Icarus by Russell Andrews
Publisher: Pocket Books; ISBN: 0743451562
People begin to die on Jack Keller as a young boy, beginning with his beloved Mother who is murdered in front of him when he is 8 years old. After moving on and becoming a very successful restaurant owner 30 years later, his wife is the next to die in a brutal murder that also leaves Jack fighting for his life. To the rescue comes “Kid” Demeter, a man Jack once considered a son, and who now trains with Jack to bring him back. But when Kid is the next to go, Jack becomes embroiled in the mystery surrounding Kid’s life, involving several dangerous and beautiful women who may be responsible for Kid’s death.
This is an exciting thriller that ponders the questions of love, fidelity, and loyalty, as well as the question of how well one can really know their loved ones. Moving from one breathless scene to the next, the reader is taken on a ride of great magnitude, rushing towards the exciting climax that brings it all together. And although it’s hard to believe that one man can have such horrendously bad luck, this concern is easily forgotten when reading the tightly woven narrative. A great read, we look forward to Andrew’s next thriller.
Point Deception by Marcia Muller
Publisher: Warner Books; ISBN: 0446611360
Muller takes a break from her Sharon McCone series in this wonderful stand-alone mystery. Rhoda Smith, a detective in Northern California, still has self doubts stemming back from a case when she was a rookie involving the slaying of members of a commune. When a string of new killings hits her town, she sees her chance at redemption, along with romance when Guy Newberry, a true-crime writer, joins her to untangle these seemingly related crimes. This atmospheric novel hits all the right notes with strong characterization and a page-turning plot. We would love to see this as the beginning of a new series for Muller, but unfortunately, this is probably unlikely.
4 1/2 bolts
You Only Die Twice by Edna Buchanan
Publisher: Avon; ISBN: 0380798425
Suspense: Investigative Reporter Britt Montero returns to solve yet another mystery set in beautiful Miami, Florida. When she discovers the fresh corpse of a woman who was thought to be murdered by her husband ten years prior, she joins the race to find the real killer. Amongst the suspense, the reader will be delighted by Buchanan's obvious love of her home town written in beautiful detail. Britt herself is a feisty and lovable character, whose strength and independent nature only enhance this well-written suspense novel.
The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
Publisher: Harper Perennial (August 1999) ISBN: 006099486X
Reviewed by Dana King, New Mystery Reader
The Professor and the Madman isn’t a mystery; it’s not really a crime story. The events described probably would not have happened were it not for a terrible crime, yet the crime itself is secondary to those events. Author Simon Winchester’s tale of two men brought together by a great undertaking is uplifting, melancholy, and compelling..
William Chester Minor was the son of well-to-do missionaries. Much of his early upbringing took place in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), where his regular exposure to nubile, naked, native girls was judged not to be in the young man’s best interest, and he was sent home to Connecticut.
Minor became an Army surgeon just in time to witness some of the Civil War’s worst horrors during the Battle of the Wilderness. Deeply scarred by what he saw, and by a punitive action he was forced to perform, Minor was treated for psychiatric disturbance and retired on full pension from the Army.
He thought an extended to England would relax his troubled mind, but his mind was past relaxing. His paranoid delusions led him to kill an innocent passer-by Minor believed was about to harm him and he was found not guilty by reason of insanity, destined to spend most of his remaining life at Broadmoor Asylum.
At Broadmoor Minor becomes aware of the nascent efforts to compile the first full dictionary of the English language, what we know today as the Oxford English Dictionary. How Minor becomes the dictionary’s primary contributor, and his interaction with the first editor, James Murray, is Winchester’s story.
And what a story it is, including a fascinating history of English dictionaries, as well as the techniques of their creation. The relationship between Minor and Murray is never far away, and the friendship that evolves is both charming and melancholy, as much because of the Victorian context as the knowledge that medical science offered nothing substantial to aid Dr. Minor other than to keep him from harm’s way.
Winchester tells a compelling tale of Minor’s tireless efforts to find words and citations for the dictionary, and of Murray’s growing dependence on his efforts. As time goes on, we realize Minor’s work for the dictionary may be all that slows the relentless progress of his illness, which today would be diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia.
