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The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson 

Publisher: Penguin  ISBN: 0143036424

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

The first in a series, this beautifully written, highly engrossing, and unreservedly delightful novel is one that shouldn't be missed.  Featuring Sheriff Walt Longmire and his best friend Henry Standing Bear, along with an engaging side-cast of miscreants and eccentrics and the beautifully rendered plains of Northern Wyoming, this is one of the best debut series novels I've ever had the joy to read.

Two years ago, young developmentally disabled Melissa Little Bird was raped by a foursome of teens, teens who were eventually caught, tried, and convicted.  Only thing is, their sentence failed to satisfy the community, and now it appears someone is out for revenge.  It all begins with Cody's death, one of the boys convicted, soon followed by another death, leading Walt to believe it's all a motive of revenge.  And as winter looms, he and Henry attempt to protect the remaining two boys as the first snows begin to fall. 

It's hard to say which is the most appealing aspect of this novel; its luminous characterization, its wonderfully wrought details of Wyoming, its humor and poignancy, its flowing narrative, or just a combination of all of these things.  Whichever, this is a brilliant and inviting tale that makes one eager for the ones to follow.  Many thanks to this wonderful author for providing such a fantastic read.


Getting Old is the Best Revenge by Rita Lakin

Publisher: Bantam Dell ISBN:  0440242592

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader                       

Age doesn't matter when you're Gladdy Gold or a member of her over-the-hill gang of lady friends taking on the baddies found in and around Lanai Gardens, a Florida retirement community.  Having tasted success in catching a killer once, whetted their appetite for more such excitement and a detective agency was born. 

Though partners in crime solving, the ladies do bicker a lot and this can lead to problems when on the trail of a baddie.  As when they get into an argument while trailing a suspected errant husband or trying to discover the identity of a peeping tom in their complex.  But it is murder that catches and holds their attention.

Three wealthy women have died under what the police consider ordinary circumstances but Gladdy has other ideas.  She tries to voice her thoughts to her new boyfriend, a retired policeman, and his son who is a policeman, but they poo-poo the idea.  So she and her gang are left to solve the problem themselves. 

A terrific blend of mystery, romance, and a glimpse into the lives of ordinary retired people, talented author Rita Lakin has written a book you will enjoy.  The perfect read for a chilly evening beside a fire, it will transport you to the warmth of sunshine where you can join Gladdy in solving crimes.

Any reader will feel at home with the bickering lady friends of Gladdy as they will seem like members of the family.  Highly recommended. 


Sonnet of the Sphinx by Diana Killian

Publisher:  Pocket Books ISBN:  10 0743466802

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader                       

Fun from beginning to end.  Talented author Diana Killian gives the reader a touch of Agatha Christie in her well crafted English mystery.  You'll feel as though you've actually visited the Lake District and met the characters whose personalities add a distinct flavor to the story. 

Grace Hollister, an American teacher transplanted to England has gotten involved with an ex-thief, Peter Fox, who now runs an antique shop and winds up tangled in a web of murder and the hunt for a lost Shelley poem that nearly gets her killed.

Peter buys the contents of a house and as they read through the papers, a hint of a lost sonnet by Percy Shelley turns up.  Then, as they are sorting through the papers, the former owner, a rather arrogant wealthy Japanese businessman, sends word he wants everything back and will make Peter a better deal.  So back the papers go with the tantalizing possibility of finding the lost Shelley poem.

As Grace continues her search for the poem, she also has a run-in with a nasty ex-Turkish prison guard who turns up dead and she is accused of his murder. Then someone tries to kill her.  Is it tied to the poem or are there other motives she doesn't know about?  Could her ties to Peter be the reason she is stalked? 

Lots of action, mystery, and intrigue.  A great story for a dark, stormy night.  Enjoy.  I certainly did.


For Better or Hearse by Laura Durham

Publisher:  Avon Books  ISBN:  0-06-073904-5

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader 

Annabelle Archer likes the weddings she plans to be memorable, but not because dead bodies are found at the receptions.  Moments after venting her anger about the temperamental chef, Henri, to her caterer friend Richard, the Washington D. C. wedding planner discovers Henri impaled on an ice sculpture.

