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Murder in Metropolis by Lonnie Cruse

Publisher: Quiet Storm Books ISBN: 0972881956

Reviewed by  © 2004 Phillip Tomasso III    

Mr. Tomasso also writes children's mysteries under the psuedonmn Grant R. Phillips, for more info, please visit his website: www.grantrphilips.tripod.com

Murder in Metropolis is a taut mystery, faster than a speeding bullet.  Lonnie Cruse incorporates a tightly crafter plot and couples it with a compelling story about people in the small town of Metropolis, Illinois.  She manages to create and maintain tension and suspense from the opening chapter until the end of the book, while introducing, building on and master well-defined characters that the reader can't help but relate with.

Sheriff Joe Dalton thinks he's responding to a routine call to round up the town drunk bent on disturbing the peace in the center of town.  Instead he discovers the body of high school football buddy Jack Hatfield, owner of the Hatfield Hardware Store.  The victim is dressed in his Halloween Superman costume, and has been deposited onto a giant statute erected in honor of the man of steel.

Dalton's cast of five deputies take the murder series as the investigation begins.  And there is no shortage of suspects.  A tragic family history was like a cloud over the Hatfield's.  The victim took over the hardware store and supported his non-intelligent siblings, Mark and Peggy. Always running the show, brother and sister had no idea what to do, or how they'd survive now that Jack was gone.  Mark told Dalton that Jack had plans to meet with a hardware salesman.  The odd thing was they were going to meet after business hours.  So who was the salesman?  And Jack, who had a long time relationship with Ruby, seemed to be spending less and less time with the love of his life?  Was something going on there?  The town drunk was the first to discover the body, could he have been responsible for the murder—or might he have useful information about who might be behind the crime?

Jack Hatfield isn't the only unfortunate Metropolis resident to lose his life.  As more bodies are discovered Dalton's quest for answers becomes more urgent.  Personal and work issues arise and only complicate matters.  Remaining as focused as possible Dalton is determined to unmask the evil threatening to destroy his town.

Crisp dialogue, packed chapters and wonderfully illuminated characters make Murder in Metropolis a top-notch mystery novel with plenty of psychological and exciting elements.  Cruse doesn't just know what genre readers expect in a book, she delivers.  I look forward to the second in the series.


Fear Itself  by Walter Mosley

Publisher: Little Brown & Company  ISBN: 0316591122

This is the first Fearless Jones novel I am reading. I have been most impressed with the author’s more popular Easy Rawlins novels, and was looking something in those lines, when I started this book. And I was not disappointed. With all the finesse, action and suspense- Fear Itself, proves to be on par with the Easy Rawlins novels.

Fear Itself is a very quick read, for one thing it’s just around 300 pages, and for another thing, the suspense and the fast paced plot makes the work a page turner in the truest sense of the term. Following his adventures in Fearless Jones, this time round, Jones seeks the help of his friend Paris Minton to help him search for the missing husband of an erstwhile client of Jones. Minton is literarily dragged into the action. However, Minton gets more than what he bargained for, when he soon finds out that his life is in danger, and the only way to save himself, is to always remain one step ahead, always one step ahead.  Minton, rather than Jones, is the true protagonist of the work, and it is through Minton the action moves forward. However, eventually Fearless Jones enters the thick of action, and together the duo finds out some strange truths and more fantastic lies – culminating in an exciting finish.

Fearless Jones reminded me of Clive Cussler’s series character Dirk Pitt, -‘the true gritty, American hero’ kind-of- character. Read the book, and you will understand what I mean.  All in all a good read. A recommended holiday read for this summer.


A Fistful of Rain by Greg Rucka

Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub  ISBN: 055380135X 

When Mim Bracca, lead guitarist for her band, Tailhook, left Portland for a worldwide tour, their band was a local favorite.  Returning home a year later, after being kicked out of the band for excessive drinking, Mim finds out that she’s now a bona fide rock star.  Unfortunately, celebrity has also brought out some very evil people from her past.  A past filled with pain and tragedy.   It starts with naked pictures of her on the Internet, and soon escalates into her brothers’ murder.  Someone is stalking her, and if she can stop drinking for long enough, she may have a chance of coming out of it alive. 

This latest stand-alone novel from Rucka is definitely one of his best.  He hits the ground running, and keeps it up until the very end.  Close to perfection, this book has it all:  a heroine on the brink of self-destruction, emotional and heart pounding suspense, and a plot that’s filled with passion and purpose.  Heart breaking and furious, with the hope of redemption, make this a book that should be started on the same day it can be finished, otherwise prepare yourself for a long sleepless night.       


A Fractured Truth by Caroline Slate

Publisher: Atria  ISBN: 0743418905 

After spending seven years in prison for the murder of her husband, Grace Leshansky is free at last.  Trying to piece back the puzzle that is her life, and get over the death of her beloved father, she is shocked when she learns he may not be dead after all.  A small time gambler with ties to some nefarious types; he still was always the light of her eye.  And when her ex-lover, a man with the same ties, re-enters her life, she must begin to sort the truths from the lies if she’s ever to find happiness. 

Ms. Slate’s mysteries are so subtle that hard-core fans of the genre may be a bit disappointed.  But for those who just like good solid writing, this will satisfy and move.  Exploring issues such as trust and betrayal, and more intensely, that of a daughter and a father’s bond, her writing has the power to stir and to remind.  She also explores  who we all want to appear to be, and who we really are, as well as how we can sometimes be truly blind when it comes to those we love; subjects that are jarring and sometimes painful, but always handled with emotional sincerity.  This is a must read for those who like a little depth with their drama, as well as freshness and honesty.  Try it; you won’t be disappointed.