MAD DOG by Mark Rubenstein: It is actually Dr. Mark Rubenstein, a practicing psychiatrist, who authored this very taut, compelling novel. Rubenstein wrote five technical books before turning to fiction, and his first fictional effort certainly indicates a talent in that direction. Roddy Dolan and Danny Burns are old friends and successful men that have their roots in Brooklyn 30 years ago. Roddy almost went to jail at that time, but thanks to efforts by his friend Danny's mother was allowed to enlist in the army instead of serving time. The experience turned his life around and he became a successful surgeon. Danny became an accountant with a wide practice. Both are married with loving families and very happy with their places in life. An old friend from their boyhood days in Brooklyn approaches them to offer a chance to divest their portfolios by investing with him into a restaurant as silent partners. Danny does the proper investigation and proposes that they do so. Their wives concur and both put up sums required to enter into the deal. The situation begins to go sour when Roddy determines that their friend has been skimming from the business and is on both drugs and drink. A loanshark enters the scene and demands that the three partners pay him money owed by the managing partner in the sum of at least double the amount invested. Roddy, who was known as "Mad Dog" as a boy, comes up with a scheme to put an end to the loan shark's ideas to collect money, and collect more money whenever he wants to. The account of what Roddy and Danny have to do is extremely well handled. The characters are very well fleshed out, and the reader will understand the reactions and thoughts of both men. This is definitely an impossible book to put down with an ending that will cause a reaction of "of course" by readers. A short preview of Rubenstein's next novel appears at the end of the book, and as I did will cause a note to be placed on file to get it as soon as it comes out. 10/12 Paul Lane
MAD DOGS by James Grady: Grady’s first novel (Six Days of the Condor, 1974) was awesome and I heartily recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it. Time will tell whether his latest will stand the same test of time. Five former CIA operatives, deemed to be mentally unable to continue, are housed in a top-secret insane asylum in Maine. When their psychiatrist is murdered they realize they will be framed for the crime, so they break out and make their way to Washington, D.C. and a man they hope holds the key to the mystery. On one level this is a well-written thriller that moves at a rapid pace with plenty of action, or you may consider it an extended hallucination not unlike One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Ultimately, it’s a tale of emancipation and coming to terms with the realities of life, and one’s own limitations. 11/06 Jack Quick
THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER by Megan Shepherd: Times have been tough for Juliet Moreau since her father’s disappearance. Doctor Moreau was once a noted surgeon but rumors concerning the questionable nature of his research ruined his career. He left six years ago and Juliet has always assumed that he was dead. When her mother passed away, Juliet was left with no choice but to find a job. Fortunately, an old colleague of her father’s secured Juliet a position cleaning at the university. One evening, Juliet discovers a page of her father’s notes in the possession of some of the students. She traces the notes to a local inn, but instead of Moreau she finds Montgomery, his assistant. Montgomery admits that Moreau is very much alive and that he, Montgomery, has continued working alongside him all these years. At first Montgomery is insistent that Juliet cannot accompany him back to the island where Moreau does his research. But when Juliet attacks a man while defending her honor, Montgomery is left with no choice but to bring her along. Soon Juliet finds herself face to face with her father once again, but is she ready for what she’ll discover? Megan Shepherd’s take on HG Well’s Island of Doctor Moreau is fabulous. It’s a dark and twisted teen sci fi read that’s perfect for adults as well and it’s to be the first in a trilogy, which means there’s more to Juliet’s tale. 2/13 Becky Lejeune
MAD MOUSE by Chris Grabenstein: In this terrific sequel to TILT-A-WHIRL, Danny Boyle is applying for a full time position with the Sea Haven police department after spending the summer working part time with John Ceepak. Ceepak lives by a code of honor that is both refreshing and worth emulating, at least to Danny. Danny is partying one night at the beach with his friends when they are attacked by someone with a paintball gun. It's not fun being hit, but it's usually not dangerous either, except one of the girls gets hit in the eye. And then they get shot at again, more paintballs but also bullets go whizzing by, leaping up the investigation a notch. All of this is happening just prior to the Labor Day barbeque bonanza weekend, closing the summer season at the Jersey shore resort area. The new chief of police wants to keep a lid on things and not scare off the tourists and the mayor is worried about local businesses losing money if they have to cancel. Then another of the friends is shot and seriously wounded, the mayor and police chief are trying to keep everyone calm, and Danny and Ceepak are determined to find the shooter before anything else happens. Besides the suspense and the humor, you can smell the salt air and taste the taffy, making this the perfect beach read. 06/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
MAD MOUSE by Chris Grabenstein: Labor Day is coming and the New Jersey resort town of Sea Haven is gearing up for a big celebration. Easygoing part-time-summer-only cop Danny Boyle has become so enamored of police work with his partner, super-cop John Ceepak, that he wants to be promoted to full-time and kept on after the end of the season. Luckily, Ceepak, the decorated Iraq War veteran, is on the case when a sniper begins stalking Danny, girl friend Katie and their friends. The mayor wants things solved before the holiday festivities. Danny wants it solved before someone gets killed and John wants it solved period. Having now read both of Grabenstein’s initial efforts, I would comment, not negatively, that they would probably make better television show episodes than mystery books. Think Rockford Files meets Baywatch on the East Coast. Give it a Springsteen soundtrack, some eye candy, and a couple of mis-matched leads as Danny and John. It would be a lot better than most of what’s on the tube today. 11/06 Jack Quick
MAD RIVER by John Sandford: Virgil Flowers has his hands full with three teenagers with dead-end lives who go on a Bonnie and Clyde spree. The body count keeps mounting and Flowers can’t seem to move fast enough as their crime spree cuts a swath through rural Minnesota. With the growing army of cops after them, the end is pretty likely, but the getting there is not. Another good Sanford. 10/12 Jack Quick
MADE IN THE U.S.A. by Billie Letts: Lutie and Fate McFee have been dealt a really raw deal. They were abandoned by their drunk father; left with one of his many girlfriends while he made his way to Vegas for his fortune. Now said girlfriend, who was nice by all accounts, has dropped dead of a heart attack in the WalMart checkout line. After some inventive lies, Lutie packs up Fate and they head off to Vegas, in a technically stolen car with technically stolen money, in hopes that they can find their father. Upon arrival, they learn that their father was arrested and eventually died in prison. Lutie takes it upon herself to provide for Fate as best as she can, hoping to make it big and give them both a better life. Unfortunately, as with other Letts characters, Lutie and Fate experience some of the worst things that can befall kids on their own. I have to say that I think even the folks in Where the Heart Is had it a little better than these two kids. Another tear-jerking and overwhelmingly heart-warming tale of growth, redemption, and the importance of family. 06/08 Becky Lejeune
MADELINE MANN by Julia Buckley: Aha, another perky female newspaper reporter with uncanny sleuthing abilities. Madeline Mann, Madman to her brothers and close friends wouldn’t sign the Declaration of Independence – too conformist. She must go her own way and if that means getting involved in homicide investigations in her hometown of Webley, Illinois, so be it. You wouldn’t think a major metropolis like Webley would have political intrigue, love, greed, obsession, and an Annual Fall Harvest Festival. Count on the madman to find them all in this series, that’s series, not serious opener. There are appears to be more substance here than say, a big wad of cotton candy, but no steak and potatoes that I could find. I can’t help but wonder where all these young blonde femme fatales were when I was a newspaper publisher. All I ever got were like you know, functionally illiterate, or else ex-school teacher empty nesters seeking fame and glory, but heaven forbid you tried to give them direction. Anyway, it’s enjoyable. 08/07 Jack Quick
THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH by Maureen Johnson: Though Rory is much recovered from her run in with the killer known as the Ripper, her parents are less than anxious to allow her to return to life as usual. She’s living with them in Bristol, attending her mandatory therapy visits, but desperate to return to Wexford. She soon gets her chance, though, when therapist Julia announces that it’s the most promising opportunity for getting over the incident. Rory quickly learns that her return has been finagled by her friends, The Shades -- the super secret ghost busting division of the police. They were in danger of being shut down after the Ripper destroyed their last Terminus – which allowed them to send ghosts back where they belong – but Rory has inherited a neat little power as a result of her Ripper experience: she’s apparently become a Terminus herself. With her help, The Shades can continue. As she tries to maintain a balance between school and her friends, she discovers something else. A murder near Wexford appears to be tied in with the aftermath of the Ripper case. At first, no one believes her, but it soon becomes clear that she’s right. But can Rory handle the secrets and responsibilities of her two different lives? This second in the Shades of London series continues where The Name of the Star left off. Johnson’s snappy prose and snarky wit make this a creepy and quirky series that perfectly ties together paranormal and mystery elements. 2/13 Becky Lejeune
THE MADONNAS OF LENINGRAD by Debra Dean: This is Russian immigrant Marina Buriakov's story and it is a rather difficult one. Marina is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and her family is trying to cope with her and her granddaughter's upcoming wedding at the same time. Marina can barely remember who her granddaughter is, but has no trouble remembering working as a docent at the State Hermitage Museum in Leningrad on the eve of WWII. The story alternates between the present day and her memories of that time, emptying the museum in preparation for the possible theft or damage of its treasures. The writing is lovely, especially about the artwork in the museum, but the theme of memory and how it affects our lives is most poignant and moving in this lovely, heartfelt family tale. 07/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE MAGDALEN MARTYRS by Ken Bruen: The Magdalen Martyrs is the latest mystery novel in author Ken Bruen's series about a self-destructive Irish crime solver named Jack Taylor. While I think that this is his best so far, if this appeals to you, I would recommend that you go back and read his earlier novels as well and trace his development as an author.
Jack Taylor is a former member of the Irish police force known as the Guardia. His experiences on that job hardened him, turned him to the bottle and led him to resent any form of authority. His boozing and behavior led to his ouster from the Guards and they keep asking him to please give them their uniform coat back. Jack, at this point in his life, is an alcoholic going down. He hates his life, but finds consolation in his books (he likes mysteries, poetry, A.A. Alvarez and Thomas Merton in particular) and he finds numbness and forgetting in whiskey and drugs. Like Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder, who he admires, he has at this point in his descent, nonetheless developed a reputation as a detective of sorts and is asked to help various souls who are reluctant to involve the authorities.
The title of this book involves an Irish scandal
that had been fairly widely publicized in the past year. It refers to the
Magdalen laundry facility, a home established by an order of nuns for unmarried
women thrown out of their families for engaging in premarital sex. A far cry
from The Cider House, the women are not only forced to work as virtual slaves,
but subjected to great physical and mental abuse as well. Many simply did not
survive and even the survivors were scarred for life. In this case, Jack
is asked to pay off a favor he owed to a very "hard man" in the Irish
underworld. The hard man's sister was a laundry survivor and he asks Jack (on
the pain of being killed if he fails to perform) to find one of the teachers who
retired from there and was the only good person on the staff. As the plot
develops, it is clear that she was not an angel of mercy. In fact, the poor
young women referred to her as Lucifer. And the hard man does not intend to
thank her, but to make her experience the same sort of misery she meted out.
In the course of investigating this case, and another unrelated matter, Jack
gets beaten badly repeatedly, his clothes are ruined over and over again, he is
thrown in jail and even his books are destroyed. (This gives him another to
excuse to launch into one of his long lists of authors - I am getting a little
tired of this, although I like the same writers Jack does). However, this
destruction is secondary to that which he is imposing on himself in every page
with each sip, each pill and each line of cocaine. I fear greatly for Jack.
I have not enjoyed reading a new mystery author this much in several years. If you like hard-nosed crime fiction with a real Raymond Chandler hero, you can not miss these. 03/05 ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.
THE MAGDALEN MARTYRS by Ken Bruen: “So I drink. I’m way past my sell-by date and am on precious borrowed time. I should have gone down a long time ago. Lots of days, I wish I had.” Meet Jack Taylor who brings new meaning to the term hard-boiled. An erstwhile detective and full time alcoholic Taylor prowls the dark side of Galway, as if there were no tomorrow. Why? He really and truly doesn’t care whether there will be a tomorrow. After all, it will only be as bad as today and yesterday, anyway. Jack is trying to locate a woman associated with the notorious Magdalen Home for Unwed Mothers as well as determine whether a merry widow was responsible for her husband’s death. Powerful writing from the man called the Celtic Dashiell Hammett. 10/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
THE MAGDALENA CURSE by F.G. Cottam: Mark Hunter was an accomplished military man. His experiences and expertise made him an optimal choice for a very secret mission in the Amazon. It is this mission that hangs over him. Now Mark’s son is the victim of a terrible curse, the result of the wrath of an evil woman. Everyone becomes pawns in her game, playthings for her amusement. If Mark can’t free his son from the curse, it could mean the end of them both. With the help of a local doctor who has her own dark past, Mark will attempt to track down the one person with the power to stop things before they go too far. Cottam’s talent lies in his ability to build an intense and atmospheric story. The Magdalena Curse is a chilling horror tale from the very beginning. Unfortunately, the end is abrupt—one misstep in an otherwise effective and interesting read. 08/11 Becky Lejeune KINDLE
THE MAGE IN BLACK by Jaye Wells: Sabina Kane is back in this follow-up to Jaye Wells’s urban fantasy debut, Red-Headed Stepchild. Since learning the truth about her family and her twin sister, Sabina has left behind her former life as an assassin for the vampire Domina. Sabina’s grandmother is not one to easily admit defeat, though, and Sabina soon finds herself being hunted by the Domina’s lackeys. Making matters worse is the fact that Sabina seems to have stepped on someone’s toes in New York: Her first night in, she’s attacked by a couple of werewolves and accused of poaching in their territory, an act that comes with its own penalties. It’s what happens next that really takes the cake, though. I like Sabina as a lead character; she’s feisty and has a killer attitude. I also enjoyed the momentum of Red-Headed Stepchild and was glad that Wells was able to keep up the pace in this second book of the series. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where Sabina’s story goes from here. 03/10 Becky Lejeune
MAGIC CITY by James W. Hall: The Magic City is Miami and Thorn is trying to determine if the magic he has found with Alexandra is powerful enough to enable him to leave his beloved Key West and move to Miami full-time. In the process Thorn gets involved in a betrayal and series of murders that occurred in 1964. A photograph taken ringside of the Sonny Liston – Cassius Clay heavyweight fight in Miami is apparently critical to solving the mystery, and the only remaining copy of the photograph belongs to Alexandra’s father, Lawton, who suffers from dementia. While Thorn is trying to make sense of the matter, a modern day murder spree erupts that reaches from the quiet neighborhoods of Miami all the way to the White House and puts Thorn and everyone he loves into grave danger. Quite a romp. 03/07 Jack Quick
THE MAGIC KNOT by Helen Scott Taylor: Rosenwyn Tremain is your average, everyday accountant. Growing up, her mother warned her never to go to Cornwall and, in spite of their many differences, Rose has obeyed her mother’s wish, until now. Rose is sent to Cornwall to investigate the bankruptcy of a local pub, the Elephant’s Nest. The pub is run by the charming and handsome Michael O’Connor, but it is his somewhat rude brother, Niall, who interests Rose. All of that is beside the point considering Rose’s desire to close the case and track down her long lost father, except for the fact that the O’Connor’s will figure in to both her past and her present in ways that she can’t ignore. See Rose was raised without being told of the race of fair folk who live in the world. Her race. Rose is half human and half pisky and she’s about to discover that she’s much more than that as well. Helen Scott Taylor’s debut fantasy/paranormal romance was winner of Romantic Times magazine’s American Title competition in 2008. It’s fun and original romance, and hopefully the beginning of a great new paranormal series. 01/09 Becky Lejeune
MAGIC TO THE BONE by Devon Monk: The job of a Hound is to track down and identify the illegal offloading of magic—all magic comes with a price and some choose to filter that price through another living thing. An after-hours job leads Allie Beckstrom, one of the best Hounds in the industry, to suspect that her own father, a prominent figurehead who’s made big business out of magic, has been using a young boy as an Offload. But when her father ends up dead, Allie’s own magical signature points the finger at her as the killer. Unfortunately, Allie’s price in using magic is her memory and she has no memory of what happened after confronting her father. Allie knows that she’ll have to use all of the power at her disposal to untangle the pieces and find out what her father’s role truly is. But Allie will also have to decide if, in the long run, the price she pays is really worth it. Devon Monk’s urban fantasy debut is a good read, but there is a lot of information in this first of the series for readers to digest. Building a world as setting for something different is a big challenge and I think Monk does it well, but I also think that the follow-up titles of the series will be even better now that a lot of the background has been introduced. 11/09 Becky Lejeune
THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman: I must confess I have not read a single Harry Potter book, nor have I seen a Harry Potter film. I am vaguely familiar with Narnia as a quite successful movie, but couldn’t tell you anything else about it. Therefore, I really couldn’t appreciate the various nuances and sub texts in this book. I can tell you it is well written and entertaining and probably a must read if you are into this sort of thing. Quentin Coldwater is a Brooklyn high school student and the nerdiest of nerds. His most devout wish is to be in a children's series set in the Narnia-like world of Fillory. Instead, he and his friends are heading to an interview relative to his possible admission to Princeton. When they arrive, they find the interviewer is dead of a massive stroke. On the way back home he ends up at Brakebills, a very secret and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. At Brakebills, Quentin learns about college life – friendship, love, alcohol and sex, while also learning all about modern sorcery. Upon his departure he and his friends stumble on the dark secret behind the story of Fillory. Call this an ultimate coming of age, where neither black nor white are completely clear, and the cost of knowledge is enormous. 07/10 Jack Quick
MAHU SURFER by Neil S. Plakcy: Surf’s up – and so is the body count. Gay Hawaiian police detective Kimo Kanapa'aka is mahu, a generally negative term for homosexual. Outed and semi-retired, Kimo must go undercover and stop a brutal killer who has already taken the life of three members of the close-knit surfing community. If he succeeds he may be able to return to active duty. If he fails, he most likely will be dead. Second in the series and certainly different. Not badly written, but overall not my cup of tea. It’s not the homosexual aspect so much as the fact that my take on Hawaii is more Gidget and Don Ho than Hawaii 5-0. A surfer cop is just a bit too much for me, no matter what the sexual persuasion. 11/07 Jack Quick
MAIDEN ROCK by Mary Logue: Pepin County is shocked by the Halloween death of a local high school student, an apparent suicide. When the autopsy reveals traces of meth, Deputy Sheriff Claire Watkins is off on a particularly difficult murder investigation. The victim is the best friend of her daughter, Meg. To makes matters worse, Meg and Krista had fought over a boy, just before Krista ran away. While Deputy Claire is faced with meth labs and doped up teenagers, mother Claire must try to help her own daughter make sense of the situation. Reminiscent of the J.A. Jance Joanna Brady series, and well done. 01/08 Jack Quick
MALICE by Lisa Jackson: In the end of Lost Souls, New Orleans homicide detective Rick Bentz is recovering in the hospital when he sees his ex-wife, Jennifer. His dead ex-wife. The scent of her perfume hits him at random moments as well, but it can’t be. He identified her body himself over a dozen years ago. He convinces himself it’s just some strange symptom of his injuries and hospitalization, but as Malice begins, he still can’t shake the feeling that she’s nearby. He begins to see her everywhere, even in his own backyard, and is convinced that someone is messing with his head. Then he receives a package containing recent photographs of a woman who looks exactly like Jennifer did when she died, and a copy of her death certificate with a question mark next to the date of death. In order to figure out what is going on and who is playing with him, Rick gives in and travels to California. Unfortunately, he is not welcome in the eyes of his former colleagues. Then a killer who has been quiet since Bentz left strikes again, and even his old partners begin wondering if Bentz being back is the reason behind the killer’s return. There are so many twists in this latest from Jackson, that even if you think you have it figured out, you’re probably dead wrong. Another suspenseful read, just what I’ve come to expect from her. 04/09 Becky Lejeune
MAMA DOES TIME by Deborah Sharp: Imagine Stephanie Plum in rural Florida. Her Mama is a true Southern woman partial to sherbet colored pantsuits and marriage (4 ex-husbands). Mace, and her sisters Maddie and Marty, are called by Mama from the police station. After an inopportune fender bender at the Dairy Queen, the body of the fiancé of the Police Department receptionist is found in the trunk of Mama’s car. The new handsome detective from Miami has few problems in seeing Mama for the crime. So it’s up to the girls, primarily Mace, to prove the man wrong. Colorful characters and a segment of Florida seldom seen by tourists evoke a Southern Sisters feeling in this very well written Southern fried epic. “Her voice was so cold, they could have pumped it into the beer cooler down at the Booze ‘n’ Breeze drive-through.” Or this scene at the office of Mace’s lawyer cousin – “Mr. Bauer, this lady says she’s Ms. Bauer. “Thanks, Amber. I might not have recognized Ms. Bauer with her clothes on. We used to splash nekkid together in the kiddy pool in my back yard. That was decades ago, darlin’, way before you was even born.” A winner. 12/08 Jack Quick
THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRE ROMANCE edited by Trisha Telep: An anthology featuring stories from the best and the brightest in the paranormal romance and urban fantasy genres, and it’s all about vamps. An absolute must read for paranormal romance fans everywhere. The collection features the likes of Vicki Pettersson, author of the fantastic Zodiac series. Pettersson, whose tales feature superheroes battling the forces of evil in Las Vegas, shows off her skills with a steamy installment, “Remember the Blood.” Lilith Saintcrow, author of the Dante Valentine and Jill Kismet series, gives readers a little extra with Liana’s story (Dante’s Valentine’s adopted daughter) “A Stand-up Dame.” Werecat author, Rachel Vincent takes a break from her feline heroine with “The Midday Mangler Meets His Match.” Other contributors include writing duo C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp, Keri Arthur, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Rebecca York, and Jenna Black, just to name a few. This collection truly has something for everyone, whether you prefer the sillier sarcastic stories or steamy sexy ones. 08/08 Becky Lejeune
Man and Boy by Tony Parsons: This was cute but not as spectacular as the reviews had led me to believe. Fairly standard boy meets girl, with the requisite tears and laughter, nods to Ms. Fielding. Personal note: the Gone With the Wind reference, which was to the movie as the book had obviously not been read, just pissed me off.
MAN CAMP by Adrienne Brodeur: Lucy and Marsha are two single New York City girls. Lucy is in love with Adam, until their Valentine’s Day vacation fiasco forces her to confront his shortcomings. Marsha can’t seem to get past the first date, causing her to start a business by dating men and critiquing their dating style. Reminiscent of the Will Smith movie, Hitch, Marsha’s “FirstDate” business soon evolves into a more intense program the girls surreptitiously call “Man Camp”. Lucy’s best friend from college, Cooper, is a gentleman farmer from West Virginia, and he agrees to host the city slickers and coach them on how to be real men, which encompasses teaching them how to change a tire and shoot a gun, but the students end up teaching the teacher when he almost loses the farm. Cooper and Marsha fall in love, but his southern bell of a mother isn’t too keen on her son taking up with a Yankee. Fast paced and fun, this debut is sure to please fans of chick-lit light. Adrienne Brodeur is the founding editor of Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope All-Story. Recommended for larger fiction collections. Pub date July 19. Copyright © 2005 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission. 07/05
MAN EATER by Ray Shannon: The author (really Gar Anthony Haywood) has put together a memorable cast in this Hollywood based tale that is the equal to any Elmore Leonard. There is stone killer Neon Polk who is after Ronnie “Raw” Deal, a sexy producer on the rise, ex-con Ellis Langford who is helping Ronnie, and the Ayala brothers, a pair of vicious, drug-dealing morons. Add in Antsy Carruth, a trashy bimbo who steals drug money from her equally trashy boy friend. Mix in a couple of confrontations, some wounded egos, and scenes like this one: “I better leave you with a little somethin’ to think about. So you don’t go and do somethin’ stupid like tell Five-Oh I was here. Which one of your ears you like best? Left or right?” Start it early in the day if you don’t want to stay up all night. 03/06 Jack Quick
THE MAN FROM PRIMROSE LANE by James Renner: David Neff hasn’t been able to write since his wife’s suicide four years ago. He’s been living off lucrative royalties from his debut release, The Serial Killer’s Protégé, a true crime book that nearly cost him his mind. Neff’s publisher thinks it’s time to try again and presents the perfect case for Neff to begin researching: the murder of The Man From Primrose Lane. The man had no visitors, lived under a stolen name, and was brutally murdered in his own home. The case has been cold ever since. Neff is intrigued. As his research into the case grows deeper, strange connections begin to appear and the author soon finds himself under investigation as well. The Man From Primrose Lane is a really brilliant multi-genre tale: part mystery/thriller, part science fiction, all exceptional! I loved it and definitely highly recommend it to anyone looking for a dark thriller that’s a bit different from the usual fare. 3/12 Becky Lejeune KINDLE
The Man in the Box by Thomas Moran: I was hooked from the beginning: "During the war, we kept our Jew in a box," and read the rest straight through. This engrossing novel is told from the point of view of the teenagers of a small town in Austria during WWII. A truly remarkable story.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE by Brian Haig: This book is scheduled to go on sale January 6, 2007. That might he a good day to be at your local bookstore when it opens and to plan on taking the rest of the day off. What is the true meaning of patriotism? During the weeks preceding the 2004 Presidential election, Army lawyer Sean Drummond is caught between duty to Washington's elite and the soldiers in Iraq. Sent to investigate a reported suicide of one of the most belligerent of the hawks supporting the conflict in Iraq, Drummond uncovers the secrets that led to this war. Now he must choose. The soldiers dying overseas or the Washington power brokers, knowing that once exposed the information he has could destroy public support and undermine the presidency. This one has top ten written all over it, with roots in Vietnam, connections to the Carter presidency and to the Iraq Study Group Report. Whether or not its true, it is certainly plausible, and awesomely told. 01/07 Jack Quick
The Man I Should Have Married by Pamela Redmond Satran: First novel from the very successful author of baby name books like Beyond Jennifer and Jason and the upcoming Cool Names, and one of the first issues from the new Simon & Schuster imprint for chick lit and hip reads, Downtown Press. Kennedy and Frank have been married for a while and have a 5-year-old daughter, Amanda. Kennedy also has a teenage daughter, Maya, from her previous live-in lover Marco, who she dumped when his interest in drugs superseded his interest in his family. And also lurking in her past is Declan, who was her boss and best friend until the night she slept with him, after which she ran off to marry Frank. But Frank's left Kennedy for Sunny, and Maya wants to find her father Marco, who she doesn't even remember, and Kennedy is searching for what she really wants, while dealing with her past, her children and her five-time-married mother's advice. It's really not as confusing as it all sounds! These are great characters in a fast paced, sweet and funny story that I could not put down. Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
MAN OF THE HOUSE by Ad Hudler: Anyone who thinks men can't write chicklit hasn't read Ad Hudler. This is light, humorous, romantic fun at its best. I loved Househusband, and this sequel has been several years in coming but it was so worth the wait. Linc has always been the stay-at-home parent, cooking gourmet meals, keeping a spotless house, and being a great dad to Violet. But as Violet grows up and the family moves from New York to Florida, Linc starts having second thoughts about his role in the family and as a man in general. We hear directly from the newly teenaged Violet, her mom, Linc and Violet's teacher, making us privy to their thoughts and ideas. Women will love how the traditional job of homemaker takes on the depth and importance that it deserves, and will appreciate Linc's dive into the testosterone pool. All in all, a very satisfying and enjoyable read. 10/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE by Lee Goldberg: Harvey Mapes, an overeducated security guard for a Southern California gated community, is pulled out of his rut when a wealthy resident hires him to tail his wife. We learn that Mapes is fond of masturbation, television PI shows, nipples, masturbation, gratuitous violence, junk food and masturbation. Actually, this is not a bad read if you are into amateur detectives with lots of on-the-job training. The writing is crisp and the plot interesting, but overall not my favorite to come down the pike. 01/06 Jack Quick
THE MAN WHO WALKED LIKE A BEAR by Stuart Kaminksy: In the sixth Inspector Rostnikov thriller, Rostnikov is visiting his wife, Sarah, hospitalized in their home city of Moscow. The "walking bear" is a man who escapes from the mental ward and alarms the women in Sarah's room before the inspector succeeds in calming him This strange event starts Rostnikov, with his comrades Karpo and Thach, on another series of Moscow adventures where the Inspector divides his time battling criminals, the KGB, and his police superiors. Another first rate police procedural on a par with McBain’s 87th Precinct. 01/06 Jack Quick
MANHATTAN NORTH by John Mackie: Sergeant Thornton Savage and his partners are challenged by a series of slayings – each one a notorious drug dealer. But after one of Savage’s long term friends is killed, the heat gets turned up big-time which in turn leads to threats against Savage and his fiancée. Another first rate procedural from John Mackie, author of Manhattan South, Eastside and Westside. Where will John take Savage next? Whichever direction, you can count on it being action packed. 03/06 Jack Quick
MANHATTAN SOUTH by John Mackie: Candace Mayhew and her Gambino mob boyfriend are murdered in a bar at closing time. Later that same morning, Andric Karazov plays with his toy Napoleonic Calvary and thinks about the less-than-perfect job he just completed, a senator in Queens contemplates his run for the presidency while his wife enjoys another rendezvous with her Russian lesbian lover. All of these people are linked to Candace Mayhew. NYPD Sergeant Thornton Savage ends up the target of both a shootout and an internal investigation before ultimately fitting all the pieces together of a plot involving infidelity, extortion and political intrigue. A very well-done police procedural. 01/06 Jack Quick
MANNHEIM REX by Robert Pobi: The way Gavin Corlie sees it, he has two options: suicide, or a complete change of scenery. The death of his wife has left him grieving and depressed and he knows he can’t take one more minute in their shared home. An old fixer-upper upstate seems to be the answer. The town of New Mannheim is quiet and more than a bit off the beaten path. The house needs work but sits on the banks of the picturesque Lake Caldasac and should be the perfect place to recuperate and begin work on his next novel. As a horror author, Corlie makes a living telling dark and twisted tales, but the secret hiding beneath the still waters of Lake Caldasac is all too real. After an accident on the lake almost claims the life of local kid Finn Horn, Corlie takes him under his wing and learns the truth about that fateful afternoon. Soon the two are on the hunt for a killer monster that’s been hiding in the depths of Lake Caldasac for decades. If they can catch it, it’ll mean fame and fortune for the young boy. If they fail, they could both become the creature’s latest victims. If you’re in the mood for a graphic and gory creature feature horror that doesn’t take itself too seriously, Mannheim Rex would have to be my recommendation. While I would have loved more of the creature itself, I thought this latest from Pobi was highly entertaining. 12/12 Becky Lejeune
MANIFESTO FOR THE DEAD by Domenic Stansberry: Knowledgeable critics panned this one when it came out in 2000. Fortunately, I am not a member of the intelligentsia so I enjoyed it immensely. Its 1971 and real life 64 year old novelist Jim Thompson is drinking himself to death at the famous Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard. A sleazy producer called Billy Miracle and a fading star named Michele Haze sign the vulnerable Jim to write a novel based on a screenplay, planning to entice movie mogul Jack Lombard into bankrolling both the book and the film. Haze is murdered and Thompson is set up as the chief suspect. As homage to Thompson, purists may quibble, but the writing is spare, dark, and full of simple but powerful imagery. (``He had not died after all. He was in Beverly Hills'') Maybe not Stansberry’s best work, but obviously audacious, and I thought, enjoyable. 06/07 Jack Quick
THE MANUAL OF DETECTION by Jedediah Berry: Charles Unwin is an agency clerk who loves his job. He’s careful about putting together files for his detective and strives to be the best clerk he can be. Then one morning Unwin is surprised to find that he’s been promoted to detective. It’s nearly unheard of for a clerk to be promoted to detective and it’s not exactly something that Unwin has ever aspired to himself. Then Unwin discovers that his detective, Travis Sivart, has gone missing. The only solution, for Unwin to find out what happened to Sivart so that he can go happily back to being a clerk. Turns out there’s something strange going on with Sivart’s cases, though, and it could be that the reason for Sivart’s disappearance lies hidden somewhere in the files themselves. The Manual of Detection is an interesting read to be sure. It’s in the same vein as the recently released Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes, and like Barnes’ debut, Berry’s novel can be quite hard to get a handle on. One blink and the reader runs the risk of completely losing their grasp on this strange tale. Overall, a clever mystery, but one that does require some amount of concentration. 02/09 Becky Lejeune
THE MANUAL OF DETECTION by Jedediah Berry: This debut is easy to read, but difficult to describe. A relatively simple story, but exceptionally well told. Charles Unwin is the personal clerk for legendary detective Travis Sivart, the key man in the Agency, in an unnamed rainy city. When Sivart goes missing, Unwin is promoted to fill the vacancy. All Unwin wants to do is find Sivart so he can go back to being a clerk. With the help of a book – Manual of Detection – he sets forth on his adventure. What makes this book so memorable is the quality of Berry’s writing. For instance, his description of Unwin - “life time resident of this city, rode his bicycle to work every day, even when it was raining. He contrived a method to keep his umbrella open while pedaling, by hooking the umbrella’s handle around the bicycle’s handlebar…Today he was behind schedule. He had scorched his oatmeal, and tied the wrong tie, and nearly forgotten his wristwatch…Now his socks were getting wet, so he pedaled even faster.” Can’t you just see the epitome of every meek little minor bureaucrat in that simple description. “Even Mr. Duden alluded to (his work), most often when scolding someone for sloppy work. “You like to think your files stand up to Unwin’s and you don’t even know the difference between a dagger and a stiletto?” Highly recommended. 05/09 Jack Quick
THE MAP THIEF by Heather Terrell: In the time since Mara Coyne dealt with the case surrounding The Chrysalis, she’s been able to begin fresh and open her own firm. To the average person, Mara’s firm specializes in legal cases surrounding stolen art. To the not-so-average clientele, she offers a very unique service that involves the tracking and returning of stolen items without the help of the authorities. This has allowed Mara to make some contacts in the underground art world that would otherwise be against her efforts.
