November Paperback Mystery
 

 

Home
Current Issue
Additional New Mysteries
Readers Recommend
Small Press
Featured Authors
Books In Audio
Hard Cover Archives
Submission Guidelines
Short Stories
Mystery links

click on links for buying info

On the Head of a Pin by Janet Kellough

Publisher:  Dundurn Press ISBN:  978-1-55488-434-0

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

For the reader of historical mysteries, On The Head Of A Pin is an excellent choice if you want an interesting background of an era when towns and people in Canada were far apart and the country was just beginning to find itself, knowing what it did want and did not want. The characters here are especially vividly drawn and youíll want to share in their emotions that talented author Janet Kellough has depicted with feeling.

Someone is killing young women throughout the area where circuit riding preacher Thaddeus Lewis travels to bring God to the widely scattered Methodists. And he shares more than the usual amount of pain with the victimsí families, as he believes his daughter was the first such victim. The deaths all have similar peculiarities, but many have put the deaths down to natural causes and so ignore the clues that say otherwise, making this a mystery that needs to be solved as quickly as possible.

This is a tale that any fan of history and mystery will enjoy. Itís deftly crafted by an imaginative author whose other books you will want to read.  Iím pleased to highly recommend it as a fun read that will have you guessing at the identity of the killer until revealed.

 

 

The Fashion Hound Murders by Elaine Viets

Publisher: Obsidian  ISBN-10: 0451228421

Reviewed by Bonnye Busbice Good, New Mystery Reader

Josie did not grow up in a house with pets.  She doesnít want cats, dogs or anything else that makes her life as a single mom who lives in the apartment in her very involved motherís house even more difficult.  Yet, when her daughter decides that she wants a cat, Josie plunges into animal adoption in the hopes that the pet will help her daughter Amelia slowly recover from her fatherís murder.  As Amelia spends quality time cooking with her grandmother and snuggles with her rescued cat, Josie attempts dating with disastrous results.  Her lukewarm relationship with Stan doesnít seem to heat up after Josieís half-hearted efforts but things pick up when cute blond Jerry and handsome vet Dr. Ted both ask her out. 

With a job as a mystery shopper, Josie can usually forget about her worries as she focuses on her checklist measuring the friendliness and adherence to chain store policies for each store.  Shopping for clothes and asking sales clerks for help can be soothing and her best friend Alyce often accompanies her for extra coveróand fun.  Josie really needs some relaxation after worrying about her daughter, her finances, and her love life but her level of anxiety only magnifies after her grumpy, greasy boss Harry assigns her to look into a couple of pet stores.  Leery of potential dangers, Josie agrees only for the promise of a substantial bonus and quickly uncovers a major problem.

Throughout The Fashion Hound Murders, Josie evolves from a woman who relished in her oblivion to animal concerns into one who chooses to support the local humane society rather than to pay for overpriced, mistreated animals raised in mills.  With her devoted friend Alyce, Josie finds her new information enlightening and shares it with perky former Florida resident, Traci, whose pampered city ways make her stick out in St. Louis like a poodle in a beagle pen.  Traci, bubbly and new owner of a crippled puppy mill dog, has the zeal of a convert and the money to back up her cause.  Now Josie just has to stay away from the puppy mill owners who blame her for their lost business.

Most details are satisfactorily resolved except for the quick disappearance of Josieís obnoxious boss, coincidentally named Harry just like Ameliaís rescued cat.  He makes an early, emphatic appearance but his disagreements with Josie lead to questions for the reader regarding her employment status.  Josieís story quickly changes from being a professional case into being a very personal, very dangerous mystery.

 

 

Three Weeks To Say Goodbye by C. J. Box

Publisher:  Minotaur Books  ISBN- 031236573X

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Although money and time are tight since Colorado couple Jack and Melissa McGuane adopted their infant daughter Angelina after years of unsuccessfully trying to have their own, the new family couldnít be happier.  But their new-found joy is about to come to a screeching halt when the biological grandfather of the child, a well-respected judge headed for the big time, decides itís time to reclaim his only sonís child for the good of all, leaving the McGuanes with only three weeks to say goodbye. 