The story is told in plain, well-crafted, language. Winchester is a writer well aware of the emotional impact of understatement in the right circumstances. His prose makes Minor’s plight all too real, bringing home to the reader the unbearable sadness of someone forced to live with constant delusions of persecution. The author’s sympathy for Minor’s victim – as well as the widow and fatherless children – is set beside Minor’s grief over his action, and his efforts to make amends.
The book’s most chilling aspect is the knowledge that W.C. Minor is a man of many talents and formidable intellect, who is fully aware of his condition. The thoughts of such a man, knowing he is essentially powerless to control the errant wanderings of the same mind that provides his gifts, must be dark indeed. That Minor is able to throw himself so wholeheartedly into his work on the dictionary, and provide such value to a timeless document, is the triumph of a good man, betrayed by what should have been his most trusted property.
The Professor and the Madman doesn’t take long to read, so don’t hurry through it. Try to keep your feelings in the foreign context of Victorian reserve and enlightenment, and take advantage of Winchester’s talents to place yourself, for a thankfully brief time, in the mind of Dr. Minor, after which you’ll be grateful not only for Winchester’s work, but because you can step away from what haunted Minor.
Duck Blood Soup by Joseph Molea, MD
Publisher: iUniverse, 2002 ISBN: 0595218431
Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. This uncensored cut and dry story of a psycho physician is not for everyone’s taste. And I for one would be very, very careful while going to a doctor.
Medical thrillers have been popular ever since Robin Cook popularized the genre, and Michael Palmer took it to greater heights. But this first book, Duck Blood Soup from Joseph Molea, a doctor who holds high qualifications in the field of drug abuse treatment was a real treat for my mystery loving mind- but sometimes too much for my stomach- the gore is a wee bit high.
Rocky VanSlyke is a doctor on the rise. But heavy work, odd hours, etc.- are slowly taking a toll on him. First it is a gentle stimulant, then the doctor falls prey to more vicious drugs. And slowly the doctor becomes a raving drug addict. The adverse effects of drug abuse, the lows and highs of an addict are portrayed in gory detail by the author.
I was disturbed by the book, yet happy that I read it. It was a warning that I needed, no.. no… a warning all should pay heed to. Highly recommended.
The Hunting Wind by Steve Hamilton
Publisher: St Martins Mass Market Paper; ISBN: 0312980264
Alex McKnight, the reluctant P.I. of Hamilton's series set in Paradise, Michigan, is back and as likable as ever. When an old friend from his minor league baseball days comes to visit seeking Alex's help in finding an old love, Alex is slowly drawn in against his better judgment. This story offers many twists and turns, some that confuse, most that delight, that will engage the reader and make them glad they came along for the read. Alex is a likable guy that we definitely want to see more of, and maybe even with a little romance thrown in. Maybe his new one coming out in May will give us this.
Rating 4 bolts
In The Blink Of An Eye by Wendy Corsi Staub
Publisher: Pinnacle Books; ISBN: 0786014237
Horror Suspense: A mystery wrapped up with a ghost story makes for an exciting and page-turning read in Staub's new paperback. When Julia, a resident of a community for spiritualists, finds herself confronted with murderous forces, she must find the culprit before others are targeted. With the help of her dead best friend's lover, and a myriad of other interesting characters, Julia explores mysterious past events in order to possibly save the life of her best friend's blind daughter who also appears to have the magical gift of communicating with those who have passed. This book comes highly recommended!
Every Move You Make by Jill Jones
Publisher: St Martins Mass Market Paper; ISBN: 0312980973
Romantic Suspense: When Regan McKinney moves to San Francisco to begin a new life after a failed marriage, she finds more than she ever bargained for. A serial killer is targeting red heads, like her sister and herself, and she soon finds herself in more danger than she could have ever imagined. Her new lover, and her new job, are both unable to keep her feeling safe, as she spins head-on into a course wrought with peril. This is a fun and easy read with plenty of suspense and enough romance to keep the reader satisfied. Although the savvy reader may guess the culprit before the finish, there are enough curves to keep one guessing nevertheless. This is an entertaining and satisfying read for suspense lovers.
