click on titles for buying info

Tonight I Said Good-bye by Michael Koryta

Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks ISBN: 0312933209X

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

The newspapers are reporting that Wayne Weston killed his wife and daughter then committed suicide, but no one can find the bodies of his family.  Wayne's father hires Lincoln Perry and Joe Prichard, ex-cops who have opened a private investigating agency, to prove his son is not a murderer and find his family.  Once immersed in the investigation they find themselves dealing with members of the Russian mafia, a blackmailing businessman, an FBI agent who continues to lie to them, and an old Marine buddy of Weston's who winds up dead.

Koryta is a masterful writer who develops a tight knit plot and lays it out beautifully.  The reader's adrenaline pumps throughout the book as the action unfolds from page to page.  The only thing that keeps the reader from going over the edge is the comradery between Lincoln and Joe and their way of dealing with each with levity. 

Everyone who reads this award winning PI novel, which is the author's first, will anxiously await the publication of his next book.  If it is as good as this one, Koryta will soon hit the best seller list.

 

A Midsummer's Night Scream by Jill Churchill

Publisher: Avon ISBN: 0060501006

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

Have you ever investigated new hobbies or searched for some fun to share with a friend?  If you have, you will identify with Jane Jeffry and her friend Shelley when they take up needlepoint and also handle catering break meals for a local theater group.

A fun read, a behind-the-scenes-look at amateur theater and murder.  Jane and Shelley aren't particularly fond of the director or his play or the tedium of rehearsal, and when Jane learns someone from the theater group has been murdered, she immediately thinks it might be the bullying director.  Everyone associated with the play might be considered a suspect, even her and Shelley.

Then the news is out. One of the actors was killed and Jane then considers that the director might have actually done the deed.  The question is, do the facts support her theory?  Why would the director kill one of his players?  The fact comes out that he had brought in another actor to replace the dead actor before his death.

The talented author will have you looking in one direction while things are happening in another and the characters will lead you a merry chase between probability and possibility.  A recommended read guaranteed to provide any mystery lover with satisfaction.  Enjoy.

 

 

Most Wanted by Michele Martinez

Publisher: Harper Torch ISBN: 0060723998

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

NY federal prosecutor Melanie Vargas is taking her infant out for a stroll one evening when she happens upon a plethora of emergency personnel not far from her home.  Instantly realizing that a brutal crime has taken place at the home of a wealthy former prosecutor, Melanie doesn't hesitate to jump in and assign herself to the case.  Also on the case is the sexy FBI agent Dan O'Reilly, and considering the state of her marriage, the temptation to become more than co-workers is strong. 

The further the two investigate, the closer to danger they come, because this is a case that involves corruption and greed, and it's not just the gang they suspect that may be responsible, but also someone much closer who is just as deadly and is willing to do everything and anything to make sure they don't discover the truth.  

Martinez's debut novel is definitely suspenseful, once one gets past a few slightly implausible scenarios, leading to a read that moves swiftly and excitingly to a winning conclusion.  Melanie, while a bit reckless, also adds to the story as a dedicated prosecutor and mother, and it's invigorating to have a new Hispanic heroine on the scene.  There is a lot of promise here, and we look forward to Martinez's next outing, hoping to see Melanie hard back at work resolving both her personal and professional dilemmas.       

 

The Broker by John Grisham

Publisher: Dell ISBN: 0440241588

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

My favorite author is back, and boy o’ boy he is as great as ever. However, for the first time, Grisham delivers a thriller that’s NOT a legal thriller. (His novels A Painted House, Bleachers and Skipping Christmas were not even thrillers, for that matter legal thrillers). The Broker is of that stuff and fiber of the style we seen in the works of Richard North Patterson, political thriller wise; and Tom Clancy novels- techno-spy thriller wise.

