Monday, October 17, 2011

Spending the Weekend with Shirley Kennett! And Thinking About My Connection with JP Gray Versus Maliha Crayne...

A celebrated pianist has been found dead, decapitated by a sharp instrument, possibly a meat cleaver. His head is still missing.

For psychologist and single mother PJ Gray, starting life over in a new city, and veteran homicide cop Leo Schultz, it is only the beginning of a savage nightmare that will hold the entire city of St. Louis in a death-grip.

He's a face in the crowd. An anonymous figure in the shadows. The most unstoppable serial killer in history. Until PJ Gray discovers who he is.

At the mercy of a cunning monster with no mercy to give, it will take all her instincts as a psychologist and a woman to beat him at his own game.

A busy St. Louis hospital uses its computer to issue medical orders for its patients. When someone decides to tamper with the hospitals's efficient system, the results are deadly. First, a wealthy, elderly patient dies...then a diabetic man is administered an overdose of insulin. In both cases, the hospital insists it is blameless. But PJ Gray, a psychologist and expert in the groundbreaking field of forensic computer simulation, suspects foul play.Teaming up with veteran homicide cop Leo Schultz, PJ is hunting a cunning computer hacker who always manages to be one step ahead of them. And as they uncover clues that give them insight into this brilliant--yet tortured--predator's mind. PJ begins to comprehend the monstrous plan he has hatched. With time quickly becoming PJ's enemy, she must use her skills to enter his dark psyche. For the killer has just issued her a horrifying challenge: guess his next move--or many more will die.

As if a killer running amok in her city isn't enough to make cybersleuth PJ Gray uneasy, her twelve-year-old son Thomas has become surly and withdrawn. PJ thinks it's the influence of his new school friend, a curiously aloof computer genius named Columbus. But before she can find out what's troubling her usually outgoing kid, the killer strikes again: only this time it's one of Thomas' teachers who is viciously slaughtered. PJ is horrified that murder has moved into her son's world, but even she doesn't realize how close the danger is... Until she discovers that Columbus is the mastermind of a secret virtual world
--one in which he designs murder scenarios eerily similar to the ones paralyzing the city. Suddenly PJ finds herself waging cyber war with a foe who may still be a child, but whose skills are more than equal to her own...

Connecting with Characters...

After I read Dakota Banks, I wanted to know more about her earlier writing life, so while I talked with her during the month I was spotlighting Dakota, I found that Shirley Kennett had been writing for quite a number of years! I don't know about you, but when I find an author that I thoroughly enjoy, I start looking for more...

Although Kennett is now working to republish her novels in ebook form, I went out and bought as many of her books under this name as I could find. I highly recommend all of Kennett's books!

Those shown above were the last three and I must say that having a readathon with Shirley Kennett makes a wonderful way to spend a weekend! You just need to be prepared with a little food and drink, because once you'll want to keep on reading!

I loved the characters in the PJ Gray Series--and that's what the majority of this article will cover.  I'm looking forward to being able to finding the remaining books in the series when they are republished!

When I saw the covers, showing  Maliha Crayne, the lead character, of Dakota Banks' books, they got me excited to read them--I expected action, adventure, and even some kick-ass female activities that placed the lead in tough situations, all of which she would amazingly get out of by exhibiting her excellent and superior superwoman skills. And I got exactly that and loved them!

However, Dakota Banks created a clearly fictional character--one that is cool, hip, and aimed to please today's audience!

But when I met PJ Gray...ah, I felt like I already knew her. She's a dedicated  professional, she's highly intelligently, and, mostly, for me, she's believable... What I mean is that she is a woman I could more easily relate to--she's someone I could personally enjoy and get to know. She would be a potential role model for many women and she's had to battle the sexual discrimination that many of us have faced in our professional careers.

Ok, I'm going to take it even further and state that I connected with her because of her age, her life as a single mother, the physical characteristics she was given, and her sharing issues about a potential romantic life, given her professional position, having a child, and her now dealing with a lower income, as many women find they must do.

Sure, Maliha Crayne took me away with her into her fantasy adventures and I was caught up in the escape from reality that she surely does provide...but, when I think back to her, I think of all the battles, the weapons and special gadgets that she used to amaze us. I don't, in fact, remember much about her personally.

But PJ I remember. Actually I read these books weeks ago and the other one months ago...and like the two Dakota Banks, I don't have a clear memory of the complete storyline of the books at this time. But I remember PJ (Penelope Jennifer)...

I remember her wanting to leave where she had been living to start over after being divorced. I remember that she had gotten into computer simulation and had decided to merge her professional credentials as a psychologist to become the only civilian member in a newly formed unit (with the St. Louis Police Department's new unit, the Computerized Homicide Investigations Project). I enjoyed learning from her more about the future role of computers in creating and simulating crime scenes and that excited me as a "user" nerd for computers--by that I mean that I don't have the technical expertise, but I'm an enthusiast about the potentiality of computers and how they can be used in meeting the needs of the business environment and especially crime scene activities. 

I enjoyed when she got there to find that the agreements understood during her interview were not there and probably weren't going to happen...and that her office was a former closet, with no ventilation, and faced the door to the men's room. Typical?

I remember her first meeting Detective Leo Schultz who was the only other person initially signed to her new unit and how badly she was teased and/or insulted and how she worked to develop a working relationship, gain his respect for her professionally as well as personally, and bring him into his acceptance of the virtual world that would begin to be the standard...

Having PJ as a single mother was also intriguing to me. I had worked with many women over my professional life and knew the commitments and time issues for working mothers, so watching her son adapt to the loss of his father, while also moving and having less money, was compelling and memorable...and familiar...

Soooo, do you ever connect to characters in books you read? Do you, like me, enjoy escaping into mystery, thrillers and action adventure, forgetting everything and everybody in "real life" for the hours you spend  away from it all? I certainly do!

But, for personal taste, when I want to get into a series, when I've found an author that I really enjoy reading, I find that it is usually based upon the characters in that series and how they relate to my own life...

And if they have cats in their lives, as characters...well, I won't go into that right now...LOL

What about it? Are characters an important part in your deciding to read additional books by an author? Or is the storyline and genre what pulls you in?

What is that old phrase: Inquiring minds want to know...!???


  1. Thanks, Glenda! I think you've got my leading ladies pegged. You might be a little nervous sitting down for coffee with Maliha (you never know how many weapons she has hidden and where), but entirely at home with PJ Gray, who will brew coffee for the two of you in her stuffy little office.

  2. Dakota, that's why I'd look to Dakota to give me escape novels when I want to escape...and "Shirley" when I wanted to be both comfortable and read a good crime mystery...

    Strange to think of it, isn't it? I think all of us have two sides of us, but we rarely show that "other" edgier side to many...I'm certainly glad I met Dakota, but Shirley's PJ is a special friend...

  3. I love escaping into books--a different world where the consequences only last till the final page turns. These sound like fun characters to spend time with. Thanks.

  4. Sheila...please connect with Dakota on Facebook if you haven't already...I so enjoyed having her visit via my blog earlier this year and I'm sure you'll want to get to know the author as well as her characters!

    Escaping is normally the best for me since I always wind up buying every book I can find if I also "connect" with the characters! LOL, more expensive...

    Best, Glenda