Two men disappeared: one in the present day and one in 1930. As the Rev. Clare Fergusson and Chief of Police Russ Alstyne search for the man who disap...moreTwo men disappeared: one in the present day and one in 1930. As the Rev. Clare Fergusson and Chief of Police Russ Alstyne search for the man who disappeared after meeting a young woman in a cemetery, they unearth connections to the disappearance that occurred eighty years ago.
The Ketchem Free Clinic—named after the man who disappeared in 1930—is about to lose some of its funding, and Clare feels responsible. The man’s daughter, Lacey Marshall, has decided to break the trust that provided funding for the clinic, and Clare’s church, which is desperately in need of repairs, will benefit from the money. The Ketchem farm was flooded in 1930 to allow for the creation of a reservoir, and every line of investigation, both past and present, seems to lead to this body of water, or the river that runs through the town of Millers Kill, New York. Clare’s suspicions of the fate of Jonathan Ketchem—who disappeared so many years ago—connect to a diphtheria outbreak and the reason for the visit to the cemetery the night Dr. Rouse disappeared.
This is one of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s earlier books in this series, when Russ is still married. Their friendship is growing into an undeniable attraction which is difficult to keep secret in a small town like Millers Kill, New York. The two have very different goals and methods of finding the truth, but their paths cross constantly, as Clare cannot resist becoming involved in the investigation. Their ill-fated romance is as intriguing as the murder mystery, which alternates between past and present before we learn the truth.
Reviewed by Kathleen Heady, author of “Lydia’s Story” for Suspense Magazine (less)
In 1882 the Brighton Beach Resort is a beautiful place to visit, relax, and do some sightseeing; at least that’s what Albert Moscrop was hoping to fin...moreIn 1882 the Brighton Beach Resort is a beautiful place to visit, relax, and do some sightseeing; at least that’s what Albert Moscrop was hoping to find. Through his sightseeing and wonderings about the resort, Moscrop finds himself slowly becoming fascinated by a family of vacationers, the Protheros. As Moscrop becomes more acquainted with the Protheros, he becomes inadvertently involved in a gruesome murder that sends the whole town of Brighton into an uproar. In the shock of this horrible murder, Scotland Yard is called, and they send in Sergeant Cribb and Constable Thackeray. As the two begin to investigate, it becomes clear that this will be one of the most challenging, and definitely strange, cases they’ve ever had.
Follow Cribb and Thackeray on another adventure of baffling proportions. This story will keep you turning the pages and you won’t want to put it down until everything’s resolved. Another excellent Victorian-era mystery from an author who does the genre so well.
I had one thought circling around my brain as I turned the final page in “My Uncle Oswald.” Scandalous! A very adult read by the author of such childr...moreI had one thought circling around my brain as I turned the final page in “My Uncle Oswald.” Scandalous! A very adult read by the author of such children’s favorites as “Matilda” and “The BFG.” I was stunned and left wondering at how this work was received in ’70 when published for the first time. Readers get the treat of meeting Oswald Hendryks Cornelius—many years deceased—through the printing of a diary excerpt. Oswald was no ordinary man. He begins the tale of how he amassed a staggering fortune with a chance encounter between himself and a strange family visitor. On this life changing evening, young Oswald learns of the Sudanese Blister Beetle and its alluring sexual benefits. Intelligent and enterprising, Oswald quickly decides that if the legend bears truth, he’s going to launch the product to the men of Europe. All for a very pretty penny. The journey will be the catalyst that propels him into a life of adventure, debauchery, and leisure. A lifestyle that fits Oswald to perfection. His original plan ends better than expected and later with assistance from his partners and the Beetle, Oswald churns up an even bigger scheme. One that is sure to net millions once a few geniuses in art, literature, music, and science pass away…and let’s not forget a slew of Kings from Europe. Oswald plans to steal sperm. Who wouldn’t pay a king’s ransom to be secretly impregnated with the sperm of Shaw, Monet, or even Churchill? What would one pay for a chance at siring a child from the King of Spain or Belgium? It’s ideal for aristocratic wives and no one would be the wiser, especially not their unattractive husbands. Oswald however, wasn’t keeping his eye on the prize and the twist Dahl throws near the end, keeps things lively. “My Uncle Oswald” is a book you won’t soon forget and it may give you an extra chuckle the next time you pass by one of Dahl’s award-winning children’s books now that you know the other side of this brilliant author.
