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Too Far Gone by John Ramsey Miller

Publisher: Dell ISBN: 0440243092

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When FBI Special Agent Alexa Keene is asked to aide in the investigation of the abduction of a young man married to a beautiful and wealthy heiress, she warily accepts the challenge as finding victims of kidnapping is her forte. But she is ill prepared for the family secrets this very dysfunctional family seems to be hiding, some secrets that go as far back as the murders of the heiress's parents over 20 years ago.  Everyone seems to be hiding something, and with Hurricane Katrina heading for New Orleans solving this case before it hits, and before more innocent people become victims of a deadly scheme, is going to take everything this intrepid agent has.

Miller easily hits the mark with his characterizations of both heroines and villains in this suspenseful tale of deceit and greed.  However, setting this tale in the eye of Katrina does have its downfalls, mostly in the questions arising as to why these people continue going after the bad guys long after it's prudent, taking the story from a convincing tale of family secrets and greed, to one of gratuitous action.  Nonetheless, Miller does provide an entertaining tale with some surprising twists and interestingly drawn characters that combine for a hearty dose of thrills that should satisfy most.

 

Trace Evidence by Elizabeth Becka

Publisher: Orion ISBN: 0752879413

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

When Evelyn James, a Cleveland forensic trace analyst, is called out to a chilly November scene of murder, she is unprepared for the drastic changes her life will go through as a result.  A young woman has died a tragic and brutal death by drowning, with her feet submerged in dried cement, and chains binding her limbs.  And when yet another young girl dies, this time the mayor's daughter, the detectives and Evelyn realize they just might have a serial killer on their hands.  Complicating matters is the fact that Evelyn once loved the mayor, and now with her attraction to one of the lead detective's on the case, she knows she must avoid all temptation to keep her mind on these vicious acts of murder.  Because if her suspicions are correct, her daughter may be next on the killer's list. 

Becka's debut suspense thriller featuring the likable and spirited Evelyn James shows great promise. With plenty of forensic detail, but not too much, Becka, a trained forensic specialist herself, knows just when it goes from fascinating to tedious, and she doesn't once cross the line.  And with a plot that holds plenty of surprises for those of us who think we got it all figured out, this read shocks just as easily as it thrills.  With a bit of everything one might hope for, this entertaining read should satisfy any fan of suspense, and we eagerly anticipate the next outing in this striking new series.     

 

Through the Darkness by Marcia Talley

Publisher: Avon ISBN: 0060587415

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Hannah Ives has a one year old grandson who disappears from the elite spa his parents are opening.  Since no ransom demand is forthcoming, the FBI determines that he has been taken for another reason.  When Hannah learns that her best friend's husband Roger Haberman is an unregistered child molester she still can not believe he is responsible for taking Timmy. So Hannah, in spite of FBI warnings, sets out to find the kidnapper.

Talley has created a warm loving wife, mother and grandmother who will go to any lengths to protect her family and best friend.  No fear equals the fear Hannah has already faced by surviving cancer.  With the help of her extended family she begins tracking the kidnapper.  A very well thought out plot that leads you through the emotional trauma of infant abduction with just enough suspense to keep the pages turning at a decent rate.

 

CINNAMON KISS by Walter Mosley

Publisher: Warner Books,  ISBN 0 446612723

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

Easy Rawlins is back, and he's about to get himself into real trouble.  Not that that's anything new for Easy, but this time he's looking to gamble his freedom, such as it is, on a chance to get some fast money by robbing an armored car.

Easy is a private investigator who occasionally skates on thin ice, but premeditated robbery has never been his style.  That was before his daughter Feather got sick.  She needs expensive treatment in a Swiss clinic, but fairy godmothers are pretty thin on the ground for little black girls in Los Angeles in 1966.

The closest thing to the fairy godmother is Easy's current girlfriend Bonnie, who works for Air France and who has useful connections.  She helps get Feather into the clinic, but it's up to Easy to find the rest of the $50,000 for the treatment.

Along comes Easy's best friend Mouse, with a sure-fire scheme to heist $250,000 from an armored car carrying the payroll for a factory.   Playing for time, Easy get another job, investigating the disappearance of a couple of people in the San Francisco area, along with some papers.  Easy's employer, Robert E Lee--no fooling--makes light of the papers, but it isn't long before Easy figures out that these are bearer bonds.  

As he investigates, Easy finds two dead white men, never a good thing for a black P I to have to try and explain to the touchy L A cops in the summer after the Watts riots.  He also meets two beautiful women and runs into his first Hippies.  He discovers them to be a whole new sort of people, strange but likeable for the most part.  All the while he's trying to avoid committing to Mouse's scheme without getting on the wrong side of him, never a good thing to do when dealing with the soft-spoken stone-killer, not even for his oldest friend.

