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Flawed by Jo Bannister

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur  ISBN-10: 0312375662

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Bannister takes us once again into the convoluted dramas that make up the lives of Brodie Farrell, a "finder" of everything and anything; Daniel Hood, shyly sensitive math genius nerd; and DS Jack Deacon, the gruff and constantly irate ex lover of Brodie.  This time out, Brodie is getting further along in her pregnancy (the father being DS Deacon, now her ex who is unaware of the impending birth), and so hires Daniel to look over her business, a situation neither is quite comfortable with but one that Daniel eagerly agrees to, as always, in his quest to please the prickly target of his unrequited love.   

The first client Daniel encounters is a young boy who has an unhappy homelife, and one that after further investigation, Daniel identifies as abusive and dangerous.  Meanwhile, Deacon stands somewhat on the sidelines in the investigation of a somewhat friend of his who investigators are hoping to bring down for various crimes, one of which might include murder.  And so eventually, these two cases will collide, although their collision is born out of happenstance not answers.

Usually Bannister manages to blend her well-written characters with a mystery that also proves to be compelling, but as the wary reader might have noted from the above bewildering description, to ascribe such a balance to this latest might be misleading.  It's not that this is poorly written, it's not.  It's just that readers who haven't read what's come before might get easily discouraged by the complicated personal dramas that all too often overshadow and make extraneous the mysteries themselves.  However, those already involved in the saga of these lives will find this latest to be another highly entertaining romp with these very likable characters.                  



The Widow's Mate by Ralph McInerny

Publisher:  St. Martin's Minotaur  ISBN:  0-312-36455-5

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Mystery surrounds the disappearance of a married man who turns up as a body several years later.  No one knows where he was until he was found murdered.  Suspicion points its finger in several directions at once but the case remains unsolved.

The victim's old girl friend hires the same lawyer to find out what happened that his wife had hired--a man named Tuttle. Will he be able to unravel the tangle? 

Then a new murder occurs and an arrest is made.  Is there a connection and have both cases been solved? 

Family complications, business ties, love affairs--all add to a good mystery with lots of personal intrigues added to the mix. Will Father Dowling bring all the loose ends together to provide answers to all the problems and solve the old as well as the new murder?

A nice easy paced read. Recommended for any mystery buff as a pleasant way to spend some time with old friends as you tag along with the priest to find the solution.  Enjoy.  I did.



Irish Alibi by Ralph McInerny

Publisher:  St. Martin's Minotaur  ISBN:  0 312 35457 1

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Notre Dame fans -- take heed!  Mystery buffs, pay attention! Talented author Ralph McInerny has again written a tale to keep us happily reading in a tale of strange happenings at the time of the big game.

A murder draws Roger and Philip Knight into the lies of a writer, a publisher and a dead author who is the writer's estranged wife. Mixed in with the tangle of relationships among the three are some antics of the student body which prove the War between the States is not quite over. 

While one suspect after another is reeled in and tossed back by the police, the campus police are also actively seeking a solution to the student created problem.  Is there something linking the student actions to the murder? 

A fun read full of trails that wind back upon themselves to lead the reader a merry chase while trying to figure the identity of a killer.  Will they strike again?  What does the author have to do with the university? 

Recommended as a read well worth the time. You'll enjoy a return visit with the Knight Brothers and others as old friends if you've read other books by this imaginative author.  Enjoy. I did.


Lullaby by Sherry Scarpaci

Publisher: Five Star  ISBN-10: 1594145830

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Once a cop, Vicky Langford gave it all up to become an investigative reporter after the murder of her husband who was also on the force.  And after years of believing that crime boss Richard Blackwell was responsible for her husband's murder, Vicky has never stopped pursuing justice.  So when she begins to be assailed by increasingly threatening events, she's only more convinced that Blackwell is behind it all in an attempt to quiet her damning accusations. But when her son is kidnapped, she begins to question if he's really the one behind it all; suspicions that will lead her to suspect everyone she's ever trusted, and put her on the dangerous trail of killer who is closer than she knows.

This debut mystery from Scarpaci has much to offer fans of the suspenseful thriller.  With just enough twists thrown in to keep the reader guessing, and the sense of expectancy sustained high enough throughout to keep the pages turning, this easily makes for a good dose of entertainment.  And for those who like a touch of romance, there's enough of that thrown in for good measure as well.  There's much promise in this first, and we hope that Scarpaci is ready to follow up with another for the eager fans who are no doubt eagerly waiting for what comes next.  



The Bloody Tower by Carola Dunn

Publisher:  St. Matin's Minotaur ISBN:  13:;  978-0-312-36306-2

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

A keeper!  This is one of those rare books you'll want to keep and read again and perhaps again to be sure you didn't miss any of the details.

Daisy Dalrymple has taken up her journalistic pen again to write a series of articles about the Tower of London.  An invitation to visit her mother's card playing friend gives her an entrance that guarantees her articles will have more information in them than the usual items written based on information given to tourists.

