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Buried Dreams by Brendan DuBois

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312327315

Reviewed by Laura Helfrich

The story opens at a funeral, with the narrator, Lewis Cole, musing
about his friend, Jon Ericson. Jon Ericson is the town historian, a
man obsessed with proving his pet theory, that their town was once a
Viking settlement. Lewis Cole is a man with a shadowy past who is now
a columnist for Shoreline Magazine. They meet when Jon is out looking
for Viking artifacts. Their shared interest in history brings them
together, and they form a fast friendship. One night, Jon calls and
leaves a message on Lewis's answering machine, telling him that he has
finally found the proof he needs about the Viking settlement. Lewis
goes to Jon's house, only to find that Jon has been murdered.

Lewis vows to find his friend's killer, and to confirm, if he can, the
Jon has found the proof he spent his life searching for. He enlists
the help of various friends and associates, tracks Jon's last moments,
and along the way meets several interesting characters (all of whom
also happen to be suspects).

The story is interesting, and the characters are multilayered. The
interactions between the characters are believable, as is the action
and the resolution of the mystery.

This is a character-driven mystery, and as such, it is a success.
However, this book is part of a series, and much of the characters'
back stories are not repeated here, so motivations are not always
clear. 
The reader would be well advised to seek out the first books in the
series before reading this book.

 

 

The Murder Exchange by Simon Kernick

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312314035

Reviewed by Laura Helfrich

Max Iversson, a former mercenary and current high-profile bodyguard,
accepts a job with a club owner. It seems simple enough. The club owner
is selling his club and wants Max there to make sure that the exchange
of money goes smoothly. Max feels that there is something not quite
right about the job, but he goes anyway. That is his first mistake. The
exchange turns into a bloodbath, leaving the club owner and two of
Max's employees dead. Max flees the scene, determined to find out who
is responsible.

Detective Sergeant John Gallan is investigating the murder of a
bouncer. As it happens, the bouncer worked for Max's now-deceased
client. Another bouncer turns up dead, stuffed in the closet of a
witness in Gallan's first investigation.

Gallan and Iversson both come to the conclusion that the Holtz family,
a violent crime family, is somehow responsible for the crimes. As the
story progresses, all the players are inexorably drawn together in a
violent climax.

Kernick uses an interesting approach in telling this story. Both
Iversson and Gallan are narrators, telling the story from their
varying  points of view. While the reader knows everything, each of
them knows only part of the story, and it is intriguing to watch them
piece the story together. At times, however, it's difficult to tell
which of the two narrators is speaking. They are similar enough in
their approaches and attitudes that there isn't a distinct line between
them. I found myself paging back at times to see who I was listening
to. That detracts some from the story. Kernick's writing is witty and
clever, making the story lighter than it might have been otherwise, but
I'm not entirely sure that was a good choice. It is oddly jarring to
find yourself laughing in the midst of the mayhem.

There are lots of plot twists and plenty of violence. Thriller fans
will certainly find something to satisfy them in this book.

 

 

THE GHOST WRITER By John Harwood

Publisher: Harcourt ISBN: 0151010749

Reviewed by C.J. Curry

Stories within a story within a story within a story. Reality? Dreams? Imagination? Or madness?

Like whorls and eddies, bits and pieces. Bits of colored glass in a child’s kaleidoscope. Does it all come together into a beautiful and understandable pattern ? You MUST read until the bitter end to find out.

Gerard Freeman has grown up in Mawson, Australia listening to the stories his mother tells him of growing up in England. The beautiful country manor called Staplefield where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood.. That is until his mother caught him going through her personal papers. The stories stopped, never to be told again. No amount of urging on Gerard’s part would heal the fury and anger his mother had expressed when she found him holding a photo of an older woman. No mention was ever made again of her past.

Gerard’s father had long ago retreated into his work and the garage out back where he had built up a collection of toy trains over the years. Gerard, therefore became a very lonely boy.

A miracle happened when Gerard was thirteen years of age. He had a wonderful letter from a girl his age who lived in England and wanted to be his pen friend. Now he had someone to pour his heart out to. The youngsters became each others confidants in all matters. Gerard dreamed of someday meeting his Alice and becoming lovers and being wed.

And so the story begins…………….

John Harwood has written a tale of love. Obsessive love. Of betrayal. Of wasted lives, And finally of terror. His stories all lead up to learning the truth about Gerard’s mother’s past. But in the beginning there doesn’t seem to be any connection. Until Gerard makes a horrifying discovery about his mother. Or did he? Is it real? A dream? Imagination? Or has he in fact gone mad? You have to wait until the final pages to find out. But don’t skip to the end or you will miss a very cleverly written tale…………………

 

Purgatory: A Prison Diary Volume II by Jeffrey Archer

Publisher: St. Martin's Press ISBN: 0312330987

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan

Here, at last, is the second part of the proposed Prison Diary trilogy of Lord Jeffrey Archer. While reviewing Volume I of A Prison Diary, I had admired the ability of Archer to bounce back, and sheer perseverance, beating all odds when all cards are down.

Archer convicted of perjury and obstructing justice in 2000 was sentenced to a four- year imprisonment term. His first three weeks were in Belmarsh, or in Archer’s words ‘Hellmarsh’. Those 21 days were chronicled in A Prison Diary. Now Archer has been transferred to Wayland, - a more ‘easier prison’.  Archer continues his scathing attack on the prison laws of England in Purgatory also. He questions the justifiability of treating white-collar criminals in par with hardened murderers and rapists. Yet again, Archer was able to find for himself a good company, and comments that hearts of gold might sometimes be seen in places one least likely expects to find. I also liked the way the author described his sentiments and emotions while describing about 9/11, in the closed walls of the prison.

Most impressive, and like I said about Volume I, the greatest facet of this work also is the optimism the author expresses… you got to admire the never say die attitude of the man

Surely a Diary with a difference.