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Witch Hunt by Ian Rankin

Publisher: Little, Brown ISBN: 0316010383

Witch Hunt by Ian Rankin: Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

Suspense, intrigue, action, mystery, terror- you name it- everything is there in the right proportion in this new thriller by Master- Suspense Writer Ian Rankin- Witch Hunt.

I have been an ardent reader of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus series of police procedurals, and it was with great pleasure and anticipation I began reading Witch Hunt. And take it from me- Rankin has outdone himself- Witch Hunt is in a league on its own, and most possibly the author’s Masterpiece. The suspense of Sidney Sheldon, the page-turning paceability of James Patterson, and the ingenuity of Frederick Forsyth - and you got Witch Hunt.

The story is all about a cunning and intelligent assassin known as The Witch, for her uncanny ability to seduce and finish off her victims. The novels tarts with the sinking of two ships- in seemingly two unrelated incidents. But when the Scotland Yard is called into business, they suspect that a well known, assassin- (The Witch) is behind the same- and she is planning the murder of some ‘top-shot guy’ Called into action are three detectives- two youngsters and a veteran. How the three join hands- amidst a lot of differences – and track down The Witch is the sum and substance of the novel.

Though there is nothing unique in the storyline- it is the way the author narrates the same, with a load of action and fantastic suspense is the highlight of the work.

I loved it, fantastic, fabulous…. Absolutely Fantabulous.

 

This Old Souse by Mary Daheim

Publisher: Avon ISBN: 0380815656

Reviewed by C.J. Curry, New Mystery Reader

Judith McMonigle Flynn and her cousin Serena (better known as Renie) Jones are back.  The two women, who grew up together, are as alike as two peas in a pod in some ways and as different as day and night in other ways.  Judith is  always battling a weight problem while Renie, small and petite, eats everything she can get her hands on.  But they both have a curious nature which from time to time gets them into trouble; curious, (or is it nosy?) intelligent, and courageous.  And perhaps a little obsessive.  At least Renie has an obsession about a house on Moonfleet Street in their old neighborhood.  She has stopped by for Judith to accompany her on an errand in that part of town.  The house in question is of Spanish style architecture and has been occupied by the same family for over fifty years.  Or at least they assume it is occupied, since no one is ever seen coming or going or in the garden.  Judith is expecting guests in her bed & breakfast in just a few hours but she has time to run one short errand with Renie.  Then to stop by the market, make dinner and snacks for her guests and her day will be finished. 

After Renie is finished with her business they buzz by the house in question.  After stopping across the street they spy the postal carrier who has just dropped some mail in the slot .  Renie can’t resist approaching the man to quiz him on the occupants of the house.  Well if it isn’t her old nemesis, Morty and his dog, Zip Code.  Well goodness he should have retired years ago!  Hopefully he won’t recognize her……….

Judith needed to run to the market the next day but she couldn’t resist driving by the mysterious house first.  Finding a milk delivery man coming back down the walk, she quickly jumped out of her car to talk to him about the occupants.  After chatting with him there is a delivery by UPS.  Hoping to finally see someone come out for the package, Judith hid her car around in the alley and walked back to skulk in the bushes.  But even though she heard a door slam, no one appears.  Catching sight of a curtain twitching in an upstairs window Judith hurried  back to her car fearing she will be caught trespassing.  “Enough of this,” she thought.  Get the groceries and go on home and forget about this mysterious house!  Gathering up what is needed for dinner Judith and the sack girl, Kippi, open the trunk of the car to stow the purchases………..and what is staring up at them but the dead body of the milk delivery man!

Judith and Renie are the brainchildren of Mary Daheim.  Ms. Daheim shows a great deal of humor in this delightful pair of sleuths.  Renie is a little too pushy sometimes and sets people off and Judith is trying to cope with family problems.  Her son and daughter-in-law are having marital problems and Judith is trying hard to ‘stay out of it’.  Combine these with the women’s spouses, a histrionic, fanatical cleaning lady and an autocratic mother and you have the makings of just plain FUN.  I think the reader will get as many chuckles as I did with this book.

 

Way Past Legal by Norman Green

Publisher: HarperTorch ISBN: 00606791306

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Manny, a small-time crook, has just pulled off his latest job when all hell brakes loose and he suddenly finds himself with a lot more money than he planned, the Russian mob on his tail, and a partner-in-crime he can’t trust.  Deciding that running will be the best course of action, he grabs his five year old son from foster care and heads out towards Maine on a journey that will irrevocably change his life. Landing in a small forgotten town he meets up with a cast of characters that are as appealing as they are authentic, and soon the friendships formed, along with his ever-growing love for his son, will teach him the meaning of kindness and loyalty, hope and redemption, and the courage to become the kind of man his son can be proud of. 

This wonderful blend of poignancy and adventure is sure to be one of the best books of the summer.  Manny, a crook with the heart of a poet, is not a bad guy, just misled in a life that has previously led him nowhere.  But with his son in tow, he finds a bond that he never thought possible, and the gracious beauty that Green instills in this relationship is worth the cover price alone.  Heartening and passionate, but with just the right amount of thrills, this deeply moving and inspiring read will stay with you long after its finished.   

