March Paperback Mystery
 

 

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March new mystery reviews in paperback; click on links for buying info.

Scoop!  by Hannah Dennison

Publisher: Berkeley Prime Crime    ISBN 978 0 425 22643 8

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Vicky Hill spends a lot of time trying to emulate her hero, Christiane Amanpour.  That’s not easy to do in Gipping on Plym, a small rural town 2 ½ hours away from London.

Vicky works for the Gipping Gazette.  (Well, even Christiane had to start somewhere!)  She has to take her big stories where she can find them, and this week that happens to be at a funeral.  Vicky is convinced that veteran hedge cutter Gordon Berry’s electrocution death was no accident, and sets out to discover what really happened.   To do this she indulges in what she sees as a bit of harmless flirtation with the local paramedic, Steve Burrows.  Unfortunately Steve attaches a great deal more meaning to a curry house date than Vicky intended.

Also working at the Gazette is Vicky’s arch-rival Annabel Lake, who’s not too squeamish about how she gets her scoops, and would happily steal Vicky’s exclusive if she could.  While juggling the amorous Steve and Gordon’s son, a handsome naval officer, Vicky stumbles across what she’s convinced is evidence of a drug ring right here in Gipping on Plym. 

How to find out more without losing her exclusive?  Contact Chuffy McSnatch, of course.  Chuffy is a high-class forger and buddy of Vicky’s father, who’s living in Spain at present due to a misunderstanding between himself and various law enforcement agencies.  (Vicky’s decision to make her way in the world within legal bounds has always been a disappointment to Dad, aka “The Fog”.)

This is a light-hearted look at crime in a small town, which sits on the line between Nancy Drew and Miss Marple and should please both the Young Adult and Adult reader in search of a pleasant way to pass a few hours.

 

 

 

Outside the Line by Christian Petersen

Publisher:  Dundurn Press  ISBN:  978-1-55002-859-1

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Life has handed Peter Ellis a lot of problems and he hasn’t made much progress in sorting them out.  He is finally in a job he likes well enough as a probation officer, but some of the characters who come through his office leave him wondering just how much good he’s doing.

Peter’s marriage ended when his wife went to live with another woman and left him with their cat and a house to sell in a sagging market.  He has the house listed but hasn’t made much of any other effort yet to move on, and so he finds himself sinking into life as a recluse that sort of suits his present mood.

However, dealing with his new client, Todd Nolin and the woman he beat up, Marina Faro, brings changes to his emotional state, leaving him tempted to break the rules of his job and his increasing sense of aloneness.

This new title by Peterson is an interesting study of one man’s sense of entitlement backed by the good ole boy network of his admirers as pitted against the rules that govern everyone else, but to learn the outcome you must read the book.

I’m pleased to recommend Outside the Line by talented author Christian Petersen to mystery buffs who are sports enthusiasts as well as those who enjoy a tale of interesting characters whose motives are the story as well as the moving force behind it.  Enjoy. I did.

 

 

 

Nothing to Lose by Lee Child

Publisher: Dell  ISBN: 044024367X

Reviewed by Kathryn Lawson, New Mystery Reader

They should have just served him the coffee without argument.  But when Jack Reacher, ex-military police officer and current itinerant wanderer, is driven from Despair, Colorado back to Hope, he takes the insult personally.  Determined to uncover what Despair is hiding, Reacher enlists the help of attractive Hope police officer Vaughn.  The couple’s investigation puts them on a collision course with corrupt law enforcement, unruly mobs, mysterious illnesses, an unexplained military outpost, and the rogue group Congregation of the End Times.  Along the way, the novel also explores the moral ambiguities of war and duty, and marital fidelity.

Nothing to Lose is an adrenaline-soaked rollercoaster of a book with a hero as likeable as any you can find.  Reacher engages in glorious Dirty Harry-esque fight scenes (“Maybe you’re right.  Maybe one of you will stay on your feet long enough to get to me…But the question you need to ask is, which one of you will it be?”).  The personal relationship between Reacher and Vaughn is so free of unrealistic expectations and romantic fluff that the passion burns cleanly.  Some of the plot twists require a fair amount of suspension of disbelief, but they keep the book racing till the conclusion.  An intriguing and exciting book that is also thought-provoking.