Over Tumbled Graves by Jess Walter
Publisher: Regan Books; ISBN: 006103200X
Suspense: Let me start by saying that if I could, I would give this first fictional effort of Walter's 6 bolts. Not only is the suspense riveting, but the characters are so finely developed that you will feel you know them intimately by the end of the book. An intellectual novel that goes above and beyond the usual requirements of this genre, it is surprisingly emotionally haunting and thrilling at the same time. Serial killer novels seem to be a dime a dozen these days, but this one truly transcends most others with it's touching and sometimes humorous portrait of its characters. Revolving around an older detective, Alan Dupree, and his younger co-worker, Caroline Mabry, as they struggle to come to terms with an unknown evil, it fairly reads itself. There are many surprises along the way, with the final one making the reader question where the line should be drawn to separate criminal from hero. This is a must read for anyone who appreciates superb story telling along with their mystery.
Kiss of Evil by Richard Monatanari
Publisher: Harper Mass Market Paperbacks; ISBN: 0380795345
Suspense: Detective John Paris, a middle-aged Cleveland cop, is facing the battles that so many detectives seem to face; a broken marriage and no personal life. When a string of seemingly related murders attack his city, he is one of the first to realize they all have ties to a fallen officer, Michael Ryan. As the narrative switches points of view amongst the myriad of characters, the reader is taken on an exciting and thrilling ride that builds to a feverish pitch. This is a well written novel, like the others from this author, and is a must-read for those who like well-defined characters and exciting plot lines.
Tracking Time by Leslie Glass
Publisher: Signet; ISBN: 0451202287 (Paperback)
Suspense: April Woo is back in her role as an NYPD detective. When an old acquaintance of hers, psychiatrist Jason Frank, asks her to find a missing man, she and Jason become embroiled in a case that ends up bigger than either one would have ever suspected. Everyone from disturbed mental clients to embittered teenagers are on the list of suspects. And the tension mounts even further when her long time boyfriend tries to take over the case. This is one of Glass's best novels featuring April Woo. Jason Frank is a welcomed addition, with his finely developed character showing emotion and depth all too often missing in such novels.
The Debt Collector by Lynn Hightower
Publisher: Dell Pub Co; ISBN: 0440225329
Female Detective Series: Sonora Blair is back in her role as a Cincinnati detective. In this outing she faces not only a gruesome crime in the form of a home invasion that left 4 people dead, but also faces her own personal loss of faith and confidence. Blair is the only one who believes a dying woman's last words that there was a third man involved, and it's up to her to solve this last riddle long after the case has been closed. Not only is this a suspenseful read, but the characters are finely drawn with real human failings and attributes all to often missing in this genre. Blair, a working single mother, faces the daily battle between career and children which often conflicts with her battle on the streets between good and evil. She is real woman, and the reader will easily empathize with the difficult choices she faces.
Staff rating: 5 bolts
Some Survive by James Preston Girard
Publisher: Onyx Books; ISBN: 0451410211
Suspense: When a high-class call girl flees to Wichita after stealing some very expensive items from her wealthy and elderly clients, the lives of some from her past and present are severely impacted. One is her estranged twin sister, Jess, now living 25 miles away in Sand Castle, and Lassiter, the lonely and possibly dying detective who has many secrets of his own. Although a slightly uneven thriller, there is much more positive to be said about this book. The characters are worth getting to know, and one will find themselves feeling great empathy for most of them. And although there are some complaints about the loose threads left with one particular character, this is still a worthwhile read that should provoke at least a small modicum of emotion in the reader.
Staff rating: 4 bolts
Mapping the Edge by Sarah Dunant
Publisher: Random House (Paper); ISBN: 0375758615 (Paperback)
Suspense: Anna, a single mother, leaves her 6 year old child with friends and heads for a last minute trip to Italy. When she fails to return, different scenarios are offered in separate story lines explaining her disappearance. This is a nifty trick that leaves the reader constantly guessing which one is real. This approach to the mystery of Anna's disappearance adds much to this novel that works on all levels. Themes such as relationships, loyalty, and betrayal are poignantly written about, adding wonderful depth to this enthralling mystery.