But it doesnít take long for the McGuanes to realize that thereís a much darker motivation behind the taking of their beloved child, and one that they just might be incapable of fighting.  With the judgeís wealth and renowned respect backing him up, and in spite of his sonís obvious psychopathic personality, they have few weapons against such a formidable opponent.  But they have one thing on their side: the ugly truth that lies behind the claim to their daughter, and one that if proven, could save their family, if it doesnít get them killed in the process.

While this latest from Box initially appears to have all the right ingredients for a run-away hit, it soon becomes all too clear that thereís many more that are missing.   Not only is it a bit hard to swallow the premise that a biological parent could just come and take their child away without any type of court intervention, but itís also hard to swallow why this course of action was chosen instead of the many easier options that are available in this instance to the immoral villains. 

And with these questions only serving to distract from what might have been a decent story, the violent and overly dramatic ending only made things worse, all resulting in such an unconvincing drama that the characters had little chance of being believed, much less liked.  But for those who have not read this author, please note that he has and can do better, especially with his previous title Blue Heaven, which showed that he does know how to do it, and gives hope he will no doubt do it again.         

 

 

 

The Treasure by Iris Johansen

Publisher: Bantam  ISBN: 0553571826

Reviewed by Bonnye Busbice Good, New Mystery Reader

Promising plenty of adventure, The Treasure begins quietly with beautiful Selene and former assassin Kadar who find security in Lord Wareís stronghold in 12th century Scotland.  After escaping lives of servitude in Syria, Seleneís sister marries Lord Ware, providing the life of stability and warmth that Selene and her sister crave.  At first, Seleneís most pressing problem is how to entice Kadar to finally marry her by using  methods made famous by Scarlett OíHara but, through her trials, she eventually discovers her independent streak can save both of them even while wreaking havoc on the careful plans envisioned by Kadar. 

Bound by his integrity, Kadar must repay a debt to his nemesis Nasim that he made in order to escape five years earlier.  Kadar leaves the safety of Scotland to re-enter the dangerous world of assassins for hire and plans to do so alone.  As usual, Selene surprises him and joins the adventure.  In spite of their constant bickering, soul mates Selene and Kadar risk their lives to save each other, and by doing so, travel to Italy where they meet the mysterious librarian Tarik and the more straight-forward (and more lethal) Layla.  While historical novels set in the European Middle Ages abound, The Treasureís emphasis on the Syrian culture adds depth to the story even though interaction with ordinary Europeans is minimal.  Even the red-haired Selene hails from Syria although her innate feistiness is accentuated after spending her teenage years in Scotland and no traces of subservience remain. 

This is more of an historical romance than a typical mystery, with plenty of action-adventure and considerable sexual tension throughout The Treasure.  As the title promises, the appearance of a significant and mysterious treasure proves essential to the plot and simultaneously forces Selene and Kadar to finally be honest with one another.  The possible legitimacy of this well-known relic and its powers spur Kadar, Selene, and Nasim into action and the results have lasting consequences for all involved.  

 

 

 

 

Blood and Groom by Jill Edmondson

Publisher:  Dundurn Press   ISBN:  978-1-55488-430-8

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Retired rock singer turned private investigator Sasha Jackson finds herself employed by a nasty woman who owns an art gallery. This woman wants Sasha to find out who killed her ex fiancť to clear her own name of suspicion that seems to follow her around. 

Sasha starts her investigation with questions to all the people who knew the groom and they seem to mostly favor the art gallery owner, Christine Arvisais, as the killer. But, she has an alibi.

The investigation leads Sasha deeper into the lives of the family and friends of the deceased that bring complications into the mix and danger. And she then learns of another ex fiancť dying and the weirdness that goes with it.  Her investigation takes a new direction and she is soon on the track of a killer.

This is an investigator with a different background to hold the attention of any mystery reader looking for something a little different.  A private investigator with a second job on a phone sex line as extra trappings will show the reader how she survives until her new business takes off.

Recommended for the mystery fan who likes those touches of reality that bring true life into their world.  Talented author Jill Edmondson has crafted a set of intriguing characters set in a background where the raw edges of moneyed life meets the gritty reality of survival of poverty.

