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The Gardens of the Dead by William Brodrick

Publisher:  Viking ISBN:  0670034983

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

An easy paced tale of lawyer-turned-monk Anselm who is drawn into springing a trap on a villain by the carefully planned manipulations of a dying lawyer. The villain had walked free when Anselm asked one question of a witness that wouldn't be answered.

Anselm sets out to follow the clues and instructions she sent him through various people and revisiting the trial in memory. He must find the witness who walked ouf of court and ended the trial without justice being served. Can Anself do what the lawyer requested of him without being in conflict with his vows as a monk?

The tale is told through the eyes of the villain, his wife, the missing witness, Anselm and several others, a skillfully bringing together of all the points of view by talented author William Brodrick who takes us into the examination of a trial after-the-fact. 

Can Anselm bring closure to this case and justice to those who missed it the first time?  Will the old hunger to test cases in court raise its head to tempt him from a life of contemplation? 

A study in how one event can change the lives of so many people even though it may not be a major event.  Told with depth and knowledge of the arena of the courts, this is a tale any mystery fan who likes well-paced legal mysteries without gore and gratuitous sex will certainly enjoy.

 

Out Cold by William G. Tapply

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312337469

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Boston attorney Brady Coyne has been making a concerted effort to stay out of trouble, and danger, sticking only to simple cases of estates and divorces.  But all his efforts are once again going to come to a crashing halt when he finds a dead teenage girl in his back yard, frozen in the snow.  When it's discovered that she had a piece of paper with his and his girlfriend's address, he feels even more responsible for her untimely demise, prompting him to go in search of clues to discover her identity and how she came to die in his backyard. 

It doesn't long for him to learn that she was a pregnant runaway and had died of a miscarriage gone wrong, but these answers do little to explain how she got in his backyard and why.  And so as he continues his search for answers, he will once again find himself on the trail of a killer who will stop at nothing to keep his deadly secrets.

I find myself enjoying each new Brady Coyne novel more and more, with this latest being no exception.  Coyne's self-effacing manner and uncomplicated sincerity easily grow on a reader, even while doubting his judgment for once again getting involved in yet another a no-win situation.  But, then again, that's what makes him so irresistible.  My only complaint with this latest, however, is the debatable opinion held by most of the characters in the story that violence is an overwhelmingly rampant component of the homeless community, an opinion that often appears patronizing and indiscriminate at best.       

But put this complaint aside, and you have another excellent outing that's filled with suspense and some mighty good twists.  Definitely recommended, it will leave you eager for the next.                

 

 

 

Volcano Verdict by Jonathan Miller

Publishers:  Cool Titles  ISBN: 0967392098

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

The only thing mysterious about Jonathan Miller is that why has he not yet entered the big league of legal thriller authors- i.e., the position now enjoyed by Scott Turow, John Grisham and Richard North Patterson. The books are cool, the suspense great, and the courtroom action stylish. Then why the delay? Having read the author’s first two thrillers- it was with great pleasure I started reading Volcano Verdict. And the reading pleasure was unmatched. The publishers Cool Titles with this cool title sure has a winner in their hands (yup- this is a cliché).

Like the earlier works this time also action takes place in somber town of New Mexico. And Luna Cruz, the lawyer we met in Crater County makes a return in fine form in this latest book from the lawyer- author. This time round Cruz has changed roles from a prosecutor and is now a defense lawyer. Life as a prosecutor is something which Cruz would like to forget. And now she is on a path to self-redemption and trying to forget her past as a defense attorney. And she gets the case of a lifetime when she gets the chance to defend her best and dear friend Jen Song on charges of murdering her boss. The dead body is found atop a volcano mount. And the only solace for Song is the presence of Cruz- in both her professional capacity as a lawyer and in her personal capacity as a friend- (a friend in need is a friend indeed). What follows is a fine take of investigation culminating in a finish that can be said…..truly Millerish.

The blurb informs me that the author is working on a new legal thriller to be published in 2007 which will feature both Dan Shepherd (the hero of Rattlesnake Lawyer) and Luna Cruz…..that’s one book I am reaaaaaaaaallllly… looking forward to.

And the Verdict for Volcano Verdict- a five star rating.

 

 

 

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co  ISBN: 0805080988

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Putting historical figures into make-believe crime scenarios has been popular for a while now, but the new book by Jed Rubenfeld enters a whole new dimension with Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung centre stage involved in a murder in New York during a visit in 1909.

