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A Christmas Journey by Anne Perry

Publisher:  Ballantine Books ISBN:  0-34546673X

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader  

As always, Anne Perry offers the reader a great read.  In Christmas Journey, a book that would be a great introduction to reading mysteries, the reader finds a mystery that hides a second mystery.

Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould is attending a house party at Applecross, the home of her friend and admirer Omegus Jones, when tragedy strikes.  A young widow who expected to be affianced has drowned herself.  The why of her death drives the host and guests to conduct an investigation.

Why would a woman who had so much to live for take her own life?  The obvious answer cannot be found, but a special punishment is enacted against another woman for words spoken out of cruelty. So Vespasia finds herself traveling to Scotland where she encounters more than one mystery springing from the past of the dead woman.

Talented author Anne Perry has an infinite talent for bringing her characters to life and the reader will find them very human in their actions, some admirable, some not.  Highly recommended for any reader. Enjoy.  

 

A Clock Without Hands by Guy Burt

Publisher: Ballantine Books ISBN: 0345446569

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

What is a clock without hands?  The answer lies within the pages of this heartfelt story as told by Alex as he begins a journey through his memories trying to understand why he has returned to Altesa in Italy where he once lived and what holds him to this place.

Two boys meet on a warm summer afternoon and become best friends. Soon they are joined by a girl cousin.  Then they are three--Alex, Jamie, and Anna.  They share the usual childhood adventures for the rest of that summer until they day they venture into a deserted chapel and meet a stranger they called "the hermit", a personification of a local legend.  Only he was no ordinary hermit as they learned.

Even though after a time, the hermit disappeared from their lives, the sense of his presence lingered as they grew to adulthood.  It was then that Alex learned just how deeply his influence was, how one brief summer can change the course of young lives.

Alex has spent his life trying to understand himself and his friends and it is reflected in his art, the one thing in his life that he felt he could do.  As he works his way through the past, he finds he doesn't really recognize his paintings.  What do they mean?

Talented Guy Burt has given the reader and his characters more than one puzzle in A Clock Without Hands. A tale to touch the heart and perhaps lead you back to the pathways of your own childhood and its secrets of the moment, to recall lost friends and relive what becomes more precious as the years pass. Recommended as a read you will long remember.

 

Dead for the Winter by Betsy Thornton

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312333196

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

This series featuring victim advocate Chloe Newcombe is easily one of the best out there.  Chloe, a down-to-earth middle-aged woman who still has lots of fire left, is simply marvelous, as are the beautifully rendered details of Dudley, Arizona, all making for a notable and enchanting series.

In this latest, Chloe meets a captivating and attractive man named Terry Barnett shortly after her boyfriend takes off for places far and removed, leaving her to her own devices.  But she soon finds out Terry is married, and shortly thereafter, Terry is murdered.  And with rumors and innuendo flying about her small town, it isn't long until she herself becomes a suspect. 

Given a leave of absence from her job, and hired by Terry's estranged brother, she begins to search out the truth of his untimely death, and soon discovers that it may be somehow linked to the disappearance of a young girl 20 years previously.  And as she ponders the long list of suspects, she finds herself a target of both the cops and the culprit who remains unknown until the very end.

My only complaint regarding this latest is that it took way too long to come about.  A new novel from this creative artist is always a treat, but one must be patient, as she doesn't spit them out year after year like so many others, but perhaps that's why they remain so utterly unique and striking.   If you haven't experienced this wonderful series, now is a great time to start.    

 

Nobody Runs Forever by Richard Stark

Publisher: Mysterious Press ISBN: 0892967986

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

Donald Westlake is back…. No, I didn’t make a mistake, Richard Stark is the pseudonym Westlake assumes while writing the Parker series of works. With the Dortmunder mysteries and the Parker thrillers, Westlake has carved a neat niche for himself in the crime writing genre. Though Parker novels have been popular in the last decade or so, it took the Mel Gibson thriller movie Payback (Based on The Hunter) to catapult Parker and Westlake aka Richard Stark to international fame. Following the success of Breakout, Stark presents another hardboiled action thriller with the trademark tongue-in- cheek one liners with Nobody Runs Forever.

The old adage, we learn from experiences does not hold true to Parker, who gets caught in conundrums at the drop of a pin. This time round Parker is on the run when a stool pigeon is killed during a shady deal. Enough is enough, thinks Parker and he contemplates retirement. But when a new deal- a heist of a lifetime comes his way- a bank job- and if he succeeds Parker can go for early retirement. What follows is traditional rapid fire action, and thrilling chases- the hallmark of any Parker novel, culminating in an exciting and thrilling finish.

So how does Westlake fare with Nobody Runs Forever? After having read Road to Ruin and Thieves Dozen featuring Dortmunder and the Parker starrer Breakout- I kind of expected a lot more from this author. True there is action aplenty- but Nobody Runs Forever is not in the same league as the classic Westlake/ Stark works.

Mildly enjoyable…. that’s it.