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A Mammoth Murder by Bill Crider

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312323875

Reviewed by John Montano, Newmysteryreader.com 

There is only one problem with joining a book series at the end or even in the middle – you get the feeling of missing out knowing who the characters really are. And even worse, if it is good book you want to start the series from the beginning. Just so you can watch the characters grow.

Bill Crider accomplished this with his latest book A Mammoth Murder, number twelve in his Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery novel series. I want to start reading the series from the beginning. Sheriff Rhodes is a down to earth, cool and level headed Sheriff of a small county in Texas. This is the kind of person you want pulling you over if, you happen to speed in Texas. Everyone knows not to speed in Texas if you are not from Texas. Any one who has ever driven through Texas has nightmares about the cop that pulls them over, but not Sheriff Rhodes. He is a cool cat.

Bud Turley, the local-just-do-what-I gotta-do-to-survive-small-town-redneck tears into Sheriff Rhodes office with a giant tooth. Bud claims it is from Bigfoot. The following day Larry Colley, Bud’s best friend, business partner and fellow Bigfoot hunter is murdered not too far from where Bud found the mammoth tooth. Sheriff Rhodes finds himself in the middle of a growing murder investigation that is somehow connected to the disappearance of a boy over ten years ago. Sheriff Rhodes has nothing to work with, no clues and a town overrun by Bigfoot hunters. Can he solve these murders?

Of course, he can, and it's a long, interesting, and harrowing journey to the end. Bill Crider has a wonderful and simple style. We know this is a small Texas town, but never get lost in dialect and accents. Crider knows how to use dialogue to develop his characters into normal, ordinary people. Crider has written an interesting murder mystery without all the clichés we should expect. The book a quick easy read and when you are done, you just might feel a little silly for not figuring it out sooner. However, remember Sheriff Rhodes is an experienced law veteran and he had trouble figuring it out.


Dead Man Running by Rett MacPherson

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur  ISBN: 0312334109

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Nosy small town New Kassel historian Torie O'Shea is about to fall headfirst into trouble yet again when she notices a stranger lurking in her neighbor's yard in the middle of the night.  The neighbor, her long time arch enemy Mayor Bill Castlereagh, is up for re-election, running against her stepfather Sheriff Colin Brooke, and Torie can't help but feel the skulking stranger has something to do with the upcoming election.  And when she's hired by the paper's editor to look into the candidates' family trees, things only get more confusing, not to mention deadly, when a body falls off a float during the town's parade.  And so against the better advice of everyone she knows, Torie begins to dig deep to uncover these secrets that seem to be turning deadlier by the day, but she will have to go a long way back to get to the truth surrounding the man she has always hated, and as it turns out, never really knew at all.

MacPherson once again brings us a charming and uplifting read filled with the characters we've grown to adore, accompanied as usual by great doses of humor and delightful small town shenanigans.  The plot, not being the great epic tale of the century, is really of no great concern as the fun is simply in enjoying this appealing cast of characters, especially Torie with her unending penchant for mayhem and mystery.  Another cozy outing from this accomplished author who knows how to garner the laughs, and one who always leaves us looking forward to the next.         


Our Lady of Pain by Marion Chesney

Publisher:  St. Martins Minotaur  ISBN:  0312329687

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Even though her parents took exception to her working for a private detective, Lady Rose Summer and her companion Daisy went daily to their jobs of clerking in private detective Captain Harry Cathcart's office. Rose and he were faking an engagement so she could continue in the position and he was looking forward to the day when said engagement could be called off.  Or was he?

Their pseudo-romance seemed to interfere with business, when Rose saw Harry with a beautiful client at the opera and made a scene.  The next time she saw the client, the woman was dead and Rose found herself under arrest for murder.

Luckily for Rose her father was a member of the aristocracy and his lawyers were able to get her out. Rose feared punishment for her involvement in another scandal. She thought she'd end up going to India as a failed debutante and being forced to marry any available officer to be able to return to London.  Unfortunately, this was not what her parents planned for her and Daisy.

Further attempts were made to implicate her in the dead woman's murder, but Harry came to her rescue.  The problem was how to prove Rose was innocent when a second woman was killed a day after speaking to Rose.  Again, she was the logical suspect.

Attempts on Rose's life add spice to this well-told tale by talented author Marion Chesney who has used her creative ability to take us back to Edwardian England with settings so vivid, that we'll feel like we've actually visited the time and people.

Lots of action and suspense unfold as the lifelike characters lead us a merry chase.  A story that will have you looking for other books by this delightful storyteller.  Enjoy.  I sure did.


Penumbra by Carolyn Haines

Publisher:  St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN:  0312351607

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

If you're familiar with small southern towns, then you will feel right at home in Drexel, Mississippi, where life is lived according to certain unspoken rules.  This is a story guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat as you wait to learn the outcome of events.

On a picnic, a man and child disappear and a woman is left horribly mutilated. The question of who could have done this, why, and the reason could have been taken from the newspapers of the day.  Who could hate this much?

Talented author Carolyn Haines has captured the soul of a small town that allows dark secrets to exist behind the seeming normality of daily life and shows us how such things come to be. She has used her creative imagination to bring to life characters who live, breathe, and walk the streets of Drexel. Some will welcome you, some will frighten you, and they each are types you'd find in any town. 

Jade Dupree has lived with secrets all her life, accepting that they are in the public domain but never spoken of, because they involve the most influential people in town. Those people would destroy others to protect their reputations and lifestyles so no one talks about those secrets. The question is, would they also kill?

The attack on the woman and disappearance of her child draw Jade and others into a circle of danger and murder with Jade's life threatened. Discovering the identity of the villains falls to Jade's lover, a relationship forbidden by the town's mores. How can he uncover their faces when nobody will talk?

A skillfully weaving of several plots, Penumbra is a book you will keep and reread and always discover something new, so well is it written.  Highly recommended as  a read well worth the time. Enjoy.  I sure did.



Debts of Dishonor by Jill Paton Walsh

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 031235536X

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

St Agatha's College nurse Imogen Quy has worked at the Cambridge University longer than she can remember, but now that it's facing an alarming financial crisis, her future at the school could be in jeopardy.  And that's where Sir Julias Farran comes in, a wealthy alumnus of the college, he appears to be willing to help out a bit for a touch of respect and acceptance in return.  But that idea is soon nothing but rubble when his body is found at the bottom of a cliff, with most suspecting suicide, but Imo believing it must be murder. 

Beloved by students and faculty alike, it's Imo most run to in times of trouble, so when Imo hears from her old friend Andrew, an employee of Sir Farran's and now a suspect in his murder, naturally she's quick to jump to his aide.  And so the exciting and dangerous investigation that will uncover more secrets than these two had ever bargained for begins.

This charming English mystery is most notable for the beguiling character found in Imo and, although a bit older than her years, it's her unflagging wisdom and maturity that so easily delights.  The plot itself plays out nicely, with a couple of nasty surprises thrown in just when you think you've got it figured, making for a suspenseful read that flies by rather quickly.  So if you enjoy a bit of charm along with your mystery, this will more than satisfy.