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Running with Dillinger by Edward Butts

Publisher:  The Dundurn Group  ISBN:  978-1-55002-683-2

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

For the reader of True Crime, this interesting collection of stories about criminals of Canada’s past is one book you won’t want to miss.  There are tales about individuals and gangs and men made into criminals because of laws like prohibition or men who just preferred taking what they wanted at the point of a gun. 

The variety of crimes undertaken to cheat or rob makes one wonder what some of these men could have been if they had applied such energy and ingenuity to lawful employment.  The stories raise the interesting question of why men become criminals and why women love them. What would it take to turn you onto the path of robbery, theft or violence?  Can you gain insights into the reasoning of such persons?

From the days of the Revolution onward, smuggling across the border into the United States and back into Canada has been a business that provided whatever goods one side or the other needed. This was a business often resulting in violence while an artist could make a living making counterfeit plates of money. Yet other tales read like family sagas and legends. 

Talented author Edward Butts introduces us to a variety of intriguing criminals and their stories, crafting them in terms to keep you reading to find out how each story ends.  A collection worth reading for the historical interest alone, but the individuals who lived the stories have gone on to become myths or be forgotten until he reminds us of their existence.

Enjoy.  I sure did.

 

 

Nefertiti by Nick Drake

Publisher Harper; ISBN 006075917

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

The recent revival of the historical novel is welcome to those who may have had a surfeit of modern day hyperreality.

Nick Drake’s examination of the life of one of history’s most fascinating and little-known queens takes a very different slant to previous novelizations.  Eschewing the traditional approach which assumes Nefertiti was merely a devoted consort and loving mother, Drake looks at the wider picture of 18th Dynasty Egypt.  He asks “What could an intelligent woman do if her husband’s monomania threatens to destroy the nation?”

You don’t need to be an amateur Egyptologist to enjoy this book, but it helps if you start with the basic knowledge that Pharaoh Akhenaten, often called “the first monotheist”, turned Egypt upside down with his insistence that the sun disk, the Aten, was the sole god from whom everything good came.  Like an early Henry VIII, Akhenaten closed temples and confiscated church property.   He put the money into the construction of a new city dedicated to the sole god.  This put a lot of priests out of work in the temples of the other gods, diverted much-needed funds from the army, and made a lot of enemies.

At the start of the book, detective Rahotep of the Medjay, (the state police of the day) is given a secret commission: go to the new capital and find out why the Queen has vanished and bring her back alive.  If she doesn’t show up for the great festival in ten days’ time, there’s no telling what might happen.  And by the way, if Rahotep doesn’t succeed not only he but also his wife and daughters will be put to death.

With this threat as a motivator, Rahotep scrapes together such small clues as he can find, and with the help of a local police constable begins piecing together a case.  Is the queen alive or dead?  Was she kidnapped, or the victim of a dreadful accident?  Or is it possible she went away of her own free will?  If so, why?

Sorting through these questions with very little help (and often active interference) from the local police superintendent, Rahotep comes very close to being killed before he finally gets to the bottom of the mystery—and even then he’s still in mortal danger.

The political machinations of ancient Egypt, power of the priesthood, the lives of the ordinary people, and the delicate balancing acts required by the courtiers have been well-researched by Drake, who has filled in the gaps with some credible guesses.  This is more of a ‘whydunnit’ than a ‘whodunnit’, and a very enjoyable change of pace for mystery lovers.

 

 

Napoleon's Pyramids by William Dietrich

Publisher: Harper  ISBN-10: 0060848332

Reviewed by Dana King, New Mystery Reader

Imagine one of Umberto Eco’s books without the impenetrable prose. Or The DaVinci Code if Dan Brown had a clue. (That might be asking too much.) That gives you an idea of what William Dietrich’s Napoleon’s Pyramids is like. It’s a meticulously researched and well-written thrill ride, Indiana Jones meets Benjamin Franklin.

Ethan Gage is an American living in Paris shortly after the French Revolution. He wins an odd-looking medallion in a card game and immediately becomes the object of more unwanted attention than he had imagined in his relatively unfocused life. When he is framed for the murder of a prostitute, he appeals to his Freemason brothers for help. One thing leads to another, and Gage finds himself introduced as a savant who has “volunteered” to accompany Napoleon’s army to Egypt, providing “expertise” on matters of Egyptian history.

