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Killing a Unicorn by Marjorie Eccles

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312324111

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Another English country-side cozy, this latest from Eccles is filled with drama, fine plotting, and superb characterization. 

The Calvert family, including the three sons, Chip, Jonathan, and Mark, the mother Alyssa, and all their significant others find themselves in a deep and dark mystery when one of their own is murdered.  Fran, wife of Mark, is the first to discover Chip's "friend", Bibi, dead at the bottom of the falls near the family home, followed shortly by Bibi's son's disappearance.  And what's deliciously delightful is that every one of these family members is holding a terrifying secret that may or may not have to do with the enigmatic woman's death.  

There isn't a dry or dull page in this quick and highly gripping read, and it isn't until the very end that the true killer is revealed in a shocking twist that will surely surprise even the most careful reader.  Scandalous secrets hiding behind masks of civility add the guts and glory to this energetic and enthralling read.  So don't miss this one, it'll keep you up late into the night on a delicious and frantic ride through the beautiful countryside.      

 

 

The Way Out by Craig Childs- A True Story of Ruin and Survival

Publisher: Little, Brown ISBN: 0316610666 

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

I picked up this book thinking it was as mentioned above, a story of survival.  However, in the most literal sense, this was not to be the case.  Instead it is a book of internal ruminations pondered during a 2 week long trek through the Utah desert.  The reader follows Craig Childs and his ex-cop friend Dirk as they explore the wilds of this beautiful and untamed land, while telling stories of their pasts, and how they came to be the men they are.

While at first this true story, written of course in the first person, came off as sounding a bit self-consciously aware, it soon developed into something much more sincere and honest.  Scattered throughout with beautiful detail of the land and poignant memories of the past, it all comes together in a passionate and immediate telling of a meaningful voyage of self-discovery.  For the armchair adventurer who seeks some thought provoking insights with his journey, this one easily provides.

 

Los Angeles by Peter Moore Smith

Publisher: Little, Brown ISBN: 0316803928 

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Angel, son of a famous Hollywood producer, lives a very solitary life in his dark and musty West Hollywood apartment with his main joy being to repeatedly watch the movie Blade Runner.  That all changes, however, when the beautiful and beguiling Angela moves in next door and slowly wakes him from his slumber.  But all too soon she is gone, leaving him with only a fearfully whispered phone call in which she only speaks his name before being cut-off.  And as Angel searches for her, all the while pondering the essence of light and life, he will find that nothing is ever what it appears to be, and that truth itself is just an illusion. 

The above description does not even begin to cover the intricacies of this shadowy and perplexing novel of light and truth.  Angel himself seems a man who has come from some sort of collective unconscious, a place dark and mysterious and full of question regarding the unknown.  There is a mystery here, but it's not what it seems, and that in itself is what drives this tale deep into the reader's mind to be pondered and re-examined, even after the last page has been turned.  It's beautiful and frightening and not at all what one might expect from this genre, and for that, and for it's endless and transcending scope, it comes highly recommended.

 

That Way Murder Lies by Ann Granger

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312338279 

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

In this highly entertaining mystery, we're taken on a cozy and lurid ride through the English countryside in search of the truth behind a decades old secret and a frightening new murder. 

Meredith Mitchell, fiancée of Alan Markby, a Detective Superintendent, has a way of getting caught up in murder cases almost as often as her betrothed.  This time out, her friend Toby asks for their help when his cousin's wife begins to receive mysterious letters relating to a tragedy in her past in which she was accused but cleared of the murder of her beloved Aunt Freda.  And all too soon, it goes from a simple case of stalking to murder when a body turns up dead in much the same way that Aunt Freda had been found.  And as this motley crew attempts to put the pieces together, they will unlock some very terrifying secrets that may just put themselves in danger.

Granger's new mystery is about as tantalizing and pleasing as they come.  Her look at past tragedies that have echoing repercussions is stylish and heartfelt.  Each character in this latest also provides hearty entertainment, especially Toby, the lumbering, but sensitive, friend of Meredith.  If you love your English cozies, this one is a stunning winner that you won't to miss.