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Say Goodbye by Lisa Gardner

Publisher: Bantam  ISBN-10: 0553588095

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Being five months pregnant, the last thing FBI special agent Kimberly Quincy should get involved in is a case involving a serial killer.  But when she’s contacted by Georgia special agent Sal Martingnetti, who has mysteriously received the driver’s licenses of several missing prostitutes, she can’t help but agree that they’re most likely murder victims.  A belief only further validated when a young prostitute contacts her with a frightening tale of her encounters with the possible murderer, one who seems to have a very strong affinity for spiders, and one who appears to select each victim by torturing his current victims into revealing the person they care for most.  And as she’s drawn further into this complicated case, she’ll find herself risking not only her career and her new marriage, but also the lives of herself and her unborn child.

If the first thing that comes to your mind is “oh, no, not another serial killer novel,” that’s understandable.  But before you write this one off as just another typical outing that marks the seemingly endless parade of such novels put out each month, it’s worth noting that Gardner is one of the more adept story tellers in the field and usually has something unique to offer- this latest included.   

With the occasional first person narrative from the killer splicing through her fast-paced tale, the reader is given a heartbreaking glimpse of the harrowing events from the past that led to the violence of now, leaving the reader considering more than the mere outcome of events.  Toss in some very hair-raising spider trivia, and a woman at odds with motherhood, marriage, and career, and you have a novel that is much more than what it at first appears to be.  This is yet another stellar outing from Gardner that is sure to please her many fans and one that will easily attract some new ones.

 

 

Rules of Deception by Christopher Reich

Publisher: Anchor ISBN: 0307387828

Reviewed by Jim Sells, New Mystery Reader

What do an adventurous humanitarian doctor, a Swiss police investigator, and highly skilled assassin have in common? The answer lies in this sweeping novel of action and intrigue.

Emma – wife of Dr. Jonathan Ransom – falls to her death in an accident while mountain climbing with her husband. An envelope is delivered to Ransom after her death. Two baggage claim tickets propel this servant of Doctors Without Borders into a nightmare world. Soon he is caught between the authorities and terrorists.

The assassin – known as The Ghost – systematically eliminates suspected terrorists, but his employer remains a mystery, as does Emma’s. The Ghost attempts to kill Ransom and narrowly fails.

Ransom begins to piece together the mystery of Eva Kruger, Emma’s alternate identity. Marcus von Daniken - the Swiss police investigator – attempts to unravel the puzzle and mistakenly concludes that Ransom is an assassin using his job as a cover to reach his targets. As von Daniken closes in Ransom, the investigator is double-crossed by his superior and Ransom slips away to seek the truth. 

Reich spins an elaborate and exciting tale. With his skill in the craft, Reich is able to keep the ending a secret while not losing the reader in the process. The story is made all the more believable with a generous helping of events taken from international news events of recent years.

 

 

 

Fuzzy Navel by J A Konrath

Publisher: Hyperion Books  ISBN 0786891297

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

For some reason women who write male lead characters are more common than male writers with women leads.  I think it has something to do with violence, but I’m open to alternate theories.

J A Konrath is a male writer with a woman lead character, Lieutenant Jacqueline Daniels, of course known as Jack.  Jack does have a soft streak, well-hidden, but she’s mostly tough as beef jerky.  She has to be, because Konrath keeps sending her up against really nasty, really tough, almost superhuman villains.

In this fifth book of the series, Alex Kork, a woman who gives psychopaths a bad name, escapes from the prison Jack sent her to and comes looking for revenge.  Unfortunately for Jack, a bunch of good ol’ boys who have decided to solve society’s problems by shooting perverts also converge on her mother’s house at the same time Alex turns up.

The pervert-shooters have expanded their core business to include shooting police officers as well, and manage to get Jack’s partner Herb Benedict (amazingly, a bloke with a bloke’s name) with a shot to the leg and a few other spots when he comes to find out what’s happening at Mom’s place.

The story reaches a high tide of violence and mayhem with everyone, including Jack, injured; most of them pinned down and unable to move—in one case because he’s locked onto a refrigerator door by his artificial hand—and the ammunition running out.  It’s left to Jack to put Kork back in her bottle and at the same time use the three remaining bullets in her hand gun to clean up the shooting party outside, who are armed with sniper rifles.

