DADDY’S GIRL by Lisa Scottoline: Natalie Greco, better known as Nat, or as she thinks of herself, “gnat”, is a young, timid law professor at the University of Pennsylvania – which happens to be Scottoline’s alma mater and her current employer. Her students don’t seem to be too interested in the History of Law class she’s teaching, so when a colleague asks her to be a guest lecturer in the law class he teaches at a nearby prison, she agrees. While they are there, a prison riot breaks out and in the confusion, Nat finds herself trying to save the life of a prison guard who’s been stabbed. His final words are for his wife, and Nat tries to deliver the message but there are a few stumbling blocks along the way: threats, an attempt on her life and an eventual frame up for the murder. Nat is too much of a meek mouse to make a strong protagonist, and while she often compares herself to Nancy Drew, she just doesn’t have that kind of spunk. Not Scottoline’s best. 04/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DAEMON by Daniel Suarez: Ever heard of a self-published book being picked up by a major publisher and re-released in hardcover? If you are any kind of computer geek or just one who enjoys chills and thrills, you will quickly see why this unlikely chain of events occurred. Gaming genius Matthew Sobol, the 34-year-old head of CyberStorm Entertainment, has just died of brain cancer, but death doesn’t stop him from initiating an all-out Internet war against humanity. When the authorities investigate Sobol’s mansion in Thousand Oaks, Calif., they find themselves under attack from his empty house, aided by an unmanned Hummer that tears into the cops with staggering ferocity. Sobol’s weapon is a daemon, a kind of computer process that not only has taken over many of the world’s computer systems but also enlists the help of superintelligent human henchmen willing to carry out his diabolical plan. When it ends and you come back down to earth, don’t worry, a sequel has been promised. 04/09 Jack Quick
DAMAGED by Pamela Callow: A part of Canadian Kate Lange’s motivation to become an attorney is the fact that her father was a convicted criminal. Her ex-fiance’, a homicide detective, has broken up with her for that reason and now she has moved to a new high-powered law firm, with which Ethan has some bad history. Stuck in family law, she discourages the grandmother of a lonely private school student in a proposed custody case. But then the teen is brutally murdered. Not only Kate but also the firm’s managing partner have doubts over how Kate has handled the matter. Determined to salvage her reputation and for personal redemption, she pursues the case on her own. Remember the movie scene in the haunted house where everyone is saying “Don’t Open That Door” – same logic applies here. A bit too “chick-lit” for me, but not badly done. 06/10 Jack Quick
DAMAGED by Pamela Callow: Kate Lange is nearing the end of her probationary period as a newly hired attorney at Lyons McGrath Barrett when Barrett himself hands over a particularly sticky case. The client, a grandmother who would like to gain custody of her granddaughter—the daughter of a high-powered judge in Halifax—seems to have no concrete grounds for her dispute. Kate advises the woman to call family services, but she refuses, instead promising to come up with irrefutable evidence. When the girl is brutally murdered, Kate blames herself. Convinced that she could have done more, Kate begins to dig deeper into other recent missing persons cases that she believes are connected, catching the attention of a twisted serial killer in the process. Unfortunately, this first in the series is not a stand out read, but I do think Callow shows promise. Her heroine seems to have a complex backstory, which, if developed well, may prove to be the backbone for a strong series. 12/10 Becky Lejeune
DAMASCUS COUNTDOWN by Joel C. Rosenberg: A taut 300 page thriller packed into 485 pages of prose. Israel has successfully launched a first strike on Iran, taking out all of their nuclear sites and six of their nuclear warheads. US President William Jackson threatens to support a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Jewish State for unprovoked and unwarranted acts of aggression. Meanwhile, CIA operative David Shirazi has infiltrated the Iranian regime and intercepted information indicating that two Iranian nuclear warheads survived the attack and have been moved to a secure and undisclosed location. David and his team are in a race against time to find the remaining nuclear warheads before disaster strikes. Surprise, they succeed. 3/13 Jack Quick
DAMNABLE by Hank Schwaeble: Jake Hatcher is serving out the remaining eight weeks of a sentence in military prison when he is granted leave to attend his brother’s funeral. Problem is, Jake never knew he had a brother. Garrett Hatcher was killed while trying to save a woman who was snatched in a coffee shop one afternoon. Garrett and the woman’s assailant were killed, but somehow the woman survived. Now, in an attempt to understand what happened and learn more about his brother, Jake has decided to track the mysterious woman down. While he is visiting her in the hospital though, another attempt is made on her life. This time it is Jake who saves her, but it doesn’t end there. The woman in question, and the local cops, would like Jake to stand in as her bodyguard while they try to figure out who is targeting her. Jake reluctantly agrees and soon finds himself an unwilling pawn in a dark and evil game. Hank Schwaeble’s debut is a gritty horror story with a quick plot. It’s also one of the first in what I suspect will be a big upcoming trend in the genre—demons and dark mythology in the Prophecy/Revelations vein. A sure hit for horror and thriller fans. 09/09 Becky Lejeune
THE DAMNATION GAME by Clive Barker: In Warsaw, following World War II, there are tales of an unbeatable cardplayer. To play this man is to gamble away your soul and one determined thief is about to do just that. He will learn the truth behind these tales and it will cost him his life. Years later, Marty Strauss is approached by a man named Mr. Toy and offered a deal on behalf of Toy’s employer, Joseph Whitehead. Strauss will serve as Whitehead’s personal bodyguard and, in exchange, he will be excused from the remainder of the prison term he has been serving. Whitehead, a rich and powerful man, has become eccentric since the death of his wife. He has become paranoid and begins to surround himself with security – dogs, cameras, fences, and bodyguards including Toy and Marty. Unfortunately, Whitehead is right to fear for his life and Marty is about to become an unfortunate pawn in a game that has been playing out for decades. The mythical card player is about to call in his debts and Marty is stuck in the middle. Barker’s debut novel is just a taste of what he would become in the following years. The Damnation Game is still shocking and disturbing even for today’s readers. Barker pushes you beyond the brink of terror and, in some cases, may just take it too far. Not for the faint of heart. 08/07 Becky Lejeune
DAMNED IN PARADISE by Max Allan Collins: Collin’s Nate Heller goes to Hawaii to help family friend Clarence Darrow by investigating the rape and murder of a bride only to uncover a morass of bigotry, lies, and revenge. Its a classic 1930’s story with all the warts and attitudes of the time. 2/12 Jack Quick
DANCING ABOVE THE WAVES by Susan Walerstein: Wealthy Bostonian Jack “Scooter” McCalister has it all – a degree from Brown, a Vassar graduate trophy wife, houses in Boston, Clary’s Cove, Palm Springs, Maui and Aspen; a Commander 24 powerboat, a restored Porsche Speedster, enough money to cash in stocks for $500,000 without a problem, and a mistress who was once “the prettiest girl on the Island.” But now it all comes crashing down as Jack, rushing to meet the ferry, hits a pedestrian with his car – a young girl, and then he leaves the scene, not knowing whether she is dead or alive. There are witnesses – the girl’s boyfriend, and Jack’s pregnant mistress who starts having second thoughts about Jack’s suitability as a father. There are problems at the magazine he and his wife co-manage, a blackmailer appears, and Jack’s once wonderful life is now going down the tubes. An interesting psychological thriller, although there are truly few sympathetic characters. Even the dead teenager had sneaked out of her home and was high on drugs when the accident occurred. Enough suspense to keep you going to the end of this debut novel. 05/08 Jack Quick
A DANGEROUS AFFAIR by Caro Peacock: After the death of her father, Liberty Lane finds that she has a penchant for solving problems. Still, it’s not a respectable way for a lady to earn a living, and she takes her cases with reluctance. When a politician approaches her, requesting that she learn more about a certain dancer with a colored past, Liberty’s immediate reaction is to decline. Her curiosity gets the better of her, however, and she soon finds herself snooping around backstage at the “lady’s” latest show. Columbine, or Margaret Priddy, the dancer in question, is a woman loathed by many. It seems Columbine has made many enemies in her past and one of them has set their sights on revenge. When she is discovered dead, the result of poison, a young dancer by the name of Jenny Jarvis stands accused. Liberty is convinced of the girl’s innocence and decides to pursue the mystery further, but each new lead seems to be a dead end and time is running out for Jenny. A Dangerous Affair (published as Death of a Dancer in the UK) can be read on its own but is actually a sequel to A Foreign Affair (aka Death at Dawn) in which Liberty investigates the death of her own father. Readers who enjoy period mysteries are sure to embrace Liberty Lane and her adventures. Peacock has created a heroine that readers will root for and want to see more of. 03/09 Becky Lejeune
THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES by Carrie Ryan: This third in the post-outbreak/apocalypse teen series that began with Forest of Hands and Teeth is a dark book about survival. Annah has made it this long in the Dark City, fending for herself and surviving while Elias has been away working for the Recruiters. Now she’s given up. Deciding it’s finally time to move on, she plans to leave the city, only to see the last thing she ever expected: her twin sister. As the zombie horde takes over the Dark City, Annah must fight to once again be reunited with Abigail (Gabry). Along with the horde, the Recruiters themselves, once the protectors of the world’s survivors, have become a brutal force taking what they want and leaving everyone to fend for themselves. As enemies, they are a danger, but as allies, they may be even worse. Each of Ryan’s books set in this seemingly bleak future contains a shimmering edge of hope that mankind may once again be able to take back the zombie-ridden world and create a new life for humanity. Really fantastic and well written. 03/11 Becky Lejeune
DARK DREAMS by Michael Genelin: In Genelin’s second mystery featuring straight arrow Bratislavan police commander Jana Matinova (after 2008’s Siren of the Waters) Jana is initially pleased when childhood friend Sofia is elected to the Slovakian parliament. However, when Sofia is (correctly) linked romantically to a male colleague it starts a fire that flares higher and higher. A huge diamond given to Sofia ends up causing Jana to be investigated for corruption. She really doesn’t have time for this nonsense since bodies are piling up in Slovakia and neighboring countries. As Jana races to figure out the motive for the murders she becomes aware of a multi-continent smuggling ring that is apparently killing off her suspects. Having never been to Slovokia I am clueless as to the accuracy of the author’s portrayal of life there. However, as a veteran reader of many police procedurals set in various places, I have to rank this as one of the better ones with believable characters and nice plot twists. Looking forward to adventure number 3 and beyond. 09/10 Jack Quick
DARK ECHO by F.G. Cottam: When retirement begins to seem a bit mundane for Magnus Stannard, he sets his sights on Dark Echo, a ship with a haunted history. Magnus wants his son, Martin, to accompany him in sailing the ship and they both set about learning as much as they can prior to their maiden voyage. But Martin and his girlfriend, Suzanne, also uncover some of Dark Echo’s secrets from the past, including those about her original owner. What begins as a chance for some quality father/son bonding turns into a nightmare for Martin and Magnus, one that can only end if Suzanne can unravel the curse of the Dark Echo itself. F.G. Cottam’s US debut, The House of Lost Souls, kind of blew me away. His building of atmosphere and development of story were chilling and the pacing worked fantastically. Dark Echo, while entertaining, didn’t quite live up to the expectations set by Souls. The atmosphere was there again, but some of the key plot elements in Echo felt forced. 11/10 Becky Lejeune
DARK END OF THE STREET: New Stories of Sex and Crime by Today’s Top Authors edited by Jonathan Santlofer & S.J. Rozan: This compilation of short stories are hot, hot, hot! Converging sex and crime well is no easy feat, but these authors do a fantastic job. Perhaps because this is a stellar list of writers, including Joyce Carol Oates, Laura Lippman, Lawrence Block, Stephen L. Carter, Lee Child, Edmund White, Jonathan Lethem, and the editors as well. In fact, Santlofer’s story is one of my favorites, as are Lippman’s and Block’s. But with a collection this good, why pick? Read them all, this is one terrific book. 06/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DARKFEVER by Karen Marie Moning: MacKayla Lane’s world falls apart when she learns that her sister has been murdered. Alina had been attending school in Ireland when she was brutally killed and dumped in an alley. The gardai have no leads and Mac and her family are helpless back home in Georgia. Mac is disturbed to find that her sister managed to leave her a mysterious voicemail just before her death. While the message makes no sense to Mac, she is sure that it could help in finding her sister’s killer. And so, against her parents’ wishes, MacKayla decides to take matters into her own hands and travel to Dublin herself. She soon discovers that Alina was hiding a second life, one in which the formerly serious student’s studies took a backseat to a relationship she’d kept secret even from Mac. But the biggest surprise is the one that Alina discovered about her and Mac’s heritage. Dublin awakens a part of Mac that she never knew existed, one that could save our world from the fae threat that’s coming. Darkfever is the first installment in Moning’s wildly popular Fever series. It’s a bit dark for paranormal romance—something I enjoyed quite a bit—but Moning does lighten things up with Mac’s snarky attitude. It’s fortunate that the whole series is available now as the cliffhanger ending here definitely leaves readers anxious to dive into the second installment. 4/13 Becky Lejeune
DARK FRIDAY by Jeffrey Leever: The people of Jasonville, Indiana are about to experience their worst nightmare. Five teenage girls are slaughtered in one evening. A sixth girl barely survives being attacked and the town’s own chief of police is stabbed while pursuing the killer. Cameron Ford is arrested at the scene but the case is far from being closed. Police Chief Bertrand Rix is convinced that Cameron could not have acted alone. His theory is shared by visiting reporter Kevin Gibson who is determined to uncover the story especially after a group of masked kids assaults him and orders him to leave town. Leever hatches an interesting concept in his debut mystery but does not really focus on the motive behind the killings. Rather, he chooses to direct readers’ attentions to the effects of this heinous crime on the town and specifically the teenagers directly associated with, but not necessarily responsible for the murders. 09/07 Becky Lejeune
DARK HARBOR by David Hosp: Scott Finn has come a long way since his days as a Boston tough, part of the Irish gangs that grew up into organized crime. He’s a successful lawyer whose life takes a turn for the worse when his ex-girlfriend Natalie turns up dead. There’s a serial killer on the loose, nicknamed “Little Jack” after Jack the Ripper, but did he kill Natalie? Hosp pens a scarily believable tale of intrigue that will keep you riveted until the last page. And did I mention this is a first novel? A really good read. 05/05 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DARK HARBOR by Stuart Woods: Stone Barrington’s cousin and his family are found murdered at their house in Dark Harbor, Maine. The local police think it was a murder-suicide, but when Stone learns from his CIA contact that cousin Dick was working covertly for the CIA, Stone decides to look into matters himself. Accompanied by Lance Cabot of the CIA and other series regulars Holly Barker and Dino Bacchetti, Stone heads up to Maine. The more Stone examines Dick’s house and learns about his life, the less convinced Stone is that Dick killed his family and himself. Stone’s worries increase even more when additional bodies turn up and Holly disappears after going out jogging. Either you like Woods (I do) or you don’t. This one breaks no new ground but feels awfully comfortable. 06/06 Jack Quick
DARK LEGACY by Anna DeStefano: Once upon a time, twin sisters Maddie and Sarah Temple came across a letter written long ago by one of their ancestors. Long forgotten now, Sarah lies in a coma and Maddie is trying to get beyond the accident that took her father and her sister from her. Maddie has worked hard to get where she is today: a resident in the ER with an astonishing ability to diagnose patients’ traumas. But Maddie’s nightmares have started keeping her up at night, and the effects of these terrible dreams are becoming apparent in her everyday life. Maddie always shared a link with her twin sister, but now it seems as though she is becoming Sarah, as she was before the accident—temperamental, moody, and at times violent. What Maddie doesn’t know is that Sarah has been part of a government experiment involving lucid dreaming. And that letter they found all those years ago was in fact a legacy that can bring about great things for the Temple sisters, or can be used against them for serious destruction. Dark Legacy is paranormal romance with a Firestarter twist. First in a promising new series. 08/09 Becky Lejeune
DARK LIGHT by Randy Wayne White: Doc Ford is picking up in the aftermath of a hurricane that’s ravaged the Florida coast when he and his dive team discover Nazi artifacts inside the old wreck of a pleasure craft, the Dark Light. Ford runs into trouble immediately from Bern Heller, a nearby marina owner who claims his company has rights to the wreck site and doesn’t hesitate to use violence to get his way. Ford soon discovers, it is not about Lugers, war medals and a few gold bars. What is at stake is the ownership of thousands of acres of Florida beachfront property. White just keeps getting better and better. 04/06 Jack Quick
DARK MAGIC by James Swain: Peter Warlock has magical powers. Real powers. He makes a living as a magician, using his abilities minimally and under the guise of parlor tricks. But Peter and a small group of others hold frequent séances, letting the spirits guide them in preventing horrible misdeeds and crimes. Their latest meeting reveals an individual about to commit a truly heinous act that will devastate New York City. If Peter can prevent it, he can save thousands – maybe even millions – of lives. Before they can begin to identify the would-be mass murderer, Peter and his friends become the targets of an assassination attempt from the Order of Astrum, a very secret group who happen to be responsible for killing Peter’s parents. I thought Dark Magic had real potential. Sadly, Swain spends too much time on repetitive and uninteresting aspects of the main character’s personal relationships and very little time explaining or supporting other main plot points and revelations. And while Warlock’s relationship issues are a necessary point in the story, their treatment here actually detracts from the rest of the tale. 6/12 Becky Lejeune
DARK OF THE MOON by P. J. Parrish: In this series opener, Louis Kincaid is the product of an alcoholic black mother and an absent white father. He returns to Black Pool, Mississippi from Detroit to take care of his dying mother. In Detroit, Kincaid was on the police force so it is only naturally that he applies for a similar position in Blackpool. Sound familiar so far. It gets even more so when the remains of an apparent lynching victim are discovered. Louis attempts to establish the man’s identity and the motive for his killing but meets stiff resistance from diplomatic good-old-boy sheriff Sam Dodie and shifty local politicos who consider the past “over, totally irrelevant, and certainly not worth digging up.” As the investigation progresses Louis’ efforts are soon compounded by the suspicious deaths of several town elders, which suggest the desperate attempt of someone, possibly the mayor or the district attorney, to keep the town’s dark and dirty history secret. So while Louis is not Virgil Tibbs (In the Heat of the Night), this reads like a script from that television series starring Carroll O’Connor and Howard Rollins. (In the premiere episode, Tibbs had traveled to Sparta, Mississippi for his mother’s funeral. He was persuaded to remain by the city government, which wanted to make its police department more diverse.) Hopefully future episodes will allow Kincaid to develop and become a character in his own right. 10/09 Jack Quick
DARK OF THE MOON by John Sandford: Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers who played a minor role in Invisible Prey moves into the spotlight for this adventure. While enroute to rural Bluestem to assist local law enforcement with the murder of an elderly couple, he happens upon a fatal house fire on the edge of town. Bill Judd was an elderly recluse who, back in his youth, ran an elaborate pyramid scheme and simultaneously bedded half the women in town. After a murder free half century in Bluestem, there are now three in one week. Coincidence? Hardly. Flowers begins digging into the situation seeking connections. An unexpected one is with the sister of the local police chief. Although I am still a Lucas Davenport fan, it will be interesting to see where Sandford takes Flowers who is a totally different type of hero. 11/07 Jack Quick
DARK PLACES by Gillian Flynn: Libby Day is broke. It’s been almost twenty-five years since her brother, Ben, murdered her family and each time the story was told, people pitched in to help out the surviving Day. But now, a grown woman (and not a very likable one at that), Libby has used up all of her funds. Then she is contacted by the Kill Club—a group obsessed with true crime—and they are interested in Libby’s story. They have their own theories about what happened that night and none of them believes that Ben is the killer. In fact, they vehemently insist that Libby was either coached or flat out lied about that night. Truth is Libby witnessed nothing at all. Libby’s plan to make money is to begin investigating on her own, with the Kill Club funding her every step, but as she begins digging deeper into the ages-old murder, even she starts to doubt her own testimony. Flynn’s second release is a dark twist on the classic cold case mystery, and a great follow-up to Sharp Objects. Flynn is not at all afraid to dig into the dark depths of the human psyche and her heroine is not spared. In spite of this, I rooted for Libby Day and thought her brutal honesty was refreshing in some ways. 04/09 Becky Lejeune
DARK ROAD TO DARJEELING by Deanna Raybourn: Lady Julia Grey is back in this fourth entry of the Victorian mystery series. Julia and Brisbane are enjoying their long awaited honeymoon when they are interrupted by the arrival Julia’s brother Plum and sister Portia. Portia’s lover, Jane, is in the final months of pregnancy and recently widowed when she reveals to Portia that she is afraid for the life of her unborn child: If Portia gives birth to a son, he will be the sole heir to her late husband’s estate — a tea plantation near Darjeeling. Jane has started to suspect that her late husband’s death was not the accident it seemed and if that is the case, if someone has their eye on the estate, Jane and her child could be next. At Jane and Portia’s requests, the family travels to India to investigate. Julia, anxious to prove to Brisbane that she is a worthy partner in the investigation, vows to solve the case and begins digging on her own, something that has always created friction with the couple in the past and proves more so now that they are husband and wife. Dark Road to Darjeeling is a fun mystery and I always love the interplay between the characters. I did think that some of the dark, ominous feel that is characteristic of Raybourn’s work was missing here: very Victorian mystery, less gothic than usual, still a fantastic addition to one of my favorite series. 09/10 Becky Lejeune
THE DARK RIVER by John Twelve Hawks: In book two of the Fourth Realm Trilogy, The Tabula have taken steps to eliminate any and all persons who may have had contact with, and therefore support, the Traveler known as Gabriel Corrigan. When it is learned that not only did the community of New Harmony offer shelter and support to Gabriel, but that the leader may have received correspondence from Gabriel’s long lost father, Matthew, The Tabula sends in a team of mercenaries to find out what they know and wipe them out. The Corrigan family was attacked when Gabriel and Michael were young boys; Matthew’s body was never recovered. Though the boys always believed that their father somehow survived the attack, there was never any evidence to support this theory. After learning of the massacre at New Harmony, Gabriel and his remaining team of supporters are forced to flee their hideout in New York City. When they become separated, Gabriel decides to follow the only clue to his father’s whereabouts and travel to England in search of the elder Traveler. Meanwhile, despite the occurrences of book one, The Tabula is moving forward with their plan to launch the virtual Panopticon – a system that will not only allow them to tap into every existing eye in the sky, but will also allow them access to information on every single person. Hawks’s vision of the future is creepy to say the least. This modern day 1984 contains a certain a sense of realism in that Hawks shows how all this is possible with existing, as well as some as yet non-existing, technology. 07/07 Becky Lejeune
THE DARK ROOM by Minette Walters: On the evening of June 13, 1994, Jinx Kingsley is discovered unconscious in an abandoned airfield, apparently having been thrown from her car during a suicide attempt. Upon waking, she can remember nothing following June 4, when she left for a weeklong visit at her father’s house. She cannot remember her fiancé Leo calling off the wedding, nor can she remember his revelation that he has been having an affair with her best friend Meg. Jinx can’t remember her first suicide attempt either, the one where she tried to kill herself in her garage. In fact, when she is told all of this, she can’t believe that she would try to kill herself at all. She’s not particularly bothered by the fact that Leo was leaving her either. She claims that she was going to call the whole thing off herself. Leo and Meg cannot be reached for any help, as they seem to be vacationing in France, or are they? Barely a week has passed since Jinx’s accident when two bodies are discovered in the woods just miles from the airfield. The bodies are identified as Leo and Meg. Evidence seems to point to Jinx’s involvement especially since the two have been killed in the same manner as Jinx’s first husband. Is Jinx a cold, calculated murderer? The police seem to think so. With leads pointing in so many different directions, it’s anyone’s guess what the investigation will reveal next. Is Jinx lying or is she telling the truth? Is she faking or is she hiding a terrible secret? Walters is one of the masters of psychological suspense. This tangled tale of deception will leave readers guessing until the very end. 04/07 Becky Lejeune
THE DARK ROSE by Erin Kelly: In 1989, Louisa was at the beginning of her adult life. She had her whole future ahead of her when she met and fell in love with Adam Glasslake. Twenty years later, Louisa has cut herself off from the world and no one knows of the dark secret she’s been keeping for all those years. It’s 2009 and Paul is in big trouble. The teen fell in with the wrong crowd and ended up involved in a criminal enterprise that could land him in jail. He’s told that if he testifies against his best friend, he can save himself from a sentence. In exchange, he is sent to a historic garden restoration program offering positions to troubled youths. It is here that Paul and Louisa’s paths cross. Together, they find comfort in one another. When their respective pasts begin to catch up with them, though, they soon find their new relationship and newfound peace together is threatened. Erin Kelly’s debut, The Poison Tree, was one of my favorite books of 2011, so I had great expectations for The Dark Rose (aka The Sick Rose in the UK). Kelly did not let me down. I was sucked in from the first page and loved every enthralling minute. 2/12 Becky Lejeune
DARK SECRETS OF THE OLD OAK TREE by Dolores J. Wilson: Evie Carson’s had a rough time of it lately: her father has recently passed away and she’s in the midst of divorce proceedings with her husband. In an effort to recapture some of the spirit of her youth, Evie climbs the old oak tree behind her childhood home. But once she gets to a resting point, she hears a noise in the clearing below and witnesses something that will change things forever. A local man Evie has known all her life buries the dead body of Evie’s best friend just below the oak tree. Though Evie is certain the man couldn’t have been responsible for the murder, he’s the prime suspect until he himself turns up dead. Now Evie is determined to expose her friend’s killer at any cost. Wilson’s characters are well built, but the mystery itself was lacking spark. An easy read, but unfortunately not a stand out. 03/10 Becky Lejeune
DARK STAR by Alan Furst: The year is 1933. The location is Europe. Andre Szara is a Polish born Jew, a foreign correspondent for Pravda, and he becomes a spy. A small espionage task for the NKVD leads to his becoming a key figure in efforts to obtain information of German aircraft production by tracking stainless steel wire production figures from a Jewish German industrialist. Complicating the situation is that Szara has strong feelings for Marta, the daughter of the wire maker. Furst captures the uncertainty of these times beautifully as the alliances shift and fortunes ebb and flow on a daily basis. Szara’s juggling act of a life gets even more complex when a wealthy Jewish Frenchman pleads for Szara to honor his own Jewish heritage by trading his steel wire information to the British in exchange for desperately needed immigration certificates to mandated Palestine. As the darkness of war descends on the continent of Europe, Szara clings to life while trying to decipher what it all means. Extremely well written. 09/08 Jack Quick
THE DARK TIDE by Andrew Gross: Gross’s compelling second solo novel begins with a bang and escalates from there. Karen Friedman is in her daily yoga class when reports come over the news that there has been an explosion in Grand Central Station. Only moments later, Karen realizes that her husband Charles took the train into work that morning. Months go by and she is finally coming to grips with the fact that her husband is gone, when two men show up on her doorstep claiming that Charles stole $250 million from their employer. The executor of Charles’s estate swears that everything is on the up and up and the two men are not heard from again. Almost a year after the explosion, though, Karen makes a startling discovery about her husband’s death and the men reappear. She and her children’s lives are threatened and Karen turns to the only person she can trust, Ty Hauck, head of Greenwich’s Violent Crime Unit. Ty had been investigating a link between Charles and a hit-and-run accident that occurred the same day as the explosion, but what seemed at first to have been a strange coincidence now appears to be much more. With more twists and turns than a Six-Flags roller coaster, The Dark Tide kept me up reading into the wee hours. Gross, co-author of six best-selling novels with James Patterson, made his solo debut last year with the highly anticipated The Blue Zone. Thriller fans who haven’t read Gross’s work are seriously missing out. 03/08 Becky Lejeune
THE DARK TIDE by Andrew Gross: Andrew Gross without James Patterson is much better than he was partnered with James Patterson. In this thriller, Charles Friedman, a New York hedge fund trader, dies when a bombing at Grand Central Station destroys the railroad car in which he was riding one morning from his home in Greenwich, Conn. Ty Hauck, head of the Greenwich police’s violent crime unit, enters the picture when Friedman’s death is linked, vaguely to a hit-and-run accident. Next, Friedman’s widow and her kids are threatened by men searching for vast sums of money her late husband never earned. From there on its hang on to the fast finish. Not the most intellectually stimulating book out there, but good for a weekend getaway. 02/09 Jack Quick
DARK TIDE by Elizabeth Haynes: The age-old story of good girl turned bad gets a fresh look in this intriguing story of a London pole dancer with a mission. Genevieve’s father died, along with their dream of buying an old boat and refitting it together, but she is determined to follow the dream anyway. Doubtful his dream included his daughter becoming a pole dancer, but Genevieve hates her high pressure sales job and finds that dancing will increase her income substantially. Then she gets an offer she can’t refuse; hide a small package for a few months for big money. She buys a boat, moves on board and hides the package. A few months later, she has a party, but one of her dancer friends turns up dead, floating in the marina. Genevieve suddenly realizes that the package she is holding may be trouble, and trouble surely comes. The two storylines of her city life and boat life are neatly interwoven, taut as a nautical knot and as dangerous as a rogue wave. Lisa Jackson, Chevy Stevens and Lisa Unger fans will find much to like here. 3/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.