 

 

 

Tell Me Pretty Maiden by Rhys Bowen

Publisher:  Minotaur  ISBN:  031297375X

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Molly Murphy is at it again—following the suitor of a daughter for one client and chasing ghosts at a supposedly haunted theater for an aging actress who is making a much needed comeback.  If she doesn’t take pneumonia from one case, will she be able to catch a ghost that is trying to harm the start of a new stage show?

If Molly isn’t worrying about too little work, she seems to have too much and enlists her police detective boyfriend to help her while waiting his reinstatement.  In a story peopled with interesting characters you will enjoy meeting, Molly tries to fit into her life a girl she rescued from a snowbank. The girl seems to have no memory and can’t talk. 

However much Molly has to do, she manages to add other tasks to the pile and the reader will have fun watching her try to stretch the day as she tries to help an acquaintance find her missing relative after his car is found abandoned.

The series of subplots will keep you reading.  You’ll want to know as I did how things work out for the client’s daughter and suitor, does Molly catch a ghost, does she find the missing relative and does she ever solve the identity of the girl she found? 

Talented author Rhys Bowen writes in her usual superb style a story that any reader will definitely enjoy and find it worth the time.  You’ll want to read her other books.  I’m pleased to highly recommend this book as a very worthwhile read.

 

 

 

Separated at Death by Sheldon Rusch

Publisher: Berkley  ISBN-10: 0425226808

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Recently engaged Illinois Special Agent Elizabeth Hewitt has enough anxiety to deal with, but when recently separated couples start turning up beheaded, her attitudes toward wedded bliss begin to take on an even more alarming tone.  And with many suspects, including a priest, an odd group of marriage counselors, and the typical serial killer types, she will find that figuring out the answers is as ambiguous and as complicated as her own feelings toward the subject.  And when you throw in her new “partner”, her bosses daughter who herself has something to prove, the situation will not only get more difficult, but deadlier as well.

While this is my first time to read this author’s excellent story-telling, it definitely won’t be my last.  The unique voice given to his female protagonist is not only emotionally rich and vividly spoken, but it also manages to freely flow at such a realistic pace that one might feel they’re hearing the story first hand.  And when you throw in the plot itself, one that keeps the reader challenged with an exciting guessing game, you’ve got one of those rare novels that comes complete; absolutely nothing more needs to be added.  This is one great author that inspires me to read what’s come before, and one that will keep me eagerly waiting for the next.

 

 

 

Miss Match by Sara Mills

Publisher:  Moody Publishers ISBN:  978-0-8024-6927-4

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

For the mystery fan who loves movies and tales from the 1940s, Miss Match is one you won’t want to miss.  Allie Fortune comes from a moneyed family, but insists on running her own life her own way and much to her parents’ disapproval, she is a private eye. Her clients do not come from the wealthy, but are ordinary people with ordinary problems.

That is, with the exception off FBI Agent Jack O’Connor who wants her help in getting an old friend and her child out of Berlin, which is a divided city with the Russians threatening to close it down to outside help so they may take complete control. The old friend is being sought by American forces for murders that she says she didn’t do.

Allie and Jack head to Germany once they come up with a reason to be allowed in. While they are trying to solve the problem of Jack’s friend, Allie makes a delivery for her mother and learns about her mother’s past. 

In helping Jack, Allie is also trying to lay her own past to rest. She knows she needs to do so and get on with her life. But secrets get in her way and she must act. 

I’m pleased to recommend Miss Match by talented author Sara Mills to any reader of historical mysteries, suspense, thrillers, and romance, which are all blended in this fun read that will satisfy any reader. 

The author has honed a fine sense of the desperation and fear that existed during that time in Berlin that will show the reader the reality of life after a terrible war when there is no law, no food, and no shelter. A visit to an orphanage will bring you close to tears.  Yet, I can say, it’s a read to enjoy and well worth the time.

 

 

Goodbye, Ms. Chips by Dorothy Cannell

Publisher:  Minotaur Books   ISBN: 0312943741

Reviewed by Kathryn Lawson, New Mystery Reader

When a lacrosse trophy goes missing at Ellie Haskell’s old boarding school, Ellie and her detecting partner and household helper, Mrs. Malloy, are called in to investigate.  What seems at first to be nothing more than a prank turns sinister when a body is discovered at the Dribbly Drop.  Ellie and Mrs. Malloy struggle to untangle a complicated web of loyalties and betrayals, identify the murderer, and recover the trophy in time for its mandatory presentation to the rival school that won it.

