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Master of Souls by Peter Tremayne

Publisher:  St Martins Minotaur  ISBN:  10: 0312348320

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Murder and kidnappings in ancient Ireland bring the Lady Fidelma and her life mate Brother Eadulf into the land of the Ui Fidgente to get to the root of matters.  Why is an abbess and an elderly church scholar murdered in cold blood?  Are their deaths related.  Who is behind the kidnapping of 6 religious sisters from Ard Fhearta.

Danger follows them in spite of the well-armed guards who accompany them.  Fidelma runs into arrogance and refusal to answer questions on the part of members of the abbey household.  Do they know more than they are telling?  Are vague insinuations and accusations pointing to the cause of murder?

Talented author Peter Tremayne guides us back to a time when stepping outside your door was dangerous, when death could strike for no reason. This is a skillfully woven tale made up of several subplots guaranteed to hold your interest.

Lifelike characters lay false clues and scatter red herrings across the trails by omission and lies.  You'll be hard pressed to decide who to believe.  A well written tale I'm pleased to recommend to anyone who enjoys a really well researched historical story with intrigue and mystery.

 

Like A Dog With A Bone by Lee Charles Kelley

Publisher:  Avon  ISBN:  978-0-06-0733230-1

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

During their honeymoon in Mexico Jack Field and his new bride met a woman named Reggie who told them about her father who lived near them.  They decided to pay the father a visit and he introduced them to his dog that liked to dig.  Her favorite spot was near the house.

Was the body buried there the reason she favored digging there?  How long had the body been there?  Who was it? 

Then the father is hospitalized and the body is tentatively identified.  Are the two things related?  Why did the other daughter try to smother the man as he lay in a coma in the hospital?

Are the feds involved in this case that seems to grow and spread like a bad fungus?  Will Jack ever get free as he seems to get drawn in deeper and deeper?  Will his new bride who is a medical examiner be able to identify the body, and why are her phones tapped?

Lots of questions with lots of action.  Several smaller subplots also are woven through this tale that will keep you guessing if they are related to each other or not.  Talented author Lee Charles Kelley creates a fun read using dog training as a background that also reveals much about the cast of characters. 

Recommended as a pleasant way to pass the time while you match wits with Jack Field in trying to keep track of the action and solve the many mysteries involved.  Enjoy.

 

 

Cut to the Bone by Shane Gericke

Publisher: Pinnacle  ISBN-10: 0786018143

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

In this follow up to Blown Away, Gericke brings back the detectives from Naperville's homicide unit to track the killer responsible for the bodies being discovered nationwide, a connection only realized after similarities are discovered in the way the murders are carried out.  But with the killer leaving virtually no clues behind, and each victim seemingly unrelated in any way, finding what really connects the murders seems impossible.  However, as the clock ticks ever louder as the execution day of a death row prisoner approaches, the connections between past events and now slowly begin to reveal themselves, illuminating truths and lies and a plot of revenge that just might provide the answers to their questions.

If you're looking for a police procedural that walks the walk and talks the talk, this one might be for you.  Gericke's crisp dialogue, unassuming characters, and rapid pace make this latest seem as if you're on the street looking over the shoulders, or watching a movie, of these detectives as they conduct this far-reaching investigation.  But, also, it must be said -  such a quick pace and factual air can be a slight detriment to a fuller emotional development of ideas and characters.  So while this does provide what's expected, and it does supply a bit of passion, some readers might be left hoping that next time Gericke gives us even more of an intimate look at those passions that drive these characters.         

 

 

Lucky Strike by Pat Wilson & Kris Wood

Publisher: Rendezvous Crime, ISBN 978  894917 51 3

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

If you were given the choice tomorrow of where to go and what to do, but it involved completely severing all your old connections, would you do it?  If you were in a witness protection program, you wouldn’t have any choice.

The newly-christened Charles Trenchant leaves his old life, old name and old profession behind in Toronto, and settles in Nova Scotia to become a writer.  He plans to keep a very, very low profile, lest he come to the attention of Mafia bosses who might not understand his testimony in a major prosecution which led to the jailing of a number of their colleagues.

Cormorant Harbour is one of four hamlets which form a tiny outpost of civilisation on Canada’s rough but beautiful north-east coast.  A man should be able to go to earth here with no trouble at all.  Should is the operative word: Charles has barely settled into his cottage with his cat when he is drawn into the busy life of Cormorant Harbour.  Before you can say ‘alias’, he is recruited to be a lay reader in the local Anglican parish, has been talked into letting his shed be used to store a neighbour’s possessions, and has acquired a part-time housekeeper and a handyman. 

