Fiction Reviews C: 1998-2013

December 23, 2013

Cadillac Beach by Tim Dorsey: Tim Dorsey has really hit his stride with Cadillac Beach, another maniacal ride through the Florida scene. Serge the psychopathic history buff, has found his niche as a historical tour guide in Miami. Murph the Surf, the Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in Miami Beach and of course, just 92 miles across the sea, Fidel Castro. All are grist for Serge’s mill. This time out, the ever-obsessive Serge is making a list – launch business, solve grandfather mystery, embarrass Castro, restore CIA pride (after the Bay of Pigs invasion), decimate mob, find gems. It is quite a list. But Serge has help – his sidekick Lenny Lipowicz, still smoking dope at 48 and still living with his parents – and the two cocaine “party girls,” Town and Country. Just like Santa Claus, in his heart, Serge knows who is naughty and who is nice. Unlike Santa, the outcome for those who are not nice in Serge’s universe is far worse than a lump of coal. Dorsey’s pace is non-stop and each page is funnier than the next. Buy two copies of this book – one for yourself and one to send someone from out of state. Neither of you will regret it. 03/04 ~This review contributed by Geoffrey` R. Hamlin.

A CALCULATED RISK by Katherine Neville: If you enjoyed the 1999 film Entrapment starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones, you will love this one. Verity (True) Banks is a 32 year old “bankette” who specializes in bank systems security and whose career path has just been short circuited by her bumbling jealous boss. This leads her to accept a challenge from her former mentor, a reclusive computer genius/Renaissance man, Dr. Zoltan Tor. Which of them can steal $1 billion, and invest it to earn $30 million in only three months? (Of course, the money will be returned, and no one will be injured.) And so, the race is on. I didn’t complete this one in a single night, only because #1 USC was playing and getting beaten by Oregon State. I loved it. 10/08 Jack Quick

CALICO JOE by John Grisham: The title is the nickname of a baseball rookie phenom who emerged from AA ball in the summer of 1973 for the Chicago Cubs. Warren Tracey was an aging pitcher for the New York Mets, determined to teach the rookie a lesson. He did, with devastating consequences. Warren’s son Paul was there, a young boy on the brink of manhood who learned many valuable lessons that summer. This is one of the best baseball stories I’ve read, but it is so much more than that. It is also the story of Warren and Paul Tracey and their father and son dynamic. Even though he’s known mostly for his legal thrillers, Grisham really excels at these types of stories, stories fraught with humor and pathos rather than suspense. I loved this book for its charm and nostalgia, but especially for the way Grisham brings these characters to life – they will be with me for a long time to come. 4/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CALIFORNIA FIRE & LIFE by Don Winslow: My second Don Winslow. Is he ever good. Captures the California surfing scene as well as producing great procedurals. Jack Wade is “basically a Dalmatian” – when a fire happens he’s there. Jack, who works to live and lives to surf, was a sheriff’s department fire investigator until he got caught planting evidence in a warehouse arson to protect a witness, and is now the top claims adjuster for California Fire and Life. When Pamela Vale passes out drunk and accidentally burns down the west wing of her Dana Point mansion, along with half a million dollars of her husband’s antique furniture, Jack thinks maybe it wasn’t an accident. It turns out the victim was the half-sister of his ex-girlfriend which made it really personal. Jack’s opponent is Pamela’s estranged husband, Daziatnik Valeshin, now known as Nicky Vale, who has survived a Russian prison camp to make himself over into the model of a perfect Southern California gentleman. The more Jack learns the dirtier it gets and the more danger for him. A great read. 02/10 Jack Quick

CALIFORNIA GIRL by T. Jefferson Parker: Back in 1954, the Becker brothers, David, Nick, Clay and Andy, win a fight with the Vonn brothers at the Sunblesst orange packinghouse. Afterwards, the Vonns’ little sisters, Lynette and Janelle, show up to throw rocks at the Beckers. In 1968, Janelle is back at the packinghouse, only now she’s lying dead on the floor, her decapitated head several feet from her torso. Nick is with the county sheriff’s department working his first case as lead detective, brother Clay has been killed in Vietnam, Andy is a reporter on a local newspaper and David is a minister. More twists and turns than a back mountain fire trail – can you believe Richard Nixon as a cameo? One of Parker’s best. 03/06 Jack Quick

THE CALIFORNIA ROLL by John Vorhaus: If you even mildly enjoyed Redford and Newman in The Sting you will laugh out loud and love con artist Radar Hoverlander, the master of the snuke and its bafflegab and the scourge of every mook. From his early days of conning his grandmother (an Altzheimer’s victim) through running Ponzi schemes on his grammar school mates, and selling “exotic purebred” dogs to adoring yuppies, Hoverlander has learned it all. He can “read lips, pick pockets, pick locks, run a six-minute mile, hot-wire a car or disable its engine, field strip an M-16, throw a pot, and build a working computer from scratch.” He knows “biology, geology and half a dozen other -olgoies including theology.” Hoverlander is going to need all his skills and then some working with the dazzling and highly intelligent Allie Quinn. Radar simply wants to avoid prison or being killed and to work toward the grand snuke, the California Roll, the last payday he’ll ever need while it seems everyone in the world is set against him. The entire book is laugh out loud funny with lines like the driver of the SUV “my car ass-ended” was “a soccer-mom looking gal, with a Shroud of Turin coffee stain down the front of her white cable knit.” 02/11 Jack Quick

CALCULATED LOSS by Linda L. Richards: Madeline Carter’s ex-husband committed suicide, or so she was told. But her ex, the chef, certainly wouldn’t have done it by preparing a poisonous duck à l’orange. But the real giveaway that this suicide was really a murder? The wine that was served with the duck was a shiraz, a definite no-no to any self-respecting chef. Madeline goes to the police with her suspicions, but they blow her off. Since theirs was an amicable divorce, Madeline feels determined to figure out what really happened to her ex. This is a fun, fast mystery and book three of the series. Hopefully, there will be more to come. 09/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CALCULATED LOSS By Linda L. Richards: Madeline Carter is a former New York stockbroker turned day trader, now living in Malibu. In this third outing she learns that Braydon, star of the Food Network and her former husband, is dead, officially a suicide. When she goes to Vancouver to the funeral, her ex-mother-in-law asks her to look into the business Braydon has built, thinking something is amiss. Those initial suspicions are confirmed when Madeline learns Braydon supposedly killed himself through dining on a poisoned duck a l’orange and beef Shiraz. Knowing Braydon would never have had that type of combination meal because of the conflicts in taste, she begins seriously investigating. This brings out all kinds of suspicions regarding possible financial malfeasance that led to the murder of Braydon and might even precipitate a second “suicide” if she isn’t careful. Well plotted and well written. 10/06 Jack Quick.

CALIBRE by Ken Bruen: Using the same mechanism as Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct outing, FAT OLLIE’S BOOK, Bruen has Inspector Brant writing his first crime novel, to be called CALIBRE. Although Brant can’t write, he can pick up stories from his peers, and he can, in his own, blundering take-no-prisoners fashion catch criminals. In this case, the “Manners Killer” (Jim Thompson’s THE KILLER INSIDE ME) who thinks anyone misbehaving in public is fair game to be added to his victim list. With anyone else, this all might be derivative, but you can always count on Bruen to give it his own special nuance and with his unique sparse prose, pull it all together. VIXEN was good but CALIBRE is better. 01/08 Jack Quick

CALL ME IRRESISTIBLE by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Former PGA star and small town hero Ted Beaudine is about to marry Lucy Jorik, the former president’s daughter; that is, until her best friend/maid of honor, Meg Koranda, shows up and convinces her to rethink that decision. The bride runs away and Meg is left stranded, broke and the most hated woman in town. It’s an interesting twist to see the hero as the beloved good buy and the heroine as a mess, but nonetheless Meg is a very likeable character. Lots of angst, high drama and laughs before the usual happy ending. A fun, entertaining read, as light and sweet as cotton candy, and I’m a fan. 02/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CALL ME PRINCESS by Sara Blaedel: Assistant Detective Louise Rick is well aware of the dangers of online dating. In fact, a reporter friend has recently covered these stories in detail for a local publication. When Louise is asked to interview a rape victim who was discovered bound and gagged in her own apartment, the detective could never imagine that she herself would become embroiled in a chilling game of cat and mouse with a twisted suspect. The victim reveals that she met her assailant on a popular online dating site. They had dinner at her place and everything seemed utterly normal. The victim admitted that her date was quite charming, until he turned on her, viciously attacking her. She survived, but the second victim isn’t so lucky. Now, Louise must put herself in the attacker’s sights, posing as “Princess,” a single woman looking for love online. This is not a book for the faint hearted; the attacks are described in brutal detail. The translation itself is good, if a bit dry—I’d imagine some of Blaedel’s style is stripped away in the process. Call Me Princess is technically the second of Blaedel’s books to feature Louise Rick, but is the first to be published in the US. 08/11 Becky Lejeune

CALLING MR. LONELY HEARTS by Laura Benedict: Everyone knows that teen girls can be cruel. When friends Roxanne, Del, and Alice plot against one man in particular, they can’t possibly imagine how it will come back to bite them in the end. Playing at witchcraft and Santeria, the girls thought they brought back an angelic being in the form of the perfect man. They were wrong. This man was very real and now this man is very angry. All grown up now, Del is happily married with her very own young step-daughter. But still, Del yearns for more. Roxanne is a successful artist, living the single life and seemingly loving it. And Alice, poor Alice, her marriage is falling apart and her husband is having a child with another woman. But then Alice meets a man who changes everything. She doesn’t know that Varick, her new lover, has been meeting with Del and Roxanne as well. She doesn’t know that man from all those years ago is finally having his revenge and Varick is the one who will bring it all about. Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts is quite a bit darker than Benedicts debut, Isabella Moon. Benedict tears down her characters, displaying their emotions and motivations with agonizing accuracy. Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts is a chilling read about the darkness that lives in us all. 12/08 Becky Lejeune

CALUMET CITY by Charlie Newton: What a great name for a mystery. The book itself supports the title with cool artwork and pages that feel gritty and dirty. Patti Black is Chicago’s most decorated cop, with a secret past. Several unrelated cases threaten to reveal her horrific childhood as an abused runaway and teenage rape victim, so Patti goes on the hunt for Roland Gantz, who she suspects is behind the crimes. She must also find her adopted son whom she thinks Roland is also trying to find. From Chicago to Calumet City to Arizona, a houseboat on Lake Michigan, a disintegrating slum building – a shoot out, a tornado. I mean, what more could you possible expect. If you can’t deal with violence, don’t even start. 08/08 Jack Quick

THE CALYPSO DIRECTIVE by Brian Andrews: Will Foster is special. Actually, it’s his blood that’s special and that’s why Vyrogen wants him. The company has kept Will under quarantine for five months, telling him that he’s infected with a rare and highly contagious form of flu. But now Will’s escaped and Vyrogen is willing to do whatever it takes to get him back. When Meredith Morley hires the Nicolora Foundation, she attempts to cover up what Vyrogen has been up to, claiming Foster is a terrorist who infiltrated Vyrogen intent on stealing their creation. But the foundation, nicknamed the Think Tank, is staffed with some of the best and the brightest. Soon Nicolora’s employees begin to uncover the truth about Morley and Vyrogen. And while Will is running for his life, the Think Tank could be his best ally. I enjoyed Andrews’s debut. It was an entertaining premise and a nice blend of action/adventure and medical thriller kind of in line with a James Rollins Sigma Six novel. The Foster’s backstory was one of my favorite parts, so it was interesting to discover that Andrews had released a free ebook companion, Ring of Flowers, focused on just that part of the tale. There were a few first novel hiccups but it seems Andrews is primed to turn the Think Tank into a series and I’d like to see what they do next. 8/12 Becky Lejeune

CAMOUFLAGE by Bill Pronzini: You don’t have to like your clients, but you do need them to stay in business. It starts out as a routine case for Nameless: Find David Virden’s ex-wife — and they know where she is. Deliver some papers to her and it’s all done. But she refuses the papers, sends a message to Virden to never contact her again, and slams the door. His colleague, Tamara, tells Nameless that Virden threatens to sue, stops payment on his checks, and claims that the woman they located isn’t his wife. Then Virden disappears and his fiancée hires Nameless to find out why. It gets curiouser and curiouser. Meanwhile Jake Runyon’s case is far more personal. Someone is abusing the son of his girlfriend Bryn. The boy, a pawn in Bryn’s divorce is clearly in danger but Runyon’s options are limited – until murder enters the picture. As usual, an outstanding effort from Pronzini. 07/11 Jack Quick

THE CANDIDATE by Paul Harris: Jack Hodges is a presidential hopeful with a powerful message. His supporters are ardent and believe that he will be able to bring about great change for this nation. Mike Sweeney is one of Hodges’s strongest supporters as well as one of his staffers. When Hodges becomes the target of an attempted assassination, Sweeney is assigned to find out why. At first glance, Hodges is clean as a whistle. The would-be killer is keeping totally quiet and no one knows why she’s gone after Hodges at all. Sweeney is finally able to trace the woman back to Guatemala and what he discovers could mean the end of Hodges’s campaign. The Candidate is a good political thriller and a very timely release. Harris certainly knows his stuff but never overwhelms readers with unnecessary politics or over-the-top explanations. He keeps the plot moving and includes just the right mix of behind-the-scenes campaign bits, policy workings, and history to make The Candidate an equally interesting read for folks with a little (or no) interest in political goings on as well as those with more insight into politics. 10/12 Becky Lejeune

CANDLES BURNING by Tabitha King and Michael McDowell: On Calliope Carroll Dakin’s seventh birthday, her father is found murdered in a very “unpleasant” way. Upon the reading of his will, it is discovered that the family fortune is gone. Fearful, Calley and her mother flee to Merrymeeting, a boarding home in Pensacola Beach, Florida. Here, a rotating round of regular visitors, along with owner Merry Verlow, provide Calley with a sort of supportive family unit. The supernatural elements of this story are more peripheral than anything — Calley is occasionally visited by ghosts but the purpose of these visits is usually unclear. There is talk of her large ears that enable her to hear the dead, an element that is not fully developed until the story is almost through. More than anything this is a strange sort of coming of age story. The pacing is somewhat slow, but deliberate, and forces you to savor the book. Though we can never know how the story may have progressed had the McDowell completed it prior to his death, I think King did a fantastic job. The transition between authors is, to me, seamless. Readers more familiar with either of these authors’ past works may be able to discern their individual styles but it won’t effect the overall enjoyment of the book. 11/06 Becky LeJeune

CANDY FROM STRANGERS by Mark Coggins: Veteran P.I. Augustus Riordan is trying to help his cross-dressing friend and assistant, Chris Duckworth, avoid a beating when he discovers the fresh corpse of a missing teenage girl in a San Francisco alley. Then Ellen Stockwell calls. Her husband is a Palo Alto police lieutenant and their daughter Caroline, an 18-year old art school student, hasn’t been seen in three weeks. Riordan’s search for Caroline leads him to additional gruesome discoveries and into the undercover world of Internet sexual predators. Is Riordan San Francisco’s version of Robert Parker’s Boston PI, Spenser? Could be, could be. At least this is his third strong outing so far. 12/07 Jack Quick

THE CAPABLANCA VARIATION by Douglas Quinn: The Capablanca Variation is named for José Raúl Capablanca y Graupera (1888–1942), who was World Chess Champion from 1921 to 1927. Quinn chose the name for his third in a series of books that begins with The Spanish Game and The Catalan Gambit. Although named for chess terms, there is nothing sedate about this action adventure series. The plot of this one is built around an effort to trap a terrorist using a young American woman (Jennifer Ellis) as bait. A team of specially trained operatives is in place to protect her and to seize the terrorist once he is lured into place. What can go wrong? Everything! Dr. William “Bill” Nash is mysterious, well-connected, fearless and nearly omnipotent. Clearly, he is a man to trust. Agent Mark David, Jennifer’s erstwhile boyfriend, proves himself to be a pompous, macho, ego-driven twit who is not to be trusted. Jennifer and her friends Remei Savall and Blair Fontaine – all resourceful, skilled, intelligent women – prove themselves to be more than equal to the men. They are able to accomplish what much of the special forces team members cannot. All are likable, authentic characters. vaguely reminiscent of Charlie’s Angels crossed with James Bond working with the CIA; no previous chess required. 12/10 Jack Quick

CAPE PERDIDO by Marcia Muller: Muller steps outside her Sharon McCone series for a new adventure in Northern California’s Soledad County – this one pitting environmental interests against the plans of developers. In this case international developers want to harvest water from the Perdido River and transport it in huge bladders down the coast to the Southern California cities that need it. The locals know this will destroy the remnants of their tourist-based economy. This book is interesting in that succeeding chapters are written from the standpoint of different characters, and today’s events are the natural outcome of a single night many years ago. A different pace but still the same strong talent. 08/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

CAPER by Parnell Hall: Parnell Hall’s latest features his hapless, cut-rate private detective Stanley Hastings. Stanley ’s sleuthing is normally limited to client-getting for a voracious personal injury trial attorney, Richard Rosenberg. Stanley knows his limits and is generally content with the cards that have been dealt him. Until the day Fate draws a card from the bottom of the deck and causes a beautiful woman to came into his office for help.
Because this is a detective story, the woman is trouble and things are not what they seem. Stanley knows that he is in over his head from the get-go, but feels compelled to play the hand out. Naturally, the result is a humorous disaster, with bodies appearing whenever Stanley goes to any apartment other than his own. I am pleased to report that Stanley is ultimately able to muddle his way through with help from his sarcastic, but supportive wife, Alice; his sarcastic, but supportive, contact in the police department, Sergeant MacAullif; and his sarcastic, but supportive boss, Richard.
Mr. Hall writes well and his Stanley Hastings stories are always enjoyable. This time out, it seemed to me that maybe his boss, Richard, was acquiring more of a voice and a place in the story. It would not surprise me to one day see that Mr. Hall has managed to sandwich a Richard Rosenberg novel in between his Stanley Hastings and his Puzzle Lady works. And when he does, I will buy it. 08/10 Geoffrey R. Hamlin

CAPTAIN FREEDOM: A SUPERHERO’S QUEST FOR TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND THE CELEBRITY HE SO RICHLY DESERVES by G. Xavier Robillard: It just goes to show that even a world-renowned superhero is no match against corporate sabotage. When Captain Freedom finds himself suddenly laid-off by Gotham Comix, there’s nothing left for him to do but enter therapy and begin writing his memoirs. Readers will laugh out loud as the unemployed superhero tells his tale and analyzes his inability to find an arch-nemesis. From his transformation as a sidekick into the superstar of his own comic, Captain Freedom takes you on a rollicking trip through the stand-out events of his life (you know, the ones that make for the best blockbuster flicks). This witty satirical read pokes fun at just about every aspect of pop culture including illegal pirating, pop music, politics, and even cars. Robillard, already a hilarious web presence, should be huge. I just dare you not to crack up and fall out of your chair while you read his debut. 02/09 Becky Lejeune

CAPTIVE OF SIN by Anna Campbell: Sir Gideon Trevithick is viewed by his fellow countrymen as a hero, but his survival of the ordeal that dubbed him so has left him a troubled man. This doesn’t keep him from coming to the rescue of Lady Charis Weston, though. Hiding out from her malicious stepbrothers, Charis knows that she only needs to make it to her twenty-first birthday. When Gideon finds her beaten and bedraggled, she purposely hides her identity, fearing that he will return her to her guardians. She couldn’t be more mistaken. Gideon is determined to help the woman, but it the end, it just might be Charis who helps him. Anna Campbell adds her own twist to the classic damsel-in-distress tale in Captive of Sin. As romance goes, Captive is about as escapist as you can get—it certainly moves quickly and keeps the reader interested throughout. Not being a regular historical romance reader, however, I had expected a much darker story based on other reviews of the book. Perhaps for romance, this is the case. As a regular reader of darker genres, though, Captive was only so-so in this department. 11/09 Becky Lejeune

CARAVAN OF THIEVES by David Rich: Rich has created a very intriguing picaresque character that is the star of this appealing novel. Rollie Waters is a marine working as an undercover agent in Afghanistan. His background includes a childhood with a father who has taught him how to lie, cheat and gain things he wants via being a con artist. Rollie is most comfortable working under cover utilizing identities other than his own. while working undercover in the field, he is seized by his own command and thrown into the brig. It is indicated that his father, Dan Waters, has stolen a great deal of money while in Iraq. Rollie is told that he is responsible for finding his father, and returning the money to the general in charge of his unit. In order to find his father, comply with the orders, and get himself out of trouble Rollie has to retrace his youth, wade through years of lies and deceptions and contact Dan. It is years since he saw his father and the task is formidable. Action takes Rollie back and forth between the US and Afghanistan and features an amazing amount of twists and turns. All are logically handled and incorporated into the book. Writing is crisp and engrossing and sweeps the reader along right from the start including a full picture of the complicated relationship between, to say the least, a very unusual pair of father and son. 9/12 Paul Lane

CARNAL SIN by Allison Brennan: The newest release in Allison Brennan’s combination police procedural/paranormal romance series finds Rafe, Moira, and team up against the second of the recently released Seven Deadly Sins: the demon Lust. The Los Angeles PD has had a chain of recent murders that at first seem to be unconnected, but when a morgue employee discovers identical birthmarks on three of the recently deceased, she puts in a call to Santa Louisa. The markings are strikingly similar to those found on the demon Envy’s victims, so Moira, Rafe, and Sheriff Skye McPherson travel to the City of Angels to investigate Though they are not exactly welcomed by the locals, Moira plans a quick trip to the scene of the latest crime and ends up invoking the wrath of more than just the demon itself. As Moira and Rafe prepare for battle, Anthony travels to Venice where he makes some startling discoveries about the coming war between good and evil. Carnal Sin is a great follow up to Original Sin: Brennan definitely set readers up for a whirlwind of a series and has delivered just that so far. As the series continues to build, Brennan weaves a world of amazing detail and plots with fantastic cross-genre appeal. 06/10 Becky Lejeune

CARNIEPUNK by Rachel Caine et al: It’s that time of the year, the time when the carnival arrives. The tents are raised, the barker is in position, and the smell of cotton candy and funnel cakes is in the air. But underneath it all is something strange and slightly foreboding. Carniepunk brings together some of the top urban fantasy and paranormal romance authors of the day. The collection ranges in subject and tone but they all have one thing in common: the carnival theme. In “The Three Lives of Lydia,” Delilah S. Dawson takes readers to the world of her Blud series with the story of the tattooed woman. Allison Pang sets Melanie St. James against a formidable foe in a prequel of sorts to her Abby Sinclair series. In “Werewife” Jaye Wells explores marital discord with a twist. And in “Parlor Tricks,” Jennifer Estep sends her Elemental Assassin lead to the carnival to help her sister track down a missing teen. The anthology includes fourteen authors total and each story stands completely alone even though some tie into existing series. If you’re a fan of paranormal romance and urban fantasy, this anthology is an absolute must have. Highly recommended. 7/13 Becky Lejeune

CARNIVAL by Elizabeth Bear: I don’t mind books that are challenging to read, as long as they reward you for your hard work. This book, though, just seemed difficult for no reason.
It has a great premise—two gay men are sent as diplomats from Earth to a planet that is entirely run by women, since they will not allow any straight men from outside to visit. All them men on the planet are more or less slaves, most required to fight in gladiator-style tests until they retire to father children for the women. The women are the political and business leaders, and they’re really badass—they fight duels and wear pistols and get involved with all kinds of political machinations.
Then there’s this whole other thing, where the city they live in is kind of a sentient entity, and there are these dragon things that…protect them? Or something? And the earth government is run by computers that were invented by environmental extremists who killed off almost the entire population except for the creative geniuses, I think.
The main problem I had was that there was just too much going on, and I couldn’t tell what the characters were even trying to do, much less what their loyalties were. Even the ending was confusing. Still, I did finish it, and I would probably read something else by the author, since I like her ideas. 05/07 Jenne Bergstrom

THE CARRIE DIARIES by Candace Bushnell: Hot on the heels of the blockbuster Sex and the City 2 movie comes a new book, this time offering us a glimpse into Carrie’s background. Aimed at the young adult market but being read by women of all ages, this is the story of Carrie’s last year of high school in a small New England town and how she made her way to her beloved New York City. As a long time fan of the show and the films, it was important to me that the Carrie I know be portrayed in this book, and she really was. We can see how she developed into the woman that we know, right up until the last page when the timeline goes awry – at least my memory of it. Nitpicking aside, it’s a good look at how Carrie developed her fashion sense, her feminism, and her belief in the power of friendship. 06/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE CARRIER OF THE MARK by Leigh Fallon: Megan Rosenberg is a very special girl with a very special gift – she is a Carrier of the Mark. When she and her father relocate to Ireland, she is immediately drawn to the wickedly handsome Adam DeRis. Adam finds himself equally drawn to Megan. Theirs is a connection that is written in legend and a connection that may not be meant to be. As Megan learns about her strange heritage and the powers that come with it, she and Adam grow ever closer, but a group called The Knox has been searching for the ones like Megan and Adam. The Knox will do anything they can to bring down those who bear the Mark. This teen debut and first in a new series is an original concept and a quick read. Fallon’s twist on Irish folklore will be a nice addition to the genre and a welcome one for readers looking for something a little different. 10/11 Becky Lejeune

A CARRION DEATH by Michael Stanley: Michael Stanley is the pen name of the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollop. Sears lives in South Africa and Trollop divides his time between South Africa and Minneapolis. I include this information because there is no trace of Minnesota in this first outing by the duo. Its strictly Africa and you can feel the heat, smell the dank vegetation and acrid animal smell on every page. This is home for Detective David “Kubu” Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. Like the hippopotamus (“Kubu” is Setswana for “hippopotamus”) that lives in his native land Bengu conceals a deceptively dangerous streak beneath a placid exterior. His large size is in keeping with his presence, whether it is on the sun-baked and blood soaked plains of the Kalahrai riverbeds or the plush and lavish offices of international conglomerates, Kubu will follow the trail to its end. A welcome addition to the likes of Kaminsky’s Porfiry Rostnikov, Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko, and even Ian Rankin’s John Rebus as larger than life, imminently entertaining but also flawed detectives who can’t be bought, or scared off. Looking forward to the next outing. 06/08 Jack Quick

CARTWHEEL by Jennifer duBois: Lily’s semester abroad becomes a nightmare when she’s arrested and charged with murdering her roommate. Her family is reeling from the news, sure their daughter must be innocent. The head prosecutor on the case is confident of Lily’s guilt, however, especially in light of her odd behavior after the murder. But did Lily really do it? What happened in the weeks leading up to the murder to cause such a horrendous crime? It’s no secret that Jennifer duBois’s latest is highly influenced by the Amanda Knox case. The book is being described as a thriller by some but I found that not to be the case. Instead, it’s more of a character study. The “did she or didn’t she” question is the driving force of the book, but stylistically duBois tells her story in a very roundabout way. It’s a definite wordiness that’s not at all overly descriptive but was difficult to read and made it hard for me to connect with the characters and become captivated by the story itself. 10/13 Becky Lejeune

CASANEGRA by Blair Underwood, Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due: Casablanca is Spanish for white house, casanegra means black house. In this black oriented adventure Actor Underwood (Sex and the City, etc.) teams up with accomplished authors Due and Barnes to produce a romp through Hollywood. Tennyson Hardwick, a semi-successful actor, ex-gigolo and incipient sleuth has to clear himself from a murder charge using his good looks and charm, a $2.5 million house inherited from a devoted client, martial arts skills and connections on both sides of the law. All the elements are there to create an on-going series — the sex for pay industry, the grind and glitz of Hollywood and the rap biz, some black film history, and a cool dude with a future. Could this be the John Shaft of the new millennium? 09/07 Jack Quick

CASE HISTORIES by Kate Atkinson: Private detective Jackson Brodie is trying to resolve three old London cases. Two sisters are looking for their missing sister, a retired lawyer is seeking the killer of his adult daughter, and the sibling of a killer is trying to reunite with a niece who witnessed the murder as a baby. Brodie’s efforts heat up all three cases in this tale of family dysfunction and random fate. To me, the book suffers from too many characters. Although well-written, you have to maintain a scorecard to keep up with the shifting cast. A case of too much spice and not enough stew. 01/06 Jack Quick

CASE HISTORIES by Kate Atkinson: The opening book in Kate Atkinson’s highly-praised and acclaimed Jackson Brodie series begins with three cases: a toddler who goes missing in 1970, a girl who is murdered in 1994, and a young wife who kills her husband in 1979. Enter Jackson Brodie. When the father of the toddler dies, two of the remaining daughters hire Jackson to find out what happened to their sister. Then, Theo Wyre hires Jackson to find his daughter’s killer. Finally, the murdering wife’s sister wants Jackson to track down her missing niece. Narrators rotate throughout the book: Jackson, the sisters, Theo, and others offer up their points of view and their pieces of the story. Atkinson also employs a sort of switchback narration when characters’ stories overlap, taking the story back to a prior point with a different narrator and then offering another perspective on an occurrence. Case Histories is an entertaining and often lighthearted mystery and Brodie is a character readers will fall in love with, literally. Case Histories is the first in the series and the first three Brodie books have recently been adapted into a BBC show rumored to be airing on Masterpiece in the US in the near future. 09/11 Becky Lejeune

