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Payback by Jasmine Cresswell

Publisher: Mira  ISBN-10: 0778324877 

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When millionaire Ron Raven disappears, the bloody hotel room he had been staying in leaves everyone to presume he's dead.  But the biggest surprise comes when it's discovered that he's left behind not one, but two, grieving families that he's kept going for 25 years.  So when Luke Savarin, the ex-lover of Kate, one of Raven's daughters, spots him alive and well in a restaurant, it's only natural that the two should come back together to bring the bigamist to justice.

Cresswell spins this latest mystery with not only enough twists and turns in both suspense and romance to thrill and excite, but also enough warm hearted characters and scenes to touch and engage.  And in the race to her thrilling ending, readers will delight in her effortless dropping of clues that challenge and titillate all the way through.

 

 

All the Pretty Girls by J.T. Ellison

Publisher: Mira  ISBN-10: 0778324435

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When the bodies of murder victims start turning up around the South, initially no one thinks to connect the crimes.  But when the evidence proves that the killer is leaving his previous victim's hands at the scene of his next, it's clear that there's a serial killer on the loose - a situation which FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin is all too familiar with.  Working alongside his lover, homicide detective Taylor Jackson, who is busy herself attempting to solve a series of rapes closer to home, he's hoping they might be able to help each other with their investigations.  And while the cases might not be connected, the sudden death of an ambitious female reporter with a very traumatic past from Taylor's own city might just prove to hold the answers that John is so desperately seeking.

Ellison, in her first outing, proves she has what it takes.  With the dual investigations neatly separated, yet still loosely tied if only by proximity, the suspense is only doubled, which is always a tuff trick to pull off.  Added to that is the skill and intelligence of both main characters, refreshingly equal in their abilities to solve crime, as well as in their affection for each other; their pairing being a win-win for both as opposed to the push-pull seen all too often in this type of coupling.  And with both the victims and the culprits given a bit more detail than your ordinary serial killer novel, there's even more reasons to read this one.  Easily recommended; this one promises great things to come.                 

 

The Tomb of Zeus by Barbara Cleverly

Publisher: Delta ISBN-10: 0385339909

Reviewed by Harvey Lau and Geraldine Young, New Mystery Reader

Those who love Greece, the Greek Isles, and Greek mythology will have little problem with the archaeological setting of this mystery - the island of Crete in the late 1920s.
 
Laetitia Talbot, a student from Cambridge, is sent by her professor to work  on the island with British archaeologist, Theodore Russell. The archaeologist has invited her to stay with him and his wife and two other students at his Villa Europa. Laetitia is disturbed by an air of menace at the villa, however, and when one of the occupants dies, Laetitia's discomfort increases. Was the death a murder or a suicide? She is determined to find out, even if she has to unearth all the secrets surrounding the villa.
 
Interestingly, the characters in the story parallel the characters in Greek mythology. Theseus of Greek myth arrives in Crete to find and slay the half-man, half-bull Minotaur hidden in a labyrinth underground. Theodore Russell is in Crete at a much later date to unearth ancient Greek statues and temples in archaeological digs. Theodore's complicated family and love life also parallels that of Theseus.
 
Laetitia is aware of this as she searches for clues to solve the murder. She is helped by a former love interest, William Gunning, who is working with her in Crete. They uncover an ancient tomb at their work site that only creates a second mystery. Have they found the tomb of the Greek god, Zeus?
 
A very enjoyable book that deals with a murder mystery and an archaeological mystery. The plot revolves around Cretan culture, history, mythology, and religion, and also around Laetita's attempts to solve a present day murder in a very exotic locale.

 

 

Trouble by Jesse Kellerman

Publisher: Jove  ISBN-10: 0515143685

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Medical student Jonah Stem has always done the right thing- from being a loving son, brother, uncle, and friend- to getting good grades at school; his life the ideal picture of a successful and admirable young man.  So when he sees a young woman being attacked on his way home from a long shift at the hospital late one night, he doesn't hesitate to get involved, unaware that his attempt at playing hero will leave the attacker dead and himself a hero.

It all seems simple enough at first, the repercussions minor, and so when he begins a passionate affair with the young and beautiful victim, it's as if fate has handed him his reward.  But the young woman is not what she seems, and as she insinuates herself deeper and deeper into Jonah's life, everything will begin to unravel, placing not only Jonah's bright future at risk, but his very life.

For those remaining few who still had suspicions that perhaps Kellerman might be trading in on his parent's famous names, this latest will easily put aside any lingering misgivings regarding the veracity of this young author's talent.  His invigorating and fresh approach to telling a story puts him in a league all of his own, especially his talent for slowly building up tension and creating a sense of insidious doom.  And while some of the raw language and graphically detailed events can be unsettling and disturbing, it's done with a purposeful intent that only makes the impact on the reader that much more powerful.   This is one writer to watch, and we'll look forward to his next.

 

 

The Shadow Catchers by Thomas Lakeman

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312947631

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

After botching a kidnapping case, Philadelphia FBI Special Agent Mike Yeager is put on administrative leave, leaving his career and his confidence both hanging on by a mere thread.  Hoping that a road trip to Nevada to photograph the scenery of the mountains will help him forget his doubts and self-recriminations, he takes off for the small desert town of San Cristobal, a seemingly safe and ideal place to perchance escape his misery for a bit.

But all too soon, he finds himself once again caught in the crossfire when he has an altercation with a man who later winds up dead and a child goes missing, the second child to meet with danger in this small desert town in just a few short months.  Seeing a chance at redemption, he soon gets caught up in solving these mysteries, mysteries that involve secrets from the distant past and a very dangerous killer who hides behind a mask of civility.