DARK TIDE by Elizabeth Haynes: It was Genevieve’s father who sparked her dream of one day buying and fixing up a houseboat. For years it was her only goal and now she’s finally been able to make it a reality. She scrimped and saved, working two jobs—one as an exotic dancer—to earn enough to finally purchase Revenge of the Tide. But a celebratory housewarming party quickly takes a turn for the worst when one of Genevieve’s friends is found dead in the water. At first, Genevieve denies any connection to the girl who once worked alongside her at the Barclay Gentlemen’s Club. It was dark and she’d hoped she was wrong when she recognized her friend’s face. But then more strange things start to happen around Genevieve and she begins to realize that someone is after her for something. Genevieve’s story alternates between the present and her time working at Barclay’s, leading up to the big reveal of who’s targeting her and why. While Dark Tide is much less brutal than Haynes’s debut, Into the Darkest Corner, I found it to be just as intense and well written. Another excellent thriller from Haynes. 3/13 Becky Lejeune
DARK TIME: MORTAL PATH BOOK ONE by Dakota Banks: In 1632, Susannah Layhem was burned at the stake for a crime she did not commit. Accused of witchcraft, this healer devoted to helping her fellow townsfolk was pushed to the utter brink when she lost her child while in prison, something she could never forgive her accusers for. At the moment of her death, a demon appeared to Susannah, offering her a reprieve: if she carried out his work, she could have her revenge and live forever. She accepted. Over three centuries later, however, Susannah longs for death. The fate that awaits her for her crimes is a truly terrible prospect, though, and she is given one last chance to undo what has been done. In order to restore the balance, Susannah must save lives instead of take them. But no one has ever succeeded in setting right their wrong. Determined to be the first, Susannah begins anew as Maliha Crayne: an author by day and vigilante by night. This first in a projected two-part series is a great concept and a fun read; an original story with just the right blend of action, suspense, mythology, and romance. 08/09 Becky Lejeune
DARKBORN by Alison Sinclair: In this first book of a new trilogy, Alison Sinclair weaves a tale of political intrigue and social upheaval set in a world with a fascinating history. Ages ago, the people of this world were cursed, leaving two races: The Darkborn and the Lightborn. Darkborn can never go into the light; they see through sound and abhor the magic that left them they way they are. They live in a dark world that the Lightborn can never enter. The Lightborn revel in their magical abilities, just one more reason for the Darkborn to fear their differences. For the most part, these two races live completely separate, but in the town of Minhorn they live side by side. Physician Balthasar Hearne has become friends with his own Lightborn neighbor and this friendship will be his saving grace. When thugs attack Bal looking for information on a recent patient, it is his neighbor who comes to his aid. His wife, Telmaine, a woman with significant magical abilities that have been thus far successfully hidden, even from Bal himself, manages to save him with the help of another. Sadly, though, one of their daughters has been taken hostage and they are all about to become pawns in a game that could mean the end of peace between the races. This rich and creative tale is just the beginning and readers will be as anxious as I am to continue the series. 05/09 Becky Lejeune
A DARKER PLACE by Jack Higgins: Dillon, et. al. are involved in arranging the defection of a famous Russian writer and ex-paratrooper named Alexander Kurbsky. As usual the “Prime Minister’s private army” is ultimately successful after a number of twists and turns. Of interest to fans is the inclusion of the backstory of the wheelchair bound Major Giles Roper. Fast and enjoyable read as usual with Higgins work. 02/09 Jack Quick
THE DARKER SIDE by Cody McFayden: Agent Smoky Barrett and her band of merry men (and woman) are on the trail of a serial killer. It starts with the in-flight stabbing of the transsexual child of Texas Congressman Dillon Reid, front-runner for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Barrett, specifically requested for the case by the grieving mother of the late Lisa/Dexter Reid, learns from the medical examiner that Lisa/Dexter met her/his maker in a window seat and that the killer stuffed a wee crucifix in the fatal stab wound before disappearing. Further investigation shows that there have been scores of earlier crucifix-stuffed victims, perhaps as many as 150. So the search is on. Lots of actions but few thrills. Probably my last McFayden. While the plots are good, the execution leaves much to be desired. It becomes the kind of book where you are ready for a break after every chapter rather than feeling a desire to keep turning pages. 12/08 Jack Quick
DARKER STILL by Leanna Renee Hieber: It’s the summer of 1880 and Natalie Stewart has just been released—from school. Mute since the death of her mother, Natalie’s father sent his precocious daughter to a school that specialized in such disabilities. Now, Natalie hopes to make herself useful by pursuing a position in acquisitions with her father at the Met. She sets her sights on a captivating painting of a young English lord that has recently arrived in New York. The painting features the dashing Lord Denbury, a man with a tragic tale. After the death of his family, Denbury apparently committed suicide. The painting has such a presence that Natalie imagines it almost speaks to her and Denbury looks as though he could step through the frame at any second. Danger swirls around the piece and others have big plans for the painting themselves. Then Natalie discovers its real secret, one of dark magic and strange mystery. Leanna Renee Hieber’s gothic tale is full of atmosphere, suspense, and a damsel in distress—with a modern twist of course: Natalie is no wimp, she’s a strong and smart heroine. 3/12 Becky Lejeune
THE DARKEST NIGHT by Gena Showalter: They were ancient warriors of the highest order until jealousy prompted an irreversible mistake. The story of Pandora and her box is well known, but Showalter adds another twist to this famous myth. Pandora was one of these ancient warriors, set to guard a box housing all of the evils of the world. Maddox, a fellow warrior is so incensed over Pandora’s assignment that he and his fellow warriors steal the box, accidentally releasing the demons housed within. As punishment, each of the warriors must house within them one of the demons from the box. Maddox’s punishment is the demon of violence. As further punishment for killing Pandora, he is murdered every night at midnight, his soul sent to hell, and resurrected each morning. The men live in a tower in Budapest, surprisingly supportive of the surrounding community who view them as angels. Ashlyn Darrow has been plagued with psychic abilities – she hears voices and conversations everywhere she goes. She seeks out the men in hopes that they may be able to help her and gets much more than she bargained for. She and Maddox are instantly drawn to one another, which could mean real problems since the men have taken great pains to avoid bringing outsiders into their sanctuary. This is an intriguing concept for a romance series, and it’s going to be a definite favorite amongst fans of the paranormal. 05/08 Becky Lejeune
DARKNESS, MY OLD FRIEND by Lisa Unger: In this return to The Hollows, Jones Cooper, now retired, has been keeping himself busy helping out where he can. He keeps an eye on neighbors’ houses when they’re out and fixes little things here and there, but when Michael Holt returns to town trying to finally understand the truth of his mother’s disappearance, Jones begins investigating as well. The case always troubled Jones: Marla Holt was married, with two kids, and she just vanished one day. The story was that she left with another man. No evidence otherwise was ever found, but it bothered Jones nonetheless. Meanwhile, another local has asked Jones to investigate another missing person, her stepson’s mother. This tie-in to Fragile features many of the same characters, but can be read as a stand-alone. Again, Unger’s focus on the characters and their individual tales and connections to one another works to keep the reader guessing until the very end. The Hollows books have each kept me up reading late into the night and I hope there’s more in store for this little New York town. 09/11 Becky Lejeune
THE DARKROOM OF DAMOCLES by W. F. Hermans: Written in Dutch in the 1950’s by Hermans and newly released in English, this thriller evokes comparison to other noirish works about World War II. The mysterious Dorbeck visits tobacconist Henri Osewondt during the German occupation of Holland. Dorbeck gives Osewondt a series of missions involving helping British agents and eliminating traitors, which ultimately leads to Osewondt killing his own wife after she denounces him to the Germans. At war’ end, Osewondt is taken for a traitor and captured. When he tries to prove his innocence he finds there is no evidence of Dorbeck ever existing and no available photos, which is interesting because Dorbeck is Oswewondt’s spitting image – in reverse. Osewondt is blond, effeminate, and beardless – Dorbeck, dark, masculine and bearded. So, is Osewondt a hero or a villain? A patriot or a psychopath? Did Dorbeck exist or not? Draw your own conclusions. 08/07 Jack Quick
DARLING JIM by Christian Moerk: This dark and intense debut is a story of absolute love and unforgiving hate. It begins with a shocking discovery in a small Irish town. A local postman has found a dead body. When police open up the house where the body is found, they discover that the woman has suffered a brutal beating. But there’s much worse hidden in this unassuming house. Upstairs there are two more bodies. Both are younger women who appear to have been poisoned and starved. One has suffered multiple stabbings and her condition is so bad that they can’t determine the true cause of death. Shackles and locks are present throughout the house and the only keys lie around the neck of the first dead body. The police finally find the connection between the women, they are an aunt and her two nieces, but no one knows what really happened in the house. No one, that is, until a young postal employee discovers a “dead letter” with the name of one of the murdered women on the outside. Inside, the young man discovers a journal chronicling the events leading up to the women’s final days. This tragic and chilling tale is easily one of the best debuts I’ve read so far this year. From page one, Moerk weaves a tale that is so completely enthralling that you won’t want to stop until you turn the final page. 04/09 Becky Lejeune
DARLING JIM by Christian Moerk: From beyond the grave Fiona Walsh provides the means for Niall, a young mailman in Dublin, to solve the mystery of the murder of Fiona, her sister and her aunt, while maybe saving the remaining sister. Jim is an itinerant story teller who leaves behind young female victims. It seems that his macabre mythic narratives are more fact than fiction, as Niall learns from a diary found in the dead letter box after Fiona’s death. Will Niall become another victim of Darling Jim, or will he be able to unravel the Celtic knot? Moerk captures the darkness as well as the light that combine to form the Irish spirit. Nicely done. 06/09 Jack Quick
DARWIN’S RADIO by Greg Bear: We are about to face our greatest crisis, caused by a virus that has been passed from generation to generation since before the dawn of humankind. Now it’s active and there are three people standing between us and the end of our race. Mitch Rafelson is a discredited anthropologist who discovers the mummified remains of a Neanderthal couple in the Alps. Kaye Lang is a molecular biologist specializing in retroviruses, who has postulated that so-called junk DNA may actually have an unknown purpose in the scheme of life. Christopher Dicken is a virus hunter at the National Center for Infectious Diseases in Atlanta, hot in pursuit of a mysterious illness, dubbed Herod’s flu, which seems to strike only expectant mothers and their fetuses. Gradually, as these three scientists pool their results, it becomes clear that unless a cure is found, our days on the planet are numbered. Well written although a bit heavy on the science side. Hopefully, the sequel, DARWIN’S CHILDREN, will be as interesting. 01/08 Jack Quick
DATES FROM HELL by Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Kelley Armstrong and Lori Handeland: If you love supernatural romance or have ever been the unfortunate victim of a really bad date, this is the anthology for you.
In “Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil,” Kim Harrison treats readers to a rare look at Ivy and the events that lead up to her partnership with Rachel. Ivy knows that her best shot at a promotion has nothing to do with her job performance. When her arrogant boss takes things just a bit too far, she plans the perfect revenge. Unfortunately, her plan will either ensure her path to the top or get her demoted straight down to the bottom.
In Lynsay Sands’ “The Clair Switch Project,” an accident at work causes some interesting side effects for Claire Bennett, and on the same day as her high school reunion, too. When her longtime crush finally asks her out on a date, Claire can’t refuse. Too bad a favor promised to a best friend could ruin the whole thing in this quite funny tale of a strange “double” date.
Kelley Armstrong’s “Chaotic” features a half-demon tabloid reporter who feeds on chaos. A terribly boring blind date is about to turn into an unexpected adventure for Hope when she tracks a jewel thief at a museum gala. Karl Marsten is much more than he seems, however, and Hope soon finds herself in the middle of deadly game of revenge.
Finally, in Lori Handeland’s “Dead Man Dating” Mara Naomi Elizabeth (call me Kit) Morelli is a literary agent who hasn’t had much luck in the dating department, until now. A blind date through truelove.com has finally landed this plain Jane a real hottie. Too bad Eric Leaventhall is a total jerk but that could be because he’s dead. If you’re looking for something to wind down with, but you don’t feel like you have much time, this book is perfect. Each story makes a great light read and they are each the perfect length for bedtime reading. 05/07 Becky Lejeune
DATING IS MURDER by Harley Jane Kozak: Imagine being saddled with a name like Wollstonecraft Shelly! Fortunately, she goes by Wollie which is much easier to wrap your eyes around – and so is the statuesque blond bombshell that is the heroine of this second novel by Kozak. Wollie is a Renaissance woman, L.A. style; a greeting card designer, part time muralist, part time returning college student and one of the stars of a super low budget reality TV show called Biological Clock. As bad as that sounds, it is a step up from her last part time job of serial dating (in the awesome debut Dating Dead Men). This time out Wollie’s math tutor, who is also a German au pair for a wealthy California family, goes missing and no one seems terribly concerned. Wollie goes on the hunt for her and stumbles into the middle of a joint FBI/DEA drug investigation. Luckily, she also meets a rather sexy Fed named Simon and she is gaining ground as the favorite on Biological Clock. Lots of laughs, a little romance, and a real surprise ending put Kozak firmly in the must be read category, an elite place indeed. Very well done. 03/05
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown: I loved the first third of this book, with its intricate twists and fascinating look at art and the Louvre and Paris and the depth of research into the history of the Catholic Church. But then it just started getting to be too much; too many details, too many symbols, too many cliffhangers until I found myself exhausted by it all, yet still racing through it just to see how it would be resolved – but it really wasn’t worth the race.
The curator of the Louvre is found murdered in a locked room, so to speak – and in a macabre start, leaves clues drawn in his own blood, including the name Robert Langdon. Langdon is a professor from Harvard visiting Paris to give a lecture on religious symbolism, and coincidentally had an appointment with the murder victim, who of course failed to show. The victim’s granddaughter, Sophie Neveu, is a cryptographer with the Paris equivalent of the F.B.I. but the two of them become the chief suspects in the murder. Their only hope is to solve it themselves, but with the cops hot on their tail they have to stay one step ahead as they race their way through France, then England, in this complex yet ultimately disappointing thriller.
THE DARK LANTERN by Gerri Brightwell: This historical thriller and debut by Brightwell is an enthralling read. In the late 1800s a lot depended on a person’s past and family histories. For the most part, your future was decided by your station in life and you would never break free of it. Young Jane Wilbred was born to most unfortunate circumstances – her mother stabbed a man and was hanged for her crime. Jane was raised in an orphanage with that stain already attached to her name. She gains employment with a family who makes it clear that she will never escape the “natural” suspicion inherited from her mother’s deeds. Jane does escape, though. She is hired on at the Bentley home, after some finagling of the recommendation letter written by her former employer. Jane soon learns that the Bentley home is full of its own secrets. The mistress of the house has been sickly and her daughter-in-law, Mina, suspects that the servants have been taking advantage. She asks Jane to be her eyes and ears in the home, a task that Jane is not thrilled to be assigned with. The other Bentley son is soon to return from India, but the family is informed that he has been killed in a most ill fated accident. Surprisingly, it is revealed that he left behind a widow who will soon be arriving at the home. Mina’s suspicious nature rears its ugly head once again and Jane begins to wonder what Mina herself may be trying to hide. A late-Victorian era mystery that’s brings to mind the film Gosford Park with slight gothic undertones. 03/08 Becky Lejeune
THE DARK OF DAY by Barbara Parker: The star of this one is high-profile Miami defense attorney C.J. Dunn. Her client is Rick Slater, who is in charge of security for US congressman Bob Shelby. Slater is the last person to see Alana Martin, a beautiful model who disappears from a swinging Miami Beach party. Although C.J. doesn’t care for the congressman, she realizes this case may propel her to the next level with a major news outlet (Hello, Greta Van Sustrand). As the layers of the case are peeled open, you learn more and more about C.J. – since Rick Slater’s alibi witness is a seventeen year old runaway from the same north Florida town where C.J. was born, Alana is connected to architect Milo Cahill, one of C.J.’s clients; and to Billy Medina, who is C.J.’s lover. Although parts of the book read like the script of an afternoon soap – As My World Turns Upside Down and Inside Out – it’s not a bad read. Probably worth packing on a beach trip, when you can take it in small doses between long drinks. 06/08 Jack Quick
***Check out my interview with Parker on the BookBitchBlog – SA, The BookBitch
A DATE YOU CAN’T REFUSE by Harley Jane Kozak: Wollie’s back! Wollstonecraft Shelley, that is – the greeting card artist and amateur sleuth as the need arises. It’s been a few years, but she’s still as charming as ever. As usual, Wollie needs to find other work to support herself and her severely autistic brother – the freelance greeting card business just doesn’t pay well. After serving on a jury that finds media mogul Yuri Milos innocent, he offers Wollie a job as a dating coach for his Eastern European clients. Wollie isn’t sure she wants to do it until she’s approached by an FBI agent who pressures her into not only working for Yuri, but spying for the FBI. The money is too good to pass up too, so a reluctant Wollie finds herself thrust into the crazy world of basically babysitting & chauffeuring these men around. But of course there is more to it than just that – Chai, the model that Wollie’s replaced, has died under mysterious circumstances, there is a houseful of strange characters, not to mention Yuri’s good looking, charming son. Lots of laughs amid the suspense make this a quick, light read. 12/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor: Once upon a time, there was a blue-haired girl named Karou. She lived in Prague and was raised by monsters. Seventeen-year-old Karou is an art student with a secret life. Orphaned and raised by four chimaera, Karou is nonetheless human. She goes to school, she has friends and boyfriends, and she runs errands for a ram-horned creature called Brimstone—her surrogate father. Brimstone collects teeth, all kinds of teeth, and rewards his hunters with wishes. Sometimes, when they can’t come to him, Karou is sent to meet them instead. She’s never known the purpose of the teeth. She’s never known how she came to be with Brimstone. She does know that Brimstone’s world is not to be revealed to others. But someone is watching. Someone who has been leaving burned handprints on doors all around the world, doors that lead straight to Brimstone. Laini Taylor’s latest, and first in a new series, is one of the most imaginative and amazing books out there. Her mythology and world-building is beyond outstanding. To give too much away would be ruining the surprises held within the pages of her creation. Of course, there’s a big cliffhanger of an ending that will leave readers desperate to get their hands on the follow up. 10/11 Becky Lejeune
DAWN PATROL by Don Winslow: Three words: epic macking crunchy. That’s “surfbonics” for big, freaking, wave. Take a dip into Southern Cal’s insular surf culture with Don Winslow’s latest, Dawn Patrol. The biggest wave of the last decade is headed toward Pacific Beach and the gremmies are stoked to go down on their guns. Sadly, a stripper’s death gets between local legend, Boone Daniels, and the ride of a lifetime. Boone and his gang, the dawn patrol, set out to solve the murder. These cool cats and kittens meet up with angry Samoans, illegal aliens, drug dealers, shady attorneys, and child slave traders. These divergent paths all lead to a satisfying climax as the big wave finally reaches the beach. Meticulously researched. Funny. Sad. Poignant. Brilliant. 06/08 Dan Cawley
THE DAWN PATROL by Don Winslow: A gnarly rad epic that is macking crunchy. Don’t worry, if you, like me, don’t speak surfer. There is an on-going surfer-English dictionary embedded in the book. Unfortunately this tends to take away from the flow of a nicely done P.I/police procedural with some really neat characters. Boone Daniels was conceived on the beach to surfer parents, has lived all his life where he can hear the waves, and lives to surf. He is a key member of the Dawn Patrol, a mixed bag of aficionados that start each day with a “run” on Pacific Beach. Some of the members have j-o-b-s, but for Boone, all he wants is to make enough for fish tacos and wetsuits, and to be n the water to surf. Nevertheless, this ex-cop is actually a pretty good investigator, working primarily for a surfing lawyer bud that has asked him to find a missing stripper the lawyer needs to testify at an upcoming trial. When one of the stripper’s friends is murdered in a possible case of mistaken identity, Boone becomes obsessed with solving the case, even if it means dealing with a gorgeous, but bossy, female lawyer from Great Britain, who thinks that anyone still remaining in the pool, must be an evolutionary reject. All in all an excellent book that truly is macking crunchy. 09/08 Jack Quick
DAY AFTER NIGHT by Anita Diamant: Another fascinating portrait of women from the author of the The Red Tent and Last Days of Dogtown, only this time the setting is Palestine, just at the end of WWII. A group of women forge a friendship while waiting to escape from Atlit, a British detention center for illegal immigrants. While the majority of prisoners there are men, there are about 70 young women, some have been released from concentration camps, others have been hiding throughout Europe, but all have their horrors that they want to forget. At Atlit, they are not mistreated, but they are still prisoners. All they want is normalcy again, to make their home on a kibbutz, get married, have children and start their lives. Their stories are varied but all are interesting, and in Diamant’s skilled hands, unforgettable. I was surprised to find myself weeping at the end. 10/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED by Ed Gorman: It is a cold day in Iowa, in February, 19858. Specifically, it is the day after Sam McCain, a small town lawyer who earns most of his income working as an investigator in Black River Falls for the wealthy and eccentric Judge Esme Anne Whitney, attended the last concert of Buddy Holly before he died in a plane crash along with Richie Valens and the Big Bopper. Judge Whitney has sent McCain to check on her rotten nephew Kenny. At Kenny’s McCain discovers the body of Kenny’s wife, and then is unable to stop Kenny from killing himself. Everybody, including the local police chief, is sure that Kenny murdered his wife, but McCain has his doubts. Black River Falls is populated with a wealth of characters which Gorman describes in great detail. This looks to be the start of an interesting series. I look forward to Number 2 – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. 12/09 Jack Quick
DAYS OF RAGE by Kris Nelscott: The time is fall 1969, and Smokey and his adopted son have fled Memphis for Chicago. Dalton is an African-American private investigator on Chicago’s South Side, maintaining a low profile because of his knowledge of the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination which threatens his life and that of his adopted son, Jimmy. Dalton is working for on-again-off-again girlfriend Laura Hathaway. Laura has inherited her father’s business empire only to learn that it was built on less than firm moral ground. She is trying to right past wrongs with Smokey’s help, while also making sure she doesn’t push so hard that the entire structure tumbles. In this environment, Smokey is contributing by inspecting rental property’s for Laura’s company, Sturdy Investments, when he discovers three corpses in the basement of one of the buildings. This gruesome find quickly becomes worse as more bodies are found. On the one hand, Dalton and Hathaway know this needs to be taken to the authorities and the families of the victims are entitled to some kind of closure. On the other hand, the Chicago Police have not proven themselves to be beyond reproach and if the discovery can be tied to Laura’s father, she may lose everything. All the action occurs against the backdrop of the Weathermen sponsored “Days of Rage” demonstrations in Chicago after the earlier Democratic convention and its high profile confrontations. Over all, a well-written book as Nelscott, skillfully interweaves “headline news” and its impact on the lives of ordinary people as they try to live their normal lives. 09/06 Jack Quick
D.C. NOIR edited by George Pelecanos: Apparently the prosperous Northwest section of D.C. isn’t a perfect place to live after all. Ten of the sixteen stories in Akashic’s salute to the U.S. capital are set there, although Georgetown, Mt. Pleasant, Chevy Chase, the Hill and other sections of D.C. are also represented. Highlighted by Pelecanos and Washington area native Laura Lippman, D.C. NOIR also includes first-rate offerings from Robert Andrews, Jim Beane, Ruben Castaneda, Richard Currey, Jim Fusilli, James Grady, Jennifer Howard, Lester Irby, Kenji Jasper, Norman Kelley, Jim Patton, Quintin Peterson, David Slater and Robert Wisdom. 01/08 Jack Quick
THE DEAD by Ingrid Black: Irish author Black invades Val McDermid territory and comes out a winner in this first mystery set in gritty, moody Dublin. Saxon (no first name given) is a former FBI agent turned true-crime writer. Her lover, Detective Chief Superintendent Grace Fitzgerald has persuaded her to remain in Dublin after her unsuccessful attempt to write a book about vanished Dubliner Ed Fagan, a vicious, Bible-quoting serial killer. Newspaper reporter Nick Elliott, whose book on Fagan was a success, gets a letter with a threat to kill five prostitutes. With each murder the killer taunts the police. Fitzgerald pulls Saxon into the investigation and Saxon determines this is a copycat killer. A true mystery as well as a crime novel, worthy of comparison to the efforts of Val McDermid. 08/06 Jack Quick
Dead Aim by Thomas Perry: Perry is yet another mystery writer who has turned his hand to more lucrative suspense thrillers. I have been hooked on his work since Metzger’s Dog (which is actually the name of a cat that gets thrown at an intruder.) His Jane Whitfield books, including Vanishing Act, were also well-received.
Dead Aim is the story of Robert Mallon who saves a would-be suicide from drowning. After she runs away again, he becomes determined to find out the reasons for her wanting to die. The answers lie in a paramilitary “self-defense” training camp in California where spoiled thrill-seekers are taught the ultimate hunt. As you might suspect, Mallon soon becomes the quarry. The police refuse to accept his story and he is alone with nowhere to turn and no one that he can trust.
Perry is a fine story teller and this book is hard to put down. I think that one of the reasons I liked Dead Aim was because it does have a lot of the elements of a vintage California mystery story. The solitary hero with some sadness from his past. An encounter with a beautiful woman that comes to naught when she is found dead. And plenty of mayhem committed by frighteningly well-trained killers. This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.
DEAD AIM by Collin Wilcox: I can’t understand how I discovered and devoured all the Ed McBain 87th Precinct series without learning about Collin Wilcox and his Lieutenant Frank Hastings. In this third outing Hastings is dealing with the mugging murder of a a young housewife and the torture slayings of two residents of Pacific Heights, San Francisco’s “gold coast”. These two victims are the wayward daughter of one of San Francisco’s more affluent families and her gigolo companion, a dabbler in the local drug business. Another solid outing from an era when detectives smoked cigarettes and used pay telephones. 12/10 Jack Quick
DEAD AIR by Ed Goldberg: Anyone who dedicates their crime novel to the memory of their cat can’t be all bad, and this particular crime novel isn’t bad either. Lenny Schneider leaves the Big Apple to go all the way cross country to Portland, Oregon, so obviously he is smart. He moves in with his buddy Walter, a controversial radio show host at the aptly named KOOK-FM. Before you know it two of Walter’s colleagues have been killed with a bayonet from Walter’s knife collection, and Lenny may be the next request on the murderer’s “hit” list. Originally released in 1998, this was a review copy of the apparent planned re-release next year. 10/07 Jack Quick
DEAD BEFORE DYING by Deon Meyer: South African Police captain Mat Joubert is near suicidal two years after the death of his wife, who was killed in the line of duty as an undercover agent. Now a new commanding officer, a political appointee, is on a tear, touting the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. He orders Joubert to see a psychiatrist and gives him one last chance to prove himself, putting him in charge of an investigation into a serial killer who uses a 100-year-old German handgun. Meanwhile Joubert struggles to bring himself back to life by chucking the cigarettes, cooking low-cal meals, and taking up swimming. A interesting police procedural, but also an intense character study as well, as we see Joubert struggling to reclaim his life, his dignity, and his profession. An excellent read. 04/11 Jack Quick
DEAD CENTER by David Rosenfelt: I just love Andy Carpenter, the smart-ass New Jersey lawyer with the huge inheritance that allows him the luxury of working – or not. When his ex-girlfriend Laurie calls to say she thinks she’s arrested the wrong guy for murder and needs some help, Andy and his beloved dog Tara are on their way to Findlay, Wisconsin to lend a hand. Laurie dumped Andy and moved back home when she was offered the job as Findlay Chief of Police, but Andy still has feelings for her. Nevertheless he gets to work, investigating the victims who were both members of a religious sect called the Centurions. Smart, engaging characters, lots of laughs, some nice plot twists and simply superb storytelling make Dead Center irresistible. (Make sure you read the acknowledgments page – Rosenfelt manages to turn that into entertainment and I’m not just saying that because I’m first…) 05/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
DEAD CENTER by David Rosenfelt: “Sex without love is just not what I’m looking for anymore, those days are behind me.” Those are the words that form in my mind but don’t actually come out of my mouth. What my mouth ends up saying is, “Absolutely, check please.” When New Jersey defense lawyer Andy Carpenter gets a call from his former lover, Laurie, a police detective who has moved home to Wisconsin, to tell him she may have arrested an innocent man for murder he packs his bags and sets off for the Midwest to lend a hand. He quickly finds himself going up against a very shady religious group, but it’s his feelings for Laurie that cause him the most distress. Another strong outing for what is becoming my favorite wisecracking attorney who only works on what interests him, having made his fortune earlier in the series. Would that I could also. 05/06 Jack Quick
DEAD CONNECTION by Alafair Burke: Burke takes a break from her terrific Samantha Kincaid legal thriller series (Judgment Calls; Missing Justice; Close Case) with this novel of Internet dating, murder and high tech mayhem. Young New York City police detective Ellie Hatcher is temporarily re-assigned from the robbery division to maverick homicide detective Flann McIlroy. McIlroy is trying to tie together the murder of two young single women and wants some input from someone who can relate. An email is found on the body of the second victim and traced to an online dating service called FirstDate.com. After determining both women were members, the online dating service is approached about the men who had contacted the victims, but FirstDate is not too forthcoming – and anonymous men make difficult suspects. Hatcher and McIlroy dig deeper but more bodies start piling up, forcing the detectives to chase all over – including New Iberia, Louisiana, in a lovely homage to the author’s father, James Lee Burke. This stunning thriller ends with a tantalizing glimpse into what is sure to be a highly anticipated sequel. 07/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2007 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
DEAD CONNECTION by Alafair Burke: Ellie Hatcher is a rookie detective in New York City who takes a special assignment with the NYPD homicide division to pursue a psychopath who preys on single women searching for love online. In this new cyberworld a click of a mouse can make someone vulnerable to danger in the real world. It’s a long way from Ellie’s Wichita, Kansas home, but could there be a connection with the death of her father, a career Kansas police officer. A lot of story for one book, but hey, you can’t argue with the bloodlines on this one. 09/07 Jack Quick
DEAD COPY by Kit Frazier: Perky young Cauley MacKinnon is on the obituary desk at the Austin Sentinel as the result of having “accidentally” slept with the publisher of the competing Austin Journal. Now she is helping her FBI Special Agent boyfriend Tom Logan create a fake obituary to make a key trial witness “disappear.” I’m sorry but after a decade in the real newspaper business, I feel a great disturbance in the force. While I am willing to suspend belief to a certain extent, i.e., Hogwarts, and muggles, and stuff, this one was just too “in my face.” It’s probably well written and will appeal to those whose concepts of media were shaped by endless episodes of Mary Tyler Moore and WKRP in Cincinnati. Sorry, there are just some things up with which I will not put. 07/07 Jack Quick
DEAD DANCING WOMEN by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli: Opening of chapter one – “This Monday was like all Mondays up in Northern Michigan. No better. No worse. Another garbage day where first I lugged the battered can a black bear had been tossing around for the last few weeks up the drive, and then back down again…Some days things got worse.” Closing of chapter one, when Emily goes to put the garbage can back – “I was laughing still, as I stared into the wide black eyes of an old woman’s severed head.” Journalist and would-be mystery author Emily Kincaid has come to the woods of northern Michigan to get away from a philandering husband and work on her latest forgettable novel, when real life brings more mystery into her life than in any of her writings. The Women of the Moon, a group of older ladies who sing and dance around a bonfire late at night, are being killed, one by one. In addition to hosting her ex and his female ‘assistant’, reluctantly raising a rambunctious new puppy, and forming an uneasy alliance with local curmudgeon Deputy Dolly, Emily tries to put an end to the killings, and somehow preserve her own sanity. 12/08 Jack Quick
THE DEAD DON’T LIE (#10) by Stuart Kaminsky: A long-lost journal rumored to prove that the Turks were not responsible for the horrific massacre of Armenians in the early 20th century draws Chicago police force living legend Abe Lieberman, into a series of murders. There are more problems at home and in synagogue that compete for his attention while his longtime partner, Bill Hanrahan, is preoccupied with the birth of his newest child as well as some amateurish thugs who stumble into a more complicated crime during an attempted mugging. Its not so much the events as the way Kaminsky is able to bring you into the lives of his characters and make you feel you know them as well as they know each other. 06/08 Jack Quick
DEAD EVEN by Frank Zafiro: Just as Ed McBain created and populated the 87th Precinct with a host of interesting characters and off the wall villains, Zafiro had done the same for the River City, Washington Police Department. Drawing on his own career in law enforcement Zafiro accurately portrays the good, the bad, and the indifferent in these fifteen tales of theft, murder, mystery and detection. Nicely done with a gritty street feel, DEAN EVEN is reminiscent of Joseph Wambaugh in its treatment of the cops as human beings behind the badges and Browne belts. Nice read. 12/10 Jack Quick
DEAD HEAD SHOT by Victoria Houston: It’s Thanksgiving in Loon Lake, in the north woods of Wisconsin, but more bodies are falling than stuffed turkeys. It’s a holiday Chief of Police Lew Ferris had just as soon forget, what with credit card theft, dysfunctional families, a Canadian connection, and general disruption of everyone’s plans. Ninth in the series, and in spite of the subject matter, it is a breezy read, with great descriptions and likable characters. 12/08 Jack Quick
DEAD LAST by James W. Hall: This overly complex outing from James W. Hall addresses the issue of art imitating life, or life imitating art. A Miami based cable TV series featuring a killer who uses obituaries published in the local paper as a blueprint for selecting his next victims is floundering in the ratings and looks to be cancelled but midway through the season, a copycat appears off-screen, a real-life killer who is using the same strategy to select victims. When this serial killer crosses paths with the reclusive Thorn, he has no choice but to leave his sanctuary in Key Largo and join forces with a young policewoman from Oklahoma who is investigating the murders. There are plenty of suspects and Thorn is in for the shock of his life as he wades through the blood and mayhem. Okay, but far from his best work. 5/12 Jack Quick
THE DEAD MAN’S BROTHER by Roger Zelazny: “Hi, I’m your friendly neighborhood CIA agent and do I have a deal for you. We can give you a Get of Jail Free for the NYPD, and arrange for them to overlook your dead former partner found in your art gallery. All you have to do is fly to the Vatican City and trace the trail of a renegade priest who is missing with millions in church funds. Why you? Well, there is this dame…” Ovid Wiley’s past as an art smuggler has caught up with him, in spite of his now being a respectable art dealer. Turns out that the priest’s lover is a woman from Wiley’s previous life. Great thriller from a noted SF writer, this is Hardcase Crime Number 52. Grab it while you can. 02/09 Jack Quick
DEAD PEASANTS by Larry D. Thompson: Jack Bryant is an über successful lawyer who decides to retire after winning a huge wrongful death case. Jack moves back home to Fort Worth where he can spend more time with his college football playing son. But he’s really too young to be retired, so he sets up an old RV in a bad part of town, offering free legal help to whoever needs it, and stumbles upon one of the biggest cases in his career. June Davis is widowed, and accidentally finds out her husband’s old employer had a very large life insurance policy, a “dead peasant” policy, on her husband, which made the employer the beneficiary. A string of seemingly unrelated accidental deaths are paying off handsomely for the financially strapped business. There isn’t much to the mystery that most readers won’t figure out in a hurry, but legal fiction fans will still appreciate the courtroom scenes. The pacing is fast, the characters well developed and the lawyer is likeable. John Grisham aficionados should be delighted with Thompson. 10/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2012 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.