A CASE OF REDEMPTION by Adam Mitzner: Dan Sorensen was a very successful defense attorney at the start of a promising career with a large New York law firm. Just after winning a high profile case, his wife and daughter are killed by a drunk driver. Dan, traumatized and devastated by the sudden loss, sinks into a period of despair leaving the firm and doing very little other than sinking towards the path of becoming an alcoholic. About 18 months after the tragedy, Dan is coerced into attending a dinner party given by relatives. He is approached by a beautiful woman and talked into coming back into the law in order to represent a rapper that has been accused of murdering his pop star girl friend. The rapper (stage name “Legally Dead”) has fired his first attorney, and based on Dan’s win of the case settled before the deaths of his wife and daughter, wants Dan to represent him. A partnership is set up with Nina, the woman that approached him at the dinner, when it develops that she is leaving a law firm in order to try and get more meaning into her life. The two meet with L.D. (Legally Dead) and he agrees to have Dan and Nina represent him. The pair begin preparations and work at Dan’s house on the administrative aspects of the defense. In the course of the trial the two find that they are falling in love, with Dan the biggest beneficiary of both the relationship and work on the trial when he finds that he is coming back to an interest in life again. Adam Mitzner’s day job is as a practicing attorney in New York, making his descriptions and analysis of the trial and byplay in it as real as possible. His characters live and breathe, acting as they undoubtedly would if involved in the action surrounding the trial. The end is not telegraphed but is a logical one and the reactions of all participants in the story definitely what they would have been in real life. A page turner, and a forecaster of Adam Mitzner’s success in the literary world. Certainly making sure that the reader looks forward to future books by him. 05/13 Paul Lane

CASTAWAYS by Briane Keene: If you like Survivor, you’ll like Castaways. Even if you hate Survivor, you’ll love Castaways. Contestants on a reality survival show find that they are fighting for much more than prize money in Keene’s latest horror release. First, a massive storm is headed straight for the island where they are shooting. The producers admit that while they can’t force anyone to stay on the island, anyone who chooses to leave will forfeit the game. No one who has lived through the grueling challenges thus far is ready to give up now. Then they find that the so-called uninhabited island is very much inhabited and the locals are not so welcoming to the contestants. In fact, the locals are downright bloodthirsty and the competitors are beginning to look like pretty good eating to them. Keene throws in one more wrench for his characters, but I don’t want to give it all away too soon. This gruesome and chilling “beach read” comes from a tale Keene wrote as tribute to the late, great Richard Laymon. A must read for today’s horror fans. 01/09 Becky Lejeune

THE CAT DANCERS by P.T. Deutermann: Two lowlifes escape punishment after robbing a gas station, murdering the attendant, and incinerating bystanders when they shoot up the gas pumps, because the Manceford County, North Carolina, police failed to read the suspects their rights. Soon thereafter, a mysterious e-mail arrives in the department, a link to a video of one of the murderers being executed in a homemade electric chair, ending with a voice announcing, “That’s one.” The shocking video spreads throughout the Internet, drawing the attention of local, state, and federal authorities and national media, and putting intense pressure on these same authorities to find the vigilante before he claims his second victim. Outstanding. 05/06 Jack Quick

CATCH ME by Lisa Gardner: Boston police Detective D.D. Warren is back and when we last saw her, she was newly pregnant. Baby Jack has been born and D.D. is just heading back to work after maternity leave, sleep and caffeine deprived but ready to go. Her first case involves the homicide of a pedophile, which is quickly linked to an unsolved murder of another pedophile. Sex Crimes Detective Ellen “O” quickly muscles her way into the case and brings a level of expertise to the table, spouting facts that scare the crap out of D.D. and parents/readers everywhere. While visiting the crime scene, D.D. sees a young woman hovering near her car who then takes off with D.D. in hot pursuit. Turns out Charlene Rosalind Carter Grant just wanted to check out the detective because she believes she will be the victim of a murder in a few days. Her two best friends were murdered on Jan. 21st on the two previous years. D.D. is intrigued and starts looking into the young woman’s story and finds the truth there. Grant is a police communications officer, keeping watch over her officers and handling 911 calls with aplomb, lending credence to her story. This is a fascinating look at the lives of 911 operators, the unsung heroes of the police department, and at a very interesting case. Lots of twists and turns and a whopper of a surprise ending made this a book that kept me up late into the night. Gardner just keeps getting better. 2/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins: Peeta and Katniss beat the odds and came out of the Hunger Games alive—together. As the twelve Districts begin to actively rebel, Katniss’s final act in the Games is blamed as the catalyst. After all, only one was supposed to survive, but Katniss and Peeta managed to convince viewers that they were so in love they were willing to die together rather than leave one another. As Katniss learns more, she finds that things are not quite what they seem. Capitol control of the Districts has been precarious for some time and she and Peeta are pawns in a game they cannot predict. As the rules change around them, they must fight for survival once again. Oh, a cliffhanger ending if ever there was one. At least the series wrap up, Mockingjay, is already out ‘cause I am dying to know what happens now. 12/10 Becky Lejeune

CELEBUTANTES by Amanda Goldberg and Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper: Hollywood’s newest generation takes a swipe at life in La La Land; Goldberg is the offspring of über-producer Leonard Goldberg, and Hopper is Easy Rider Dennis Hopper’s progeny. Together they’ve penned the story of Lola Santisi, daughter of a powerful director who’s up for his second Oscar. The story is set during Oscar week, and each chapter counts down the days and hours until the big event. Every party, picnic and religious event is documented with inside dirt, dish and name dropping galore, along with some thinly veiled pseudonyms – even though I was completely out of my element, I managed to pick up on the “Uncle Jon”/Jack Nicholson reference. After flopping big in her acting debut, Lola turns her talents to helping her Best Gay Forever friend Julian Tennant, wannabe fashion designer to the stars, by getting one of the A-List celebrities to wear one of his gowns on the red carpet at the Oscars. If you read People magazine religiously and channel surf between ET, Showbiz Tonight or whatever celebrity gossip shows there are out there, then this is the book for you. For me, reading this book was rather like watching a train wreck; I was disturbed, shocked, even horrified at times, but couldn’t stop looking. 03/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CEMETERY DANCE by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child: In the latest Pendergast thriller, the illustrious detective must team up with D’Agosta to investigate what appears to be a killing by zombie. Worse yet, the victim is someone the two men consider a close friend. All evidence points to the killer being one of the vic’s own neighbors, a man who turned up in the morgue prior to the killing. Pendergast calls on the help of his childhood tutor, a man who specializes in Obeah and vodou, when the search leads to a strange cult centered in Manhattan. Public sentiment regarding the group in question has always been on the negative side, but the link to this recent murder is just what certain protest groups need to feed the fire. Soon it seems as though all of Manhattan is watching, just waiting to see what will happen, and Pendergast and D’Agosta are right in the middle. Preston and Child have done it again. Pendergast is as good as ever and, as usual, readers will be dying to know what comes next for this strange and fascinating character and his friends. 05/09 Becky Lejeune

CEMETERY GIRL by David Bell: When Tom Stuart’s daughter reappears after four years, the first question on everyone’s mind is, “What happened?” A witness claimed to have seen Caitlin with a man and soon others come forward with the same story. But Caitlin refuses to give any details about the past four years of her life, and when a suspect is arrested, she refuses to testify against him. As her father, Tom is determined to protect his daughter. As his marriage and his family fall apart in the aftermath of such a tragedy, he searches for answers that will explain how something like this could have happened and who can be held accountable. Cemetery Girl is a disturbing debut. Not only is the subject not for the faint hearted, but the misery that Bell conveys through Tom and the other characters, and the unsettling revelations that are slowly revealed about Caitlin’s past, make the book an uncomfortable read. 10/11 Becky Lejeune KINDLE

CERTAIN GIRLS by Jennifer Weiner: Weiner writes good chick-lit. She’s the author of In Her Shoes, which became a blockbuster movie with Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette. Weiner’s first novel was the chick-lit bestseller Good in Bed and Certain Girls is the sequel. In Good in Bed, our heroine Candace “Cannie” Shapiro gets dumped and reads about it in a magazine article written by the dumper. In retaliation, she writes a very angry, very funny novel that becomes a huge bestseller. Now we meet up with Cannie about 10 years later, as she’s getting ready for her daughter Joy’s bat mitzvah. The story is told in alternating first person chapters between Joy and Cannie, so we get both perspectives of the coming-of-age, mother-daughter relationship in all its glory. Being a mother of a 15 year old who went through the bat mitzvah process not that long ago, I could easily relate. Cannie has been pseudonymously writing a young adult sci-fi series for years and reveling in being a wife and mother. The angst arises when Joy gets hold of a copy of her mother’s bestseller, which raises all sorts of questions about her family. Certain Girls has lots of angst, lots of laughs and a very bittersweet ending – I loved it. 05/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CERTAIN JEOPARDY by Captain Jeff Struecker: Fairly routine thriller about a team of six Special Ops soldiers who attempt to confirm the existence of an Al Qaeda base in Venezuela. In the process they stumble upon a plan to transport a kidnapped nuclear weapons expert from that camp to Iran. Labeled as Christian fiction, the action ebbs and flows around discussions of family and faith, which can be unsettling when juxtaposed with firefights and murder. Reminds me of the local anti-gambling folks who insist that Jesus likes Bingo but doesn’t approve casino gambling. Think Rambo, but “G” rated. 09/09 Jack Quick

CHAIN OF COMMAND by Colby Marshall: The President and the Vice President are both killed, catapulting the Speaker of the House into the White House as the first woman President of the United States. And that is just the opening of Marshall’s first novel. Talk about a thrill a minute; the book is definitely that and than some. Journalist McKenzie McClendon, relegated to second tier on the newspaper she works for, takes a popular opinion that U.S. Navy SEALS committed the crimes and writes a scathing condemnation of these elite warriors. Former Navy SEAL Noah Hutchins has an entirely different opinion of the crimes. His former buddy is found dead and blamed for one of the murders. He does not believe this and decides to go after the real killers. He convinces McKenzie to work with him with the carrot of being able to write the story of the century about the truth. The duo come into contact with several groups involved in the assassination plot; a violent feminist organization, foreign terrorists and crooked politicians. When the reader thinks they have the plot all figured out, there is another twist added, and all in all there are more twists and turns than a roller coaster. The ending is not telegraphed, although clues do appear in the scenario. Definitely a book that is impossible to put down, and needs to be finished in one sitting savoring the literature. Hutchins and McKenzie may appear in a future book but the most important thing is that there should be future books written by this talented author. 2/13 Paul Lane

CHAIN OF COMMAND by Caspar Weinberger and Peter Schweizer: A former Secretary of Defense working with an experienced author yields a debut political thriller of the first magnitude. The weapon of Secret Service Special Agent Michael Delaney is used to killed the President and wound the Vice-President. The new President declares a state of national emergency, putting the entire nation under martial law, and then prepares to take out a right-wing militia he claims is responsible. Delaney and others have doubts that quickly grow in proportion to the new President’s actions. All the action takes place in a hectic nine-day span. Maybe the dialogue isn’t the greatest but what a plot. 02/06 Jack Quick

A CHAIN OF THUNDER by Jeff Shaara: The second in Shaara’s planned trilogy about the western battles in the Civil War. The focus of this book is on the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, a battle that established the reputation of Ulysses Grant and his later promotion to commander of the entire union army. Shaara uses the same format as he has done in his other books: that is, a great deal of research and the use of characters, both fictional and real. In relating the stories he sets up both conversations and interactions between the main individuals which have the ring of being possibly those that actually took place at the time. The reader’s interest is captured by the feeling that he or she is reading a well done novel with the understanding that facts presented are those that actually took place at the time of the book. General Grant looked at the capture of Vicksburg as a military necessity in order to disrupt the supply line for the Confederacy and achieve control of the Mississippi river. At a great cost in casualties he crossed the Mississippi and drew a line at the city. Due to the heavy casualties suffered by his army he elected to lay siege to Vicksburg rather than attempt to take it by frontal attacks. Shaara uses both Grant and General William Sherman as key commanders directing the siege, and Bauer, a private that was used in his book Blaze of Glory previously to depict the human side of the conflict. The Confederate side uses both Generals John Pemberton who commanded the men defending Vicksburg and Joseph Johnston who chose not to come to the aid of the troops under Pemberton, but remained in Tennessee indicating that the siege of Vicksburg was nothing but minor skirmishes between the armies. There is also the use of a civilian living in Vicksburg, Lucy Spence who was an actual person, and distinguished herself by volunteering as a nurse at a hospital ministering to the Confederate wounded. The book is ideal for any reader interested in Civil War history, but actually anyone that would like to immerse themselves in an excellent novel with the knowledge that it is based on fact. 7/13 Paul Lane

Chains Around the Grass by Naomi Ragen: This beautifully written tale brings the impoverished Markowitz family to life as their American Dream turns into a nightmare. Set in the 1950’s in the projects in The Bronx, those “chains around the grass” are metaphoric as well as physical for little Sara. Her strength of character comes from the strength of her faith and is a wondrous thing to behold. The autobiographical nature of this novel makes it a heart wrenching and compelling read. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE CHALICE by Nancy Bilyeau: In the year since the closing of Dartford Priory, Joanna Stafford and her fellow sisters and novices have tried to make a home for themselves in the local village. Their residence has been met with some conflict, however, with Henry’s ardent supporters’ increasing animosity towards everyone of the Catholic faith. Joanna is set on beginning a new life for both herself and her half brother, even planning to set up shop creating tapestries like those she worked on at the Priory. When they are both offered a chance to visit family in London, Joanna agrees thinking it will offer a bit of relief and a temporary change for the two of them. But all is not well in London. Joanna’s relatives are intent on setting in motion a prophecy that Joanna has long tried to escape, one that could mean a restoration of the Church and even possibly her order. The cost of this path would be steep, though, and Joanna fears for the fate of her immortal soul. This second in Bilyeau’s historical fiction trilogy is filled with political intrigue and mystery. It works well as a stand alone but is a perfect follow up to The Crown and set up for the forthcoming third part of the story, The Covenant. 9/13 Becky Lejeune

CHARLEMAGNE PURSUIT by Steve Berry: In the fourth title to feature Cotton Malone, Berry finally gives readers a glimpse into Malone’s past. In 1971, Cotton Malone’s father was stationed on a navy sub that went down in the Atlantic, or so he and his mother were told. Unofficially, the sub sank while on a mission to Antarctica – the files have been sealed ever since. Cotton requests access to the files as a favor from his boss, and within minutes of receiving the information he is attacked. He escapes, but then comes face to face with a set of ruthless twins who claim that their own father was part of the same mission as the elder Malone. It seems the sub may have been on a covert op that was inspired by Hitler’s own search for the Aryan race. Malone will have to retrace his father’s long lost steps in order to get out of this one alive. Meanwhile, back at the home base, Malone’s boss is teamed up with none other than the president’s right hand man in an attempt to lean the reason behind the mission and who has been keeping it under wraps all these years. Charlemagne Pursuit is full of the page-turning suspense that readers expect from Berry. The plot is expertly woven and the insight into Malone’s character is a welcome addition to the series. My favorite Berry title yet. 12/08 Becky Lejeune

THE CHAMELEON CONSPIRACY by Haggi Carmon: Third outing for Agent Dan Gordon, Senior Investigative Attorney for the Office of Asset Recovery and Money Laundering of the U.S. Department of Justice, who holds law degrees from the United States and Israel and has a three year stint in Mossad, as well as CIA credentials. It will take all of Gordon’s skill and experience as he goes against the master criminal and con man known as the Chameleon who has eluded international law enforcement for twenty years. As Gordon pursues his prey, he uncovers the fact that there is yet another side to the mysterious Chameleon – he’s an undercover sleeper agent. The Chameleon has been on the loose for twenty years, but he has never had Dan Gordon on his trail, an agent who will go anywhere, anytime, anyplace to face any danger – to succeed. 05/09 Jack Quick

THE CHAMELEON’S SHADOW by Minette Walters: Lieutenant Charles Acland returns to England a broken man after barely surviving an attack on the reconnaissance convoy he was leading in Iraq. The two soldiers that accompanied him are both dead. Acland himself has suffered severe head injuries and facial fractures that have left him with debilitating migraines, minor amnesia, and constant ringing in his ears. The attack cost him one eye and left major scarring to the side of his face. His temperament and personality have also been affected. He has become short-tempered, distrusts everyone around him especially women, and has broken off all ties with any remaining friends. Has he become a killer, though? Shortly before being shipped off to Iraq, two men were brutally attacked and murdered in London. After Acland returns to England, a third man is attacked shortly after an altercation with him at a bank ATM. Acland’s behaviors of late certainly seem to work against his favor but those around him doubt that he is responsible. That is until the evidence otherwise begins to pile up. Minette Walters is one of England’s queens of psychological suspense. Her subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) manipulation of readers through the use of unreliable characters leaves fans guessing until the very end. In some ways, Chameleon is similar to one of her previous works, The Dark Room. True to form, however, Walters has once again delivered an original and gripping edge of your seat thriller. 01/08 Becky Lejeune

CHANGELESS by Gail Carriger: In the second Parasol Protectorate installment, London’s supernaturals are all in a tizzy after a recent case of human temporarily afflicted them all. As a preternatural, Alexia, the new Lady Woolsey and muhjah to the Queen, is one of the few with such a power—with a touch she can render a vampire or werewolf completely mortal and exorcise ghosts as well. But even Alexia doesn’t have the ability to turn all of London’s paranormal beings at once. Her new official position on the Crown’s Shadow Council allows her to investigate on the Queen’s behalf, so she follows her husband to Scotland where he’s recently traveled to visit his old pack, consequently and unfortunately now without an Alpha to lead them. Alexia believes the strange events of late can be traced back to various packs and their recent travels and may have followed the Scots back to their territory, especially once she discovers that the Alpha-less wolves haven’t been able to change for some months. Undoubtedly, where Alexia goes trouble follows, but it’s never too much for the spirited and willful heroine to handle. Carriger’s quirky series is filled with witty sarcasm and humor. Truly enjoyable and completely original. 02/11 Becky Lejeune

CHAOS by Escober: What a week for British soldier Alex Fisher who has escaped to Mexico to try to put his life back together after a tour in Bosnia. It starts with a blackout, and then he is arrested for rape – a crime he is certain he did not commit. After the “police” work him over on a deserted beach, he is convince the cops, legitimate or not, plan to kill him, so he beats them to the punch, literally. Now there are two bodies, just the start of a series of life-threatening encounters, all of which seem related to a chance meeting with a mysterious woman named Angela. Mentally, Fisher is less than whole and the things that come creeping out form the cracks are not at all pretty. Where will it end. Sometimes the truth is harder to accept than the lies. This is the first of four books by a popular Dutch writing duo, and is their American debut. 08/09 Jack Quick

CHARLOTTE STREET by Danny Wallace: Jason Priestly believeed it might just be love at first sight when he helped a girl on Charlotte Street one afternoon. She was laden down with boxes and trying to hail a cab when Jason stepped in to help. After she was off, he realized he still had her camera. Thinking it would be a great opportunity to meet her again, he returned to Charlotte Street, imagining the conversation he’d strike up while returning the item. Unfortunately he misses his chance. Soon his roommate has convinced him to develop the film and together they begin a scavenger hunt for Jason’s dream girl, following in her footsteps and tracing her path through the twelve pictures. But is Jason ready for reality or is he better off living a dream? Danny Wallace’s debut is a wonderfully charming story about love, life, and friends. Jason makes mistake after mistake and ultimately has to face up to his future, but he serves as inspiration—and a source of frustration—to all of those around him. Charlotte Street is a fun and thoughtful read. 11/12 Becky Lejeune

THE CHASE by Clive Cussler: Cussler goes back over a hundred years for this one. Set in 1906, it tells the tale of the Government’s efforts to track down the Butcher Bandit, so named because he has gunned down 38 adults and two children in a series of robberies, leaving behind no clues or witnesses. Van Dorn Detective Agency lead agent Isaac Bell heads up the manhunt and ultimately identifies the Butcher. Then the chase is really on, through the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and onto a pair of steam locomotives and more high speed (for the times) thrills. A nice change of pace for Cussler. 07/08 Jack Quick

CHASING DARKNESS by Robert Crais: The latest in the Elvis Cole series lives up to the high standards set in its predecessors. Fires in the hills have become a staple of TV news, unfortunately, and Crais uses such a fire as an interesting way to introduce this story. As cops are going door to door, trying to evacuate a neighborhood that’s burning, they stumble across an old man who has apparently killed himself – several days before they got there. At his feet is a photo album filled with Polaroids of dead women. As if the fires weren’t hot enough, this story really blazes as Cole gets involved. Seems he helped exonerate the dead man, once accused of murdering one of the women in his photo album. Determined to prove that he didn’t err in that previous investigation, and uncertain about what really is in that photo album, Cole takes off doing what he does best – getting to the bottom of the mystery that the cops are all too happy to conclude is a done deal. An intricate story and a setting that comes alive as well as any character combine to make this a memorable novel for Robert Crais fans – including the new fans who haven’t discovered him until now. 7/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CHASING DARKNESS by Robert Crais: Wow, what a plot. Police and fire department personnel discover the corpse of one Lionel Byrd, an apparent suicide. In his lap is a photo album containing crime scene photos from seven brutally murdered women, one per year for seven years. All the evidence appears to point to Byrd’s guilt as a serial killer. Three years ago, however, when Byrd was charged with the fifth of these seven murders, Elvis Cole was hired by Byrd’s attorney and found an exculpatory videotape that allowed Lionel Byrd to walk free. At the time Elvis was a hero. But was he in fact collateral damage? Now he is being reviled and threatened while he himself is desperate to know the truth. Was he responsible indirectly for the deaths of two young women? Can he and Joe Pike find out the truth before someone takes out Elvis? Start this one on a Friday since you aren’t gonna put it down soon. 08/08 Jack Quick

CHASING HARRY WINSTON by Lauren Weisberger: Emmy, Leigh, and Adriana have been friends for over a decade. Emmy was recently dumped by “the guy”, the man she thought she would marry and have children with. Leigh is a young publicist. She has the perfect job, the perfect apartment, the perfect man. Then she signs on as editor for Jesse Chapman a brilliant, yet impossible, writer. She begins to realize that the life isn’t that perfect. And finally, Adriana is the stunning daughter of a renowned supermodel. She has no qualms with flaunting and using her Brazilian charm to get any man she wants. Emmy and Adriana make a pact to put an end to their dismal lives. Emmy decides that she should expand her “knowledge” of men by traveling around the world and bedding a man from each country. Adriana resolves to pick one of many potential suitors and settle down. A year later the girls must decide just how much in their lives has changed. While I can admit that this was an engaging beach read, it reminded me a bit too much of Sex in the City. I kept envisioning Emmy, Leigh, and Adriana as Charlotte, Carrie and Miranda. The similarities between the two sets of characters are uncanny. 07/08 Jennifer Lawrence

CHASING MIDNIGHT by Randy Wayne White: Tomlinson gets himself and Doc Ford into serious trouble when he gets them invited to a private island reception hosted by a notorious Russian black marketer heavily involved in the illegal sturgeon/caviar trade. Environmental extremists take control of the island, or are they thugs hired by the Russian’s competitors? Whatever the motive, they have herded everyone together and threatened to kill one hostage every hour unless their demands are met-at which point they will just blow everybody up. Electronic jammers make communications with the outside world impossible. The only hope of avoiding terrible consequences: The militants do not know Ford’s capabilities, or that he is still on the loose. Can you believe Doc Ford saves the day. Wow. 4/12 Jack Quick

CHASING SMOKE by Bill Cameron: Detective Skin Kadash is currently on medical leave from the Portland PD, trying to get through treatments for bladder cancer, and not doing so well. Then he gets a call from his former partner in regards to her current case. Four seemingly unrelated suicides have popped up recently – unrelated but for the list dead man number one’s daughter shows up with after the discovery of his body. On the list are five names; four of them are now dead. Although the deaths have been officially ruled suicides, Skin’s partner is concerned enough to ask him to do some digging on the side, off the record, and out of their Lieutenant’s line of site. Skin is more concerned by the fact that each of the five men on the list were also being treated by the same oncologist that he sees. Pure coincidence or is something more sinister at work in Portland? Cameron’s second mystery is a gritty noir-esque piece filled with dark sarcastic humor and not one, but multiple probable femmes fatale. Readers may remember Skin from a brief appearance in Cameron’s debut, Lost Dog. 11/08 Becky Lejeune

Chasing the Dime by Michael Connelly: This stand-alone thriller is not in the same league as the Harry Bosch series, but is a good read nonetheless. Henry Pierce is a techno-millionaire who inherits the phone number of an Internet based escort named Lilly Quinlan. A few hours of incessant phone calls leads him to wonder why she hasn’t taken the phone number off her web page. Henry is worried about her, the residue of guilt over his prostitute sister’s death years earlier, so he ditches work and pursues the missing girl. Some of it really stretches the imagination, but there are some nice twists, interesting characters and good writing. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CHASING THE DRAGON by Domenic Stansberry: Dante Mancuso is an ex SFPD cop coming home to North Beach, San Francisco’s traditionally Italian district of 19th-century row houses, “drunks caterwauling in the midnight streets,” and “old Calabrese … all dressed in black, hunched over like crows on the wire.” The homecoming is a mixed blessing for the agent who has spend the past seven years working for a covert security operation that has him traveling to hotspots all over the world. Coming home means coming to grips with some of the reasons he left in the first place, but it also means the opportunity to make a major Chinatown drug bust that may or may not assuage some of his feelings about the murder of a custom inspector that ultimately led to his leaving the force and the city. This is the first in a new series, and Stansberry seems to have nailed San Francisco perfectly. You can hear the sea lions, smell the sourdough, and know it can’t be anywhere else but the city that famous San Francisco newspaper columnist Herb Caen called Baghdad by the Bay. 06/07 Jack Quick

CHEAT THE GRAVE by Vicki Pettersson: The latest in Pettersson’s explosively original Zodiac series finds Joanna Archer mortal after sacrificing her powers to save a young girl. Abandoned by her troop, Joanna finds herself battling a new enemy alone. Or maybe not. Sleepy Mac, one of the rogues of MidHeaven has escaped and is out for vengeance. But Mac is not the only one who escapes the now locked world and Joanna finds herself amongst a group of rogues who have been hiding out just outside of Vegas town limits. Each of them is willing to follow and help protect Joanna, especially if it means finally upsetting the balance between the troops of Light and Shadow that have been waging war amongst themselves for decades. The rogues believe that if they can overthrow both troops, whose only concern has been defeating one another, then the rogues can offer protection to humans, something they believe the agents should have been doing all along. But joining them means that Joanna would become rogue herself, putting her on the wanted list for both troops and making enemies of her former allies. What happens next is anyone’s guess as Pettersson takes the series to completely unpredictable new levels. I love it, as usual. 05/10 Becky Lejeune

The Cheese Monkeys: A Novel in Two Semesters by Chip Kidd: A more accurate subtitle might have been “A Novel of Graphic Design”. Chip Kidd designs book covers for a living; this is his first novel. Our protagonist is a newly enrolled freshman at a state university, majoring in art because he hates art and figures that “…if any school would treat the subject with the proper disdain, it would be one that was run by the government.” Besides having a charming, quirky way with words, the author has outdone himself: the book itself is a masterpiece of design. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE CHEMISTRY OF DEATH by Simon Beckett: Forensic anthropologist David Hunter left the city three years ago when after his wife and daughter are killed in a drunk driving accident. No longer able to distance himself from the bodies he once examined, he retreats to the small village of Manham where he can start anew. Now, practicing as a general practitioner, he wants nothing more than to forget his prior profession. When two boys discover a badly decomposed body in the woods, Hunter is asked to help identify the body and the cause of death. Before they know it, the small village is faced with a sadistic serial killer who may be one of their own and Hunter finds himself being dragged deeper and deeper into the investigation. Beckett combines forensic anthropology and entomology in this fantastic debut. This promises to be a great new series. Beckett is a fresh new voice to the genre. 10/06 Becky LeJeune

CHERRY BEACH EXPRESS by R.D. Cain: Toronto Police Sex Crimes Detective Steve Nastos is good at his job. Perhaps that is why he has been wrongfully accused of murdering his dentist – a man whom he believes committed an unspeakable crime against his daughter. Freed on bail, Nastos attempts to track down the actual killer in a town where laws are seen more as guidelines and law enforcement agents adhere to their own moral relativism. With a recovering alcoholic lawyer, a rogue cop, and a two-faced judge, Nastos has the cards stacked against him. When his estranged yet beloved wife becomes involved in the case, the stakes become higher, and Nastos is forced to protect her. Nicely done, but not for the faint of heart. 06/11 Jack Quick KINDLE

