December Hardcover New Mystery Book Reviews


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The Inner Circle by Mari Jungstedt

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur  ISBN-10: 0312363788

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Itís summertime in the idyllic Swedish island of Gotland, with plenty of tourists, as well as college students from all over the globe working the local archeological dig, being enough to keep the local police force busy with minor crimes.  But when first a decapitated horse is found, followed by the discovery of a young student hung up in a barn, the force is going to have to pull out their investigating skills to solve a seriously real crime.  

Like a few other translated mysteries Iíve read, it seems something does get lost in the translation.  While this latest from Jungstedt definitely has an interesting plot, especially when it begins to go into the history of the island, some of the dialogue and characters can seem a bit stiff at times.  And for those who have met these characters before, even while knowing their personal back stories, it still seems as if thereís an additional distance to cross when trying to make an emotional connection, with the fall-out thatís still affecting them seemingly detached and more clinical than real.

Nonetheless, itís still an entertaining read that provides a uniquely atmospheric setting of the long-lit summer nights of this part of the world, and when you throw in some interesting tidbits on the history of the island, thereís definitely enough to make this one worth the read.




Blood Island by H. Terrell Griffin

Publisher: Oceanview Publishing  ISBN 978 1 933515 21 2

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

A rare few individuals are able to do what they want when they want.  Lawyer Matt Royal left the fast lane several years back, and now lives the life of an educated beach bum in Longboat Key, Florida.  Matt takes the occasional case, but most of the time he fishes, dives, and pals around with his buddy Logan Hamilton. 

The day after he finds a dead man in the vulture pit of the local bird sanctuary, Matt gets a call from his ex-wife begging him to help find her stepdaughter Peggy.  Still carrying a torch for Laura after ten years, Matt canít say no, and sets out to find the missing girl.

Almost at once Matt realises that something big is going on around the missing girl: half the bad guys in Florida seem determined to harm him, and all heís done is show Peggyís picture around a few bars.

Aided by Logan and another old friend Jock Algren, plus the local police chief, Matt follows the clues and the trail of dead bodies to the well-named Blood Island, a place with a bloody history where an even bloodier future is being planned.  The stakes are much higher than one lost girl now, and even with the help of the FBI and the Coastguard, itís going to be incredibly hard to prevent a major disaster.

Thereís a lot of violence and action in this story, but also some interesting character development as we watch the normally laid-back Royal realise just what heís capable of, given sufficient motivation.  Recognising that not much separates him from the evil men heís trying to stop is a sobering moment for Matt Royal.  How much harm can he justify doing to another human in order to prevent even greater harm to more people?  Itís the age-old torturerís dilemma, and itís a territory as frightening as an uncharted reef for Matt.

As with most escapist fiction, youíre going to have to suspend disbelief several times in this story, but if you can just go with the flow and accept Matt and his friends as Griffin has written them, itís an enjoyable read.