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TerrO.R  by Joseph Neushatz

Publisher: Booklocker.com, Inc.  ISBN-10: 160145015X

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

I am a lawyer by profession and I specialize in tort litigation at the consumer courts in India, especially in the arena of medical negligence cases. My maternal uncle is an anesthesiologist and the tales he has told me about his experiences in the operation theater assisting various physicians and surgeons is aplenty (And after reading this book I have a good mind to ask him to try his own medical thriller)

Yup, you guessed it right- this is a fine tale- a well crafted story of an anesthesiologist caught in a medical malpractice suit. The author starts with a compelling statement- “American citizens are innocent until proven guilty. American physicians are guilty until proven innocent.” When in any operation when everything goes well, the principal surgeon gets the credit- all others are secondary; however when something goes wrong- more often than not the anesthesiologist is made the scapegoat- and he will have the hardest time to clear his name.

Anesthesiologist Philip Newman is a dedicated, easygoing doctor. With a zany and jovial sense of humor life is on the bright track for Newman. But things suddenly turns chaotic when in a routine tattoo removal surgery on a 19 year old boy- something goes ‘wrong’ and goes into cardiac arrest. Soon the doctor is faced with a huge medical malpractice suit. The good doctor knows that there was nothing wrong with the procedure he adopted- and decides to do a little bit of research. And he soon finds out that similar deaths have occurred in such tattoo removal operations.  And his investigation takes us through a thrilling ride…of the other side of what really happens in the hospitals.

The author has combined in the work the research finesse of Arthur Hailey and the taut suspenseful style of Robin Cook in this debut medical thriller. Like the James Patterson novels, each chapter is short and crisp… ending on a ‘suspense’ note- such that the reader is always kept engrossed in the work.

I was a bit peeved by the way the author has portrayed the law and lawyers – but in the end, I must agree- most medical malpractice suits are filed by the lure of money- rather than of a sense of justice. But from my experience (from India) I find that most- around 80%- of malpractice suits are filed mainly due to lack of communication between the doctor and the patients- an effective public relation between a doctor and his patient/ patient’s relations would put to end a majority of such cases. 

The greatest facet of the work is that the author speaks from his experiences- and for a long time even after you finish reading the book- the key question of justifiability of holding the doctor in dock will disturb the mind of an articulate reader. Great book…. TerrO. R is enjoyable….disturbingly enjoyable.

 

 

Saddam’s Hangover + 3 Other Equally Insane Skits by Aniche

Printers/Publishers:  St. Joseph’s Press

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

WICKED…. ABSOLUTELY, HUMOROUSLY WICKED.

That’s in short how I would describe this debut work, a collection of short humorous plays by Aniche, pseudonym for a 22 year old Indian author who wishes to remain unknown.

This is a collection of 4 small skits featuring an international cast of characters including Forge Bush, Saddam Wussein, Phoney Blair, Jacques Straw and Sickman Freud. The first play Veilectomy concerns itself with the new law passed by the British Parliament prohibiting the wearing of veils by Muslim ladies. The debate of religious freedom versus security of nation is deftly handed by the author. The second play Hamlet Retold is the author’s own version of what really happened in Hamlet (yup the play by Will Shakespeare). Inheritance of Laws (the title is a take on the award winning novel by Kiran Desai – THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS) concerns itself with the passing of a new Act by the Indian parliament which prohibits domestic violence of any kind in the marital life. The last play Saddam’s Hangover (my favorite one) is the story of the last days of Saddam in the gallows, and a little tête-à-tête Saddam had with Bush.

