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The Druperman Tapes by John Goodger

Publisher: Leisure Books ISBN: 0843956119

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Emmett Druperman, one of the most powerful men in Las Vegas and CEO of the Galaxy Hotel and Casino, has received a mysterious envelope containing a videotape showing someone getting poisoned, a $5 gaming chip, and a note requesting a large sum of money.  Druperman calls Steve Forrester, the head of security at Galaxy, who in turn calls his ex police partner Frank Marshall.

Druperman refuses to kowtow to extortionists.  When a tourist is poisoned in the Galaxy restaurant an envelope is found taped to the underside of the table where he was sitting. This one also contains a video tape, 2 $5 gaming chips and a note.  If Druperman doesn't pay $10 million dollars into an offshore account someone will be electrocuted.  Once again Druperman refuses.

Goodger has given us a novel that is truly heart stopping.  As the demands increase the consequences escalate.  Forrester and Marshall must put a stop to this before too many people in Las Vegas get wiped out.  The plot is masterfully developed and gives the reader a very intimate introduction to the underside of the tourist glitz of Las Vegas.  The characters are very dynamic personalities that are well thought out.  As a first novel this is a true winner.  Readers will hold their breath and cancel any plans they have for going to Vegas until the next Goodger novel hits the stands.

 

The Blue Rose by Anthony Eglin

Publisher:  St. Martins Paperbacks ISBN:  0312939116

The Blue Rose by Anthony Eglin: Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Have you ever bought a new house that had a garden?  What did you find growing there? Something that could bring the world to your door, perhaps?

That's what happens to Kate and Alex Sheppard when they buy and old house in a small town. The house is great, but it's the large, overgrown garden that makes Kate want to live there.

When the clean up in the garden begins, rosebushes by the dozens are uncovered.  Their many varieties please Kate no end, but it is her husband's fateful discovery when he takes a walk into a hidden section of the garden that sets in motion a series of events that lead them into danger.

The word gets out of his discovery, a blue rose, and the world invites itself into their lives before they can decide what to do.  An added problem is what they ultimately learn about the rose itself.

Recommended as a tale with lots of suspense and mystery. A lesson in how not to keep a secret until you're sure you want it told.  The Blue Rose will please any mystery reader. Written by talented Anthony Eglin, it's sure to be a winner. Enjoy.

 

Blood Memory by Greg Iles

Publisher: Pocket Star ISBN: 0743454154

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader  

Catherine Ferry's life is spiraling out of control; she's pregnant with her married lover's child, she's addicted to alcohol, and she's having strange fits on the job.  Working as a forensic odontologist with the FBI on a rash of murders in New Orleans, it appears the city's got a serial killer on their hands.  Catherine, called in to investigate the bite marks on the victims, handles everything fine at first, but soon the bodies start triggering a strange reaction, causing her to go into a full-blown panic attack and eventually causing her suspension from the task force.

As things go from bad to worse, she heads home for Natchez, Mississippi, where as a child she lived the life of wealth and privilege.  But things seem off in Natchez as well, and her hackles are raised when she discovers old blood stains in her childhood bedroom.  Could they have been there since the night her father was purportedly shot by a burglar?  And why won't anyone from her past answer her questions? 

When strange dreams and odd flashbacks begin to plague her with a disturbing insistency, she begins to acknowledge that terrible secrets from her past that have been locked deep in her mind are finally trying to make their way out.  So in order to reclaim her life, she's going to have face some atrocious truths, as well as a very deadly threat from someone who does not want his horrifying secrets revealed.  And the deeper Catherine investigates, the more she begins to suspect that there may be a link between the brutal murders in New Orleans and the ugly secrets she has repressed, and as the truth comes ever closer, so does the deadly threat from a madman who kill to keep it all quiet.

This distinctly disturbing novel of child abuse, repressed memories, and the horrendous effects of such events, will easily chill the reader with its brutal and upfront approach.  Definitely suspenseful and gripping, it does provide for a thrilling read if one can get past its all too disconcerting truths.  Catherine provides a telling and powerful example of the effects of such traumatic events and her character is written with honesty and depth, adding much to this already provocative plot.  This empathetic tale is driven and terribly real, but definitely worth the fright and distress it easily induces, and so comes highly recommended.      

