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Murder 101 by Faye Kellerman

Publisher: William Morrow

Reviewed by Bonnye Busbice Good for New Mystery Reader

Faye Kellerman refreshed her long-running Decker/Lazarus police procedural series when LAPD Detective Lieutenant Peter Decker and his wife, Rina, chose to pack up and move east to enjoy their adult children and grandchildren.

Decker takes a job with the Greenbury Police in the bucolic eastern town, whiling his days away on minor calls and enduring the arrogance of the young man partnered with him. Decker’s Harvard-educated partner, Tyler McAdams, received his position based on his father’s wealth and connections and Tyler makes sure that everyone knows it.

While Rina happily adjusts to seasons and life in a friendly small college town, Decker longs for gruesome murder investigations and his well-seasoned team in LA. When Decker and McAdams stumble into an art forgery case, Decker finally feels a little jolt of happiness—soon to be greatly increased when Greenbury experiences a horrific murder, the first in years.

As always, Kellerman provides an enjoyable murder investigation with intelligent, well-developed characters. She continues to flesh out Decker’s professional and personal relationships, keeping the threads going in the latest installment just as a family historian would in any modern, extended family. The juggling of personal and professional worlds never feels forced or intrusive, just part of Decker’s thoughtful experience.

In a nod to Decker’s past and long-time readers, Kellerman brings in some of Decker’s family members such as his foster son and his LA colleagues without allowing them to overshadow his new partnership and position in Greenbury. It also shows the contrast between Decker’s former position of authority and his new job as low man on the proverbial totem pole, creating extra layers when his expertise comes into play during the murder investigation.

Murder 101 delves into college life and high-end Tiffany stained glass, covering an array of motives and social classes while remaining grounded in Decker’s investigation into the forgery and murders. With this latest move, Decker continues to evolve in an authentic feeling manner, making him one of the genre’s most interesting and reliable detectives. Readers of Aaron Elkins, Daniel Silva, and Louise Penny should consider adding Faye Kellerman to their must-read lists.

 

 

One Kick by Chelsea Cain

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 

Reviewed by Jim Sells, New Mystery Reader

 As a child, Kit Lannigan undergoes every parent’s nightmare. At age six, her pet dog escapes and a stranger offers to help find him. This leads to her abduction and forced participation in child porn for the next several years. Eventually the FBI rescues her but not before tremendous emotional and psychological damage has been done.

As a young adult, she had fallen to calling herself “Kick”. Along with the help of her brilliant adopted brother James, she tracks the cases of missing and abducted children in her native Portland area. A map marks these cases with color-coded pins. Her obsession with these cases stems from the fact that during her rescue her abductor instructs her to destroy the database that contained the names of participants in the child pornography ring.

As she struggles with yet another anniversary of her ordeal and tries to avoid the attention of the media, a stranger named Bishop appears. Bishops lets himself into her apartment with little effort. He tells her that the FBI agent that rescued her sent him. Bishop proposes a partnership to hunt down child predators.

Knowing nothing more than Bishop’s vague reference to his career as an arms dealer and his extensive resources that include a helicopter, a private jet, expensive houses and a variety of $100,000 cars Kick goes with him. 

The journey back down the rabbit hole from which she was rescued serves at once as a healing process and exposure to the monsters in human form that people the hidden world of these pedophiles and their victims. They live in groups they label “families”. She discovers that there is even a hierarchy among these people. She and Bishop find that they must they must face twisted creatures that even the families fear and ultimately defeat a violent psychopath known only as “Iron Jacket”.

“One Kick” is a dark story dealing with a dark subject. The characters are not Hollywood movie cutouts breezing through with one-liners while saving the day. The characters are dark and brooding. Kick’s willingness to participate is clearly related to her ordeal. Bishop is an enigma that lends mystery. As Bishop’s tortured past is revealed, his motivation for hunting down the pedophiles and willingness and potential to use violence to stop the predators becomes clear. Cain writes in a crisp style that moves the story along in linear fashion. This is a well-written and engrossing tale. However, it is not for the faint of heart.

 

 

Invisible City by Julia Dahl

Publisher: St. Martin’s

Reviewed by Bonnye Busbice Good, New Mystery Reader

In Julia Dahl’s debut novel, she explores the world of Hasidic Jews, a self-sufficient enclave of people who vividly remember the steep price they pay when they rely on others to help them. As a result, some Jews find this orthodoxy too insular, leaving their community and modest clothing, traditional gender roles, and strict devotion to the Torah behind.

