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Designed To Kill by Chester D. Campbell

Publisher: Durban House Publishing ISBN: 1930754469

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan

When an author’s second work comes along, the first question that’s bound to be asked – is whether it is in anyway similar to the first work? The only answer I can truly give is that, save for the protagonist and the price of the work, there is nothing similar between Secret of the Scroll and Designed to Kill. One is a historical thriller, while the new one, is a whodunit simpliciter.

So is Designed to Kill as good as Secret of the Scroll. Nope… it’s much, much better. Young architect, Tim Gannon is at the venue of the opening of a new condominium, which the young man has designed. But he is uneasy and desperately wants to escape from the party. But tragedy strikes and the balcony of the fifteenth story penthouse collapse killing two. Tim is devastated… but the very next day Tim Gannon’s dead body is found, death by a gunshot wound, which the police rule as a guilt-ridden suicide. But Tim’s father is suspicious, and he asks Greg McKenzie and his wife Jill to investigate into the matter. The duo investigates finding out some dark secrets, and shocking revelations… culminating in a twist in the tale- and a totally unexpected finish.

I enjoyed the book, rather relished the work. Looking forward to a lot, lot more from this author.


Poised to Kill by  Brian Lutterman

Publishers: Salvo Press, 2004 ISBN: 11930486499

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan

Lawyer and author Brian P. Lutterman’s latest novel, Poised to Kill is an action packed suspense thriller that’s just simply enjoyable.

Lutterman who packed a punch with his debut novel Bound to Die, proves that he is not just a flash in the pan or a one- book wonder with Poised to Kill. Hal Dwyer is leaving the American dream. With a big career ahead of him as a corporate executive, a daughter of whom he thinks the world about- life is just peeeeeeerfect for Hal Dwyer. All this changes one day, when Dwyer’s daughter is kidnapped. The kidnappers, rather extortionists need one thing in return, a top anti- missile software in Dwyer’s possession. One action will put the life of his daughter in jeopardy, while the other course just might put the life of the whole nation in jeopardy. Its now upto Dwyer to take the matters in his own hands- and to uncover the whole truth behind the kidnapping, putting his own life in jeopardy.

Dwyer looks like somewhat a modern day commando, rather a brainy commando- than a brawny one. The author knows how to keep the suspense thick and steady, and the work is a page-turner in the truest sense of the term. The book reminded me a lot of Tim Green’s recent The First 48, but is more action packed, than the Green work.

Recommended. Highly recommended.


Abducted by Brian Pinkerton

Publisher: Leisure Books ISBN: 0843953314 

Pinkerton’s debut novel of suspense is a surprisingly taut and engaging thriller.  Anita Sherwood and her husband Dennis appear to be a happily married couple with a young toddler named Tim.  Anita has spent most of young Tim’s life being a workaholic, and has now decided to be a stay-at-home mom.  Celebrating her new choice with co-workers, Anita and Dennis leave Tim with the nanny, only to arrive home to find Tim and the nanny gone.  What follows is a harrowing and frightening journey into a parent’s worst nightmare.

Pinkerton easily slips into the minds of his characters and creates scene after scene of tension and suspense, with the horror seeming all too real as we follow the slow disintegration of a family.  And as a man, he has done a fine job of detailing a woman’s conflict between career and family without being condescending or trite. But don’t get too comfortable, there are many surprises in store, as all is not as it appears to be.  Shocking twists, and a smash-up ending make this a highly winning thriller that will surely garner Pinkerton a decent fan base.  

A message from Brian:  On my web site, I have a free "Making of Abducted" e-book for downloading.  Please feel free to link to it on New Mystery Reader and share it with your readers.  It's a "behind the scenes" scrapbook with earliest notes, outlines, title brainstorming, the pitch letter to publishers, editing feedback, and more.

Hopefully, for other writers, it's a fun and interesting look at how a book comes together over a long period of time.

CHILDREN OF THE STORM   by   Elizabeth Peters

William Morrow/HarperCollins  ISBN: 0066214769

Reviewed by Karen Treanor

The bossy but irresistible Amelia Peabody Emerson returns in her 15th adventure, to the delight of her many fans.   

For those of us who have been acquainted with Amelia and her irascible archaeologist husband Emerson since their first meeting (could it really have been 27 years ago?), this new adventure is sufficiently like the preceding books to make us feel at home, yet possessed of enough twists and turns to keep us off-balance. 