 

 

 

Dial H for Hitchcock by Susan Kandel

Publisher: Harper Paperbacks  ISBN-10: 0061826677

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Cece Caruso, mystery author biographer, finds herself once again thrust into a mystery of her own when while out walking in the Hollywood Hills she witnesses a woman being thrown off a cliff.  But when she tries to work with the investigators, sheís more than frustrated when they initially ignore her helpful clues, even going so far as to name her as a suspect.  But after going out on her own to find answers, her frustration turns to alarm when she finds that the trail is even murkier than she thought, with the number one suspect always leading back to the prime suspect: herself. 

In a mystery with twists and turns just as quirky as something Hitchcock might have thought of, Cece will soon find that not a single thing is as it seems, and the truth is something even the man himself might never have been able to devise in his most astonishing moments of inspiration.

I have to admit, I didnít think Iíd like this one; with so many amateur sleuths out there, I was thinking "here we go again." But I judged too soon.  This charming and light-hearted mystery is not only filled with laugh-out-loud moments of irreverent humor, but the twists and turns it offers up are so deviously created that it provides a whole lot of unexpected mischievous fun that lasts right until the very last surprise at the end that reveals all. Providing a bit more than the usual amateur sleuth mystery with its self-deprecating, yet sly and clever approach, this one comes highly recommended.  

 

 

 

Shadow Season by Tom Piccirilli

Publisher: Bantam ISBN-10: 0553592475

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Piccirilli starts his story off slow and easy, the setting almost sweet.  Stuck in a prep-school emptied for the holidays except for the few girls left behind along with some straggling staff members, blind professor Finn is thinking the upcoming days at worst will involve some over-indulgence from those left behind, and, at best, a bit of peace and quiet.  But it seems that everyone has some sort of unresolved issue that is about to bubble to the surface in some not-so- pretty ways.  And Finn, like everyone else, seems to have a few unresolved issues of his own stemming from his past as a police officer in the big city that continue to haunt him.

And so starts this tale, with its snowy, atmospheric, and innocent setting that slowly morphs into something malevolent when the campus is suddenly besieged by mysterious and violent events that are so ghostly and inexplicable that Finn is at times afraid he's slipping into a dark nightmare.  And as the events begin to escalate into even further violence, Finn will have to figure out if its his past that has come back to haunt him, or if it's an entirely different kind of terror. 

In this amazingly gripping novel, Piccirilli creates a wonderfully chilling setting along with a cast of characters that are unflinchingly real.  He nails the rich, yet lost, teens left behind by uncaring parents in all their swaggering bravado that seems to mask something different in each of them - some of it a decided darkness and some of it merely angst.  He also perfectly captures the individual staff members who all too seem to suffer from some type of private, dark drama.  But it's really what he creates with the main character, the blind and guilt-ridden professor, that brings the story together into a decisive, emotionally cohesive whole.    

Thereís nothing to dance about after reading this book, but there is plenty that will shake you up just as good.  Slyly suspenseful, emotionally gripping, and built with layers of intentful consciousness behind each and every character, this is one that will stay with you for awhile.  Letís hope Piccirilli comes back soon with another.

For Interview with Tom Piccirilli

 

Blood and Bone by William Lashner

Publisher: Harper  ISBN: 978-0-06-1143496

Reviewed by Jim Sells, New Mystery Reader

The novel opens with humor mined from a solemn occasion. In 1994, Kyle Bryne is attending his fatherís funeral with his uncle and mother. Problems arise from the fact that his mother and father were never married and his fatherís family is less than enthusiastic about having the group at the funeral of a prominent attorney. After being escorted from the proceeding, Kyle sneaks back in and attempts to steal the urn containing the ashes of the deceased. This tells much of the man he will become.

The novel jumps forward to present day. Kyle is now playing softball for a bar and surviving financially by tending bar part-time. A small box of ashes stolen from the funeral resides in the glove box of Kyleís decrepit sports car. Much of the twelve-year-old who disrupted the funeral is still recognizable in the adult Kyle.

What is unusual Ė even for Kyle Ė is the custom of attending funerals of attorneys from his fatherís generation. Kyle attends the funeral for his fatherís former partner who has been murdered. This brings him to the attention of police detectives and villains alike.