If you can do the mental gymnastics required to suspend disbelief very, very high, and accept that any human being could survive the injuries Konrath inflicts on his cast and still come back for more, you may enjoy this book.  It’s got some funny spots; it has some warm and fuzzy moments, but it got a great deal of bloody violence also.  Don’t give it to your mystery-loving Granny unless she’s more bloodthirsty than the average little old lady.  I’m a mystery-loving granny myself and have to admit (a bit shame-facedly) that I sat up until almost 2 a.m. finishing this, partly because I just couldn’t wait to see what happened after Mom stapled Jack’s scalp back together.

Oh, and you also get a free cocktail recipe with your mayhem.

 

 

 

Seasick by Gloria Nagy

Publisher:  Jorge Pinto Books    ISBN 978 1934978132

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

If this book is anything to go by, Gloria Nagy has found a way to channel best-selling writers of the past.  “Seasick” could have been written by Vicki Baum of “Grand Hotel” fame.  It has a large cast of disparate characters, a grand and luxurious stage setting (world’s biggest ocean liner), and a picaresque construction that serves up digestible bites of dramatic events.  If someone hasn’t already optioned this for a movie, it’s only because the Warner Brothers are all dead.

The most amazing and frightening things happen on board The Palace of Dolphins, both above and below the water line.  People disappear, murders and assaults happen, and unlikely romances blossom while behind the scenes hundreds of scurrying workers keep the shining leviathan moving through the tropical seas.   Her tables overflowing with luxurious food, the Dolphin calls at ports whose native populations would not see in a month the food that is wasted every day. 

That grim fact is beneath the notice of the top deck passengers, until three of their adult children disappear.  Ian, grandson of a Texas Countess, and his dimwit girlfriend Twinkle and their reluctant satellite Clarissa all vanish, the first two ostensibly to do something more interesting ashore, and Clarissa the next night.

Rory, the woman who’s in charge of staging lavish musical entertainments for the ship, is drawn into the hunt for the young people, because her old friend Leah Worth begs her to help. Leah is one of those helpless delicate women who mostly exist only in the imagination of writers these days, but which used to be all too common.  Leah’s husband Walter, who’s hiding several really dark secrets, was Rory’s first love, so the situation is fraught with potential heartache for her.  The mysterious but fascinating Poe Evanoff, a man who reads faces as easily as others read the Times, becomes an unexpected ally, and then something more.  He, too, has some dark secrets: will they prevent Rory Riley finally getting the life she deserves?

The characters are all clearly drawn, some balanced on the fine edge of caricature but never falling over the line.  The action is continual and twisty, just as you think you’ve got a handle on what’s happening, the plot snakes off in another direction.  A great deal of the book takes place in Rory’s internal conversations with herself, which I thought would be annoying, but in fact knits all the scenes together nicely.

This is one of the most enjoyable books I have read for ages, I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

Fisherman’s Bend by Linda Greenlaw

Publisher: Hyperion Books, ISBN 0786885920

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

This is the second book in what promises to be a good series.  Lobster boat captain Greenlaw has parleyed her intimate knowledge of Maine and its threatened sea-based industries into an engaging narrative. 

Jane Bunker, burnt out after 20 years being a top cop in Florida, has taken a low-level job for an insurance company and moved back to where she was born in Maine.  She did this when the weather was nice, but now autumn is advancing and she’s beginning to question the wisdom of leaving a warm place.  She’s picked up a second job, that of police deputy, which is only paid when she’s assigned to a case.  Oftentimes the two jobs coincide, as when Jane finds Parker Alley’s fishing boat running in circles with nobody on board.  The insurance company wants her to ascertain if he committed suicide, in which case they won’t pay out, and the police want to know if there was foul play.  Parker was not only the head of a large and partisan family with many enemies; he was also the father of a boy who recently died of a drug overdose. 

The supporting cast that Greenlaw introduced in the first book returns: Audrey, the coffee shop waitress, who knows or knows about nearly everyone in town; Jane’s landlords, the elderly Vickersons; and Cal, the archetypical old Yankee water-rat, who acts as a sort of ocean-going taxi when Jane needs him.  There are also some new characters on stage, including an Indian chief –no, not from the Village People—and a handsome captain who keeps trying to pair Jane off with his geeky friend.

As you’d expect when a death involves drugs, there are some desperate people on the scene who won’t stop at a little thing like murder to protect their business.  Jane finds herself in a very tight corner, wondering if it’s possible to use a lobster dinner as a bargaining chip.