DEAD RENEGADE by Victoria Houston: Things might be okay in River City but there’s trouble in Loon Lake as retired dentist and sometimes Loon Lake deputy Doc Osborne stumbles upon human remains in the basement of an antique store. His granddaughter has been traumatized and refuses to talk, and a dangerous man with a dark history is on the loose. Chief of Police Lew Ferris shares her time, her fly fishing advice, and sometimes her bed with Osborne but in this one Osborne’s neighbor, fellow deputy, and fly fishing whiz Ray Pradt must lend a hand with his tracking skills. There is more going on here than a three-legged race and leisurely fly fishing, that’s for sure. Loon Lake may be off the beaten path but it’s never dull. Take a deep breath and stay for awhile, you never know what will pop out of the woodwork next. 11/09 Jack Quick
DEAD SILENCE by Randy Wayne White: There is very little of the mild-mannered marine biologist in this, the 16th Doc Ford outing. Doc kills a man in the first chapter, and then heads off to New York to get involved with a kidnapping and subsequent attempts to save the victim while preserving the secrecy of his past. All the action occurs within 36 hours after the kidnapping but there is plenty socked into that short time frame. At issue are the private papers of the late Fidel Castro. The United States has them and certain pro-Castro Cubans want them back. Everyone is connected in some way and it is up to Doc and Tomlinson to fill in the blanks, otherwise a fourteen-year-old Minnesota boy will die a gruesome death. It is a different path than most of the previous books, but still first rate. 04/09 Jack Quick
DEAD SPY RUNNING by Jon Stock: Daniel Marchant worked for MI6 until his suspension after the CIA forced the British to dismiss his father from his post as head of England’s intelligence service. When Daniel prevents a suicide bomber from killing the American ambassador during the London Marathon, he comes under even more suspicion, becoming a target of both MI5 and the CIA. Now, Daniel must avoid a global Agency manhunt to foil a terrorist plot and salvage his father’s reputation. It’s the ultimate spy vs. spy – although supposedly all are on the same side. A film version is already in development. A new Bond is born, maybe? 06/11 Jack Quick
DEAD TIME by Stephen White: If I had to describe this book in one word it would be “messy”. Messy plot line and even messier presentation. If it were anyone other that Stephen White I would have chucked it, but I persevered and am glad I did. Here’s the messy theme – At the end of White’s last book, Dry Ice, his bi-sexual friend and neighbor Adrienne is killed in a suicide bomb attack while visiting Israel. She has left instructions that she wants Alex and his wife, Lauren, to adopt her son Jonas. At Adrienne’s memorial service her uptight brother from back in New York tells Alex he wants Jonas to come live with him. While Alex is processing this, Alex’ ex-wife Meredith shows up. She tells Alex she is pregnant and engaged. All this adds strain to Alex’ relationship with current wife Lauren whose MS is acting up. Lauren leaves for Europe with their daughter to look for a daughter she had given up for adoption before meeting Alex. Alex goes to New York City to be close to Jonas while Jonas is spending three weeks with Adrienne’s brother and his family. While in New York, Meredith contacts him. She had miscarried her child and then she and fiancé Eric had engaged a surrogate to bear their child, using fertilized eggs left over from the in vitro process. Still with me? Eric was involved in a decade old mystery involving the disappearance of a woman at the Grand Canyon that connects back to the disappearance of the would-be surrogate mother. Now, to make it even more interesting the story is told in alternating chapters from the standpoint of Alex and then from ex-wife Meredith, interrupted by flashbacks to the Grand Canyon trip involving Eric. If you can keep all the balls bouncing it’s a good story and everything ends well, sort of. To learn more, you’ll just have to try it yourself. 05/08 Jack Quick
DEAD TO ME by Anton Strout: Simon Canderous has a gift: he can see pieces of peoples’ lives simply by touching something they’ve owned. He’d been using his talent for personal gain, but after barely avoiding a stint in jail, he’s learning to use his power for good as an agent with the Department of Extraordinary Affairs. When he and his partner stumble upon a dead woman who seems very alive – and believes she is – they decide it’s their job to find out what’s going on. Their investigation brings them face to face with a group of cunning cultists who may or may not be behind the murder, but are most definitely up to no good, and an agent of the cultists’ who can’t help but fall for Simon even when she’s supposed to be killing him. With this first in the series, Strout introduces a character and a setting that definitely leaves room for lots of original possibilities. Simon and his posse of supporting characters are great fun. 12/10 Becky Lejeune
DEADWORLD by J.N. Duncan: Jackie Rutledge is more aware of the “other” things around her than most FBI agents. For example, her partner, Laurel, can sense the dead and sometimes has premonitions. But when the body of a young boy is found drained of blood, their only clue a valuable old penny left behind at the scene, even Jackie isn’t ready for the most obvious suspect. PI Nick Anderson knows all too well who is responsible. After all, the vampire detective has seen this killer before and knows what will come next. The case will take all of them to places they couldn’t have imagined, but will they all survive? Jackie Rutledge and Nick Anderson are each emotionally scarred and flawed characters. Hard-drinking Jackie would be at home in any noir-esque mystery and Nick could pull a series on his own. Together, with Duncan’s original spin on urban fantasy, the characters make a great team. J.N. Duncan makes his debut with this first in the paranormal thriller series. Book two is due out in October. 04/11 Becky Lejeune
THE DEAL by Adam Gittlin: Jonah Gray has it all, wealth, power, and all the drugs and women he wants. As the third generation of a family of real estate moguls, he has learned the business well and is one of the best. When a longtime friend, and heir to one of the world’s most powerful international businesses contacts Jonah and tells him that the company wants him to orchestrate a huge deal for them, Jonah and his team jump at the idea. The chances of earning out an enormous payday are almost guaranteed. Unfortunately, like all things that seem to good to be true, this deal might be Jonah’s downfall. As everything begins to fall apart around him, Jonah starts to put together the pieces that will eventually uncover a conspiracy that has been years in the making. To tell anymore would be to give too much away, but I can tell you there is more to this book than greedy real estate deals. A crazy stalker, murder, and stolen Faberge eggs all play a part in this smart thriller by newcomer Gittlin. If you like Joseph Finder and Stephen Frey, you’re going to love Adam Gittlin. 05/08 Becky Lejeune
DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD by Saralee Rosenberg: Mindy Sherman certainly believes that the grass is greener on the other side. Her neighbor, Beth Diamond, has a figure to die for, a seemingly endless supply of funds to support her fashionista lifestyle, and a perfect family. In spite of their common fence, the two have never become what you would call close friends. Instead, they have formed a sort-of reluctant truce out of necessity. Circumstances beyond both of their control are about to force the two women to rely on each other more than they would prefer, though, and Mindy will to discover just how wrong she is about Beth’s perfect life. Dear Neighbor is a fun and charming read. Everyone knows what it is like to envy a neighbor, and unfortunately most of us know what it’s like to have neighbors from hell, too! Mindy is a loveable housewife that is easy to sympathize with and surprisingly, Beth sometimes manages to steal the show, too. Rosenberg has a true talent for creating wonderful characters and utterly funny situations. Her light and mischievous tale is hilarious and heartwarming at the same time. 07/08 Becky Lejeune
THE DEATH DEALER by Heather Graham: After surviving the ordeals of The Dead Room, Genevieve O’Brien and PI Joe Collins return in Graham’s The Death Dealer. When a member of New York’s Poe Society is poisoned and another is involved in a multi-car accident, Genevieve becomes convinced that someone may be targeting the Ravens (members of the society). Since her own mother is a member, Genevieve has good cause to be worried so she hires Joe to look into things. Not one to sit idly by, Genevieve forces her way into the investigation despite Joe’s protests. Of course, just as Joe suspects, Genevieve has once again placed herself right in the killer’s sites. Meanwhile, the growing attraction between the two becomes undeniable and their long awaited affair finally begins. Their burgeoning relationship is quickly disrupted when Genevieve calls in Harrison Investigations, the team of psychics that also appeared in Dead Room. Genevieve suspects that someone from the other side is trying to communicate with Joe and that Harrison’s team may be able to help. The mystery surrounding the Poe killings is interesting, but the paranormal aspect seems to be almost an afterthought. The book would have been better served by either playing up the supernatural elements, or leaving the ghosts out altogether, as they become more distracting than anything else. 04/08 Becky Lejeune
DEAD EX by Harley Jane Kozak: It’s been a couple of years since the last book in this series, Dating Is Murder, but it was worth the wait. I really like the protagonist, Wollie, and her new boyfriend, FBI hottie Simon. Wollie is a struggling greeting card designer and previous star of a really bad reality TV show. This time she’s fake dating soap stars to dish about them on a really bad talk show called SoapDirt. The dying producer of a related soap opera is murdered and Wollie’s best friend is the primary suspect. It’s a nice twisty story that offers some insight into the soap business as the author used to star in one, plus one of the funniest interrogation scenes ever – it had me laughing so much that my daughter was calling me Miss Giggles all night. All in all, a very enjoyable way to while away an afternoon. 08/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DEAD HEAD by Allen Wyler: Brain surgeon Russell Lawton must develop an innovative computer that can manipulate a robot by using brain activity. Otherwise the terrorists who have kidnapped his eight year old daughter Angela will bury her alive. When he learns how the terrorists plan to use his work, he knows that not only is his daughter’s life at stake, but also the lives of millions of other innocent people. Although well written, I couldn’t stay with the plot. A claustrophobic who sees too much medicine in real life, I couldn’t relax and enjoy this one at all. Not for me. 02/07 Jack Quick
DEAD IN RED by L.L. Bartlett: Second full length outing for Bartlett’s Jeff Resnick, a former insurance investigator who acquired certain psychic “powers” as the result of brain injuries incurred during a mugging. Let me say at the outset, I am not much for so-called “paranormal” phenomena but Bartlett does this so well it is largely reminiscent of a Matthew Scudder tale. Resnick has been hired to look into the murder of a part-time bartender by the victim’s cousin who also engages Resnick to replace the cousin as part-time bartender. This gets him somewhat out from underfoot on his brother and brother’s girlfriend with whom he has been living since the events first set forth in Murder on the Mind. Visions of bloody hands and red rhinestone studded stiletto lead him into the world of drag queens and foot fetishists. Richard insists on helping and the two end up on the dark side. Not my favorite book ever, but nicely done and well written. 09/08 Jack Quick
DEAD LINE by Stella Rimington: Spy vs. Spy. MI6 has picked up some disturbing intelligence from Syria. A Lebanese businessman living in London and a freelance journalist are suspected of planning to disrupt an upcoming Middle East peace conference at Gleneagles resort in Scotland, and lay the blame for the projected attack on Syria. It falls on the shoulders of Liz Carlyle (perhaps a younger and more naïve Rimington) to determine whether the threat is real or if this is disinformation, and if so, to what end. Liz’s intuition proves correct when she uncovers an ingenious conspiracy that, if successful, could throw the entire Middle East into chaos. Rimington, the former director general of MI5, has borrowed a plot from Ludlum and pulls it off quite nicely. 08/10 Jack Quick
DEAD MAN RISING by Lilith Saintcrow: While still mourning the death of her demon lover, Tierce Japhrimel, Dante is once again dragged into the middle of a mystery that threatens her very own. Danny has been neglecting her necromance skills in fear of meeting Japhrimel on the other side. Instead, she has been throwing herself into bounty hunting, taking one job after another to keep herself busy. Jace, the Shaman, has given up his place at the head of his mob family in order to work alongside Danny. The bounties have been visibly wearing him out and though Danny’s newfound demon powers keep her from being physically exhausted, she is pretty close to a mental breakdown. Then, Danny is hired to help solve a series of mysterious deaths in Saint City. Three bodies have been discovered, gruesomely shredded to pieces, and the clues seem to point back to Rigger Hall, the government run school where psion orphans were sent to learn to use their powers. Danny had managed to block all memories of the horrible events that took place there, until now. All the secrets of Rigger Hall will once again be revealed and Danny will finally have to face them, or die trying. Saintcrow has created an intriguing alternate universe with a complex history and mythology of its own. Part sci-fi/fantasy, part mystery, this series is one of the best amongst the many that have shown up on the urban fantasy scene lately. 01/08 Becky Lejeune
DEAD MAN’S DUST by Matt Hilton: If you find Jack Reacher somewhat boring and Ted Bundy kind of ho-hum, this one is for you. Ex-military and ex-CIA Joe Hunter, defender of the weak and hero to those who need help, is out to rescue his half-brother John who has a gambling jones and a habit of getting into trouble. This time his trouble is really serious as he has stolen the Bowie knife of psychopathic serial killer Tubal Cain, who wants to become America’s most noted mass murderer. As Joe and his friend Jared “Rink” Rington follow John’s trail from Arkansas to the Mojave Desert, they come to realize that John’s troubles run deeper than just unpaid debts. At the inevitable showdown in Southern California it is up to Hunter to end Cain’s spree. Frankly, this was somewhat of a FATLUTE for me – FAilure To Live Up To Expectations. 03/10 Jack Quick
DEAD ON by Robert W. Walker: Walker credits Ed Gorman for the idea and inspiration for this first of a new series. Thank you Mr. Walker and thank you, Mr. Gorman. Marcus Rydell is a disgraced ex-cop and failed PI on the verge of suicide, and Kat Holley is an attractive doctor bent on revenge. They join together to pursue Iden Cantu, a psychopathic killer who four years earlier, slew six people in an Atlanta bloodbath, among them was Rydell’s then police partner and Holley’s cop husband. The chase leads to a remote cabin in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Lake area where Rydell, Holley and another at-risk couple have taken refuge. Besieged and taunted by Cantu, Rydell and Holley seek to turn the tables on the sadistic hunter. Uneven in places, but I think this one has potential as an evolving series. Good descriptions of Atlanta and its environs. 08/09 Jack Quick
THE DEAD PATH by Stephen M. Irwin: After the tragic accidental death of his wife, Cate, Nicholas Close discovers that he can see ghosts. Unfortunately for Nicholas, that includes Cate reliving her death over and over again in their apartment. Nicholas decides to return home to Australia, to leave behind the memories and the specter of his wife. On the night of his arrival at his mother’s home, a young boy goes missing near the local woods. His body is discovered and his killer is apprehended, but the case is remarkably similar to another murder: In 1982, Nicholas and his best friend tried to escape a would be attacker in the very same woods. Tristram was killed, and his own killer confessed to the crime. With the growing suspicion that there is much more to the murders than initially thought, things become much stranger in Nicholas’s life. Are the deaths connected, and what part do the woods play in all of this? The Dead Path is a great debut and a horror read that truly gave me chills. 10/10 Becky Lejeune
THE DEAD PLACE by Stephen Booth: Cooper and Fry are pursuing separate cases which may or may not have a common link. It starts with the discovery of a human skeleton of a female left exposed in the woods for over a year. Through facial reconstruction Cooper obtains a likeness which leads to the identity of the woman. Now, the real case begins because this woman died of natural causes and was supposedly cremated, according to her family. If her body wasn’t cremated whose body was? In the meantime Fry is assigned the task of finding out who is making anonymous phone calls that indicate a disturbed mind with an unnatural passion for death. Cooper and Fry are hoping against hope that the caller is just a harmless crank having some sick fun, but the clues woven through his disturbing messages point to the possibility of an all-too-real crime, especially when a woman vanishes from an office parking garage. The dead woman is linked to the mystery caller, whose description of his twisted death rituals matches the bizarre manner in which the body was found. Can they solve the case(s) before another body is found? 8/13 Jack Quick
DEAD POLITICIANS SOCIETY by Robin Spano: Clare Vengel is a brand new cop but already bored with routine police work. I mean, after all, she rides a Triumph and turns her own wrenches. So when the Mayor of Toronto keels over while delivering a speech and The Society for Political Utopia, a local university secret society, takes credit for his death, it opens the door for Clare to go undercover as a student. With her background, Vengel is not the most dedicated of students and quickly is at odds with one of the more popular professors. This causes her police bosses to have second thoughts. However, a second murder occurs, with a follow up message from the secret society dedicated to creating a better political system (apparently by killing off the members of the current one). Two more politicians die before Clare is able to uncover the key culprit. Somewhat reminiscent of Barbara Seranella’s beloved Munch Mancini, except Vengel is fighting from within the establishment that Munch dueled from outside. 09/10 Jack Quick
DEAD STREET by Mickey Spillane: (Hardcase Crime 37). Mulligan: In golf, a “do-over.” Hit a bad shot? Take a mulligan and hit it again. For twenty years NYPD detective Jack Stang fears his old fiancée, Bettie, is dead, killed in a kidnapping gone wrong. Now, soon after his retirement, he is told that Bettie is, in fact, alive and living in Florida. However, she is blind and suffers from amnesia from the car crash that killed her abductors. However, the men who arranged the abduction would still like her dead, so Stang has the opportunity to try to save her this time, an opportunity he missed twenty years ago. One of a handful of novels he was working on at the time of his death DEAD STREET was prepared for publication by Hard Case vet Max Allan Collins. It is solidly Spillane with dolls, louses, and the hero packing a trusty .45. If it is, in fact, the last one, it’s a damn good one. 11/07 Jack Quick
THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES by Carrie Ryan: It’s been years since the Return and Gabry has only ever known safety within the confines of the Barrier. She and her friends were taught to fear the Breakers and the Mudo. They were trained to fight them. They were told the rules of living in Vista. But one night, they throw everything away for some fun beyond the Barrier. No one expected to be attacked, but in the end, two of their friends are left dead, two are missing and sure to be infected, and the rest are caught by the Militiamen. Gabry escapes and the others agree to keep her secret, but only if Gabry will cross the Barrier once again to find one of the missing. Gabry’s loyalty to her friends will prove to be the catalyst that changes her life forever. Now, with the Recruiters chasing her, she will have to fight for everything she loves and face a future that’s more uncertain than ever. Amazing. Simply amazing. This companion to Ryan’s debut, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, is every bit as fantastic as its predecessor. I’m blown away by Ryan’s worldbuilding and imagery. Ryan’s is a talent that completely amazes me. 03/10 Becky Lejeune
THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST by Deanna Raybourn: After the death of her grandfather, Theodora Lestrange receives an invitation to visit a school friend at her family’s estate in Romania. Theodora has long planned to write a novel of her very own and believes that this trip could provide the inspiration she’s needed to get started. Upon arrival, she realizes just how correct this assessment was. The estate proves to be a moldering castle on the brink of ruin and the village is filled with superstitious and cautious folk. Theodora also finds that Count Andrei, her friend’s betrothed and master of the estate, is the perfect model for a gothic hero. But matters become complicated when a servant girl is murdered within the castle walls and rumors of vampires begin to stir. Because of her loyalty to her friend, Theodora finds herself unable to cut ties and run, but can she help unmask the real killer before things get completely out of hand? The Dead Travel Fast is a wholly satisfying read. Raybourn expertly captures the style and tone of traditional gothic literature. A note to fans: this is a standalone, but a new Lady Julia Grey book is said to be in the works. 03/10 Becky Lejeune
DEAD ZERO by Stephen Hunter: It is hard to imagine a Bob Lee Swagger novel where Vietnam War hero “Bob the Nailer” never pulls a trigger, but Hunter has done it. There is still plenty of shooting and various forms of hand to hand mayhem as the mid-60 year old Swagger tries to save one of the truly good guys from doing something very, very bad. Sergeant Roy Cruz, the modern day equivalent of Swagger, has been betrayed in Afghanistan and his spotter killed. Thought to have also been killed, Cruz surfaces to advise he plans to complete the sniper mission as originally planned. The problem is that the target, an Afghan warlord known as The Beheader, has subsequently “seen the light”, switched sides, and is potentially a candidate to become the next President of Afghanistan, which is now our ally against the Taliban. Although heavy on the technical details of the art of sniping, Hunter’s ability to move the story along keeps you in the middle in this first rate thriller. 1/11 Jack Quick
DEADFALL by Robert Liparulo: I swear I heard dueling banjos mid-way through this book. Think Deliverance in Canada. Four middle aged Colorado buddies are braving the remote wilds of North Saskatchewan when they encounter a crazed millionaire who plans to obliterate an entire town and its 242 inhabitants using a space-based laser. (James Bond, where are you when we really need you?) Anyway, bow-hunter and journalist John Huthinson leads his buddies in a battle for survival. Some questionable technological assumptions and an extremely predictable ending tend to work toward offsetting neat guy toys and good writing. It’s better than the reading the Yellow Pages, but no threat to my top ten list. 01/08 Jack Quick
THE DEADLIER SEX by Randy Wayne White: In this Randy Striker penned outing, Dusty MacMorgan and his pal Westy O’Davis catch a naked woman while fishing along South Florida’s Ten Thousand Island coast. A nearby trawler explodes, but that is nothing compared to the tale she tells MacMorgan and O’Davis. It seems there is a hard-core women’s group secreted on a local key. When Mac and Westy escort the lady home, they quickly learn that not all is as it appears and maybe they would have been better off throwing their catch back. A fun read that no one would ever classify as great literature. 01/09 Jack Quick
DEADLINE by Mira Grant: Shaun Mason and the After the End Times news team are back in this second of the Newsflesh trilogy. After the intentional infection of his sister, George, Shaun has made it his mission to track down those behind the conspiracy. When new research emerges regarding the Kellis-Amberlee virus (the life-altering merging of two “cures” that created zombies), Shaun and his team become involved in a plot that is so far-reaching and deadly, it could mean the true end of times. With the help of a rogue CDC employee, the journalists plan to reveal everything to their readers, if they can live long enough to go live. What a killer read. Mira Grant’s trilogy is so much more than simply zombie horror. Her research into outbreaks and infections, politics, and journalism adds complex layers to the story, which will appeal to readers beyond the genre but will also please hard-core horror and zombie fans. Book three, Blackout, is due out in 2012. 07/11 Becky Lejeune
DEADLINE MAN by Jon Talton: Writing a newspaper column is like writing in chalk on a sidewalk. The time is here and the place is Seattle. A life long newspaper man known only as “the columnist” joins with an aggressive young reporter to see if one explosive story can save a newspaper. It’s the deadline of their lives, and it all starts when “a source” takes a dive off a downtown skyscraper. Will the newspaper survive? Will the two newsmen survive? There are mysterious forces at work including federal agents, corporate schemers, and murder intrigue and secrets everywhere. And what is eleven-eleven? I don’t usually do “newspaper” books, but this is one has it – in spades. 05/10 Jack Quick
DEADLY CODES by J P O’Donnell: When Jennifer Clark is killed in a car bombing in her own driveway, was she the intended victim or was the bomb meant for her husband. Bill Clark holds a top-secret position in the counter-intelligence division of the National Security Agency and the bomb was planted in his car, so logically he should be the target. However, Jeanne Campbell, Jennifer’s twin sister thinks the mysterious woman, Jennifer’s secret lesbian lover, who vanished immediately after the bombing is the key to finding out what is going on. She hires Daniel Cormac Gallagher, Jr., a Boston private eye, to look into the matter since the authorities are only pursuing their suspicions that the terrorist act was intended for Jennifer’s husband. Gallaher soon learns that a bounty has been placed on his own head and the car bombing is only a backdrop to a complex, treasonous scheme to sell code-breaking formulas to a hostile enemy nation. Nicely done. 11/09 Jack Quick
DEADLY NIGHT by Heather Graham: The Flynn brothers; Aiden, Jeremy, and Zachary, learn they have inherited a plantation home from an aunt in New Orleans they never knew. At first, they contemplate selling the house, but upon seeing it, decide to fix it up instead. Aiden, the oldest, finds human bones on the property. His instincts as a private investigator kick in and he begins to research the history of the home, and of missing persons in the area. He soon learns of decades of missing women, all last seen in New Orleans. With the help of Kendall, a local tarot card reader who has close ties to Aiden’s aunt and the plantation, Aiden reveals the plantation’s dark history. He is aware of the rumors that the plantation is haunted, but he refuses to believe in ghosts. That is, until Kendell starts seeing things during her tarot card readings. Women she does readings for disappear. Is it all tied to the Flynn plantation? This was my first taste of Heather Graham’s writing. It is obvious that she did a lot of research into New Orleans, and the civil war, in preparation for writing this book. The storyline and characters were well thought out and developed. I’ve read many a mystery, and most I’ve figured out before I reach the book’s halfway point. This one intrigued me up until the end. I’m looking forward to starting the next in the Flynn Brothers series, HAUNTED HARVEST. 11/08 Jennifer Lawrence
DEADMAN’S BLUFF by James Swain: In this follow-up to Deadman’s Poker, a legally blind poker player named Skip DeMarco is scamming the world’s largest poker tournament in Las Vegas, and cheating-expert Tony Valentine and his son, Gerry, have been hired to find out how. DeMarco is tied to some dangerous characters who will go to extremes – even cold-blooded murder–to ensure that he wins big. While Gerry works in Atlantic City, Valentine stays in Vegas and teams up with an aging grifter named Rufus Steele, who has his own score to settle with DeMarco. On opposite sides of a deadly game, father and son work their way through a colorful landscape of conmen and hitmen. Together, they will have to prove there’s more to any game of chance than meets the eye. 06/06 Jack Quick
DEADMAN’S SWITCH by Barbara Seranella: Charlotte Lyon, victim of obsessive compulsive disorder, has turned her illness into a career, as a crisis management specialist. No matter how bad the situation, Charlotte can think up even more dire scenarios. This case involves a train wreck, a Hollywood star who is fatally injured, possible sabotage, and even a new love interest for the widowed Lyon. Throw in Charlotte’s dysfunctional mother and voluntarily absent sister, and you have quite a cast. Unfortunately it ends all far too quickly. From The Big Chill: Richard is having a late-night snack while talking to Sam and Nick “There’s some asshole at work you have to kowtow to, and you find yourself doing things you thought you’d never do. But you try and minimize that stuff; be the best person you can be. But you set your priorities. And that’s the way life is. I wonder if your friend Alex knew that. One thing’s for sure, he couldn’t live with it. I know I shouldn’t talk; you guys knew him. But the thing is… no one ever said it would be fun. At least… no one ever said it to me.” Barbara, no one ever said it would be fun, and no one ever said it would be fair, but you were a winner and went out at the top. God Bless. She saved her best for last. 05/07 Jack Quick
DEAD RUN by P. J. Tracy: The mother/daughter writing duo, P. J. Tracy (Monkeewrench, Live Bait), has once again penned a furiously paced tale with their trademarked humor and quirky characters, only this time adding a personal twist. Deputy Sharon Mueller suspects a serial killer at work and asks prickly, paranoid Grace McBride and Queen-size sexpot Annie Belinsky of Monkeewrench fame to accompany her to Green Bay to try and get to the bottom of it – but they never make it there. Their car breaks down in the tiny town of Four Corners, which appears to be a recently vacated ghost town. They quickly find out that they are not alone, however; an extremist paramilitary group has garrisoned the town and is hunting them down with orders to shoot on sight. The men they left behind grow concerned when the women don’t arrive in Green Bay and set out after them, but this is no damsel in distress tale. These women are smart and feisty, but there is a much bigger problem afoot than they realize. Four Corners is just part of a much larger terrorist plot that takes the combined efforts of the sheriff’s department, the FBI and the Monkeewrench crew to resolve. 04/05 Copyright © 2005 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
DEAD RUN by P.J. Tracy: Grace and Annie of Monkeewrench and Wisconsin deputy Sharon Mueller are headed to Green Bay, where Sharon believes a serial killer has set up shop. After Grace’s Range Rover breaks down the women seek refuge up in the town of Four Corners, which is abandoned. They discover all the phone lines have been cut and then witness the cold blooded killing of a couple. Soon Federal, state and local authorities are all involved while our three heroines remain at risk right in the middle of the action. Tracy’s work just gets better and better. 01/06 Jack Quick
DEAD WATCH by John Sandford: The president hires Jake Winter to investigate the disappearance of former Virginia senator Lincoln Bowe. Bowe’s wife, Madison, believes his bitter political rival, Governor Arlo Goodman, is behind her husband’s disappearance and eventual murder. Bowe was not a saint: he was obsessed with destroying Goodman’s political career. This may have driven him to contemplate political blackmail, which could have cost him his life. Sandford shows that he knows insider Washington just as well as his more familiar Minneapolis. There’s dirt enough to cover everyone, although not enough to cover the odor of day-to-day political infighting. A first rate book. Lets hope it is not a stand-alone and we will see more of Mr. Winter. 07/06 Jack Quick
DEADLOCK by Robert Liparulo: “The mission was simple – kill everyone. The complications came in the details, such as the directive to keep it quiet.” No “dark and stormy night” here, just the beginning of an action packed thriller that makes Rambo read like a nursery rhyme. Brendan Page is a billionaire military industrialist who is used to getting what he wants. What he wants now is to teach John “Hutch” Hutchinson as lesson. Hutch has uncovered some dirt that jeopardizes Page’s empire – specifically that Page is using a private army to settle his own scores. But Page’s teaching operation goes terribly wrong, and Hutch’s son is kidnapped. Now it’s Die Hard, Mission Impossible, and every other unrealistic but satisfying foray in which one determined man overcomes all obstacles and exacts his own brand of revenge. I wore my seat belt throughout this one. 06/09 Jack Quick
DEADLY ADVICE by Roberta Isleib: Dr. Rebecca Butterman has her own problems – a recent divorce, her practice as a psychotherapist, and her advice column for Bloom magazine. Now she finds that her next-door neighbor, Madeline, has been found dead, under circumstances that suggest suicide. Madeline’s mother insists that the suicide note wasn’t written by her daughter and after having talked Butterman into taking care of Madeline’s cat, also persuades her to look into her late daughter’s life. What Butterman finds in Madeline’s blog – a lively and up to date chronicle of dating adventures, causes her to wonder, as well, since there are no signs of depression. When Butterman’s editor assigns her to do a column on the modern singles scene, Rebecca finds out just how deadly some advice can be. 06/07 Jack Quick
DEADLY BELOVED by Max Allan Collins: Number 38 in the Hard Case Crime series is the first Ms. Tree novel. Ms. Tree, aka Ms. Michael Tree, is the groundbreaking female P.I. featured in the longest running private-eye comic book series of all time. Not a kids’ comic here. Ms. Tree is investigating a conspiracy that involves murder. Marcy Addwatter shot and killed her husband in the motel room where he was entertaining a blonde hooker. Shot the hooker, too. But before she gets sent away, Ms. Tree is going to dig out the truth – or die trying. Another Hard Case winner, with lines like “Dr. Sander’s icy smile, however, wasn’t that soothing – her lipstick was dark red and the effect was that of a cut in her face…Her laugh was as chilly as her smile.” Where is my trench coat and gat? 11/07 Jack Quick
DEADLY BEAUTIFUL by Sam Baker: Annie Anderson has traded in her investigative journalist shoes for a pair of high heeled Jimmy Choos. Her current assignment has her at New York’s Fashion Week reporting on some of the lesser-known designers at Bryant Park (her boss gets the A-list). But when her best friend and fellow reporter, Lou McCartney, comes to her for help, Annie can’t resist. See Lou’s been holding out on Annie. It seems Lou McCartney is really Luella Ulrich, the abandoned daughter of rich industrialist Rufus Ulrich. That means that Lou’s little sister is Scarlett Ulrich, the world-famous child model. Scarlett, or Lettie as Lou calls her, would appear to have all the luck until she goes missing in Tokyo. Despite Lou’s attempts to appear otherwise, she is worried about her little sister, and Annie has a history of being able to track down hard-to-find people. Annie’s fear lies in the fact that all of those people she tracked down were dead. Two bodies have already been found in Tokyo and Annie sincerely hopes that Lettie won’t be next. Sam Baker, editor-in-chief of Red, draws on her own experience as a journalist to give readers a glimpse of the dirty side of the fashion industry and skillfully wraps it up in a thrilling package. You can read more about Annie in Baker’s debut, Fashion Victim, or you can read Beautiful all on its own. Deadly Beautiful has been published as This Year’s Model in the UK. 08/08 Becky Lejeune
DEADLY COLLECTION by Elaine Flinn: This is the third installment in Flinn’s Molly Doyle mystery series and they just keep getting better. This one has an interesting twist; Molly’s twelve-year-old niece Emma is helping her aunt with the antique store she runs, and with the murder she stumbles over. Molly is commissioned to sell the contents of an estate in Carmel, California. The owner is an old friend-of-a-friend of Molly’s, so even though she doesn’t really like the woman Molly agrees to take on the sale – and the commission doesn’t hurt either. But a murder, a fire and other mysterious happenings spoil the sale and create a lot of tension for Molly and her friends. A good mystery in an appealing setting and strong, believable characters add up to another great read from Elaine Flinn. 10/05
DEADLY COLLECTION by Elaine Flinn: I don’t do cozies but my sweet wife opines that this is the best Molly Doyle yet. Taking away nothing from the first two books, but in this one the characters really seem to come to life. She said even after she figured out whodunit, she never figured out the whydunit. Five stars according to my bride of many years, with whom I never disagree. 11/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
DEADLY DIAMONDS by John F. Dobbyn: This is the fourth entry in the Knight and Devlin series after Black Diamond (2011). Criminal attorney Michael Knight finds himself in the middle of a Boston mob war when Irish Mafia don O’Byrne forces Knight to help his teenage son. The younger O’Byrne took a car for a joyride that turned out to belong to Italian mob boss Santangelo, and in a case of really bad luck, had a body hidden in the trunk. Knight tries to broker the peace between them but the young O’Byrne disappears, Devlin runs into serious trouble, and the Santangelo family doesn’t want to deal. Knight is being followed by another gangster, this one directly from Ireland, and he can’t figure out why. Meanwhile there is a secondary plot about stolen blood diamonds from Sierra Leone that are thought to be in Boston, and a deadly hunt is on. Dobbyn manages to take the two storylines and tie them together in a brilliant knot in this fiercely violent story that somehow also tugs at the heartstrings. This should appeal to fans of Tess Gerritsen, Jon Land and Dennis Lehane. 9/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.
