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The Serpent's Kiss by Mark T. Sullivan

Publisher: Atria Books  ISBN: 0743439821

The Serpent’s Kiss is exciting, it is scary, it is suspense filled, it’s a great mystery, but falls just short, mildly short, of being a fantabulous one.

I started reading this book late in the night. My idea was to read a couple of pages, say about 40-50 pages, and save it for the next couple of days. Well guess what, I didn’t sleep that day- the idea of ‘read the next chapter and close it’ didn’t work- and before I knew it I was 120 pages into the mystery, and only because I had a busy day, the next day (by that time it had already become ‘next day’), I half-heartedly closed the book.

So, I guess, I needn’t elaborate on how exciting the book is.

Veteran Homicide Cop and detective, Sergeant Seamus Moynihan is called upon to investigate a series of sex murders in California. The murders themselves are mildly put grotesque, and each body has a tale to tell. And to put it mildly, the tale they tell is nothing but BIZZARE.

Moynihan’s investigation plunges him into a labyrinth of bizarre mysteries, involving the occult, spiritual fanaticism, deadly snakes, etc. etc.- an investigation that literally and figuratively would make one mad. The key to his investigation lies in breaking a riddle, the root of which is traced back to the bible, an enigmatic puzzle that many a historian had found it difficult to answer. Together with the help of a Bible scholar and a team of ace detectives, slowly and steadily Moynihan closes on to the puzzle behind the murders- the intricate riddle- ending in a suspense filled and an enigmatically bizarre climax.

The plot is great, the suspense is riveting, and one thing is sure, don’t take this book to bed with you, unless you want a sleepless night.

                                                 Reviewed by :   Narayan Radhakrishnan 

And for some great inside info with the author of Serpent's Kiss, visit Bookreporter.com for the July Author of the Month:  Mark T. Sullivan!


The Cure by Jack D. Hunter

Publisher: Forge  ISBN: 0765306484

The Cure definitely isn’t the cure for a quite night….its suspense will keep you awake, the intrigue will keep you restless and plot will keep you glued to the pages.

This is the first Jack Hunter work I am reading, and it definitely won’t be the last one. The best aspect of this work, and the one I found most interesting is the fact that the plot, though is fiction, is one that is very plausible, even possible in the near future. A cure is found for cancer- and millions and millions across the globe would find success in the new treatment. Many would be happy- the patients, doctors, scientists, etc.- but there is a disgruntled group- the mega- pharmaceutical industrialists. Such a cure would render their pharmaceutical products, and by products I mean those medicines that costs Hugeeeeeeeeeee bucks, obsolete. Such a cure would mean shut down of many a pharmaceutical industry…A genius oncologist Dr. Anson Lunt is killed in a plane crash. Many believe it not to be an accident. Dr. Lunt was a pioneer in the filed of cancer cure and his death comes days before his research team planned to announce a major breakthrough.

It is in this background the plot of The Cure develops. What follows is suspense action at its best, intriguing plot situations that take you to the behind the scenes of modern corporatism and of course, loads and loads of information on corporate espionage, that summed up can best be described as W-O-W.

The Cure reminded me a lot in certain respects, of the classic Irving Wallace thriller The Pigeon Project. However, in terms of action and suspense The Cure definitely is one rank higher. I like it, and is highly recommended. But be warned- definitely NOT for a quite night’s read.                                                               

                                   Reviewed by :   Narayan Radhakrishnan 


GRAVE CIRCLE:  An Ivory Tower Mystery  by   David D. Nolta

Quality Words in Print       ISBN  0-9713160-2-3  (PB)                                 

If your taste in mysteries runs to large caliber guns and even larger mammary glands, do not, I pray, buy this book.  You will be disappointed and there will be fewer copies in the stores for purchase by those who always wondered just what Jane Austen would be writing if she were alive today.  This is probably not for those who cannot tell their subjunctives from their pluperfects. 

"Grave Circle" is a work of elegant grammar and refined characterizations.   It begins with a body in the cellar and ends with an unlikely coupling.  In between, the reader is offered intricate plotting and darkly nuanced relationships. 

Like another recent offering, the protagonists are a brother and sister team with the unlikely names of Antigone and Hiawatha Musing.  That alone should tell you that the story is set in New England, long the home of eccentric literary (and real) people.   It is set in the present day, but there's a flavor of the classic detective drama of the 1930s about it. 

The author is an art historian, which no doubt helped his creation of Clare College, Massachusetts, and its inhabitants.   The story opens with a professor at that college being informed that a body has been found buried in the cellar of his former house.    It doesn't take any intuitive leap to connect the skeleton with the professor's missing wife, but what is surprising is he doesn't seem to appreciate he's the most likely suspect.  Not that there aren't lots of other likely candidates: the late Mrs. Vanderlyn wasn't shy about sharing her fabulous beauty around the campus among staff and students alike. 

Tig and Hi frankly admit they're curious about how the body came to be buried, and they start snooping in a genteel way to discover who besides the professor had the means, motive and opportunity.  The local sheriff, at first more than willing to have their help, becomes less pleased and tells them to keep off his patch.   He clearly doesn't know the Musings: once started, they'd no more leave off sleuthing than they'd split an infinitive. 

Along the road to the eventual discovery of the killer there is another death, which initially looks like suicide.  The plot becomes even murkier when the new corpse is found not to be who he claimed to be.  So who was he really, and does this tie in with the previous murder?   

Save this book for a long wet weekend when you agree with Vance Packard about the essential nature of television.  Pour yourself a nip or two of respectable port, put on a classical radio station, and enjoy David Nolta's first--but surely not last--Ivory Tower mystery.

                                                            Reviewed by Karen Treanor