THE CHESS MACHINE by Robert Löhr, translated by Anthea Bell: In the late 1700’s, a spectacle was touring Europe and eventually even the U.S. This spectacle was a chess playing automaton called the Mechanical Turk. Conceived and created by Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen in 1770 Hungary as a way to curry favor with the Empress Maria Theresia, this novel is a fictionalized version of that incredibly imaginative device and its history. The secret behind the Mechanical Turk wasn’t the earliest version of the computer, but rather a carefully hidden chess phenom who also happened to be a dwarf who could be easily concealed within the “machine.” Tibot Scardenelli was a little person who had spent his life playing chess for money, and getting beaten and robbed in the process. When his circumstances turn even more dismal and dangerous, Scardenelli decides to take up the Baron’s offer to defraud the Empress and the world. Some at court are suspicious of the machine, and tension mounts when a baroness is found murdered and evidence points to the Mechanical Turk. The Chess Machine is a fascinating story and a completely engrossing read. 07/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CHICAGO BLUES edited by Libby Fischer Hellmann: My four favorite cities in the entire world are Atlanta, because I’ve lived there; San Francisco, because of its beauty; Boston, for its history; and Chicago, for its people. Only Chicago could have produced Elwood and Jake and nobody does blues like Chicago authors Sara Paretsky, Stuart Kaminsky, Barbara D’Amato, Max Allan Collins, Marcus Sakey, Sean Chercover, Michael Black, J A Konrath, and Libby Fischer Hellmann, among others. So ride the “El” to a $10 room in a no-name hotel above an all night bar, grab a six-pack of Rheingold “Not a common name. Not a common beer” and enjoy these stories. After all, it’s nearly a year until the Cubbies blow another pennant run. 11/07 Jack Quick

CHICAGO NOIR edited by Neal Pollock: This was the second in Akashic’s city-themed noir series, and is probably most noticeable for the names not included such as Max Allan Coolins, Sara Paretsky and Barbara D’Amato. Nevertheless, the eighteen stories are entertaining and reflect the diversity of Chicago, even if none of the authors are household names – at least they were all new to me – Jeff Allen, Jim Arndorfer, Daniel Buckman, Todd Dills, Andrew Ervin, Alexai Galaviz-Budziszewski, Luciano Guerrieero, Kevin Guilfoile, Adam Langer, Joe Meno, M. K. Meyers, Achy Obejas, Bajot Ojikuto, Peter Orner, Neal Pollock, Amy Sayre-Roberts, C. J. Sullivan, and Claire Zulkey. If the stories are light on Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey and deep-dish pizza, it is where Chicagoans live, with nothing glossed over and nothing left uncovered. With titles like “Zero Zero Day”, “Goodnight Chicago and Amen” and “Marty’s Drink or Die Club,” you know you aren’t far from Wrigley Field. 12/07 Jack Quick

THE CHICAGO WAY by Michael Harvey: You wanna get Capone? Here’s how you get him. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital; you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago Way – Sean Connery as Officer Jim Malone in The Untouchables. So that’s where Harvey got the title for this action packed debut and in depth portrait of the seamy underside of Chi Town. Michael Kelly is a former Chicago detective turned PI who is just trying to help an old partner when he lands right in the middle of a cover-up which involves a death row killer. From that point on, the subtitle should be the disco hit Stayin’ Alive, because that’s about all Kelly can do. Harvey, the co-creator and executive producer of A&E’s Cold Case Files, can also pen a darn good tale as well. 09/07 Jack Quick

THE CHICK AND THE DEAD by Casey Daniels: The spunky heroine from last year’s Don of the Dead is back. Pepper Martin’s story picks up literally where Don left off. To recap, Pepper Martin has been “gifted” with the ability to see the dead after hitting her head on a grave at the Garden View Cemetery where she works as a tour guide. It’s a gift she’d like to give back. After solving the murder of mob boss Gus Scarpetti, the word is out that Pepper is for hire and Gus has apparently recommended her services to one Didi Bowman, the dead and seemingly forgotten sister of the famous Merilee Bowman. Merilee is the author of the Civil War epic So Far the Dawn, a book that is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Didi does not want Pepper to solve a murder this time, though. Didi wants Pepper to prove that Merilee is not the real author. Didi wrote the book before she died and Merilee stole all the credit. Now, Merilee is back in Cleveland for the anniversary of the book’s release and the opening of the So Far the Dawn museum. Pepper’s investigation is not going to be easy considering the fact that Merilee stands to lose millions if the truth is revealed. When Merilee’s personal secretary dies after suffocating in her corset (for the reenactment ball of course) Didi and Ella (Pepper’s boss) are quick to suggest that Pepper take her place. The position will gain her access to the proof that she needs to solve Didi’s case but could it also get her killed? How hard can it really be to deal with a fraudulent septuagenarian after taking on the Mafia, right? This is a one-sitting read that’s perfect for a relaxing day off. 05/07 Becky Lejeune

CHILD 44 by Tom Rob Smith: In Stalinist Russia, the government would have you believe that Communism is the only way to live, that their system is the best, that they’ve eliminated crime and jealousy. To attempt to speak out and disprove the government means years of hard labor and even death. Everyone lives on edge wondering if they will be the next ones on the militia’s hit list. Leo Demidov, a war hero and well-respected member of the elite militia, has never questioned authority until now. His wife is accused of being a spy and Leo must show where his loyalties lie – with his superiors, or with his family. The wrong decision results in his exile and demotion. Then, a body is discovered. The accused is a mentally challenged teen from a local asylum. Leo knows that the boy can’t be responsible. In fact, Leo knows that this is not the first murder of its kind. But how do you prove there is a serial killer on the loose in a country that disavows even the possibility of crime. On his own, Leo discovers a second body in the area and, believing that he has proven the boy’s innocence, turns it over to authorities. Instead, the boy is killed for the first murder and a witch-hunt begins for a second killer, the government’s way of eliminating undesirables amongst their perfect society. A search through local records reveals over forty bodies and Leo will literally risk everything to find the real killer. This is one of the most talked about books of the year, and I’ve got to tell you, it definitely lives up to the hype. It’s brilliant debut based on painstaking research. Smith’s attention, not only to the physical details of his setting, but to the emotional strain and motivations of his characters amidst this environment are impeccable. This will be one of the best books you read all year. 05/08 Becky Lejeune

THE CHILDREN OF BLACK VALLEY by Evan Kilgore: Sam Mackie is an orphan. He grew up not knowing much about his past except a strange memory of a black and foreboding tower. He grows up to become a pharmaceutical executive, married with two sons. Then his life starts coming apart. His oldest son disappears, his wife dives into the bottle and they end up divorced. Things aren’t going well at work, and to top it all off, his remaining son is hospitalized with radiation poisoning. All the available evidence points to some link with Sam’s past and what turns out to be an abandoned nuclear silo in the jungles of Africa. Definitely different, and pretty well done. 09/08 Jack Quick

CHILDREN OF PARANOIA by Trevor Shane: This is the first novel by Shane, and planned number one in a prospective trilogy. If his first book is indicative of what is to come I can’t wait for the next to come out. The author manages to pull the reader directly into a very different world than our normal one. Into a world where a long term clandestine war between two opposing sides is being fought and murder of the opposition is the norm. The war is fought under the surface of the every day events happening in the world around it. Neither side is aware of the original causes of the war; only that they are born into it, and forced to take part by their families and the fact that they become the legitimate enemies of the other side when they reach 18 years of age.
The book is written in a first person narrative, first by “Joe” who is the principal protagonist , and than by his wife “Maria”. The choice of utilizing first person narration becomes an excellent means of character development showing logical initial and later reactions by both to the situation that they are forced to take part in. Events depicted drive both people towards a very logical , although disturbing climax with the scene set for the next book. Shane is excellent in being able to set up a believable world where the normal is complete paranoia regarding everything around the two and allowing the reader to envision such situations as being possible. 09/11 Paul Lane

THE CHILD THIEF by Dan Smith: Luka is a soldier turned reluctant farmer, living a hand-to-mouth existence in a small Soviet village with his wife and children. While out hunting, he finds a strange, sick man pulling a sled holding the bodies of two young children. Everyone in this small village lives in fear of the communists taking their homes and putting them on work farms, so a stranger in their midst causes a panic. The townspeople turn on Luka and hang the unconscious man, scaring Luka’s young niece to take off into the woods. Luka determines that a man has taken her and he, his twin teenage sons and the girl’s father take off through the frozen wasteland to find the girl and the man who took her. The terrain is barely passable; the weather is brutal, but not as brutal as the man who took the girl. Luka soldiers on, killing when he has to but determined to bring the girl home. The tone is dark and disturbing in this tightly written story, tension mounting until the unexpected ending. Sure to appeal to fans of David Benioff and Tom Rob Smith 6/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.

CHILI CON CORPSES by J. B. Stanley: What do you do when you’re in deep guacamole? Well, you could add black beans, Chihuahua cheese, homemade salsa, scallions, cheddar cheese, sour cream, seasoned beef, jalapenos, black olives and tortilla chips and then throw the “kitchen sink nachos” at your foe. Occasionally, you need a culinary mystery to cleanse the palate and this supper club series fills the bill nicely. With chapter titles like Apple Fritters, Virginia Ham, Peppermint Patty Hero Cake, and the like, you will be surprised to know that underneath all the goodies lurks a neat little mystery. The Mexican cooking class for supper club members was Lindy’s idea, so when people start turning up dead and the evidence points toward her, Lindy is hotter than a jalapeno. Our group finds far more spice in their life than they were seeking. So grab a handful of munchies and have at it. Oh, might also have some of those sticky things to mark the recipe pages as well. 03/08 Jack Quick

CHILL OF NIGHT by John Lutz: Ex-NYPD homicide detective has been “returned to duty” from medical retirement compounded by his don’t give a damn attitude toward the department brass. But they need him, and his skill, to capture the Justice Killer. Each of the Killer’s victims at one time served as foreman on a jury that acquitted an “obviously” guilty defendant. However, as the killer becomes more adept at his attempt to gain revenge for his own personal situation, he makes a startling discovery. He actually enjoys the killing, particularly of women. Now the stakes get higher as the list of potential victims expands exponentially. Although not ground breaking content, Lutz’ skill at keeping the suspense level high while maintaining credibility make this a first rate read. 10/08 Jack Quick

CHILLWATER COVE by Thomas Lakeman: FBI agent Peggy Weaver has just broken a huge child abduction case in Philadelphia. Evidence at the scene, however, will lead her back to the real case that started it all. One afternoon, young Peggy and her best friend, Samantha, were approached by a man in a black thunderbird. The man took Samantha, all the while telling Peggy he would trade her for her friend. The scared little girl ran home to her father, the chief of police. Samantha was finally returned and her family never spoke of the incident again – the driver of the black thunderbird was never found. Someone sent pictures of Samantha to Peggy’s crime scene. Samantha also received copies of the same pictures. Peggy returns home and spends one evening talking with Samantha, and it is agreed that the agent will use her resources to quietly solve the case. Then, Samantha goes missing again and what would have been a hushed investigation into a cold case becomes a life threatening and very public rush to save a woman’s life before it is too late. Peggy discovers that not all is as it seems and her father may even be involved in this strange conspiracy. This mystery has so many twists and turns that there is almost no way to predict the end. Lakeman pulls it off wonderfully. This second thriller can be read on its own or following the debut The Shadow Catchers. 11/07 Becky Lejeune

CHINA LAKE by Meg Gardiner: In the first Evan Delaney outing, Evan is dealing with an unstable sister-in-law who has become involved with a religious cult. The sister-in-law, Tabitha, thinks she wants her young son back, although her past performance as a mother has enabled the boy’s father to have total custody. One semi-accidental death followed by a murder puts Delaney i n the middle between police who aren’t really into deep thinking and a bunch of doomsday fanatics “chosen by the Lord.” Not bad for a first effort although a bit uneven. Will be interesting to see how she develops Delany in subsequent adventures. 12/08 Jack Quick

CHINATOWN BEAT by Henry Chang: Detective Jack Yu is transferred to his old neighborhood in Chinatown where he grew up. He is coping with the recent death of his father and the angst of memories of childhood friends now dead or on the other side of the law. In an area where 99 percent of the cops are white, Jack stands out in that not only does he speak the language, he understands the culture, as he is part of it. In this environment, he is confronted with a serial rapist preying on young Chinese girls, the assassination of Uncle Four, an elderly and respected Triad leader, and the disappearance of Four’s gorgeous young mistress whom he had imported from Hong Kong. Yu’s crime solving approach combines modern police techniques with the methods of an old friend who is an elderly fortune teller. Although I have never been there, the book seems to capture the sights, sounds and attitudes of Chinatown, beyond the facade seen by tourists. 10/06 Jack Quick

THE CHOCOLATE LOVERS’ CLUB by Carole Matthews: Lucy, Autumn, Chantal, and Nadia couldn’t be more different. Lucy is a single working girl who has just discovered her boyfriend is cheating on her, yet again. Autumn comes from a posh family but lives frugally and works with teen addicts. It just so happens that Autumn’s own brother has some addiction problems of his own and he has recently taken to crashing in her guest room and bringing his degenerate pals over at all hours. Chantal would seem to have it all, but her marriage is one without “perks.” Instead, she has a habit of meeting with random men at opportune moments to curb her urges. Nadia and her husband are also having troubles, but theirs are of a financial nature. Nadia’s husband has an online gambling addiction and has run up thousands of dollars in debt. The one thing that brings these women together is their undying love of all things chocolate and their regular “therapy” sessions at a shop called Chocolate Heaven. Here the ladies can hash out their problems and gorge on every kind of chocolate confection imaginable. Of course these women’s problems make for pretty amusing and sometimes raunchy reading, especially since those problems are sometimes similar to what all of us women have to deal with. Matthews has been one of the staples in chick-lit from the very beginning and her books have that certain charm and humor that seems to come naturally to all British writers. So, be prepared to laugh out loud as you commiserate along with this quartet of chocoholics, and keep some chocolate of your own on hand while you read. 02/08 Becky Lejeune

CHOKE POINT by James Mitchell: Its deja vu all over again as my previous read was CHOKE POINT by Jay MacLarty. In this CHOKE POINT, April Lennox, an L.A. reporter, is in Tucson to interview an undocumented Mexican who has agreed to tell her his story. Before she can meet with him, he is killed in the rioting surrounding the NCAA basketball finals. P.I. Roscoe Brinker gets involved and agrees to accompany the reporter into Mexico, but then another case intervenes. Lennox decides to make the trip alone – not a good idea, and well, best save the rest for you to read. Interesting with a likable main character in Brinker. 10/07 Jack Quick

CHOKEPOINT by Jay MacLarty: Big Jake Rynerson (think Howard Hughes played by John Wayne) is having problems with the construction of his new Macau mega resort, The Pacific Pearl, when he is shot in a street ambush. International courier and old friend Simon Leonidovich, the man who can deliver anything, anywhere, on time, every time, is called upon to help out. Simon must deliver a priceless artifact — the Crest of Ch’in — to the People’s Republic of China, in support of tri-lateral negotiations among the United States, China and Taiwan to frame a new international trade agreement. The action is non-stop in this high stakes world of great risk and great reward. Another satisfying outing for the “James Bond” of couriers. 10/07 Jack Quick

CHRISTINE FALLS by Benjamin Black: As a child Quirke was adopted by famed Judge Garrett Griffin. He and his adopted brother Malachy were sent to Boston to take part in a residency at a local hospital. There, they met and married two sister, Delia and Sarah Crawford. Unfortunately Delia died while giving birth to Quirke’s stillborn child. Since then, he has spent most of his nights, and days, drowning himself in whiskey. The night of Brenda Ruttledge’s going away party is no different. When Quirke stumbles drunkenly into his pathology lab, he discovers Mal bent over a file. It’s not until the following morning that Quirke recalls the name on the file, Christine Falls. The girl’s body has already left the morgue without undergoing examination, and Mal, an obstetrician, signed off on the file with the cause of death listed as pulmonary embolism. As Quirke investigates this curious incident, he finds that Christine Falls actually died in childbirth. What is Mal’s concern with this woman? What happened to the child? Quirke’s investigation leads him to some startling discoveries. Benjamin Black’s (John Banville’s) mystery debut is a dark and dramatic look at just how far some people are willing to go to cover up shameful family secrets. 03/07 Becky Lejeune

CHRISTMAS BLISS by Mary Kay Andrews: Welcome back Weezie and BeBe, besties from Savannah Blues, Savannah Breeze & Blue Christmas. BeBe is pregnant and in her last trimester when she finds out that her previous marriage was never officially ended, and she’s afraid to tell her live-in baby daddy. Weezie is a week away from her wedding to Daniel when he gets an amazing opportunity to headline at a New York City pop up restaurant. He heads off to New York and Weezie and BeBe try to track down the ex who hasn’t signed the divorce papers. This being a Mary Kay Andrews novel, lots of laughter, love and somehow believable craziness ensues. I have missed these characters so this little gem was truly a holiday gift. If you are looking for an evening’s escape, look no further. 10/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CHRISTMAS IS MURDER by C.S. Challinor: Lets see. His name is Rex Graves, he’s driving a mini-Cooper, he is planning to spend Christmas in Swanmere Manor, an historic hotel in East Sussex. By Jove, I deduce we have a classic English mystery here including death by almond tart, masks the smell of cyanide, don’t you know. Was it the cook, Sandy Bellows, the gay twit of an antique dealer, or maybe the sherry-swilling handy-man. Its almost not worth the breakfast porridge made with Scots Quaker Oats and dollops of cream and brown sugar, but that’s far better than the cold kippers or going somewhere else in the blizzard. Shades of Agatha Christie and all that. You may not even want to save this one for the holidays. 09/08 Jack Quick

THE CHRYSALIS by Heather Terrell: A lawyer is ethically bound to represent their client to the best of their ability, regardless of their own personal opinions. What can a lawyer do when his or her own moral beliefs conflict with this ethical responsibility? This is the question that comes to play in Heather Terrell’s riveting debut. In an auction devoted to the Dutch masters, Beazley’s, a prominent auction house in New York, plans to sell off a painting called The Chrysalis. Hilda Baum claims that Nazi soldiers stole the painting from her family during WWII. Young attorney Mara Coyne has been assigned to represent Beazley’s in a case that could earn her a long-awaited partnership. The case seems to be a slam-dunk until Mara’s own investigation reveals a secret that Beazley’s has been hiding for decades. Although the villains tend to fall a bit flat, Terrell’s talent as a storyteller is evident. By alternating chapters between Mara, Johannes Miereveld – the fictional painter of The Chrysalis and Hilda Baum’s father Erich, Terrell provides very intricate stories for these characters. Overall, I thought this was a compelling and enjoyable read. 05/07 Becky Lejeune

CINDER by Marissa Meyer: As a cyborg, Cinder has less rights than a full-fledged human. Raised as a ward by a woman who never wanted her, Cinder is forced to work to support the family and is basically their possession. A virus has wiped through the human population—no one is immune, not even the ruler of the Eastern Commonwealth. As people become more and more desperate, cyborgs are being selected as test subjects in the search for a cure. When Cinder’s guardian volunteers her for testing, a startling discovery is made, one that could change Cinder’s life forever. A futuristic, cyborg Cinderella set in a post-outbreak Asia… what a wild ride and a fantastic testament to the boundless possibilities of imagination. Cinder is book one of the Lunar Chronicles, which means more to come from Marissa Meyer. 3/12 Becky Lejeune 

CINNAMON KISS by Walter Mosley: It’s the Summer of Love and Easy Rawlins is contemplating robbing an armored car to raise money for his daughter’s critical medical treatment. There may be others as good as Mosley, but no one really better in capturing the setting and the reality of life on the edge. You may not always agree with the actions of his characters, but it’s difficult to not understand them as presented by Mosley. If you have ever been in Los Angeles on a hot August night, you will relate immediately. If you haven’t had the experience, this is as close as you will get. The story? Easy decides not to go for the robbery but then gets more than he bargained for in searching for a missing eccentric attorney and his beautiful assistant – Cinnamon. Mouse, the stone cold killer, helps Easy survive and Easy gains additional insight into his relationship with girlfriend Bonnie. Another home run. 09/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

CIRCLE OF ASSASSINS by Steve Rigolosi: The circle of assassins has an interesting premise. Since most murders are committed by people who know their victims, what would happen if a group of people each murdered a person who was a total stranger to them, in exchange for having someone in their own life being killed on their behalf. The circle is initiated by criminal mastermind “A” with an ad placed in a Manhattan community newspaper. Who will respond? Will they remain committed? Will they succeed? .Kind of a Fatal Attraction on speed. Very interesting. 05/07 Jack Quick

CIRCLES OF TIME by Phillip Rock: WWI has come to an end and that means peace for England once again. It’s 1921 when Circles of Time, the second in the Abingdon Pryory trilogy, begins and the Grevilles and others like them are finally able to begin putting their lives back together. Though England is undergoing many changes, Anthony Greville, Lord Stanmore, is anxious to return to his country estate. Abingdon Pryory has definitely seen better days — having served briefly as a hospital for convalescing soldiers has left the grand manse a bit worse for wear – but it will soon be restored to its former glory. Alexandra has returned recently from Canada, newly widowed and with a young son. The unconventional circumstances of her marriage have left a rift between her and her father, which has made everyone at the Pryory a bit on edge. Fortunately, all of that begins to change when Martin (Greville’s nephew) and friends are able to convince Lord Stanmore to bring Charles home. The eldest Greville had been suffering quite severely from shell shock, but his return to Abingdon brings about great improvement. Martin has taken on a position with a large international news agency, a job that allows him to travel first to the Middle East where family friend Fenton Wood-Lacy has been stationed, and then to Germany where he witnesses first hand the results of the war. This second in the series picks up almost immediately where The Passing Bells left off, offering readers a continuing look at this particular period of British (and world) history. Like Downton Abbey it also provides a great look at the continuing social changes of the time. 2/13 Becky Lejeune

CITIZEN VINCE by Jess Walter: Vince Camden never misses a morning making pastries at the Spokane, Washington donut shop where he works, but his real income is from his various sidelines, selling stolen credit card numbers, dealing a little pot, but hey, a guy in the witness protection program in 1980 has to make a living, right. But now Vince has two major issues he must address. Should he vote for Reagan or Carter, now that he is a registered voter for the first time in his life, and two, how to deal with the hit man, local cop, and minor league Mafioso who have him in their sights. From the opening line, “One day you know more dead people than live ones” to the surprise ending, Citizen Vince is a first rate read, and no, I’m not gonna tell you who he decides to vote for. I’m also not going to tell you why he only reads the first part of books, either, but I will share with you that “an Olympic gold medal is worth its weight in gold.” 09/07 Jack Quick

CITY OF ASH by Megan Chance: Seattle’s early days provide a backdrop for Megan Chance’s latest, a tale of love, scandal, betrayal, and vengeance. Geneva Langley, one of society’s upper crust, has been involved in one too many scandals of late. Now, she and her husband have been sent to Seattle to head up the family’s new business venture and wait for the gossip to die down. Beatrice Wilkes is an actress who’s made her way to the top—almost. When Geneva becomes involved with a new playwright, at the supposed encouragement of her husband, she gains the leading role in a play that was written for Bea. Of course Bea isn’t going to take this slight sitting down. Very soon, however, both women find that they have more in common than either of them ever suspected. Bea and Geneva drive the story, but the extras—the behind-the-scenes look at stage life in the nineteenth century and the historical context—make this a rich and wonderful novel. 08/11 Becky Lejeune KINDLE

City of Bones by Michael Connelly: The decades old, partial skeleton of an abused and murdered child is found in a shallow grave. Harry Bosch is determined to find the killer, and in doing so has to deal with his own troubled childhood. He also has to deal with seeing a woman the police department says he shouldn’t be seeing. Michael Connelly skillfully weaves together a story that will hold you hostage until you turn the last page. This series is going on ten years old; this is the eighth installment (the last one was A Darkness More than Night) and somehow Connelly just keeps getting better and better. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CITY OF DRAGONS by Kelli Stanley: PI Miranda Corbie, a former escort who made the papers thanks to her first big case, is not known for backing down or playing it safe. When she happens upon a young Japanese man who’s been beaten to death in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Miranda is not satisfied to simply give her statement and move on: she knows that the cops have little interest in the case and decides to have at it herself. Her digging attracts some unwanted attention, however, and Miranda finds herself under the scrutinizing eye of the authorities and some unsavory characters as well (and in some cases, they are one and the same). Meanwhile, Miranda has been hired to track down a missing teen whose own stepmother claims the girl is responsible for her father’s death—a multi-layered plot with plenty of twists to keep you guessing. Stanley’s gritty noir style is a wonderful complement to her well-researched and impressive 1940s setting. City of Dragons is rich in detail and unforgettable characters; a grand start to what I am sure is going to be a fabulous new series. 02/10 Becky Lejeune

CITY OF DRAGONS by Kelli Stanley: February, 1940, San Francisco’s Chinatown – Tensions are running high between the Japanese-American and Chinese-American communities because of the atrocities at Nanking when a 33-year-old female private investigator stumbles upon the fatally shot body of Eddie Takahashi. The Chamber of Commerce wants it covered up. The cops agree. Only hard-nosed detective Mirana Corbie wants is justice–whatever it costs. Tough as nails but easy on the eyes, think Velma without Mike Hammer. This gal is destined to go places. 12/11 Jack Quick

CITY OF FIRE by Robert Ellis: It is the first “lead” homicide for newly promoted homicide detective Lena Gamble. A Hollywood housewife is sexually assaulted and brutally killed. Initial evidence points toward the husband, but when this turns out to be only the first of a series of grisly crimes, it become obvious there is a serial killer, dubbed Romeo by the press, on the loose. Gamble knows she has to solve this case and also deal with the aftermath of her brother being gunned down on a dark Hollywood street five years ago. As time passes, Lena suspects that the LAPD colleagues she has come to trust and admire are conspiring against her in the interest of closing a troubling case. Evocative of early Wambaugh, its real life COPS on the gritty streets of Los Angeles. 02/09 Jack Quick

CITY OF FIRE by Thomas Fitzsimmons: Somewhat disappointing debut about two cops in the Bronx being set up to take the fall for a series of deadly arson fires. Vinnie D’Amato is all cop while Michael Beckett has been changed by his small role on the TV drama Law & Order. It opens Beckett’s eyes to a world beyond that of criminals and cops, but at the cost of the bond of trust between the two partners. A number of other authors have done it better, particularly Wambaugh, T. Jefferson Parker, and even J.A. Jance and John Sandford. Maybe the next one will be better. 02/11 Jack Quick

CITY OF HOPE by Kate Kerrigan: This follow up to Kate Kerrigan’s City of Hope picks up about ten years later. Ellie has long since returned to Ireland and her husband, John. They’ve tried for a family but unfortunately Ellie has never been able to carry a child to term. Instead, she’s thrown herself into her work. Ellie has built a small business empire in their tiny town, including a country store, a typing school for young women, and a salon. Then John dies. Ellie, confused and distraught, seeks solace in the one place she thinks she can be happy: New York City. But the New York of 1934 is a very different New York than the one she left all those years ago. The city that once offered so much hope and possibility has fallen to the crippling after effects of the Great Depression. Ellie’s success in Ireland has left her a wealthy woman, though, and she finds herself in a position to help those around her. With new purpose, she barrels through her grief focusing all her efforts in helping the city and its people get back on their feet. Well other than the fact that Kerrigan ripped my heart out by killing off John, City of Hope was equally as wonderful as its predecessor. It should be noted that while this is the second part of a three part series, City of Hope can certainly be read on its own. I highly suggest starting with Ellis Island simply because I’ve enjoyed both parts of Ellie’s tale so much. 7/13 Becky Lejeune

CITY OF SOULS by Vicki Pettersson: This fourth in the Zodiac series proves that Pettersson just keeps getting better and better. The balance in this world has been upset after the events of The Touch of Twilight and it’s Joanna Archer’s fault. Zodiac Troop 175 is losing strength and support after Joanna borrows energy from one of the changelings. In the end, Joanna’s own soul splintered, leaving the child with growing powers and the girl set to take her place now living a slow death. Joanna knows of only one other agent to have made this same mistake, but has no way of finding him without access to the manuals that tell the tales of Light and Shadow. Then Warren, leader of their division, reveals a secret that has long been kept hidden from agents of both sides. There is a world other than our own. A world where women rule and rogue agents hide. It is here that Joanna might track down the missing agent and learn the secret to setting things right. But entering this world comes with a very heavy price and Warren has been keeping many more secrets that could affect not only the war between Light and Shadow, but could put Joanna herself at risk. Though there is some catch-up material in this book, the series is quite intricate and I wouldn’t recommend reading them out of order. This is one of the most original urban fantasy series out there and it’s one of my absolute favorites in the genre. Highly recommended. 06/09 Becky Lejeune

CITY OF THE SUN by David Levien: Jamie Gabriel lives in a community where boys still have paper routes; that is, until he and his bike vanish while delivering papers early one morning. His parents, Paul and Carol, report his disappearance to the police, but after a brief search leads nowhere, the authorities move on to other cases. More than a year later, on the advice of one of the deputies, the parents hire private investigator and former cop Frank Behr. Behr brings some baggage to the table; he’s divorced, and his son is dead. While he empathizes with the tragedy of not knowing what happened to Jamie, he is hesitant to take the case, warning that closure will undoubtedly be ugly. Tormented by the strain of having a missing child, Paul and Carol each try to cope in their own way, and their marriage suffers for it. Eventually, Paul starts working with Behr, and despite the cold trail, their quest leads them to some very troubling answers and a somewhat predictable ending. Nevertheless, in his fiction debut screenwriter Levien (who cowrote Ocean’s Thirteen, Runaway Jury, and Rounders) captures the hopelessness of the situation well, the pacing is relentless, and the story gripping and altogether disturbing. Highly recommended. 03/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2008 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