In Invisible City, the title references the Hasidic community in New York City. When a woman’s body, naked and with her head shaved, is found in the grasp of a crane on a construction site owned by Hasidic member Aron Mendelssohn, the community’s “police” quickly close ranks and take oversight of the case from the NYPD. While the official police detectives may not be ready to give up the case, the substantial political traditions from the Hasidic community results in the community’s ability to essentially police itself.

Rebekah Roberts, herself a Jew through the Hasidic mother she doesn’t remember, works the case as a stringer reporter for a New York tabloid. She finds the secretive community alternately mesmerizing and disturbing even as she returns home to her very secular—and messy--  lifestyle after each shift. Rebekah’s confusion as to her identity manifests itself in rage; she rants at her mellow Christian father and at the Jews whose traditions first drove her mother away the ultra-Orthodox life and then, later, from the infant Rebekah and her father.

While other journalists struggle to penetrate the closed ranks of the Hasidic Jews in their pursuit of the “Crane Lady” story, Rebekah’s claim as a Jew opens doors for her and encourages the women who knew the victim to speak to her. She gets another break when Saul, a NYPD officer and liaison to the community, contacts her, promising her information on both the murdered woman and Rebekah’s own mysterious mother.

Dahl provides insight into a religious lifestyle outside the mainstream, showing respect for Judaism and real interest in its different forms. Through Rebekah’s job as a low-paid and informal journalist, readers see the unglamorous side of journalism, from scrounging to the tired police liaisons who share morsels of information with the media. Purposefully foul-mouthed Rebekah can be unlikable, but child-like at the same time, resulting in a damaged investigator seeking not only the identity of Crane Lady’s killer, but also her own.

 

 

 

Hangman by Stephen Talty

Publisher: Random House

Reviewed by Ray Palen for New Mystery Reader 

There has been a refreshing shift in American fiction over the past few years where  a number of great tales have been set in Upstate New York.  Stephen Talty joins authors like Jenny Milchman, Jamie Sheffield and award-winner, Andrew Klavan, who have set stories in this locale.

HANGMAN follows Talty's debut last year entitled BLACK IRISH.  Both novels are set in the Buffalo, NY region and feature Homicide Detective Absalom "Abbie" Kearney.  The stark and somewhat bleak landscape --- especially in the long winter months -- -makes the perfect background for some nasty business.  I guess when the winters last as long as they do up in Buffalo some of the residents turn to crime to keep themselves entertained.

In BLACK IRISH, Abbie ended up fighting for career as a series of crimes were linked to her own family history.  In this effort, Detective Abbie Kearney faces the most daunting task of her career as she must match wits with a chilling serial killer who is called Hangman.

At the heart of the investigation is a missing teen girl who is feared to be the Hangman's next victim...or is she intended for something else?  Local school children have begun a chant involving the Hangman's name and his evil deeds are gaining notice in the area.  This is all happening much to the chagrin of Abbie Kearney and the Buffalo Police Force as they are under extreme pressure to stop this deadly killer

What makes matters worse is the fact that the Hangman was the moniker given to serial killer Marcus Flynn who terrorized the area long before Abbie's time.  He has recently escaped from prison during a prisoner transfer and his newfound freedom is followed up by more criminal mischief.  Could the Hangman be back in business?

Never predictable and always tense, Talty has another success on his hands as THE HANGMAN continues this interesting crime series.  Nice to see that Crime Noir set in stark, cold landscapes can exist somewhere other than just Scandinavia.  Talty clearly benefits from the success of those Scandinavian noir efforts and adds his own touch of classic American Crime Noir with another solid thriller.

 

 

 

The Hidden Child by Camilla Lackberg

Publisher: Pegasus Books

Reviewer: Bonnye Busbice Good, New Mystery Reader

Erica Falck desperately wants to return to her writing career after a year’s maternity leave with her beloved, needy daughter Maja. Fortunately, her husband intends to take his paternity leave from his job as a detective, but an accidental phone call about the murder of an elderly man from one of his colleagues spurs Detective Patrick Hedstrom back into investigative mode—with bubbly toddler Maja in tow.