Not so much a whodunit as a whydunit, this novel explores human motivations and relationships with sensitivity and authenticity.  Cannell develops her characters with realistic detail; her villains have likeable qualities and her heroines have noticeable flaws.  The story meanders gently along the plot lines, accompanied by a great deal of description of the furnishings and landscaping, as well as the refreshments served with tea.  The result is a light and enjoyable read that was a perfect afternoon escape.

 

 

Quiver by Peter Leonard

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks   ISBN: 0312943358

Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

Tragedy strikes the McCall family when Owen, a former NASCAR champion takes his son Luke out deer hunting.  Luke shoots a deer but then due to a freak accident the arrow passes through it and kills his father.  Jack Curran winds up in jail when a robbery goes awry.  His partners hunt him down because they want their share of the money that Jack hid before he was arrested. Kate, Owen’s widow, an old flame from Jack’s past, is wealthy as a result of inheriting her departed husband’s Nascar fortune.  Kate may just be Owen’s ticket out of a mess because the robbery money is gone; the building he hid it in was leveled during his time in prison.  So Jack reappears in Kate’s life right when she is most vulnerable and while her son is not dealing well with the grief and the feeling of responsibility for his father’s death.  Kate and Jack share their own tragedy from the past and shedding her of some of her wealth may be the perfect way to pay up an old debt. The past and the present intersect as young Luke returns to the lodge to deal with the demons in his head and to make peace with his father’s spirit.

Quiver, is the debut novel of Peter Leonard, son of the legendary crime writer Elmore Leonard.  What a hard act to follow but Peter Leonard’s foray into writing crime is pretty good.  Leonard does a masterful job of introducing several seemingly unrelated plotlines and before you know it they intersect seamlessly into a chilling crescendo and a dramatic ending of a slow boiling thriller.  Old debts of the past are dealt with along with a boy’s gut-wrenching guilt.  Readers may find the early part of the book to be slow moving and fragmented but be patient and keep reading because the second half of the book is a page turner with a couple of unexpected twists.

 

 

 

The Whole Truth by David Baldacci

Publisher: Vision  ISBN 0446539686

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

I had barely got my breath back from reading the previous Baldacci when this one lobbed onto my doormat.  Grand Central must have David chained in an attic somewhere; I can’t see how he can turn out several complex thrillers every year otherwise.

This one is the scariest Baldacci yet. Once again he’s come up with a plot that’s at the outer fringe of reality—but not over the edge.  The further you get into the book, the more plausible the story becomes.

It’s said that in war, Truth is the first casualty.  The premise of this often violent book is that truth is under constant assault, not only from spin doctors, who at least start with facts, but from ‘perception managers’, who manufacture material which is passed off as truth.  Thanks to the Internet and other instant media, the false truth spreads as quickly as a sneeze, and it’s very very difficult to correct it.

The story opens with Shaw, a man with no first name, apparently selling a dirty bomb to some terrorists, who plan to use it against the USA.  You are ready to hate Shaw for his duplicity, then the scene shifts and Shaw is revealed to be an agent who is helping track down and root out pockets of dangerous fanatics before they can accomplish their evil plans.

Shaw doesn’t do this for fun or even for patriotic reasons: Frank, the senior agent of this shadowy agency, is blackmailing him into working for them.  Shaw once shot Frank and hasn’t been able to get away from the threat of a jail term ever since. But now Shaw wants to retire, to marry Anna and find some sort of normal life.  Frank holds out the possibility of the end of the unholy contract, if only Shaw will do a few more small jobs.

While doing the first of these jobs, Shaw’s path crosses that of Katie James, an alcoholic journalist who desperately needs a big story to put her back on top of her professions.  Katie’s need makes her an easy target for those who want to get a big lie accepted as truth, in order to push their own secret agenda.  What happens when she discovers she’s been tricked like a green cub reporter forms the main part of the story.  She and Shaw, who is enraged by the senseless killing of his fiancée, make common cause and start to track the big lie back to its originators.  This proves to be desperately dangerous, and requires the protagonists to put themselves into potentially lethal situations.

Some of the characters are not as well developed as those in Baldacci’s previous books, but the plot is complex and fast-moving and the story is scarily believable.

 

 

 

Nutcase by Charlotte Hughes

Publisher: Jove Books/Penguin  ISBN 978 0 515 145 939

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Kate Holly is a practicing psychologist who seems to attract a more than normally disturbed clientele.

