November Paperbacks 2006


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Hallowed Ground by Lori G. Armstrong

Publisher: Medallion Press ISBN: 1932815740

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Rapid City P.I. Julie Collins is still rather new at the business when she's hired by bad boy motorcycle leader Tony Martinez to help find his friend's five year old missing niece, and with her partner sitting bedside service with his dying girlfriend, she's also going at this one solo.  But things get even more complicated when the father of the young girl is shot down in front of Julie and her own life is threatened by forces unknown. 

Unsure if the ensuing violent events are related to the missing girl, to the controversy over a new casino involving mobsters, Native Americans, ranchers, and developers, or to the motorcycle gang's own activities, Julie soon finds her life in mortal danger while searching for the ambiguous truth.  And it's not just Julie's life that's in danger, but her heart as well, because the man she's working for is coming dangerously close to penetrating the protective walls she has had in place for far too long.

If you're looking for one of those heroines who refrains from any and all vices and who shrieks at the sound of gunfire, you may want to pass on this one.  But if you prefer your heroine to be a little on the dark side, especially one who likes to smoke, drink, engage in the occasional sexcapade, and knows how to kick some ass with little fear, this highly engaging and fearless PI fits the bill.  Armstrong has created in Julie one of the more captivating and emotionally charged female characters to come along in awhile, with her simmering attraction to the wild and disreputable Martinez being especially of note.   There's plenty of suspense here, as well, to challenge and interest, with the whole package being one glorious adventure, leaving us eagerly anticipating what's next for this uniquely drawn crew of misfits and miscreants.     


The Cleanup by Sean Doolittle

Publisher:  Bantam Dell  ISBN:  0-440-24282-7

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader 

Separated from his wife and on disciplinary leave from the Omaha police department, Matthew Worth is reduced to working security at a grocery store.  Haunted by the murder of an abused young woman early in his career, his attraction to a young check-out girl turns into a fierce sense of obligation as he suspects she is also a victim of domestic abuse.

When she comes to him for help one October night, Matthew realizes the chances heís willing to take in order to protect her.  Skilled though Matthew may be at covering up a crime, he is no match for his ruthless opponents.

Set against the backdrop of a pre-Halloween snowstorm, The Cleanup is an insinuating story, just as Matthew is an ingratiating hero who makes the reader wince with every unwise decision he makes.  He and his brother, sons of a police officer who have operated on both sides of the law, will restore your faith in sibling relationships and human decency.


The Wheelman by Duane Swierczynski

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312343787

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Patrick Lennon is the get away driver for a couple of bank robbers.  They stash the money in a long term parking lot, steal a van and head out of town.  Then they are broadsided by the son of the head of the Russian Mafia.  When Lennon regains consciousness he is about to be shoved into a pipe at a construction site, and from that point on his life becomes an absolutely unbelievable hell.

This is without a doubt the best thriller I have read.  It involves bad cops, the Russian and Italian Mafia, and many other nefarious types, as well as some kinda good guys just for kicks. There are double crosses and double- double crosses adding thrill after thrill.  Skipping even a paragraph of this book means you're missing a lot as every sentence is filled with excitement- another highly recommended read.



No Such Thing As a Good Blind Date by  Shelly Fredman

Publisher: Authorhouse ISBN: 1425953514

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Brandy Alexander is back, and once again she's mixed up in a veritable cocktail of problems.

Being an unemployed puff-piece TV reporter is bad enough, but when you've got a run-down house with defective plumbing to support, you can't afford to be out of work for very long.  Brandy applies for job after job without luck, and in desperation, takes in a lodger.  Toodie is an old friend, "a man with the IQ of a basset hound" and has recently returned from a long holiday at the State of Pennsylvania's expense.

Luckily--or maybe not--Brandy has the support of her old friends Carla and Janine.  Before long, they bully her into inviting a blind date for dinner.  OK, so he's a bit older than Brandy.  Make that a lot older.  But he's in the news business, and maybe a job offer will come of this. 

Things get off to a bad start when the cat gets into the lasagne, and while in search of some steaks in the freezer, Branch and her guest find a bunch of disassociated body parts.  It doesn't look good for Toodie, who brought the freezer home and then disappeared.

Life becomes more complicated when Brandy's former boyfriend's psychotic wife starts stalking her, and the devilishly attractive--and maybe crooked--Nick Santiago turns up again.  Then things go really bad: first a burglar and then a mugger turn up, then it looks as if someone's out to kill Brandy.   Her only really reliable ally is a stray dog, but even he has some 'unresolved issues', largely to do with his unusual eating habits.

Buy yourself an early Christmas present; you'll enjoy it.  And for the price of two cocktails, it's a lot better for you.


