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Now You See Him by Stella Cameron

Publisher: Mira ISBN: 077832219X

Now You See Him by Stella Cameron: Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Two years ago Ella Byron witnessed a murder on the streets of New Orleans during mardi gras.  She was never sure that Charles Penn, who was convicted of the murder, was guilty. In her small town book shop Ellir hears that Penn has escaped from custody, and that another woman has been murdered in the same manner as the woman in New Orleans.  When Ellie is attacked at a local bar, she turns to her friend Joe Gable for help.

Cameron has written a very intriguing novel with a logical plot.  However, the main characters' thinking goes in the wrong direction, producing a lot of twists and turns which culminate in a very surprising ending.  The characters are upstanding citizens with ordinary occupations who get involved in the plot because they care for Ellie.

This is a book with enough suspense to keep one on the edge, enough action to keep the reader's full attention, and enough romance to warm the heart.

 

Seeds of Doubt by Stephanie Kane

Publisher: Pocket ISBN: 0743466829

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Denver's Defense Attorney Jackie Flowers has a penchant for defending the underdog, and her new case is no exception.  She's hired by Chris Boyd to defend his sister, Rachel, implicated in the death of young Benjamin Sparks who went missing under her watch, and whose body was later found murdered in a snowy field eerily bearing the marks of a case thirty years previously.  A case in which another young child was found in the small town of Vivian, and in which Rachel was tried and convicted when she was only twelve.  So after serving 30 years for that crime, she's now back in the hot seat, and about to serve 30 more unless Jackie can uncover the truth that connects these two cases.   

Jackie's tireless defense includes having the accused stay with her at her own home, but when strange events start occurring, events that trigger the lawyer's terrifying affects of dyslexia, Jackie's confusion and belief in her client's innocence begins to suffer.  But of course, nothing is ever as it seems, and the truth will come out, but along with it will be a danger to Jackie and those she cares for.

This is easily one of the better legal thriller series out there today.  Jackie, highly engaging, is so wonderfully human that it's difficult not to root for her.  And the brisk and perfect plotting of this latest, with its surprising twists and turns, offers an additional reason to read this suspenseful and intelligently drawn tale.  Definitely recommended, this is one author who just keeps getting better.

 

London Bridges by James Patterson

Publishers:  Warner Vision ISBN: 0446613355

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader 

The tenth Alex Cross Adventure by James Patterson packs a punch, an incredible punch, and makes superb reading. London Bridges sure is gonna enthrall, engross and engage the James Patterson fan for a solid four hours.

Two of the most deadly criminals Cross had encountered in his career- The Weasel (of Pop Goes the Weasel fame) and The Wolf, (of The Big Bad Wolf fame) join hands in this deadly new thriller London Bridges.

The work starts like a Hollywood thriller. Colonel Geoffrey Shafer, better known as The Weasel is taking it easy in Brazil. A penchant for killing of nubile young girls, Weasel has found paradise in Brazil- where no one cares about the missing of one prostitute or another. While about to enjoy one such hunt- Weasel is caught by three unknown persons and tortured. The head torturer finally releases him on condition that he helps him in a most devastating plan. The Weasel agrees and then the torturer reveals his identity. He is the Wolf and both have a common nemesis- Alex Cross. Wolf, a Russian terrorist, has a deadly plan to bombard each and every city of America- and he in fact shows his power by bombing a small town in Nevada. Alex Cross is called into investigation and an image of Weasel in a film he sees of the Nevada blasts convince Cross that Wolf has joined hands with Weasel. Alex is caught in a conundrum of what to do- or rather what not to do- but he sure of one thing, there sure’s gonna be trouble- double trouble. What follows is exciting Patterson psychological action fare, culminating in an exciting and breathtaking finish.

Highly recommended. The best Cross work I have read since Kiss the Girls.

Incredible, incredibly incredible.

 

Hear No Evil by James Grippando

Publisher: HarperTorch ISBN: 0060565675

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan

I was a late bloomer to James Grippando’s Jack Swyteck thrillers. But after reading Beyond Suspicion, I made it a point to seek out and read all other novels including The Pardon and the more recent Last to Die.