CITY OF THE SUN by David Levien: United States statistics show that 2,300 people are reported missing every day. The first 24-72 hours of these cases are critical. Often, if the person is not recovered in that time period, they never will be. Jamie Gabriel is one of these people. He left this morning, just like every morning – picking up the papers for his route and riding off on his bike. Unlike every other morning, though, something happened to Jamie. A year later, his parents are ready to give up the search for their missing son. The police have no leads and have never made any progress on the case. In a last ditch effort, the couple hires PI Frank Behr. Behr initially refuses the case, but his guilt over the death of his own son compels him to try. Amazingly, he makes progress, but his investigation has stirred up a hornet’s nest of trouble. While both shocking and disturbing in subject matter, this thriller is wholly rewarding. I can imagine a grizzled Bruce Willis playing Behr in the movie. 03/08 Becky Lejeune

CITY OF THE SUN by David Levien: Twelve-year old Jamie Gabriel disappears while delivering newspapers in a suburb of Indianapolis. After over a year with no results from the police, his parents Paul and Carol hire PI Frank Behr, an imposing ex-cop with a checkered past. Behr has a special empathy for their situation as he also has lost a son, which led to his marriage dissolving and his departure from the Indianapolis police force. Behr soon discovers enough to begin to trace Jamie and the trail isn’t a pretty one. Child abuse is an ugly subject and this is a gritty but well written portrayal of how it affects not only to the children but also to their families. If you are a Harry Bosch fan, then make sure you grab this one. Bosch and Behr share some common DNA. 04/09 Jack Quick

CITY OF THIEVES by David Benioff: Benioff follows up The 25th Hour with this novel supposedly based on his grandfather’s surviving WWII in Russia. Seventeen year old Lev Beniov has elected to stay in Leningrad with his friends during the German siege, rather than leaving with his mother and sister. Everything changes when Lev is caught looting the corpse of a dead Luftwaffe pilot who unsuccessfully parachuted from his plane at altitude and froze to death before reaching the ground. Normally, the penalty for Lev’s conduct would be execution, but instead, he and newly made friend and Russian Army deserter Koyla, are spared at least temporarily, by Colonel Grechko, on the condition they come up with a dozen eggs for the colonel’s daughter’s wedding cake. They quickly learn this is no small task in the terrible conditions of the siege. But then they take on an even more daunting mission – to kill the commander of the local occupying German forces. While Benioff’s first book would have made a neat color film, this one would be starkly portrayed in black and white only, but still quite good. 06/10 Jack Quick

CITY OF TINY LIGHTS by Patrick Neate: Tommy Akhtar claims to be the best Ugandan Indian private eye in London and he probably is. After all, he was also a mujahideen in Afghanistan. He likes Wild Turkey and Benson & Hedges and cricket. His current case involves finding a missing hooker but quickly escalates with MI5 and CIA involvement. Speaking of hookers, Tommy imparts this knowledge to us: black hookers are always Melody, Harmony, Bianca, Ebony, Naomi or Tyra. Blonde ones are inevitably Marilyn, Caprice, Helene or Elle. Hispanics are Sandra or Salma or else named for cars – Fiesta, Sierra or Cleo. Petite girls? Kylie, always Kylie. Akhtar is truly one-of-a-kind, and the terrorist threat plot is right out of today’s newspapers. Although Neate calls this “Another Tommy Akhtar Investigation” it is apparently the first in a series. Let us hope so anyway. 08/06 Jack Quick

CITY OF VEILS by Zoë Ferraris: When the brutally disfigured body of a young woman is discovered on the beach in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the local police know that they’re in for a challenge. In a country where religion dictates law and women’s rights are questionable, the murder of an unidentified woman could be the product of any number of motivations. Katya, one of the few female employees in law enforcement, a lab worker at the coroner’s office, becomes involved in the case and is able to make the surprising discovery of the woman’s identity. This clue would seem to narrow the list of suspects, but sadly this is not true. The woman, a filmmaker who shot B-roll for a local station, stepped on more than a few toes with her controversial side projects. What’s worse, evidence starts to point to the involvement of an American living in Jeddah. With the help of her friend Nayir, Katya will play a pivotal role in the solving of the case. But Katya and Nayir’s friendship has often been at odds with the beliefs of their country and their partnership in the case pushes those boundaries even further. This sequel to Finding Nouf is a well-plotted mystery and a fascinating glimpse inside Saudi culture. Readers would perhaps be better prepared by reading Nouf first, however. 08/10 Becky Lejeune

CITY OF WHISPERS by Marcia Muller: Family always come first so when private eye Sharon McCone receives an e-mail asking for help from her emotionally disturbed half brother Darcy Blackhawk, she replies but gets no response. Thus begins the search which leads her to an Internet café in San Francisco, a city he’s never been to before. From there the investigation leads her to the body of a woman at the Palace of Fine Arts, where a witness had told her that Darcy was headed. Then, as she digs deeper, Sharon uncovers a connection to the unsolved murder of a young heiress to a multimillion-dollar banking fortune. Now Sharon must race to solve both murders and ensure her brother’s safety, despite the imminent danger that lurks within her own family. 1/13 Jack Quick

CITY OF WOMEN by David Gillham: This story is set in 1943 Berlin at the height of World War II, and focuses on Sigrid Schroeder, a good German woman whose husband is off fighting on the eastern front while she works at the patent office and lives with her overbearing mother-in-law. There are many such women left behind in Berlin, hence the title his book, and this is a fascinating look at their lives; the living with bombings, with neighbors turning in neighbors, food shortages, propaganda, Gestapo and more. Sigrid goes to work and escapes at the cinema, and it is there that she meets a Jewish man and has an affair. The story is told with flashbacks to the affair interwoven with Sigrid’s . befriending a young girl who works as a nanny to a neighbor and is a member of the underground. Sigrid becomes what is known as a “Righteous Gentile,” saving Jews and others trying to escape the Nazis. When her husband returns from the front, injured, her life becomes even more complicated. This beautifully written debut is a thoughtful exploration of relationships and honor, love and hate and horror. Another superb read from Putnam’s Amy Einhorn imprint. 9/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

Claire Marvel by John Burnham Schwartz: If you aren’t in love with our heroine Claire Marvel within the 40 pages or so of Schwartz’s new novel you are heartless. I also haven’t loved Cambridge, MA and Harvard this much since LOVE STORY and some of Kaysen’s work. However, I wouldn’t mind taking a swing at the nose of our hero (?) Julian Rose. Julian is . . . well exasperating to begin with, also a democrat who quickly puts aside his convictions to take a job in the republican world (during the Reagan Years to boot), and a boy who isn’t nice to his mother (alright, he has good reason for that). There is terrific writing here! Great characters too! So here is what I would do – – – wait to buy this when it comes in paperback. Then get all your friends buy it and read it. Then duke it out over WHEN Julian became a wimp. Then let me know why they needed to go all the way to France. PS: Schwartz wrote BICYCLE DAYS and RESERVATION ROAD (just too sad a premise for me to read). Both received great reviews. His publisher seems to look to this as his commerical breakout book. ~This review contributed by Ann Nappa

A CLASH OF KINGS by George R. R. Martin: War has come to the Seven Kingdoms. In the wake of Robert Baratheon’s death, Rob Stark has been named King of the North. The two younger Baratheon brothers have both claimed rights to the Iron Throne, and the Lannisters hold King’s Landing. As battles rage on throughout the land, Arya Stark travels with a group bound for the Night’s Watch in hopes of escaping Lannister scouts and Jon Snow travels with the Watch north of the wall where dead things have begun to rise. The return to Westeros is a welcome one for this reader, even with season two of Game of Thrones currently airing. Martin’s story is fairly simple—greed, honor, and revenge are motivation for everyone’s actions in the series. It’s the number of characters, the landscape, and the history that become complex. As such, the story is rich and the pacing is quick, making even these tomes easy and entertaining reads. 5/12 Becky Lejeune

CLEA’S MOON by Ed Wright: After being blacklisted, sent to jail on an assault rap, and abandoned by his wife, Ray Horn is a long, long way from his early success as a hero in B-movie westerns. Now he works as a debt collector for his former faithful Indian sidekick turned casino owner. It’s a short jump to sleuthing, and when an old friend approaches him with a problem, Horn is ready to go. The friend’s father, a real estate mogul, has died, leaving behind boxes of disturbing photos of young girls, one of whom is Horn’s stepdaughter. The friend gets pushed out a window, Horn’s stepdaughter goes missing, and Horn is forced into finding the link between the pictures, the girl, and the friend. A first rate first outing. 04/06 Jack Quick

A CLEAN KILL by Leslie Glass: Lieutenant April Woo of the NYPD is planning a delayed honeymoon with new husband Captain Mike Sanchez in this latest installment. Their plans face a major disruption 5 days before they intend to leave when two socialites are killed on consecutive days. While the cause of death is different, the victims are best friends and in both cases the bodies and their surroundings have been meticulously cleaned. April and Mike soon find other common denominators – the same personal trainer, nannies from the same upscale service, the same drug habits. April gets pulled into the investigation although the crimes are outside her precinct. Balancing duties, trying to have a private life, worrying about subordinates and the political ramifications of the “not by the book” investigation keep April on edge. Add in Skinny Dragon mother’s openly stated desire for her daughter to immediately become pregnant and get out of police work and you can see why April and Mike really could use the honeymoon. Will they get it? Who will be the next victim? And why? 08/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

THE CLEANER by Brett Battles: Jonathan Quinn is a professional “cleaner.” No, he doesn’t work with Merry Maids. He is a specialist working in the world of independent intelligence, cleaning up scenes and policing loose ends. Yes, its dangerous but for $60,000 per call and a call about once each month, he is doing quite well. That is, until his world comes apart. It started with a suspicious case of arson and quickly propelled him into an attempt to wipe out the entire “Office”, the organization for which Quinn works. Nicely done thriller, definitely a different perspective, but it has all the essentials – violence, betrayal, and revenge. 11/11 Jack Quick

THE CLEANER by Paul Cleave: Joe, the “cleaner,” works days cleaning a police station in Christchurch, New Zealand while his nights are spent as the Christchurch Carver, a serial killer who has raped and killed six women. The police have linked a seventh victim that Joe didn’t kill, and he’s determined to find out who did and frame them for all the murders, and having access to police files make that a real possibility. Joe tells his story in the first person, creating a unique insight into such a twisted mentality. The police think he is simple, as does Sally, the maintenance woman who lost her brother and thinks Joe can fill that void in her life, but Joe knows that he is smarter than all of them. He is also dealing with his domineering mother and that relationship lends additional insight into the character, as does Melissa, a woman after his own heart. Violence and torture are prevalent so this book is not for the faint of heart, but fans of Chelsea Cain and Thomas Harris will appreciate reading from Joe’s point of view. 12/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2012 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.

THE CLEANUP by Sean Doolittle: Matthew Worth has been relegated to security detail at a local grocery store after punching another cop – a cop that just happens to be sleeping with his wife. Worth spends his days helping bag groceries at the checkout, waiting for his probation period to end. When Gwen Mullen comes into work one day covered in bruises, Worth is reminded of a case from early in his career. The murder of Tiffany Pine has haunted Worth for years. As a result, Worth is determined to help Gwen at any cost. Gwen won’t have to worry about suffering any further abuse at the hands of her boyfriend, though. She’s taken care of that problem herself. Against his better judgment, Worth decides to protect Gwen from the inevitable fallout she would suffer as a result of killing her abusive boyfriend. Doolittle’s dark tale of crime and cover-ups is an engrossing and satisfying read. 03/07 Becky Lejeune

CLEMENTINE by Cherie Priest: This quick adventure marks the return to Priest’s Clockwork Century world, introduced in last year’s award winning Boneshaker. Captain Croggon Beauregard Hainey’s airship Free Crow has been stolen. Not one to go down without a fight, Hainey is willing to chase the thief to the ends of the Earth to get his ship back, even if that means trekking through enemy territory to do so. What he doesn’t know is that the thieves have a very specific mission in mind for the newly dubbed Clementine, and they’ve hired the Pinkertons to make sure the mission is completed. Belle Boyd, the detective agency’s newest employee, is put on the case. But Belle, a former spy for the Confederacy, is stubborn and smart and the more she learns about the case, the more it stinks. At just under 200 pages, Clementine offers up an action-packed easy read to get fans ready for Priest’s latest full-length Clockwork Century release, Dreadnought. Here’s hoping we’ll see more of Belle Boyd in the future as Priest has created in her a strong and fascinating heroine (but Priest is kind of known for that). 10/10 Becky Lejeune

THE CLEVELAND CREEP by Les Roberts: The 15th outing for Cleveland’s favorite PI Milan Jacovich (it’s pronounced MY-lan YOCK-ovich) is ugly, very ugly. It starts when the mother of 28-year-old Earl Dacey (an overweight under-socialized live-at-home photographer with acne) hires Jacovich to find Earl who has gone missing. In short order Jacovich discovers Earl was shadowing Catholic schoolgirls in Northeast Ohio shopping malls with his hidden camera taking “upskirt” videos without their knowledge. The porn connection leads him to the mob and then, when Dacey’s body is found, the Cleveland police – in particular Lieutenant McHargue, his nemesis from the past who suddenly is asking for his help. Then there is FBI Agent Kitzberger who feels his badge puts him above the law and threatens to “burn” Jacovich if he doesn’t use his “mob connections” to help Kitzberger make a big splash so he can move up from Cleveland. Also there is Kevin O’Bannion, an Army veteran with combat experience, a volatile temper, and a juvenile-crime record, but young and eager to learn the P.I. Business, who is hired at the request of a friend to assist Jacovich. About the only good thing going for Milan is he meets an interesting young Catholic school English teacher, with whom he has his first date since “Bush the First was President.” Will Milan survive it all and end up with the fair maiden? Stay tuned. 06/11 Jack Quick

CLEVER FOX by Jeanine Pirro: This sequel to Sly Fox finds prosecutor Dani Fox getting a page on New Year’s Eve, 1979 (remember beepers?) She is the only woman in the District Attorney’s office, heading up the newly formed Domestic Violence unit and fighting the old boy’s network on a daily basis. A New Jersey Mafia don’s daughter is found tortured and murdered, and Fox and her journalist boyfriend Will rush to the crime scene in Yonkers, New York, the working class area of upscale Westchester County. As Fox and her investigating officer start digging, they find that the dead woman had been having an affair with her father’s most hated enemy, head of another crime family. The FBI has an eyewitness agent that can place the don at the scene of the crime, and political pressure becomes unbearable as Fox’s boss demands immediate justice. She isn’t comfortable with charging a man based on circumstantial evidence, and as witnesses start disappearing, the pressure really heats up. Pirro joins the ranks of fellow prosecutors Linda Fairstein and Marcia Clark in turning out tautly written legal thrillers, and Pirro’s expertise shines on every page. 7/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.

CLICK TO PLAY by David Handler: Tim Ferris is dying and the former child TV star claims to know the truth behind an infamous Hollywood murder spree. He contacts the world’s oldest living Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with a plea to come talk to him. Ernest Ludington Thayer is much too old to chase fire engines anymore so he sends his protégé, Hunt Liebling, not knowing that he would never see Liebling again. Ferris’ secret has the power to destroy a beloved US Senator who is on the path to the Presidency. With such high stakes everyone is at risk, including Leibling who is falsely accused of an all-new Hollywood massacre, and becomes the prime suspect himself. This has some interesting insights into current day Internet journalism and overall is a decent read. 10/09 Jack Quick

CLOSE CASE by Alafair Burke: District Attorney Samantha Kincaid is back in her third outing (Judgment Calls, Missing Justice) in this twisty tale of law and order. A white police officer, Geoffrey Hamilton, shoots an African American woman to death during a routine traffic stop, bringing some stepped up racial tension to Portland politics. Then local hero, Oregonian newspaper reporter Percy Crenshaw, is bludgeoned to death in his own driveway, the same night the race riots heat up. Caught on TV are two young men doing some damage with a baseball bat, and Samantha’s new live-in boyfriend, Detective Chuck Forbes, watches his partner, Detective Mike Calabrese, wrangle a confession to the Crenshaw murder out of one of the boys, using questionable methods at best. Samantha has to deal with the suspicious shooting and the quasi-confession, causing Chuck to wonder where her loyalties lie. Junior reporter Heidi Hatmaker has Crenshaw’s notes and is trying to put together a story for herself but is unwittingly endangering everyone involved. The first person narration works beautifully but alternating with occasional third person narration for the Hatmaker storyline feels awkward in this otherwise superb legal thriller. Highly recommended for all fiction collections. Copyright © 2005 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission. 07/05

CLOSE CASE by Alafair Burke: With each new outing, Burke grows stronger. Although her main character Samantha Kincaid still seems a bit naive to be thirty-two years old, she is acquiring some of the toughness she will need to succeed as a prosecutor. She can stand up to those within her office but still has problems relating to outsiders. In this episode seemingly unrelated cases come together at a terrible cost, in bodies and destroyed friendships. A murdered reporter, a “forced” confession, and an officer-involved shooting all swirl around Kincaid. Confessed murder suspects have airtight alibis and possibly corrupt police are difficult to identify. At each step more and more of her associates are alienated, some permanently. Yet in the end, the outcome is not only believable, but also seemingly inevitable. Recommended. 07/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH by Victoria Dahl: Hollywood make up artist Grace Barrett is on the run, having accidentally stolen money from an old boyfriend and then having it stolen from her before she can return it. She lands in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where her great aunt has an apartment house known as the “Stud Farm.” She gives Grace an apartment rent free to help her get back on her feet. Grace meets neighbor Cole Rawlins, a hot cowboy recovering from a devastating accident, where a stallion fell on him, fracturing his pelvis, femur and other assorted bones and requiring multiple surgeries and months of rehab. He is recovered enough to have lots of hot fights and hot sex with Grace, before they go riding off into the sunset together. 50 Shades fans may like this one. 1/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
THE CLOSERS by Michael Connelly: This is the 11th entry in the Harry Bosch series and it’s still working. Harry has his badge back and is working with his old partner, Kiz Rider, for the Open-Unsolved Unit, working on cold cases. First up is a 17 year old murder that was never solved, but DNA evidence has moved the case to the top of the pile. But nothing is as easy as it first seems, and this case is no different. I guess I hold Connelly to a higher standard than most because I know how tremendously talented he is, but while this is a very good book and an enjoyable read, it’s just not his best. The book plods along in places, and the writing is clunky at times. I expect more. 05/05 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE CLOSERS by Michael Connelly: LAPD detective Harry Bosch is back on the force assigned with former partner Kiz Rider to the Cold Case unit. Their first case back involves the killing of a bi-racial high school girl 17 years before, reopened because of a DNA match to blood found on the murder gun. The blood on the gun belongs to Roland Mackey, a local lowlife white supremacist. Connelly meticulously leads the reader along with Bosch and Rider as they explore the links to Mackey and along the way connect the initial investigation of the crime to a police conspiracy. In the process Bosch and Rider gain a better understanding of their own purposes in life. One of Connelly’s best and Bosch is back on the job, thank goodness. As he says, without the weight of his gun, he limps. 05/06 Jack Quick

The Clothes They Stood Up In by Alan Bennett: Adorable fable about dealing with the loss of possessions. Zen with a twist!

CLOUD ATLAS by David Mitchell: The current edition of this novel was recently released as a tie in with the movie starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Susan Sarandon. I did not have an opportunity to read it when it was first released but was now caught up in Mitchell’s command of the language, his ability to capture completely different moods and delineate a wide variety of characters. The novel involves six different vignettes loosely allied at the beginning of the book and than returning to them in reverse order at the last half of the book. It becomes apparent that there are tie ins from one to the other in spite of taking place in different times and places. There is an opening in 1850, another in a setting where clones are created to handle the grunt work of civilization and are trying to take their place as equals to normally born human beings. Settings in most cases involve the south Pacific and Hawai, also touching on England and the United States.
I was made completely aware of Mitchell’s ability to change choice of wording and reactions in each story making that section unique in the overall novel. He is also a wordsmith with a unique command of the English language and an ability to make the reader totally aware of the nuances involved in the story. A fascinating read and one that will leave the reader very satisfied with what he or she has just read. 11/12 Paul Lane

CLOUDLAND by Joseph Olshan: A series of murders has tainted the peace of Cloudland. As one of the few residents of the area, Catherine Winslow is particularly unsettled after discovering the body of a woman who went missing just months before. A former journalist, Catherine is no stranger to the dangers of society. In fact, she volunteers regularly at the local prison. When the county’s forensic psychiatrist is taken off the murders, Catherine’s own neighbor takes on the case and asks for her help as a consultant. Certain pieces of the crime scene begin to fall into place and Catherine becomes convinced that the killer could be copying a rare work by Wilkie Collins, a work so hard to find that her own copy is the only one in the area. Could the killer be someone Catherine knows? Cloudland never quite came together for me. An abundance of unnecessary information, a handful of red herrings that never really came off as convincing, and ultimately a leading character who could have been interesting but wasn’t bogged down the story. Unfortunately the pacing was slow and the development was clunky. Altogether Cloudland was a tough mystery to get through and one that did not pay off in the end. 5/12 Becky Lejeune

THE CLOVIS INCIDENT by Pari Noskin Taichert: At page 20 I didn’t care for this book — aliens, UFO’s and hallucinations. At page 40, as the plot began to thicken, I began to change my mind. At page 64 I hit the paragraph that convinced me this was a good book worth reading to the end. “If aliens were so advanced, with technology that far exceeded our own, why did they make a habit of snatching dowdy girls and pasty boys for their experiments? Why didn’t they go for nuclear physicists or Nobel Prize winners! And why was it always small town hicks?” Sasha Solomon, PR consultant and amateur sleuth, goes to Clovis looking for a job, only to learn her friend Mae not only has discovered a dead body on her dairy farm but has also been “abducted” by aliens. As Sasha gets drawn deeper and deeper into the case it seems every government agency and half the town’s leading citizens are already involved, all with different agendas. The ending is satisfying and startling, you might even say unreal. A must read. 06/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

CLUBBED TO DEATH by Elaine Viets: In this latest addition to the Dead-End Job series, Helen Hawthorne is working at the Superior Country Club in the customer service, AKA the complaint department. At one time this was a club that catered to old money, but hard times has fallen on the club and now they let anyone who can afford their dues in – drug money is welcome. Helen is still in hiding from her ex-husband, so she’s shocked when she runs into him in the parking lot of the country club. His new wife, known as the Black Widow due to her string of dead husbands, has docked her yacht at the club. Helen and her ex get into it, she socks him in the nose in front of her ambitious boss, and takes off. When he turns up missing, Helen is the prime suspect. Anyone who has ever worked in customer service will appreciate the lament of the clientele at the club: “Do you know who I am?” Lots of laughs in this twisty mystery, along with a dose of reality. Another winner from Viets. 05/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

COAL RUN by Tawni O’Dell: O’Dell returns to the dreary world of a tiny Pennsylvania coal-mining town in her second novel (after BACK ROADS). The book opens with a bang in a flashback that recalls the tragic underground explosion that took the life of the father of Ivan Zoschenko and 96 other men from Coal Run. Some 15 years later, just after college football hero Zoschenko is drafted by the Chicago Bears, his knee is crushed in an accident in the same mines. Zoschenko can’t deal with the result and he ends up in Florida, an alcoholic pest exterminator. When he learns that a former schoolmate, Reese Raynor, serving time for beating his wife into a coma, is being released, he returns to Pennsylvania. In spite of his drinking problem, Zoschenko is hired as a deputy by the local sheriff, leading to the inevitable brutal collision with Raynor. Hard folks surviving hard times in this gritty portrayal of life without much hope. Miss O’Dell has improved as a writer from her introductory work, but still too grim for many. I liked the book, but wouldn’t want a steady diet of this type. 12/06 Jack Quick

THE COAST ROAD by Peter Corris: Ace private detective Cliff Hardy is working on two cases in this outing. The daughter of a wealthy retired real estate maven is convinced her father’s death in a cottage fire was not accidental and hires Hardy to prove her stepmother was responsible. Hardy finds the police strangely uncooperative as he tries to find the truth. At the same time, he is searching for the precocious daughter of Marisha Karatsky, who has gotten into drugs and who knows what else. Its typical Hardy – corrupt coppers, compromised insurance agents, bikers as well as a few good guys. People get disturbed and people get killed as Hardy plods along seeking justice and resolution. Reading Corris is like reading Ed. McBain, you really know what to expect, but it manages to be refreshing and maintains your attention throughout. 11/07 Jack Quick

CODEBREAKER by Katherine Myers: Meg Parrish is the subject of the book’s title. She is working undercover at Portland, Oregon’s Signet Corporation software firm. She penetrates computer security and copies a database so valuable that the company’s CEO sends his security chief to kill her and recover the information. Co-worker Ross Eckland saves her from rape and murder and the two take flight from Signet, from federal intelligence agents, and from threatening strangers who seem to have their own agenda. The two survive multiple car chases, pursuit by helicopter and various other dangers. In the process they also fall in love. It’s definitely a suspense thriller even with the romance angle and a first rate read. Before its over you will find out more than perhaps you really want to know about electronic surveillance and tracking, encryption, DNA and genetics research, the federal intelligence community and the ethics of cloning. Lets hope its all fiction. 11/06 Jack Quick

CODEX by Lev Grossman: Edward Wozny, a 25 year-old “golden boy” investment banker is on a two-week vacation before he heads for a new post in London when he gets called into a strange task. The Wents, the duchess and duke of Bowmry, two of the firm’s biggest clients, wish him to catalogue a collection of ancient books in the attic of their New York apartment. As he gets deeper into this strange assignment he learns there is the possibility of finding a mythical codex by 14th-century monk Gervase of Langford. Most scholars believe that the text—which predicts the coming of the apocalypse and may conceal Went family secrets—never existed. At the same time Wozny becomes equally preoccupied with MOMUS, an intricate, frighteningly vivid computer game. Edward eventually comes to realize that cyberworld and real world are more connected than not. A twisty tale that starts slowly and gathers speed along the way. 02/09 Jack Quick

CODEX 632 by Jose Rodrigues dos Santos: Historian Martinho Toscano has been hired by a certain organization to research the original discovery of Brazil. In his studies, he comes across some surprising information in regards to Christopher Columbus and his voyage to the Americas. Unfortunately, Toscano passes away due to natural causes before he can reveal his discovery. It seems the historian was an extremely careful and paranoid man since he kept all of his notes in code. So, the organization approaches scholar and professor Thomas Noronha, a specialist in cryptography, to decode the notes and finish Toscano’s research. Noronha discovers that there is some question as to Columbus’s true identity and he is soon thoroughly enmeshed in the same mystery that so consumed Toscano. Codex 632 is touted as the “book that outsold Harry Potter in Portugal.” Unfortunately, I can’t really see why. At best the book reads like an interesting history lesson. At worst, it is a meandering and repetitive story with flat characters. The last few chapters seem like an attempt to finally flesh out Noronha and his family, but it is both awkward and too little too late. 04/08 Becky Lejeune

COFFIN COUNTY by Gary A. Braunbeck: Cedar Hill, specifically the area of town nicknamed Coffin County, has seen more than its fair share of human tragedy and misery. This is thanks to the fact that an ancient harbinger of death has taken a particular liking to the area. This entity has caused so many disastrous events, and yet no one has ever been able to make a connection – course, after centuries of mass killings, who would possibly suspect the same “person” would be behind them? Officer Ben Littlejohn is about to become one of the privileged few who learns the truth. It begins with a mass murder at a local diner; fingerprint analysis and video footage of the killing yield some pretty strange results. Before the local cops know it, they’ve got a multitude of crimes on their hands and Ben may be the only one who can put a stop to it. Braunbeck delivers an intensely creepy and truly original tale that’s guaranteed to give you chills late at night. Coffin County also comes with two additional Cedar Hill tales, I’ll Play the Blues for You and Union Dues. 06/08 Becky Lejeune

COGAN’S TRADE by George V. Higgins: Jackie Cogan is an enforcer for the New England mob. When a high-stakes card game is heisted by unknown hoodlums, Cogan is called in to “handle” the problem. With five consecutive shots from a Smith & Wesson thirty-eight Police Special, Cogan restores order to his corner of the Boston underworld. Sounds simple but the dialogue and authenticity of Higgins writing lifts this above the ordinary “pulp” tale. 5/12 Jack Quick KINDLE

THE COIL by Gayle Lynds: Although the name Gayle Lynds may not be top of mind, its hard to have missed her work. She has ghosted and co-authored many adventures including three Robert Ludlum’s and has four other thrillers out in her own name. In this, possibly her best work ever, Professor Liz Sansborough is trying to let bygones be bygones. She is no longer associated with the CIA and her father, a notorious Cold War assassin nicknamed Carnivore, is long dead. So why is everyone trying to kill her? It starts with the kidnapping of her cousin, Sarah. The ransom soon becomes apparent. Someone is looking for the files of the Carnivore. Just what is The Coil? Who are its members? How can Liz save her cousin and her own life? A high-speed version of The Davinci Code as Liz and her undercover companion, agent Simon Childs, try to escape death and The Coil. The ending will leave you breathless. Recommended. 07/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

