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The Next Time You Die by Harry Hunsicker

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312348509

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Lee Henry Oswald is a PI in Dallas who has been hired by a drunken preacher to find a file which has been stolen from his office.  At the same time a hit man has moved into town wanting to organize all the action in Dallas and is harassing Lee's old army buddy who now deals in every kind of weapon on the market.  It doesn't take long for Lee to figure out that every encounter he has in either case the name Billy Barringer is mentioned.  Billy as a childhood friend of Lee's who is now dead.  Lee determines to resolve both issues he has to find out what the connection to Billy is.  He heads for east Texas to talk to Billy's family who control every aspect of crime in the area.

This is an absolutely absorbing thriller filled with violence with a capital "V".  Oswald is an amiable tough guy who only goes after the guys who deserve it.  He's a man you might enjoy hanging out with, but not in Dallas where proximity to him might get you killed.  Put this one at the top of your list.

 

The Sweet and the Dead by Milton T. Burton

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312343108

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Retired Dallas County deputy sheriff Manfred "Hog" Webern is talked into going undercover in Mississippi.  The Dixie Mafia is a group of criminals throughout the southern states who are planning a big heist and need to be brought down.  Hog worms his way into the group and begins to help plan the job.  But in the end the whole thing goes wrong and most of the Dixie Mafia winds up dead.  Escaping death Hog has to find out who put the screws in the works and rectify it if he can.

Read this one on a weekend because it is going to keep you up reading all night long.  Burton knows people and personalities and weaves them into a thriller that you can't put down.  Hog is the perfect undercover cop.  He knows how to play the game and doesn't shirk at tasks that will et the gang to trust and accept him.  He soon learns that there is not a lot of difference some law officers and criminals.  When law enforcement refuses to correct an error Hog sees to the correction himself in his own way.

 

 

The Dead Hour by Denise Mina

Publisher: Little, Brown ISBN: 0316735949

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Young Glasgow reporter Patty Meehan is working the night shift, trawling the streets in search of possible stories to include in the next day's edition, when she hears of a domestic call from the ritzy home of a young female prosecutor.  Arriving at the scene, Patty is not so surprised to notice the police preparing for departure, having dismissed the call after reassurances from the handsome man who answered the door. Patty, however, sees a possible story and is not so quick to walk away, but instead all too soon finds herself without a choice when the woman briefly signals she's okay and the man hands her some cash and asks for discretion.

Feeling a bit guilty about the money, but unsure what to do about any of it, Patty attempts to just forget the call and go on to the next story.  But when the woman is discovered dead, followed by the presumed suicide of the victim's close friend, Patty begins to suspect that the police are just a little too quick to tie it all together and consider the case closed.  But getting to the truth of this story might just get her killed, because the line that separates the good guys from the bad guys is suddenly impossible to identify, and with it trust and safety.

This second in Mina's series featuring Patty Meehan, an early 80's Glasgow reporter, is a raw and gritty tale that holds no punches, and one that is definitely not for those of a more sensitive nature.  Filled with the murky and seedy ambience of this city at night and of the players who bear witness to the dark tragedies and drama that fill its hours, the reader is treated to a glimpse of life usually only known to those who have lived it. 

Patty herself is one of the more original and compelling characters in memory; ahead of her time, her intelligence and drive is only made more endearing by her half-assed attempts to lose weight, her attempts to reconcile her independence of mind with those of her family of staunch Catholics, and her attempt to flourish in a world not yet ready for someone like her.  All in all, this book has a whole lot of guts and just enough glory to make it worth your time.     

 

Brethren: An Epic Adventure of the Knights Templar by Robyn Young

Publisher: Dutton Adult ISBN: 0525949755

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

The Knights Templar must take a vow of chastity, poverty, and defense of the Christian faith, and as young men, Will and Garin were once training partners and best friends.  But when the French king agrees to let the Templars take the crown jewels until he pays a debt owed, there is an attempt to steal them, ultimately separating the friends and pitting them one against the other.

Baybars, the Muslim sultan has vowed to rid Muslim lands of all Christians.  On the eve of the crusade Will's sponsor sent him out to find a book that has been stolen from the Templars.  Garin's sponsor also wants the book because he believes it will allow him to bring the Templars down and force them to disband, and the battle that ensues is filled with all one would expect.     

Young has written a breathtaking novel that brings you completely into the action on the very first page, a pace she manages to sustain the entire length of the book.  And with realistic characters whose passions are so artfully portrayed, the reader's empathy is more than easily aroused for all sides of this complicated and compelling battle, making this an almost impossible read to put down.  A historical yet timely tale, this one's a winner.    

 

 

The Doctor Rocks the Boat by Robin Hathaway

Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books   ISBN:  0312349939

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Do you like water sports?  Are you a boat racing enthusiast.  Then join Dr. Fenimore in a case where he rows into danger.

Going for a row on the river seems like a good way to relax and brings Dr. Fenimore into contact with some old school friends, one of who is a rowing buff though he had to give it up for health reasons.  His son is also a rower, working for a championship. 

Talented author Robin Hathaway acquaints us with a lesser known water sport in this fun read. We learn the lengths people will go to win a race or a battle over building a marina.  A look into the politics of money and the power it wields in the lives of people involved in these events.

The plot thickens and Fenimore finds himself in deep water with a murderer.  There is plenty of tension to keep you reading.  The talented author has us considering false clues as real and looking from one suspect to the other, trying to figure the identity of the villain.

I'm pleased to recommend this book as a fun read, a tale to satisfy any mystery fan.  Enjoy.  I did.