Last month it was a man who brought along some nitroglycerin, which ended up blowing out part of Kate’s office.  Today it’s a large untidy woman who thinks she’s Marie Osmond. 

Kate also has an assortment of relationship problems on her own doorstep: her junk collector mom;  her ex-husband with whom she’s still in love; her old beau who still lusts after her; and her volunteer secretary, who keeps coming up with promotional ideas, some of which are a bit bizarre.

Thanks to the explosion, Kate’s landlord has served an eviction notice.  With some reservations, she’s accepted the old flame’s offer of shared quarters, but the price may be more than she wants to pay—and I don’t mean in hard cash, friends.

While juggling her own problems and her demanding clients, Kate also has to handle her own major worry, which is that her ex will either be injured in one of the arson attacks that have become more frequent—or be devoured by Mandy, the well-built large blonde predatory addition to the firehouse crew.

This is a fast and funny addition to the Kate Holly chronicles which I can testify is the perfect antidote to the boredom of the last two hours of a trans-oceanic flight.

 

 

Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn

Publisher:  MIRA ISBN:  978-0-7783-2614-4

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

For the historical mystery or romance fan, Silent on the Moor by talented author Deanna Raybourn is one you will really enjoy. Join Lady Julia Grey as she pursues the man she loves, Brisbane, to his new home on the moor.

At first Brisbane invited Julia’s sister Portia to help him set up his house, only to later rescind the invitation. But Julia and Portia have already arrived and when they discover him sharing the house with the former owner’s family, they find themselves in dire straits. 

Brisbane seems to keep secrets from Julia and tries to send her away.  The ladies living in his house are two sisters and their ailing mother.  One sister is very much the lady and the other is adjusting to their situation and raises chickens.  Both are strange in their behavior and this leads the reader into the mystery at the heart of the story.

Among the background characters are a farm manager and an old gypsy woman who gives Julia warnings. Both add flavor and reality to the isolated household’s story.

One wouldn’t think to find archaeological artifacts in a ruined manor on the moor but Julia finds the collection of the former owner and begins to catalogue it. In doing so, she makes a macabre discovery that will give the reader the shivers.

This is a well told tale with lots of action and a plot with twists.  I’m pleased to recommend it to any reader who enjoys stories with a gothic touch.  It is well worth the time to read it.

 

 

 

 

Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley

Publisher: Touchstone Books    ISBN: 978-1-4165-6362-4

Reviewed by Jim Sells, New Mystery Reader

Starvation Lake is the kind of town that the young people escape to make their fortune in the big city. Gus Carpenter had tried, failed, and returned home. Working as editor for the local weekly and playing goalie on the local hockey team defined his life – until the snowmobile washed up on the shore of nearby Walleye Lake.

The snowmobile had belonged to the Coach Blackburn who come from Canada and had trained Gus and his team. Coach had disappeared on a frozen lake one night according his friend Leo. The problem was that it wasn’t on Walleye Lake. So the mystery begins.

The small town setting provides numerous subplots as well. Soupy – Gus’ friend who inherited the marina from his father -  was another of Coach’s players. Teddy Boynton – another hockey player - is a local investor who appears to scoop up businesses and bleeds them dry. Now he’s after Soupy’s marina. A bullet hole is found in the recovered snowmobile. A closed accident case turns into a murder investigation.

Leo is first a suspect and then Soupy. Just when it looks like Soupy did it, Leo commits suicide leaving a note telling of a suicide pact that he had with Coach. Additionally, Coach’s past in Canada opens questions of why he might have been murdered. Then there’s that mess that caused Gus to leave a Detroit newspaper and return to Starvation Lake.

The characters are well developed and the plot has enough twists and turns to keep the mystery fan intrigued. The sport is hockey, but the reader is reminded of the Friday night-lights that frame dreams in small towns throughout the country and the reality that sometimes destroys them.  

 

 

The Adversary by Michael Walters

Publisher: Berkeley Prime Crime  ISBN-10: 0425225968

Reviewer: Bonnye Busbice Good, New Mystery Reader

In this riveting story, ancient Mongolian culture meets modern Chinese bureaucracy when the Serious Crimes Team is called to work two cases in the bracing setting of present-day Mongolia while simultaneously working through suspicion of internal corruption in the troubled police force. 

