Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Review Club: PRESENCE OF MIND

Steve was dead. There was a penny-sized bullet hole in the back of his neck, about an inch above the knob. I moved over and touched the woman, and when I got no reaction, lifted the blonde hair up and out of her coat collar. And saw the same thing. Her shoulders and head moved to the right and rested against the glass of her door's window.
Out of standard PI loyalty, Chess Hanrahan begins investigating the murder of his pal, Steve, who had taken on a case that Chess had passed on to him. The cops try to dissuade Chess with evidence of a paperclip sculpture found at both his friend's murder scene and a similar 'calling card' at a double-murder elsewhere in town, theorizing a serial killer is loose and Steve was the victim of random violence which had nothing to do with the case Steve was working on. Chess quickly learns there is more to the situation than meets the eye.

Any detective book that begins with an Edith Hamilton quote is likely to be far from standard and, thankfully, PRESENCE OF MIND shakes it up with political parley between the USSR and US (the novel takes place in the late 1980s), connections to the Korean War, and the trail of Soviet agents hell-bent on seizing a little known computer company.

Mr. Cline's writing is sharp and lyrical in refreshing ways for a genre that is getting drier and drier. I intend to read each Chess Hanrahan novel that is released. Recommended.

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@Barrie Summy

22 comments:

Shannon said...

Nice review. That quoted paragraph really caught my eye. Now I want to go and track this book down.

Barrie said...

Like Shannon, I loved that paragraph. Thank you for joining in!

Diane said...

Include me that it sounds like a good read. I am working through a fantasy series but will be ready for a tough PI next.

David Cranmer said...

Shannon, Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad to find out I can be influential! I just checked out your blog and will definetly return.

Barrie, Always a pleasure.

Diane, What fantasy series?

pattinase (abbott) said...

Hey, David. Glad to see you here and this book looks made for my husband.

David Cranmer said...

As James Reasoner mentioned in his review, the characters take time out to discuss political philosophy among other weighty topics and it held my interest quite well. Actually, that's one of the reasons this is a fresh detective character.

sertech said...

Dave, It will be tossed in the cart because you know I like plots dealing with early tech industry.

David Cranmer said...

I sure do and you will get a kick out of this one. Cheers.

Sarah Laurence said...

Great to see a book review club post from you! I like how it’s a mystery and political. Times have changed since I was growing up in the 80s.

Reb said...

Oh, I will have to look for that one. Great paragraph.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Very nice review! Is penny-sized standard for a bullet hole???

Diane said...

"Incarnations of Immortality" by Piers Anthony

**** stars

David Cranmer said...

Sarah, I've learned I'm far from the world's best reviewer but I like to join in every blue moon.

Yeah, the eighties are slinking away fast. I miss that decade.

Reb, Good to see you around these parts.

Alyssa, Yep, penny-sized holes is standard when I’m feeling lawlessness.

Diane, Muy bien.

David Barber said...

A great review for a 'novice'. :-)
Short and sweet and right to the point. I'll be keeping an eye out for it. thanks, david.

David Cranmer said...

David, Long reviews/posts are deadly... especially when I'm writing them.

Lucy said...

I always love a good mystery. :)

Jodi MacArthur said...

Wow. The book jumps right into the action doesn't it? Love that first line.

I read about your recent sale to Needle magazine on google, but can't find the blog. Congrats on that!

David Cranmer said...

Lucy, Mysteries/detective tales will always be my first love in reading. Hardy Boys to Robert B. Parker to Raymond Chandler.

Jody, Oh, that's not the first paragraph. Ha. That would be jumping right in. That's an excerpt from I believe, the second chapter.

I had a blog post on NEEDLE a month ago and yes I'm very excited to be among that distinguished crew. The issue should be out any day now.

Scott Parker said...

Interestingly, I've been in a spy/cold war mood recently. I'm going to see if Presence of Mind is available at my library.

David Cranmer said...

Scott, hope you find it there. And let me know what you think.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Good review. Sounds like an interesting read and well-written.

David Cranmer said...

Linda, I haven't seen you in a spell. Glad you stopped by and thanks for commenting on the review.