However, it is not the plot or the story which will attract you (or revolt you as per taste) towards this collection of plays. It is the absolute irreverence the author has – and by irreverence. I mean A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E   and E-X-P-L-I-C-I-T I-R-R-E-V-E-R-E-N-C-E.  No one is spared- right from President Forge Bush to Saddam Wussein and from Prime Minister Phoney Blair to Sickman Freud- all get ‘heavy’ treatment at the hands of Aniche. With innuendos and sex laced humour which would even put Howard “Private Parts’ Stern to shame (the author has unabashedly used enough and more words to describe the male and female private parts, and this is a veritable thesaurus for lewd words), I found myself laughing at the jokes which range from gross to revolting - but let me make myself clear- I am NOT saying that the stories are vulgar, but it will not be to everyone’s taste. The author also has introduced a couple of sniglets to the English language

I was reminded of the old Confession Series of stories (remember the Seventies British humour series by Timothy Lea- CONFESSIONS OF AN ASTRONAUT, CONFESSIONS OF A WINDOW CLEANER etc.); however, unlike the Confession read and throw away books, this collection of dramas is not a simple throw away. You will find yourself recollecting some of the jokes, and silently guffaw reminiscing the jokes. Better read this book with an empty stomach, and I guarantee you will have second thoughts while eating a hamburger rich with mayonnaise.

And by the way, don’t rake your minds to come up with the meaning of ‘sniglets’- it means “a word that’s not in the dictionary…but ought to be.”


 

 

Landscape by Donna Cousins

Publisher: iUniverse   ISBN 0 595 35660 5

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Beware of getting on the planning committee that works to make a big corporation lean, mean and fighting fit—you may find yourself among the redundant staff members.

Mark Grant spent a decade as a corporate high flyer before being shot down by his own advice.  Not one to sulk because fate has thrown him a curve ball, Mark buys Hancock’s, a plant nursery and landscaping business, and sets about running it with the same vigor and inventiveness that he brought to his previous career.

Everything is going really well when odd things start turning up in the potting mix: bits of plastic, syringes and body parts.  When it becomes obvious that these aren’t just a few odd occurrences, but part of a huge medical waste scandal, Mark, knows he has to find out who’s behind it. 

Once Mark realises that there’s big business and big money involved, the ‘accidental death’ of Hancock’s former owner suddenly looks suspicious.  Enlisting the help of the owner’s daughter and his best friend Rick, Mark starts to track the medical waste back to its origins.  Rick finds out that the criminals are using a very novel method of dispersion, but Mark needs some irrefutable proof before he can hope for a prosecution by the Department of Environmental Health..

Before he gets far enough to build a watertight case, Mark’s daughter is kidnapped.  Rather than falling to pieces or going into a blue funk as most of us would in the circumstances, Mark goes ahead with his plans to sneak into the headquarters of the company he believes is responsible for dumping the waste.  

Getting into the company proves fairly easy—but getting out with two dozen spools of film is quite another matter.  If you can put this book down before you find out what happens next, you’ve got a tighter rein on your curiosity than most people. 

 

The Magdalene Code by Edmund Kwaw

Publishers: Booksurge, ISBN: 141966008X

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

Edmund Kwaw is a lawyer by profession, but I think his passion lies in creating and narrating well crafted religious mystery thriller. But with a title THE MAGDALENE CODE- comparisons with THE DAVINCI CODE is inevitable. And when the book deals with the role of Mary Magdalene and the last days of Jesus Christ, even the not so discerning reader will compare it to the Dan Brown bestseller. However, once we enter into the work- a quick 10- 15 pages or so, we forget the Dan Brown work and gets slowly mesmerized into the MAGDALENE CODE.

Who was the real founder of the Christian Church? Was it Paul? Was Paul the first witness to the resurrection? Was John really the beloved disciple as described in the Gospel? With hard hitting research, but with a fictional flair, Edmund Kwaw challenges the long rooted beliefs. What IF Mary Magdalene was the first to witness the resurrection; what IF ‘the beloved disciple’ mentioned in the Gospels is Mary Magdalene…..and what IF the Christian Church was founded by Mary Magdalene…. But will the religious world, in particular Vatican readily accept the findings; would the fact that the Church had been founded by a woman, break the hierarchy of the Church s we know it? Are we ready for the truth?

