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The Bloomsday Dead by Adrian McKinty

Publisher: Pocket Star  ISBN-10: 07432499492

Reviewed by Dana King, New Mystery Reader

Imagine Mickey Spillane and James Ellroy collaborating on a novelization of 24. That's much what it's like to read Adrian McKinty's The Bloomsday Dead. Whether that's good or bad is for each reader to decide individually.

Michael Forsythe has been on the run eleven years, ever since he ratted out the parts of his old gang he didn't kill. He's been marked for death by Bridget Callahan, a past lover, fiancé to Darkie White, whose criminal empire Bridget seized after Darkie's mortal coil was shuffled off for him by Michael in retribution for setting him up.

The new installment of the series has Bridget willing to set aside old animosities to ask Forsythe to find her kidnapped daughter. Unless her messengers kill him first, which they almost do. Or the guys who pick Forsythe up at Dublin airport. The two hitters at the houseboat give him a run for his money with rifle-propelled grenades and a machine gun. Bridget's right hand man can't get through a sentence without reminding Forsythe that once this is over, Forsythe's a dead man, whether he gets Siobhan back or not.

Forsythe has less than a day to work his way through the Dublin and Belfast underworlds to find Siobhan and get her back. This doesn't leave time for nuanced interrogation. Forsythe sticks with a time tested (for him) formula: put a gun in their faces and promise to kill them if they don't tell what he wants to know. He'll probably kill them, anyway, but he gave them a chance to the right thing for once in their criminal lives.

McKinty is a strong and assertive writer with a genuinely funny streak. This is at the same time a strength and a weakness. His humor keeps a dark story from becoming abysmal. At the same time, humor in the midst of such a relentlessly violent novel lessens the effects of both the humor and the violence. The result is an uneasiness that keeps the reader from being as engaged as he might be.

As a "hero," Forsythe makes Donald Westlake's Parker seem like a sniveling whiner, Don Knotts to Forsythe's Schwarzenegger. In a past story, he lost a foot; he's indestructible now. He gets a lot of help. The plotting machinery clanks away heavily at times as McKinty gets Forsythe into spots only McKinty can get him out of.

Forsythe was more nuanced, and effective, as a protagonist, in The Dead Yard. There's only so many times you can read, "Tell me, or I'll kill you," before it becomes hard to care whether he pulls it off. The book's greatest strength, Forsythe is also its greatest weakness. A relentless avenger, persevering to cancel his own contract while saving an eleven-year-old girl, he's too much of a bastard for empathy, no matter what happens to him.

The Bloomsday Dead is one of those books about which reasonable people may differ. Some will think it's too far over the top; some will relish its non-stop action and terse writing. The rest will like parts, dislike others. Whether you like where the story takes you of not, McKinty ensures the read is never dull.

 

 

 

Blood and Circumstance by Frank Turner Hollon

Publisher:  MacAdam/Cage  ISBN:  1-596922672

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader

Having watched his father’s descent into madness, Joel Stabler cannot stand to see his younger brother, Danny, follow the same path.  So, one December day, he shoots him, believing it to be a mercy killing.

Joel’s court-appointed psychologist Ellis Andrews is charged with determining whether Joel, too, is insane—temporarily or otherwise.  Told primarily from Joel’s point of view via the transcripts of his interviews with Dr. Andrews, Joel’s story tracks back to his earliest memories, telling a disturbing story of abuse and neglect.  However, Dr. Andrews reveals some inconsistencies in Joel’s memories that make the reader question Joel’s reliability, if not his sanity.

This psychological mystery is really a novella, a 170-page book that is easily read in one sitting.  But it isn’t an easy read.  The troubled Stabler family brings new meaning to the word dysfunctional, and even Dr. Andrews is not immune to Joel’s manipulation. 