Mara’s specialized service has caught the attention of one Richard Tobias, an affluent businessman who’s funding an archaeological dig in China. Richard received word from his chief archaeologist that a very important discovery had been made at the site, a fifteenth-century map that may very well be the first accurate world map, and it was created years before any such map was supposed to have been made. The next day, the map was stolen. Richard has hired Mara and her team to help recover the map without alerting Chinese officials of either the discovery or the theft of the item. Of course, Mara’s investigation doesn’t begin as easily as she would have hoped and the more she learns about the map itself, the more difficult she realizes this case will be. With The Map Thief, Terrell has transformed her series into something much more than that of a legal thriller. She alternates chapters between the present day and the Chinese and Portuguese expeditions in 1421 that surround this mysterious map. The combination of actual historical fact and her distinctive new direction for the series make this a captivating thriller. 07/08 Becky Lejeune
THE MAPPING OF LOVE AND DEATH by Jacqueline Winspear: Winspear says the character Maisie Dobbs, investigator and psychologist, sprang full blown in her head while she was stuck in a San Rafael traffic jam. By the time she arrived at her job in San Francisco the entire plot of her first book was firmly in hand. That led to Ms. Winspear’s career change to full-time writer. Now in Dobbs seventh outing, Maisie must unravel a case of wartime love and death. It’s April, 1932 and the parents of one Michael Clifton have retained Dobbs to look for the unnamed nurse mentioned in love letters recently discovered in France, love letters written to their son who has been listed as missing in action since The Great War. Her inquiries lead to the stunning discovery that unlike the other members of his unit who were killed by German artillery, Michael Clifton was murdered in his trench. When Clifton’s parents are brutally beaten in their hotel room, Dobbs soon realizes that this attack is somehow connected to the death of the son. Over the course of her investigation, Maisie must cope with the approaching loss of her mentor, Maurice Blanche, and her growing awareness that she is once again falling in love. 03/10 Jack Quick
MAPS OF HELL by Paul Johnston: Imagine waking up in cell, with virtually no memory, being subjected to physical and mental abuse, without knowing who is doing this or why it is being done? Crime writer Matt Wells learns he is the subject of secret brainwashing experiments in the Maine wilderness being conducted by a para-military group. He knows they’ve been feeding him instructions—but for what? As he begins to try to unravel the secret he learns that he is being blamed for some gruesome murdered and there is a woman, someone from his past, if only he could remember. Definitely over the top, and nicely done. 05/10 Jack Quick
MARGARITA NIGHTS by Phyllis Smallman: Amateur sleuth Sherri Travis is a bartender in an upscale Jacaranda, Florida bar but Sherri is from the side of town where luxury is an extra wide trailer. In this debut novel, her husband Jimmy Travis, from whom she is separated and who comes from Jacaranda's social register, and his boat, the Suncoaster, explode in an orange ball of fire. The combination of a witness who puts Sherri on the Suncoaster hours before it went boom and a quarter million dollar insurance policy make Sherri the one and only suspect. Sherri knows she didn’t do it, but it is imperative that she fine who did. In the process she discovers a whole lot of people who wanted to see Jimmy dead. Interesting. 02/10 Jack Quick
MARIANA by Susanna Kearsley: The first time Julia Beckett laid eyes on Greywethers, she knew it was home. It would be another twenty-five years before it would become hers. After a small inheritance allows her to purchase the house, Julia relocates from the city intent on devoting herself to her latest project. But from the moment she steps over the threshold, Julia begins to experience something strange. She begins to dream of life through the eyes of a girl named Mariana. As the slips become more frequent, Julia realizes that they are not dreams at all. She is experiencing 17th century life as Mariana Farr, a girl who once lived at Greywethers. Originally published in the early 90s, Mariana has been recently re-released for a new audience. Kearsley’s gothic style and rich storytelling make Mariana an utterly satisfying read. 4/12 Becky Lejeune
THE MARK by Jason Pinter: Rookie reporter Henry Parker has landed his dream job with the New York Gazette. His first assignments, minor obituaries, have left him yearning for something a bit more exciting. When his mentor, Jack O’Donnell asks for help on one of his own stories, Henry is happy to oblige. O’Donnell is working on an article about rehabilitated criminals and Henry is sent to do one simple interview with a Luis Guzman. Something about Guzman and his wife concerns Henry though and he decides to follow up to find out why. On returning to the apartment, Henry finds that the Guzman and his wife have been tied up and brutally beaten. He defends the two and ends up killing their attacker in the process. Confused and scared, Henry leaves the scene only to find that he is now being accused of murdering a police officer. Henry must find out the truth behind the Guzman attack and clear his own name before the authorities, or worse, find him. Pinter’s thrilling debut promises to be a hit with readers this summer. This is definitely one that will have you hooked until the very last page. 06/07 Becky Lejeune
The Mark of the Angel by Nancy Huston: This was fascinating, well written, shocking and horrific. About a romance and a marriage, with two different men of course, with the Holocaust and other atrocities thrown in. Put me in mind of The Reader by Schlink. I loved it. Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
MARK OF THE DEVIL by William Kerr: Matt Berkely knew that cleaning up his aunt’s house after the damage inflicted by Hurricane Grace would be messy, but it’s his help locating a wrecked barge that leads to real trouble. As a former Navy Special Warfare officer and current member of NAARPA (North American Archaeological Research and Preservation Association), Matt is no stranger diving. When his friend asks that he assist in marking a wrecked barge, though, Matt makes a much greater discovery that could mean the revelation of long lost WWII secrets. What appears to be a German U-Boat has been trapped under the sand and silt at the bottom of the ocean until Grace leaves it partially uncovered. As there is no record of any ship going down in the area, however, it is clear that the sub’s presence could be of some significance. Before Matt can investigate further, though, his life is threatened and a friend is murdered. Seems the sub and the mission that led it to the coast of Florida all those years ago is still fresh on someone’s mind and they’re not too keen for others to learn the truth. A great thriller with a hint of espionage and enthralling history, This is latest in a series but can be read as a stand-alone. 02/09 Becky Lejeune
MARKED by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast: In Zoey Redbird’s world, everyone knows that vampyres are real. When Zoey is marked by one of their trackers, her life is turned upside down. The fact that she has no choice in the matter sucks. On the bright side, being sent to the House of Night does mean escaping her horrid stepfather. It also means giving up everything and everyone she knows to join the other fledglings like herself at the vampyre school. And life at the House of Night is pretty much like life outside, with the popular Dark Daughters and their leader, Aphrodite, bullying those outside of the clique. Zoey is destined for great things, though, and standing out only draws more unwanted attention to the new girl. Plus there’s the fact that her ex won’t leave her alone and she seems to be experiencing a very strong craving for blood. This first in the popular teen series offers a great twist on the vampire mythology and a heroine readers can really get behind. 04/11 Becky Lejeune
MARKS OF CAIN by Tom Knox: David Martinez’s grandfather is recently deceased, but his legacy is just beginning. David knows little about his family’s background and heritage, but a hefty inheritance leaves him wondering. His grandfather was well off, but lived a quiet and conservative life. Where then did the money come from and why was it kept secret all this time? The inheritance comes with one strange stipulation: David must go to the Basque region of Spain and deliver a map to an old acquaintance of his grandfather’s. It is this task that sets David on a dangerous path that will ultimately lead to the truth of his family’s origins. Meanwhile, a string of murders has led journalist Simon Quinn to the story of his life. As the two plot lines grow closer and closer together, a horrible truth is revealed. One that powers around the world will kill to keep under wraps. While Knox’s story is gripping and fast-paced, I wish there had been a bit more character development. Parts of the narrative felt unnecessarily rushed and would have benefited from being fleshed out a bit more in my opinion. A fun read, nonetheless. 05/10 Becky Lejeune
MARRIED WITH ZOMBIES by Jesse Petersen: Looking for a zombielicious read? Married With Zombies is the latest and greatest addition to the walking dead trend. Husband and wife Sarah and Dave have been trying to hold their marriage together, but their efforts are pretty much failing. With each independently seeking out divorce attorneys, their weekly couples’ counseling sessions seem to have been a waste of time and limited money. Until they walk in on their therapist snacking on her previous clients. Now Dave and Sarah are on the run from the living dead and will have to work together if they want to survive. If Shaun of the Dead is a favorite in your zombie collection, you won’t want to miss Jesse Petersen. This first in the new Living With the Dead series is seriously hilarious stuff. Books two and three are due out in January and June of next year and I can honestly say that you’re going to love the direction this post-outbreak zombie series is headed in. 09/10 Becky Lejeune
THE MARVELOUS BOY by Peter Corris: In this third Cliff Hardy adventure from 1982, Hardy is still more ex-surfer than accomplished PI. In spite of his beat-up leather jacket and jeans, Lady Catherine Chatterton, widow of a prominent judge, hires him to find her missing grandson. The search starts and almost ends with an aging drunk, but Hardy obtains a helpful photograph from the drunk – who is immediately murdered. Now Hardy is on a murder case. Dated but shows promise for further adventures. 09/07 Jack Quick
MARY, MARY by James Patterson: “Mary Smith” is sending e-mails to a Los Angels Times editor claiming credit for the shooting of a well known actress. She says this wasn’t her first victim nor will it be her last. The FBI Director calls in agent/psychologist Alex Cross who is on vacation with his family at Disneyland. It is like no other case Ales has ever tackled. Is this an isolated incident or part of a bigger pattern? Is Mary Smith really a woman? Delightfully twisty, and somewhat of a return to style of the earlier Patterson thrillers. 12/05 Jack Quick
MASK MARKET by Andrew Vachss: The anti-hero Burke is approached by a man about a job, but as he goes to his car to get Burke’s money, he is killed, leaving Burke with only the “meet money” and a DVD. Now, Burke and his family are trying to find out if there is something in it for them to find the man’s killer. Dark as always, Burke somehow survives in a world that we instinctively know would claim us in a minute. Not for the faint of heart, but Burke and his family, after a time, become familiar, if not trusted acquaintances. 08/06 Jack Quick
MASQUES by Bill Pronzini: Pronzini captures the New Orleans that was and hopefully will be again in this Mardi Gras pot-boiler. Photographer Steve Giroux is trying to put his life back together after a failed marriage and a devastating fire at his photography business. His Mardi Gras trip soon involves his being chased by a masked reveler who thinks Giroux has a photograph that the masked man wants. Giroux also gets involved with two women, each with a very different agenda. A quick read, very descriptive, which captures the Mardi Gras spirit quite nicely. Pass me some beads and another drink, please. 11/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
MASTER OF THE GAME by Sidney Sheldon: Originally published in 1982, Sidney Sheldon’s bestselling family drama now has a sequel, Tilly Bagshawe’s Mistress of the Game. And what a perfect time for readers unfamiliar with Sheldon’s work to be introduced. Master begins with Kate Blackwell celebrating her ninetieth birthday. As the matriarch of the Blackwell family, and the reigning heir of the Kruger-Brent empire and fortune, she has played the game well. Everything in her life has been carefully chosen to lead to this point and completely manipulated by Kate to ensure that she gets her way. As she recalls her family’s story, beginning with her father, Jamie MacGregor, as he sets off from Scotland to Africa to find his fortune in the late 1800s, the reader is taken along for the ride of a lifetime—literally. Kate’s tale is a century of family history punctuated by greed, deceit, manipulation, obsessive love, and tragic loss. In the end, however, she proves that she is indeed the Master of the Game. Sheldon has been described as a “master storyteller” and Master of the Game proves that this is so. At almost 500 pages, I found myself finishing this book in just two sittings. 08/09 Becky Lejeune
MASTERS MATES by Peter Corris: Booklist says there are three “evergreen” mystery series that never go stale - Westlake's Dortmunder novels (35 plus years), McBain's 87th Precinct series (49 plus years), and Corris' Cliff Hardy series over 25 years. Having enjoyed McBain and Westlake for years, I am pleased to say that I agree with their analysis of Corris as well. When Hardy is hired by a beautiful woman to look into her husband's heroin-smuggling conviction, he becomes threatened by a conspiracy that may be more than even Hardy can overcome. Another solid outing with believable characters and plenty of action. Lets hope this series could go on another quarter century. 10/07 Jack Quick
MATCHED by Ally Condie: The Society has been set up to protect its people from the dangers of the world. It is true that early societies became overwhelmed and overly dependent on technology. When that technology failed, society did as well. Today everything has been planned and measured out to ensure the happiness and longevity of the population. It is Cassia Reyes’s seventeenth birthday, the day she is to meet her match—the boy who will become her husband. Statistically, most girls who choose to be matched are paired with boys from other towns. To be matched with someone you know is almost unheard of, but Cassia is one of the lucky ones. Her match is her best friend, Xander. But for just one moment, Cassia sees another match, another boy that she knows. It’s impossible to have two matches, especially when Cassia learns more about this second boy. It is that tiny chance, though, that causes Cassie to ask, “What if?” And that question will lead Cassia to question much, much more about her life and the world around her. Condie’s imagined future is a scary one indeed, a world that seems perfect in every way but has no room for individuality or freedom. Perfect for fans of dystopian fiction. 12/10 Becky Lejeune
Matchstick Men by Eric Garcia: This book has a rather unusual sticker on the cover; it says, "Read next summer's big movie this winter. Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Nicolas Cage." Usually you see the "movie cover" when the paperback comes out, but this time it's right on the hardcover of this just released book. Interesting.
The story revolves around two con men, "matchstick men", Roy and Frankie, who have been partners for years. They sucker you in on page one and as the story progresses, the cons get more involved and the monetary rewards much larger until they finally pull the biggest scam of their careers, and go screeching towards the surprise ending. There isn't a whole lot of plot here, but there is an easy, entertaining read.
MATRIMONY by Joshua Henkin: We meet Julian Wainwright in 1987 when the eighteen-year-old begins his freshman year at Graymont College. Julian dreams of one day becoming a writer. He meets Mia Medelsohn, Mia from Montreal, one evening after picking her out of a yearbook. They fall in love and eventually marry during their senior year. Following college, the couple relocates to Michigan where Mia pursues a graduate degree in psychology – a decision that results from the death of her mother. Julian is now attempting to write his “great American novel” and failing miserably. Henkin’s novel traces the couple through twenty years of life, love, and marriage. Over time, Julian and Mia will face the worst of betrayals and disappointments that life can hurl at them. It’s the mundane and ordinary events that are illuminated in Henkin’s novel, however. Julian and Mia are very real people. They face the same challenges and miseries that every young adult faces today. Some of the more serious issues, like the death of Mia’s mother, are absolutely heartbreaking to read. Julian’s and Mia’s expectations, hopes, dreams, and fears are all so achingly real that readers will find it impossible not to associate with them on some level. At times funny and always thoughtful, Matrimony is a wonderful literary novel. 11/07 Becky Lejeune
MATTERHORN by Karl Marlantes: There is no member of my generation that was not shaped in one way or another by the war in Vietnam. For all of us, Matterhorn should be a must read. It is the definitive “war story” of that conflict.
Author Marlantes tells us about Marine Company Bravo through the eyes of a young ROTC second lieutenant Mellas - a bright, ambitious young man, who thinks that military service will be helpful in a future political career. It is through his thoughts and feelings that we realize how young and unlived are the men and women that our leaders send off to fight our wars.
Matterhorn is a painfully honest account of the frustrations that arise from a lack of experience and equipment, distant micro-management and an environment that is as relentless as the enemy. As Mellas arrives in country, Bravo Company is assigned to take and secure a hill which has been designated “Matterhorn.” It is a brutal struggle and just as that hill has been won, the order comes to abandon it. Ultimately, the Company is assigned to take the hill again. Only this time, the enemy is embedded in the fortifications that Bravo had dug out and built there the first time.
The novel is graphic in its description of the toll that struggling in the jungle takes on the men. It is just as graphic and honest in the description of racial tensions between the troops which have the Black soldiers wearing symbolic nooses. We are reminded not only what the world was like then, but also that the military is merely a reflection of our larger society. It is unfair to hold soldiers to a higher standard or to expect them to behave better, particularly when they are risking their lives at every turn.
This book is 600 pages long and it is 600 pages of blood and pus and sweat and fear and death. At times, I had to put it down. But I will never forget it. 06/10 Geoffrey R. Hamlin
MAY DAY by Jess Lourey: Mira James is tired of her dead-end job in the Twin Cities of Minnesota anyway, so when she finds her boyfriend is cheating on her, that is enough to send here away. She moves to Battle Creek to enjoy the slower paced rural life. She begins her new career(s) as an assistant librarian and part-time reporter, and falls into an unexpected romance with a guy who seems to be the perfect man, that is until he is found dead in the reference stacks her tenth day on the job. Soon Mira uncovers even more unknown dangers lurking beneath the small town surface and that revenge is a tater-tot hot dish best served cold. Breezy first outing for Mira who is expected to be featured in further outings. 08/09 Jack Quick
THE MAX by Ken Bruen & Jason Starr: In 2006 it was BUST; then in 2007, SLIDE. This year the zany team of Bruen and Starr continue the madness with a free-for-all that has something for everyone. Drug baron Max Fisher, the Max, is in prison – where he belongs. He shares this fate with ex-girlfriend Angela Petrakos, who is also in prison – on the Isle of Lesbos. (Didn’t I say this had something for everyone?). Both are intent on making the best of a bad situation and maybe, perhaps, ultimately, getting free. To that end Angela hooks up with Sebastian and Max is counting on his hulking cellmate Rufus. Max is also in cahoots with one Paula Segal – an aspiring true-crime writer with a jones for Laura Lippman. Sleazy, depraved, daft, noir, ruthless, repulsive, dirty rotten scoundrels and natural born killers. What hath the two boys wrought? Another winner. 09/08 Jack Quick
MAXIMUM BOB by Elmore Leonard: Maximum Bob is liberal Palm Beach County Judge Bob Isom Gibbs, so named for his propensity to throw the book at a defendant. To quote Bob, “What is the book for if you don't go by it and, yes, occasionally throw it at a criminal offender.” But now Bob has run afoul of the Crowe family, primarily Elvin, an habitual criminal who didn't think it was fair that he had to do ten years plus five years probation when he shot the wrong guy. He is joined by twenty year old Dale Crowe Junior who is out less than 72 hours when he gets revoked for a fight with the bouncer at a strip joint and Dr. Tommy Vasco, ex-friend of Elvin's prison boyfriend. Together they plot to take care of Maximum Bob who is meanwhile trying to scare off his weird young wife, Leanne, a possible psychic sharing a body with Wanda Grace, a dead slave girl. Kathy Diaz Baker, probation officer for Elvin, Elvin's nephew and eventually Dr. Tommy works with Detective Gary Hammond regarding such questions as (Who brought a gator to Gibbs's house? Who shot at the house? What's Elvin up to with Dr. Tommy?) Although Maximum Bob wants Ms. Baker its Detective Hammond who will win the fair maiden, eventually. A riot. 03/11 Jack Quick
THE MAYOR OF LEXINGTON AVENUE by James Sheehan: This somewhat uneven story of miscarried justice and loyalty is the debut effort of Sheehan, a Florida trial lawyer. Rudy Kelly, a "slow" 19-year-old, is arrested for a murder he didn't commit. Hotshot Miami attorney Jack Tobin, who was friends with Rudy’s father, is asked to intervene to repay a debt to Mikey Kelly, the boy who once named him “Mayor of Lexington Avenue.” After a somewhat slow start, the book finishes fast and Sheehan's bar experience shows in his courtroom scenes and passages on legal maneuvering. 04/06 Jack Quick
MAZURKA by Aaron Paul Lazar: Middle aged Gus and Camille LeGarde are on their honeymoon in Paris, accompanied by Gus’s brother-in-law Siegfried, the victim of a brain injury which limits his ability to take care of himself. Siegfried is being taken to visit his great aunt who is dying of cancer. A bloody brawl on the Champs Élysées thrusts Siegfried and Gus into the news, where Siegfried is incorrectly identified as the killer of a Neo-Nazi group. The Nazis seek revenge on Gus and Camille while Siegfried is in the hospital recovering. They barely escape to safety in Denkendorf, at the home of Siegfried’s aunt. But the story is not over at that point, as there is a shocking family secret about Chopin's steamy past. Not a bad tale, but suffers from poor editing, i.e, “The steaming hot water from the shower pulsed steadily against my muscles vibrating with sensuous memories of the night before.” In a romance, maybe, in a mystery, no. 04/09 Jack Quick
THE McCONE FILES by Marcia Muller: Before there was a V.I. Warshawski, or a Kinsey Milhone, or a Carlotta Carlyle, there was Sharon McCone, the 1977 product of Marcia Muller, credited with the creation of the modern female private eye story. McCone worked for All Souls Legal Cooperative in San Francisco for many years before starting her own detective agency. Fifteen of her All Souls cases were written up by Muller, and those fifteen are set forth in this volume. If you’re a McCone fan like me, it’s a must read. If not a fan, there still is probably at least one or two that you will enjoy. An original from Crippen & Landrau Publishers. 02/07 Jack Quick
ME BEFORE YOU by JoJo Moyes: Louisa has lived in a small English village her whole life, and even though she's in her 20's she has no plans on leaving. She loses her job when the cafe where she works closes, and the employment office in town offers her up one job more awful than the next, topped by their final offer; caretaker for a quadriplegic for six months. The money is very good, and her family relies on her income to get by, so after being assured she won't have to wipe any bottoms, she grudgingly agrees to an the job. Her new boss is a much younger man than she expected. Will comes from money, but was a very successful businessman prior to his accident, the type that traveled world wide and lived life to the fullest. Struck by a car, he is in constant pain and needs constant care. He has someone to do the physical stuff for him, Louisa is there to be more of a companion for him. But he's nasty and angry and she doesn't know how to reach him. But eventually she does, and is determined to help him find a way to enjoy his life to the best of her ability, but will that be enough? Will wants to die, and his parents have agreed to let him provided he give them six months. Once Louisa learns this, she becomes more determined than ever to save him, falling in love with him along the way. What could have been a maudlin story, or an overly sweet one, is instead a cataclysmic love story that just resonates; this is a remarkable book. 8/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
MEAN TOWN BLUES by Sam Reaves: Tommy McLain is home from the Iraq war with a reconstructed abdomen. There is nothing left for him in his native Lexington, Kentucky so he heads for Chicago and an old friend. As he is getting settled in, he meets Lisa DiPetro who is being stalked. One thing leads to another and before you know it McLain is inside a different pentagon than the Army one. There are two mob families, two police departments and the FBI all looking into his life. Will he escape this five-sided puzzle? Lets just say that a sequel is not out of the question, and worth reading. 01/09 Jack Quick
MELANCHOLY BABY by Robert B. Parker: Sunny Randall is no Spenser but her fourth adventure reaffirms Parker’s ability to tell a story, and to tell it well. Sunny faces the emotional turmoil of her ex-husband Richie’s re-marriage while trying to solve a difficult case that ends up taking two lives and altering others. A young woman thinks her parents are not really her parents. Their actions convince Sunny that something is wrong, but she can’t figure out what. In the meantime she begins to see a shrink – Susan (remember Susan, Spenser’s girlfriend?). Sunny is also assisted by Leonard (remember Spenser’s friend Leonard?). All in all a good read, but definitely Spenser lite. Most memorable line – Sunny after meeting Richie’s new wife –“I spent the next two hours trying to figure out how to kill her without getting caught.” You go girl. 04/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
THE MEMORIST by M.J. Rose: When Meer Logan was young, she suffered from terrifying dreams of an elaborate box and a haunting melody. Desperate for help, her father contacted Malachi Samuels head of the Phoenix Foundation. Jeremy Logan and Samuels believed that Meer’s issues stem from reincarnation. Meer believes, however, that the box and the music are actually the result of false memories created by her own mind. Then her father discovers the real box and a letter hidden inside that appears to have been written by Beethoven himself. In the letter, Beethoven talks of a flute that when played with a specific tune will allow people to see their past lives – a memory tool. Meer’s dreams begin to return and she travels to Vienna in hopes that she can finally make sense of them. Instead, the dreams become even more vivid and seem to be leading Meer straight to the famous flute. Word of Logan’s discovery has been made public, though, and they’re all about to see just how far people are willing to go to get their hands on yet another memory tool. Rose delves into the mysteries of the mind and reincarnation again in this magnificent follow-up to last year’s Reincarnationist. Memorist features an all new cast of characters, with the exception of Samuels and the Phoenix Foundation, and can easily be read without having read book one. Like Reincarnationist, Rose moves easily from one storyline to the next, from one character to another, and from one century to another. The plot is elaborate and totally engaging; a page-turner that will stick with you long after you put it down. 11/08 Becky Lejeune
THE MEMORY COLLECTOR by Meg Gardiner: Jo Beckett, the forensic psychologist in the excellent Dirty Secrets Club, is back, only this time she’s called to the airport to determine whether or not Ian Kanan should be arrested or hospitalized; no more “psychological autopsies” for Beckett. One of the things I liked best about the Dirty Secrets Club was the unusual occupation; shrinks are a dime a dozen in thrillers, but I had never heard of a forensic psychologist who does psychological evaluations on the dead until Gardiner introduced me to it. To revert this character to yet another run-of-the-mill, super-smart, able-to-make-an-evaluation-in-a-single-bound psychologist, does the character, and the reader, a disservice.
Back to our story. Kanan was acting erratically on his return from a business trip to South Africa, and had to be physically restrained on board the plane. Beckett quickly determines he has a very rare condition called “anterograde amnesia,” the inability to form new memories. This means that Kanan forgets all new information every five minutes. Really.
