April new mystery book reviews in Hardcover
 

 

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The Sacred Blood by Michael Byrnes

Publisher:  William Morrow  ISBN:  978-0-06-134069-7

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

For the reader who enjoys a story with an original subject matter in the plot, the thriller The Sacred Blood by talented author Michael Byrnes will prove to be worthwhile way to spend some time and it is a tale you wonít soon forget. 

Someone representing the Catholic Church has set loose a killer to clean up loose ends by murdering the people involved in the diagnosis of a skeleton found under the city of Jerusalem. There is a suspicion that the bones may belong to the man once called Jesus and it is not in the churchís best interest to keep them around if they are.

But that church is not the only one who wants the bones that have disappeared and the hunters send Dr. Charlotte Hennesey on the run in the company of an Irish ex priest. They learn there is more behind the search than the skeleton. For some reason someone wants to catch Charlotte also.

The subject matter alone is enough to keep you reading, but the characters are all interesting and well developed in this fun story that is a blend of sci-fi, mystery, thriller and a little romance.  Once you start to read, you will keep going to learn what happens as this tale is also a blend of several subplots that come together to make a well told tale.

Iím pleased to highly recommend The Sacred Blood as one book that will satisfy any reader. Youíll be looking for other tales by Michael Byrnes as well.

Enjoy. I certainly did.

 

 

 

Dead Manís Puzzle by Parnell Hall

Pub:  Minotaur Books  ISBN:  978-0-312-37399-3

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

Whether or not you are a crossword puzzle solver, you will certainly enjoy Dead Manís Puzzle by talented author Parnell Hall. You will share Cora Feltonís frustration when she is faced with a set of puzzles that will help solve the murder of an aged recluse, a murder that was thought to be natural causes until Cora started asking questions.

Since her puzzle solving niece is off on her honeymoon, Cora has no one to do the puzzles for her, so she turns to her rival for help.  He is only too happy to show that he is better at it than her. 

The first puzzle clue doesnít seem to make sense, but as the recluseís past is uncovered, things fall into place. Other murders drive the plot and will keep you guessing.  Just when you think you know who the killer is, youíll find youíve been following a false clue.

Iím happy to recommend this tale as well worth the time.  Puzzle fans will be very pleased to know there are puzzles in the book to solve as an added bonus as well, enjoy,  I sure did.

 

 

 

 

The Man in the Window by  K. O. Dahl

Publisher:  Minotaur Books  ISBN:  978-0-312-37570-6

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

For the student of human nature, talented author K. O. Dahl has crafted a tale of the dark side of human nature that can be found in families where members seem to have relationships stemming from mutual respect. And the strange murder of elderly antiques dealer Reidar Jespersen proves the error of assuming things are as they appear.

Detectives Frolich and Gunnarstranda must unravel the several strands and motives in the case where the victim is found sitting naked in a chair in his shop window. He was murdered while his wife slept in their apartment overhead.

Their combined efforts produce several likely motives and suspects. The reader will find themselves trying to guess the identity of the killer as new information is found.

While the pacing of the story is leisurely, the story moves as a real investigation would. There are no car chases or shoot outs, but this is a tale to satisfy any reader who enjoys a good set of interesting characters and motives.  The background will have you wishing for extra warm clothes and lots of hot coffee as you follow the detectives into the cold and snow.

A fine read to please the mystery buff.  Enjoy. I sure did.

 

 

Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl with April Henry

Publisher: Thomas Nelson   ISBN: 978-1-59554-705-7

Reviewed by Bonnye Busbice Good, New Mystery Reader 

Seventeen year-old Katie Converse has had a busy yearó sheís tasted a bit of real freedom as a senate page in Washington, DC., and experienced her first love affair.  During Christmas break, Katieís back in Portland, Oregon, living in her oppressive home with her father and step-mother, chafing at the parental restrictions and endless nosiness into her personal life.  All of this is fairly typical of a teen-ageróbut then Katie Converse disappears.

Using Katieís personal blog in their efforts, prosecutor Allison Pierce, television reporter Cassidy Shaw, and FBI agent Nicole Hedgesóor the Triple Threat as they call themselvesó try to uncover Katieís secret life and the reason for her sudden disappearance.  Similar to James Pattersonís Womenís Murder Club, the Triple Threat seems to share no common interests other than the commitment to meet each week, focus on a good meal and a hard case.  Allison, newly pregnant with a devoted husband and strong Christian faith, serves as a buffer between hard-nosed reporter Cassidy and her penchant for the spiritual exercise of the month and tough Nic, whose difficult past has erased the magic of religious experience for her altogether.  Subplots for each woman add depth to the characters during the primary investigation for the unhappy teenager.

In Face of Betrayal, Lis Wiehlís experience as an attorney and journalist (she also shared co-hosting duties on Bill OíReillyís radio show) prove useful in this fast-paced ďripped from the headlinesĒ style story.  Wiehl and Henry include twists in the storyís ending which help to tone down the feeling of dťjŗ vu regarding the real-life Chandra Levy/Gary Condit case.  The authors also include a Reading Group guide and an interview by OíReilly with Wiehl.  This is a well-written light read if you donít mind too many coincidences to the Chandra Levy story and to Pattersonís popular series.

 

 

 

 

The Trail of the Wild Rose by Anthony Eglin

Publisher: Minotaur Books   ISBN 978 0 312 36547 9

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

The death might have been written off as a tragic accident, but for the fact that the motorcycle fatality involved a man already dead in a previous tragic accident. 

Once again, Dr Lawrence Kingston finds himself playing detective in a garden mystery, providing his specialized knowhow to the police.    Inspector Sheffield is being pushed to investigate the death of Peter Mayhew on a botanical collecting expedition to rural China.  The person pushing him is Sally Mayhew, Peterís sister, a woman of  charm and determination.  Sheffield asks Kingston to help by speaking informally with some of the expedition members, a task that gets more difficult by the day as they are killed off by an undiscovered assassin.