Meanwhile, Erica pushes her stack of assignments away as she starts her own investigation into the diaries and mysterious German medal left to her by her emotionally distant—and now late-- mother. Even though she works in her home office whose thin walls can’t keep out the noise created by Maja and Patrick, Erica feels nearly as alone as she did while on maternity leave. Erica doesn’t understand her mother’s anti-maternal behavior from her childhood; now, she also doesn’t understand why Patrick can’t step up and take care of Maja without her help during the workday. Escaping into her mother’s diaries promises Erica a glimpse into the young, caring woman remembered by friends, but remained a stranger to her own daughter.

Patrick, also eager for a mental escape from the monotony and stressed relationship at home, surreptitiously follows the case of the murdered elderly man. His small band of colleagues, a family in its own idiosyncratic way, quietly keep Patrick informed, resulting in an unexpected break for the murder case that begins the chase for the killer in earnest.

Camilla Lackberg, also the author of the hauntingly excellent Ice Princess, mixes the genres of amateur detective and police procedural, adds tightly guarded family secrets and devastating ties to World War II from only one generation before, for substantial impact to both the characters and the reader. While  some readers will suss out some of the secrets before their official revelation, Lackberg’s emphasis on Sweden and Norway adds an extra layer, while also setting her novel apart from other Scandinavian mysteries.

Translated by Marlaine Delargy, Lackberg’s narrative boldly contrasts the era of the second World War with the modern one inhabited by Erica and Patrick—especially punctuated by unusual discoveries made by Patrick’s normally insufferable boss—even as she subtly details the similarities, especially with complicated family relationships. 

The Hidden Child jumps in time from the 1940s to the present and back, with a few relevant stops in years in between. Readers may initially find this confusing since Lackberg doesn’t always offer immediate clues other than the date at the beginning of the chapter.

Readers of Stephen Booth, Louise Penny and PD James should give The Hidden Child a try; the clear prose, deft details and fulfilled promises of layers and substance make it well worth reading.

 

 

 

 

Any Other Name by Craig Johnson

Publisher: Viking 

Reviewed by Jim Sells, New Mystery Reader 

Walt Longmire is considered by many in the Wyoming region to be an unstoppable force for law and justice. He practices his craft as a well-known sheriff of Absaroka County Wyoming. He learned his craft under former Sheriff Lucian Connally.

Now Lucian has asked Longmire to look into the apparent suicide of a sheriff’s investigator in a neighboring county. The investigator’s wife is confined to a wheelchair – apparently the result of an accident during a relationship with Lucian before her marriage. Lucian is purposely vague on this point.

Longmire is under the gun solve this case on several fronts. Back East, his daughter is about to give birth and she expects Longmire to be there for the event. As his investigation progresses, Longmire realizes that the suicide could be related to the disappearances of three young women in the area. This brings up the possibility that there could be foul play and even more victims if the perpetrator is not stopped.

As the reader is likely to know, the book series is the basis of the cable series. Of course, there will be comparisons between the two. On some levels, this will benefit the reader in terms of visualizing the characters and settings. On the other hand, the character development is much more intricate in the written format.

Additionally, there are less of the political aspects of Longmire’s job in this work. The immenseness of the Western landscape, its creatures and its inhabitants are well captured by the author. The chase through the buffalo herd in the dark and snow is worthy of a horror tale and yet is simply the telling a plausible scenario given the lawman’s job and location.

The dark side of human nature is well addressed and at time chilling in the plot. The cost and reward of living in such an environment is highlighted and may give the reader moments of reflection. Longmire, as penned by Johnson, is a skilled guide through his corner of the world.

 

 

 

 

Waiting For Wednesday by Nicci French

Publisher: Viking

Reviewed by Ray Palen for New Mystery Reader

Last year I reviewed the second novel in Nicci French's mystery series featuring psychotherapist Frieda Klein --- TUESDAY'S GONE.  This was a standard thriller that overall felt disjointed and more complex than it needed to be.

The latest effort in this series, entitled WAITING FOR WEDNESDAY, is a more interesting effort but still has essential problems.  It has taken me two books to figure out the issue.  The trouble is the protagonist is simply not that interesting.  In the case of this latest novel, Klein's sidebar plot seriously takes away from the main storyline which is quite interesting.

The main storyline involves a London housewife and mother of three inexplicably murdered in her own home in what appears to be a botched burglary attempt.  However, when the investigative squad led by Detective Chief Karlsson dig deeper they find a victim who had some dark secrets.

