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An Empty Death by Laura Wilson
Reviewed by Bonnye Busbice Good, New Mystery Reader
Dr. Reynolds works a busy schedule at his London hospital during World War II. When his body is found outside the hospital, his overworked and exhausted colleagues miss his extra pair of hands as much as they do the doctor himself. Inspector Stratton, also exhausted and overwhelmed by the increasing pile of missing persons reports and deaths, can’t shake the feeling that Reynolds’ death was more than an accident, especially after a nurse unexpectedly dies inside the hospital.
Author Laura Wilson packs An Empty Death with personal vignettes of Inspector Stratton and his beloved wife Jenny as they and their neighbors cope with the ongoing World War II daytime relief efforts and nighttime air raids by the Axis powers. During this time, the simple sound of a buzzing plane strikes fear into the wide-awake residents as they wait to hear when the next explosion will occur in the densely inhabited city, inciting a lingering paranoia underneath the can-do attitude requested by their royal family. After one raid, Stratton and others dig under the rubble to recover several bodies and one barely living woman, Mrs. Ingram, who soon becomes a part of Jenny’s life.
Balancing out the Strattons’ struggle for normalcy in spite of bombings and being away from their children, the thoughts of a man committing crimes with a chillingly deliberate method appear throughout the novel. This man, obviously suffering from a Raskolnikov-type belief in his own superiority, becomes interested in Stratton, vacillating from detesting the detective and mimicking him.
Because readers know telling details early on about the primary suspect in the hospital murders, much of the book reads more like a psychological mystery of both that suspect’s way of thinking and of the difficult daily choices made by London citizens during the era of continuous air raids. While this would make An Empty Death satisfying, Wilson goes an extra step to include several wallops at the end.
The Priest by Gerard O’Donovan
Reviewed by Jim Sells, New Mystery Reader
In Dublin, a serial rapist / torturer is on the loose. After attacking the daughter of an important Spanish official, pressure is turned up on the police to solve the heinous crimes.
Inspector Michael Mulcahy has recently returned from an extended assignment in Spain. At first, he is called in as a translator. He smoothes over conflict between the Spanish delegation and the police investigators. Gradually he finds himself pulled into the investigation along with Inspector Claire Brogen.
The story has a growing mystery on several levels. Is the “Priest” attacking from a sadistic motive or is there some twisted religious basis for his madness? What was the cause of Mulcahy being called back from Spain and does it have anything to do with the case?
O’Donovan has created a compelling and engaging tale that gives many insights into contemporary Irish society.
The Albuquerque Turkey by John Vorhaus
Publisher: Crown Publishers
Reviewed by Jim Sells, New Mystery Reader
Radar Hoverlander, Allie Quinn and Vic Mirplo - the sometimes likable and always entertaining con artists of The California Roll – are back. This time, the three are in Santa Fe and trying the almost impossible goal of going straight and living a normal life. In Radar’s words, they are trying to be citizens with jobs, taxes and yards to mow.
All seems to progressing until Radar makes the error of doing a good deed. Now, he is a local celeb and being stalked by a clumsy-looking woman who appears everywhere he goes. Something looks oddly familiar about the woman. Radar realizes it is his long lost father, Woody, in disguise.
Woody apparently has fleeced a Los Vegas gambler out of $23,000 and the gambler sends thugs for money or blood. Radar and Allie save Woody from a beating, but Radar wonders if it’s a trick to fleece him instead. Such is the life of high-end grifters. Who can you trust?
Vorhaus has once again crafted an amusing and entertaining mystery with social commentary concealed within the witty remarks by Radar and company.
Silent Mercy by Linda Fairstein
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader
Fairstein brings back her NYC crime-solving cast and crew in what proves to be a compelling and informative read that will easily capture readers’ interest.
This time out, ADA Alexandra Cooper and Detective Mike Chapman find themselves on the grounds of a church in the middle of the night looking at the body of a decapitated young woman. And in the hours that follow, while they begin to investigate this brutal killing, they’ll find themselves learning more and more about the city’s churches and religious sects as they try and discover why her body was left in such a sacred spot. And when another woman’s body is found on the property of yet another church, they’ll have no doubt that the answers rest within the secrets of the many intricate faiths that exist in this vibrant city that has a past full of religious icons and beliefs that continue to change shape and significance daily.
Fairstein’s latest is simply amazing. Her detail into the many churches in NYC, their histories, their possible futures, and how the different faiths have changed shape and form, is nothing short of spellbinding. Her dramatic details of these changes is like taking a very enthralling class in Theology 101 of NYC, a lesson that applies and reaches far beyond this city alone. And how she does this without judgment or playing favorites is perhaps the most enticing and appreciative part of the read. Not only is this a learning experience that is as exciting as it is informative, it’s also a gripping read that in the end is a grand detective novel full of clever twists and turns that fans of investigative novels can sink their teeth into and gobble up with gusto. Evocative and atmospheric, this read has it all and comes highly recommended.