Turning Angel by Greg Iles

Publisher: Pocket ISBN: 0743454162

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Iles brings back Penn Cage, a southern lawyer who saved the day in an earlier novel and who, with this return, may just save yet another man from improper prosecution.  This time Penn finds himself reluctantly involved when his old high school best friend is accused of murdering his mistress Kate Townsend, a high school senior and a girl that Dr. Drew Elliott claims he loved and hoped to run away with.  But the secrets in the dying town of Natchez, Mississippi go much deeper than a simple affair between an older married man and a much younger woman.  And with the revelations involving drugs, the sexual escapades of these highly evolved high school kids, and some very immoral and frightening people, Penn is about to place his own life in danger once again as he struggles to find the truth in this town that is being ripped apart by racial tension, lies, and some very dangerous secrets.

At almost 500 pages, there's something for everyone in this epic tale of a small southern town nearing the brink of extinction.  This is not a world easily entered for Yankees such as myself, not being used to the strong emphasis that is placed on the race of every single character, peripheral and main alike.  But that uneasiness aside, this is a tale of warning written for the modern age, one that is filled with unabated suspense, and some very disturbing truths surrounding the issues the youth of today face, and the racial tensions that still form the foundation of the South.  Superb characterization, intense drama, and out and out heart-wrenching thrills add to this excellent novel of amazing reach.  Highly recommended, this amazing author once again delivers a novel that is sure to please even the most cynical reader.     



Cold as Ice by Anne Stuart

Publisher:  MIRA ISBN:  10 0778323560

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

If you like adventure, danger, romance, mystery and intrigue, then Cold as Ice by talented author Anne Stuart is a book you won't want to miss.

Attorney Genevieve Spencer has been sent to deliver some papers to the very wealthy, and very attractive Harry Van Dorn aboard his yacht.  She doesn't know that she is also delivering herself into his hands as a plaything nor that Harry plays rough.

From the beginning, she senses that Harry's assistant, Peter Jensen, disapproves of her being aboard the yacht.  And it is far too late when she learns why.

Forced to take an unwanted trip on the yacht, Genevieve finds her death may be at the end of the voyage. She doesn't understand what is happening or why and finds her defenseless against a professional killer and his crew

Lots of action as the several subplots are brought together to produce a complicated and exciting tale as the battle for power between two groups is waged.  Genevieve is told she would be collateral damage in a war she wants no part of and isn't permitted to choose sides.

I recommend this tale to anyone who loves a well told tale with a great cast of characters and the lush settings of wealth that serve as a backdrop for a life and death struggle.

Enjoy.  I sure did.



Angels in the Gloom by Anne Perry

Publisher: Ballantine  ISBN: 0345456572

Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

The Peacemakerís demented vision is to create an Anglo-Germanic Empire regardless of the costs in lives.  He is engaged in manipulating the outcome of WWI and is directly responsible for the murders of several people including John and Alys Reavley; but no one knows the true identity of the Peacemaker.  Captain Joseph Reavley, a Protestant chaplain, is sent home from the front, after sustaining near-life threatening wounds in battle.  Joseph and his brother Matthew know that their parents were not killed in an accident but rather were murdered by the Peacemaker because their father was trying to thwart his diabolical plans.  They make a commitment to finish their fatherís work by finding the Peacemaker and putting an end to his obsession.  Joseph has no idea that his time at home for recuperation will put him in the midst of a murder mystery and will provide him clues that will lead him directly to the Peacemaker.

Anne Perry has created a magnificent WWI epic thriller in Angels in the Gloom, which is the third book in the Reavley family saga.  Her descriptions of the WWI battlefront and the impacts of war on the townspeople of Cambridgeshire are vivid and full of emotion.  The story line starts with the internal struggles Joseph Reavley is experiencing after sustaining severe injuries during the war, while trying to rescue a fellow soldier.  The author then adds a murder mystery and political intrigue to the mix with Joseph as the amateur sleuth.  Although the pace of life during the WWI era is dramatically slower than today, the plot moves along quickly enough to keep the reader from getting bored.  Angels in the Gloom is a truly well written and enjoyable historical thriller.



Contact Zero by David Wolstencroft

Publisher:  Onyx  ISBN:0-451412257

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader 

Ben Sinclair, a recent graduate of Greco's spy school, is even more surprised than the airport security personnel when they find heroin in his luggage.  On the lam, he discovers that his back-up network has deserted him.  The S. O. S. he sends out is answered by Lucy, his erstwhile lover from spy school, who also has recently escaped an attempt on her life.

The two meet and discover that several of their classmates died under mysterious circumstances within a few days.  They decide their only option is to try to find Contact Zero, the reputed last resort for spies.  The only problem is they're uncertain whether Contact Zero is myth or reality.

As Ben, Lucy, and a few others travel around the world in their quest for salvation, they make important discoveries about themselves, intelligence networks, and the program they entrusted with their lives.  Most important, Ben learns that not only is the past never forgotten, but that it can come back to haunt you.

Fast-paced and engrossing, Contact Zero, will keep the reader wondering who's double-crossing whom.  Readers will enjoy racing with Ben and Lucy to the satisfying ending.  And as is so often the case, the answer can be found in archives.