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Final Paradox by Mary E Martin

Publisher: iUniverse  ISBN 0 595 40760 9

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

"Go away! My mind is filled with holes!" cries the red-wigged old woman to her lawyer.

So starts a very strange day for Harry Jenkins.  His elderly--but previously sane--client seems to have slipped her moorings and be adrift in a dark and dangerous past.  Somebody thinks Norma Dimmick knows the whereabouts of some very valuable stock, and where there's greed, there's bound to be crime.

Aging Gangster George Pappas thinks Norma will probably leave the missing shares to her goddaughter Bronwyn, wife of Harry's college roommate Peter.  Bronwyn's having a fling with Harry's junior associate Jeremy, who has shown her a copy of Norma's will.  Jeremy is Peter's nephew.  Bronwyn fears Norma will leave her estate to Archie Brinks, and forces Peter to help her find a hitman to get rid of him, not knowing that the hitman works for Pappas.  Peter's friend Roger's gun turns up at a murder scene, but Roger says he gave it to Peter, which doesn’t stop the police from jailing him. . All clear so far?

There are a number of subplots: Peter's affair with Roger; Harry's romance with Natasha, and the ongoing serious illness of Harry's father, from whom he's been estranged for a long time.  There aren't many cheery spots in this book, but Harry's reconciliation with his father and his fortuitous meeting with an old flame help lighten the sombre atmosphere.  The one big question, where are the drug company shares, is the continuing thread of the book, and you will be surprised by how Martin handles this.

 

From Black Rooms by Stephen Woodworth

Publisher: Bantam ISBN-10: 0440242533

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Natalie Lindstrom has violet eyes and can channel the dead.  Working in the criminal division of North American Afterlife Communications Corps (NAACC), she decides to quit work on her art and devote time to her daughter, hoping that through her art, she will be able to channel other great artists.  But when she hears that Evan Markham, her ex lover who has been kept in isolation for killing Violets, has escaped, she knows she will have to focus her talents to hunt him down.  He has been promised he can have Natalie if he will channel a dead scientist who knew the genetic secrets for producing more Violets., and now Natalie has to stop him to protect herself and her daughter.

Woodworth takes you on a wild fantasy ride that keeps you continually on the edge.  He has developed a completely unique story concept filled with characters that give you the chills.  This is a very fast-paced novel that will keep you turning the pages expectantly until you reach the very last page and close the book with a deep sigh of relief.

 

 

High Heels Are Murder by Elaine Viets

Publisher:  Signet ISBN:  0451219880

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

For the reader who enjoys shopping in plush stores for shoes, this tale will be an eye-opener.  For the reader who's experiences in shoe stores have left feeling dissatisfied with the service, this tongue in cheek tale will give you a laugh.

Mystery shopper Josie Marcus has just shopped a plush shoe store and caught the clerk, Mel, doing something unpleasant to her shoes.  His behavior gets him fired. Then he's found murdered in a house that no shoe clerk could ever afford. 

Imagine Josie's surprise when she's pulled into the case by her snoopy neighbor whose snobbish daughter has been arrested. Josie's help is sought in clearing the daughter who has been the bane of her existence since they were girls.

Talented author Elaine Viets weaves a fun tale out of several intriguing subplots.  I'm pleased to recommend this story to any mystery fan.  It'll be time well spent.  Enjoy.  I did.

 

 

Sinners and Saints by Eileen Dreyer

Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks ISBN: 0312998740

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When St. Louis forensic nurse Chastity Byrnes is contacted by her brother-in-law Max asking for her help in locating her estranged sister, Chastity is faced with remembering the horrible events that led to the estrangement.  Ten years ago, Chastity finally let out the secret that had plagued her family for years, that of her father's sexual abuse.  And so in the revealing of the secret, her father at last had been made to pay for his crimes, sent to prison, and in Chastity's eyes, forever dead.  But now she must go to New Orleans, and not only look for her sister while confronting her demons, but also overcome her fear of water, for a hurricane is headed straight for the city, and Chastity will once again find herself in the eye of the storm.