 

 

The 6th Target by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Publishers: Grand Central Publishing, ISBN:  0446179515

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

I can confidently say that I am the numero- uno James Patterson. (Or being conservatively modest I can at least claim to be the biggest Patterson fan over here in India). And I am claiming so with testimonials. 6th Target marks the 44th James Patterson work, I am reading/buying- including the complete set of the Alex cross series; the books in the maximum ride series, the stand alone children’s books, the legal thrillers, the science fiction, horror, adventure and fantasy books etc. (Is there any realm of the mystery genre that Patterson has not tried his hands on???) I also have with me two non-fiction works the author has published, and also the typed manuscript of an early work which Mr. Patterson has decided not to publish ever. So take it from me, 6th Target is vintage Patterson; the thrills, chills and spine-chilling suspense associated with each work is there aplenty in this the sixth outing of the Women’s Murder Club series.

The work starts with a BANG- a senseless shootout that leaves many dead. One of the members of the Women’s Murder Club happens to get caught up in the crossfire and is battling for her life in the hospital. Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer is called into action, and this time it’s personal. But even before she could progress into the investigation, the killer confesses and surrenders before Lindsay- at her house. It seems that the killer is sort of whacko- and Yuki Castellano- the Assistant D.A. (and a member of the Club) will have a hard time to keep him in the gallows, with the defense pressing for a not guilty verdict by way of insanity. It seems that the case is closed as far as Lindsay is concerned. But at the other end of the town a series of kidnappings are taking place- young toddlers are being kidnapped along with nannies. There is a growing fear among the affluent families and parents of toddlers. But with no demand for ransom, the motive of the kidnapper (s) remains a mystery. And its up to Lindsay Boxer and her team to come up with the answer.

The Women’s Murder Club has had a great run, and the Patterson- Paetro team has again succeeded in providing a winner with 6th TARGET. It seems that good times are ahead for the Patterson fan. Later this year we can read THE QUICKIE, the next installment of the MAXIMIM RIDE SERIES and also the next Cross work DOUBLE CROSS.  And after reading 6th TARGET- I just can’t wait to get my hands on 7th HEAVEN- for that I will have to wait till May 2008. Its goanna be a long and impatient wait for me.

 

 

What Goes Around by Susan Diamond

Publisher: William Morrow  ISBN-10: 0061137812

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When the five remaining members of an LA woman's group hear the news that Ginger Pass, one of their members, has been found dead near an elite men's only lodge, they are shocked and dismayed.  When authorities refuse to investigate the death, their shock turns to outrage; their instincts telling them that Ginger's secret life as a high-class call girl, combined with where she was found, was no coincidence.  And so with the law turning a blind eye, it'll be up to them to seek justice or, better yet, exact their wild plan of revenge against the men responsible.

This new provocative and altogether rip-roaring read will either leave readers exultantly thrilled or shamefully dismayed for feeling exultantly thrilled.  Either way, it will garner a strong reaction and, for that alone, it's well worth the read.  And although the revenge taken by these women is enough to keep one glued to the pages, it's really Diamond's insights into what's missing in these successful women's lives that make this read unique. 

It would be easy to hate these women who seem to have it all; their insistence on bemoaning what they lack - instead of being grateful for what they have - could easily have turned into a frivolous pity party.  But instead, under Diamond's adept touch, the reader is reminded that success alone doesn't guarantee fulfillment.  And so while even though this is a book primarily about and for women, men would be advised to tap into its sincere approach to what makes a woman happy, they might just be surprised.        

 

 

Hurricane Punch by Tim Dorsey

Publisher:  Harper  ISBN:  0060829680

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader

The hurricane season starts off in Florida with a bang, and hurricane savant Serge A. Storms, accompanied by his perpetually chemically altered companion Coleman, is driving in the eyes of the storms in a stolen Hummer, occasionally killing, in creative ways, persons who deserved to be killed.  He’s a serial killer with a conscience.

However, he is outraged when the newspapers begin reporting murders Serge isn’t responsible for.  Some suggest that there’s a copycat, others claim that Serge, suffering from multiple personality disorder, has suffered a split.  Agent Mahoney, recently released from a mental hospital, is determined to catch Serge.  At the same time, empathetic reporter Jeff McSwirley has become the target of the killer.  But which killer?  Serge?  The copycat?  Serge’s other personality?