The journey for Kyle through the discovery of his fatherís life gives insight into the main character. Kyleís charm and likable personality creates entertaining interactions with a female detective and the murderer of the lawyer. The question becomes whether his bad boy ways, charm, and street smarts will be enough to keep Kyle ahead of the law and criminals. Kyle is an unusual and entertaining character giving this story an added dimension while the author incorporates plenty of plot twists. Like many people in real life, it is easy for the reader to become irritated with this Kyle while still liking him.

 

 

 Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz

Publisher: Bantam  ISBN-10: 0553591711

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When computer tech wizard and multi-millionaire Ryan Perry discovers that he has a failing heart, his seemingly perfect life comes crashing down.  All the things he once loved: surfing, making money, and sharing a blissful romance with the perfect woman, become a thing of the past as he waits for the heart transplant that will save his life.  But when he begins to have strange dreams filled with ominous warnings, some of which appear to be actual visions, he begins to suspect someone close to him might have actually caused his health problems through devious means.  And so trusting no one, he changes doctors and allows his life to become smaller and smaller, leaving out anyone and everyone who was once close to him.  And when at last he gets the word that a new heart is available, he rushes towards the promise of a healthy life once again, not knowing that heís just stepped into a nightmare that might instead end with his death.

Reading Dean Koontzís latest novels is like reading the tales of a man somehow born again in someway.  This latest is like his other recent titles; titles that while still maintaining that same slowly beating, ominously frightening tone that was ever-present in his earlier works, seems to embrace a new sense of spirituality.  Thereís again something more meaningful here to be found in the final conclusion - even while Koontz more than adeptly keeps up that hard-to-break pace of suspense heís well known for.  Kudos to Koontz for daring to go deeper with his writing rather than merely pounding out the same old thing, itís a pleasure to go down the new roads heís traveling.        

 

 

 

Ghost at Work by Carolyn Hart

Publisher:  Avon  ISBN: 0061745340

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Mystery fansóattention!!  Donít miss this new series by Carolyn Hart, starring Bailey Ruth Raeburnóghost crime solver.  Youíll enjoy the laid back style, the memories that Bailey Ruthís reminiscing bring back, and mostly, youíll love the characters.

The Department of Good Intentions says they are emissaries, not ghosts, and that Bailey Ruth must learn the precepts which guide her work when she returns to earth to help someone in trouble.

Bailey Ruthís first case lands her in her home town of Adelaide, Oklahoma, and the person sheís to help is a distant relative.  It is a bit of a shock to Bailey Ruth as to how much time has elapsed since she and her husband were lost at sea and the changes that have occurred.  She has no idea what a cell phone is, for instance.

But she does have ideas about the dead man on the rectory porch when she is sent to help Kathleen, the ministerís wife. A problem she didnít count on is the daughter, Bayroo who can see her. 

The police chief suspects the minister or the dead manís wife, or son, and some others.  And Bailey Ruth checks on all the suspects as well. 

To top it off, you will find yourself laughing at her efforts to move a cell phone or gun in her invisible state.  They remain visible. 

Iím more than happy to highly recommend this fun read to any mystery fan who enjoys the paranormal as well.  A new look at the afterlife and how to solve a mystery.  Enjoy.  I certainly did.

 

 

 

Santa Clawed by Rita Mae Brown

Publisher:  Bantam  ISBN:  0553591592

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

For a Christmas you wonít forget, join Harry Harristeen, Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tee Tucker in an investigation into the series of murders involving the Brothers of Love at the old monastery at the top of a mountain above Crozet in Virginia Blue Ridge country where Harry and her friends live.

The Brothers of Love is an organization that cares for the terminally ill and is made up of men who came to God in different ways after committing some misdeed that landed many of them in prison.  They are much admired for their good works so imagine Harryís horror when she finds one of the younger brothers dead at the back of the sales lot of Christmas trees.

While you read this fun tale, you will want to dress warmly and keep your snow shovel handy, just in case you must venture outside.  A snapping fire in the fireplace, a cozy chair, a cup of hot chocolate and youíre set to join in the investigation of more than one murder. 

Be careful, or youíll end up like Harry, lying unconscious in a blizzard with only a half frozen cat to keep you from freezing until help comes.  As always talented author, Rita Mae Brown has crafted a tale that will make an excellent present for any mystery fan. You too will enjoy this tale with talking animals who know only too well that Harry will set off into danger to find a killerís identity.