In the first case, Mrs. Tuya frantically waits for news after the disappearance of her son.  A Mongolian nomad, she uncharacteristically remains behind while her family moves with the livestock to find more grazing grounds where young men do not mysteriously disappear.  The police, assuming that the boy just left to find a more exciting life in the city, finally take Mrs. Tuya’s request seriously after her body is found tortured in her ger, or tent, just before Serious Crimes Team Chief Doripalam is scheduled to meet with her.  Doripalam, guilt-ridden over his poor timing, devotes his time to networking with other police departments in Mongolia to track the movements of Mrs. Tuya’s son.  His travel means that he spends less time in his own jurisdiction where his former superior, Nergui, sinks deeper into the business of his old department while ostensibly there to unearth why a major case against a ruthless crime lord was irrevocably botched in the Serious Crimes Department.

Nergui, outwardly mellow and sophisticated, and Doripalam, nervous but unfailingly honest, obviously respect one another but tension abounds with the old chief’s return and thickens as Nergui works a new case in addition to his corruption probe, causing Doripalam more uncertainty about his employment status.  Nergui unexpectedly agrees to the second case after Senior Judge Sarangarel Radnaa, the magistrate in the case of the crime lord, visits the wrong police station to complain of threats made against her.  An unanticipated but fortuitous meeting for both, her official complaint offers Nergui and Radnaa the initially awkward chance to revisit their unusual introduction ten years before and to use their shared history to pursue the case of harassment. 

The Adversary is thick with plot and unusual names while offering great writing on a story that sticks with you.  The background of Mongolia proves refreshing and timely, making familiar themes exhilarating and unpredictable.

 

 

 

 

Voodoo Laws by Jim Michael Hansen

Publisher:  Dark Sky Publishing, Inc. ISBN:  9780976924371

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

Is voodoo real?  Can it actually cause people to suffer or die from a curse laid on by a priestess like Ida Wrisp when she’s cursed Bryson Coventry? The question, really is, is why she was doing this.  Was someone she knew harmed by him?

Bryson Coventry, head of Denver's homicide unit, had a new murder to contend with--a dead attorney, found in an alley. And he finds voodoo creeping into his case and death seems to follow him from city to city as he seeks answers.

Talented author Jim Michael Hansen has created another story to keep the chills crawling up your spine as you join Coventry in another case.  And, yes, he's in lust again with an intriguing young woman who catches his eye from the first time they meet.

This isn't a tale for the squeamish.  But there is lots of action and lots of fun characters to meet. You'll remember Coventry as an old friend with a slight case of never quite meeting the right gal. Could this new lady be just right for him? 

And if you don't believe in voodoo, you might begin to wonder as you read.  Mystery and chills aplenty as Bryson hunts and is hunted.  As a story to satisfy all thriller fans, this one is highly recommended to readers who like new and interesting plots and characters.  Enjoy.  I sure did.

 

 

 

Charley’s Web by Joy Fielding

Publisher:  Pocket Star  ISBN-1416527044

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Thirty year old Florida columnist and single mother Charley Web has spent most of her adult life cynically regarding the ties that bind family, friends, and neighbors. An attitude she feels is more than defensible considering that years before her mother had abandoned the family to start a new life, leaving her and her siblings behind to deal with their emotionally distant and bitter father.  An event that has left them scarred and estranged from each other to this very day.  

But when Charley is contacted by a young woman on death row who wants her to write a book about her part in the brutal slayings of three young children, with the tantalizing promise of revealing the identity of her partner in crime, Charley’s going to learn a lot more of just how much the past can influence what comes after.  And the further she gets into the mind of this charming sociopath, the closer she comes to danger, because the second killer is much closer than she could possibly have imagined.

There’s no doubt that Joy Fielding’s previous suspense novels have been some of the best in the genre; however, fans might find this latest to be just a smidgeon short of the quality they’re used to.  While she does provide a challenging and suspenseful read, and does somewhat convincingly use the theme of how we all have a choice in determining our future regardless of how ugly our past, by the end it just seems a little too forced and tidy. 

The parallels drawn between the two women and others with similar pasts and who they have become, are provocative, to say the least, but it still seems as though there’s another side of the concept that’s being left out when it comes to the final denouement.  While it’s all good and fine to conclude that we do have a choice in how much we’re swayed by the past, the question then of why some might actually choose to go horribly bad is not really answered.  So considering that this is a question that has yet to be answered by even the most learned scholars on the subject, some might feel ultimately frustrated by Fielding’s over simplified conclusion to what has to be one of the most challenging questions of the ages. 