The Tampa Bay Today, employer of McSwirley, is delighted when Serge kidnaps and releases McSwirley.  The fact that McSwirley is safe seems secondary to their glee at getting such a circulation-guaranteeing exclusive.

Written in the tradition of Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen, this fast-paced and zany thriller goes a long way toward explaining the pejorative term “Floridiots.”  At times, Dorsey’s wit is incisive and biting, particularly when his target is journalism; however, sometimes, his sense of humor borders on offensive.  Undoubtedly, many people will love this book, but although I have a ghoulish sense of humor, I just couldn’t be amused by a comedy about hurricanes and a serial killer.

 

 

The Overlook by Michael Connelly

Publisher: Little Brown  ISBN 978-0-316-01895

Reviewed by Don Crouch, New Mystery Reader

Harry Bosch has the broadest shoulders on the planet. It can be no other way, right? Otherwise, he would surely collapse under the weight of circumstance that Connelly insists on bringing down. And man, is it fun to watch.

If you recall, the end of our last visit, Echo Park, was full what would surely be heavy change for Our Hero. He'd apparently lost, in no particular order, his girl, his partner, and his job, as a result of breaking that case.

As The Overlook begins, Bosch is, in fact, in a new job. Rather, the Special Homicide Unit. He has a new partner, Iggy Ferras, a welcome addition to the Connelly-verse, and we hope he sticks around for awhile. And we also learn, as Bosch is assigned to a murder, the crime scene of which gives the book it's title, that Rachel Walling, FBI agent and previous Bosch flame, is still on the scene.

Not so great for Bosch, as she quickly horns in on this crime scene, fanning the flames of both regret and anger that, as we know, burn so bright within Harry's soul.

But her presence is required, as the murder of one Stanley Kent quickly escalates to a matter of national security, being that missing radioactive material, cesium to be precise, is part of the motive.

Can you spell inter-agency-bureaucratic-nightmare? We knew you could, and you know that nothing gets Bosch's fuse sparking more.

So mix the urgency of the situation, the intensity you know that Bosch brings to the investigation, and the in-fighting between FBI, LAPD, and the rest of the alphabet, and you know that Connelly is bringing his A-game to the story.

Bosch and Walling work together, as best they can, even while their respective organizations do their best to make that impossible.  Connelly does a great job of maintaining the tension between them, while making it clear what is at the core of the relationship.

Now structurally, this particular book is a departure from previous, in that it takes place over the course of a single day. Hmm, a tortured hero, a day-long adventure with terrorist implications--interesting concept!

The essence of this story was serialized last year in the Sunday New York Times, but Connelly has fleshed out some concepts, slightly altered the setting, and mixed in some brand new stuff, in order to provide a fresh reading experience even for those of us who followed the NYT version. Kinda like a "Director's Cut" on a DVD!

And Connelly seems liberated by the compressed timeframe, letting the action fly, and the plot boil. We spend less time in Harry's head in The Overlook, and, for now, that's ok. The story Connelly is telling here is that good.

The Overlook is a quick read, compared to the rest of Connelly's work, which is also ok. For now. As readers, we certainly don't want to be deprived of the Full Bosch Experience for too long. But the intensity of The Overlook more than compensates, making it one of the more intriguing books of the entire year.

 

 

Water Like A Stone by Deborah Crombie

Publisher: Avon  ISBN-10: 0060525282

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When Scotland Yard inspector Duncan Kincaid decides to take his mate Detective Gemma James and the children for a Christmas holiday to the small English village in Cheshire where he grew up, he envisions a week of contented family moments.  Instead, however, the family's arrival coincides with the discovery of an infant's skeleton buried within the walls of his sister's renovation project, a discovery that quickly dispells any ideas of a quiet country holiday.  

And that's not the only suspicious death; the drowning death of his teenage niece's classmate has also caused some apprehension in the idyllic village of his youth.  And when yet another death occurs, apprehension will turn to alarm when it's finally realized that somewhere in this peaceful setting resides a killer who yearns to kill again.