On the way Gage meets gypsies, a British spy, numerous French scientists, a beautiful and exotic woman (of course), a mysterious and dangerous Arab, Admiral Horatio Nelson, at least one charlatan and scoundrel, and the aforementioned Napoleon Bonaparte. Gage is shot at, witnesses major battles, participates in others, and searches the pyramids at Giza for clues to powers harnessed by the ancients and lost to modern man.

Napoleon’s Pyramids could easily turn into a pointless mess of bizarre plot twists, with cardboard characters motivated by nothing more than the author’s need to resolve the latest catastrophic dilemma. Dietrich’s light hand keeps all of this from feeling oppressive. Gage is basically a ne’er-do-well who always manages to land on his feet, but he’s likeable because he never takes himself too seriously, and is honest about his failings. He tells his tale with a twinkle in his eye and tongue lightly planted in cheek.

An undercurrent of humor masks the clanking of the plot’s machinery just below the surface. Dietrich understands that a reader’s willingness to suspend disbelief is directly proportional to how much fun he’s having. Exceptional powers of description help a great deal. The battle scenes are stunning, not prurient in their description of gore, nor glorifying the violence. Gage’s fear and exhilaration at surviving life-threatening situations is made real, personalized by his own asides at moments of greatest danger.

Dietrich skillfully weaves fact, fiction, and fantasy with real and imagined characters to create an entertaining and informative tale of an important but little-known period. Not only is Napoleon’s Pyramids a lot of fun, it may well incite you to learn more about the historical events described. The writing flows smoothly, explaining Eighteenth Century mores and conditions without talking down to the reader. Little more can be asked of an adventure tale than what Dietrich delivers. Napoleon’s Pyramids is well worth anyone’s time.

 

 

Damage Control by Robert Dugoni

Publishers: Grand Central Publishing,  ISBN: 0446617083

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

Dugoni is no flash in the pan. He had a tremendous and scintillating debut with The Jury Master- “the legal thriller of the year” (2006). And now in his second book, Dugoni proves that he is an accomplished master in the genre of legal thrillers.

Dan Hill is a hot shot attorney. A rising, glamorous Seattle attorney, she lives life in the fast lane. She enjoys the grit of litigation and the power of the courtroom. A workaholic who doesn’t compromise on family needs, Dana is the epitome of the perfect modern day working mother. But out of the blue comes the news that might be suffering from cancer- breast cancer. Suddenly the attorney is forced to reassess her priorities, her role as a lawyer, as a mother, as a daughter, sister and wife. The already fragile world of hers further shatters when Dana learns that her twin brother has been brutally murdered- supposedly during an armed burglary gone wrong.

Dana, not believing it, launches into here own investigation with the help of detective Michael Logan, the investigation soon opening a whole new can of worms. What follows is scintillating action culminating in a finish that will sure provide sizzling thrills for the legal thriller lover.

The fast moving pace of The Jury Master is present in this book, and unlike all too often found in the usual legal thriller, the characters are far from being one-dimensional, their emotions finely played out in this latest. 

With Dugoni providing a refreshing dose of competition with the likes of John Grisham, Scott Turow and Richard North Patterson in the legal thriller writing arena, this is one worthwhile read.

 

 

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 you’ll 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, and a well written tale to hole your attention.  You’ll be wanting to read other stories by this imaginative author.  Enjoy.  I did.

 

 

Thistle & Twigg by Mary Saums

Publisher:  St. Martin's Minotaur  ISBN:  0312947291

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Variety, anyone?  That's what this fun tale includes--something for every reader.  You'll meet two retired ladies in this tale along with a few ghosts, a recluse, and assorted townsfolk you will enjoy knowing.

If you've ever wanted to live in splendid isolation, join Jane Thistle as she moves into her new home near land posted for all to "Keep Out". And join Jane as she tries to get acquainted with her new neighbor who fires his rifle at all intruders, Jane included.

Is Jane's new home haunted? Will she worry about the possibility?  How solid a friendship will she build with the opinionated and gabby Phoebe Twigg whose kitchen is firebombed for reasons unknown to her?

You will encounter new characters whose doings will keep you reading on every page. You'll find rumors about Jane's reclusive neighbor and his supposed treasure. Are they only speculation?

How do Jane and Phoebe become involved in murder?  Who are the victims?  Join them in trying to identify the killer. Could it be Jane's secretive neighbor?