DEADLY ERRORS by Allen Wyler: A scary thriller that will cause you to have second thoughts about going to the hospital. .A comatose man is given a fatal dose of insulin in the Emergency Room—even though he isn’t diabetic. An ulcer patient dies of hemolytic shock after receiving a transfusion—of the wrong blood type. A recovering heart patient receives a double dose of the same medication—triggering a fatal cardiac arrest. When the doctors and nurses at Seattle’s prestigious Maynard Medical Center start making preventable drug and treatment errors that kill their patients, neurosurgeon Dr. Tyler Mathews suspects that something is murderously wrong with the hospital’s highly touted new “Med-InDx” electronic medical record. But when he airs his concerns to the hospital’s upper management, he’s met with stonewalling, skepticism—and threats. Millions of dollars, and the future of Med-InDx, are at stake. Powerful corporate forces aren’t about to let their potential profits evaporate. Tyler soon finds that his career, his marriage, and his very life are in jeopardy—along with the lives of countless innocent patients. Will the last surviving patient please turn out the light? An excellent read. 10/06 Jack Quick
DEADLY EXCHANGE by Geoffrey M. Gluckman: Of course this is a work of fiction, isn’t it? Jennifer Chance is a world-renowned motivational speaker who is not who she seems. She works for Lectures and More, Inc., a company representing the world’s top motivational speakers. Ulrich Rogers who spearheads the company and its reeducation programs has a new technological advance: a mind-altering radio frequency device sold as a work-site enhancement product. Jennifer learns of Rogers’ plan to use the device to take control of America. She teams up with Frank Revere, an enigmatic former government counterintelligence agent, as they try to untangle deception. Gluckman is a former federal agent and international lecturer. Although you may think his premise somewhat absurd, a reminder that an injectable sub-dermal RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) the size of a grain of rice which can send and receive data and be tracked by Global Positioning Systems has been around since early 2002. Makes you wonder. 06/09 Jack Quick
DEADLY GAMBLE by Connie Shelton: Charlie Parker and her brother Ron are RJP Investigations in Albuquerque. Normally Ron handles the detecting while Charlie, a CPA, handles the financial end. Unfortunately Ron is out of town when Stacy North shows up needing RJP to find a missing Rolex watch. Unfortunately, because ten years earlier Stacy had eloped with Brad, Charlie’s fiancé. Needless to say, Charlie is somewhat reluctant to get involved but does so, against her better judgment. Things start to get sticky when she does, in fact, find the watch in a pawn shop where the alleged thief sold it. The “thief”, it turns out, is having an affair with Stacy and when he is killed, Stacy is immediately a suspect. Charlie soldiers on and additional murders occur. This is quite different from pushing numbers around a spreadsheet. First installment in what looks to be an interesting series. 08/06 Jack Quick
DEADLY HARVEST by Heather Graham: The second installment of the Flynn Brothers Trilogy has middle brother Jeremy Flynn traveling to Salem, Massachusetts to help his old partner whose wife has gone missing. Rowenna Cavanaugh, a native of Salem, has been living in New Orleans and met Jeremy through her friend Kendall (of Deadly Night). Ro has a gift that allows her to see things. She says it is simply the fact that she can easily get into the victim’s mindset and that there is nothing supernatural about her ability, but her almost-father-in-law, a Salem detective, has used her help in many investigations. Jeremy is definitely a skeptic when it comes to all paranormal mojo and initially believes that Rowenna is an attention-seeker who should be avoided at all cost, in spite of his attraction to her. Upon learning that they will both be working the case in Salem, however, the two finally give in to temptation. Their burgeoning relationship becomes fraught with tension when Ro discovers a body in a local cornfield. Though the body is not that of Jeremy’s friend, it’s clear that someone is stalking women in Salem and that she, or even Ro, could be the next victim. The light paranormal aspect to this trilogy is great. It’s not overpowering, but still fits easily within the stories. Plot-wise, I love that each of these tales fits around a different holiday, thus far. Deadly Night is set in New Orleans around Halloween and was released in October and now Deadly Harvest deals with the Fall Harvest Festival in Salem in the month of November. We’ll see if the holiday link continues with the final installment, Deadly Gift, coming in December. 10/08 Becky Lejeune
DEADLY INTEREST by Julie Hyzy: People are always asking me how to spell my last name, and I suspect Ms. Hyzy has the same problem. Fortunately, her heroine, Chicago TV reporter Alex St. James doesn’t seem to have that problem. Everyone seems to know who she is because of her work on Midwest Focus News Magazine. When Alex’ neighbor Evelyn Vicks is murdered, Alex becomes involved whether she wants to or not. She is stalked by an ex-con and has to deal with Evelyn’s estranged son. Combined with romance and caring for her handicapped sister, its all part of the complicated life she leads. Relatively fast paced for a cozy, Deadly Interest will probably have greater appeal to the female reader who would have a greater appreciation for the angst of broken fingernails and unruly hair than do I. Still a quality read, and second in the series after Deadly Blessings. A third, Deadly Messages, is in the works. 08/07 Jack Quick
DEADLY LAWS by Jim Hansen: Fourth in the Laws series, drawing us again into the life and work of hard charging, coffee drinking, womanizing, homicide solving Denver detective Bryson Coventry. A man is abducting women, and then calling other women to go rescue them. If the proposed rescuer refuses, the abducted woman dies. One such rescue leads to the killing of a rapist, which brings Coventry onto the scene. A security camera video leads him to the “rescuer” and the most recent victim. They don’t want to cooperate, because of the circumstances of the rapist’s death, and because they have vowed to find and kill the abductor themselves. So Coventry begins a long, drawn out investigation/ assignation, the latter of which is thoroughly enjoyed by all concerned. In the meantime, the ladies are trying to use to get more information on the abductor, as well as……. Crisp as a Rocky Mountain morning and as exciting as a new powder run at Vail, this is the best “Law” yet. 10/07 Jack Quick
DEADLY NIGHT by Heather Graham: The Flynn brothers have just inherited a home in New Orleans that has a quite sordid history. Locals say that the Flynn’s ancestors have haunted the home since the end of the Civil War when two cousins, a confederate and a union soldier, killed each other and one of their wives threw herself over the home’s balcony. For Aiden, Jeremy, and Zachary, news of the family estate and its history come as something of a surprise; they only learned of the home after the death of an unknown aunt. The three are all formerly involved in law enforcement and run a successful private investigations firm. When Aiden, the eldest Flynn, discovers two human femur bones on the same day, one on the estate itself and another nearby, he comes to believe that there is something fishy going on. Local agencies chalk it up to Katrina damage on graveyards, but Aiden soon uncovers evidence that suggests someone has been stalking women in the Big Easy and possibly using the estate as their dumping ground. This first in a new trilogy proved to be a great read. Graham ties in a slight paranormal storyline that works to the book’s advantage. She is true to her setting, post-Katrina New Orleans, something that is much appreciated by this Louisiana native. The subsequent titles leave the south for other locales, but I’m really looking forward to continuing the Flynn brothers’ adventures. 10/08 Becky Lejeune
DEADLY STILLWATER by Roger Stelljes: It starts with a well-executed high profile kidnapping of the young daughter of a notable Twin Cities lawyer who has been involved for years in both criminal and high stakes civil cases. From the start the case doesn’t feel right to St. Paul detective Mac McRyan, a fourth-generation cop. Then there is another kidnapping – identical in style – and the victim is the Police Chief’s daughter. There has to be a connection. Is this for revenge or for money? What ties the two victims together? Interesting and twisty police procedural evocative of John Sandford. 12/12 Jack Quick
DEADLY VINTAGE: A MOLLY DOYLE MYSTERY by Elaine Flinn: I’m not a fan of traditional mysteries, yet there are a few series that I really look forward to and enjoy and this is one of them. While the mystery aspect is always interesting in this series, it’s the characters that keep pulling me back. Molly Doyle is an antiques dealer with a troubled past who settles in Carmel, California, to manage the antique store of an old friend. She makes some good friends in this small town, including the chief of police who’d like to be more than a friend. Along the way she also inherited her niece, a dream child who adds to the richness of the story. This time out Molly is trying to expand her bank account and takes on a decorating project for the tasting room at a local winery. But the owner’s husband is abusive, and Molly has a very loud, very public fight with him. When he gets killed, Molly is high on the suspect list. This a terrific read and a must for any mystery fan. 12/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DEADMAN’S POKER by James Swain: Gerry, son of gambling expert, casino consultant and retired cop Tony Valentine, has a lifelong friend, Jack Donovan, who tells Gerry he’s concocted an undetectable scheme that “can beat any poker player in the world,” but dies before he can let Gerry in on it. Gerry is convinced Jack was murdered and his investigation leads him and his reluctant father to the World Poker Showdown in Las Vegas, where they encounter tournament darling Skip DeMarco, the legally blind nephew of a notorious mobster. Every expert Tony and Gerry speak with thinks Skip is cheating, but no one can prove it. Swain’s knowledge of the con, and of his leads, make this one another winner. 05/06 Jack Quick
THE DEAL KILLER by Jack Bludis: Its 1951 and Hollywood P.I. Brian Kane has been hired for the princely sum of $50 per day to find out who is threatening Hungarian born actress Hanna Mills. Before he can even get all the basics Hanna’s fellow Hungarian and friend is ambushed and killed, followed by a kidnapping. There are also contract issues and lots of money involved as Kane is up against the postwar Hungarian mob. His life and the fate of the studio hang on the ruse of Kitty Chaney, Kane’s high priced lady friend. After reading THE BIG SWITCH and this one, I wish we could persuade Jack Bludis to give us more. Recommended. 03/08 Jack Quick
Dealing in Murder by Elaine Flinn: I just loved this first novel and terrific mystery. Molly Doyle is a disgraced antique dealer in Carmel, California (with that famous mayor, Clint Eastwood). A friend is helping her get back on her feet and has her manage a shop that has been woefully neglected. Molly hits the garage sales and finds a good desk, but when she gets it back to the shop the drawers are locked. She returns for the key, a woman dies in her arms, and things get a bit sticky after that. Lots of nice twists, interesting characters and terrific tips on the antique business make this a fun, fast read. This book has been nominated for several awards.
DEARLY DEVOTED DEXTER by Jeff Lindsay: You have to give credit to an author who can make you feel sympathetic towards the plight of a stone cold serial killer who has to “act” human because he has none of the normal range of emotions. In Dexter’s second outing he helps sister Deborah and the Miami police deal with a South American monster who is now loose in their area. In the meantime he pursues his own hobby of providing permanent solutions to child molesters. Actually, Lindsay doesn’t really portray Dexter in a sympathetic fashion, but more in the sense of an unemotional occurrence, like a thunderstorm or avalanche. Dexter just happens and while the results aren’t pretty you can’t really blame him, just as you couldn’t blame an errant gust of wind. In the meantime, the police procedural written around Dexter is as good as any. 08/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
DEATH AND HONOR by W.E.B. Griffin: Only Griffin can write the same story so many times and keep the concept fresh and freely flowing. This is the fourth in the Honor Bound saga of World War II espionage in Germany and Argentina. Cletus Frade, a wealthy Marine pilot recruited by the OSS, with strong family ties to Argentina, has a lot on his hands. OSS chief Wild Bill Donovan has asked him to set up his own (and OSS) airline in Argentina, using “loaned” Lockheed Lodestars and Constellations. This is in furtherance of the overall war effort but also tied to two Nazi inspired operations that the OSS is trying to get into. The first allows Jews outside the Fatherland to purchase the freedom of their relatives in concentration camps, who will then be transported to Argentina and Uruguay. The second, called Operation Phoenix, involves the use of these funds to establish a sanctuary for senior Nazi officials in South America. Another great outing from a master. 06/08 Jack Quick
DEATH AND LIFE OF BOBBY Z by Don Winslow: About the only thing worse than being a three-time loser facing life without parole at age 27 is being a three-time loser, facing life without parole in California where the Aryan Nation has a hit order out on you. So when the man wants to talk to Tim Kearny, an admitted career screw-up, Tim listens. He has won a get Out of Jail Free card, if he will serve as a lookalike in a hostage switch with a Mexican drug lord. You see no one has actually seen the legendary Laguna Beach surfer-turned-drug dealer Bobby Zacharias for years. Kearny quickly learns that the Hell’s Angels want to terminate him/Bobby Z, so it’s not all fun and games. Fantastic ending is the icing on the cake of this great outing by Winslow. 03/10 Jack Quick
DEATH AND THE RUNNING PATTERER by Robin Adair: How does one investigate a murder in a city full of criminals? This is just the question faced by Nicodemus Dunne, a patterer (he earns a living reading out news stories) and former cop living in 1800s Australia. Dunne, a convicted criminal himself, has been brought on board by Sydney officials to help investigate the murder of a soldier. With his past experience and his current position, Dunne is adept at investigation and easily fits into most crowds without notice, something he can use to his advantage in digging into the crime. As more bodies are found, Dunne is drawn deeper and deeper into a most curious mystery. Unfortunately, he’s caught the eye of the killer. Adair’s experience as a journalist serves him well in bringing historic Sydney alive for readers. The plot is a classic whodunit that will keep mystery fans guessing to the very end. 12/10 Becky Lejeune
DEATH BEFORE DINNER by Gerald Anderson: In some circles, parting the chef’s hair and head with a meat cleaver after the meal might be considered as a form of criticism. When it is done before the meal and inside the chef’s locked kitchen in the heart of rural Minnesota, Sheriff Palmer Knutson considers it homicide. The victim is the self-serving widely disliked President of Fergus Falls State University and there is no shortage of suspects – basically everyone who has ever come into contact with Dr. George Gherkin -with a name like a pickle, he has to be sour – (sorry, my bad). Knudson’s dilemma, after determining that Gherkin was not in fact cooking up Hot Dish, isn’t about motive or opportunity, but how did the killer gain access and who, of the many suspects, actually did the deed. A most interesting variant on both the traditional locked room and culinary sub-genres. I’d vote for Sheriff Knutson again – and avoid breaking any laws in his territory. 05/07 Jack Quick
DEATH BY HOLLYWOOD by Steve Boccho: If you witness a murder, you normally would call the police and report it, unless you are a down and out Hollywood screen writer. Bobby Newman’s career is in the tank, he’s drinking too much and his wife is finding comfort outside the marriage bed. So when he sees a neighbor kill her lover with an acting trophy, Bobby sees this as a chance to both solve his writer’s block and propel him to the top of the heap in Hollywood. Told by Newman’s agent, it is a typical Hollywood tale, but very well done. The author, Steve Boccho, has produced Hill Street Blues, NYPD and other crime shows, and knows his way around a mystery. 12/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick
THE DEATH COLLECTORS by Jack Kerley: Mobile, Ala., PD detectives Carson Ryder and Harry Nautilus are tracking a serial killer who leaves a tiny beautiful painting with each body. Retired police detective Jacob C. Willow hears of the murder/painting connection and tells Carson he thinks it has something to do with a serial killer case he worked early in his career. That killer has been dead for years, but a peculiar group of collectors specializing in murder memorabilia is keeping his memory alive. Another excellent outing from the author of The Hundredth Man. 03/06 Jack Quick
DEATH, DOOM AND DETENTION by Darynda Jones: This second installment in Jones’s new teen series finds Lorelei and friends facing a new challenge: something dark has come to their tiny town and it’s affecting everyone it touches. Kids Lorelei has known all her life are suddenly surly and confrontational. School is becoming a battlefield and Lorelei, Jared, and Cameron are the targets. Meanwhile, Lorelei’s grandparents are convinced the only solution is to send her away, a decision that’s not met well with others amongst the Order. But how else can they protect Lorelei as the last prophet and their only defense in the coming otherworldly war? Jones’s Darklight series features all of the same attitude and humor as her adult series, but with a cast of teen characters, making it fun for adult fans as well as teens. While DD&D does little to move forward the actual trilogy, it is still a fun and quick read. Lorelei discovers some new talents, there’s a bit more development in the relationships, and it’s a good set up for the third piece of the story, Death and the Girl He Loves, which is due out later this year. 3/13 Becky Lejeune
DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Darynda Jones: For Lorelei, life hasn’t exactly been easy. Ten years ago, her parents went missing. Since then she’s been raised by her grandparents. With the support of her family and friends, each anniversary of her parents’ disappearance gets a bit easier, but Lorelei also has a secret. Lorelei sees things that others can’t. Like the vision of the new guy fighting a dark and demonic being. And with the arrival of said new guy, another student seems to have begun stalking Lorelei. Strange things are starting to happen and Lorelei and her friends will soon face a challenge of epic proportions. Death and the Girl Next Door launches Jones’s new YA series. The premise is unique and the set up leaves readers on the edge of their seats waiting to see what will come next. The only downside is that this first has such a cliffhanger of an ending that it can’t stand on its own without the rest of the series. Kind of a bummer since it’ll be spring 2013 before we get to read more of Lorelei’s story. 10/12 Becky Lejeune
DEATH AND THE LIT CHICK by G. M. Malliet: Second outing for Detective Chief Inspector St. Just in this light mystery series which has been described as both a homage to and a parody of the traditional British mystery. In this one, Lord Easterbrook, who is head of Deadly Dagger Publishing is hosting his annual Dead on Arrival Mystery Writers Conference with guest of honor, Kimberlee Kalder, the young chick lit author of Dying for a Latte. Kalder is not the smoothest rock in the pile of assembled writers of damsel-in-distress bodice rippers, spy thrillers, prehistoric detectives and dark-and-no-loner edgy tomes, so it should come as no surprise when the late Ms. Kalder shows up in the dungeon – dead. If you have ever read anything by Agatha Christie or Dorothy L. Sayers, you will recognize many of the characters and might even guess the identity of the evil-doer. Interesting, very interesting. 04/09 Jack Quick
A DEATH AT THE ROSE PAPERWORKS by M.J. Zellnik: The title says cozy but the new effort from brother/sister team Miriam and Joseph Zellnik has more action than most. Amateur sleuth Libby Seale is working as a seamstress for the Rose family in turn of the century Portland, Oregon when her boss Hiram Rose is reported to have been killed – caught in machinery at his own paper mill. Minutes later, a healthy Mr. Rose walks through the front door. As continued murder attempts reveal a dark agenda, it is up to Seale and boyfriend Pere Eberle, a maverick reporter for the Portland Gazette, to solve the mystery. Portland, Oregon, 1894 – well depicted – if that’s your cup of tea. A bit too sweet for me. 10/06 Jack Quick
THE DEATH CHAMBER by Sarah Rayne: UK author, Sarah Rayne, returns with yet another chilling thriller about family secrets and the people who will do just about anything to make sure they stay forgotten. Georgina Grey has lost everything. Her business partner left with all the cash, and Georgina’s boyfriend, so it’s something of a saving grace when she receives a letter from the Caradoc Society. The society was set up ages ago to deal with psychic phenomena. It seems Georgina’s grandfather, a man she never met, left a good portion of money to the society – money that, after being used to pay off the society’s debts, will fall to Georgina. All Georgina knows about her grandfather is that he once served as the prison doctor at Calvary Gaol, a prison specifically for death row inmates. She makes the trip hoping to learn more about the man and meets TV host Chad Ingram. Ingram and his team are working on a show about Calvary and Georgina promises to let them use any relevant information she finds. Unfortunately for Georgina, this is one man’s worst nightmare – not only could his family’s terrible secrets be unearthed, but for them to be aired for national viewing is something he cannot, and will not, allow. 04/08 Becky Lejeune
THE DEATH CURE by James Dashner: He survived the maze and made it through the Scorch, now WICKED has promised to give Thomas back his memories. They say that the experiments are done and that they have what they need to fight the virus that has been driving mankind to madness and certain death. But Thomas doesn’t trust WICKED and he’s not sure he wants to remember anything that came before his own part in the trials. He and a small band of fellow survivors manage to escape, but the world outside WICKED is not welcoming: Thomas is immune, which makes him a commodity for groups like WICKED and hated by those who are susceptible to the Flare. All is finally revealed in this third and last installment of Dashner’s Maze Runner trilogy. Dashner’s series no doubt draws comparison to The Hunger Games, seeing as how they are both part of the massively popular teen dystopian trend, but Dashner’s work certainly stands on its own. 10/11 Becky Lejeune
Death in Dublin by Bartholomew Gill: I should confess from the outset that I am a big McGarr fan. One of my favorite lines comes from an earlier book and involved the questioning of a bartender by the Irish police. He explains that at the time in question, he was at the trough in the bathroom. The policeman responds “I guess you have a cast-iron alibi, then.” Death in Dublin was the last book written by Bartholomew Gill before his passing and I am going to miss him and his characters.
The book starts with the theft of The Book of Kells from Trinity College and the literal sucking the life out of the watchman who admitted the crooks. Atlhough the signs point to a cult proclaiming itself to be the New Druids, the plot grows increasingly more complicated. It involves such current matters as oxycontin addiction and the Opus Dei organization and such old themes as lust, politics and money.
McGarr’s progress throughout this maze is monitored, assisted and hindered by a young aggressive female reporter and the rich, despicable, but politically-connected publisher of the newspaper for which she is working.
McGarr is assisted in his investigation by two former members of his squad who were forced to resign from the Garda Soichana when their communal marriage was exposed by that newspaper. They become vital when a “pretty boy” on the way up is put in charge of the Guarda.
By the end of the story, McGarr has not only solved the crime, but exposed corruption at the highest levels of government, religion and industry. And as a bonus, learned the true facts surrounding the earlier murder of his wife and father-in-law.
As to whether he would have found love or happiness afterwards, we can only speculate. I hope so. This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.
