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LOVE IS MURDER by  Linda Palmer

Berkley Prime Crime (Paperback)   0 425 19687 9

Reviewed by Karen Treanor

 "Love is Murder" is the first of the Berkley Prime Crime series I've read, and if it's a harbinger of things to come, we mystery buffs are in for a good time.  The physical quality is modest, but the content is top-notch. 

Linda Palmer draws on her previous experience as  a wild-life photographer to supply background for her heroine, day-time drama writer Morgan Tyler.  Morgan is a young widow who lives in the Dakota Apaartments, former home of John Lennon among other famous faces.  She has a  tiny office at the top of the same building, where she hatches complex plots for the characters in  "Love of my Life" . 

Morgan has no family to support or to fuss over her, but she has a six-foot blond friend, Nancy, who from time to time drags her out into society.  The fact that Nancy is an attorney comes in very handy later in the book. 

Life for Morgan is nothing like as interesting as it is for her day-time drama characters--"We don't call them 'Soaps' anymore."  That all changes when Damon Radford, the slimy  VP in charge of programming, is shot and pushed off his own balcony after he's already been the victim of a  car accident which left him with various limbs in plaster. 

Before she can say "cliché", Morgan's a suspect in  Damon's murder.  Later, even she has to admit it looks a bit suspicious when she's found covered in Victim No. Two's blood, with the gory weapon at her feet.

When it seems that the really cute young homicide detective isn't solving the murders fast enough, Morgan decides to treat the situation as if it were a plot in her show.  She begins analysing who had the motive, and her way-out imagination provides some alternatives the police haven't considered.  Plus, Morgan's in a position to uncover some information that provides motives for people the police so far haven't considered.  Trouble is, some of the people she has a soft spot for, and so withholds this vital data. 

Another handsome man comes on the scene in the form of a true crime writer.  He and Morgan are on the verge of ending her long celibacy when somebody takes a pot-shot at them from a grassy knoll in Central Park.

The denouement in the attics of the Dakota is as good a cliff-hanger as you'll read this season.  For $5.99 this book is a bargain; get yourself a copy before they sell out, and put your name down at your bookstore for Linda Palmer's next book now.  Once Berkley realises what a goldmine they have here, they'll bring future editions out in the upmarket versions and you'll pay twice the price.

 

The Blakewood Chronicles by P.C. Rhaven

Publisher: Authorhouse ISBN: 1418453803

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan

At the outset itself may I confess, I am writing this review of The Blakewood Chronicles- after reading Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy- in the not so distant past. So, comparisons with the two modern classics- are inevitable.

Rhaven, pseudonym for P.C. Kosanovich, in his debut novel delivers an entertaining fantasy thriller that evokes sweet memories of Jules Verne’s classics and Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. The author creates a whole new world- sort of the one created by Tolkein, or more closer to Atlantis- and it is in this world the novel is set. However, the difference is that though many remember living there- in Blakewood, there is no mention of the place in any history books-in fact, no geographical indication of the existence of such a place- now or ever. Did the place ever exist, or is it a hallucination- a mass delusion. It is in this background the novel is set, and to know the secret, the mystery, one must travel into the City of the Seventh Seal…. What the Seventh Seal, dear reader, is for you to find out… what follows is suspense at its best, ending in an exciting finish.

A quaint suspense mystery- enjoyed it, mildly enjoyed it.

 

Be Mine by Rick Mofina

Publisher: Pinnacle Books ISBN: 0786015268

Mofina returns once again with his winning series featuring Tom Reed, a San Francisco newspaper reporter, and Walt Sydowski, hard-working detective.  But this time out Mofina focuses the story on Tom's co-worker, Molly Wilson, a woman who has long been the obsession of lonely men.  And when people start dying, people who have loved Molly as well, it becomes clear that obsession has turned into something dark and deadly.  

In this gripping story of obsession and madness, Mofina does an excellent job keeping the reader guessing.  The suspects are many, and with several  red-herrings thrown in, there's plenty of shocks and surprises to keep things interesting.  A lightening-fast read, and difficult to put down, this latest comes highly recommended.  

For more information on this and previous titles from Mofina, visit www.rickmofina.com

 

 

STREET SMART by Tara Taylor Quinn

Publisher: Mira Books ISBN: 077832060X

Reviewed by Donna Padilla

  
Francesca Witting comes to Las Vegas searching for her run away sister Autumn.  She spends her days on the streets showing Autumn's picture, and her nights in Guido's bar where she has learned Autumn likes to hang out.  While following up on another lead she meets Luke Everson.  Luke is the chief of security at the Bonaparte Hotel and Casino.  He is trying to adopt a child because he wants a family without the constraints of marriage.  Francesca convinces him to use the hotel computer system to help her find Autumn.  What neither of them know is that Luke and Autumn already have a connection.
 
This is not a novel about the glitz and glitter of Las Vegas -- but deceit and corruption.  It is about teenage prostitution, white slavery and the selling of babies.  Both of the main characters have been betrayed by people they love and trust.  This plot is riddled with deception, corruption, betrayal -- and love, all coming together in an explosive novel that will make you think twice about the City of Sin.

 

Street Dreams by Faye Kellerman

Publisher: Warner Books  ISBN: 0446614041

The Decker family is back, and this time the story is a bit more up-beat than has been the case in recent family outings.   

The story is told through switchbacks between the third person observer and Lt. Pete Decker's rookie cop daughter Cindy.  Cindy discovers an abandoned baby, an unreported gang-rape, a hit and run that's really murder, sexual abuse of a particularly nasty sort, and a boyfriend, all within the first few chapters of the book. 

As always, Faye Kellerman has woven several plot threads into her story, against the ever-present background of the Deckers' orthodox Judaism.  You don't need to have read the other books in the series to enjoy this newest offering, but it helps if you know that Pete Decker only discovered his Jewish roots as a grown man, and he's had a steep learning curve since.  Combine this with his reputation as a maverick in the Los Angeles Police Department and you have a recipe for a complicated life.  Running parallel with the new crimes is Rina Decker's investigation of an old crime: her grandmother's murder, many decades ago in pre-Holocaust Germany. 

Until the current book, Decker's daughter by his first wife hasn't paid much attention to religion.  That all changes when, following up the abandoned child's welfare, she meets an Ethiopian Jewish male nurse, nicknamed Koby for his resemblance to a well-known sports hero.  Bringing Koby home for a Sabbath dinner, Cindy is intrigued by her father's and step-mother's reactions: Rina welcomes him with open arms because he's Jewish, but Decker is somewhat more reserved, foreseeing the potential problems such a couple will face because of the colour difference. 

Barely recovered from her injuries in her first major case, Cindy still hasn't learned to keep her emotional distance from suspects and victims.  The plight of the abandoned baby and its parents draws her into an almost obsessive need to see the case solved, despite her superiors' determination that there's no case to pursue.  In between licit and illicit investigating, Cindy has to come to terms with the relationship with Koby, which seems to be running away with her a lot faster than she's comfortable with.  Along the way, her relationship with her father moves to a more mature plane, not without a few hiccups in the process. 

This is a less violent book than some of Kellerman's recent offerings, and it has a feel-good ending the reader will enjoy.  While the plotting is complex, the over all ambience is fairly bright, and leaves no bitter aftertaste.