I'm very pleased to highly recommend Thistle and Twigg by talented author Mary Saums as a tale worth reading.  You'll be pulling twigs out of your hair from long walks in some lovely woods with Jane.

 

 

The Watchman by Robert Crais

Publisher: Pocket Star, ISBN 141651497X

Reviewed by Don Crouch, New Mystery Reader

Nope, not a misprint...this is, in fact, a JOE PIKE novel. To be precise, the book comprises 5 days, more or less, in the life of one of crime fiction's most enigmatic characters. But fear not, the sunlight of Crais' novel does nothing to disinfect the power of that aura. If anything, it becomes more complex.

The Watchman is largely the story of Larkin Connor Barkley, a composite of many young rich girls that anyone with the slightest bit of pop culture awareness knows all about. In plot details readily available on jacket flaps, etc., we are told that Lauren's witnessing of a crime, and subsequent civically-responsible reporting of that crime, has put her in some danger. And, as all Crais readers know, danger is Joe Pike's middle name. Pike is hired by his former LAPD mentor to protect this Spoiled Hollywood Handful, and off we go.

You will get to know Larkin Connor Barkley. You will be annoyed and exasperated by her, you will be afraid for her, and, unless you are some kind of heartless bastard, you will fall hard for her. That's called character development, folks, and Crais is pretty darn good at it. Her arc is the soul of the book, and it provides exciting thrills, fearsome danger, and yes, some tragedy. The relationship between her and Pike is developed with the love and care you'd expect from Crais, and it will break your heart if you let it.

Pike's job in The Watchman requires some assistance, and it should come as no surprise that he turns to a "minor" character in the Crais-iverse, some Disney-nerd PI named Elvis Cole. For those that pay attention to these things, think about how hard it must be for a writer to third-person a character he's spent nearly 20 years establishing the voice for one of popular fiction's best first-person heroes. Connelly did it in reverse with Harry Bosch for awhile, but that's way different. Elvis' voice is much more distinctive, primarily due to its humor.

Elvis Cole, in The Watchman, is the source of both plot advancement and humor, as you would expect. For Crais to be able to show Elvis as the wise-acre he is from this perspective is a major reward of the book for his long-time readers. He brings us up to speed on Elvis' current state, following the brutal events of The Forgotten Man, without dwelling on them. This is, after all, a Joe Pike novel.

Since it is, the themes involved must harden a bit from the Elvis books, and they do. Crais spends a fair amount of time talking about honor and loyalty, since those are gigantic parts of Pike's DNA. The stakes are higher, the action is more brutal, and the price of failure is staggering. We know that Pike's past includes very high prices paid for his devotion to these concepts, it's why he is loved amongst Crais' readers.

But we do learn more about Pike. Or maybe, more accurately, we go deeper into aspects of Pike's life we already knew about. Crais refreshes our memories about the major events in Pike's life hinted at in previous books, and digs deeper into them. Of course, he brings fresh events from the past into play, as Pike negotiates the twisted trail of brutal assassins, dubious feds and ethics-starved land-grabbers putting Larkin's future into such peril.

Oh, and then there's John Chen. Regular readers know the name. Crime scene tech. Legend in his own mind. Self-styled Mack Daddy. Watching how Crais has brought him along over the years is a hoot, and in The Watchman he plays a major part, putting all he holds dear on the line for Joe Pike. His motivations are hilarious, his chapters will etch a constant smile on the reader's face.

Did we mention The Watchman is a Joe Pike novel?  This has to be emphasized. Everything is turned up an appropriate notch. Crais brings Pike up to a level approaching, say, Lee Child's Jack Reacher. We are given glimpses of Pike's heart and soul. In some cases, it's not pretty. But it's damn compelling. And it's yet another reason why Crais is an Alpha Dog in the yard that is crime fiction.

 

 

Red Cat by Peter Spiegelman

Publisher: Knopf ISBN-1400097045

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

The black sheep of a New York family of bankers, P.I. John March prefers to keep his distance from his well-tended and uptight siblings.  But when his brother David hires him to uncover the identity of a woman he had a wild fling with and who is now stalking him, John cautiously accepts the case. 