DEATH IN SMALL DOSES by Bernard Steele: This is either a work of Christian fiction occasionally interrupted by action sequences, or else a thriller in which characters periodically feel the need to moralize and preach. The ploy idea is good – someone has created radioactive cocaine – which is even more deadly than the normal kind. DEA officers are frantically trying to locate the source, aided by an incredible series of coincidences that further strain the imagination. In the end it’s the Jihadists versus the good guys in the New York City subways. Guess who wins? 10/08 Jack Quick
THE DEATH LIST by Paul Johnston: Struggling author Matt Wells still gets the occasional e-mail from a devoted fan or new reader. With no new releases, however, hits to his site have dwindled. One devoted fan – he calls himself WD – has decided to help Matt combat his writer’s block. See, WD has been keeping a list of all the people who have wronged him throughout his life and he wants Matt to chronicle their punishment. To encourage Matt along the way, WD will be keeping an eye on him, as well as his family and friends. If Matt disappoints WD… well, there may be more additions to that list. To make matters worse, Matt suspects that WD may be setting him up to take the fall for the crimes. This gruesome and intense thriller is the first installment of a new series for Johnston. I raced through The Death List and I can’t wait for the next installment. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for what promises to be an exciting new series. 07/07 Becky Lejeune
DEATH OF A COZY WRITER by G.M. Malliet: No, this actually is not THE CAT WHO KILLED LILLIAN JACKSON BRAUN. It’s the first of a series featuring Detective Chief Inspector St. Just (with a name like that he’s got to be good). Millionaire mystery writer Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk gathers his four children together for a family dinner to announce a secret elopement with the beautiful Violet, who was once suspected of murdering her husband. Within hours, eldest son and appointed heir Ruthven is found cleaved to death by a medieval mace. Its just an typical English parlor mystery for St. Just until Sir Adrian himself is found slumped over his writing desk – an ornate knife thrust into his heart. Who is the killer and who is the potential next victim? 12/08 Jack Quick
DEATH OF A DISSIDENT by Stuart Kaminsky: The first of Kaminksy’s Porfiry Rostnikov police procedurals. A dissident is murdered the day before a show trial where he had hoped to get his message to the western media. It quickly becomes clear that this isn’t a KGB murder but that a mad man is out there. Kaminsky weaves and bobs us through multiple false clues and red herrings until the crime is finally solved. Although he paints a dreary picture of Moscow, the dynamics of the police – crime interplay are universal. 01/06 Jack Quick
Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xialong: This strongly written mystery is set in contemporary China. Qiu takes the reader on a journey through Chinese culture and politics. Fascinating read.
DEATH OF A RUSSIAN PRIEST by Stuart Kaminsky: Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov investigates the murder of elderly, politically outspoken Father Vasili Merhum in the village of Arkush, while his deputy Sasha Tkach–newly and uncomfortably partnered with Elena Timofeyeva–competes with a stone killer to comb the hot-spots of Moscow searching for Amira Durahaman, daughter of the Syrian oil minister. The link between the two cases–the fact that Colonel Lunacharski of the KGB, hot for a public relations coup that will consolidate his conservative political position, is plotting to steal Rostnikov’s credit for solving both of them. In his spare time Rostnikov reads 87th precinct procedurals while his day job is being in them. One of the best yet in this fine series. 02/07 Jack Quick
DEATH OF A SCHOOLGIRL by Joanna Campbell Slan: Ever wonder what happened to Jane after Jane Eyre ended? In this first of Joanna Campbell Slan’s series, Jane and Edward are living at Ferndean and have recently welcomed their son Ned to the family. When they receive a disturbing letter from Adele in London, Jane decides that a trip to the city is in order. Adele has been living at the Alderton House School for Girls, a highly recommended boarding school known for turning out well educated, proper young ladies. While her correspondence has always been spotty — something the couple assumed was her way of expressing annoyance with them – this recent letter includes a note of a disturbing and threatening nature. Edward has been ordered to rest and recuperate, so Jane sets off alone for London. When she arrives, she is shocked to see a body being carted away from the school. Adele is safe, but reports of an investigation lead Jane to believe that the death may be of a somewhat suspicious nature and wonders if it has anything to do with the threat Adele received. Luck is with Jane, though, when the headmistress mistakenly assumes that she is the new teacher Alderton has been waiting for. Now Jane is perfectly positioned to investigate the happenings at Alderton herself – and also perfectly positioned to catch a killer’s attention. I loved returning to the characters and thought Slan did a wonderful job creating a convincingly Bronte-esque Jane. I did find that the end faltered a bit but overall found Death of a Schoolgirl to be great fun. 8/12 Becky Lejeune
DEATH OF A WRITER by Michael Collins: It’s been years since E. Robert Pendleton has published anything of substance and he is now facing the loss of tenure in his position at Bannockburn College. Meanwhile, his former classmate Allan Horowitz has just released his latest bestseller. When Horowitz is invited to speak at Bannockburn, the chair of the college asks Pendleton to arrange it all. On the night of Horowitz’s arrival, Pendleton tries to kill himself. He leaves all of his published works to grad student Adi Wiltshire. Pendleton survives his suicide attempt but only just. Adi moves into his house and discovers boxes of a self-published book called Scream. With Horowitz’s help, Adi has the book re-released. A media frenzy and a nomination for the National Book Award follows. Adi knows all along that Pendleton used the murder of a local girl as inspiration for the novel. What she doesn’t know is that the release of the book will point police towards Pendleton as a suspect. Collins’ novel is a true literary mystery but also focuses on questions concerning moral responsibility. An intense read that will have readers wondering what they would do in similar situations. 10/06 Becky LeJeune
DEATH OF THE MANTIS by Michael Stanley: Stanley’s third outing for Detective David “Kubu” Bengu is multidimensional and his best yet. On level one, Kubu is investigating a series of murders which may or may not involve the nomadic Busmen of the Kalahari desert. On a personal level Kubu is coping, clumsily, with the concerns and stresses of motherhood as he and Joy care for three month old Tumi. Underlying the entire plot is the bigger issue of the challenges facing this part of the world in dealing with the conflict between the ancient ways of the Bushmen and the modern world. In fact, Kubu gets involved in the investigation because his old school friend Bushman Khumanego claims the arrest of three Bushman is motivated by racist antagonism on the part of the local police. Will Kubu solve the crime? Will Kubu himself survive? Outstanding. 10/11 Jack Quick
DEATH ON A PLATTER by Elaine Viets: Josie Marcus, mystery shopper is back and this time she has to check out food for a tour group company interested in doing a foodie tour of St. Louis. Josie is a bit hesitant when she learns she’ll have to eat some St. Louis gourmet staples like a fried brains and barbecued pig snout and ears. But money is money so she dives in, bringing along Ted, her veterinarian boyfriend, her best friend, gourmet cook and housewife Alyce, and Jane, her mom. The first restaurant featured another St. Louis specialty, “toasted ravioli”, a breaded, fried meat ravioli served with marinara sauce on the side. In this case, it also features a drunk restaurant customer who is giving Tillie, the owner, a really hard time. Turns out Tillie is Josie’s mom Jane’s lifelong friend. When the drunk has to be rushed from restaurant in an ambulance, Tillie is arrested. Jane demands that Josie clear her friend’s name, but that’s not going to be easy. Another fun read from one of my favorite authors, and foodies will love it. An added bonus are the shopping notes at the end about all the St. Louis food. 1/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DEATH WAS THE OTHER WOMAN by Linda L. Richards: Katherine “Kitty” Panghorn doesn’t drink bourbon. Nor does she drink gasoline, which she suspects would taste a lot like bourbon, but she is still one tough cookie. She has been orphaned by the financial crash of 1929, which led her wealthy father to take that big leap, having first lost his wife, and then his fortune. A girl’s got to earn a living, particularly in a Depression, so Kitty is pretty lucky to have hooked up with Dexter “Dex” Theroux, practicing alcoholic and erstwhile Los Angeles gumshoe. At least Kitty has done okay until Dex’s latest job – a woman hires him to tail her boyfriend, who turns out to be one of Los Angeles most corrupt businessmen. When the bodies start appearing and disappearing, Kitty knows that she and Dex have to solve this one, because its far more than her paycheck that is at risk. Nicely done and reminiscent of some of the pre World War II classics. 04/08 Jack Quick
DEATH WORE WHITE by Jim Kelly: Detective Inspector Peter Shaw and Detective Sergeant. George Valentine are following up on a report of barrels of contaminants showing up on the beach. Actually, you might say Valentine is following the father’s footsteps as he had been the partner of Shaw’s disgraced policeman father. The two stumble on a corpse on the beach, get stuck in a blizzard, and soon discover another body. Harvey Ellis, the driver nearest the downed tree which has blocked the road has been killed with a chisel blow to the eye. Other bodies follow. It seems no one is telling Shaw and Valentine the truth, which ultimately leads back to the child murder case that brought Shaw’s father down. This is a delightfully twisty police procedural with well-defined characters. 07/09 Jack Quick
DEATH’S LITTLE HELPERS by Peter Spiegelman: Marsh is looking for missing Wall Street analyst Gregory Danes. A once shining star, who came crashing down along with stock market, Danes has been frantically trying to return to glory, when suddenly the alimony checks to his ex-wife stop coming. What should be a relatively simple search become very complicated as evidence of business betrayals and deception along with the involvement of the Russian mob point Marsh into a morass of wrong doing. Nice follow-up to Black Maps. 08/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
THE DEBUTANTE by Kathleen Tessaro: When Cate Albion leaves New York and her unhealthy current relationship behind, her aunt is desperate to help. She offers Cate a position with her company, sending the girl to Endlseigh House to help catalog the contents for auction. While there, Cate stumbles upon a room that has been locked for decades. Inside, she finds a shoebox filled with a fascinating collection of objects. Elegant dancing shoes, the picture of a soldier, and a Tiffany bracelet, to name a few. These objects send Cate on a hunt to discover the truth about a missing debutante from the 1930s, a woman Cate is sure is linked to the items in question. Tessaro’s latest is a mix of mystery and history. I was swept away and ended up as obsessed with Cate’s search as she was by the box itself. 10/10 Becky Lejeune
THE DECEIVED by Brett Battles: Jonathan Quinn, introduced in The Cleaner, is a former CIA agent who cleans up shadowy government agency messes. The job this time is to accept delivery of a container from overseas, and make the body inside it disappear. Things go as planned except for one hitch; the body inside is a former agent who once saved Quinn’s life. Quinn determines to find the killer and a worldwide hunt is on. He’s aided by his apprentice Nate and a co-worker/romantic interest, Orlando. Lots of action, gun fights, international locales and some nice twists make this tightly written, fast paced thriller a first rate read. 11/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE DECEIVED by Brett Battles: Jonathan Quinn, ex-CIA agent who cleans up crime scenes for a shadowy U.S. government intelligence agency, is called upon to dispose of a body. It turns out to be that of his CIA friend Steven Markoff, which leaves Quinn determined to find the murderer. His team must also locate Steven’s missing girlfriend, Jenny Fuentes, to notify her of Steven’s death. Along the way, Quinn and his mates contend with villains who appear to be linked to an international conspiracy. The chase ends in Singapore, where Quinn enlists a former underworld contact to help identify the plot’s mastermind. Breakneck pacing, colorful locales and dizzying plot twists make the Quinn series a welcome addition to the political thriller genre. 11/11 Jack Quick
DECEMBER’S THORN by Phillip DePoy: The seventh book in the Fever Devilin series has an unusual beginning; a woman, claiming to be Fever’s wife, shows up on his doorstep proclaiming that they also have a son before she disappears into the night. Fever has no idea who she is, is pretty sure he has never been married and worst of all, no one believes that it even happened. Devilin is a retired professor of folklore living in an old family cabin in the Georgia’s Appalachian Mountains. Devilin was shot and killed, revived, and in a coma for three months which caused some memory problems, among other issues, compelling his fiancé, a nurse, to ask a psychiatrist friend to help out. When bullets take out his kitchen window, the Sheriff, Devilin’s childhood friend, gets on board to try to find the woman and child. Lots of interesting folklore is woven throughout, there is a brief reference to a famous Kurt Vonnegut character, and the somehow not quite idyllic setting becomes another of the finely drawn characters in this mystical twisty tale. Fans of Southern Gothic mystery will love this. 1/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2012 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.
DEDICATED MAN by Peter Robinson: (Second in the series) Detective Alan Banks is called to the scene after an old Yorkshire farmer, out herding his sheep, discovers a half-buried body – that of a local celebrity who had left his teaching job after inheriting a sizable sum of money. Who is responsible? Is it the wife who inherits, his long time publisher, one of his drinking buddies, a younger woman from his past? Banks has to sort through all the possibilities. Narrowing the list becomes a higher priority after a second victim is found. Excellent police procedural of the mold of Ed McBain, but with fewer characters. 09/06 Jack Quick
DEEP BLUE ALIBI by Paul Levine: Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord are back for another adventure in this worthy sequel to the winsome Solomon vs. Lord. Steve & Victoria are frolicking in the ocean when they are practically run down by a run away boat with Victoria’s uncle – and their newest client – aboard. Victoria thinks this will be her opportunity to break away from Steve and go out on her own, but of course, Steve has other ideas. With Victoria dealing with a murder case, Steve decides to get to the bottom of his father’s disbarment, against his father’s wishes. The plot thickens and churns but the laughs keep coming in this furiously fast paced, rollicking good read. 02/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE DEEP BLUE ALIBI by Paul Levine: Straight arrow Florida attorney Victoria Lord and her partner/lover, make-‘em-up-as-you-go Steve Solomon, get caught up in family matters in this second outing. Victoria is defending. Hal Griffin, an entrepreneur and onetime business partner of Victoria’s late father, who stands accused of murdering an EPA official with a spear gun. Meanwhile, Steve is attempting to discover the truth behind his father’s scandalous suspension from the Florida judicial bench. In the process both uncover family secrets that have not seen the light of day in a long time. Solomon and Lord – fast becoming my favorite odd couple. 06/06 Jack Quick
DEEP DISH by Mary Kay Andrews: I look forward to Andrews’s books because they are usually romantic suspense that are fast and funny reads. This one is not really any of those things. I loved the premise, the two main characters are TV chefs who end up competing for their own show on “The Cooking Channel”. But that these two competitors would get together was apparent from day one, yet it just dragged on and on. I kept waiting for a dead body to turn up or for something to happen, but it never did, so there was no suspense to speak of other than the how and/or when they would end up together. I was looking for some behind the scenes cooking show drama, and there really wasn’t any of that either. It was a quick read and there were a few laughs, but most of it just felt repetitive. All in all, it was a major disappointment. 04/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DEEP SHADOW by Randy Wayne White: Doc Ford’s friend Arlis tells him he just bought some property with a lake that he believes is hiding a downed plane filled with gold from Cuba, before Castro. So Doc takes his old hippie friend Tomlinson and a new young friend on what’s supposed to be an easy dive in the lake. But a cave collapses, trapping his two friends, and when Doc Ford gets back to shore for help, he’s met by two ex-cons on the run from a killing spree. They have Arlis and want the gold, and don’t really care who dies in the process. There appears to be some sort of giant swamp creature lurking about as well, ratcheting up the tension even more. An outstanding story and the 17th entry in the series, proving some authors just keep getting better. Don’t miss it. 03/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DEEP SHADOW by Randy Wayne White: Doc Ford may be on the way to achieving a fortune bigger than he ever dreamed. There are just a few problems in his path, one above the surface and two below. One problem below the surface is that his best friend Tomlinson and teenager Will Chaser are trapped under tons of limestone at the bottom of a Florida lake. The problem above the ground is that the fourth member of their group, cranky old-timer Arlis Futch, is being held hostage by two psycho killers, who have already slain five people in a botched home invasion near Winter Haven. But perhaps the scariest of all is the presence of a sea monster in the lake capable of killing cows and almost anything else in its path. Maybe the best Doc Ford yet, as he tries to simultaneously deal with all these complications. 09/10 Jack Quick
THE DEEP SIX by Randy Wayne White: This is the second of White’s pre Doc Ford works originally published under the name of Randy Striker. A Key West scavenger, who has a golden chain that appears to be part of a bigger treasure, approaches Dusty MacMorgan. Before MacMorgan can learn more, the scavenger disappears. It’s too much of a coincidence for MacMorgan that the old man was killed by sharks – the marine variety at least. He sets out for vengeance fighting predators in and out of the water looking for the old man’s treasure. Obviously not as polished as the Doc Ford series, but still a good read if you like Florida danger and deception. 12/06 Jack Quick
A DEEPER DARKNESS by J.T. Ellison: When Sam Owens receives a call from an old friend asking for a second autopsy on her son, she can’t refuse. After all, Sam knows all to well the pain of losing those closest to you. The fact that the deceased is also Sam’s ex, Eddie Donovan, is something she has to set aside. The police investigating the death have deemed it a carjacking gone bad. All evidence seems to point to this assessment as being the most logical, but the case becomes more complicated when another man connected to Donovan is murdered as well. Sam’s findings during her autopsy also reveal something missed the first time around. Unraveling the mystery may be the job of the detectives, but Sam needs to see it through to the end. Losing Donovan is painful enough, but delving into his past and helping with the investigation means a reprieve from facing her own losses back home. This spin off from the Taylor Jackson series is the first to feature Dr. Samantha Owens as the main character. While readers may feel they know her well from earlier books, Ellison has turned this character’s world upside down in launching the new series. Owens is quite different from Jackson, but is no less fascinating. Ellison’s plotting is always smart and this new character means the cases are a bit different from those of the previous books as well. A great start to a new series. 12/12 Becky Lejeune
DEEPER THAN THE DEAD by Tami Hoag: In 1984, four kids discover the body of a woman in a park. She was buried with only her neck & head showing, her mouth and eyes glued shut. Their teacher, Ann Navarre, heard the children scream and went to investigate. There’s a hotshot new detective, who is into this new high tech strategy of profiling serial killers. He investigates and finds two other women have been killed in a similar manner. He calls in a friend from the FBI, who recently came back from medical leave after being shot in the head. Meanwhile, the entire town is in turmoil. The characters are really well developed, even the children who are often just used as props have their stories told in this fast paced, riveting yet somewhat predictable read. 01/10 Ariel Alesi
THE DEFECTOR by Daniel Silva: Should have the subtitle, Moscow Rules II. Russian defector and dissident Grigori Bulganov ended up in London after enigmatic assassin and art restorer Gabriel Allon saved his life in Moscow Rules. Allon himself went into semi-retirement restoring artwork for the Vatican. Then Bulganov disappears from London. The Brits think he has re-defected after deceiving Allon and the intelligence services of both Britain and Israel. Allon is not so sure. His efforts to find Bulganov and the truth lead him straight into the path of Ivan Kharkov, the former KGB agent and Russian oligarch who opposed Allon in Moscow Rules. Reminiscent of the best of LeCarre, Silva just keeps getting better. This is his ninth Allon and let us hope for another. 09/09 Jack Quick
DEFENDING COLLEGE HEIGHTS by Stuart Nachbar: Military recruiting in the sixties was hazardous duty on some college campuses. Now, Army Captain Kevin Callahan has survived Iraq only to be stabbed to death at Hudson Technical University, a small private engineering school located in College Heights, in New York’s Hudson River Valley. A message left on Callahan’s shirt reads, “No more lies.” Is this the result of opposition to the war and current recruiting practices as the news media and pro-military and anti-war activists believe, or is there more to this story? Callahan’s uncle, Philadelphia area urban planner Jack Donnelly, is determined to find out. He takes the position of special assistant for campus planning at Hudson Tech, working with president Martina Tiernan. Callahan isn’t sure about Tiernan’s motives, but he is determined to find why his nephew died. The answer shocked him and will surprise you. 06/09 Jack Quick
DEFENDING JACOB by William Landay: Andy Barber has been the top district attorney in his small, middle-class, Massachusetts town for 20 years. When a teenage boy is murdered, Andy focuses on a neighborhood pedophile as the chief suspect. There are concerns about a conflict of interest since Andy’s teenage son, Jacob, attended the same school as the murdered boy and the investigation seems to be lagging. But after Jacob’s best friend provides evidence against him, Jacob is arrested. Andy is taken off the case and suspended, but he is determined to prove his son’s innocence. VERDICT: This brilliant novel by the author of The Strangler and the award-winning Mission Flats is equal parts legal thriller and dysfunctional family saga, culminating in a shocking ending. Skillful plotting and finely drawn characters result in a haunting story reminiscent of Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent. 2/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch x Copyright © 2012 Library Journal, a division of Media Source Inc. Reprinted with permission.
A DELICATE TRUTH by John le Carré: Typically twisted le Carré wherein you read the first third of the book trying to figure out what is going on, the middle third determining who to root for, and the final third being completely surprised. It starts with an unsanctioned counter-terrorist operation, codenamed Wildlife on the British crown colony of Gibraltar. Three years later, a disgraced Special Forces Soldier delivers a message from the dead. Was Operation Wildlife the success it was cracked up to be—or a human tragedy that was ruthlessly covered up? Toby Bell, Private secretary to Minister Fergus Quinn must choose between his conscience and duty to his Service. If the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing, how can he keep silent? A great book. 6/13 Jack Quick
DELIRIOUS by Daniel Palmer: This debut thriller is a twisty tale of a man’s fall into madness – or is it? Charlie Giles is a technological wunderkind who has sold his business for millions and been hired on to run the project. But when a woman he doesn’t know offers him proof that a higher-up is trying to sink his baby, Charlie crashes a meeting and things start to fall apart, beginning with the mysterious woman who apparently doesn’t exist. After he finds notes he doesn’t remember writing and enemies at work start dying violent deaths, Charlie believes he has begun a descent into madness. After all, it runs in the family; his father and brother are schizophrenic. Pacing is almost frenetic here and there are lots of surprises. But no one should be surprised to learn that the author is none other than the son of medical thriller writer extraordinaire Michael Palmer (A Heartbeat Away), proving that in this family, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. An auspicious debut for sure, and it is always a delight to find a new young author at the beginning of what is sure to be a long career. 03/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DELIRIOUS by Daniel Palmer: Charlie Giles has it all—money, a great job, and a bright future ahead of him. As the creator of InVision, the latest in must-have technology, Charlie is really going places. His startup has been bought out by a well-known national company and Charlie himself seems to turn everything he touches into gold these days. But Charlie’s luck has run out. Evidence that he’s been surfing porn on company time and sending top-secret info to competing companies, paired with his odd behavior of late, forces SoluCent to fire him. What’s worse, Charlie is pretty sure he hasn’t done what he’s been accused of. But with a history of mental illness in the family, there’s just enough doubt in Charlie’s mind to make him wonder if he might be going crazy after all. When murder is added to the list of accusations, Charlie finds himself forced to try and unravel the mystery in order to clear his own name. Daniel Palmer, son of bestselling author Michael Palmer, makes his debut with this paranoia-driven techno thriller, proving that a talent for suspense really does run in the family. 1/11 Becky Lejeune
DELICATE CHAOS by Jeff Buick: Leona Hewitt, Director of Corporate Acquisitions and Accounts at DC Trust bank, has just received a promotion. She will soon be elevated to the much lauded title of Vice President. The title, however, comes with one stipulation. In order to receive the promotion, she must handle a request on the part of one of the bank’s largest clients, Coal-Balt, Inc. Coal-Balt is a company that does double duty mining coal and then using that coal to produce electricity. Since it handles both aspects of the industry, they have been very successful, until now. A Utah senator is rallying for a new bill to be passed that would require Coal-Balt and other businesses like them to clean up their act in an effort to limit the amount of harmful waste that is being emitted into the atmosphere. Leona is in a position to make life very hard for Coal-Balt. The question is, does she comply and earn her promotion or does she fight for what she believes is right. There are many more aspects to this political/eco-thriller that make this a very interesting read. Buick has taken what could be some very complicated concepts for readers – clean-air requirements and “scrubbing” statistics – and presented them in a way that makes it easier to understand. He’s also focused on a very timely topic, that of the current state of the environment and how far some people are willing to go to earn a buck at the expense of others. 01/08 Becky Lejeune
DELICIOUS by Mark Haskell Smith: A familiar plot hilariously recounted. The mafia is trying to take over the catering trade in Hawaii and local businessmen fight back. But caught up in the madness are a trash-talking lap dance addicted stroke survivor, a gay TV producer whose recent breakup has led him to painfully overdose on Viagra; his homely assistant, who, on the advice of a local pimp, gets a wild haircut that turns her into an androgynous sex symbol; and a hit man who takes too much Ecstasy and paddles off into the sunset. What a cast of characters. Smith outdoes himself in this, his second outing after Moist. 03/06 Jack Quick
DELIVER US FROM EVIL by David Baldacci: Baldacci’s sequel to The Whole Truth (2008) is quite good, even though it feels like a transitional book to a new series. Evan Waller, outwardly a respectable Canadian businessman but secretly a human trafficker who sells children into prostitution, has expanded into arranging nuclear weapons deals with Islamic fundamentalists. Shaw, the lead of The Whole Truth, sets out to stop Evan, as does Regina “Reggie” Campion, a British femme fatale, who works for a clandestine group that tracks down and executes war criminals. Reggie and Shaw cross paths while maintaining their cover stories, when both move against Waller who is on vacation in Provence,. Shaw becomes attracted to Reggie, even as he fears that Evan, who’s in fact a sadistic Ukrainian who served the Soviets, will abduct her. Better leave the lights on for this one which is reminiscent of some of the early Robert Ludlum thrillers. 07/10 Jack Quick
THE DELTA SOLUTION by Patrick Robinson: Nicely done tale of modern day pirates operating off the Somali coast who make the mistake of seizing two United States ships at gunpoint and demanding $15 million ransom. The US response is to send Hero Mark Bedford (Diamond Head and Intercept) with a part of SEAL team 10, now known as The Delta Platoon. Told with great technical detail, but suffers from lack of character development and a fairly straight forward plot. Read it for the details and remember “Our game is the sudden, devastating arrival, specifically designed to frighten and if necessary to kill whoever doesn’t immediately surrender.” Just don’t expect great literary merit. 05/11 Jack Quick
THE DELUGE by Mark Morris: It begins with a mysterious earthquake that shakes all of London. Then, floodwaters cover the city and thousands end up dead. The few survivors wait until, three days later, the water recedes. Many strike out to find others. Some do the best they can to make parts of London livable again – burning bodies to prevent contagion, cleaning buildings so they can start over. Some have other, more violent ideas about repopulating the world. Everyone’s main concern is survival, including those new inhabitants left behind by the flood. No one knows where they came from, or what they are exactly, but they feed on humans, and when they are done, they inhabit the body. Like a parasite, they use our own as bait luring more victims to feed on. Now the true test is whether humankind can survive this new enemy or if man’s time on earth has come to an end. Mark Morris reads like a great apocalyptic action flick. It’s fun, it’s uncomplicated, and there really is no explanation about the flood or the aliens – if that’s what they are, it could be that they have always been here – this leaves it open to the reader to come up with their own theories making it a plain fun read. 11/07 Becky Lejeune
DELUSION by Peter Abrahams: Although not as powerful as James Lee Burke’s Tin Roof Blowdown, this Southern thriller is also set in the wake of a fictional Katrina type hurricane. Twenty years ago Nell Jerrau’s eyewitness testimony sent Alvin “Pirate” Dupree to prison for the murder of her then boyfriend, Johnny Blanton. In the process Nell also met Clay, her current husband, then detective and now Chief of Police of Belle Ville. The flooding from the hurricane has unearthed potential exculpatory evidence that would free Dupree, if it is valid. The stress from the resultant spotlight on their family adversely affects Norah, Nell’s daughter, who is Johnny’s biological child. Nell knows she must uncover Johnny’s true killer if she will ever be able to regain control of her life. Evocative of some of Greg Isles modern Southern gothic tales and quite readable. 04/08 Jack Quick
THE DEMANDS by Mark Billingham: For DI Thorne, the case is not that unusual or offbeat. He has been told to re-investigate the death of a young prisoner to see if it was in fact, suicide as ruled, or actually homicide. The twist is that the boy’s father is holding Detective Helen Weeks and a civilian hostage. Akhtar, the boy’s father will only free his hostages when Thorne successfully solves the case. Not only must Thorne quickly find out the truth, he must also help forestall the growing pressure from the on-site team to storm the shop and possibly further endanger the hostages. Very well done. 9/12 Jack Quick
THE DEMI-MONDE: WINTER by Rod Rees: The military has turned to a state-of-the-art computer program for urban warfare training. This program, called The Demi-Monde, is an adaptable, self-learning artificial world populated with some of history’s most heinous sociopaths. Anyone who enters the Demi-Monde experiences the world as a complete reality: death in this world also means death in the real world. When the president’s daughter becomes trapped in the Demi-Monde, Ella Thomas is hired to save her. Though Ella is a civilian, she most closely matches a character already inserted in the world. But while Ella could certainly use the money that comes with this job, no one could truly prepare her for the dangers she’d find within the program. This first in Rod Rees’s series is a fast paced, cerebral read. It is just the first part of a four part series, however, and that’s definitely clear. The massive amount of set up and world building works without being overwhelming, but the end is a pretty big cliffhanger. 3/13 Becky Lejeune
Demolition Angel by Robert Crais: I’m definitely in the mystery mode so far this year. This is well written crime fiction, with a strong interesting female protagonist. Non-stop action makes it easy to understand why it has already been optioned for a movie. Don’t miss his previous novel either, the Edgar Award nominated L.A. Requiem.
