Friday, April 11, 2008

TV Review CSI:NY "Right Next Door"


After processing an accident, Det. Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) reminds Det. Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes) she has been working a lot of overtime recently. Homicide Det. Don Flack (Eddie Cahill) assures her they have control, and Stella heads home to her apartment building for a long rest.

It doesn't take long before she starts coughing. Yelling in the hallway jerks her awake, and Stella realizes a fire has broken out. Once the fire department lets people back inside, the enormity hits hard. Mac soon arrives with a cup of coffee and a warm hug. They both understand what could have been lost.

Dr. Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper) and Det. Lindsay Monroe (Anna Belknap) assist in the effort to figure out the fire. Flack tells them arson is suspected, and a corpse has been found in the ashes. Due to incineration, there is not much to work with. However, an ID is found nearby for Sean Nolan (Ron Melendez General Hospital: Night Shift). Flack discovers a history of arson, which makes Sean the prime suspect. He is ruled out, but questions remain.

Lindsay calls Det. Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo), who says if there is anything he can do for Stella, he will. The abruptness of his tone confuses Lindsay, but he hangs up before he can question him. She doesn't realize he has had an overnight visitor - Rikki Sandoval (Jacqueline Pino Lincoln Heights), the mother of Ruben, Danny's young neighbor, who died during a bodega robbery. Danny felt responsible when it happened, since he was supposed to watch Ruben at the time.

Only now have Danny and Lindsay gotten to talk about it. Lindsay is upset Danny did not try and share his feelings with her. After all, she lived through seeing several friends die ("Silent Night"). Worse yet, she fell in love with Danny. Now she has to walk away from the relationship.

Adam Ross (AJ Buckley), a CSI technician, helps crack the case wide open. He does a chemical analysis of a note Stella found behind her dresser. It is a link to the people living next door. Mac, Stella, and Flack rush to a rooftop where two children are sound asleep.

Both Bailey O'Dell (Destiny Grace Whitlock October Road) and Austin Tanner (Austin Reed Whitlock) were abducted by Bonnie Dillard (Kimberly Quinn Two and a Half Men, House M.D.) who thought she could do a better job of raising them than their parents.

Clearly, the production team of CSI:NY is making up for time lost during the writers strike. Not only did an extra death get put in at the start, the Ruben Sandoval storyline popped up again. A little cluttered, if you ask me. Perhaps the best thing is to see Lindsay and Danny start the road to breakup. These two have never been the best team in the world. In fact, the only intimacy they've had is sex after a game of pool ("Snow Day"). Rikki slept with Danny because she knows he feels guilty? Sheesh, talk about disappointing.
I realize Mac and Stella are close, but I would have liked to see Flack come through the door to Stella's apartment. For this reason - the impression has been Flack joining the force because law enforcement runs in his family rather than helping people.
Nice to see Adam again! He and Dr. Sid Hammerback (Robert Joy) always provide the comic bits during the show. The elevator scene was a decent touch, but the relief at not seeing Stella hurt showed off AJ Buckley's acting chops.

Also published on Blogcritics.

TV Review CSI:NY "DOA for a Day"


When Det. Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) and his team last tried chasing down a professional hitman ("Down the Rabbit Hole"), surprises came at every turn. For starters, the person they were looking for ended up being female. She was good, very good! Mac nearly caught her, but she escaped. Mac had to be reminded of serial killer Shane Casey since he sensed he was being closely watched ("Hung Out to Dry").

NYPD decides to inform the public about the situation on Crime Catchers, a show which lets people call in a tip anonymously. This works, and Mac, Det. Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes), Det. Don Flack (Eddie Cahill), along with Det. Jessica Angell (Emanuelle Vaugier) take a trip out to an abandoned warehouse. They take the precaution of Kevlar vests. After all, their suspect has killed a politician already.

They find their woman, dead. Mac confirms it is indeed her. Processing the scene is simple enough, but the multiple computer screens give Mac an idea. Adam Ross (AJ Buckley) soon arrives to go through the hard drives.

When the team realizes the victim is someone else, more questions remain. When Det. Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo), checks with Missing Person, he discovers the victim is Katie Mann, a staff member working for the Mayor.

A sting is set up using SWAT, Angell, and the FBI. When the hitwoman is spooked, she takes off running. Mac races after her, letting everyone know where he's going. The last time he went after a suspect by himself, Caly Dobson jumped off a skyscraper roof ("Past Imperfect").

Before everyone else can step in, Mac has won a firefight with Suspect X. He gets her to tell him what it feels like to kill another, and she says she always felt she was sending her victim to a higher place.

After she dies, Mac asks Jordan Gates (Jossalyn Gilsap Heroes, Nip/Tuck) to come to his office. SHE was next on the hit list, her ex-husband wanting vengeance. Mac puts his arm around her in comfort as the episode fades to black.