Reviewed by Shannon Raab with Suspense Magazine (less)
The small town of Miller’s Kill in the Adirondacks is the site for the latest mystery by Spencer-Flemi...moreTo Darkness and To Death By Julia Spencer-Fleming
The small town of Miller’s Kill in the Adirondacks is the site for the latest mystery by Spencer-Fleming. One of the reasons I enjoy some mysteries is they have a soap opera feel to them. A cast of characters interacting, scheming, planning...and killing. This is what I found in “To Darkness And To Death.” This one has a little bit of romance, passion, corruption, kidnapping, and murder.
On the first morning of hunting season, a woman is reported missing. A search and rescue team, including the Reverend Clare Fergusson, starts combing the woods. The same woods that are to be sold to an environmentalist group who plan to remove all of humanity’s intrusion. Of course, the sale and conversion will affect the local logging industry and already, firms are cutting back and selling out. The sale will also affect the town’s pulp mill, owned by the same family for generations. Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne only wants to spend his birthday hunting, but gets caught up in the kidnapping and subsequent assault and murder. Nothing is as it seems and Russ has to piece together a very complicated set of clues. Meanwhile, the celebration and paper signing is looming that very evening, with more in store than anybody imagined.
This story starts at five in the morning on a cold day in November and everything evolves to an explosive conclusion with the wind down at two the next morning. Even though the story has some serious overtones (murder, assault), there are some darkly humorous moments with two men trying to decide what to do with one woman who can’t get anybody to understand what really happened. Lots of well-developed characters and a plot that just keeps adding a layer of tension with each click of the clock, make this suspense novel worth reading.
Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, author of “Alpha” for Suspense Magazine (less)
“Scared to Live” is the seventh in a series of crime novels by Steven Booth, following detectives Diane Fry and Ben Cooper. This is my first time read...more“Scared to Live” is the seventh in a series of crime novels by Steven Booth, following detectives Diane Fry and Ben Cooper. This is my first time reading the series and I found Sergeant Fry and Cooper to be an enjoyable team to follow. The story however falls flat with an overabundance of imagery, creating page after page of detail on something you don’t even care about. The story itself is far fetched, and with each page the story becomes more absurd. I wanted to like this book, the characters were interesting and I found myself intrigued with their development. Booths desire, however, to add unnecessary words and develop dubious ideas lost me somewhere in the middle of this five hundred page summer read. (less)
As if carefully plotted by a master storyteller, picture the scene: its early morning and an innocent young girl is making her way to school. Maybe he...moreAs if carefully plotted by a master storyteller, picture the scene: its early morning and an innocent young girl is making her way to school. Maybe her backpack is slipping from the weight of her schoolbooks as she heads unenthusiastically towards her destination. She’s already focused on her day ahead and only momentarily distracted by the sight of an indistinct white van with a single occupant up ahead. It is close to the entrance of her school so she ignores that nagging feeling in the pit of her stomach, which urges her to cross the street, and carries on with her original path, straight into the arms of her abductor.
Regrettably, this chilling storyline did not develop from the vivid imagination of a great writer, but is all too true and was systematically carried out by a modern day monster. “Girl in the Cellar” is the detailed account of the incomprehensible case of Natascha Kampusch. The ten-year-old girl who was stolen from the streets as she made her way to school in March of 1998.
Not your typical true crime novel, “Girl in the Cellar” chronicles the myriad of missteps made by authorities during the almost decade long search for Natascha. If this horrifying situation had been a piece of fiction, the errors of judgment and sloppy police work would be almost comical. Only this wasn’t fiction and the mistakes had very real consequences as Natascha spent her formative years locked in a one room dungeon.
After the abduction, the natural course of life began to take hold and the worldwide media frenzy slowly died down on this subject. Only a few held the slim hope of Natascha’s safe return while others prepared for a different form of closure. No one could foresee what was to happen on August 23, 2006 when a waif of a woman, skin and hair dull from lack of sunlight and nutrients arrived at the police station stating that she was indeed eighteen-year-old Natascha Kampusch.
