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Scandal Takes A Holiday by Lindsey Davis

 

Publisher: Century ISBN: 0712637273

 

Scandal Takes A Holiday by Lindsey Davis: Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Marcus Didius Falco is back, this time having a working holiday in the old Roman port of Ostia, which was apparently just as noisy and smelly in the first century as it is now.

He's not exactly in a time-share condo: the lodging is pretty basic, barely able to house his little family, their dog and the faithful nanny.  Which is not a bad thing when Falco's  unlovable sister Junia and her boring husband Gaius Baebius turn up seeking a place to stay and enjoy the sea air.  Falco shamelessly foists the couple and their child and dog off on his only nice relative, little sister Maia, who has rented an extravagent villa down the road.

G. Baebius proves to be surprisingly helpful in Falco's investigation into the disappearance of Infamia, one of Rome's premier gossip columnists.  He also managed to get trapped with Falco in a retired pirate's garden, but as we've come to expect, Falco talks them out of trouble--for the time being. 

The investigation moves foreward, with a number of false leads, and one horrific experience for Falco when he finds himself crammed into a tauroboleum with Uncle Fulvius, the one people warn little boys about, and they get drenched in--

--Meanwhile, back above ground, Helena Justina, Falco's patrician and (mostly) unflappable wife is involved in a few investigations of her own; while the faithful Petronius, long-time friend of Falco, is  doing his best to help  before there are any more disappearances or deaths.

As usual in a Falco adventure, there are some interesting side plots to the main one, plus a difficult romance.  It wouldn't be a Falco story without at least one pair of star-crossed lovers for Helena to sort out.

Lindsey Davis never disappoints; if you're a Falco fan, you'll enjoy this as much as the last one or the one before.                                                                   

 

Paranoia by Joseph Finder

Publisher: St. Martin's Press ISBN: 0312992289

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Adam Cassidy is a single 26 year old employee of Wyatt Industries, a successful and wealthy high tech firm.  Only thing is, he hates his job and is quickly going nowhere.  So when an opportunity arises to arrange a little scam on the company he jumps at it, only to have it back-fire and put him in a world of trouble.  His little scam has cost the company thousands of dollars, and in order to avoid prosecution, they make a deal with Adam:  he’s to get a job with their competitor and conduct some good old fashioned corporate espionage.   

What follows is nothing short of spectacular.  Adam soon finds himself making tons of money, driving a magnificent car, living in a spacious apartment, dating a beautiful woman, and working directly for the wonderfully human CEO of  Trion.  Falling deeper and deeper into the fantasy his life is built on, he finds himself stuck with no turning back, and the only way to go forward is to admit to his betrayal of his new friends and lover.  And when things start getting dangerous, Adam must make some serious decisions that could cost him everything. 

Wow!  Billed as “the first blockbuster of 2004”, this high-octane, wild ride easily fits the bill.  In today’s high-tech world, this thriller doesn’t seem too far-fetched and is frighteningly all too easy to believe.  Revealing the ugly side of big business, this enlightening look at corporate greed takes the reader on a thrill-a-minute spree through the halls of corporate America, where nothing is ever as it seems, and manipulation is the code word for getting the job done.  What happens when you’re offered all you ever wanted?  What price are you willing to pay?  And how far are you willing to go?  These  are all the questions raised, with no easy answers supplied.  Guaranteed, you’ll never look at companies such as Intel and Hewlett Packard in quite the same way again

 

The Second Chair by John Lescroart

Publisher: Signet Book ISBN: 0451211413

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

In this latest outing featuring defense lawyer Dismas Hardy and Deputy Chief Abe Glitsky, along with Hardy’s associate Amy Wu, we are taken on another legal joyride through the streets of San Francisco.  Andrew Bartlett, a 17 year old high school student, has been charged with the double homicide of his girlfriend and his drama teacher.  Wu takes the case, ready to plea out the young man, but only if he is charged as a juvenile, guaranteeing his release by the age of 25.  But things quickly sour when Andrew refuses to admit his guilt, throwing the prosecution team into an angry frenzy believing that Wu purposefully misled them.  Meanwhile, Glitsky is busy in his new role as Deputy Chief when a string of executions occur in the city.  The targets seem to have little in common, except in the way they have died-at point blank range with a gun fitted with a silencer.  And when new evidence comes to light suggesting that these cases might be connected, and Andrew might be innocent, it’s going to take a lot more than legal maneuvering to find justice. 

