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Sacrifice by Clyde Phillips

Publisher: Harper Torch ISBN: 0061032123 

San Francisco detective Jane Candiotti is back, pairing with her husband Kenny, also a detective, on a case involving the death of the beloved Phil Iverson, a man whose contributions to charity were well known.  When next the horrific multiple deaths of homeless men herald the arrival of a serial killer, it doesn’t take long for Jane to suspect they’re somehow all connected.  Battling time, the system, and sometimes each other, Jane and Kenny must track the killer before more innocent people die.    

As usual Phillip’s writing is solid and suspenseful.  A robust police thriller, this latest will surely be another success involving the dynamic team of Jane and Kenny.  Additionally, their personal struggle to not allow work to interfere with their relationship adds a nice contrast to this by-the-book procedural mystery, evening out the story’s more hard-edged corners.  And so while it may not be the most illustrious novel of the year, it will certainly entertain and challenge most mystery buffs. 

 

Left For Dead by Kevin O’Brien

 Publisher: Pinnacle Books ISBN: 0786016612

When Claire Shaw awakens in the hospital she is terrified and confused when she realizes she doesn’t even know her own name, much less how she got there.  All she knows is that she’s the latest victim of the serial killer known as “Rembrandt”, and the only victim to make it out alive. But as her memory slowly begins to return, a new and unnamed fear tickles at her brain.  Her friends and family surround her, yet she feels an unexplained discomfort and an ever increasing fear.  Soon, nagging questions begin to assault her mind, such as why is everyone she knows acting so strange, and where is her 17 year old young son, and why is she having flashes of violent memory that are unrelated to her supposed attack from Rembrandt? 

Upon returning home to Deception Island near Seattle, slowly recovered memories become even stranger, and she begins to realize that those she trusts are hiding something.  With Rembrandt on her trail, and terrible secrets being held by those she cares for, Claire realizes she will never be safe until she uncovers the final truth.  

O’Brien’s latest thriller offers up a relentless dose of suspense and chills that is sure to please fans of psychological suspense.  There are just the right amounts of twists and turns in this wild ride through terror, and the final denouement will leave readers gasping.  O’Brien knows how to tell a story and how to use escalating threat to its fullest potential, making this guessing game of horrors addictive and satisfying.  Highly recommended, check this one out, and then read his previous novels of suspense, you won’t be disappointed.     

 

  

The Halo Effect by M. J. Rose

Publisher: Mira Books ISBN: 0778320804 

Reviewed by Donna Padilla

Morgan Snow is a therapist at the Butterfield Institute.  Cleo Thane,  one of her patients, is a high priced call girl who has written a book that will expose some of her clients- high-powered clients that won't be too happy about it once their secrets are revealed.  And so when Cleo goes missing, Morgan is afraid that Cleo might be in trouble, not only because of her book, but because there's a killer loose who is targeting prostitutes.

Detective Noah Jordain is investigating several prostitute murders in which they are always found wearing nun's habits and have apparently received communion just before they die.  Jordain contacts Dr. Snow to explore the possibility that Cleo's disappearance is somehow connected to the murders, and is not willing to subscribe in other motives surrounding Cleo's disappearance.  So it's up to Morgan to search for the truth, and the only way she can think of is to go undercover into the dark and dangerous world of her client.   

Rose has written a steamy and sexy novel that keeps the adrenalin running until the very end.  A well thought out plot reveals the day-to-day life of a working girl and her clients; including the danger, the pathos, and the thrills.  Sex, romance, and murder are artfully combined to produce a page turning novel that shouldn't be missed. 

Dead Certain by Mariah Stewart

 Publisher: Ballantine Books ISBN: 0345463935

Reviewed by Donna Padilla

Antique dealer Derek English is murdered.  His business partner Amanda Crosby is being harassed with hang up calls, heavy breathing calls, and roses mysteriously appearing on her front porch.  When another antique dealer is killed, Amanda finds the body.  Police Chief Sean Mercer is convinced that the two murders are connected and that Amanda is the next victim.  He has to keep Amanda alive until the murderer is caught.

Mariah Stewart certainly knows how to tell a gripping tale.  Her characters are strong intelligent people who have no qualms about seeking assistance across jurisdictional lines. 

She has a knack for dropping clues into the plot and tightly weaving them in, then developing them to a thrilling conclusion.

This is the second in a trilogy, but stands on it's own merit.  Readers should watch for DEAD WRONG and DEAD END.

 

A Blind Eye by G.M. Ford

 Publisher: Avon Books  ISBN: 0380816229

True-crime writer Frank Corso is on the run.  Seems he’s wanted to testify and provide a witness for a story he was hot on the trail of.  Unfortunately, the witness has gone underground, and can’t get him off the hook, and so if he can stay away from the Texas authorities just a few more days, the grand jury’s term will expire and he’ll be a free man.  Dragging his sometimes partner and ex-lover, photographer Meg Dougherty, along, they end up stranded and almost dead in one of the worst snowstorms the Mid-West has ever seen.  Finding shelter at a deserted farmhouse, they end up finding a new mystery.  A family of skeletons and a missing woman lead them down a new trail of depravity and madness, and one heck of a new story for Frank to write if he can survive the danger.    

A rollicking good time, this latest by Ford should not be missed.  If you can get past the one too many coincidences, the thrills and high-octane suspense will make it more than worth your while.  My first time to read this particular author definitely is enough to hook me into reading his previous outings.  These are characters that are easy to care for, and one can’t help but get caught up in the tangled emotions they seem to stir up in each other. Frank Corso and Meg Dougherty are a pair to watch, and this story will most assuredly get under your skin making the anticipation for their next outing all the more higher.  

 

Publisher: Leisure Books ISBN: 084395373X 

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Janna Scott was formerly a public prosecutor, but now has opened her her own law office.  Against her better judgment she has agreed to take on a new client, Dr, Mason Von Patton, whose specialty is infectious diseases.  He also works at the jail treating prisoners with AIDS.  She is apprehensive about defending him because he is charged with sexual assault, absolutely refuses to consider a plea, and does absolutely nothing to help prepare for his trial

Meanwhile, homicide detective Jack Stone is trying to find the cross town killer, who started out killing prostitutes but then moved on to the general population.  And how these two live will cross will boggle and thrill.

This book seems to have two plots until they are brought together at the very end.  This is s good thriller that takes the reader through the justice system and shows how it can be both good and bad.  It also shows how the system can be manipulated, and how it can be feared as well as revered.  All and all, as a legal thriller, it's a winner as an intelligent and suspenseful read.