Opening with the theft of fabulous jewelry from a recently discovered tomb, the story whirls us through post-World War One Egypt with all its smells, sounds, dangers and luxuries.  One minute we're with Ramses, the Emersons' son, trapped and drugged in a room with a woman who appears to be the goddess Hathor; the next minute we're far out on the desert beyond Luxor, finding the body of the missing thief.

It wouldn't be an Amelia Peabody story without the presence of he who was once known as "The Master Criminal", and who was revealed to be Emerson's bastard half-brother several volumes ago.  Called Sethos, after one of the dark gods of ancient Egypt, the man never entirely convinces us that he's forsworn his former wicked ways.  Worse, it appears his daughter might be involved with a plot to steal the entire treasure from the tomb. 

Sliding under the surface story about the loss of the jewels and the attempt by the Emersons to get to the bottom of the murder of the original thief is the ever-present desire of the Egyptians to be rid of their English masters.  This undercurrent keeps complicating the lives of David, grandson of the Emerson's old foreman, and his wife Lia, their niece.  David is torn between his roots and his new world, his former associates and his family by marriage. 

As the reader expects, Amelia goes her usual pig-headed and illogical way in pursuit of truth, and Emerson once again ruins any number of shirts whilst being attacked, kidnapped, escaping and re-escaping.  Somehow they manage to bring things to a successful conclusion without any of the by now quite large extended family being killed or even seriously maimed.

First-time readers of this series are to be envied: there's a treat in store.  Real-life Egyptologist Elizabeth Peters invests her tales with solid, believable background details.  Readers should be aware that the point of view jumps from the first person (Amelia herself) to events as seen by various other characters.  This is occasionally confusing, but resolves itself within a few paragraphs.


Call the Devil by His Oldest Name by Sallie Bissell

Publisher: Dell ISBN: 0553584944 

Georgia attorney Martha Crow is back with her third adventure that once again reaches deep into her past, to those she loved, and those she hates, and the ties that will forever bind her to her childhood home of Pisgah County.  Although the FBI is convinced the man who murdered her father, Stump Logan, is long dead, Martha is convinced she has caught glimpses of him in Atlanta, and when her first love’s child is kidnapped, she becomes convinced Logan’s responsible.  And so setting out on the Trail of Tears, Martha hunts for the man who is evil incarnate, as she once again faces the malevolence that has stalked her all her life.

Bissell continues her immaculate track record of creating gripping plots and fascinating characters that have all the power of an old mystical spell. Mary Crow is one of the strongest and admirable female protagonists out there, and the reader is easily engaged by her struggle to come to terms with her past, as well as her struggles with love, career, and culture.  Highly recommended, this amazingly suspenseful and tautly written read will thrill and delight, and leave you wanting more. 



Lost Light by Michael Connelly

Publisher: Little Brown & Company  ISBN: 0316154601 

Following the stupendous success of City of Bones, Connelly returns in fine form with the new Harry Bosch novel Lost Light that once again pits Bosch’s wits against a master criminal mind.

Harry Bosch has now retired from LAPD and is taking life easy- though an easy life makes him sort of queasy. Then an unexpected call from an old friend puts Bosch back into action. The case he is called to investigate is a past-unsolved crime- the gruesome, and by gruesome I mean bloody gruesome death of a production assistant Angela Benton in a movie set, Angela Benton. Harry relauches in full vigor in this unsolved case. However, now he faces a difficulty- the doors that normally opened while he was in LAPD service are now shut and some erstwhile colleagues are also antagonistic toward him, in particular former partner Kiz Rider. However, beating all odds Bosch investigates, and find out certain chilling truths and dark secrets that may very well have connection even with the September 11th attacks….

Lost Light wouldn’t classify as the best Harry Bosch work of Michael Connelly. In my opinion that honor goes for City of Bones. However, the highlight of the work is that it ties up certain loose ends and unknown facets of Bosch’s life and career. Light is also shed on Harry’s relation with his deceased wife Eleanor. To the ardent Connelly fan, well, its vintage Connelly. Enjoyable and recommended for a good evening read.