Lescroart’s usual characters are all here in his latest, but it’s Amy Wu who steals the show.  Still grieving from her father’s death, she is spiraling down a hole of self-destructiveness that is putting her career in jeopardy through drink and one-night-stands.  Here is a character one can easily sympathize with, as we watch her slowly disintegrate and then attempt to reclaim her integrity, and her life.  Lescroart’s M.O. of nonstop suspense is also here in spades, with a plot that races towards its gripping climax in a breathless and thrilling ride that will leave Lescroart’s many fans clamoring for more.  And while it is a bit frustrating that the reader will most likely make the necessary connections before the police do, this read is still highly recommended.

 

The Anatomy Lesson by Robert I. Katz

Publisher:  Willowgate Press ISBN:  1930008104

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

Halloween sets the mood, a Halloween party complete with body parts sets the stage. And even the party hosts are surprised with what turns up in their punch.

A hospital medical school serves up more than the average lessons in anatomy and medicine as Detective Barent and Dr. Kurtz work together to find who is responsible for ruining the party, only to find a murder with gruesome similarities. 

How are a hospitalized crime boss and a murdered anatomy professor tied together? How do martial arts practitioners fit it?  You'll be asking these questions as you read and as the intriguing plot unfolds, you'll find the answers. There are many other questions you'll want answered and they will keep you reading this tale by talented author Robert L. Katz.

A fun read that you'll find immensely satisfying and worth the time. The Anatomy Lesson steps beyond the ordinary mystery plot to keep you reading and wondering.  Recommended to any mystery or thriller fan. 

 

Reap A Wicked Harvest by Janis Harrison

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312993935

Reviewed by Carroll Curry, New Mystery Reader

Bretta Solomon was not in a very congenial mood. Her busy floral shop was supposed to close at noon on Saturdays but Bretta had to stay late today to make up the sympathy bouquets and sprays for old Mr. Tyler’s funeral service. Her assistant, Lois, had a bad sinus infection and wasn’t able to come in to help. It was after five o’clock and Bretta and her dad, Albert McGinness, were late for the Parker Greenhouse picnic and open house . Dan and Natalie Parker were close friends of Brettas and they were having a Customer Appreciation Celebration for all their customers within a two hundred mile radius.

Albert McGinness, Bretta’s dad , had walked out on her and her mother when Bretta was eight years old. He had recently come back into Bretta’s life and while Bretta cared about him, her feelings about him were very complicated. By her own admission, “sometimes he irritated the living daylights out of me”. Albert was a very natty dresser and today was decked out in what Bretta thought of as the Colonel Sanders look instead of shorts and sneakers, which would have been much more appropriate considering the heat. When they arrived at the festivities, Bretta and Albert went their own separate ways.

Parker Greenhouse was more than just a few glass buildings with plants in them. The grounds were transformed into many different garden and water feature styles. Bretta always felt rejuvenated by strolling the grounds and sitting a spell in the Contemplation Garden. Which was where she was headed when she met Marnie Frazier and a friend who Bretta didn’t at first recognize . It turned out to be Jacob Miller an Amish young man whom she had met when she solved his uncle’s murder. Before she could ask Jacob why he was employed at Parker, Marnie started asking Bretta about her techniques in questioning people and how to solve a mystery. Bretta blew her off as being overly inquisitive. Bretta’s husband Carl, before he had passed away, had been a Deputy for Sidney Hancock, Sheriff of Spencer County. She and Carl had discussed many of the cases that Carl worked on and he had coached her on the finer points of detection. She seemed to have a knack for solving murders and had been instrumental in several cases in the county. Therefore a lot of people were curious about Bretta’s ability.