Thomas Lakeman's debut novel reads like one from an established author who knows the ins and outs of providing a spellbinding tale.  With seemingly little effort, Lakeman provides a twisting and riveting plot, engaging characters, and just the right amount of emotional drama to evoke plenty of empathy from the reader.  By making this not just another simple shoot-'em up thriller, but instead one of a flawed hero seeking redemption, he provides that extra something that makes this book more than worth your time.  Definitely recommended, we hope to see more of Special Agent Mike Yeager from this gifted author in the future.     

 

 

Jane and the Barque of Frailty by Stephanie Barron

Publisher: Bantam Books  ISBN 978 0 553 58408 0

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

It's Regency London, a time and place full of gorgeous women, wicked men, and uncertain politics.  Jane Austen is visiting her brother and sister-in-law and undertaking the long drawn-out process of bringing her first novel, "Sense and Sensibility" to print.

In this 9th adventure of Jane Austen, solver of mysteries, Stephanie Barron again brings her deft touch, re-creating the drawing rooms and back streets of a London long vanished except in imagination.

The Barque of Frailty of the title refers to courtesans and kept women, of which Regency London had a more than adequate supply.  Two in particular, Julia Radcliffe and Princess Tcholikova, are attracting the interest of jaded London Society.  When the princess is found dead of a cut throat on the front steps of Lord Castlereagh's town house, a procession of events commences which comes perilously close to seeing Jane and her sister-in-law charged with Murder and locked up by the Bow Street runners.

The only way to clear their names and save themselves from not only a miscarriage of justice but, worse, loss of their good names, is for Jane and Eliza to discover who did kill the princess.  This requires them to endanger their reputations even more by disguising themselves and attending the Cyprians' Ball, along with the demi-monde of London.

This is a very entertaining tale of stolen jewels, betrayed love, treason, murder, gossip, slander, and a host of lesser sins.  If you like historical mysteries, you will love this one.  Highly recommended.

 

Ice Storm by Anne Stuart

Publisher: Mira  ISBN-10: 0778325008

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Isobel Lambert is the head of a covert mercenary committee which assassinates the worst of the worst world wide.  Serafin, known as The Butcher and the most dangerous man in the world, contacts the committee and wants to brought in and protected in exchange for information.  With committee operatives in far flung parts of the world, Isobel accepts the assignment for herself.  In doing her initial research, Isobel learns that Serafin is a man she formerly knew as Killian, a man she shot and left for dead seventeen years ago.  On her way back from picking him up in Morocco someone tries to kill them several times, leading them down a trail in which past and present will collide in the most dangerous of ways. 

Stuart has written a truly unforgettable novel that will keep you turning pages a fast as possible.  The suspense is mind boggling and will keep you awake at night; the plot fast -paced and very tightly woven; and the characters of the type that will stay with you a very long time. All in all, an entertaining read that thrills to the end.  

 

 

Unmanned by Lois Greiman

Publisher: Dell ISBN 978 0 440 24362 5

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Given the serious premise of this book--that someone is trying to kill psychologist Chrissy McMullen--it is the funniest thing you will read this month, if not this year.

Chrissy is pretty, intelligent, hard-working and kind.  With all that I guess it would be too much to ask that she would also be lucky.  Bad luck just rains down on her: a cute guy who follows her home from the store gets shot dead outside her garage; her ne'er-do-well brother turns up on the run from both his pregnant fiancee and The Mob; and hunky Lieutenant Rivera keeps breathing heaviliy but not moving things along to the next phase.

Add to this the fact that Chrissy's skilled secretary and childhood best friend has gone off to be in the movies, leaving Chrissy's office in the hands of the maladroit Mandy, and you have the recipe for a hilarious and scary murder mystery.

Chrissy doesn't know who is trying to kill her: given that her brother Peter John has left a trail of broken hearts and sobbing women in his wake, it may be that somebody is after him and she's just collateral damage.  This sort of thing doesn't do your business any good if you're a serious practicing psychologist, so Chrissy sets out to find who's trying to kill whom and why.  Her investigation takes her to all sorts of interesting places, such as the state prison and a mobster's penthouse.  Some of the time she has the company of a gift Glock, and some of the time her monster dog,  but she's not getting very far until the night she phones her brother and he says he loves her.

Now she knows there's something serious wrong at home, so packing the Glock in with the celery, she leaves the shopping centre and........to find out why you should never mix guns and celery, buy this book.

 

 

The Body in the Ivy by Katherine Hall Page

Publisher: Avon ISBN: 0060763663

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, Editor-New Mystery Reader

When caterer Faith Fairchild is asked by a successful mystery author to cater a reunion being held for a group of women from Pelham College on her privately owned island, Faith is at first hesitant, the idea of leaving her family for a week being her main concern.  But curiosity soon enough overcomes her doubts, as well as the hefty paycheck, and she soon finds herself arriving at the beautiful island filled with ideas for scrumptious meals. 

But once the other women arrive it becomes all too apparent that there is something much more clandestine going on, and it's all related to the mysterious death of the author's sister 40 year previously on the day of graduation.  And when one, and then another, of these women are found murdered, Faith will once again be forced to play detective, because there's a killer on the island, and the only way the remaining women will make it off the island alive is for all the ghastly sins of their past to at last be revealed.   

Evocative of Agatha Christie's, And Then There Were None, this latest in the Fairchild series provides plenty of suspense in a very entertaining who-done-it that fans will surely enjoy.  Page has done well in fleshing out these individual characters, as they were then and as they are now, with her detailing of a more innocent time being especially fascinating.  With hardly a bad word and a minimum of blood, Fairchild succeeds in making this more of a guessing game mystery than one of darkness and violence, which fans should also enjoy.  A recommended read for those who enjoy a softer mystery, this one easily pleases.