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Up In Smoke by Charlene Weir

 Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 031231020X

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Jack Garrett, governor and presidential hopeful, has returned to his hometown of Hamstead, Kansas to work on his campaign.  Two other woman with ties to Jackís past have arrived as well, both ravaged by the loss of loved ones, and with death on their minds.  One woman, Jackís old girlfriend, only wants to end her own life, but the other woman has much more in mind, she wants to end Jackís life.  And when close friends of the governorís, and people from his past, start turning up dead, itís up to Chief Susan Wren to untangle the clues.  Because Jack has his secrets, has made many mistakes, and now they have come back to haunt him with a vengeance. 

Highly engrossing, and almost unbearably suspenseful, this latest from Weir is top-notch in every way.  The cast of characters are all fully realized and passionately portrayed, with nary a one lacking in substance or form.  With a plot that races from page to page, this enthralling mystery packs quite the wallop.  But itís much more than just a mystery, itís also a reminder that sins of the past may not always be forgiven nor forgotten, but if youíre lucky enough, you might just find some redemption when all is said and done.            

                                                     -Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla


Last Boat To Camden Town by Paul Charles 

 Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur  0-312-31872-3

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When Dr. Berry is found drowned at the bottom of a canal in London, no one is sure if it was suicide or murder, as Dr. Berry had recently been caught up in a bad case at the hospital in which a healthy and  young 28 year-old woman suddenly died while under his care.  DI Kennedy is called into the case, and his gut tells him it was murder, feeling strongly that it must somehow be tied to the young womanís death.  So this lover of tea, fan of the Beatles, and smitten gentlemen of his beguiling lady friend, ann rea, must use all of his civilized charm to get to the truth.    

While DI Kennedy is a wonderfully charming and appealing character, some of the writing itself is a bit inconsistent, mostly the shifts from past to present tense narrative.  However, the mystery plot is also lightly entertaining and sometimes even amusing, making the distraction negligible.  But itís definitely Kennedy who wins the role of star, especially in his role as a middle-aged man falling in love for possibly the first time ever.  All in all, definitely a series that shows much promise.