COLD CITY by F. Paul Wilson: For Jack, moving to New York means a fresh start. In the big city, he can be whoever he wants to be. He’s able to live anonymously and under the radar. When his gig as a landscaper ends after a scrape with a fellow worker, Jack finds himself in need of a job and quick. A great opportunity presents itself when an acquaintance of a friend offers Jack a position as a delivery driver. The job may not be entirely legal but the pay is great and Jack is assured the risk is minimal. Unfortunately, a slight change in plans does land Jack in a heap of trouble when he—along with a couple of masked vigilantes—upsets a human trafficking ring. Some pretty nasty folks now have it in for Jack, but that’s becoming part of his regular routine these days. Cold City marks the first in a new prequel trilogy to Wilson’s popular Repairman Jack series—this is how Jack becomes the Repairman. There are a number of storylines in this first installment, none of which are tied up in the end. Regardless, I loved the way Wilson brought the story together and will look forward to seeing how things will turn out in the next piece of the trilogy. 12/12 Becky Lejeune

THE COLD, COLD GROUND by Adrian McKinty: Adrian McKinty has set out to imagine what it would have been like for the police in Northern Ireland to solve crimes during the “Troubles” in 1981. Imagine checking under your car every day for a bomb before driving to work. That’s what young Detective Sergeant Sean Duffy of the Royal Ulster Constabulary does, as he attempts to investigate what may be the beginning of a serial killer rampage against homosexuals, or may be something completely different. The setting is fascinating, as the opposing Protestant and Catholic sides fight bitterly against each other, but secretly cooperate in establishing their territories for drug trading and protection rackets. No one is pure in this environment which gets increasingly complicated as MI-5, the British Army and other agencies work their schemes and protect their turf. The Cold, Cold Ground is the first of a projected trilogy and I can’t wait for volumes 2 and 3. 2/13 Geoffrey R. Hamlin

COLD DAWN by Carla Neggers: If you ever get into trouble, who you gonna call? Maybe search-and-rescue expert Rose Cameron and smoke jumper Nick Martini. Together Nick and Rose are trying to track down a serial killer who uses fire as a weapon. The two have kindled some flames of their own in the past but now the town of Black Falls, Vermont is depending on them to save the town before others lose their lives. Nick’s partner Sean says he will trust Nick with his life, but with his sister? He is not so sure about that. More romance than suspense, but all-in-all a decent beach read. After all, what is cooler than Vermont skiing in the middle of the summer. 10/10 Jack Quick

COLD DAY IN HELL by Richard Hawke: This second outing, following Speak of the Devil, from the pseudonymous Richard Hawke (Tim Cockey), brings back New York City private investigator Fritz Malone in a slower paced, darker venue. Marshall Fox is the star of a New York City based late night TV show, but his star has fallen since his arrest for the murders of two women he was having affairs with. While he’s jailed, two more murders occur, causing speculation as to Fox’s guilt and the possibility of a copycat killer. The newest victim was a neighbor of Fritz’s girlfriend Margo, and Fritz had been investigating some hate mail she had received prior to her murder. NYPD detective Megan Lamb isn’t quite up to par since both her police and life partners were killed, so the police department is happy to have Fritz investigating the murders along side her as long as he shares what he finds. Despite an attempt on his life, Fritz keeps on digging through Quaker meetings, Fox’s clandestine affairs, kinky sex and the backstage maneuverings of the late night TV show. Recommended. 03/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch. Copyright © 2007 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

A COLD DAY IN HELL by Richard Hawke: Marshall Fox is the new darling of late night television until he is arrested and jailed for the murder of two women with whom he was having affairs. The case looks pretty solid until two more bodies show up, both connected to Fox and the earlier murders. But how could Fox have committed the last two while he was behind bars? It is up to New York City PI Fritz Malone to sort out the details. The cops claim they need to no help but have no problem is using the leads Malone turns up. Somewhat darker than Malone’s debut in Speak of the Devil, which hopefully, is a sign of character growth and a portent of future outings. All in all, a very nicely done sophomore outing. 07/09 Jack Quick

COLD GLORY by B. Kent Anderson: Cold Glory is a very well done conspiracy novel – if the reader can look at the basic premise and read the book thinking that it is a possibility. In real life Generals Grant and Lee were alone together for several minutes at Appomattox court house prior to signing the surrender documents ending the civil war. There is no record of what they talked about, but Anderson has put together a very entertaining story about a secret document they both signed delineating a scenario for take over of the post war government in the event that it was not able to govern. The plot then sketches a clandestine group maintaining itself on the basis of that document from 1865 until present day and than deciding that the document now gives them the authority to overthrow the government.
A professor of history teaching in the state of Oklahoma , Nick Journey becomes aware of the group and their aims. He communicates his discoveries to Meg Tolman, an analyst in a secret US government group that looks at various matters for it’s parent partners such as Homeland Security and the FBI. Journey understands that the group, styling themselves as the Glory Warriors, are desperately seeking the original document signed by Grant and Lee in order to legitimize their planned overthrow of the government. Journey and Tolman begin working together in order to bring the Glory Warriors and their leadership to justice.
Anderson does an excellent job of fleshing out Journey and Tolman and they come alive as individuals in the novel. Journey is a middle aged out of shape father of an autistic child for whom he does a great job of taking care of in the face of the disability, and Tolman, although not a great pianist is more interested in piano recitals instead of the day to day work she does for her agency. Both have had marital problems prior to the opening of the story. In short they appear as real people in key situations when the events of the ongoing plot against the government catch up to them. Anderson is apparently making Cold Glory the first novel in a series featuring the people involved in the book. If this is so I would expect him to create the same very realistic scenarios as he did here and quickly bring in the reader to become engrossed in the novel. 1/12 Paul Lane

COLD GRANITE by Stuart MacBride: Another Ian Rankin? Scottish Detective Sergeant Logan McRae has returned to his Aberdeen beat after a year’s medical convalescence to tackle a case that makes even his most callous colleagues cringe: the strangling and mutilation of a four-year-old boy. More children turn up missing and, then, dead and it is obvious the press has a pipeline into the police investigation. Complicating the case is the fact that the forensic pathologist assigned to work with the investigators in McRae’s ex-girlfriend. All in all, an impressive first outing. 02/06 Jack Quick

COLD GRANITE by Stuart MacBride: DS Logan McRae is back on the job after a stabbing incident that left him laid up on extended leave. He’d hoped that his first days back would be easy, but unfortunately he was wrong. A body is discovered and is determined to be that of a boy gone missing three months back. Then another boy disappears and another body, this time a girl, is found. How—and if—the cases are connected causes real problems and McRae recognizes that a solid arrest is the only thing that will calm the citizens and ensure the safety of the children once again, but a string of false leads isn’t helping morale. As the folks in Aberdeen become more and more afraid for their children and enraged at the lack of progress, they begin to take matters into their own hands, actions that are fueled by a local reporter who seems to have an inside source. Cold Granite is a good start to what promises to be a dark and gritty series. The false starts and frustration on the part of McRae and his team make the read that much more intense and also makes the connection to McRae as the lead an interesting one for the reader. 03/11 Becky Lejeune

COLD MAGIC by Kate Elliott: In this first installment of the Spiritwalker trilogy, Kate Elliott introduces readers to an alternate world similar to our own. The land is covered in ice throughout much of the year and there are mages who wield the power of this element—power that controls and terrifies some while protecting others, at a cost. Cat has been raised alongside her cousin and is the eldest daughter of the Hassi Barahal line. Everything changes for Cat when a cold mage turns up claiming her hand in marriage as part of a long-held contract with her family. The mage, a member of the Four Moons House, is to seal the marriage contract immediately and return to the House with Cat in tow. Why she’s so important to them and what prompted the contract in the first place is a closely kept secret. How the deal will affect Cat and those around her will play out through the trilogy. Elliott has begun an intricate tale with Cold Magic, a high-concept fantasy with a carefully molded setting and cast of characters—a great set up for things to come. 10/11 Becky Lejeune

THE COLD MOON by Jeffery Deaver: The latest in the Sachs/Rhyme series finds the teams a bit at odds these days. Amelia is lead of her first investigation, the assumed suicide of a New York businessman. Based on the evidence, Amelia becomes convinced that this was no suicide, but rather a murder. Her investigation leads her to some very unexpected suspects when a request from on high forces her case to the back burner. A killer called the Watchmaker has left his mark on not one, but two crime scenes on the same night; a pier with a trail of blood leading to the water and an alleyway with a victim that has been strangely tortured. A strange moon faced clock, the Watchmaker’s calling card, is found at each scene. Rhyme and his team are joined by the amicable Kathryn Dance, a California cop whose specialty is reading body language. Deaver has always been a master of page turning suspense; do not read this book if you plan on getting any sleep. 09/06 Becky LeJeune

Cold Pursuit by T. Jefferson Parker: Terrific new thriller from the author of the Edgar Award winning Silent Joe. San Diego homicide detective Tom McMichael is on rotation when Pete Braga is murdered. The Portuguese Braga’s and the Irish McMichael’s have much in common with the Hatfield’s & McCoy’s, and the Montague’s & Capulet’s. Despite all the bad blood, McMichael chooses to remain on the case and an intriguing case it is. Braga is found bludgeoned to death by his nurse, who becomes the chief suspect and in an interesting twist, McMichael’s love interest. Conflict for sure, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg as the clues start contradicting each other until the surprise ending. But as always with Parker, it’s the writing that grabs hold and won’t let go. For instance, after watching the autopsy of the murder victim, we get this fabulous line: “McMichael left the building feeling like his soul had been cut out, weighed and thrown away.” This is visual, powerful writing. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

COLD PURSUIT by T. Jefferson Parker: The Portuguese Braga family and the Irish McMichael family have a rivalry going back two generations. Now old Pete Braga, a one time tuna fisherman who now moves in the city’s top financial circles, is murdered. Homicide detective Tom McMichael is “next man up” and draws the case. The history of the two families is a rich tapestry upon which the current story actually pales. Still a good read but not one of Parker’s best. 03/06 Jack Quick

THE COLD ROOM by J.T. Ellison: In the wake of the events that took place in Judas Kiss, Taylor Jackson finds herself demoted from Lieutenant to detective, with the killer known as the Pretender still out there taunting her. Her latest case begins with the discovery of a young woman, starved to death and posed as a grotesque copy of a famous Picasso piece. The scene is reminiscent of a string of murders the FBI has been investigating in Italy and England. Taylor has never had a case so disturbing in all her career. What’s worse, the killer reporters are now calling The Conductor is already looking for his next victim. Ellison keeps pushing the limits, successfully, with each new installment of the series. Taylor and Baldwin are taken to the edge and beyond with each new case, facing challenges that threaten their relationship, their careers, and their lives. Ellison is tough on her characters and her plots are intense. The theories she explores are always fascinating, this time around in particular. 10/10 Becky Lejeune

A COLD SEASON by Alison Littlewood: It’s been years since Cass left Darnshaw but now that she and her son are all but alone in the world, she thinks it could be just what they need. The pamphlet advertising the new converted mill condos arrives at a convenient time cementing Cass’s decision. She and Ben arrive to find the mill deserted and construction at a complete halt. While their new home is fully furnished and perfect for their needs, the half finished state of the rest of the apartments and the fact that they are the only tenants is some cause for concern. But Cass is determined to barrel through for Ben’s sake. After all, he’s still suffering from the loss of his father and Cass knows the move has been added stress for the boy. Cass truly believes that things can only get better for her little family. And boy is she wrong. A snowstorm leaves Darnshaw completely separated from the outside world: no phones, no internet, and no way out. Cass’s work is suffering, Ben’s behavior is increasingly erratic, and it soon becomes clear that Darnshaw isn’t at all the haven she’d hoped it would be. Alison Littlewood’s debut is excellent. The tension and atmosphere of the tale are almost painfully intense, with the story building perfectly bit by bit right up to the grand finale. 10/13 Becky Lejeune

COLD SHOT TO THE HEART by Wallace Stroby: The essence of any good tale is conflict. Crissa Stone carefully weighs risks and rewards and her criminal associates’ skills before undertaking a caper. Ex-con Eddie Santiago (aka Eddie the Saint) will kill on principle or for a buck. After one of Stone’s men kills Lou Letteri, whom they intended only to rob in a high-stakes Fort Lauderdale, Fla., card game, things go sour in a hurry. Lou was the son-in-law of a Jersey mobster, who hires Santiago to avenge the dead man. For more details you gotta read the book. Another excellent outing for Stroby. 03/11 Jack Quick

THE COLD WAR SWAP by Ross Thomas: I have been enjoying Ross Thomas for over four decades , but alas, I have finally read, to the best of my knowledge, everything this ex-reporter, editor and public relations director ever wrote. Ironically THE COLD WAR SWAP was his first novel (released in 1966) and has aged well. In a John Le Carre type tale, two Americans are running a bar in the West German capital of Bonn, called Mac’s place, during the height of the Cold War. One of the pair, Michael Padillo, isn’t around a lot; he keeps disappearing on “business trips.” McCorkle, his partner, (and the protagonist) wisely doesn’t ask questions; he knows Padillo has a second job — he’s a (reluctant) US agent. McCorkle is, however, ready to answer a call for help from Padillo, and he joins his friend in a blind journey with no inkling of what they will encounter at the turn of each dark and dangerous corner. 06/11 Jack Quick

COLD WAR HEROES by Tom Johnson: The merry misfits of the 202nd Military Police Company in France have their priorities straight – drinking French cognac and chasing French women. In between they have to deal with spies, the black market, and an on Post boxing tournament that may be too much for their hero. Think M*A*S*H – a decade later, different country, different unit, but as Radar would say over the public address system, “Follow the adventures of those good old boys from home as they fight to keep the world safe one bottle and broad at a time.” 8/12 Jack Quick

THE COLDEST BLOOD by Jim Kelly: Today is the seventh consecutive day with temperatures above 100 degrees and the forecast is for at least four more days of the same. What better time than now to tackle this tale of an English cold snap, which causes a series of seemingly, weather related deaths. Former Fleet Street Journalist Philip Dryden picks up on the fact that a pair of the victims is connected by more than just the cold. Both recently filed abuse charges against an orphanage where they lived as children. Dryden, now working at a lesser paper in the city of Ely, explores whether these two plaintiffs may have been murdered. Kelly’s descriptions of the city and its inhabitants is bleak and reminiscent of works from a much earlier era. This one caused a welcome shiver or two and kept me intrigued to the end. 08/07 Jack Quick

COLLATERAL DAMAGE by H. Terrell Griffin: A young room is shot to death on the beach of Longboat Key, the day after his wedding. Three seemingly unrelated murders occurred on board a dinner cruise on Sarasota Bay the same day. It turns out that the groom’s father served in Vietnam with Matt Royal, and actually saved Matt’s life. The father approaches Matt with a unique concept -Try to get enough evidence to file a civil lawsuit, and then turn that evidence over to the authorities who can then maybe convict his son’s killer. Matt quickly discovers evidence that may link all four murders and calls in the cavalry in the form of old buddies, Logan Hamilton and Jock Algren, Longboat Key detective, Jennifer Diane (J.B.) Duncan joins the investigation, but it still takes all each of them can do to solve the crime and survive. 8/12 Jack Quick

COLLISION by Jeff Abbott: Two unlikely figures collide violently and then work together to save their lives. Ben Forsberg, a widower whose wife was assassinated by a sniper while on their honeymoon. Pilgrim, a shadow warrior with an invisible covert-ops group called the Cellar. They are brought together by another assassination in Forsberg’s native Austin, Texas, where Pilgrim was supposed to be one of the victims, and Forsberg is suspected of being involved. Throw in Sam Hector, head of a vast private security firm à la Blackwater; Jackie, a sadistic Irish assassin crazed with grief at the loss of his older brother; and Khaled, zealous associate of a group called Blood of Fire, and you have a pot which takes little stirring to bring to a boil. Who is on which side for what reason for how long? Afterwards you may want to read a Lee Child or Tom Clancy to cool down. 06/09 Jack Quick

THE COLOR OF LAW by Mark Gimenez: When I first moved to Dallas in the early 1980’s, we passed a huge football stadium on the way to our new home. We assumed it was where the Cowboys played and wondered why it was stuck in the middle of the suburbs. We very quickly learned that it was, in fact, the high school football stadium, and thus we were introduced to Texas football, and Texas culture. I was quickly brought back to that memory as I read The Color of Law. Our hero, Scott Fenney, is a high-priced lawyer with a high-powered Dallas law firm. Fenney has a poster sized enlargement of the record-breaking moment of his school football career plastered on his office wall; the record that has made him a Texas legend. Those boys take their football seriously! Fenney is not the easiest guy to like; he’s all about the money, epitomizing all the bad lawyer jokes. In his run for president of the Texas bar, Fenney makes a campaign speech espousing the lofty legal ideals of Atticus Finch, none of which he means, but a judge in the audience decides that this is the man he will appoint as counsel to a black indigent hooker who is accused of murder. The victim is the good-for-nothing son of a Texas state senator who has a hankering to be President, and with $200 million of his own money to put into a campaign, he’s got a good shot at it. That is, unless his son’s lifestyle comes out in the murder trial. Fenney has to deal with a client he has no interest in defending until he starts getting pressured from every direction, forcing him to re-evaluate his morals, his priorities, and his life. This is a top notch legal thriller from a Texas lawyer who knows his stuff about law, and writing. 12/05 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE COLORADO KID by Stephen King: I’ve got to share this line from Bookmarks Magazine because they said it best: “There’s nothing like a good noir crime novel, and The Colorado Kid is nothing like a good noir crime novel”. It’s a fast read, it’s almost a sweet story, it’s a prime example of the ease with which Stephen King can spin a yarn. But it was published under the Hard Case Crime series, as noir, as pulp fiction, with a cover depicting pulp fiction, and it is not. As King himself points out in the afterward, not all mysteries are solved and so it is with this one. Two old newspapermen from a small seaside town in Maine tell their protégé the story of a man who was found dead on the beach. Told primarily in dialogue, we learn that a good story needs a beginning, a middle and an end and this story really only has a middle. Despite all that, I liked it, which I guess just comes down to I like the way Stephen King writes. 01/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

COLORADO KID by Stephen King: Number thirteen in the Hard Case Crime series, this is not so much a mystery as a reasonably well-told tale. Intern Stephanie McCann gets the owner and the managing editor of her weekly newspaper in an obscure corner off the coast of Maine to share with her the story of two high school sweethearts who find a dead body on the beach. There was no identification, and only a few items found with the body gave any hope of telling where he was from. Eventually we learn the dead man was from Colorado, hence the name of the book. The good news is that the Hard Case Crime imprint can attract authors with King’s reputation. The bad news is this is a really weak outing for him, and for the series. 11/06 Jack Quick

THE COLUMBUS AFFAIR by Steve Berry: Berry has written books involving retired U. S. government agent Cotton Malone who has opened a bookstore in Copenhagen, Denmark. These, and several short stories have served to solidify his literary reputation as an author of exciting and carefully planned works. The Columbus Affair is a stand alone novel concerning a subject that has baffled historians for the five centuries since Columbus lived. In actuality very little is really known about Christopher Columbus’ life and this book uses both known fact and intelligent conjecture to come up with a fascinating story about a modern day connection to him. Tom Sagan is a journalist that has been disgraced by a series of lies told about a story of his eight years prior to the opening of the book. The book opens as he is ready to kill himself since he cannot continue to live at the level that he has been forced to fall to. He is interrupted by a call advising that his estranged daughter, who has detested him for several years, is being held captive. Tom can free her only if he orders his father’s grave opened and the body exhumed. It would appear that his father was privy to secrets of Columbus about a treasure being brought to the new world in one of his voyages and took those secrets to his grave with him. In rescuing his daughter, and in the events succeeding that event evidence is brought out that Columbus was a converso. That is a Jew that seemingly converted to Catholicism in order to escape the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition but secretly practicing Judaism. He supposedly did not obtain financing for his voyage of 1492 from Isabella and Ferdinand but secretly from a wealthy Jew in order for Columbus to take Temple treasures kept hidden for thousands of years after the destruction of the first temple to safety in Asia. As is described in history Columbus was thought to be looking for a short route to Asia and landed at San Salvador Island opening up exploration of the Americas. The reason for the transport to Asia was due to the idea that Jews lived in peace there and the treasure could be guarded. Berry’s research into the events surrounding Columbus’ life and his voyages to the New World is, no doubt, a prodigious task by itself, and makes the book a fascinating trip both into history and modern day events based on that history. The book leaves the reader really wondering how much of Steve Berry’s conjecture is true, and how much is just an intelligent stretch of the imagination. The technique of rapid back and forth action between characters in the book serves as a tool to capture and hold the reader’s interest. This is definitely one to have to stay awake to finish. 5/12 Paul Lane

Columbus Slaughters Braves by Mark Friedman: Very satisfying novel about two brothers, one of whom is a superstar athlete, and the other, the narrator, just a regular guy. Their relationship, their lives, are described in almost embarrassingly, painfully honest, beautifully written prose. This one is staying with me.

COME AND FIND ME by Hallie Ephron: Diana Banks used to be happy. She, her husband Daniel, and their friend—all hackers of immense talent—decided to go legit and start what has become a successful computer security company. But when Daniel died, the tragedy proved to be too much for Diana. Plagued by panic attacks, she created a sanctuary for herself in her own home. A place where she can control everything in her midst and never has to leave to face the outside world. Unfortunately, she’s also made herself a virtual prisoner to her paranoia. Until her sister goes missing. Now Diana must force herself out in the open in order to save her sister. Ephron’s latest was a little bit of a letdown after the intensity of Never Tell a Lie. Her debut set the bar high and Come and Find Me didn’t quite reach the same level of believability, just missing the mark on the expectations set forth by that first book. 03/11 Becky Lejeune

COME HOME by Lisa Scottoline: Jill Farrow is a divorced pediatrician living with Sam, her fiancé, and her teenage daughter. One night Jill’s stepdaughter Abby, who she hasn’t seen since the divorce, shows up drunk at her door, claiming her father has been murdered. Jill has missed her stepdaughters but her ex kept them from her, so she’s eager to form a relationship once again, but Sam isn’t interested in bringing an ex’s kids into the picture. Not to mention he can’t figure out why Jill would even care if her ex-husband was murdered or not. Unfortunately, I agreed with Sam and I couldn’t understand why Jill decided to investigate on her own, after the police have ruled it an accidental death and even Abby takes off, apparently also uninterested. Lots of suspense and some nice plot twists, but I just didn’t like this main character. Scottoline continues moving in a new direction with this Picoult-like drama, but I am one fan who wishes she’d go back to her all girls law firm. 4/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

COMING BACK by Marcia Muller: In her last outing, Locked In, San Francisco private eye Sharon McCone was shot in the head and suffered from locked-in syndrome: almost total paralysis but with an alert, conscious mind. Now, Sharon, never known for an abundance of patience is struggling to regain control over her body, and her life. She realizes things will never by the same no matter how badly she wants to undo change. Her marital and professional relationships are showing the strain and, when Sharon’s friend from physical therapy goes missing, she must call upon her husband and colleagues to find out the truth behind the disappearance. By doing so, she enters into some national security issues and a situation dangerous to all involved. A true challenge for a healthy P.I., can the injured Cone handle this one, or will it be McCone’s last stand? 04/11 Jack Quick

COMING UP FOR AIR by Patti Callahan Henry: Lilly Eddington always did things the right way. Appearances meant everything and her advice to her daughter always ensured that Ellie would follow in her mother’s footsteps. But when Lilly passes away, Ellie discovers a journal chronicling her mother’s life. Lilly Eddington had a past she’d kept hidden from almost everyone who knew her. As Ellie learns more about the dreams and hopes and passions of her mother’s youth, she wonders why Lilly never shared these stories. Traveling through Lilly’s past unlocks desires Ellie has long suppressed, causing her to take a second look at the life she’s chosen. Coming Up for Air is a heartfelt story about the choices we make in life. Some of the secondary plot involving the beach house felt under developed and unnecessary. As a setting alone, it could have been more prominent, but I found the legend of the house distracting from the rest of the plot. 08/11 Becky Lejeune KINDLE

THE COMMONER by John Burnham Schwartz: This book is being favorably compared to Arthur Golden’s brilliant Memoirs of a Geisha, but I’m going to have to go with Memoirs of a Geisha-lite. The Commoner is quite interesting. Set in Japan, it opens in the 1950s during the search to find a wife for the future Emperor of Japan. He meets Haruko, a lovely young woman from an upper class family, when she beats him in a game of tennis. He is enchanted, but her bloodline is scandalously low for a future Empress. Nonetheless, the story follows their lives and the next generation as well, making for fascinating reading. Schwartz knows how to tell a story, hooking the reader a few pages in and not letting go until the last page is turned. History, love, and royalty generally make for a good story and The Commoner is no exception – I couldn’t put it down. Think Diana, Charles & the royals with a Japanese twist and there you have this thoroughly enjoyable book. 03/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

COMMUNITY by Graham Masterton: A fascinating adventure into the surreal: nothing is as it seems and what the reader wants to believe based on the events is not what is is real. The novel is one that will keep you gripped in it’s twists and turns and wondering what is going on. Michael is on a winter vacation with his girlfriend and soon to be wife into the mountains of northern California and is involved in a horrific accident near mount Shasta. His girlfriend is killed and he is badly injured and placed into a coma. He wakes up in a clinic where his treatment seemingly brings out an identity which is not his own. Due to losing all memories he accepts the facts that the attending medical personnel bring out and after some time at the clinic is moved to a house in the nearby community where a beautiful woman will live with him and take care of him. He quickly becomes sexually involved with her; an idea that both are happy about, but begins to notice strange things going on around him. People congregate around the house at night and in spite of frigid temperatures wear little clothing. They do not seem to leave any footprints in snow that might have fallen, and do not talk to him while appearing and disappearing instantly. He makes frequent trips into the clinic, and on one of these thinks that he sees his deceased girlfriend. Masterton keeps the reader glued to the book in spite of the fact that clues to what is going on are few and far between. The ending is a happy one yet it keeps with the surrealism of the rest of the book and is logical considering what has happened. The author’s reputation for a tight captivating read is upheld and leads to looking forward to his next book. 9/13 Paul Lane

COMPANY MAN by Joseph Finder: Finder is back with a new thriller that is almost as good as Paranoia, one of my favorite books last year. This time out we meet Nick Conover, CEO of a low tech company – an office furniture manufacturer that has been bought out by a behemoth corporation. Conover is forced into laying off several thousand of his employees, which pretty much affects everyone in this small town and makes him their least favorite resident. He becomes the victim of harassment – someone is breaking into his house and leaving the cryptic message “No Hiding Place”. Meanwhile his wife has recently passed away, his house is a mess due to the renovation of his kitchen that she had started, his kids are having adjustment issues and there is something unsavory going on at the corporate level above him. When someone is found trespassing on the property, Nick feels his family is threatened and reacts. He calls in the head of security, an old friend, to help him and things just start spiraling out of control from there. The good guy/killer dichotomy is a fascinating study in an intense story about the good and evil in all of us, and Finder twists a couple of storylines and keeps those pages turning. Great read. 04/05 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE COMPLAINTS by Ian Rankin: Thank goodness I had my iron infusion to correct shortness of breath before I started the first in Rankin’s new series featuring Malcom Fox who works for the Scottish equivalent of Internal Affairs, “Complaints and Conduct” (aka “the Complaints”), which investigates corrupt cops. Fox has just put away Glen Heaton and has been asked to look into the case of Detective Sergeant Jamie Breck, who worked with Heaton, and may be trading in child pornography over the Internet. Meanwhile, when Vince Faulkner, Fox’s sister’s lover and abuser, turns up dead, Fox becomes a murder suspect. Breck is assigned to the investigation reporting to Detective Chief Inspector William Giles who was Heaton’s superior bulldozed by Fox in the Heaton investigation. The plot is tortuous and Fox has yet to develop the appeal of John Rebus but I think we are off to a solid start here. 04/11 Jack Quick