However, putting all this philosophical gesturing aside, if all you’re looking for is a suspenseful and thrilling read, this one actually provides that pretty well, with the pages flying by at the alarming rate that Fielding is known and loved for.    

 

 

 

Hold Tight By Harlan Coben

Publisher: Signet  ISBN-10: 045122650X

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Once again, Coben manages to put out yet another title that is as, or perhaps even more so, exciting and engaging as anything that's come before.  This time out we meet more than one seemingly ideal suburban family who is having to suddenly face some complicated issues involving their teen/pre-teen children.  And how these dramas eventually prove to be interconnected will soon reveal that nobody’s children are safe from the dangers out there, not even those from the idyllic suburbs of America.

Setting the ensuing perilous events into motion is the suicide of the Baye’s 16 year old son Adam’s best friend, a tragedy that has left their son distant and more sullen than what’s to be expected from your typical teen.  So it’s out of great concern that Tia and Mike make the decision to place a monitor on their son’s computer in order to find out just how serious the problem is.  And when Adam suddenly disappears, it’s only through the enigmatic emails traced on his computer that they discover he’s in much more danger than they ever could have expected.

Meanwhile, it’s revealed that not only is a close neighbor harboring her own deadly secrets, but that others in this ideal suburban community also have their share of poisonous secrets, secrets that just might be connected to the recent discovery of two murdered women.  And so as the Bayes' attempt to find the truths that lie behind the increasingly threatening events, they’ll find themselves on a perilous trail of deadly secrets that begun long before they noticed something was wrong, a trail that’s only going to get more dangerous with each step.

Each year that Coben puts out a new title, I always think to myself that this time he’s surely going to fail to live up what’s come before.  After all, how possible is it that an author can go at this rate without a single misstep?  Apparently, when it comes to Coben, the answer is pretty much indefinitely.

Once again, he puts the spotlight on suburbia in a timely tale that reveals all is not so sweet as it appears behind those lovely white picket fences.  Additionally, he raises some very challenging questions regarding just how far should a parent go to make sure their children are safe.  Is there such a thing as too far?  And why has the world changed so much that parents feel the need to even consider such actions as monitoring their child’s every move?  No doubt, the dangers are real, but is the price tag put on their safety so high that we’re making our children incapable of simply growing up with the trials and travails that made us ourselves cognizant adults? 

Even while Coben challenges us with these questions, he also reminds us of that impenetrable bond that ties parent to child, a bond that most would protect at any cost.  And so it’s with these two powerful and complicated concerns that he creates a tale that will resound with parents and non-parents alike.  Forceful, provocative, and ultimately rewarding, this is just one more great read from an author who stops at nothing to satisfy his readers.

 

 

Fatal Flip by Peg Marberg

Publisher:  Berkley Prime Crime  ISBN:  978-0-425-22679-7

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Designing women—attention!  Talented author Peg Marberg has crafted a fun read titled Fatal Flip in which Jean Hastings and her daughter become involved in the quick, budget-minded decoration and rehabilitation of an old house that’s recently come on the market.

Someone else has other designs in mind that result in murder.  Imagine Jean’s pleasure in a job well done, only to find a body in a window seat that she knows wasn’t there when the seat was put in place. But someone has thoughtfully included a clue to the killer.  However, Jean doesn’t quite believe it.

A surprise and twist in the plot awaits Jean and the reader as she proceeds to ask questions that can put her at risk too.  While she’s seeking a killer’s identity and the motive for the murder, things heat up with a second murder that seems to have no connection to the first. 

For any reader with an interest in interior decorating, this will prove to be an enjoyable read well worth the time. For the adventurous mystery fan, this is a chance to expand your reading interests. 

This is a well written, fun read with lots of background information and interesting characters.  Something a bit different.  Enjoy.  I certainly did.

 

 

 

The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters

Publisher: Vintage  ISBN-10: 0307277089

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

After returning home to Great Britain after a bombing in Iraq that left two of his men dead and himself disfigured, Lt. Charles Ackland seems quite different than the affable young man he was before he left.  Now quick-tempered and unable to connect to those around him, especially the fiancée that dropped him just days before his deployment, his violently prone behavior sets off warning flags for those trying to help him.  And as his rage seems to only increase with each refused act of kindness, the police begin to suspect his involvement in the deadly beatings of a number of men that Ackland may have had encounters with.  But there's much more going on here than meets the eye; Ackland's rage has been simmering long before the war, and so finding out what's behind his rage might just lead to the answers the police are striving to hard to find.