The victim in question, Ruth Lennox, had been carrying on a ten-year-long affair with a man named Paul Kerrigan.  Kerrigan's family allegedly was unaware of this affair as well.  Ruth's husband, Russell Lennox, appears to be devastated by this tragedy and is very protective of his three young children.  When the police find a store of liquor bottles in the Lennox family shed it points to a member of the household with their own secrets --- this one involving an alcohol problem.

When the boyfriend of Russell Lennox's 15-year-old daughter turns up murdered the police firmly direct their investigation into the Lennox and Kerrigan families and away from some of the petty area thieves they were initially looking at.  The puzzle of this mystery gets deeper and deeper and it soon becomes difficult to determine who is a valid suspect and who may just be taking the fall for one of their family members.

This murder mystery is as intriguing as anything you will find on PBS Mystery and I would like to have seen more of it.  Unfortunately, this mystery is diluted by the separate Frieda Klein storyline.  She is still having a difficult time getting over the events of the previous two books in the series (which are essential reading in order to follow this plot).  Among her issues are the constant fear that a demented serial killer is following her.  There is also an unreconciled long-distance relationship with a boyfriend in NYC that is just distracting.

In an effort to appease her guilty conscience, Frieda gets mixed up with a disgraced former journalist who is on the hunt of a series of missing young girls.  Frieda feels that, if she can aid this journalist in solving these missing person cases she can get back in the good graces of DC Karlsson and his team. 

I would like to see Nicci French pen a novel just featuring Karlsson and his squad as they are an extremely likable and engaging group.  Hopefully, Frieda Klein can get some therapy herself so she can rejoin this squad in the next novel and make for a more cohesive mystery read.

 

 

Eat What You Kill by Ted Scofield

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Reviewed by Jim Sells, New Mystery Reader

Evan Stoess was a trailer park kid who was lucky enough to have received a private school education. He lands a position on Wall Street. Through a combination of luck and daring he gets a chance to work a deal in “the big time”.  Medipharm is a medical research company that may have hit upon viable cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Evan’s boss gives him the go ahead on manipulating the elements that could make a medical research company into a sought after venture capitol chance. His boss warns him that if it succeeds, then we succeed. If it fails, Evan has failed. In the words of “The Street”, Evan has to kill it, skin it and eat it.

When the CEO of Medipharm dies of a sudden heart attack, Evan is essentially ruined in his newfound social circle. He humbly accepts an analyst’s position at Contrfund. Contrafund is a Swiss-owned company that makes money through the financial losses of publicly traded companies.

Eventually, Evan is given a chance to win a big score for Contrafund by finding a company that is likely to have its stock plummet. Evan settles on GoPostal – a gaming software development company founded by boy genius Joshua Gotbaum.

Josh is one the main keys to Evan’s vision of GoPostal fortunes. Josh is a creative genius whose decadent lifestyle is the fodder of the tabloid. Additionally, the company’s violent video games have drawn fire from Congress and special interest groups.

However, there is a factor unknown to Evan. Daniel, Josh’s father, is an astute businessman who discreetly implements measures to protect his son’s finances and security. Now Evan must decide how far he is willing to go to win for he has long ago decided that it is ethical to make money – at all costs. 

Scofield has drawn upon his expertise and experience as an attorney in high finance to provide the reader with a peek into that world. This is a world where wars are on par with those fought on the battlefield and the business leaders are more willing than any general to send minions to destruction. The author has created an entertaining and enlightening read that allows insights into that world without requiring a degree in finance.

 

 

Lion Heart by Justin Cartwright

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Reviewed by Bonnye Busbice Good, New Mystery Reader

Richie Cathar is self-absorbed but lacks significant self-awareness as he tries to figure out how to escape his father’s legacy and become his own person. His father, an intellectual and drug-addicted man enamored with the English king, Richard I, essentially threw his life away, leaving his only son adrift. Now Richie is in his thirties and a perennial student at Oxford whose very names (both given to him by his Crusade-obsessed pater) seem to steer him into the same academic abyss haunted by his father.

In between the demands of needy, ill-fated relationships, Richie decides to find the True Cross sought by Richard the Lionheart during the Crusades. As the wood fragments rumored to be from the cross that once held Jesus during his crucifixion, the True Cross would offer something monumental to scholarship while also placing a significant feather in Richie’s metaphorical cap. Richie notes that people seem to want to give him things or be kind to him, and his claim as a student at Oxford only seems to open those doors further for him.