This book is apparently an exercise in thriller writing for Gardiner; she’s included just about every gimmick and device used in the genre, from the rare medical condition that appears to be spreading and taking lives, a race against the clock with a kidnapped family-in-peril, high tech super-deadly explosives, international terrorists, high speed car chases, and a couple of strong women who can make jokes while outrunning a homicidal maniac. The complete lack of character development and terse writing style makes for a fast-paced story, but not necessarily a good one. 06/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch. Copyright © 2009 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
THE MEMORY OF WATER by Karen White: It’s been ten years since Marnie Maitland left low-country South Carolina for the deserts of Arizona. Ten years since she last heard the sound of the ocean, ten years since she last spoke to her sister, Diana. Now she’s returned at the request of Diana’s ex-husband, Quinn. Two months ago, Diana and her son Gil were involved in a sailing accident. The official ruling is that it was an accident, but it’s left Diana angry and reserved, and Gil hasn’t spoken a word since. Quinn hopes that Marnie, an art teacher who works with special needs kids, can help his family to heal. What Quinn doesn’t know is that the accident that led to their own mother’s death tore apart the Maitland sisters and that the anger and hurt from all those years ago has only festered in the time since. Marnie has never understood her sister’s hatred towards her and she has almost no memory of the accident that took her mother’s life. Diana has remained silent all these years, and now she’s hiding something about her own accident with her son. An appealing story of loss and healing. White also tackles the complicated issue of bi-polar disorder and its effects on families. 06/08 Becky Lejeune
MEN FROM BOYS edited by John Harvey: Sometime a book’s cover nails the contents exactly. In this case the cover shows a fearsome looking automatic pistol, which upon closer examination, is revealed as a water pistol. Inside seventeen masters provide stories of boys becoming men, men becoming fathers, being a son, and being a man. Here’s the cast, in addition to John Harvey, Mark Billingham, Lawrence Block, Andrew Coburn, Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver, Reginald Hill, Bill James, Dennis Lehane, Bill Moody, George Pelecanos, Peter Robinson, James Sallis, John Straley, Brian Thompson, Don Winslow, and Daniel Woodrell. There is bound to be a story you will like, and you may discover a new to you author in the bunch. Grab a cold one of your choice, kick back, and enjoy. 06/07 Jack Quick
THE MERMAID OF BROOKLYN by Amy Shearn: When Jenny Lipkin’s husband disappears, the mother of two isn’t terribly worried. Her husband has been known to go on unannounced gambling weekends in the past. No, Jenny’s not worried. She is pissed, though. And stressed out. And the longer her husband is missing the more stressed and upset she becomes until one day she finally cracks. Help comes in the form of a rusalka – a mermaid – who saves Jenny after a fall from the Brooklyn Bridge. With the rusalka by her side, Jenny begins to put her life back together, but is her savior even real? There are so many things I loved about Amy Shearn’s latest. Shearn’s writing is wonderfully sarcastic and funny but also quite elegant. This unique blend brings both the characters and setting to life, making the story fun and believable. What I found I liked the most, though, was the fact that you never quite know whether the rusalka is real or a figment of Jenny’s imagination. The Mermaid of Brooklyn is an amusing and sweet read about families and motherhood. 5/13 Becky Lejeune
THE MESA CONSPIRACY by David Kent: Eric Anthony was raised by his tough loving but distant actress cousin Colleen. What happened to his “real” parents has never been an issue for Eric, but now on her deathbed, Colleen reveals to him a cryptic directive from the man who was his father. Now Eric, single dad to his young deaf son, feels obligated to go to Oklahoma and try to learn the meaning of his legacy. There he runs into Department Thirty where U.S. Marshall Faith Kelly is chasing the mastermind behind a wave of domestic terror. Their solo quests meet in a fashion that will have explosive implications for them both. Another good read about the Unit created to serve those whose value to the government outweigh the need to punish them for the crimes they have committed. 09/06 Jack Quick
THE MESSENGER by Jan Burke: In 1815, Tyler Hawthorne was a soldier fighting against Napolean at Waterloo. He was in his early twenties. He still is today. On the brink of death, Tyler was offered a deal, if he were to agree, he would never grow old and he would never die. In exchange, he must walk the Earth delivering the messages of the dead. His trusty sidekick, a massive dog called Shade, a cemetery dog, is his constant companion. Problem is, the deal was never meant to be for longer than a few years. Course Tyler had no way of knowing this, and his would-be enemy was eliminated long ago, or so he thought. This entity has finally returned and is determined to gain back what was once his. Amanda Clark has only just met her newest neighbor, and after mistakenly assuming that the man is a con artist of the worst kind, she finds herself drawn to him. Unfortunately, Amanda’s association with Tyler lands her right in the middle of the conflict. The Messenger is quite different from what Burke’s fans may be used to with the Irene Kelly series. At its heart, though, the plot is all her and will please new and old readers alike. A fantastic paranormal thriller. 12/08 Becky Lejeune
THE MESSENGER by Daniel Silva: Gabriel Allon, Israeli art restorer and spymaster returns to Rome when Ahmed bin Shafiq, a former chief of a clandestine Saudi intelligence unit, targets the Vatican for attack, in particular Pope Paul VII and his top aide, Monsignor Luigi Donati, who both appeared in Silva's previous novels. Shafiq is allied with a militant Islamic Saudi businessman known as Zizi, a true believer committed to the destruction of all infidels. Gabriel must infiltrate Zizi's organization, and protect his partner, beautiful American art expert Sarah Bancroft. Schedule some decompression time after the ending of this one. 01/07 Jack Quick
METRO GIRL by Janet Evanovich: Alex Barnaby is not Stephanie Plum as she tries to track down her missing brother in Miami. Assisted by the despised NASCAR driver Sam Hooker (Stephanie and Joe?), Alex risks life and limb to learn what has happened to Bill. Although the same fem-jep as the one-two-three series, Alex is more capable of defending herself and doesn’t quite fall to pieces like Stephanie. She is however afraid of heights, snakes, sex, and guns, but after all no one is perfect. The Miami and Key West locales are certainly more attractive than Jersey but apparently attracts similar wacky female characters. Bottom line. If you liked Stephanie Plum, you will probably like the slightly more accomplished Alex Barnaby. If you didn’t like Stephanie, take a pass. 05/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
MIAMI NOIR edited by Les Standiford: Akashic’s salute to Miami has sixteen new mystery stories by Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, Kevin Allen, Preston Allen, Lynne Barrett, David Beaty, John Bond, Tom Corcoran, John Dufresne, Anthony Dale Gagliano, James W. Hall, Vicki Hendricks, Christine Kling, Paul Levine, Barbara Parker, George Tucker and Jeffrey Wehr. From South Beach to Alligator Alley, from Haitian boat people and Cuban émigrés to home grown redneck psychopaths, you will find it all in these stories. Characters like Vicki Hendricks 4’ 10” protagonist - "too short for normal chicks, too tall for a dwarf" to James W. Hall’s “Jumpy”, a "6'4" low life, skinny as a greyhound, pasty-skinned, all knuckles and Adam's apple". Guaranteed something for everyone. This is another great anthology. 01/08 Jack Quick
MICRO by Michael Crichton & Richard Preston: For Peter Jansen and his labmates, the opportunity to work for a company like Nanigen is the opportunity of a lifetime. It could make their respective careers. Fortunately, Peter’s brother is high up in the Nanigen food chain and when a number of positions open up with the company, all seven of them are hired on. Unfortunately, Peter’s brother is killed under somewhat mysterious circumstances just before their arrival. When Peter discovers that the head of Nanigen is behind the crime, he and his six colleagues end up in the line of fire. Shrunk down to the size of bugs by the company’s super-secret technology, the group finds themselves battling mother nature as they try to find a way to reverse the effects. Each of their specialties proves to be a strength, but the world around them is a challenge they may not survive for long. Knowing that Micro was only partially completed before Crichton’s death makes it pretty easy to be forgiving of the book’s shortcomings. If read for pure entertainment, the book pretty much delivers; it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon. 12/11 Becky Lejeune KINDLE
MIDDLE MAN by David Rich: Rich's book is a continuation of his first novel "A Caravan of Thieves" in which he introduces Rollie Waters a soldier serving in Afghanistan. Rollie's father Dan is accused of stealing a large amount of money while serving in the Iraq war . The monies had been secreted in the coffins of soldiers killed in that war and shipped back to the US where those that set up the plan could dig up the grave and get the money. Unfortunately Dan had been killed in attempting to steal the money from the military leaders that set up the plan, and Rollie is tasked by his commanders to find it. He is recruited into an elite military group termed "Shade" and assigned to find the money. The one error committed by Rich is to assume that the reader has read "A Caravan of Thieves" and Rollie's relationship with his deceased father and his constant imagined conversations with him during the action. Rollie's attempts to find the money take him to Houston and back to Iraq. He meets the self proclaimed king of Kurdistan, his beautiful daughter and his interactions with them are part of a plan to recover the money. The ending leaves the reader more than a little befuddled with the many allusions to "Caravan" and imagined conversations with his dead father. It is obvious that Rich intends to continue with Rollie's adventures and it is hoped that the next books will allow readers to come in and pick up on past actions with hints about what occurred rather than assume that everyone has read the previous novels. 9/13 Paul Lane
THE MIDNIGHT CHOIR by Gene Kerrigan: If someone asks you what is a crime novel, show them this one. Kerrigan’s garda patrol the underside of Dublin in this gritty tale of the inner city. There are several cases - a woman tries to mug a pair of tourists with a syringe as her weapon; a man plans a jewelry heist; a gangster's life is torn apart by his brother's murder; a detective builds a case against an accused rapist – it’s the day to day attempt to clean the worst of the garbage off the streets, without getting it all over you. Kerrigan, a veteran journalist who lives in Dublin, is about as good as you can get. 09/07 Jack Quick
THE MIDNIGHT HOUSE by Alex Berenson: CIA Agent John Wells is back undercover in the Arab world in this 4th adventure after last year’s The Silent Man. Task Force 673 was a secret unit formed after 9/11 and charged with interrogating high value terrorist detainees, by any means possible. Although the unit has been dismantled, someone has access to the names of the unit’s personnel and is out to eliminate them. Five of the ten are already dead when Ellis Shafer, John’s sort-of boss at the agency, calls him back to Washington, D.C., from his New Hampshire retreat for a new assignment. Find the killer or killers and put them out of business. Another great thriller. 04/10 Jack Quick
Pass by Stuart Kaminsky: Stuart Kaminsky's latest mystery features one
of his more recent heroes, the process-server Lou Fonseca, who is working out of
Sarasota, Florida. Because process-servers have to know their way around town,
Lou is regularly asked to "help" find people, despite his lack of a formal P.I.
ticket. In this book, he is simultaneously searching for a wayward wife whose
husband wants her back and a missing town father whose vote is necessary to
preserve Midnight Pass from developers.
MIDNIGHT RAMBLER by James Swain: Jack Carpenter was a maverick but still a good cop. Then he is fired after a violent physical confrontation with a serial killer known as the Midnight Rambler. The incident also costs him his marriage and he ends up living alone working as an abductions specialist in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Then the body of one of the Midnight Rambler’s victims is found, and forensic evidence suggests that Carpenter jailed the wrong man. What little there is left of Carpenter’s world collapses when Simon Skell, (the Midnight Rambler) is released. The only one who seems wiling to continue to help him is an FBI agent whose own daughter vanished years ago. More intense that swains; Tony Valentine series and nicely done. I look forward to the sequel. 10/08 Jack Quick
MIDNIGHT RIOT by Ben Aaronovitch: Peter Grant gets a lucky break when he meets a ghost at a crime scene. Tapped for a position with the Case Progression Unit, i.e. the folks who take care of paperwork within the Metropolitan Police Service, his new ability to see the dead instead lands him a spot as protégé to Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale. Their division of two is responsible for investigating cases involving magic, like the murder of William Skirmish. While Skirmish doesn’t initially appear to be anyone terribly important, his murder sets in motion a series of strange events across London and Peter is soon thrown headfirst into a world of magic turf wars and faceless evils. Aaronovitch’s debut is a great addition to the urban fantasy genre. I loved the characters, the history, and the sheer originality of this first in the series. 02/11 Becky Lejeune
THE MIDNIGHT ROAD by Tom Piccirilli: I don’t usually try to compare authors directly, but in this case I would describe this new-to-me author as Stephen King-esque, at least in this outing. Suffolk County Child Protective Services Investigator Flynn has no idea when he responds to the possible child abuse call on a snowy wintry night that his life is about to be radically changed. Escaping the Shepards’ million-dollar Long Island home with daughter Kelly and an abused autistic uncle in hand, he is pursued by her gun toting mother, who has already shot her husband, and is finally forced off the road onto a frozen lake. He manages to get Kelly and her uncle out of the car to safety before the ice caves and takes him and his prized Dodge Charger with it. The cold is so intense he is flash frozen and then successfully revived after a 28 minute underwater ordeal. Unfortunately no one noticed Zero, Kelly’s French bulldog, who was also in the car. As a consequence Zero’s ghost is now is a near constant companion of Flynn (which raises some interesting mental health issues) and provides him with insights and guidance. Not long after a known prostitute approaches Flynn and hands him a note saying THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT. Before Flynn can learn more, the woman’s head explodes, victim of a sniper shot from over one hundred yards away. Now a determined homicide detective and a beautiful, inquisitive reporter are both all over Flynn and he is clueless. Certainly not your typical mystery, but nicely done. 01/10 Jack Quick
MIDNIGHT'S WILD PASSION by Anna Campbell: This is my romance of the month, as I continue my study of the genre. Labeled "historical romance," this tale of a disgraced woman and the rogue who pursues her borders on erotica without a whole lot of history getting in the way. The Marquess of Ranelaw is on a mission of revenge. His half sister had her reputation destroyed by Godfrey Demerast, and now the Marquess is going to destroy Demerast's daughter's reputation in kind. But when he meets her chaperone, he finds himself in lust - and the feeling is mutual. I did enjoy this fast, sexy read, despite the shallowness of the plot. 04/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE MIDWIFE OF VENICE by Roberta Rich: This book was recommended to me by several people so I gave it a read and was not disappointed. Set during the 1500s, Hanna is a Jewish midwife living in the ghetto with her husband Isaac. Isaac is a spice merchant and gets kidnapped and taken to Malta as a slave. Jews are forbidden from giving medical assistance to Christians, but when a rich Venetian offers her enough money to ransom her husband back, Hanna agrees. The baby is the heir to a huge fortune, leaving his uncles plotting ways to get rid of him and Hanna. Hanna runs to her estranged sister, a courtesan who helps hide her. Meanwhile Isaac is trying his best not to starve to death in captivity to a nun who will only help him if he converts, and then to a brutal ship owner. The characters are not very well developed other than Isaac, but the story moves and is interesting. The Midwife of Venice feels like the anemic younger sister of The Red Tent by Anita Diamant or People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, but it's definitely worth a read. 4/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE MIDWIFE’S CONFESSION by Diane Chamberlain: How well do you really know your friends? Emerson and Tara thought that they both knew Noelle Downie fairly well. The three had been friends since their college days, after all. Turns out, they barely knew the real Noelle. Noelle’s suicide comes as a shock to almost everyone who knew her. But when Emerson and Tara begin going through Noelle’s old things, they find a letter that implies something terrible about Noelle’s past. Secrets long hidden are soon revealed. Secrets that directly affect both Emerson and Tara. Secrets that proved to be too much for one person to handle alone. The Midwife’s Confession is an emotional and fast-paced read. Chamberlain touches on, but never dwells on, some tricky subjects. It’s the emotional impact of these subjects and her characters that are the big focus, making Chamberlain’s latest (my first by her) a sometimes heart wrenching—but overall touching—read with characters that come to life. 05/11 Becky Lejeune
MIGHTY OLD BONES by Mary Saums: America’s most mis-matched pair of sleuths returns for a new adventure. Jane Thistle has seen much of the world as the wife of a military officer while Pheobe Twigg has hardly even been away from the sleepy Alabama village of Tullulah. The odd couple are now the best of friends and practically inseparable. A severe thunderstorm knocks down a huge tree on Jane’s property, unearthing human remains – just in time for Halloween. While there is some evidence to indicate this may be an old Indian burial site, there is also the matter of the disappearance of one of the town’s older citizens. Add in some cute dogs and an unusually strong supporting cast, particularly the local restaurant owner, but then again, that’s another story, and you have a great Southern cozy that evokes memories of the Two Sisters, but even better. Another solid outing for Ms. Saums, whose love for her birth home shines through on every page. 07/08 Jack Quick
MILK GLASS MOON by Adriana Trigiani: This is the third volume of the Big Stone Gap series and I am just loving this series all over again. Ave Maria and Jack are struggling with Etta's teenage years in the still lovely small town of Big Stone Gap, Virginia. The similarities to the family village in Italy are explored and the laughs and love just warm the heart. This is comfort reading of the best kind; real characters, interesting settings, and terrific writing that just makes you yearn for more. Trigiani is always a treat to read. 04/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer: With nary a lawyer or politician in sight, this thriller is Meltzer's best work yet. Two brothers find a way to commit a more or less victimless heist of $3,000,000 when suddenly it turns into much, much more than that. Everyone is after them and you can't tell the good guys from the bad guys. It's hard to root for someone who is committing a crime, but somehow Meltzer makes it all work. Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
MIND SCRAMBLER by Chris Grabenstein: This latest entry into the Ceepak series is a bit darker than previous adventures. John Ceepak, straight arrow cop and his young partner, Danny Boyle, are in Atlantic City when Danny's old girlfriend calls. She's now the nanny for a magician whose family act is headlining at one of the hotels. She tells him she needs help but before he can find out what's going on, she ends up dead in what appears to be an S&M act gone bad. But that's only the first murder, and the slight-of-hand and illusions are way more sinister than most magic acts. Deputized by the local police, Ceepak and Boyle help unravel the mess of lies to find the truth and the murderer. Another excellent mystery from Grabenstein, and apparently, and sadly, the last book of the series. 07/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
MIND SCRAMBLER by Chris Grabenstein: Danny Boyle and ultra-straight-arrow cop John Ceepak are on leave in Atlantic City when a former girlfriend of Boyle’s winds up dead in what appears to be a bizarre S&M sex ritual. Katie has been the nanny to the children of a magician performing there so from the outset you suspect nothing is at it first appears. Sure enough, the bodies start to pileup, both civilian and police, as the two deputized Sea Haven, N.J. cops work the “big city”. It’s another good one for the evolving Ceepak whom Grabenstein has made into a well done hybrid of Sherlock Holmes and Dudley Do-Right. It’s magic !! 07/09 Jack Quick
The Miracle Strip by Nancy Bartholomew: Very light mystery with a twist; the main protagonist is a stripper. This is the first one of a very cute series, bound to appeal to fans of Evanovich. The newest one in the series is Strip Poker. Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
MIRROR IMAGE by Dennis Palumbo: Dr. Daniel Rinaldi is a psychologist who consults with the Pittsburgh Police. His specialty is treating victims of violent crime, something with which he himself is familiar. Kevin Merrick is a college student and victim of an armed assault. Desperate for a role model and a sense of identity, Kevin has begun dressing like Rinaldi, acting like him, even mirroring his appearance. Before Daniel has a chance to work this through with his patient, he finds Kevin brutally murdered outside Rinaldi’s office. He and the police question whether the intended victim was Merrick or Rinaldi. Death threats made against Rinaldi make them think that, in fact, the Doctor was the intended victim but then it turns out that Merrick is the son of a Bill Gates-like biotech giant. This turns the murder into a national story which may or may not help solve the crime. Rinaldi, an ex-fighter who has himself lead a very interesting life, is a great main character but there are other strong characters as well in this nicely done debut likened to the efforts of Jonathon Kellerman. Lets hope the mean streets of Pittsburgh hold further adventures for Dr. Rinaldi. 08/10 Jack Quick
THE MIRRORED WORLD by Debra Dean: Xenia of St. Petersburg is the subject and inspiration of Dean’s latest. Born and raised in the eighteenth century, Xenia devoted her life to helping the needy after losing her husband. In The Mirrored World, Dasha, Xenia’s cousin, recounts their life together and the path that led to Xenia’s sainthood. Xenia always was a bit odd, recalling dreams that sometimes came true. Then she met Andrei and fell madly in love. The two married and Xenia longed for children, finally conceiving and giving birth to a daughter. But tragedy struck. Xenia was left widowed and retreated from the world. Dasha stayed by her side through it all, shocked to discover that Xenia had begun giving away all of her household possessions to the impoverished people of the city. And then Xenia disappeared. Years later, Dasha would find her living amongst the poorest of the poor, revered for her visions and good works. Dean has a great talent for bringing historic Russia to life but I felt that there were many parts of the story that were only glossed over and would have benefited from more attention. 9/12 Becky Lejeune
MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs: As a child, Jacob idolized his grandfather and could never get enough of the fanciful tales of his youth. The amazing stories of an island in Wales and a home for strange refugee children with odd abilities—and the pictures to accompany them—fascinating young Jacob. As he grew older, however, the stories began to seem more like fairy tales, definitely not the kind of thing a teenager would mistake for an actual history. But when Jacob’s grandfather dies, his final request is that his grandson find the home and the woman who once ran it. Jacob convinces his father to take him on the trip and as he searches for his grandfather’s past, those stories of long ago become real to him once again. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is one of the most original and wonderful books of the year. The use of vintage images enhances the story and gives it even more of a unique but amazingly believable twist. Riggs’s book is a great one for readers of most ages (maybe not too young) to get lost in. 08/11 Becky Lejeune KINDLE
THE MISSING by Sarah Langan: Sometimes I've thought the likes of the grand old days of horror writing would never come again -- early Stephen King, Peter Straub, Ramsay Campbell -- with a silent thank you aside to Dean Koontz for fairly consistently hanging in there. But in spite of much blurb hype, no new author has come into this genre who could hold a candle to those guys. Until now.
Her name is Sarah Langan, and the book is THE MISSING. Set in the present in an inland Maine town of some affluence called Corpus Christie, this is a story about what happens when a strange virus is released from soil in woods near the town -- an area that was contaminated in the previous year by a fire that destroyed a pulp mill. (Langan has an earlier book about this, THE KEEPER, which I have not yet read.) But the virus, as it turns out, is much, much older than that; like the growth of ancient redwoods, this virus is triggered by fire. This is all eerily plausible, even as the town's infected habitants begin to change into life forms that are no longer exactly human.
Langan's greatest skill is that she truly writes well, creating characters we quickly grow to care about. This ratchets up the tension unbearably as they each try to escape infection, not giving up even when the CDC abandons the town. Do not begin this book on a night you're unwilling to stay up late. And be prepared for the possibility of nightmares. Some of the images are sure to stay with you. 11/07 Dianne Day
MISSING MARK by Julie Kramer: Reporter Riley Spartz has been looking for a big story ever since she got her break in Stalking Susan. After all, sweeps week is nearing and the station is fighting for ratings. Plus, Riley’s not been up to much since uncovering that serial killer. She hasn’t had a shortage of dead bodies, though. In fact, by the end of Missing Mark, her tally is up to six. This latest mystery begins with an ad for a wedding dress for sale. “Never worn,” it says. Riley’s radar is immediately up—there’s got to be a story there. And she’s right. The bride was left waiting at the altar and the groom hasn’t been seen since the rehearsal dinner. Riley’s boss isn’t too keen on the story, though. In fact, she’s much more interested in the case of the missing record-size bass recently stolen from an indoor aquarium. As Riley balances both investigations, she trips over a third story and gets herself into trouble once again. Julie Kramer has proven that she has what it takes. Her books are light but a bit edgy and her heroine is fun, spunky, and completely loveable. 07/09 Becky Lejeune
MISSING WITNESS by Gordon Campbell: As a first year associate with the firm of Butler and Menedez, Doug McKenzie has not yet had the opportunity to work on a case. All that changes when Travis Eddington, only son of the biggest cattleman in Arizona, is murdered. The sole witness to the event saw the man’s wife, Rita, and daughter, Miranda, enter the home where the young Eddington had been staying and close the door. The witness heard six shots. Only seconds later Rita and Miranda emerged from the home. Then, the witness saw a gun drop from Rita’s hand. Eddington’s father retains the lawyers of Butler and Menedez to defend Rita. Why would a father hire a top law firm to defend the woman accused of murdering his son? This question weighs heavily on the minds of the lawyers, but Eddington is a major client for the firm and no one wants to lose this case. Hotshot defense attorney Dan Morgan is assigned to defend Rita, and he requests that newcomer McKenzie assist him. What follows is a series of events that will stay with McKenzie for the rest of his life. This page turning thriller is one of the most realistic legal dramas to come along since Grisham’s A Time to Kill. Campbell, an attorney for over 40 years, originally began work on his debut over thirty years ago. Not to worry, though, he’s already hard at work on his next title. 10/07 Becky Lejeune
THE MISSINGS by Peg Brantley: No sophomore slump here after Ms. Brantley’s first successful outing – RED TIDE. I must admit as a kidney dialysis patient and hopeful eventual recipient of a kidney transplant, I found the premise of this book riveting. Aspen Park, Colorado police are dealing with a serial killer with a twist. The first body they found had no visible abuse but had recently had a kidney removed. The second body had been carved up like a side of beef with a number of organs missing. Both were Latino. Then a female Latino teenager goes missing. The investigation by Detective Chase Waters is not helped by his supervisor, a curmudgeon who definitely would benefit from sensitivity training. Then it gets worse. A third body is found, but it’s not the missing girl. And the body count continues to rise. Another “unputdownable.” 11/12 Jack Quick
Mission Flats by William Landay: This superb debut novel of suspense is set in Boston and the small town of Versailles, (pronounces Ver-sales) Maine. Police Chief Ben Truman inherited his job when he left Boston University to help his retired police chief father care for his ailing mother, who eventually died from Alzheimer's disease. Nothing much happens in this small town, so when during a routine inspection, Ben finds the body of a Boston D.A. in a cabin by the lake, the big city cops come visiting. Retired Boston cop John Kelly gets involved, and Ben gets involved with both Kelly and his D.A. daughter. Inner city drug lord Harold Braxton is the chief suspect and the cops seem determined to prove his guilt. Landay deftly manages to keep the suspense high through the final shocker of an ending in this terrific new chiller. Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
MISSION FLATS by William Landay: Ben Truman, the young police chief in the Maine town of Versailles gave up his pursuit of a doctorate in history at Boston University to come home and care for his Alzheimer's-stricken mother. His biggest case to date starts with the discovery of the bloated body of a Boston assistant district attorney in a rental cabin. Ben joins a crew of big-city cops and prosecutors in a search through the blighted Boston neighborhood of Mission Flats for the answer to the ADA's murder and a 10-year-old mystery. Will “Opie”, as the big city cops refer to Ben, prevail? Interesting first effort. 03/06 Jack Quick
MISSION ROAD by Rick Riordan: Everyone needs a little Texas in his or her life. Riordan’s PI Tres Navarre fills the bill perfectly. This time he is caught up in a twenty year old murder case involving his best friend Ralph, South Texas’ top mobster Guy White, girl friend Maia Lee (who has her own surprise for Tres), and a bunch of ticked off San Antonio police. And then it gets interesting. Fast paced, well written and portrays that part of the world perfectly. We are relatively sure Tres will survive all this, but at what price. Must read. To be released 06/05. 05/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
MISTER B. GONE by Clive Barker: Clive Barker’s long-awaited return to adult horror is finally here. In Mister B. Gone, Jakabok Botch, a low-level demon, recounts how he was lured from the depths of hell – Demonation – into our world. Upon his arrival, he is immediately set upon by group of entrepreneurial demon hunters. He manages to escape them only to be attacked by a blood-thirsty mob of village folk amassed in anticipation of a public execution. Botch is saved by Quitoon, a higher level demon with pyrokinetic powers. Quitoon and Botch travel the world throughout the centuries wreaking havoc and mayhem and searching out new inventions that will change the world. Jakabok reluctantly reveals his tale to the reader. You see, Jakabok is in fact trapped between the pages of this book. He sees our world through the lines of print and exists only in its prose. His persistent pleas that the reader burn the novel are amusing and make this read much lighter fare than is typical of past Barker titles. 11/07 Becky Lejeune
MISTER PIP by Lloyd Jones: In 1988, Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea became the scene of a bloody rebellion that would stretch on for almost a decade. Matilda Laimo, the adult narrator of this tale, recalls how, in 1991, all the whites left the island except for Mr. Watts. Mr. Watts eventually takes over teaching the children of the island, including the then thirteen-year-old Matilda. During this time of turmoil, he introduces the students to Dickens’ Great Expectations. By reading them a chapter a day, Mr. Watts provides a safe and comforting escape from the terror that surrounds the children’s daily lives. Imagination becomes the key to survival for Matilda as the situation on the island deteriorates completely. It will be years, however, before Matilda will truly understand the lesson that Mr. Watts has taught her. While Mister Pip is both disturbingly brutal and realistic, it is also an inspirational and thought provoking novel. 07/07 Becky Lejeune
MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH by Ariana Franklin: In the first of Franklin’s series featuring twelfth century Trotula (term based on an actual female physician from Salerno at the time) Adelia Aguilar, the King of Sicily sends his best master in the art of death to Cambridge where a handful of children have been kidnapped and murdered. The townsfolk suspect that the Jews are responsible and they have been moved to the sheriff’s own home for protection. Cambridge officials are getting desperate and so Adelia and one of Sicily’s top investigators, Simon of Naples, are brought in to help. It is only upon their arrival in town that the bodies of the missing children are discovered. Because of superstition and local law, Adelia must keep her occupation, and therefore her purpose in town, a secret. With a select few helping her, they set about trying to solve this case using her medical expertise and Simon’s deductive skills. But when Simon is murdered Adelia becomes determined, law or not, to track down the killer on her own if necessary. Mistress is a brilliantly conceived and original spin on the forensic mystery. Franklin has chosen what must be one of the most fascinating historical periods in which to base this series. A fantastic read. 03/09 Becky Lejeune
SIDNEY SHELDON’S MISTRESS OF THE GAME by Tilly Bagshawe: It’s been over two decades since Sidney Sheldon’s bestselling Master of the Game was initially released. Now, the Blackwell saga continues as Lexi Templeton, granddaughter of the inimitable Kate Blackwell, recounts her own rise to the top of the Blackwell family empire. The story begins with the death of Kate Blackwell in 1984. Her great-grandson, Robbie, was set to inherit everything she had worked so hard for, but like his grandfather before him, Robbie had other plans in mind. Instead, his young sister Lexi will take up the mantle in an attempt to stake her claim as the new master (mistress) of the game. But with her cousin Max as her strongest contender, she will find herself fighting temptation and learning some of the same lessons those who came before her struggled with as well. In the end, can she overcome what others would see as insurmountable odds and live up to her family’s legacy? Bagshawe captures Sheldon’s voice completely in this carefully plotted sequel to the “master storyteller’s” work. Fans new and old are sure to be pleased as they are once again swept up in the sordid and scandalous lives of the Blackwell heirs. 09/09 Becky Lejeune
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley: Magnificent book about the King Arthur legends, told from the female point of view. Don't judge a book by its movie (or mini-series!) Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins: The wrap-up to Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games series, Mockingjay, answers all the burning questions brought forth by the first two installments. After being saved by District 13 (which does in fact exist) and the rebels, Katniss is being heavily pushed to represent them as the Mockingjay, the symbol of their rebellion against the Capitol. Her only concern is how to keep her friends and loved ones safe and to rescue Peeta from the other side, something that will come at a heavy price. Mockingjay lacks some of the intensity of Hunger Games and Catching Fire, in my opinion because of the games themselves. Overall, a wonderful and exciting (and more than a little disturbing) teen dystopian trilogy, but Mockingjay didn’t pack quite the punch I’d hoped. 1/11 Becky Lejeune
MOIST by Mark Haskell Smith: Start with a severed arm decorated with an erotic tattoo, add a minimum wage morgue attendant, mix in a one-armed murderer, a Wharton Business School graduate and a masturbation coach with unnatural urges and you have the basis for a one of a kind murder, sex, mobster tale worthy of Carl Hiassen or Elmore Leonard – and it’s a first effort. The jailhouse scene where Bob has to pee like a racehorse to preserve his manhood is in itself worth the price of admission. One funny, funny book. 01/06 Jack Quick
MONEY BURNS by A. E. Maxwell: In spite of their failed marriage, Fiddler and Fiora still work together solving cases. This time it’s a young bank owner who has run afoul of a murderous Colombian drug lord. Masquerading as financial consultants the two infiltrate Don Faustino’s organization, kidnap the son of his bagman, and make off with $15 million. But will they live to spend it? First-rate tale from the 1980’s. 03/09 Jack Quick
Money for Nothing: Donald Westlake has once again written a funny crime story that may very well be turned into a movie, as were The Hot Rock (Robert Redford) and Bank Shot (George C. Scott and Joanna Cassidy). In this particular case, Mr. Westlake must have been watching old Hitchcock, wrong man caught up in events not of his making movies when he sat down to write. The hero of this tale is Joshua Redmont, who has been receiving checks for $1,000 a month from a mysterious "U.S. Agent" for seven years. His attempts to find out where these checks have come from have been to no avail and he has simply accepted them as a needed supplement to his income. Until the day when a stranger sits down next to him and says "You have been activated." Gulp.
Of course, he is out of his depth. Of course, there is an assassination plot and of course, his wife and child are threatened by the bad guys. Hitch would have insisted on it. But Westlake is in control the whole way and develops his characters with just enough human detail and a lot of humor. Reviewers will describe this book as "a rollicking good time." It is. I was also reminded recently of what a good writer Westlake is when I read his foreword to the reissue of one of Ross Thomas' books, Out on The Rim. They are a pair to draw to. This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.
MONEY SHOT by Christa Faust: “Coming back from the dead isn’t as easy as they make it seem in the movies. In real life it takes forever to do little things like pry open your eyes.” Opening lines from Hard Case Crime’s first offering by a female author. In order to clear her name of a murder charge, former porn star Angel Dare only has to locate a briefcase of stolen money and defeat an international sex-slavery ring. It’s all in a day’s work for this newest heroine. It’s Modern Noir at its finest from the woman film director Quentin Tarantino called “Veronica in a world of Betties.” With endorsements from Richard S. Prather, Jason Starr, Allan Guthrie and Duane Swierczynski – well, lets just say it, its darn good. 02/08 Jack Quick
MONEY TO BURN by James Grippando: This new stand alone thriller set on Wall Street is a real page turner; I couldn't put it down. Michael Cantrello is a hedge fund wunderkind who impulsively marries his girlfriend while on vacation in the Caribbean. But she disappears on their wedding day and the DNA says she was eaten by a shark. Several years later it's Michael's 35th birthday, and his current wife throws him a big surprise party. But the real surprise comes later that night when Michael finds out he's the victim of identity theft, and that all his money is gone, moved through an offshore account in his dead 1st wife's name and then gone for good. The new wife throws him out, and the high life style Michael once knew is gone when she also cleans out their joint account, leaving him cashless, without any credit cards, and homeless. Someone is out to get him, but he doesn't figure out who or why until the very end of this highly suspenseful, action packed thriller that's a riveting, adrenalin charged read. 03/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
Money To Burn by James Zagel: A federal court judge, a firefighter/arsonist and two Federal Reserve Bank employees team up to rob the Federal Reserve bank of $100,000,000. Some interesting twists along the way, and even though the story bogs down in places, it's still a good debut novel. Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
Monkeewrench by P. J. Tracy: This new author is actually a mother-daughter writing team and they are off to a fabulous start. "Monkeewrench" is a software company in Minneapolis, owned by an eclectic and eccentric group of friends. Their newest product, still in the beta testing stage, is a game called "Serial Killer Detective," with crime scene photos providing the clues through the various levels of the game until the serial killer is found. But somehow one of their carefully staged murder scenes ends up happening on the streets of Minneapolis, so one of the partners, the enigmatic ice princess Grace MacBride, reports it to the police. Turns out this is the third murder and the murderer is playing their game for real. The software team is able to pinpoint the next murder, making themselves suspects in the process. Meanwhile, in a small town in rural Wisconsin, the local sheriff has a rather gristly murder on his hands - an elderly couple is found shot to death in the church. Somehow this all gets tied together - at breakneck speed, no less - and the big city cops and small town sheriff solve their respective cases. Well developed characters and crisp, witty writing make Monkeewrench a great read. Don't miss it.