 

 

FETISH by Tara Moss

Publisher: Leisure Books ISBN: 084395633X

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Makedde Vanderwall is a top model and a cop's daughter.  She arrives in Australia for a job assignment and discovers that her roommate has been murdered.  She vows to stay until Catherine's killer is caught and do everything she can to help the police.  As the bodies start piling up, it's soon realized that there is always one stiletto heel missing.  And soon Mak learns that she might just be the next target of a mad killer.

This is a fast paced thriller with a plot that keeps you on edge.  False leads make it impossible to know who the culprit is while providing a thrilling read that grabs and doesn't let go.  And Moss's unique story telling style ensures that this is an author you'll want to read again, a great read that's definitely recommended.

 

The Last Dark Place by Stuart M. Kaminsky

Publisher: Forge Books ISBN: 0765343843

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

My first ever read of a Kaminsky novel, I couldn't have been more impressed.  There's something so utterly humane and realistic about his characters, his dialogue, and their reactions to life's many curve balls, that the story feels vividly genuine and immediate. 

This latest outing from Kaminsky features the remarkably original Chicago Detective Abe Lieberman, creator of honorable but not quite lawful ethics, and his partner Bill Hanrahan in a series of incidents that will most likely have some very long term affects. Feeling more like a collection of vignettes, than a full length novel of one plot, there are so many things going on in both these men's lives that this reads quickly.  Abe is trying to prevent a drug war, uncover why an assassin in his custody was shot down, and plan the final stages of his grandson's bar mitzvah.   While Hanrahan is working temporarily with a new partner on a case involving a number of crimes committed by a gang of youths, the rape of a detective's wife, and most frighteningly of all, the news that his own wife is pregnant. 

This doesn't even begin to cover all that goes on in this short book.  If you can, plan to read it in one sitting, not only because you might not be able to put it down once you start, but it will help keep track of all the different story lines.  Either way, approach this book with the warning that it reads all too quickly and you'll be sorry to see it end, as when the final page is turned you'll feel as if these characters are people you know, Chicago is where you live, and when all is said and done, these are people you'll truly miss.  

 

Forests of the Night by James W. Hall

Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks ISBN: 0312937016

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

After reading this, the main difficulty for most readers will be where to begin to extol the virtues of this most fantastic read. Beyond great, this luminous tale grabs and doesn't let go even after completion.

It all begins more than a century ago with the story of the Great Tsali, a Cherokee Indian who sacrificed himself for the greater good of his fellow man, and the repercussions of his story that are now are in the hands of the remaining ancestors.  Charlotte, Parker, and their teen daughter Gracey, a happy family at one time, now live their lives in a constant state of flux; Gracey, afflicted with schizophrenia, hears voices, Charlotte, currently a cop, but also a unusually gifted reader of facial expression is being sought by the FBI to work under their tutelage, and Parker, a defense lawyer, is grappling with his wife's sudden disapproval of his work. 

And it's in this state when they are approached by a young man with a mysterious message warning them of upcoming danger.  But this young man is also on the FBI's most wanted list, with his crimes appearing to be many, and his credibility near non-existent.  So when Gracey disappears with him, Charlotte and Parker have no other choice but to follow the trail that will lead them down a path revealing long-held secrets, bring about death and destruction, all culminating in a fearful struggle in the beautiful setting of the hills of North Carolina.

Perfectly blending heart-stopping suspense with poignant emotions, Hall succeeds in putting forth a flawless tale of exquisite thrills. Not easy to distinguish which is better, the action-packed ride, or the emotional journey of a family facing life-changing crossroads, but either way the reader can be assured that this is one tale that is to be savored, with the only pitfall being that it eventually ends.     

 

The Doctor’s Wife by Elizabeth Brundage

Publisher: Plume ISBN: 0452286913

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

This is a story of two families, one, a previously secure and loving family, and the other, a dysfunctional man and woman whose life together was doomed from the start.  It’s also a story about abortion, religious fanaticism, and the shades of gray that distinguish right and wrong. 

The Knowle family once seemed to have it all, she a professor, he a doctor, along with their two bright children, lived securely in a happy and loving home life.  But that all changes when Michael makes the decision to work at the abortion clinic, a decision that will put an end to the safe world they once knew and introduce them to fear and danger. 

Lydia and Simon Haas, he a painter 20 years her senior, and she an emotionally unbalanced young woman, are also headed for trouble when Lydia joins with the religiously fanatic anti-abortion group.  Her spiral will continue downward into further and further madness, and Simon himself will find himself in the arms of Annie, the good doctor’s wife.  And as things come tumbling down for all involved, it becomes apparent that nothing will ever be the same.