The author presents a chilling suspense tale, one of deceit, secrecy and murder- all in the name of keeping hidden a dark secret in the labyrinths of the Vatican. The novel starts at AD32 where Mary Magdalene writes a scroll on the request of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is safely kept hidden away and 2000 years later a paleographer discovers it. Before he could rejoice in his findings, he is murdered and soon a trail of murder follows. What literally earth shattering secrets would the scroll contain? The author keeps in fine check the suspense of the work, such that we are glued into the pages.

I think a new phase… a new sub-genre is developing in the Mystery- thriller genre- the Christian religious suspense thriller. Early this month Jeffrey Archer’s THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JUDAS BY BENJAMIN ISCARIOT was published to grand success, and with this THE MAGDALENE CODE- I am fortified in my belief that a new sub-genre is fast developing. Watch this space.



 

 

A Blood Stained Ivory Tower by Richard Kelly

Publisher:  AuthorHouse ISBN:  1418408042

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Life on campus gets complicated for Professor Tom Evers when he is asked by the parents of murdered Whitney Richardson to look into her death for any new information.  Reluctant at first, he does undertake to see what he can find out.

At first, the murder looks like a single incident but the next year another girl turns up dead. Pieces of the puzzle come together over time, but they still can put a name to the killer until a third girl dies.  Then the final clue that connects all three cases is found.

Talented author Richard Kelly gives the reader a look at life on campus through the eyes of a teacher and a glimpse at the relationship between student and professor. A well thought out plot with an original turn, plenty of action, red herrings and a cast you will remember.

Recommended as a fun read for any mystery buff.  Enjoy.

 

Broken Men and Fallen Women by Rod MacDonald

Publishers: Frontlist Books, 2003 ISBN: 1843500876

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

Rod MacDonald is a first time author, and a fresh voice in the noir crime thriller genre. The writing might be raw, the narration not enough fast paced, but let me tell you, the spark is there and in due time, Rod Macdonald might just be the new voice in noir crime thriller writing. The book reminded me a lot about the Apples Series of work by Symon Myles (pseudonym for Ken Follett, - the Apple series of works were written before the author hit it big with Eye of the Needle), both in narration style and plot setting.

The mystery starts with a brutal murder and the body is left hanged on a rope in the back garden. The victim is E.T…. and well, E.T. is a cat. The cat belonged to Ruth Munro, the glamorous wife of one of the country’s premier bestselling author, Paul Munro. Soon after a girl is mysteriously raped in the Munro House. Paul is perplexed and when Ruth is found accused in a murder case, Paul finds himself embroiled in a controversy, one that’s more strange and sinister from the works he wrote. And he soon realizes that his wife is an enigma, and had a past life of which Paul was little aware of.

What follows is a good action packed murder mystery with plentiful legal action culminating in a finish that would enthrall a connoisseur of good mysteries.

A good debut, and as I said earlier, MacDonald has made a promising start, and if he keeps working on that, and it would just be a matter of time before the author gains international popularity. Just watch this space.

 

 

The Bishop of San Francisco by Eugene C. Bianchi

Publisher:  AuthorHouse ISBN:  142084153X

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

A different view of the Catholic Church than the one we are familiar with.  This tale of intrigue and murder takes the reader behind the scenes, into the private life of Bishop Mark Doyle, and the events instigated by his enemies to bring about his downfall.

Someone is killing friends of the bishop--priests--killed either for who they are or what they represent--a liberalizing effect on the church.  The killers' aim is to force the church to hold to the old ways. Or so it seems.  Could there be more to it than that? What do they really want?

The bishop has a lover, forbidden by his vows of chastity, but he knowingly breaks those vows and almost flaunts the affair in the faces of his enemies.  Then he gets a call to go to Rome to answer certain charges they have lain on him. 