MONSTER by A. Lee Martinez: Monster is a freelance cryptobiological rescue agent—a division of animal control specializing in beasties and creatures of strange origin. Oh, and he changes color. When Monster and his paper gnome partner, Chester, are called to a grocery store with a yeti problem, they meet Judy, one of the night staff. Judy’s life isn’t glamorous. In fact, it’s a little boring. That must be why, when the trolls appear in her closet, she decides that Monster’s line of work is pretty interesting. Judy is a light cog, someone who can see magic but can’t remember it, which makes tagging along with Monster a bit difficult at times, but a memory spell fixes that. Course, Monster isn’t the easiest person to be around (he’s not very likable) but even he has to admit that strange things are happening around Judy at an alarming rate. Before he can find out why, Judy is kidnapped by a crazy cat lady and Monster’s house is wrecked, something that will be difficult to explain to his demon girlfriend. But that will be dealt with later, right now Monster has to find Judy and figure this whole thing out. Fun stuff. Martinez’s fantastical fiction will appeal to readers who enjoy Christopher Moore and Mario Acevedo’s Felix Gomez mysteries. 05/09 Becky Lejeune
THE MONSTER’S CORNER: Stories Through Inhuman Eyes, edited by Christopher Golden: What do you get when you bring together some of the best of the writing business in a collection of stories all featuring the most monstrous of characters? The Monster’s Corner, the latest anthology edited by Christopher Golden. The collection features new and never-before-published tales from horror and suspense heavyweights like Jonathan Maberry, Gary Braunbeck, Chelsea Cain, Sharyn McCrumb, and many others. In “The Awkward Age,” David Liss introduces readers to a teenager with an unhealthy eating habit, Kevin J. Anderson revisits one of horror’s most famous monsters in “Torn Stitches, Shattered Glass,” and Sarah Pinborough shows us another side of Medusa in “The Screaming Room.” From monsters created by their surroundings—or by others—to demons and other dark beings, this is an excellent collection of chilling and shocking tales for any time of year. 10/11 Becky Lejeune KINDLE
THE MONSTERS OF TEMPLETON by Lauren Groff: Distraught and disappointed, twenty-eight year old Willie Upton has left Alaska where she was working at an archaeological dig as part of her PhD program, to come home to Templeton. An affair with her professor led to her trying to run over his wife with a plane and now Willie’s returned to home base to try and straighten out her life. Did I mention she may be pregnant? Willie’s own mother left her hometown for California at a young age and only returned after the death of her parents – Willie’s grandparents. The story is that the free-loving Vi was pregnant, unsure of who the father was, and planning to sell the family homestead when she up and decided to stay. The story is not all true. Turns out, Vi has been keeping a secret from Willie, a secret that she finally reveals in the midst of all this turmoil. Willie makes it her mission to uncover the truth about her parentage and in doing so, learns more about her family than she could ever imagine. As Willie unravels the many secrets of her heritage, her predecessors each take turns telling bits of the story themselves. As the most recent addition to a rather large family tree that begins with the founding father of Templeton, Willie and her family’s tale is closely intertwined with the history of the town itself. The cleverness with which Groff unfolds her debut is nothing short of expert. The monsters of Templeton, and they are there both literally and figuratively, make for humorous, touching, and scandalous reading. The Monsters of Templeton is a wonderful debut from a hugely talented writer that should be on everyone’s must read list this year. 02/08 Becky Lejeune
MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama: The locals have long whispered of mermaids and monsters of the deep. When Ezra, a naturalist in 1872, meets Syrenka, he is fascinated and smitten. As he learns more about her and her world, the two begin to share an undeniable connection. But when Syrenka becomes human, their fate is tragically sealed. Over a century later, Hester Goodwin has come to the decision that she must never fall in love or bear children. Her family’s history is filled with heartbreaking tales of mothers dying shortly after giving birth and Hester is sure the same awaits her. When she meets a man on the beach who suggests maybe it’s a curse, one that might be broken if only Hester can unravel it, she is leery. Something about the man draws her, though, and as she looks further into her family’s story, she becomes convinced that he may be onto something after all. Monstrous Beauty is great fun. In the beginning, chapters alternate between Syrenka and Hester, providing a nice setup for what comes later in Hester’s story. I especially loved the mix of modern and historic throughout the book. 9/12 Becky Lejeune
Montana 1948 by Larry Watson: Be forewarned: this small book carries a powerful punch. It is the coming of age story of David Hayden, set in a small town in Montana near the Canadian border. David's father is the gun-kept-in-the-drawer, badge-in-the-wallet Andy Griffith type sheriff, a position he inherited from his father, who is determined to keep this a family business. His uncle Frank is the town doctor, but when Marie Little Feather, their Native American housekeeper, becomes ill, she gets hysterical when Frank is called in. David grows up real fast that summer when his father has to arrest his own brother for rape, and murder. Beautifully written, the stark scenery is as much a character as the family members in this painful, honest page-turner about family secrets and small town tragedy. 12/03 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
MOON OVER SOHO by Ben Aaronovitch: DI Peter Grant is back in this second book of the series following Midnight Riot. Peter’s friend and boss are both laid up thanks to their previous case, so Peter takes the lead on a new investigation involving the recent death of a jazz musician. Notes of a famous tune linger around the body and Peter knows this means that something magical is to blame rather than the initial death-by-natural-causes verdict. But when Peter discovers a string of the strange murders, he begins to realize that the case is quite complicated indeed. Meanwhile, another magic practitioner seems to be at play in London and his intentions are less than noble. Aaronovitch’s series is a welcome and exciting addition to the urban fantasy genre. Definitely recommended for paranormal mystery fans. 03/11 Becky Lejeune
MOON TIGER by Penelope Lively: My book
club was supposed to read this a while ago, but I never got around to it until
lately since it just didn’t sound like my kind of thing. You know, some old lady
on her deathbed, remembering her life, blah blah. BUT IN FACT, her life was
pretty dang interesting, and the book carries you right along. She was not
always a nice person, but she was never dull. She experienced a wide variety of
what was available to upper-class women of the mid-twentieth century, becoming a
reporter in WWII and traveling through Egypt, among many other things.
THE MOON TUNNEL by Jim Kelly: This book
offers an intriguing premise and setting: the discovery of a body which has been
concealed in a tunnel. The corpse is discovered on the site of an old World War
II English Prisoner of War camp; Italian and then German POWs were housed there.
Who was this person? And why in heaven's name would he be in what was clearly an
escape tunnel heading into the camp? And is there any connection with the "real"
treasure being sought on this site, where Anglo-Saxon items have been found?
THE MOONPOOL by P.T. Deutermann: Cameron Richter is back (The Cat Dancers and Spider Mountain). The retired cop who runs Hide and Seek Investigations, a PI firm staffed by other ex-cops is in Wilmington, NC following up on the death of one of the firm’s agents, Allie Gardner. The location of the death – a gas station bathroom. The cause of death – ingestion of a highly radioactive liquid. Although there is no solid reason to suspect a connection, Aristotle Quartermain, chief of security at Helios, the local nuclear power station hires Hide and Seek to determine whether it would be possible that the contaminated liquid came from their Moonpool – the pond where spent fuel rods were stored. Aiding Cam are his German shepherds, Frick and Frack, along with some first rate agents in this great thriller. Hopefully, Mr. Deutermann, who has nine stand-alones as well as these three in the Richter series will churn out more featuring this very engaging sleuth. 05/09 Jack Quick
MOONSHINE by Alaya Johnson: In Zephyr Hollis’s 1920’s New York, Others exist within regular society. That doesn’t mean that they’re readily accepted. As a suffragette, Zephyr fights for women’s rights, but she also regularly appeals for equal rights of Others as well. When she discovers a young boy recently turned, she knows she cannot bring him to the authorities. A vampire that young wouldn’t be expected to be able to control himself. As such, the law requires staking. One of her students agrees to take the boy into his protection. Amir is a mysterious man and definitely not human. In return, he asks a favor from Zephyr: find a vampire called Rinaldo. The catch, Rinaldo just happens to be a notorious crime boss who no one can recall ever laying eyes on. With this first in the series, Johnson has created a unique urban fantasy landscape within a historic setting. The combination of Prohibition-era backdrop, an appealing heroine, and Others makes Moonshine a fresh new standout in the genre. 4/12 Becky Lejeune KINDLE
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins: T. S. Eliot called this "the first and greatest of English detective novels" and I am certainly not going to argue with that judgment. First published in 1868, this classic mystery involving the theft of a diamond from an English country manor has withstood the test of time. Collins created a formula that is still being used today, including the bumbling policeman; the famous, albeit eccentric, Scotland Yard detective; the concept of an ‘inside job’; false suspects; reconstruction of the crime; the least likely suspect being the guilty party; and the final twist at the end. While it is considerably longer in length than contemporary mysteries, any fan of the genre really should add it to their reading list.
MORE LIKE HER by Liza Palmer: Frannie Reid has just recently split with her boyfriend when she meets Emma Dunham, the new head of school at Markham. To Frannie, Emma is perfect: poised and polished with a great career and a seemingly perfect life. But Emma is living a lie that becomes all too clear when her husband brings a gun to a faculty party and kills her in front of Frannie. Now, Frannie and her friends are faced with the aftermath of surviving such a tragedy. More Like Her is like a punch to the gut. It begins with a horrible 911 call and then jumps back to Emma’s first day at Markham. The reader is aware that something horrible is coming in what is essentially a chick-lit story of a thirty-something woman hoping to meet the man of her dreams and learning to be herself. The transition between the prologue and the beginning of the story is jarring, as it should be given the nature of the overall story. More Like Her was not at all what I’d expected it to be, but I liked it. 4/12 Becky Lejeune KINDLE
MORE THAN IT HURTS YOU by Darin Strauss: Can there be anything more frightening than Munchausen syndrome by proxy, the psychological disorder which leads parents to abuse their own children in order to draw attention or sympathy to themselves. Josh Goldin is a happily married TV airtime salesman living on Long Island with wife Dori, and an eight-month-old son named Zack. When Zack is treated twice for mysterious and life-threatening symptoms, the head of a pediatric ICU, Dr. Darlene Stokes, suspects Dori suffers from that disorder. The Goldin are Jewish, Dr. Stokes is black, and situation leads to a topsy-turvy world where doctors are trying to save babies from their parents, police legally tear families apart, and everyone turns on everyone else. In the midst of this chaos Josh sees all his faith and preconceptions torn abruptly away. What is left is not pretty. 06/09 Jack Quick
THE MORNING SHOW MURDERS by Al Roker and Dick Lochte: Go behind the scenes with Al Roker at a morning news program for a little murder and mayhem, and lots of laughs. Billy Blessing is a celebrity chef with a successful New York City restaurant and a regular gig on Wake Up, America - until the executive producer is murdered by poisoned coq au vin takeout from Billy's restaurant. Billy becomes the leading suspect, the cops close down the restaurant and he's suspended from the show. Billy decides to prove his innocence, and an amateur sleuth is born. Al Roker's charm is evident throughout, but there are too many zany characters for my taste. All in all, a solid debut and what appears to be the first book of a possible series. 11/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
MORNING SPY, EVENING SPY by Colin MacKinnon: Described as a CIA procedural, this disturbing portrayal of the CIA from the end of 2000 to the night of September 10, 2001, grabs you and keeps you on edge all the way through. Agency troubleshooter Paul Patterson spends most of that time period investigating the murder of a shady CIA contractor in Pakistan. In the process he uncovers hints of a major al-Qaeda plot in the making. However, since the various intelligence services are determined to not share what they know, you sense with each passing day the increasing inevitability of what is going to happen at the end. Nevertheless, there are still surprises along the way. All in all this reminds me of the early Tom Clancy material in which you hope there is more fiction that fact, but fear there may be more truth than imagination. 03/09 Jack Quick
MORTAL FEAR by Greg Isles: Futures trader Harper Cole, moonlights as the systems operator of an erotic online services called EROS. When he contacts the New Orleans police with information about the murder of celebrated author-and EROS subscriber-Karin Wheat, he immediately becomes the prime suspect in six other murders of EROS subscribers across the country. Also on the FBI's short list is Cole's eccentric friend and EROS colleague Miles Turner, who has dubbed the killer "Brahma." When Cole learns that the man he thought was Brahma was killed a year ago and that his online identity was stolen, a tense cat-and-mouse game commences. Coles’ digging leads to his posing on line as a potential victim, using as bait a secret that endangers the mother of his child, as well as his wife. The final climax is breathtaking. Recommended. 03/07 Jack Quick
MOSCOW RULES by Daniel Silva: Silva has done it once again with a grabber of an adventure for art restorer and Jewish James Bond – Gabriel Allon. Allon is in Italy working on restoring a Nicolas Poussin painting for the Vatican and celebrating his honeymoon with new wife Chiara, when he is summoned by “The Office” to take a meeting, with a Russian journalist who claims to have critical information that he will reveal only to Allon. The journalist is killed at the meet and Allon sets forth to discover what may be the greatest threat ever to Israel’s existence. Ivan Kharkov, a former KGB official and now global entrepreneur and gun runner, is apparently ready to provide unprecedented weapons to al- Qaeda. Allon must somehow prevent the exchange but this time he is playing by Moscow Rules – Anything goes, take no prisoners, and win at all costs. Wouldn’t you love to see Allon made into a movie, a real one, not the Mission Impossible, Who Killed Roger rabbit type? I’d get in line for tickets for it. 08/08 Jack Quick
MOST WANTED by Michele Martinez: First novel from a hot shot New York Federal prosecutor about a hot shot New York Federal prosecutor. Art imitates life in this fast paced debut. As with many first efforts, Most Wanted would benefit from a tighter editorial hand. We tend to learn too much about too many people. While it is obvious that Melanie the prosecutor is the main character, you're not as certain about some of the others. Major gritty, even for a hard boiled fan like me. Nicely paced, but again just a bit jam packed, as though there is concern about no tomorrow (or second book). Overall a promising start for a shiny new talent. Maybe next time lets just focus on the crime rather than the crime, the separation, the baby, the new boyfriend, the family, the victim, the department... 03/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
MOTOR MOUTH by Janet Evanovich: This is the sequel to Metro Girl and what I suspect will be another Evanovich money-making series. Not because this is such a great book (it's not,) but she has her fans and I'm one of them. This series features Alexandra Barnaby, AKA Barney, who is much like Stephanie Plum - clueless, sexy, and lovable, but she has only one male love interest, Nascar driver Sam Hooker. Personally, I find Nascar boring as hell, but I like the books although not nearly as much as the Plum series. These characters are fairly one dimensional, but this is not great literature (am I repeating myself?) and is completely plot driven. Motor Mouth centers around some new-fangled technology that can make a car win a race, except that it's illegal. There are kidnappings, murders, sexual tension and dog jokes galore in this effervescent read that is real short on logic, but is fast & fun. Let's call it brain candy - too much is certainly no good for you, but if you want to escape for a couple of hours and have a few laughs, go for it. 10/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
MOTOR MOUTH by Janet Evanovich: An epiphany. I have read and generally enjoyed the first dozen Stephanie Plum books. But, I don’t know that much about bounty hunting in New Jersey. This is the second book featuring Alexandra Barnaby in a NASCAR setting. I do know something about NASCAR, which is why this one is DNF (Did Not Finish) before the first green flag pit stop. If you are a NASCAR fan, I suspect you will quickly reach the same conclusion. If you are not a NASCAR fan, maybe the stilted dialogue, improbable plot and unrealistic scenario will appeal to you. Back to the drawing board on this series. 03/07 Jack Quick
MOUNTING DESIRE by Nina Killham: This second effort by Killham (after the very funny How to Cook a Tart) is a humorous inside look at the business of writing romance. Jack Carter, AKA Celeste D'arcy, is a very successful romance writer - but not finding the romance he wants in his own life. He takes a vow of celibacy, which proves to be the irresistible icing on the hunky-successful-romantic-guy cake and women are throwing themselves at him, literally. His sister convinces him to take in Molly, her friend who was fired from her job for inappropriate sexual behavior with a subordinate. He reluctantly agrees and the sparks fly despite their different agendas; Jack just wants someone to love, and then maybe he'll think about sex, while Molly just wants sex and then maybe she'll think about love. Then Molly starts writing her own romance novel while Jack ends up with writer's block. I don't read romance so I had the sneaking suspicion that I was missing some inside jokes about the business, but it was a fun and funny read nonetheless. 08/05
MOUNTING FEARS by Stuart Woods: Woods uses an implausible plot to showcase most everyone he has ever written about. Ostensibly about President Will Lee, Woods brings in Lance Cabot of the CIA and former Florida police chief Holly Barker to deal with a resurfaced Teddy Fay who has been “killed” in at least two previous Woods’ outings. Lee has loose nukes in Pakistan, a Vice-President who dies after surgery, and a new Vice President with a zipper problem and a vindictive wife from whom he is trying to escape. The polls are going in the wrong direction, and Lee’s wife, Kate Rule Lee, head of the CIA, is upset when a former Lee lover comes into the picture. Believe it or not, all ends well, the world is saved as well as the upcoming election, so there is sure to be a sequel. Not bad if you are a Stuart Woods fan, like me. If not, you may want to skip it. 04/09 Jack Quick
MOURNERS by Bill Pronzini: When Nameless made his assistant, Tamara, a partner in his detective agency and hired Jake, a new operative, he genuinely felt he was moving toward retirement. But business has increased, and Nameless finds himself reluctant to give up the work that has defined him for so long, even though he has recently become a husband and father. Pronzini's series becomes more layered and complex with each entry. This time the primary characters are all in one stage or another of mourning. A dark, foreboding entry in a classic series. Pronzini is a master. 04/06 Jack Quick
THE MOURNING SEXTON by Michael Baron: The sexton in this story is an orthodox lawyer with a past. Having served ten years in the federal penitentiary for embezzlement, David Hirsch is trying to rebuild his life. He regains his law license with the proviso that he be allowed to practice only under the direct supervision of a lawyer in good standing for at least 20 years. His oldest friend takes him into his bankruptcy practice and David is working and living a quiet life. Until one of the minyan at the shul where he is sexton asks him to find justice for the daughter he lost in a car accident three years previously, and he reluctantly agrees to help out. As he immerses himself in the case, he finds irregularities and starts digging deeper. But his client is suffering from Alzheimer's disease which is progressing rapidly, opposing council doesn't want him looking into it any further, and things just spiral out of control from there. This is a well written, fast moving, original legal thriller with some very clever twists and I highly recommend it. 11/05 Stacy Alesi, the BookBitch
THE MOURNING SEXTON by Michael Baron: Michael Baron, who
as Michael Kahn writes (or wrote) the Rachel Gold series, set in St. Louis; his
characters are sharply drawn, and the stories are often complex without being
dizzying, and he knows his city.
MR. CLARINET by Nick Stone: Max Mingus spent seven years in Attica for killing three child molesters. Now the ex-Miami cop and erstwhile PI is trying to put his life back together. He is hired to find the missing three-year old son of a wealthy white Haitian family in the violent mid 1990’s world of Haiti. His search for Charlie Carver leads him from the richest to the poorest sections of the island and to powerful drug baron Vincent Paul. Not for the faint hearted, this first effort is gritty throughout. Hopefully we will hear more from Mr. Stone in the future. 01/08 Jack Quick
MR. MONK AND THE TWO ASSISTANTS by Lee Goldberg: I have not seen the USA Network show Monk, but this has a script feel to it. Monk, apparently a genius sleuth, is dealing with both his current assistant Natalie Teeger (who is the narrator) with his former assistant Sharona Fleming, whose husband, Trevor, is in prison for murder. The two are jealous and Monk’s idea of them both working part-time is certainly not the smartest thing he has done. He does deal with a few simpler challenges, gets Trevor out of prison, and is poised for his next adventure, same time, same station, next week. Very light-weight. 11/07 Jack Quick
Mr. Paradise by Elmore Leonard: Mr. Paradise is the derogatory name given to the aging (84 years old), Mafia don, Anthony Paradiso. A die-hard (unfortunate choice of words) U of Michigan football fan, Mr. Paradise prefers to review his library of Maize and Blue victories in the company of very attractive topless women in cheerleader skirts who he adorns with a big M in magic marker. Ever tasteful, Mr. Leonard slyly avoids Wisconsin jokes.
In the middle of his two-model pleasure, Mr. Paradise is bumped off by a couple of idiots hired by his loyal right-hand man. The rest of the story is police detective Frank Delsa's efforts to track down all those responsible (and their lawyer) while absolving the model who quickly becomes his love interest.
As in most of Mr. Leonard's books, the dialog in Mr. Paradise is superb. I was so struck by the sign in the Detroit police squad room that I immediately e-mailed a bunch of friends about it. If this isn't the way that bad guys and cops and high fashion models talk, by God, it ought to be. And as is also typical in Mr. Leonard's books, the action moves right along. (His explanation is "I cut out the parts everybody skips over.")
However, this is not as side-splitting as some of this author's recent books and I think will disappoint some of his newer fans. Too bad. They are missing a fine story while looking for laughs. 02/04 ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.
MR. PENUMBRA'S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE by Robin Sloan: Every once in a while I stumble onto a book so creative, so inspiring that it is just impossible to put down and impossible to forget. This is a conundrum of a novel; part mystery, part fantasy, very charming and just plain smart. The titled bookstore is unlike any I have been to; sure, they sell some used books, but mostly they warehouse a strange collection of books that are borrowed by an even stranger collection of people. When Clay Jannon loses his job due to economic collapse, he feels lucky to land the job of night clerk in this intriguing bookstore. Clay's girlfriend is a Google employee and much is made about the Google culture, which adds another dimension to the story. This book is populated with quirky, interesting characters and they each bring a unique skill set to the story. Who are these people who wander into the store in the middle of the night and why do they borrow these strange books? If I may borrow from Winston Churchill, this book is truly a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, and I loved every page. 2/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
MR. SHIVERS by Robert Jackson Bennett: Horror meets the great depression in this genre-bending debut. Connelly’s daughter has been murdered. For him, life will never be the same, but the possibility that carrying out revenge might bring him close is enough. He sets off west, following the scarred man known to most as Mr. Shivers. Shivers leaves a wake of death and sorrow in his path, a path that spares some but brings great pain to many. Throughout Connelly’s journey, he meets others who also seek vengeance against the scarred man. Each person shares the same tale and each person is willing to sacrifice everything to see Shivers suffer as they have. But their payback comes at a hefty price. Robert Jackson Bennett creates a bleak and dark world that is virtually unforgiving to all. His characters’ suffering and pain is clear, making Mr. Shivers a macabre sort of read and a window into a world that one hopes to never enter themselves. 01/10 Becky Lejeune
MRS. SOMEBODY SOMEBODY by Tracy Winn: This debut collection from Tracy Winn seems to have something for every type of reader. Each of the stories is connected by locale: all of the characters are tied to mill town Lowell, Massachusetts. The similarities in stories pretty much ends there. Some of these tales are heartfelt peeks inside the life of one of Lowell’s citizens – June DeLise’s free trip to Central America in “Gumbo Limbo,” and young immigrant Izabel’s story in “Cantogallo.” Four of the tales connect through one family, the Burroughs: Dr. Charlie Burroughs’s return from war in “Blue Tango,” Delia Burroughs’s secret in “Glass Box,” son Frankie’s early days and downfall in “Smoke” and “Frankie Floats,” and daughter Helen in “Copper Leaves Waiting.” The Burroughs’s stories were by far my favorites, but as with all short story collections, readers will connect with their own favorite tales. Overall, a balanced and well-written selection from Winn. 06/10 Becky Lejeune
THE MULLAH’S STORM by Thomas W. Young: Air Force Major Michael Parson is navigator of a C-130 carrying a high-value prisoner from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan that is shot down. Not allowing the prisoner, a radical mullah, to be recaptured by his Taliban supporters is of the highest priority – beyond that of saving the lives of any of the plane's crew or female Army Sergeant Gold, an interpreter/guard accompanying the mullah. This doesn't sit well with Parson who fortunately has Dirk Pitt like superhuman powers to enable him to perform like Jack Reacher still in uniform. All in all, not a bad adventure tale, with authentic and believable information regarding weapons, tactics, and combat set in the severe Afghanistan landscape. Recommended. 09/11 Jack Quick KINDLE
MUNCHIES AND OTHER TALES OF GUYS, GALS & GUNS by Jack Bludis: Munchies – a snack mix sold by Frito Lay, a confection sold by Nestle, a sudden strong desire for food, or best of all - the title story and title of Jack Bludis' new collection of hard-boiled PI stories set in Baltimore, New York City and Los Angeles. Or, as Richard Helms proclaimed: "From Baltimore to the mean streets of New York, to the smoke-and-gin-soaked Hollywood of the 1940s, Bludis presents a lineup of some of the finest hard-boiled literature around. Page after page is filled with bullets, bucks, and broads. This is the good stuff!" This one reads like an alkie on his way to the gin mill and includes the Anthony and Shamus Award finalist tale, "Munchies," plus "Pigtown Will Shine Tonight," "Ticket to the Top," "New Guy on the Block," "Blonds, Blonds, Blonds," and eight more short stories and novelettes. The only problem with this offering from the author of Shadow of the Dalhia is deciding which is best. My vote: The Transfer, in which the hundred seventeen year old Baltimore private dick is still hitting the streets and making it happen. Would that I could... 05/11 Jack Quick
MURDER AS A FINE ART by David Morrell: In his outstanding novel First Blood, David Morrell depicts a Vietnam veteran afflicted by post traumatic stress syndrome involved in violent confrontation with law officers of a small town. The horror of war and killing motivate John Rambo, to what happens to him in that town. "Murder As A Fine Art" has at its premise the psychology behind a murderer's motivation. The novel is set in London in 1854 during the mid years of the Victorian age and shortly after the Crimean War between England and Russia. Two sets of murders take place: the first in a shop after business hours, and the second a few days later in a tavern. Called to the scene of the first set of murders is Sean Ryan who is depicted as one of the first detectives in England to have studied scientific detection methods. He approaches the murders with both an active searching for clues and a logical attitude towards the set up of the crime scene. Utilizing persons that actually lived at the time and facts about them enables Morrell to enhance the story and plot. First is Thomas De Quincey who was infamous for his memoir "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater". He was a suspect in murders committed 43 years earlier in London due to his essay "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts". He is enticed to come to London with his daughter by an anonymous offer of lodgings in order to meet with a woman that he loved during the period of the first murders and lost touch with. The murders currently perpetrated are similiar to those committed 43 years earlier and De Quincey again becomes a suspect. Next is Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston known as Lord Palmerston and home secretary during the period depicted in the book. An historical view of him shown by Morrell was his active secret movements to foment unrest in Europe as a means of fostering England's continued rise to power. He was involved with protecting the Opium Trade with China which is an important background issue in the novel. He was a superb politician and his political machinations are done justice in the book. In an afterward David Morrell indicates that he spent a year researching the London of 1854 and his descriptions enhance an already good story. The noise, the filth, the overcrowding, the life of people forced by poverty to live on the streets is presented as it was and are an integral part of resurrecting the London of the era. The motivations of the murderer and the reasons for the crimes will be understood by today's reader based upon current knowledge of abnormal psychology. An engrossing read and one which will keep the reader glued to the pages. 05/13 Paul Lane
MURDER AT HOTEL CINEMA by Daniel Edward Craig: A diva dives off the top floor of a Hollywood hotel during a hot party. Did Chelsea Fricks commit suicide or was this more than a publicity stunt gone badly. Hotel Cinema becomes the setting of the ensuing investigation, starring Chelsea's former pit bull publicist; a hairy, star-struck detective; tasteless tabloid reporters; and the incompetent manager, who breaks every rule in the hotel handbook. Cristal champagne is flowing. Business is booming. But who will survive the uproar and are other deaths in store? Easy read. 08/08 Jack Quick
MURDER AT LONGBOURN by Tracy Kiely: Elizabeth Parker is a big Jane Austen fan. As is her aunt, the proud owner of the Longbourn B&B, named for the Bennett residence in P&P. Elizabeth was all set to spend her New Year’s Eve alone after a break-up with her cheating boyfriend, until her aunt invites her to her own shindig. The festivities were to include a murder mystery dinner and, as promised in the invite, “screams in the dark.” But when the lights came back on, a real murder was discovered and Elizabeth’s beloved aunt the unfortunate prime suspect. Now Elizabeth must unravel the mystery in order to save her aunt from being accused. This cozy debut is a light read with an engaging heroine. Elizabeth will charm readers just as much as her literary namesake and Austen fans will enjoy picking out the references to her famed work as well. Murder at Longbourn is a traditional British inspired mystery with a contemporary twist. 09/09 Becky Lejeune
MURDER AT THE FOUL LINE edited by Otto Penzler: excellent follow-up anthology to Penzler’s MURDER IS MY RACKET, which focused on the tennis court. In this one, due out in January, a similar group of heavyweights weigh in on the basketball court with new short stories from Lawrence Block, Jeffery Deaver, Mike Lupica, Laurie R. King, S. J. Rozan and interestingly a joint effort by Joan H. and Robert B. Parker, among others. If you’re into hoops, you’ll love this one. 12/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
Murder Between the Covers by Elaine Viets. The Dead End Job mystery series is set in Fort Lauderdale, and features great stories interspersed with gentle humor. This one revolves around the murder of a bookstore owner named Page Turner (you gotta love it!) Our heroine is Helen, who feels the need to stay on the lam from her ex-husband, preferring to keep out of his, and the law's, radar. So she takes jobs that are way beneath her talents and education (a former high powered CPA in her married life) and ends up working for cash in a small, independent bookstore that is owned by a real creep. When the creep gets killed, Helen can't help but get involved along with the zany cast of characters that populate this series. Sometimes I just want to read something light, fun and fast, and Viets always comes through. 04/04
MURDER GRINS AND BEARS IT by Deb Baker: Amateur sleuth Gertie Johnson says “Anyone who smears chicken grease all over himself and goes bear hunting with a bow and arrow is plain stupid or has a death wish.” In seems everyone in this second book in the Yooper Mystery series is some kind of over the top crazy, including Gertie. Opening day of bear season, game warden murdered, Gertie’s favorite grandson Little Donny (all 280 pounds in his boxer underwear with footballs on them) disappears. Just another day on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Oh yeah, did I mention Gertie’s man hungry friend Cora Mae, who, since her discovery of Wonderbras, follows her boobs wherever she goes. But what really gets Gertie’s goat is her son Blaze, the local sheriff named for one of the horses she didn’t have as a child, seems more interested in arresting his mom for driving without a license than finding Little Donny or catching the killer. I guess the best description is: think Stephanie Plum, except it’s the wilds of Michigan rather than Newark, and Granny Mazur is the lead character, not Stephanie. All in all, a fun read that can cause excess laughter. Then there’s BB. What does BB stand for? “Bazooka,” BB said puffing up his chest. Marlin snorted, “More like them little pellets they shoot rabbits with.” But Gertie knew the truth – Bottom of the Brain Barrel. PS: may be offensive to persons of Scandinavian descent, upholders of sobriety and those who feel that society should be staid, but as Grandma Johnson said, “Once I find my pistol, I’m taking one of ‘em down. Don’t know how I could misplace it, but I’m on the look out. It’ll show up.” 05/07 Jack Quick
MURDER IN THE ABSTRACT by Susan Shea: Sleuthing is definitely not part of museum employee Dani’ O’Rourke’s job description. In fact, her position requires that she schmooze with folks who can make significant contributions to the Devor Museum in San Francisco, so solving a murder is a bit out of her comfort zone. But that’s just the task Dani finds herself faced with when up-and-coming artist—and ex-boyfriend—Clinton Maslow takes a tumble out of her own office window. Not only does Dani want to know what happened to her friend, but she also finds herself uncomfortably tagged as the prime suspect in the case. With more than just her career and the museum’s reputation at stake, Dani must uncover the true murderer’s identity before it’s too late. Susan Shea’s cozy-ish debut is a light mystery with an engaging heroine and an interesting setting. With a cast of fun (and suspicious) characters and a mystery that really keeps you guessing, Murder in the Abstract has everything a mystery fan is looking for in a new series. Brings to mind the early Goldy Shultz titles by Diane Mott Davidson (set in the art world, of course). 06/10 Becky Lejeune
Murder in the Hearse Degree by Tim Cockey: Amusing romp with undertaker Hitchcock Sewell in this fourth book of the series. His former girlfriend Libby shows up with her kids in tow - turns out she's left her abusive husband. Things get ugly when her nanny disappears and her body is found in the river, and the autopsy shows that she was pregnant. The police rule it suicide, but the girl's mother is insistent that her daughter would never do that, and Libby has a hard time with that choice too. Finding the father may lead to finding the murderer, and Hitch is off and running. Then things really get interesting. This is a fun series and does not have to be read in order. Enjoy them all - The Hearse Case Scenario, The Hearse You Came in On, and Hearse of a Different Color are the first three.
