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Raising Atlantis by Thomas Greanias

Reviewed by William Fietzer, author of METADATA MURDERS. for New Mystery Reader

Publisher: Pocket Star ISBN: 0743491912

In Antarctica, an earthquake uncovers a pyramid-shaped monument at Ice Station Orion that prompts Base Commander Yeats to immediately declare a full communications blackout. At the same time a U.S. Special Forces unit plucks renegade archaeologist Conrad Yeats from the top of a Peruvian mesa while in Rome the pope enlists linguist and environmental activist Sister Serena Serghetti to decipher an unknown, ancient text believed to be inscribed on the Antarctic monument. All the while, four cold air masses threaten to coalesce into a superstorm before the uncovered monument can be explored.

From that harrowing setup, first-time author and interactive entertainment CEO, Thomas Greanias, spins a whirlwind tale of international intrigue, personal treachery, and emotional blackmail. Does the monument mark the location of the legendary Atlantis? Will Yeats and Serghetti forestall their love-hate relationship long enough for them to determine the answer? Will General Yeats' reveal the secret of Conrad's true parentage? Will any of their discoveries matter if the superstorm fosters another avalanche; or if the heat from the uncovered monument precipitates another earthquake?

Greanias weaves a fascinating, plausible, and altogether enjoyable melodrama out of these disparate strands of speculative archaeology, international geo-politics, and pop psychology. The bickering between Conrad and Serena mimics the love spats between Nick and Nora Charles while General Yeats provides a study in over-the-top monomania. Purists might quibble over Greanias introducing a major character three-quarters of the way through the book, that the plot features one too many miraculous re-appearances, or that the scale of the monument borders on the absurd. Like most roller coasters and interactive Web games, the getting there is far more important (and entertaining) than the feasibility. Enjoy the ride.

 

Puppets by Daniel Hecht

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA ISBN: 1582344957

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

It's been months since the notorious serial killer nicknamed Howdy Doody was finally caught in New York.  A killer who strung up his victims like puppets, he had terrorized New Jersey and New York for thirteen months before being brought down.  But when another body is found in much the same condition it appears the nightmare has started once again. 

Mo Ford, a state police detective, has just killed a man in self-defense, broken up with his girlfriend, and is hoping for a break when he's called into the case, and so once again he's reluctantly facing the maelstrom brought about by death and destruction.  Also on the case is the beautiful and intelligent Rebecca Ingalls, a psychologist who aided in the previous investigation, and the attraction the two feel for each other is immediate but, then again, so is the danger confronting them.  For this is a case that stretches back to some strange and very covert governmental experiments that began long ago and perhaps never really ended, experiments that have left behind one man in particular whose wiring was left in tatters, and a man who might just be closer to the investigation than anyone suspects.

This prequel to Hecht's bestselling novel, Skull Session, is simply stunning.  Hecht is a master at drawing out his characters, bringing them to life, and making them real.  There's romance, electrifying suspense, compelling conspiracy, and just plain good story telling.  I for one have never read Skull Session, but that's soon to change, as it follows up where this one leaves off, and if you even begin this tantalizing adventure, you too will not want to see it end.   

 

 

Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts

Publisher: Warner Books ISBN: 0446695068

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

It isnít until heís almost 30, that Beverly Hillís Veterinarian Mark Albright learns that he was adopted, and so in search of answers he travels back home to his birth place of DeClare, Oklahoma.  All too soon, he discovers that his mother had been murdered when he was only 10 months old, and the killer had never been caught.  Staying with his Aunt and his pregnant cousin, he begins searching even more earnestly for the truth, but sometimes the truth is better left unknown, for his search will lead to further deaths and before all is said and done, the small Southern town of DeClare will be forever changed.

This entirely gripping and charming read is Southern mystery at its finest.  Letts easily brings alive this small town with all of its eccentric and sometimes lovable, and sometimes dreadful, inhabitants.  The mystery surrounding Markís birth, early life, and adoption is suspenseful and enthralling, with the scenes from the past being both touching and absorbing.  Thereís something for everyone in Lettsís latest: romance, suspense, and characters that engage.  Highly recommended, especially for loverís of the South, this one shouldnít be missed.      

