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THE FIX by Anthony Lee

Publisher: Dark Alley ISBN: 0060595345

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Martin Quinn and his lifelong friend Felix are out for a day of rest at Felix's country home.  Terry shows up and shoots Quinn, takes his Glock and shoots Felix, then puts the Glock back in Quinn's hand.  As he walks away Quinn kills him.  The police show up almost immediately and arrest Quinn for a double homicide.  At his arraignment, Quinn is almost killed the Russian mob.  Back in the hospital again he has to decide - clam up or turn state's evidence,

This is an extraordinary novel written from the perspective of the streets of New York, jail and protective custody.  Skipping back and forth between the past and present you see the maturation of Martin Quinn and what risks he is and is not willing to take.  This novel is a real eye opener for those of us who only know what the Mafia is like from the movies we watch.

 

The God Particle by Richard Cox

Publisher:  Ballantine Books  ISBN:  0-345-46285-8

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader 

Culminating a hellish evening, American businessman Steve Keeley falls three stories to a cobblestone street in Zurich.  Miraculously, he survives, due in part to brain surgery.  Keeley’s conviction that he can levitate off his hospital bed is his first indication that all is not well, but his ability to sense the thoughts of others soon becomes more troubling. 

Thousands of miles away, Mike McNair, director of a super collider facility in Texas, meets the beautiful news anchor Kelly Smith on a plane trip from Atlanta to Dallas.  Their airplane conversation ranges from physics to religion and continues through a series of emails.  Just as McNair begins to realize that the biggest challenges to his project are coming from its funder and some of the staff, he learns that the collider has been producing the Higgs particles—a.k.a., the God particle—for months.

Not only does the press announcement bring Kelly to Olney, and into McNair’s orbit, it crystallizes Keeley’s conviction that the field he senses around him is real, and is in fact, the God particle.  Keeley travels to Texas, setting in motion a chain of events that will dramatically affect both the project and the lives of all three.

For readers who enjoy some physics and religion with their recreational reading, this book is a dream come true.  Even those whose eyes glaze over at the mention of either subject will probably be drawn in by the characters.  Although the plot is as improbable as it sounds, Richard Cox’s second novel is still enjoyable and suspenseful.  He explains the Higgs particle in layman’s terms that most can understand.

 

THE RECKONING by Jeff Long

Publisher: Pocket Star ISBN: 0743463013

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Freelance photographer Molly Drake has finally received a plum assignment that will enhance her career.  She has been sent to Cambodia to cover a U. S. military operation searching for the body of an American pilot listed as MIA.  Towards the end of the time allotted for the search Molly discovers a flight helmet and all civilians are banned from the site, putting an end to Molly's great story.

A mysterious expatriate who has been hanging around the edges of the site persuades her to take a journey to a lost city to uncover the bodies of 9 men who have been MIA for 30 years.  It is here that she discovers a long forgotten mutiny and murder.

Long has given us a gripping tale laced with the supernatural.  Molly is a strong character who is pushed to the very limits of her endurance.  As the plot unfolds you are continuously grasping for the revelations the next secret that will imperil Molly's mind or body.  This is a terrifying thriller that keeps the heart thumping. 

 

Deception by Denise Mina

Publisher: Back Bay Books ISBN: 0316058572

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

In this truly bizarre, gripping, and altogether intelligent read, Mina once again takes a fiendish plot and turns it into a masterpiece of substance that will easily blow away even the most guarded reader.  Written first-person from the viewpoint of Lachlan Harriot, a man whose wife, a prison psychiatrist, has just been convicted of the murder of her lover and his new wife, we trail his thoughts as he stumbles upon the secret documents he has found hidden in his wife's study, documents that will reveal her many secrets.  His wife's victim, an accused serial killer she met in prison, had just been let out on appeal when his mutilated body was found, and it wasn't long before Lachlan's life was turned upside down.  But going through the documents tracing her relationship with the victim, he starts to notice some odd discrepancies, and what he uncovers will shock and astound. 

Mina has filled her latest with black humor, disquieting tension, and a jarring narrative from a man that's both oddly detached and overly involved, creating a strangely dissonant story that somehow works.  This is not an easy read, and Lachlan is far from likable, creating a somewhat frustrating mood at times, but if anything, it's this very mood that makes it all seem so unbearably real.  A highly recommended read, if only to watch a master at work, this one will leave you unsettled and hungry for more. 

 

Sprayed Stiff by Laura Bradley

Publisher: Pocket ISBN: 0743471121

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Hairstylist Reyn Sawyer gets a call late one night from Alexandra Barrister, a wealthy client.  All Reyn can determine from the crazy phone call is that Alexa's mother Wilma is having a bad hair day that only Reyn can fix.  When Reyn arrives at the mansion she gets locked in the room with Wilma's corpse which is wearing clown makeup and has her standing straight up and sprayed stiffly.  Homicide detective Jackson Scythe finds her working on Wilma's hair and carts her off to jail.  When Reyn learns that Alexa is the prime suspect she cannot believe it, and sets out to find the real murderer.

