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Mourners:  A Nameless Detective Novel by Bill Pronzini

Publisher:  Forge/A Tom Doherty Associates Book  ISBN:  0-765-30932-7

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader

Lynn Scott Troxell is concerned about her husband's unusual behavior, so she hires Nameless's agency to trail him for a few days.  Troxell is indeed behaving strangely; he takes Nameless and his associates on a tour of funerals, cemetery visits, and beach brooding.  What is the reason for Troxell's sudden obsession with serial killers and tragic death?

At the same time, Nameless is concerned about a change in his own spouse's behavior, and Jake Runyon is desperately missing his recently deceased wife.  Following Troxell, Jake meets a young woman, Risa Niland, who bears an uncanny resemblance to his beloved Colleen, and vows to help her solve the mystery behind her sister's slaying.  Even spunky Tamara seems depressed, although she doesn't reveal to her associates that she's nursing a broken heart.

The "nameless detective" is touted as a hard-boiled series, but it's really more soft-boiled.  Bill and his associates all display vulnerability and compassion in both their professional and personal lives.  Aptly titled, Mourners has a murderer whom readers will pity, and a definite dark side, tempered by a quiet hopefulness.

 

 

The Rainaldi Quartet by Paul Adam

Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books ISBN:  0312235004X

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Mystery fans--here's one you're going to love.  More than just a mystery, it offers interesting and fun reading on several levels.

Keeping to their usual routing, four friends gather to play music together.  How could they know that one of their members would be dead within a few hours. 

Gianni Castiglione steps in to help their friend and fellow musician, Antonio Guastafeste, who is also a policeman, solve the riddle of a murder that made no sense.  That is, until they started retracing the victim's last days.

A missing violin of great value, mysterious letters from several centuries ago, greedy dealers and collectors of violins--all add to make the plot complicated and a great read.  Several twists to the plot add to the interest and will keep you reading.

Highly recommended as a fun read and a look behind the scenes into a little-known field.  I can't say enough good things about this book.  Enjoy.  I sure did.

 

A Little White Death by John Lawton

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press ISBN: 0871139324 (reissue)

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

It is the 1960s and England is swinging.  Drugs, booze, sex, rock & roll and jazz.  People of social standing and political power mix and mingle at weekend parties in the country.  The home of Dr. Fitz Fitzpatrick was almost always swinging and young single women were always available.  When the newspapers blew the lid on Dr. Fitz's parties and the fact that members of parliament and foreign diplomats were often in attendance, Fitz was arrested and put on trial.  But when the case is turned over to the jury for deliberation, both Fitz and one of the young women who usually attend his parties are found dead, with Scotland Yard declaring both to be suicides.

Commander Frederick Troy was the last person to speak to each of them and does not accept the suicide ruling.  He comes off extended sick leave to investigate, leading him down a trail of trouble, madness, and murder.

Lawton paints an amazing story, easily bringing to life a world of violence, greedy sexual encounters, and international intrigue, making it very easy to become enmeshed in this sordid world, and easier still to feel as if you know these corrupt characters first hand.  A recommended tale, don't miss this epic story of worldly mystery and nefarious doings that will have you ensnared from beginning to end and most likely clamoring for more.

 

Strange Bedfellows by Paula L. Woods

Publisher:  One World/Ballantine Books  ISBN:  0-345-45702-1

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader

Aptly-named Charlotte Justice balks when her supervisors put her on administrative leave from the LAPD.  But she has witnessed too much brutality, including the murders of her husband and young daughter several years ago.

When a person of interest in the case she worked on eight months ago resurfaces, Charlotte inveigles her way into the investigation.  Toy executive Carlo Zuccari and his pregnant wife, Alma, were gunned down outside an exclusive restaurant.

At the same time Charlotte is unraveling the chilling details behind the Zuccari shooting, she is dealing with her own demons, along with sexual and racial discrimination in her department.  Her brother, Perris, whom she jokingly calls the Black Prince, has fallen off the wagon, and she suspects his obsession with her late husband's research is the cause.

It takes a while to warm up to Charlotte, who has a boulder-sized chip on her shoulder—deservedly so, but around page fifty, you can't help wondering if she's going to spend the whole book alienating people.  Strange Bedfellows offers only a partial resolution, enticing readers to buy the next book in the series.

 

The Path of the Dead by Caroline Benton

Publisher: Carroll & Graf ISBN: 0786717335

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Devon Fire Brigade photographer Gus Tavender finds herself in quandary when she runs across an old acquaintance, Judith, during a photo shoot who asks Gus for her help in investigating her Aunt's tragic fall to death.  She fears the fall was not an accident as the police presume, but rather a cold case of murder.  Gus, just recently having photographed a fire for the Brigade and having seen her first corpse is a little wary of the request, not too eager to face death once again.  But slowly but surely she's drawn into the investigation against her better judgment, soon finding herself in danger from an unknown enemy who seems to be stalking this beautiful quiet English countryside in a case that may just be related to the corpse she discovered in the fire.  

Benton's debut novel featuring the amateur sleuth Gus Tavender should appeal to fans that enjoy a mild English mystery low on the violence and sex scale, although others may find the overall tameness of this read to be a bit too mild and lacking in overall excitement and thrills.  However, when combining the wonderful descriptions of the moors and other lovely assets of the English countryside, which add a nice ambience, and the affable if somewhat undeveloped Gus, you have a charming and breezy mystery that should appeal to fans of the lighter mystery.