Though I didn't enjoy this sophomore effort as much as I did her first novel, Rachel Brady has again written a solid mystery.
In this outing Emily LockThough I didn't enjoy this sophomore effort as much as I did her first novel, Rachel Brady has again written a solid mystery.
In this outing Emily Locke has now relocated to Houston and is working for a private investigator. Their latest case involves a local socialite, Claire Gaston, accused of murdering a plastic surgeon. Though Claire appears to have little connection, and thus no motive, to the doctor, things are not as they appear. Emily delves into the workings of the society women of Houston as she tries to work through the puzzle. All this while trying to reconcile herself to the fact that she is working for Mick Young, the attorney who defended her husband's murderers.
Alafair Burke is a go-to author for me. Her heroines are generally intelligent and proactive and I appreciate that fact. In her new standalone, I thouAlafair Burke is a go-to author for me. Her heroines are generally intelligent and proactive and I appreciate that fact. In her new standalone, I thought she had a nice hook but that her protagonist was often a little more naive then she should have been - given her background.
The hook: Alice Humphrey has a MFA and has been without a job for almost a year. When a too good to believe opportunity appears, she jumps at the chance for a new start. At an art showing, Drew Campbell tells her that he has a wealthy patron who wants to open an art gallery of his own and Drew thinks Alice is just the person to run the place. After some hesitation, Alice takes the job and soon has her first opening - a less then fabulous showing of the artwork of a man connected to the wealthy benefactor. If she can get through this horrible show, Alice and then pick and choose others she'd like to have at the gallery. The problems begin to arise when protesters picket the show as pornographic and when Alice finally finds Drew (who's been out of touch), it is as a dead body in a now cleared out gallery space. Everything is gone except the murdered man who's blood Alice has just stepped in. Now Alice is suspect number one.
I thought the mystery of how and why Drew died after seemingly setting Alice up was interesting. What didn't work as well was Alice's behavior in relation to the crime. Certainly she is shocked and dismayed and understandably wants to help the police because she is innocent, but there are a few too many times where, given her background, she should have been a lot more cautious and savvy.
DEAD MAN'S SWITCH This is another promising debut from Poisoned Pen (due out in August). Kate Reilly is an aspiring race car driver in the Le Mans seriDEAD MAN'S SWITCH This is another promising debut from Poisoned Pen (due out in August). Kate Reilly is an aspiring race car driver in the Le Mans series and attends each race in hoping of getting a spot in a crew. At Lime Rock Park she has both bad and good luck. The bad is finding the body of a racer who's been murdered. When Kate is offered his spot on the Corvette team, she becomes suspect number one. Determined to clear her name, she sets out to find out who wanted Wade dead. Problem is, just about everyone did.
Surprisingly it was the race scenes that most held my attention. Where the book faltered a bit for me was in Kate's sometimes naive and foolhardy investigating. Authors have a difficult job to do when their character is an amateur detective. Just what would drive (hah, a pun) a character to think they could do better then the police? The protagonist as suspect is an obvious route to go and I don't have an issue with that. It was just that Kate kept telling the reader over and over that she had to solve this because she's a suspect, even when she wasn't much any more. Hey I get it. And where it really bothered me was when Kate is supposed to be prepping for her big race and instead is running around hunting clues in the most obvious way. When she has the big denouement with the villain and runs away from where there are actually people, she teetered on the TSTL ledge.
I will read the next book with this character because a lot of this felt like first book issues. ...more
I'm a fan of legal mysteries. Goes back to my teenage reading of every Perry Mason book I could find. I was such an fan of them that I once consideredI'm a fan of legal mysteries. Goes back to my teenage reading of every Perry Mason book I could find. I was such an fan of them that I once considered being a lawyer. I have visions of defending innocent clients and having that gotcha moment with my version of Hamilton Burger. When I realized that an actual lawyer's job is usually something quite different then it is depicted in books and tv (surprise, surprise), I decided to go with my broader love of books and become a librarian. That decision having been made, I'm still a big reader of legal mysteries and thrillers and I'm always on the lookout for a new one. But Remember Their Names by Hillary Bell Locke is a promising debut.
Cynthia Jakubec recently graduated from Harvard Law School. While that kind of educational background means she can finally move to NYC, right now her life is on hold. The blue-chip law firm seeking to hire her is experiencing the pangs of the recent recession so they have deferred her hire for a few months. In the meantime, while they are paying her a nominal salary to stay available, they ask that she not do legal work that could be seen as competition for their firm. What's a girl to do? What Cynthia has done is take an internship with Pittsburgh attorney Luis Mendoza. While eager to shake her Pittsburgh roots, Cynthia throws herself into the work and is happy when she's asked to help when 16-year-old Cailin Bradshaw needs help. Caitlin's father has been found murdered and left as part of a display in a museum. As Cynthia delves into the mystery she finds there is more then a dysfunctional family at the heart of this case. She is soon caught up in the hunt for a missing art collection, valued at $500 million, and the complications that a wealthy victim brings.
