COLD CASE SQUAD by Edna Buchanan

Pocket Book ISBN: 0-7434-7663-8

Reviewed by Pamela James, New Mystery Reader

Miami Cold Case Squad is led by Sgt. Craig Burch and his second right and left hands of the cold case squad are Sam Stone and Pete Nazario. The cold case squad has a serial killer on their hands and the killer dates back twelve years prior to the most recent case.

April Terrell is tall and blonde, but most of all she is haunted by the murder of her husband some fourteen years ago and Craig Burch knows about being haunted, because he is haunted by the death of his marriage, and so many murders victims, he could write a book, on each one.

April tells Craig about her husband and she would like it if the cold case squad checks into the murder.

But along comes clues and evidence that April's case, and others, are tied into a serial killer who wants to remain free.  And what's more to the point is April keeps seeing her husbands face in a crowd, yet he's dead, or is he?  So as this case unfolds so do the subdramas of each detectives lives. Their lives are messy while the crime scenes are meticulously worked down to the finest detail.

COLD CASE SQUAD is gritty, passionate and most of all meant for the criminal appetite. Edna Buchanan writes with fire and intensity and it shows that she is passionate about justice, while writing about a suspense-filled Miami like no author can, all the while leaving no body or case buried.

The Faithless by Ted Simon

Publisher:  AuthorHouse ISBN:  1420802186

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

A mix of cult, crime and sex await the reader of The Faithless with an interesting mix of characters running from not-so-nice Rock Hassler, policeman, to runaway Jennifer Richards. A multi-faceted character, Rock Hassler comes into contact with Jennifer through the cult's leader, Sonny.

The shooting of a killer in self defense brings detective Suzanne August also bring her into contact with Rock Hassler.  She senses there is something not quite right about him and makes a mental note of a partial conversation she overheard between him and his captain about a cult and money.

Detective Bud Prior is transferred to internal affairs and given the case dealing with a policewoman turned extortionist. He can't help wondering what turned her from a good cop into a crooked one and begins to ask questions.  She won't talk about the white man who is in charge of the operation she was involved in.

There is an increase in tension in this story as a cop is attacked, a murder happens, there is a suicide and the runaway runs away again. None of this pleases Rock.

The Faithless should appeal to thriller lovers who don't mind a walk on the dark side of life. Like a tale taken from modern headlines, there is more than meets the eye to each character.

Surprises await the reader as the story develops.  The author has written a credible tale that will hold the readers interest. Recommended for any reader who doesn't mind tales with an emphasis on sex.

BAD MEDICINE by Aimee and David Thurlo

Publisher: Forge Books ISBN: 0765311372

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Navajo Nation policewoman Ella Clah gets hit with two new cases on the same day.  The body of a man is found in a remote part of the reservation, and a young woman who had been reported for driving drunk dies as her car leaves the highway.  The autopsy reports show that both had been using peyote.  Ella begins to wonder if there are other links between the two and is determined to find out who killed them.

Like all the Ella Clah mystery novels, this one is a heart thumping page turner.  As the plot builds the action intensifies and does not stop until the very last page.  Ella is a dedicated, determined investigator who will not give an inch until the case is solved.  Thurlo fans have probably been anxiously awaiting this latest novel in the series and will not be disappointed.

Alone At Night by K.J. Erickson

 Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks  ISBN: 0312989865

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Minneapolis Detective Mars Bahr and his partner Nettie are now working in the Cold Case Unit, and while Mars is slow at making the adjustment, missing the adrenaline flush that comes from a hot case, Nettie is enjoying the slower pace involved.  That all changes when they are given the case of Andrea Bergstad, a young woman who disappeared while working at a convenience store near the small town of Redstone 19 years ago.  Hoping they can tie the case to others involving convenience store abductions, the two set out following that trail, but soon find much more is involved than random abductions, and where that trail takes them will lead them to a much more personal danger, and to a startling tragedy where nothing will ever be the same again.

Definitely one of Erickson’s best in the series, this gripping tale holds the reader from start to finish, with a shocking conclusion that will leave readers breathless.  Mars, a likable single father, albeit a bit of a fussy nut, is engaging as usual, as is Nettie, his appealing foil.  And while there are some minor holes in the plot, and some minor jumps in logic, this does little to damper the explosive nature of the story as a whole.  A compelling and poignant read, this offers a quick and satisfying fix to the mystery aficionado.

Trip Wire:  A Cook County Mystery  by Charlotte Carter

Publisher:  One World/Ballantine Books  ISBN:  0-345-44769-7 

Twenty-year-old Cassandra Perry loves her life in a multi-ethnic north Chicago commune; she spends her days protesting the war, getting high, and enjoying free love.  In December 1968, her only problems seem to be police brutality toward demonstrating hippies and the disapproval of her beloved Great-Aunt Ivy and Great-Uncle Woody, who took her in at age eleven.

