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It Might Have Been What He Said by Eden Collinsworth

Publisher: Arcade Publishing ISBN: 1559708409

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When highly successful New York publisher Isabel Simpson first meets feature's writer James Willoughby to discuss a book proposal, the sparks that fly are anything but promising, and instead serve as an ominous beginning to a relationship that will end in the most unexpected of ways.  But shortly after this fateful unsuccessful meeting, the two meet up up again, this time with much more positive results.  And what follows is a marriage of twelve years in which Isabel will remain deeply in love, right up to, and including, the day she attempts to murder James.

Told in bits and pieces covering the couple's lives before and during their sometimes blissful and sometimes tumultuous marriage, this inventive and literate tale of love gone wrong is simply astounding.  Often reading more like a classic from the past, with the portrayals of these two dysfunctional, highly intelligent, and not necessarily agreeable characters especially reminiscent of those found in such writings, the entirety of this intelligent tale might not always pleasantly engage the reader, but it does consistently command intense interest.  Highly readable and exceptionally thought provoking, don't miss Collinsworth's powerful entry into the world of fiction, and although not necessarily a mystery, it still leave's one pondering over its words and meaning long after it's over.      



Without Consent by Kathryn Fox

Publisher: Harper  ISBN-10: 0061252557

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Working as not only a forensic pathologist, but also as a doctor who treats sexual assault victims, Dr. Anya Crichton is used to seeing the results of violence and brutality.  But when a serial rapist escalates his vicious crimes to murder, she finds herself questioning not only who is behind these horrible crimes, but also having to respond to the relentless demands of a community who wants answers regardless of the cost.  With all fingers pointing to one main suspect, a man just released after serving years for a previous rape, the community increases the pressure for quick justice.  But Anya is stunned and alarmed when she discovers he might just be innocent, and so with the clock ticking and more women dying, Anya must start from the beginning to reveal the face of a killer who might be closer than she thinks.

Fox puts forth a compassionate and compelling read that looks at both sides of a crime, the aftereffects of sexual abuse, and the injustice that can result from an overly enthusiastic need for justice.  And while at times all these concepts can create a distraction as she jumps from one to the next, she wraps it up nicely in an ending that coherently brings it all together.  There's a feeling here, with the second in the serious, that this author is becoming more confident and will only get better, leaving us looking forward to the next.         



Dying Light by Stuart MacBride

Publisher:  St. Martin's Paperbacks  ISBN:  0312949359

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader

Sent to D. I. Steel's "screw-up squad" after a disastrous warehouse raid, Aberdeen Detective Sergeant Logan MacRae is desperate to prove himself.  Steel is all too willing to allow him to take the lead in investigating the serial killing of prostitutes, as long as she can take the credit for his success.

At the same time he's putting in long hours on the first case, Logan continues to work with D. I. Insch on an arson case.  In between, he tries to salvage his failing relationship with Jackie Watson and solve the disappearance of a womanizing businessman whose wife has more to hide than anyone suspects, all the while feeding information to journalist Colin Miller, boyfriend of his former lover.

Stuart MacBride's drizzly, dreary Aberdeen is full of sad and desperate characters, and while Dying Light could easily have been depressing, it manages not to be.  Logan's skill at solving crimes is matched by his blundering inability to navigate office politics.  MacBride even manages to make the caricatured Steel curiously likable.  Despite some truly disgusting descriptions, Dying Light is quietly absorbing and deeply affecting.



Proof Positive by Phillip Margolin

Publishers: Harper Collins, ISBN: 0060735066

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

The latest blockbuster novel from the legal thriller doyen Phillip Margolin, PROOF POSITIVE is a legal thriller classic of the highest order. Series protagonist Amanda Jaffe marks a return after a three year hiatus and the wait was really worthwhile.

Being a proud owner of all Margolin novels published till date, I have especially enjoyed the Amanda Jaffe books- and have grown fond of this gutsy, no-nonsense attorney.  However, some pages into the novel I was filled with doubt… the novel seemed to be focusing on another attorney by the name of  Doug Weaver and it was only about fifty or so pages into the book we get a glimpse of Jaffe, so this fear was soon proved to be groundless.