This latest from Crombie is filled with such an animated ambience that it's hard to believe the author actually lives in Texas, particularly in regards to her fascinating detail of the area's intricate canal system and the people who inhabit it, details which give the tale an even greater sense of vibrancy.  And while the plot is actually several subplots that are not necessarily connected, Crombie artfully combines them into one cohesive whole, with each remaining as distinctive and compelling as the next.  This is a cozy, suspenseful, and altogether engrossing read that will leave readers enchanted and satisfied.

 

 

 

Death of a Maid by M C Beaton

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing  ISBN 0446615471

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Hamish McBeth is back, in his umpteenth adventure in Lochdubh, murder capital of the Scottish Highlands, if not the world.  Given the death rate, it’s amazing so many people want to visit this charming village.

The easy-going red-headed police officer is once again investigating a sudden death, but this time it’s a bit closer to home: it’s the village woman-of-all work, Mrs Gillespie, whose services Hamish has won in a church raffle.  Hamish quickly discovers that Mrs Gillespie’s talents lie more in the realm of snooping than cleaning, and it doesn’t take a great leap of intellect to connect this bad habit with her murder.

In a nice touch of poetic justice, Mrs Gillespie is dispatched with her own metal wash-bucket.  It’s not so much a case of Hamish having to find out who’d want to kill her, but of sorting out which of the many candidates might have done it.  As his investigation progresses, he finds few who have a good word to say for the woman, and most of those few are proved to be lying.

Complicating the path of the investigation, as always, are women: Hamish’s former girlfriend Elspeth; Pat, a cute policewoman; and a tough female detective whose one redeeming feature is her hatred for Inspector Blair, Hamish’s archnemesis.

All the usual repertory company is here again: Jimmy Anderson, Mrs Wellington, Mr Johnson at the hotel, Mr Patel at the local shop, the weird sisters Nessie and Jessie, and of course Hamish’s boon companions Luggs and Sonsie, his dog and cat.

Take a break from the world as it is and visit Lochdubh, where baddies are punished, justice is served as quickly as warm barmbrack, and life is simpler than wherever you are living.

 

 

 

In This Rain by S.J. Rozan

Publisher: Delta  ISBN-10: 0385339240

Reviewed by Dana King, New Mystery Reader

Conventional wisdom says to hook the audience right away. Car chase, shoot out, dead bodies, get the adrenaline pumping so a little exposition and character development, maybe even some subtlety, can be inserted, if you’re very good and very lucky in your choice of editor. To which I say (with apologies to Dick Cheney): Hogwash.

S.J. Rozan’s In this Rain does have a murder on Page 2. Its description lasts a paragraph, and it’s promptly forgotten for about a hundred pages, when it surfaces occasionally to remind us it’s important. Rozan spends the interval introducing an expansive array of well-defined characters from all societal levels: politicians, ex-cons, cops, old money, killers, operators, and victims. Several threads are exposed, to be explored in due time. They’re worth waiting for.

Charlie Barr is the mayor of New York. It’s a sweet gig. Approval ratings are high, he has a good chance of becoming governor, and he has a beautiful and attentive wife. It all becomes vulnerable when an improperly secured tarp blows off a construction site during a storm. A brick supposedly securing the tarp strikes and kills a woman on her way home from work. That much is clear. Nothing else will be.

Rozan takes the reader on a fascinating tour of New York’s building construction scene, from sleazy site supervisors to graft-vulnerable inspectors. Internal investigators ferret out the corruption as best they can, subject to political concerns that can affect their careers for jobs done poorly, or too well. The loose threads eventually come together in a narrative that lives somewhere between The Wire and The Departed. The comparison does injustice to neither.