John's initial surprise at his brother's indiscretions, however, soon turns to alarm when the woman's body is discovered, her death obviously the result of a murder.  And once John uncovers the identity of this enigmatic woman who has left a trail of angry lovers behind, his focus turns to figuring out who else besides his own brother may have wanted to see her dead.  And in a case where nothing is as it seems, where secrets and betrayal hide behind masks of civility, John will be forced to confront some disturbing truths about those he only thought he knew.

This third in the series featuring rebel PI John Marsh easily surpasses the two that have come before, not an easy feat by any means.  Not only is this a clever and engrossing investigative novel filled with realistic detail throughout, but also one that adeptly explores the ambivalence that often does battle with love and loyalty in the sibling relationship.  In addition, its provocative look at the heavy price the soul must often pay in exchange for the comforts of wealth and privilege will leave some readers glad for what they have, and for what they don't.  For those who haven't read this talented author, now would be the time to start.

 

 

Zero Cool by John Lange

Publishers: Hard Case Crime, ISBN: 0843959592

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

You might not have heard about John Lange, but the man hiding behind this pseudonym is world famous. I won’t tell you his real name, but just that his second name rhymes with frightened, and that through his thrillers to which we easily fall ‘prey’ for, he has created a well known ‘state of fear’…..that we are kept glued to the pages wondering what will happen ‘next’. And if by now you haven’t figured out the real man behind the Lange pseudonym- I just got one thing to ask- where have you been for last few decades?

It is 31 long years since this book has remained out of print. And for fans and ardent connoisseurs of John Lange, the eventual publication of this book is met with warm welcome and great joy. The highlight of this new print by Hard Case Crime (who has made a name in recent years for bringing back lost glorious works back to print) is of course the new prologue and epilogue written by Crich….oops I meant John Lange. The author has spruced up this book by 31 years and set it to 2006- and the rest of the story is told in flashback.

Peter Ross, radiologist wants a quiet vacation- nothing much, cool beaches, the hot sun and even hotter girls- and basically wants to have a good time. (Remember the novel is set in the era of the liberated sixties). And when a radiologist seminar opens itself at Spain, Ross is the first to join it. And upon arrival at the beach, his attention falls upon a girl in a cute bikini (and yup…..the description of Angela is as beautiful as the picture on the cover jacket). He tries to hit upon her…when out of the blue someone comes and accosts Ross- saying that he should not do an autopsy. He dismisses it as ravings of a crazy guy, but within hours some shady guys approaches Ross and asks him to do an autopsy, and if he refuses, the consequences will be dire.  What follows is a classic tale of a man caught in the wrong place at the wrong time - and only the good doctor’s individuality and strength of will can save him.

To say that I enjoyed this novel would be an understatement.. Reminiscent of the excitement created by Hitchcock- in particular The Man Who Knew Too Much and North by Northwest - I was hooked to the last page. And with diabolic villains who go by the name “Count” and “Professor,” ZERO COOL is anything but ‘zero’ cool…..call it infinite cool- if you like. One grand read- buy it…..or otherwise you might have to wait another 31 years before you get hold of this book.  I sincerely hope that Mr. Lange will decide to republish his other novels, ODD ON, VENOM BUSINESS, DRUG OF CHOICE, SCRATCH ONE and EASY GO.

 

 

 

Anatomy of Fear by Jonathan Santlofer

Publisher: Harper  ISBN-10: 0060882026

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When New York City Detective Terri Russo takes on the case of a murder victim whose body was found with a sketch of his corpse pinned to his clothing, she's mystified by the lack of clues or motives surrounding his death.  And when another body is found, it too with a sketch attached, she begins to realize that the city might have a serial killer on their hands.  Calling in successful police sketch artist Nate Rodriguez to help investigate, she hopes that his knowledge of art will help track the killer and bring an end to the senseless murders.  And the closer the two come to identifying the killer, Nate, a man with his own demons and shame, will discover that his ability to ''see'' extends much further than the naked eye, an ability that might just lead him to draw the face of an unknown killer.

While Santlofer's new protagonist, half Jewish half Latino Nate Rodriguez, provides a convincing and appreciated blend of ethnicity that does ultimately add depth and distinctiveness to this somewhat uneven tale of madness, it might not be enough to keep all readers engaged.  Santlofer, a successful artist as well as author, takes a gamble here, sprinkling throughout the pages several actual sketches detailed in the story, a move that for some might have the propensity to distract from the narrative itself.  It's not that the sketches are bad- far from it- it's just that while some readers may enjoy seeing some of the aspects of the story come to life, others may find the novelty of it a bit discomfiting.  