This beguiling, heartfelt, and truly ominous story will have you fidgeting with fear soon after starting.  The slowly escalating menace is superbly done, and although there is much frustration towards these characters for not getting off the train tracks when it’s perfectly clear they’re about to be hit, this also adds to the feeling of ever increasing threat and doom that mark each page.  The tensions and ambiguities surrounding marriage and family are also wonderfully portrayed, bringing an uneasy veracity to this already honestly drawn story of lives in the balance.  Recommended, but with caution, this is not an easy book to read, and will leave you feeling troubled long after its over.           Check out author's site at http://www.elizabethbrundage.com.

 

'Twas the Bite Before Christmas by Lee Charles Kelley

Publisher: Avon ISBN: 0060732288

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Retired NYPD detective Jack Fields, now living in Maine, would much rather spend the days approaching the holidays running his dog kennel and getting over his yearly Christmas cold than track down killers.  But when the maid of a wealthy couple is murdered in their home, Jack, now a consultant to the police force, is called out to help with the investigation, along with his fiancée Jamie Cutter, and the two will soon discover a multitude of suspects in this baffling case.  There's the Russian chauffer, with his nefarious ties to the mob, and then there's the Professor, a man who seems to be running some type of scam on the couple and, finally, a convicted killer, whose release from prison seems to have only brought him more trouble.  And as the danger gets a little personal for the good guys, it's going to take a lot of smarts to figure out this puzzle in time for Christmas.

My first in this delightful series, I was initially unimpressed with Jack Fields, as in the first couple of chapters his arrogance was more than a bit off putting.  But soon enough Jack's humor and humanity broke through his façade of gruffness and over-confidence to reveal a very likable guy and a very enjoyable mystery.   How can you miss?  Christmas time in Maine, a plethora of interesting characters, a mysterious puzzle to solve and, of course, some really dynamo theories on dog training all add up for one heck of a good time, with even a little magic thrown in.  If you've never read a title from this series, this is a great place to start, and comes highly recommended.          

 

Dead Giveaway by Leann Sweeney

Publisher: Signet ISBN: 045121708X

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Abby Rose, Houston PI and heiress of millions, enjoys her job of reuniting adopted children with their families.  So when Will Knight, a college basketball superstar, contacts her to find his birth parents, she's excited at the prospect of working with this gentle and unassuming young man.  But when an older woman connected with the case is brutally murdered and evidence of her deep obsession with Will uncovered, the case begins to take on an ominous and foreboding tone.  And as the clues lead ever closer to the wealthy and famous, the more dangerous things become as someone is determined to keep their deadly secrets forever quiet. 

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this read from Sweeney.  The book cover, more in the tradition of the "chick-lit" variety had me thinking it would be a dull and formulaic read, but much to my surprise, Abby and the other characters were compassionately drawn, as was the fascinating plot.  Plenty of surprises, thrills, and just plain old good fashioned writing distinguish this latest.  Pick up a copy, you won't be disappointed.    

 

Foxmask by Juliet Marillier

Publishers: Tor Publishers   ISBN: 0765345919

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

Last year while reviewing Wolfskin for this Journal, I had said that we can expect more from Juliet Marillier and her exciting new series- The Children of the Light Isles. And Foxmask, the second in this series is a wonderful, wonderful read.

Picking up the threads from where Wolfskin let off, Foxmask follows the adventures of Creidhe, the young and ambitious daughter of Eyvind and Nessa (the protagonists of Wolfskin). Young Creidhe has an infatuation towards Thorvald, a moody loner guy. But there is some dark secret brooding within Thorvald- and it concerns his paternity. And when Thorvald decides to embark upon a journey to find his true roots, unknown to him, Creidhe hides away on the same boat. And when Thorvald finds it out, it’s too late to turn back. The journey they embark upon takes them to a completely new world, an adventure of a lifetime, more vivid, more adventurous and more mysterious than the adventure which Eyvind and Nessa had. Their journey ends at an island inhabited “by the people of Long Knife”. These strange people have been cursed for having stolen the “foxmask”- what the foxmask is and what is the hidden secret behind it- my friends, it is for you to find out…..

For the reader’s of Wolfskin, this is a must read- a perfect sequel- and for readers who haven’t read Wolfskin, you might want to start with that first for better reading pleasure. Either way this is an enjoyable tale and is highly recommended for the lovers of fantasy mysteries.