There are some light spots in this umpteenth Easy Rawlins adventure, but there's an overriding sadness, too, a sort of elegiac flavour in places.  One is unsure if this is Mosley trying to show something of the post-Watts atmosphere in California , or if it's the never-far-off-stage effect of the Viet Nam War, or if it's something coming out of the writer himself that he may not even be aware of.    If you haven't read a Mosley book before, this would be a good one to start with.

 

 

The Hunt Ball by Rita Mae Brown

Publisher:  Ballantine Books  ISBN:  0345465504

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Have you ever wanted to ride to the hounds?  If so, The Hunt Ball is one tale you won't want to miss.

Join Jane Arnold, known as Sister, and she hunts the fox with her friends and tries to solve a murder that involves the girls school known as Custis Hall. The school has a long proud history and the murder of their fund raiser, Al Perez, brings fear and worry for the future of the school.

The characters who speak to the reader include foxes, dogs and horses and each contributes his own to make the story interesting and a grand fun read.  The details regarding hounds, horses and riding to the hunt will please any reader who likes animals and the outdoors.  This is a very pleasant way to learn what it is all about.

Talented Rita Mae Brown brings the characters to life, making them real enough to step off the page and shake your hand.  They are people you'd be proud to have as friends.

The Hunt Ball is a page turner that you won't want to put down.  You'll want to keep reading to find out who the killer is and why they killed. Does it have anything to do with the school?  Are newcomers or old timers involved?  How could a girl's school be the focal point for murder.  Enjoy.  I sure did.

 

 

Cat Breaking Free by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Publisher:  Avon ISBN:  0060578122

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

If you love cats, cat detectives, or mysteries with cats in them, you will have to read this tale.  If you haven't read any of the other Joe Gray stories (he's the cat), you will want to, after reading this one.

Cats that talk and humans that understand work together to solve an unexpected crime spree that might involve an old flame of Clyde's, the fellow who lives with Joe Gray. It's almost enough reason for Joe to be suspicious of her because he doesn't like her.

He and his friends add a new flavor to crime detection in that the police don't know the origin of certain information when the cats turn detective.  Blend in a little catly suspense and human romance and you'll have a story you can't put down.

Talented author Shirley Rousseau Murphy brings cats and crime to a new level and gives it a whole new perspective.  You'll enjoy meeting the very real characters who live this story.  And if you've never read a cat mystery, this is a perfect introduction. Felinity at its best. 

Highly recommended as a fun read.  Enjoy.  I sure did.

 

 

Dead End Dating by Kimberly Raye

Publisher: Ivy Books ISBN: 0345492161

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Fashion conscious Lil Marchette was born a vampire 500 years ago. Always needing money for accessories and not wanting to work in the family printing business she opens a dating service, accepting applications from both vampires seeking eternity mates and humans seeking spouses.  But just when she finally starts making a go of the business, she meets bounty hunter Ty Bonner, a relatively new vampire himself, and one who just happens to be looking for a serial killer he suspects may be using Lil's dating service to find his victims.

Raye has created a delightful piece of fantasy that thoroughly entertains.  Lil's family is like any normal family who is trying to get the only daughter married off and fill the house with grandchildren.  A very high spirited novel with family bickering, loyal friends, and Lil's desire for romance with a man who is not socially suitable, make this an offbeat read that is fun all the way through.

 

The Monsters of Gramercy Park by Danny Leigh

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA ISBN: 1596910046

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Mystery author Lizbeth Greene understands all too well why her latest novel is slammed by the critics, knowing that she has long run out of that spark of creativity that once drove her so well.  Searching for a new idea for her next book seems hopeless until she hears of the case of Wilson Velez, a gang lord who has spent the last five years in solitary confinement for his many brutal and disturbing crimes.  But now he is allowed to be interviewed by Lizbeth and so begins a story that will reveal some unsettling secrets that not only Wilson holds, but those of Lizbeth herself. 

There's not a single detailed crime scene, no car chases, nor a gunfight in this ultimately chilling and dark read from Leigh.  But what he does in this highly literate tale of secrets and betrayal is create an electrifying read of nonstop suspense with only shocking revelation after revelation to entrap the reader in a tragic stranglehold.  Who is jamming who is never really known, and as each character reveals more of their true selves, the suspense only deepens.  Sharp dialogue, intense character realization, and gripping background stories make this one hell of a read.  Not an easy book to consume by any means, but worth every single calorie nonetheless, this comes highly recommended.