Annabelle is a suspect for about five minutes, but then handsome Detective Reese focuses his suspicions on Georgia Rhodes, Annabelle's friend and mentor.  Determined to prove her friend's innocence, Annabelle enlists the help of her semantically-challenged assistant Kate, friend Richard, and wacky neighbor Leatrice.  Ian, a potential new love interest and singer for the eighties cover band, pops in to give a hand as well.  Detective Reese, of course, doesn't appreciate the assistance of amateurs.

Laura Durham's amusing second installment in the series is a pleasant diversion.  Her characters seem to be perpetually overwrought, but perhaps anyone who had to deal with the cast of brides and their mothers would be.  Durham, a wedding planner herself, provides a hilarious assortment of Bridezillas who seem to deserve what befalls them.  Even if the mystery part is a bit formulaic, For Better or Hearse will make you laugh.



Publisher: Ballantine Books ISBN 0 345469283

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Anne Perry takes as her premise that the manipulation of public opinion by its fear of terrorism is no new thing.   In her latest Thomas and Charlotte Pitt adventure she digs into the dark under belly of late Victorian London to expose a complex web of anarchists, corrupt policemen, power-lusting politicians and frightened common people.  It is no accident that her story finds parallels in the present age.

After the death of a young nobleman in a siege, Thomas learns from the surviving idealistic anarchists that they have been driven to desperate measures in response to corrupt police, who are running a protection racket that has driven local small businesspeople to the edge of survival.

In response to the public fear of terrorism, powerful men in Whitehall propose a Bill in Parliament to arm police and given them wider powers of search and seizure and arrest.  Sound familiar?  But wait, there's more. 

Sir Charles Voisey, Pitt's arch enemy, proposes making common cause to defeat the bill.  Pitt has no idea what Voisey's real motivation is, but on the surface it's obvious that he plans to use the campaign to defeat Superintendent Wetron, the man who took over the Inner Circle, a cabal of police and others which nearly ruined Pitt in a previous book in the series and resulted in his transfer to the Special Branch.

Pitt and his new boss, Narraway, know that they are venturing into danger, and are facing possible disgrace and maybe murder.   Powerful vested interests won't stand by and watch them attack the carefully-constructed plot to gain control of the heart of the Empire.   They will have few allies and will have to watch their backs every step of the way.

How Pitt gets to the bottom of the morass alive makes for nail-biting reading, and I defy anyone to put this book down during the final few chapters.  It's both a good read and an object lesson in not allowing fear to drive one into worse excesses than those used by those who instigate the fear.   Highly recommended.


Dead of Night by Randy Wayne White

Publisher: Berkley ISBN: 0-42520944X

Reviewed by Tim Davis for New Mystery Reader 

“Doc” Ford—one of mystery fiction’s most fascinating characters—is back!

This “amiable marine biologist, bookworm nerd, collector of sea creatures,” and part-time sleuth—with impressive credentials acquired during his earlier years of covert activities with certain government agencies—is passing his time quietly at his home on Sanibel Island in Florida when he finds himself called away to help a friend, biologist Dr. Frieda Applebee Matthews.

Matthews’ brother, the brilliant but eccentric Dr. Jobe Applebee, has not answered his sister’s repeated phone calls placed to his isolated island home on Lake Toho in central Florida.  So, Ford, the “wouldn’t hurt a fly, cheery sunset cohort who can’t say no to a pal” drops everything, leaves the tranquility of his coastal stilt-house on Dinkin’s Bay—“a cross between Tom Sawyer’s raft and a castaway’s tree house”—and he sets out to check on the reclusive Applebee.

Soon, however, Ford discovers that there is a very good reason why Applebee won’t be answering any more telephone calls: Dead men don’t talk. And Ford—especially after he himself is nearly killed by a couple of shady characters near Applebee’s home—is suddenly fully involved in yet another one of his dangerous cases.