MURDER IS A PIECE OF CAKE by Elaine Viets: The latest entry in the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series finds Josie engaged to her heartthrob veterinarian, so Josie is delighted when her boss has her mystery shop wedding cakes and bridal salons. Her fiancé lands a gig on the local news channel, but when they begin filming, a woman comes barging in, declaring that she is marrying the vet. Hysteria ensues and the crazy bride ends up murdered. There are enough kooky characters and red herrings to make this a really fun read with a surprise ending. Cozy mystery fans will enjoy this latest escapade as much as I did. Viets has two series going is doing a great job with them both, putting her on my must read list. 11/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
MURDER IS MY RACQUET: Original Tennis Mysteries, edited by Otto Penzler: Only the A-list in this anthology of fourteen original stories of love, death and tennis - the game that conjures the height of genteel sportsmanship. I enjoyed all fourteen chapters – I mean what is not to like from Lawrence Block, John Harvey, Stephen Hunter, Robert Leuci, Ridley Pearson and Lisa Scottoline, among others. Each story is tightly edited and on target. I am surprised Penzler didn’t hold out for one more story so the subtitle could be Love – Fifteen. A June release that will delight tennis buffs and mystery fans. 05/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
MURDER MOST MAINE by Karen MacInerney: I suppose if you live in Austin, Texas, one way to cool off would be to write about the rugged coast of Maine. Ms. MacInerney does this quite well in this, her third Gray Whale Inn mystery set on Cranberry Island off the coast of Maine. Actually this could be called Murders Most Maine because there are two – or at least the remains of two. One is a centuries old skeleton discovered in a secret compartment by contractors renovating the old lighthouse. The more immediate concern, however, is the demise of Dirk DeLeon, the hunky heart throb personal trainer at the local weight loss spa who was certainly in the peak of physical condition, just ask any of the local ladies. Innkeeper Natalie Barnes must come up with the answer as the suspicions of poisoning force her to close down her beloved kitchen while boyfriend John is being eyed as a key suspect in the murder. It’s cozy, but nicely done. Oh, check out the recipe for Nat’s Midnight Mint bars. Yummm. 11/08 Jack Quick
MURDER NEW YORK STYLE edited by Randy Kandal: New York City – its murder. This group of twenty-one stories hits all the bases - Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Westchester, and the Outer Reaches. This classic look at New York includes Chinatown, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, even a Turkish nightclub. The stories range in time from the Revolutionary War until now with ghosts and gore, murder and mayhem – all in that particular New York style. The authors are: Cynthia Baxter, Meredith Cole, Fran Brannigan Cox, Peggy Ehrhart, Erica Harth, Marianna Heusler, Nan Higginson, Randy Kandel, M.E. Kemp, Ronnie Klaskin, Chelle Martin, Margaret Mendel, Terri Farley Moran, Dorothy Mortman, Anita Page, R.M. Peluso, Triss Stein, Deirdre Verne, Pearl Wolf, Lina Zeldovich, and Elizabeth Zelvin. 03/08 Jack Quick
MURDER NOTEBOOK by Jonathan Santlofer: This is the terrific sequel to Anatomy of Fear, the first book to feature New York City police sketch artist Nate Rodriguez. Santlofer is an extremely gifted artist, and brings a unique combination of a complex and interesting page turner with original drawings that serve to create visual interest and propel the story along. Nate is working on two cases - he's reconstructing a skull for identification purposes in a cold case, and working a murder case that soon multiplies into several murders - only he has to convince the rest of the NYPD that the murders are related. This is psychological suspense taken to a new level - don't miss it. 06/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
MURDER ON THE CLIFFS: A MYSTERY FEATURING DAPHNE DU MAURIER by Joanna Challis: While vacationing in Cornwall, aspiring author Daphne du Maurier stumbles across the body of a dead girl. As someone seeking inspiration for a story, Daphne couldn’t ask for a better setting. The woman, once a member of the Padthaway kitchen staff and recently engaged to marry Lord David Hartley, was a beautiful girl with a somewhat questionable past. Her future mother-in-law made no bones about her disapproval of the match, and David’s own sister, Lianne, a troubled teen who is on the scene when Daphne makes her discovery, had her own issues with the dead girl. With such a fascinating cast of characters surrounding her as possible suspects, Daphne soon makes it her business to solve what can only be murder. Fans of du Maurier’s work, especially Rebecca, will enjoy seeing the author as the sleuth in this gothic-tinged cozy debut. I know I’ll definitely be looking forward to the next title in Challis’s series. 11/09 Becky Lejeune
MURDER ON THE EIFFEL TOWER by Claude Izner: While touring the grand opening of the Eiffel Tower, a woman collapses and dies after supposedly being stung by a bee. Bookseller Victor Legris thinks nothing of it until he follows a certain artist later on and happens upon a second “bee sting” that results in death. Victor is enthralled with the young woman, but realizes that she always seems to be around when another body pops up. Strangely enough, Victor has also noticed his partner in the book business, Kenji Mori, has been acting very odd lately. Victor discovers that Kenji can also be linked to some of the victims. With clues pointing to both his best friend and the object of his affection, Victor makes it his personal business to discover the truth behind these mysterious deaths. Set against the backdrop of the 1889 World Exposition in Paris, France, this first in a new traditional mystery series is a truly enjoyable read. Interestingly enough, Izner is a pseudonym for two French sisters, both of whom are booksellers and experts on the time in which the series takes place. Their attention to detail and social commentary on the period make this a great historical mystery. So far there are four books in the series. Murder on the Eiffel Tower is the first to be published stateside, and book four is due out in the UK next spring. 09/08 Becky Lejeune
MURDER ON THE MIND by L.L. Bartlett: A skull fracture gives Jeff Resnick the ability to “see” crimes” starting with the murder of his brother’s banker. Then there is another victim : the banker’s wife. Resnick must find out the truth to protect himself and his brother, even at the risk of his life. A little too woo-woo for me but nicely written and quite twisty. Set for general release 12/05. 11/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
MURDER ON THE TRANS-SIBERIAN EXPRESS by Stuart Kaminsky: All good things must come to an end, even the Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov Moscow police procedural series. In this, the 14th (and last) Rostnikov novel is assigned along with Sasha to ride the 6,000-mile Trans-Siberian Express to intercept a courier exchanging money for a package somewhere along the route. At the same time Rostnikov’s son and fellow policeman Iosef and his fiancé and fellow cop Elena Timofeyeva lead the effort to locate a madwoman whose random knife attacks have injured or slain men at a series of subway stops. Lastly, the “Vampire”, detective Emil Karpo and Zelach “the Slouch” are trying to locate a kidnapped heavy metal rock performer who is also the son of a powerful Jewish businessman. Too bad it all has to end. 03/08 Jack Quick
MURDER ON THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD by Stuart Kaminsky: Private Eye to the Stars Toby Peters’ second outing features Toby, Judy Garland, Clark Gable and Raymond Chandler along with a host of munchkins, except one who is lying on his back in the middle of the yellow brick road with a knife sticking out of his chest. Its 1940 and, having saved Errol Flynn in BULLET FOR A STAR, Toby must now deal with dreamers, child stars, and half-sized philosophers on behalf of the real Wizard of Oz, Louis B. Mayer, head of Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. If you have a thing for old movies as well as mysteries, this series is a must read. If not, you still should read it. Who knows what it might do for you. 04/09 Jack Quick
MURDER ONE by Robert Dugoni: David Slone (Bodily Harm) is slowly rebuilding his life after his wife’s murder. He runs into Barclay Reid, a beautiful attorney and an old adversary. Reid is also grieving; her daughter died from a drug overdose. They start dating, but Reid is obsessed with the man she believes caused her daughter’s death, so when he gets off on a technicality, Reid decides to go after him via a civil suit with the famous “Jury Master” himself, Slone, as her new lawyer. The romance flourishes until the drug kingpin ends up dead and Reid is arrested for his murder. Slone reluctantly tackles her defense, his first time in a criminal courtroom, with great skill regardless, but Reid isn’t always forthcoming and Slone finds his defense unraveling. His investigator finds some troubling evidence and the suspense really ratchets up a notch until the final surprise of an ending. VERDICT: Tight plotting and well developed characters push Dugoni to the head of the legal thriller pack in what is probably his finest book to date. Grisham and Turow fans should add Dugoni to their list of must-reads. 06/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch KINDLE
MURDER PASSES THE BUCK by Deb Baker: Great Britain may have had Sherlock Holmes and New York its Lincoln Rhyme, but nobody out sleuths 66 year old Gertie Johnson on the Michigan Upper Peninsula. In this “Yooper” mystery Gertie sets out to find who shot Chester Lampi in his deer blind on Opening day of deer season. Her son Blaze (named after a horse) who is now the local sheriff says it was an accident but Gertie knows better. With the help of Little Donny, her 6 foot 4 grandson and best friend hairdresser Cora Mae, she sets out to prove her son wrong. I mean you got to admire someone whose idea of putting out a building fire is ramming it with a vehicle. Fun read. 09/08 Jack Quick
Murder Room by P. D. James: Sometimes a particular book seems to
come along at just the right time. As it happened, The Murder Room found its way
to me at a particularly pensive time of the year and suited my mood perfectly.
MURDER…SUICIDE…WHATEVER… by Gwen Freeman: Remember the scene in Good Morning Vietnam where the Lieutenant was discussing humor with Robin Williams? Well, I will tell you this lady is funny. Laugh out loud, hurt your sides funny. When “Uncle” Ted Heffernan, insurance broker to the (porn) stars is found dead inside a locked office it is up to unemployed bi-racial twenty-something Fifi Cutter and her half-brother Bosco Dorff (who is partial to women with big bazongas) to find out what happened and why. Pretending to be private investigators who are pretending to be grief counselors gives them access to situations which they completely and consistently screw up. How about this for an answer “If he told me, I would know. But if he didn’t tell me, then I wouldn’t.” Whomever invented the “locked room mystery” never had this pair in mind. You would not want to be locked up with them. Excellent debut. Janet Evanovich should be hearing footsteps. 03/07 Jack Quick
MURDER TALKS TURKEY by Deb Baker: In order to understand Gertie Johnson, you have to remember she named her children Heather, Star and Blaze, all names of horses she wanted but never had. Blaze is the local sheriff but he’s out of commission with bacterial meningitis on this fine spring day in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. So there is sixty-six year old Gertie, standing in line at the Stonely Credit Union on April 1 to cash her social security check when a man wearing a ski mask pulls a gun and demands all the money. Obviously he was from out of town, or he would have known everyone in Stonely was armed and most can shoot a nickel off the top of a soda can. So the robber is shot down by a police sniper in a room full of witnesses, but where is the money? In the excitement, the money has disappeared and its Gertie, Cora Mae, and Kitty, the geriatric gumshoes who must track it down. So pull up a plate of “hot dish” and have it. It’s a regular whodunit. 04/08 Jack Quick
MURDER UNDER THE LOON by Gerald Anderson: John Hofstead always wore a coat and tie, and in winter often a vest as well. After all, you wouldn’t want to entrust your money to just any insurance man. John was so good at his work that Hofstead Hail Insurance was now one of the most prosperous firms in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. So it just didn’t seem right when Hofstead’s body was found in the snow beneath a giant concrete loon, the apparent victim of a snowmobile accident. Sheriff Palmer Knutson isn’t so sure. After all there are no footprints in the snow and the death came on the eve of Hofstead’s planned announcement of the successor to his position as President of the Company he had founded. Had one of the four employees or their spouses taken the matter into their own hands to avoid the announcement? Its old-fashioned greed, ambition and jealousy in the North Country with a full cast of characters. Never fear Sheriff Knutson and wily deputy Orly Peterson will prevail. 04/08 Jack Quick
MURDER UNLEASHED by Elaine Viets: Viets hardcover debut and the latest in the Dead End Job mystery series is a hoot. Helen Hawthorne is living beneath the radar in South Florida after running from St. Louis and her unsavory past - she went after her cheating husband with a crowbar and then refused to pay him alimony. She's surviving by living in a dumpy old apartment and taking any job that will pay her cash under the table. This time out she's working for an upscale Fort Lauderdale pet shop with competing dog groomers, one of whom is a diva of the highest order. The parade of dog obsessed customers gets shorter when one is found with a pair of grooming shears stuck in her chest, a celebrity dog gets caught in a messy custody battle, and another body turns up, all of which is a prelude to the hurricane that's blowing in. Helen is smart enough to see trouble coming and works hard to avoid it, often with hilarious results. A fast, fun read and a wonderful addition to the series. 05/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
MURDER WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS by Elaine Viets: Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper is checking out the local Christmas stores and it's not putting her in the Christmas spirit - not when you have to buy Christmas "pornaments" and your gingerbread cake has a raisin with legs in it. Townspeople are furious, and they are picketing the store when a mysterious Santa up on the roof upends a shovelful of snow onto one of the picketers, putting her at death's door. Then at the lovely Christmas store across the way, two customers end up hospitalized after eating chocolate sauce laced with antifreeze. One of those customers is Josie's ex, a drug dealer whose sharp lawyer got him out of jail on a technicality. Lots of family angst amid the Christmas mayhem in this simple, light holiday mystery, which at this time of year, may be the perfect read. 12/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
MURDER WITH RESERVATIONS by Elaine Viets: This latest installment in the Dead End Job series has our heroine, Helen Hawthorne, finding another dead body. Still on the run from her ex-husband, Helen takes one low-paying, cash-under-the-table job after another, from bridal consultant to bookseller to dog groomer to this latest, maid in a small Fort Lauderdale hotel. But finding bodies is not a good way to stay undercover, and Helen is a nervous wreck when sure enough, her sister calls to warn her that the ex is on his way. Great characters, wonderful location, nice plot twists, and gentle humor make this a must read. Viets has penned another winner. 05/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE MURDERER VINE by Shepard Rifkin: Joe Dunne is just an ordinary gumshoe trying to make a living in New York City after being kicked off the cops. He handles a drug pusher for a client and the next thing he knows he is being hired to commit murder. It’s during the 60’s and three young men who have gone to rural Mississippi to register black voters have disappeared. Dunne is hired by the father of one of the men to confirm the boys are dead and then take care of the perps. It goes against all his scruples but the money comprises the proverbial offer you can’t refuse. Only at the end does he learn the true cost. Its Mississippi Burning, told yet another time. 05/08 Jack Quick
THE MURDERER’S DAUGHTERS by Randy Susan Meyers: Lulu’s mother told her not to let her father inside. But when he came knocking, young Lulu opened the door to her father’s bidding. That fateful day, Lulu’s father killed her mother. Merry, just five at the time, was stabbed and would bear the scar for the rest of her life, a reminder of the event that changed things forever. Afterwards, Lulu and Merry were left virtually orphaned with no one to care for them but each other. Through the story each sister grows, taking their secret with them, and dealing in their own way with the burden of their past. Lulu, an overachiever, pushes herself to great accomplishment while closing herself off emotionally. Merry, on the other hand, is always trying to please others first, including Lulu. Eventually, they must both recognize the ways that that pivotal moment has shaped their lives in order to finally move on. Randy Susan Meyers approaches her subject with grace and sensitivity. A thoughtful, if somewhat sad (but ultimately hopeful), story about family, sisters, and the tragic effects of domestic abuse and violence on children. 01/10 Becky Lejeune
Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook: This utterly charming novel is a fun read, perfect for whiling away an afternoon on the beach. Sarah Hurlihy is 40 years old, divorced and happily teaching preschoolers a multicultural curriculum. But her interfering, overzealous Boston Irish family thinks she should be dating, and with much love she is pushed into answering a personal ad from a gentleman seeking a lady "who enjoys elegant dining, dancing and the slow bloom of affection" and the clincher; he's a man who "loves dogs."
That date turns out to be the last man on earth any woman would want to date, but Sarah pushes on, slowly falling headlong into the dating game with decidedly mixed results. Meanwhile, Sarah's widowed father has his own dating troubles, brother Michael is having marital problems, sister Carol is having troubles at home with her temperamental teenage daughter Siobhan, who turns to her favorite aunt for comfort and body piercing support. Somehow, they all seem to end up on Sarah's doorstep at the most inopportune moments, keeping the laughs going all the way to the not-quite-storybook-perfect ending. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch. Copyright © 2002 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
MY DEAR I WANTED TO TELL YOU by Louisa Young: The horrors of war are laid out in Louisa Young’s debut adult novel, My Dear I Wanted to Tell You. At the onset of WWI, young Riley Purefoy, a boy in love with a girl who seems out of his reach, joins up to serve and defend his country. The object of his affection, Nadine Waveney, comes from a good, middle-class family. She’d hoped to attend art school, but instead volunteers to do her part on the home front as a nurse. Meanwhile, Riley meets up with Peter Locke, a young professional and newlywed who is his commanding officer. Locke left behind a lovely bride, Julia, who wants nothing more than to please her husband. But the war has left its mark on Peter who is increasingly distant on each return home. His cousin, Rose, also a nurse, works with a cutting-edge surgeon whose techniques are offering injured soldiers a new life at home. Young offers an emotional glimpse inside the lives of these five characters, but it felt a bit unbalanced. Too often, I felt like Riley had become the focus of the story at the expense of other characters, though I never felt he was the main character in the book. Then the story ends. It wraps up so quickly, that I was left wanting more. More of the inbetween story before Riley is injured, more of Rose’s tale, more background on Julia and Peter. 06/11 Becky Lejeune KINDLE
MY LAST CHRISTMAS AS A CHILD by Gabriel Melton: Lighthearted semi-autobiographical short tale of growing up in Alabama by a local (to me) author who co-incidentally is my age. Its all about first love, the agony of not “fitting in”, and learning some life lessons that will guide you as you become an adult. This would make a good stocking stuffer for that young teen or pre-teen in the household. 09/08 Jack Quick
My Lurid Past by Lauren Henderson: Lauren Henderson takes a break from her terrific Sam Jones crime series in her first attempt outside the mystery genre. Juliet Cooper is a 33-year-old Peter Pan wanna-be who spends her days as a food publicist with a gorgeous male assistant and her biggest client, Liam, an up-and-coming TV chef, both of whom have the hots for anything in a skirt. She spends her nights carousing with her good friend Mel, a professional dominatrix, and having casual sex, which has suddenly become unfulfilling. Juliet is mired down with an antagonistic, egocentric mother, a ne'er-do-well brother, and best gal-pal Gillian on the brink of divorce. Alex, who hasn't made a pass and is "a coke virgin" [cocaine] to boot, is the only calm in the storm and helps Juliet discover that maybe it's time for a real relationship. Henderson may push the chick-lit genre to the wall with this hint of a fetish fest but there's too much whining and not enough story to make it work. 11/03 Copyright © 2003 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
MY SOUL TO SAVE by Rachel Vincent: It’s only been a matter of months since Kaylee Cavanaugh learned that she was a bean sidhe—a banshee—responsible for singing a song that allows the soul of the dead to travel on. Kaylee never thought things could get any weirder than they already were, but when she and her fellow bean sidhe boyfriend, Nash, attend a concert and witness a pop star die on stage, that’s just what happens: things get weirder. Kaylee expects the soul song to begin, but it never does. In fact, what leaves the star’s body is not a soul at all, but something called Demon’s Breath, the substance takes the soul’s place after the soul is signed away. Kaylee may have been too late to save the girl, but she and her friends soon learn that there is another who will suffer the same fate if they don’t try to help. Helping will come at a cost, though. Kaylee will have to learn all she can about the Netherworld in order to track down and negotiate with the demon. And Netherworld is no place for the living, especially not a novice bean sidhe. Vicent’s Soul Screamers series is a stand out for so many reasons: First, the premise is totally original. Second, My Soul to Save enters some truly hair-raising territory with the Netherworld. And third, the story rocks (for teens and adults, I might add). 01/10 Becky Lejeune
MY SOUL TO TAKE by Rachel Vincent: Kaylee Cavanaugh, like most teens, sometimes wonders if she may be losing her mind. But Kaylee is far from the normal teen. Kaylee is a bean sidhe (banshee), one of few left in the world, and the latest in a line of bean sidhes. Kaylee has been completely in the dark about her ability, until now. She is able to sense death, and the overwhelming need to scream for the dying is not something that anyone has bothered to explain to her before. The truth behind Kaylee’s ability is revealed to her at the same time that a string of teenage girls have mysteriously dropped dead with no apparent cause. Kaylee knows that something strange is going on—stranger than learning that there are real bean sidhes and other beings walking the world, that is. Together with her friends’ help, Kaylee will uncover the truth behind the deaths, but is her power enough to stop them from continuing? Leave it to Rachel Vincent (author of the Shifters series) to find another corner of the urban fantasy market that has yet to be touched. This original and addictively readable teen debut also marks the inaugural title in the new Harlequin Teen line—and it’s such a perfect way to start. Highly recommended for adults and teens alike. 08/09 Becky Lejeune
MY WORK IS NOT YET DONE by Thomas Ligotti: In this time of economic crisis, I’m not sure if Ligotti’s tale of “corporate horror” becomes more amusing or more chilling. In “My Work is Not Yet Done,” the first part of this slim novel, office employee Frank Dominio has been let go after enduring humiliation from his coworkers, a demotion, and even theft of his ideas. His elaborate revenge plot is changed, though, when Frank discovers that he is no longer hampered by the physical world. The book also contains two other tales, “I Have a Special Plan for This World,” which, despite appearances, does not seem to be connected to Frank’s own tale, and “The Nightmare Network,” a series of disturbing want ads and internal memos from a nightmarish corporation that seeks to control and ultimately ruin everything. Ligotti’s creepy tales are highly original and contemplative. Perhaps not the best read for a work break, but otherwise recommended for any horror fan looking for something different in the genre. 05/09 Becky Lejeune
THE MYSTIC ARTS OF ERASING ALL SIGNS OF DEATH by Charlie Huston: Webster Fillmore Goodhue (Web) is kind of an asshole. Truth be told, he's not completely without reason. His father is responsible for his best friend's parents' deaths and Web himself survived a truly horrific ordeal that has left him in a bit of a predicament. See Web used to be an elementary school teacher and a kind of nice guy. But then a random shooting ended with one of his students dead and left Web unable to return to work. So now, after months of loafing and mooching, he's taken a job with a friend as a crime scene cleaner, and likes it. But then a girl asks for help and Web finds himself unable to say no which brings him into a messy situation that even his cleaning skills may not be enough to fix. Huston, author of the Joe Pitt vampire series, has created a witty and amusing dark tale of friendship and family and all the problems that come with both. Web is a likeable character in spite of his personality disorder, one that the reader wants to see come out on top, which makes the book that much more fun to read. 01/09 Becky Lejeune
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane: Phenomenal book about three men who were childhood friends. One day they were playing in the street when a car stops. They think it is the cops, and when the "cops" take one of the boys it changes their lives forever. He escapes but twenty-five years later they are all wearing the scars of that day. This book reminded me a bit of the way Stephen King tells stories, minus the supernatural stuff. There is enough horror and twists and turns to qualify it as a thriller, but it is the relationships of the characters that is so riveting and memorable. Another Lehane not to be missed: Gone Baby Gone. Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART by Timothy Hallinan: American travel writer Poke Rafferty who now calls Bangkok home is trying to build a family with Rose, a former bar girl with whom he is in love, a homeless girl named Miaow and a mysterious boy of the streets known as Superman. In the meantime Poke gets involved in not one, but two potential life-threatening mysteries. One involves a notorious Khmer Rouge torturer, the other a series of child-porn photos. Rafferty matures rapidly as he tries to meet his lover's culture more than halfway and find his moral compass at a time when the victims can be as guilty as the murderers are innocent. Completely different from the Bangkok series by John Burdett, but imminently readable although portions are not for the squeamish. 07/08 Jack Quick
NAKED ADDICTION by Caitlin Rother: This police procedural is apparently the first attempt at fiction by a Pulitzer Prize-nominated former journalist who has written at least two “true-crime” books. Detective Ken Goode is trying to obtain a transfer from narcotics where he feels burned out, into Homicide, which is the “major league”. He catches a break when he discovers the body of a beautiful young woman in an alley near the beach, while other Homicide detectives have full caseloads. He is given a shot at solving this case, which quickly becomes one of multiple homicide, drugs, and sex. To be written by a journalist, the books seems to wander a bit more that one would expect, as through the author is trying out different scenarios to see which one would best set up Goode for further adventures. Not bad, but hopefully future outings will be more straight-forward and easier to follow. 07/08 Jack Quick
NAKED MOON by Domenic Stansberry: San Francisco PI Dante Mancuso “bought” his release from the intelligence agency for whom he had been forced to work, by claiming that he had secreted a copy of an explosively dangerous document to be released to the press in the event of his “accidental” death. In fact, Mancuso thought the document was too dangerous and he destroyed it. Now the “agency” has come back after him because of leaked secrets. All will be forgiven if he returns the document. Meanwhile, Leanora Chin, a cop with Special Investigations, is threatening Dante's cousin Gary, who runs a shady warehouse operation, and Gary fears the wrath of the powerful Wu Benevolent Association if he cooperates with Chin. Trapped in a three-way vise, Dante searches for a way to neutralize the explicit threats to his cousin and others dear to him, while knowing that the only permanent solution is to disappear. If you have any feeling at all for San Francisco, you gotta love this series which IMHO perfectly captures Herb Caen's “Baghdad by the Bay.” 03/11 Jack Quick
THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson: Louisiana girl Rory Deveaux is spending her senior year in London at Wexford. The day of her arrival just happens to be the anniversary of the murder of Mary Ann Nichols, thought by many to be the first victim of Jack the Ripper. Normally only a big deal if you’re into that kind of thing, except this year a body has been found in homage to Jack’s first kill. Word is out that Jack is back! As each new anniversary results in a new killing, the folks in charge at Wexford become understandably more tense. And when Rory sees someone near the site of yet another murder, she becomes the one and only witness in the case. I loved this book: a teen paranormal mystery with great appeal for adults, in my opinion. Rory is a solid character and The Name of the Star is wonderful set up for continuing into a series. Plus the use of Jack the Ripper, one of history’s most famous unsolved crimes, is incredibly clever. 4/12 Becky Lejeune KINDLE
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus: The tell-all sensation of a couple of NY nannies about the lives of the rich and not-so-nice. Funny as hell, but equally disturbing. Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE NAPIERVILLE WHITE HOUSE by Mark Pedriani: If you have ever played Madden NFL football or been part of a fantasy sports league in any sport, you can relate to the appeal of “Nationizer”, software available in the none too distant future that enables you to play fantasy government games. Players can take on the roles of cabinet members and congressmen--passing laws, handling crises, and solving problems with their own independent views. Now guess what happens when fantasy becomes reality. Jay Weise, an insurance adjustor by day in Napierville, Illinois, serves as President of the United States; Julia Ortiz, a quiet librarian at Northwestern University is Secretary of State; Duane Kilmer, a part-time truck driver and obsessive gamer is Secretary of Defense; Edward Hoffman, a gas station owner, is Director of National Security and Chief of Staff Alesia Thorpe, a customer service representative, play key roles when terrorists strike at the very heart of the nation's capital, pulling off the kidnappings of the century leaving the Naperville White House as the nation's only real hope of saving the hostages. As reported by Jerome Bartels, crusading vagabond journalist, former White House press secretary, and part-time Radio Shack employee, The Naperville White House is a clever piece of fiction, we hope, and not some vision of the future. Offbeat but compelling in this age when the lines between fantasy and reality become more blurred by the day. 12/10 Jack Quick
THE NARROWS by Michael Connelly: In this sequel to The Poet (1996) retired LAPD Detective Harry Bosch begins to suspect that the notorious serial killer The Poet, presumed dead, may be the culprit in the death of ex-FBI profiler Terry McCalab. As he digs deeper, Bosch meets and eventually joins forces with FBI agent Rachel Walling, who went up against The Poet the first time around. The interactions between Bosch, Walling and The Poet make this a delightfully twisty addition to the Bosch legacy. 05/06 Jack Quick
NATURAL BORN CHARMER by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Susan Elizabeth Phillips is one of the queens of the romance world, one of the elite few that have crossed over from original paperback publication to hardcovers, along with the likes of Nora Roberts, Jennifer Crusie, and Jayne Anne Krentz, AKA Amanda Quick, AKA Jayne Castle and who knows who else. The crossover has been hugely successful; her books are best sellers.
The main hunk in this book was apparently introduced in her previous book, Match Me if You Can. Dean Robillard is the "natural born charmer" of title fame. A star quarterback for the fictional Chicago Stars, he's gorgeous, rich, and famous - a deadly combination for Blue Bailey. Blue is our down-on-her-luck heroine, who Dean rescues after her boyfriends dumps her for a blonder model, and effectively strands her in the middle of nowhere. She allows Dean to rescue her, and they embark on a road trip to his vacation home in rural Tennessee, bantering all the way. Of course, nothing is more attractive to a man like Dean than a woman he thinks is playing hard to get. Little does he know that Blue is determined to be impossible to get.
The small town setting in Tennessee adds to the appeal; there are no malls and no chain stores, and the dowager who inherited the town is determined to keep it that way. Lots of crisp, witty dialogue highlight this warm, fast-moving story that draws the reader in. The characters are sympathetic and believable, and we get to know them well. There are multiple story lines that mesh well together, creating a heartwarming, romantic tale that is fast, sexy and fun yet still emotionally appealing. Not my usual, but rather a diversion as light and sweet as a snow cone, perfect for a summer day. Just out in paperback, and that makes it my first recommended beach read of the summer. 05/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
NATURAL SELECTION by Dave Freedman: Jason Aldridge and his research team have been contracted to track a possible new species of manta ray. An undersea virus has been plaguing the depths of the ocean. As a result, an ancient species of manta has made its way to the surface in search of food. Immature manta are spotted soaring from the water in an attempt to find sustenance. Suddenly, Aldridge and his team are in for something more than they bargained for, as a creature known for is passive nature has now become a deadly predator. Initially, I expected this to be a fun, if somewhat unbelievable read. However, Freedman's debut turned out to have many more cons against it than pros in its favor. The characters lack depth and emotion and the romantic aspect is awkward at best - it would have helped the story more if it had been altogether eliminated. Even the scientific aspects of this book overpowered the story itself. This was a highly disappointing and overall bland read. 10/06 Becky LeJeune
THE NAVIGATOR by Michael Pocalyko: This debut thriller opens with the titled “Navigator,” an American soldier, translating at the liberation of the infamous Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp. He spends the rest of his life trying to “bury it deep” and recover, which we now know is not the best advice for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He has two sons who grow up witnessing their father dealing with “health issues” and their parents’ subsequent divorce. The boys end up in the finance world; one belly up and the other, the super successful architect of the first multi-national, trillion-dollar tech deal. When that much money is on the line, anything is liable to happen and it does, from Washington political intrigue to corporate espionage to murder. Characters aren’t especially well developed but the real star of the story is ViroSat, the technological behemoth start up at the center of everything. Lots of financial babble and tech talk slow the pace a bit but the various storylines are interesting enough, especially as they start to intersect late in the book, as every loose end is cobbled together. Christopher Reich and Joseph Finder fans will enjoy this. 6/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.
