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Deadly Illusions by Chester D. Campbell

Publishers:  Durban House ISBN: 1930754655

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader 

If there is one thing that’s gone down with DEADLY ILLUSIONS, compared to the author’s earlier works- SECRET OF THE SCROLL and DESIGNED TO KILL- is the price- Deadly Illusions is 3 Dollars cheaper than the earlier work. That aside, nothing has “gone down” in this work- rather everything is better- “gone up.”

Greg and Jill McKenzie return in fine flamboyant form in this new work from the acclaimed journalist turned air force officer turned author Chester D. Campbell. For the uninitiated Campbell reader- well, the McKenzie are a super sleuth couple, the husband is an Air force investigator and his wife Jill, is a gutsy female who always stays put behind her husband. Deadly Illusions is reminiscent of the Dashielle Hammett- Raymond Chandler works – in particular I was reminded of The Thin Man Series of works, (the husband- wife duo in action- know what I mean). This time round Greg and Jill are called to investigate into the background of a man- and the person who wants the investigation done is none other than his wife, Molly Saint. Marriage infidelities, suspicious wife- you might think- but when Molly Saint herself disappears, the investigation takes a new turn, opening a whole new can of worms. What follows is tension filled, subtle action fare culminating in an end- well, what can I say- truly “Campbellish.”

A worthy read and a worthier buy, Deadly Illusions is a recommended… oops, a highly recommended read. 


Remembering Sarah by Chris Mooney

Publisher: Pocket Star ISBN: 074346379X

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Mike Sullivan takes his six year old daughter Sarah sledding and never sees her again.  His marriage falls apart, he begins drinking heavily, and severely beats the only suspect to his daughters disappearance. Years later Sarah's jacket is found on top of the sledding hill and there is blood on the hood.  Slowly Mike begins to pull himself together and begin look in for his daughter. 

Mooney has written a gripping novel that the reader will not soon forget.  Crawling into the mind of Mike Sullivan the reader feels every emotion a grieving father can have then cheers him on when he begins to move forward.  The author knows how to write a plot that completely envelops the reader and pulls him completely into the story.


Double Exposure by  Bonnie Hearn Hill

Publisher: Mass Market Paperback  ISBN: 0778321452

Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

Double Exposure begins with the country mourning the death of former President Michael Remington.  Initially, this event has little impact on Reebie Mahoney, who is recently divorced, and is working two part time jobs to make ends meet.  Reebie gets an unusual call from a woman who claims to be Jeannette Shelton, the former mistress of President Remington.  Jeannette wants to talk to Reebie and she agrees.  Before the meeting occurs, Reebie tries to learn more about Jeannette Shelton and is stunned when she finds her obituary from 1976.  The mystery heats up when Reebie arrives for the interview with Jeannette and hears a scream followed by a gunshot from inside the apartment.  The police believe that Reebie killed Jeannette based on the doorman’s comments and the fact that the victim has a framed picture of Reebie in the apartment.  Reebie has no idea how Jeannette got a picture of her or why she would want one.  Things become even more confusing and dangerous for Reebie as she finds out that Jeannette and Nora McFarland are the same person and she gets entangled in two other murders.  Someone wants to keep Reebie from finding out what Jeannette wanted to tell her and is willing to go to deadly extremes. 

Double Exposure is a political thriller with a romantic thread interspersed between a very suspenseful plot.  The story moves back and forth in time and provides the reader with the background that is crucial to understanding the current turn of events surrounding Reebie, Remington’s family and Jeannette’s friends.  After reading this novel, one can only wonder what skeletons lie buried in the memoirs of our own former presidents. 


Vengeance by Brian Pinkerton                       

Publisher: Leisure Books ISBN: 0843955325

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Rob Carus, madly in love, had just asked his girlfriend to marry him when tragedy struck.  Biking home from a romantic picnic, the newly betrothed couple is suddenly overtaken by an SUV, and in a moment of rage, Beth is left dead and Rob seriously injured.  When the courts fail to bring justice to the wealthy man responsible, Rob is ripe for the invitation to join "The Circle", an anonymous group of people who much like himself who are out for revenge.  The plan is perfect, I'll kill yours and you kill mine, with nothing to tie the two together, but when it's Rob's turn, things get a little bit complicated. 

In this wild ride, Pinkerton takes readers down a trail that twists and turns with surprise after shocking surprise.  The grief he supplies his main character is real enough to justify motive, but one can't help wish that Rob was just a little more likable and the writing a little more smoother.  Nonetheless, this interesting plot is filled with plenty of suspense and anticipation and each new revelation comes with a delicious thrill.  Recommended, but don't try this at home. 


