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Painted Lady by Peter Abresch
Publisher: Worldwide Mystery ISBN: 0373264887
Reviewed by Phillip Tomasso III
It is good to see author Peter Abresch
back in the saddle again. Painted Lady is Abresch's fourth James P. Dandy
Elderhostel Mystery. Though it is a series, you do not need to read one in
order to understand the other. Each novel easily stands on its own as a witty,
well-plotted out amateur detective mystery. Like all of Abresch's novels, the
chapters are short, the dialogue is real, there is history involved and a murder
or two that needs to be solved.
Elderhostel is an actual group. It's for
people over 55. They get together and take trips to various locations around
the country. Abresch has secured the permission of the group in order to have
his mysteries take place on Elderhostel trips.
In Painted Lady, the Elderhostels are
taking a trip along the Sante Fe Trail. Everyone is gathered at a hotel in
Denver, waiting for the adventure to begin. James P. Dandy met Dodee at an
Edlerhostel years ago, and the two have been together ever since (read to Bloody
Bonsai). Dodee is an artist who is a painting portrait in the hotel lobby,
while Dandy is mingling with guests of the hotel, when a woman across the street
either falls or is pushed off a balcony. As an emergency medical technician,
Dandy shouts for someone to call 911 as he rushes out of the hotel to the side
of the fallen woman. She's dead. She's dressed in Native American clothing.
Later everyone learns that the woman was a Shaman, like a witch doctor. To
make things more odd the unexplainable image in the likeness of the Shaman
begins showing up on the work Dodee paints.
Reports gathered by the police and
inferred by the media claim that Dandy swiped something off the Shaman at the
scene. The Mayan Falcon. Dandy had been certain that the Shaman jumped to her
death. He did not believe the woman was pushed. That would indicate a murder
had taken place. However, when it becomes clearly apparent that some people
think Dandy either has this mysterious falcon artifact, or that he knows where
it is, murder isn't as unlikely a cause of death as he once thought.
Priests, reverends and mystic mediums.
Ninety-three year old athletes, handlebar mustache men, and rusty old green
Buicks. The historical Sante Fe Trail, a kidnapping and more murder. A sťance,
dandelions and relationships. Peter Abresch knows what he's talking about. He
spices the chapters with history, romance and intrigue. He is craft and clever,
weaving a tight-knitted plot. Fast, easy to read and satisfying. Another
winner by a talented storyteller.
Death at Hallows End Leo Bruce
Academy Chicago Publishers ISBN 0 89733 516 3
Reviewed by Karen Treanor
With a cast of characters resembling a minor work of Thomas Hardy, this reprint
of a 1965 Leo Bruce mystery will satisfy those readers who have had their fill
of chain-saw murders and graphic sexual encounters.
Set in England, the mystery takes place in a grim rural spot not far
from history master Carolus Deene's school. The headmaster doesn't approve of
Deene's predilection for murder, but in this particular case, it may be that
Deene can prevent a public scandal over the disappearance of solicitor Duncan
Humby. Humby may have wandered off, absconded, or been murdered. If murdered,
was it because of who he is, what he does, or what he might have been about to
do? The mystery deepens when reclusive local millionaire James Grossiter dies
before making a new will. Who is the mysterious Humphrey Spaulding to whom he
wished to leave ten thousand Pounds? Has the solicitor's disappearance got
anything to do with the will?
With the aid of a sharp nose for coincidence, Deene gets to the bottom of
several mysterious deaths. He is helped by the observations of the well-named
Mrs. Crabling, who suspects any parked car of sheltering immoral goings on, and
Sergeant Snow of the CID. The book is worth a look for the quaint names alone:
Doctor Jayboard; Reverend Whiskins; Mrs. Stick the dyslexic cook; and a parade
of other unusually-clept folk.
Generation Without Souls by Chris
Quiet Storm Publishing ISBN:
Chris Freeburn, author of Parental
Source, the first in the C.C.D. Series, returns to the streets of Virginia in
her second police procedural crime novel, Generation Without Souls. Parallel to
books of the 87th Precinct by Ed McBain, Freeburn manages to convey the art of
police work while delivering suspense, action, and three-dimensional characters
tightly compacted into a page-turning mystery novel.
Rayven Forrester, her brother the attorney, Quinton, and her partner, Preston
Richards, spearhead the Child Crimes Division (C.C.D.), established to give more
attention to child-related crimes. Geared toward investigating homicides and
abuse cases, the last thing the dynamic trio expected to be working on is one
involving stuffed animals.
Ambers, stuffed teddy bears, similar to Beannie Babies, are the latest, hottest
fad. Kids want them, and parents will do anything and everything to get them.
When an expected shipment of dolls is late, the gathered mob of anxious
shoppers turns ugly. C.C.D. is called to the scene and works crowd control.
Things go from bad to worse when a murder is committed under the nose of a
police-protected toy store. And a box of Ambers is missing, perhaps stolen,
Who would kill for a box of toys? Plenty of people would. The dolls stolen
were from an imperfect lot of crafted critters. The street value of such a
delectable doll is through the roof. Rival teen-gangs are doing anything, and
everything to get their dirty little hands on the Ambers, including acts of
It is up to the C.C.D. to figure what, aside from an imperfection in the
manufacturing, is making the Ambers so popular. Their search for answers is
hindered by an abundance of roadblocks, both legal and illegal. One thing is
certain: the stakes are high. The gangs are not fooling around. Lives are in
danger. No one is safe, not even the members of the C.C.D.
Filled with some tender family moments, a splash of romance and a whole lot of
action, Generation Without Souls is filled with everything I expect to find in a
mystery novel. Freeburn is a talented and skilled novelist. She has created
amazing characters that readers will immediately care about. Generation Without
Souls is one of the best police procedurals I have read in a long time. It is
full of twists, turns and stomach-churning loop-de-loops. I look forward to the
third in the series.
Reviewed by Phillip Tomasso III