THE NAVIGATOR by Michael Pocalyko: A well researched and written book about the communication system after the internet; Internet next, a system that is faster, safer and considerably more versatile than anything available today. It is brilliant fiction but could be a reality in the near future. The cost of getting such a system up and running around the world is projected at more than a trillion dollars. Pocalyko's expertise in both high finance, and the technical problems of launching the system make for fascinating reading. The story opens with the visit in 1945 of a navigator from a B-24, part of the U S eighth air force to a concentration camp in Germany. Due to his fluency in German his job is to assist the army with liberating the camp and helping the survivors. The trauma of conditions seen there will haunt him throughout his life. Move to the present day where one of his two sons is involved with directing the progress of setting up and launching Virosat, the internet next system. The other son is caught up in a fraud perpetrated by a company that he was applying to. He is also trying to resolve the estate of an elderly woman that sought him out to help her with her apparently small financial worth. How the two sons are tied together in the overall progress and problems of the Virosat launch comprises the very fascinating meat and potatoes of the book. We follow, thanks to Pocalyko's knowledge of high level international finance and technical expertise, the twists and turns of the Virosat launch which include an attempt by the U S government to take the system over and control it. The ending is logical and does bring all loose ends together. All in all a very satisfying read and look at what is probably coming in our lifetime. 6/13 Paul Lane
THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab: All of the kids in Near have heard of the Near Witch. It’s the bedtime story they all hear growing up. In fact, the town of Near has a particular dislike of witches… and strangers. When a stranger arrives and kids begin to disappear, the townsfolk immediately look to the man as the cause. But Lexi fears that the truth is something much worse: the Near Witch has come back for revenge. Lexi knows that if parts of the old legend are true, the key to finding the Near Witch and saving the children might also be buried in the story. With the help of the stranger and a pair of sisters long rumored to be witches themselves, Lexi will have to outsmart a wicked being whose very power travels on the winds of the moor. Schwab’s tale has a fantastic folklore feel to it, something that brings to mind the classic fairy tales I grew up with. The Near Witch is an enjoyable and creepy read that will appeal to readers of all ages. 11/11 Becky Lejeune KINDLE
A NECESSARY END by Peter Robinson: Chief Inspector Alan Banks of Britain's Eastvale Regional Police is the good cop while Superintendent Richard ("Dirty Dick") Burgess, a special investigator from London CID, has no hesitation in being the bad cop in investigating the murder of a young constable sent to keep order at an anti-nuclear demonstration in Eastvale, a drowsy town of 14,000 that time has passed by, yet a murderer--one of the demonstrators--undeniably has struck with a flick-knife (switchblade). Dirty Dick, a notorious stud and heavy drinker, roars into town, convinced that communists and terrorists have arranged for the murder of PC Gill. A user of terror tactics himself, he's intent on making a collar even if the evidence must be bent. He brushes off Banks' suggestions that the demonstration may have been used as cover for a grudge killing. Who is correct? Another strong outing from Robinson. 10/06 Jack Quick
NEED by Carrie Jones: After the sudden death of her step-father, Zara is sent to live with her grandmother in Maine. Her mother had hoped that the trip would do her some good considering she’s been walking around like a zombie ever since the funeral. Zara is dreading it, though. Then she meets Issie and her friend Devyn and things begin to look up. And then there is Nick Colt, resident hunk, who also seems to want to be her friend. Yep, things are definitely looking up for Zara. That is until she learns about the missing boys in town, and she realizes that a strange guy has been following her around. Could he be connected to the disappearances? You bet. After some research, Zara and her friends come to the conclusion that the guy in question is actually a pixie, and not the Tinkerbell variety either. Nope, this kind of pixie feeds off of human blood. It also seems that this is not the first time the pixies have plagued their small town. Need definitely bears strong resemblance to Twilight, but is interesting in that pixies have not really been cast in much of the paranormal fiction hitting shelves of late. This read will most likely appeal to younger teens who enjoy paranormal fiction. 12/08 Becky Lejeune
NEED YOU NOW by James Grippando: While this not a Jack Swytek novel, this terrific standalone does feature Jack's girlfriend, FBI agent Andie Henning. This novel is set in New York in the aftermath of a Bernie Madoff type Ponzi scheme, this one perpetrated by the fictional Abe Cushman, who does the overburdened courts a favor and kills himself. Meanwhile sixty billion dollars is gone with no hopes of Cushman ever revealing what he may have done with the money. Enter Patrick Lloyd, an employee of a large multinational Swiss bank with offices in New York. Patrick has just returned from a stint in Singapore, where he met and fell in love with co-worker Lilly, who ends up under suspicion of helping funnel some of Cushman's missing sixty billion dollars. This is a complicated story, yet in Grippando's hands it is incredibly fast paced and believable. Some really great twists throughout and a surprise ending that again, is believable, make this a must read for thriller fans, and anyone with an interest in the international financial markets. I loved it. 1/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch KINDLE
NEED YOU NOW by James Grippando: Grippando is the author of a wide variety of novels, most of them with enough pizazz to bring in the reader almost immediately. Need You Now is engrossing and timely with a very intriguing ending not telegraphed during most of the book. Three years prior to the actual opening of the action a giant fund collapsed à la the recent Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. Many shareholders lose their investments and the government gets involved in trying to find most of the funds which should have been available even with the collapse and do not appear anywhere.
Patrick Lloyd, a young financial advisor in the private accounts section of a huge Swiss bank's New York office, is recruited by an FBI agent to temporarily relocate to one of the bank's Asian offices to make contact with a young lady who is suspected of funneling the missing funds to private individuals. Why he was selected is an important part of the action in the book and revealed as a major part of the story. An interesting sidelight is that the FBI agent that recruits Patrick is Andie Henning, who is sent from her base in Miami to handle the case in New York. Andie appears in other Grippando novels as Jack Swyteck's girlfriend, a Miami lawyer who is a frequent protagonist in Grippando's books.
Patrick makes contact with Lilly and while investigating, they fall in love. Lilly is fired by the Swiss bank and she and Patrick meet again in New York. That is where the actual action for most of the book takes place. Patrick and Lilly are threatened with death by two different groups as they continue investigating the Ponzi scheme in order to absolve Lilly from unwarranted accusations of fraud. Their investigation is also impaired by actions of the government that is seemingly at odds with the idea of finding out where all the money went. Andie Hemming is suddenly sent back to Miami at a crucial juncture in Patrick and Lilly's investigations and the case "closed". The ending is a surprise, but upon retrospect is quite a logical outcome of present day politics. Gripping and timely. 1/12 Paul Lane KINDLE
THE NEIGHBORS by Ania Ahlborn: When Andrew Morrison moves in with Mickey Finch, it’s to be a new start. He’s left his old life behind and is doing something for himself for the very first time. Sure, Mickey is a little odd at first and the house is a bit of a wreck, but it’s nothing a little cleaning and polishing won’t fix. And the neighbors are great. Red and Harlow Ward are warm and welcoming, even going so far as to offer Drew a job. Behind closed doors, though, Drew’s perfect new neighbors are hiding a dark and twisted secret. A secret so terrible Drew will wish he’d never met the Wards. This second release from Ahlborn is a twisted and creepy read. Ahlborn does an excellent job building the underlying sense of unease through the beginning of The Neighbors before revealing the Wards’ true nature. One of the best things about this book, though, is that while the violence is intense, there’s also a good bit left to the reader’s imagination. It makes The Neighbors more unsettling than you’d expect. 12/12 Becky Lejeune
THE NEON GRAVEYARD by Vicki Pettersson: This final installment in the Sign of the Zodiac series is an action-packed bombshell ending. Joanna Archer has lost everything and in doing so, she’s survived and come out stronger than ever. Now is the time for her to start taking back. Time for her revenge. And time for her new troop of rogue agents to come to power. After being banished from the light, Joanna has become the leader of a troop of misfits—rogue agents who’ve left or been banished from their own troops for one reason or another. Together, they plan to infiltrate Midheaven, save the man she loves, and bring down the dark for good. All while hiding a pregnancy that could make her a walking target for both Vegas troops. If she succeeds, it would mean big changes for Vegas and the Zodiac. I’ve been with this series from book one and have loved each new installment. Pettersson has created a story unlike anything else out there right now and I can’t wait to see what she’ll come up with next. 06/11 Becky Lejeune KINDLE
NEUROMANCER by William Gibson: Someone said science fiction is science not yet discovered. If you ever wanted to try science fiction you could do worse than this one - the first novel to win the holy trinity of science fiction: the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award and the Philip K. Dick Award. This is the beginning of cyber space which has now come to be an integral part of all our daily lives. Case was the hottest computer cowboy cruising the information superhighway--jacking his consciousness into cyberspace, soaring through tactile lattices of data and logic, rustling encoded secrets for anyone with the money to buy his skills. Then he double-crossed the wrong people, who caught up with him in a big way--and burned the talent out of his brain, micron by micron. Banished from cyberspace, trapped in the meat of his physical body, Case courted death in the high-tech underworld. But now he has been given a second chance. Outstanding. 08/09 Jack Quick
NEVER COME BACK by David Bell: Leslie Hampton’s death has all the earmarks of a homicide, something that shocks her family quite a bit. With the exception of trips to the library, Leslie was a bit of a shut in who’d devoted her life to caring for her son, Ronnie. Ronnie was born with Down Syndrome and though he’s quite self-sufficient and high functioning, still relied very heavily on his mother. Elizabeth, Leslie’s daughter, hadn’t spoken to her mother for over a month before her death. She’d only recently returned to her hometown to attend grad school but Elizabeth never considered herself close to her family. The death leaves both of Leslie’s children reeling and the added suspicion of murder is almost unfathomable. When the police seem to turn their eye to Ronnie as a suspect, Elizabeth is even more confused. Surely they wouldn’t seriously suspect her brother as the killer? Elizabeth finds herself in an odd position, forced to dig into her mother’s past in order to help her brother, and she soon learns that Leslie was hiding a few secrets. Still, who would want to hurt Leslie Hampton? Never Come Back starts with promise but unfortunately fails to deliver. The plot becomes muddled and predictable. There are some interesting twists early on but they become more far fetched as the story progresses ultimately making Never Come Back more disappointing than thrilling. 10/13 Becky Lejeune
NEVER CROSS A VAMPIRE by Stuart Kaminsky: World War II has begun and PI Toby Peters is taking on his strangest case ever. Someone is sending threatening letters to Bela Lugosi. Boris Karloff asks Toby to take the case, and it's not long before Toby and Bela are tangling the Dark Knights of Transylvania, a group of vampire fans who are at best loosely wound. The case takes an odd twist when the police find the murder weapon from a literary agent killing in the hotel room of William Faulkner (yes that William Faukner). Two cases, or one? It only gets weirder for ace detective Peters in this latest movie making romp. 04/09 Jack Quick
NEVER GO BACK by Lee Child: The Jack Reacher series is my version of literary comfort food. The books are consistent in their excellence, character development and action. Never Go Back adds another layer to the seemingly simple yet truly complex character that Jack Reacher has evolved into, and it is done flawlessly. Jack has spoken to the new commanding officer of his old 110th MP base, his replacement if you will, and he is intrigued by her voice and demeanor. Being Jack, he makes his way down to Virginia, wanting to meet her and maybe take her to dinner. But when he arrives, he finds she's been arrested and he's about to be next. He's put up at a cheap motel nearby, and a carful of men - not in uniform but soldiers nonetheless - try and convince him to leave town in a hurry. Reacher does not respond well to threats, and has never backed down from a fight, and he doesn't start in this book. He's determined to prove his innocence and hers, even if it means busting out of jail in the process and hitting the road to California to find the answers they need. Another riveting tale from one of the masters of the thriller genre and probably the best one in the series. Don't miss it. 9/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
NEVER KNOWING by Chevy Stevens: Sara Gallagher has long known
that she was adopted. Sure, she’s wondered about her birth parents, but when she
stumbles upon an article about adoption while planning her wedding, she decides
it might be time to find out more about where she comes from. What she discovers
is not at all what she’d expected: not only is her birth mother uninterested in
getting to know Sara, she’s downright angry about being sought out. What’s more,
Sara suspects that she’s lying with regards to the birth father. Unable to let
it go, Sara hires a private investigator. His brief search reveals that Sara’s
birth mother is the only person to have escaped an attempt by the notorious
Campsite Killer. Based on the time of the crime, the PI and Sara both determine
that the killer must be Sara’s father. Sara’s lineage is soon spread all over
the internet and she begins to receive calls from a man identifying himself as
her father. This connection is the first lead the police have ever had with the
crimes and they ask Sara to continue contact with the man in hopes that they may
finally be able to close the case. But Sara knows that speaking to the Campsite
Killer will surely put herself and her family in danger. This second release
from Stevens is just as dark and suspenseful as her debut, Still Missing, and is
equally as fast paced and intriguing as well. Sara is a complicated character
and Stevens does a great job delving into the psychological aspects of her
Becky Lejeune KINDLE
THE NEVER LIST by Koethi Zan:
THE NEVER LIST by Koethi Zan:Jack Derber is a bad man. For years, he held four girls captive in his basement. Sarah and two others were saved. Derber will soon be up for possible parole and Sarah is going to make sure that never happens. As kids, she and her best friend Jennifer thought they were prepared for anything. They were wrong. All it took was one night. One night when their guard was down and Jack Derber had them in his sights. Derber took everything from Sarah, including Jennifer. Now, Sarah wants answers and she wants to make sure that Jack Derber can’t ever do what he did to her and those other girls again. In order to do so, Sarah will have to face all of the things she’s tried to put behind her for so long. Chilling doesn’t begin to describe Koethi Zan’s debut. This is the kind of story that unfortunately has proven to be all too real of late, which makes it that much more intense and unsettling. Zan’s heroine is strong, though, and she and her story draw readers in compelling them to stay with her through the end. Fans of darker thrillers the likes of Chelsea Cain and Thomas Harris’s work will appreciate the level of suspense and the numerous twists. 7/13 Becky Lejeune
NEVER LOOK AWAY by Linwood Barclay: David Harwood is a newspaper reporter in the small town of Promise Falls, where he lives with his wife Jan and their young son Ethan. David’s been ruffling feathers while working on a story about suspicious dealings between the local politicians and a privately run prison looking to move into town. Things have been stressful at the struggling newspaper, and Jan has been acting strangely. David is worried but then Jan surprises him with tickets to a nearby theme park for a day of family fun. But it’s not much fun when Ethan momentarily disappears, and when he’s found, Jan vanishes. Not only can she not be found, there is no record of her buying the tickets or entering the park. David becomes the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance, and sets out to prove his innocence and try and find his wife. VERDICT: The pages fly in this gripping, twisty tale of betrayal and heartbreak. Barclay takes ordinary people and puts them in extraordinary circumstances, creating a tense, fast paced thriller without stretching the limits of credulity. Sure to please fans of Harlan Coben and Lisa Unger. 03/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch. Copyright © 2010 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
NEVER TELL by Alafair Burke: Sixteen-year-old Julia Whitmire commits suicide, but her wealthy, politically connected parents force an investigation. NYPD Det. Ellie Hatcher (212; Angel’s Tip; Dead Connection) lands the case and isn’t too sympathetic. The private school Julia attended is full of privileged children under enormous pressure, many of whom are abusing prescription drugs. Julia’s computer reveals she was cyberbullying someone, and her best friend doesn’t even know whom she was dating, just that Julia was on the wild side. Meanwhile, Hatcher’s relationship with her district attorney boyfriend reaches a critical juncture when the subject of children comes up, adding more personal suspense to this story. As the investigation continues, Hatcher realizes that Julia’s death may indeed be a murder, and the list of suspects is narrowing. Verdict: What initially appears to be a simple story quickly becomes more intricate and compelling, making the pages fly. Highly recommended, especially for Lisa Gardner or Laura Lippman fans. 6/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch KINDLE Copyright © 2012 Library Journal, a division of Media Source Inc. Reprinted with permission.
NEVER TELL by Alafair Burke: Ellie Hatcher’s latest case seems like an open and shut suicide: the girl, a sixteen-year-old prep school student whose rich parents leave her pretty much on her own most of the time, shows signs of an eating disorder and prescription drug abuse. She’s even left a note. The girl’s mother is insistent that in spite of everything, she is certain her daughter would never have taken her own life and the girl’s father has enough pull to make sure the police treat the case as a homicide. When Ellie and her partner begin to dig deeper, they discover not all is as it seems. In fact, there are so many inconsistencies that even Ellie begins to wonder if the girl’s mother could be right. Alafair Burke once again presents a tightly woven and completely convincing plot that will keep even the most avid mystery fans guessing. This is the fourth installment to the series and while there are references to earlier titles, Never Tell can most definitely be read on its own. 6/12 Becky Lejeune KINDLE
NEVER TELL A LIE by Hallie Ephron: After years of trying, Ivy and David Rose are finally expecting their first child. The two decide that in preparation of their growing family, it is time to clear out some of the junk left behind by the home’s previous owner. Unfortunately, their yard sale brings one particular patron who will prove to be bad luck for the happy couple. Melinda White went to high school with both Ivy and David, though they were never really friends. After David promises to show Melinda around the house, the woman mysteriously vanishes. Ivy and David assumed she had left on her own, but when she is reported missing, the police begin to look pretty close at the Roses. It doesn’t help that Melinda’s bloody clothing is discovered in a trunk set out by the curb for the trash. This debut thriller is the perfect example of what the term “page-turner” refers to. From page one, I was glued to my seat! The plot is tight and chilling and packed with suspense. This is without a doubt going to be one of the big books of 2009. 01/09 Becky Lejeune
NEVERLAND by Douglas Clegg: Never has a family vacation been so wrought with terror and wicked imagination as in Neverland. Originally released in 1991, Clegg’s creepy tale of children facing off with an evil entity has been re-released featuring wonderful sketches from the talented Glenn Chadbourne (who also illustrated the recently released Isis, also by Clegg). Beau and his family expected their annual trip to Gull Island to be business as usual: mosquitoes, exquisite boredom, and snippy adults for two whole weeks. When they arrive, however, Beau’s cousin Sumter reveals a secret. A secret that Beau is sworn to keep with blood. Sumter has claimed the old shed as his own Neverland. Inside, he has hidden something powerful. Something that will come to life using the children’s vivid imaginations. Something evil that has been waiting all this time to be let out once again. Clegg’s graphic imagery is frightening on its own, but paired with the possibilities of a child’s creative mind, Neverland becomes one of the most chilling reading experiences I’ve had in ages. 04/10 Becky Lejeune
NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman: Richard Mayhew had a nice life. Not a great life, but a nice life. He had a job and a fiancée, and for an unassuming young man, this was enough. The old woman did warn him about doors, though. When Richard meets a young girl wounded and bleeding in the street, he feels obligated to help. He takes her home and gives her a place to stay for the night. He searches out the one person she thinks can help her get home and he helps her to get on her way. And for all of that, Richard loses everything. After the girl called Door leaves his apartment, Richard seemingly disappears, at least to everyone around him. His act of chivalry has left him with some serious problems and the only solution he can find is to follow Door into London below for some answers. Gaiman’s debut solo novel (after co-authoring Good Omens with Terry Pratchett) is considered by most to be the very first urban fantasy. The book is actually an adaptation of a mini-series created by Gaiman for BBC. The novelization was released simultaneous to airing of the program. A whimsical and magical fairy tale for adults. Gaiman is someone everyone should be reading. 11/08 Becky Lejeune
THE NEW DEAD edited by Christopher Golden: Zombies have claimed their position at the top of the horror genre, and deservedly so. They’re super fun. The New Dead is a collection of all new zombie tales, some of them funny, some of them sad, and some of them highly disturbing. With contributions from authors such as Max Brooks, Joe Hill, David Wellington, Jonathan Maberry, and many, many more, The New Dead is definitely a must-have for zombie fans and horror aficionados. I loved reading each author’s different take on the walking dead: zombies have come so far since George Romero’s films, and yet I’m sure that each author has paid tribute in their own way to those clumsy flesh-eating monsters we saw in Night of the Living Dead. Holly Newstein’s “Delice,” for example, is a tale of voodoo based around the notorious Lalauries of New Orleans. John Connolly’s “Lazarus” takes zombies all the way back to biblical times and Joe Hill brings zombies up to date with a Twitter based tale in “Twittering From the Circus of the Dead.” Whether you like your zombies post-apocalyptic style or suddenly walking among us, this book has something for everyone. Zombies of all shapes and sizes. 03/10 Becky Lejeune
NEW TRICKS by David Rosenfelt: Whatever you may think of Andy Carpenter’s litigation skills, for sure, he has smart clients, in this case a Bernese Mountain puppy named Waggy. Walter Timmerman, a big wheel in the pharmaceutical industry has been murdered, and a custody battle arises between Walter’s widow Diana and her stepson Steven. Andy gets appointed to represent Waggy, but just as he is about to leave Diana’s home after picking up Waggy, she is killed in a bomb explosion at her home. Turns out she stood to inherit $400 million after Walter had cut son Steven out of the will. In addition to those $400 million reasons, Steven is known to have detested Diana and learned all about the type explosive that blew up the house while he was in the Marines. Now Andy is representing an accused murderer. Then, when Andy's police chief girlfriend, Laurie Collins, who's visiting from Wisconsin, is shot and wounded while playing with Waggy, Andy comes to realize that Waggy was the real target all along. It is another great outing for Andy Carpenter, the dog’s best friend and not a bad attorney. 09/09 Jack Quick
NEWS BLUES by Marianne Mancusi: Maddy Madison has just been promoted. Her excitement is almost too much to bear, especially when the boss assigns her a hot new photographer as a partner. With Emmy aspirations fueling her, Maddy sets out to find the story of a lifetime, the story that could finally earn her a coveted job at Newsline. The powers that be at News 9 have different plans for Maddy, though. Every new story she suggests is shot down and replaced with something asinine like “Cosmetics that Kill.” Worse yet, the hottie photographer is engaged to someone else and Maddy’s parents have just revealed that after over 20 years of marriage, they are getting a divorce. While her mother goes gallivanting off on a worldwide shopping spree and her father holes up with his pregnant mistress, Maddy is saddled with the responsibility of watching over her 16-year-old sister. What’s a girl to do? Mancusi, a two-time Emmy award winning producer herself, draws upon her own experiences in the industry to create a realistic and sweet tale that deals with some fairly heavy issues while remaining light-hearted and warmingly humorous. 03/08 Becky Lejeune
THE NEWTON PROPHESIES by Keith Katsikas: Michael DiBianco is a Professor at Harvard Divinity School. He’s committed his entire life to discovering the hidden truths within the Bible. In a matter of moments, his world is upended. He is questioned by the FBI about some research he did on the Newton papers, a document that details the exact date of the end of the world and the Second Coming. Murders of important officials and dignitaries have occurred, and DiBianco appears to be the prime suspect. He learns about a brotherhood known as the Descendants of Lucifer (DoL) who are attempting to prevent the Second Coming so that their master can assume his rightful position. DiBianco also discovers that his entire life, as he has known it, as been a lie. He was implanted with a nanoprocessor that has been sending flashes of false memories, and in the days following his confrontation with the FBI, has begun to send him messages. DiBianco soon learns that some of his closest friends can no longer be trusted, and begins a long journey to stop the DoL in their plot to destroy mankind. Newton Prophesies is a mind-blowing, faced-paced and exciting book! Very reminiscent of Dan Brown, but yet very unique as well. There is a great and exciting future in store for this up and coming author. 07/08 Jennifer Lawrence
THE NEXT BEST THING by Jennifer Weiner: This latest effort from the author of Good in Bed and In Her Shoes, among many others, really delivers with this sweet story of a Hollywood sitcom gone wrong. Ruth Saunders was disfigured in a tragic accident that cost her parents their lives, and she is raised by a loving grandmother. After college she decides to try her hand at writing for TV, and her grandmother moves along with her. There they both find love and heartache, work and unemployment but mostly they know they have each other no matter what. The inside scoop on what really happens from the creative germ of an idea to sitcom fruition is fascinating, and since Weiner went through this experience herself with the quickly cancelled ABC sitcom, "State of Georgia", I'm not sure how much of this is fiction and how much is fact. Either way it is a most entertaining and delectable read. 8/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE NEXT KILL by Aaron Trance: There is a new sheriff in town. Trance brings us San Francisco homicide detective Trane Ravenwood who ends up in Japan following the trail of a serial killer. The story starts in Egypt, winds through Jamaica, Johannesburg, Paris, and San Francisco before hopping to Tokyo. Someone is killing beautiful women and taunting Ravenwood about the murders. The crimes are modern but the roots lie well into the past. This is an exciting adventure with lots of pretty women and a protagonist somewhere between Jack Reacher and “Dirty” Harry Callaghan. The only rules that apply are Trane’s rules – and learning them can be painful. Hopefully, this will be the start of a fresh new series that will be like Ravenwood’s choice of beer - long and satisfying. 03/10 Jack Quick
NICE GIRLS DON’T HAVE FANGS by Molly Harper: Jane Jameson, children’s librarian. Make that former children’s librarian and now vampire. And it’s hard to keep something like that under wraps in the tiny town of Half-Moon Hollow. It all begins with her getting fired. Instead of severance, Jane’s years of service and effort earned her a gift certificate for the local Shenanigans. Less than steady on her feet after $25 of potato skins and electric lemonade, Jane makes her way home only to have her car die. As she attempts the rest of the trip by foot, the local idiot mistakes her for a deer and shoots her drive-by style. Fortunately, Gabriel Nightengale saves her … sort of. A hilarious start for Harper’s new paranormal series. Jane is a lovable character and her plight is truly laugh-out-loud. Great for readers looking for a funny paranormal tale with a great balance of romance included. 02/10 Becky Lejeune
NIGHT AND DAY by Robert B. Parker: The eighth Jesse Stone is lightweight, even for Parker. The action revolves around two cases, one almost silly, and the other a bit more serious. The silly one involves Junior High School Principal Betsy Ingersoll’s efforts to maintain morals and dignity amongst her young teen minions. While what she did may not have been criminal, it certainly provoked a firestorm. The other case has far more serious ramifications – a Peeping Tom calling himself the Night Hawk escalates from mere peeping to home invasions. Jesse needs to stop him before someone gets hurt. So while they may take a “bite out of crime” in Paradise, this one is more of a late night snack than a full meal. It’s still Parker, however, and even a weak Parker is still pretty darn tasty. 04/09 Jack Quick
THE NIGHT BOOKMOBILE by Audrey Niffenegger: A graphic novel from the author of The Time Traveler's Wife seems like a natural; Niffenegger was an artist long before she hit the bestseller list. This is the first graphic novel that I've read in years that really spoke to me. A friend told me it was almost too emotional, shocking and that it would make me cry. It was an emotional read, but probably not the way he thought I might take it. It is about a woman in Chicago that stumbles upon a bookmobile that is only open at night, from "dusk to dawn". As she wanders through the bookmobile, it turns out to have a somewhat surprising collection; a life changing collection, in fact. I loved this book and it should probably be read by librarians, booksellers and avid readers everywhere. If one of those categories fits, check it out. 09/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE NIGHT CALLER by John Lutz: Ezekiel "Coop" Cooper is a former NYPD detective whose cancer forced him into early retirement. After finding his daughter's dead body, his experience and instincts are that she is the victim of a ritual killing, likely by a serial killer. Then he is contacted by Deni Green, a writer working on a true crime story who thinks that Coop's daughter was the victim of a killer who had struck both in Florida and the Pacific Northwest. The two form an uneasy alliance as they work to track down the killer before he claims other victims. Well written and intriguing. Lutz is a master. 08/06 Jack Quick
THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern: This is probably the most talked about debut of the year, with the most extravagant praise being heaped upon it, from being compared to the Harry Potter books and Twilight, to this quote from an independent bookseller in USA Today: "Let's say The Help and The Da Vinci Code were high-water marks in our bookselling history. My prediction is The Night Circus is the 200-year flood. I loved (those books)," she says, "but this is better than The Da Vinci Code and better than The Help. It's a whole different level of writing." This all leaves expectations high, and I am delighted to say this book exceeded those expectations. This is a marvelous book, an escape from reality into a world you can't help wanting to visit. It is about a magical circus, and the people involved in creating it and keeping it going. Two of them, Marco and Celia, are magicians, raised to compete in a game not of their choosing, yet they also fall in love. The writing itself is magical, the story compelling and completely engrossing, the ending is fitting and the book is just fantastic. Don't miss it, and expect a movie. 10/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch KINDLE
THE NIGHT FOLLOWING by Morag Joss: In Joss’s third stand-alone, a nameless woman and a single inadvertent slip of attention cause the intersection and eventual downfall of two individuals. A trip in her husband’s car to the grocery store leads to our narrator’s discovery of her spouse’s infidelity. Rather than being upset or angry, she is relieved and feels as though this is the push the couple needs to finally end a marriage that has quietly fallen apart. Her distractedness, however, results in another woman’s death. The resulting guilt over the murder leads our nameless character to the victim’s husband. She feels an overwhelming sense of responsibility towards the man for having taken away his loved one and, as a result, becomes fixated on his wellbeing. She begins by spending nights in his garden, watching him, and soon escalates to entering his home. She cleans and cooks, all the while realizing that the man has begun to believe that she is his deceased wife, come back to take care of him. This unhealthy relationship eventually leads to their destruction as neither of them is willing to accept reality any longer. Joss has used this sort of theme before, the sort of slipping into or taking over a false persona. Our nameless character remains so because she becomes someone else, albeit someone of her own making. In the end, she becomes a nobody. Joss’s distinct style makes for interesting reading. I did find, however, that the strong similarity in themes between Night Following and Half Broken Things was a bit disappointing. For an author known for her unique plots I would have liked to see something different this time around. 03/08 Becky Lejeune