At the same time, a discovery is made that might be related to the murder of the second priest.  Information, if disclosed, that could bring down the bishop's enemies.  Is it related to the attacks on him and his friends by thugs? Are the attacks related to the murders?  Or are they just a warning? 

With the emphasis on the sex lives of the characters the reader might feel like they are reading an exposé as well as an interesting tale of maneuvering behind the scenes for power in the church. The story is well done and the reader will meet some interesting characters.  A book that will appeal to a variety of readers outside of the mystery genre.

 

BUMPED OFF IN BALTIMORE by Louise Tichener

Publisher: Hard Shell Word Factory ISBN 0 7599 3741 9

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

There are so many mystery writers in print these days that  you have to find a niche nobody else is using--sort of like fiddler crabs and their borrowed shells.

First you have to pick a time: present:day or historical.  Then a place: if it's not New York or London, the sky's the limit.  And lastly, a lead character.  A medical examiner, a police officer, a neighborhood gossip or a private eye are the leading categories.

Louise Tichener, veteran author of 40 books in several genres, has picked Baltimore for the location of her Toni Credella mysteries, and pens that city with a shabby-genteel affection that almost makes you love it.  Toni herself is not your average girl cop or local gossip: she's a dyslexic interior decorator who works part-time as an apprentice private eye.  She has an over-protective police sergeant boyfriend, a gay black lawyer, a down-trodden mother, a bitchy sister, and a sort of Yoda-meets-Broderick Crawford boss, all of whom react with different facets of Toni's personality.

After reading about the interior decorating and dyslexia I feared the book would either be a moral crusade to raise my awareness of dyslexia or be a sort of "Martha-Stewart-in-the-mean streets" book.   Happily, author Tichener falls into neither trap.  Toni's dyslexia is used sparingly and sometimes with humor to illustrate the difficulties she faces in trying to learn who killed Thea Berklyn.  Thea had just hired Toni for her interior décor skills, but gets bumped off before Toni can dab so much as a sponge on her walls.  In her other job, Toni is body-guarding a beautiful opera singer who has a lot more problems than the ex-boyfriend that Toni is guarding her against.

Hampered but not stopped by her lack of reading fluency, Toni soon finds out that there were a lot more people wanting Thea dead than the police apparently realize.  There's a disaffected son, a charitable cause named in her will, a waterfront developer whom Thea has been thwarting, a Las Vegas gangster--oops, sorry, make that hotel and gaming entrepreneur--just for starters.  And then there's Toni's mysterious, charming and well-heeled Uncle Vanni, who pops onto the scene after an absence of 30 years and vanishes just as fast.

This was an enjoyable read and I recommend it to mystery fans who like a tenacious but vulnerable heroine.  It's available as trade paperback or in a variety of E-book formats; see the website for details, www.hardshell.com

 

TEA AND WITCHERY by Marie Dees

Publisher: Hard Shell Word Factory ISBN 0 7599 4760 0

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader 

The death of  her partner in a car accident and the loss of her job have left Lyn feeling frail and vulnerable. Surely spending the summer with her herbalist Aunt Anthea in the town of Casadaga  is just what she needs to restore her emotional and mental health.

The little Florida town is the home of the Unified Psychic Society of Casadaga, as well as a number of other 'alternative lifestylers', including a few Wiccans.  Some of the psychics are remarkably intolerant and suspicious of the white witches, and vice versa.  Relationships don't improve when there's a mysterious fire in the psychics' meeting house, a murder, an effigy burning in the head Wiccan's back yard, another murder, and an attack on Lyn herself..

This is quite of lot of criminal activity to have to cope with when you're trying to get back on your feet, and Lyn could be excused for packing and running.  She doesn't give in to the impulse: instead she grits her teeth and sets up her paint box, and determines to get something out of the Casadaga experience despite the criminal distractions.  Also, she can't leave her Aunt to the mercies of the well-named Detective Gaust, who suspects that Anthea's refreshing herbal teas may contain deadly ingredients.