When you think of "psychological suspense" in its purest form - the search for the truth of what lies just beneath the surface when dismantling the nuances behind motivation and emotion - you'll find Walters to be one of those authors who delivers on the promise to reveal the darkest shadows no matter how disconcerting they might be.  She's one of those few  who has such a firm grip on her characters and story that each revelation only serves to spur the reader forward towards the next.  And, as before, in this latest she compels and provokes the reader to go down pathways otherwise not considered as she brilliantly obscures the truth.  Layers and layers of possible realities reside in this uneasy tale of violence and rage- layers in which the reader will rejoice in the challenge provided to uncover and understand.

 

 

 

Anatomy of Deception by Lawrence Goldstone

Publisher:  Delta ISBN:  0385341350

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Dr. Ephraim Carroll has decided to advance his knowledge and career by studying at University Hospital under Dr. William Osler. Their place of study at the moment is the Blockley Dead House, a morgue, where cadavers are dissected and autopsies performed on unfortunates to forward the knowledge of the student physicians.

One particular corpse causes a reaction in Dr. Osler and one of the student doctors.  Dr. Carroll sees this and wonders at it.  His puzzlement continues even when he is invited by Dr. Osler to a dinner given at the home of one of the directors of the hospital when Dr. Osler has announced he may be resigning to accept an appointment at Johns Hopkins that is just now being built as a research hospital. 

At the dinner the daughter of the host takes a fancy to Dr. Carroll or at least leads him to think she has when she involves him in the search for a missing friend who is the daughter of another very influential man who does not like most people it seems.

At the same time, another young doctor and student dies in mysterious circumstances.  Dr. Carroll’s investigation in the disappearance of the young woman leads him to conclude there is a connection to the dead student.  But how?  Where is the woman he seeks? 

Talented author Lawrence Goldstone has crafted a complicated story with realistic characters that will hold your attention and have you wondering if or when he’ll find the missing woman.  The search comes to be conducted with a threat to Dr. Carroll’s life.  The author’s writing style will remind you of the tales of Sherlock Holmes as he so ably catches the mood and tone of those engaging tales, taking you back to the days of London fogs and horse-drawn carriages filling the streets.  The waterfront is a place you will not want to venture, even under the protection of its own denizens so well is the danger made to come alive. 

Recommended as a book you’ll be glad you read and one you will long remember.  Join Dr. Carroll in his search and you’ll smell the fog made hard to breathe in by coal fires, the stench of the river at low tide, and the dank bleakness of the back alleys of London at the turn of the 19th century.

Enjoy.  I did.

 

 

 

 

City of the Sun by David Levien

Publisher: Anchor  ISBN-10: 0307387208

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When Paul and Susan Gabriel’s 12 year old son Jason doesn’t come home from his early morning newspaper deliver job, it’s immediately apparent to this stable middle-class couple that something is direly wrong.  And when the days turn into weeks, then months, with still not a single clue as to his whereabouts, the couple, whose marriage is slowly dying with their ever growing grief, will have to confront the possibility that he might never be found. 

But after 14 months of going nowhere and discovering just how little the investigators of the case actually did, the Gabriels, in a last ditch effort, hire PI Frank Behr, a man with many of his own demons and regrets to look into it.  And so the heart rendering search begins; a search that might end in complete pain or full of joy, the first outcome being the most likely, but one that must be come to some conclusion no matter what the cost if life is to ever move forward for these three very broken people.

From the beginning, this gut wrenching and altogether electrifying suspenseful novel takes hold and then easily maintains its steadfast grip right until its explosive ending.  Levien manages to create not just some fictional family whose kid goes missing, but a family that could easily include just about each one you might know, especially those who live a stable but contented life, and who would be completely unprepared for the changes that terror and grief can wreak upon such an ordinary existence. 

And when combined with the rueful and emotionally lost PI Behr with his humanity and compassion, not too mention his ability to lay the enemy flat with a couple of well placed punches, you have yet another character to keep the reading compulsively addictive.  Let’s hope this is only the first chance go around from this talented author who at this rate has a long successful career in the novel writing business ahead of him.