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Belshazzar's Daughter by  Barbara Nadel

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312316534

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

 
When Jewish derelict Leonid Meyer is brutally murdered in Istanbul, and a swastika is painted over his bed in blood, the case is turned over to Inspector Cetin Ikmen.  Ikmen, a chain smoker and chain brandy sipper, is meticulous in his investigative methods.  He builds a biography of the victim and then determines the motive.   It is not until a very surprising end that the murderer is revealed.
 
This book is not for the casual mystery fan who likes to flip through light novels -- but for the dedicated detective aficionado.  It must be read a chapter at a time, then put aside for contemplation and absorption.  Each character is given a distinct personality, whether it be the investigators or suspects (a Nazi sympathizing German, an English language teacher or a family of aristocratic Russians).
 
The plot is very well developed and managed, and keeps the reader on the edge of his seat guessing until the very end.

 

The Carbon Murder by Camille Minichino

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312319584

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, , New Mystery Reader

When Gloria Lamerino retired from her career in research and development in California, she decided to return to her childhood home.  Revere Massachusetts brings back wonderful memories with her friend Rose Galigani but also painful memories of losing her fiancé in an automobile accident just days before the wedding. Gloria had tried to block the hurt by becoming immersed in her chosen career of physics. Rose’s daughter and Gloria’s godchild, M.C. to all who knew her, also became interested in science and has a career in chemistry. 

Gloria had come back to Revere with no plan in mind and had lived in the apartment above the mortuary owned by Rose and her husband Frank.  Finding that her ordered and organized scientific mind was useful in other areas, Gloria became involved with the Revere Police Department as a consultant.  Discovering that she had a knack for solving murders, she became the unofficial partner of Detective Matt Gennaro.  Over the course of several cases, the two became more than working partners and decided to move in together. As Gloria put it, Matt was her second boyfriend since the Kennedy administration.  So when M.C. decided to come back to Revere unexpectedly, she moved into the apartment just recently vacated by Gloria.  It was convenient until she decided which job to accept, one at Charger Street Lab doing research or one at the local high school, teaching.  She liked doing both. M.C. confided to Gloria that she had left an abusive relationship in Houston and now felt that she was being stalked. But everyone thought it was just stress from the move and changing jobs.

When the body of a young woman discovered in a local swamp area turns out to be a former student of M.C.’s it is puzzling to everyone.  Why would a college student from Houston Poly be in Revere? And with M.C.’s name and address in her pocket, along with a card of Lorna Frederick’s at Charger Street Lab?

Because Matt is out of physical condition from having treatment for prostate cancer and needs lots of rest, Gloria works with Matt’s ‘real’ partner, Detective Berger, but still bats clues and suppositions around with Matt. What is the connection between persons working and studying at Houston Poly and Charger Street Lab? And dead horses? More bodies? Veterinarians? What a confusing mixture of events. Are they all related? Or two or three separate incidents?

Camille Minichino has created the Periodic Table Murder series. Her main characters are totally believable and have lives outside of fighting crime. The crisis of Matt having Prostate Cancer is sad and scary but IS a part of life. Plus the snooty sister of Matt’s who can’t seem to accept Gloria.. The uncertainties and insecurities which plague Gloria at times are feelings that come to us all occasionally. Gloria is smart, witty and fun to read about. Of course Ms. Minichino, being the physicist that she is, has put in a lot of scientific technical stuff that I just slid right on past, lazy person that I am. I think everyone will enjoy this series. I take it that the next book will be entitled The Nitrogen Murder? I will be looking forward to it!

 

 

 

Southwesterly Wind by Louis Alfredo Garcia-Roza

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Inc.; ISBN: 0805068910

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, , New Mystery Reader

Brazilian Chief Espinoza is quite content, if not slightly bored, with the usual crimes in his Copacabana district, so when a young man walks into the precinct saying he's going to murder someone before his next birthday, Espinoza jumps at the chance for something different.  The young man, Gabriel, had been approached by a psychic the year before on his birthday with the terrifying prediction, and now the young man lives his life in a fearful paranoia that he is about to snap.  And when people that Gabriel knows begin to die, it seems that the young man's paranoia may be much much more, and it will be up to Espinoza to figure out this puzzle of ever-maddening proportions.

