REVIEWS FROM MANYA NOGG
POSTED DECEMBER 30, 2012
In recent years I've become disenchanted with the thought of reading books that seem to have a cast the size of the phone book. Since this story centers around a very exclusive, snooty condominium complex, Olympus House, it seemed I had run into the same situation. But I'm happy to report that things settled into a manageable read fairly quickly.
Rebecca Cloudwebb is an ex-cop, having had to retire after receiving a disabling leg injury. Her partner was killed in the fray and his widow is now working with Rebecca in the antique store she opened. One of their best clients lives at Olympus House and she, as do many of the upper crust tenants, works out early in the morning at Madam Norina's Temple of Health spa.
Both staff and tenants have a case of snobbery and Madame caters to it by forming a very special class, "The Jewel", limited to residents only. Rebecca is ordered to deliver a recent purchase to her super-snobbish client, Flora Melitta. The Victorian earrings are priceless and the old woman wants to show them off by having them delivered during class.
One of Madame's requirements is that everyone drinks her health water during class. And each of the ladies' glass matches her workout clothes. To everyone's consternation, the pushy new tenant, Laura Tyler, takes a sip or two of the ritualistic water, starts foaming at the mouth, etc. and drops dead at their feet.
It isn't Rebecca who decides to investigate the situation but Flora, who decides the ex-cop should help her. Partly she's a nosey old lady, but she resents the calm of her domain being invaded by policemen who, in her opinion, are doing a poor job. So she decides to play detective and subtly blackmails Rebecca into helping her.
The high society snobs who inhabit Olympus House turn out to have more skeletons in their closets than the catacombs under Paris. But it keeps the reader on their toes.
- Manya Nogg
POSTED FEBRUARY 28, 2013
At last a book that has multiple characters but the author has done a great job of presenting their place in the scheme of things in segments that stand almost by themselves and fill out the plot.
Ms. Howe was, as she claims, actually one of the last of the "starlets" and last of the contract players in the so-called golden days of Hollywood. As such she saw or lived with a pecking order, or caste system, or whatever you choose to call it, that was a law unto itself both on and off the screen.
Along came the "suits" or corporations who had money but really didn't know much about the heart of the business.
Ms. Howe has taken some of the best and the worst of both worlds and created a super story, and look, at that world.
Briefly, our protagonist is Diana Poole, a forty-something ex-actress who sort of retired when she married Oscar-winning screenwriter Colin
Being low on money, in a Malibu house that is an embarrassment to the neighbors, she has decided to get back into acting. Each of the chapters is devoted to someone she needs, or whom she runs into on this quest -- and some of their lives are woven into the mystery and murders.
A novel, no pun intended, approach and one that I totally enjoyed.
- Manya Nogg
A very convoluted story of a black ex-boxer, and at times thug, who is working to turn his life around by becoming an off-beat P.I. He is at a point in his life where he is trying to atone for his sins.
The main theme of this story is his attempt to right a wrong done to Zella Grisham who was falsely accused of being part of a $58million theft from an insurance company. Finally she's proven innocent, after eight years in prison, and our hero Leonid "lt" McGill decides to try to rectify his part in it. Which he should since he was instrumental in her being convicted.
In over fifteen years of reviewing books, I have not used any part of a publisher's press release, but best-selling author Mosley's character has a very complex history and they described it succinctly.
"African-American, Buddhist, ex-boxer Leonid McGill and his multiracial family seem to be having a collective emotional meltdown. His brooding older son has dropped out of college and moved in with an ex-prostitute from Belarus with serious organized crime connections. His wayward younger son is working for him with the aim of staying on the right side of the law. His sweet-natured daughter has hooked up with an utterly inappropriate sexual partner. Just when he is ready to give up on his marriage and throw himself passionately into an interrupted relationship with his erstwhile mistress, McGill's white wife repents of her lovers and selfish past. The coup de grace is a totally unexpected phone call from Leonid's father, who abandoned him at age twelve. Add to all of this brazen attempts on his life -- and the lives of his family. "
ALL I DID WAS SHOOT MY MAN is fast-paced with a myriad of characters who breeze in and out of the story. This is the fourth book in the Leonid McGill series. Short, fast chapters are a favorite of mine but usually that involves a change of characters. And author Mosley has included a plethora of those. If, like myself, you may be reading the book over a period of days and you don't want to keep playing "who the heck is that?" just make a list of who's who you can refer to. And sit back and enjoy the ride.