Though I sometimes thought the actual murder got a little lost, I liked the protagonist a lot. She has a very practical style and I liked that she has a clear-eyed view of what working as a corporate attorney will mean - both for good and ill.
Courting Disaster started out very strongly. Carling Dent is a defense attorney who has become more of a risk taker since a shooting that almost tookCourting Disaster started out very strongly. Carling Dent is a defense attorney who has become more of a risk taker since a shooting that almost took her life a year ago. That attack left her client, an accountant who may have been laundering money for the Russian mob, dead and Carling (who was shot in the head) with a no memory of the attack and a change in personality. Part of her new chance-taking affect manifests itself in the types of clients she takes - accused rapists and possible mob elements included. A car accident changes everything for her, leaving her with a concussion and disorienting flashes of memory. Determined to figure out what happened a year ago Carling sets out on a collision course with mobsters and former lover, prosecutor Jared Manning.
I liked the set-up here - I'm curiously attracted to amnesia stories - and Carling was initially someone who intrigued me as she struggled to put the two parts of her life together, before and after the shooting. What brought the book down a bit for me in the second half were a few elements: the fact that the author mostly dropped any reference to Carling's disorientation, Jared's somewhat controlling insistence regarding how Carling conducts her professional life (he takes her to task for interrogating a rape victim who is later murdered - through no fault of hers), and the fact that Carling lost a few IQ points in regards to the investigation.
This one was strong enough to cause me to look for others in what I assume is a series featuring Carling and her two attractive, law partners but I can't call it an unqualified success. If I had to grade it, it would probably get a B-....more
It's been a number of years since Tracy Grant's beloved books featuring Charles and Melanie Fraser hit the scene. Since then other authors (Deanna RayIt's been a number of years since Tracy Grant's beloved books featuring Charles and Melanie Fraser hit the scene. Since then other authors (Deanna Raybourn, Tasha Alexander) have picked up the slack with great historical mysteries that follow the romantic progress of the leads. What sets Ms. Grant apart is the very real feel sometimes that Charles and Melanie may not make it as a couple and that each new complication in their lives will be the final straw. That's both a good thing and a bad one.
Mask of Night picks up a couple months after the events of Daughter of the Game in which Charles learned a whole lot about Melanie's past - and her relationship with him - that came as an unwelcome surprise. So much so that it nearly ended their marriage. Now they have come to terms, somewhat, with their new, redefined marriage and are trying to recover the trust and intimacy they lost. That careful balance is made more precarious when the body of a man is found in a fountain at a masquerade ball. Murder is bad enough, especially when former intelligence officer, Charles is asked to investigate, but worse is that the victim is someone from Melanie's past and he's not the only one of her former cohorts who makes an appearance.
I like that the Charles and Melanie are still negotiating the bounds of their relationship. The kinds of things that they have learned about each other are not ones that someone gets past easily. It makes sense and it adds depth to the mystery to have this complication. What got to feel a bit much to me was the fact that just about every other relationship in this book begins to also be challenged in this way. Certainly no couple's public persona matches their private ones, but it felt like there was not one happy person in this book and that dragged me down a little. I could have used some balance myself.
That said, this is another solid historical mystery/romance from a very accomplished author. I look forward to reading the prequel, Vienna Waltz next....more
I've really enjoyed Andrea Kane's books in the past - most recently the Sloane Burbank books which were nicely dark and twisty - but something about tI've really enjoyed Andrea Kane's books in the past - most recently the Sloane Burbank books which were nicely dark and twisty - but something about this new book didn't quite work for me and I'm not sure what it is.
Hope Willis is a judge with a tragedy in her past. When she was a child her twin sister was abducted from the bed in which they were sleeping. She was never seen again. That disappearance broke Hope's family to pieces but now, as an adult, she seems to have everything in order. She's a successful judge with a successful husband and a beautiful daughter whom she adores. Her perfect world is upended when Krissy is abducted and Hope feels like she's re-living the nightmare from her past. Not willing to take any chances, Hope calls in Casey Woods and her team of problem solvers (investigators). Casey, a former FBI agent, works outside the bounds of procedure to achieve a satisfactory solution. Her team includes a former Navy Seal, a technical wizard and Casey who is a forensic behaviorist. They will get the job done at all costs.
