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Dead is Forever by David Cray

Publisher: Carroll & Graf ISBN: 0786714409

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

I have heard of this author, but have not had the pleasure of reading his works. His novel Bad Lawyer was raved in many a journal- but the same having not reached this part of the world- I had to give it a goby. So when a copy of this new novel Dead is Forever reached me, I immediately began reading the same. And the result is I am now desperate now to read Bad Lawyer- hey by-the-way, I myself am a lawyer OK.

Dead is Forever announces the arrival of a new series character- Philip Beckett. The novel starts with a sardonic introduction by the protagonist himself- which runs to three pages and by the tone of narration we can guess what sort of man Beckett actually is. He is a collector, an investigator and has some sort of blueblood in him- which he is actually proud of, but is sort of bashful about it. The turning point comes, when in a quirk of fate Philip becomes the prime suspect in a murder case where the victim is one Count Sergio D’ Alessi. The Count was his cousin’s husband, and a shady man who as deep in debt. Beckett had a shady dealing with the deceased- it was something connected with a costly jade dragonfish- I wont reveal anything more- and some money changed hands. Now Beckett is the prime suspect and he has to clear his name soon. And the more Beckett tries to clear his name; he finds that the true culprit might be someone in the family itself.

As a murder mystery, there is nothing unique about the novel- but where it scores is in terms of narration. The author has a way with words, which makes the reader glued to the pages of the work. I enjoyed it, and mark my words, we are goanna hear a lootttt of Philip Beckett in the future. Watch this space.

 

The Queen Jade by Yxta Maya Murray

Publishers: Harper Collins, 2005 ISBN: 0060582642

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

Remember the feeling you got while seeing the movie The Mummy or reading King’s Solomon’s Mines… a touch of mysticism, a touch of suspense, and a whole heavy load of adventure. Well, Yxta Maya Murray’s The Queen Jade is all this and a whole lot more than that.

The Queen Jade is an exotic precious stone, its beauty is intoxicating and the possessor of it will be granted a life filled with power- or so, the legend says. But the Stone still remains embedded in myth- no one in the modern world has seen it and archaeologists now seriously doubt the existence of the same. But when a hurricane roars across the Central and South America devastating everything in its path- a mine of blue jade is discovered in the depths of Mount Las Sierras de las Minas in Guatemala. And it is up to our gutsy heroine Lola Sanches and her even more gutsy mother to solve the mystery of the truth behind the Queen Jade.

The author draws a vivid picture of the South Americas, the jungles and the narration is taut and adventure filled such that there is never a dull moment in the book. The Rider Haggard style in plot delineation is hard to miss and let me say one thing…. A Hollywood movie soon beckons Yxta Maya Murray.

 

What Goes Around Comes Around by Con Lehane

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312322984

Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

Bartender Brian McNulty gets his job back at the Midtown Sheraton just in time for him to be reacquainted with an old friend.  Big John Wolinski, is now a regional manager for the hotel chain; but Brian, Big John and Greg Phillips met and became good friends when they all were working in Atlantic City.  Big John is supposed to fire Brian but as usual he has a “deal” up his sleeves.  He reassigns Brian to the Ocean Club as the bar manager.  On his first night on the new job, Greg and the day’s receipts are missing and a dead body in a tuxedo is found floating in the Hudson River.  The “floater” turns out to be Aaron Adams who was the manager of the hotel where Brian, Big John and Greg worked while in Atlantic City.  To make matters worse, Detective Sergeant Sheehan is leading the investigation.  Sheehan, who has dealt with Brian in the past, immediately assumes that Brian is lying and that he is involved in some way with the homicide.  Ironically, Brian is involved but he does not know how; Big John knows but isn’t talking.  Brian has no choice but to figure out who killed Aaron and while doing so he gets threatened, shot at and continually runs into the wrong side of the law. 

What Goes Around Comes Around is the second book in the Brian McNulty series.  Brian is an interesting character; his father is a Communist, he is in his 40’s and still hoping to get a break as an actor, he is a decent man who remains loyal to his friends.  Lehane draws upon his personal experiences as a bartender to breathe life and realism into the characters and setting of his novels.  What Goes Around Comes Around is an entertaining addition to the Brian McNulty series.

 

 

Last One Down by Joyce and Jim Lavene

Publisher:  An Avalon Mystery  ISBN:  0-8034-9698-2

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader

On the eve of her departure for a team-building retreat for local law enforcement officers, Sheriff Sharyn Howard and her boyfriend, Nick, witness a fatal car accident.  The victim, Patti Yates, is the former girlfriend of a known drug dealer who was killed by one of Sharyn’s deputies.  Patti was driving a vehicle registered to another drug dealer. 

Unwillingly, Sharyn, accompanied by her deputies Marvella and J. P., departs for the retreat in a remote town in the Uwharrie Mountains.  Shortly after their arrival, things begin to go horribly wrong.  The radio malfunctions, one of their party goes missing, J. P. falls into an abandoned mineshaft, and there is an explosion.  As the casualties mount, the law enforcement officers can’t be sure who among them the culprit is.

Things in Diamond Springs aren’t much better.  Another deputy, Ernie, is wounded by sniper fire and more dead bodies turn up.  Indecision over whether Sharyn should be contacted quickly turns to concern for her well-being when they can’t get in touch with her.  A series of summer storms imperils not just the evacuees from the retreat, but those attempting to rescue them.

Less than 200 pages, Last One Down, tenth in the Sharyn Howard series, is a fast, action-packed read.  Authors Joyce and Jim Lavene pack an astounding number of catastrophes into a few short pages.  Even the cleverest of readers will be astonished when they learn who the murderer is.

 

Cold Burn by Kit Ehrman

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press    ISBN: 1590581431

Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

Corey Claremont’s brother is missing; she calls on her friend Steve Cline, to help her find him.  In order to help Corey out, Steve slips into Bruce’s world.  He moves into his apartment and he hires on to work at the same horse farm in Warrenton, Virginia.  The more Steve learns, the more certain he becomes that Bruce is dead.  The clues lead to drug deals and a mysterious series of arsons.  The suspects are many; ranging from a fellow stable worker to the owners of the farm and one of their best friends.  Steve clings to a long distance romance with his girlfriend while being tempted by Maddie O’Connell, an expert horse midwife, and intrigued by the mysterious but elegant Dr. Deidre Nash.  The danger increases dramatically as Steve closes in on the truth.

Kit Ehrman enmeshes the reader into the world of horse breeding.  Each of the characters in the book is well defined and the relationships between them are fully explored.  This is the third book in the Steve Cline series and once again he finds himself coming to the aid of a “damsel in distress.” Although Cline’s willingness to put himself in harms way is not always believable; he remains a charming character who is endearing in his own way.  The author provides enough detail about the breeding and maintenance of horses to ensure that the reader can “see and feel” the setting.  Cold Burn is an outstanding mystery set in the glorious backdrop of horse country Virginia.