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Conviction by Elise Title

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312318200

Reviewed By C.J. Curry

Natalie Price is the Superintendent of  one of Massachusetts halfway houses that is part of the state prison system.  She and the Deputy Commissioner of Corrections, Steven Carlyle, donít see eye to eye on many things.  Including having women in the prison system in charge of men prisoners.  And the fact that Horizon House was a co-ed facility made Carlyle see red.  But Nat was good at her job and for the most part enjoyed it. 

But when a Boston socialite, Jessica Asher, was brutally murdered things werenít what they seemed on the surface.  The news came out about a secretive, high-class call girl ring operating within the city.  And on the client list appeared the names of several high-powered men such as Steven Carlyle!  When Carlyle is brought in for questioning by the equally high-powered Captain of Detectives, Francine Robie, Nat is asked by the Corrections Commissioner to do some investigating.  Much to the disgust of Captain Robie AND Deputy Commissioner, Steven Carlyle. 

Putting her life in danger and trying to deal with her personal life as well as her professional life, Nat is hard pressed to not let Steven Carlyle  be railroaded.  Someone set him up and she is determined to find out whoÖÖÖ

Ms Title writes a hard line story here.  It has intrigue, high society, political power games, dirty secrets and just about anything you could want from a good detective plot.  I enjoyed this book and I think most of the readers will be delighted with it.  The story has a good twist  or two and the conclusion is stunning.



Secret Smile by Nicci French

 Publisher: Warner Books ISBN: 0446533475

Miranda, a young 20-something living in London, has recently dumped her latest lover Brenden after less then two weeks of dating, so sheís quite surprised when he starts dating her sister, and even more surprised when soon after they announce their engagement.  But not all is as it seems, for Brenden is acting quite oddly, whispering obscenities in her ear, and watching her much too closely, and when the newly engaged couple move into her flat, things get even worse.  Trying to warn her family about Brendenís odd behavior is only making her look crazy herself, and so as events grow even stranger, and people start dying, only Miranda knows that Brenden is not what he seems and hiding behind his secret smile is danger.

This latest heart-stopping thriller from this creative duo of writers is sure to please fans of psychological suspense, with the slowly escalating menace being superbly creepy, chilling, and all the more frightening for its subtle insidiousness.  And while it sometimes is a bit hard to believe, and can cause a bit of aggravation, that Miranda can be the only one aware of Brendenís obsession, this is still a page-turner of the highest order.  Definitely recommended, this stimulating read is sure to cause goose bumps and chills.    


I'd Kill For That Edited by Marcia Talley

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312290578

Reviewed by Ellen Brodsky

In Iíd Kill For That, 13 of the top female mystery writers joined forces for a collaborative serial novel.  Edited by Marcia Talley, the book features such stars as Anne Perry, Rita Mae Brown, Julie Smith and Gayle Lynds who each contributed a chapter.  The setting is Gryphon Gate, a luxury community for the wealthy and well-connected, where greedy real estate developers, trophy wives, animal lovers and a philandering minister mix and mingle and betray each other behind each othersí backs.   Not since the TV shows Dallas and Dynasty has such a hatefully privileged group been so entertaining.  When someone starts knocking off the residents, you can almost see the authors grinning as they spin their collective web of glamorous intrigue, ambition and greed.

The novel has the old-fashioned feel of a good yarn told around a campfire as each writer builds on the foundation of the chapter before to enhance and enrich the story.  The problem for me is that despite the effort to write in a uniform style, the diversity of voices shines through and the result is a somewhat disjointed narrative that takes away from the suspense.  The bitchery is more compelling than the mystery and I never found myself terribly interested in who done it.

Still, this is probably a good read for those who like this sort of fun and want something a little different from their favorite authors.  And everyone can feel good about buying the book because a percentage of the profits will be donated to breast cancer research.


Twenty-Seven Bones by Jonathan Nasaw

 Publisher: Atria Books ISBN: 0743446534

Retired FBI Agent Pender isnít adapting well to his new life of leisure; heís gaining weight and drinking too much, so when an old friend from the Caribbean island of St. Luke asks for his help on a new case involving a possible serial killer, Pender jumps at the chance.  And while the reader knows from the beginning that the killers are a married pair of anthropologists living on the island, a pair who see each killing as a way to extend their own lives through the taking of the victimís last breath, Pender lives in a state of frustration as the body count rises.  And when another person joins the murdering duo in their quest for immortality, things only get more baffling for this disheveled but charming crime stopper.

In this highly unsettling thriller, Nasaw once again creates villains that are more disturbing than your worst nightmare.  Unfortunately, at times it seems he goes a bit too far in his effort to create such disquiet, and it can leave the reader more repulsed than engaged.  However, Pender is as amiable as ever, and itís he that saves this explicit and horrific tale from being too disconcerting to enjoy.  The high suspense, and appealing ambiance of the island, along with the short sub-chapters also aid in making this a fast and absorbing read that should please those with a high tolerance for gore.