A second invitation to see a special ceremony performed at night means Daisy will be spending the night at the tower.  In a dense river fog, the ceremony goes on and Daisy is escorted back to the house to spend the night.  In the morning, Daisy misses her twins and decides to leave early for home.  And discovers the body of a man in uniform at the bottom of some steep stairs.  It is evident he didn't just fall.

Alec, Daisy's husband, is handed the investigation and right from the start wishes his wife wasn't involved.  Now she must be counted as a murder suspect.

Talented author Carola Dunn has paid such attention to detail in describing the Tower and its confines that any reader will come away with a sense of having visited the bleak place.  Walk where Walter Raleigh walked and attend ceremonies established centuries before.  The ghosts of the famous and infamous who spent their last days in this place will walk with you.

Well-drawn characters and a twisting plot offer any reader a good read. I'm pleased to highly recommend this tale as worth the time.  You'll be looking for other books by this creative author.  I know, I will.





False Fortune by Twist Phelan

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press  ISBN-10: 1590583639

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When Pinnacle Peak, Arizona attorney Hannah Dain takes her sister's place in a meeting intended to settle a lawsuit brought by tribal members claiming to be contaminated by government waste, she initially thinks it's a slam dunk with only signatures needed to seal the deal.  But when she finds herself rescuing a woman also involved in the case from a near-lethal car "accident," she begins to look a little closer at the proposed settlement.  And the closer she looks, the more dangerous life becomes, because the secrets she slowly uncovers were never meant to be revealed.

While the actual mystery part of this book is enough to carry the read satisfactorily throughout, it's really the depiction of sibling bonding, or sometimes the lack thereof, that really sets it apart.  And even though readers new to the series would benefit with a little more background on Hannah's complicated family history, the arrival of Hannah's other sister, a teenaged girl she's never met, still easily manages to add a great deal of spirit and poignancy to the read.  This slow revealing of Hannah's hidden emotional depths through the blossoming relationship with her sister, another finely drawn character, is an element that promises great things to come and we look forward to the next.



Still Summer by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Publisher: Warner Books  ISBN 978 0 446 57876 9

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

This is a very different to Mitchard’s last book, “Cage of Stars”, which dealt with the affect of child murder on a family and a community. 

There are common threads, however: family and community dynamics are again under the microscope, but on a much reduced scale.  The world where most of the story takes place is a luxury yacht, on which a group of middle-aged school friends travel the Caribbean for what is to be the holiday of a lifetime.

So it proves to be, but not at all in the way the women expected.  The idyll is somewhat disturbed from the start by the presence of Cammie, the almost-grown daughter of one of the women, Tracy.  Putting a pullet in the hen house was bound to change the group’s relationships; more so because one of the two-man crew is young and virile and seen as natural prey by one of the women.

The crew becomes separated from the sailboat and its passengers, and the women are left on their own with a broken engine and little knowledge of how to sail.  One of them, Holly, is sickening with blood poisoning, and the radio isn’t working to call for help.  Luckily, a boat with three fishermen comes to their rescue—except they aren’t fishermen, they’re pirates.

Finding a shiny sailboat full of helpless women makes the pirates think all their Christmases have come at once—but not all the women are helpless, and things take an unexpected turn at a pivotal moment.

Mitchard once again proves to be a writer who can draw you into a situation and involve you, even if you don’t particularly like all—or any--of her characters.  You are compelled to finish the book to find out what happens; unlike some stories, this one keeps you guessing.



The Companion by Ann Granger

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Group  ISBN: 9780312363376

Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

Lizzie Martin arrives in London in 1864 to assume a paid position as a lady’s companion but one of the first thing she sees out the window of her cab is a wagon carrying the remains of a young woman found in a building that was going to be demolished.   Lizzie is comfortable with death; her deceased father was a physician often called upon by the police to determine cause of death. 

Things become even more alarming once Lizzie arrives at her employer’s home.  Her employer, Mrs. Parry informs Lizzie that she is replacing Madeline Hexham who has mysteriously disappeared supposedly to marry.  When Scotland Yard inspector Benjamin Ross arrives at the Parry residence investigating the brutal murder of a young woman, Lizzie fears become real as she realizes that the dead body that she saw when she arrived was Madeline Hexham.  Lizzie is shocked to hear Mrs. Parry assert that Madeline deserved to die due to her obvious immoral behavior.  Lizzie is determined to find out what really happened to Madeline Hexham and assists the inspector in solving the case. Benjamin Ross welcomes Lizzie’s help and his reunion with a childhood friend but he is extremely concerned about her safety.

Ann Granger vividly recreates Victorian England in The Companion.  The whodunit is told from the viewpoints of Lizzie and Benjamin, rotating seamlessly between them to provide the reader with insights into the crime from both their perspectives.  Lightly sprinkled into the plotline is a hint of romance.  Fans of Granger’s Fran Vardy cozy series and her Mitchell and Markby series will welcome with open arms this break from her series to write a historical mystery featuring Lizzie Martin and will enjoy this glimpse of Victorian morals and foibles.