The story is kept moving by the developing relationship between Lyn and the attractive but solitary Alex, who is ostensibly writing a learned paper about Casadaga, but who seems preoccupied with some other concern.  Long before the police tumble to it, Alex has a theory about who committed the murders, as well as a plan to force the malefactor to confess.

The reader might find the contrived denouement a bit hard to swallow; the collapse of the killer's attempts to hide his crimes is jarringly quick, almost as if the writer realised she only had four pages to go and had better wind things up fast.   I also found the motivation a bit unconvincing, as least as it was presented.

That quibble stated, over all this is a good read, with well-developed, mostly likeable, characters, and lots of good background material drawn from the author's own experiences as the child of New Age parents. .  It will be interesting to see where Dees takes her characters in the second book of the series.

"Tea and Witchery" is available as a trade paperback or a very affordable e-book; for information on how to get it, contact  books@hardshell.com

 

Lost in the Ivy by Randy Richardson

Publisher:  PublishAmerica ISBN:  14113777503

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader  

If you are a Chicagoan, a Cubs fan, or have nostalgic memories of Old Wrigley Field, you might enjoy this tale of a young newspaper reporter named Charley Hubbs with secrets in his past and prison in his future if he doesn't uncover the identity of a murderer whose deed he is being blamed for.

Author Randy Richardson gives the reader a look into the unique town surrounding the baseball field and the underbelly of society there.  The murder of a cross-dressing gay man who happens to be Charley Hubbs' neighbor brings Charley to the attention of the police because of an argument he had with the victim in a gay bar. 

Will he be convicted or will he succeed in gaining his freedom? Will the secrets from his past be revealed, proving him to be capable of such a deed or what is it he is hiding?  Will his new life be destroyed before it really begins?

Join Charley as he tries to deal with a situation not of his making and try to imagine what he feels as he realizes how alone he is in his plight. You'll find yourself hoping Charley can prove he isn't guilty.

A well-drawn cast of characters and well developed background atmosphere add to the interest of this tale, flavoring it with old-fashioned hints of what Wrigleyville is like and what it means to be a Cubs fan.  Enjoy.

 

 

NO PLACE LIKE HOME by T. A. Stone

Hard Shell Word Factory e-book & trade PB  ISBN 0 7599 2900 4

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader 

Todd Stone's latest book proves conclusively that you can find as many good books in electronic form as you can in the hard print world.

"No Place Like Home" has got everything you need to while away a rainy afternoon: murder, mayhem, and electronic skullduggery; a flawed, troubled protagonist; beautiful women, and a complex plot.

Jonathan Kraag is pulled away from a warm and compliant ladyfriend in the middle of the night by Detective Dan Dubrowski, who's stuck with a dead colleague and a looming scandal.   Mike Patici is dead and naked in a sleazey motel room, and Dan's praying that Jonathan can prove that things aren't what they seem.

Jonathan is happy to oblige, but when he makes the link between Mike's death and the murders of several other local men, all sorts of cats start sneaking out of bags.  (Keep your eye on that cat connection, it will turn up again).

Many worthy folk in Ravensburg Illinois would be much happier to leave Mike's death as what it looked like at first glance, not least of them the mayor of Ravensburg as well as Jonathan's employers at American Data Machine Systems where he works as corporate security director. 

There are lots of twists and turns in this story, some of them inside the head of the lead character, who has a history of psychic malaise arising from years as an FBI profiler as well as work for other, less-known organisations.  Perhaps, as Dubrowski feels, Jonathan thinks too much, but it get him to the solution in the end, although not before a lot of lead goes flying around in confined spaces.

If you haven't run across Todd Stone before now, treat yourself to this book; it costs less than $6 in  e-format, and you'll meet one of the best cop-and-consultant teams to come along in years.  See www.hardshell.com for ordering details.

 

The Messiah Medallions by Jack Salmela

Publisher:  Authorhouse ISBN:1420846817

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

An ancient pair of pendants foretell the appearance of new sights in the sky and then disappear over the ensuing generations and turbulences. 