While in Jerusalem for research, Richie meets Noor, a beautiful, vivacious young Canadian journalist with Arab relatives in the city. As usual, he engages in a whirlwind romance, but Noor keeps many secrets from him; a fact made much more clear when she suddenly disappears, unexpectedly dropping Richie in the middle of political intrigue.

Cartwright makes Richie a pretty unlikeable person at the beginning of his personal crusade, but, by the end, readers may find his search for both the holy artifact and for his own identity engrossing. Cartwright obviously thoroughly researched England’s medieval history, but shares a shallow Shakespearean-influenced version of the last Plantagenet king, Richard III. He deftly combines threads that reveal the relationships between Christians and Muslims during the king’s era and Richie’s own.

Tightly wound into a coming-of-age novel, spy thriller and quest for treasure interspersed with historical accounts of the legendary king, this unusual book journeys through England and Jerusalem over a thousand years and through the lives of those who cannot forget the past even as they move into the future.

 

 

 

By Its Cover by Donna Leon

Publisher: Grove Atlantic

Reviewed by Ray Palen for New Mystery Reader

The theft and vandalism of rare books and works of art is not an old practice.  Regrettably, it has happened throughout the centuries.  Sometimes it is done out of spite, sometimes out of fear and, more often than not, it is done for profit.

Thus is the premise of Donna Leon's latest novel, BY ITS COVER.  This release marks the twenty-third installment in the beloved Commissario Guido Brunetti series.  Set in Venice, Italy, this series has brought to life one of the worlds great cities while at the same time setting it firmly amidst the art, music and cuisine of this area.

More importantly, Donna Leon --- an American who has proudly called Venice her home for over thirty years --- has consistently grounded her series in strong ethical and moral philosophy.  Venice is a city that shares both ancient and modern sensibilities and has a social conscience that is often contrary to the somewhat stifling legal system its citizens are asked to operate within.

Thus is the dilemma of Commissario Brunetti.  He is employed to uphold the law but often times is torn between what is legal and what is right.  When he is called to a prestigious library in the heart of the city he is dumbfounded when the libraries Director reports several cases of both stolen and defaced rare books.

We live in an age where the fine art of reading is dying a slow death.  Book stores --- both chain and independent --- are closing at a rapid rate as book sales decline in favor of e-books or simply not reading at all.  Libraries seem to be quite a passé idea in the modern world.  However, it is the place to go if you are a book thief seeking to get your hands on ancient texts that may be found nowhere else.

The initial suspect appears to be an American scholar named Joseph Nickerson allegedly operating under the academic recommendation of a University in Kansas.  When Brunetti and  his team investigate Nickerson they find his identity to be completely bogus.  Other suspects present themselves including a former Priest who may have had more than a passing interest in ancient religious texts.

Brunetti discovers that there is a market for rare books and even certain pages of text.  He also realizes that even one page being removed, maliciously or not, from a book almost completely reduces its value.  As he digs deeper he finds the world of illegal book trade to be quite cutthroat and one that people would be willing to pay big money and even kill for.

BY ITS COVER continues what is perhaps the best of the recurring European mystery series and will really hit home with readers as the irony of the subject matter involving literature will not be lost by avid readers who will do almost anything to find the books that they love.

 

 

 

Murder in Pigalle by Cara Black

Publisher: Soho Crime

Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

Aimée Leduc is in her second trimester of pregnancy, there is a serial rapist that is preying on young girls in Pigalle and her best friend’s daughter has gone missing. The police believe that Zazie is just being a rebellious teenager. Aimee knows that Zazie has been fascinated with Aimee’s profession and has been working on her own detective skills searching for the rapist. Even after Zazie’s friend is attacked the police are not convinced that Zazie may be in danger. Despite the clear indications that Zazie was with her friend when she was attacked by the rapist and that he may have abducted her because she know what he looks like, the police refuse to act on her disappearance until the required time has past and they can consider Zazie to be a missing person. Aimée knows Zazie and is sure that she has been playing “Nancy Drew” and is in grave danger. Despite her condition, Aimée starts her own investigation because she fears that the police will be too late and she feels partly to blame for Zazie’s obsession with undercover work. Aimée struggles with the physical and emotional drain of being pregnant as she follows the clues that she hopes will lead her to Zazie but also put her and her unborn child in grave danger.