Later after a wonderful meal and visiting with her friends and the employees of Parker, Bretta found a good spot to watch the promised fireworks display. They were spectacular and the crowd enjoyed both the bright lights and the loud explosions. Since her father wasn’t around, Bretta helped to put away folding chairs . She was on her way back from the storage shed for another load when Allison Thorpe burst out of the garden entrance and ran towards the Lodge. On her heels, Albert tottered after her. When he caught sight of Bretta he changed course. He was pale and his gait was unsteady. Before she could speak, he blurted out, “There’s a body in the garden, blood everywhere. There’s a killer on the loose.”

So begins the next tale in Bretta’s adventures. Bretta is determined to help her best friend, Natalie Parker, and get to the bottom of this horrible murder of one of her employees. After many twists and turns Bretta feels she is making headway in putting things together. Just in time to put herself and her father in danger!

This book is very well written and I like Janis Harrison’s wit and her use of old southern sayings. She is very skillful in laying out her clues and her knowledge of gardening and flowers adds to the story. I liked the book and I am looking forward to reading more of Ms Solomon’s adventures.

 

Good Morning, Killer by April Smith

 Publisher: Pinnacle Books  ISBN: 0786016671

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Ana Grey, an FBI agent is drawn into a new case involving the disappearance of young girls.  Fearing a serial killer is stalking young women, she soon becomes deeply involved in the search, still fearing mistakes like her last case in which she couldn’t save the victim.  All too soon things go from bad to worse, and Ana soon finds herself on the wrong side of the law when a crime of passion lands her in a new and terrorizing world of murder, rage, grief, and regrets. 

 It’s wonderful to see one of the more flawlessly rendered characters in mystery fiction return.  Ana Grey is completely real, and so emotionally engaging that it’s almost impossible to walk away from this read unaffected.  We’re fully drawn into her story, and it’s both frightening and unsettling. To say the suspense is high is an understatement; this is one tale that will leave the reader breathless and panting for more.  And even though its take on love and murder is dark and disastrous, it somehow feels more genuine and true than others like it.  Read this profoundly poignant story and you won’t regret it.  This is one character we’ll always welcome back.

 

 

Shadow of the Great Owl by B. Ray Mize

Publisher: Turnkey Press ISBN: 0975480316

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

J.T. Edson, Louis L’ Amour….. Here add one more name to this list of Western authors… the name of B. Ray Mize.

It’s a long time since I read a Western. In the near future I can’t think of any name that has made it big in this thriller sub- genre. For horror, we have Stephen King; for legal thrillers we have John Grisham; for medical thrillers, Robin Cook; for political thrillers Tom Clancy- but hard as I rake my mind I am unable to think of any author who has made it big in this genre since the days of Louis L’ Amour.  This vacuum has now been filled and kudos Ray Mize for taking up this task.

Reminiscent of old L’ Amour novels (remember the quaint old style of the cover jackets and the cowboy vs. ‘Injuns’ fighting) - well, Shadow of the Great Owl is also packaged similarly- at least in the cover jacket. But it is a whole new story, plot wise and narration wise.

Shadow of the Great Owl is the story of Comanche warrior and war hero Reid Mathews who it is widely believed has the protection of an ancient spirit of the “Great Owl.” Mathews’s help is sought by an old couple whose grandson has been framed for murder. Mathews’s ‘investigation’ draws him to a world where ancient customs and beliefs  meet modern day treachery and corruption, and what follows is action at its best culminating in an exciting, but expected finish.

I enjoyed the book, it evoked some nostalgic memories and I sincerely and fervently hope that the Western genre would make a return- and my appreciation to Turnkey Publishers for taking up this task of reinventing this wonderful genre. Recommended.