What begins though as a simple trip taken as a favor to a friend turns into a spellbinding case involving bio-terrorism (complete with parasitic guinea worms, nasty little fish who like to get inside human bodies by any means possible, and all sorts of other vile creatures), corporate espionage (involving sugarcane refineries and their environmental battles against the government), black-market operations (involving—among other things—the importation of rare animals and dangerous species), and—of course—good old fashioned murder which itself threatens to become an epidemic unless Ford can stop the criminals who are responsible for the mayhem that threatens to destabilize south Florida and the United States.

Readers will enjoy this thrilling mystery by an accomplished writer who knows how to tell a darn good story. Randy Wayne White, author of eleven previous Doc Ford novels including the legendary Sanibel Flat which was White’s first, has proven once again that he is a master craftsman who can make a bewildering array of interesting characters come fully alive in heart-stopping adventures filled with the most surprising twists and turns.


In a Heartbeat by Rita Herron

Publisher: HQN Books ISBN: 0373771053

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Four years ago, young and beautiful Lisa Langley survived the kidnapping and attempted murder from the serial killer known as the Grave Digger, but that doesn't mean the nightmares have stopped even though he's long been dead, killed while in prison.  But now there's a real reason for her to be frightened, for it appears there's a copycat on the loose, and she might just be on his list.  Could the Grave Digger somehow faked his death, or is this an entirely new form evil?

Sent in to once again investigate is Special Agent Brad Booker, the same man who was there when Lisa was found buried alive, and who has never forgiven himself for not catching the culprit in time.  This time he vows to do better, because nothing could be worse than if the woman he's never been able to forget is taken a second time.

Fans of romantic suspense will love this highly entertaining read that blends gentle romance with invigorating thrills.  Subtly sweet, but never too much so, it hits all the right notes while keeping things moving at an increasingly quick pace. You'll like these folks, and you'll like this tale which comes recommended for a brisk and pleasurable read.  


Blood Father by Peter Craig

Publisher: Hyperion  ISBN: 0786888555

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

John Link has known some hard times, previously a 1%er with the Hells' Angels, Link rode hard, played hard, killed a man, ran drugs and, his only saving grace, had a child, a beautiful baby girl named Lydia.  Now Link spends his time in the desert of Southern California as a tattoo artist, and after spending time in prison, he's finally clean and sober, if only barely. 

Having not seen his daughter for years, but having searched for her after she ran away from her mother's, he's overwhelmed when she contacts him at last.  But this isn't the happy reunion he had long hoped for, as Lydia is on the run from the cops and some very bad people, people who want nothing more than to see her dead.  And as the two head for the hills, they will find they are more alike than different, and while dodging bullets and vicious bandits, they will reclaim a love thought lost.

This is both a brutal and beautiful novel, with the poignant and heart-breaking relationship between father and daughter saving it from one of mere violence and ugliness.  Because there is a lot of ugliness to be found here, although no more than the reality of which he writes, meaning the violence is never gratuitous but merely the bitter truth surrounding the drug trade with its atrocious and inhumane doctrines.  But if you can get past all this, and it is difficult, at the core you will discover a sensitive and brutally real novel that will touch just as deeply as it horrifies.  



Bark M for Murder by J. A. Jance, Virginia Lanier, Chassie West, and Lee Charles Kelly

Publisher:  Avon Books  ISBN:  0-06-081537-X

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader 

Bark M for Murder is a collection of "canine crime tales" from some favorite authors.  Ranging in length from short stories to novellas, the four entries feature canine companions in the solution of the mysteries.

In the shortest of the stories, "Red Shirt and Black Jacket," by the late Virginia Lanier, dog handler Jo Beth Sidden tracks the two individuals who held up a convenience store in south Georgia, in the process killing a woman in her fifties.  Jo Beth deals not only with her nemesis Deputy Sergeant Lyons and another deputy with a death wish, but also the too warm trail that leads them straight into gunfire. 

