Crime & Beyond Wiki

We had a very interesting meeting last week at Crime & Beyond. The book we discussed was Mean Streak by Sandra Jackson Brown. I think we had a very lively discussion and we definitely had quite a range of scores for the book. We had 19 people who reviewed the book. Of that number, 13 people really liked it or loved it and gave the book an 8 or higher (9 of those 13 were 9 or higher). There were 2 people who were somewhere in the middle, giving the book a 6 and a 7. The remaining 4 were not fans of Sandra’s work and one of those gave the book a 2.5, the other 3 scored it lower than a 1.

If you look at those averages, on the whole the club loved the book. Which is funny to me because the people who didn’t like it were much more vocal that the ones who did. I’m not sure why this is, but I do notice that people tend to go out of their way when they are displeased and when they are pleased, go about their business as usual. I even fall into that camp when I order something online. If I love it, I don’t always write a review, but if I am displeased, I will usually go online and write one in order to let my displeasure be heard. Maybe it’s a matter of venting frustration, which some people definitely did at the meeting, but I won’t name names (Jose and Dave).

One of the things I find to be the most amusing when I write these summaries is breaking down the positive points of a book and the negative points of a book in each paragraph. It always happens that the things I say in the negative paragraph are then turned upside down in the positive. For every person who says the characters were horrible, I usually have one who said they loved the characters. Maybe I should write a template that says: Characters were __________. Writing was __________. Then I can fill in the words “horrible” and “bad,” and then change them to “great” and “wonderful” in the next paragraph. Ok, maybe not, then these summaries might get a bit boring. But I do love that we, as a group, tend to take the same aspects of a book and either praise them or pan them. We obviously have different likes and dislikes and this book really brought out the broad spectrum of that concept.

Those that didn’t like the book thought that it was “ridiculous,” a quote from Roxane. The main character, Emory, was too good to be true with all of her charities and her perfect qualities. Jose didn’t like that the FBI agent was using government dollars to track down a guy who ended up not even being a criminal. It didn’t hold true that the sister would be living under an alias just because her brother wanted to disappear. It was too obviously pointing toward Jeff as the person who hit her on the head with the rock, and he didn’t buy the whole hero on the run bit. Jose also felt it was really a romance book rather than a mystery. Dave described the book as Lisa Jackson meets Joan Wilder (since I loved Romancing the Stone, I saw this as a positive – sorry Dave). Ashley really wanted to like the book, but just couldn’t get there. She thought the characters slept together too soon and that the hero didn’t act like a hero.

Now to the people who were kind of in the middle and on the fence about the book. Amy thought it was just “alright” and a bit “formulaic.” The secret that came out at the end, where the hero was hiding because of doing a good thing, wasn’t exciting for her. It was a bit too convenient at the end that the husband and his mistress were both killed. Jeff is a JD Robb fan and said this book was a bit similarly written/plotted. He liked the writing and it was an easy read and it was entertaining.

Now to the good, and here’s one of the opposites right at the start. Many of the people in the “loved it” camp thought it was awesome that the characters slept together. We (yes, I was in the loved it camp, but thought they waited maybe even a day too long for the hook-up) loved the twists and turns of the story. Some of us loved the reason the FBI guy was chasing the hero (government dollars spent aside) because it still allowed him to be a good guy. We liked the punishment he was dealing out to the people who mentally tortured the kid who he had to shoot. We thought it was a fun read, not deep and heavy – which is a good thing in this sense. Many of us ladies liked the mountain man (see Judy’s quote below if you don’t get that guys). Even though we wanted to think he was the good guy and wouldn’t hurt her, the author did a good job of making us go back and forth on the idea, wondering if he might in fact do something to harm Emory. We liked the two detectives who were involved in the case. Even the people who loved it, though, thought the ending was a bit too neat. The whole sunglasses thing was a bit weak.

Many of us followed the fishy smell of the red herring right to Jeff’s door. There were several comparisons to, surprise surprise, Jack Reacher. The hero seemed to be Jack Reacher with better clothes. This still wasn’t enough for Dave to like it, though. I think everyone agreed that the Floyd brothers were disgusting and no punishment would be too stiff for them.

And here’s a new addition to the Crime & Beyond summary. I like to call it: Did you hear? It’s a couple of my favorite comments heard from members at the meeting:

“Men don’t understand women at all.” Said by Judy when the comments were going back and forth about Emory sleeping with the mountain man.

“Why didn’t she just give her baby aspirin?” Said by Janice when discussing the fact that Alice got Emory the morning after pill.

“Whiny baby man, put your big boy pants on.” Jose referring to the mountain man’s mental struggle after doing his job as a sniper.

I think we all agree that whenever there is a character named Jeff in a book, he’s immediately a bad guy. It’s the new 4 letter word for bad guy.

We also welcomed Denise’s husband Dennis. It was his first meeting and he read the book and joined the discussion. Hopefully you had fun and will continue to come Dennis.

Next month we’ll be reading about Mickey Haller and discussing the latest Lincoln Lawyer book, The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly. Dave is leading the discussion and Kim is providing crack, I mean snacks. Many people signed up for snacks and leading at the end of the meeting last week. Thanks very much! I will send a separate email with the upcoming list so that everyone can see where they are signed up. The blanks mean that the slot is available, so if you’d like me to put you down, just let me know. If no one signs up, you’ll have to listen to me lead and/or eat my cookies. Hopefully that isn’t a painful choice.

See you at the end of the month,


Ok, so I just realized that in my meeting notes I said we discussed Mean Streak by Sandra Jackson (not Brown). How funny!!! I blame Dave.


Cupcake table

I also forgot to thank Pat for her wonderful Valentine's cupcakes and chocolates. Thank you for having GF options as well, I know many people appreciated it. I also heard a non-GF person say how great the GF cupcake was.

Here is the sign up list, let me know if you want me to put you down for something.

Crime & Beyond- 2015 Books Lead Snacks
January 26: Mean Streak by Sandra Brown Kerry Pat
February 23: The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connolly (Mickey Haller #5) Dave Kim
March 23: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight Sharon K.
April 27: Kill Fee by Owen Laukkanen (Stevens & Windermere #3) Dave Dave
May 18: In the Blood by Lisa Unger Amy
June 22: That Night by Chevy Stevens Raj
July 27: One Kick by Chelsea Cain (Kick Lannigan #1)
August 24: Personal by Lee Child (Jack Reacher #19) Denise Denise
September 28: Stone Cold by C.J. Box (Joe Pickett #14) Cindy
October 26: The Heist by Daniel Silva (Gabriel Allon #14) Lorraine