Iím only too pleased to highly recommend this tale as a very enjoyable read.  Youíll be looking for her other books if you havenít already ready them.  Each one is a treat.  Enjoy them all.  I sure do.

 

 

 

 

Once We Were Cops by Ken Bruen

Publisher: Minotaur Books  ISBN-10: 0312540175

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Bruen takes his Irish noir across the sea with this new outing that places a young Irish cop, Matt OíShea, on the city streets of NY City working the beat. Not such a stretch, you might originally think... but when you add in the fact that this young cop also happens to be a sociopath who gets a kick out of manipulation and murder, well, thatís when things get interesting.  And when Bruen pairs the young rookie with a NY cop long on the beat whose bolts are also a little loose, but whose ties to the mob are rather tight, ďinterestingĒ becomes the understated adjective of the year.

As with his prior outings, Bruen again proves he understands the criminal mind; his Irish PI Jack Taylor having already more than convinced his many fans he understands dysfunction, addiction, and flat out madness.  But in this latest, he goes even further by offering up a glimpse into a sociopathic mind that reaches even deeper into the readerís deliciously uncomfortable danger zone.  How he does this so well is one question I personally donít want to know, but I do know he does it better than just about anyone. 

Writing, as always, in a short and jabbing manner, he again strikes the reader with disturbing and alarming insights into just how dark a soul can get.  And with an ending that promises more to come, Bruen manages to fill the reader with a good bout of self-inflicted madness as well, as they're left waiting for the next. 

 

 

 

The Victoria Vanishes by Christopher Fowler

Publisher: Bantam  ISBN-10: 0553
589563

Reviewed by JL Roberts, New Mystery Reader

Pathologist Oswald Finch is dead, May has been diagnosed with a tumor on his heart and Bryant has submitted his resignation letter.  On his way home from Finchís wake, Bryant notices a woman going into a pub. 

The woman is later found dead and when they go to investigate, the pub is gone.  In fact, it had been torn down over 75 years ago.  But someone is killing women in, or near, pubs not usually their own.

The principal appeal of this book is the relationship between the characters, particularly Bryant and Mays, the bantering dialogue and the humor.  We learn much more about the characters backgrounds.  But it is also the insightful musings of the author and the characters that made this book stand apart from the rest. 

There is a fascinating look at and history of some of Londonís pubs but also thoughts on London past and present and the value of an historic perspective.  Fowlerís descriptions create powerful visual images.  There is also a very good, suspenseful mystery.  Just when you think the mystery is solved, there is a second layer to it. 

There is a highly unlikely element and one significant proofreading error, but those did not detract from my absolute enjoyment of this book, which made me laugh, think and, in some ways, touched my heart. 

This appears to be the final book in the Bryant and Mays series.  I have loved this series and shall miss it.

 

 

 

Sweet Poison by Ellen Hart

Publisher: Minotaur  ISBN-10: 0312375263

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Things are a bit crazy for Minneapolis restaurant owner Jane Lawless with her fatherís race for governor coming to an end, the return of her crazy ex-lover Julia, and the murder of a young woman that seems somehow connected to the recent odd events.  And as this recent murder echoes that of one years before allegedly committed by a young man now free, that her father had procured a reduced sentence for, not only is her fatherís campaign in jeopardy, but so too are the women of the city who are now the latest targets of a killer.  And with the newly released jailbird claiming his innocence, even amidst new attacks that he has no alibi for, Jane will find herself once again trying to solve a mystery in order to save the day.  But what she doesnít know is that an entirely new threat is closing in on her and those she loves, one whose face is all too familiar and one that she would never think to suspect of such evil doings.

Hart is incapable of putting out a bad mystery, and so this latest of course is another that fans will gobble up with glee.  And while some might feel that some of the beloved main characters and their continuing sagas, mainly Jane and her crazy sidekick Cordeliaís, are given the short shrift in order to focus on the less-interesting secondary characters, this is still a suspenseful and engaging read.  Thereís more than one twist thrown in, and even more lusciously tempting is the hint of whatís to come next time around.  And donít worry if this is your first time to read this delightful series, youíll catch on enough that reading the next will be highly anticipated. 