THE DEMON TRAPPER’S DAUGHTER by Jana Oliver: In Riley Blackthorne’s world—2018 Atlanta—the economy has collapsed, the future is uncertain… oh, and there are demons. Riley’s father is one of the most well-known demon trappers around and she hopes to follow in his footsteps. Her days as an apprentice have been tough considering it’s a pretty male-dominated job, but Riley is good at it and her father is the best teacher she could hope for. But when Paul Blackthorne is killed in a trapping gone bad, Riley is left on her own and forced to fend for herself. With debtors knocking and necros after her father’s body, things couldn’t get much worse for Riley, until it becomes known that the demons are all calling her by name. The Demon Trapper’s Daughter is an excellent urban fantasy series debut. A teen read with definite appeal for older audiences, Oliver’s carefully constructed future world comes fully to life and her heroine is wholly appealing. 09/11 Becky Lejeune
THE DEMONOLOGIST by Andrew Pyper: David Ullman is a college English professor specializing in literature concerning demons. Milton’s Paradise Lost is one of his favorites. When an unusual woman approaches him with a mysterious offer—an all expenses paid trip to Venice for himself and companions, in exchange for his expertise as a demonologist—Ullman is most definitely prepared to decline. By no means does he consider himself a demonologist, plus the woman is either unwilling or unable to provide him with any additional details pertaining to the offer. But when Ullman discovers that his wife is preparing to leave both him and their daughter behind for another man, he decides a trip to Italy could be the perfect thing for his shrinking family. A strange encounter in The Floating City leaves Ullman shaken and dead set to return home immediately. Before they can leave, though, Ullman’s daughter goes missing. Last seen tumbling over the edge of a building, the case is ruled a suicide. Without a body to prove otherwise, however, Ullman is certain that his daughter lives. He’s also certain that he can save her even if it means going up against the very demons he once believed were the stuff of fiction. This latest from Pyper is a tense and cerebral tale that perfectly blends classic literature and horror. 3/13 Becky Lejeune
DENIAL by Stuart Kaminsky: This is Kaminsky’s fourth outing for Lew Fonesca, former investigator for Illinois’ Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, currently struggling to get by as a hard-up Sarasota, Florida process server consumed with grief over his wife’s death in a hit-and-run accident. In this one, he gets involved in looking for two murderers, one accused by a resident of Seaside Assisted Living of killing another resident, and the hit-and-run driver who killed a local actress’ 14-year-old son. With each succeeding book, Kaminksy brings Fonesca out a bit more and adds facets to the character. Hopefully, since Kaminksy himself now lives in Sarasota, he and Lew will continue to entertain for a considerable time. 12/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
DEPARTMENT THIRTY by David Kent: Ryan Elder’s parents commit suicide literally minutes after he arrives home in Oklahoma City from UCLA for Thanksgiving. He begins an odyssey from radio station to radio station as a newsman. Seven years later a letter mailed by his mother the day before her death finally catches up with him. It contains a newspaper clipping and an Oklahoma City telephone number for Department Thirty. Elder calls the number and arranges a meeting in Cheyenne, Oklahoma, his father’s hometown, to try to find out what is going on, but the government agent he meets is shot and killed before he can explain anything to Ryan. Then things get interesting. Ryan hooks up with a mysterious woman whose father, an Alzheimer’s victim, insists that Ryan’s father is not from Cheyenne as Ryan always thought. An examination of the high school annuals supports Cassandra’s father’s claim. A sheriff’s deputy arrives and Ryan and Cassandra must leave to try to solve the mystery. Get the picture? A well-written thriller. E-book also available in print. 09/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.
THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST & FOUND by Allison Wynn Scotch: Natalie Miller is the top aid of one of New York’s women senators. She’s devoted all of her time and energy to her career. Then she learns that she has breast cancer, and she’s forced to devoting all her time and energy to her survival. She takes a look at the decisions she’s made throughout her life and puts all of her energy into finding her past loves of her life so she can determine what went wrong. It turns out that she is the one to blame—she consistently chooses her job and her career over love and her own personal happiness. Natalie’s therapist suggests that she use a journal to channel her pain into, rather than falling into a state of depression. She learns how to embrace life and live it at its fullest. This book was amazing. The journal entries allow the reader to witness the evolution Natalie goes through during this self-discovery. Rather than being a downer, this book was incredibly uplifting. It realistically portrayed the frightening truth behind cancer and its victims but still provided hope. 05/08 Jennifer Lawrence
DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE by Joseph Teller: Rule number one – if your client is already widely known and has even been given a nickname by the press, specifically, the Audi Avenger, it is not a good thing. When you are asked by his wife with whom you are sharing a bed, to defend him, it is not a good thing. When you are already on suspension for previous acts “unbecoming” by a member of the bar, accepting such a public challenge is not a good thing. On the other hand criminal defense attorney Harrison J. Walker, Jaywalker to friends and colleagues alike, has never steered away from a fight – even when his client is charged with driving his Audi sports car at high speed on the wrong side of the road, and forcing an oncoming van off the road, killing all nine occupants …eight of them children. It’s a messy case and it may turn into a personal disaster, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s the Jaywalker. Outstanding. 04/10 Jack Quick
Derailed by James Siegel: Married man with some stress at home, and no, that’s not redundant, commutes to work in New York City from Long Island by train, like thousands (millions?) of others. But one day circumstances allow him to get involved with a gorgeous woman sharing his train car. As Joe Average, our hero never wonders why this knockout thinks him “the sexiest man” she’s ever met, and therein lies the premise, and the problem, of this twisty thriller. Having taken that same train many times, I enjoyed the references to my hometown but that wasn’t enough to override the fact that despite some nice twists along the way, the solution to this suspense story was rather obvious.
THE DESERT by Bryon Morrigan: In Morrigan’s debut, two men on recon in Iraq discover a strange cave in the desert. Inside lie the remains of an American soldier who appears to be part of a troop that went missing in 2003 (it’s now 2009). Along with the soldier, they also find a journal. Because no trace of the missing troop was ever found, the soldiers are hoping that the journal will give them some clue as to what happened six years ago. As they read and continue on their mission, they come across a town, the same town that is mentioned in the journal, the same town in which the journal stops. Before it ends, however, the dead officer has one last warning for the people reading and that is to stay high, and under no circumstances enter the hole in the ground that his fellow soldiers discovered in 2003. So what do these two new men do? The enter the hole. But they kind of have to because for some reason, when they try to drive away from the town, they end up back where they started. I love the blend of horror and military fiction in this novel. It’s not a combination that comes along very often, but it’s one I feel is perfect for the horror genre. Morrigan’s blend of the real horrors of war combined with the beasties and creepy crawlies of the paranormal world make for a great chilling read. 02/09 Becky Lejeune
DESERT NOIR by Betty Webb: Lena Jones of Desert Investigations sets out to track down the killer of her friend who runs a Scottsdale, AZ art gallery in this first outing. Lena is a former cop with plenty of contacts still on the force. She’ll need their help as she investigates Clarice Kobe’s abusive husband Jay, Apache artist George Haozous whose paintings had been taken out of the gallery, as well as other members of Clarice’s family and the owner of the adjoining gallery. To top it off there may be a connection between this case and the shooting of Lena as a four year old child, who left for dead grew up in a series of foster homes. Well written with all the makings of a great series. 03/06 Jack Quick
Desert Wives by Betty Webb: A fascinating look at polygamy – yes, it is illegal but what is going on in this country will shock you, or it should. This is fiction based on fact, and the author includes her sources at the end of the book. But while it’s intriguing and very troubling politically, the writing is strictly mediocre. Lena Jones is a private investigator with quite a past. She is privately funded, thus enabling her to take on cases whether or not her clients can pay. In this case, she’s working for the mother of a 13-year old girl whose father is trying to marry her off in exchange for two 16-year old wives for himself. Lena rescues the child but in the process finds the dead body of the leader of the polygamous splinter group. Her client is the chief suspect, and even Lena isn’t all that sure she didn’t do it. It’s downhill from there, and with everyone involved from the cops to the politicians, there seems to be no way out. Very disturbing stuff. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE DETACHMENT by Barry Eisler: Eisler brings the characters from both his series together in this adrenaline pumped read. John Rain gets tracked down in Japan and is asked to kill three highly visible US government officials, but to make it look like they died of natural causes. These individuals are planning some outrageous acts in order to stage a coup. Rain agrees to meet with Colonel Scott “Hort” Horton, and learns he’s working on a team with his buddy Dox and a couple of men he hasn’t met before – Treven and Larison – but Eisler’s fans know exactly who these men are. A group of assassins is a volatile group indeed, and the action moves from Tokyo to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. while the pacing does not let up until the very last page. Available in paperback or e-book. 10/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DETOUR TO MURDER by Jeff Sheratt: In 1945 drifter Alexander Roberts had been conned into pleading guilty to the murder of a woman – a crime he now claims he did not commit. This was the lesser of two evils since the then District Attorney told him if he did not plead, he would be extradited to Arizona for another murder – which he also did not commit – but Arizona had the death penalty. Now 29 years later cop-turned-lawyer Jimmy O Brien, his P.I. fixer, Sol, and his partner, Rita, are given the task of representing Roberts at a parole hearing. A cursory review of the file shows that the Arizona death was not murder, but from natural causes, so Roberts was never in jeopardy from that event. Therefore, there might be truth in his claim that he did not commit the other murder either. As O Brien digs deeper into the case, there are efforts to physically dissuade him as well as to disrupt his life and business in a number of ways. Soon O Brien finds himself in the middle of an abyss of political corruption that begins with the Los Angeles District Attorney up through the office of the Governor of California and maybe even to the forthcoming Presidential campaign of Ronald Reagan. Outstanding noir. 07/11 Jack Quick
DEVIANT WAY by Richard Montanari: Jack Paris is the classic alcoholic divorced cop wedded now to the job and his young daughter. A serial killer (?) is loose in Cleveland and it is up to Paris to find him. Just what he needs – extended time in high-class bars and nightclubs, since it appears that’s where the victims are being contacted. But it’s not a “him” that Paris is looking for, it’s a “them”, a couple whose kinky needs are turning the nightlife of Cleveland into a deathtrap. To make it even worse, Paris’ daughter is endangered. With each chapter the suspense gets ratcheted up another notch. Definitely a read in the daytime book, it will also discourage you from serious bar hopping – at least in Cleveland. Over a decade old, Deviant Way is still very much current. 07/06 Jack Quick
DEVIANT WAYS by Chris Mooney: July 4th starts with a real bang at Marblehead, Massachusetts where a serial killer sets off a bomb in an attempt to erase evidence of a multiple slaying. The bomb takes out several homes and brings in Jack Casey, a former hotshot FBI profiler who’s attempting to mend his shattered life as a detective on the Marblehead police force. Six years earlier, he watched, bound and drugged, while a madman killed his wife and unborn child. When the house bombings continue Jack’s tenuous hold on reality starts to slip and he is in danger of losing a current romantic relationship. A wisecracking former profiler named Malcolm Fletcher provides some tension relief and the villain – the Sandman – is also an interesting character. Mooney’s style makes this read like a movie script and there is a temptation about mid-way to start casting the various characters. 07/06 Jack Quick.
THE DEVIL CAN WAIT by Marta Stephens: A convoluted tale involving a cursed black pearl ring, a demonic prophecy and the bodies of three local teenagers washing ashore in Chandler, Massachusetts. Newspaper reporter Jennifer Blake is captured by the story of the ring and tries to pick it up from a local pawnshop for her former college professor. This makes her a primary suspect for homicide detective Sam Harper. Throw in the Vatican, some drugs thefts, and a few other development and try to stay unconfused. Writing is pretty good, plot is not believable and book suffers from poor organization. 12/08 Jack Quick
THE DEVIL IS WAITING by Jack Higgins: The latest encounter between Sean Dillon and his cohorts known as the “Prime Minister’s private army” up against the villains of Al Qaeda The focus is on the group’s newest member, intelligence captain and Afghan war hero Sara Gideon. Not only is she talented and lovely, she is the heiress to control of one of Britain’s largest private banks. All in all a volatile combination that makes her a very attractive target to the Muslim terrorists. In the end Sean, et. al. win as usual in what will likely be my last Higgins read. As with other authors, he now seems to be writing the same book over and over, merely tweaking the characters and not providing much originality. Sad. 5/12 Jack Quick
DEVIL MAY CARE by Sebastian Faulks: You know this is the only series I’ve ever read where the characters are “locked” into my mind. 007 is Sean Connery and Sean Connery is 007. In Devil May Care it’s Bond, James Bond, shaken not stirred, in this 22nd Bond adventure released on May 28, which would have been Ian Fleming’s 100th birthday. Devil May Care picks up where Fleming left off in 1966 with Octopussy and The Living Daylights. Bond is summoned back from a sabbatical in Italy to swinging London during the 1960s to foil an Eastern Bloc plot to flood the West with heroin. The key villian is Dr. Julius Gorner, Scarlett Papava is the number one Bond girl, Moneypenny is Moneypenny and “M” is still “M”. In the author notes, it says that Faulk frist encountered Bond as a twelve year old – the books were banned at his school, but he managed to read them by torchlight under the sheets. Not the original but still as good read. 06/08 Jack Quick
DEVIL RED by Joel Lansdale: Hap Collins and Leonard Pine return in a red-hot, mayhem-fueled thriller to face a vampire cult, the Dixie Mafia, and the deadliest assassin they’ve ever encountered—Devil Red. Working on a cold case homicide, they discover that both victims were in line to inherit serious money, and one of them ran with a vampire cult. A red devil’s head painted on a tree leads them to a slew of murders with that same fiendish signature. Hap and Leonard are at their finest. After “persuading” a purse snatcher with baseball bats to refund the money he has taken from an elderly lady, they go to Walmart and buy ice cream and cookies as their reward. 3/12 Jack Quick
THE DEVIL YOU KNOW by Mike Carey: In Felix Castor’s world, ghosts, zombies, and weres are something of a normal occurrence. Castor himself is particularly sensitive to them and finds this useful in his work as an exorcist. Thing is, Felix has been pretty much retired since an incident left his best friend permanently sharing space with the demon Asmodeus. When the demon/friend warns him of an upcoming job that could mean his life, Felix is more than a little intrigued, but it’s his current financial position that is the deciding factor. The job seems simple at first: A ghost has been haunting a London archive and has recently turned violent. But when the ghost steps in and saves Felix after hours, he becomes curious about her identity and the cause of her situation. It’s exactly this that gets certain folks worried and puts Felix in trouble. Carey’s debut is a pretty much a traditional PI mystery wrapped in a paranormal package, and paired with Carey’s style, it works brilliantly. The Devil You Know is first in the Felix Castor series and is a must read for anyone who enjoys mysteries, PI or paranormal. 04/09 Becky Lejeune
THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE by Kim Wozencraft: Katherine “Kit” Metcalf does pole dances at Blaze, “Austin Texas’ premier gentleman’s club,” and is quickly becoming a total alcoholic. She was raped as a college student and is contending with post-traumatic stress. Kit’s sister, Jenny is an Austin police detective investigating a porn ring. Jenny’s fiancé, Luke Saner is an undercover cop looking into the murder of a Blaze regular. The girls’ father, Wade, is a Texas Ranger who hides immoral appetites behind a heroic image. Then Jenny is killed and her body is found in a Blanco County well. Kit finds herself in danger, along with her therapist. Who can she trust? Luke? Her dad? Herself? A first rate psychological thriller. 11/06 Jack Quick
DEVIL’S CORNER by Lisa Scottoline: No Rosato & Associates here; this is a stand-alone inspired by the drug trafficking trial of the one of the most violent gangs in Philadelphia – Scottoline watches trials for entertainment and found her inspiration for this novel. Assistant U.S. Attorney Vicki Allegretti’s father grew up in a poor area of Philadelphia known as Devil’s Corner. It has gone downhill since his childhood and has become a dangerous crack-infested neighborhood. When Allegretti and her partner show up to interview a confidential informant, the partner & the CI are both killed. Allegretti takes the law into her own hands to solve the murder of her partner as well as the mystery of the woman the CI ratted out, Reheema, who claims she doesn’t even know the CI. I found Allegretti’s complete disregard for her own safety incredibly stupid for a Harvard lawyer (or for anyone with half a brain) and I had problems with her relationship with her boyfriend and all the lying that was going on. And there is no carb counting on the South Beach Diet – where was the copy editor? A cliffhanger ends just about every chapter in this fast paced, light novel of suspense and it makes for a compelling, entertaining read, despite way too much fem-jep. (females in jeopardy.) 05/05
THE DEVIL’S ELIXIR by Raymond Khoury: Mr Khoury has written several books all involving scenarios a bit outside of the ordinary. He has written about Templars existing in the 21st century among other plots, and these books utilized two protagonists: Sean Reilly, an FBI agent and his girlfriend Tess Chaykin. The Devil’s Elixir follows suit. Reilly was involved in a raid against drug dealers in Mexico five years prior to the action in Devil’s Elixir. He killed one of the dealers thinking that it was the leader of the group. At the start of the action in this book Reilly is called by an old girl friend of his to help her as she and her son are being pursued by people apparently interested in killing her. Reilly comes to her just in time to learn that a) her son is his son b) and getting involved in an attack by a gang of rogue bikers in which the girl is killed.
Going after the bikers throws open the fact that the leader of the supposed drug dealers has hired the bikers and was not killed, and is now in the United States apparently looking for revenge against Reilly. The Mexican has been exposed to and is enamored by a drug that is beyond anything currently available in the cocaine, crack market, simpler to refine and addictive to retain a captive clientele. Both Reilly and Tess are both swept up in action to catch the drug dealer and protect Reilly’s new found son. True to Khoury’s other books the action is fast and keeps the reader engrossed in the swift changing of the plot. The ending brings out a thesis that is extremely interesting, could be the reality of the entire situation and surely gets the reader into thinking about the idea long after he or she finishes the book. 12/11 Paul Lane
DEVIL’S KEEP by Philip Finch: A decade ago, Ray Favor was a remorseless killer for the Black Ops cell Bravo One Nine. He did what he was hired to do out of patriotism and duty. Now, having amassed a fortune but deeply troubled by his past and suspicious of his own nature, Favor is motivated by something more: a chance to right the wrongs he committed and restore balance .He gets that chance deep in the Philippines, where the disappearance of two teenagers leads Favor and his Bravo team to confront an illegal operation by the Russian mob—and an evil so deplorable that it can only be righted by the means Favor once used to wreak destruction. Now, driven by a hungry sense of purpose, Ray Favor will seek retribution by any means necessary, and exact a violent justice without mercy—or regret. 12/11 Jack Quick
THE DEVIL’S MADONNA by Sharon Potts: Kali Miller converted to Judaism when she got married, and is pregnant with her first child. Orphaned as a teenager and brought up by Lillian, her cold and distant grandmother, Kali is the only family the 93-year-old woman has. When Lillian almost burns her house down by lighting dozens of Yahrzeit candles, a Jewish memorial candle, Kali doesn’t understand why her non-Jewish grandmother would do such a thing. She decides to move in with her grandmother until she can find someone to stay with her, but her husband is none too happy about that. His family is starting to think that Lillian is anti-Semitic, adding additional stress to the marriage. Lillian is acting very paranoid, and Kali starts digging through the house, trying to find out something about her past and what she eventually finds is completely shocking. This is a very unusual mystery that unfurls in a few different directions, with enough suspense to keep the pages turning until the extremely disturbing ending. Books groups will find lots to discuss here. I loved it. 9/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2012 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.
THE DEVIL’S RIGHT HAND by Lilith Saintcrow: The third book of the Dante Valentine series begins years after the events of Dead Man Rising. Danny has finally recovered after the horrific investigation that surrounded the events of her childhood school and has been traveling the world, relaxing and striving to learn more about demon lore. Her time of rest is brought to a shocking halt when Lucifer once again requests her help. It seems that since Dante thwarted Santino’s attempts to overthrow the dark lord in Working for the Devil, others have begun to try again. This time, the devil wants Danny to track down and kill four escaped demons. Reluctantly, Danny negotiates a deal with Lucifer, one that commits her to a seven-year contract. She has seven years in which to attempt to find and eliminate the demons in question. Once the contract is up, Danny is free. In return for her services, Lucifer promises to grant her safety. Dealing with the devil has its own price though and Danny soon finds herself the hunted one. Information uncovered in the course of the investigation makes Danny question where her own loyalties lie and may lead to her becoming enemy number one. The Devil’s Right Hand is an absolute cliffhanger. Extras in each of the Orbit releases provide sneak peeks into Danny’s world as well as a broader view of the happenings surrounding this series. They raise interesting questions that can only be answering in each subsequent book. 01/08 Becky Lejeune
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger: This chic read is sure to take the fashion world by storm, although the literary world may find it lacking. Weisberger, former assistant to Vogue editor Anna Wintour, has created a fictionalized tell-all à la Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus’s The Nanny Diaries. Andrea is a nice Jewish girl from suburban Connecticut who, as Weisberger repeatedly tells us, lands “a job a million girls would die for” – assistant to Miranda Priestly, the imperious editor of “Runway” magazine. But the job is more like indentured servitude with a one-year contract; 14-hour days are de rigueur and encompass such delights as sorting Miranda’s laundry, fetching her lunch, and responding instantly to such commands as “Ahn-dre-ah, hand me a scarf.” The carrot at the end of the stick is the promise of a dream job with The New Yorker, which somehow makes palatable the ensuing downhill slide of Andrea’s personal life. This fast-paced black comedy has enough dirt to please any fashionista, but should serve as fair warning for every girl who dreams of working at a fashion magazine. Despite the pedestrian writing, the prepublication buzz on this novel is big, so buy for demand. Copyright © 2003 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
DEVIL WIND by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid: Sammy Greene is surviving as a late night radio host in Los Angeles but she longs for more. She had left Boston after a previous mis-adventure. It’s December 1999, days before the dawn of the new millennium and the Santa Ana winds are threatening to turn the city into a fiery inferno. When a listener calls in to report the discovery of a burned body, Sammy starts to investigate and to her horror, learns that the victim is the wayward daughter of an old friend. Soon she realizes the death was no accident, but rather a murder concealed by the raging wildfires. As she begins to investigate she soon learns this is but the tip of a sinister ploy involving big money and thousands of lives at risk. Not bad. 06/11 Jack Quick
THE DEVIL’S BONES by Jefferson Bass: In this third addition to the fictitious Body Farm series, Dr. Bill Brockton is set to appear as a star witness against former ME, Dr. Garland Hamilton. Readers of the series will remember (or be reminded in the first chapter) that Hamilton, after botching up multiple cases, murdered Brockton’s lover out of revenge for his tarnished reputation. Just days prior to going to trial, however, Hamilton escapes putting everyone back on guard, especially Brockton. Not one to sit idly by, Brockton continues with his day-to-day work. A local woman is found burnt to death in her car and Brockton begins experimenting with cadavers at the famed Body Farm in order to help police with the case. In addition, newfound lawyer pal Burt DeVriess has a strange request for Brockton. Grease DeVriess has some doubts as to the contents of his dearly departed aunt’s urn and would like Bill to take a look. As always, the science is dead-on in this forensic series and the plot is wholly engaging. Unfortunately, Devil’s Bones is missing something – the wonderful character development that was there in Carved in Bone. It seems that in killing off Brockton’s love life the authors also have reverted to more dry and clinical writing. This isn’t entirely a bad thing, the story line itself makes up for some of it, but I sincerely hope it’s something that is remedied in book 4. 02/08 Becky Lejeune
THE DEVIL’S FEATHER by Minette Walters: When three local teens confess to the brutal murders of five women in Sierra Leone, Reuter’s correspondent Connie Burns has her doubts as to their reliability. Connie suspects that a particularly violent mercenary who goes by the name of John Harwood may be responsible. After being transferred to Baghdad, she runs into Harwood again. This time, the locals know him as Kenneth O’Connell. Subsequent research reveals two murders in Baghdad that bear a striking resemblance to those in Africa. While preparing to return to England, Connie is kidnapped. Three days later, she reappears, seemingly unharmed. She returns to England but refuses to speak of the incident. Connie rents a house in Dorset, under an assumed name, and continues her investigation into Harwood/O’Connell. Before long, she becomes convinced that Harwood is after her and her family. This is a taut thriller that concerns, not one, but two mysteries. The first is that of Connie, the truth behind her abduction, and Harwood. The second mystery concerns the house in Dorset and the owner, Lily, who is found, freezing and unconscious by the edge of a pond in the middle of the night. Was this the result of her fragile mental state – the confused wanderings of a sick old lady – or something more sinister? This is a fast-paced and engaging read that begs to be read in one sitting! 09/06 Becky LeJeune
THE DEVIL’S LIGHT by Richard North Patterson: Obviously written and published before the death of Osama Bin Laden, Patterson’s latest thriller focuses on the possibility of a global threat from al-Qaeda with a nuclear explosion to occur on September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attack. It is up to young CIA agent Brooke Chandler to persuade his superiors the target is Israel, not the United States. Patterson does an excellent job of delineating the very complex politics in the Middle East from all sides, in a book that is more intellectual than action oriented. His most chilling point is that the real danger to modern civilization doesn’t come from conflict between traditional nations with people, land and resources, but rather from “stateless” ideological groups, as al-Qaeda and others, whose objectives transcend traditional national boundaries and for whom there is no “territory “ to lose. Not a quick read but provides a new level of insight into perhaps the most complex world political situation of today. 06/11 Jack Quick
THE DEVIL’S PITCHFORK by Mark Terry: Is there a scenario worse that terrorists gaining access to nuclear weapons? What if they had a man made virus that packed the worst characteristics of Ebola, hepatitis and bubonic plague? Chimera M13 has the potential to destroy humanity. One man stands between extinction and salvation, Derek Stillwater, a troubleshooter for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who specializes in biological and chemical weapons. Stillwater, however, has his own problems with panic attacks and self doubts that hinder his effectiveness. He has no choice but to follow his instincts while scientists work on a vaccine in Washington, D.C. He just might have a chance in hell of ending the madness-if only the government’s most experienced immunological researcher hadn’t become infected. One of the better books of this sub-genre. Recommended. 10/06 Jack Quick
DEVIOUS by Lisa Jackson: New Orleans detectives Rick Bentz and Reuben Montoya are back in this latest by romantic thriller queen Lisa Jackson. A nun at St. Marguerite’s has been murdered. She’s found, dressed in an old wedding gown, with a ring of blood around her neck. The crime has shocked the city and everyone is asking what kind of a person would kill a nun. The victim, Camille Houston, has secrets in her past and her own sister, Valerie, an ex-cop living in New Orleans, is determined to find out what made her a target. Montoya is also dead set on bringing the killer to justice – Camille Houston was his high school girlfriend. What’s worse, the priest she was rumored to be having an affair with was also a friend in school and Camille’s best friend at St. Marguerite’s shares a past with Montoya’s brother. Jackson throws in twist after twist, even connecting Bentz and Montoya’s first outing, Hot Blooded, in with this latest in the series. Note that each book can be read alone, most of the connections are in place and characters – for Devious in particular, I’d recommend Hot Blooded first since there are references to that particular case, but it’s not necessary. 04/11 Becky Lejeune
THE DEVOURING: SORRY NIGHT by Simon Holt: Reggie Halloway and her family have been through the wringer lately. Her mother has walked out and Reggie, a freshman in high school, has taken up the mantle as “woman of the house,” which means that she’s responsible for all the housework, cooking, and her little brother Henry while their father works longer and longer hours. Reggie also works part-time at a local used bookstore that specializes in her favorite genre, horror. One evening, Reggie discovers an old journal in a new arrivals shipment at the store. Curious, she decides to borrow it for a few days. The journal says that on Sorry Night, December 22, something called the Vours will come. If they find you, they’ll eat your fear and steal your soul. In their infinite teenage wisdom, Reggie and best friend Aaron decide to tempt the Vours on Sorry Night. Nothing happens and they laugh it off, but then they begin to notice that Reggie’s brother is acting a little strange. Could it be that the Vours exist after all? This new YA novel is fun and satisfyingly creepy. The cryptic ending also suggests that this is just the beginning of Reggie’s tale. Great for young adult readers looking for a scary and highly original read. 09/08 Becky Lejeune
DEXTER IN THE DARK by Jeff Lindsey: I was really looking forward to the new Dexter book as it’s been a couple of years since the last one. After reading the prologue, I closed the book, planning on putting it away, unread forever. It was possibly the most annoying prologue I’ve ever read. Then I got an email about the book and noticed that the murders take place on the University of Miami campus, and since I went there (a very long time ago) I decided to give it another try. This is a different Dexter book, in that instead of killing people, Dexter loses his “Dark Passenger”, the voice inside him that directs him to kill and that helps him solve crimes. So this becomes a very introspective book, despite the fact that Deborah, Dexter’s sister, is put in charge of a murder spree at the UM campus and demands Dexter help figure out who is killing people, cutting off their heads and putting ceramic bulls on top of their necks instead. Meanwhile Rita, his fiancée, is planning their upcoming wedding along with his best man, and the South Beach prima donna caterer almost made up for the missing humor in the book. But mostly Dexter tries to figure out why his little voice is gone, what it was, and how he can get it back. A different sort of Dexter, and not one I liked as well. 10/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DIAL M FOR MEATLOAF by Ellen Hart: Sweet wife made me the proverbial offer on this one that she loved. If I would try the book, she would try one of the top three meatloaf recipes in the back. How could I lose? Cora Rombeck’s No-nonsense Meat Loaf is worth gathering all the ingredients together. With respect to the book, Cora’s husband has painted the kitchen egg yolk yellow. She doesn’t like it, but that isn’t enough reason for him to be blown up in his Ford Bronco, and is that connected with the beloved ex-mayor’s stroke that happened the same day. Best have a pencil and notebook handy to keep up with all the characters, and I do mean characters, but in the end, truth, justice and good old American comfort food cooking prevail. I give it 3 spoons, all heaping. 05/06 Jack Quick
The Diamond Conspiracy by Nicolas M. Kublicki: This tightly written debut novel is a big, fast-paced Clancy-like thriller that takes the reader on a whirlwind, worldwide journey through corruption. Patrick Carlton is a Department of Justice maverick lawyer who is plucked from the biggest case of his career and thrust into a small antitrust case involving a diamond mine in, of all places, Arkansas. Carlton is suspicious when the shark law firm representing the mine agrees to a ridiculously high, ridiculously quick settlement, and he recruits the beautiful Erika Wassenaar, a newly minted DOJ lawyer, to help him out. Waterboer, the monopolistic diamond behemoth of the world, (think DeBeers) will stop at nothing to maintain its artificially inflated diamond prices, and Carlton suspects they are somehow involved with the Arkansas mine. Curiosity and determination lead him to pursue it further, uncovering a conspiracy that runs rampant through the upper echelons of the United States, South African, and Russian governments, but he gets assistance from the unlikely duo of the Mafia and the Vatican, with quite a few surprises along the way.