Tell No One by Harlan Coben
Publisher: Dell Pub Co; ISBN: 0440236703 (Paperback) Feb. 2002
Suspense: David Beck, a pediatrician, lost his wife 8 years ago, and in many ways has never gotten over it. When mysterious emails begin to arrive indicating the possibility that she may still be alive, Beck is sent into a complete emotional tailspin. This book comes highly recommended for many reasons, Beck is truly likable, and his unrequited love for his wife is beautifully written. The mystery itself will keep the reader guessing, while tugging at the heartstrings.
Quiet Time by Stephanie Kane
Publishers: Bantam Books, 2002 ISBN: 0553581740 (Oct. 2001)
For those of you who read the author’s fantastic debut work Blind Spot- is Quiet Time as good the earlier. The answer is no- Quiet Time is much much better. It is a superb legal and psychological thriller that left me glued to the pages. Kane is fabulous storyteller and she really knows how to keep our attention riveted to the work.
The Scott Family seems to be the classic American middle class. Warren Scott is the total family man and the master of the Scott House. His wife Peggy and Tim and Laura epitomizes the symbol of an All American family. Sari Siegel is the classmate and fiancée of Tim Scott. One fine day Peggy is found brutally murdered and Warren stands accused of the crime. However charges against Warren are dropped for lack of evidence. But Sari’s dream of a perfect married life with Tim Scott is soon shattered and she soon leaves town. Ten years later as a hotshot lawyer she returns to spot of the crime and together with Ray Burt the detective in charge of the initial investigation launches an intense look into the hidden facts behind the murder. What follows is an intense mystery where the untruths, the half-truths and the truths are revealed.
Taut but simple, intense but engaging narration makes Quiet Time an engrossing read. Ever since James Patterson popularized the psychological thriller genre and John Grisham reinvented the legal thriller, I was on the lookout for books that successfully combines both these mystery sub genres. And the author has successfully mixed in the right proportion the elements of both sub-genres to give us a topnotch page-turner.
A worthy read and an even more worthy buy, a book to be savored. Curl up with this book in the evening. Guaranteed, the suspense will keep you warm in those cold chilly nights.
Stay tuned.....much more to come! Do you have a new mystery review you would like to share with our readers? If so, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you!
Change of Heart Jack Allen
Publisher: Burping Frog Press; ISBN: 0970305303
Honeymoons Can Be Murder by Connie Shelton
Publisher: Worldwide Mystery; ISBN: 0373264275
While their house is being rebuilt in Albuquerque, NM, recently married couple Charlie and Drake accept an offer to spend the winter in beautiful Taos, NM. While Drake offers helicopter rides to rich tourists, Charlie, of course, finds herself embroiled in a couple of mysteries involving murder and religious art. This is a fun and cozy mystery, and its light-hearted and breezy tone will certainly delight most readers. The finest aspect can be found in its setting of beautiful Northern New Mexico in a mostly stormy winter. If you’ve never been there, this is a wonderful way to visit this beautiful part of the country.
Click on links for purchasing info with Amazon
The Detective and the Investor by Robert G. Hagstrom
Better categorized as a financial advice book, The Detective and the Investor has some redeeming qualities for the mystery enthusiast. The author uses the deductive methods of three prominent fictional detectives (Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown, and Auguste Dupin) to illustrate how a prospective investor should approach differing opportunities. I found this book interesting, if a little dry. The major failing is a tendency to “ooh and ahh” at the great detectives’ conclusions. This may be an advantage for a fictional work, but does not necessarily apply to real life investing. However, the main points stressed, that one cannot be diligent enough in collecting information, keeping an open and dispassionate mind, and not discounting one’s intuition and knowledge of human nature, are all good ones. The last chapter consists of a very enjoyable scene in which the author and the three great detectives convene to discuss investment strategies. There is also a valuable appendix containing informational resources. Not a story-oriented work by any means, but a good exploration and exposition, both for fans of classical detective fiction and those apprehensive of investing.
