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The Detection Collection:  A Detection Club Anthology by Simon Brett (Editor)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Minotaur  ISBN: 031235763X

Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

The exclusive Detection Club, a British crime writing organization, celebrates their 75th anniversary with this anthology of short stories written by luminaries such as:  P.D. James, Michael Ridpath, H.R.F Keating, John Harvey, Lindsey Davis, Colin Dexter, Robert Barnard, Margaret Yorke, Robert Goddard, Clare Francis, and Reginald Hill.  Simon Brett, the editor of the anthology and president of the Detection Club, provides a brief history of the group.  Brett notes that previous presidents of the Detection Club include: G.K. Chesterton, E.C. Bentley, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Julian Symons and H.R.F. Keating.

The Detection Club anthology of short stories is a wonderful way to get introduced to some of the leading authors of British crime without investing a significant amount of time.  Fans of British crime mysteries will enjoy the variety of short stories in this anthology.  Readers who are new to British crime or short stories will find this anthology to be an entertaining entrée.

 

Laguna by Michael Putegnat

Publisher: Synergy Books ISBN: 1933538198

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

John Magne is the fifth generation of his family to run the million acre family ranch on the Texas gulf coast.  The mad cow disease scare has almost completely curtailed exporting Texas beef and the ranch is facing financial crisis.  John has to resurrect the ranch and the only way he can think of to do it is to drill for natural gas in an environmentally sensitive area.  He hires a man to get the project in the works, not knowing he is a con man who will manipulate every level of government that has to pass on the project.  This hireling is also capable of murder.

Jack Grider is a lackadaisical ex government employee who has written an environmental impact statement that could throw a monkey wrench into the works.  Five women who will do anything to preserve the ecosystem target Jack and manipulate him into putting a stop to the project.

Putegnat has an incredible style that sucks you right into the plot and won't turn you loose.  He spins a tale of greedy corrupt politicians that will do anything for power and money. He also creates lovable characters who want a better planet and the preservation of species, but have the guts to go after the greedy destroyers in their own manipulative ways.  GREAT READ!

 

 

Pretty Maids All In A Row by Michelle Buckman and A. H. Jackson

Publisher:  Avalon Books  ISBN:  0-8034-9778-4

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader

Business partners J. B. Kale and Tori Roche determine the only way to save their struggling publishing house is by solving a centuries-old mystery and writing a best-selling book about it.  Having decided on this improbable business plan, they accept an invitation to a mystery weekend/treasure hunt to unravel the story behind the nursery rhyme "Mary, Mary, quite contrary" and to find the huge diamond Prioress Mary Gant of the rhyme allegedly hid in the medieval town they're visiting.

Not until they arrive in the scenic village does Kale learn that Tori, on whom he has a not-so-secret crush, is a descendant of Contrary Mary herself.  Before long, their colleague, retired CID inspector Harry Bass, discovers the pretty maids' skulls—all in a row, fertilizing the garden in the churchyard.  Worse yet, the dozen maids were not just murdered, but pressed.  Undeterred by the torching of their London office, Kale and Tori throw themselves into the investigation, learning of treasures other than the diamond. 

The plot is as clear as the mud Kale, Tori, and Harry find themselves in after discovering underground tunnels and passageways.  Filled with plot twists and unlikely action, Pretty Maids All In A Row still manages to be entertaining, and authors Michelle Buckman and A. H. Jackson save their novel with an evocative English village setting.