I couldn’t wait to start Murder in Pigalle, the 14th installment in the Aimee Leduc series. I was ready to return to the rich sight and sounds of Paris and its vibrant arrondissements that the author so eloquently captures in each of her novels. When following a series I sometimes worry that the author may run out of “creative energy” but I am happy to say that Cara Black’s writing is as vibrant and enthralling as her first book. René Friant, Aimée’s delightful sidekick has enthusiastically volunteered to be her “birthing partner” and is obsessed with her pregnancy. Aimee is uncertain of her future with a child that she will more than likely have to raise as a single parent since her relationship with Melac remains unclear. At times, I was surprised that Aimee made bad judgment choices that resulted in her getting shot and endangering the life of her unborn child. Murder in Pigalle is an emotionally engrossing novel with a plotline that is intense and suspenseful. Followers of this series will be delighted and glad that there are more districts in Paris for Black to explore in future installments.

 

 

Trouble In Mind: The Collected Stories vol. 3 by Jeffery Deaver

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Short story collections aren’t as common as they used to be, which is a pity.  A volume of short stories is a useful thing to have at your bedside or in your briefcase for those times when you have a spare half-hour.  You can have the satisfaction of reading an entire narrative rather than having to bookmark something just as the heroine is tied to the railroad tracks.

Jeffery Deaver is best known for his complex plots and nasty villains in the Lincoln Rhyme series of crime novels, and this volume contains several pieces featuring the paralysed criminalist and his staff and colleagues.  One of them starts with Rhyme’s obituary.

The opening story features Kathryn Dance, one of Deaver’s other full-length novel characters, and another story has John Pellham, ex-stuntman, coming to grief while scouting for movie locations in the wilds of Colorado.  There are a number of stand-alone stories including one really involving account of what a travelling salesman learns in his home town after 20 years away.

My favourite piece out of all these good reads was “Forever”, in which a desk-bound statistician in the police department gets the detection bug and pursues his hunches in the face of outright opposition by the real detectives in the department.  Talbot Simms’s doggedness about collecting clues gets senior cop Greg LaTour’s attention and eventually convinces him that Tal is on to something.  All these suicide pacts have something in common, and as usual greed is at the bottom of it.  But wait: there’s more...

This is a good thick book that will last several weeks if you’re careful and don’t gulp it all down over a weekend. 

 

 

 

 

Why Kings Confess by C. S. Harris

Publisher: Obsidian

Reviewed by Bonnye Busbice Good, New Mystery Reader

Golden-eyed Sebastian St. Cyr regards Alexi Sauvage with great trepidation based on their past disastrous meeting where her lover and Sebastian struggled in mortal combat. Now, Alexi is found with the body of a Frenchman murdered on London’s streets; the fact that the dead man accompanied a delegation to discuss peace while Napoleon gains strength only makes Sebastian more wary. Nonetheless, Alexi holds the key to finding the motive and the person behind the murder.

While investigating the Frenchman’s murder, Sebastian St. Cyr uses his social standing as the son of nobleman and the despised son-in-law of one of England’s most powerful men to gain access to the French nobles who’ve spent years in exile after the murder of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution. Their fragile daughter, Marie-Therese, is an adult now, but has never forgotten the lessons from her imprisonment or the extreme and fatal mistreatment of her brother, the Dauphin. Suddenly, Sebastian must dance around the English court, but also learn how to navigate the makeshift French court in exile.

Harris creates a powerful and highly-researched mystery, infused with her well-developed fictional characters and the haunted historical personalities. She continues to develop the relationship between Sebastian and his heavily pregnant wife, Hero; ensuring a unique partnership between the two that mystifies his dangerous and vengeful father-in-law. While long-time readers of the series will benefit from ongoing themes and relationships, new readers can jump in and focus on the mystery at hand and the perplexities of the French nobility.

 

 

 

Concealed In Death by J D Robb

Publisher: Putnam Adult

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Prolific author Robb continues to surprise the reader; just when you think you’ve sussed out her new style, she changes again.  The new book doesn’t have a great deal of violent action, as have some of the past ones; it doesn’t have a twisted, evil, monstrous killer who makes you loathe him or her from the first page, and it doesn’t feature a lot of the usual repertory company of Robb’s Eve Dallas series.