Things begin to happen as a college student begins to make progress on his time travel theory. A new star, mysterious security men appearing on campus, a bombing of the college's computer facility, and Tim Malone is accused of sabotage, murder and sent on the run.

In his absence a Homeland Security official claims credit for discovering time travel and says a time traveler from the future will appear. People are signing up for the one way trip to the future.  Things begin to unravel when there is suspicion of the people handling the time travel.

A tale with suspense, mystery and a bit of satire. A story of the past and the future that should interest science fiction readers.  Talented author Jack Salmela gives the reader something new in possibilities for the future. Enjoy.

 

BLACK ROBES ON WHITE HORSES by Daniel B Jeffs

Hard Shell Word Factory (Available in E-book formats or Trade PB) ISBN - 7599 0275 5

The premise of this story is extremely topical: The President is killed and a fanatical Chief Justice takes over the country, writes a new Constitution, and sets about re-making America into what he thinks it ought to be.  His scheme includes removing juvenile delinquents and troublemakers to Area 51, weeding out misfits, privatizing education, and taking the power formerly invested in the government for himself.

All that stands in his way are a handful of dedicated patriots, including four old friends from law school who have gone their different ways but who come back together to deal with the worst threat the Land of the Free has ever faced.

It's always difficult reviewing an advance copy: one must make allowances for typographical errors and possible final edits.  That said, this book has a compelling plot line and some good descriptions ("Nathan Forbush, a tall fraud of a southern gentleman, sat anxiously in his front table seat.") but these are marred by clots of clichés and confusing scene shifts.  A good copy editor would be the making of this book.

 

 

PLEASANT VALLEY by Eralides E. Cabrera

Publisher: Authorhouse ISBN: 1420822144

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Pleasant Valley was an apt name for the town in New York State.  Nick Soter, a teenage all American boy, had no bad habits, made good grades, obeyed and respected his parents, did chores and played piano for the church choir.  After stumbling into the wrong house one dark night he starts seeing evil creatures.  When his parents die he winds up in Vietnam where he wins the medal of honor.  After his discharge he goes to California, becomes a doctor and gets married.  His wife persuades him to visit Pleasant Valley and when he arrives it is not the same place and his life is soon in danger.

This is a breathtakingly scary fantasy novel.  Chills run up the spine from page to page.  Good reading for All Hallows Eve; actually, good reading anytime you want a delicious fright to get your blood flowing.

 

Shrouded In Thought by N. S. Wikarski

Publisher:  Northgate Press ISBN:  0-9720335-1-3           

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader      

In 1894 Chicago, cub reporter Freddie Simpson is sent to cover the death of Nora Johnson, a secretary at a factory, and although the police want to believe she killed herself, Freddie suspects she met with foul play.

He enlists the help of his friend Evangeline Le Clair, who assists him in getting closer to the Allworthys, owners of the factory where Nora worked.  Evangeline and Freddie become acquainted with a motley crew of characters associated with the Allworthys and the series of misfortunes that befall them.  While investigating Nora’s death, Evangeline finds time to volunteer at a settlement house and visit the Pullman company town, torn apart by strikes protesting the usurious practices of their employer.

Who ever would have guessed that Progressive Era historicals with convention-flaunting heroines would begin to seem clichéd?  Yet, despite the enjoyability of N. S. Wikarski’s story, it all seems vaguely familiar:  the medium conducting séances at dinner parties, the business-savvy Madame, profligate young man, and even Freddie and Evangeline’s relationship, which they both claim to be purely platonic.  This series has tremendous potential, which has yet to be realized.  Some characters are caricatures, while others just show strange inconsistencies (Evangeline, the settlement house worker, is appalled by Freddie’s lack of a valet).  Fans of historical mysteries will be able to overlook the flaws in this novel, but others won’t find it worth their time.