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Pale Death by David & Aimee Thurlo

Publisher: Forge Books ISBN: 0765313855

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

A vampire is on the loose in northwestern New Mexico.  He escaped from a federal facility at the Navajo Nation where the experiments done on him were unbearably torturous.  Half crazed he is now hunting and killing the federal employees who conducted the experiments.  State Police officer Lee Nez, a Navajo nightwalker, is called in by FBI agent Diane Lopez to help track down the murderous vampire.  Diane is the only person who knows that Lee is also a vampire.  They must track down and eliminate their prey without anyone discovering Lee's secret.

Like all the Nez/Lopez novels this is filled with natural and supernatural action.  It keeps you on the edge of your seat with your heart thumping from the first page to the last page.  Another excellent novel by the Thurlos.

 

Matty Groves by Deborah Grabien

Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books ISBN:  0312333897

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

Do you love a good ghost story?  Do you like ghosts out of the norm?  Then, pick up a copy of Matty Groves.  A  great way to spend some time with old friends  Ringan Laine and Penny Wintercraft-Hawkes and tag along as they chase after another ghost.

This ghost isn't a nice one in any sense of the word--a villain from beginning to end.  You'll love to hate him.  Just keep the lights on in the other rooms as you settle in for a great read.

A visit to an old manor house known to be haunted by a lady turns into a dark and deeply disturbing adventure for the two ghost chasers and many of their friends.  A ghost with the ability to kill is something new in their experience.

And who was Matty Groves?  According to a song and old legend he was the lady's lover.  But there's much more to the story than there appears. 

An excellent read you will definitely enjoy.  Highly recommended.

 

 

Stone Fish by Olivia Ferrell

Publisher: Avalon; 1st edition ISBN: 0803497385

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Magazine investigative reporter Maggie Rome has just returned to New York from a long assignment in Iraq and is ready for some downtime when her ex-husband Gary calls with some heartbreaking news.  It appears that Gary's sister Susan, a sweet young college student, has committed suicide; but Gary, thinking there's more to the story, pleads with Maggie to use her connections to get to the truth.  Heading off to Arkansas for answers, Maggie soon discovers what looks to be an insidious cult in town going by the name of The Glorious Church, a cult that just may be involved with the young woman's death.  But uncovering the truth is always risky business, and this time around it may just cost Maggie her life.

This speedy read has a fair amount of suspense and just enough romance to satisfy fans of both.  And although the character development is minimal, Maggie is a likable enough heroine, as is the hunky sheriff whose interest in Maggie goes beyond the investigation.  And with a conclusion that tidily wraps up the story with a few surprises thrown in for good measure, you have a fairly decent read that should entertain for an afternoon's pleasure.        

 

 

The Devil’s Own Rag Doll by Mitchell Bartoy

Publisher: St. Martin’s Minotaur Group  ISBN: 0312340885

Reviewed by Dana King, New Mystery Reader

Reading well-written noir fiction is like watching a black-and-white movie. Color photography lends itself to brilliance and light, losing clarity in the shadows. Black-and-white lives in those shadows, limiting the range of available distinction while never ignoring that true black and true white do exist.

Mitchell Bartoy’s The Devil’s Own Rag Doll is that kind of story. The sun sheds more heat than light on the prelude to the 1943 Detroit race riots, forcing people’s baser natures from their respectable hiding places to rub against each other until temperatures are high enough to ignite.

Pete Caudill is a new detective with more than enough history to keep both sides of Detroit’s color line interested in him. Missing an eye, two fingers, and all social grace, Caudill was involved in a ugly racial incident while a patrolman. Neither side trusts him; both have to live with him while Caudill figures out how much to trust himself.

Caudill and partner Bobby Swope are tasked with returning a rich white girl to her Grosse Pointe home. They find themselves under more scrutiny than they bargained for when she turns up dead and mutilated in a black man’s apartment. Racial tensions are already high, and the girl’s death is quickly swept under the media carpet. Cover-up or not, someone has to pay, so Caudill and Swope are set to working under the radar. What starts out as a concern over whether Communists or Nazis are attempting to subvert the Arsenal of Democracy soon becomes a struggle with an enemy within that still resonates today. Caudill’s perceived responsibility to influence the outcome is frustrated as he is swept along in the current of events beyond his control.

Author Bartoy is a Detroit area native; Caudill’s angst over what is happening to the only city he knows can easily be read as an expression of the author’s examination of his city’s history. The writing is lean and tight, invoking the period as much through style as through the descriptions of places and events. It’s occasional lapses into Spillane-esque purple prose can be explained as representing the period, jarring only in comparison to the matter of factness which surrounds it.

Bartoy weaves fact and fiction smoothly enough to invoke thoughts of some of James Ellroy’s better works; it’s not hard to envision Caudill as kin to L.A. Confidential’s Bud White. The illusion of truth in the story is seamless enough to inspire a curious reader into some internet research to see which parts Bartoy made up.