 

HIGH COUNTRY FALL   by Margaret Maron

Publisher: Warner Books ISBN  0446615900

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader  

Margaret Maron's 10th in the Judge Deborah Knott series is every bit as satisfying as its predecessors.  There's something comforting about a series, and perhaps because we identify with the characters and already feel as if we are part of their lives, or they of ours.

Deborah, it may be remembered from the previous volume, has agreed to something that sounds almost like an 'arranged marriage' with long-time friend Dwight Bryant, deputy sheriff of Colleton County North Carolina.  It makes sense: they know and like each other, there's physical compatibility, and all their friends and relations—except maybe Dwight's ex-wife—approve.  So why isn't Deborah feeling more certain about her engagement?

She needs some distance between her daily life and her possible future.  Fate takes a hand when she's sent to Cedar Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains to fill in for another judge for a week. 

The court docket is filled with the usual petty crimes, laughable criminal escapades and touching human stories.  Deborah handles all of these with her usual down-to-earth  compassion and common sense.  But when a man goes missing from a party where Deborah is a guest, and is later found murdered in a strikingly similar manner to someone else in the community, Deborah's radar is activated and she begins to sense something going on that's a lot bigger than what it at first seems.

Aided by her slightly ditzy twin cousins and their business partner, not to mention two rather attractive local lawmen, Deborah sets out to find out the real story.  Along the way she nearly dies at the hands of another criminal, and learns a lot about the tensile strength of seat belts into the bargain.

Most importantly, by the end of the week's adventure, Deborah has learned something about her relationship with Dwight and the likelihood of its future success.

A thoroughly enjoyable read; put it on your birthday book list for sure.

 

 

Slip Cue by Joyce Krieg

Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks ISBN: 031299639x

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Looking for an  interesting read that will keep you turning pages?  Then, Slip Cue is the book for you.
 
How does a box of recording studio memorabilia connect with an escaped murderess?  Would Jasmine throw away her new-found television stardom to murder an old deejay? A tangled tale that seems to have more questions than answers when Shauna J. Bogart becomes involved simply because she wants to know where the ex-rock diva might be hiding following a daring escape.
 
With many subplots that hinge on characters working at cross purposes for their own ends, Slip Cue will have you guessing too as you accompany Shauna on her search. Threats of arrest by a sheriff and a disappearing boyfriend along with the box of souvenirs from a defunct recording studio add to Shauna's problems and drive the story along.
 
Talented author Joyce Krieg has used her considerable talent to give the reader a glimpse into the present, ever-changing world of talk radio and a small segment of the bygone days when small recording studios could produce hit records. For many readers it will stir memories of their youth when 45's replaced the 78's and the first LPs were produced and stereo was new.
 
A fun read any mystery fan will enjoy, a protagonist whose penchant for digging into puzzles will have you looking for other books in this series. This is a book you'll keep to read again.  Highly recommended, this is a mystery guaranteed to please.  Enjoy.  I sure did.

 

Flashback by Jenny Siler

 

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur  ISBN: 0312933169
 

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

 

It’s been nearly a year since Eve first came to live in the small French convent with a group of kindly nuns.  Left for dead on the side of the road, Eve has no memory of anything that came before, but when suddenly one night the enemies come, massacring the nuns, she knows they came for her.  Fleeing for her life, she knows not who to trust, where to go, or why it seems there is always some shadowy figure following her.  Heading to Morocco, following the only clue she has, she is confronted by danger; friends who appear enemies, and enemies who appear friends, and all the while she must try and hide from the most dangerous truth of all; herself.  Because as the memories start coming back, she knows that she has the capacity to do harm, and won’t hesitate to do it again, while the only knowledge that can bring her redemption and hope is the knowledge that somewhere out there, she has left a child behind. 

 

Siler’s previous novels have the distinction of being wonderfully character-driven, with the female protagonist being the soul of the story.  And although a bit more difficult to do here, as her character has no memory of who she is, Siler still pulls off some of the old magic, if not occasionally quite enough.  But the nail-biting suspense, and her journeys through exotic locals definitely make up for whatever may be missing otherwise.  This is one woman who can play with the bad big boys, and it’s gratifying to watch her beat them at their own game.    

 

Day of the Dead by J.A. Jance

Publisher: Avon ISBN: 0380724340

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

How Jance manages to toggle between the three of her series with such ease and grace is perhaps the biggest mystery of all, consistently scoring hit after hit in each.  This latest involves the series featuring retired Sheriff of Puma County, Brandon Walker, his wife Dianne, and their soon-to-be medicine doctor, daughter Lani.  This time out Brandon is invited to join a nation wide club that deals exclusively in cold cases, and the timing couldn't be better for shortly after the invitation he is approached by an old Indian woman who is still grieving for her murdered teenage daughter nearly 30 years later.  What follows will set Brandon on a dangerous trail of evil that began with the young girl's death and never ended.  For several other young girls have met the same evil fate, and the culprits, hiding behind a veneer of wealth and prominence, have no intention of letting up. 

The large cast of characters and numerous storylines in this latest from Jance can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming, but all that is required is some extra attention as everyone of them is paramount to the mystery and ambience surrounding this enticing and gripping mystery.  With shades of mysticism, excruciating malevolence, and realistic portrayals of good and evil, there is a bit of something for everyone.  Be prepared to stay up late, for once started, this hugely satisfying read is almost impossible to put down.