Publisher: Random House; ISBN: 0679459626
Alex Delaware scores again in Kellerman’s latest novel involving the psychologist who finds himself more often playing detective than therapist. In this latest outing, Delaware is caught up in a case involving a teen-age patient he consulted with ten years prior. Although he only saw the patient twice initially, and then once six years later, Alex is drawn into trying to solve the mystery surrounding her disappearance, and later, her death. A chance encounter at a bachelor party with the now adult Lauren Teague leaves Alex feeling unsettled and slightly guilty for missing out on his chance to make a difference with this misguided young lady, and when her mother calls soon after, Alex uses this guilt to motivate him to investigate her life, disappearance, and murder. False starts and unconnected clues hinder Alex’s chances at success., but he soon finds himself embroiled in a mystery larger than life. Involving psychological experimentation, big money, and nefarious relatives, Alex, along with his detective friend Milo Sturgis, race against time to catch the elusive killer.
As with many previous Delaware novels, Kellerman throws around theories regarding the murder at a furious pace. And once the reader gets past the unlikely scenario that Alex would become so obsessed with a patient he only saw three times, the ride becomes much more enjoyable. There’s plenty of false herrings in this outing, and the reader will have a hard time guessing the end, which leads to an even greater enjoyment. The only complaints that may be lodged are _why_ Alex becomes so involved in this case, along with the author’s much-too-brief descriptions of Alex’s personal life and personal reflections. I would like to see Kellerman develop Alex a little more in future novels, perhaps further explaining his seemingly inexplicable need to become so involved with these cases. Also it would be interesting to read more about his relationship with his girlfriend, and living partner, Robin. But for now, this novel comes recommended as a fun and thrilling read.
Rating 4 bolts
Crimson Rain by Meg O'Brien
Sixteen years ago, Paul and Gina Bradley were obligated to give up one of their twin adopted children because of severe behavioral problems. Now faced with a crumbling marriage, and sudden bizarre events that point to their past, this couple must come together again to stop a campaign of terror before their whole family faces new tragedy.
This is one of the most under appreciated writers I have ever had the pleasure to read. Extremely taut plot lines, characters that matter, and unbridled suspense mark all of her books. This one is no exception. And although most readers will glean what is truly going on long before the characters themselves do, this in no way affects the wonderful creepiness of a dream turned into a nightmare. Another marvelous success at the hands of a truly gifted writer, read it and you won’t be disappointed.
Deadlock by James Scott Bell
Publisher: Zondervan ISBN: 0310243882
James Scott Bell's Deadlock is more than a fast-paced
legal drama. It probes at more than legal, moral and ethical issues. It does
more than tell a story. Deadlock is a powerful, emotional and thoughtful novel.
The characters are well crafted, the scenes well plotted, and the over all
JOHNNY BLADE BY PHILLIP TOMASSO III
Phillip Tomasso’s thriller, Johnny Blade, is actually two stories. One is Martin Wringer, a psychotic man who kills prostitutes, and Michael Buzzelli, a reporter who is determined to write the expose on the man that is killing them.
The story opens with Wringer luring a prostitute into his van and then killing her, gaining the nickname, Johnny Blade, because he uses a large knife to kill them. From there, we learn that he has lost everything – his job, his wife, and his kids – because of his violent temper. Wringer would lose his job first because of an argument with his boss that ended with Wringer breaking his boss’s nose in a fistfight.
The next scene opens with Michael Buzelli taking a job as a diner that is known as a hangout for prostitutes. Buzzelli thinks that he should be able to catch the killer and write the big expose that will win a Pulitzer Prize.
Phillip Tomasso’s technique of switching points of view in this story only adds to the suspense and develops two conflicts. One where Wringer kills prostitutes and eventually blames his wife for all his problems. Tomasso will build an important scene where Wringer will visit his ex-wife and beat her in front of her children. As a result, Tomasso raises a very important question about domestic violence – Is it okay for the wife to attempt to poison the husband because she feels that he is about to kill her?
Buzzelli’s conflict is more complex. He falls in love with a prostitute named Felicia and wants to go out of his way to changer her by encouraging her to go back to stop being a prostitute , go back to school, and to see her parents again. Felicia is resistant at every turn and the reader is left wondering if this relationship will last.