This is an absolutely hilarious mystery novel with a smart mouth heroine.  Not only does the reader laugh all the way through, but also admires Bradley's ability to construct a plot that holds together, progresses smoothly, and comes to a logical conclusion.  Every fan of humorous heroines will want to own this one.  

 

Elderly Jews with concentration camp tattoos are being murdered.  Also, a man wounded by gunshot has been tied to the railroad tracks and died of a heart attack. This rash of murders breaks the dry spell Minneapolis homicide detectives have been experiencing.  Detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Roseth can find nothing except the tattoos that the victims have in common, and so call Grace McBride for help.  Grace owns Monkeewrench, a software company with the technology to connect cases otherwise unconnected.  She finds that over the years the three Jewish victims have often flown off together for very short trips.  And so when ballistics matches the weapon from the railroad tracks to the same locations the victims have visited, another connection is forged, with further investigation uncovering the fact that at each of these locations the gun has been used to kill former Nazis.  And it will be in further defining the connection between these cases that will take the detectives and the Monkeewrench gang down a trail that leads to a horrible truth rooted in a past not forgotten.

The Tracy team is very quick with developing the plot and drawing the reader in. What is revealed about the characters is surprising, but understandable, and it makes the reader very aware of the difference between personal justice and legal system justice.

 

Cat in an Orange Twist by Carole Nelson Douglas

Publisher: Forge Books ISBN: 0765345935

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

A keeper!!! A great read by an extremely talented mystery writer, Carole Nelson Douglas, whose characters and plots offer the rare chance to completely immerse yourself in the story and become part of the supporting cast.

Midnight Louie and his roommate, Temple Barr, become involved in another murder when Temple takes on the PR job for a new upscale furniture store in Las Vegas. As usual in recent months, Matt Devine, ex-priest, is their to support Temple when the mysterious Max Kinsella is nowhere to be found. Like Temple, you'll be wondering if Max will ever return. A pretty and fiercely independent gal with two such different men vying for her affections, Temple is beginning to wonder which to choose. Or will the continued absence of Max make the choice for her?

Against a richly drawn background, a great cast of characters familiar to readers who have read other books in this series move through complicated and delightful plots and subplots, keeping the reader wondering what will happen next. How could anything that sounds as dull as selling furniture lead to murder?

Very highly recommended. Once you've read this book, you'll be hooked and want to read the entire series.  As great a companion for those quiet hours as is Midnight Louie himself.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

Land of the Blind by Jess Walter

Publisher: Regan Books ISBN: 0060989289

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Caroline Mabry, a single detective living in Spokane is trying to fill her empty weekend with police work when a mysterious man comes to the station simply wanting to confess.  Not knowing what he wants to confess to, or if he’s even really guilty, Caroline allows him to fill page after page of his own narration of the crime.  Meanwhile, Caroline attempts to learn more of this enigmatic, and somehow attractive man, who seems as lost and lonely as her.  What follows is a two-part narration, one following Caroline in her search, and the second being the direct confession of the mysterious man, which winds through the years beginning at his youth detailing all the events which led to this moment.  And as  Caroline's attraction grows, she must find the answers surrounding this man and his sudden appearance without breaking too many rules.  

This is a story that is filled with emotional depth and a raw and brutal exquisiteness.  The characters themselves are beautifully flawed and profoundly real.  Walters masterfully alternates between Caroline’s ruining self, and Clark’s expressive account of how it all led to its tragic end.  And as for suspense, its here too, but almost seems to lose its importance when compared to how these lives and events have all intertwined only to meet at this heartbreaking junction, and perhaps that’s the best kind of suspense of all.  Walters doesn’t just tell a story, he makes it real and three dimensional, and the reader is brought deeply into the lives of those that inhabit this narrative that will resonate long after its read.  

 

Missing Justice by Alafair Burke

Publisher: St Martins ISBN: 0312933150

Portland Deputy D.A. Samantha Kincaid is back, this time after having been promoted to the Major Crimes Unit.  Her first case involves missing judge Clarissa Easterbrook, who is all too soon found murdered.  When a young man is arrested for the murder, Sam suspects there is much more going on, and proceeds to investigate against all advice otherwise.  She soon finds links to big business, urban growth, and secrets between the sheets. 

Sam, never afraid of a fight, and unable to shrink to authority, makes for a good heroine.  She’s gutsy, strong, and all too aware of her own shortcomings, keeping her human and interesting.  And although the plot sometimes reads a bit dry, it’s obvious Burke knows her stuff when it comes to the legal field.  All in all, another strong outing from Burke, and we hope to meet up with Samantha Kincaid soon. 