That being said, if this is the first of a series, Santlofer has built a worthy foundation that promises great things ahead and we look forward to more from this talented author/artist.

 

 

The Color of Blood by Declan Hughes

Publisher: Harper  ISBN-10: 0060825508

Reviewed by Dana King, New Mystery Reader

Declan Hughes’ debut novel, The Wrong Kind of Blood, was a revelation. A respected Irish playwright for years, his deft touch at mood and description made The Wrong Kind of Blood a discovery.

Hughes’ second book, The Color of Blood, doesn’t quite inspire the same feelings as its predecessor. That may be due more to high expectations than to any failures in this book. Hughes’ gifts are displayed in abundance, always in the service of creating maximum impact on the reader.

Ed Loy is still kicking around Dublin with his mate Tommy Owens, waiting to get a private investigator’s license. When a wealthy dentist and heir to a great fortune and medical legacy asks Loy to find his daughter, it looks like a simple blackmail set-up. That’s only half right. Blackmail is involved; nothing’s simple.

This being a mystery, dead bodies soon complicate matters. The missing girl, Emily, may be a princess run off the tracks, or a Goth-in-training pain in the ass. She may be in on it, or not. Her mother may be a pluperfect slut, or damaged by a miserable childhood. So may her aunt, the other heir to the family fortune and mantle. Her father means well, but not too well, and not all the time. And the family lawyer? Well, he’s a lawyer.

Hughes’ gift is in making every character more than the sum of their quirks until they’re more than characters, they’re people. No one is wholly bad. (Hardly no one.) Absolutely no one is wholly good. Hughes keeps the reader guessing as to who done it because it’s so hard to figure out why it was done. Lots of people had motive. Deciding whose personality would take action is much more involved, and rewarding.

The Color of Blood is a sprawling book, once again probing the dark side of Dublin’s boom times. The complex and twisting plot may double back upon itself a time too often to keep straight, as do the relationships among the characters. You’ll stay with it because Ed does. For all his flaws, Ed Loy is a hero worth rooting for, someone to whom something good is owed. Even his “head the ball” sidekick, Tommy Owens, shows signs of growing into an able assistant.

Ireland is the new hotspot for mystery and crime fiction. Hughes, John Connolly, and Adrian McKinty create a triumvirate worthy of any three Americans working today. Of the three, Hughes is the James Lee Burke of Ireland, melding literary writing with intricate plots to create a world that broods as only the Irish can do, without becoming maudlin. (I’m allowed to say that about the Irish; my grand da Dougherty said so.) Declan Hughes is just getting revved up as a mystery writer. As good as he is, look forward to him getting better.

 

 

The K Hand Shape by Maureen Jennings

Publisher:  The Dundurn Group  ISBN:  978-1-55002-763-1

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Profiler Christine Morriis finds herself involved in solving the murder of the deaf daughter of a colleague. She takes us into the world where people communicate with sign language and lip reading, opening the door to problems of the deaf in a world suited to those who speak and hear.

Who would kill a deaf woman who is expecting her second child?  What will happen to her deaf daughter as the child doesn’t really know her grandfather.  Join Christine as they unravel the routine that the victim followed, including a weekly visit to a casino where she spent her last hours.

Talented author Maureen Jennings shows us a world we know little about and the difficulties in communicating with the deaf friends of the victim in the search for a motive and a killer.

Recommended as a read for any mystery fan who likes to venture into different worlds and subcultures.  You’ll enjoy the brief interactions between Christine and her mother while you meet some interesting characters who come alive as the parts of the puzzle come together.  Enjoy. I did.

 

 

The Alibi Man by Tami Hoag

Publisher: Bantam  ISBN-10: 0553583603

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Elena Estes once lived the self-centered life of the wealthy and elite Palm Beach polo set, a life she left behind in disgust and shame over 20 years ago when her fiancé was accused of raping and beating a young woman, a crime only compounded by the successful defense of the accused by her father, a powerful attorney.  In search of justice, she became a detective with the hope that she might put to right the wrongs that seemed all too accepted and prevalent in the world she had so eagerly left behind.  But when that too ended in tragedy after years of service, she ended up at a wealthy friend's ranch working with his thoroughbred horses, a place she now hopes to at last find a modicum of peace. 