Brimstone by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Publisher: Warner Books ISBN: 0446612758

Brimstone by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child: Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

This is the first book of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child I am reading, and it definitely won’t be the last one. Brimstone is one hellofa novel. Combining in it the chilling elements of Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby- the suspense horror of Stephen King, and the sheer paceability of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, Brimstone is a striking thriller.

FBI Agent Pendergast, series protagonist of Preston- Child works, returns in fine form in Brimstone. Art critic Jeremy Grove is dead- in a grotesque fashion- reminiscent of the first chapter of The Da Vinci Code. There is an occult touch in the murder- and many feel that it was in fact the handwork of the Devil himself. Joining hands with Police officer Vincent Dagosta, and Laura Hayward- Pendergast investigates, and his investigation leads him to some spectacular places and chilling finds- and some dark secrets, that were well, better left buried. Blending the supernatural with hard reality, Brimstone culminates in an exciting finish that’s just simply…. Spine chilling.

Enjoyed it, highly, highly, highly recommended


The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry

Publisher: Fawcett ISBN: 0345460065

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Do you think you'd like to visit Russia, Moscow in particular?  Well, come along for an exciting trip with Miles Lord who works for the Tsarist Commission. If you like dodging bullets, you will find the trip exciting and action packed.

It seemed a simple enough thing, Miles Lord was doing--researching the background of one of the candidates for the throne of the Tsars to be sure he was the closest relation to the Romanov line.

The fulfillment of a prophecy made by Rasputin just before his death seems about to happen, but a criminal is corrupting the effort to restore the tsar.  Miles Lord seems to have made a wrong step and presents a danger to their plans, hence the efforts to eliminate him.

Flee with Lord through Moscow as he dodges killers and seeks help from a circus star he met on a train.  Never a dull moment as you read, a tale guaranteed to keep you turning pages. The very talented author keeps you on the edge of your seat as the criminals act behind the scene to carry out their plan. Will they succeed?  I'm not telling and I do highly recommend you read the story to find out.


Pyro by Earl Emerson

Publisher: Ballantine Books ISBN: 0345462890

Almost 25 years ago Paul Wolff's father, a firefighter, was killed during a fire caused by a sadistic arsonist and, as a result, Paul's life took on a tragic spin that cumulated in his mother's death, and his brother's imprisonment.  Now a firefighter himself, Paul and his crew are putting out the fires of another arsonist, fires that bear some frightening similarities to the ones years before. 

New to Paul's crew is Rideout, a young beautiful rookie whose days just might be numbered by those who don't like women on the team, or by others whose motives are even more questionable.  And as the infighting politics and petty quarrels slowly escalate, so do the deathly fires that have Seattle under attack.  And it'll be up to Paul, a man who has trouble putting his own simmering rage aside, along with the past that still haunts him, to learn the shocking truth behind these alarming events. 

Filled with fire-fighting details, lovers of movies such as Backdraft will eat this new adventure from Emerson up.  The narrative, told from alternating viewpoints of the main characters, allows the interest to remain high for those who aren't as interested in the details, but who appreciate an absorbing and suspenseful story.  And the further one gets into it, the more affecting the story, and the more fully realized its characters become. All in all, a wild and tension-filled ride that will easily please fans of high adventure.     


Past Due by William Lashner

Publisher: Harper Torch ISBN: 0060508191 

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Philadelphia defense attorney Victor Carl makes his return in this masterpiece of a book.  This time out he receives a call from a deadbeat client who needs to get a past crime of murder off his chest that happened 20 years ago.  But when the client is murdered, Victor continues to pursue the case and finds himself facing intrigue coming from many directions, including a state Supreme Court justice, a murdered young law student, and disturbingly erotic photographs of a beautiful woman with no face.  Along the way, he’ll have to confront his own past, as his father faces death and reveals his own story of how he came to be the man he is.      

Brilliant, poignantly provocative, humorous, suspenseful, and highly, highly readable, Lashner’s look at the past in all its glory and shame is a journey that shouldn’t be missed.  Victor Carl is one of the most surprisingly engaging characters in fiction today, and one can’t help but feel the impact from the emotional collisions that he himself faces.  The secondary characters in this latest also shine, especially young Kimberley Blue who adds the laugh-out-loud humor to the book.  At almost 500 pages, there’s not a single throw-away line, and that alone is a marvel….this is one thriller you won’t want to miss.    


Bury The Lead by David Rosenfelt

Publisher: Warner Books ISBN: 0446612863

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

It certainly looked to the DA like a winnable case: the brash crime reporter Daniel Cummings was getting messages from a serial killer, then is found near the fourth victim's body.  What's more likely than that the reporter himself is the killer, stirring up contrived news in a way that would leave Jayson Blair gasping in admiration?