This is a fast-moving story set well off the beaten track.  Author Greenlaw also throws in a free lesson in how to tie the knot of the book’s title.

 

 

 

A Corpse for Yew by Joyce and Jim Lavene

Publisher:  Berkley Prime Crime  ISBN:  978-0-425-22810-4

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

A drought has lowered the water level in a lake and a group of women are using the opportunity to recover the remains of unclaimed bodies from a town the lake drowned years before. This is, sadly for them, not the only remains they recover.  One of their members is discovered in the muddy water.

No one is sure how she died but they are quick to jump to conclusions.  And Peggy Lee, garden center owner, soon finds herself involved in trying to find out the truth of the lady’s death.

The woman is related to the local police chief and there is a mystery of how she got to the site where she died and why she was there alone. There is suspicion that the lady was murdered, the question that Peggy must resolve to satisfy her friends and herself.

A well told tale with clues scattered along the way to see if there is really a murder or not. The reader will enjoy the variety of characters in this fun tale of murder and their personalities that nicely drive the plot along.  An interesting setting provides lots of local color and there are plenty of gardening tips to be found along the way.

I’m pleased to recommend this well told tale as one any mystery fan will enjoy as well as gardening buffs.

 

 

 

 

Sail by James Patterson & Howard Roughan

Publishers: Vision   ISBN :0446536105

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

A couple of weeks back I read an article that somewhat disturbed me as a connoisseur of mysteries. Bestselling authors like Clive Cussler are “lending” their names. The books marketed as that written by Cussler are actually written by someone else. Dead authors are also not left alone. Even years after the death of Mario Puzo and of Robert Ludlum, the Godfather works and Bourne novels are being printed.

Authors are no longer persons- they are now a brand name -and James Patterson is no exception. The author has candidly admitted that a lot of the words written in the novels marketed as his, are actually written by others.  The central idea, the plotline is of course that of Patterson, but the actual words might be that of others.

It was in this background, that I secured a copy of SAIL- the third novel by Patterson for 2008 (that makes it a novel every other month). So, for the first time realizing that I might be reading a novel written not by a person, but by a brand name, I started reading SAIL

But, did this ‘disturbing’ piece of information really disturb my reading pleasure? Mostly the answer is no, frankly, I enjoyed it as well as any other Patterson novel I have read in the past. The chills and thrills, fizzles and sizzles are all there in abundance.

Millionaire Katherine Dunne is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Her three children are giving her the jitters. Her daughter is suffering from depression with a suicidal tendency; her elder son Mark is on the route to become a drug addict, and the only saving grace is ten year old Ernie- Mamma’s little soldier. And Katherine decides that the only thing to bring back the family together is a pleasure trip on their luxury yacht- The Family Dunne. But someone out there wants the Dunne family un-done, and right from day one the sail trip proves to be a disaster.

And, when following an explosion, the Dunne family finds themselves stranded in an isolated island with only rabbits and huge snakes for company.  Will the family make it back home and, more importantly, who is behind the disaster to strike the yacht? The author (sorry the brand) keeps the suspense ticking all throughout- and though the novel is around 400 pages in length, I finished it within about three hours or so.

One hellova read- and one thing I can say for sure- whether written by a person or under a brand- the thrills and chills are heart stopping, and spine tingling. Highly, highly recommended. And when is SAIL – the movie coming out??

 

 

 

Scared To Live by Stephen Booth

Publisher: Bantam  ISBN-10: 044024272X

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

England’s rural Peak District doesn’t see very many murders, but when first a woman and her two boys are burned to death in a fire, only to be followed by the discovery of the murdered body of a reclusive woman shot in her home, investigators will be wishing for the quietness that came before.  And as DS Ben Cooper works on the shooting, and DS Dianne Fry works on the fire, the two cases will begin to intersect in ways these investigators never could have anticipated. 

One thing that can definitely be said for Booth is that he knows his stuff when it comes to police procedure.  This latest, like the ones before, showcases his ability to research and then convincingly present the fine details of an investigation with a respectable and in-depth understanding of just how intricate and problematic they can really be.  This is definitely not some sort of regurgitated written version of a CSI episode and its high-octane background music, moody lighting, and spectacularly dressed specialists.  Instead, this is a finely tuned and straight up dose of realistic cops just doing their job, resulting in a refreshing and enlightening read that dares to be candid while eschewing the glorified and trendy moments that we’ve all grown accustomed to.  A well-written read that ends with a promise of more excitement to come, this is well worth the cover price.