If that isn’t bad enough, Charles is haunted by the notion that he’s being stalked by malign strangers; he jumps at every noise and shadow and is headed for a breakdown if something doesn’t happen soon.  What happens is even worse: he becomes a local hero when the neighbours’ house catches fire.  When it happens again, there’s murder involved, and Charles becomes a suspect.  This brings even more publicity, and it looks like the only way Charles can get back his anonymity is to get to the bottom of the fire and the murder and the identity of the strangely attracting dark-haired woman.

This is a gentle read with some wonderful characterisations: you may recognise your pastor, your neighbour or your cleaning lady here.  If Lochdubh were transplanted to New Scotland from Old Scotland, you might find it had turned into Cormorant Harbour.  Fans of the Hamish McBeth series should find this mystery enjoyable and comfortingly familiar.

 

 

Gates of Hades by Greg Loomis

Publisher: Leisure  ISBN-10: 0843958944

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Jason Peters, who works for a company that handles jobs that are too sticky for U. S. intelligence agencies to touch, has been sent to kidnap an Arab arms dealer.  When Jason's partner and the mark both wind up dead, he grabs the Arab's lap top and runs. His home is attacked by assassins and he barely escapes when the house blows up.  He manages to stay one step ahead of the assassins in Washington, D. C., the Dominican Republic and Sicily.  It's a race to uncover a deadly secret before it can be unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

Once again Loomis grabs the reader and makes his hair stand on end.  He is an absolute master at creating diabolical plots that keep the heart pumping with excitement from the first page to the last.  You don't want to miss this Loomis thriller.     

 

 

The Tunnels by Michael Gagnon

Publisher: Mira  ISBN-10: 077832446X

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

The bodies of beautiful young coeds are being found in the labyrinth of tunnels beneath the campus.  There are paintings on the wall behind each body which have been painted in the blood of the previous victim.  FBI Special Agent Kelly Jones and agent Roger Morrow begin to compile a list of suspects and then begin to narrow it down.  When Morrow is killed and another girl goes missing, coeds begin leaving campus in droves and Kelly becomes a target. 

Gagnon is adept at spinning a plot that keeps your heart pumping and your hair standing on end from the first page to the last.  Kelly, an intelligently drawn character, is one agent who goes by the book and won't cross the line of procedure for fear of screwing up the court case, but when she is forced to work with ex agent who will do anything to get answers, the conflict brings Kelly within an inch of losing her life.  Exciting and full of thrills, this gut wrenching novel should be put to the top of the must read list.

 

 

Getting Old Is Criminal by Rita Lakin

Publisher:  Dell   ISBN:  978-0-440-24386-1

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Gladdy Gold is off on a dream trip with her dream man, Jack, when she gets a message that sends her hurrying home.  One of her girls is in the hospital.

Once home and sure her friend will survive, Gladdy finds herself wondering if she's lost the man she loves. He departs to think things through, leaving Gladdy as loose ends. 

There is local excitement at their development as a peeping tom is spotted.  As this news sinks in, Gladdy is approached by a Mr. Alvin Ferguson to find the man he is sure killed his 90 year old mother--her lover. 

With no other employment, Gladdy and her associates take on the job.  She must make a decision that will lead to disappointment by her friends as she sets out to investigate. 

Disguised as a wealthy woman, Gladdy arrives at a retirement hotel where the suspect may be staying.  Her partner in the case this time is her sister Evvie who also arrives in disguise as another wealthy woman.

The case gets complicated when they are introduced to the playboy and romance takes a toll on the investigation.  Things threaten to get out of hand.

Lots of suspense and surprises.  People aren't who they seem, even those who apparently mourn for their lost spouses.  Talented author Rita Laken gives the reader lots of fun and suspense with a good dose of tongue in cheek as we learn who the peeping tom is. 

I'm pleased to recommend this tale as worth the time and one any mystery fan will enjoy.  A very well told tale by an author whose other books you will enjoy as I have.

 

Swapping Paint by Joyce and Jim Lavene

Publisher: Midnight Ink  ISBN 978 0 7387 1020 4

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Mix wheels, speed and an oversupply of testosterone and you have a recipe for disaster: in this case, murder. 

Retired Chicago policemen Glad Wycznewski just wanted to enjoy the NASCAR event  at Concord, but before you can say ‘four on the floor’, his sexy wife Ruby has pushed and pulled him into investigating who killed driver Ricky Sanders.  The police reckon it’s Ruby’s brother Bobby, which is why she’s so keen for Glad to solve the murder.

