Tag Archives: Wyoming

Mondays are murder

I had never heard of Rizzoli & Isles until I saw a commercial for the new cable series.  And more’s the pity for me, now that I have started reading the series at book #8!

Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen was everything a thriller should be.  Taught, fast-paced, utterly believable and surprising to the last page.  Dr. Maura Isles, a medical examiner in Boston, has flown to Wyoming for a professional conference.  Her trip is both a work necessity and a chance to escape the complicated turn her personal life has taken.  Determined to forget, even if just for a moment, her ill-fated love affair with a Catholic priest, Dr. Isles agrees to go on a cross-country ski trip with an old med school acquaintance and his crew.

It doesn’t take long, of course, for the weather to get the best of them – this is Wyoming, after all.  And once their rental truck ends up on its side in a ditch on a seemingly abandoned road, things quickly spiral downhill.  Seeking shelter in a deserted home, their predicament reaches horror film proportions quickly.  Gerritsen pushes the narrative forward unrelentingly.  Find shelter? Also find abandoned meals and a dead dog.  Find a truck to get you out? The tire chains nearly amputate someone. Get to the road to ski out? Dodge a murderous snow plow.

While Dr. Isles and company are scrambling for their lives in the Wyoming wilderness against all foes – natural, human and imaginary – Detective Jane Rizzoli begins to worry that she can’t get Maura on her cell phone.  And when Maura’s lover calls to let her know that Dr. Isles was not on her return flight, Rizzoli can no longer shake the feeling that something more is going on than her friend just avoiding her unattainable love.

Off to Jackson, then with Rizzoli and her FBI agent husband.  Thus begins a blind pursuit in which no one is quite sure who is the hunter and who is the prey.  Ice Cold is a breathless read – complicated and exciting.  I will be adding this to my ongoing list of series to catch up on now that I have started them in the middle…  And to that end, dear blog readers, I wanted to point you to a new tool that recently came to my attention.  There is a website called FictFact that is “dedicated to helping you read fiction book series in order.”  This website finally helped me figure out the order in which I should have read Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole books.  Check it out!

ice cold cover

Random aside: All this talk of murder getting you down?  Just need a general autumn pick-me-up?  I highly recommend that every human being in the world who is at all interested in the pursuit of a life full of verve and wonder, spirit and fascination, read a series of all-ages (i.e. kid-friendly) manga by Kiyohiko Azuma called Yotsuba&! .  We have the first eight volumes in the system (that link will take you to the first), and they are a complete delight.  Yotsuba is a five-year-old girl with green hair, a mysterious family structure and a tendency to live life with total abandon.  And Azuma is an artist of consumate skill, both visually and narratively.  I challenge you to read any of Yotsuba’s antics and not come away feeling at least a little bit better about the world.

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Mondays are murder

I was reading The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson the other day, and a colleague looked at me and said “I didn’t know you liked Westerns.”

Now, when I hear “Westerns” I think of many things – The Lone Ranger, The Rifleman (my favourite TV show when I was a kid), Gunsmoke, Lonesome Dove, Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, Charles Russell, my uncle Dick, that pair of ropers I left in Texas under my childhood bed in my parents’ house.  But I had not thought about Johnson’s book, the fifth book featuring Wyoming lawman Sheriff Walt Longmire.

Then again, I just used three telltale words that should have made it obvious – “Wyoming,” “lawman” and of course “Sheriff.”  So I suppose I must now confess, I like Westerns.  Especially if they are Westerns like this one (by which I mean Westerns with murder, of course).

Walt Longmire is the long-time sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming.  His jail usually doesn’t have much to do, so he makes a little money for his office by housing prisoners for nearby counties.  Mary Barsad is one of those prisoners.  Unlike most of the others, though, she doesn’t spend her time loudly proclaiming her innocence from the wrong side of the bars.  Mary Barsad has already confessed to shooting her husband Wade in the head six times.

Walt, however, is just not convinced she did it.  Sure, Wade Barsad appears to have been a certified a**hole who locked his wife’s horses in the barn and then set it on fire.  Sure, it appears that every single person up at Powder River seems to have had a very good reason to want him dead, and Mary was the one found with a gun in her lap.  Sure, sure, sure.  But Walt remains unsure.  So he drives up the road a bit and embarks on an undercover operation in a town of 40 residents, one of whom was a childhood friend.

The Dark Horse has everything – good mystery and good Western.  Murderess who either didn’t do it or certainly should be commended for having done it rather than thrown in jail.  Ghosts of the past creeping up at all times.  Pint-sized cowboys and ancient punchers.  Horses and duellies and rifles and fist-fights and Native Americans and Mother Nature.  And a lone-wolf lawman up against  a bureaucracy satisfied with something less than the complete truth.

I’ll be reading the other two Walt Longmire novels VPL owns over the May 24th weekend, so get in line for them now!