Part of why this one didn't work is that I had the mystery figured out pretty early on. But part of it was because it felt too much like watching one of the many formulaic, crime shows (with the initials C S and I somewhere in the title) on tv. Casey's team is too perfectly formulated (especially when she adds a psychic) with all their varied quirks to come across as very real. And their interactions with the authorities in charge of the case also went a little too easily. I'll probably give the next book in the series a try because some of this feels like it comes from the author's need to get everyone introduced, but I'm hoping it is a stronger effort. ...more
Since a young age Amelia Gray has been able to see ghosts. She has always followed the rules laid out by her father in regards to this ability:
Never aSince a young age Amelia Gray has been able to see ghosts. She has always followed the rules laid out by her father in regards to this ability:
Never acknowledge the dead
Never stray far from hallowed ground
Never associate with those who are haunted
Never, ever tempt fate
Up until now these strictures have worked for this cemetery restorer. But things are changing for Amelia. She's working in her favorite city (Charleston) but the cemetery she is restoring has a bad feel. When a dead body - recently added to the site - is discovered, Amelia is pulled into the investigation and into the life of Detective John Devlin. Meeting such an attractive, intriguing man wouldn't be a problem in the normal course of things but... John Devlin is carrying around more baggage then the usual. John is haunted by a woman and a child and Amelia knows that she should avoid him at all costs or risk breaking her father's rules.
This was an intriguing book and I really liked the way the hauntings are set up - these are not the benign, helpful ghosts present in a lot of urban fantasy. These are creepy, possibly dangerous entities. Add in the murder plot and the intriguing relationship Amelia is starting to create with John and you have a winner. There were a few moments of conversation interuptus there only to prolong the drama and I wished that Amelia would discuss things a little more with John, but these were minor concerns in this great beginning to the Graveyard Queen series. ...more
Thomas Perry has been writing mystery/thrillers since the early 80s and somehow I have never read one of his books. Not sure why. He's written a series of books with protagonist Jane Whitefield - an extremely competent woman who helps people in trouble disappear - that I've meant to read many times and somehow just never did. Recently I got a galley of his newest, The Informant, and finally had my chance to read what I've been missing. Turns out I've been missing out on a very good author. Good news is now I have a good-sized backlist to delve into.
The Informant is the third book in The Butchers Boy series. What's most interesting to me as a reader is that Perry has allowed the timeline in the books to match the timeline of publication. The Butcher's Boy came out 20 years ago (was in fact Perry's first book). That debut first introduced the killer for hire who runs afoul of the mob and his adversary Elizabeth Waring, an analyst in the Justice Department. 20 years later the assassin has been living a quiet life in Bath, England as Michael Schaeffer. He is forced out of retirement when a new mobster attempts to make a name for himself by killing the Butcher's Boy.
Schaeffer's return once again draws Elizabeth into the hunt for this killer who has always eluded capture. The problem for her is that while twenty years in the Justice Dept. have given her a chance to move up in the ranks, she's still just a civil servant as far as her new boss Dale Hunsecker is concerned. Hunsecker is a political appointee who attempts to hamstring Waring at every turn. Though her job may be in jeopardy, Elizabeth can't let the Butcher's Boy go one more time. If she can catch him, she can turn him into the best mob informant her department has ever seen.
Though I have not yet read the first two books in this series, I had no problem in following the action. Perry does a great job of setting the scene and drawing his characters. Though one is an assassin and the other a representative of the law, I found myself rooting for both Michael and Elizabeth and consider the best scenes in the book to be the ones where they are in each other's presence playing a cat and mouse game. Good stuff. I can hardly wait to go back and read how this relationship started.
So if you're like me and you haven't yet discovered Thomas Perry, wait no more. If you're someone who's been suggesting the author to me for years - and there are a couple of you - you were right and I was wrong. How about the rest of you? Are there authors you held off on reading that you later discovered that you loved? Anyone else I've been missing? I'm always looking for suggestions (even when it takes me time to read them)....more
For some reason Raybourn's last book, Dark Road to Darjeeling, stayed in my TBR pile for a long time and it was only recently that I read it. Now I'mFor some reason Raybourn's last book, Dark Road to Darjeeling, stayed in my TBR pile for a long time and it was only recently that I read it. Now I'm happy that I waited that long because the events that take place in that book have an impact in this latest and it was nice to have it all fresh in my mind.
Lady Julia and her husband Nicholas Brisbane have returned from their honeymoon and are settling into married life. Well, perhaps settling isn't the right word because when it comes to this partnership nothing will ever be truly settled. An uneasy truce might be the better description - especially as it pertains to Brisbane's work and Julia's attempts to become a part of that work. Because of his concern for her safety, Brisbane has decreed that Julia has to learn the tools of the detecting trade. To that end she is learning about guns and gunpowder (with the occasional inadvertent explosion) and has taken up photography so that she can be of help. When Brisbane attempts to lure Julia out of town with the promise of an investigation of her own, she becomes suspicious. Instead of following his plans for her, Julia follows Brisbane and discovers that he is working on a case involving Julia's brother, Lord Bellmont. Since Bellmont and Brisbane cordially dislike each other, Julia is concerned. What could possibly bring Bellmont to Brisbane for help? Julia's efforts to uncover the problem place her right in the middle of murder and espionage and at loggerheads with Brisbane.