It isn’t hard to find suspects: Ricky was in the black books of several people—but nobody seems to be quite as likely as Bobby.    There’s a gorgeous truck driver who has a motive, and her father as well; there are the other drivers, not all of whom were friends of Ricky, and then there’s Jeannette, who has a lot of money but no visible means of support.  Ruby fixes on each of these people in turn, getting herself and Glad into one sticky fix after another, usually involving mud and guns.

For his own protection, Glad has to try and rein in Ruby and find out the truth—she’ll get them both killed if he doesn’t.  The murder motive turns out to be quite unexpected, and I found it a bit hard to swallow—a bit more explanation could have strengthened credibility here.

This is a lightweight, fast read that is written in the present tense throughout, which some may find annoying.  It has some appealing characters and not too much focus on dead bodies.  You don’t have to be an expert on the NASCAR scene to enjoy it, but if you are, so much the better.  A chapter of Book II in the series is included at the end to whet your appetite for Glad and Ruby’s next adventure.

 

 

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

Publisher:  Picador  ISBN:  13:  978-0-312-42705-0

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

If you have an affinity for psychology, you'll love this tale paced much like the old Sherlock Holmes stories.  Written with that same flavor and in the same era, The Interpretation of Murder by talented author Jed Rubenfeld will keep you happily reading. 

Young girls of society are being preyed on by a sadistic killer much sought by the police while one victim is being treated by doctors in the new field of psychiatry.  Will they be able to help the girl identify her assailant or will he go free to commit his atrocities elsewhere?

Dr Stratham Younger of Clark University is thrilled to meet Drs. Freud, Jung, and Ferenczi, all prominent in Europe as psychiatrists. They and his associate Dr. Abraham Brill are consulted about the victim of the attacks and Dr. Freud says Dr. Younger is to treat her.  But having a good reputation does Younger little good on his first meeting with the girl, a girl who is most uncooperative, but another event soon to happen might gain her cooperation. 

Corrupt officials, police work just beginning to be crime fighting, murder and a chance to gain insight into the new field of psychiatry make this tale an entertaining read.  The description of the period brings it sharply into focus and you will find yourself thinking of other stories written in this period.

This story could be a tale taken from headlines of the day with its realism and lifelike characters.  The pacing and writing style gives the story a sense of dignity and decorum not often encountered in the modern mystery ad the well educated men of Europe and America work to solve a mystery with all the attendant senses of rivalry, friendship, and curiosity.

I'm pleased to recommend this tale to anyone who enjoys a good solid mystery of the Victorian era. When you close this book, you feel as if you have met some very interesting people and come away with a sense of satisfaction at having read a good tale.

Enjoy.  I sure did.

 

 

Trial and Error by Paul Levine

Publisher:  Bantam Books  ISBN:  978-0-440-24276-5

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Law partners Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord who are also lovers find themselves on opposite sides when a man Steve helped capture is charged with murder.  The man is the city prosecutor's nephew and they aren't friends.

The murder and capture take place when a group frees two tame dolphins.  This wasn't something they planned, especially as the dead man is one of their own.

Will Steve and Victoria's partnership and love survive what is sure to be a touchy case with both trying to outdo the other?  And, more importantly, who will win the case? 

Written in a breezy style with lots of fun surprises for the reader, talented author Paul Levine has created a tale any reader will enjoy. If you are a beach junkie or just love the water and outdoors, this book will have special appeal.

I'm pleased to recommend this story to any reader who is looking for a pleasant, fun read.  You'll enjoy meeting the realistic characters while you try to figure out what will happen next.

Enjoy.  I certainly did.

 

 

Lifeless by Mark Billingham

Publisher: Harper ISBN: 0060841672

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

London's detective Tom Thorne is still getting over his last case, a case that involved many missteps, and one that left Tom without a father and mired in remorse and regret.  But while working through his grief, and the reluctance of those higher up to put him back in action, Thorne still somehow convinces them to allow him to go undercover when the savagely beaten bodies of homeless men begin appearing on the streets of London.

Living the role of a homeless man, Thorne quickly and disturbingly all too easily falls into the part; sleeping in doorways, walking the streets, and forming connections with the other lost souls roaming the city.  And as he begins to put the pieces together, he'll discover that the murders are not just random acts of madness, but instead attempts to keep a heinous secret forever buried.