Tomasso’s attempt at making Wringer a psychotic character works well - especially in the scene where Wringer demands a hearing against his company so he can collect his unemployment benefits. Wringer’s manager argues that Wringer gave up his unemployment benefits when Wringer broke his nose. Wringer – knowing that he would lose the case – responds by shouting “How did it feel when I slammed my fist into your face.”
In many cases, stories about serial killers are focused on whether the serial killer will get caught in the end in many books such as Donald Westlake’s book, The Ax, a great story about a man who kills people that could compete with him for a job. Tomasso takes a different angle, developing two stories and a cast of powerful characters that do more than tell a story about a serial killer. It’s an intriguing story that will entertain anyone who reads it.
A Town Where Lights Are Blue by
A Darker Justice by Sallie Bissell
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub (Trd); ISBN: 0553801317
Mary Crow returns in her second outing as a bright, strong and independent woman who knows how to get the job done. This time around, Mary is called upon by the FBI to protect a judge with whom she has close ties. Judges are being killed in a conspiracy that reaches far and wide and comes with strong political implications. Although we know from the start who the bad guys are, this in no way stops the reader from feeling they can't turn the pages fast enough. Along the way, Mary also once again faces the mystery of who raped and killed her mother when she was 18. These two story-lines create a fascinating and thrilling ride that is almost impossible to put down. Mary's character once again rises above complications to save the day. She's a woman we can all root for and feel good about. The secondary characters, especially one certain teenager are also potrayed beautifully. Another winner!
Rating: 5 bolts
Angel Fire by Lisa Miscione
Publisher: Minotaur Books; ISBN: 0312283040
Lydia Strong, a writer of true-crime, is taking a break in her vacation home outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico when she first realizes that a string of cases involving missing persons may be related. Already in an emotional tailspin stemming from the approaching anniversary of her mother’s death 15 years prior, Lydia must fight her own inner demons as well as those outside of her if she is to survive. She summons the ex-FBI agent who solved her mother’s death, and with whom she finds herself growing increasingly attached to, to help solve the mystery, and together they battle the forces of evil that are invading the small town of Angel Fire. This is a remarkable and emotional debut novel, with Lydia evoking a strong sense of empathy from the reader. While a strong and independent woman on the outside, inside she is still a child missing her mother and afraid of love. The touching love story that plays out in the background is refreshing in its sincerity and emotional depth, and adds a great deal to this wonderful first novel from Miscione. The beautiful background of New Mexico is also to be appreciated, as anyone who has ever visited the area can attest to. Miscione is a confident and able writer, and we look forward to her next Lydia Strong novel due out next year.
Walking the Perfect Square by Reed Farrel Coleman
Publisher: Plume (February) ISBN 0452283892
Twenty years ago, retired NY City Policeman Moe Prager, was drawn into the case of missing college student Patrick Maloney, an enigmatic young man whose characterization eluded all who knew him. His search led him to corrupt politicians, a father whose desire to find his son was suspicious at best, and the love of his life. Along the way, his realization that he might be just a pawn in a game way over his head made him all the more determined. Never quite solving the case, it’s haunted Prager for years, and now 20 years later a new clue surfaces that may lead to the answers that eluded him, but may also unveil the lies he told.
Moe Prager is one of the most likable ex-cops to come along in quite awhile. Genuine, hard-headed, but with a heart of gold, his ingrained integrity and conscience still somehow seem to lead him consistently down troubled paths. This riveting story also has emotional depth, believable dialogue, and an authentic view of life in the late 70’s. The reader can’t help but get caught up in the lives of the interesting characters that pepper the pages with realism and substance. And Mo Prager, especially, is one guy that we would welcome back with open arms.
Coincidence By David Ambrose
Publisher: Warner Books; ISBN: 0446527971 (February)
When scientific writer George Daly sets out to write his new book based on the theories surrounding coincidences, he unwittingly opens the door to some strange and frightening occurrences. Suddenly he finds himself experiencing the most oddest coincidences himself, the most of which is running into his twin brother that he never knew existed. Meanwhile, his marriage to his rich and beautiful wife seems to be nearing the end.
