Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Review: Take Five

I was thrilled to win an advanced copy of Jack Batten's newest mystery, Take Five. Mr. Batten brings back the witty, jazz loving, vodka swilling Toronto criminal lawyer named Crang. It has been twenty years since Batten wrote a Crang mystery and fans will be happy to indulge in the character's smart mouthed dialogue and follow along in a meaty mystery.

As a Canadian, it's refreshing to read a book that's based in a Canadian city. Crang lives with his long time girlfriend in an area of Toronto called the Annex. If you know Toronto at all it's a joy to know where the character is going as the author describes the environment and streets.

Crang, our criminal lawyer has a client, Grace Nguyen, a beautiful and treacherous woman who is the mastermind of the biggest marijuana grow-op business in Canadian history. After Crang works diligently to get Grace a fair deal for her guilty plea, his client disappears on the day she is supposed to turn herself in. The problem with that is she owes Crang seventy-five thousand dollars! Crang has to find his client in the next three weeks or not only will he be in serious trouble with the court judge, he'll also be out a huge amount of money.

This is where the mystery begins. Although the author fleshes out the Crang character for those of us unfamiliar with his earlier work, the author is careful not to overwhelm the reader with superfluous details. Through the cunning and investigative mind of Crang, the plot develops and the mystery deepens. Take Five is a gentler mystery than I'm used to but that can be a good thing when you want a book that you can break up into smaller sections and not feel so compelled to stay up all night to read. Don't get me wrong, it was a good mystery with complex plot twists but it doesn't compel you to read just one more page because "I'll DIE if I don't find out what's gonna happen." I would definitely read more of this author's mysteries.

Let me expand on what I was saying in the previous paragraph. To me there are two types of mysteries. Those that you don't dare put down, they consume all your time from the moment you read the first page, then there are mysteries that intrigue the intellect, they make you think about the twists and turns. It's ok to put these mysteries down for a few hours and let the details sink in. You read these books on lunch breaks and before bed but you can count on them to be a little gentler on the psyche. I used to read "The Cat Who..." books by Lilian Jackson Braun. Her mysteries were gentler and Jack Batten's book is similar. You still got right into the characters and the who done it of the story but reading the book over several days didn't cause heart palpitations, lol. This is not a "Mission Impossible" or "The Davinci Code" type of book where you're running headlong with the character, going a thousand miles a minute in your brain, trying to keep up with the words as you gobble them up. It is a solid, interesting and complex mystery that will intrigue the reader and definitely wet the appetite for the next Crang book.

If the star rating systems on book sellers' sites would allow for half stars, this book would get a solid 3.5 stars. To me it's a good B+ type of book but since I cannot give half stars I will unfortunately have to settle for giving it a 3 star rating, although it is better than that. I look forward to Jack Batten's next Crang mystery, let's hope it's not another twenty years before he writes another!

Jack Batten's book Take Five will be coming out in paperback on April 20 of this year. It's ISBN number is 978-1-77102-273-6 and is published by Thomas Allen & Sons.

Jack Batten's Facebook page
Take Five on
Jack Batten on

My review of Take Five is being submitted this month to the ARC challenge on Art & Sole. The Artful Reader's Club, started this January by Darcy challenges us to read one book a month, review it and then make a piece of art to illuminate something in the book. My illustration refers to Crang's addiction to good coffee, in the book he covets his neighbor's coffee so he goes out and purchases a whole coffee bar set up for his office. I can totally relate to that addiction. ;o) The cups he bought were cobalt blue so I decided to do those blue mugs.


If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.
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  1. Ooh is it ARC time already?

    Your book sounds like a good read, especially for a wannabe Canadian like myself, I haven't yet visited Toronto though, just Western Canada, so I wouldn't have the familiarity with the locations in the book that you do.

    And I love your accompanying artwork, I know, because I have tried, that drawing/painting a mug or a cup is not as easy as you make it look :)

  2. The mugs turned out well and i am reading a crime procedural set in Vancouver at the moment ... so Canadian books may be quite the flavour this month... xx

  3. Wow, you've got me wanting to read a book now. I love the Davinci Code type books, the kind you can't put down. Mainly because I know if I put it down, I'll never get around to picking it up again! Love your painting, gorgeous blue.

  4. I loved your review of the book , I will put it on my list of wanting to read. Love the art that you did as well,

  5. Ooh, I do love those mugs Jenn. Gorgeous colour! I'm practising my drawing. I'm still very rubbish at proportions, haha, but I am enjoying the challenge.
    That book sounds right up my street. I have a collection of 'The Cat Who...' books. But I also love the 'racing along' type books that you can't put down, too. Ill see if any of this authors booka are available on Amazon UK.
    Be well :0) Mo x

  6. Sounds good and your art for the book is wonderful, Jenn!!

  7. This sounds like a fantastic read. I like a good mystery, and having read many of Lilian Jackson Braun's cat mysteries, I can appreciate and anticipate reading this author (Batten) even more.

    As for your as always awesome art, my kitchen is white/copper/cobalt blue, so I would LOVE those cups. And, like Crang, I too am addicted to coffee.

  8. I like mysteries, but not with a lot of violence, so I think this may be one for me. I'll look up 'the cat who ...' Books too.
    Love the coffee cups, and the way you have one mug on its side.

  9. Love the coffee mugs...don't drink coffee but love a chunky mug :D These books could be an interesting read to me as I love good twisty puzzle :D XXX

  10. This sounds like a great read even though it's not a 'million miles a minute' type lol love the blue mugs, really nicely done.

  11. Sounds like a pretty good book overall! Love your artwork too.

  12. Thanks for the great review of 'Take Five'...I so enjoy a great mystery with twists and turns...and of course reading with a 'loverly mug of Java' !

  13. Love the mugs. Your review makes this sound like an interesting read.
    Jen x

  14. A character addicted to good coffee? Might have to check out the books.

    Your mugs reminded me of my grandma... she used to drink black coffee in a HUGE blue mug.

  15. Sounds like a book I would like and your coffee mugs drawing is brilliant! Colouring is excellent too.

    Janet xx

  16. Your mugs look fabulous, you really have achieved a great 3D effect. Good review to read too and great insight into how a book can just grab you and draw you in.

  17. I love those mugs! I want them in red, if it's possible with little white dots or swirls on my kitchen wall... ♥
    The book sounds wonderful. I love anything Toronto-area since we got married at the Niagara Falls 14 years ago! :)

  18. When I heard the word vodka I had to dive straight into this story. How beautifully written Janet and the art is just divine. It was a real pleasure reading your post!

  19. Now this sounds like my kind of book!
    I shall keep a look out for it being published in paperback.
    I love the artwork too....totally get his "addiction"...I love my coffee too!
    Hugs xx

  20. What a beautiful painting. Never heard of this author but adding this to my things to read list!


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