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Too Darn Hot by Sandra Scoppettone

Publisher:  Ballantine Books 0345478139

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Hey, mystery fans.  Something different in PI business.  Imagine a Humphrey Bogart type 1940's detective as a gal who's just learning the job and has to deal with a set of characters you will enjoy meeting. 

The client is a young woman searching for a missing soldier she loves.  Initial investigation produces a body in a closet and the PI's job really gets complicated from there.

With the help of a loyal secretary inherited when the boss joined the Army, PI Faye Quick sets out to find the missing man and solve a murder.  Join her as she plods along the overheated streets of New York, asking questions. Remember to dress for summer in New York at a time when there was no air conditioning.

I'm pleased to recommend this book to any mystery buff that enjoys variety and something different.  A story within a story and plenty of undercurrents among the characters.  Talented author Sandra Scoppettone takes us back to a time when life seemed simpler.  This is a book you may read more than once.



Stone Rain by Linwood Barclay

Publisher: Bantam  ISBN-10: 0553804561

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Newspaper reporter Zack Walker finds himself in yet another "pickle" when his good friend Trixie asks him to intercede on her behalf with another reporter who is attempting to expose all about her unusual job as a dominatrix, a service she operates out of her basement in the suburbs.  But things get complicated when he discovers she's actually on the run from some very bad people who will stop at nothing to find her, a situation that all too soon puts his family, career, and even his life in extreme jeopardy.

It's so easy to like this self-deprecating hero who all too easily finds himself in the worst kind of situations, his internal magnet for trouble attracting death and destruction more often than not.  And, yes, while most of his predicaments are just a tad bit over the top, they still make for one heck of a good time, filling the pages with adventure and a gentle humor that readers will delight in.  This is not Barclay's first featuring this charming hero, and let's hope it's far from his last.




The Screaming Room by Thomas O'Callaghan

Publisher:  Pinnacle  ISBN:  13:  9780786018123

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Do you enjoy thrillers that offer something different in the plot, something different by way of a unique villain?  If so, then you will definitely enjoy talented author Thomas O'Callaghan's newest tale, The Screaming Room.

Serial killers strike without warning and leave few clues to their identity.  Often they are compelled to kill by hidden voices or a sense of mission. Perhaps, it is a powerful urge to play god. Which one motivates this killer?

Join NYC Police Lt. John Driscoll and his team as they conduct a frantic search for a serial killer who is murdering  tourists visiting the city. There seems to be no pattern to the victims and a painstaking job lies ahead to identify the killer.

Talented author Thomas O'Callaghan steps out of the usual pattern of killer and plot, making this a tale you won't soon forget.  Written with a twist that keeps Lt. Driscoll guessing, this is a tale that will keep you reading. A real page turner!

Written with a sure understanding of his characters, author Thomas O'Callaghan offers the reader a look at what makes a person turn killer. This is a book you will remember and find yourself looking over your shoulder if you happen to travel along.

I'm pleased to recommend this tale to anyone who likes an unusual plot, something that will keep you awake if you read at bedtime.

Enjoy.  I did.



See Delphi and Die by Lindsey Davis

Publisher: St Martin's Paperbacks  ISBN 0 312 357753

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Government informer and prototype private eye Marcus Didius Falco, his wife,
and some of his large family are once again leaving the comfort of first
century Rome to investigate a crime.  This time the destination is Greece,
where two young Roman women of good family have died in the past year.

Falco's brief contact with one of the world's first travel agents decides him on
making his own plans, which go about as well as you'd expect, given past
history.  Eventually reaching Olympia, tired, dirty, and already wishing they
hadn't come, Helena and Falco and their several nephews and assistants settle in to an overpriced lodging house and Falco begins his investigation.

Using vague threats about the Emperor Vespasian's interest in the deaths, Falco pries scraps of information out of various members of the tour party  to which one of the  missing girls belonged.  He doesn't get a lot of help, but the one man who provides some key information dies mysteriously right after Falco talks to him.  And the grieving widower is nowhere to be found, despite Falco's trailing him from one town to another, ending up in a dark and dangerous hole at an Oracle.

Eventually the snippets of information come together enough to focus Falco's
attention on two people, but which of them is it?  Both seem to have alibis,
but that's never stopped the canny informer before: alibis are meant to be

There's a final scene reminiscent of Poirot, where all the suspects and
witnesses are gathered at an inn and Falco uncovers the murderer's identity.  
 He's feeling pretty good about things and is about to have his dinner when his wife Helena makes a horrifying announcement that will linger in your mind long after you close the book.

Once again Davis uses her encyclopedic knowledge of Roman history to weave an entertaining and sometimes chilling story.  She has a deft touch, and manages to set the scene without beating you over the head with too many heavy facts.  Highly recommended.