 

 

Fever by Sean Rowe

Publishers: Little, Brown,  ISBN: 0316013366

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader  

Fever- the title had caused a little bit confusion. A couple of years back I had read and reviewed a book titled Fever, a medical thriller from doctor- author Robin Cook, and actually I was expecting a medical thriller.

But as they say, never judge a book by its title, Sean Rowe’s first fiction effort is something special- really worthy of a Hollywood movie. The novel starts with former FBI Agent Matt “Loose” Cannon engrossed in his duties as a security chief for a large cruise line. But when Matt’s stepbrother Jack Fontana gives him a new toy to play with, “a new-look game controller”, little does Shannon know that there is something sinister in it. However, when a freighter is sunk in mysterious circumstances, supposedly from the signals that emanated from the “game controller”, all hell breaks loose. And suddenly Matt is in the midst of a high level enquiry and is suddenly on the run. The whole world thinks him guilty and the only way out is by Matt taking decisions into his own hands.  Slowly and steadily, and all the while ruefully thinking that life inside FBI was better than outside it- Matt embarks upon a journey, one that will take him to some secrets, some deadly secrets, which might eventually endanger his life.

A stylish debut, the author Sean Rowe deserves warm praise for Fever. Fast paced and action laced, Fever is one hellova thriller- and I am sure of one thing, we haven’t seen the last of Matt Cannon.

 

 

Creepers by David Morrell

Publisher: CDS Books ISBN: 1593153570

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

This immensely thrilling tale of urban explorers, otherwise known as "creepers" takes the reader to the Paragon Hotel located in Asbury Park, New Jersey.  A group of 5 heads out one October night intent on learning the deserted hotel's secrets, and once inside find themselves in a treasure trove of shadowy echoes from the past.  Reporter Frank Balenger has joined the group in order to learn more of this illegal activity, but Frank too has secrets he's keeping from the group.  And as one chilling event leads to another and yet another, the group will soon enough discover that they are not alone in this chilling relic from the past.

Morrell infuses this wild tale with such vivid detail that he takes the reader and plants them firmly alongside the characters as they troop through hidden staircases and rooms filled with the echoes of people long gone.  Interspersing this hair rising adventure are interesting and provocative details of what may have occurred in these ghostly rooms, adding to the chilling events that bombard this terrorized group of innocents.  But not all of them are as innocent as they seem, and this adds yet another exciting element to a story that already packs a mighty punch.  Highly recommended, this artful and innovative tale will leave you gasping for breath, and most likely have you giving those deserted building in your neighborhood a second look.       

 

 

Heat Signature by Lisa Teasley

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA ISBN: 1596911018

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Sam Brown's tendency to live a half-life, demanding little, going with the flow, is about to be challenged.  It was 16 years ago his mother was murdered, and with the release of the man convicted of the crime, Sam's grief and anguish returns full force.  Hitting the road in search of answers, without even knowing quite the questions, sets Sam on a road trip away from his quiet desert home.  Sensing his mother's presence, and even her encouragement, he's driven to travel the paths that led to her demise, unaware of what might be following behind.  And as the story unfolds through a recounting of events now and in the past, the truth will at last reveal itself, a truth that is as unexpected as it is timely. 

Although more of a tale of acceptance and deliverance than a mystery, Teasley's latest title easily enchants, gripping the reader throughout this young man's journey of release and discovery.  His growing awareness of how he's allowed his life to be minimized by his misguided sense of guilt and inability to let go is as poignant as it is familiar.  Sam is every survivor of tragedy, with the only possible difference being his eventual confrontation with its destructive aftermath.  Its depth and poignancy, along with a light touch of suspense, make this a read not to be missed. 

 

The Sacred Cut by David Hewson

Publisher: Dell ISBN: 0440242185

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

When Detective Nic Costa responds to an alarm at the Pantheon in Rome, he is shocked to find the naked body of a woman who has been strangled and has a design cut into her back.  But before Costa has finished with the scene, the FBI shows up claiming the woman is an American and proceed to whisk the body away.  And when Costa and his boss later confront the Americans, they are even more stunned to learn that other Americans killed in the same way have been showing up at architectural wonders all over the world.  Persisting in pursuing the case they are assigned FBI agent Emily Deacon, a young woman with no experience, but has a vested interest because she is the daughter of one of the victims. 

Hewson knows how to keep you glued to the pages by creating a plot full of twists and turns, many of which entwine through American military history.  Costa and Deacon, continually thwarted by the Americans, are so determined to find the truth they don't always follow standard procedure to unearth clues, adding another dose of the unexpected.  A hearty and gripping read, this is a cliff hanger that will not turn you loose until you have reached the end.