The case looks a bit less winnable when multi-millionaire defence attorney Andy Carpenter is inveigled into taking up Daniel's defence.  Andy doesn't have to work for a living any more, which lets him take on cases for their own sakes, not just to pay the rent.   Admittedly, he'd often rather play basketball with a ball made from rolled-up socks than work, but when he does take on a case, he gives it his best.

Aided by his lover, a retired policewoman who doesn’t mind smacking around a mouthy pimp when she feels he's earned it, Andy starts trying to build the defence case.  This soon proves to be about as easy as juggling eggs--without their shells on.

There's no apparent connection among the four victims, which supports the theory that the real killer is a nutter or psychopath.  But that's hard to reconcile with the elaborate frame-up of Daniel Cummings….if it is a frame-up.  There's always the chance that Daniel, who is suspected by some of having killed  his rich wife, if in fact the serial killer.  But Andy has promised his friend Vince, Daniel's father, that he'll defend the young man, and he can't back out now.

There is some snappy dialogue in this book which keeps the pace moving smartly. I particularly liked the bit where Andy asks Vince if he's aware of anything unusual in Daniel's sex life.  The killer had weird sex stuff going on?" he (Vince) asks. 

"He murdered women, stripped them naked, and cut off their hands," I say, "There's a hint of the loony in that, don't you think?" 

There's plenty more of that sort of thing in the book, plus a bit of romance, and a last-minute escape-by-the-skin-of-my teeth for the hero.  Oh, and if you are a dog-lover, you'll like Andy's avocation as a rescuer of stray mutts on the streets of New Jersey.

My only quibble about the book is that it is all written in the present tense, which I find difficult to read in large chunks.  It took a real effort of will to try and overlook that and focus on the story and the characters.  That said, it's a good read and beats most of what's passing for entertainment on The Box these days.


Rendezvous Eighteenth by Jake Lamar

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur  ISBN: 0312336055

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Ricky Jenks, an African American, has been living in Paris for ten years.  Surrounded by a community of other expatriate Americans, he loves his life and the freedom he has found in this “chosen home”.  But everything changes in one night.  His cousin from the states, Cash, has come calling, begging Ricky’s help to find his run-away wife, and later that same evening, he finds a dead prostitute on his doorstep.  Cash and Ricky have a history, and not a pretty one.  But Ricky grudgingly agrees to help, only to find himself sinking further and further into a morass of secrets and betrayals.  Along the way, he must also come to terms with the woman he loves, a woman who doesn’t quite the feel the same way.   

In this literate and highly intelligently written novel, with its well-defined and immensely engaging characters, it’s almost easy to forget that there is in fact a mystery wrapped around these well written words.  But there is, and it’s one of the most suspenseful and astutely written mysteries to come along in awhile.  Everything from social commentary on ethnicity, nationality, and displacement, to the fickleness of love, can be found all wrapped up deliciously in a story that is both exciting and gripping.  Highly, highly recommended, this is one tale that should not be missed.    



Publisher: Paraview Pocket Books ISBN: 0743486277

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Restaurant owner Stephen Carmichael and his lawyer wife Katerina met while battling forces from the dark side.  They now lead very ordinary lives with their two daughters.  When their teenage daughter Julie begins to have dreams and visions they are forced to don their armor once again and return to the dark side.

Morrow has  produced a novel that is not your every day thriller.  The reader is carried along through time travel into a spiritual world.  Stephen and Katarina are forced to battle evil forces to save themselves and their daughters.  This is a thrilling novel that gives the reader a lot to think about regarding the forces of light and darkness.


Last Lullaby by Denise Hamilton

Publisher: Pocket Star ISBN: 0743482220

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Denise Hamilton once again turns L.A. inside out in her new Eve Diamond adventure.  This time around Eve is interviewing a customs agent at the airport when all hell breaks loose in a hail of gunfire, leaving two people dead, and one little girl abandoned.  And things only get more interesting when suddenly everyone wants a piece of the little girl; customs, INS, and a civil rights lawyer.  As Eve follows the trail, she finds corruption, greed, exploitation, and once again, danger headed straight her way.

In her latest powerfully insightful, intelligent, and suspenseful novel, Hamilton once again strikes all the right chords.  Hitting on such hot topics as illegal aliens, poverty, and drugs, she explores the underbelly of L.A. in all its tragic and hypocritical shame.  We also get to see Eve fight some very personal demons in the form of an ex-lover, a current lover, and an unexpected event that shakes her world.  Filled with explosive intensity and emotion, this latest is perhaps her finest, and although heartbreaking and dark, she leaves room for hope and redemption in this city she calls home.