Books to the Sky

Archive for the ‘thriller’ Category

I think I’m about to ruin my teen years. The Final Friends trilogy was one of my favorite sets of books when I was about 13. I probably read it (if not the whole thing, then the last book) 3 or 4 times.

So let’s see how much I remember: this is a straight-up murder mystery without the supernatural stuff Pike put in his later books (this one’s (c) 1988). A perfect, pretty blonde girl bites it at the end of the first book, hot computer nerd Michael tries to solve her murder, and he’s joined by the love of his life Jessica (who falls for a probably-gay football player) and his BFF Bubba. There are lots of other characters, and they do typical high school things like going to sporting events and dances. And I remember how it ends, who the murderer is, but we won’t get to that just yet.

Can we start with the cover? As is the case with any good high school drama, all of the characters look about 35. And the guy in the bottom right corner is rocking an incredible red curly mullet. (I think this is Clark?) (You can see the cover at Like Pike, who also recapped this series.)

The curtain rises on Jessica Hart, who’s thinking that summering in Europe was maybe a mistake, because going to high school seems lame after conquering the Matterhorn. Plus, Jessica is starting a new school; the school district has decided the town doesn’t need 2 partially-full high schools, so Jessica has transferred with most of her friends from Mesa to Tabb High. (Mesa makes me think of Big Mesa, the rival of Sweet Valley High. Tabb makes me think of a soft drink.) One of these friends is Alice McCoy, who is two years younger than Jessica and “the sweetest girl in the whole world.” Alice wants to have a party so that the kids from Tabb and Mesa can get together.

Jessica knows she’s a knockout, but she hasn’t dated much, so she also thinks something might be wrong with her. Alice, however, is magnetic. (Also perfect, as you will see.) Jessica also gets jealous of a blonde girl in a cheerleader outfit that she sees in the quad. Alice knows that the cheerleader is Clair Hilrey, and she already plans to invite Clair to her party because Clair knows everybody. (*wink, nudge*) Clair is also gorgeous, according to Alice. Jess thinks, “She’s all right.” Heh.

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For those of you still reading magazines made of dead trees, there’s an article in the current Bitch about Lois Duncan, the author of YA thrillers, among which are I Know What You Did Last Summer and, a personal favorite, Stranger With My Face. I just got the issue (the “Noir” issue) and it looks kind of awesome, so it might be worth your $5.95 anyway.

Dear Author has a new “If you like ____, you’ll like ____” series, and they’re featuring Suzanne Brockmann. The timing is interesting for two reasons: 1) Brockmann has a new book out, 13 in her Troubleshooters series about Navy SEAL Team 16/the FBI counterterrorism unit/the Troubleshooters security firm, and 2) I’ve been devouring the Troubleshooters series.

Here’s the funny thing about the Dear Author post: It describes quite well all the things I love about the series, which I started reading out of order. (I picked up Book 5 on a whim, not realizing it was part of a series, and have been working my way through the rest. Publishers should really mark the books.) Anyway, the series is good. Brockmann may be responsible for the Navy SEAL cliche in romantic suspense, but I love the recurring characters, and Brockmann is good with both characters and intricate suspense.

So, yeah, every book has a romance plot that gets neatly resolved by the end of the book, and the characters are occasionally prone to speechifying about their great loves (which was particularly weird in Book #8, which I just finished, in which the normally taciturn Cosmo Richter goes on for half a page towards the end of the novel about how much he loves the heroine, Jane… unlikely and pretty cheesy). The funny thing is that I didn’t get into the series immediately. I thought Book 5 (Into the Night featuring hunky Navy SEAL Mike Muldoon, who I love despite not loving his book) was not actually that suspenseful, but I’ve really loved the other books in the series, particularly Over the Edge (Book 6). I’m currently glomming my way through Breaking Point, which is really good, the resolution of the story arc between FBI agent in chief Max Bhagat and hostage/rape victim Gina. There’s so much to love in this book, and now that I’ve gotten to know the characters, I can appreciate it that much more.

I was a little disappointed to learn that all of gay FBI agent Jules Cassidy’s love scenes happen behind closed doors (I haven’t gotten that far in the series yet, it’s mentioned in the Dear Author post). Jules gets all the best one-liners and is a great character, it’s a shame he doesn’t get to have sex on screen, but putting a gay romance in a series full of macho alpha males is a daring and pretty awesome choice, so I look forward to getting through the rest of the Jules/Robin plot arc.

So, yeah, I’m squeeing a bit. Nice to see Brockmann get some attention, since I’m enjoying her books so much. I’ve got a couple of her category romance reissues, too, I’ll get to those soon enough. Glom glom.

What series fiction have you devoured quickly?

I think my copy of this book was purchased in 1993-ish. Copyright page says it was first published in 1989, but there’s an ad in the endpapers indicating that Remember Me 2 was due out in August 1994. (I’ve got that book, too, so a recap is forthcoming!) Anyway, this means I was about 13 when I read the book the first time. I remember really loving this book, too.

You may recall that this is the ghost-solves-her-own-murder book. I couldn’t find an image of the cover I have online anywhere. The cover illustration shows a blonde girl with a yellow blouse and green pants dead on the ground below a balcony. And, yeah, that’s a good summary of the whole first half of the book.

So we open with Shari Cooper telling us she’s dead. She then goes into what I like to think of as the Baby-Sitter’s Club Exposition, in that that she informs us in the third paragraph that when she was alive, she was a pretty blonde girl. Except maybe I should call it a Sweet Valley High opening, because just like the Wakefield twins (perfect size sixes with eyes the color of the Pacific Ocean, don’t you know?) Shari is a little too perfect sounding: she goes on for most of the rest of the paragraph about how her eyes are this amazing shade of green. Read the rest of this entry »

Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.
--Arnold Lobel

From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.
--Groucho Marx

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