President Arthur Morgan is the most horrible President, U.S.A has ever seen and after 4 gruesome years in Office, he has been told to gettaout. Dejected and embittered, as Morgan leaves the Office, he grants two controversial pardons- one to Duke Mongo, a millionaire involved in a billion dollar tax scandal and another to Joel Backman, a power broker/lobbyist/ lawyer in Washington, who dealt with some things that compromised America’s security interests, “to some foreign nation”- now in prison. The plan to grant pardon to Mr. Backman comes from the CIA. On the eve of his last day in White House, Teddy Maynard- the controversial CIA chief pays Morgan a visit, and tells him about the need to set Backman free. Once Backman is free, it spells danger to that foreign nation who got the benefit of U.S. security interests. And once they begin to track down Backman- it will be easy for Maynard to zero down on them. Soon Backman is free and with a new name and identity is packed of to Italy. Now CIA plays a watch and wait game to see what happens to Backman, and more importantly who does what to Backman. What follows is a stylish thriller culminating in a finish- a finish that only Grisham can provide.

I enjoyed the book very much- but frankly I enjoy more the legal thriller works of the Master- in the likes of The Firm, The Chamber, A Time to Kill etc. And as a person who enjoys reading and collecting Grisham works- I often wonder why Grisham has not yet published as a book his screenplay “The Gingerbread Man,”- it sure was a stylish legal thriller.

All in all a good work- but I crave for a 100 percent legal thriller from Grisham.

 

Now You Die by Christiane Heggan

Publisher: Mira ISBN: 0778322289

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

New York cartoonist Zoe Foster finds the body of a woman in a dark alley, but when she returns with the police, there is no body and no evidence of a crime.  Frustrated that the police are so dismissive, she uses her cartoon character (Kitty Floyd PI) to search for clues.  When she learns that the dead woman was a singer at her ex husband's night club, the two reluctantly team up to find the killer.

Heggan has written a gripping novel that keeps you glued to the pages as the heroine works her way through every level of the city's population -- indifferent cops, mobsters, heroes, and the upper crust.  This is one you won't put down until you have reached the surprising end.

 

In Like Flynn by Rhys Bowen

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Paperbacks  ISBN:  0-312-997000

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader 

Struggling private investigator Molly Murphy is only too happy to accept an undercover assignment in upstate New York:  she desperately needs work, typhoid fever is spreading through the city, and a gang is seeking revenge on her.  Masquerading as a distant cousin of politician Barney Flynn, Molly’s task is to discredit the Sorensen sisters, spiritualists who are preying upon upper class women, particularly Flynn’s frail wife Theresa who has never recovered from the kidnapping and presumed death of their young son some five years earlier.

The Flynns’ chauffeur, Albert Morell, was fatally shot by police as he collected the ransom money, but many find it difficult to believe he would have harmed the boy.  Before Molly leaves New York, the child’s former nanny, accused of being Morell’s accomplice, convinces Molly to investigate the kidnapping as well. 

At the estate, Molly encounters not only a conspiracy of silence surrounding the kidnapping, but also comes face to face with an old enemy who threatens to destroy the new life she has built for herself.  Soon, two women die under suspicious circumstances, and Molly fears for her own life.  She perseveres in uncovering all the secrets at the Flynn estate, while taking her on-again/off-again relationship with Captain Daniel Sullivan of the New York police to another level.

Author Rhys Bowen has crafted a highly entertaining mystery, well worth reading if only to see what taboos Molly will challenge next.  Some of the characters and plot twists are rather clichéd for the genre, but don’t detract from the enjoyability of In Like Flynn.

 

Shades of Red by Doris Mortman

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks  ISBN: 0312936974

Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

Vera Hart is “seeing red.”  Hart Line International (HLI), the company that Vera built from the ground, is under siege.  HLI is being investigated for accounting irregularities, she is receiving threatening correspondence and some of the Hart line cosmetics have been laced with poison.  Vera has made many enemies while building HLI into a major player in the cosmetics industry; as a result the list of potential suspects is extremely long.  In order to save HLI, Vera turns to estranged family members for help.  Lieutenant General Hugh Phelps, retired, is Vera’s ex-husband and the father of both her daughters.  He currently runs a high-end security service for the rich and famous.  Vera asks for his help in protecting their daughters and granddaughter until the culprit is found.  She asks her daughter, Dr. Martie Phelps, to help figure out how the poison is getting in the cosmetics and who is doing it.  Vera hires Bryan Chalmers as her defense attorney.  He is currently dating Greta Hart, Vera’s oldest daughter, but Martie is the woman who stole his heart when they met in the military.  The question is will Bryan, Martie, and Hugh save Vera and HLI in time?