 

 

 

A Patent Lie by Paul Goldstein

Publisher: Anchor  ISBN-030727490X

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

After the fallout of his last big case, NYC attorney Michael Seeley decided to pack it in and head back to his home town of Buffalo, bad memories be damned.  But, of course, the memories of his past seem to linger on every corner, making settling in a bit more difficult than he’d hoped.  So, when his younger brother Leonard, a doctor/researcher at a small pharmaceutical company, begs him to fly up to San Francisco to take over a case involving a patent for a new drug that could stop AIDS in its tracks, Michael agrees to look into the case against his better judgment.  And, while at first, it seems to be a case of David vs. Goliath, with his brother’s company being the underdog, Michael will soon discover that nothing is as it seems and that the closer he comes to the truth, the closer he comes to ending up like the dead lawyer he replaced.

There are many reasons to like this book, with the main one being that it offers up a provocative and timely look at the pharmaceutical industry and what goes on behind the scenes in bringing a drug to market.  Although far from pretty, one does have to appreciate how Goldstein puts this alarming madness into words the layman can understand.  However, while I was fascinated and challenged by the concepts presented, I simply could not feel a connection to the players involved, especially the main one, Michael Steeley.  It’s difficult to grasp his inability to forgive and forget when it comes to family, and the lack of resolution can be frustrating.  But, that being said, maybe by having missed the first in the series, I’m missing much of the justifications for why this is.  Either way, I’m hoping the third will bring some compassion to a character that has everything but that to offer.

 

 

 

Careless In Red by Elizabeth George

Publisher: Harper  ISBN-10: 0061160903

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

It’s only been a short while since New Scotland Yard DS Thomas Lynley’s pregnant wife was senselessly murdered on the street by a gun-wielding 12 year old.  And having spent nearly 7 lonely, heartbroken weeks walking Cornwall’s coastal sea paths, Lynley is looking more like a homeless vagabond than the wealthy and privileged man DS he once was.  So it’s no surprise when after discovering a body at the bottom of a cliff, he’s one of the first suspects when it’s realized the fall was not an accident. 

As soon as the locals discover who he is, he’s dropped as a suspect and asked to unofficially aide in the case, a request he hesitantly agrees to.  But as he starts digging into the background of the mysterious woman who he stumbled onto shortly after finding the body, he’ll find himself not only drawn into uncovering the many secrets she seems to be hiding, but he’ll also find himself being drawn back into the land of the living as well.  But she’s not the only suspect on the list, or the only one with something to hide, because this small town is brimming over with secrets and long hidden resentments, and for one in particular, a justifiable reason to exact revenge through murder.

As always, George provides a suspenseful and challenging tale filled with comprehensive insights into her character’s lives.  A master at defining the motivations and emotions that are being played out deep underneath the surface, she again justifies her place as one of the top writers in psychological suspense.  This is more than just a simple tale of murder, it’s also a provocative look at the dynamics that exist between parents and children throughout each other’s lives; the regrets and pre-defined roles that seem to cycle through the generations, regardless of the best intentions to do it all differently.  Additionally, fans of her previous DS Lynley novels will find themselves liking this wonderfully drawn character even more than before, his heartbreak and compassion making him only that much more human.  A must read for fans of any genre; this stirring tale of murder, regrets, revenge, and the family ties that drive them all will easily satisfy even the most discerning reader.

 

 

 

The Body in the Gallery by Katherine Hall Page

Publisher:  Avon  ISBN  0060763701

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

This is another in the marvelous Faith Fairchild series.  If you like a story that combines cookery, crime and some better-than-average character studies, this one is recommended.

Faith Fairchild’s catering business “Have Faith” is in a bit off a slump, so she’s delighted when her friend Patsy offers her the chance to take over the moribund cafe at the Ganley Art Museum in Aleford, the little New England Town where Faith and her minister husband and family live. 

In next to no time, Faith has transformed the cafe from a ptomaine pit into the most popular informal eatery in town.  Everything is going just fine until one evening after the grand opening of a new exhibition, the body of a beautiful and bald young woman is found in one of the strangest exhibits, a big blue fish tank.