The epitome of psychological suspense, this latest from Garcia-Roza is intelligent, gripping, and simply put, an unusually clever mystery.  Reaching deep into the psyches of his characters, Garcia-Roza plays well with the intricate puzzles and paranoias that can  bamboozle our minds, and consequently take over our lives.  In addition, Espinoza is a delightful character whose tentative steps into middle-age, and perhaps a new love, are highly appealing and highly appreciated.  My first in the series, it won't be my last.     

 

Fatal Flaw by William Lashner

Publisher: HarperTorch ISBN: 0060508183

When defense attorney Victor Carl is called to the home of his good friend Guy Forrest, he walks into a situation that will forever change his life.  Guy’s beautiful fiancée, Haily Prouix, lies dead, and the only suspect for miles is Guy himself.  And although Guy insists he’s innocent, Victor can’t quite believe it, and sets into motion a plan to make sure Guy pays for his crime.  Because all is not as it seems, and Guy wasn’t the only man in love with Hailey, Victor himself had fallen for this mysterious woman and now only revenge will ease his pain.  But is Guy really guilty, or has Victor set up an innocent man?  Suddenly the secrets of Hailey’s life make this all the more likely and Victor now must save the man he set out to destroy.      

Lashner tackles the biggest mystery of all in his latest, the mystery of love.  His unflinching look at love, and its sometimes tragic consequences, is approached with honesty and originality, raising this novel high above the norm.  In addition there’s plenty of high voltage suspense, with enough twists and turns to knock your socks off.  Last but not least are his perfectly rendered characters, both realistic and authentic, all combining to make this poignant and gripping novel one that should not be missed.   

You can find out more about this extremely talented author by visiting bookreporter.com : http://www.bookreporter.com/suspense_thriller/0304lashner/lashner-william.asp

 

Arch Angels by Robert J. Randisi

 Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312308787

Joe Keogh and his partner Harriett Connors serve on the Serial Killer Task Force in Washington D.C., a federal agency that tracks this particular brand of killer throughout the U.S.  Their latest case involves a string of murdered children in both Chicago and St. Louis, and though at first blush it seems the cases are unrelated, it doesn’t take long to see that these cases are closely tied together, either by the same killer, or the killers working in tandem.  So Keogh returns to his old stomping grounds of St. Louis to work that end of the case, while Connors works the Chicago end, which, coincidentally, just happens to be her home town.  Unfortunately, Keogh and Connor’s welcome is anything but, as the local police forces want nothing to do with them, but they must forge ahead if they’re to stop the senseless acts of rage being perpetuated in both cities.

While this plot has much going for it, as do the characters of Keogh and Connor, there is also some frustration to be had as well.  Some of the writing itself is simply unclear, and at times illogical. For instance, in one scenario a little girl has been abducted by the killer, and for the first time they have a hot lead to follow, but even while knowing her time is limited, the force still decides to call it a day and continue their work in the morning.  It’s absurdities such as this that lead to distraction and irritation in what could have otherwise been enjoyment and thrills.  Still, some might find satisfaction in this read, if only for the interesting characters and sometimes involving story-line.           

 

Untimely Graves by Marjorie Eccles

 Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312307535

When a woman, dubbed the “mystery woman”, is found dead in a swollen river in the uplands of Britain, it’s up to DS Gil Mayo, and his assistant Abigail Moon to solve the case.  With absolutely no leads, the two are having a difficult time of it when another murder occurs, this time of a bursar with the local school, and when it’s discovered that these two murders may be connected, things only become more confusing.  Also involved in a peripheral way is Cleo Atkins, a young ex-student who is the woman who finds the evidence linking the cases.  So as the number of suspects grows, the number of deadly secrets just waiting to be revealed escalates as well, posing threats to the innocent.

Although Mayo and Moon play only a small part in most of this latest, this is still a fine British procedural.  With enticing glimpses into the lives of each suspect, the reader is taken from scene to scene with gripping detail.  The character of Cleo is also a fine touch, bringing added youth and passion to an already invigorating plot, making it that much more alluring.  Not a boring page in this story that has an abundance of fully-realized characters, it comes highly recommended.