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Perfection by Walter Satterthwait

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312352441

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

It doesn't take along after being partnered for St. Anslem, Florida's Detective Jim Fallon and rookie Detective Sophia Tregaskis to get their first case, and it's a big one.  An overweight young woman has been found savagely slaughtered in her home, a crime of such brutality that it leaves the detectives and the town reeling.  But this is only the first, and when a second body is found in the same condition they know they have a serial on their hands, one who is seeking perfection in the victims, and will cut out the flaws if need be. 

Pretty quickly the pair is able to come up with a name, but names are easily changed and, in this instance, so are faces.  And so as the detectives search further into their suspect's past, just as a hurricane comes barreling their way, they will come ever closer to the truth, one that just may be wearing an all too familiar face.

This book would've been almost perfection itself if not for the overly gory and gruesome crime scenes.  But if you're able to get past that aspect, you're in for one heck of an electrifying ride.  Great investigative detail combined with characters of intelligence; one a slightly flawed drinker, and the other a neophyte and spirited young woman, make for a richly told story of both depravity and courage.  Add to that an ending that's sure to blow the roof off, and you've got all the makings for one great read.  We only hope there's another coming in what would make an outstanding series.  

 

 

Lost by Michael Robotham

Publisher: Doubleday ISBN: 0385508662

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

When London's DI Victor Ruiz wakes up in the hospital with a bullet hole in his leg, he has no memory of what happened, but it's not too long before he's made aware of the fact that he himself is under investigation.  A boat filled with blood and bullet holes has been found and it appears that Ruiz is somehow connected to what transpired, but with the lack of bodies on board, there's no telling what that may have been.  All he has to go on is a picture of a young girl found in his pocket, a girl who was kidnapped and presumed killed three years prior, but with the convicted culprit behind locked bars, that too is baffling. 

But once Ruiz starts putting the pieces together, with the help of psychologist Joe O'Loughlin and DC Alisha Barba, it becomes clear that he had been on the trail of this young girl who might not be dead after all, and he had been attempting to deliver a ransom demand when things went bad  But those in power want the case kept closed, they have their man, and Ruiz is nothing but an embarrassment to the force, with his reinvestigation of the case possibly putting a child killer back on the streets.  But they're not the only one's who want things ended, the girl's father, a powerful and wealthy criminal, also wants the case closed, and so as Ruiz begins to get his memory back, following the trail he had made before, he puts his career and his very life back in danger.   

Robotham is a master at creating characters that invoke emotion and passion in the reader, and with the tragic figure that is Ruiz he once again easily brings the reader into the story full heartedly. Here's a man who has lost much, with several ex-wives under his belt, two estranged kids of his own, and a tragic event from his past, he now has nothing more to lose, but so much to gain if this final shot at redemption works.  Add to that a plot full of purpose, expectation, and excellent secondary characters, and you've got an involving and thrilling read that's sure to be a hit. 

 

Proof Evident by John Dicke

Publisher: Synergy Books ISBN 0-9764981-5-4

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader 

The liner notes of this book tell you the author holds advanced degrees in law and psychology and is an avid golfer.  That should tell you something about the content of the book: it involves a crime, a trial, an insanity defense, and a long, wearying trail with barriers and traps for the defense team every step of the way.

What makes a middle-aged respected academic and former judge walk into a court and shoot the new sheriff dead in front of dozens of witnesses? There is no history of animus between the men, the sheriff is a cleanskin with no connections to any criminal activity (except professionally), and Avery Jackson has no memory of why he did it, or even that he did it.

Jack Maine, the Public Defender, partnered by novice lawyer Yolanda Crone, and backed up by his determined wife Marci, begins digging into his client's background, desperately seeking some explanation for the inexplicable crime.   There's nothing in Jackson's past--no bad habits worth mentioning, no criminal connections, no allegations of corruption--to explain why he'd hate a man enough to kill him.  And you have to hate someone to kill him, right?

Well, no, not if you've been an unwitting participant in an experimental program run by--guess who?

To tell more would spoil this excellent and complex story for the reader.  You may have to badger your bookstore to get this small-press book in stock, but it will be worth the effort.  (Somebody tell John Dicke to get off that golf course and back to the keyboard, we want more of Jack Maine's impossible cases.)