Written alternately from the point of view of George, his twin Larry, and his wife Sara, this is a very hard book to describe. There are certainly some interesting theories set forth about coincidences, along with neat little anecdotes from history. There are also some other theories proposed along these lines that will give the thoughtful reader cause for pause. This is an intelligent thriller, unlike any I've ever read before, which left me thinking of the many possibilities that might exist regarding our assumptions of reality and logic.
Kiss it Goodbye by John Wessel
Publisher: Gardners Books ISBN 0743415736
This is Wessel's third novel featuring unlicensed PI Harding and his younger girlfriend Alison. When Alison's friend Beth gets stranded at the alter by her groom-to-be Charles, and one of Harding's fake business cards is found on the body of a low level drug dealer, these two seemingly unrelated events turn into a mystery involving Alison's past. The two catch up to Charles, drunk and nearly incoherent in a neighboring town, eventually leading him back to Beth, who struggles to come to terms with his alcoholism and tendency to run when the going gets tough. Meanwhile, the body count rises as women from Alison's past are murdered and attacked, leading the couple on a wild search for the assailant.
While this is a good mystery all in all, one must pay careful attention at all times. The myriad of characters are introduced with lightening speed, and it is often times difficult to keep up with all of them, as well as their connections to the seemingly unrelated events. A little more detail in the beginning of the novel would have been welcomed, but near the middle of the book, the reader will finally feel comfortable in recognizing the player's and their impact on the surrounding events. The shocking ending will come as a great surprise, but understanding the motive will be a bit more difficult.
A Winter Haunting By Dan Simmons
Publisher: William Morrow & Co; ISBN: 0380978865
Driven back home to the small town of Elm Haven after a love affair gone bad, a family in ruins, and a career on the breaking point, Dale Stewart hopes to write the serious novel of a summer gone past from his childhood. During that summer, the mysterious and genius 11-year-old Duane had been killed in a freak accident, tainting the usually slow and lazy days of summers before. Still haunted by this event, as well as the young lover who dumped him, Dale finds himself suddenly caught up in events out of his control. There are the ghosts who seem to haunt Duane’s old house where Dale is holed up for the winter, as well as the menacing skinheads who also threaten and taunt Dale. Mysterious messages also begin to show up on his computer, all leaving him to question his sanity.
Not much of a horror fan, I was surprised to find this novel to be both touching and intelligent. It easily transcends this particular genre with frequent references to the literary world, and its revelations on the subjects of memories, sanity, and the hope for redemption. Instead of detracting from the story, the supernatural aspects added great depth and meaning to Dale’s constant struggle to rise above his mistakes and sense of defeat. This book will both surprise and delight.
4 1/2 Bolts
(Purchasing info to come!)
Everyman’s Library, (Borzoi Book), 2002
For the ardent fan of the noir mystery genre, and the hardboiled crime fiction the first two names to cross the mind would be Dashiell Hammett, creator of the Sam Spade Detective series and Raymond Chandler, the creator of Detective Phillip Marlowe.
I need’nt bother to say and detail about the works of these two grand master. The works speaks for themselves. Dozens of books have been published about the authors and the works. In one single phrase lets put it- HAMMETT AND CHANDLER WERE THE MASTERS.
However, the books under review are unique. I believe it is for the first time all the works have been collected as a book-set, in 3 volumes, immaculate and pristine. Kudos to Everyman’s Library (Borzoi books) for taking up such a wonderful, wonderful task. Mystery loving readers will always be thankful to the publishers for bringing out such a volume.
Volume One with an Introduction by Diane Johnson consists of the Phillip Marlowe Classics The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely and The High Window. Volume 2 consists of The Lady in the Lake, The Little Sister, The Long Goodbye and Playback with an Introduction by Tom Hiney. The third volume is the complete short fiction of Chandler, all 25 novelettes with an Introduction by John Bayley.
These three volumes are a MUST, MUST, MUST possession for the ardent devotee of the mystery genre, and the same are sure going to be the pride of my mystery collection. Before I leave two thoughts- who was better as Phillip Marlowe- Humphrey Bogart or Robert Mitchum; and secondly, was Bogart better as Phillip Marlowe or Sam Spade. Think it over, meanwhile I am going to book my copy of THE COMPLETE DASHIELL HAMMETT
- Narayan Radhakrishnan