the first right up until the end.

When the ending came and the murderer was revealed, it all came together nicely and made for an engrossing mystery that is well worth reading.  There was plenty of suspense and intrigue, and even a revelation that shows how far some people will go to achieve their ends.  Quite nicely done.  I look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Winks-Maggie-OMalley-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07B9M3VZ7/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2370593043

More on Kathleen Valenti's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/v/kathleen-valenti/

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Picked Off (A Brie Hooker Mystery Book 2)

Author:  Linda Lovely
Genre:  Mystery

Digital Book
Henery Press Publishing
$2.99 Amazon
June 5, 2018

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It's been seven months since Brie Hooker, a vegan, moved to Udderly Kidding Dairy to live with her feisty Aunt Eva, a confirmed carnivore.

But tonight there'll be no family feud over dinner entrees.

Udderly's hosting a campaign fundraiser for Eva's best friend, who hopes to be South Carolina's next governor.  The candidate's son, a pro quarterback, is flying home for the wingding.  And Brie's eager to get a close-up view of the cute tush she's admired on TV, even though she's reluctantly sworn off even more tempting local beefcake.

The campaign fundraiser promises to be a huge success until a pitchfork attack turns the goat farm into a crime scene - again.

To protect her friends, Brie puts her sleuthing skills to work.  Will she live long enough to find out who's behind a vicious assault, a kidnapping, blackmail, and murder?

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When Brie and her friends Paint and Andy are getting Udderly Kidding Dairy ready for a Halloween fundraiser for her Aunt Eva's best friend Carol Strong, who is running for governor, all talk is about Carol's son Zack, who grew up with the two men and has now made it big in football.  But no sooner are they talking about him when he shows up to visit with his old friends.

Once the costumed affair is underway, everyone seems to be having a good time...until Zack is found unconscious in the barn, having been hit on the head and then stabbed with a pitchfork.  The attack has left him in a coma, and since almost everyone wore a mask, no one can tell who the attacker might have been.

But it doesn't stop there.  Soon Carol disappears, and both Brie and Eva thinks she might have been kidnapped.  It doesn't help that suddenly the town is filled with people from Zack's football team, including a pair of hired thugs who are more menacing than protective.  And if Brie doesn't figure out what's going on pretty soon, she might be the next one in the line of fire...

First off, I should get the things that bothered me out of the way:  Having read the first one, I was looking forward to this book.  However, this time out, Brie is really concerned with sex (as she reminds us how long she's been celibate).  Also, as I've said before, if this were a man and he were making remarks about two women who were interested in him, the demographics would be a whole lot different on peoples' opinion of the book.   

Her friend Mollye, who is supposed to be witty and funny, comes off like a twisted teenager in this book.  She's constantly making sexual innuendos which seem out of place considering there's a man in the hospital and his mother is missing.  I just felt that she never took the situation seriously; it gave me the impression that this book was centered more on the romantic angle, and because of that, the mystery angle suffered.  It wasn't until the second half of the book when there's a murder to be solved.  (Let's face it, folks, you read a mystery because of the murder, and you expect it fairly early on).  Unfortunately, since I'm not the least interested in love triangles, it made the first part of the book slow going for me.

But once the mystery started to get going, so did the action.  The pace picked up, and suspects began to come out of the woodwork, making the last half of the book quite interesting.  There were some harrowing situations that Brie managed to get into (and out of) and I enjoyed this immensely.  The words began to flow off the page, bringing us into the story and keeping us involved right up until the end.  It was this half that saved the book for me, and the best part of it, in my humble opinion.

Brie manages to think on her feet in tight situations, and that's always a good thing.  I found the writing to be very good, the plot line engaging.  I enjoyed how everything came together nicely at the end, and look forward to the next in the series.  Recommended.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion

Author:  Barney Hoskyns
Genre:  Music/Entertainers

Hardcover; [Paperback;] Digital Book
ISBN E:  9781468316278; [9781472127556]
The Overlook Press
336 Pages
$28.27; [$18.87]$26.23 Amazon
June 5, 2018

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At its core a creative marriage between Donald Fagan and Walter Becker, Steely Dan has sold over 45 million albums and recorded several of the cleverest and best-produced albums of the 1970s -- from the breathlessly catchy Can't Buy a Thrill to the sleekly sinister Gaucho -- making them one of the most sucessful rock acts of the past fifty years.  More than ten years after their break-up in 1981, they returned to remind fans of how sorely they had missed their elegance and erudition, subsequently recording Two Against Nature and Everything Must Go during the following decade, touring continuously, and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Major Dudes collects some of the smartest and wittiest interviews Becker and Fagan have ever given, along with insightful review of - and commentary on - their extraordinary songs.  Compiled by leading music critic and writer Barney Hoskyns, Major Dudes features contributions from Chris van Ness, Steven Rosen, and the late Robert Palmer, and pieces including rare interviews and reviews of Steely dan's early albums from Disc, Melody Maker, and Rolling Stone.

With an afterword examining the musical legacy and of memoralizing the late Walter Becker, who since his passing Rolling Stone has heralded as the "brilliant perfectionist behind one of rock's most eccentric bands," Major Dudes is the most comprehensive anthology of Steely Dan every compiled and will be the centerpiece on every fan's shelf.

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I must first say that I have been enthralled with Steely Dan since the first time I heard their music.  Once I heard Do It Again from their first album Can't Buy a Thrill, I was hooked.  So hooked that through the years I have proceeded to buy every album they've created.  It's the music I listen to in the car; when I'm cleaning at home; in airports and on the plane - well, you get the idea.

In my mind, there is no truer band than the Dan.  They are the only band that I feel has been able to successfully merge jazz (a favorite genre of mine) and rock - so much so, that their sound is unique and unparalleled.  The lyrics, which are the soul of their sound, are complex and definitive.  Not every song means what you want to think it means, not every song is as memorable as the one that comes before it.  But each song is poetry personified; it has depth, quintessence and above all essence. 

This book not only quotes Steely Dan's songs and albums, it gives us the background of where the two founding members met (in college) and their co-band mates, and how they work together and perform together (two very different things).  Each chapter begins with an essay then there are interviews throughout along with a timeline.  This work entails the thought process behind their music, and how it comes about.  It's also interesting to note that Jeff Baxter, who began with the Dan, went on to a fine musical career with The Doobie Brothers.

I will state that if you are not a fan of Steely Dan, you may not truly understand everything in the book, but to true lovers of the band this book is an indispensable resource that is bound to be prized for what it is.  My personal favorite is the album Pretzel Logic, which has a track from which the title takes its name.  Unfortunately, the recent passing of Walter Becker left a void that will be deeply missed.

In conclusion, their music stands in a class by itself.  For anyone who knows their music, this statement stands true.  For those that don't, I suggest you listen to a couple of their albums.  If you do, Steely Dan will have gained new fans.  Highly recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Major-Dudes-Steely-Dan-Companion/dp/1468316273/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2350477428

More on Barney Hoskyn's Books:  https://www.amazon.com/Barney-Hoskyns/e/B001IU4ZHA/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Cold-Brewed Murder (Coffee Cup Mysteries Book Two)

Author:  Neila Young Genre:   Mystery Trade Paperback; Digital Book ISBN #:  9781948051231 Red Adept Publishing 288 Pages $13.99; $7....