Talk about coming back with a bang! I was so thankful the episode which kicked off this storyline was shown the week before to help my memory. Once repeats start, this episode is going to be on my watch list.

AJ Buckley was listed as a 'special guest star' AGAIN. This boggles my mind. Is he really doing the show a favor by appearing? He mentioned a potential raise, so could he be joining the regular cast next season?.... BTW, there is one.

Danny and Det. Lindsay Monroe (Anna Belknap) appear to be on the outs. Ever since Ruben Sandoval died ("Child's Play"), Danny has been struggling. More than one team member has noticed, but nothing more has been said.

Spring is in the air, and a couple of items are worth noting. Mac seems to have hit it off with Jordan. Only time will tell if anything happens. Flack and Angell are bonding, and they work well together. Hint, Hint....

Book Review Murder in Mayberry by Mary and Jack Branson


When Ann Branson of Madisonville, Kentucky, was violently killed, the incident quickly became the talk of the town. Even though family members were shocked, more than anything they wanted to find out who would take someone else's life.

Ann's nephew, Jack Branson, was particularly eager. He knew better than anyone not to focus on obvious answers. From his standpoint as a former U.S. Treasury agent, the most unlikely suspect had to be considered. It's not uncommon for homicide victims to know the killer in some fashion. The possibilities are endless - the next door neighbor, a professional colleague, or perhaps the co chair of the community aid society.
Murder in Mayberry talks about the agonizing search for a killer to be brought to justice. Written by Jack Branson and his wife, Mary Kinney Branson, it offers a personal perspective on having a family member die of unnatural causes.

Perusing this novel, my heart went out to the Madisonville police. The last time they handled a violent death was twenty years prior. No matter how much they wanted to see the case solved, a lack of experience doesn't help.

One of the biggest surprises of all is the killer. Early suspicion opened the door to his being considered a prime suspect, but he was not the only one. Any proof was circumstantial at best, meaning a trial could show just how worthless it was. Worse things were to come before an arrest could be made.

Such as a flight to another country. In a spectacular move, this person fled to Costa Rica. Extradition for those accused of capital crimes would only be granted if the death penalty was taken off the table and parole was on. No prison term for the rest of one's natural life would be considered.

As stories go, this is an interesting one. The facts are laid out for the reader to see in clear and concise fashion. Every avenue is explored when it comes to figuring out whodunit. Will people be on the edges of their seats as they go through chapters? Probably not. However, getting to know the Branson family and the citizens of Madisonville is worth the cost of the book itself.

Also published on Blogcritics.

Book Review The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith


Alexander McCall Smith, known far and wide for his multiple book series, has added to readers' collections with The Good Husband of Zebra Drive. The Ladies of the No. 1 Detective Agency now deal with far more investigations than they bargained for, with a few personal dilemmas thrown in.

Precious Ramotswe, the No. 1 of the agency, is hired by a cousin to look into some unexplained hospital deaths. As an administrator, he fully understands the cessation of life is a necessary evil. It's one of the realities of working in medicine. What troubles him are three patients dying on the same day and time. Although Precious would like to believe otherwise, one cause may just be someone with medical training. Could an 'angel of death' be lurking among the ward? Few want to discuss the possibility - making it even more likely. Still, there are other choices.

When she figures the mystery out, readers will be in for a surprise! It's not who one might reasonably expect.

This is not the only concern Precious is trying to handle. Grace Makutsi, whose secretarial skills are valuable to the agency, has to decide whether or not to leave. Since she has gotten engaged, there is a time coming when she is not going to need her own income.

Meanwhile, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, husband of Mma Ramotswe, is looking for a change from his regular duties as owner of the garage. As it sits rights next to the detective agency, he gets his wish after a woman comes to the agency wanting help in reining in a wayward husband. Since he is the only person around at the time, he easily figures out the steps necessary for a solution. Easy enough, right? Find who the other woman is, and convince her to step aside. Unless you happen to have no training whatsoever....

I have a quibble with this book. This is well written, drawing readers into the plot while showing just how beautiful Botswana can be. I could picture the dirt roads standing between lush, trees resplendent with individual leaves. My ears also caught the bells dangling from around the necks of cattle, signaling a nearby presence. However, was the use of 'that' needed so often? Most sentences work just fine without putting it in. For example, in the sentence "Most wives fondly hoped that their husbands dreamed about them, but they did not.", it can easily be left behind without losing context.

This is a novel for one of the lazy days with the reader in a hammock while sipping a cold glass of lemonade. Each chapter should be slowly absorbed in thoughtful silence. While I was not ecstatic over the book, McCall Smith is an author who is effective at getting his point across.

previously published here.