 

For The Love Of Mike by Rhys Bowen

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312989040

For the Love of Mike by Rhys Bowen: Reviewed by CJ Curry, New Mystery Reader

Molly Murphy, fiery, proud and independent, is a fresh immigrant to America. After having tried other means of employment over the past year, she finally became an associate in J.P.Riley and Associates , a Private Investigation firm. After J.P.’s untimely death, Molly made the decision to continue the business and using J.P.’s name as a cover. However, in trying to finish up Paddy’s last few cases, Molly is mistaken for “a lady of the evening” while on surveillance in a domestic case. The policemen took her to the local precinct to spend the night in jail, because of course “no respectable woman” would be out alone late at night. She must be up to no good, perhaps a lookout for the infamous gang of thugs, the Dusters. Molly was determined not to call upon Captain Daniel Sullivan who was a detective at this precinct, as Daniel vowed his love for her but could not bring himself to break off his engagement with a young woman of a prominent family. While having several hours to contemplate her situation, Molly decided to not take anymore divorce cases although that had been Paddy’s bread and butter. Molly found them to be small, mean-spirited and sordid. She decided to go with her original idea of trying to find immigrants who had lost touch with their families back in Europe.

Molly had befriended a small family on her trip from Ireland to America. The children had been turned over to their father upon arrival in New York and Molly thought that was the end of it. Not to be, however. Seamus, the father had been injured in a tunnel building accident and had not been able to work since and had moved his little family in with relatives, who to Molly’s way of thinking were totally unfit for the children to be associating with. So Molly fretted over how to care for Seamus and the children, Bridie and Shamey. Molly lived on Patchin Place with two older women named Sid and Gus, short for Augustas and she loved the carefree life with them and their intelligent friends. So to think of leaving this haven was a very painful thought for her.

In keeping with her new resolve about her work Molly wrote an advertisement for ’finding relatives’ and sent it off to the Dublin Times. When she went to the post office to mail the letter, she was given a letter addressed to J.P. Riley and Associates. A Mr. Mostel wanted an appointment at the “earliest convenience on a matter of delicacy and confidentiality”. In calling upon Mr. Mostel, Molly learns that he is in the garment industry and a rival is stealing his designs before Mr. Mostel can get his clothing to Market. He suggests that Molly is to go to work in his factory, undercover, to find out who is selling the designs to his rival. With the retainer for this case and the happy event that a house across the street from Sid and Gus has suddenly become available, things are looking up for Molly. She can now take Seamus and the children in until Seamus is fully recovered.

Molly is to learn very quickly that working in a sweatshop in the garment industry is a very trying experience. The working conditions are abysmal for the women and girls who have no choice but to work there -or starve- or become ‘ladies of the evening’. Molly soon finds herself wanting to help these women and becomes embroiled with union organizers.

Rhys Bowen has written about a very painful time in American history. She has researched her facts well. And the horrors that befell such women and children comes thru loud and clear. I can’t shake the feeling that I have read this story before. And I feel that Ms. Bowen was just a little too “pat” in relating Molly’s story. There are no surprises other than ……..how could such an intelligent person as Molly do such stupid things to get herself into such trouble. Some of the situations seem a little contrived to me.

I do have to commend Ms. Rhys on her compassion and her passion for bringing these injustices to light. I too, care deeply about women and children’s issues.

I LOVE Ms Bowen’s titles!!!

 

Their Wildest Dreams by Peter Abrahams

 Publisher: Ballantine Books  ISBN: 0345439422

Their Wildest Dreams by Peter Abrahams: Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Mackie Larkin’s Arizona home is about to be re-possessed and the IRS is after her for thousands of dollars, thanks to her con man ex-husband, Kevin.  So she decides to take a job at Buckeroos, a strip joint on the Mexican border, where the owner, Russian money- hungry Buck Samsonov is up to his neck in nefarious activities.  Meanwhile, her daughter Lienne has fallen for an older cowboy named Jimmy, and has her own secrets.  And far away in Manhattan, writer Nick Loeb is frustratingly working on his fourth novel and getting nowhere.   These lives are about to connect on a collision course where not all come out alive.     

What a wild and crazy and wonderful read this latest by Abrahams is.  Though populated by many characters, each one is a treasure.  Outrageously funny at times, and movingly touching at others, this is one heck of a roller coaster ride.  Embracing the Wild West culture of the desert southwest, these dreamers are passionately real, with their lives being a kaleidoscope of color and raw beauty.  This book has something for everyone, and shouldn’t be missed.