Billingham's previous novels of suspense have certainly earned him a number of devoted fans, but it's with this latest that he goes from decent novelist to superstar of the genre.  His compassionate and insightful tale into the lives of those lost and homeless on the dirty streets of London is one that any city dweller anywhere will recognize all too quickly.  But Billingham's depiction goes much deeper than the careless glance most usually offer this disheartening reality, giving life and humanity to the characters that dwell there along with a much needed understanding and empathy.  Add to that suspense, an enthralling who-done-it, great police procedural detail, and you have an outstanding novel that's easily one of the season's best. 

 

 

 

Leaning To Kill by Ed McBain

Publisher: Harvest  ISBN: 0156031477

Reviewed by Dana King, New Mystery Reader

It’s easy to think great writers spring fully formed from Zeus’s head, Muse attached at the hip, fully prepared to do battle with, and ultimately subdue, the blank page. The end result reads as though the battle was never in doubt, the magnificent talent of the blessed writer scattering the obstacles like French soldiers at Oktoberfest.  

Yeah, right.

Good writing is as much craft as talent. Rare is the writer anyone else would want to read who gets it right the first time. Or the second. The best continually raise the bar as they master their skills, much as the adult reads better, and more fluidly, than the child.

Given how psychotic – er, protective, some writers are about their early works, retrospectives can be a dicey business. “Best of” anthologies, culled from the author’s prime, are one thing. A collection of stories written while still an apprentice is the writer’s equivalent of working without a net.

Ed McBain’s posthumous collection of short stories, Learning to Kill, contains only those stories the fledgling writer was able to place in a magazine; the true failures aren’t here. It still took a great deal of self-perspective to be able to lay bare the formative work of the nascent master, and provide brief personal introductions to identify the origin, the publishing outlet, and the pseudonym used. (Richard Marsten, Hunt Collins, Evan Hunter all appear; Ed McBain was not “born” until the first 87th Precinct novel.)

They don’t all work. Some are well-written, but dated. Some show the deus busily working the levers of His machina. Several sing with the kind of prosaic eloquence that became McBain’s trademark in the 87th Precinct novels.

The stories are grouped by general type: Kids, Women in Jeopardy, Private Eyes, Cops and Robbers, etc. “Death Flight” does a good job of using an insurance angle to involve a detective in a plane crash investigation. “Kiss Me, Dudley” is McBain’s less than flattering (but wickedly funny) impression of the late Mickey Spillane, then in his original spasm of best-seller-hood.

“Dummy” is the story of how a beautiful, mute, woman handles a man who won’t take no for an answer; “The Big Day” shows how imperfect even the best plans are; “On the Sidewalk, Bleeding” is a dark and introspective look at the false allure of gangs that resonates as well today as when it was written in 1957.

There are twenty-five altogether, plus an introduction and an afterword. They’re grouped by topic instead of chronologically, but publication dates are given in the bibliography. I read them straight through, trying to guess where each would have fallen in McBain’s early oeuvre; it might be fun to read them in chronological order, to see the gradual expansion of his skills. However you read them, they’re another tasty morsel for anyone with a taste for McBain; for a writer looking to study the evolution of a master, they should be required reading.

 

 

 

Angels Fall by Nora Roberts

Publisher: Jove  ISBN: 0515141370

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Two years ago young and beautiful Reece Gilmore had it all as an up-and-coming chef in Boston, but when tragedy and violence struck down her perfect life, she hit the road in an attempt to run from her demons.  Traveling, but never really settling down, has been her way of life since, but when her car breaks down in the scenic small mountain town of Angel's Fist, Wyoming, she figures this is as good a place as any to settle in for a bit.  Getting a job at the local diner as a short order cook proves easy enough, and the beauty of the surrounding lake and mountains seem to soothe her troubled soul. 

All seems to be going well until she witnesses a murder while out hiking, but getting the sheriff to believe her is not going to be easy, especially when he hears of her troubled past.  Also on the trail that day was the rugged and handsome mystery writer, Brody, and in him she finds one of her only allies in this troubling mystery.  And as the two attempt to discover who died that die, a stalker with a familiar face slowly closes in on Reece, intent on keeping his secrets quiet, even if it means killing again.

It's been far too long since I've enjoyed a suspense tale from Robert's this much, having finally conceded that perhaps she simply ran out of steam.  But, with this latest, she returns with a story that's as freshly invigorating as her earlier works, and one that will please old and new fans alike.  Her vibrantly colorful detailing of this beautiful part of the country more than adeptly sets the stage for a well written mystery that's infused with an abundance of charming romance, appealing characters, and just good old fashioned story telling.  Easily one of her best novels to date, this is one that shouldn't be missed.