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Surrogate Evil by David and Aimee Thurlo

Publisher: Forge Books ISBN-10: 0765316153

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Newton Glover is a scum bag who is involved in extortion, blackmail, intimidation, theft, drugs, and everything else on the list of crimes.  Yet he has never been convicted.  Could he possibly have police officers and judges in his back pocket?  This time a young boy has been kidnapped and Glover is a suspect.  Once again FBI agent Diane Lopez and New Mexico State Policeman Lee Nez join forces, this time going undercover as a couple who has just moved into the trailer across from Glovers, and what follows is a suspenseful cover operation that will leave readers breathless.

The Thurlos have again written another blockbusting Lee Nez novel that will keep readers glued to the pages from beginning to end.  Only Lopez and the reader are aware of the fact the Nez is Navajo Nightwalker (vampire) who is able to see in the dark, leap to the top of buildings, and heal his own gunshot wounds.  No other novel in the genre comes close to the Nez books.  The spine tingling action and supernatural aspects will easily keep readers totally enthralled, making this one a keeper.



The Crimson Portrait by Jody Shields

Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company  ISBN:  0-316-78528-8

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader

In 1915 England, privileged Catherine is mourning her husband, Charles, killed on a battlefield before his trunks were even sent to him.  She honors his wish that their estate be used as a hospital, but when Dr. McCleary requires the removal of all mirrors—indeed anything with a reflective surface—she is baffled.

Until she encounters the patients.  McCleary is treating those with irreparable damage to their faces.  The lives of those inhabiting the estate—McCleary, Catherine, Julian (who reminds her of Charles), Anna (an artist who sketches the wounded soldiers), and Kazanjian (whose medical expertise matches McCleary’s)—become interwoven, drawing the reader into their hopelessness.  When Kazanjian and McCleary, with Anna’s assistance, decide to create a mask for one of the patients, Catherine is tempted to remake her lover Julian into Charles.

The Crimson Portrait is a haunting, disturbing novel that is not always enjoyable.  Sometimes the characters’ motivations are incomprehensible, particularly the unlikable Anna’s.  Is Catherine incredibly shallow and self-absorbed, as she sometimes seems?  Like an early twentieth century M*A*S*H, The Crimson Portrait shows the cruelty of war, a lesson that today’s readers should take to heart.


The Letter Killeth by Ralph McInerny

Publisher:  St. Martin's Minotaur;  ISBN:  0312351437

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Why is someone sending threatening letters to members of the staff at Notre Dame?  Who would sink so low?  Is it a prank? How far will it go?

That's what Philip and Roger Knight must figure out.  Their dealings with campus rivalries between professors, the alumnus who wants to return the school to the way it was during his student years, and other well drawn characters will keep the reader turning pages. 

The question of who and why the notes are being sent causes a scandal when word leaks out and other professors are beginning to wonder if they'll be targets.

Does the campus security police really offer any protection?  Can they help figure out who's responsible?  These and other questions plague the Knight brothers while they look for answers. 

A well told tale by talented author Ralph McInerny whose stories on Notre Dame make you feel like you've been there.  Enjoy.  I did.




The Brotherhood of The Holy Shroud By Julia Navarro

Publisher: Bantam Books  ISBN: 9780385339629

Reviewed by Jake Chism, New Mystery Reader

Julia Navarro delivers a perfect balance of fact and fiction in this intriguing, debut page-turner.  Veteran investigator, Marco Valoni, heads up Italy’s special Art Crimes Department. When a mysterious group repeatedly attempts to steal the Shroud of Turin, Marco’s team of police investigators and scholars must determine who is responsible and why.  As the team draws closer to the answers they find themselves in the midst of an ancient mystery and a modern global conspiracy.

The storyline transitions back and forth from past to present with ease, and Navarro’s historical accounts of the origins of the Holy Shroud are incredibly informative and fascinating. The historical characters will move and inspire readers through their faith, devotion, and sacrifice.  The story unfolds at a perfect, unhurried pace and the conclusion will have you flying through the pages. This is excellent historical fiction with a perfect dose of mystery, and Navarro sets the bar very high for other authors in this genre. Fans of historical fiction and mystery will love this novel.




The Hunter by Asa Nonami

Publisher: Kodansha Books  ISBN 978 4 7700 3025 2

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

A man bursts into flame in a modest Tokyo family restaurant, and so starts a multi-layered and involving story.

Detective Takako Otomichi is seconded from her usual job to be the partner of the hardbitten old police hack, Sergeant Takizawa.  Takako is a woman in a hard job, where she not only has to fight criminals, but tolerate daily demeaning treatment by her male associates.  She's developed a mindset that allows her to ignore the partonizing, sometimes insulting treatment, but this also prevents her interacting easily with colleagues.

Takako's a skilled motorcycle cop, and has a gift for lateral thinking, neither of which initially impress Takizawa.  She also has a problem family: her mother has never accepted her choice of career, her little sister is carrying on with a married man, Takako's own marriage has ended in infidelity.  To quote the current catchphrase, Takako's life sucks.  Unknown to her, her partner suffers family problems, which he handles equally poorly.

The death by fire is followed by several more killings, which seem to have been committed by a large animal, probably a wolf-dog.  The police are initially stymied, but Takako comes up with a possible way to track down the killer.  When this proves workable, it earns the grudging respect of Sgt Takizawa, but he's not much for compliments, and so the two partners continue along in mostly resentful silence, each second-guessing the other's motives.

Everything changes for Takako when she comes face to face with the wolf-dog.  There is an instant, almost mystical, connection between the lone wolf girl and the corrupted manipulated wolf.  The race through the darkened streets of Tokyo takes on the dimensions of one of the great epics, and Takako, for a brief time, sees what life can be for the truly free.  If you can read that chapter without a catch in your throat, you're a tougher person than this reviewer.

This is but one of Nonami's fifty books, prize winners among them, but I am betting it won't be the last one translated for Western readers.  Full marks also go to translator Juliet Carpenter who has walked the shaky line between translation and cross-cultural interpretation with a firm foot.