It's quite eerie reading this latest from Dreyer, her vivid detail of the Big Easy made only more sorrowful when considering the catastrophe that did in fact strike this wonderful city down.  This is a New Orleans that we probably will never see again, and for that alone this is one book you'll want to read.  But it's also a great suspense tale filled with heartrending emotion and electrifying thrills.  Chastity, and all the others in this fantastic read, are wonderfully portrayed, with Dreyer giving the story of Chastity's survival from incest the grace and empathy it deserves.  Easily Dreyer's best and in a long line of excellence, that's saying a lot.     

 

 

Got the Look by James Grippando

Publisher: HarperTorch  ISBN: 0060565683

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

James Grippando brings back Florida defense attorney Jack Swyteck in an enthralling tale that brings the world of crime into Jack's world in a much more personal way than ever before.  Jack has been seeing the beautiful and beguiling Mia for two months, and is closer to falling in love every day when he discovers that she's actually married to a wealthy and powerful developer.  But that's only the tip of the iceberg in the disturbing evolution of what was once the romance from heaven, as shortly after this discovery Mia is kidnapped by a madman whose ransom includes only the demand that he be paid "what she is worth." 

Working the case is FBI agent Andie Henning, a Seattle transplant new to Miami, who saw the kidnapper's last victim die a horrible death and who will do just about anything to ensure it doesn't happen again.  But all is not what it seems, as Mia's mysterious past may have more to do with the madman's motivations than anyone might realize, and uncovering the deceptions that have led to this point will mean revealing some secrets that are best kept hidden.

Jack Swyteck makes for the perfect "what a great guy", and that's meant sincerely.  A guy's guy, he's all those indefinable things that make a guy a guy: vulnerable but lackadaisically dismissive of it, shrugs off his faults good naturedly, yet he's one who is always ready to take it all on when called upon.  But, ironically, the character who appeals the most is his sidekick Theo, the badass Swyteck got off of death row and who has a sense of humor to beat the band.  Either way, you won't have trouble digging these guys whichever is your favorite.  Throw in some incredible twists and turns, page after page of top-of-the-line suspense, additional appealing characters, and you've got yourself a read that shines all the way through.       

 

 

 

The Fatal Fashione by Karen Harper

Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks  ISBN:  0-312-941935

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader 

Queen Elizabeth I sets styles as well as policy in England, so when she begins wearing platter-sized ruffs, the starch industry flourishes.  Delivering the plant from which starch is derived, Meg Milligrew, a member of her court, discovers the body of royal starcher Hannah von Huven in one of her washtubs.

Hannah's murder seems to be related to the disappearance of Marie-Anne Gresham, daughter of the queen's financial advisor, Sir Thomas Gresham.  The discovery of one of Gresham's distinctive signet rings in the laundry tub seems to explain Marie-Anne's trauma when she is found.

Queen Elizabeth, assisted by Meg and others of the Privy Plot Council, try to find the murderer, even as the constable prepares to arrest Meg.  As the Privy Plot Council scrambles to help young Marie-Anne recall what she witnessed, another laundress is killed.

Author Karen Harper evokes the sights and smells (not altogether pleasant) of Elizabethan London, where chocolate and tobacco are among the new imports.  Her realistically portrayed Elizabeth Tudor is imperious and temperamental, good traits for an amateur sleuth, though one can't help wondering how she can put the murder of a laundress before the threat of civil war.  The Fatal Fashione, though interesting and enjoyable, won't keep you at the edge of your seat.

 

 

False Impression by Jeffrey Archer

Publishers: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, ISBN:    0312939779

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

As a seasoned, or call it a veteran, Jeffrey Archer reader, and an owner in possession of all his books… and by owner I mean owner of ALL Archer books, including 5 very, very rare ones (read as the manuscript of the unpublished play EXCLUSIVE, his 3 books for children and one and only non-fiction work A BETTER DEAL FOR LONDON), I can strongly recommend this one. FALSE IMPRESSION has in it everything what an ardent Archer fan needs…and much more.

