Paperback Mystery for January
 

 

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The Only Pure Thing:  A Stuart Clay Mystery  by Patrick Hyde

Publisher:  The Beckham Publications Group  ISBN:  0-931761-61-1

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader

Appointed to defend Cleveland Barnes, a homeless man accused of the grisly murder of Benny Batiste in Georgetown, D. C. attorney Stuart Clay is derisive of the principal evidence against his client.  Cleveland was wearing Batiste’s bloodied loafers.  Adopting the catchphrase “Bloodied Ballys don’t prove murder,” Stuart prepares to defend his client. 

Cleveland is a schizophrenic “New Columbian” who resides under the Key Bridge and claims to have known Stuart from 1835.  His sister, a voodoo princess, immediately puts a curse on opposing counsel, but Stuart is more taken aback by the lack of cooperation shown by his good friend and detective Rhondo Touhey.

It is soon revealed that Batiste had ties to organized crime in New York and Stuart focuses his investigation on the call girl who was with Batiste when he was decapitated and the prostitute Cleveland claims to have been speaking with just before he stole the dead man’s loafers.  Assisting Stuart is his investigator and soon-to-be lover Cyndi Oh.  His opposing counsel is his ex-fiancee Lisa and he is unwillingly also assisted by Percy Diehl, a drugged-out junior attorney with family money.  The investigation soon turns deadly.

Stuart Clay is the Timex watch of attorneys; he takes a licking and keeps on ticking.  The only rest he gets in the entire book is when he is drugged, beaten, and left for dead in a cemetery.  But just give him a shower and a clean shirt and he’s ready for a court appearance.  Author Patrick Hyde keeps a few surprises up his own sleeve, and creates a page-turner that will surprise the most jaded mystery reader.

 

The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook

Publisher:  Penquin  ISBN:  0143038575

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

If you enjoy mystery and history of the old west and/or railroading, this is a tale you will definitely enjoy.  A book you will want to keep and read again.

Talented author Elizabeth Crook has woven several stories of lifelike characters into a single tale that will hold your attention, beginning to end and you'll feel as if you've been reading about actual historical characters. 

Meg Mabry isn't close to the grandmother who raised her, but does keep an eye on her now that she is elderly and a very difficult person for others to deal with.  Her grandmother is famous in her own right, but also as the person who edited her own mother's journals into a series that is considered essential reading by many schools in the area.

When her grandmother learns a building will be erected on the old family homestead, she demands to be given to bones of dogs her mother buried there. She insists Meg accompany her to the site, creating difficulties all around.

The people in charge agree to give her the bones and begin to dig for them.  But problems arise when something more is found with unforeseen consequences, bringing what Meg thought she knew about her family into doubt.

The story is so finely written, you'll feel as if you've read about people who really lived, people whose ordinary histories affect the present.  Romance, railroading, the life of a Harvey Girl, daily hopes and worries all blended to create a great story.

I am pleased to recommend this book very highly.  Enjoy.

 

 

 

Sight Unseen by Robert Goddard

Publisher: Bantam Dell  ISBN: 9780440242802

Reviewed by Jake Chism, New Mystery Reader

Goddard has woven a duplicitous tale of intrigue and suspense in his
latest installment. In July, 1981, history student David Umber witnesses
a kidnapping gone wrong in the quaint, English village of Avebury. When
the crime is solved in all too convenient manner, David suspects that
the real culprits were never found. Twenty years later, David is visited
by George Sharp, the inspector originally assigned to the Avebury
kidnapping case. Sharp has stumbled across some information that has
convinced him the case is far from solved. Umber hesitantly joins Sharp
on a mission to finally discover what really happened on that fateful
day in 1981. The closer they get to the truth, the more they begin to
understand how dangerous the truth is.

Robert Goddard writes in a flowing style that is very informative and
highly entertaining. The countless plot twists and turns that are
masterfully placed and well executed. Goddard weaves historical accounts
throughout the story that give it the right dose of relevancy and
authenticity. This is a must read for any mystery lover.

 

 

No Dominion by Charlie Huston

Publisher: Ballantine Books ISBN: 9780345478252

Reviewed by Jake Chism, New Mystery Reader

Charlie Huston continues his edgy and dark vampire series in this latest
novel. Joe Pitt is a vigilante vampire for hire, who once again finds
himself in over his head when a local Vampyre Clan hires him to do some
investigative work. Someone has been dealing some tainted blood out on
the streets and Joe must get to the bottom of the source of this lethal,
new drug. Joe's search carries him across Clan boundaries and
unfortunately he has enemies that want him dead on both sides. Before
long Joe Pitt finds himself in the middle of a Vampyre conspiracy that
threatens not only his life, but the secrecy of the Vampyre existence.

Huston somehow takes the familiar setting of New York City and
transforms it into a new and secretive world that is raw and fresh.
Everything about this story is gritty and dark, and Huston effortlessly
conveys the darkness and despair of the world Joe Pitt lives in. This
novel is not for the faint of heart. Indeed, several scenes overloaded
with violence and gore will have some readers squirming in their chairs.
However, this is a highly entertaining read that will no doubt keep
readers flying through the pages. Fans of the vampire genre and pulp
noir won't be able to get enough of Charlie Huston's latest.



 

 

Dead Giveaway by Brenda Novak

Publisher: Mira  ISBN-10: 0778324796

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

The Reverend Lee Baker has been missing from Stillwater, Mississippi for nineteen years, and the locals have always believed it was his stepson, Clay Montgomery, who murdered him.  But with no body and no witness there was never an arrest, just suspicions and rumors, both of which continue to haunt Clay years after the tragedy. 