Chassie West's "Nightmare in Nowhere" features A. J., who wakes up to the smell of wet dog in a car teetering over a rushing river.  The dog, Duke, takes her to his adopted owner's cabin.  A. J. remembers very little about how she got to the wilderness location, where the closest town actually is called Nowhere, but there is something frighteningly familiar about the dog's owner, Jake.  Neither is sure whether they should trust the other, until a common enemy forces them into an uneasy alliance.

Former NYPD detective Jack Field is counseling the stunning Cady Clark on her poodle's behavioral issues when her ex-husband arrives, fresh from robbing a bank.  So begins his association with the sociopathic beauty in Lee Charles Kelley's "The French Poodle Connection."  The mysterious Cady Clark leaves a collection of kidnappings, robberies, murders, and broken hearts in her wake, but Field manages to escape relatively unscathed, ultimately bringing her to a sort of justice.

In J. A. Jance's "The Case of the London Cabbie," delightful septuagenarian Maddie Watkins suspects her sister's new love, a twenty-nine year old cabbie, may be a con man, so with her two trusty golden retrievers in tow, sets off to Seattle to prove it.  Ascertaining that Jamil is indeed a scam artist doesn't take Maddie long, but when he comes after her with a tire iron, she shoots him, leading to her own arrest.  Extricating her sister from his web while proving her own innocence is only a small challenge to this Agatha Christie-esque heroine.

The dogs really are the only link between these four unique stories, each from a different genre, but each very well-written and quite enjoyable. 

And as reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Four mystery writers have written short stories pitting dogs against criminals.  At the end of a long hard, each of these stories kept me entertained through a bubble bath and a glass of wine.


JoBeth Siddon trains blood hounds and trainers.  When a widow is murdered JoBeth, her dogs, and trainee Jasmine are called out for a manhunt.  Naturally the dogs win, but you are entertained with human male and female bashing.


A German Shepherd rescues A. J. from the back seat of a car which is about ready to tip into a swollen creek.  She can't remember what she was doing in the car.  The dog leads her to a cabin in the woods where she finds a cop named Jake Walker who informs her that she is in a place called nowhere.  Now all she has to do is remember what she is doing there.


An ex cop who now owns a kennel accompanies the medical examiner a scene that is supposedly a shoot out.  He very quickly determines that it is a double murder, and inadvertently lets the killer get away because she has asked him to hold her poodle.


Very sedate and in her 70s, Maddy Watkins is convinced that a 29 year old cab driver is out to romance and scam her sister. Maddy and her two golden retrievers set out to prove it and stop it.

These four thrilling mysteries where dogs are instrumental in finding killers will keep you spellbound.  You have warm, caring dog lovers and scurrilous criminals.  There are chills, thrills, suspense and plenty of surprises for all.   



Publisher: Fawcett ISBN 0 345 44793X

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader 

Followers of Emma Lord, proprietor of the Alpine Advocate, will welcome
the newest book in the series.

Once again the author takes the reader into the minutiae of small town life in rural Washington state.  Daheim uses the backdrop of a weekly newspaper's workings to display, thread by thread, the tangled weft of a murder which has its roots in the distant past.  The needlework analogy is apt: part of the mystery hinges on quilt-making, and readers will learn some interesting quilt lore as Emma investigates the case.

Fifty-something Emma is an appealing protagonist.  A tough survivor of single parenthood and plenty of hard times, Emma displays a gritty common sense that readers new to the series will take to at once.

In this adventure, Emma feels compelled to investigate the death of Genevieve Bayard, returned exile.   It's not just because it's news, it's because the murder has cast suspicion on people close to Emma: her brother, who's the new priest in town; his housekeeper, who cooked the fatal meal; and the Advocate's long-time House and Home writer, Vida Runkel.

Emma's friend and occasional lover, Sheriff Milo Dodge, already has a lot on his plate, having to deal with a spate of break-ins as well as the usual drunken drivers, traffic accidents, and stray dogs.  A murder is the last thing he needs, so he's not entirely unhappy with Emma's sleuthing, although he takes a while to accept that her suspicions are on the right track.