DIE A LITTLE by Megan Abbott: Welcome back to Raymond Chandler’s world. It’s 1954, and Pasadena schoolteacher Lora King doesn’t care for Alice Steele, her brother’s new bride. As ugly secrets seep out of Alice’s past Lora risks everything to uncover the truth, pocketing address books filled with cryptic code and tailing shady characters like a grown-up Nancy Drew. It’s as smelly as last night’s last cigarette and reminds you of how bad gin tastes first thing in the morning. There’s even an amoral press agent who probably wears an old overcoat and a snap-brim hat. He looks a lot like Bogart, you know what I mean. 06/06 Jack Quick
DIE EASY by Zoe Sharp: Former Special Forces soldier-turned-bodyguard Charlie Fox is sweating it out in Katrina ravaged New Orleans. Professionally, she’s at the top of her game, but her personal life is in ruins. Her lover, bodyguard Sean Meyer, has awoken from a gunshot-induced coma with his memory in tatters. Working with Sean again was never going to be easy for Charlie, but when a celebrity fundraising event in aid of still-ravaged areas of New Orleans turns into a war zone, it may all be over. Sean is part of the problem, but he doesn’t remember why. With Sean disabled, this time Charlie’s got to fight it out on her own. 1/13 Jack Quick
DIE FOR YOU by Lisa Unger: Isabel Raines is a novelist in love with her husband of five years, Marcus. Marcus is partners in a high tech computer game company and is on the verge of making the biggest sale of his career. One morning he leaves for work, and disappears. Isabel is frantic, the police won’t help – men leave – so she goes down to his office to see what she can find out. While she’s there the FBI show up and lock her in an office while they tear the place apart. They let her go, and she finally hears from Marcus, but before she can say anything, she hears a horrible scream and then the phone goes dead. That’s her last contact with her husband, but she won’t rest until she finds out what happened to him. This is killer suspense, the pacing is just relentless, and the story is intense until the shocking ending. Unger just keeps getting better and this is her best book yet. 06/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch.
DIE WITH ME by Elena Forbes: This first effort from a British author involves falling from high places – literally. Stubborn Detective Inspector Mark Tartaglia is assigned to investigate the death of a fourteen-year-old woman who has fallen from the balcony of a church. Initially ruled suicide, a subsequent toxicology report reveals traces of GHB and alcohol in girl’s blood stream. Then the investigating team discovers that Gemma Kramer was lured there to meet a man calling himself Tom, who apparently killed her. Searching the records, Tartaglia and his team uncover two other victims, formerly classed as suicides, as well as another suspicious death Tartaglia thinks is also linked to “Tom.” All involve female victims falling from high places. A few rough places as with most first efforts, but all in all, a very satisfying police procedural. Lets hope Ms. Forbes’ promised sequel comes soon. 11/07 Jack Quick
A DIET OF TREACLE by Lawrence Block: Treacle is a thick sugary syrup, and there is something syrupy about this early Block outing, reprinted as Hard Case Crime Number 39. Joe Milani and Leon “Shank” Marsten are stoners. Unfortunately for Anita Carbone, her adventure into Greenwich Viallage leads her to these two and from there to murder. In the meantime, everythung moves in the slow motion that seems to affect stoners, whether high or not. This one shows some of Block’s promise, but is obviously an early effort and not nearly as polished as his later works. I recommend it because its Block, but not the best Block. 01/08 Jack Quick
THE DIFFERENT GIRL by Gordon Dahlquist: Veronika, Caroline, Isobel, and Eleanor are all the same. The only way to tell them apart is by the color of their hair. They live on a remote island with Robbert and Irene who have told them that their parents died in a tragic plane crash. The girls accept this and everything else Robbert and Irene tell them. They spend their days studying the things around them and learning from their observations. Every day is the same until they find May, a girl like them – but different. May’s arrival brings trouble, though, and Robbert and Irene become very tense. They’ve always been careful to keep the girls a secret but as May’s story becomes more clear, they realize they could be facing a dangerous challenge. Dahlquist’s teen debut is a unique read that works in spite of being something of an incomplete story. It’s clear after at time that the girls are machines of a sort. It’s also clear that the setting for the story is a world in which technology of their kind is not welcome. As Veronika is the narrator, the details of the story are strictly limited to her own knowledge, including things she overhears and witnesses. It’s a technique that in another author’s hands might be guaranteed to fail, but one that I think Dahlquist has done wonderfully well and makes The Different Girl a true standout in my opinion. 3/13 Becky Lejeune
THE DIGITAL PLAGUE by Jeff Somers: This is a sequel to 2007’s The Electric Church. Avery Cates is a killer-for-hire who sold his services to the shadowy System of Federated Nations and destroyed the Electric Church’s plans to turn people into cyborg Monks. Now Cates has been infected with a plague of nanobots that kills anyone he encounters and then reanimates the corpses. The System authorities, who wonder why Cates himself has not fallen victim to the disease; keep him alive in an effort to identify a cure. With every moment bringing the human race closer to extinction, Cates finds himself in the role of both executioner and savior of the entire world. Middling good, somewhat uneven noirish techno-thriller. 09/09 Jack Quick
THE DIRT-BROWN DERBY by Ed Lynskey: PI Frank Johnson is the real thing. In addition to a .357 tucked in his belt, he has a tire iron underneath the seat of his beat up old car, in case he needs to change a tire fast, or whatever. Mary Taliaferro, a wealthy aristocrat owning a horse estate near Middleburg, Virginia hires Johnson to look into the death of her teenaged daughter Emily in a riding tragedy. Things get complicated when Johnson’s first suspect, a stable manager who has been involved with Emily, is murdered one day after he starts his investigation. Frank soon discovers that there is much more going on here, and he is determined to get to the truth, even if it kills him. A worthy heir to some of the pulp’s best “eyes”. 09/06 Jack Quick
A DIRTY JOB by Christopher Moore: Charlie Asher has a problem. He’s just become a death merchant. Whenever a person dies, their soul is held in an item that was special to them. It is Charlie’s job to find collect the soul vessels and help the soul along to its next host. Charlie doesn’t know all of this quite yet, though. All he knows is that a seven foot tall black man in a mint green suit was leaning over his wife Rachel just before she died, leaving him to raise their newborn baby girl, Sophie, all alone and apparently, Charlie is the only one who saw the whole thing happen. Matters are more complicated when Lily, one of Charlie’s employees at his secondhand shop steals his new instruction manual. Eventually, Charlie gets the hang of his two new jobs as dad and death merchant, but as time goes by Sophie begins to show some strange abilities as well — any time she points at a person and says the word kitty, they die. Then, something strange happens. People stop dying. At the same time, fellow death merchants in the city are being slaughtered and sightings of strangely dressed skeletal creatures are occurring all over the city. Hilarity ensues as good and evil duke it out in the city of San Francisco for control of the universe. Each new Christopher Moore title is even better than the guiltiest of pleasures and will leave you wanting more.
DIRTY MARTINI by J.A. Konrath: I heard that this book was different than the others in the series – a kinder, gentler Konrath, if you will. Well, maybe. There is still a serial killer, but instead of the usual blood and gore, this serial killer calls himself the “Chemist” and is poisoning the good people of Chicago. Lt. Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels is put in charge because of her popularity in solving other high profile cases, but she butts heads with the public relations expert hired by the mayor to keep things under wraps. A high body count, some laugh out loud moments and even a little sexual tension now and then makes this a fast, fun addition to this terrific series. 08/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DIRTY MONEY by Richard Stark: Stark is also known as the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, Donald Westlake. There were about $2.2 million loose ends for Parker and his two partners at the conclusion of Nobody Runs Forever. That’s the amount of poisoned (marked) loot from the armored car robbery they committed in Massachusetts. Now its up to Parker to retrieve the cash and get it spread to the right parties to allow him to leave the Commonwealth alive and healthy. A typical tale from a Master. Satisfying, but leaves you ready for another outing, sooner rather than later. 05/08 Jack Quick
THE DIRTY SECRETS CLUB by Meg Gardiner: Jo Beckett is a forensic psychiatrist; her job is to determine whether murder or suicide has been committed in questionable deaths. The San Francisco Police Department is need of her services after a string of suspicious suicides are linked together. The cops are concerned that more suicides are imminent and they’re right; bodies start piling up and the pressure is on Beckett to figure out what’s going on and how to stop it. Luckily, Beckett is tenacious, the cop assigned to the case equally so, but nonetheless things get really tense when a rising star in the District Attorney’s office is the newest victim. Beckett determines that all the suicides belong to a club; The Dirty Secrets Club, whose members all have shameful events in their past. The tension mounts as Beckett tries to figure out who will be next, but it’s not an easy puzzle to piece together, especially when her own past is flung in her face. Gardiner is an American living & published in the UK, brought to the attention of American readers by Stephen King. This impressive debut is her first novel published in the US. 06/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2008 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
THE DIRTY SECRETS CLUB by Meg Gardiner: Forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett specializes in psychological autopsies; she’s called in to help explain deaths that make no sense. When a star prosecutor with the DA’s office leads a cop on a high speed chase before slamming her vehicle into another car, killing herself and seriously wounding her passenger, Jo and the investigators believe it’s the latest in a series of high-profile murder/suicides. The case doesn’t fit into a nice, neat package, however, and the people who knew the victim claim that she would never do such a thing. As Jo begins to look into all of the deaths, she discovers a secret that some members of the upper crust are willing to do just about anything to cover-up. It seems there is a secret club, the members of which have all done something they are seriously ashamed of, something bad enough that it would cost them their careers if it came out. As Jo delves further into this the case, she discovers shocking information about this elite group, information that could lead to her own murder at the hands of a sick and twisted criminal. I think Stephen King said it best when he dubbed Gardiner “the next suspense superstar.” Meg Gardiner’s previous series has not been available in the states until now; China Lake, the first in Gardiner’s Evan Delaney series, is being released in the US almost simultaneously with The Dirty Secrets Club. I’d recommend grabbing both – you’ll need something to tide you over once you’re finished with this edge-of-your-seat read. Beckett is a great leading lady and I really liked the fact that this was not your typical profiler book – it’s an interesting spin on the specialty that I’ve not seen featured quite this way in a mystery before. Highly recommended. 06/08 Becky Lejeune
DIRTY WORK By Stuart Woods: Ex-NYC-cop-turned-society-lawyer Stone Barrington gets a request from a well heeled client to investigate her husband’s possible infidelity, so she can break the pre-nup. He does not do this work himself, so he delegates the job to others. A shlub of a photographer is hired to take some simple compromising pictures, but ends up falling through a weak skylight and landing on the subject he’s supposed to be taking pictures of. He’s arrested and causes major problems for Barrington, until it’s learned that the subject was dead before the schlep hits the corpse. He managed to take four pictures before he fell, one of which shows the unseen face of one of the greatest assassins of all time, who happens to be a woman. All hell breaks loose from here. Stone’s dating a woman called “Carpenter” who works for the very same folks. His ex-cop partner, Dino, is also involved heavily, because this happened on his NYC turf. It turns out that this woman has an agenda and it involves British MI6. It turns out that her mother and father were killed in an MI6 ambush and she’s dropping everyone she can, quickly. Have to cut it short here, again, can’t blow the ending. I haven’t read any of the previous Barrington series, but as a stand-alone this works really well. Recommended. Oh by the way, for you NYC folks, Woods writes in the real NYC world. 05/06 DOC
THE DISAPPEARANCE by Collin Wilcox: In his first case (The Lonely Hunter), Frank Hastings was a sergeant in the SFPD. Now that he has made Lieutenant he stills goes out on some calls although most of the time he relies on his subordinates to handle the routine stuff. In this outing he is involved in two homicides and a disappearance. The two homicides, although dangerous, are relatively easy to solve compared to the mystery of the disappearance of Carol Connoly, wife of Victor, owner of Connoly Savings and Loan. As with most people Carol is a mystery to those around her who offering differing opinions about her to Hastings. It is up to him to find the kernels of truth that will lead to finding her – dead or alive. 12/10 Jack Quick
DISAPPEARING NIGHTLY by Laura Resnick: I didn’t especially like this urban fantasy, but I think there are folks out there who will enjoy it. DISAPPEARING NIGHTLY is the story of Esther, the aspiring New York actress who’s appearing in a tacky show featuring a soon-to-be-famous (if his ambitious wife has anything to say about it) magician. She’s understudying rock singer “Golly Gee” who disappears during the act one night. No, really disappears. Then Esther gets a threatening note, or is it a warning, not to do what her predecessor did – get into the magic box – or she’ll be in danger.
The sender of the note appears, much to Esther’s stunned dismay. He’s Maximillian Zadok, an alchemist who shall we say, has been around for a while. Zadok convinces her that yes, other people have disappeared during magic acts and Evil in involved. Esther tries to convince the hunky cop investigating Gee’s disappearance of the danger which gets pretty complicated. Instead she, Zadok and a cast of strange people try to solve the mystery and find the missing people.
I suspect the book would be described by some as “wacky” or “zany” or even “a romp”. I hate romps. The tone here was too “hyuk-hyuk” for me and the characters too predictable; but if you don’t mind the female amateur sleuth with a nagging mother (and who in my mind sounds horribly like a young version Fran Drescher’s “Nanny” character) who’s smitten by the good-looking cop with a nagging mother, and that the best-looking people in the story are the drag queens and everyone’s just too broadly drawn, then read this book. It’s breezy, the plot moves and clearly the author enjoyed writing it. It’s just not for me. 01/06 Andi Shechter
A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness: Diana Bishop has spent her life denying her magical powers. Driven by a desire for normalcy, she pursued a life in academia, studying history and symbolism in ancient texts—ancient alchemical texts. When Diana requests Ashmole 782 from the stacks, it’s only as part of her continuing research, but the book turns out to be something very special indeed. The manuscript has been missing for centuries and many believe that it may hold the origins of witches, vampires, and daemons within its pages. It seems after all this time, Diana may be the one the book has been waiting for, the one who will be able to unravel its secrets. Matthew Clairmont is just one of many who would do anything to get his hands on the text, but realizes that Diana is the key to doing so. He vows to protect her from the others, but never planned to fall in love with her. A Discovery of Witches hits shelves on the heels of months of buzz and anticipation. I’m happy to report that it lived up to my own expectations. A massive paranormal tale that blends history and romance, it’s a good thing there are two more to go because there’s a ton more story to tell. No word just yet on when the second book will be released. 02/11 Becky Lejeune
THE DISTANT HOURS by Kate Morton: Edie and her mother Meredith have never been all that close. Meredith doesn’t talk much about her past and Edie’s never really asked. But when a decades-old lost letter arrives in the post, Edie realizes there is much more to her mother than she’d ever suspected. In WWII, Meredith was evacuated from London and sent to the country. The sisters at Milderhurst Castle took her in. Today, the castle still stands, but the building and the sisters all show their age. At first, Edie is only just curious about her mother’s days at Milderhust and wants to find out why she refuses to speak of her time there. But when Edie begins to learn more about the three sisters, she becomes determined to uncover their story and the secrets they seem to be closely guarding. Morton’s latest is a wonderfully textured and gothically toned tale. Rich and descriptive, Milderhurst comes alive and the reader is swept along in the bittersweet saga. 11/10 Becky Lejeune
DIXIE NOIR by Kirk Curnutt: I enjoyed this debut but suspect it would not be for everyone. It is set in Montgomery, Alabama where I used to live. Ennis Skinner is the son of a white civil rights hero and is the University of Alabama quarterback whose admission to using cocaine got probation for the University and made him one of the two most hated men in the state (George Wallace was the other one). Now Ennis is out of prison and is looking for the mentally challenged 19-year-old Dixie James, daughter of his deceased drug addict lover, Alice Faye James, and High C, a former meth king who now peddles books like The Hit Man Handbook on the Web. All of this is occurring in the middle of the Montgomery mayoral race between white incumbent Amory Justice and African-American Walk Compson, who may have a link to Dixie. Throw in a little Zelda Fitzgerald and a few Hank Williams songs along with the simmering racial tensions in the South and you have about covered it all. I found it interesting, but parochial. 03/10 Jack Quick
DOG ON IT by Spencer Quinn: Bernie Little runs the Little Detective Agency with his partner Chet, a police dog K-9 school dropout. A woman hires Little because her teenage daughter is missing and the cops won’t help – she’s only been missing a few hours. Little reluctantly takes the case and gets involved with this dysfunctional family. The thing that makes this book, the first of a series, different than most P.I. series is that Chet narrates the book, so it is told from a dog’s eye view. If you like cute, then this is your book. I doubt I’d read another. Interestingly enough, Quinn is a pseudonym for Peter Abrahams, who writes much darker books (End of Story, Oblivion). Read about his change of heart at the Daily Beast. 05/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DOG TAGS by David Rosenfelt: Rosenfelt is now alternating stand alone thrillers with his Andy Carpenter series, and doing a fantastic job with both. This one, if you couldn’t tell from the title, is Andy Carpenter doing what he loves best; protecting the innocent, in this case a German Shepherd named Milo. Milo is a retired police dog, whose owner, Billy Zimmerman, is a former Iraq war veteran and police officer whose war injuries forced him to retire. Billy trains Milo to become a thief, and the two manage to pay the bills that way until one of their victims gets killed during the robbery. Billy and Milo are put under lock and key, and Andy first takes on Milo’s case. This is another fast paced, funny, yet touching, legal thriller with the full cast of regulars. If you’re a fan of the series run out and buy this latest entry; if you’re not familiar, Dog Tags is a terrific place to start. 08/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DOG TAGS by David Rosenfelt: The dog may be man’s best friend, but a dog’s best friend is a lawyer named Andy Carpenter. Milo, a retired German Shepherd police dog, witnesses a murder and his owner, a former cop and Iraq war vet turned thief is charged with the crime. The first hint that this is more than a routine case, even for Andy, is the fact that Milo is being kept under armed guard at the local animal shelter. The deeper Andy digs, the greater the case becomes and it will take all Andy and Milo can do to solve the crime and prevent a catastrophic event from taking place. Even non-dog lovers have got to root for Andy Carpenter whose unique but laid back approach to the practice of law is a constant reminder that not all lawyers are bad, just the ones who are on the other side. 10/10 Jack Quick
DOG TOWN by Mercedes Lambert: Douglas Anne Munson, writing as Mercedes Lambert while working as an attorney in the Los Angeles criminal court system only wrote three books, one of which was published after her untimely death. The trilogy of Dog Town, Soul Town and Ghost Town form a noir set which is only now all in print at once for the first time. In Dog Town, Attorney Whitney Logan teams up with a street-smart hooker named Lupe, to locate a glamorous L.A. “housewife’s” Guatemalan maid. John Lutz called Dog town “a crackerjack novel with insight into the human condition. Lambert’s star should shine brighter and brighter for years to come.” Unfortunately, that was not to be. 07/08 Jack Quick
THE DOG WHO BIT A POLICEMAN by Stuart Kaminsky: After eleven straight “winners”, I guess you have to expect a bummer. Not that this book isn’t well written like the rest of this police procedural series. It features top-flight Moscow cop Porfiry Rostnikov of the Office of Special Investigation and his staff, which includes a mad pathologist who talks to cadavers; an obsessive detective called Emil Karpo, “the Vampire,” who spends “all his waking hours relentlessly pursuing criminals from both the past and present”; and Rostnikov’s son Iosef, a failed actor/playwright and veteran of the conflict in Afghanistan. As with previous works there are three main cases to be solved, which brings us to the problem. Case number one involves trying to head off a war between two mafia leaders. Okay. Number two revolves around the latest disappearance of a popular, Yeltsin-esque politician with a drinking problem. Fine. Its the third case that gave me problems. Two detectives are working undercover to infiltrate the growing business of illegal dog fighting. If you can skim over those portions the rest of the book is up to Kaminsky’s normal award winning standards. 03/08 Jack Quick
Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst: This is an odd little book. Its selection by Anna Quindlen for the Today Show book club was enough to get me to read it, but this was no Lovely Bones. Linguistics Professor Paul Iverson is devastated when his wife, Lexy, is found dead in their yard, apparently from a fall from their apple tree. The police rule it an accident but he can’t help but wonder what really happened. The more he digs, the more he finds odd about the days leading up to her death. The only witness was their dog, Lorelei, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, and Paul gets obsessed with the idea of teaching her to talk so that she may tell him the truth of what happened to Lexy – was it an accident or suicide? I wasn’t initially aware of, but was very put off by, the abuse of animals in this book, so I feel compelled to mention it here, but despite that, parts of the book were really beautifully written.
THE DOLL by Taylor Stevens: In just minutes, and with her lover and boss standing by helplessly, Vanessa Michael Munroe is overtaken and kidnapped. They made it look like an accident but while Miles Bradford and the rest of Capstone attempted to track her down, the Doll Maker’s people were illicitly transporting the unconscious Munroe overseas. Munroe comes to and quickly realizes that even her particular skill set can’t outright save her; another of her friends has been taken hostage. If Munroe doesn’t comply with the Doll Maker’s orders, her friend will die. Munroe is forced to choose between her loved ones and an innocent, but the game isn’t over yet. She still has some cards up her sleeve and she intends to make the Doll Maker pay. This third in Taylor Stevens’s series stands well enough on its own only if the reader has no intention of going back to the beginning of the series at some point. All of the details about Munroe and her job, Capstone, her relationships with Bradford and Logan (the friend who’s kidnapped as ransom), as well as previous run ins with people in the Doll Maker’s employ are all apparently touched on in the earlier installments. If you don’t mind spoilers, by all means dive in with The Doll, and if you’re a fan of the series it’ll no doubt hit the spot. If you’re new to Stevens like me, please do yourself a favor and start with The Informationist. 6/13 Becky Lejeune
DOMINANCE by Will Lavender: I think this will likely be my number one read of the year.
“What is literature?”
“Literature in emotion.”
“Literature is a writer’s secret life recorded in symbols.”
“But what if literature was more than that. What if it were a game?”
“What if you could read a book and treat it as a competition between you and its author? Like a contest.”
“In any contest there has to be a winner. How do you win against a book?”
“A brilliant professor once told me that you win when you know you have won.”
In 1994 famed literature professor Richard Aldiss is teaching a special night class at Jasper College called Unraveling a Literary Mystery —from a video feed in his prison cell. In 1982, Aldiss was convicted of the murders of two female grad students; the women were killed with ax blows and their bodies decorated with the novels of notoriously reclusive author Paul Fallows. Even the most obsessive Fallows scholars have never seen him. He is like a ghost. Aldiss entreats the students of his night class to solve the Fallows riddle once and for all. Fast forward to today: Harvard professor Alex Shipley made her reputation as a member of Aldiss’s night class. She not only exposed the truth of Paul Fallows’s identity, but in the process uncovered information that acquitted Aldiss of the heinous 1982 crimes. Now one of her fellow night class alums has been murdered — the body chopped up with an ax and surrounded by Fallows novels. Can she use what she knows about Fallows to stop a killer before each of her former classmates is picked off, one by one? And where is she in the killing order? Evocative of Thomas Harris’ Silence of the Lambs and Katherine Neville’s The Eight. If you enjoy the mystery genre as well as more traditional literature, put this one near the top of your must read list. 07/11 Jack Quick
DOMESTIC VIOLETS by Matthew Norman: Tom Violet is married, stuck in a job he doesn’t love and has been secretly writing a novel for several years. His father, a literary sensation, has just won the Pulitzer Prize but is having trouble writing a follow up. Lots of family angst but told in a very funny way, reminiscent of early Richard Russo or John Irving. These are great characters in a warm, riotous family tale. This is a terrific debut novel, and a really smart, fun read. I loved it. 09/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DON’T BREATHE A WORD by Jennifer McMahon: It’s been fifteen years since Lisa’s disappearance. When a then ten-year-old Sam last saw his sister, she’d told him that she was going to be the queen of the fairies. She never came home again. Today, Sam and his girlfriend Phoebe are happy. But Phoebe never told Sam that she knows about Lisa. When they receive a phone call sending them to Lisa’s old hiding space and a book she’d hidden away, Phoebe becomes determined to learn more about Sam and his family. Then a letter arrives: Lisa is back. But the question remains, where has she been all this time? McMahon is one of my favorite authors. She can always be relied on for a smart and satisfying read. Don’t Breathe a Word is no exception and features a spectacular and suspense-packed plot. Another dark read with unexpected twists. 05/11 Becky Lejeune
DON’T CALL ME A CROOK by Bob Moore: During the great depression my uncle traveled from Alabama to California selling encyclopedias by day and sleeping in jails (voluntarily) at night (hey, you were safe, and usually got coffee and baloney the next morning before you headed out.) He would have enjoyed knowing Bob Moore, the Glaswegian author of this hardboiled noir memoir of a ramblin’ man who not only cheated death many times, but occasionally spit in the devil’s face as well. Through good times and bad, one thing remained true – Moore was a Scotsman through and through. As was said in A Collection of Scotch Proverbs by Pappity Stampoy – A blind man should not judge of colours. Whether it is ashore in Shanghai, or the sinking of a magnificent yacht, Moore always had some appropriate observations to share like “The trouble with people when they drink is they have no sense of time” or ”I didn’t put her three hundred in a business after all. I spent it in Atlantic City, because it takes a lot of money to have a good time in Atlantic City…” 08/09 Jack Quick
DON’T LOOK NOW by Michelle Gagnon: This second in the Persefone series finds Noa and Peter actively engaged in a battle for their lives. Noa and a group of other teens have declared open war on the company behind Project Persephone. With factions across the country, they’re thwarting Pike & Dolan’s efforts as best they can through active attacks on Persephone facilities and basic word of mouth warnings to potential targets. This is just the beginning for Persefone’s Army and they won’t stop until Pike & Dolan and their project are no more. This latest from Gagnon delivers on all fronts. While there are still a lot of questions remaining about Project Persephone, PEMA, and Pike & Dolan, Don’t Look Now continues at the same intense pace set by the series debut, Don’t Turn Around, making it equally as entertaining and satisfying as its predecessor. I can’t wait to see what’s to come in the third installment. 9/13 Becky Lejeune
DON’T LOOK TWICE by Andrew Gross: The passenger in the red Ford F-250 pickup sprayed the convenience store with a hundred or so rounds of automatic fire. Was his intended victim Detective Ty Hauck of the Greenwich, Connecticut police department who escaped with a grazed neck? Or was the target Federal Prosecutor David Sanger of the Hartford Connecticut office who was standing by Hauck and caught two in the chest? Or was this something entirely different? The trail leads Hauck first to an upstate casino gambling scheme and from there into a conspiracy of corruption which will rock this suburban town to its foundations. So far, the former James Patterson co-author, now out on his own, has the ability to entertain and thrill on his own. Almost as good as some of the early Patterson’s before he became Patterson, Inc. 05/10 Jack Quick
DON’T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY by Chris Riordan: Winner of the 2007 Agatha Award for best Non-Fiction Book, this is a must read for aspiring mystery authors. Ms. Riordan is an experienced editor who offers good advice for beginning mystery writers to those who are trying to take it to the next level. Sub-titled 24 Fiction-Writing techniques To Save Your Manuscript From Turning Up D.O.A., the book takes you through the process with catchy headings in the form of Clues like Hide the Evidence by Slicing, Dicing and Splicing, as a means of introducing backstory or Buried Agendas – Exposing a Tension Deficit Disorder. Even though I do not aspire to be a writer, I enjoyed the book as a fan of mysteries because of the additional insights it provided into the mystery writing process. 08/09 Jack Quick
DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF by Don Bruns: This fourth in the hilarious Stuff series finds longtime friends and partners in crime Skip Moore and James Lessor heading to the circus. James’s latest scheme involves earning enough money to replace their now destroyed truck. To do this, he’s taken a job with a traveling circus. The problem is, this particular show has been plagued by a series of accidents, the latest of which ended in death. The owner of the show wants Skip and James, who have conveniently just gotten their official PI license, to find the folks behind these so called accidents. Of course, things never go as planned when Skip and James are involved. An amusing installment, but a little close to Stuff Dreams are Made Of, wherein the two investigated a shady tent revival. 12/10 Becky Lejeune
DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF by Don Bruns: If you ever enjoyed Tom and Dickie Smothers than fasten your seatbelt and get read for James Lesor and skip Moore. Bruns credits the Smothers Brothers as inspirations for his two would be sleuths, founders of the now licensed More or Less Investigations. Since it’s a startup, James takes a job with a traveling carnival to make ends meet until the big money starts coming in. The only problem is the carnival a dubious reputation, having had a string of accidents and at least one death. James and Skip end up tilting at whirls and “whipping” about in a roller-coaster chain of events. Not quite an insane asylum, but then again, not your everyday run of the mill outing either. Bruns’ publisher, Oceanview Publishing is located at Long Boat Key, near the winter home of many carnie performers, and Bruns gets its right with his characterizations of this zany bunch. Recommended. 02/11 Jack Quick
DON’T TELL A SOUL by David Rosenfelt: Could the author of one of my favorite series, a light, funny legal mystery series featuring the beloved Andy Carpenter and his Golden Retriever, cross over to the dark side? Could he write a dark, disturbing thriller with a protagonist as different from Andy Carpenter as day from night? The short answer? Yes. And very, very well.