The Devil’s Own Rag Doll is a compelling, fast-paced look into a few fictional lives caught up in an historic event. It’s easy to forget that history is made up of a series of discrete events that often exist in a context only time can provide; the tendency is to wonder why mistakes were made that seem obvious in hindsight. Bartoy reminds his reader that we are too often well into a situation before becoming aware of what’s involved, let along what’s at stake.

It’s rare to find a book that makes a point and remains entertaining throughout; the temptation to preach is too difficult to resist. Bartoy succeeds because Caudill’s emotions are displayed, rather than manipulated, and because Bartoy trusts his readers to draw their own conclusions. The Devil’s Own Rag Doll is not only a good read; it’s worth reading.

and As Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

It is not hard to hate Detective Pete Caudill, the protagonist in The Devil’s Own Rag Doll; even though he is disabled, having lost an eye and several fingers to an unfortunate accident.  He is arrogant, obnoxious, racist and has a huge chip on his shoulders.  He is about to have some life altering experiences as he finds himself in the middle of a particularly messy case.  The story is set in the 1940’s, in Detroit, and racial tensions are reaching the boiling point.  A teenaged girl, from a wealthy and powerful family, is found murdered on the wrong side of town.  Caudill and his partner, Bobby Swope, are assigned to solve the case. As expected the victim’s African-American boyfriend becomes the prime suspect.  While investigating this case Caudill learns that there is more going on than meets the eye and he finds some chinks of humanity and compassion in his tough guy “armor.”

The Devil’s Own Rag Doll is a dark, raw, gritty, hard-boiled mystery.  Mitchell Bartoy depicts Detroit in the 1940’s as a city full of racial tension and police corruption while in the midst of a major world war.  Mitchell Bartoy does not sugar coat anything in this book as he captures the mood of the times and the graphic nature of the crime.  Pete Caudill struggles with his own demons; starting with being the son of a well-respected policeman and never feeling like he can quite measure up to his father’s reputation, to dealing with his disabilities that keep him from fighting in the war.  Bartoy permits the reader to have real insight into the inner working of Pete Caudill as he faces the demons and bad guys surrounding this gruesome case.  The Devil’s Own Rag Doll is about as hard-boiled as you can get but it is a good read for those that enjoy this genre.

 

Spectres in the Smoke by Tony Broadbent

Publisher: Thomas Dunne / St. Martin’s Minotaur. ISBN: 0-312-29026-8

Reviewed by Tim Davis for New Mystery Reader

The scene is London in 1948. People seem to be still waiting for the dust to settle and clear after World War II, and everyone in England is acutely anxious because of political and economic tensions.

Now, enter Jethro, former Cunard deck-officer and current creeper (cat burglar) and jewel thief. Before you can say “Good Save the King,” a reluctant but patriotic Jethro is recruited into a complicated scheme by none other than MI5. It seems as though certain individuals—perhaps some people highly placed in government circles or even in the royal family itself—are making MI5 rather nervous. Yes, England had only a couple of years earlier prevailed in her struggles against fascist Germany, but now MI5 believes covert fascists somewhere in England are once again intent upon destroying the British culture and government.

Of course, the narrator of Spectres in the Smoke, the resourceful Jethro—not your ordinary screwsman (burglar) or tealeaf (thief) but perhaps Britain’s very best face (a crook of some repute)—is asked by British intelligence to creep (enter a dwelling by night, quietly and without noise) and half-inch (steal) something very important from a the drum (house) of some spiv (VIP) and make a clear stoppo (getaway). “Wa-al blimey,” says, Jethro, a fellow with the bottle (courage to do a deed) enough to swallow (accept a situation), “Why not?” After all, anything for good old England! So, sooner than you can say “Bob’s your uncle!” (Everything will turn out fine!), this most colorful fellow to come along in fiction in many years is off-and-running into one of the year’s most fascinating thrillers.

Finally, here is some advice freely dispensed into readers’ King Lears (ears):  Filled with colloquialisms and jargon, historical and political details, some very fine characterizations, and more twists-and-turns than a naďve tourist’s taxi-ride through London (a.k.a. “The Smoke”), Tony Broadbent’s historical mystery-thriller will have readers guessing (and smiling rather often) from beginning to end.

 

 

A Bitter Chill by Jane Finnis

Publisher:  Poisoned Pen Press ISBN:  1590581938

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Have you ever wondered what life was like in England during the days of the Roman occupation?  Do you enjoy a well-written tale of mystery in a historical setting?  Or are you a reader who enjoys a well-told mystery?

If so, A Bitter Chill by talented Jane Finnis is one book you won't want to miss. A multi-genre story that centers on an inn set at a cross roads that sees an intriguing variety of visitors and passersby.

Among the guests who brave a winter snowstorm to reach the inn is the family of Senator Plautius. They are searching for a runaway son who does not wish to marry the girl chosen for him. He has found himself a new love and this leads to complications that innkeeper Aurelia never dreamed of.

She is involved in trying to solve several murders and kidnappings that occur while Plautius is at the inn.  To add to the problems a new gang of thugs has moved into the area and are also a threat to the safety of the inn.

A complicated tale skillfully told with lifelike characters you will either love or love to hate.  Enjoy.  I sure did.  Highly recommended.