 

A Mourning in Autumn by Harker Moore

Publisher: Warner Books ISBN: 0446615897

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

In Moore's follow up to his first book, he brings back the same cast, some worse for the wear, and all still recovering from their brush with a madman.  NYPD Detective James Sakura and his wife Hanae are slowly trying to put the pieces of their marriage back together as they grieve the loss of their unborn child.  Detective Mike Darius and psychiatrist Willy French are also on the mend, trying to find a new and promising love for each other out of their own healing hearts.  But all is once again threatened when yet another serial killer strikes the city, this one targeting young woman he meets in clubs.  And as this cast and crew give it their all to find this new monster that threatens the city and themselves, much will be lost along the way.

This is a dark and terrifying journey, and those with a low tolerance for gore be warned.  Not an easy book to read, with an omnipresent evil filling the pages, it'll easily make the reader squirm and wish for light.  Also not as good as Moore's first outing, with a much heavier emphasis on graphic detail, and a lesser one on characterization, it may disappoint earlier fans, but not because it's poorly written, but because his first effort was so close to perfect.  However, it's still a worthy read;  the characters still easily engage, and the plot easily horrifies, with plenty of suspense and chills to keep the pages burning. 

 

Out Of The Deep I Cry  by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Publisher: St. Martin's ISBN: 0312988885

This is Spencer-Fleming’s third outing featuring Episcopalian Priest Clare Fergusson and Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne, and in my opinion, her best.  Switching back in time to the early 30’s, 50’s, and 70’s, she creates a story centered around love, greed, and loss.  Decades ago, Jonathan Ketchum disappeared, leaving his wife and daughter alone to fend for themselves, and when the director of the free clinic disappears in the present time period, it doesn’t take long for old rumors and memories to surface.  Eventually, Clare becomes involved, along with Russ, and the two are soon facing secrets and danger that have survived generations.

Clare, an ex-army pilot, and Russ, a Vietnam Veteran, have spent their lives living up to their commitments and duties; and now, sacrificing what’s in their hearts.  And it’s in these characters that the heart and soul of this latest story lie.  Sure the suspense is lively, and the plot riveting, but it’s the characters that bring this story to life.  One can’t help but be completely spell-bound by the ever-increasing attraction bringing the two closer and closer to their own personal heaven, or hell, or perhaps in their world-- both.  Spencer-Fleming explores this with total sincerity, and with no pat answers, providing an emotionally stirring read that lingers long after it’s over.  Highly recommended, we eagerly hope for more in this mesmeric saga of love and denial.      

 

Before I Wake by Anne Frasier

Publisher: Onyx Books ISBN: 0451411846

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Arden Davis, once a profiler with the FBI, had left that life far behind when the serial killer she'd been tracking attacked her own family, leaving her beloved parents dead and her relationship with her younger brother in tatters.  Having been part of an FBI program that used intensive submersion techniques to get into the mind of killers, she knew the man who destroyed her life with a vivid intimacy that still occasionally invades her thoughts.  Having also participated in a program that promised to erase her tragic memories of that fateful night, she now lives her life in a day to day quest for continued oblivion from her past.  But that all changes when Nathan Fury, her old partner and unremembered lover, tracks her down to resume her work when it's discovered that a copycat serial killer has taken up where her nemesis left off.  

If you're looking for a cozy romantic suspense tale, you may want to continue your search elsewhere.  But if you're looking for an original, highly suspenseful, ingeniously crafted tale that dares to question reality, look no further.  Frasier has filled this clever plot with daring twists, realistic characters, and a chilling narrative that thrills with each page.  This is not a meatloaf and potatoes kind of read, but rather a bold new recipe that satiates and awakens those tired old taste buds and is definitely worth each and every calorie.         

 

Seven Minutes to Noon by Kate Pepper

Publisher: Signet ISBN: 0451215796

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

It's the end of summer and Alice, pregnant with twins, is impatiently waiting for her best friend Lauren, who is also pregnant, to meet up with her at the park for their usual rendezvous.   And it is then that everything goes from bright and sunny to a long-lasting nightmare that will take Alice and her group of friends down an earth shattering trail of murder, deceit, and loss when Lauren fails to show.  It isn't long until her savaged body is discovered in a canal, and even more frightening is her missing baby, no longer wrapped within its protective cocoon, but where she is no one knows.  The detectives assigned to the case soon feel that it might connected to another pregnant woman's disappearance two years previously, but when the truth finally comes out, all will find that the danger had been much closer than they ever imagined.

In this highly suspenseful domestic mystery, readers are treated to the terrifying aftermath of secure and cozy lives gone chillingly wrong.  Likable characters, plenty of suspects, and a relatively shocking ending that stuns and thrills, this is one quick read well worth the buy.