Concealed in Death focuses on a dozen old murders after first two and then ten more pitiful corpses are found stashed in the wall cavities of a building Roarke, Lt. Dallas’s impossibly rich and gorgeous husband, has purchased.  Roarke has plans to turn the old building to good use, as an adjunct to the women’s refuge he’s established in another part of town.  This old ruin was used as a street kids’ shelter 15 years ago, and the dead girls were associated with it somehow—discovering just how falls to Lt Dallas and her partner Delia Peabody.  Dallas feels a particular empathy with the victims, having been a street kid herself when very young.

Eve’s initial investigation is interrupted by the arrival of a stunning female forensic anthropologist, Dr Garnet DeWinter, who has replaced the retired Frank Beesum.  Eve senses she’s not going to find this spike-heeled scientist as easy to work with as Frank—especially since she’s on air-kissing terms with Roarke.  Before long, Eve and Delia find Garnet shoulder to shoulder in the morgue with Morris, the medical examiner.  He’s been lonely since the death of his fiancée, a murder Eve solved—is he getting to the stage where he can move on?

Concealed in Death revolves around four female characters: Eve; Dr DeWinter; Philly Jones, who runs a street kids refuge; and Mavis Freestone, pop artiste extraordinaire and Eve’s long-time best friend.  We learn a great deal about Mavis’s early years that we didn’t know before, and that ties in with the dead girls in an unexpected way.  Eve’s team of male detectives, her old mentor, her commander, and even Dr Morris take very much a back seat in this involving story. 

Taking a leaf from the Sherlock Holmes’ casebook, (“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”)  Eve pursues an unlikely theory to a surprising conclusion.

Nicely plotted, deeply detailed, and strangely believable, this is one to put on your ‘must read’ pile.

 

 

Children Of The Revolution by Peter Robinson

Publisher: William Morrow

Reviewed by Ray Palen for New Mystery Reader 

The body of a lonely, middle-aged man is found crumpled at the concrete base of an old bridge.  Under the bridge run the long unused remnants of railroad tracks.  This man lived alone, had no immediate family or friends, a past history of drug and alcohol abuse and no obvious enemies.  In most police precincts this would be an open and closed case.

However, DCI Banks and his squad are no mere police detectives and never let even the simplest-looking case go away without thorough investigation.  The middle-aged man turns out to be a disgraced former College lecturer named Gavin Miller.  The reason for his disgrace is that he was removed from his position due to allegations of sexual abuse made by two female students.

CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION marks the latest release in the long-running DCI  Alan Banks series as penned by Peter Robinson.  This series is also enjoying a successful television run on BBC as the DCI Banks series is currently in its 4th season.  The reason for the success is the tenacious attitude of Banks to never let a case go and always see things through to the very end --- regardless of what feathers are ruffled in the process.

As the investigation begins the allegations of sexual abuse show every indication of being fabricated charges as the two young women clearly had other agendas.  There was also connection to a now imprisoned young drug dealer who Gavin Miller was responsible for getting off of campus.  Could these young women be in cahoots with the drug dealer to ruin Gavin Miller’s life and was there enough resentment still existing to warrant his life being snuffed out?

Further checking into Miller’s phone records reveal a seven-minute long phone conversation with a wealthy socialite named Lady Chalmers (who also fancies herself a fiction writer).  Lady Chalmers claims to have no knowledge of Miller and that the phone call was an open solicitation from a College alumni association.  DCI Banks immediately smells a rat as he realizes a solicitation phone call from a stranger would typically not last for seven minutes.

 

It turns out Chalmers and Miller crossed paths many times during their lives.  Specifically, they went to college together in the early seventies where, among other things, they were both involved with a radical group that spread socialism.  Chalmers was far more intrigued by the political agenda of the group while Miller was more interested in Chalmers and the many illegal substances that addled his mind.

Miller and Chalmers were not mere acquaintances but also lovers.  Why then, so many years later, would this forty-year-old relationship end in the murder of Gavin Miller?  What exactly could have been discussed on that brief phone call that would have posed a threat to Lady Chalmers?

There are a slew of suspects, red herrings and plot twists to keep things interesting.  Of course, there is the expected blowback from Banks’ senior officers when the wealthy Chalmers family cries foul to being questioned as part of this investigation.  CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION is a solid read and worthy entry in this above-average crime series. The highest compliment I can pay is that if any criminal misdeed befell me and my family I would want DCI Banks on the case.