The novel starts with the execution of a convict who proclaims that he is innocent till death. And his attorney Doug Weaver is having a bad time trying to come to terms with his failure. An when a new client Cohen also accused of murder comes to him, the attorney is full of doubt and doubts his abilities as to whether he can defend him to the fullest. Side by side there is the case of Art Prochaska, a gangster accused of murdering another gangster. And Amanda Jaffe is called on to the defense of Prochaska by her father. These two cases seem unconnected- but there seems to be a common thread between the two cases… and it is up to the attorneys to come up with the truth. With twists, double-twists and triple twists, the novel culminates in a truly Margolinish finish and with the trademark suspense we have come to associate with this fine author.

A reader’s delight. This book is meant not only to be read…but to be bought, read and savored.



The Serial Killers Club by Jeff Povey

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing  ISBN   0446616648

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Imagine yourself in this predicament: you accidentally kill one of the present day's most infamous serial killers and somehow end up moving to Chicago to join a serial killers' club, where everyone goes under the name of a movie star.

If you can swallow that basic premise, you'll probably find this semi-comic semi-noir thriller  enjoyable.  I didn't say you'd find any of the characters likeable--you may find yourself wishing the author had made at least one or two of them heart-of-gold or good-at-the-core types.  You may also take a dislike to the current trend for writers to narrate a book in the present tense, but that's a matter of taste.

Those comments put aside, you will find yourself drawn into the protagonist's dilemma: here he is , an ordinary guy (albeit shorter than most) and suddenly he's being feted by a group of killers who make him feel more at home that he ever has in the normal world.  Who wouldn't be flattered?  Taking the name of Douglas Fairbanks Junior as his nom de homicide, the narrator goes happily about his business for four years, rising up through  the ranks of the club until he becomes its secretary. 

Life could have gone on nicely forever until two things happen: a woman enters Douglas's life, and almost at the same time, so does a bent FBI agent.

The agent is big and tough, and moves into Douglas's apartment and sets about blackmailing him into killing off his friends in the club.  How does a little guy who has been living off a borrowed reputation react to this circumstance?  What hope is there for him to get out of the trap he's in?  What happens next?

Read the book, I'm fairly certain you won't see the end coming at you. 



Mr. Dixon Disappears by Ian Sansom

Publisher: Harper Paperbacks  ISBN-10: 0060822538

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Librarian Israel Armstrong is setting up a display in Dixon and Pickering's Department Store when he discovers that Mr. Dixon has disappeared and the store's safes have had all the cash cleared out.  Out of curiosity Israel starts poking around.  When the police arrive they arrest Israel because he is at the scene of the crime and his fingerprints are on everything.  When he is let out on bail Israel has to move quickly to prove his innocence since he is the only suspect.

A highly amusing plot moves lickety-split through a few days of Israel's life.  Israel is a character who hems and haws his way through interviewing people who are connected with Dixon's, and inadvertently he does manage to solve the puzzle and clear his name while keeping reader's laughing.



Christietown by Susan Kandel

Publisher:  Harper  ISBN:  978-0-06-145217-8

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Do you like the picture Agatha Christie's cozy mysteries evoke of the small English villages and manor houses?  Do you enjoy thinking how it would be to live in such a village in a cottage with a thatched roof and flowers at the door?

If so, you will enjoy a visit to Christietown, but it is situated in the desert. It is built to have that English atmosphere.  Join Cece Caruso as she plans a play for an open house gala at Christietown where interested home buyers will come to face a hard sell by Ian Christie who claims to be a descendant of Agatha Christies. 

Fate enters the picture and things take a dark turn when the play is ready to begin and the star is missing.  Investors with shady reputations interfere with Cece's search for an explanation. Could they be dangerous or is it hype to promote interest in Christietown.

Talented author Susan Kandel has blended a story of the time when Agatha Christie went missing for added interest and flavor. The very interesting characters are created with an understanding of human nature to make them both believable and fun to know.  

Recommended as a very enjoyable read for the mystery fan who likes period clothing, tales about old English villages, and Agatha Christie. I found it a pleasant way to spend some time and am sure cozy fans will too.