CONCRETE MAZE by Steven Torres: This is dark, terrific story about a Puerto Rican family in crisis in New York City. Often called the “concrete jungle,” the maze is more than just the concrete streets of NY, but rather the circuitous route that needs to be followed when a 13 year old girl goes missing. Her father and cousin drop everything and will do anything to find her and get her back unharmed, while the police aren’t too concerned about another teenage runaway. Their search takes them into the world of runaways, drug addicts, sexual slavery, dirty cops and murder, making this a riveting ride through a complex, haunting tale. 08/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE CONFESSION by John Grisham: I did swear off Grisham a few books back, but the buzz on this one was good so I thought I’d give it a try. This is a Texas death penalty case with lots of angst, racial tension and dirty politics. The story moves along, somewhat predictably, with characters that are mostly caricatures but there are a few surprises too. Much like fellow attorney turned novelist Richard North Patterson, Grisham has neatly laid out his argument against the death penalty. If your politics don’t mesh, you probably won’t enjoy this. I did, despite the heavy handedness of the plot and the irritating way every loose end was neatly tied up with a bow. 12/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE CONFESSION by Domenic Stansberry: Industrial strength is a good way to describe Hardcase Crime #6 by Edgar-nominee Domenic Stansberry. Forensic psychologist and compulsive womanizer Jake Danser alternates between his day job — interviewing murder suspects and testifying about their mindset — and his other passion, seducing as many women as possible without letting his beautiful wife catch on. Then she finds out, one of his mistresses is murdered, and the entire focus is turned on Danser. Written in pulp style with modern trappings, this basically psychological thriller is not lacking blood and guts. In fact, as another reviewer remarked, upon finishing this one, a long shower is necessary to erase the impact of the book’s thoroughly steamy atmosphere. Definitely recommended for neo-noir fans. 06/07 Jack Quick

CONFESSIONS OF A CONTRACTOR by Richard Murphy: “Do not, under any circumstance, sleep with your contractor.” This is one of Henry Sullivan’s rules that he has constructed for his clients. Unfortunately, it’s not a rule he follows. Henry has spent the last fifteen years renovating houses for lonely married women in Los Angeles. He has learned over the years that people renovate their houses not because their houses need fixing, but because they need fixing. Henry takes on the renovation of the houses of two women who used to be friends. He instantly falls for both of them, and begins to examine their personal lives to find out what caused their friendship to end. Throughout Confessions the reader gets an honest inside look in the home renovation trade. While reading about Henry’s juicy relationships with former clients, the reader also picks up on valuable home renovating tips. I found this book to be extremely humorous and light-hearted, and it surpassed any expectations I had when I read the synopsis. 08/08 Jennifer Lawrence

CONFESSIONS OF A TEEN SLEUTH: A Parody by Chelsea Cain: The word that kept coming to my mind as I read this book was ‘silly’; but it’s also nostalgic and clever and laugh out loud funny at times, and is definitely geared towards the adults who grew up with the original Nancy Drew books. The book is written as if Nancy Drew was a real person and that Carolyn Keene was an old college roommate who stole her “stories” and wrote the books. This book is Nancy’s way of setting the record straight. All the series characters from that era make an appearance: the Hardy Boys (turns out Nancy really had the hots for Frank Hardy, although she ended up with Ned Nickerson), Cherry Ames, Judy Bolton, Tom Swift, Trixie Belden, etc. to more current ones like Encyclopedia Brown. There are several little mysteries scattered throughout the book as it moves from the 1920’s to the 1990’s, with these different characters showing up and helping solve each mystery by chapter’s end. It’s just a fun read. 07/05 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

A CONFIDENTIAL SOURCE by Jan Brogan: Hallie Ahearn is a down-on-her-luck reporter who has left Boston for Rhode Island. There she lands right in the middle of a fatal convenience store robbery. Barry Mazursky gets a bullet in his forehead, and Ahearn becomes involved as friend, eavesdropper, reporter and investigator. It seems there are problems everywhere including Mazursky’s family, corrupt Providence mayor Bill Lopresti, talk-radio show host Leonard Marianni and state-lottery honcho Gregory Ayers. Someday I will learn not to even begin any book which feature reporters or broadcasters as amateur sleuths. This on isn’t bad but contains just enough inaccuracies to set my teeth on edge. No more Ms. Ahearn for me. 03/09 Jack Quick

A CONFLICT OF INTEREST by Adam Mitzner: This debut ushers in a new voice in legal fiction. Alex Miller is the youngest partner at a high powered New York City law firm. He picks up a new client at, of all places, his father’s funeral. Michael Ohlig is an old friend of Alex’s father, although Alex doesn’t really know him other than through the stories he’s heard over the years. Ohlig is a super successful financial advisor, and his firm has come under investigation for securities fraud, putting Ohlig on trial. Alex represents him, even believing in his innocence – for a while. Lots of plot twists send this story spiraling in an entirely different direction, and a much more personal one for Alex. Add in some well developed characters and this is one impressive debut. 05/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

The Conspiracy Club by Jonathan Kellerman: Jonathan Kellerman has put Dr. Alex Delaware aside in his new book, along with the good doctor’s Cadillac and the West Coast life style, but has not abandoned the role of psychology in his story. In Conspiracy Club, his hero is a young Dr. Jeremy Carrier, a staff psychologist at Central City Hospital in an unnamed Midwestern city. Dr. Carrier’s girl friend was brutally slain not so long ago and he has thrown himself into his work as an outlet. Strangely, the clinic detachment afforded by the grieving process seem to make him even more effective than ever. This detachment is first dented and then crushed by the advent of two people into his life, Dr. Arthur Chess, a senior pathologist colleague, and a young resident, Angela Rios. Dr. Chess lures Carrier into revisiting his girl friend’s death with pointed comments about the nature of evil and the possibility of it being passed from generation to generation. At the appropriate point, he introduces Carrier to the members of his club, who also feed his curiosity. At the same time, Angela is teaching Carrier that love and happiness are real possibilities for him. That is, if he can solve the mystery of the unknown killer and persuade the police that he is not the culprit. Another solid effort from Dr. Kellerman. Just remember, people with WASP names like Jeremy and Arthur are good. All others are suspect. 12/03 ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin. by R.J. Pineiro: Thriller much like Grisham’s THE FIRM, updated from the ubiquitous law firm to a software company. A too-good-to-be-true job offer from a small, privately held company that keeps churning out millionaires thrusts our protagonist into the middle of a vast conspiracy involving, of all agencies, the IRS. Fast paced and fun. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE by Martha Powers: Clare Prentice had everything going for her. With her wedding just five months away, a routine check-up leads to a disturbing discovery about her family. It turns out that Clare was adopted. Her mother having died just a few years ago, Clare is left to find out from her family physician who assumed she already knew. The wedding is called off and Clare begins a search to find out who she is, who her birth parents were, and why there was so much secrecy behind the adoption. With only a high school class ring to go on, Clare ends up in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. It doesn’t take long to find out the identities of her birth parents, or to figure out why her past was kept hidden from her for so long. When Clare was only four years old, her father shot and killed her mother. Her aunt, Rose, raised her as her own from that day forward. Clare is determined to learn all that she can about her family, but someone in Grand Rapids doesn’t want her stirring up old trouble. The question is if the case of her mother’s murder is so open and shut, what could anyone possibly want to keep hidden? Martha Powers, aka Martha Jean Powers and Jean Paxton, creates a great light mystery that’s still packed with plenty of suspense. 10/08 Becky Lejeune

CONSPIRATOR’S ODYSSEY: THE EVOLUTION OF THE PATRON SAINT by A.K. Kuykendall: “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex…” President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address to the Nation, January 17, 1961. It all started July 3, 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico with a bright saucer, shaped object with glowing lights moving across the sky. From that day forward a vast government conspiracy has been responsible for the Vietnam War, the Kennedy Assassination, the attack on the World Trade Center, etc, so on and so forth. Super soldier Captain Kalista Flaker is the product of this conspiracy, a hard-nose Army Ranger of the 4th Battalion, 76th Ranger Regiment, who through genetics and DNA manipulation is now of another race – one appearing to be human but with much greater physical and mental capacities. It is now 2015, and Captain Flaker relates her story. I assume this is the first of a proposed series and it may work. The problem I had with this outing was related to timing jumps. The author has a tendency to cover an event then jump back to show the preceding action that caused the event. Unless you check the date/time at the start of each segment you will end up totally confused. Hopefully the next outing can be presented in sequential form. 10/08 Jack Quick

CONTACT ZERO by David Wolstencroft: Newly minted spy Ben Sinclair survives an attempt on his life and learns that other classmates from Britain’s Spy School haven’t been as fortunate. Framed for a crime of which he is innocent and abandoned by his handlers, Ben teams up with a couple of his surviving classmates trying to reach the safety of Contact Zero, a legendary (and possibly mythical) sanctuary for people in their plight. Well written, twisty and probably down right scary if you are a Brit. You hope it really is a work of fiction. 02/06 Jack Quick

CONTAGIOUS by Scott Sigler: In the follow-up to his explosive Infected, Sigler continues his tale of alien invasion on Earth. “Scary” Perry Dawsey has survived his horrific ordeal (see Infected) and now works with the government to help identify new infected and to locate more gates. No one is quite sure yet what the gates’ purposes are, but it can’t be good, so destroying them is of the utmost importance. Perry has his own agenda as far as the infected are concerned thanks to having been one himself. While the government would love to get their greedy hands on one for themselves, Perry has been systematically eliminating them, something his superiors are not pleased with. Their problems with Perry become the least of their worries, however, when the infection mutates and becomes airborn. Plus, there seems to be a new boss in town, one who is beginning to block the signal that has been leading Perry to the infected. Could it be the end for human kind as we know it or will Perry and his team pull through and come out on top once again? Sigler’s cringeworthy attention to detail and his unique combination of horror, sci-fi, and medical thriller make for some great reading. With one book left to the trilogy, readers will be waiting anxiously to see what happens next. 01/09 Becky Lejeune

CONVICTION by Richard North Patterson: No one would ever accuse Richard North Patterson of avoiding hot topics: previous novels considered gun control (Balance of Power) and late term abortion (Protect and Defend), while Conviction takes a look at both sides of the death penalty issue. Fifteen years ago, brothers Rennell and Payton Price were sentenced to death for the brutal murder of nine-year-old Thuy Sen. Now as Rennell’s scheduled execution approaches, Theresa Peralta Paget (Eyes of a Child) takes up his final appeal, along with her attorney-husband and attorney-stepson, digging up fifteen year old information on her client, his family, the victim, and the lawyer that originally represented the brothers. Paget pursues the appeals process all the way to the Supreme Court while also dealing with her troubled teenaged daughter and her own guilt, until the final, stunning conclusion. While it is apparent that the author opposes the death penalty, Patterson nevertheless provides compelling evidence for both sides of the argument. In his sure hands, this fascinating and often agonizing in-depth look at the death-penalty process becomes a very personal journey as well; for the lawyers, the convicted, and the reader. 02/05 Copyright © 2005 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

THE COOKBOOK COLLECTOR by Allegra Goodman: I tend to think of Goodman as a writer of Jewish family stories, mostly because of Kaaterskill Falls, and while this book certainly touches on that subject, it is not its main focus. Instead, we meet two sisters; Emily, the founder of Veritech, a data storage high tech start up on the eve of going public, and Jess, her younger, flightier sister, a vegan philosophy student who works part time in an antiquarian bookshop and fights to save trees. Emily’s boyfriend Jonathan is the founder of another high tech startup on the opposite coast; theirs is a bi-coastal relationship. Jess’s boss, George, is a retired Microsoft millionaire who is familiar with the process of going public and getting rich. The cookbooks of the title are really just a small part of the story; instead this is a story about relationships, money, values and secrets. An interesting read but not especially compelling or memorable. 09/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

A COOL BREEZE ON THE UNDERGROUND by Don Winslow: Young Neal Carey starts as a New York City pickpocket to support himself since his mother is a junkie and prostitute. He comes to the attention of Joe Graham when he tries to steal Graham’s wallet. Graham takes Carey under his wing, grooms and trains him to become an operative for Friends of the Family, a discreet, private investigation agency owned by the Kitteredge Bank. Neal is directed by, to find Allie Chase, the teenage, drug-addicted daughter of a U.S. senator and presidential hopeful. Allie is somewhere in England and must be returned to the States before the 1976 Democratic Convention nine weeks away. Neal finds Allie but is forced to use his cunning to bring her home; at the same time he suspects someone from the agency is trying to kill him. Outstanding first in a series. 03/10 Jack Quick

COP HATER by Ed McBain: In the first book of the much beloved 87th Precinct series, McBain broke new ground and is generally credited with inventing the police procedural. Originally published as a paperback, it was later reissued as a hardcover with an introduction by Ed McBain. He discussed the concept of a “conglomerate hero”, a police force as hero, not just one cop. He invented a city called Isola, based on New York City without the complications of getting every geographical detail right. And in this first book, he wrote a mystery featuring Detective Steve Carella, his deaf-mute girlfriend Teddy, and a few other members of the force who would later go on to become the center of other books. By rotating his protagonists, he kept the series fresh and interesting. In Cop Hater, we meet these cops during a brutally hot summer in the city. A detective is gunned down on his way to work. A few days later, another cop is killed. An obnoxious reporter decides to do a little investigating on his own that results in another cop being injured. The lieutenant tells his men to do their job and find this cop hater. And they do. Cop Hater was published in 1956 and it was followed by 54 more terrific books of the 87th Precinct. 10/05 BookBitch

COP TO CORPSE by Peter Lovesey: In a country where firearms are strictly controlled the shooting deaths of three policemen in twelve weeks is a major story. The detectives assigned to the case are making little headway when Chief Superintendent Peter Diamond is assigned to the case. After talking to the widows of the slain officers, Diamond is beginning to make some connections, but a direct encounter with the sniper seems to negate all of Diamond’s work. Although most unpopular, the evidence is beginning to suggest the sniper may, in fact, be a serving officer in the Bath area. Although this is book 11 in the Peter Diamond series, it is my first encounter with the Superintendent, but definitely not my last. Add Lovesay to the list of British procedurals authors who get it right. 10/12 Jack Quick

THE CORAL THIEF by Rebecca Stott: Daniel Connor is just one of many young students arriving in Paris with aspirations of greatness. His work back home in Scotland earned him a recommendation for an apprenticeship with the famous Georges Cuvier at the Jardin des Plantes. Daniel is sent to Cuvier with his hard-won letters of introduction, his own notes and research, and some rare and valuable fossils to be delivered to Cuvier himself. But Daniel makes a terrible mistake when he lets his guard down and falls asleep during the ride. When he awakens, his precious materials and fossils have been stolen. Daniel is sure that all is lost: how can he show his face at the Jardin after having lost such irreplaceable material? His only option is to recover his possessions, but he doesn’t even know the name of the mysterious woman who stole them in the first place, and he is a stranger with no connections in this post-Revolution city. Stott’s latest is a combination historical fiction and mystery with a touch of romance. Characters are based in actual fact—Cuvier, Napoleon, and even the infamous Vidocq in the form of Jagot the inspector. 09/09 Becky Lejeune

THE CORPSE READER by Antonio Garrido: Ci Song longs for nothing more than to return to the city of Lin’An and continue his studies. Until that time, he and his family are living with his brother, Lu, and helping with his land. When Ci discovers the body of a murdered man on Lu’s property – a man Lu is later convicted of killing – he feels ultimately responsible. His attempts to have his brother’s sentence commuted are just the beginning of the obstacles that will stand in Ci’s way to obtaining his dreams. He finds himself on the run, pursued by the village sheriff, but finally makes his way to Lin’An only to discover that his own father had been accused of embezzling. The Song name has been tarnished and Ci loses all hope. But a series of events lands Ci exactly where he needs to be and he soon catches the attention of the emperor himself. Set in charge of investigating a gruesome series of murders, Ci understands that failure could mean execution, but solving the crime could also mean the beginning of a new life for the Corpse Reader. The Corpse Reader is Antonio Garrido’s first book to be translated to English and released in the States. While the story is based loosely on the real Ci Song, the father of forensic science, much of Garrido’s tale is in fact fiction. It does make for a fascinating and entertaining read, though, and Garrido employs at least one of the actual cases Song outlined in his treatise in the story itself. 6/13 Becky Lejeune

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen: This tale of a dysfunctional family has been called a masterpiece which probably explains the difficulty I had getting through it. The first 30 pages are torturous, the few hundred that followed somewhat easier and the final couple of hundred make it all worthwhile. These characters will be staying with me for some time to come. This was postmodernist writing brought to the masses with wicked humor. Very well done. Oprah selection, October 2001, but don’t let that or the ensuing brouhaha discourage you. Winner of the 2001 National Book Award. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CORRUPT PRACTICES by Robert Rotstein: Parker Stern was once a brilliant trial lawyer, but he hasn’t set foot in a courtroom since the death of his boss and mentor. Stern suffers from glossophobia – stage fright. Rich Baxter, an old colleague, stands accused of embezzling millions from a well-known and controversial religious organization called the Church of the Sanctified Assembly and he wants Stern as his defense attorney. Stern reluctantly agrees, in part thanks to his own desire to see the Assembly brought down, but his client is found dead of an apparent suicide the day his trial is set to begin. Dead in his cell. Under police watch. Now the Assembly has set its eyes on Baxter’s father, a man who insists his son would never have killed himself, and again, Stern is approached as council. Strangely, the elder Baxter’s words match those of Stern’s old mentor’s wife. And oddly enough, Stern’s old mentor and Rich Baxter, both apparent suicides, had been working for the Assembly at the time of their deaths. This first in a new series is pretty dark in terms of content. Not for the faint hearted. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty great debut from Rotstein, an entertainment lawyer who no doubt draws on his many years of experience in creating a wholly believable scenario and cast of characters. 6/13 Becky Lejeune

COUNTDOWN by Michelle Maddox: The last thing Kira Jordan remembers is stealing a new pair of shoes. Now here she is, chained to a wall in a darkened room. When the lights go on they reveal a man sitting across the room, also chained to the wall. His name is Rogan Ellis, a convicted rapist and murderer. Kira and Rogan have become a part of the Countdown, a reality show like no other. The two must work together through six levels of challenges in order to escape with their lives. Losing is not an option; losing means death. Kira soon finds that there is much more to Rogan Ellis than the show announcer would have her believe. In fact, could it be that everything she’s been told about this man is just another ploy for increased ratings. Could it be that her reaction to being paired with a violent criminal is what the viewers really want to see? Could it be that Rogan Ellis may indeed be the only person left who she can trust? It’s Running Man with a romantic twist. Maddox’s futuristic romantic action novel is a fun, fast, and intense read – it’s everything I’ve come to expect from Dorchester’s Shomi imprint. Another hit that’s sure to appeal to today’s generation of savvy romance fans. 08/08 Becky Lejeune

THE COUNTESS by Rebecca Johns: Erzsebet Bathory was born to a life of privilege. Her marriage to Ferenc Nadasdy earned her a title, and the death of her mother-in-law put her in charge of her new household. Convinced that discipline would lead to order, and obsessed with the idea that her servants were betraying her, Bathory’s punishments for lying, thievery, and promiscuity were humiliating and dangerous. When women in her employ began to die and then disappear, Bathory was imprisoned, forced to live out her days trapped behind walls. In Rebecca Johns’s fictional account of Bathory’s life—based on remaining court records of the day—the tale is told as Bathory’s writings to her orphaned son. This Bathory believes, to her dying day, that her actions were her right. The Countess is a fascinating look at a woman whose story has become a gruesome legend throughout time. Though Johns makes no effort to prove Bathory’s innocence, which I don’t believe has ever been a question, she does successfully attempt to humanize the monster that has been dramatized throughout the centuries. 10/10 Becky Lejeune

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN by Don Lee: Lisa Countryman is a half-Japanese, half black Berkeley graduate student who is working as a hostess girl at a men’s club when she disappears in 1980 Tokyo. Tom Hurley is a half-Korean, half-white junior diplomat at the US Embassy who first looks into the case. Kenzo Ota, a divorced Japanese police inspector who grew up in Missouri is assigned to the case. Who’s on first, what’s on second, I don’t know – to quote Abbott and Costello, but the story does tell a lot about race, identity, the Japanese sex trade, social conventions and law. Whether it needed to be so convoluted is another question. 08/06 Jack Quick

COUNTY LINE by Bill Cameron: Ex-cop Skin Kadash is that rarest of breeds in Portland – a native Oregonian. His lady friend Ruby Jane Whittaker has been there long enough that she claims native status. After all she is the founder and owner of the Ucommon Cup chain of coffee shops. So when Skin returns from a “retreat” and finds Ruby Jane gone he is somewhat concerned. His concern grows even more after having his wallet lifted by a pickpocket and then finding a dead man in the bathtub in Ruby Jane’s apartment followed by an attack from a mysterious stalker. Skin goes first to California, then across the country on a desperate journey deep into Ruby Jane’s haunted past. You get the feeling no matter what the ending, it won’t be good. Nicely done “ex-cop procedural.” 08/11 Jack Quick

THE COURIER by Jay MacLarty: The Courier’s Motto: the package always arrives unopened, undamaged, and in one piece. In this e-book, Simon Leonidovich is the owner of an international courier service that he operates with his sister, Lara. Par Olin is a Swedish scientist who discovers that millions of people who are taking a new weight loss drug are actually “killing themselves” by taking the drug. When Olin tries to report his research to the owners, the owners kill him to prevent his findings from becoming public. Before his murder Olin gets a copy of the disks containing his research to Simon. Simon tries to survive the ensuing efforts to retrieve the disks from him and get them to the authorities. He doesn’t know what the disks contain and, in fact, Simon himself is one of those taking the drug. Fast paced international adventure made even timelier by the current lawsuits regarding VIOXX, Fen-Phen, etc. Also available in paperback. 08/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

THE CONSUMMATA by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins: Started by Mickey Spillane and finished after his death by pal Max Alan Collins, The Consummata features the second outing of Morgan the Raider, a tough guy who used to be straight but now works outside the law. Of course the law is looking for him, something about a missing $40 million. Compared to this, the $75,000 he is trying to recover from struggling Cuban exiles of Miami is chickenfeed, but he owes them for keeping him away form the law. As the bodies pile up — dead men and beautiful women– the Raider wonders what kind of Latin hell he’s gotten himself into, and just who or what is the mysterious Consummata? Interestingly, Morgan’s first outing as chronicled by Spillane was pretty much a non-starter. Don’t know how much Max Alan Collins contributed to this one but I found it to be quite good, better than the last Mike Hammer that Collins completed. 12/11 Jack Quick

A CORPSE IN THE KORYO by James Church: The blurbs say – Impressive – Superb – Outstanding. I would add “Interesting”. Inspector O works for one of the myriad North Korean Police agencies in the capital of Pyongyang until he is drawn into a maelstrom of betrayal and death. North Korea’s leaders are desperate to hunt down and eliminate anyone who knows too much about a series of decade’s-old kidnappings and murders—and Inspector O discovers too late he has been sent into the chaos. This is a world where nothing works as it should, where the crimes of the past haunt the present, and where even the shadows are real. The focal point is a corpse in the city’s main hotel – the Koryo. O is assigned the task of finding the killer even when he can’t be told the identity of the victim or have access to critical information. As a police procedural it works, but even more interesting is the glimpse into a world gone mad, which unfortunately, exists, and is in possession of nuclear weapons. 8/12 Jack Quick

COUP D’ETAT by Ben Coes: This is the second book featuring the character of Dewey Andreas who was an army ranger and a member of Delta force. In Coes’ first book Dewey is found working as the crew chief of an off shore oil platform when a band of terrorists attack the rig and take it over. Dewey takes back the platform and kills the leader of the terrorist group. In the latest book, “Coup d’etat” the dead terrorist’s family is hunting Dewey who has fled to Australia and a ranch in order to get away from the killers. They manage to locate him and begin hunting him, but bigger events take precedent over the terrorist hunt. A minor incident on the Pakistan-Indian border explodes into a war between the two nuclear nations and Pakistan under the leadership of a blind ,but power crazed president explodes a nuclear weapon against a small Indian city. India intends to retaliate and mobilizes its weaponry to destroy Pakistan, but China which is allied with Pakistan mobilizes an army on the Indian border. The United States which would be obligated to ally itself with India sends a delegation to talk with India’s president to prevent a total nuclear Armageddon. The solution finally projected is to kill the Pakistani president and put a more moderate candidate into office. Dewey is picked by the Americans to lead the Coup d’etat. Coes is excellent at getting the reader into the excitement of both the terrorist group hunting Dewey, and the American attack on the Pakistani president. While there is some need for reading the first book “Power Down” it is not completely essential and short descriptions of the previous action suffice to keep the reader up to date. The ending of the book provides the setting for the scenario of the next Dewey Andreas novel, and I am anxiously awaiting that one. 12/11 Paul Lane

COVENANT by Dean Crawford: Covenant is the first book for Crawford, a writer living in Surrey, England. Every indication shows that he is a comer with an engrossing novel loosely based on current scientific knowledge (a la Michael Crichton) and moving into areas of plausible speculation. Lucy Morgan, an archeologist, working in Israel’s Negev unearths the 7000 year old skeletal remains of a humanoid figure that almost immediately is identified as something not of this earth. Just after announcing her find, Lucy is abducted by person or persons unknown. Ethan Warner an ex soldier and war correspondent has had experience looking for individuals snapped away in the area of Israel around Gaza. Three years prior to the opening of the story his fiancée was abducted in that area and never found. He is asked to help Lucy’s mother look for her daughter in the Negev and Gaza strip. A parallel situation is also set up with two police officers in Washington DC that are tasked with investigating a multiple murder with the bodies in condition not normal in a homicide. Both Ethan and the officers begin investigating their respective situations apart from each other. Results very logically put together by Crawford bring the two scenarios together for a climax that is one of the most intriguing I’ve seen in a long time. The reader is left wanting more, and two possible second or second and third novels are left open for future work. 12/11 Paul Lane

COVENANT by John Everson: Reporter Joe Kieran has been dying for a great story ever since he left behind his career in Chicago to start over in the small town of Terrell. Church bake sales and fund raising events seem to be the most exciting things that ever happen in the little coastal village, until Joe receives a report of a local teen suicide. Joe’s boss is cagey about the event and orders him to do nothing more than print a simple death notice. Joe’s reporters’ instincts are buzzing, though, and he soon uncovers a rash of suicide reports that date back over fifty years. Joe’s digging is making Terrell’s citizens none too pleased, something that only encourages him more. Could it be that these “accidents” are linked to the town’s own urban legends regarding evil spirits that are said to dwell in the local caves and roam the cliffside? Joe’s not too keen on the supernatural, but he’s determined to expose the truth behind Terrell’s terrible secret. Everson’s twisted and original tale earned him the coveted Horror Writers’ Association’s 2004 Bram Stoker award for Best First Novel. Although Covenant and it’s sequel, Sacrifice, were previously available as collector’s edition hardcovers, this is the first time that they have appeared as paperbacks. Sacrifice is set for publication in May of 2009. 08/08 Becky Lejeune

COVER OF SNOW by Jenny Milchman: This superlative dark, wintry debut is set in a small town in upstate New York. Nora Hamilton oversleeps one morning to find that her husband, Brendan, has hung himself. Nora is bereft, and she struggles to reconcile Brendan’s suicide with their seemingly happy life together and with his job as a cop in his hometown. Her mother-in-law, a cold, forbidding woman, blames Nora, who tries talking to his partner, a cop who was also Brendan’s best friend, but he advises her to move on with her life. Nora can’t move on, not without some answers, and as she starts digging, she uncovers secrets about her husband and the town, the kind of secrets that people will do anything, including murder, to cover up. The ravages of winter impede her progress, but she plows on, determined to learn why Brendan never confided in her, but the answers prove more shocking than anything she might have imagined. These well-defined characters take us on an emotional roller-coaster ride through the darkest night, with blinding twists and occasionally fatal turns. This is a richly woven story that not only looks at the devastating effects of suicide but also examines life in a small town and explores the complexity of marriage. Fans of Gillian Flynn, Nancy Pickard, and C.J. Box will be delighted to find this new author. 1/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2012 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.