As Kingston treks back and forth across southern England and Wales in search of information, author Eglin gives us glimpses of some horticultural gems, including the often overlooked Museum of Garden History and its quaint surrounds.  Itís not all fun for Kingston, however: somewhere out there is a killer who may just decide heís getting a bit too close to the real reason for the deaths.

This is a gentle, rambling story full of side trips into historical and horticultural lore.  If youíre looking for a freeway to murder, try elsewhere; but if you enjoy a quiet country lane with pretty views around every corner and some surprising hairpin turns, this will not disappoint.

 

 

 

 

Illegal by Paul Levine

Publisher: Bantam  ISBN-10: 0553806734

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Ever since LA attorney Jimmy Payne suffered a very personal tragedy a few years previously, it seems as if his life has gone in the direction of an increasingly downward spiral.  Not only has his marriage to a beautiful LA detective ended, but his law career is also in shambles.  But just when he thinks things canít get worse, they do.  Convinced, or rather extorted, by a rogue cop to help set up a judge on a bribery charge leaves Jimmy as the new enemy of LAís legal community, and after the judge commits suicide and Jimmy runs into his own legal misdeeds, he has no choice but to go on the run to avoid his own prosecution. 

And itís just about at this point that he runs into a young illegal immigrant Tino Perez who has been separated from his mother during a daring escape from Mexico.  Convinced by his ex-wife and the young boy, he decides to help reunite the two, even though the danger following them both is in the form of some very bad men with very big guns out for revenge.  But as Tino and Jimmy traverse the back roads of the border, not only will the two grow ever closer, but Jimmy might just find a whole new road, one that will lead him back to the redemption and self-forgiveness that has so far eluded him.

Not only is Levineís new novel filled with non-stop suspense, but more importantly, it embraces a compassionate  perspective of the all too dismal and often fruitless struggle of those in search of a better life.   Fairly looking at both sides of the argument, Levine avoids the black and white approach that has become all too familiar these days, and instead brings us a realistic and humane view by giving these seekers of a better life faces and names and their own heart-breaking stories.   

And when you throw in the heart rendering bond that forms between this lost lawyer who believes in little, and this boy who believes in far more and who has the guts to go for it, you get an emotional and stirring story thatíll leave you cheering and hopeful.  Well, at least until the next time you pick up your newspaper that tells of those who didnít and who never will reach that promise land themselves.           

 

 

The Hunted by Wayne Barcomb

Publisher: Minotaur Books  ISBN-10: 031237075X

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When the body of a man is found brutally slain and mutilated by what looks like a very personal attack from a very angry killer, NYPD homicide detective Frank Russo is far from being prepared for whatís to follow - which is an ever-increasing body count of victims found bearing the mark of one sadistic killer.  And so while trying to get over a broken romance with one woman, and starting a new romance with another, trying to find the killer will prove to be yet another challenge for the handsome detective to overcome.  But what he doesnít know is that the killer is much closer than he could ever imagine, and he might be next on the list of the killerís possible targets.

While Barcomb does manage to create a suspenseful tale thatís filled with enough red herrings to challenge some readers, others might feel more of a contrived maneuvering into following the erroneous trails rather than the type of enjoyment that comes from the thrill of a truly cunning chase.  Knowing, unlike Detective Russo, that the killer is a woman and, suspecting, that itís someone in Russoís life, should have made this more enticing.  Instead, the tepid romances being played out with the possible suspects only serve to leave the reader unconvinced of Russoís emotional involvement and the possible fall-out of being tied to any of them.  Itís unfortunate; this is a well-plotted book that could have been better had the characters been developed with the same skill and attention as the fast-moving plot.         

 

 

 

 

A Knife Edge by David Rollins

Publisher: Bantam books ISBN 978 0 553 80535 2

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Vin Cooper tells old moldy jokes and might be mistaken for a light-weight on first meeting., but behind the jokes is a hard  core of cold experience as an advance man for American soldiers in inhospitable places like Afghanistan.  Seconded to the Dept of Defence while recovering from wounds, resulting from not one but two helicopter crashes, Vin is bored out of his mind and looking for a way to get back into action, any action.  After six months of office work, suddenly a new job comes up.

First heís assigned to the death-by-shark of a scientist, Dr Tanaka, and just as heís making a bit of progress there, is whipped away to deal with an apparent terrorist attack on an apartment building in San Francisco.  No sooner has he come up with a possible connection to the shark death with the bombing heís sent off to the other side of the country to investigate why an experienced parachutist apparently cut away his own harness and died from an extremely high fall.   Vin has a brief but hot affair with the officer in chargeóa single mother with interesting appetitesóand has reached a decisive
point in the investigation when guess what?  Heís pulled away from that and given a refresher course in free fall and deploying into enemy territory and sent off to the least hospitable place on earth, the Afghan/Pakistan border.

Imagine Vinís surprise when he finds heís to jump with the SAS staff sergeant Butler, the primary suspect in the previous case.  On top of everything, Vin has developed a fear of flying that would have any ordinary person confined to a psychiatric ward.  It might have been better for him if that had happened, because before long he finds himself falling through the dark Asian night towards certain death.

If you want to know any more about terminal velocity, double and triple crosses, where Osama bin Laden is these days, greed, and gross stupidity in the highest reaches of those agencies that are in charge of national security you will have to buy the book.   You can also learn about some novel uses for honey and chocolate syrup and whipped cream.  Itís a measure of the amazing readability of this book that it kept me up until midnight despite having a streaming head cold and a cough to rival a cougar.