NIGHT FREEZE by Lee Emory: I suppose by definition all serial killers are creepy, but this one is off the creepiness scale. Ex-Marine and ex-Phoenix Police Detective Niall Malone is leaving the Valley of the Sun. His wife has divorced him after the death of their child in a school bus accident and he is looking for a fresh start. Maybe the fact that a highway sniper wounds him on his way out of town should have caused him to re-think his options. However he has already accepted the new post in Kansas City and a Marine always go forward and onward. What he finds in the “Heart of America:” is a weirdo who is sending packages of gruesome, butchered body pieces, usually frozen, to the local Medical Examiner, Dr. Shyla Clifford. Each has been marked with a meat stamp designed in a US Marine Corps insignia. The good Doctor, a Navy retiree, is the ultimate target of this whack job, but can Malone save her. Interesting departure from Ms. Emory’s other efforts. 12/08 Jack Quick
THE NIGHT GARDENER by George Pelecanos: Pelecanos is a literary crime fiction writer. Most crime fiction is plot driven, but it is the characters in The Night Gardener that drive this plot. Set in the inner city of Washington D.C. (as opposed to the political side) there is a series of murders, the bodies being found in small gardens scattered through the city. It remains unsolved for twenty years, and then there is a remarkably similar murder. The victim happens to be Detective Gus Ramone's teenage son's friend. Ramone was a patrol cop when the earlier murders occurred. He worked the original case with Dan ("Doc") Holiday, who later left the force under a cloud of alcoholism and suspicion, and the retired detective T.C. Cook. They join forces to try and solve this new murder, and while that storyline does propel the pages, it is the way we are drawn into the lives of these "police" that truly makes this an outstanding novel. 08/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
NIGHT KILL by Ann Littlewood: Iris Oakley has had it with her husband, Rick, and his drinking. They’re both employees at the Finely Zoo in Vancouver, Washington, a zoo that suffers from severe budget issues and low funding. After a fight that results in a temporary separation, Rick vows to quit drinking and begs for a second chance. The following morning, though, Rick is discovered dead in the lion pen, reeking of booze. Had he lied and gone on another bender? And what was he doing at the zoo in the middle of the night? Iris asks herself these questions and promptly sets them aside in an attempt to move on with her life. Then she has an accident of her own and she begins to wonder if maybe the two “accidents” are connected. The question is this: who could be behind them and what’s the motivation? Iris stirs up a whole mess of trouble in trying to uncover the truth behind the incidents and someone at the zoo is willing to do whatever it takes to shut her up, permanently. Littlewood, a former zoo keeper herself, combines an interesting behind-the-scenes look at zoo life with an intriguing plot. Her fun debut is guaranteed to keep readers on edge until the very end. Night Kill reminded me of Nevada Barr’s first Anna Pigeon mysteries. First in a new series. 09/08 Becky Lejeune
NIGHT LAWS by Jim Michael Hansen: Kelly Parks is an attorney at Denver’s largest law firm when she is warned by a vicious killer that she is his next target. It is up to Denver homicide detective Bryson Coventry to find out why Parks is a target and exactly what secrets her firm is concealing. Parks realizes she must also learn the truth to save her life and to satisfy herself about her possible unwitting participation in a murder. Action in some ways is reminiscent of Grisham’s The Firm, i.e., powerful law firm above the law. Talk about a Rocky Mountain high, this is my sixth book so far this month with a Denver setting. 02/06 Jack Quick
THE NIGHT MONSTER by James Swain: I think this is the first time Swain has included both P.I. Jack Carpenter and casino gambling expert Tony Valentine in a single volume. Admittedly Valentine’s role is a cameo as Carpenter, former head of the Broward County Missing Persons Unit, is re-living a nightmare. As a young cop he failed to stop the kidnapping of a college coed by a shockingly large assailant–and neither of them was ever seen again. That one case led him into missing person work. Now after eighteen years, it’s about to become terrifying reality once more. A voyeur kidnaps one of Carpenter’s daughter Jessie’s FSU college basketball team teammates. Carpenter’s hot pursuit of the video voyeur leads him smack into another run-in with his old hulking nemesis. While the Broward County cops are determined to pin the rap on a convenient suspect, Carpenter isn’t about to let grim history repeat itself. Jack and his trusty Australian Shepherd dog, Buster, hit the ground running. The chase is on and it is breathtaking. Definitely recommended. 11/09 Jack Quick
Night of the Avenging Blowfish by John Welter: It's an original, charming, deliciously funny love story from a guy's point of view and an absolute delight to read. Don't miss it! Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED by E.J. Copperman: Alison Kerby, a recent divorcee who now has a chance to realize her dream of opening a guesthouse on the Jersey Shore, is in for a big surprise. Her newly purchased historic fixer-upper is perfect for her plans, but if she wants to see any sort of profit, she’s got to stick to a strict timeline for renovations. And since she’s doing them herself, there is certainly no room for distraction. After getting hit on the head by a can of joint compound, though, she finds that she has some unexpected guests in her new home. Paul Harrison and Maxie Malone, a PI and the previous owner of the house, want Alison to help solve the mystery of their deaths. Ruled a double suicide, the spectral pair insist that they were in fact murdered. Alison wants no part of it, until someone starts threatening her as well. Now, in order to save herself, it seems she’ll have to investigate for Paul and Maxie as well. Copperman (aka Jeffrey Cohen, author of the Double Feature mystery series) injects just the right amount of humor into his cozy paranormal “debut,” making it a fun mystery and a great start to a new series. 07/10 Becky Lejeune
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEB by Susan McBride: This series is one that I always look forward to; they are light and fluffy and just so much fun to read. Andy Kendrick, the almost-Dallas-deb, is back only this time it's personal. Andy's boyfriend, Brian, a straight arrow attorney, went to a bachelor party at a swanky strip club, but instead of being the designated driver and taking the groom-to-be home, he skipped out with a hot blonde stripper. That would be bad enough, except his car is found abandoned at the airport with a dead blonde stripper in the trunk. Brian seems to have disappeared and the cops think he's a murderer in hiding. Andy knows something's wrong with this whole scenario, especially after she gets a mysterious phone call about her mother's cabbage soup. Andy is determined to find out the truth and she does, with a lot of laughs along the way. This is the latest and greatest of a terrific series. 01/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
NIGHT OF THUNDER by Stephen Hunter: Jim Croce said it first - You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger, and you don't mess around with Jim. You also don’t mess around with Bob Lee Swagger or his family. When a hit man runs his reporter daughter’s car off the road in Tennessee leaving her seriously injured, Bob Lee steps in and follows the trail to drug-running along the Tennessee-Virginia border and to a NASCAR event. Proving it ain’t over until it’s over, Swagger takes care of business in his own non-low key way. Another good one. 10/08 Jack Quick
THE NIGHT RANGER by Alex Berenson: John Wells was presented to the literary world in April 2006 via The Faithful Spy. He was introduced as a CIA agent at the final point of working within an al Qaeda band in Pakistan for two years and is described as the first American to ever successfully infiltrate an al Qaeda group. After that most unusual beginning John has taken part in several very well written and researched books mainly involving Islamic terrorists as protagonists. The Night Ranger is the first book set on the African continent. A group of American volunteers are working with a charity group in Kenya involved in helping Somali refugees in camps there. They decide that a short vacation is needed to get away from the stress of trying to keep up with the overwhelming needs of the refugees. While traveling they are taken prisoner by Somali bandits whose intentions seem to be to ransom them and subsequently release them. When their captivity drags on John Well's estranged son calls him after years of no contact to ask him to intervene and try to free the four. John agrees to try and rescue the captives in order to possibly reestablish a relationship with the boy, and travels to Kenya to try and free them. Like the other Well's books the action is fast and keeps the reader glued to the pages. John, while no longer a member of the CIA coordinates his efforts with his ex-supervisor since the US becomes officially interested in rescuing the volunteers, up to and including possibly sending in an invading force. There are a large amount of twists and turns in the action, not all of them logically following what has gone before, but what Berenson is good at is describing the thoughts, motivations, ideas and actions of all parties participating in the story. The people involved have different ideas revolving around the events and are described as somewhat in conflict with each other in response to what is happening to them. Well done, and keeping us anxiously awaiting the next John Wells book. 2/13 Paul Lane
THE NIGHT RANGER by Alex Berenson: John Wells would never have considered the mission except for one thing – the request for his intervention came from Wells’ estranged son. Four friends - two men and two women - recent college graduates, travel to Kenya to work at a giant refugee camp for Somalis. A “vacation” turns deadly as bandits hijack them. They wake up in a hut, hooded, bound, no food or water When Wells arrives, he finds that the truth behind the kidnappings is far more complex than he imagined. The clock is ticking. The White House is edging closer to an invasion of Somalia. If Wells can’t find the hostages soon, they’ll be dead – and the U.S. may be in a war it never should have begun. 3/13 Jack Quick
NIGHT ROAD by Kristin Hannah: This was my first Kristin Hannah book and it certainly won't be my last, despite my crying through half of this book. This one is a heartbreaker, at least for me and probably for any parent. Jude Farraday knows she is a "helicopter parent," one who hovers over her children, interfering with their lives at every turn but always with the best of intentions. The children are twins, Zach, who is bright and extremely popular, and Mia, the shy loner, who both appreciate how good they have it. Newcomer Lexi has just moved in with the great aunt she never knew she had after years of bouncing around between foster homes, while her drug addict mother moved from prison to overdose. On the first day of high school, Mia takes her lunch outside and eats alone while reading. Lexi has also planned on eating alone and reading, but instead she approaches Mia. There is instant rapport, and the girls become the best of friends. Mia & Zach live on the right side of the tracks in a beautiful home and have the best of everything, while Lexi shares a small trailer with her WalMart employed aunt. Nevertheless, the threesome becomes inseparable, especially when Zach and Lexi give in to their feelings for one another. But the reader knows these idyllic lives are bound to face some tragedy, and a drunk driving accident is the beginning of the end of innocence. This is a compelling, gut wrenching read, with warm, wonderful characters that we get to know and love. I couldn't put it down. If I only had the power to get every teenager in America to read it... 04/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
NIGHT RUNNER by Max Turner: High school science teacher Max Turner makes his writing debut with this interesting twist on the classic vampire theme. Zack Thomson has lived in the Nicholls Ward of the Peterborough Civic Hospital since his father was killed eight years ago. Nicholls Ward is for mental patients, but no one else is equipped to care for Zack after his father’s death. That night, eight-year-old Zack became infected with something doctors could not explain. He was left with strange allergies to the sun and just about every kind of food. The only thing Zack can stomach are what his best friend calls “brain shakes,” made special each night and containing a syrupy substance that looks like it could be strawberry. Zack also needs regular blood transfusions and must be kept out of the sun at all cost. When a strange man crashes through the doors of the ward with a warning for Zack, he thinks that surely the man belongs in Nicholls Ward himself. Days later, others show up looking for Zack and this time he heeds the warning. Now he’s on the run and looking for answers. Turner incorporates a unique scientific twist in the popular vampire mythology and brings something a little different to the table in Night Runner. A great new one for teen paranormal fans. 09/09 Becky Lejeune
THE NIGHT SEASON by Chelsea Cain: While Portland faces flooding unlike anything seen in decades, a series of recent deaths throw the local PD for a loop when one of their own becomes a target. A killer is stalking the city and Detective Archie Sheridan must unravel the clues in time to save his best friend’s life. Meanwhile, Susan Ward is set on identifying remains found dating back to 1948, the year of the tragic Vanport flood – an event that wiped out an entire community. The Night Season marks a change of pace for this series, it’s less graphic in nature and is steered away from the previous Gretchen Lowell focus, making it a great jumping off point for readers new to the series and opening up lots of possibilities for later installments. Cain’s smart plotting and quick pacing make this a satisfying read for longtime fans as well. 03/11 Becky Lejeune
NIGHT SHIFT by Lilith Saintcrow: Jill Kismet is a hunter and as such, it falls on her to take care of the things that go bump in the night - the things that are outside local law enforcement's area of specialty. When a rogue were and a crazy hellbreed go on a killing spree in Jill's town, she's the one who gets called in. But Jill doesn't have the whole story and she knows that people are holding out on her. It helps that she has a reluctant agreement with a local demon in power, but this is one agreement she’d rather do without. Jill must use her instincts to get her through this one and stop the bloodshed before it’s too late for her city. Making matters worse, she finds that she is paired with a visiting tracker, also a were, who in spite of her fears, might just do her some good for a change. Jill is very different from Saintcrow's previous heroine, Dante Valentine. Even though Danny's adventures have come to an end, readers will be pleased to know that Jill is just as much fun to follow. 12/08 Becky Lejeune
NIGHT SOLDIERS by Alan Furst: Furst has delivered another winner. Young Khristo Stoinav, a Bulgarin, saw his brother kicked to death by fascist militia. The event makes him an easy recruit into the Soviet espionage network, where he excels. He is sent first to the Spanish Civil War and is both bloodied and betrayed there. Then he flees to Paris to avoid being purged by Stalin. There he begins to work against his Red spymasters. As World War II begins, it appears that Stoinav’s secret contacts will enable him to evade the revenge of his former Russian overlords and eventually find his way to a well-deserved refuge. Exceedingly well-written about a time and place that have not previously received much attention. 11/08 Jack Quick
THE NIGHT STALKER by James Swain: South Florida PI and people hunter Jack Carpenter is back with a delightfully twisty case. His client is imprisoned serial killer Abb Grimes, known as the Night Stalker. Abb’s grandson, Sampson, has been abducted to discourage Grimes from talking with the FBI before his pending execution. The police and FBI are fixated on Sampson’s father, Jed Grimes, but Carpenter thinks he is innocent, even in the face of some strong circumstantial evidence. Like Jack Reacher, Jack Carpenter is a tenacious and uncompromising character who is willing to take chances and bust a few heads. What’s not to like about that? Recommended. 10/08 Jack Quick
THE NIGHT STRANGERS by Chris Bohjalian: Chris Bohjalian is very good within the genre of macabre fiction and has another winner with The Night Strangers. Chip Linton is an airline pilot moving up in the necessary progression of his career from piloting smaller passenger planes to hopefully progressing to huge trans oceanic 747s and Air Buses. He and his wife Emily and their twin daughters live quite well in an affluent suburb of Philadelphia. The horror of a plane he is piloting crashing turns their lives upside down. The cause of the crash was a flock of birds flying into the engines, and Chip is exonerated of any blame by the various boards of inquiry. Chip, however, cannot excuse himself for the deaths involved in the crash and in a short period of time withdraws from reality. Emily after trying to bring him back to himself somehow convinces herself and Chip to move to a small New Hampshire town with the hope that the peace there will help him recover. Why they are attracted to that town is one of the dark secrets of the novel. It is there that the family is drawn into the company of a group of "herbalists" that quickly develop an eerie attraction to the Linton's twin daughters. It would seem that somehow this group drew them to their town in order for a ceremony to take place needing the mental and psychological attributes of the Linton family. Chip withdraws ever deeper from reality and if any defense is made to negate the growing evil of the herbalists it must fall to Emily. The ending is a most logical one given the circumstances of the story with evil emerging as the winner. The dark overtones of the novel continued logically through to the end are one of Chris Bohjalian trademarks in electing to write the type of fiction he excels in. 11/11 Paul Lane KINDLE
THE NIGHT VILLA by Carol Goodman: Classics professor Sophie Chase didn’t realize that protecting her students from crazed gunmen was part of her job description, but she didn’t hesitate when the need arose. She nearly died thanks to her efforts. After recovering from her wounds, Sophie learns that evidence has been recovered from a dig site in Italy that suggests Iusta, a slave girl who was the subject of her own thesis, may have been in residence at a villa that has been uncovered on the island of Capri. The villa had been destroyed in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, but the site and even some scrolls were actually preserved by the ash that covered the island. The evidence is enough to convince Sophie that a trip to Capri might be more than just an opportunity to recuperate. As Sophie and the team translate the discovered writings, they learn that there may be more scrolls hidden on the grounds, scrolls that a cult of Pythagoreans might even be willing to kill to obtain. Goodman’s wonderful prose and lush settings always make for such enjoyable reading. Her literary mysteries are interesting, well plotted, and obviously well researched. I’m in awe of her talent. 09/08 Becky Lejeune
NIGHT VISION by Randy Wayne White: Unfortunately, IMHO, the author of DEEP SHADOW has gone off the deep end with this one. Sanibel Island marine biologist Doc Ford and longtime friend Tomlinson get into the middle of a dispute between the steroid freak manager/owner of a Florida trailer park populated by illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America and an offended drug lord. However, the focus of the book is on an adolescent girl, Tula, rumored to possess mystical ability, who sees herself as Joan of Arc and who saw the manager feeding a body to his pet gator. Lots of action, but also lots of introspection and a bit too much woo for me. Even the animals get into the story with a possible sighting of bottle nose dolphins feeding among the mangroves on dry land. I am a fan but this one just didn't do it for me. 03/11 Jack Quick
NIGHT WALKER by Donald Hamilton: Hardcase Crime #16 from the creator of the Matt Helm series is a reprint of the 1954 classic about people on the run from a dead man. Things aren’t going well for Larry Wilson. First his “Red” leanings cost him his job as a naval architect. Then his plans to disappear by switching identities with Navy Lieutenant David Young are screwed up when Young survives the fiery car crash in which the victim was to be identified as Wilson. But the worst part was when he went home to his estranged wife and managed to goad her into shooting and killing him. Young knows part of this when Mrs. Wilson and the family Doctor whisk him out of the hospital while his face and head are still swathed with bandages. He learns the rest a few days later when the three have a sit down. Suddenly, what they will do gets even more complicated as forces are at work to find the missing Wilson. Dated, but still a first rate read. 11/06 Jack Quick
THE NIGHT WATCHER by John Lutz: NYPD Detectives Ben Stack and Rica Lopez have seen some pretty horrifying things but this serial killer exposes them to something more horrifying than they have ever seen. His modus operandi is to bind, gag and burn his victims to death in their swanky high rise apartments. As Stack and Lopez investigate the cruel deaths, they have no idea that they are being watched from the shadows by a cunning murderer picking up all the clues necessary to stay one step ahead of the police while perfecting a deadly craft. When a pattern slowly emerges, the detectives realize that the killings aren't the random acts of a maniac, but the personal campaign of someone bent on retribution, someone who's been watching closely and knows their case too well. Oldie but goodie from 2002. 1/13 Jack Quick
NIGHTCRAWLERS by Bill Pronzini: Nameless was good, but Nameless, Tamara and Jake together – what a trio. Jake is trying to reestablish a relationship with his gay son whose partner is the victim of a brutal attack. Tamara is skip tracing and gets caught up in a child napping, and Nameless (Bill) has past family matters come back up to take up his time. All eventually attain their goals, but the getting there is great. Does anyone do the private eye better than Pronzini? Recommended. 05/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
NIGHTFALL by Nelson DeMille: Demille's latest centers on the investigation of the July 1996 crash of flight TWA 800. Now in July 2001, Federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force detective John Corey accompanies his FBI agent wife, Kate Mayfield, to the fifth anniversary of the disaster. John, whose wife worked the crash in 1996, understands that Kate has brought him along because she doesn't buy the official finding of "mechanical failure" and wants him to mount his own investigation. There are 200 eyewitnesses who swear they saw a missile lift into the clear night sky and bring down the airplane, a charge dismissed by the CIA as an optical illusion. He uncovers evidence that a man and a woman, on the beach that fateful night videotaping their adulterous affair, inadvertently caught on tape the missile hitting the plane. Fasten your seatbelts, bring your seats upright and return your tray tables into their original locked position. You may also need your oxygen mask from this point onward. 04/06 Jack Quick
NIGHTFALL by Stephen Leather: After a disastrous final case that ended with Jack Nightingale accused – but never tried – of murder, he’s hung up his negotiating hat and opened his own PI business. He spends most of his time following around married folk convinced their significant others are having affairs, and though it’s certainly not exciting, it pays the bills most of the time. Then Jack gets a strange call. It seems he has just inherited a mansion from Ainsley Gosling, a millionaire who committed suicide recently. In his will, Gosling claims that Jack is his son and heir. Jack’s own parents have been dead for a while, but after a DNA test proves Gosling was telling the truth, Jack begins to dig deeper into his biological father’s life. Gosling was into some nasty things and in a final message to his son, apologizes for having sold Jack’s soul to a devil. Either Gosling was crazy, or Jack has just three weeks to figure out a loophole in the deal and save himself. This is the first in Leather’s Jack Nightingale series. Nightfall is a great paranormal mystery/thriller and a really fast-paced read. 4/12 Becky Lejeune KINDLE
NIGHTLIFE by Thomas Perry: A tale of two women, although at times it seems there are dozens. Technically Charlene Buckner is not a classic serial killer because she totally changes her persona after each murder. Yes, as a child she had a slutty mom, and yes, she was abandoned in her late teens, but her life story is hardly the horror show of most fictional serial killers. On the other side Portland police detective Sgt. Catherine Hobbes has issues of her own to deal with as she follows Charlene et al from Portland to San Francisco, L.A., Las Vegas and other locales, where she pauses just long enough to commit another murder. By the end the two women have grown close not only in proximity but in identity as well. One of Perry’s best to date. 05/06 Jack Quick
NIGHTMARE ALLEY by William Lindsay Gresham: Number Five in an awesome anthology entitled CRIME NOVELS: American Noir of the 1930’s and 40’s, and the source for what some critics call Tyrone Power’s best movie. The title refers to the fact that inside each of us is a personal nightmare alley. At the far end is a light, a goal we want to reach, and behind us are our own personal demons that, if we allow them, will catch us and prevent us from reaching the light. Those demons can be alcohol, ambition, sex, greed, hatred, jealousy – all these and more are evident in the daily life of the traveling carnival and its troop of misfits and rejects. In this world, while everyone gets a glimpse of the light, you know, none of them will ever bask in it. 07/07 Jack Quick
NIGHTSHADE by Andrea Cremer: Calla Tor has always followed the rules. It’s her nature. It’s what she’s been taught as a Guardian. Calla’s loyalty to her pack and the Keepers has never come into question. But Calla breaks the rules, revealing herself and saving a human boy from a bear attack. Turns out that boy—Shay—is very important to the Keepers and Calla is the one assigned to be his bodyguard. With their first meeting kept secret from those around them, the two become closer and Calla begins to tell him about her world and her life: the Guardians, the Keepers, and the Searchers. Curious, Shay begins to dig deeper and finds that what Calla’s been told about her own history may not be entirely true. As they each learn more, the secrets continue to pile up. Can Calla hide what she now knows and continue to protect her friends and loved ones? Or will Shay tempt her beyond the point of no return. Nightshade has a bit of a rocky start as the reader is literally thrown into Calla’s world, but as bits of the backstory and the history of the Guardians unfold, Cremer’s unique vision draws readers in. Excellent world-building and a story that will leave readers, both young and old, begging for more. 12/10 Becky Lejeune
NIGHTWALKER by Jocelynn Drake: Mira is a nightwalker with a special ability - she can control and create fire with her mind. This makes her different from other nightwalkers, but until now she’s never really understood how different. Five hundred years ago, three vampires banished most of the naturi (the fey) from our world. Amongst them was their queen, Aurora. Now the naturi have assembled their forces and are ready to bring their people back, at the expense of both the humans and the nightwalkers. Mira must join forces with a mysterious hunter who kills her own kind in order to save mortal and undead alike. Jocelynn Drake joins the cream of the urban fantasy crop with this interesting and original debut. I’ve not yet come across another title that pits vamps against the fey – and these are by no means cute little pixies and elves, or impish fairies. These guys are nasty. Nightwalker hits the ground running with a great fight scene that begins on page one, from there on out the action is almost non-stop and the pacing is excellent. I’m especially interested to see just how this series is going to develop after the mind-blowing revelation that comes at the very end. 07/08 Becky Lejeune
NIGHTWATCH by Sergei Lukyanenko:
In this bestselling Russian fantasy series, the world is made up of others,
people with extraordinary powers, who must each choose whether they serve the
light or the dark. In order to maintain the balance between the light and the
dark, a pact was established. According to the pact, the Night Watch, agents of
the light, will monitor and ensure that the Day Watch, agents of the dark,
sticks to the pact. The Day Watch, in turn, will monitor the Night Watch. This
first book of the trilogy contains three stories involving the Night Watch.
Nine by Jan Burke: The F.B.I.'s Ten Most Wanted list is shrinking rapidly. No, they haven't been apprehended, but they are being murdered. A serial killer going after, well, other serial killers, and terrorists, and rapists, et al, and leaving the bodies all over Los Angeles County, creating a most intriguing dilemma for the L. A. Sheriff's Department. Detective Alex Brandon has been assigned to head up the investigating task force, and something about these killings seems familiar to him. There are similarities to a previous case he worked on, and despite public opinion that the killings are really a community service, Brandon is determined to end it. Good character development, fast paced plotting and lots of twists and turns are the hallmarks of a good thriller, and this is one of the best. Nine is a 10. Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
NINE FINGERS by Thom August: Twenty years ago, the Boss of the Chicago mob thought Franco was having an affair with his wife. He couldn’t prove it but he told Franco to leave Chicago and never return. To be sure the jazz pianist didn’t forget, the Boss cut off one of Franco’s fingers. Vinnie Amatucci is a part-time Chicago cabbie and part-time jazz musician. Members of his band are dying one by one, victims of a hit man known as the Cleaner. One disgraced homicide cop stands between the band and total extinction. Why is this all happening? Could there be some connection between the killings and the new guy playing piano, the one with only nine fingers? Outstanding thriller from Dorchester Publishing, the folks who do the Hard Case Crime series. 06/08 Jack Quick
THE NINTH CIRCLE by Alex Bell: Gabriel Antaeus has no memory of his life before he awakens lying in a puddle of blood on the floor. His apartment is filled with research materials on angels and demons, his walls are covered in fine art, and he finds cash—lots of it—in his possession. Gabriel begins chronicling his day-to-day life in a journal as he tries desperately to recall his past. As his story unfolds, he is plagued by nightmares, worries of family that has yet to come forward, and loneliness. When he meets Zadkiel Stephomi, Gabriel believes that his days wandering the city alone have come to an end. In Stephomi he has found a friend, finally. But then Gabriel begins to receive messages, clues about his life before the amnesia. Who could be sending them? And what is new companion Stephomi hiding from him? Alex Bell’s debut is a compulsively readable book in spite of some uneven pacing. The twist ending may be a love it or hate it situation for some. Personally, I thought it made for a very interesting read, though the angel mythology was the driving force of the tale for me. 10/09 Becky Lejeune
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN by Cormac McCarthy: Llewelyn Moss would have been better off if he had missed the antelope completely. Then he wouldn’t have tried to track down the wounded animal and he would not have found the remains of the drug deal gone bad or the two plus million dollars. Unfortunately for Moss both the buyer and seller want him and the money. Sheriff Bell can only do so much to help Moss and his wife move around the drug war bull’s-eye. When silenced sawed off shotguns and machine guns aren’t enough, there are other ways to kill. The body count grows as Moss’s options narrow down. Sparsely written ala Robert B. Parker. 08/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
NO CURE FOR DEATH by Max Allan Collins: A 1983 effort from one of America’s most prolific writers, this was apparently a series attempt that didn’t take. At least this is the only “Mallory” adventure I’ve come across. Mallory is a Vietnam vet who has bounced around through several jobs before becoming a mystery writer. The Thanksgiving holiday death of acquaintance Janet Taber in an engineered accident sends Mallory throughout the city looking for answers. 11/06 Jack Quick
NO GOOD DEEDS by Laura Lippman: Following on the heels of the haunting standalone thriller, To the Power of Three, Tess Monaghan is back in the ninth entry of the award-winning series. A young homeless man, Lloyd, becomes the center of this superb cat-and-mouse tale when an assistant U.S. Attorney is found stabbed to death in his car. Tess meets Lloyd after her soft-hearted boyfriend, Crow, brings him home so he won’t have to spend the cold Baltimore night on the streets. Turns out Lloyd may know something about the murder and Tess gives the story to her old newspaper with the understanding that they won’t reveal her source – but they do reveal that Tess leaked the story. Lloyd takes off until his friend gets killed, making him realize that he’s going to be next. He goes into hiding with Crow but a very persistent triumvirate of law enforcement – an FBI agent, a DEA agent and an assistant U.S. Attorney – go after Tess to name her source and reveal his whereabouts. Tess is determined to protect them and things get really sticky until the highly satisfying and surprising ending. 07/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2006 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
NO GOOD DEEDS by Laura Lippman: Lippman’s ninth Tess Monagham opens with Tess’ boyfriend, Edgar "Crow" Ransome, bringing home a homeless teenager, Lloyd, who slashed Crow's tires outside a Baltimore soup kitchen. When PI Tess discovers that Lloyd has information regarding the recent murder of an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Tess gives the local paper Lloyd’s story, except for his name. What follows is a confrontation between Tess and a sinister trio of law enforcement agents demanding to know her source. Crow flees with Lloyd while Tess suffers growing pressure, including the threat of federal jail time. Lippman’s first hand experience as a reporter gives her the inside knowledge to tell this one with incredibility reality. 09/06 Jack Quick
NO HOUSE LIMIT by Steve Fisher: Hardcase Crime #45 is a reprint of a 1958 release set in Las Vegas, not the over the top glamorous Las Vegas of today, but rather the early days when the city was really beginning to prosper based primarily on the mob-financed casinos. The Rainbow’s End is one of the few independents, and while owner Joe Martin is a savvy kind of guy, the syndicate has decided its time to take him down. The plan – front the infamous Bello, billed as the best craps player around, to win $10,000,000 from Rainbow’s End, thereby bankrupting Martin. The process starts early on a Sunday morning and everyone knows it will be over sooner than later. Martin knows what’s coming but in addition to having to monitor Bello’s play, he must also deal with a few other curveballs the syndicate has thrown his way - a lounge singer who has caught the eye of Bello's girlfriend, and a beautiful schoolteacher who has enamored Martin. While none of these “pulps” are likely to garner any Nobel prizes for literature, they sure are fun to read. 09/08 Jack Quick
NO MAN'S LAND by G.M. Ford: Mr. Ford, a fine
writer of amusing mysteries, is persisting in the thriller genre, although No
Man's Land could fairly be termed a "crime thriller." Ford's free-lance
journalist character, Frank Corso, is again thrown into a life-threatening
situation and has several narrow escapes on his way to resolving the conflicts
he is presented with.
No Man’s Land
By G.M. Ford: Picture in your mind a prison that is so technologically
secure that no prisoner could possibly escape. Yes, just picture it in your
mind, then throw out that possibility and change that picture to a real meltdown
at that same facility! That is what occurs in G.M. Ford’s book, No Man’s Land.
When the prisoners start running the "escape free" prison, it gets VERY ugly.