Cut to the Quick by Joan Boswell

Publisher: RendezVous Crime  ISBN 978 1 894917 47 6

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

New widow Hollis Grant is looking at her options and wondering if a complete change of career might be advisable.  What she had in mind is a career as a full-time artist; what she gets is a temporary job as a part-time private detective.

Manon, a friend from college days, invites Hollis to live with her while taking a summer art course in Toronto, which is taught by Manon’s husband Curt Hartman.  Hollis arrives in Toronto to find her plans upended by the sudden murder of Curt’s son Ivan.   Manon begs her to help find out the truth of the boy’s death.  Was it a case of mistaken identity?  Was someone trying to kill the often abrupt and cruel Curt, but cut the wrong motorcycle’s brake line?

Hollis doesn’t want the job, but Manon is in such distress she feels she has no choice.  There are plenty of possible suspects if it was Curt who was meant to die.  There’s Curt’s first wife, the wild and wacky Lena.  There’s his former partner, the embittered Arthur.  There’s a group of protestors who despise Curt’s involvement with a group dedicated to stamping out hereditary diseases by the draconian method of not allowing carriers to breed. And there’s a good portion of the Canadian arts community as well.

Also working the case are the professional investigators, Rhona and ZeeZee, of the Toronto Police, trying out their new partnership and hoping to prove their worth to their doughnut-hating boss.   Rhona and Hollis trade information, but they’re not getting anywhere very fast—then there’s an attempt on another life, and another.  Hollis knows if she doesn’t find the killer soon there’s apt to be no one left alive in the Hartman family, not to mention a good chance of Hollis herself becoming collateral damage.

This is a well-plotted story which will not only give you a peek into the Toronto arts community, but also serves up a surprise ending worthy of the best crime fiction writers.


Tailed by Brian Wiprud

Publisher: Dell  ISBN-10: 0440243149

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Formerly a taxidermist, Garth Carson now works for an insurance company appraising taxidermy collections.  His clients start getting murdered and in each case the weapon is a piece of the taxidermy owned by the victim.  The FBI immediately sees Garth as the prime suspect.  He goes into hiding and travels from one end of the country to the other looking for clues that will clear him.  But unfortunately he keeps getting in deeper and deeper.

Wiprud has created a plot and a cast of characters that is a boiling pot of weirdoes, nudists, wrestlers, medicine men, government officials, family and friends.  TAILED has got to be the funniest novel on bookshelves to date, and Garth Carson is a character that everyone would like to become acquainted with. 



A Dog About Town by J. F. Englert

Publisher:  Dell  ISBN:  978-0-440-24363-2

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

Do you like dogs? Do you think they could tell an interesting tale if they had command of language? Well, be prepared for something fun and unusual when you pick up A Dog About Town by talented author J. F. Englert.

Meet Randolph, a Labrador who reads the newspapers and books, and who has a nose for murder.  Lyell Overton Minskoff-Hardy dies in a woman's apartment from an apparent heart attack, but he was a man with enemies and there was suspicion of his death not being natural.  Is Randolph right in his assumption or will it turn out to be a false trail?

Randolph must also deal with the fact that his owner is a man in mourning for the love who just walked away from them without explanation.  He has come under the influence of a man who calls himself a psychic and ghost hunter.  Can Randolph help free Harry from the hold of the past so he can resume his painting career?

A fun read with interesting characters and plenty of mystery.  The world as seen and commented upon from a dog's point of view guarantees the reader something different.  An easy paced story that is well worth the time.  I'm pleased to recommend it to any mystery fan who enjoys the companionship of a faithful friend and a cozy fire.  Enjoy.  I did.



Never Fear by Scott Frost

Publisher: Jove   ISBN: 051543197

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

It's been the better part of a year since Pasadena homicide detective Alex Delillo and her daughter escaped the clutches of a madman, and with her daughter now off to college, life is slowly settling down into a quiet routine.  That is until a dead man is found floating in the river, a dead man who happens to be the half brother Alex never even knew she had.  It appears he had tried to contact Alex right before his death, and soon Alex is able to trace his last steps to an investigation he was looking into, the unsolved deaths of 3 young women 17 years before.  And even more startling is that he might have connected the murders to Alex's father who had disappeared when she was only five.  Very soon Alex finds herself following that same trail, a trail that begins to evoke powerful memories long suppressed of a violent and brutal man, and one who might indeed be a murderer who has long escaped justice. 

