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Gone to Ground by John Harvey

Publisher: Harcourt  ISBN-10: 0151013632

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When a gay academic is found murdered, detectives Will Grayson and Helen Walker have more than one suspect to investigate.  Could it be just another hate crime similar to the spate of crimes that have been happening in their growing English village, or might it be the lover he callously dumped recently, or could it have to do with the expose he was writing on a long dead film star whose dirty secrets still pose a threat to those still living?

After having read the last two books from Harvey, both infused with intensive character development, poignancy, and spell binding drama, I was shocked to find myself so utterly disinterested in what each new page from this latest would bring.  As an investigative procedural, sure, you get the fine detailing that Harvey always willingly provides, but what is so sorely lacking is the empathetic character portrayals he is so capable of creating- his ability to depict growth and compassion being nowhere in sight in this new title. Not to say itís all bad, itís just not what was expected.  If by-the-book police procedure is what you like, youíll like this, but if you were counting on more of whatís come before, you might find yourself grudgingly turning the pages only to arrive at an ending that is not any more satisfying as what led to it.

 

 

Of All Sad Words by Bill Crider

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur  ISBN-10: 031234810X

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Crider returns with another fun-filled outing featuring the wry and lovable small town sheriff Dan Rhodes from Blacklin County, Texas.  This time out, Rhodes has got his hand full when first one of the local neíer do wells is found near his blown up home with two bullets in his chest.  And if thatís not enough, soon after he is faced with yet another murder, this one the result of an unfortunate case of truck meets man, the collision being one that came a little too close to putting the final nail in his own coffin.  Naturally, suspicions run high that these two cases are connected, but still, the questions of who dunnit and why are not so easily answered.

Humorously mixing the travails of small-town sheriffing with the larger issues of murder and other assorted felonies, Crider again puts forth a tale thatís sure to please his legions of fans.  And while one might take pause to consider how the heck it is that this small county ends up with so may dead bodies, in the end, most wonít really care.  Itís just great to see this cast of home-spun characters back in yet another clean and breezy read that easily delights.

 

 

The Marathon Murders by Chester D. Campbell

Publisher:  Night Shadows Press ISBN:  978-0-9799167-1-7

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader                    

Greg and Jill McKenzie are drawn into a mystery of a vanished construction worker and some papers found behind the wall of an old building. The client tells them the story began with an embezzlement charge on another man who disappeared when accused and his bones were found five years later. The case went nowhere after that.

Their client is the granddaughter of the grandson of the accused man.  Can Greg and Jill make any sense out of this cold case when everyone concerned with it is long dead?

Talented author Chester D. Campbell weaves a complicated tale of purpose and cross purpose as the interesting cast of characters show us their motives for doing what they do.  Why did the construction worker disappear?  Where are the papers?  What value would they be to anyone else?

These are a few of the questions youíll want answered as you follow Greg and Jill on their investigation.  Will they be stepping into danger on what started as a simple investigation into the very dim past?

Recommended as a fun read, lots of action, a well written tale to hold your attention.  Youíll be wanting to read other stories by this imaginative author.  Enjoy.  I did.

 

 

 

Unknown Means by Elizabeth Becka

Publisher: Hyperion  ISBN-10: 1401301754

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When a wealthy woman is found murdered in her upscale apartment, Cleveland's forensic investigator Eve James, usually expert at finding clues under the worst conditions, finds herself baffled by the many questions and lack of answers in this daring murder that took place in one of the city's most secure buildings.  And when another woman of wealthy means dies in the same way, the mystery only deepens.  But when her own best friend is attacked and left for dead, the mystery goes from just another puzzle to solve to a desperate search for answers if she's to stop this very determined killer from completing a deadly plot of revenge.

Fans of CSI and other forensic mysteries will no doubt enjoy this second outing from Becka.  And even though some might find the actual science behind the forensic detail to be lacking in the glamour that's come to be expected (falsely idealized, of course) after watching shows such as CSI, aficionados of the genre will enjoy pondering over Becka's more realistic and convincing detail.

That being said, it's certainly not the forensic side of this that prevents this from being a wholeheartedly recommended read, but instead the many investigators' lack of ability to make connections and follow up on all the obvious clues and suspects.   But, all in all, this is an entertaining read that goes beyond the glamour of forensics to the nitty gritty detail, resulting in a read that should satisfy most.