Though Hall and Leidig were unable to meet with Natascha face to face, this astonishing account is filled with intimate interviews with her family, authorities and those who had contact with the very real monster, Wolfgang Priklopil. While he took the coward’s way out—committing suicide upon her escape—questions to this day remain unanswered as Natasha, now quick tempered and with an understandably stunted maturity level, refuses to discuss many aspects of their relationship. As readers slide through the pages, Hall and Leidig successfully manage to return Natasha to her rightful position of innocent victim. (less)
In a stunning return to writing, Tami Hoag changes the game by returning her readers to forensics of the past in “Deeper than the Dead”. As fans, we f...moreIn a stunning return to writing, Tami Hoag changes the game by returning her readers to forensics of the past in “Deeper than the Dead”. As fans, we find books cluttering the store shelves where protagonists need only turn on their blackberry to solve the most heinous crimes. It often seems to be a competition—similar to that of our favorite television shows—to offer us storylines that are more and more implausible yet easily solved using state-of-the-art technology.
“Deeper than the Dead” returns us to a time where crimes are solved using instinct, people skills and good old-fashioned hard work. Without the benefit of computers or mobile devices, the authorities begin their manhunt when a small group of children stumbles upon the body of an unknown woman. In this small, peaceful California town—where families go to get away from crime—appearances are everything and the anxiety escalates as the body count rises and the suspect pool expands.
Hoag’s fans will agree that she has always had an amazing knack for creating strong, believable characters with interlocking plot lines but “Deeper than the Dead” displays a new chapter in this author’s body of work. Readers will find themselves locked into a true gut wrenching suspense; surprised until the very end as unexpected turns remind us that books aren’t always predictable.
Best selling British thriller author, Mark Billingham has outdone himself with the recent launch of “Death Message”. Giving readers an insider view in...moreBest selling British thriller author, Mark Billingham has outdone himself with the recent launch of “Death Message”. Giving readers an insider view into the undeniably shadowy search for an unconventional killer and the cop tasked with bringing him in, Billingham takes an uncommon approach while speeding readers through this fast-paced thrill ride.
DI Tom Thorne is the typical career cop with a history of faintly blurring the lines between right and wrong in order to get his job done. When he begins receiving death messages via text from a new breed of killer who is hell-bent on revenge, that very thin line all but disappears and everything becomes personal.
Deftly sprinkling clues, readers may be under the false impression that Billingham has given it away but, don’t be fooled—he hasn’t. Unpredictable twists and turns seem to come naturally to this impressive author and you won’t foresee the ending until you arrive.
It’s the late 19th century in London as the events of “Abracadaver” begin to unfold. We open on two sisters’ argument over who’s to blame for a trapez...moreIt’s the late 19th century in London as the events of “Abracadaver” begin to unfold. We open on two sisters’ argument over who’s to blame for a trapeze act gone wrong, only to find their act had been sabotaged through no fault of either sister. It is soon discovered that this is not the only act of the old music halls that has succumbed to sabotage, there seems to be a dark practical joker on the loose, and his theatrics seem to know no bounds. After one of the joker’s antics proves fatal, Sergeant Cribb and Constable Thackeray of Scotland Yard are called in to catch the now murderous and always elusive villain. Through excellent descriptions and detail, this fast paced, fun, and intriguing novel takes the reader straight back to London’s streets and music halls of the late 1800’s. Follow Sergeant Cribb and Constable Thackeray as they attempt to solve another great Victorian-era mystery. (less)
Take a few good friends, a beautiful woman, illegal drugs, a dirty politician, a helicopter, several murders and horrible visions from the Vietnam War...moreTake a few good friends, a beautiful woman, illegal drugs, a dirty politician, a helicopter, several murders and horrible visions from the Vietnam War and you have just another day in the life of lawyer turned beach bum, Matt Royal.
The second in his Royal series, Griffin takes us on yet another fantastic ride. With every moment you’re left on the edge of your seat wondering what’s around the bend. Who can he trust? Who’s on the take? Who is trying to kill Matt Royal? That’s the sixty-four thousand dollar question. Some of the answers will astound you; I know they shocked me.
The humor within these pages is done as only Griffin can. However, it’s the grit and harshness of Royal’s life that makes my breath catch. One of the “bad guys”, Diaz—who isn’t exactly in a primo situation—got in Jock’s face and taunted him…not a smart idea.