Imagine sitting in a bar one night. A stranger, sitting next to you, starts talking. He confesses to murder, tells you where the body is buried, then leaves with the admonition that now it’s your responsibility. Tim Wallace is no stranger to murder. His wife died in a boating accident, but the death was suspicious – the boat exploded – and the husband is always the first suspect. So when Tim goes to the cops about this midnight bar confession, he once again falls under suspicion. The plot twists keep coming and the action never stops until the shocking ending in this fast paced, intense and spellbinding thriller. Don’t miss it. 7/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DON’T TELL A SOUL by David Rosenfelt: Another stand alone from the author of the Andy Carpenter series, and a good one. Tim Wallace is a thirty-something co-owner of a small construction company whose new wife is killed in a boating accident. The incident is investigated by Jonathon Novack, a bulldog like New Jersey State Police detective whose every cop “instinct” tells him that Tim murdered his new wife. Tim is also targeted for destruction by an unknown enemy who will go to any length to succeed. Quirky, funny and ironic, this one moves fast with a delightfully twisty plot and more misdirection than a spread option football offense. As you plow through it, keep in mind that even Homeland Security knows “there is no Afghanistan exit on the New Jersey Turnpike.” So there has to be something else going on when things go “boom” in the night. 08/10 Jack Quick
DON’T TURN AROUND by Michelle Gagnon: Trouble has only just begun for Noa Torson. She wakes to find herself in a hospital gown and sporting a new and nasty scar on her chest. But this hospital isn’t like any other Noa’s been in. In fact, it’s no hospital at all. She manages to escape but knows better than to return home for fear that it might be under surveillance. In a pinch and desperate for funds, Noa takes a job through a computer network called /ALLIANCE/. The network’s creator, Peter Gregory, was attacked and threatened after snooping around on his dad’s computer. Noa is one of the network’s most talented hackers and Peter’s go to for this particular job: finding out more about the company whose files prompted his assault. When Noa discovers her own name amongst the company’s files, however, she realizes that she and Peter share a common enemy. This first in Gagnon’s Persefone series is also her teen debut. A techno thriller with an intriguing premise, Don’t Turn Around proves to be equally appealing to fans of her earlier Kelly Jones series and teens alike. 9/13 Becky Lejeune
THE DOOR TO BITTERNESS by Martin Limon: Army CID cops George Sueno and Ernie Bascom are a couple of mismatched coppers in Korea in 1974. George wakes up one morning in an alley with cuts and bruises and without his gun and his badge. Two men who look a lot like George and Ernie soon use the gun in a casino robbery. Why are George and Ernie being targeted? And what else is in store for them? Again, having been there during this time period, I am truly impressed with Limon’s ability to portray the sights, sounds and smells of this exotic locale. 02/06 Jack Quick
DOORS OPEN by Ian Rankin: Quite a departure for the Scottish author of the Rebus series. In this intricately plotted heist thriller, a software millionaire (Mike Mackenzie), a high-end banker (Allan Cruikshank), a college art professor (Robert Gissing), and a struggling art student team up with Mckenzie’s schoolmate, Charles “Chib” Calloway, one of Edinburgh’s most notorious gangsters, to liberate forgotten works of art from a warehouse storing the overflow from Edinburgh’s museum collections. To quote another Scotsman, Robert Burns “The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew, and leave us nothing but grief and pain, for promised joy!” It wouldn’t be Rankin without larger than life characters like the Norwegian Hell’s Angel named Hate and the Senior Detective determined to bust Calloway for embarrassing him early on in his police career. Not a Rebus but still nicely done. 06/11 Jack Quick
THE DOUBLE AGENTS by W.E.B. Griffin: The heroes of Griffin’s Men at War series must share the spotlight with real-life actors David Niven and Peter Ustinov, along with James Bond creator Ian Fleming, all of whom actually served Britain in WWII. Its 1943 and the OSS’s William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan is heading up a disinformation effort to trick the Nazis into believing that the western Allies won’t invade the European continent through Sicily. While the main gimmick of the story has been used in other World War II themed books, Griffin’s excellent writing still makes the tale worth repeating. If you are not familiar with Griffin, most of his books are slow starters but then pick up pace rapidly. I always force the first fifty pages and then I can’t put the book down until I have completely devoured it. 07/07 Jack Quick
DOUBLE BLACK by Wendy Clinch: Stacey Curtis wants to forget her cheating ex and live the life of a ski bum. And it’s working for her so far. Hitting the slopes by day and tending bar by night, she wants for nothing more than a warm place to spend her nights. When she finds the keys to the local condos, her dreams seem to have come true. But then she finds the body of a dead man and everything changes. Now she’s renting a room from the local sheriff and hoping that her identity as the body’s discoverer remains secret long enough for her to uncover the killer’s identity. This solid, if somewhat predictable, mystery makes for a satisfying series opener and Stacey Curtis is a likeable lead that will no doubt be a new favorite amongst cozy fans. 01/10 Becky Lejeune
DOUBLE CROSS by James Patterson: Alex Cross is drawn into his most complex case yet. A criminal mastermind is orchestrating a series of elaborate murders in Washington D.C. that has the entire East Coast in an uproar. Neither Alex nor his new girlfriend, Detective Brianna Stone, have ever run across a killer who adores an audience and turns his victims into gruesome spectacles. The media hysteria he induces prompts Alex to realize that his foe is both a genius of terror and a seeker of fame. And what role does former friend and now incarcerated serial killer Kyle Craig play in this killing extravaganza? If only James Patterson had stuck with the Alex Cross series. They are far and away the best of the books under his name. 01/08 Jack Quick
DOUBLE PREY by Steven Havill: It started out as a beautiful day for Posadas County New Mexico Undersheriff Estelle Guzman before she was confronted with a rattlesnake fang in a teenager’s eye. Then, the boy’s older brother goes missing and is found dead in an arroyo, apparently killed in an accident while riding his ATV cross country. Then the deputies find what the dead boy had discovered just before he was killed – a handgun that is a lead to a five year old cold case. Estelle and the now retired Bill Gastner find themselves looking for a murderer altogether too close to home. Beautiful; descriptions of the New Mexico countryside add to the readability of this one, along with the extended cast of characters. Nicely done. 1/11 Jack Quick
THE DOVEKEEPERS by Alice Hoffman: This is Hoffman’s re-imagining of the Masada story. There are four women telling the story of how they got there. Yael opens the book with her story of life without ever having known her mother, who died in childbirth. Her father, a renowned assassin, could not forgive Yael but fortunately her older brother, a warrior, is very loving to her. Revka is the widow of a baker, and escapes with her grandchildren to Masada, killing the men who raped and killed her daughter. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter brought up as a boy. Shirah practices magic and runs the dovecote where they all meet and work. These are fierce, independent women and their stories are just mesmerizing. This is a terrific read, especially for fans of The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, and book clubs will find lots to talk about. 5/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
Down Here by Andrew Vachss: Vachss’ latest Burke novel is well up to his usual high standard. The woman Burke has been carrying a torch for, the blonde former sex crimes prosecutor Wolfe, has been arrested for attempted murder. Her underground organization contacts him for help. The victim is someone that she had successfully prosecuted for rape and has been taunting and threatening her since his release after a successful appeal.
As Burke commences his investigation, his crew, including Max the Silent, The Professor and The Mole all lend their special talents. Regular readers of the Burke novels will feel at home and new readers will be fascinated by this group living as an extended “family” in the attics, junkyards and Chinese restaurants of a hard city.
Burke quickly learns that not only was Wolfe not the shooter, but that the authorities know it and want to keep her locked up for purposes of their own.
During the course of his search for the truth, Burke sets out to use the attractive and interesting sister of the accuser. But their relationship turns into something else and reaches Burke in that place he works so hard to keep untouched.
Burke’s discussions with the accuser’s victims are especially poignant and good vehicles for him to express in some detail his feelings about crimes of this nature. And from my point of view, the ending is a perfect classic private detective result. If you are a fan of hard-nosed crime fiction, put this one on your list. 04/04 ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.
DOWN RIVER by John Hart: Hart’s sophomore effort surpasses his debut, the multi-award nominated King of Lies. A small North Carolina town is torn apart when a power company wants to buy up all the farmland on the river; some cling to their bucolic way of life, while others only see dollar signs. Adam Chase’s family has owned the largest parcel in the area for centuries, and his father has no desire to sell. But tempers are flaring and soon a young woman is severely beaten, a body is found on the Chase farm, and Adam is the chief suspect. Newly arrived after five years away, Adam is the town pariah. His stepmother accused him of murdering a family friend, and while the court acquitted him, his family and friends did not. But time has softened some of them it seems, while others have just been storing up their anger and are ready to unleash it. Down River is reminiscent of Raymond Chandler, hard boiled and rich with evocative metaphors. Complex relationships blur the lines between friend and foe, heightening the suspense in this intricate, haunting story of a family in crisis, and the writing is simply superb. 10/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2006 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
DOWN TO THE WIRE by David Rosenfelt: Chris Turley is a reporter for a New Jersey newspaper, following in the larger than life footprints of his late father, a famous, Woodward-type journalist. A planned meeting with a source turns into the biggest break in his career when the building across the street blows up and Chris ends up saving several of the occupants. Another tip about the mayor results in a huge political scandal and Chris is thinking his career is finally taking off, thanks to P.T., his anonymous source. But then people start dying, and P.T. seems to be why. The story flies at a breakneck pace, and the tension and the bodies keep piling up, counting down to a New Year’s Eve climax in Times Square with plenty of surprises along the way. This second standalone thriller by the author of the fabulous Andy Carpenter series is breathtaking in intensity and just plain entertainment. 03/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
DOWN TO THE WIRE by David Rosenfelt: Bergen News reporter Chris Turley goes from reporting the news to being the news. Moments before he is to meet an anonymous informant, there is an explosion across the street, and Chris becomes an instant hero by rescuing five people from a shattered building. The explosion is assumed to be terrorism, and Chris appears on the Today Show 18 hours later. Soon other random blasts kill people, and Chris realizes that his informant is also the brilliant and demented bomber. But who is he, and why is he doing these things? Not at all like Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter series, this stand alone is gritty and features a most memorable plot. I still like the Andy Carpenter’s but this guy has plenty of talent for anything he wants to do. 08/10 Jack Quick
THE DRACULA DOSSIER by James Reese: Jack the Ripper terrorized London’s Whitechapel district from Aug 31 to Nov 9, 1888. A total of five murders were attributed to the Ripper, but people speculate that he was actually responsible for up to six additional murders through 1891. There is no doubt that the identity of the Ripper will never be uncovered and that is what makes him such a popular topic of debate today. The Dracula Dossier is a fictional account of the possible meeting of Dracula creator, Bram Stoker, and the famed serial killer. In 1888, after time abroad with William Irving’s theater group, Stoker returns to London where friend and fellow author Sir Thomas Henry Hall Caine, asks Stoker to do him a favor and help entertain an American visitor and friend. The “friend,” a Dr. Francis Tumblety, creeps Stoker out, but he relents and agrees to the favor. Soon, Stoker begins to tie the recent murders to his own sightings of Tumblety. Written in the style of Stoker’s own Dracula, Reese’s latest is set under the guise of being Stoker’s own personal documents, diaries, and letters, written and compiled just prior to his famous work. Footnotes lend actual historical credence to facts set forth and help to transport readers back in time. A fun and “believable” tale of intrigue and literature. 10/08 Becky Lejeune
DRAGON TEARS By Dean Koontz: From the opening sentence to the insane sequence of mayhem that follows, this book hooks you from the git-go. Harry Lyons encounters an immense hobo who tells him …Ticktock…ticktock… you’ll be dead by dawn. Others have also been visited by this same thing, and delivered similar messages; a homeless mom and her son, a fallen homeless ex-executive who’s given up all hope, and one very special dog. The only problem is that this thing ain’t real. It can shape-shift and do incredible things,
including stopping time. Harry and his partner Connie know their lives are on the line, and they set about trying to figure out exactly what the hell is going on. Meanwhile the other characters all try to cope with the thing that’s menacing them, Including the dog named Woofer. The rub is that Woofer discovers and understands what is going on, and thus becomes the hero of this story. He becomes the common link to all the characters resolving their problems, and leads the way to the enemy. Koontz actually made the dog a central player in this by writing Woofer’s part in what, for lack of a better term, …is Doggy Brain Speak. It’s done so well here that you almost wish you were a dog yourself. The paperback I bought is part of the “Good Read….Guaranteed” promotion by the publisher…I certainly have no argument here. 03/06 DOC
THE DRAGON’S PATH by Daniel Abraham: The Dragon’s Path introduces readers to the characters and the world of Daniel Abraham’s new Dagger and the Coin series: Cithrin, a ward of the Medean bank, charged with the impossible task of smuggling the bank’s wealth out of a city on the brink of turmoil; Marcus Wester, a hero whose exploits are the stuff of legend and the man hired to protect Cithrin and her interests; Geder Palliako, a man of noble blood who is more interested in the hidden history of the land than in military pursuits—their stories make up the intricate web of plots that begin to emerge in this first of the projected five-part epic. It should be understood that there is much more to come in the series. The characters are very well developed and the world is amazingly conceived, but the plots as they play out are obviously incomplete. As long as Abraham finishes the story, I’ve no doubt patient readers will be very well rewarded and I for one am definitely planning on sticking around. Fans of epic fantasy the likes of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones will especially love the political intrigue. 06/11 Becky Lejeune
DRAMA CITY by George Pelecanos: George Pelecanos is one of the treasures that the Bookbitch opened my eyes to. His latest, Drama City, is up to his hard-hitting standards. Although he has put some of his earlier characters on hold for this novel, his mean streets of choice are still located in Washington, D.C. They are still inhabited by youth gangs and drugs and violence and drawn well. But this time, something is different. For the first time, there seems to be a note of hope in Pelecanos’ story-telling. I like it.
The leading characters are Lorenzo Brown, a ex-con on parole and working hard at staying straight and his parole officer, a young woman named Rachel Lopez, who is not working so hard at staying straight. As each of them fight their inner demons and the harsh realities of a brutal inner city, some nobility shines through. Lots of people, some of them good to one degree or another get hurt or killed, but Pelecanos seems to be saying now that even in a very brutal world, we have choices and those choices matter. Ultimately, Lorenzo’s choices put him in a position to save his parole officer and the ending is very satisfying.
What a surprise, though. George Pelecanos saying that things are getting better. If you are a fan of Pelecanos also, you won’t believe it. Until you read Drama City. 11/05 ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.
THE DRAMATIST by Ken Bruen: The good news, kind of, is that Jack Taylor is off alcohol and heroin (since the arrest of his supplier). He still smokes and maintains his unique perspective on life. He is hired by his drug dealer to look into the death of the drug dealer’s sister when he accidentally gets involved in the life of old flame Ann Henderson. The resultant beating leaves him with some permanent damage, physically, and probably psychologically as well. But our injured tough guy soldiers on. I have about decided that the cushiest job in publishing must be that of Bruen’s editor – I mean how much can he/she cut out of this unbelievably tight prose. I’ve seen the one page chapter, now I’m waiting for the one sentence chapter and one word sentence. Another great Bruen. 08/06 Jack Quick
Dream House by Rochelle Krich: This second installment in the Molly Blume series lives up to the promise of the first, Blues in the Night. Molly is a modern Orthodox Jewish woman and a crime sheet reporter for a local Los Angeles rag. She reports on vandalisms in some of L.A.’s swanky areas that are governed by HARP, the Historical Architectural Restoration and Preservation boards, then sells the L.A. Times an article about the controversy between HARP supporters and foes. While visiting a HARP neighborhood, Molly meets retired Professor Oscar Linney when he jumps out in front of her car, apparently lost and confused. By doing some gentle probing, she figures out where he lives and takes the old guy to his daughter’s house, where he bangs on the door and yells until the neighbor comes out and explains that his daughter has been missing for several months. A short time later the Professor is killed, and Molly can’t help but wonder if her article contributed to his death. Meanwhile, she’s been dating her former high school heart throb, Orthodox rabbi Zack Abrams, and the relationship deepens here, despite Molly’s short skirts and her obsession with the professor’s death. There are lots of suspects in this whodunit and Krich kept me guessing until the very end. This book should hold strong appeal for Faye Kellerman fans, especially of her early works. Note – there is lots of Jewish terminology sprinkled throughout the book, but Krich thoughtfully provides a pronunciation guide up front and a glossary in the back.
THE DREAM OF THE BROKEN HORSES by William Bayer: David Weiss is a very successful forensic artist, but when the presiding judge in a celebrity murder trial in his Midwestern hometown of Calista bars cameras, Weiss gladly accepts an assignment on behalf of ABC as a courtroom sketch artist. His real interest in returning to Calista, however, is in another murder that occurred twenty five years earlier. Barbara Fulraine and her lover, Tom Jessup, were gunned down in the cheap Flamingo Court motel. Soon after the homicides David’s father, who was also Barbara’s therapist, committed suicide. Weiss is convinced Barbara Fulraine’s death was the cause of his family’s breakup, but his attempts to learn more are rebuffed. As he unravels the story of Barbara Fulraine fueled by her diary which he has found, he uncovers ample dirty laundry in what turns out to be a classy and compelling psycho erotic suspense tale. 05/09 Jack Quick
DRIFT by Jon McGoran: Doyle Carrick is not having a good year. First, he buries his mother, and then he gets suspended from his job as a Philadelphia narcotics cop. He decides to take the forced time off to settle his parents’ affairs at the farmhouse they had bought in a small town in rural Pennsylvania. Surprises await; he finds a young farmhand staying in the house, spots some known drug dealers driving around town, and finds a couple of burned down meth houses in the not-so-idyllic berg. He falls for his neighbor, a passionate young woman trying to make a go of her organic farm who educates Carrick on the genetically modified food industry. Being on suspension doesn’t seem to stop Carrick from investigating the drug dealers in his new neighborhood, and the local sheriff doesn’t take kindly to the interference. This biotech thriller is a complicated Frankenfood story, with lots of twists and turns leading to a startling ending. Readers who enjoy Michael Crichton or liked Spiral by Paul McEuen, or even the nonfiction bio-thrillers by Richard Preston, will find much to like here. 7/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.
DRIVEN by Eve Kenin: In the bleak and icy landscape of the Northern Waste, Raina Bowen has only one hope for securing the future of a sister who has been kept a secret from her until now. Raina has never known the warmth or security of a loving family or friends, but it is her hope that her own young sister can know better life. Raina’s only hope is to win a dangerous long haul trucking race that would earn her enough money to ensure both of their futures. The race involves carrying a large shipment of genetically enhanced grain across the frozen tundra. Raina contacts one of her father’s old acquaintances, a mysterious figure who calls himself Wizard, a man who may be able to guarantee her win. Raina is drawn to Wizard in spite of his strange demeanor and soon finds herself teaming up with him against ice pirates set on hijacking her shipment and corporate killers out to collect the bounty on her head. This steamy futuristic romance works on so many different levels. For one, it’s a complete surprise, readers may think they know what’s coming, but they can’t possibly predict where the story will lead them. Driven also takes readers directly into Kenin’s latest release, Hidden. It’s a fantastic premise and Kenin, aka Eve Silver, pulls it off with amazing skill. It’s romance on steroids. 07/08 Becky Lejeune
DROOD by Dan Simmons: June 9, 1865, Charles Dickens, one of the most famous authors in the world, survives a train wreck that will forever change his life. At the crash scene, he meets a horrid beast, “cadaverously thin, almost shockingly pale,” with “eyes set deep under a pale, high brow that melded into a pale, bald scalp.” His nose was “mere black slits” and he had “small, sharp, irregular teeth, spaced too far apart.” Upon returning to his home, Dickens becomes obsessed with finding Drood, and pulls his good friend, Willkie Collins, into the hunt. This “hunt” forever alters the lives of both Dickens and Collins. DROOD is an amazing piece of literary fiction. Fans of classic fiction, including the work of Dickens and Collins, will be absorbed by the flavorful language. Fans of thriller and horror will be drawn in by the dark, dangerous and deadly DROOD character. Simmons is spot on with the historical details, the images of London, the characters of Charles Dickens and Willkie Collins. I can’t say enough about this amazing piece of writing. Don’t let the length of this book stop you from picking it up. I guarantee that DROOD is a piece of work that you won’t forget for some time. 03/09 Jennifer Lawrence
THE DROP by Michael Connelly: This is the latest installment in Connelly’s excellent Harry Bosch series and it does not disappoint. Bosch is still working the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved unit, working on cold cases and this time out gets a most intriguing case. There was DNA left at the scene in a blood smear that was preserved. The DNA evidence points to a suspect that seems perfect for the crime, except for the fact the perp was only 8 years old when the rape and murder were committed. Bosch is working with a young partner, David Chu, and is having some difficulties with shaking off his loner mentality. Then they are handed a new case from the Chief of Police himself – Bosch’s long time nemesis, Councilman Irwin Irving has specifically requested that Bosch investigate the death of George Irving, the Councilman’s son. He appears to have leapt to his death from a hotel balcony, but it may have been murder. Bosch’s being a single dad doesn’t seem to be hindering his investigations any, but he has a parenting style that some may find unique. These storylines run parallel throughout the book, and make for an engrossing, fast paced story sure to please Connelly fans, including this one. 12/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF by Lawrence Block: Scudder’s back, Scudder’s back, Scudder’s back. In this new tale, Matthew Scudder is finally on the straight and narrow when he runs into “High-Low” Jack Ellery, a childhood friend from the Bronx. Scudder has been off the sauce for a year and Jack is inspired to change his own life and follow Scudder’s lead. But Ellery, following to the letter the dictates of Alcoholics Anonymous’ twelve steps, is shot down while attempting to atone for past sins. Scudder is part of the murder investigation which threatens to put him back on the sauce, even if he survives without being killed himself. If you haven’t discovered Scudder you have not yet sampled one of the true originals of American detective fiction. Like Scudder says, “There’s no charge for seats in an AA room, but that’s because you have paid for them in advance.” 05/11 Jack Quick
THE DROWNING TREE by Carol Goodman: Juno’s best friend, Christine, has always been something of a wild card. After picking her life back up, Christine is asked to give a talk at their former alma mater. The subject of the lecture is a stained-glass window their class is having repaired as a gift to the college. The window in question was designed by the college’s founders and was always said to picture the founder’s wife herself. Christine’s research, however, shows that there was another woman in the picture, so to speak. The founder’s sister-in-law was tucked away quietly at a nearby sanitarium, the same institution Juno’s own ex-husband calls home. When Christine is discovered dead, the police rule it a suicide. In fact, others are willing to attest to Christine’s recent mental state, but Juno believes there is something more to the story and that Christine’s death may be connected to the revelations in her lecture. Carol Goodman has such a talent for weaving together art and mystery. Always a guaranteed good read. 09/11 Becky Lejeune
DRY ICE by Stephen White: Michael McClelland, the brilliant, determined killer introduced in White’s first novel Privileged Information, has left the Colorado State Mental Hospital where he has been confined and is coming after Alan Gregory’s family. Alan is in a deeply vulnerable state, facing severe doubts about his professional life, his marriage, and his own psyche while McClelland holds the most powerful weapons of all, secrets from Alan’s past, secrets Alan thought he had successfully buried years ago. Time is running out as Alan scrambles to outwit his nemesis while confronting each of his worst nightmares. Dry Ice’ has got to be one of the most memorable of White’s efforts. 03/07 Jack Quick
DUBLIN NOIR edited by Ken Bruen: Ken Bruen has assembled an awesome book with brand new stories by: Ken Bruen, Eoin Colfer, Jason Starr, Laura Lippman, Olen Steinhauer, Peter Spiegelman, Kevin Wignall, Jim Fusilli, John Rickards, Patrick J. Lambe, Charlie Stella, Ray Banks, James O. Born, Sarah Weinman, Pat Mullan, Gary Phillips, Craig McDonald, Duane Swierczynski, Reed Farrel Coleman, and others. Each explores another aspect of Dublin. Take a deep breath before you start and remember to periodically inhale and exhale. 02/06 Jack Quick
DUMA KEY by Stephen King: Edgar Freemantle had it all, a great job, a wonderful family, and the security and stability that everyone strives for in life. Eddie loses almost everything, though, when his truck is crushed in an on-site accident at work. As a result, Eddie loses his right arm and suffers a debilitating head injury that leaves him with speech impairment, short-term memory loss, and violent mood swings. In the midst of his difficult recovery, Edgar’s wife decides to leave. Realizing that Edgar is strongly considering suicide, his doctor makes two suggestions. First, that Eddie find something that he loves, some hobby to help him heal and recover. Second, he suggests to Eddie that a change of scenery might do him some good. Eddie takes the advice to heart and decides to rent a home on Duma Key, an almost uninhabited island off the coast of Florida. There he begins to sketch and paint, creating wonderful and disturbing images that are gaining him quite a bit of attention. But something dark lives on Duma Key, something that is infecting everyone on the island, something that might be coming for Eddie next. Every page of this story was a new and wonderful surprise, I had no idea where the story was taking me, but I enjoyed every minute of the ride! Duma Key is one of my new favorites! As creepy and enthralling as ever, Duma Key proves that King is still the best there is. 09/08 Becky Lejeune
DUST by Joan Frances Turner: It’s a zombie-pocalypse tale like you’ve never seen it: from the zombie’s perspective. Jessie is relatively young for a walking dead. She was just fifteen when she was killed in a car accident, and it’s been less than a decade since she rose from her grave. In zombie years, she’s still fresh. Now something strange is happening to zombies and humans around Jessie: a smell, like chemicals, and changes in eating habits, amongst other things. Jessie isn’t sure what’s going on, but she’s planning to find out before it gets to her too. Telling the story from Jessie’s perspective gives Turner plenty of room for original and unique style and storytelling, something she takes full advantage of. Be warned, it’s a bit gory and gross, to be expected when a walking corpse is doing the narrating. 10/11 Becky Lejeune
DYING FOR JUSTICE by L. J. Sellers: Detective Wade Jackson is no superhero. Not only does he not have all the answers, often he doesn’t even know the right questions. However, when he is on a case, he stays on the case. It may take awhile, but he is not someone to mess with if you are looking for a fast score or take pleasure from hurting others. With each outing Jackson gets better and better. This time he gets involved with two cold cases – one the murder of his own parents eleven years ago, the other an assault that happened two years ago, with the victim just now regaining consciousness. The common thread is a fellow cop. Is Jackson up to the dual challenge? Is there truly a connection between the two cases? Read for yourself. If you like first rate police procedurals you will not be disappointed. 03/11 Jack Quick
THE DYING HOUR by Rick Mofina: Jason Wade wants to be a reporter in the worst way – he’ll even work for the opportunity. His break may have come as he is the first with the story of Karen Harding, a Seattle college coed missing on a lonely stretch of highway in upstate Washington near the Canadian border. Working for the Seattle Mirror in cut throat competition with the other bigger local papers, Wade is determined to follow the story not knowing the toll its going to take on him and his cohorts. As a lowly intern, he knows that if he can pull this one off, he will reach his objective. A dark story that seems to fit the wild wet untamed Northwest. As a lifelong card carrying media member I usually prefer to read about other people’s occupations, but I think Mofina has nailed it with Wade. My first Rick Mofina, but certainly not my last. 04/07 Jack Quick
DYING IN STYLE by Elaine Viets: The author of the delightful Dead End Job series debuts a new series set in her hometown of St. Louis. Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper has what appears to be a dream job for most women: she gets paid to shop. But it isn’t as much fun as one might think. Her job might take her from a fried chicken fast food establishment to a discount store to a swanky shop in the mall, and she needs to dress the part for each. But Josie is a single mom and likes the flexibility of her hours so she’s determined to make a living at it and deals with having to wear disguises as needed. There are three generations living under one roof with her precocious nine year old daughter and her mother living in the apartment upstairs to keep Josie on her toes. After she gives a negative report on a very ritzy designer handbag store, Josie gets called on the carpet by her boss & confronted by the owner of the store. Later that night the owner and her lover are found murdered and Josie becomes a suspect. This mystery shopper deals with more than most and works hard to clear her name. This light hearted romp has some very funny moments and a terrific surprise ending. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, especially since the first chapter is a tantalizing teaser at the end of the book! 11/05
DYING LIGHT by Stuart MacBride: You can’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes a line or two is all it takes to know you have a good one. Dying Light opens with, “The street was dark as they entered the boarded up building: scruffy wee shites in their tatty jeans and hooded tops. Three men and two women, nearly identical with their long hair, pierced ears, pierced noses, and pierced God knows what else. Everything about them screamed ‘Kill me.’ He smiled. They would be screaming soon enough.” Detective Sergeant Logan Lazarus McRae has been demoted to the Grampian Police’s “Screw-Up Squad,” in Aberdeen, Scotland, after a sting operation he was manning left a senior officer near dead. He is faced with two grisly cases, either of which could be his ticket back to respectability or completely off the force. One is a fire that claimed six lives, the other a savage murder of a prostitute. Operating on a mixture of nicotine, dark ale, bacon sandwiches, and greasy chips, McRae and his bunch deals with sleazy journalists, drug-dealing grandmothers, and the world of corporate finance. No sophomore slump for MacBride after last year’s grim but entertaining Cold Granite. 09/06 Jack Quick
THE DYING OF MORTIMER POST by Barry W. Ozeroff: “Some deaths, I have learned, are slower than others. Mine is such a death; I have been dying it since August 13, 1967 – thirty six years, three months and one day ago.” Quite a powerful opening. Mortimer Post, disgraced and terminated from his LAPD job because of a drunken accidental shooting, is about to “eat his gun.” In the brief time before he performs the act, he thinks through the terrible tragedy in 1967 that caused him to enlist in the Army; his experiences in Vietnam as a helicopter crew chief during the Tet Offensive, culminating with a grievous injury and the death of his best friend in a helicopter crash. Back in the states he adopts the younger brother of his friend who was killed in Vietnam, a poor black wheelchair-bound mentally handicapped boy from Tupelo, Mississippi. Eventually he lands in Los Angeles in 1974 and joins the LAPD. Alcohol, Rodney King, the Whittier earthquake and 911 all take a toll which brings the story up to his suicide at the beginning. Only then does Mortimer discover he has always had the one thing he has spent a lifetime seeking. Powerful an painful for those of us who lived through some of these same events. 06/10 Jack Quick
THE DYING TRADE by Peter Corris: The first outing for Sydney, Australia’s tough guy private eye – Cliff Hardy. Divorced and adept at dodging bullets, he drives a beat-up Falcon, smokes, drinks, and solves problems, like the one experienced by wealthy Bryan Gutteridge. Gutteridge, a sea gull shooting real estate heir, is concerned about threats being received by his twin sister, Susan. The butler apparently didn’t do it, since he is murdered. Fists fly, bruises abound, and you begin to wonder who is a villain and who is a victim. Very, very good. 11/07 Jack Quick