But even that small peace of serenity is shattered when she discovers the body of a young woman who also worked at the ranch, and even though the two weren't close, Elena can't help but get involved in the case.  And when her investigation leads her back into the world of opulence and glamour she had left long ago, the suspects being men of influence and privilege, including her ex-fiancé, she finds herself once again face to face with her old enemies who will do anything to keep their perfect lives intact.

After a couple of mediocre outings, Tami Hoag is back in the saddle with a thrilling tale of suspense that is every bit as breathtaking as her earlier reads, and one that will easily please her faithful fans.  Compelling and chilling, Hoag shows no mercy in her ruthless portrayal of high society and the crimes they're capable of committing- both the physical and the emotional.  It's great to see that Hoag still has the touch, this is one that shouldn't be missed.   

 

 

Laced by Carol Higgins Clark

Publisher:  Pocket Star  ISBN:  1416523375

Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

Private Investigator Regan Reilly and her husband Jack, head of the Major Case Squad in New York City travel to Ireland for their honeymoon.  While staying at Hennessy Castle the last thing that they expect to be doing is investigating a crime, but Jane and John Doe have a different idea.  The international jewel thieves steal a priceless lace tablecloth made by the ghost of the castle, May Reilly, and leave a taunting note for Regan and Jack.  Two other guests are trying to avoid the Reilly’s; Sheila and Brian O’Shea are in business selling Irish memorabilia over the Internet.  The O’Sheas have traveled to the Emerald Isle to pick up paintings they have commissioned from a amateur painter who does not know the true value of her work and is extremely superstitious.  The painter believes that she has angered May Reilly’s ghost by integrating her lace design into the paintings.  The O’Sheas have their hands full dealing with a skittish painter, their buyers who decide to come to Ireland and pick up the paintings in person, and the ghost of May Reilly.  Regan and Jack enlist the help of Regan’s cousin Gerard to help them find the jewel thieves who have been one step ahead of the law for far too long. 

Laced is the eleventh installment in the Regan Reilly series.  The author envelops the reader into the majestic landscape and generational folklore of the “Emerald Island.”  The novel is very light with some really funny episodes and a host of charming supporting characters including a ghost.  I highly recommend this book as a light-hearted, fun, cozy mystery.

 

 

Death Comes for the Fat Man by Reginald Hill

Publisher: Harper Collins  ISBN: 0060821434

Reviewed by Jake Chism, New Mystery Reader

Yorkshire policemen David Pascoe and Andy Dalziel (aka The Fat Man) are
called out to investigate suspicious activity at a local business.
Without warning the building explodes, killing the inhabitants and
seriously injuring Pascoe and Dalziel. Pascoe quickly recovers and
embarks on a vengeful search for the truth behind the bombing. The trail
leads to a rogue terrorist group known as the Templars, and as he gets
closer to the answers he seeks he finds himself surrounded by danger and
conspiracy. Meanwhile, Andy Dalziel’s life hangs in the balance and his
friends and loved ones struggle with the idea of possibly having to
endure life without the beloved Fat Man.

Novels abound today that deal with terrorism, nevertheless Reginald Hill
has written a great detective story despite the very familiar subject
material. The novel’s strength is found in its characters, and readers
will especially be drawn to the compassion David Pascoe has for his
family and friends. His quest for justice is admirable and this is a
character worth rooting for. This novel is highly recommended for fans
of smart detective yarns full of wit, mystery, and humor.
 

 

 

How to Marry a Ghost by Hope McIntyre

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing;  ISBN 0446616028

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Ghostwriter Lee Bartholomew overcomes her borderline agoraphobia and goes to the USA to help her mother get re-married.  Well, not really re-married: Vanessa is still married to Lee's feckless father, but she's having a 'commitment ceremony' with Phil, known as "The Phillionaire" on the beach in Long Island.  Lee is glad of a reason to leave London because her longtime boyfriend Tommy, one of the most irritating men in modern fiction, has dumped her at the altar. After nearly nine years of wanting to be married, suddenly he doesn't.