“You will pay for this, gringo,” he muttered, spitting blood and saliva on the floor. “I will kill you the next time I see you. I will piss on your grave.”
Jock raised the pistol and shot Diaz through his left eye. “Good God almighty, Jock!” I shouted. “What the hell did you do?”
“Anybody stupid enough to threaten me while he’s tied to a chair and I’ve got a gun is too stupid to breathe our air.” Needless to say it goes on and I loved every single word! Griffin’s writing is as such that you can picture everything, you feel every emotion and you can even smell the death. What sets Griffin apart from others who write what he does is his ability to make me feel what Matt feels. Reading his books has made me a better writer. As a woman trying to write a male character, insight like Griffin gives the reader helps in very profound ways. Being able to get lost in a great story is the cherry on top of the best sundae ever! Thank you Mr. Griffin; I’m off to read “Blood Island”. I can’t wait.
This book is a swift kick in the gut. It is one of a series of novels involving two South African police detectives, one white, one black. It was writ...moreThis book is a swift kick in the gut. It is one of a series of novels involving two South African police detectives, one white, one black. It was written in 1974 and is as eye-opening and compelling as any description of what went on in Stalin’s Russia or Hitler’s Germany. While this is a well-done and interesting police procedural in its own right, the real hero—villain?—of this story is South Africa itself. The author writes—one must assume—in the voice of the main character, who refers to all black people—even his own partner—in the most derogatory terms imaginable. That’s during the narrative. The dialog is even worse. We don’t remember when apartheid ended, but as recently as 1974, whole villages were being uprooted and their occupants dispersed to the South African equivalent of Siberia where witnesses were routinely slapped around by the police and blacks were held in the greatest of derision—even by other blacks. One particular incident has our black detective facing a mob of angry Zulu women—he thinks that, since he only has four bullets in his gun, he can at least kill three of them(!), before he puts the last shot into his own head before the mob can tear him to shreds. Our white detective, who has his own back-story, never once regrets his attitude toward his own partner. One would expect the author to sugarcoat his ‘hero’, having him realize, after the black cop does so much to solve the mystery, that we’re all brothers under the skin, etc. etc.; but he doesn’t, for apparently in the real world of South Africa of 1974, even a black doctor is due the respect one would afford a malaria-bearing mosquito. The solution of the mystery qua mystery is just a little teeny bit imperfect. It’s the kind of resolution where you say, “Okay, I’ll buy it,” but to read about, to experience what life was like in South Africa just thirty-five years ago is staggering and compelling. We can assure you we look forward to reading more by this author. Reviewed by Elliott Capon for Suspense Magazine (less)
When I was given “Wyatt’s Revenge”—also by Griffin—to review, I was unaware it was the last in a four-book series. Many times, you read a book and kno...moreWhen I was given “Wyatt’s Revenge”—also by Griffin—to review, I was unaware it was the last in a four-book series. Many times, you read a book and knowing a sequel or a trilogy is planned—much the way it is with movies—you worry the subsequent books won’t be as good as the original. When Terry Griffin writes a book, nothing could be further from the truth. Not yet having read the two in the middle—I just finished “Longboat Blues” the first in the series—I am filled with anticipation for the second and third.
Matt Royal is a retired attorney whose friend Logan Hamilton finds himself in a heap of trouble when he’s accused of killing his now-and-then girlfriend, Connie Sanborne. In true mystery fashion, not everything is as it seems. There are little twists and turns that bring Matt on a convoluted ride involving drugs, a three million dollar airplane, a dirty politician and a surprise in the shape of a very special woman.
I love the way Royal is so hands on when defending his friend. He finds more information than any guy with a badge ever could. Right up to the end, Griffin kept me guessing what was going to happen and when I found out why Logan “ran” I was astounded and very happy.
This book truly fits its subtitle, ‘A Mystery’, and if that’s what you enjoy, you’ll love this. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. You won’t be sorry.