Cleverly weaving the real-life conflict between Freud and his disciple (and later antagonist) Jung, Rubenfeld sets up a wonderfully Freudian scenario of murder with sexual overtones, plus "hysterical' amnesia. 

Promising young psychoanalyst Stratham Younger is recruited by Freud to undertake the investigation into the causes of the amnesia of the young woman who escaped being murdered.   His job isn't a simple one, given that even most educated New Yorkers know little about Freudian methods and theories, and are profoundly suspicious of what they do know.   The treatment becomes more complicated when a romantic attachment between doctor and patient develops.  Is this the real thing, or just what Freud would call 'transference'?

Add to the mix a mayor who doesn’t want any scandal to slow down his precious Manhattan Bridge project, a lot of High Society types with more money than brains, a surprisingly astute and inventive police detective and you have a dramatic mix that should keep you entertained for most of the day.

Like another recently featured book on this site , "The Burning", the author of this book brings in a great deal of information about a specialised field, in this case, psychoanalysis and Freudian theory.  Rubenfeld manages to work in this information without lecturing the reader, and it provides a good armature upon which to flesh out his story.   

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

I was stunned…..really, really stunned- and without mincing words let me tell you- The Interpretation of Murder is one hellova read. It seems a recent trend in modern mystery writing has been to bring back some of the great figures from history, and Rubenfeld offers us yet another to add to the list. 

The true hero in this novel is the legendary Sigmund Freud (and what more do you need in a psychological thriller). The novel is set in the early days of the twentieth century. Sigmund Freud is visiting New York as a guest of a famous university which has conferred on him a doctorate. Traveling with him are two other scientists Carl Jung and Sándor Ferenczi. On the day of Freud’s arrival the New York society is shocked by the brutal death of a beautiful and young heiress in her palatial mansion. Though it seems to be a one-off case, the murder attempt on another lady, also an heiress, the very next day prompts the New York law enforcement office to think otherwise. The young girl, Nora Acton, who has just escaped has no recollection of the murderer and in fact even has a difficult time to speak about the same. And called into investigate is psychologist Dr. Stratham Younger. A dedicated and hardworking man, Dr. Younger is a fan of Freud and his writing. And together with one Abraham Brill, a person who is translating the Freudian works into English, Younger meets Freud and tells him about the murder and the attempted murder on Nora Acton. And what follows is a journey of the mind- a psychological take through one of the greatest minds in history to find out who the real perpetrator is.

The novel, though more descriptive than narrative, proves to be a page-turner. The author has stressed much of the geographical, historical, and social system as existed in America during the early 20th century- and as such it is difficult to spot where fact ends and fiction begins.  And not since Yale Law School Prof. Stephen Carter gave a wonderful debut with The Emperor of Ocean Park has a novel by a law professor (coincidentally also from Yale) achieved so much attention.

A grand, grand book- Interpretation of Murder is one book that’s not to be missed and one that Freud himself might have enjoyed.

 

The Mission Song by John Le Carre’

Publishers: Little, Brown  ISBN: 0316016748

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

John Le Carre’ is like vintage wine- he gets better with age.

And this latest novel- THE MISSION SONG- the twentieth from the spy master- an author who redefined the spy thriller genre, is one superb book. After plotting his novels in the background of Russia, Germany and Asia- this time round Le Carre’ focuses his attention to the political turmoil in Africa- and in particular the Congo.

The protagonist herein is Bruno Salvador a man born of a Congolese woman and an Irish Catholic Missionary. Unassuming, and struggling to make his own mark in Europe- overcoming racial prejudices and snide remarks-  Salvador has a rough time. However, Salvador is in high demand for his services as an interpretation expert for high level government conferences, and be it anywhere where translation skills are required. The power of Salvador in understanding and translating into English any obscure African dialect gains the attention of the British intelligence- who engages him in their services. Salvador is thrilled and this what he had imagined, a change from his mundane life.  His role is act as an interpreter to a group of African nationals who may or may not have the plan to overthrow the Government in Congo.

What follows is traditional  Le Carre’ suspense of a man unwittingly caught in the midst of a political frenzy- a thrilling life this unassuming man once dreamt of… and one which he is desirous of leaving as soon as possible. The highlight of the story is the way Le Carre’ portrays the two diverse cultures- African and European- and the cultural clash does make interesting reading.

A grand book and as usual a classic from the great Spy Master.