In Shades of Red, Doris Mortman has created a story that would make a terrific movie.  The book has it all; anger, greed, lust, love, envy, jealousy and murder.  The characters are well defined and the relationships between them are multi-dimensional.  I enjoyed every page of this book and most highly recommend Shades of Red as a really great read.

 

 

Hail to the Christiesque murder mystery.  Movie critic, Mitch Berger, and his girlfriend Desiree Mitry, resident Trooper for the state of Connecticut,  are back in top form in this delightful who-dun-it.  The two are invited to a mountain top lodge for an informal dinner to meet the legendary Ada Geiger.  Ada’s daughter Norma and her husband Les Josephson run Astrid’s Castle which had been built by Ada’s father for his mistress, Astrid.  Upon her father’s and Astrid’s deaths the lodge had reverted to Ada. Being a summer resort, it was empty of paying guests during the winter months.  Only Norma’s son, Aaron and his wife Carly, along with a couple of ‘studio people’ were visiting at this time. To complete the cast is Jory and Jase Hearn, brother and sister who are employed by Norma to help her and Les run the lodge.  They live in a small cottage behind the main building. 

One of the major studios in Hollywood had rediscovered Ada upon her return from her self imposed exile from Europe and were planning a major bash at the lodge on the coming weekend.  Big doins!

Ada, at ninety four, was still as feisty and outspoken as she had always been.  Her life had been one great accomplishment after another.  At sixteen years of age, she had been the youngest woman to fly a plane solo from New York to Washington D.C.  Thereby earning a charter membership in the Ninety-Nines, which was made up of daring young women pilots, whose first president was Amelia Earhart.  She became a  fashion model, a Broadway actress and soon became a crime scene photographer. It wasn’t long before she began writing the news copy which accompanied her lurid photographs.  She began writing stage plays and was quite successful.  During WWII she was a combat correspondent for Life Magazine.

After meeting and marrying her husband, Arthur Altshuler,  they became one of Hollywood’s top Producer/Director couples.  Her work was often compared to the top directors of that day.  They would probably have become world famous for their work had not The House Un-American Activities Committee come into being.  Upon being blacklisted in Hollywood the pair moved to London where Ada wrote plays for the BBC.  Later, living in Paris , Ada wrote and directed many low budged films to much acclaim but she never reached the fame that she would have had she  been allowed to stay in Hollywood.

Mitch had seen one or two of her films as a youngster and later as a film critic acclaimed her work as some of the greatest noir dramas ever filmed.  Yes, Ada had a way with a camera.  And Mitch was looking forward to meeting one of his idols in the film industry.  Ada wanted to thank Mitch for his kindness to her in his columns before the onrush of  ‘names’ invaded for the weekend.  So Mitch and Des had been invited to an informal dinner on this evening.  In spite of the cold, Mitch thought he would be just fine in going up the mountain for dinner and going home to his warm cottage on Big Sister Island.  But it was not to be!  A major ice storm came in during dinner and they not only lost electric power but huge trees were knocked down and blocked the road going down the mountain.  So let the story begin…………..

David Handler has created a nice,  kind, and caring couple in Berger and Mitry.  In spite of their obvious differences, they seem to have become very attached to each other.  Berger is a noted film critic for one of  New York’s prestigious newspapers.  Prestigious is equated to lower pay in Mitch’s vocabulary.  But he loves his work.  Desiree on the other hand is a State Trooper with crime scene experience in her resume.  She is tough, smart and  knowledgeable about the underside of humanity.  And they come from two totally different worlds.  But a couple they are!