Rozan weaves her tale with no extraneous motion, while leaving the reader with options as to what comes next. Some suspected villains become actual baddies, through clues dropped so an observant reader feels half a step ahead of the action. Some suspicions don’t pan out. Enough do to encourage more reading and speculation. Guessing right isn’t enough; the why and how are never quite what they seem. When the outlines of the scheme are fully exposed – and it’s a good one – enough shadows remain for the reader to wonder even about characters he trusts.

And they’re great characters, well-rounded and multi-dimensional. Ann Montgomery, the investigator who has money of her own but refuses to become a dilettante. Joe Cole, her former partner, recently released from prison for, essentially, being too conscientious. The aforementioned mayor is above stereotype. Edgar Westermann, the Manhattan borough president with mayoral aspirations. Ford Collington, a community activist who remains more active in his community than in the media. Walter Glybenhall, rich developer with more on the ball than anyone suspects. A large cast, ably supported by at least that many lesser players. Rozan keeps everyone differentiated without being gimmicky. No dwarves, alcoholics, gimps, junkies, or psychos are needed to keep everyone straight and advance the complex plot.

It has been said a great piece of music should progress as expected about half the time. More than that, and it’s predictable. Less makes it confusing. Rozan treads that balance expertly while creating an enthralling piece of writing, adult in its level of storytelling, never reaching for an easy solution. The characters’ ultimate ends are both surprising and satisfying, never enough of either to upset the balance she has created. Go for it. This is good stuff.

 

 

Con Ed by Matthew Klein

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing   ISBN 0446617741

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Every father hopes for his son to follow in his footsteps—but perhaps not if those feet have been in jail.  The son of a grifter himself, Kip Largo hopes for a better life for his son Toby.  He’d like to think Toby loves him, but when the boy turns up at his scruffy one bedroom apartment, Kip knows it can only be because he’s in trouble.

It’s a lot of trouble, in fact—Toby’s in hock to the Russian Mob, and somehow he hopes Kip can bail him out.  Kip’s just out of jail after doing five years for white collar crime and he doesn’t want to go back inside—but it seems there’s no honest way he can help Toby, certainly not on the wages of his humble dry-cleaning job.

About the same time Toby turns up, so does a stunning blonde who spins Kip a tale about a little job she has for him that will net $100,000.  All he has to do is cheat her millionaire husband out of twenty million dollars.  Oh, sure, the job might be dangerous—but only if you get caught.

The rest of the book is a convoluted tale of fraud and counter fraud, spiced with Klein’s apparently very knowledgeable anecdotes about real-life classic cons, the sort we read about in the newspapers with depressing regularity.

Kip Largo is a strangely appealing anti-hero, and the final resolution of the twisted threads of the story will surprise you—or maybe it won’t, not if you’ve detected that tiny smear of nobility in Kip’s makeup.  The book jacket is a visual pun that just adds a little fillip of fun to the package, full marks to Flag, the designers.

Read this book, if for no other reason than to protect yourself from get rich quick schemesters.

 

 

A Deeper Sleep by Dana Stabenow

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN-10: 0312937547

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Fans will be pleased that in this latest, Stabenow she sets aside her recent forays into writing thrillers and returns to her Kate Shugak series set in the beautiful state of Alaska.

This time out Kate, now a PI, has her sites set on once and for all busting Park bad guy Louis Deem, a man suspected in the deaths of at least 3 of his previous lovers.  And when the boy who Kate has been taking care of witnesses a double murder and implicates Deem as the killer, her task becomes that much more dire.

Meanwhile, not only must she battle the Elders who want her to head the Niniltna Native Association, a position she'd rather not pursue, but she will also have to continue her ongoing attempts at defining her ambiguous relationship with the handsome Park police officer who seems as afraid of commitment as she herself has always been.  But, of course, nothing is ever black and white, and all too often the truth in both justice and love is much more complicated than it seems, not to mention dangerous. 

As in her previous Shugak mysteries, the untamed setting of Alaska is almost enough to carry the book all on its own.  Fortunately, Stabenow also adds a clever plot with some startling twists to the mix, as well as the familiar well-drawn cast that fans have grown to appreciate.  And while at times the main plot seems to gets a bit sidetracked by other ostensibly unrelated events, it's all tied up nicely in the end.  All in all, a decent addition to a series that does a remarkable job of detailing this amazing part of the world, and one that leaves enough unanswered questions that will have fans eagerly anticipating the next.