No one admits to knowing who the young woman is.   Those who have read previous Faith Fairchild stories will know that she just can’t leave this case to the police, especially when the dead girl’s roommate comes forward to identify her as Tess Auchincloss.   But why has she left no trail in the world?  Nobody knows her, the school she attended never heard of her—and yet she clearly existed, because her image keeps turning up in the work of local artists. 

It’s only when Tess’s connection to a local bachelor is discovered that the case begins to move forward.  While it may be very satisfying for Faith to have discovered who this lost girl is, right under her nose her own son is drifting further into a dangerous and bad situation, and this is weakening her once-strong marriage with Tom, who has his own pressures to contend with.  Finally the courage of a minor character who has been unfairly overlooked brings things to a head and helps Faith focus on something beyond her compulsion to find justice for Tess.

This is a good study in modern parenting and the difficulties people face trying to juggle home and work, as well as being an involving murder mystery.  The usual supporting cast of Faith’s staff, family and the police department are once again called on stage to assist the intrepid cook in her investigation.

 

 

 

The Reapers by John Connolly

Publisher: Pocket Star   ISBN-10: 1416569537

Reviewed by Dana King, New Mystery Reader

All series authors struggle to keep the franchise fresh, with varying results. Some age their characters in real time, some slow the aging process. Some stop it. Books are written out of sequence, telling of events that took place before already released novels. The past year has seen two top-list authors shift focus to their series’ regular sidekick. Last year brought Robert Crais’ award-winning The Watchman, a Joe Pike story with Elvis Cole in support. This summer unveils John Connolly’s The Reapers, featuring Charlie Parker’s friends and abettors Louis and Angel as protagonists; it should be no less successful.

The story begins by looking back to Louis’ father, burned alive by racists in a redneck town. Nightmares bring the Burning Man to Louis with unnerving frequency, even now that he has retired from the Reaper, an elite team of professional killers.  A former colleague turned nemesis has returned for vengeance on those he feels wronged him, and Louis and his partner Angel must take action to save themselves and those close to them, no matter how extreme the action may be.

Louis and Angel will seem more sympathetic to those who have read other Connolly books, where their efforts to do good with their lethal skills show their desire to turn away from Louis’ previous career. Parker’s eyes and troubled sensitivities see how similar their demons are to his and leavens his judgment. Here the darkness inside their personal motivations is more fully explored—especially Louis’—with less benign results.

Connolly keeps The Reapers from becoming a nihilistic festival of destruction by counterbalancing them against another bit player from previous episodes, Willie Brew.  Sixty, a Vietnam veteran, Willie runs a small auto shop with his friend Arno that operates partly as a front for Louis’ money. Willie has no involvement in Louis’ other interests, their relationship is as deep as Willie’s acknowledgement that Louis bailed him out when he was in danger of losing the shop in a divorce. Willie knows Louis is bad news, just not how bad. He respects Louis for helping him and asking little in return, but knows nothing is free.

Willie does what he thinks is right, even when he doesn’t want to. He becomes involved in Louis’ plight because he feels an obligation to someone who has been good to him, despite the conflicts what he might have to do to fulfill his self-imposed obligation. Louis kills because it’s what he does; his developing conscience must accommodate killing a relatively innocent man because of a potential future threat, or as collateral damage, because he is too close to an immediate threat, an egg in Louis’s omelet of survival. Willie’s conscience has no such peace. He must choose between possibly killing men who mean him no harm, or abandoning a man who would kill for him. He is swept with increasing rapidity into the maelstrom of Louis’ danger in an effort to return a favor. No good deed goes unpunished in Connolly’s world.

The second half of The Reapers is an extended gunfight on multiple fronts. The ending unfolds through the eyes of several participants, none of whom knows all of what is going on, giving the reader glimpses into the minds and hearts of all. Some bad guys have been swept up almost as innocently as Willie; some of the good guys are there only to kick ass. Connolly’s palette consists of shades of gray that exist only in the mind; some darker, some lighter, with no bright line of separation.

He pulls it off with elegiac and poetic prose worthy of James Lee Burke. The Reapers never disintegrates into operatic carnage. The pace of the writing remains introspective throughout, denying the conventional wisdom of shorter, choppier, sentences to convey action and imply tension. Connolly has all the tension he needs in the dark world his language creates. Humor is plentiful; the usual banter between Louis and Angel lightens the mood when needed while showing the bond between them, two early-middle-aged gay men nagging each other like an old married couple, but with the coarse humor men reserve for their friends. Not the easiest thing to pull off, it’s highly effective when handled by someone with Connolly’s talent.