This time round, Swyteck has a topnotch case in his hands- having said that all his previous cases were also explosive and topnotch. The novels starts in true Hollywood style, with a beautiful woman coming to Jack and asking him to represent her on charges of murdering her husband, a high profile military officer. Having had no experience in military law-Swyteck turns here down. However the lady says that she is the adoptive mother of Swyteck’s biological child- and playing on this card the client lures Swyteck into representing her. What follows is pure mayhem, with twists, double-twists and triple twists- in the background of martial law- Hear No Evil culminates in an exciting and sensational finish.

The author combines the action elements of Brian Haig Militia-legal thrillers and the intrigue and suspense of that of D.W. Buffa thrillers in right proportion in Hear No Evil. Superb and intriguing, Hear No Evil is a great read and an even greater buy.

Loved it.

 

 

Falling Awake by Jayne Ann Krentz

Publisher: Jove ISBN: 0515139599

Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

Falling Awake by Jayne Ann Krentz is a sensational romantic suspense novel about extreme/lucid dreaming.  Extreme/lucid dreamers are people who can control the focus of their dreams in order to solve problems or answer questions that cannot be accomplished while awake.

Isabel Wright was in a dead-end job as a phone operator with a psychic hotline when Dr. Martin Belvedere hired her to work for the Belvedere Center for Sleep Research as a dream analyst.  Isabel is not only a gifted dream analyst but she is a powerful extreme dreamer as well. At the Center, Isabel is assigned only two clients whose backgrounds are completely unknown to her.  She knows them as only Client # 1 and Client # 2 and only receives the transcripts of their extreme dreams for analysis.  Client #2 captures not only Isabel’s interest but her heart as well as a result of the analysis of his dream transcripts.  She fantasizes about Client #2 and thinks of him as her “Dream Man.” She becomes concerned about Client #2 because his recent extreme dream transcripts include quite a bit of violence.  Isabel includes in her reports not only the analysis of the dream but some helpful suggestions for improving his quality of life.  Unfortunately, things start to go poorly for Isabel, she finds Dr. Martin Belvedere dead in his office, and his son takes over the center.  He fires Isabel as his first act as Director of the center.

Isabel’s “Dream Man” and Client #2 is Ellis Cutler who is a consultant operative for the Frey-Salter firm which is a front for a highly covert government agency.  Like Isabel, Ellis has been fantasizing about his dream analyst and she has become “Tango Dancer” in his mind.   The Director of Frey-Salter, Jack Lawson, hires Ellis to bring Isabel into their operation because her talents as a dream analyst and as an extreme dreamer are invaluable. Ellis has dreamed about meeting Isabel and he gets the chance with this assignment.  Lawson assigns Ellis to this task because he is concerned that Ellis is overly focused on his previous operation that went badly and is affecting his abilities as an extreme dreamer.  Ellis believes that the agent who supposedly died in the operation is not dead but has gone “rogue.”  Ellis’ search for the “rogue” agent and his task to bring Isabel into the firm quickly intertwine adding to the suspense in the book. 

Falling Awake is one of the best books that I have read this year and I most highly recommend it to readers who enjoy the romantic suspense genre.  It is a fabulous romantic suspense that will keep the reader fascinated from beginning to end.  The topic of extreme/lucid dreaming is very interesting and is elegantly woven into the other plot threads in the novel.  The characters are well-developed, sexy, and somewhat eccentric but they will grab you. Jayne Ann Krentz is a prolific writer whose works can be also found under the following pseudonyms:  Jayne Bentley, Amanda Glass, Jayne Taylor, Amanda Quick, Jayne Castle and Stephanie James.  So if you enjoyed this book, check out her others as well.   

 

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS  Susan Sloan

Publisher: Warner Books ISBN 0 446616303

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader 

Susan Sloan's latest book doesn't fit neatly into the genre 'murder mystery'.  By the time you're half way through it, there's no mystery as to why Jack Marsh is dead--in fact, you wonder how he lived as long as he did.  And you'll find yourself in two minds as to whether the act of killing him was murder. 

Valerie, the sheltered Catholic girl, meets and weds Jack in just a few months, against the gut feeling of her father.  Engagement six weeks after the first date and marriage after a three-month engagement was once quite the usual pattern, something which would no doubt horrify today's "live together to see if it will work" couples.   

Valerie and Jack's marriage isn't the one made in heaven, but somehow they muddle along, largely because Val never protests about Jack's insensitive and thoughtless behaviour.  Children are born, one dies, the years pass.  Valerie spends time in a hospital for treatment of severe depression.  Jack bounces from stewardess to barmaid to casual pickup; Valerie suspects, but is happy for him to take his clumsy lovemaking elsewhere.   