Frost's second outing is simply exhilarating, and even though I missed the first, that in no way detracted from this excellent addition into what promises to be one of the finer new series out there.  Alex, excellently portrayed as an impendent, brave, and intelligent woman who still manages to have heart in a man's world, is one of the more complex and interesting female protagonists to come along in a while.  And Frost's foray into her past, as she ties it together to the here and now, is filled with plenty of thrills and just the right touch of emotionally charged drama.  Combine this with plenty of astounding shocks and surprises, sprinkled with a very light dose of romance, and you have a read that's just about perfect, and one that will leave you clamoring for more.          




Echo Park by Michael Connelly

Publisher: GCP  ISBN 044661614X

Reviewed by Don Crouch, New Mystery Reader

Few in the trade have Connelly's juice these days. His books are Top 10 staples (this should be his second straight #1), and they have some staying power. He's surpassed Parker in both laydown size and run time, which is no mean feat; and become a true heavyweight, genre not withstanding.

Of course, Connelly's most-loved creation is Harry Bosch, evangelist of truth. Head down, shoulders back, loins girded, he is the Everyman avenger. He speaks for those of us that can't, to a system geared to shut out such noise. As longtime readers know, "everyone counts, or no one counts." The philosophy by which Bosch has always been driven, is the reason he's so at home in his current assignment, the Open/Unsolved division of the LAPD.

In Echo Park, Bosch is back into a case he never really left alone, the 1993 murder of Marie Gesto. It's one of the cases that haunted Bosch to the point when he left the force briefly (a period recounted in Lost Light and The Narrows), he copied the file and worked the case as a citizen. It was now in his regular rotation of unsolved cases to review and suffer over. So much so that a suspect in the case acquired a restraining order against Bosch's later inquires.

So when he gets a call from another division, and is informed of a confession, the game is on. Harry and his partner, the mighty Kiz Rider head over to another division and interview one Reynard Waits. The confession is the story of a serial killer in bloom--from random attack and kill during the LA Riots, to the abduction and murder of Marie Gesto, to finally a much more organized series of killings.

As Bosch begins to dig into the case file's newest elements, an archival report is discovered in the official case file that casts serious doubt onto the thoroughness of Bosch's original investigation. Like Bosch needs any more weight on his shoulders, right? Not only that, but the confessor, Reynard Waits, is willing to take Bosch to the one thing he could never find; the remains of Marie Gesto. At this point, Bosch is doubting everything, including his own instincts.

During an elaborately-planned excursion into the woods, there is, as you might expect, trouble, and Waits escapes into the woods.

Connelly puts Bosch through about every kind of wringer you can imagine in Echo Park, and to great effect. One of the things we love about the guy is the way he just hammers his way through both of the key protagonists in his life; the suspects, and the bureaucracy. Both forces conspire to keep Bosch from his mission, making sure everyone counts. So we as reader's see Bosch's struggle on both sides dragging him down, eroding his instincts, testing his faith.

In Echo Park, he's aided by FBI agent Rachel Walling, who has become a staple in Connelly's world. First encountered in The Poet, the well-traveled agent is now based in LA, and her past with Harry brings her into the action as confidante. She also brings some welcome light into Harry's life. Because God knows he needs some. 

If there is light, there must be darkness, and in Raynard Waits, Connelly delivers another black hole of depravity, right up there with Robert (The Poet) Backus. As Harry and Rachel track him down, we feel the despair created by Waits' evil.

Connelly uses the story elements here to really make a stand about where Harry is now. Everything from his Viet Nam tunnel-rat days to his eternal nemesis, the hated Irvin Irving, is woven into the proceedings to wind up the reader into a knotted rope of anxiety as he builds to a sweaty finish.

Echo Park is largely a journey of self-doubt for Harry Bosch. He is bombarded by it on many fronts, and the way he deals with it results in both success and failure, in large scale.

Connelly has re-defined Bosch with all the qualities and flaws we already knew he had. If that sounds a bit circuitous, it won't after you finish the book. There are also major "series events" that immediately give it a new status quo. A left, then a right.

That's what a heavyweight does....

For an exciting and in depth interview with Connelly