As well as her newspaper work and detecting, Emma also gets involved in what might have been a romantic interlude with a new man, but for the
burglars.  Readers who prefer a slow-paced non-gory mystery that
immerses them in a world far from crack houses and assault rifles will
enjoy "The Alpine Quilt".


The Water Room by  Christopher Fowler

Publisher:  Bantam Books ISBN:  0553587161

Reviewed by  Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

In the midst of one of the wettest seasons in decades, a series of deaths occurs on Balaklava Street that has John May and Arthur Bryant scratching their gray heads, wondering what will happen next.  The first death is particularly peculiar--an old woman appears to have drowned while sitting in a chair in her bathroom, fully clothed and no water apparent.

The strangeness of the case continues as other deaths occur, each different yet having a basic sameness.  Arthur Bryant begins the investigation as he is always drawn into strange cases and John May allows himself to be pulled into it because he feels Arthur needs watching.  Who knows what trouble he could start otherwise or what catastrophe he could set in motion as he has been known to do in the past?

The investigation centers on finding where old rivers run beneath the city, bring to light London's watery past.  One almost feels the rivers are trying to reclaim their old runs as the story offers an intriguing look beneath the streets of London.

A bit of history that takes the reader from the days when London was a Roman town to the present when concrete and steel has swallowed up the land. Join John and Arthur as they try to prevent further tragedies and solve a case that seems to have no solution.  Recommended as an interesting and well told tale of two detectives well past retirement who will have you looking for their other adventures. 


Valley of Bones by Michael Gruber

Publishers: HarperTorch ISBN: 0060577673

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader 

To say that Valley of Bones is a good read- wouldn’t be right. To say that Valley of Bones is a fabulous read- also wouldn’t be right. What Valley of Bones is, is a grand fantabulous read that keeps the reader hooked right from page 1.

Young and dashing policeman Tito Morales is called one day to attend a routine disturbance- it seems some guy is causing trouble at a posh hotel in Miami city. Morales arrives at the spot- but the disturbance becomes an uproar when the guy jumps of his room in the tenth floor. Morales rushes down and a grizzly sight meets his eye. The body of the man is caught in a mangle, entangled in the wire mesh fence. Soon Morales is met at scene by veteran cop Jimmy Paz – for those who have read Tropic of Cancer, the previous book by Gruber, you all would remember Paz- and together the duo begins investigating into the matter. They discover that the deceased was a wealthy oil tycoon. They enter his room and see that the deceased was not alone- and meets a lady- Emmylou Dideroff.  Dideroff is a strange character- a spiritual woman who occasionally goes into a trance- she confesses that she had killed the deceased. Initially hesitant to reveal the motive, Dideroff ultimately launches into her story- and what a story it is!!!!

What follows is an exhilarating read where a woman narrates her reasons for murder- taking us right from a question of childhood abuse to the Occult itself. Stunned and stumped- the duo begin to realize that there is more than what meets the eye- and what follows is pulsating narration culminating in a grand, grand finish.

A superb read, an extraordinarily superb read.


At Risk by Stella Rimington

Publisher:  Vintage ISBN:  1400079810

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

A new voice for the genre!! A talented teller of tales who will hold your attention from beginning to end as you step into the world of good versus evil at the side of Liz Carlyle who operates an information gathering network of informants.

Everyone in this exciting tale is at risk. Terrorists who kill without emotion, smugglers who will move any cargo for cash, informants who play the dangerous game of living in two camps, their handlers who try to stem the tide of destruction, will pull you along in their wake as each tries to outsmart the other. Each character is influenced by outside forces and you'll be waiting to see if those forces affect their purpose.

Lots of action and suspense, a great cast of characters. A well plotted book woven from subplots with interesting asides.  You'll want to know how the death of a local fisherman in a small village could tie in with Liz' informants in London, what is it that sends her hurrying to the site of the murder. What game is being played out by a smuggler, an informant who risks his life to pass on information about him, and why draw Liz into it since it is beyond the scope of her job?

Highly recommended as a fun read with plenty of mystery. Definitely worth the time. A very satisfying read. Enjoy.  I certainly did.