Of late Archer novels had been following a steady formula, which started with KANE AND ABEL, and continued with THE FOURTH ESTATE and SONS OF FORTUNE. So, I was wondering whether FALSE IMPRESSION would be any different. And its sooooooo… different, sooooooo wonderful, and so exciting a page-turner, that it proves terrific reading.

This time round Archer centers his attention to the world of art…not the sophisticated auctions and the refined collectors, but to the underbelly, the place where cutthroat competition takes place… including murders. Set in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, the novel follows the life of Anna Petrescu, art lover and Van Gogh expert. She works in the arts acquisitions department of Bryce Fenton Finances. Tough she had accepted the job at a time of personal crisis, she soon learns that Fenton Finances has a hidden agenda, that would make money-hawkers look like saints. And on 9th September when Anna is unceremoniously fired…. Over an alleged failure in securing a Van Gogh deal… moments before the World Tower comes down, everyone thinks that Anna is dead. And Anna is determined to get revenge…. and restore the painting to the rightful owners.

Archer’s love for art is well known… and the author  himself is a proud owner of a couple of Botien originals…, and his passion for art and respect for art curators and art experts is clearly revealed in this work. THE DA VINCI CODE had opened the floodgates, and there are more and more thrillers being published set in the art world- including of late THE SECRET SUPPER (Javier Sierra), THE MICHELANGELO NOTEBOOK (Paul Christopher) and THE LOST PAINTING (Jonathan Harr). And mark my words this one is going to top the list.

 

 

Passionate Thirst by Carmen Dean

Publisher: Ballantine Books ISBN: 0345492536

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Las Vegas is a haven for vampires, being the city that never sleeps, and Candace Steele is a tough lady who fits right in, working the night shift in a casino and fully aware of the vampires that make Vegas their playground.  Having been in love with a higher echelon vampire, and having been bitten by him, she now has vampire radar for tracking the worst of the worst.  So when she is assigned to provide security for singer Temptation McCoy, her veins turn to ice knowing she is in the presence of a very powerful vampire.  Can she kill it and survive?

Dean weaves a very realistic plot around what we all hope is a fantasy, making the very thought of it deliciously frightening.  Candace, as our heroine, is undeterred and her commitment to her mission makes breathing a bit easier, with the aide she gets from an unexpected source being especially thrilling. This is one fantasy thriller that will keep you on edge from beginning to end. 

 

 

A Killing Tide by P. J. Alderman

Publisher:  Dorchester Publishing     ISBN  978 0 505 52696 0

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

After a call from her police officer friend Lucy, Kaz puts her high-powered San Francisco career on hold and goes home to Astoria Oregon to find out what's wrong with her twin brother Gary. 

Gary's been a bit odd since returning from the first Gulf War, and he's become more so over the years.  Kaz's two week vacation stretches out further as she works on one of their fishing boats to try and salvage something of the family business. 

Kaz isn't making much headway making contact with the 'stranger inside the skin of her brother'.  Suddenly, Gary disappears, after his friend and co-worker Ken is killed and one of the Jorgensen boats is torched. 

Onto the scene comes Michael Chapman, the new Fire Chief, on the run from a tragic past in Boston and not prepared for the impact the leggy blonde Kaz has on him.  He's attracted to her and she to him, but the huge barrier of the arson investigation stands between them.  It looks to Kaz as if Michael has judged Gary guilty without a trial, and it looks to Michael as if Kaz can't see the facts because of her devotion to her brother.  Is there any future for such a couple?

Well, maybe--but first the killer-arsonist has to be identified, and that proves a lot more difficult than Michael thought it would be.  Who had a motive to frame Gary and scuttle the Jorgensen family business?  Or is all that just incidental to the murder of Ken?  The plot twists and turns like a fishing line in a rip tide.  Several scary and painful things happen to Kaz before the villain is identified.

The author 's note at the start of the book cites other books she used for research and thanks a number of people who read and critiqued this book.  Her attention to detail shows in the finished product.  The book itself  has no annoying misspellings, misplaced apostrophes or transposed lines.  That's more important than some small publishers realise: full marks to Dorchester and Alderman for a professional production.