 

The Fractal Murders by  Mark  Cohen

Publisher: Warner Books ISBN: 0446614912

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Those who enjoyed Ian Malcolm's musings about chaos theory and fractals in 'Jurassic Park' will particularly enjoy the clever blending of arcane mathematics and murder in this book , which promises to be the first of a series.

Private eye Pepper Keane is hired by an attractive math professor to find out why a number of her colleagues have died.  Two deaths are known to be murder, a third is questionable, but for some reason, Professor Jane Smyers is unable to interest the FBI in her theory that all the deaths are connected.

Pepper does a crash course in fractals while he's searching for motives, and it doesn't take long for him to decide that money has to be the reason for the murders,.  However,  it takes a while to uncover just how anyone could make a buck from an obscure branch of mathematics that most people can't even spell, let alone  understand.

Some of Pepper's techniques might be a bit unorthodox--kidnapping a prominent businessman and keeping him in the back of a truck for two days, for instance--but they get results and lead to further revelations that slowly home in on the reason for the murders.  As the investigation progresses, Pepper's motivation changes from just earning a fee to wanting to protect and help the attractive professor. 

With background music by some of rock's greats as his inspiration, Pepper eventually finds the pivotal clue in the deleted files of one of the victim's computers.  It leads him to further investigation, which leads him to the door of the murderer--or does it?

Cohen's background as a judge shows in his well-ordered plot and the way he draws in all the apparently disparate threads and twists them into a noose for the killer.  He also has a nice touch with dialogue; readers will enjoy Pepper's wry and self-deprecating style.

 

Angels Crest by Leslie Schwartz

Publisher: Anchor ISBN: 1400076455

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

In the small mountain town of Angels Crest, a town filled with the disenfranchised, the eccentric, and the lost, is indelibly changed when tragedy strikes in the form of a missing little boy.  It only takes one moment, one bad decision, and little Nate is gone, lost in the forest during a winter storm.  And what follows for this cast of characters including: the father who just gained full custody, the alcoholic mother, the lesbian couple, the lonely judge, the embittered friend, and the owner of the diner, is at once heartbreaking, wondrous, and ineffably life-affirming.  This is a novel that transcends and one that youíll want to hold onto with its snapshots of life in each chapter bringing revelations and uncomplicated truths that simply shine.  And with a cast of characters reminiscent of a treasure chest of priceless jewels, each one glowing with a unique luminescence, youíll feel youíve met up with all that is good and real in humanity.  This is life at its best, and life at itís worst, this is life described with a gracious beauty and slivers of painÖ.highly recommended.             

 

By A Spiderís Thread by Laura Lippman

Publisher: Avon Books ISBN: 0060506717

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Baltimoreís P.I. Tess Monaghan returns, alive and kicking, and just a little worse for the wear after her last dangerous case in which she barely survived.  This time around sheís hired by Mark Rubin, a devout Orthodox Jewish man of significant wealth, whose wife and three children have disappeared.  As Tess follows the clues, it becomes more and more evident that Markís wife Natalie left by her own volition, and the secrets that sheís kept from her husband, including her sordid past, may be deadly.  Thereís much more here than meets the eye, and the man that Natalie is traveling with has his own deadly agenda fueled by a secret revenge that is slowly bringing everyone involved closer and closer to a danger that may be fatal.  

Tess, who is half Jewish and half Irish, is brought face-to-face with the side of her background that sheís mostly avoided, and the conflicts she faces add much to this already character driven series.  Lippman has done a masterful job of balancing high suspense with a realistic portrayal of the Jewish faith that is both informative and fascinating, making for a read that both thrills and enlightens.  Tess, one of the most intelligent, gutsy, and irreverent P.I.ís written, once again charms and delights with her non-stop ability to attract danger and excitement.  Another score for Lippman, donít miss this stirring and delightfully written read.  