 

 

 

 

The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly

Publisher: Orion  ISBN-10: 1409103005

Reviewed by Don Crouch, New Mystery Reader

The Scarecrow finds Connelly, fast approaching Patterson-esque popularity, returning to the character of Jack McEvoy, Intrepid Reporter and protagonist of what many say is the authorís greatest work, The Poet.

Both titles refer to the villain of the piece, and The Scarecrow is a serial killer of major proportion. He hits Jackís radar more or less by accident, as the by-product into a story intended to serve as McEvoyís last story for his employer. You see, at bookís beginning, McEvoy is being both laid off and asked to train his younger, cheaper replacement, and he plans to go out very un-whimper-like.

And here we get to what is REALLY on Connellyís mind, the Death Of The American Newspaper. Connelly brings his journalistís background into sharp focus as he describes the dire straits surrounding the profession. Itís both fascinating and sad. But it provides very refined fuel to the story, and is critical to itsí resolution.

Connelly brings in Rachel Walling, semi-disgraced FB agent, from The Poet and a few of the Bosch novels as well.  Walling paid the price for her role there, and is hesitant to get involved here, but evidence and emotion combine to insert her squarely into the proceedings right as the body counts starts to toll.

The Scarecrow is Connelly at his best: An expert thriller, informed by a strong perspective, populated by characters that matter.  It is, of course, must reading.

 

 

Stuff Dreams Are Made Of by Don Bruns

Publisher: Oceanview Press ISBN 1933515678

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Iím not sure what the male version of ďchick litĒ is called, but I think this book is it.

Forget your super-slick foreign agents, your well-muscled adventurers, your silk-shirted stud muffins.  Welcome to the world of Skip and James (never called Jimmy), a pair of borderline losers who battle to get ahead and usually just get into trouble.

James has converted the old white truck that appeared in the previous book into a travelling kitchen.  With Skipís help, heís going to make a fortune feeding the multitudes, not on loaves and fishes, but on burgers and hotdogs.

The Reverend Preston Cashdollar (Iím not making this up, you know) has come to town and set up a big religious revival tent, complete with a retinue of tough guys and deacons, and it isnít easy to tell them apart.  For a modest fee of $500 a day, the Rev will share his patch with aspiring food entrepreneurs.  James reckons itís a no-lose situation, but thatís before he gets into the poker game.

Things start to look up when Skipís sometime girlfriend Em returns, then they take a turn for the worse when conman Daron Styles shows up, and then things really get bad when one of the Revís sidekicks turns up dead and somebody takes a potshot at the holy man himself.  Somehow all the present bad stuff is tied in to two old murders, one of a Senator, and one of a young girl at a previous revival, but Skip and James canít quite prove the connection. 

At the end of the book, Skip says to himself, ďIn the movies, on TV, in books, the ending always ties up the loose ends. It doesnít seem to be that way in real life.Ē  He and James and Em count themselves lucky to have gotten out of the revival business alive; it would probably be asking too much for there to be justice for all as well.  (I reckon Skip has used up most of his luck getting a girl like Em to look twice at him.)

This isnít the cheeriest book youíll read this year, but it has its moments.  You have to like Jamesís eternal optimism, even though heís probably running headfirst into a brick wall.  Again.  And everyone should have a friend like Skip, somebody whoíll back you to the death, even if he thinks youíre nuts.

 

 

The Price of Butcherís Meat by Reginald Hill

Publisher: Harper  ISBN 978-0-06-145193-5

Reviewed by Bonnye Busbice Good, New Mystery Reader

Once again, the well-matched British procedural team of Detective
Superintendent Andy Dalziel and Detective Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe work
to solve a mystery but this time the tables are turned as blustery Dalziel
is on recuperative leave and his protťgť Pascoe calls the shots.

Not only a pleasant read for those who have not previously met Dalziel and Pascoe, this will also be a special treat for those familiar with the series.  The Price of Butcherís Meat reveals further insight into coarsely brilliant Dalziel,
whose comatose thoughts were exposed in Death Comes for the Fat Man.  In
better health, Dalziel now records his intimate conversations with a digital
recorder he names Mildred, which charts not only his recovery from a
explosion that would have killed a lesser man but also his own instincts for
finding the truth.  Meanwhile, Pascoe gets the chance to fill the Big Manís
position and finds that he ably, although not perfectly, fills his shoes as
he demonstrates just how much heís learned from him.