Here She Lies by Kate Pepper

Publisher: Onyx  ISBN-10: 0451412397

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

With the birth of her baby girl, Annie Milliken thought her life was just about perfect, with a good job, a handsome husband, and a twin sister who was also her best friend, her life seemed more fulfilling and complete than she had ever hoped for.  But when she discovers evidence, emails and credit card charges, indicating that her husband has been unfaithful, her world begins to crash.  Running off to the refuge of her twin sister's home, she hopes to find comfort and some answers of what to do next, never even imagining the horrors that await her, the first being a murdered woman on her sister's lawn. 

But that's only the beginning of her nightmare; soon her identity will be stolen, followed by her very own child, all by the person she thought she could trust more than anyone in the world.

Identity theft is a scary thing, and Pepper knows just how to make it more than real for the reader, her intelligent and provocative look at the dangers that could result from a couple of keystrokes easily striking a chord of fear in anyone who has a personal computer.  But that provides only half of the suspense in this well-told tale that also craftily incorporates some interesting details into the world of twins, with the questions of trust and loyalty making the ''who'' being much more frightening than the ''why.''  And should you think it's all laid out from the get-go, think again, Pepper has more than one surprise lying in wait for the unsuspecting reader.  Another great outing from Pepper, this is a winner.



The Husband by Dean Koontz

Publisher: Bantam ISBN: 0553589091

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Young Southern California landscaper Mitch Rafferty and his wife Holly may not have a whole lot of money, but they do have a wonderful marriage of three years, with their love only growing stronger as they look to the future and building a family.  But all that is about to be put to the test when Holly is inexplicably kidnapped and held for a ransom of 2 million dollars that must be delivered within 60 hours.  And with the kidnappers seeming to know every step Mitch makes, going to the cops is not an option but, surprisingly, going to his older brother is after they point him in that direction.  But nothing is as it seems, and Mitch will soon discover that loyalty and greed sometimes are stronger than the powers of love and family as he races from danger and death to save the woman he loves. 

Having been familiar with Koontz's previous novels of horror I was expecting much of the same, and so was pleasantly surprised that this title is not of the same ilk as many before.  Instead what Koontz provides is a story of deep abiding love and eye-opening growth artfully combined with wild, heart stopping action and suspense.  If it were only one or the other, this book would not be as exceptional as it is, but Koontz knows his stuff, and by adding depth to the action, along with a plethora of surprising twists, he delivers one hell of a rush that fans of any genre will enjoy.  Definitely recommended, this is a compelling and exhilarating read that fires up the senses all the way to the end.



In Plain Sight by C. J. Box

Publisher: Berkley  ISBN: 0425215792

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Joe Pickett, Game Warden in the high country of Wyoming, is as usual having the same difficult times with the new order, spending more time playing office politics than taking animal counts with the arrival of spring. But things are about to get a whole lot worse in the coming weeks, starting with the disappearance of Opal Scarlett, matriarch of the one of bigger ranches in the area, and the ensuing fight for the ranch by her feuding sons. 

On the tail of that disturbing event, and unknown to Joe, is that one of the new ranch hands hired by one of the brothers is a very dangerous man connected to his past, a man bent on revenge whose target is Joe and his family.  And as events escalate into ever-increasing danger, everything will change for Joe and his family as this malevolent creature comes closer and closer to settling the score in a fight begun long ago.

While Box's matter of fact delivery of his new tale will most likely please his fans who have always appreciated his no nonsense approach to a good story, it might also leave others yearning for a bit more of an emotional connection.  Either way, it's a good read; one with plenty of suspense and action, along with Box's usual excellent detailing of the desolate area that is the high country of Wyoming.  Readers of this engaging series won't want to miss this latest Wild West account that intimates some serious changes coming up in the future for Joe and his loved ones with its ending that's chock full of shocking surprises that will be sure to leave them reeling.    




The Second Horseman Kyle Mills

Publisher:  St. Martins Paperbacks, ISBN:  0312934173

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

Thriller, anyone?  This is the real deal and something different by talented author Kyle Mills.  A tale of overcoming impossible odds that offers a change of pace for the thriller fan.

Brandon Vale has been sentenced to prison for a crime he didn't commit and has no hope of proving he didn't.  Prepared to serve his time, imagine his astonishment at being physically expelled from the prison into a rainy night with no explanation.  Should he try to get back in or would he be forced to serve for time for his "escape".  He makes the decision to get away while he can.

Without a plan or resources, he is herded to a destination predetermined by the man who sent him to prison and now sees a need for Brandon's talent.  Having no choice Brandon accepts his task, expecting to be killed when it is done.  His job is to steal 200 million dollars to buy some bombs.  Can he do it?

This is a cleverly plotted tale about a hero who seems anything but, a man who undertakes the challenge to his genius for carrying off complicated jobs.  You won't want to stop reading until the last page is turned.

Lots of action with unexpected consequences, backgrounds that pull you inside the story and a new reason to plot and carry out a robbery.  I'm pleased to recommend this story to all thriller any mystery readers who like action and drama in their reading.  Enjoy.  I did.