COVER THE BUTTER by Carrie Kabak: Kate Cadogan walks into her home in Wales to find the remnants of a teenage party gone wild. Her husband’s and son’s complete indifference push her over the edge and she tumbles back and relives her life, starting with her childhood with her domineering, control freak of a mother and her proportionately weak father. We follow Kate as she makes friends, loses her first boyfriend, gets pregnant, and eventually marries Rodney, a man her mother is wild about. “Rodders” comes from a good (read: wealthy) family, and while Kate feels more or less ambivalent about him, she marries him anyway. After a twenty year loveless, almost sexless marriage in which she learns to despise her husband and his indifference to her while he’s totally preoccupied with playing squash and golf and so forth, she learns to stand up on her own two feet. And that’s despite her mother, her husband and her child – you just can’t help rooting for this woman who is trying so hard to please everyone else and still find herself. More than just a warm and funny coming of age story, this well written debut novel is charming, sensitive and thought provoking. It also has one of my favorite titles this year, and a beautiful cover – and sometimes you really can judge a book by its cover. 06/05 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

COVER-UP by Michelle Martinez: Melanie Vargas, federal prosecutor in NYC, returns in this latest thriller from the oh-so-talented Martinez. While dining out with her boyfriend, hunky FBI agent Dan O’Reilly, she is dragged along to the scene of a murder when he is paged to respond. Vargas had been laying low, taking low profile cases in order to recover from some rough cases and spend more time with her daughter. But being that she is in the right place at the right time – the murder scene of a celebrity, tabloid TV reporter Suzanne Shephard, Vargas realizes that this is an assignment she can’t walk away from. Shephard had plenty of enemies, and law enforcement has their work cut out for them to try and find the murderer. Terrific pacing in this legal thriller along with some hot romance makes this another fast, fun read from this author, who has turned into one of my favorites. 04/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

COVER-UP by Michele Martinez: Federal prosecutor Melanie Vargas is back in this third installment to the series. Melanie and FBI agent Dan O’Reilly were enjoying a quiet evening together when the call came that TV personality Suzanne Shepard had been found brutally murdered, in Central Park. As luck would have it, Melanie is picked not only to lead the investigation for the U.S. Attorney’s office, but also to hold an emergency press conference at the scene. Unfortunately, the killer just happens to have watched the conference and has chosen Melanie to be his next victim. As an investigative reporter for a popular series, Suzanne Shepard uncovered dirt on some of the city’s most prominent figures, the latest of which is mayoral candidate Clyde Williams whose own son is a close friend and coworker of Melanie’s. With the killer threatening her and the press claiming that she may be giving Williams special treatment, Melanie’s own life, and possibly her career, now depend on cracking this case. This is a great follow up to Most Wanted and Finishing School. I highly recommend Michele Martinez. Her stories are fresh and interesting and her characters are wonderfully engaging. Anyone who enjoys Lisa Scottoline will love the Melanie Vargas series. 03/07 Becky Lejeune

COVERT WARRIORS by W.E.B. Griffin & William E. Butterworth IV: I don’t smoke, gamble, drink to excess of chase strange women. I do, however, enjoy the unique talents of WEB Griffin and his improbable heroes. Colonel Charlie Castillo, forcibly retired is continuing to do good works for his country, including saving the lives of some of its citizens falsely put into jeopardy. This time there is an even bigger prize at stake – control of the government of the United States. It is up to Charlie and his band of dinosaurs “who still believe the only good communist is a dead communist,” to get the job done. Another outstanding outing. 2/12 Jack Quick KINDLE

COWARD’S KISS by Lawrence Block: The tale starts with New York City private investigator Ed London removing the body of his brother-in-law’s mistress from an apartment that he pays for. When the body is later found and identified London’s problems increase exponentially. It seems there is a missing briefcase that at least two different people want, both think London has it, and he doesn’t. He must find the killer before the killer and/or the police find him. Excellent Block stand-alone. 11/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

THE CRACKED EARTH by John Shannon: Actress Lori Bright has lost something very important to her – her fifteen year old daughter Lee, who has synthesia, a condition where she “sees” sounds in color. Interestingly, the main character in T. Jefferson Parker’s new book The Fallen, has the same condition. The case will take former aerospace worker, now PI, Jack Liffey, hunter of lost children, into the collision of the Old City of Angels and the new. Both are dangerous to your health, and to his, along with Jamaicans and periodic earth tremors. My first Liffey, but certainly not the last. 03/06 Jack Quick

CRASHED by Tim Hallinan: New York has its Bernie Rhodenbarr, a burglar and bookseller, courtesy of Lawrence Block. Now the West Coast has Junior Bender, a top-of-the-line burglar who also works as a private eye – for crooks, courtesy of Tim Hallinan. Other than their profession, the two are quite different. Junior is edgier and farther out of the mainstream which result in him getting into bigger messes, like this one. In Crashed, Junior finds himself on the wrong side of his own already paper-thin moral code, being forced to prevent sabotage against a multi-million dollar porn film starring exactly the kind of person he’d normally want to protect. At the age of 23, Thistle Downing is broke, strung-out, semi-suicidal, on the verge of obscurity, and has only Junior to keep her alive against a determined stalker. And you think you are having a bad day. Simeon Grist, Poke Rafferty, and now Junior Bender. You gotta like this Hallinan guy and his work. 1/11 Jack Quick NOTE: Only available for the Kindle

CRAZY FOOL KILLS FIVE by Gwen Freeman: No longer unemployed, bi-racial twenty-something Fifi Cutter and her half-brother Bosco Dorff (who is partial to women with big bazongas) are back. Cutter is now the Girl Friday to Reginald Wong, a legendary Chinatown trial attorney, of the firm Wong, Wu & Chu. He is handling a $60 million wrongful death suit against SkyBlu Charter Jet Service after a deranged ex-employee, well let Fifi tell it: “That crazy fool iced five people and offed himself. Now he’s gonna show up at the pearly gates at the exact same time as all those dudes he just killed. What’s gonna happen? I’ll tell you what’s gonna happen, (she) said, crossing her arms. He ain’t getting in “ Well, that may take care of heaven but there is still much to do here on earth as Fifi uncovers extortion, kidnapping, and murder along with double crossing attorneys, a drunken judge and insurance companies gone bad. It’s all in a days work for our heroine and her “giant food and beer-sucking swamp creature” of a brother who has never met someone he didn’t try to con. 06/08 Jack Quick

CREEPERS by David Morrell: Journalist Frank Balenger, former Army Ranger and Iraqi war vet, hooks up with a group of “Creepers,” urban explorers who infiltrate old, abandoned buildings, to see what they do and how they do it. Or so he says. The group is led by college Professor Robert Conklin, a high school teacher, Vincent Vanelli, and grad students Cora and Rick Magill. They decide to explore the old Paragon Hotel, which is scheduled to be demolished. The Paragon has some interesting history, built at the turn of the century by an eccentric millionaire who happened to be a hemophiliac and never left the building – until he killed himself outside the hotel on the beach. They approach the hotel at dusk, planning on exploring during the night and taking off at daybreak. But things start going awry almost from the beginning; not all the Creepers are who they appear to be, and worse yet, they are not alone. This is a genre-defining thriller written by a master wordsmith, alternately scary, creepy, violent, and emotional – and always excellent. I loved it and stayed up half the night to finish it.

CREOLE BELLE by James Lee Burke: It all starts with a visit by Tee Jolie Melton to Dave Robiccheaux while he is lying in a recovery unit on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans. His senses dulled by morphine, Dave can’t be sure whether his latest visitor is flesh and blood or a ghostly remnant of his Louisiana youth. He also doesn’t know that Tee Jolie disappeared weeks ago. When he learns that her sister has turned up dead inside a block of ice floating in the Gulf, he believes that putting the evils of the past to rest is more urgent than ever before. Meanwhile, an oil spill in the Gulf brings back intense feelings for Dave of losing his father to a rig explosion years ago. And ex-partner Clete has his own troubles, he’s discovered an illegitimate daughter who may be working as a contract killer—and may have set her sights on someone he loves. Although it sounds unnecessarily complicated you can count on Burke to tell the tale with his customary fluidity and attention to detail. When you can taste the Dr. Pepper on your tongue and feel the wet heat of the bayous competing with the gnats at the back of your neck, you know you have once again been captured by one of the best. Thank you, sir. 9/12 Jack Quick

CRIME AND SUSPENSE ANTHOLOGY NUMBER 1, 2005-2006: This nicely done paperback from Wolfmont Publishing features fifteen short stories from the first fifteen months of Crime and Suspense e-zine. Edited by Tony Burton, the stories range from 3 pages to 30 pages and cover a wide range of styles, but all in the genre. Burton selected these from over 113 stories published on site and they are good. Check out their website at While you are there you may want to order your own copy of this neat little sampler. 06/07 Jack Quick

CRIME OF PRIVILEGE by Walter Walker: A practicing lawyer writing a book that brings out the twists and turns in the justice system; putting together a rape, a murder and the ability of a powerful family to completely subvert justice by paying off witnesses and corrupting officials. George Becket, a young lawyer working in the D.A’s office of the Cape and Islands government in Massachusetts, was witness to a rape during a visit to Florida in his college days. No one was ever punished for the crime and the girl in question committed suicide three years after the attack. Later another young girl is found bludgeoned to death at an exclusive golf club in Cape Cod with no one ever charged with the murder. The murdered girl’s father corners George in a bar and tells him that since his daughter’s death several years earlier, he has looked into the matter himself and supplied the police with data that should have resulted in further investigation but never did. George begins looking into the case and in the course of the investigation travels to Idaho, Hawaii, Costa Rica and New York as well as looking into clues that point to members of a Cape high society family as the perpetrators of both crimes. There is also the possibility that his ex-wife was possibly influenced in her marriage to him by the same family. Ascertaining the real facts of the crime finds a conspiracy of silence from all possible witnesses George manages to find. Walter Walker brings out the very real influence that money and power have on the course of justice, and it is very likely that the reader will not feel comfortable with the facts as outlined. But as in any situation corrupt behavior could be influenced by considerations of personal gain rather than any sense of right or wrong. A finely wrought novel making for compelling reading and a desire to see more from Walker in the near future. 6/13 Paul Lane

A CRIME TO BE RICH by David Snowdon: Shane Turnbull never intended to kill his wife of six years, even though he has just found out earlier that day that she was cheating on him with her boss. He lost his temper during their argument and struck her, not anticipating she would fall and fracture her “egg shell “ skull. Since he didn’t intend to kill her the successful London investment banker, didn’t feel he should be imprisoned for his error, and proceeds to dispose of the body. This starts a domino effect with Turnbull having to deal with the blackmailer who had called him to tell him about his wife’s dalliance in the first place, as well as the attention of Detective Inspector Ray Eubanks. One of London’s finest and most most persistent pursuers of wrong doing. What follows is predictable and inevitable as Turnbull spirals down to his ultimate fate, but not before taking others with him. Aside from the author’s predilection for describing in excruciating detail the clothes being worn by each character as they enter a scene, its a pretty good read, with a touch of woo-woo, and a protagonist that evokes little sympathy. 08/11 Jack Quick

THE CRIME WRITER by Gregg Hurwitz: Andrew Danner is a mystery writer whose life takes an ironic twist when he is found with a bloody knife in his hand, and accused of murdering his fiancée. The problem is, he doesn’t really remember what happened because, as the prosecution points out, he had a convenient brain tumor that required emergency surgery just as he was arrested for murder. Danner is found guilty by a jury of his peers, but the legal system works here and he is acquitted on the grounds of temporary insanity due to the tumor. He goes home in a daze, determined to find out what really happened. Luckily, his best friend, a former pro baseball player, doesn’t believe he did it, and one of the cops is also troubled by the case, so they both lend a hand to try and help Danner figure it out. Just to complicate things a bit more, it appears that Danner is being set up in another, similar murder case. It’s an interesting premise, but the first part of the book seemed slow and repetitious, although the rest of the book did move a lot more quickly. The Los Angeles setting lends some humor that lightens the tension now and then, and it ended up being a very enjoyable read. 10/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE CRIMES OF JORDAN WISE by Bill Pronzini: In a departure from the Nameless series Pronizini tells the story of Jordan Wise, a mild-mannered thirty four year old accountant with a large San Francisco engineering firm. Wise meets and falls in love with Annalise Bonner, an ambitious young woman who craves excitement, money and the good life. To win her affections, Wise steals more than half a million dollars from his firm. They escape to the Virgin Islands, but their plans to live a life of quiet luxury are beset by unexpected pitfalls and Wise is forced to carry out two more ingenious schemes as a result. All three of his crimes are perfect or are they? A man, a woman, and the wages of sin. Pronzini covers all the bases. 07/06 Jack Quick

CRIMES OF REDEMPTION by Linda McDonald: It took killing her captor for Gayla Early to escape from the cellar where Albert Raeder had been holding her prisoner for two years. Albert Raeder may be dead, but he wields power from the grave thanks to the good old boys he left behind. His buddies want someone to pay for his death and Gayla looks good for taking the fall. It takes a crotchety recluse and a Viet Nam vet-turned-sheriff to team up on her behalf. The unlikely alliance changes all their lives forever. 1/13 Jack Quick

CRIMINAL by Karin Slaughter: Will Trent is a brilliant agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, in spite of having been an orphan and suffering from dyslexia. When a local college student goes missing Will is kept off the case by his supervisor and mentor, deputy director Amanda Wagner. Will cannot understand Amanda’s motivation until the two of them literally collide in an abandoned orphanage they have both been drawn to for different reasons. Decades before—when Will’s father was imprisoned for murder—this was his home. Flash back nearly forty years. In the summer Will Trent was born, Amanda Wagner is going to college, making Sunday dinners for her father, taking her first steps in the boys’ club that is the Atlanta Police Department. One of her first cases is to investigate a brutal crime in one of the city’s worst neighborhoods. Amanda and her partner, Evelyn, are the only ones who seem to care if an arrest is ever made. Now the case that launched Amanda’s career has suddenly come back to life, intertwined with the long-held mystery of Will’s birth and parentage. Whether either Will or Amanda can survive is doubtful. Sometimes the garbage is just piled too high. Gripping. 10/12 Jack Quick

Criminal Intent by Sheldon Siegel: The third outing in this marvelous legal series just proves that Siegel keeps getting better and better. Ex-priest Mike, & his ex-wife Rosie, boutique lawyers sharing a practice while no longer sharing a marriage, have a new client, Angel Chavez, a movie star accused of killing her much older, very wealthy husband, producer Richard “Big Dick” MacArthur. Unfortunately, her only alibi is a lot of “I don’t know”, which makes Aunt Rosie’s job ever so much harder. Yes, this movie star is Rosie’s niece, and that’s not all the familial trouble heading their way. The different threads are skillfully woven throughout this story, building suspense along the way until the very last page. Another winner.

CRIMINAL INSTINCT by Kelly Lynn Parra: Over the top tale about a group of five prisoners given the choice of five years in prison or five years working as undercover agents Ana Moreno, who has a history of B and E convictions and a problem with authority, decides that she has nothing to lose, but quickly learns that her Narcotics handlers consider her and her fellow “volunteers” as dispensable, disposable, and now worth even the most basic decency. Ana’s team is sent to stop a deadly shipment of Ecstasy headed for San Francisco. Ana’s task is to get close to the handsome and dangerous Jonas Saven, right-hand man of a suspected drug dealer with a deadly agenda.. The deeper Ana goes the worse it gets, as she begins to fall under the spell of Saven. Which will it be – her mission or her man? 07/10 Jack Quick

CRIMINAL PARADISE by Steven M. Thomas: Interesting first effort that reads like a classic noir. Robert Rivers and his partner Switch rob the Cowtown, a restaurant owned by Orange County California entrepreneur Lewis McFadden. As part of the loot they find a photograph of a naked Vietnamese girl who looks like an underage teenager, which suggests McFadden is into the flesh trade. Rivers and his biker friend Reggie England break into McFadden’s house, where they find the Vietnamese girl, Song, tied to a bed. At this point you are generally sympathetic towards Rivers but the story goes downhill from here as overblown sex and violence hijack the plot Hopefully, Thomas’ next effort will be able to stay on track as he writes very well, as in this description of Rivers landlady “…carrying her 130 pounds lightly on a five-and-one-half foot frame. She gardened and did housework competitively, outcleaning her friends and tending a large vegetable patch…. “ Another interesting note. The typeface selected for this book actually looks like manual typewriting, which further enhances the book. Still you may want to wait for Thomas’ next one. 01/09 Jack Quick

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber: I spent the summer reading Victorian literature, including Charles Dickens and Wilke Collins, and I enjoyed the references to the writers of the day sprinkled throughout this book. This is a big honker of a Victorian novel that is a page turner due to all the explicit sex and the terrific characters that move this story forward. There was nothing erotic here, however, despite all the sex, and problems abound, the most insurmountable being that there is no ending; we are led down the primrose path and abandoned there.
The story is rich with description of the time and place; we are taken to England of the late 1800’s, and we can smell the streets. But it’s the characters that draw us in, chief of which are Sugar, a prostitute, and William Rackham, heir to a perfumery. William’s wife Agnes is mad, yet he refuses to put her away, instead keeping her home and drugged. Agnes refuses to acknowledge the existence of their daughter, Sophie, and William helps her keep up that pretense. William has a brother, Henry, who dreams of becoming a Parson, but secretly lusts after the widow Emmeline Fox, a woman determined to help prostitutes rise up from their lowly lives to positions of servitude in upper class homes. But the story revolves around William’s obsession with Sugar, although as in most Victorian novels, class distinctions and struggles are paramount to the plot.
At over 800 pages, this book needed some serious editing; there were huge chunks that could have been eliminated without any loss to the story, yet there are questions I still have about what I read. Maybe I’m just being cranky or obtuse, but I don’t understand the title, nor what William Rackham’s perversities were. Although to be perfectly honest, I think the major problem I had here was that I am resentful of reading a book I didn’t love for eight days in lieu of the four or five others I could have read in that same time. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CRITICAL CONDITION by CJ Lyons: This fourth and final installation in the Angels of Mercy series finds the hospital literally under siege. With a blizzard raging outside, Angels is completely cut off when a group of mercenaries takes over the hospital. Gina, Amanda, and Nora are trapped inside as the killers search for Lydia. With virtually no hope of outside help, the three women must defend themselves and their friends and patients as they try to defeat the armed forces that are holding them hostage. All is finally revealed as the series comes to an end and each of the characters’ stories are nicely tied up and resolved. Lyons is said to be working on a new series co-written with Erin Brockovich due out next spring. 12/10 Becky Lejeune

CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER by Tom Franklin: I started reading this last year and it got lost in my house for a while. I finally found it and didn’t put it down until I finished it. I loved this book about two men, Silas, who is black, and Larry, who is white, who were childhood friends in a small Mississippi town. Their paths diverged and when a popular high school girl goes missing, Larry is blamed. He never confesses and he is never convicted, but in the eyes of this small town he is guilty, and he becomes a pariah. Many years later, Silas comes back to town as the constable, and Larry becomes suspect when another woman goes missing. This book seems to entwine both a plot driven story as well as a character study; it is elegantly written and simply engrossing. I loved it. 02/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CROSS by Ken Bruen: Amazingly Jack Taylor made it all the way through THE PRIEST with neither a smoke nor a drink. Whether he will be able to continue in this fifth entry in the series is questionable. A Galway boy is crucified and Taylor’s Garda friend Ridge, seeks his help in the search for this killer. Meanwhile, the surrogate son Jack found in THE PRIEST lies in a coma in hospital. Its enough to make him throw it all in and leave Galway for good, but then the sister of the murdered boy is burned to death and Jack knows he will find no peace until these crimes are solved and those responsible are brought to justice, Jack Taylor’s justice. Bruen just gets better and better. 01/08 Jack Quick

CROSS by Ken Bruen: The sixth Jack Taylor book begins with Cody, Jack’s surrogate son, lying comatose in the hospital after the events of Priest. Jack is trying to kick the drinking and the smoking, but his daily struggle with depression is making it difficult. To make matters worse, his friend Ridge, a member of the Guards, has asked for his help with her latest case. Someone crucified a boy from Claddagh. Days later, the boy’s sister is discovered dead as well. Dripping with sarcasm and wit, this book goes down just as smooth as the Jameson whiskey Jack has a taste for. But talk about diving into the deep end with your eyes closed. This is my first Jack Taylor book and while I was not totally lost, I can see where the books should be read in order. 03/08 Becky Lejeune

CROSS COUNTRY by James Patterson: I had quit reading Patterson, Inc. output but thought since this was an Alex Cross, it would be worth a try. Wrong again. This has all the makings of a contract requirement to be met with minimal effort to meet a page count. There is blood on most pages as Cross goes after a new type of killer – Tiger, a merciless hit man with ties to Africa. Tiger, and a group of teenage thugs kill Ellie Cox, a former girlfriend of Cross, and entire family. This is the first of a series of killings in the Washington, DC area and in Africa which causes Cross to pursue Tiger in Nigeria. It’s Bond, bad Bond, and pretty much a waste of time. 02/09 Jack Quick

Cross Current by Christine Kling: I’ve been waiting for this sequel since I read Surface Tension last year. It once again features tugboat captain Seychelle Sullivan and the Fort Lauderdale waterways. Seychelle is on her way to rescue a boat with a dead battery when she sees a little girl clinging to a damaged boat. She finds a dead woman who she assumes is the little girl’s mother, and is hesitant about what to do. The child is Haitian, and will undoubtedly be put on a plane back to Haiti. Seychelle decides to try and do better for her, which takes her through South Florida’s Haitian community; Voodoo, violence and child slavery. Much more than just a mystery, Kling had something to say about the Haitian refugee problems and did it beautifully. A fascinating glimpse into something the tourists and locals alike don’t hear much about.

CROSS CURRENT by Christine Kling: Salvage boat captain and sometime sleuth Seychelle Sullivan (think Tug Boat Annie as Travis McGee) is plying the South Florida waters on her tugboat, the Gorda, with her mechanic/lover, B.J. when she discovers Solange on a swamped boat and makes saving her, both from danger and from immigration officials, a personal crusade. The recent murder of some Haitian refugees and a creepy visitor to Solange’s hospital room convince Seychelle that the frightened girl is in peril. More challenges come from tough guys with various agendas including Detective Victor Collazo and Border Patrol Agent Russ Elliott. Although there are a lot of people, Kling presents them in a colorful fashion so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by the mob. 04/06 Jack Quick

CROSSED by Ally Condie: This follow up to Matched picks up right where that one left off. Cassia and Ky have been separated as Society steps in to put them in their rightfully deemed places. As an Aberration, Ky has been sent to the Outer Provinces. Here he and other Aberrations serve as bait for the Enemy. Cassia plans to find Ky no matter what and knows that her time is running out. Her work detail will soon send her back to Central for her next assignment, meaning her window for escaping is quickly closing. As fate would have it, Cassia does not get sent to Central as planned. Instead, she’s placed on a plane headed to the Outer Provinces. When she learns that Ky has escaped, she and another girl quickly make their way to the nearby canyons to find him. Having always lived inside the boundaries of the Society, the journey for Cassia will be very dangerous. Not only must she face the elements, but both the Enemy and Society could come after them at any time. Condie alternates narration in Crossed between Cassia and Ky’s perspectives. Since each character has a very different background—Cassia grew up in and always trusted Society before now while Ky lived in the Outer Provinces with his parents, who always fought the rules and teachings of Society—it gives the reader the chance to see the story from two very different viewpoints. Condie touches on further detail of the history of the Society as well as the Rising, presenting some provocative ideas about whether it’s better to go along with Society or to think and fend for yourself. While Society is clearly not to be trusted, the alternatives aren’t necessarily what the characters hope for. 12/12 Becky Lejeune

CROSSING THE CENTER LINE by Allan E. Ansorge: The first attempt to kill Carl Fletcher cost him the life of his fiancée, the full use of his right leg, and his career in law enforcement. The second attempt endangers Michael McCaffery, Carl’s ex-partner in the Sheriff’s Department of Lake County, Wisconsin, who survives only because the would-be killer was dumb enough to wear leather-soled shoes on a slippery boat deck. Now it’s up to Carl and Michael assisted by Carl’s gun-toting Internet addicted mother and a cast of other volunteer amateur sleuths to find out what is going on before more bodies turn up. There are shoot-outs, legal shenanigans, and even a few moments of romance, in this somewhat off beat police procedural. Not bad, not bad. 06/09 Jack Quick

THE CROWN by Nancy Bilyeau: In the midst of the English Reformation, news that another religious protestor has been convicted of heresy is nothing new. But when Joanna Stafford, a novice at Dartford Priory, learns that her own cousin is to be burned at the stake, she feels she has no other choice but to abandon her position to be at her family member’s side. Joanna and her father are both taken into custody, accused of interfering, and held in the Tower of London. Joanna fears the worst for both her father and herself, but she is offered a reprieve – one that comes with strings. Legend has it that Dartford Priory is home to a very rare and special relic. The Bishop if Winchester has ordered Joanna to return to her position as novice and seek out the item in question. If she is successful, he will pardon her father. There’s a potential problem, though, in that the King’s men have places like Dartford in their sights. Should they arrive before Joanna can finish the Bishop’s task it could mean the end of the Priory itself. For Joanna, the potential loss of both her father and the Priory is the worst possible outcome, but being the Bishop’s pawn also means betraying her sisters and her faith. Nancy Bilyeau’s debut is quite brilliant. In fact, it’s hard to believe this is a debut at all. The Crown is incredibly well plotted and obviously carefully researched. This is the first in a projected trilogy. 8/13 Becky Lejeune

CRUEL CUTS by J. R. Lindermuth: CRUEL CUTS is the second in the Sticks Hetrick mystery series. Hetrick, the retired police chief of the rural community of Swatara Creek, Pennsylvania, has been called back to duty as a consultant by the new, less experienced chief. A vicious poison pen campaign directed against an ambitious young lawyer appears to link the lawyer to a rash of animal mutilations plaguing the area. Perhaps if you had read SOMETHING IN COMMON, the first in this series, this one would be more enjoyable. Without having read the first one this seems to ramble and there is too much “back-story” from book one. If the book had been edited more tightly without so many intertwining story threads it would have been a much better read. Better editing would also have eliminated lines like “Fortunately, overindulgence in beer had made him flaccid before he found the crevice he sought and Vic had passed out with the first thrust of moist flesh against her thigh. She didn’t know what he had told his friends the next day but Flora remained a virgin…” 11/07 Jack Quick

A Cruel Season for Dying by Harker Moore: Cruel Season is more a thriller than a mystery, but that is what seems to be selling these days. It opens with a graphic murder and then alternates between gore and lengthy bouts of tortured sensitivity.
The gore is provided by a murderer deranged by a near death experience. He now believes, with the regular fortification of LSD, that he is a fallen angel. Armed with this knowledge and his military training, his new purpose is to create an army of similarly fallen angels who, after their deaths, will assist him in reclaiming a rightful place in heaven. He selects his recruits by their “aura,” which seems to be especially strong in homosexual men. After filling his victims with LSD so that they can appreciate their “release,” he kills them and then inserts wings into their backs. This makes for an eerie crime scene, which he further enhances with other apocryphal touches and a smidgen of incense. The sensitivity is provided by the hero, police Lt. James Sakura, raised in both America and Japan, who is assigned track down this delusional killer. Assisting him are his profiling instructor from the FBI Academy and his even more sensitive former partner. Along with the blind, pregnant, (and need I say, sensitive) Japanese sculptress wife of Lt. Sakura, all are placed in jeopardy as the plot unfolds. While I wish that Lt. Sakura would massage his brow a little less often, this book works hard at being different and meets the requirements to be a best-selling thriller. It will be especially enjoyed by Peter Strauss/Richard Chamberlain fans and those readers who like TV movies on the Lifetime Channel. ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.