That is, until the bodies of commune members Wilton Mobley and Mia Boone are discovered upstairs.  Cassandra considered Wilton to be her soul-mate; like her, he was raised in a well-off household on Chicago’s South Side, and his parents feel he is betraying their civil rights struggle.  More than that, she had a not-so-secret crush on him.  As she begins investigating the murders, unwillingly assisted by her uncle Woody, Cassandra suspects a police cover-up and becomes aware of the mysterious August 4 Committee, and Wilton’s surprising involvement.  The discovery of another body brings Cassandra closer to the chauffeur/bodyguard her uncle has assigned to her. 

Realizing that the commune members had not been as innocent as she’d believed, Cassandra grows disillusioned, but vows to solve the murders before returning to her aunt and uncle’s home.  A surprising announcement by one of her roommates is quickly followed by a more astonishing revelation.

Fast-paced and under 200 pages, this book is an easy afternoon’s read.  Cassandra is such a likable character that it’s easy to overlook any flaws in the novel, particularly unexplained references to the first book in the series.  From today’s perspective, the hedonistic lifestyles of the characters seem shocking and dangerous, but author Charlotte Carter is historically accurate.  She perfectly captures the contemporary language and attitudes, which have been so often parodied that any representation seems almost a caricature.  

I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason by Susan Kandel

Publisher: Avon ISBN: 0060581069

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

The book caught my attention at the outset itself- with a title I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason- who wouldn’t be intrigued and I for one immediately booked my copy. And the intriguing element is not reserved for the title alone; right from page 1 to 294 the books captured my riveted attention.

In short, I Dreamed Perry Mason is Legally Blonde meets Bridget Jones’s Diary. The subtle cuteness, the more subtle hilarity and the excitement runs the whole gamut in I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason. Beauty Queen turned author Cece Caruso is having a heavy load of problems. In addition to the many numerous family and marital problems, she also has a bad case of a writer’s block. Frustrated and irritated, Caruso needs something out of the ordinary to revitalize herself. A mild interest in the fictional creation of Erle Stanley Gardner- the flamboyant attorney Perry Mason turns into an obsession and before we know it Caruso is neck deep into a half-a-century old murder case. Caruso finds new zest in life, a new energy, but at the same time each step she takes might be her last one.

What follows is a fast, hilarity filled mystery culminating in a superb and exciting finish, which only Perry Mason himself might have thought of. 

Shadow Men by Jonathon King

Publisher: Signet ISBN: 0451411811

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Florida’s PI Max Freeman’s latest case takes him back 80 years to the unexplained disappearance of a man and his two sons who had been working on the first road through the Florida everglades.  Working for his friend Billy Manchester, one of the most successful attorneys in Southern Florida, his new case will take him through the history of Florida’s attempt to conquer and tame this wild land.  And when it’s finally discovered who is responsible, albeit not directly, they will stop at nothing to prevent Max from revealing the ugly truth. 

Slow and steady, there are no fireworks or bursting revelations to be found here, just a story laid out in a highly readable and absorbing manner.  Max Freeman’s Florida isn’t the tourist traps and crowded beaches, but instead the hidden secret corners rarely touched by man, and so is all the more beautiful because of it.  Max himself is gently appealing, often using his wits instead of his testosterone to fight his battles, which is refreshing for its uniqueness in this genre populated with gun-toting macho men.  Nonetheless, when push comes to shove, he’s got what it takes, but doesn’t take it for granted, and can fire a gun or use his fists with the best of them.  Definitely recommended, this latest once again hits all the right notes in an engaging and worthwhile series.      

 

Guardian of the Horizon by Elizabeth Peters

Publisher: Avon  ISBN 0061032468

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

At last, what the world has been awaiting: the publication of yet another of Amelia Peabody Emerson's lost journals!

Fans of the intrepid Emersons will be delighted at this latest chapter in their Egyptian adventures.  Set in 1907, the story returns the Emersons and their son Rameses and foster daughter Nefret to the Lost Oasis and the Holy Mountain, from which Nefret was rescued ten years ago.

Undertaking a harrowing trip in order to being medical help to the son of King Tarek, the Emersons have to go deep into the Sudan and the Western Desert, avoiding numerous perils and greedy fortune hunters on the journey.  Along the way they acquire the beautiful and mysterious Daria, whose passion for Rameses almost drives his hopeless love for Nefret from his mind--for a brief time, anyway.

Reaching the Holy Mountain, they discover they have been tricked: Tarek is no longer on the throne, and a usurper and his son have their own reasons for wanting Nefret back in the Temple of Isis.

