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The Goodbye Door

Exit Music

The Unquiet

 

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The Good-bye Door: The Incredible True Story of America’s First Serial Killer to Die in the Chair by Diana Britt Franklin

Reviewed by M. Dunn

"The Goodbye Door: The Incredible True Story of America's First Female Serial Killer to Die in the Chair" by Diana Britt Franklin is a very interesting story about a woman who came to America over 80 years ago, settled in the largely populated German area of Cincinnati, and preyed on old men with money who were of the same nationality. The most compelling part of the story takes place in the courtroom, which I found to be different from most of the true crime I have ever read. This book
is more of a text book account of a crime and trial versus a story regarding an in depth account of each of the people involved and what leads up to the crime. One really doesn't get to know very much about the characters involved. The reader will find Anna Marie Kahn almost normal as she leads the life of a loving mother; however, she is masterful in befriending various older men and in her ability to con them into giving her money. After Kahn schemes to forge the older men's important documents, bank books and cheques, she slowing begins to kill them with poison.

Sometimes while reading the book, I felt as if Anna was a nice person, and I felt somewhat sorry for this woman as she faces the possibility of the death penalty. One must remember the time period of the crime as well. Women never were sentenced to the electric chair. On the other hand, one must remember her ability to be adept in relationships. Even after her arrest, Anna always seemed up beat and showed no remorse for her actions.

In conclusion, many others have commented on Amazon.com regarding this book as one that cannot be put down, and "hats off to the author". My personal opinion is quite different as I felt it was difficult to read. Because of my previous experience as a college student, I have read many textbooks, and while reading Franklin's account of Anna's many murders, I felt as though I was studying for an exam. However, my regard for the author is quite high as this was a tale that took months and possibly years to research because it took place so long ago. Ms. Franklin could only rely on the historical accounts of the trial and news articles written during the time of the trial. That must have taken patience which is much more than I had when reading the book.

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Exit Music by Ian Rankin

Reviewed by C. Fredin

Ian Rankin’s Exit Music is the final book in his highly popular Detective Inspector Rebus series which has lasted 20 years. While at face value the title seems to be referring to a retiring DI Rebus, the murder of a Russian poet soon provides an intriguing double meaning.

Rankin and his character DI Rebus are old friends. Having been through 20 years together, it is clear Rankin knows his detective and is familiar with his habits both on and off the job. With forced retirement fast approaching, Rebus is anxious to wrap up unsolved cases, find the ones who got away, and come to terms with his famous and long lasting grudge against a former crime lord – Gerald “Big Ger” Cafferty – Rebus’ nemesis in books and years past. While investigating the murder of a Russian poet, Rebus begins connecting more and more strings to Cafferty, fueling his driving need to put Cafferty behind bars as a retirement gift to himself.

As a fan of crime fiction, I found the book an enjoyable read because Rankin is not prone to write graphic violence into his novels. He focuses more on character development and does a commendable job. Granted, a lot of characters appear in the story, making it difficult at times to keep all the storyline connections in their proper place, especially the Russian characters. However, as you delve deeper and deeper into the story, the characters begin to sort themselves out into their proper niches and become encompassed by the greater story.

The only downfall of Exit Music is the ending. Don’t worry, fellow crime fiction readers, I realize giving away the ending is a sin almost worse than murder! However, I feel compelled to warn you that you may encounter an unusual ending to the story… and I will only say it is not what you think. My initial reaction was, “Wha’? You can’t leave it this way, Ian Rankin! It isn’t fair!” and I still haven’t fully recovered.

Despite the ending, I found the book wonderfully entertaining, yet realistic and compelling. I felt sorry to see Rebus being forced out of a job he truly enjoys and has become a part of who he is. It seems the task now lies with his partner, Siobhan Clark, to serve and protect the people of Edinburgh. Retirement seems to be the final destination of DI Rebus…or is it?

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The Unquiet by John Connolly

Reviewed by C. Fredin

John Connolly’s latest book, The Unquiet, combines the thrill of suspense with just a dash of humour to create, quite simply, a book you will want to read with the lights on.

The story follows private detective Charlie Parker, a man who makes a living dealing with the fears of others yet refuses to face his own. Constantly haunted by the memories and ghosts of his dead first wife and daughter, Charlie’s refusal to let go of the past contributes to the failure of his second marriage.

While dealing with issues in his personal life, Charlie is called upon to protect Rebecca Clay, daughter of missing psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Clay. Rebecca is being stalked by Frank Merrick, a killer just released from prison who is making Rebecca afraid for her life and the life of her daughter. Merrick is looking for his own daughter, a patient of Daniel Clay who disappeared around the same time as the psychiatrist. Controversy is thick around Dr. Clay, as many of his patients suffered sexual abuse and were suspected to have been continually abused either directly by Clay or by people he knew.

John Connolly’s style of writing is intriguing but can be confusing. As I read the book, it seemed as if Connolly was trying to add too many underlying themes and metaphors. He includes Charlie’s dead wife and child as ghostly spirits still residing in their home. At first glance, a ghostly presence would lend eeriness to the story; however, this theme and the overall crime fiction plot did not really integrate smoothly. Also, there were the “hollow men,” who make recurring appearances in the novel but were never fully explained. I was left wondering whom they were exactly – ghosts, actual people or figments of Charlie’s imagination. Trying to blend a ghost story and a crime story together, with the ghost element not fully explained, just led to confusion on my part.

Even though Connolly’s writing sometimes left me in the dark, the character of Charlie Parker was outstanding. Connolly’s wit came through beautifully, and he had me laughing during some scenes – a wonderful stress-breaker in the overall strangeness of the novel. Charlie’s interaction with the other characters in the book had him range from sarcastic, to intimidating, to humane on so many levels that I found myself cheering for Charlie and hoping he would find peace from his demons.

As for a recommendation, the crime fiction was absolutely well done, and I praise Connolly’s abilities. However, I found the ghost story a bit too much because of all the themes and deeper meanings that could be derived from its placement in the novel and its relationship to the crime story. The two just were not cohesive together, and I feel the novel would have been complete without the “hollow men,” whomever they might be.

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