Dalziel (pronounced Dee Ell as he emphatically reminds us) meets a kindred
spirit named Charley when she literally runs into him while riding in a car
in Sandyton, a quiet town touted as a restorative to invalids and the
overworked with promises of ample rest and relaxation.  As usual, the
all-knowing Dalziel quickly sizes her up and does his detecting with Charley
in tow.  Charley, a trained psychologist without real world experience,
offers keen observations in the form of emails to her sister, which round
out Dalzielís recordings to Mildred so that the first portion of the book is
told strictly through Dalziel and Charley.  This technique allows for casual
first impressions that ring true and allows us to meet the people of
Sandytown along with Dalziel and Charley.  Although Pascoe must solve the
murder as the detective in charge, Dalziel realizes that, on leave or not,
he has to help since heís become genuinely fond of the Sandytown residents.

Sandytownís event of the year ends with the heartbreak and murder of pork
heiress Lady Denhamówho was known to throw her considerable weight
aroundóby one of several secretive suspects.  The heiress, although
paranoid, foolishly antagonized her heirs as though she were a less-powerful
Elizabeth I with her court of constant suitors.  Her husbands have
previously died with poetic justice and Lady Denham suffers a similarly
gruesome fate, although the descriptions are quite restrained.

Regulars Sergeant Wield, Detective Constable Shirley Novello, Ellie Pascoe
and Dalzielís love interest and animal rights activist Cap Marvell make
brief appearances here but Price is really a love letter to the hardy
straight-forward people of Yorkshire that could produce gems like Dalziel.
Just donít be surprised if you find yourself peppering your speech with
obscure British colloquialisms after reading one (or several) of this highly
addictive series! 

 

 

 

7th Heaven by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Publishers:  Vision, 0446536240

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

Want to have sleepless nights? Want to have a nagging tension filled day? Wanna be compelled to get up at 2:00 in the night and read?  If not, DONíT READ 7th HEAVEN, the latest potboiler from the thriller maestro James Patterson. 

For the uninitiated Patterson reader- (though I seriously doubt whether there is going to be a NewMysteryReader reader who has not read a James Patterson work in his or her lifetime), 7th Heaven is the latest installment in the Womenís Murder Club (WMC) series which started with 1st to Die some years back. Close on its heel came 2nd Chance, 3rd Degree, 4th of July, The 5th Horseman and The 6th Target.  The WMC features four friends, thorough professionals- including Lindsay Boxer, a police detective; the attorney, Yuki Castellano;  a prosecutor; Cindy Thomas;  a journalist;  and the doctor, pathologist Clair Washburn. Together they have formed a team which supports and helps each other out in solving the toughest of crimes that hit San Francisco.

But this time out, the WMC has their hands full with something that might be too much for them. First is the case of the missing boy, Michael Campion, a boy with a congenital heart disease, and who also happens to be the son of the Governor of California. He might have been killed- but no one knows for sure- and there is hardly any clue left as to the whereabouts of the boy.  That is until a tip-off leads to a prostitute who confesses that the boy died in her arms, and that soon afterwards she dismembered the body and got rid of it. And though the girl, Junie Moon, later retracts her confession, she is soon charged with second degree murder, leading to a trial that immediately attracts the nationís attention.

In the meantime, a series of arson crimes have been reported, all with the common thread of the arsonists targeting only the homes and burning to death the rich and wealthy. And so itís up to Lindsay Boxer and her team to find out whoís behind the killings. But as they investigate, Boxer begins to realize that it might be possible that the culprit is closer than anyone suspected, and very well could be part of her own investigation team.

Patterson and Paetro are at their tantalizing best in 7th HEAVEN. There are the usual twists, double twists and triple twists usually associated with Patterson novels. And this year sure is goanna be a great year for Patterson fans. FINAL WARNING comes out in March; SUNDAYS AT TIFFANNYíS is scheduled for April 2008, while SAIL is due for publication in June 2008. July will see the release of DANGEROUS DAYS OF DAIEL X- JAMES PATTERSON, while in November the next installment of the Alex Cross novel will be due. And then, of course, I think we can expect the 8th work in the Womenís Murder Club Series. All in all 2008 is going to be a real treat for the thriller aficionado.