Beneath the carnage, The Reapers is about commitment and obligation. Angel knows Louis’ plan is based on incomplete information. He goes along because he goes where Louis goes, unconditionally, no matter how much he bitches about it, and he knows their original team is there for the money; only he will look out for Louis. Willie Brew will risk his life for a man he barely knows and fears more than he respects because Louis has been good to him, and he knows Louis would do the same for him, even if their motivations would be completely different. Parker arrives late and makes up for lost time by diving in without any plan at all, because Louis and Angel have been there for him without asking why, or how their contribution fits.

These qualities are juxtaposed against the selfishness of their antagonists, and contrasted to the good-soldier innocence of some of their opponents, to create a book that is much greater than the sum of its parts, and its parts create a substantial sum. The Reapers allows Connolly to look at his characters from outside of their own perspectives and see them as other see them. The supernatural elements that work so well in his other books (especially The Black Angel) aren’t needed here; frank examination of good and bad, how they overlap, and how each can be used in the service of the other fills the spaces between the lines. The Reapers can be read as one hell of a thriller, but those who read it for that purpose alone are cheating themselves.

 

 

 

 

Black Out by Lisa Unger

Publisher: Vintage  ISBN-10: 0307472299

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

With a solid marriage, a beautiful young daughter, and a world full of wealth and luxury, it would seem that Annie Powers is living the perfect life in her upscale Florida beachfront home.  But what most don’t know is that Annie is in fact far from the happy housewife she appears to be, with her entire identity being a tidy construction put together to hide her horrible past.  Because Annie is really Ophelia March, who years before had fled her unhappy and neglectful home to go on the run with a young man who made her his partner in acts of unspeakable terror.  But the past is about to come knocking on Annie’s door in the most frightful and threatening ways when signs that the evil young man from her past, allegedly dead, is in fact alive and has now come back to claim her once again.  But is he, or is someone just out to make her think so in an attempt to drive her insane?  With nobody to trust, and with her and her family’s life hanging by a thread, Annie will be forced to revisit the trail of past destruction in order to end the nightmare once and for all and reclaim all that should be hers. 

Unger’s latest tale of suspense is simply electrifying.  The reader, along with Annie, is sent down dark and deadly trails that lead to shocking revelations with every corner turned, with neither the reader nor Annie ever being sure of what is real and what isn’t.  Told along three different timelines, Unger makes what is happening, and what has happened, convincingly real as she switches back and forth with a brilliant ease that propels the reader forward at an alarming speed.  But it’s the ending that makes this trip even more astonishing; one you won’t see coming and one that brings it all together in a way that shows Unger’s masterful ability to create a moving drama that proves to be much more than a sum of its parts.  Unger’s best so far, don’t miss it.

 

 

 

Odd Hours by Dean Koontz

Publisher: Bantam ISBN-10: 0553591703

Reviewed by Glen Clooney, New Mystery Reader

In this fourth installment of the Odd Thomas series, Odd has an apocalyptic and fiery dream in which a mysterious woman is revealed to him.  He has seen this woman on the pier of the small, coastal California town where he now lives.  Approaching her on the pier late one afternoon, he learns nothing more about her than her name, Annamaria.  She remains mysterious, yet Odd feels drawn to protect her.  When they are threatened by three unwholesome-looking men, Odd relives his vivid dream when one of the men touches him.  Odd’s would-be assailant shares in the vision of the red tide, catching a glimpse of it in his own mind.  Odd jumps off the pier to escape, and from that moment he is relentlessly pursued by a group of men bent on nuclear holocaust.

Odd Thomas is a wholly endearing and believable character with an endlessly charming, self-effacing sense of humor, boundless energy, and unquestioning devotion to his fellow man.  He is also possessed of psychic powers that allow him to see the lingering dead; in this story, Odd is once aided by the spirit of Frank Sinatra.  This story tells the events of a single night, wherein Odd defines the fine line between murderer and killer.  The necessity of killing, and its effect upon him, more than anything solidify the character of Odd for me.  I have not read the prior three novels in this series, but I intend to do so at the earliest opportunity.  For those who have been following the series, “Odd Hours” is an eloquently written and engaging continuation of the story.  Highly recommended.