                                                         Narayan Radhakrishnan



With A Vengeance by Eileen Dreyer

 Publisher: St. Martin's Press ISBN: 0312995466

Maggie O’Brien, a St. Louis trauma nurse and SWAT team member, loves the rush of adrenaline that these jobs bring her, but she hates the scumbags she sometimes has to treat or talk out of hostage situations.  But apparently there are others who hate them even more, because slowly these bad sorts are being murdered, and it soon becomes all too clear that those involved are people closest to Maggie, with perhaps one of them even being her lover.  And when she becomes a target for what she knows, all her friends come under suspicion, those she works with, those she’s related to, and those she loves.  With nobody to trust, Maggie must find the answers quick before she takes the fall herself. 

This highly combustible thriller easily soars above the rest in a tale that is riveting and spellbinding, with Maggie making for a perfect heroine with her uneasy balance of bravado and vulnerability.  And watching her tame the wild and save the broken in this heart-rending and realistic portrayal of the world of trauma nurses and cop shops makes for a journey that shouldn’t be missed.    

Eileen Dreyer is our featured author for March, includes interview!



Mortal Sin by Laurie Breton

Publisher: Mira Books ISBN: 0778320251 

Reviewed by Donna Padilla

Sarah Connolly is thirty five years old and has been divorced three times.  She leaves her Louisiana roots and moves to Boson to open a bookstore.  She takes her wild uncontrollable fifteen year old niece Kit with her.  When Kit runs away from home, she winds up on the streets in a Boston neighborhood known as the Combat Zone. Sarah convinces Father Clancy Donovan, who has a reputation for getting girls off the street, to help her find Kit.

In spite of the fact that this novel takes one through the sleazy underbelly of humanity, and is filled with prostitution, pornography, pimps and violence, it is also a warm and compassionate love story. Romance novel fans will anxiously await the next book from Laurie Breton.


Seven Dials by Anne Perry

Publisher: Ballantine Books (Trd); ISBN: 0345440080

When Ayesha Zakhari, the Egyptian mistress of an important government diplomat, is caught red-handed disposing of a murdered body in her garden, it causes quite a stir in London society.  The victim: the accused killer's previous lover, a womanizer, and a politician with many enemies who wouldn't mind his demise.

But when Zakhari's new suitor is implicated in the murder, the government begins investigations to clear his name.  Soon, what seems to be an open-and-closed case turns into a mystery that leads London's Special Branch Detective Pitt on a journey across continents.

Meanwhile, a servant and his drunkard aristocratic master have disappeared without a trace.  Is there a link between the murder and the missing men?  And will Detective Pitt solve the case before it's too late for the accused?

From the first chapter of SEVEN DIALS, the reader is immediately drawn in to this masterfully woven tale.  Anne Perry has fashioned a captivating mystery that keeps you turning the pages way past bedtime.  The reading is fast-paced, and even the occasional lower-class English dialect is a breeze to read through.  The thoroughly developed plot and amazing character depth make the book a great read after a hectic day.  Perry has artfully interwoven her characters and storylines without ever becoming predictable.  Her fantastic descriptions of everything from the splendor of Egypt to the destitution of London's slums pull the reader into mystery as they try to draw their own conclusions.  SEVEN DIALS ends on a satisfying note of finality, much to the relief of Detective Pitt, Ayesha Zakhari, and the reader.

                                                                    Reviewed by Melissa Brown


Wing Beat by Marilyn Meredith

Golden Eagle Press 1-89140-08-2-7

Wing Beat is the fourth installment in the Tempe Crabtree mystery series. Marilyn Meredith once again easily transfers readers to the foothills of Bear Creek, a quiet, wooded town in the southern Sierra.  And once again Deputy Tempe Crabtree has her hands full.

You would think a small town deputy married to a small town pastor would be the perfect way to spend your life.  Instead, Crabtree suspects newcomers have set up shop in the mountains in order to grow marijuana.  Working with narcotics, she tries to assemble enough probable cause to have a search warrant issued.   When the body of a woman is discovered in an unmarked grave, Crabtree in sucked into the midst of a murder investigation.   To make matters worse, a man, fitting her husband's description, and driving a vehicle identical to her husband's is wanted to exposing himself to young girls in public.  Determined to believe her husband is innocent, it becomes more difficult as all the evidence points in his direction, especially when people in town are convinced he is guilty.

Like the previous books in the series, Wing Beat is a fast, enjoyable read.  The characters are well-defined, the plot carefully structured and the narrative swift and engaging.  I am a long time fan of Meredith and look forward to additional installments in the popular series!

© 2004 Phillip Tomasso III