To give Jack his due, his own life hasn't prepared him for a 'normal' marriage any more than Val's sheltered upbringing did for her.  Jack's mother died when he was a baby, leaving him with a life-long fear of childbirth.  No-one every showed him any sort of tenderness, which he might be able to share with another.  He was 'dragged up' rather than properly raised, and most of life's lessons he learned from older men in the Army. 

Jack begins taking out his frustration with life on Valerie and beatings become part of her life.  Their children leave home as early as they can, one to a convent, one to the armed services, one to the streets and an early death, and one to a life of petty crime.  There's a brief respite for Valerie when Jack agrees to get counselling, but when his doctor dies, Jack goes off the rails permanently.

Things might have gone on like this, as they do for many real-life couples, until one or the other died of old age, or until Jack hit Val just one time too many--but then grandson Justin comes to stay.  The boy fills a deep hunger in Va, and she defies Jack's wishes and provides a home for him.  The boy has nearly as hard a time as Valerie with Jack's bad temper, but one day it all comes to a head and Jack is lying on the floor, dead.

Murder?  Self-defense?  Manslaughter?  Or a strange variant of 'suicide by cop'?  You decide, then see if you agree with the jury's verdict.  Then see if you still agree after you read the final chapter.

This is a pretty grim book; there's almost no light relief.  If you or a friend or relative is in an abusive relationship, this will read more like a documentary.  It's topical and well-written and there are some interesting twists and turns in what is a depressingly common story from any newspaper in the country any day in the week.

 

When Secrets Die by Lynn Hightower

Publisher: Pocket  ISBN: 0743463919

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Kentucky PI Lena Padget returns in another spectacular outing from Hightower featuring this compassionate and immensely engaging heroine.  This time out, Lena is hired by Emma Marsden, a woman who is about to be charged with killing her young son though a slow poisoning.  Authorities, believing she is afflicted with Munchausen by Proxy, an affliction in which a parent poisons their child for attention, refuse to believe her side of the story, which is that she is being accused because she dared to question the doctor's ethics regarding her dead child's remains.  But Lena has no such concerns of her new client, believing without pause in her innocence.  And in an investigation that will take her down roads never traveled before, she will learn some ugly truths about the medical profession and just how easy it is to convict someone before guilt has been established.

This remarkable novel once again proves Hightower's adeptness at writing a story that touches just as deeply as it electrifies.  Her musings on grief alone are worth the cover price, covering both sides of the coin; those suffering from grief and those observing the sufferer.  Her eloquence and insight are filled with such grace and certainty, that those on either side will recognize the truth of which she writes, sometimes with an uncomfortable awareness. And the plot itself will certainly raise some eyebrows as well, bringing up some important concerns regarding the remains of loved ones after their death.  A well-rounded novel, filled with intensity and wonderfully drawn characters, this latest is easily one of Hightower's best.  And considering that this is one author that never fails to satisfy, that's saying a lot.  

 

Scared Money by James Hime

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 031299902X

Reviewed by Don Crouch, New Mystery Reader

It doesn't take long.

Within the first few chapters of this, the second pairing of retired Texas Ranger Jeremiah Spur and Washington County Sheriff Clyde Thomas, the reader will know that they are in for a special ride.

The first indicator is the multiple narrative viewpoints, and the distinct voices that accompany them. None of them first person, but written in such a precise manner that you'd think three different people were responsible.

Hime fires up this terrific book with the murder of a drug dealer on a dark night in an empty lot. Unremarkable on its face, but well-staged by the author and heavy with tragedy.

Then, we find Clyde Thomas in the midst of a pleasant evening of basketball and bathing with his girl, who also happens to be a DA in the same county.

We soon shift to Jeremiah Spur, retired Texas Ranger, Cattle Rancher, Reformed Smoker, sitting in a grandstand enjoying that most Texan of pursuits, high school football on a Friday night in Brenham.

This folds into a historical narrative, that of a young boy witnessing history and revolution in his post-war Hungarian homeland.

And off we go!

As Clyde gets rolling on the drug dealer murder, Spur is approached by a shadowy government type, to perform a special mission for a man known only as The Wolf. He is whisked away to  Dallas where he is presented with the parameters of his task, almost none of which are satisfactory, but he takes the job anyway, mostly out of boredom while he waits for his beloved wife to return from alcohol rehab in Maine.