In the ninth novel in Steven Saylor’s Roma Sub Rosa series, the Roman world is in the grips of a civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey, and every...moreIn the ninth novel in Steven Saylor’s Roma Sub Rosa series, the Roman world is in the grips of a civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey, and everyone except the wealthiest citizens suffer from food shortages and the effects of rampant inflation. The novel opens when a woman known as Cassandra falls dead in the arms of Gordianus the Finder, gasping that she was poisoned. Known as a seeress like her Trojan namesake, this Cassandra’s personal history is unknown. While Gordianus organizes and pays for her funeral, he is surprised to see that the only people outside his family who attend her cremation are seven prominent women of Rome. Gordianus sets out to visit the seven women to find Cassandra’s murderer. The story flashes back and forth between Gordianus’s investigation of Cassandra’s death as he interviews the seven Roman women who must have some connection to the dead woman, and his own relationship with Cassandra. As these two story lines are woven together, we learn the truth about Cassandra, as well as a side to Gordianus’s character that has not been shown before. Saylor’s meticulous knowledge of ancient Rome allows him to depict the daily life of the main characters in a way that makes them as real as my next door neighbors. As the novel builds toward the climax, the threads of intrigue come together in events that are far beyond the imaginings of the Finder and his family. The novel begins with a considerable amount of back story in Roman politics, and I found the Roman names of the cast of characters to be confusing. Since the story begins with Cassandra’s funeral, the chronology at the beginning of the book was no help. It begins some forty years before and leads up to the events in the story. I enjoyed Saylor’s previous book, “Last Seen in Massilia,” so much, that I hope the weaknesses in “A Mist of Prophecies” are a glitch and he will be back to his delightfully readable and fascinating historical fiction soon.
Reviewed by Kathleen Heady, author of “The Gate House” for Suspense Magazine (less)
When abruptly pulled away from a mini vacation to head up the investigation of what initially appears to be a straightforward murder-suicide case, Chi...moreWhen abruptly pulled away from a mini vacation to head up the investigation of what initially appears to be a straightforward murder-suicide case, Chief Inspector Alan Banks frustration is palpable. Though most would have taken the path of least resistance and marked the file closed, Banks excels under pressure and with his team continues searching for the cause behind this senseless tragedy. Working without authorization or the support of his superiors, his hunt for understanding places everyone—friends and family included—into treacherous circumstances as Banks quickly uncovers the fact that his pursuit may have national consequences.
Though new to this author’s collection of work, it is simple to see why Peter Robinson has found such success with this long running series. “All the Colors of Darkness” begins as a clear-cut gritty crime drama effectively combining the best of a modern day spy adventure. At first, some may find the minor details too extensive as each room and its contents are described in full leaving little room for personal imagination. However, as you continue forward through the pages his distinctive style and remarkable skill stand out making “All the Colors of Darkness” an intricate thriller.
Check out our interview with Peter Robinson in the April 2010 edition of Suspense Magazine. (less)
I really enjoyed this book. Much like Janet Evanovich, it was just a fun read. It was one of those books you like to curl up with for pure entertainme...moreI really enjoyed this book. Much like Janet Evanovich, it was just a fun read. It was one of those books you like to curl up with for pure entertainment. I liked that you didn’t find out the whole story until the very end. It was done so well, you didn’t even know there would be surprises…and there were many. Ellen Kellaway, the “poor relation” to cousin Agatha and her husband Josiah, was never allowed to forget how she got to live in the lap of luxury, even though she never got to touch it per se. Her cousin Esmeralda (Agatha and Josiah’s daughter) never saw her as the poor relation, only as her friend whom she adored.
It was hoped—mostly by Agatha—that Esmeralda marry Phillip Carrington, the rich bachelor she felt worthy of her daughter. Much to Agatha’s chigrin, Phillip picks Ellen to be his bride on the eve of Esmeralda’s coming out party and coincidently the night Agatha assumed he would be claiming Esmeralda as his choice of bride.
Ellen’s life as the poor relation changes overnight until Phillip is suddenly taken from her. With heavy sadness in her heart, she receives word that her cousin Jago—several times removed—has been looking for her. She is the heir to an island and a vast fortune left by the father whom she thinks never wanted anything to do with her.
She learns of an older sister named Silva. But what happened to her? Where is she? Dead? How did she die and why didn’t anyone see her leave the island? There are a lot of twists and turns to this story and it will keep you interested and turning the pages until the end.