After her divorce, cold case detective Allie McCormick moves back to her hometown of Stillwater and goes to work for the local police, hoping to get her life back on track.  And it's she who gets the call from a woman claiming that Clay Montgomery has just tried to kill her.  But after meeting Clay, her instincts tell her that the situation is a set up, and so when his enemies insist on putting him on trial, it'll be up to Allie to prove his innocence.

Novak has written an electrifying tale of suspense that grabs the reader on the very first page and doesn't let loose until the very end.  Old relationships are torn apart and new relationships are formed, and with so many twists and turns, readers will be more than happy to give the attention necessary to keep up.  Filled with action, family loyalties and disloyalties, adulterous relations, and true romance, this one's a winner. 

 

 

Capitol Murder by William Bernhardt

Publisher: Ballantine Books ISBN: 0345451503

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

In this intelligent and provocative outing, Oklahoma defense attorney Ben Kincaid and his partner Christine head for the nation's capital when an old friend of Ben's, Senator Todd Glancy, is first accused of having a mistress, soon to be followed by the accusation of her brutal murder.  When her ravished is body found in the Senator's hideaway shortly after the release of a titillating video of the two engaging in sex, it's obvious as to why he's the number one suspect in her vicious slaying.  But as Ben fights for his friend's freedom in court, his investigator will find out some very chilling secrets regarding the victim, such as her addiction to drugs and a vampire cult, along with her connection to a murdered young woman and the disappearance of another, sending the entire trial into a tailspin in it's final hours.  And as Ben attempts to sort out fact from fiction, he'll have to play the game of big time politics, for a man as powerful as the Senator has many enemies, people of influence who would like nothing more than to see the Senator out of commission.

Fans of the legal thriller will love the dramatic court scenes played out in Bernhardt's latest, while fans of political head games will find much to chomp on with his revealing of some of the more disreputable acts occurring behind the scenes in our nation's capital.  And for those who like a touch of romance, there's the ongoing saga between Ben and Christine that may finally see some resolution.  If it's pure suspense that's your bag, there's the creative investigation into vampire cults and some of their unsavory acts, blended with just the right amount of humor and chills to make it highly intoxicating (double kudos to the Buffy allusions occasionally invoked).  Needless to say, this one has it all, another strong and daring outing from a brilliant author who knows his law, his politics, and how to tell one heck of an exciting story. 

 

The Finishing School by Michele Martinez

Publisher: Harper  ISBN-10: 0060724013

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

NYC Prosecutor Melanie Vargas returns in the second outing of this exciting and invigorating new series from Martinez, this one featuring the intrepid and fearless lawyer battling drug dealers, the wealthy and powerful and, of course, her own personal struggles with being a single mom, having a boss from hell, and falling in love. 

It all begins when two wealthy teenage girls are found dead by what looks like an apparent overdose, with a third girl missing and presumed to be the one responsible for the deaths.  But the further Melanie, along with her love/hate interest FBI agent Dan O'Reilly, look into the case, the more complicated it becomes, with a plethora of suspects who have more than just drug dealing on their minds.  Their search will take them to an elite private school where both students and faculty have much to hide and plenty of secrets that just might kill.  And so as the two battle their feelings for each other, along with some very devious criminals, it will take all they have to uncover the truth that so many are trying to hide.

The strength of this story lies in Melanie herself, independent and so completely human, that rooting for her success in conquering love and crime comes easy.  Add to that some breathless suspense, a story with plenty of twists and turns, and you have one hell of a fine read to keep you going through a cold winter's night.      

 

 

Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline

Publisher: Harper;  ISBN: 0060742917

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Newly appointed federal judge Cate Fante seems to have it all, she's young and beautiful, has gobs of money in the bank. and now one of the most prestigious jobs in the country.  But despite all the wealth and esteem, she still can't but help feeling like a fish out of water, like a poseur, believing that none of this is deserved.  And perhaps that's why she has a nasty little habit, one in which she picks up strange men in dumpy bars for nights of uninhibited sex with only the lowliest of men. 

But all is going to come to a head when one of her first cases on the bench results in a murder/suicide, bringing her secrets to life,  her career to an end, and maybe her very own life from a man bent on revenge.  And so with nothing to lose she must face her enemies once and for all, including herself, if she's to restore all she once held as dear.

This fast-paced and invigorating read should leave Scottoline's fans applauding and clamoring for more.  She manages to make a woman we should by all rights envy to the point of dislike, empathetic and just flawed enough to make her engagingly human. And while the story itself sometimes seems to arbitrarily change direction and intent, it hits its ultimate target close enough to satisfy and make it all worthwhile.  Here's one judge that we wouldn't mind facing on the bench, one with a sense of justice and compassion, and one we wouldn't mind seeing again.     

 

 

A Hole in Juan by Gillian Roberts

Publisher:  Ballantine Books ISBN:0345480201

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

Did you like school? Did you have a favorite teacher?  If so, or if you just like the atmosphere found in the classroom, you will like this tale of a private school in Philadelphia. .

Amanda Pepper will bring to mind your favorite teachers as she tries to get through each day, hoping for small victories in educating the young.  She is worried by a nagging feeling of trouble to come as evidenced by pranks building toward Mischief Night or Halloween.

The pranks turn serious when a strict teacher is injured and Amanda tries to figure out who is behind them before someone gets killed. 

Highly recommended as a fun read. Talented author Gillian Roberts takes the reader into the daily chaos of school and into the almost forgotten familiarity of the classes.  You'll smell the chalkdust and hear the lingering echoes of your own schooldays.  Enjoy.  I did.