NO MARK UPON HER by Deborah Crombie: Duncan Kincaid is readying himself for a lengthy leave of absence from the force when he’s called in on one last case: a female officer has been found dead, floating in the river. Becca Meredith was an avid and experienced rower. In fact, she’d been an Olympic hopeful years ago. Rumors are that she’d been considering another try. Her ex husband reported her missing after it was discovered that she’d gone out in her boat one evening and never returned. When search and rescue finds the boat and then her body, it appears that her death could be an accident, but with her level of experience in mind it seems likely the cause of her death is something more sinister. Then a member of the SAR team is attacked and it becomes clear that Becca was indeed murdered. But who would want her dead? Kincaid’s wife, DI Gemma James, soon begins a linked investigation in hopes of helping to uncover evidence on a potential suspect. Both cases could land husband in wife in hot water as well as possible grave danger. This latest in Cromie’s series is a compelling read. While I always suggest starting a long-term series at the beginning, this 14th installment does work surprisingly well as a stand alone or series introduction. 2/13 Becky Lejeune
NO MERCY by Lori Armstrong: Mercy Gunderson is one tough chick. For twenty years, she has been serving in the Army, a part of a secret group of women soldiers trained as rangers. Now on medical leave, Mercy has returned to the family ranch to take charge in the wake of her father’s death. After working so hard to leave behind her past, Mercy is once again thrust into the life she thought she didn’t want. Faced with having to sell the ranch or take over, she finds the decision is not as easy as she’d believed it would be. And when bodies begin cropping up on her own land, Mercy is dragged into the investigation. But it’s when one of her own is murdered that Mercy, the sheriff’s daughter and Army sniper, gets really pissed. The bodies in this book start stacking up before the story even begins! Armstrong starts off her latest with a bang and introduces a tough, smart heroine who is definitely up for the challenge of heading up a new series. 1/10 Becky Lejeune
NO MERCY by John Gilstrap: In this new series, PI Jonathan Grave is a combination Bruce Wayne and Rambo. He is single and rich, uses expensive gadgets and has a vigilante alter ego. In this first outing, Grave investigates the disappearance of investigative reporter Tibor Rothman, husband of Grave's ex-wife, Ellen. Sheriff Gail Bonneville of Samson, Ind., is chasing Grave in turn, since a hostage rescue mission he fronted turned into a shootout. Maybe not the most highly developed characters and could use some upgrading in the dialogue, but for action, this one can't be beat. 11/11 Jack Quick KINDLE
NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM by Jordan Dane: A string of disappearances in San Antonio has police reeling when a family member of one of their own becomes the next victim. Officer Rebecca Montgomery has been banned from the case, but that hasn’t stopped her from looking into it on her own, and stepping on some toes in the process. She is reassigned temporarily to the Cold Case squad and sent to investigate a body that is discovered in a burned out theater. The body appears to be that of a young girl reported missing some seven years ago. Of course the case hits close to home with Becca’s own sister, Dani, missing and now presumed dead. Enter Diego Galvan a man who intrigues Rebecca on many levels, in spite of the fact that his own connection to the case has yet to be determined. One day on the new case and Rebecca is sent on mandatory vacation. Being pulled off the case is not enough to keep Rebecca out of trouble, though, and she soon attracts the attention of one very dangerous man. This thriller has an amazingly quick pace. Dane’s stunning debut will be followed by No One Left to Tell in May and No One Lives Forever in June. 03/08 Becky Lejeune
NO ONE LEFT TO TELL by Jordan Dane: When the body of a Dunhill Corporation security agent is found hanging in a church, a cryptic message carved into his chest, Raven MacKenzie knows she’s in for a difficult case. She and her partner have been ordered to cooperate with the corporation’s owner as much as possible and that means working with her handpicked head of security, Christian Delacorte. Christian has a colored past and believes dirty cops were responsible for the death of his family when he was a young boy, so he has no reason to respect or trust the boys and girls in blue. He makes his distaste very obvious, but finds that he is strongly attracted to Raven in spite of all of this. Raven is also drawn to Delacorte but can’t ignore the signs that point to him as the prime suspect in the case. Like Lisa Gardner, and Lisa Unger, Dane’s edge-of-your-seat action-packed thrillers are a perfect blend of suspense and romance. While Dane’s debut title, No One Heard Her Scream, is a stand-alone (for now) MacKenzie’s own story will continue with this month’s release of No One Lives Forever. 05/08 Becky Lejeune
NO ONE LIVES FOREVER by Jordan Dane: Jordan Dane exploded onto the scene just two months ago with her stand-alone No One Heard Her Scream. She followed with No One Left to Tell, featuring Detective Raven MacKenzie and Christian Delacorte. No One Lives Forever picks up where No One Left to Tell left off. Although Fiona Dunhill, Christian’s former employer, has fessed up to the fact that she is in fact his biological mother, she has managed to keep the identity of his father a secret, until now. Nicholas Charboneau has been kidnapped and his bodyguard, Jasmine, is calling in her favor. She asks Christian to use his resources as the Dunhill heir to help free Charboneau. Once Christian learns that the man is indeed his father, he heads off to Brazil, in spite of Raven’s fears, in order to save the man. Upon arrival, he and Jasmine are immediately targeted by one of the local police, then they find the remains of a strange ritual curse left outside their hotel room. With no one left to trust but each other, the two must work together to find out who amongst Charboneau’s many enemies may be behind the abduction. With pulse-pounding action and page-turning suspense, Dane just keeps on getting better and is already becoming a force in the realm of romantic suspense. 05/08 Becky Lejeune
NO REST FOR THE DEAD by Sandra Brown, Jeffery Deaver, J.A. Jance, Faye Kellerman, Jeff Lindsay, Kathy Reichs, Jonathan Santlofer, Lisa Scottoline, et al.: This is a serial novel, with 26 bestselling authors taking their turns at bat, and somehow they pull it off. A wealthy San Francisco museum curator is found dead in an antique iron maiden on loan to a Berlin museum. His wife is convicted and put to death, but the cop that helped convict her has always had nagging doubts about the case, causing him much personal strife. Ten years later, all the players in the case are set to meet at a memorial service for the murderess. Some nice plot twists and red herrings will keep the reader guessing all the way through the last pages of this traditional mystery with a surprise ending. Check the complete list of authors for your favorite and then buy the book; the proceeds go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 09/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch KINDLE
No Second Chance by Harlan Coben: Terrific new stand-alone thriller from the author of Gone for Good and Tell No One. Dr. Marc Seidman, an altruistic plastic surgeon, is on his deathbed after being shot. Despite the odds, he survives but his wife has been murdered and his 6 month old daughter kidnapped. Seidman is understandably obsessed with getting his daughter back, and thus begins a story of deceptions and betrayals, all told at breakneck speed. Throw in an ex-girlfriend who is ex-FBI, a best friend/attorney, a red neck with a heart of gold, and a child star all grown up into a homicidal psychopath, and you have one hell of a story. Coben has once again written an engrossing tale of intrigue that takes the reader on a wild ride with wonderful characters and lots of jolts. The resolution was a bit weak, and the epilogue provided closure with its neatly wrapped update on all the characters. I was lucky enough to have jury duty, so I had several uninterrupted hours of reading time - clear the decks for this one and settle in, you won't be able to stop once you've started it. Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
NO SHOW by Simon Wood: The very prolific Simon Wood has another winner with No Show. The story involves Terry Sheffield, an Englishman arriving in the United States to begin his married life with Sarah, an American investigative journalist that he met while both were vacationing in Costa Rica. The two hit it off immediately and after a very short time they married in Las Vegas. Terry went back to England in order to complete the requirements to enter the U.S. as spouse of an American citizen and consequently be eligible for residency. Now Terry arrives in the U.S. and finds that Sarah is not waiting for him at the airport. Since they had bought a house together he goes there and moves in. Still no Sarah, no notes nor phone messages from her. He reports her as missing to the local police and as much as possible with little or no information, begins to search for her himself. In the meanwhile Terry, in order to support them had contracted a job as a biologist with a local bio chemical firm and begins to work there in order not to lose the job. What happened to Sarah, where she is, and if she is still alive are the integral factors in the book. Terry finds that Sarah, as the investigative journalist that she is, had come up with common factors in the murders of five women in different parts of the country and is in trouble due to the discoveries. Also he discovers that the bio chemical firm that he has started to work for is engaged in highly illegal activities and raises the question if this is somehow connected to the murders. Wood brings the reader to an ending which, while not a fairy tale one, answers the questions raised by the facts presented. A fascinating trip into sequences of crime and well developed character reactions to the problems raised. 6/13 Paul Lane
NO TIME FOR GOODBYE by Linwood Barclay: Cynthia Bigge was a 14 year old hellion, dragged home drunk one night by her dad. She passed out and when she woke up the next morning, her life would never be the same again. Her parents and her brother vanished, and an aunt takes her in. But their disappearance haunts Cynthia and casts a shadow over her life, even after she marries and has a child of her own. Twenty-five years later, things start happening that cause her to finally hire a private detective to look into it, but then people start turning up dead. An interesting premise, lots of angst and suspense, and a neat ending make this a thriller of merit. 12/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
NO TIME FOR GOODBYE by Linwood Barclay: It’s been twenty-five years since Cynthia Archer, née Bigge, awoke to find her house empty. Her parents and her brother vanished without a trace leaving her behind. With the anniversary looming, Cynthia agrees to allow a TV crime program to showcase her story in the hopes that some witness may come forward. At first, there are no hits. Then one day, someone calls with a message for Cynthia from her family – they forgive her. Terry Archer, Cynthia’s husband, tries to convince her that it’s a crank call, but then someone breaks into their house leaving behind what Cynthia believes is an item that belonged to her father. Evidence and coincidence begin to turn police attention towards the Archers themselves and, in turn, the strain of the situation begins to crumble the delicate balance that holds their family together. This may prove to be Barclay’s breakthrough thriller. The plot alone is enough to draw most readers – what could possibly have happened to Cynthia’s family? Would they leave and start anew without their troublesome daughter? Would a killer murder them, leaving behind one survivor and no evidence of the act? Could Cynthia herself have had something to do with it? All of these are very distinct possibilities. The story is well-written, the plot is interesting, and the characters, right down to the Archer’s eight-year-old daughter, are well developed and absorbing. 09/07 Becky Lejeune
NO WAY BACK by Michael Crow: The reward from the most recent adventure of Baltimore County narcotics cop Luther Ewing is a six-month suspension. He uses the time to go undercover for the CIA as Terrance Prentice, guarding a South Korean businessman with ties to the U.S. government. Crow continues to develop Ewing as a tough customer who plays by his own rules, which may or may not coincide with those of his position. In the previous two adventures, he accomplished what he wanted to, albeit on a landscape littered with bodies. In this one, the body count is less, but the action is no less constrained. I just hope we never see Ewing and Jack Reacher on opposite sides. Think Chuck Norris and Claude Van Damme slightly restrained by Bruce Willis. Recommended. 07/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
No Way Back by Andrew Gross: Andrew Gross again comes out with a "grab the reader fast and hold them" novel. The book centers on the Mexican Drug Cartel and it's evil tentacles spreading into the United States. Two different, but very brave women are brought together by events tied to murders committed by one of the Cartels. In order to survive being hunted they must unite and find the real causes of their danger. Wendy Gould is a suburban housewife caught in a chance situation in a hotel room that forces her to kill a government agent to save her own life. Her shooting skills come from a past job with a police department. Lauritzia Velez, on the other hand, is a nanny working for a wealthy couple tending their children. Her past, which she keeps hidden from her employers, involves an indirect involvement with a Mexican drug cartel and the necessity to flee Mexico to save her life. Gross brings the two together in a very logical and well thought out scenario while keeping the reader riveted to the book. His plot and events in the story show the same attention to detail that he has exhibited in the past both while collaborating with James Patterson and writing on his own. The only problem I find with Andrew's books is that they end and I have to wait for the next one. No Way Back continues with the trend of good plots, riveting action and logical sequences to get the reader and hold him or her. 4/13 Paul Lane
Way to Treat a First Lady by Christopher Buckley: Christopher
Buckley's latest book, No Way to Treat a First Lady, is a wicked poke at
the secret sex lives of White House occupants, trial lawyers, celebrity trials
and viagra abuse. The first lady, accused of murdering her philandering
husband, retains the best trial lawyer in America, who was her fiance at law
school before she jilted him. The laughs are fast and furious, but in the
middle of it all, Mr Buckley manages to really convey something of what it means
to be a trial lawyer. "Boyce was pumped. Oxygen was roaring to his
brain as if he'd run five miles. Oh, the poor mortals, the nonlitigators,
the timid souls who would never in their lives know the feeling, the thrill of
owning a courtroom...He was floating in an endorphin soup. He was in a
state of grace."
NOCTURNE by Syrie James: Nicole Whitcomb has been enjoying a fantastic vacation on the slopes in Colorado, but now it’s time to return home. After one last day of skiing, of course. But that extra day leaves her driving in rapidly-declining weather conditions. As the roads get worse, Nicole suffers what could be a fatal accident. Buried under the snow, it will take a miracle for her to survive. Fortunately, the reclusive Michael Tyler is witness to the event and comes to Nicole’s rescue. His mountain home is the perfect refuge until the roads can be cleared and Nicole can return to civilization. But there’s something strange about Michael Tyler, and in spite of her almost immediate attraction to the man, Nicole isn’t quite sure she’s safe with him. The truth is more than she could ever imagine, though. Steamy vampire romance for winter. 1/11 Becky Lejeune
A NORTHERN THUNDER by Andy Harp: The author of this state of the art techno-thriller is a retired US Marine Corps Colonel which gives added authenticity to the narrative. Basically the Peoples Democratic Republic of Korea, a Communist nation in desperate financial straits, concentrates its military resources on swiftly creating missile technology that can give it power and a source of much needed foreign exchange with terrorists and other rogue nations. To protect their investment they send forth an assassin to secretly kill scientists identified as having the ability to disrupt their plans. While the FBI is trying to cope with the assassin, the US military calls up retired Marine Reservist Will Parker to flush out the scientist in North Korea most critical to their plans. Although not a terribly original plot, a smooth writing style and the author’s military expertise make this an above average read. Recommended. 04/08 Jack Quick
NORWEGIAN BY NIGHT by Derek B. Miller: Sheldon Horowitz is an unlikely hero; he's an 82-year-old Jewish ex-Marine turned watch repairman who lost his son to Vietnam and finally lost his wife. His granddaughter, Rhea, is living with her husband Lars in Norway, home to a tiny Jewish population. They convince Sheldon to come live with them as he has no one left in New York. He agrees, and one morning is home alone when he hears the neighbors fighting again. When he realizes the woman and her son are hiding in his doorway, he pulls them in but her abuser, Enver, is coming. Sheldon disappears with the young boy into a hidden closet and she is killed outside their door. Afraid the man will demand his son, Sheldon flees with the boy, his old Marine sniper training, that muscle memory as he thinks of it, comes back to him and they escape. All that said, this is a very funny, action packed book. Sheldon is a tough old bird who has conversations with a long dead friend while outsmarting the police department, his daughter, her husband and most of all Enver, using any means at his disposal. And to make things more interesting, the child doesn't speak English and Sheldon doesn't speak anything else. This is a quick read, with unique characters and an interesting location. Scandinavian crime fiction is very popular now, and while this book was written in English, it was first published in Norway. 8/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill: When Victoria “Vic” McQueen rides her blue Tuff Burner bike she can travel a bridge that doesn’t exist and go anywhere to find anything. Charlie Manx, a serial kidnapper and all around bad guy, shares this ability. For him, it’s his old Rolls Royce and his road leads to Christmasland. For years, Manx eluded officials who never even connected his crimes. All that came to an end when Vic went in search of trouble. Her bridge led her to Manx’s house where, with the help of some very nice folks in Gunbarrel, Colorado, Manx was finally taken down. Or was he? Manx is a man like no other and he’s never forgotten the girl who got away. Vic is all grown up but things haven’t gotten any easier for her. She suspects she’s going crazy but when Manx shows up again she knows she’s the only one who can take him down for good. This latest from Hill is phenomenal. NOS4A2 is wonderfully creepy and wholly original. Definitely highly recommended. 5/13 Becky Lejeune
Not All Tarts are Apple by Pip Granger: It's not every day that I find a mystery that is as sweet and warm and wonderful as this one. Set in England in the early 1950s, the protagonist is a sweet seven-year-old girl named Rosie. Rosie's living with her Uncle Bert and Aunt Maggie, and is visited on a semi-regular basis by the "perfumed lady," who is, in fact, her mother - while Uncle Bert and Aunt Maggie are not actually related at all. They decide to change that and move ahead with plans to adopt Rosie, but as the cast of memorable characters parade through their lives, some helpful, some not-so-helpful, the mystery of whether or not they will be able to make themselves into a legal family will keep you turning pages and longing to stay just a little while longer in Rosie's world. Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
NOT ANOTHER BAD DATE by Rachel Gibson: Adele Harris hasn’t had a decent date in three years; her love life is non-existent. It’s been so bad, she’s convinced she’s cursed. As it turns out, she actually is. Things only get worse when her sister calls to tell her that her husband has left her and she’s pregnant. Adele rushes to her sister’s side as she picks up and moves back to their hometown. Then, her sister is hospitalized and Adele finds herself in charge of her teenage niece, Kendra. Fortunately, Kendra has managed to make some new friends in town, unfortunately for Adele, Kendra’s new best friend is the daughter of her long lost love from college. Football star Zach Zemaitis stole Adele’s heart (and her virginity) and then left her for another woman. Now he’s back in her life and messing with her head all over again. Will it finally work out for Adele or will the curse strike again? Not Another Bad Date is an adorable and hilarious chick-lit/romance hitting shelves just in time for summer. This will make a great beach read. 05/08 Becky Lejeune
NOT COMING HOME TO YOU by Lawrence Block: An oldie but goodie from 1974 that I had not previously read. This is based on the actual murders that inspired the film Badlands. The main characters are Jimmie John Hall, "free and white and 22" and Betty Dienhardt, plain, friendless, and oppressed by a bleak home life. In each other, they find a chance for love and fulfillment. But they are doomed. For Jimmie John has already embarked on a killing spree on the backroads of the Southwest that will leave 14 innocent people dead. Set primarily in Oklahoma and Texas, this one will make you want to double check your doors and windows before going to bed at night. When you have nothing to lose, you don't worry about losing. 03/11 Jack Quick
NOT QUITE DEAD by John MacLachlan Gray: Election day, 1849, is a turbulent time. Dr. William Chivers, a suicidal doctor in Baltimore, is expecting victims of all sorts of violence on this day. He is not expecting, however, to come face to face with the only man he ever called a friend. Edgar Allen Poe collapsed in the street and was taken directly to Washington College Hospital to be placed under Chivers’s care, per instructions found on Poe’s body. Poe is said to be suffering from dementia, but in reality is quite healthy. Poe asks that Chivers help him to fake his own death so that he may escape Irish mobsters. The plan goes off without a hitch until investigators approach Chivers with a strange theory. It seems that the most famous publisher in all of Philadelphia has been murdered in a manner that would suggest Poe’s involvement. Poe’s “death” should keep him out of suspicion of murder, but hasn’t necessarily fooled everyone. Not Quite Dead is a smart literary mystery that combines a sophisticated plot with historical fact. Political turf wars, violent gang hostilities, and racial tensions are the heart of this novel. The plight of Poe and Dickens provides an interesting backdrop for the more serious issues of this tale. 11/07 Becky Lejeune
Not Quite Kosher by Stuart M. Kaminsky: Abe Lieberman (no relation to Senator Joseph Lieberman) is back with his partner Bill Hanrahan, or as they are also known, the Rabbi and the Priest, which causes an obviously distraught man to confess his sins - a murder - to Abe, thinking he is a Rabbi. Confessing a murder to a cop is a good way to end up in jail, although I'm sure a lawyer would have a field day with this confession, and that is pointed out in the book, too - but nothing is as it seems in this mystery. Kaminsky is quite skillful at leading us down one path, only to find ourselves somewhere completely different from where we expected to be. Unfortunately, the only characters we really get to know at all are the partners, everyone else from the victims to the suspects to the supporting players are merely cardboard props. It's short, it's fast, it kept me guessing. Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
NOT QUITE KOSHER (#7) by Stuart Kaminsky: And in the center ring – poor Abe Lieberman, just a Chicago cop trying to make it to retirement. All he has on his plate is the synagogue fund-raising committee, his grandson’s forthcoming bar mitzvah, a leaky roof, two inept hold-up men and merchant Arnold Sokol, who was a Jew but then became a Catholic and is now dead. In the other ring is Bill Hanrahan, Abe’s partner, who has decided to go ahead immediately with his marriage to Iris Chen, in spite, of community opposition, and Abe has agreed to handle the reception. If that’s not enough, Iris has introduced the idea of adoption – of a specific Asian-American child. The sideshow is Michael Wychovski, an inept thief whose partner’s body washes up on the shores of Lake Michigan alongside that of Sokol. Are the two connected? Will Abe be able to stand the rising cholesterol and rapidly depleting bank account? A hint, there are sequels. For more details you gotta read it yourself. 05/08 Jack Quick
NOT ME by Michael Lavigne: Originally published in 2005, and out in paperback last year, this Holocaust story is a first novel that is slowly finding its audience. Michael "Mickey" Rosenheim is a stand-up comedian who moves down to Florida to take care of his dying father, Heshel. Heshel has Alzheimers, and while he has some lucid moments, his mind is often elsewhere. One day Mickey finds an old box of books in his father's room at the nursing home, and the nurse tells him one of his visitors left it for him. Mickey isn't aware of any visitors, but shleps the box home to find it filled with his father's journals. They are not close - Heshel is a Holocaust survivor who has spent most of his life obsessed with that fact and with promoting Jewish causes. But Mickey can't help but start reading these journals, only to find out his father is not who he seems to be. But how to question a man whose mind is gone is only one of the dilemmas Mickey finds on his hands. This is a fascinating and gripping story that pulls the reader in and doesn't let go until the last page is turned. 03/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT by Bill Pronzini: After Nick’s wife is slammed into a coma by a hit and run driver in Denver, he devotes his life to finding the unidentified man who has ruined his life. Some six years later he locates him in northern California’s wine country. Cam has own problems to deal with which escalate quickly with Nick on the scene. The resulting interaction is scary and chilling. Suffice it to say, if I were ever sentenced to be tortured psychologically, I would hope that Bill Pronzini is not chosen for the task. The ending will take your breath away. Recommended. 06/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
NOTHING TO LOSE by Lee Child: Jack Reacher is back but he's caught between Hope and Despair - two tiny towns in Colorado. When Reacher inadvertently tries to get a cup of coffee in Despair, he is run out of town, and his curiosity is piqued. Then people start disappearing, and he meets up with a beautiful, mysterious cop from Hope. Wandering that road between Hope and Despair, we see yet another side of Reacher. Another intriguing and satisfying tale, except that the last book in this series, Bad Luck and Trouble, was also the best book. Not to complain, because this one is very good, it just doesn't quite live up to those standards. 06/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
NOTHING TO LOSE by Lee Child: In South Carolina there are two nearby towns called Prosperity and Clinton. The road sign pointing in opposite directions to the two was featured in some of the anti-Clinton campaign material. In this 12th Jack Reacher novel, our ex-military policeman finds himself in a similar situation in Colorado – between the towns of Hope and Despair. . Despair lives up to its name. All Reacher wants is a cup of coffee, but what he gets is attacked by four thugs and thrown in jail on a vagrancy charge. Needless to say, Reacher is somewhat displeased and eventually kicks some butt. On the other hand, a good looking lady cop from Hope helps him deal with a nearby metal processing plant which is associated with an apocalyptic sect that is working to end time. It is the typical Reacher action and adventure that we have come to know and enjoy. 07/08 Jack Quick
NOTORIOUS by Michele Martinez: This is the fourth book to feature Melanie Vargas, a single mom and federal prosecutor in New York City. Her on again, off again relationship with an FBI hottie is off again, leaving Melanie free time to pursue her latest case; a ten year old murder charge against rapper superstar Atari Briggs. The book opens with Briggs attorney, Lester Poe, telling her that his client is willing to trade info on a Middle Eastern drug dealer who is using his ill gotten gains to fund international terrorism, but a perfectly timed car bomb leaves that lawyer dead and his partner, ruthless attorney Evan Diamond who takes over the case, has no interest in dealing and has lots of baggage of his own. Having witnessed the bombing, Vargas can't help but be drawn into the investigation, and starts digging. Poe had a lot of skeletons in his closet, and there was much more to the super successful defense attorney than Vargas had bargained for. But she's tenacious, and determined to get to the bottom of all of it. Martinez has penned another terrific legal thriller. 03/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
NOTORIOUS by Michele Martinez: Melanie Vargas is back. She’s been promoted, she and Dan have split, and she’s working the case that could make, or break, her career. When a witness steps forward willing to testify that Atari Briggs, one of the world’s most famous rap stars, ordered a hit on a fellow drug dealer ten years ago, the DA’s office pounces. Melanie has been assigned to the trial and meets with Briggs’s lawyer, famed civil-rights attorney Lester Poe, to discuss a deal. It seems that Briggs may have some key information regarding a major international terrorist. Just minutes after the meet, Poe is killed in a car bombing and Melanie witnesses the entire thing. The feds are hot for Briggs’s rumored info and insist that Melanie and her team do whatever is necessary to get him to cooperate. Unfortunately Briggs’s new lawyer, Poe’s partner, insists that Briggs knows nothing and is, therefore, not willing to deal. Melanie refuses to let matters rest, especially when her key witness is attacked just days before the trial is set to begin. The only way to find out what Briggs knows is to win the case and Melanie is determined to do so. Martinez’s fourth book is a satisfying addition to the series. Melanie is a likeable heroine that the reader loves to root for. Dan is an equally likeable character, however, and I sincerely hope to see more of him in the future. The interplay between these two adds a nice and light but tense romantic element to the series. Great for readers who enjoy Lisa Scottoline. 03/08 Becky Lejeune
NOTORIOUS NINETEEN by Janet Evanovich: This is the hotly awaited latest entry in the hugely popular Stephanie Plum series. It has everything a fan will expect; cars blow up, Stephanie gets in trouble, Grandma Mazur gets in trouble, and in this outing Stephanie is leaning Joe's way and Ranger is just an out of reach fantasy. A man who embezzled millions from an old folks retirement home disappears after some surgery, and Stephanie is trying to find him along with a few other losers. Ranger hires Stephanie as his date/bodyguard for a friend's wedding since he and his friend are being threatened. Lots of laughs, suspense and a hint of romance make this a comfortable return to the Burg. Fans will be happy. 12/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith: I am
normally a fan of hard, edgy, big city private eye stories and this book is none
of those things. What it is is charming. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is
the story of Mma Precious Ramotswe who takes the money from the sale of her late
father's cattle and opens the only women's detective agency in her town of
Gaborone, Botswana. It is written in straight-forward and (there is that darn
word again) charming fashion.
NOVEL ABOUT MY WIFE by Emily Perkins: Tom and Ann are expecting their first child and they couldn’t be happier. Their story begins with a train derailment. Ann claimed that she had been feeling ill and left work early which caused her to be on the train. Everyone was fine, including Ann, but she subsequently admits that the reason she left work early was because a man had been following her. Ann mentions the man only a few more times, and Tom assumes that the problem has gone away. Then Ann’s behavior begins to change, frantic cleaning sessions, strange smells that only she can detect, and an almost obsessive return to her sculptures – tiny protectors she leaves all around the house. Tom begins to suspect that the wild mood swings and neuroses may not be a symptom of the pregnancy after all. The story is his attempt, after the fact, to outline his wife’s spiral into madness, something of an attempt to find the moment when it all began. Tom reveals Ann’s fate almost at the very beginning, but even with that knowledge, Perkins’s characters and their pain are so real and so touching that you hope things will turn out differently just this once. 05/08 Becky Lejeune
NOW AND THEN by Robert B. Parker: Can you believe there are now 35 Spenser novels? In the latest, Spenser takes it personally when a client with a possible straying spouse is murdered. You just don’t go and kill Spenser’s clients, and with the help of Susan, Hawke, Pearl et al, our hero proceeds to find out who is responsible so they can pay the price. The usual crisp dialogue and no-nonsense action you have come to expect from Parker along with give-and-take between Spenser and Susan, who even talk about the “M’ word. It’s another very satisfying Spenser adventure. 11/07 Jack Quick
NOW PLAYING AT THE VALENCIA by Stephen Hunter: I have enjoyed Hunter’s Earl and Bob Swagger series as well as his stand alones, but never knew until now that he has served as the Washington Post movie critic. In this collection of his reviews of the past decade he turns out prose that in some cases is far more entertaining than the films he describes. His opening comments on war movies in general and Black Hawk Down in particular “The problem with war isn’t the Army stuff, the camping out, all the calisthenics you have to do at 0-dark-thirty, or even the Sergeants who call you a maggot. It’s the battles. Bummer. You could get killed in a battle. That’s what’s so terrifying about the just opened Black Hawk Down.” On gunfights: “For the current variation of Wooified Hollywood gun fighting the survival rules are also three: 1) Shoot two guns with two hands while diving through the air in slow motion; 2) Use the very best in industrial strength mousse. And of course; 3) Choose really cool sunglasses.” And lastly, “Since time immemorial mankind has worried about three important issues: a. Is universal peace possible? b. Is true love forever? c. Could Godzilla beat a space monster? The answers are (a) No; (b) For others maybe, but not for you; and (c) Too close to call.” If you are flick fan, you’ll love Hunter’s gems. 04/07 Jack Quick
NOW YOU SEE ME by S.J. Bolton: DC Lacey Flint is working the burglary beat, moonlighting in sex crimes in hopes that she can be placed with one of London’s Sapphire Units. Homicide is definitely not her department. But when Lacey finds a stabbing victim leaning against her car, she becomes involved in a case that will have London reeling. The woman is dead before paramedics arrive and Lacey becomes convinced she could have saved her given just a few more minutes. It should have ended there, but it didn’t. A reporter receives what is unquestionably a modern-day copy of Jack the Ripper’s famous “Dear Boss” letter, and Lacey is mentioned by name. Drawn into what now looks like a copycat spree of Jack the Ripper-esque murders, the police now know exactly when to expect the next victim, but don’t have enough clues to prevent the killings… until Lacey starts to put together the connection—and it leads directly to her. Bolton’s latest is a fantastic thriller. Misdirection makes this one that keeps the reader guessing until the end and even if you think you might have it all figured out, there’s guaranteed to be a twist or two you won’t see coming. 07/11 Becky Lejeune KINDLE
NOWHERE BUT HOME by Liza Palmer: Growing up, Queenie Wake couldn’t wait to escape her hometown of North Star, Texas. Her family name has been synonymous with poverty, bad luck, and – thanks to Queenie’s mother, BJ – fallen women. As a result, Queenie and her sister never fit in regardless of how hard they tried. Queenie has spent her time since college moving from job to job and place to place. When she’s fired yet again, her sister convinces her to return home to regroup. What’s meant to be a temporary stay becomes complicated when Queenie is offered an odd but compelling new position cooking last meals at the local prison. The chance to reconnect with her family and the support of her sister are exactly what Queenie needs, but is it enough for the Wakes to overcome the years of North Star’s harassment? Liza Palmer’s latest is a wonderful, wonderful read. Her characters are so believable and real, it’s easy for any reader to slip into their shoes and see life through their eyes. What’s more, Palmer always manages to infuse her story with a great balance of humor, making her tales heartfelt and funny at the same time. 4/13 Becky Lejeune
NOX DORMIENDA by Kelli Stanley: Never heard of Roman Noir? Well you have now. Kelli Stanley, academic scholar and admitted noir fan, bursts onto the scene this summer with the first installment of her historical noir series. Arcturus, official physician to Governor Agricola, and sometime problem solver, is approached by a gorgeous woman in trouble. Her fiancé is rumored to be carrying a letter to Londinium that could mean the end of the governor. She appeals to Arcturus’s loyal nature and urges him to alert Agricola of the matter. Arcturus takes it one step further and has the woman followed. His man Bilicho eventually tracks the woman to an inn and whorehouse where the fiancé is staying. Later, Bilicho hears noises and follows a cart to an underground temple. The priests of the temple call for Arcturus and the physician discovers that the body of the woman’s fiancé has been left mounted on an alter, his throat brutally slashed. It is also discovered that the man may indeed be an official messenger from Emperor Domitian. If Arcturus can’t find out who killed the man and why, before the Emperor receives news of the death, Britannia could be facing dire political consequences. Stanley combines classic noir and mystery elements with expansive research into first century Roman Britain. Her efforts pay off. It’s a combination that really works quite well. 07/08 Becky Lejeune
THE NUDGER DILEMMAS by John Lutz: This has somehow turned out to be John Lutz month, but you could do a heck of a lot worse. Hapless St. Louis detective “Nudger” is the “star” of this collection of 13 previously published stories. If Robert B. Parker's Spenser is the kick-butt, take-no-prisoners private eye we dream of being, then Nudger is the hand-wringing, Tums-popping, nonconfrontational sleuth who probably is truly more realistic. I mean who but Nudger could have started his police career as Coppy the Clown, appearing with red nose and oversized shoes at benefits and children’s parties throughout the city, until the Police Commissioner decided that this really wasn’t the image he wanted the Department to portray. Being unable to stand the rigors of life on the streets as a uniformed officer, Nudger drifted into the only thing he felt comfortable doing – being a private eye, albeit a low-key non-violent one. He maintains his office upstairs over Danny’s Donuts, and in true cop fashion starts each day with coffee, a Dunker’s Delite, and a side order of Tums. A fun read. 08/06 Jack Quick
NYPD RED by Marshall Karp and James Patterson: I got this book because I have enjoyed Marshall Karp, in spite of not liking James Patterson. It was not a disappointment. NYPD Red is the special task force handling high profile crimes and top NYPD Red Detective Zach Jordan is working with his beautiful new partner, Detective Kylie MacDonald-who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend. The two are not quite as charismatic as LAPD detectives Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs in Karp’s previous works but they will do. Jordan and MacDonald are facing a serial killer who is taking advantage of Hollywood on the Hudson to get revenge on the wealthy producers, preeminent directors, and famous stars gathered in the city. With the whole world watching, they have to find a way to stop a psychopath who has scripted his finale down to the last explosive detail. Not bad, not bad. 1/13 Jack Quick
A note about the books reviewed on this site: In 2009, a law was enacted that has been causing some confusion among online reviewers. For clarity's sake, all reviews on this site are the opinions of the reviewer, based on a careful reading of the work. Books are furnished to reviewers in a variety of ways, including review copies from the publisher, the author, and/or publicists. Other books are borrowed from libraries, received as gifts from friends and family members, and purchased in bookstores, both online and bricks & mortar. Reviewers stand by their reviews as their own opinion, regardless of the source of the book being reviewed. Any questions about a review or source of a book may be directed to the editor of this site via email.
The views expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Palm Beach County Library System.
Computers maintained by Larry, South Florida's most reliable computer guy.
Contact Larry for all your computer needs in Broward & Palm Beach counties.
For problems or questions regarding this web contact