As usual the ongoing development of Julia and Nicholas's relationship is well done. Though they have supposedly achieved their happy-ever-after by falling in love and getting married, Raybourn proves that there is story yet to tell for these two (and probably will be for many books to come, fingers crossed). The mystery is well-constructed and lays out possibilities for future story threads. Well done.
If you're wondering about the 4/5 star rating, I think it came down a bit in my estimation because of the permanent result of the penultimate scene. Trying to avoid spoilers, but I felt like that development was somewhat forced. ...more
This one was an unexpectedly fabulous read. I went into it thinking it'd be just one more moody, scandinavian mystery. And it was to some extent. ButThis one was an unexpectedly fabulous read. I went into it thinking it'd be just one more moody, scandinavian mystery. And it was to some extent. But it was also a suspenseful, sometimes dryly funny effort. And Carl Morck as protagonist was highly appealing.
Carl is a detective with the Copenhagen police. He's returned to work after a shooting that left his partner paralyzed and another colleague dead. Where once he was a hard-charging investigator, now he is having a hard time caring about anything. What's the point? What once were minor irritations bug the crap out of him and it shows. None of his colleagues want to work with him on anything. And his boss, Marcus, is at wits end. He can't fire Carl (becaue of the union and because Carl was injured) but he doesn't want him in the squad anymore either. When the government decides to fund a nationwide cold-case investigation unit that will be based out of Copenhagen, Marcus decides to "promote" Carl to a new position as the head of Department Q - while managing to keep most of government appropriated funds for his homicide dept.
Carl finds himself in a basement office with a stack of files he doesn't intend to touch. That intention is put aside when his new assistant, hired at Carl's insistence as someone to keep the basement office clean, shows an interest in the caseload and prods Carl into action. Assad is a Syrian with a sketchy command of the Danish language. But he also proves to be smart and capable. Soon the two men are caught up in the case of a missing elected member of the government, Merete Lynggard. Merete disappeared from a ferry five years ago and was presumed drowned somewhere between Denmark and Germany. But her body never surfaced and as Carl reluctantly investigates he realizes that much was missed in the early investigation.
The author intersperces Carl's investigation with chapters that describe the captivity of an unknown woman. It's not hard to guess who she is, but guessing whether Carl will find her or not is another thing. I was feeling so tense about her fate that I was tempted to peek at the end to see how it came out. I managed to hold myself back and am happy that I did so because it made the reading that much better - whatever the outcome.
Reading as Carl re-emerges as the very competent police detective he'd once been and his interactions with the very interesting Assad (which were often funny) was a delight. If I have one quibble it is that some of the supporting cast felt a little sketched in and not as believable as the stars. I'm hoping that further installments in the series will allow them to be fleshed out a bit....more
This is the first in a new series and features Kate Conway who is a freelance television producer for true crime shows. She's the person who goes outThis is the first in a new series and features Kate Conway who is a freelance television producer for true crime shows. She's the person who goes out and gets film interviews with the victim's families, the suspects, the police etc. and they become episodes in true crime series. When crime hits close to home, Kate is at a loss. Her estranged husband Frank dies very suddenly and the police are investigating his death as suspicious. Since Kate and Frank were in the midst of a pretty acrimonious divorce she's a suspect. When Kate is offered the chance to produce episodes for a new missing persons crime show, she throws herself into the work as a distraction. Theresa Moretti left home a year ago and vanished without a trace. As Kate interviews the involved parties she begins to piece together not only a story package for her show, but is figuring out what may have happened to Theresa.
The author has a background in producing these types of television shows and since I'm someone who surfs to the ID channel when there's nothing else on, I was intrigued. She has certainly made it so that I'll look at those types of shows in a whole new way. She's also written a very solid mystery with a protagonist I can't wait to meet again in a future book....more
This is a solid legal mystery and marks the return of Caldwell's protagonist Izzy McNeil to the legal arena. Izzy had been on a bit of a hiatus when itThis is a solid legal mystery and marks the return of Caldwell's protagonist Izzy McNeil to the legal arena. Izzy had been on a bit of a hiatus when it comes to practicing law but is drawn back in and is acting for the defense in a criminal trial for the first time. Her friend is about to go to trial in defense of a woman accused of poisoning her best friend. Though Izzy hasn't done criminal defense she agrees to help with the case. She is having a tough time because it bothers her that she doesn't know if the defendant is guilty or not. As an attorney it shouldn't be a factor in her work, but as a human she wants to know. As she delves into the mystery she finds that the answers are more complicated then she could have guessed....more