 

 

The Strangler by William Landay

Publisher: Bantam  ISBN-10: 0440237378

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Joe is a womanizing gambling cop.  Michael is an uptight brooding prosecutor.  Ricky is an athletic unemotional burglar.  They are the Daley brothers.  It is the 1960s.  JFK has just been assassinated.  A strangler is roaming the streets of Boston.  When a woman very dear to the Daley brothers becomes a victim of the strangler, they each set out to track him down.

Landay has given us an intriguing plot, sub plot and sub sub plot.  The novel deals with the Boston strangler, the redevelopment of Boston in the 1960s, cops on the take and the Mafia.  He has created the Daley family whose father was a cop shot down in the line of duty, a religious but strong mother, and three brothers who fell into sibling rivalry from day one and have never stopped.  But when their backs are against the wall they are a family.  The heart stopping action is as believable as is the relationship among the major characters, making this a convincing read throughout. 

 

 

Slim to None by Taylor Smith

Publisher:  MIRA   ISBN:  10: 0778325178

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Intrigue, action and plenty of suspense are in this thriller by talented author Taylor Smith to satisfy the reading appetite of any mystery or thriller fan.  A different type of heroine in a story where gratuitous sex scenes fall by the wayside in favor of a well written plot played out by realistic characters against settings you'll recognize as the real thing.

Hannah Nicks is an ex cop who takes dangerous assignments in hopes of building a nest egg to regain custody of her son.  She breaks the rules on her latest assignment in pursuit of this goal and hope of rescuing a captive American doctor kidnapped by terrorists.  The job ends on a sour note and she returns home with a damaged reputation and the loss of her partner. 

As she is worrying about the future, she recognizes the man who killed her partner and begans to wonder why he is here.  She undertakes the task of finding out on her own and runs into another who asks her what she is doing, putting a tracking device on the car of the man she's stalking.

All of her questions are answered as the story progresses to its tension-filled, exciting conclusion that will have you on the edge of your seat.  Because this tale is so well told, I'm pleased to recommend it  to any reader in search of a good read that does not depend on gore to tell the story.  Enjoy.  I sure did.

 

 

Plum Lovin’ by Janet Evanovich

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Paperbacks  ISBN:  0312985363

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader

It’s early February and the bail bonds business is slow.  Stephanie Plum can’t get a bead on her only FTA, Annie Hart—until Diesel shows up in her kitchen, claiming to have Annie in his custody.  He’ll turn her over to Stephanie, but only if Stephanie takes over Annie’s caseload.

Problem is, Annie is a relationship expert, requiring Stephanie to solve, before Valentine’s Day, the problems of five romantically-troubled souls, one of whom is Stephanie’s would-be brother-in-law, Albert Kloughn.  Despite the train wreck of her own love life, Stephanie proves to have more natural skill as a matchmaker than she does as a bounty hunter.  But neither Diesel nor Stephanie anticipates the complications that Lou Delvina brings to their deal.

Those who missed, or have forgotten, Evanovich’s earlier Between-the-Numbers Stephanie Plum novel, Visions of Sugar Plums, may be momentarily confused by Diesel’s appearance and his more than mere mortal status as an Unmentionable, but Evanovich keeps things simple, so it’s easy to catch up to speed.  With both Morelli and Ranger conspicuously absent from Plum Lovin’, Stephanie and the reader get a welcome respite from the chronic tug-of-war between the two men, and Stephanie’s own appeal becomes more obvious.

Less a mystery than just a fun and refreshing Stephanie romp, Plum Lovin’ represents the latest in my favorite new genre, the holiday novella.  From an informal poll among Evanovich readers, it seems that Plum Lovin’ elicits strong responses—positive or negative.  I think it’s clearly Janet’s finest work in the past few years.  I’m lovin’ it.