I love this book, in spite of  the insidious evil which is apparent almost from the time the lights go out.  There is a stunning surprise around every corner.  And  plenty of twists and turns to please even the most blasé of mystery readers.  The author sprinkles many distracting clues around so that one is changing villains at the turn of every page.  And in the midst of it all are Mitch and Des…………

 

Color Blind by Jonathan Santlofer

Publisher: HarperTorch ISBN: 0060541059

Color Blind by Jonathan Santlofer: Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Former NYPD cop Kate McKinnon's life couldn't be better.  Her popular PBS series on art and color keeps things interesting, as does her wonderful husband Richard.  Their marriage, once again on strong footing after the debacle a few years previously involving a serial killer, couldn't be better-but all that's about to change when a new serial killer strikes the big city, and this time the pain and catastrophe will hit Kate where it most counts. 

Suffering from the blinding grief of losing her husband, Kate joins in the search for the serial killer, a man who eviscerates his victims, and leaves a painting at the scene of each murder, including her husband's.  But nothing is ever as it seems and the closer Kate gets to the truth, the more her own life is danger, but discovering where the threat really comes from may take more courage than even Kate may possess, and she may just lose it all in the process.

This suspenseful tale encapsulates the frenetic NY art scene with aplomb and intelligence, although some may find the descriptions of murder a bit disturbing with just a shade too much graphic detail.  And while this is a definite page-turner, somehow it seems that a few less pages would've made it more so, as about half way through it tended to get bogged down with repeated scenes that lost their appeal the second time around. Nonetheless, lovers of art, especially the NY art scene, will find much detail to absorb and enjoy, and the insider's knowledge displayed will be appreciated, as will the cast of characters who easily engage the reader's interest. 

 

State of Fear by Michael Crichton

Publisher: Avon ISBN: 0061015733

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME.

Need I say more about what I though of STATE OF FEAR. Michael Crichton’s latest offering is in a league of its own. After the fantabulous success of JURASSIC PARK, AIRFRAME, TIMELINE and PREY, this time around, Crichton focuses of the growing fear of global warming among the citizens of the world. The book to me, seemed a perfect answer to the scenario- the bleak future-  presented in the movie “The Day After Tomorrow.”

Meticulous research is the hallmark of any Crichton work such that the works are fiction totally rooted in reality. Everyone has heard about global warming; everyone is afraid of the looming dangers ahead. But how realistic are our fears? Is there an impending danger as ‘they’ (meaning the media, environmental organizations and others) say. With hard-hitting facts and statistical data, Crichton proves otherwise. The climate of the world was always subject to change and that’s the way nature designed the same. Fears of global warming are mislaid and in fact in the last 1000 years or so, the average climate has risen only by less than a percent. And even more interestingly the Antarctic ice poles are growing thicker and colder.

Peter Evans is an environmental lawyer who believes in global warming and melting ice poles. However, when he meets John Kenner, he questions these concepts- the attorney begins to think and question his own beliefs. Evans slowly understands that the reason why such misinformation is given high propaganda- is to create a “state of fear”- for only in a state of fear would there be a nation- state system and only would a question of the presence of ruling class arise. Till the Eighties the growing fears of Cold War and Star Wars kept the world at fear. But the end of the Cold war meant that the people had nothing to be afraid of. It was in this scenario world attention was shifted towards global warming, ozone layer depletion and melting ice poles. This in short forms the theme of the work- fear without reason, misinformation leading to mislaid fears……

I enjoyed the book highly, and think it would make the perfect gift for someone you love.

 

False Profits by Patricia Smiley

Publisher: Warner Books  ISBN: 0446616478

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

Ever wonder what happens when high-rollers investments go sour?  Who is going to take the blame for lost or embezzled millions?

Feisty financial consultant, Tucker Sinclair, seems to be headed for the hot spot in False Profits. Writing a report for Dr. Polk that will draw investors to a new business he wants to establish, Tucker finds is no easy task, but she does finish the job.

Then things threaten to fall apart. Dr. Polk washes up on the beach, a murder victim and Tucker finds herself suspected of rigging the report to fraudulently draw investments in for him and suspected of his murder.

What's a gal to do?  Tucker refuses to sit back and wait to be charged. She begins her own investigation and uncovers a low more than she intended. 

A fun read by a talented author that will grab your attention.  Recommended to satisfy any mystery lover. Enjoy.