Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Review # 174: For the Birds by Aaron Paul Lazar

Description: (from Amazon)
     What happens when a parakeet named Ruby gets an unexpected mind-meld with Marcella Hollister's quarrelsome mother, Thelma? After Thelma is kidnapped from her hospital bed, Marcella must find her -- somewhere in the tall pines of the six-million-acre Adirondack Park. With the help of her Native American husband Quinn and bizarre "tips" from Ruby, Marcella butts heads with quirky bird psychic Earl Tiramisu, much to the chagrin of the FBI, who wants her to stay out of the investigation. Why is Tiramisu asking questions about Thelma's past and the money she's been spending? The FBI agents hint that it may be related to an unsolved fifty-year-old bank heist, but Marcella can't believe her annoying, but honest-to-a-fault mother could be involved. Across the rugged Adirondack park landscape, a brutal scenario evolves, where the good guys aren't what they seem, and only Ruby's newly acquired talents provide slim hope for survival.

    I agree with other reviewers, For the Birds by Aaron Paul Lazar is what I would call a sit-back-and-relax comfy-cozy mystery. Plenty of action, humor, and of course, murder, but the author's writing style is more fun and lighthearted than the typical run-of-the-mill murder mystery. It is one of those rare multi-genre novels that manages to pull-off a seemingly intricate plot-line without having the reader burst into a sweat. At first, the book lulled-about, I enjoyed reading about Quinn, Marcella, Thelma, and Ruby, although, like the family van, the story seemed to be going nowhere. Fortunately, the story jerked back into motion almost as soon as the characters were back on the road, and it kept at a decent pace until the end. I loved the characters, even Earl, and was very surprised that Aaron Paul Lazar managed to capture the actions and emotions of several females in a sensitive but realistic way - even better than some female authors. Personality-wise, I found most characters to be well-developed and diverse, however, Quinn annoyed me. I felt that his character was almost "too good to be true", and I wished that I could have seen more into his "thoughts" like I did with other characters; but overall, I felt that every role and relationship played into the plot. I actually did not see the ending coming, except  for a few minor details, and I enjoyed the comical true-to-life and down-to-earth dialogue throughout. I also loved reading about the Adirondacks of New York - beautifully detailed and a great setting for the Tall Pines Mystery series. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series, Essentially Yours! For the Birds is a wonderful mystery recommended for readers young adult and above.

Rating: On the Run (4/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author: (from Amazon)

     Aaron Paul Lazar wasn't always a mystery writer. It wasn't until eight members of his family and friends died within five years that the urge to write became overwhelming. "When my father died, I lost it. I needed an outlet, and writing provided the kind of solace I couldn't find elsewhere."

     Lazar created the Gus LeGarde mystery series, with the founding novel, DOUBLE FORTÉ (2004), a chilling winter mystery set in the Genesee Valley of upstate New York. Like Lazar's father, protagonist Gus LeGarde is a classical music professor. Gus, a grandfather, gardener, chef, and nature lover, plays Chopin etudes to feed his soul and thinks of himself as a "Renaissance man caught in the 21st century."

     The creation of the series lent Lazar the comfort he sought, yet in the process, a new passion was unleashed. Obsessed with his parallel universe, he now lives, breathes, and dreams about his characters, and has written ten LeGarde mysteries in eight years. (UPSTAGED - 2005; TREMOLO: CRY OF THE LOON - 2007 Twilight Times Books; MAZURKA - 2009 Twilight Times Books, FIRESONG - 2011, with more to come.) The author is currently working on his sixteenth novel.

     One day while rototilling his gardens, Lazar unearthed a green cat's eye marble, which prompted the new paranormal mystery series featuring Sam Moore, retired country doctor and passionate gardener. The green marble, a powerful talisman, connects all three of the books in the series, whisking Sam back in time to uncover his brother's dreadful fate fifty years earlier. (HEALEY'S CAVE, 2010; TERROR COMES KNOCKING, 2011; FOR KEEPS, 2012) Lazar intends to continue both series.

     Lazar's books feature breathless chase scenes, nasty villains, and taut suspense, but are also intensely human stories, replete with kids, dogs, horses, food, romance, and humor. The author calls them, "country mysteries," although reviewers have dubbed them "literary mysteries."

     "It seems as though every image ever impressed upon my brain finds its way into my work. Whether it's the light dancing through stained-glass windows in a Parisian chapel, curly slate-green lichen covering a boulder at the edge of a pond in Maine, or hoarfrost dangling from a cherry tree branch in mid-winter, these images burrow into my memory cells. In time they bubble back, persistently itching, until they are poured out on the page."

     In 2009, Kodak gave him up for grabs, and during the year off before he landed in his coveted new job with KB America, he had time to explore and reconnect with his environment. Little did he know that several trips to the Adirondack Mountains would reawaken his passion for that part of the country. Two new books were written in that timeframe, starting yet another mystery series, Tall Pines Mysteries. The first two books in the series are due out in the late 2011 early 2012 timeframe. Watch for FOR THE BIRDS and ESSENTIALLY YOURS, coming soon.

    The author lives on a ridge overlooking the Genesee Valley in upstate New York with his wife, mother-in-law, two dogs, and cat. He finds grandfathering one of the most precious and important times of life, and spends as much time as possible with Julian, Gordon, and Isabella.

     Lazar maintains several websites and blogs, was the Gather Saturday Writing Essential host for three years, writes his monthly "Seedlings" columns for the Voice in the Dark literary journal and the Future Mystery Anthology Magazine. He has been published in Absolute Write as well as The Great Mystery and Suspense Magazine

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