Lee is rather overwhelmed by the lifestyle of the rich and not-so-famous, but delighted with the little cabin on the beach that Phil puts at her disposal.  For a writer, it's heaven: your own little nest, no one to bother you, nature all around you--what's not to like?  Plus, with any luck, Lee will soon be the co-author of a best-seller.  Aging rock star Shotgun Marriott . (who reminds one strongly of Sting)  has decided to tell all, and wants Lee to help him do it

Everything looks perfect; then Marriott's son is found murdered, closely followed by the killing of Lee's competition, the dirt-digging  Bettina Pleshette.   Shotgun suddenly pulls out of the writing project without explanation.  While Lee is still reeling from this, Tommy arrives on her doorstep, and moves right back in to her life without a by-your-leave.  He wreaks havoc in her tidy cottage and gets involved with the local scene quickly, including with Lee's new friends Rufus and Franny.  Tommy is full of plans for the two of them, but Lee is uncertain.  She feels she has to find out the real story behind not only the two recent murders, but also the death years ago of a groupie, a death that put an end to Shotgun's career.  Her instinct tells her the three are connected.

Forced to return to London to get her visa renewed, Lee takes the opportunity to do some digging, and this quickly leads her into such peril that it looks unlikely she will get out of it alive.  Small satisfaction to have solved three murders if you yourself end up dead.

As well as the annoying Tommy, the book has many believable characters, and is written with the solid sense of place that you would expect from McIntyre if you read her first book.  I look forward to the next in the "Ghost" series.

 

 

Puss 'n Cahoots by Rita Mae Brown

Publisher:  Bantam Books  ISBN: 0553586823

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

If you enjoy a mystery with a perfect blend of mystery, romance, and animals, you'll love any book by talented author Rita Mae Brown. 

On a trip to Kentucky to visit friends and attend the Shelbyville Saddlebred show, Harry and Fair Haristeen--newly remarried, and their three pets find an interest in a breed other than thoroughbreds.

Any horse show is a beehive of activity and when a trainer shows up with a pet monkey that runs free, trouble is on the way.  Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, two cats, and one corgi named Tucker detest the monkey and Pewter declares she will kill it.

A valuable pin goes missing, a winning mare disappears, a groom is murdered and fights break out among the trainers.  Tempers run high and the competition is fierce.  How will things be resolved and peace restored? Lifelike characters will keep you guessing.

A fun read set against the backdrop of a horseshow will make you share the experience, the tension and the fun. Think how it would feel to sit a winner or own one. You'll be planning your next vacation around touring breeding farms in lovely Kentucky.

I'm happy to highly recommend this tale as a great way to fill some time.  You'll be looking for other books by this creative author.  Enjoy.  I sure did.

 

 

Daddy’s Girl  by Lisa Scottoline

Publisher: Harper Collins,  ISBN: 9780060833145

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

As a lawyer and author, Lisa Scottoline might just be one of the ultimate legal thriller authors, her understanding and commitment to the genre consistently providing top notch thrillers that have yet to disappoint.    

From the fantastic Edgar nominated Everywhere that Mary Went, to the fabulous Edgar Winner Final Appeal, or to the more recent fantabulous Devil’s Corner, Scottoline has maintained a high and non-compromising standard of suspense.  As proud owner of all the Scottoline works, it was with great expectations I began reading this the latest novel, her 14th, Daddy's Girl. And what I got was a perfect read, a grandiose page turner that reaffirms the reasons why Scottoline is one of the best in contemporary popular mystery writing.

For the seasoned Scottoline reader- here is a warning, don’t expect Bennie Rosato or her team of maverick trial lawyers in this book. The protagonist in this latest is instead law professor Natalie Greco, a quiet, unassuming scholar who teaches the history of justice at Penn Law School, and a woman who is perfectly content with her unexciting but secure life of books, family, and the perfect boyfriend.  But all that changes when Angus Holt, a fellow professor, asks her to fill in as a guest teacher at the local prison, a decision that will forever change her life. 

It's not long into her lecture when a riot erupts in the prison, and after fleeing from an attacker, Natalie ends up in a room where one prisoner is dead and another man is dying, the dying man a prisoner guard who utters his last words that she alone hears, a mysterious message to be delivered to his wife that makes little sense.  As Natalie attempts to deliver the message, she can't help but question what it means, but one question only leads to another as she begins to realize that nothing adds up from that fateful day.  And the more questions she asks, the closer she comes to revealing a deadly plot that just might get her killed.