Hime takes these two threads, along with the story of the young Hungarian boy, Jonathan Farkas, and weaves all three into a fascinating web of violence, betrayal, and family dysfunction. We wondered if he wrote each narrative separately, then edited them together, or if he knew from the get-go how he would sequence them. But we're obsessive about that stuff, mostly so you as a reader don't have to be!

Along the way, you'll meet Leslie Whitten, who runs the company that hires Spur. She is a most intriguing character, both appealing and appalling, for many reasons. Hime mixes in assorted situations and characters to roll things along, but keeps the focus on the three main characters. It's to his credit that you'll feel mixed emotions about at least two of the three, because of course, there is no black and white in the real world, only shades of grey.

The only minor quibble we have is that as he brings events to a boil, Hime is forced to spin his narratives down to a single thread. It's necessary, of course, because he has a slam-bang ending to tell us, but we were a bit wistful as we said goodbye to the amazing trio of story lines as they became one.

But the bottom line is that SCARED MONEY is that most refreshing of novels, full of action, humor, character and theme. It makes your heart race and your brain cogitate. After all, as our new hero, Jeremiah Spur would say, "a thing can only be what it is." And this book, friends, is the real deal.

 

 

Indelible by Karin Slaughter

Publisher: HarperTorch ISBN: 0060567112

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Slaughter returns in what may be the best in her series featuring Grant County couple Doctor Sara Lipton and Chief Jeffery Tolliver.  In this breathtaking thriller we find Jeffrey and Sara in the midst of a hostage situation at the police station where many have been killed and Jeffrey himself is nearing death from a near-fatal gunshot wound.  And in a story that began long ago, we’re shown through flashbacks how the past and its secrets, including murder, have led to this nightmare drama of today.

Slaughter, easily one of the best suspense writers of this decade, skillfully brings her series to yet another level of completeness in this seamless blending of past and present.  The characters that she’s already flawlessly created are made even more fully realized as seen through the events of their pasts, making them that much more authentically human than ever before.  And to say that there’s suspense is a huge understatement, there’s that and there’s so much more; there’s thrills and secrets, redemption and hope, love and hate, and thankfully room for even more drama in the future.  Luckily, Slaughter is at work in yet another featuring this terrific cast and crew, and we can hardly wait.  

 

 

Whirlwind by  Joseph R. Garber

Publisher: HarperTorch ISBN: 006059652X

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

The female lead in Joseph Garber's latest book makes Sydney on "Alias" look like a kindergarten teacher.  If you like tough, tenacious, brilliant and violent anti-heroines, look no further than Irina Kolodenkova.  

Balancing Irina is the man who's hunting her, Charlie MacKenzie: middle-aged, bitter, experienced, and  brilliant in a different way.

Playing a dark sort of matchmaker is Sam, the National Security Adviser, a devious man who'd lie to St. Peter for no better reason than habit.

Charlie has no love for Sam, or for most of the denizens of Washington's political swamp, but he is a true patriot, even after he was cut adrift and imprisoned for his previous government service.  Sam has now come to beg for Charlie's peculiar expertise in tracking down Irina, who's in possession of a secret so dangerous that the balance of power in the world could be altered if it gets into the hands of The Other Side.  Just which side this is isn't always easy to tell: mostly it's anyone who isn't us.

After shaking down Sam for a satisfying $20 million, Charlie sets out after Irina.   It doesn't take long for him to find out that when dealing with the shadowy government-behind-the-government, nothing is what it seems.  Charlie becomes convinced that Irina isn't a simple enemy agent, but has been caught up in a conspiracy that may go almost to the Oval Office--or further? 

Complicating matters is Charlie's suspicion that Sam would prefer him to be leaking blood rather than information.  Sure enough, a stone killer is on the trail of both Charlie and Irina, hoping one will lead to the other.  Charlie hasn't been spending his enforced retirement just cultivating roses, however; and has a few tricks up his hard-drive that may tip the balance, but will they work in time?

There's enough action and plot complexity here to satisfy the most demanding thriller fan, and while some of the characters verge on stereotype, Charlie McKenzie will resonate with anyone who ever wanted to hit back at the juggernaut of faceless officialdom.   Definitely worth the price of admission.