After a series of hair-raising adventures, Rameses and his parents face a show-down in the throne room, pitted against an army of soldiers and the would-be king, who has nothing to lose by killing them.

The reader can be assured that the Emersons, capably supported by their faithful retainers Daoud and Selim, and with an unexpected appearance by the Master Criminal Sethos, win through in a dramatic denouement that will have pulses racing to the final paragraph.

This is a worthy inclusion in the Amelia Peabody canon and is bound to please her legion of fans.

Slaying is Such Sweet Sorrow by Patricia Harwin

Publisher: Pocket ISBN: 0743482255

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Catherine Penny is a sixtyish divorced woman who lives in Far Wynchwood, a small English village so she can be near her daughter and grandson. Because her son-in-law Peter is going to get a promotion at Oxford, her ex husband and his bimbo show up and it is hard for Catherine to avoid then.  Edgar Stone is given the promotion instead of Peter.  When Stone is found murdered Peter is the primary suspect.  Catherine must do everything she can to clear Peter's name.

Harwin has given us another marvelous novel in the Catherine Penny series. Catherine skirts the law to doggedly search out clues that will lead to the real killer.  She has a one track mind when it comes to protecting her family and no amount of persuasion from others will turn her from her goal.  This novel has a solid plot and is generously filled with quotations from Elizabethan writers.  It is a fun and satisfying novel to read.

 

Bloodlines by Dinah McCall

Publisher: Mira  ISBN: 0778321614

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Olivia Sealy was two years old when her parents were murdered and she was kidnapped.  When her grandfather paid the million dollar ransom asked for her, she was turned loose to wander around a shopping mall.

It is now 25 years later, the man who was arrested for collecting the ransom has been paroled, and a suitcase full of 25 year old baby bones has been discovered.  The autopsy reveals that the skeleton has a connection to the Sealy family and Dallas police detective Trey Bonney is assigned to the case.  Bonney was in love with Olivia in high school, but was rejected because Olivia's grandfather felt there was too great an economic and social class difference.  Now Olivia has been shot and is in critical condition in a local hospital.  Trey has to find out who shot her and why.

This plot has many twists and turns. Is the woman in the hospital Olivia, or is the skeleton Olivia?  Only DNA will provide the answer.  Does Olivia still love Trey and does he still love her?  Will her grandfather interfere again?  Is the parolee responsible for Olivia's condition?  A very surprising ending answers all these questions.

This is an ingenious plot full of emotions and violence.  Many surprises are in store for the reader.  For romantic mystery fans, this book is a MUST READ!

One False Move by Alex Kava: Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader  

Melanie Starkes is a single mother who supplements her income by being a thief.  Charlie Starkes, who is now 17, has been brought up to help his mother with the extra income.  Now her brother Jared Barnett has been released from prisin on a technicality after serving 5 years on death row.  Jared has a plan for a big score that will set them all up for a long time.  He and Charlie will rob a bank and Melanie will drive the get away car.  But shots are fired and they are now on the run with no money.  When Melanie learns that 4 people were killed in the bank, she realizes that she may have to make a choice between the brother who has protected her all her life and her young son.

This is a very fascinating book because the main characters are the thieves and murderers, with the law enforcement characters being not as significant.  There is enough action to keep any reader on the edge of his seat at all times.  The author makes sure that each of the main characters gets exactly what he/she deserves, making for a story that will leave the reader satisfied.

 

Radio Activity by Bill Fitzhugh

Publisher: HarperTorch ISBN: 0380806371

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

I have read few entertainment/satire mysteries. My usual fare is thrillers of the like and style of Grisham, Crichton, Sheldon et al., and it was with a little trepidation that I picked up my copy of Radio Activity. And I was disappointed….not with the novel, but of my prejudiced attitude towards entertainment mysteries.

The cover jacket informs us that the author Fitzhugh was a former Radio DJ, and it is little surprising that the protagonist in this work is a DJ. Rick Shannon, a DJ is out of job and in dire straits, when he gets a call that would save him from poverty.  A local DJ in a local station somewhere in Mississippi has gone missing and the radio owner wants Shannon to take the place. The previous DJ, a local legend by the name of ‘Captain’ Jack Carter has suddenly gone missing, leaving behind his precious audio collection. There is fear about his life, but the show must go on and Shannon is employed. He also gets the trailer where Carter used to stay.  But a chance hearing of an audiocassette belonging to Carter- where he reveals some stunning tales of sexual indiscretion and about some felonies.   Suspecting that there is something more than what meets the eye to Carter’s disappearance, Shannon decides to investigate. He adopts the name of Buddy Miles and starts investigation- and what follows is hilarious action with subtle humor that just falls short of being a laugh romp.

Radio Activity was a change, a welcome change to my regular reading itinerary.