 

Blood Hollow by William Kent Krueger

 

Publisher: Pocket Star ISBN: 0743445872

 

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

 

When young Charlotte Kane disappeared on the night of New Years Eve in the woods of Minnesota, the town came out in droves to search for her, but it isnít until the spring melt when her body is discovered.  Her ex-boyfriend, Solemn, is the natural suspect; a defiant and sullen young American Indian, his troublesome ways have gotten him into difficulties  many times before.  But ex-sheriff Cork OíConnor doesnít believe it, and enlists his lawyer wifeís aide to help defend the young man.  He feels thereís more here than meets the eye, as rumors are circulating about the young girlís troubled past and her sudden decline into despair.  And when Solemn comes out of hiding claiming he spoke with Jesus during a vision quest, followed by strangely miraculous events, Cork believes more than ever that nothing is as it seems.  Everyone seems to have a secret, and the closer Cork gets to truth, the closer he and his loved ones get to danger.        

 

Every once in awhile a rare book comes along that you know after reading just the first page that youíre about to be taken on a one-of-a-kind magical journey.  This is such a book.  And from there the momentum exquisitely grows with each ensuing page, so that by the time you reach Kentís final denouement, itís even better than anticipated.  Lush and fluid writing distinguish this from the pack in a story that explores subjects such as faith, or the lack there of, and the importance of believing in the things one canít always see.  Highly suspenseful and original, donít miss this one. 

 

Double Homicide by Jonathan & Faye Kellerman

Publisher: Warner Books ISBN: 044661422

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Interesting concept- the Kellermans have gotten together and written two short novellas, one taking place in Boston and one in Santa Fe, and both of them stunning.  Both occurring during the holidays, this makes for two fantastic reads that you may want to consider dropping in a loved one's Christmas stocking. 

Santa Fe 

In this story, two detectives, Steve Katz and Darryl Two Moons, are assigned to the case of a murdered art gallery owner, a man who was widely disliked by most in the business.  With Christmas time approaching and a list of suspects longer than Santa's list, the two have their hands full investigating the nasty backbiting world of big time art. 

In this very brief novel, culminating in 133 pages, the Kellermans have not only managed to bring to life this beautiful city, but also the detectives solving the case.  Filled with great atmospheric detail of Christmas time in Santa Fe, as well as the very realistic portrayal of the nastiness that can surround the art scene, the Kellermans easily nail both the good and the bad of this exquisite city.  Highly recommended, don't miss the shining collaboration from two very talented authors.     

Boston 

This short one features Detectives Dorothy Breton and Michael McCain trying to solve the murder of a college basketball superstar who was shot in a club after a passionate and violent game with a close rivalry.  And as Dorothy's son plays on the same team, her involvement is now as a mother and a cop, forcing her to cross some very nasty lines.

As a Santa Fe native, I of course preferred the Santa Fe story, but lovers of Boston will enjoy this one just as much.  A wonderfully detailed story of big city life, single motherhood, and the sometimes insane madness that surrounds the life of an athlete, the Kellermans nail all these timely subjects as well, making for an electric and entertaining reading experience.  

Both of these stories come highly recommended and we can only hope for another collaboration in the future.    

 

FIVE IN A ROW by Jan Coffey

Publisher: Mira ISBN: 0778321924

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Ben Colter is an investigator who has been called in by auto manufacturers to find out why some cars wrest control from the driver and crash, resulting in death or permanent injury. 

Emily Doyle knows everything there is to know about computers and programs.  Each of the drivers who was not in control have at least a tenuous connection to Emily. Ben and Emily team up to find out what is going on and discover that Emily has a computer stalker who has developed a remote control program for cars.  He must be stopped.

Coffey has written an absolutely fascinating novel that everyone who dabbles with computers will read from cover to cover.  Filled with just the blend of romance and adventure, this is an exciting read that will easily thrill.