What follows is a plot full of suspenseful twists, double twists and triple twists – such as what we have come to associate with the Scottoline novels- twists ending in a finish that is both shocking and electrifying.  So while the plot itself might be a bit different from previous Scottoline outings, the thrills and suspense remain just as satisfying.

 

 

Hades by Russell Andrews

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, ISBN 0446616656

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Things your local sheriff doesn’t want to have happen to him No. 147: “Be the town’s newest, richest widow’s alibi for her husband’s death by extreme violence.”

Justin Westwood’s day can’t get much worse, he reckons, but he’s wrong: before you can say Wild Bill Hickok, he’s suspended, unable to keep tabs on how the murder case is going, and looking guilty himself..  The only chance he has of getting to the bottom of this mess is by linking up with Reggie, the FBI agent whom he once loved, but who betrayed him for a supposedly bigger cause.

Justin wonders what motive the killer had for beating Evan Harmon so badly that his own mother wouldn’t know him.  There’s no robbery, and despite Evan’s reputation as a shrewd Wall Street operator, that doesn’t usually result in murder. 

An old acquaintance of Justin’s, who happens to be a killer-for-hire, enters the picture.  The dead man’s rich and powerful father starts throwing his weight around.  The new widow is arrested, bailed, and takes refuge in the bottle.  Justin’s face is plastered all over the news as the lover of a murder suspect, and possibly as her accomplice.  You wouldn’t think things could get more complicated—but wait for the Chinese assassins to enter the story!

This is an involving drama that gets more labyrinthine with every chapter; don’t start it if you’re having one of those hard-to-concentrate days.   This book has a slight flavour of vintage Hammett about it—what a shame it wasn’t around in time to be made into a screenplay for Bogart.

 

 

 

The Liar's Diary by Patry Francis

Publisher: Dutton Adult  ISBN-10: 0525949909

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When the new music teacher Ali Mather begins working at the local high school, school secretary Jeanne Cross immediately senses a connection with the woman who couldn't be more different than her.  Ali, in her mid-forties, is unique and beguiling, attracting gossip just as much as she seems to attract every man who crosses her path, her life and music uninhibited and creative.  Whereas Jeanne, who considers herself plain and simple, lives out her sedate and suburban life with her husband the respected doctor and her overweight teenaged son.  But when shortly after the two become friends and Ali becomes the target of a stalker, the carefully constructed façade of Jeanne's well-ordered life begins to unravel when she begins to suspect that someone quite close to her is the culprit.  And as each woman's secrets slowly begin to reveal themselves, the truths will bring tragedy and death, forever changing everything.

In her debut novel, Patry Francis steps into the ring with power and force, her merciless candor in revealing what hides behind the pretty suburban home pulling no punches. Providing the reader with a dark and often tragic look at what lies at the end of the road called self-denial, her honest appraisal is both disturbing and poignantly real.  And with every shocking secret revealed, each more shattering than the one before, the reader is only drawn deeper into this all too familiar tale.  And while often not an easy book to read, its unrelenting suspense and unqualified sincerity make it more than worthwhile.  This is one writer to watch, and we eagerly await her next.       

 

 

 

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur  ISBN-10: 0312947135

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

With the arrival of the holidays, the close-knit community of the idyllic village of Three Pines is once again gleefully engaged with the many festivities that are always a part of the season.  But when during the annual curling exhibition one of the new residents, the bitter and hateful CC de Poitiers, is electrocuted in front of all who have gathered including her own daughter and husband, the tiny village finds themselves suddenly facing the knowledge that within their rarified world is a murderer.  And even while the victim is the type to arouse homicidal thoughts in even the kindest soul, making this murder more difficult than most to solve, with Montréal Chief Inspector Armand Gamache on the case, there is little doubt that this is one case that won't grow cold.

In Penny's second Three Pines title, she brings back many characters that readers who were fortunate to have read the first will delight in meeting up with again.  But even if you haven't read the first, don't let that in anyway deter you from reading this one, which, simply put, is one of the best titles to come out this year.  In this spectacular and poignant follow-up, Penny takes the reader on an inspiring and magical journey to a place of beauty and ambiance that's chock-full of animated, compassionate, wise, and humorous characters, and with the mystery itself so cleverly executed, it's hard to figure out which is the icing and which is the cake.  This is one of those rare books that not only will any lover of the written word read with utmost pleasure, but also one they'll treasure long after it's over.