A CRUEL SEASON FOR DYING by Harker Moore: Japanese-American detective James Sakura of NYPD has a challenge – someone is creating angels, literally. The killer is attaching the white wings of swans to the shoulders of each victim after he kills them and positioning them in a peaceful pose. At first, it’s gay adults, but then a child is killed the same way. Moody and melancholy, reflecting the streets of the city he serves, Sakura must not only match wits with the killer, he must get ahead of him. The chase consumes him to the exclusion of everything else. Very well written, albeit a little slow at first. The tension and pace pick up as first one, then another suspect is identified and eliminated. The ending is a shocker. Recommended. 06/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

THE CRUSADER’S CROSS by James Lee Burke: I don’t know why people think Harry Potter is so special when you’ve got Dave Robicheaux. He can work all kinds of miracles. In this new adventure, Dave gets involved chasing after an incident that occurred when he and his brother were teens. Dave’s brother falls for a prostitute named Ida, who they thought was killed. Now they learn she may be alive. Dave’s involvement leads to a vicious attack on him, his restoration to the New Iberia Police Force, followed by an unsuccessful attempt on the lives of Dave and former police partner Clete Purcell. Along the way he finds a new woman – a nun named Molly – and he and Purcell skirt the edges of society once again. Oh, did I mention Robicheaux gets arrested for murder. Burke has become my favorite author and his Robicheaux series represent Burke at his best. Lets all hoist a Dr. Pepper and read on. 08/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

CSI: BINDING TIES by Max Allan Collins: Ten years ago, Las Vegas was terrorized by CAST, a vicious serial killer responsible for nearly half a dozen brutal murders. Now Gil Grissom and his CSI team are called in to investigate a homicide that perfectly fits the notorious criminal’s modus operandi, but all hell breaks loose when a reporter made famous by the original cases receives a letter from someone claiming to be CAST, and who says he has nothing to do with the latest slaying. 07/06 Jack Quick

CSI: DOUBLE DEALER by Max Allan Collins: Even in Las Vegas, Wednesday, 5:30 AM, in an out of the way hotel should be fairly quiet. This one is until a room service waiter discovers a corpse and a killer. This brings homicide detective Jim Brass, CSI team leader Gil Grissom and his team – Catherine Willows, Warrick Brown, Nick Stokes, and Sara Sidle. Their efforts toward solving this murder lead them to re-look at a case that occurred some fifteen years ago that bears the same double-tap signature. This draws the attention of FBI agent Rick Culpepper. With this much horsepower combined with cutting edge scientific technology, you know it won’t take long to solve the crime, or will it? 07/06 Jack Quick

CSI: MIAMI CULT FOLLOWING by Donn Cortez:: Miami Dade Crime Lab Lieutenant Horatio Caine has a truly mysterious death at an organic eatery. The victim, waiter Phillip Mulrooney, is bent over a stainless steel toilet, his clothing shredded, burn marks on his face, cell phone fragments scattered around, and his shoes blown off his feet. Incredible as it seems, the initial evidence points to death by lightning strike. The staff at The Earthly Garden believe Mulrooney’s death is an act of God — punishment for straying from the Vitality Method, their own spiritual philosophy. Or could it be a cellphone bomb? Or even something else? A bit far fetched but a good escape read. 05/06 Jack Quick

CSI: MIAMI FLORIDA GETAWAY by Max Allan Collins: Thomas Lessor left Las Vegas for Miami to get away from it all, including a charge of murder. Gil Grissom calls his counterpart in Miami, Lieutenant Horatio Caine, to assist in the return of Lessor to Las Vegas. Before Caine can make the connection, someone else connects with Lessor who disappears. Hot on his trail, the Miami CSIs are called to the scene of an abandoned limousine with a body in the truck. Its not Lessor, but his corpse soon shows up. From there on its sorting out the bad guys from the worse guys, and surprise, surprise, CSI prevails. 07/06 Jack Quick

CSI: MIAMI HEAT WAVE by Max Allan Collins: Miami crime boss Kurt Wallace won many battles before losing to a couple of well placed bullets. Since nature and the mob abhor a vacuum, a host of interested businessmen begin to move in, trying to take over Wallace’s former empire. CSI Lieutenant Horatio Caine and his crack team of forensic scientists must use all their skills to discover who committed the crime that all of Miami had a motive to commit. Not bad, if you are a CSI fan, otherwise, there are better Miami (and Florida) offerings. 08/06 Jack Quick

CSI: NEW YORK DEAD OF WINTER by Stuart Kaminsky: Detective Mac Taylor and his partner, Detective Stella Bonasera, lead a team of experts through the gritty streets of New York City piecing together clues and eliminating doubts along the way to solving cases. This time they have the body of a middle-aged man in the elevator of a ritzy doorman building on the Upper East Side with no motive, no bullets and no DNA. A few blocks away a witness being held in protective custody is murdered although the law enforcement officers on duty swear that the victim spent the night in a locked hotel room — only to be found dead in the morning. Just two more stories of the thousands from the city that never sleeps. 05/06 Jack Quick

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon: This stunning debut novel is the best book I’ve read this year. You know you are in for something different when you open the book to the first chapter, but it is numbered “2.” And the next chapter is 3, then 5, then 7, and so on until it is explained that Christopher, our 15-year-old protagonist, is autistic. As some differently-abled children are, he is a savant, in his particular case with prime numbers and the ability to name every country and its capital, and he has an extremely logical mind, but he also has other issues like he can’t stand to be touched, won’t eat brown or yellow food, and finds comfort in curling up in a corner and groaning. When he finds his neighbor’s dog has been killed, he decides to solve the mystery à la his favorite sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, and that is ostensibly what the book is about. But the reality is a beautifully written book with amazing characters and a great storyline – everything a book is supposed to have but seldom does. A truly remarkable book. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

CSI BODY OF EVIDENCE by Max Allan Collins: I am not a fan of the television show, but Collins has used the show formula to produce a good read. Las Vegas executive assistant Janice Denard discovers evidence of horrific crimes, shocking photographs left abandoned in a computer printer. Now, with the help of the LVPD’s computer forensics experts, the CSI team must track through hardware and software, deception and deceit to find the perpetrators. At the same time they uncover new and disturbing evidence in a high-profile media case – the brutal murder of the Mayor’s long-missing secretary. I’ll be back for more. 01/06 Jack Quick

CUBAN DEATH LIFT by Randy Wayne White: Before there was a Randy Wayne White and a Doc Ford and a Tomlinson, there was Randy Striker who wrote about the adventures of ex-Navy SEAL Dusky MacMorgan. Fortunately, Signet Books has seen fit to republish this series from the early 1980’s that gave Randy Wayne White the opportunity to become the great author he is today. In this latest reprint, Fidel Castro has allowed thousands of Cubans to depart for America in the Mariel Boatlift, including Cuba’s worst criminals and undesirables. The CIA isn’t up to the challenge so Dusty MacMorgan is called on to handle the situation. A one evening read but a darn good one. 09/07 Jack Quick

CUCKOO’S CALLING by Robert Galbraith: It is now known that Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K Rowling creator and writer of the Harry Potter series. If the reader is expecting just an adult version of Harry he or she will be pleasantly surprised. Rowling, or rather Galbraith changes focus completely and delivers an interesting and well plotted mystery novel. No magic involved other than the magic of a good writer changing emphasis to capture the attention of her readers. Cormoran Strike is a British private detective not doing very well in his attempts to attract a clientele. He is a veteran of combat in Afghanistan where he lost a leg and reduced by economic circumstances to sleep in his office. Out of the blue the brother of a famous model appears in his office with a job. The model ,Lula Landry known as the Cuckoo had fallen to her death from her apartment. The police rule it a suicide and close the case, but Lula’s brother is sure that she was murdered and hires Strike to investigate the situation. Galbraith proves a master at slowly, but surely developing Strike as a person with all the strengths and weaknesses inherent in the human condition. Logically, and as part of the action in the book we learn about him and understand why he goes about working the case as he does. His investigation is well delineated and takes us step by step to the conclusion and solution of the case. There are no sudden revelations and bolts from the blue providing answers but rather the logical plodding that surely accompanies any solution to a mystery. Along the way, Strike hires a temporary secretary, Robin, that is doing the job while she looks for full time work. She becomes fascinated by the detective work and proves that she is a great asset to her boss. She is engaged, and there is no love interest in the book between Strike and her but it is no surprise that she is hired on a permanent basis at the end. There is no doubt that this is book one of a series planned by Galbraith and if they follow suite will prove very popular. 8/13 Paul Lane

A CURE FOR NIGHT by Justin Peacock: Joel Deveraux is not the high-minded, do-gooder type usually found in the Public Defender’s office. He landed there only after being caught in a drug scandal at his first job with a prestigious law firm, and he’s lucky he was only asked to resign and wasn’t disbarred in the process. He spends his days pleading out drug dealers until he is asked to second chair one of the office stars, Myra Goldstein, who isn’t told why this Ivy-league lawyer is now working for her. Goldstein is handling a hot potato, a murder case involving Lorenzo Tate, a drug dealer accused of murdering a white college student in a street shooting. There’s an eye witness, the media is all over this one, and it’s not looking good for Lorenzo. While the story is set in New York City, it takes place in Brooklyn, one of the boroughs, which is a nice change of venue for a legal thriller. Deveraux is a damaged lawyer, adding interest to this smart, fast and thoroughly entertaining debut. 09/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch. Copyright © 2008 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

THE CURIOSITY by Stephen Kiernan: This is Kiernan’s first novel and it is a very original, poignant book that combines a great love with a scientific achievement that makes that love possible. The story is very moving and will probably affect most readers emotionally. It also raises the question of if scientific advances come into conflict with the so called natural order of nature and the universe should we accept the consequences. Dr Kate Philo heads a scientific team searching the arctic ocean for tiny life forms frozen solid in order to attempt to bring them back to life. The team in a dive at an iceberg make an amazing discovery. Embedded in the ice mass is a man completely frozen solid still in the clothes he was wearing when frozen. Using the techniques that are successful in reviving the tiny frozen life forms the man is miraculously brought back to consciousness and found to be an individual that fell overboard during an arctic voyage in the early 20th century. He is Jeremiah Rice, and an intelligent, articulate man that was a judge in his previous life. Rice is returned to the expedition’s headquarters where he is studied and prodded. Kate Philo takes a personal interest in Jeremiah and both soon find that they are falling in love. They take trips together outside of the lab with Rice learning about a civilization different than the one he was brought up in. The format of the book is to use first person narratives of key individuals, including Jeremiah to tell the story, and it is this technique that allows the reader to feel Rice’s emotion when Kate brings him to the town he lived in and he visits the graves of the woman he was married to and his daughter now both long dead. In the background of the story are interests that are opposed to this resurrection of a man that was really not alive for almost a century and jealousies of members of the team vying for credit in their own right. A very riveting novel and one that will appeal on an emotional level leaving the reader with the satisfied feeling of having read something outside of the ordinary. 7/13 Paul Lane

THE CURSE-MAKER by Kelli Stanley: Agricola, leader of Roman Brittania, has ordered his physician to take some time off and enjoy Bath. Arcturus and his wife, Gwyna, are looking forward to a chance to relax and spend some much-needed time together, but the discovery of a dead body floating in the sacred spring turns out to be too much for the medicus, and sometimes investigator, to resist. At the request of the town council, and the urging of his wife, Arcturus agrees to help solve the case: a dead body in a town known for its healing waters is bad for business after all. Turns out, all is not as it seems in the ancient spa town. Rumor has it that the dead man, a curse-maker, was a little too talented—recipients of his curses tended to end up dead themselves. With a growing list of suspects and the superstitious townspeople getting antsy, Arcturus is feeling the pressure to unravel the mystery and get out of Bath as quick as he can. The Curse-Maker is second in this series (following Nox Dormienda), but can easily be read alone. Stanley’s attention to detail and careful research make each of her mysteries rich and entertaining reads. 02/11 Becky Lejeune

THE CURSE OF THE HOLY PAIL by Sue Ann Jaffarian: After 40 years of marriage its obvious sweet wife and I are somewhat compatible, although our reading tastes do differ. On this one, however, we both agree. A funny read, with off the wall characters, a twisty plot and not a surplus calorie to be had. Every succeeding owner of the vintage Happy Wheeler lunchbox has died and now wealthy Sterling Price (what a name for a wealthy client) has joined the list of late owners. Plus-size, middle-aged paralegal Odelia Grey goes looking for the lunch box which is worth a bunch of money and for the killer. There are plenty of suspects — Sterling’s loyal secretary, his discarded fiancée, his money-grubbing relatives, fellow collectors, and overzealous environmentalists. In the middle of the chase Odelia also has to deal with a surprise marriage proposal and the continuing challenge of an ill-fitting bra. The book is best summed up by its obligatory recipe: Odelia’s Favorite Cookie Recipe..1. Go to market when uniformed girls are outside. 2. Buy 12 boxes of thin mint Girl Scout Cookies. 3. Place in freezer. 4. The following year, repeat steps 1 – 3. Recommended. 03/07 Jack Quick

CURSE OF THE SPELLMANS by Lisa Lutz: Isabel and all those crazy Spellmans are back in the follow-up to last year’s hilarious debut, The Spellman Files. As in Files, Curse begins towards the end and, through Isabel’s narrative, works its way back to the beginning. Isabel has been arrested now for the fourth time in just a matter of weeks – but really it’s the second time because she’s not counting times two and three. As she tells her tale to her poor friend and lawyer, Morty, it becomes clear that Izzy’s suspicious nature – purely a result of working for a PI firm from a very young age – has once again gotten her into a world of trouble. Izzy has become convinced that her parents’ new next-door neighbor is hiding something. Who can blame her really, the man has a locked door in his own apartment and his name is John Brown. She launches a full-scale investigation into the man, resorting to breaking and entering, trash searches, and even dating the man to try and learn his secrets. Of course, this ends with restraining orders, cracked ribs, eviction from her parents’ house, and much, much worse before it’s all over. Again, Lutz had me in tears from all the laughter. I love the footnotes and appendices outlining all the crazy family antics as well. Both Spellman books are light-hearted and fun mysteries. Lutz finally has provided Janet Evanovich with some competition – giving us all something to read while waiting for her next book to come out. 03/08 Becky Lejeune

CURSE THE DARK by Laura Anne Gilman: In a satisfying follow-up to STAYING DEAD, Laura Anne Gilman continues to develop both the world she’s created – one where magic exists and the relationship she created between Wren Valere and Sergei Didier. While I admit to befuddlement on occasion regarding the baroque politics of various organizations, it wasn’t really essential for me to understand them to enjoy the book. Wren and Sergei escape Manhattan’s awful summer to track down a missing 10th century manuscript which, of course, is more than it appears. When their contact doesn’t meet them in Italy, it’s a hint at a darker problem involving a strange monastery with an even odder history. Returning to the city, they’re still on the trail of a powerful….something. The romantic and sexual tension in the first book is realized here and it’s done well; Sergei and Wren both respect each other and have tried their damndest not to give in to the attraction they feel. And of course, story lines often fail once the tension goes out of the narrative but I don’t think that’ll happen here. There are strange creatures, power both obvious and subtle, and two really interesting people in the middle of it all. 08/05 ~This review contributed by Andi Shechter.

CUT AND RUN by Ridley Pearson: Witness Protection Marshal Roland Larsen did the unthinkable – he fell in love with Hope Stevens, a protected witness, but their love was not to be. Hope is absorbed into the Witness Protection Program, and now six years later Larsen is called in when the architect of the computer program containing all the Program’s data disappears. He also learns that Hope has also gone AWOL. Larsen’s job – find the missing computer master and save Hope. Things get complicated very quickly when Larsen learns Hope has a five-year old daughter. Could she be his daughter as well? Fast paced and intriguing look at just how much a determined investigator can learn about you – whether you want him to or not. 10/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

CUT, PASTE & KILL by Marshall Karp: Another book likely to be in my top ten for 1010. This one is built around scrapbooking but is far from being a cozy. It starts with Lomax and Biggs, my two favorite LA cops, investigating the demise of one Eleanor Bellingham-Crump who turns up murdered on the floor of a Hollywood hotel bathroom. It turns out that the late Ms. Bellingham-Crump, now lying dead with a pair of scissors in her spleen, was the wife of a British diplomat, and that, as a consequence, her diplomatic immunity allowed her to skate when she, in a drunken state, ran over and killed a young boy getting off his school bus. All this was detailed in the meticulous scrapbook left with her body. Additional bodies yield equally intricate scrapbooks and send our intrepid heroes after a vigilante stalking unpunished criminals. Great police procedural with first rate dialogue and laugh out loud funny lines, but would you expect any less from the author who cast a pedophile as Rambunctious Rabbit in Wally World back in the first Lomax and Biggs caper. With each outing Karp just gets better and better. Oh, don’t overlook the screenplay Biggs gets roped into writing based on a concept from Lomax’s Dad – Two ex-cops; one eighteen wheeler, dispensing – SEMI-JUSTICE. This has all the makings of a future outing for the new Jack Webb and Sergeant Friday. 06/10 Jack Quick

CUT TO THE BONE by Shane Gericke: Prepare for an adrenalin deficit after reading this one. After all, when you find out at the end of the first chapter that the execution by electric chair you’ve just read about from the POV of the condemned is really only a practice for the real thing, then you know its tighten up the seat belts time. Naperville Illinois, detective commander Martin Benedetti and detective Emily Thompson have brought down a serial killer, Corey Trent, who is scheduled to die in the electric chair. No clemency is expected from Governor Wayne Covington whose younger brother was killed along with others back in the 1960’s. Benedetti and Thompson are now investigating a Napierville homicide and find at least nine others with the same modus operandi. Also the victims were the grandchildren of Naperville residents. As the killer makes his way back to Naperville and the scheduled execution, Martin and Emily are racing the clock to prevent other murders and to determine whether, in fact justice is to be done. A combination police procedural and thriller, CUT TO THE BONE will leave you exhausted, but satisfied. Give me a week of rest and I’ll be ready for another one, Mr. Gericke. 07/07 Jack Quick

THE CUTIE by Donald Westlake: Hardcase crime #53 is a reprint of Donald E. Westlake’s debut novel under his own name. Billy-Billy Cantell, a stuttering dope user/seller is the prime suspect in the murder of Mavis St. Paul, mostly because he was found at the scene of the crime. Only his friend and colleague Clay thinks Billy is not guilty and, following orders from their boss, gangster Ed Ganolese, he is trying to clear Billy’s name because the police aren’t interested in another suspect. Clay’s regular job is creating “accidents” for people who cross Ganolese, but now he has to play detective and discover who the “cutie” (as Ganolese refers to him) is that killed Mavis and framed Billy-Billy. Even in this relatively early outing the talent of Westlake is apparent. He did know how to tell a tale. 02/09 Jack Quick

THE CUTTING by James Hayman: Detective Sergeant Michael McCabe always thought that moving his daughter from New York to small-town Portland, Maine, would mean that he wouldn’t have to worry about her safety. He was wrong. When the body of a missing teenager is discovered brutally murdered and a second woman goes missing, McCabe must face up to the fact that no place is truly safe anymore. The girl is found dumped in a scrap metal yard, her heart expertly cut from her chest. McCabe is sure that this points to someone in the medical profession and has his eye on a very specific suspect, but this man’s position in the community leads to some difficulty in the investigation. Then McCabe learns that this may not be the first time the killer has struck. A cold case in Florida with striking similarities only cements his theory, but it may mean his career in proving it. Hayman’s debut works on many levels, but best of all, it’s a real page-turning read. Readers will never tire of this kind of thriller as long as authors like Hayman keep spinning such gripping tales. I do hope this is the first in a series, though, as McCabe’s own backstory leaves plenty of room for more. 06/09 Becky Lejeune

THE CUTTING SEASON by Attica Locke: This is the first book of Dennis Lehane’s new imprint at HarperCollins, and if this book is any kind of indicator, Lehane’s skill in selecting material is as fine as his writing skill. The “Cutting Season” refers to sugar cane, which is grown all around Belle Vie, a former plantation turned historic monument in Louisiana. Caren is the plantation manager, and she brings a unique skill set to the job; she grew up on the plantation, the daughter of the cook. Her mother’s passed on, the plantation owners live in town while Caren lives with her young daughter on the grounds. There are daily performances of life on the plantation that bring school field trips and other visitors to Belle Vie, not to mention the catering available making it popular for weddings and private parties. Until the night a migrant farm worker’s body is found on the plantation border with the sugar cane fields. The woman has been murdered and an investigation ensues, centering on one of Belle Vie’s actors that Caren is sure is innocent. Meanwhile there are rumors the the owners are selling the plantation, and that prompts Caren to start looking into her family history. As a child her mother told her about her ancestor Jason, a slave that was freed after the Civil War and subsequently disappeared. There was an unsubstantiated story that he was killed and his body never found. The two murders become intertwined in this beautifully written and complex mystery. These characters come to life in Locke’s talented hands and fans of Southern gothic fiction will love this atmospheric piece. 10/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE CUTTING SEASON by Attica Locke: When a body is discovered on the grounds of the Belle Vie plantation, the authorities are quick to turn their eye to the tourist attraction’s employees as suspects. Caren Gray, the manager of the site, is certain that the killer isn’t from Belle Vie, but how can she prove otherwise? Once a working sugar cane plantation, the elegant grounds have become a site featuring reenactments and special events, and the land has been pieced up and sold off for continued cane farming. Rumor amongst the employees is that the family behind Belle Vie is considering selling what remains of the plantation and Caren is forced to face her own ties to the land—a history that traces back to the 1800s and a freed slave named Jason. As Caren investigates the current mystery, she also finds herself digging deeper into Jason’s story. The Cutting Season is a smart mystery that involves two plots—the current murder mystery and Jason’s story—connected by one main character. Locke’s pacing and plotting are impeccable and her careful attention to detail makes this book a true stand out. The Cutting Season is the first book featured in Dennis Lehane’s new imprint with HarperCollins. 10/12 Becky Lejeune

Cyanide Wells by Marcia Muller: Ms. Muller, along with Sue Grafton, helped to carve out the territory of the woman private eye in contemporary American mystery writing. However this time out, she has left Sharon McCone in abeyance, while spinning a yarn of mystery and suspense set in Northern California. Her affection for the area is evident in her comfortable evocation of local color.
The protagonist of this book is Matthew Lindstrom, a happily-married photography instructor at a college in Minnesota…until his wife disappears. He is suspected of killing her, but the authorities are unable to prove up their suspicions. Nonetheless, the accusation is sufficient to cost him his job and he finds that the community has turned against him. He embarks on a new life as a fishing captain in British Columbia and is successful and content…until he gets a telephone call advising him that his wife is alive and that she too, has assumed a new name and a new life. Seeking vindication and closure, Matt sets out for Soledad County, California to find out if this is true.
His arrival in California, under an assumed name, plunges him into revisiting of the grisly death of two homosexual men. In the process, he solves the enigma that was his former wife, solves the crime and lays the foundation for a final and hopefully happy new chapter in his life. This is a good story by a good story teller and I have no qualms about recommending it. ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.

Cypress Grove by James Sallis: In a famous essay, Raymond Chandler argued that the detective novel can be literature. James Sallis proves it. Most recently, in his latest novel, Cypress Grove.
Mr. Sallis writes hard-nosed fiction, but his affinity for poetry can be seen in his careful use of language. The first paragraph of his novel is almost always memorable and Cypress Grove is no exception. “I heard the jeep a half mile off. It came up around the lake, and when it hit the bend, birds took flight. They boiled up out of the trees, straight up, then, as though heavy wind had caught them, veered abruptly, all at once, sharp right. Most of those trees had been standing forty or fifty years. Most of the birds had been around less than a year and wouldn’t be around much longer. I was somewhere in between.” The hero of Cypress Grove is a complicated man in search of a simple life and a place to call home. Turner is a Viet Nam survivor, a former policeman, an ex-convict and a retired psychotherapist. He has retreated to a small southern community where he is living in peaceful isolation. He is pulled, gently, from his shell by the local sheriff who requests his assistance in solving a bizarre murder. His experiences, education and training have given Turner a real insight into the human heart. Flashbacks to incidents in Turner’s past alternate with the progress of the investigation. The lessons of this book are simple, but profound. Human beings are human and place is important. Surely, one of the purposes of literature is to remind us of such truths. Mr. Sallis is not very well known, although the best contemporary mystery writers are familiar with his work and honor it. The major chains will probably not carry this book. But it is worth the search and if you do locate it, you will have in your hands one of the best-written mysteries of our time. (If you are lucky, you may also find a copy of Black Hornet, one of his Lew Griffin mysteries, which has recently been republished.) ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.

THE CYPRESS HOUSE by Michael Koryta: Arlen Wagner has never understood his ability to see certain death, but he doesn’t question it either. While riding a train down to the Florida Keys in search of work, Arlen sees the people around him turn to skeletons. Knowing this means something terrible is in store, Arlen tries to encourage the men to leave at the next stop. Ignoring his pleas, the passengers continue on their way while Arlen and one of his own coworkers, a boy named Paul, stay behind. The two are able to catch a ride to another work camp, but death manages to follow closely behind. Their driver is killed in Corridor County and Arlen and Paul find themselves on the wrong side of the area’s law enforcement officials. Left with no money and no options, they take refuge at a boarding house, soon discovering that the locals are hiding something that could cost Arlen and Paul their own lives. Like So Cold the River, Koryta brings fans another stand-alone thriller with a supernatural twist. Set in 1935 Florida with the Labor Day hurricane as a key element, The Cypress House becomes a noir-esque thriller reminiscent of Key Largo. 06/11 Becky Lejeune

Fiction Reviews D: 1998-2013

December 23, 2013

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 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 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

Fiction Reviews R: 1998-2013

December 23, 2013

THE RACE by Richard North Patterson: A war hero is seeking the Republican nomination for President in this timely, fast-paced yarn. Republican Senator Corey Grace leans to the left – he’s pro choice, stem cell research and gay marriage – and he’s one of the top three contenders for his party’s nomination. His competitors are favorite son Senator Rob Marotta, who will pander to anyone and do anything to get the nomination, and the Reverend Bob Christy, a right wing preacher with a national following. Grace has a few other stumbling blocks as well: he votes his conscience instead of along the party line, and even worse, he’s divorced and dating a beautiful, famous African-American actress. This is a well researched, in-depth look at the voting process in America, examining the unbridled lust for power of a right wing media magnate and a power-crazed lobbyist looking for complete hegemony by seating the next president. A three way tie at the national convention leads to a fairy-tale ending, but it’s the wild ride to get there that’s so much fun. 11/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2007 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

THE RACE by Richard North Patterson: What a perfect read to start on Super-Duper Tuesday. Across the top of my ARC is the question CAN AN HONEST MAN BECOME PRESIDENT? Unfortunately, I think we all know the answer to that. Anyway, in the book, Corey Grace, former decorated Gulf War Air Force pilot and current Senator from Ohio is in a fierce presidential primary battle with the party establishment favorite, and a charismatic leader of Conservative Christians. Sound familiar, so far? Grace’s dalliance with African-American movie star Lexie Hart is a complicating factor. THE RACE has it all – racism, terrorism, religious fundamentalism, gay rights, and powerful media monopolies with their own agenda. Grace must endure betrayal, excruciating moral choices, and secrets that can destroy lives only to arrive at a deadlocked party convention where he must choose between Lexie and his presidential ambitions. With his fifteenth novel, Patterson has definitely raised the bar, and produced a must read for anyone into this year’s US Presidential politics. 02/08 Jack Quick

THE RACKETEER by John Grisham: One of the key ingredients of a Grisham book is the author’s ability to immediately capture the reader and involve him or her in the proceedings. The Racketeer is no different than any of his others have been. There is the need to look askance at a less than believable plot, but in spite of the necessity to accept non logical events it is a captivating read. Malcolm Bannister is an attorney caught up in a crime in which his physical presence causes him to be found guilty and sent to prison for 10 years. It looks like in spite of his innocence he will have to serve the sentence and leave prison with his life ruined by the Federal government, his wife divorcing him, and no way to earn a living as a practicing lawyer. In the fifth year of his sentence, Raymond Fawcett, a Federal Judge, and his girlfriend are killed and the safe in the Judge’s house found open and emptied. Malcolm knows who did it and negotiates with the government for his release and entrance into the witness protection program in return for information leading to the killer. With the negotiation successful and ensuing events unfolding Grisham spins a tangled web with twists and turns that keep the reader going on with the book. Predicting the ending is almost impossible, but within the realm of what is happening is logical, and rewarding. Like his other books, The Racketeer is not easy to put down, and it is possible for the reader to go along with the considerably less than logical sequence of events. 11/12 Paul Lane

THE RADLEYS by Matt Haig: It’s true that parents sometimes lie to their kids. They lie to protect them. And Helen and Peter have been lying to protect their children all their lives. Rowan and Clara have no idea that the real reason for their sensitivity to light and allergy to garlic are anything other than what their parents have always told them. But when Clara decides to forgo meat, in an attempt to get animals to like her better (they truly despise her and she’s not sure why), it kicks off a chain of events forcing Helen and Peter to finally reveal the Radleys’ long-hidden secret: they’re vampires. As abstainers, Helen and Peter have made a nice life for themselves and their children, but it’s all about to fall apart. Though they’re bloodsuckers, the Radleys deal with all the same problems any family drama would tackle, but with a delightful paranormal twist. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Haig’s quirky style and his fantastic characters. 1/11 Becky Lejeune

Rag Man by Pete Hautman: Serio-comic novel that takes a business partnership gone bad to a new dimension. Throw in ethical and moral dilemmas and the age old question of good versus evil and there you have this quick, funny read.

THE RAGE by Gene Kerrigan: Welcome to Dublin, where the economy has tanked and violence has surged. Vincent Naylor walks out of prison and right back into the same business that landed him there; armed robbery. Working with his dimmer brother Noel and some friends, they kidnap an armored truck driver to learn how the system works, setting up for their biggest score yet. Detective Sergeant Bob Tidey is working the murder of an investment banker and contemplating perjuring himself in an upcoming trial when he gets a tip from an old nun that a strange car has been parked on her street for some time. That car turns out to be the getaway car, and that phone call changes lives when two of the men involved in the robbery are killed in the street. Vincent Naylor takes off on a violent revenge spree, and Tidey can’t help but reexamine his own life. The sparse writing exemplifies Irish crime fiction while at the same time adds an additional dimension to the story. Winner of the Gold Dagger award for best crime novel of the year, fans of Ken Bruen, Declan Hughes and Declan Burke won’t want to miss this one. 2/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.

RAGE AGAINST THE DYING by Becky Masterman: Brigid Quinn is a retired FBI agent who gave her all to the bureau until she was forced out over shooting an unarmed man. She spent her career undercover, working on sexual predator cases, and trained her protégé, Jessica, to follow in her footsteps. Jessica went missing while working on a serial killer case and Brigid never really recovered from the loss. Several years later she is happily married and living an idyllic life in Tucson, when she learns that there has been an arrest in the case, but the new agent working it, Laura Coleman, thinks it is a false confession. When Coleman disappears and the Bureau doesn’t seem to notice, Brigid finds herself in the thick of things once again, only this time she is worried about losing another agent, her husband and her new found happiness. Brigid is a marvelous, well-developed character and her skills are fearsome for an old broad. Although she sometimes takes things too far, stretching the bounds of credulity, it is worth the suspension of disbelief to hang with her. Fans of Lisa Gardner and Tess Gerritsen will love this book. 3/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.

RAIN GODS by James Lee Burke: With apologies to all my author friends, but if there is a better book published this year, I doubt I will be able to stand it. Thirty eight years after Burke’s 1971 Lay Down My Sword and Shield, he brings back Hackberry Holland, former defense attorney, Texas congressional candidate, maverick alcoholic, ACLU staffer and now small town sheriff. His beloved wife Rie is dead of uterine cancer, his twin boys have left home and he is left to deal with life. Holland gets involved with former New Orleans bad guys relocated after Katrina. His experiences as a POW survivor in Korea have enabled him to continue to function after discovering the burial site of nine massacred Thai women, a crime that brings FBI and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials running. Preacher Jack Collins has been called in to dispose of Pete Flores and his girl friend (Pete is a possible witness to the massacre). The FBI wants to us them for bait and Holland must try to save their lives. Lowlifes, strong female characters, violence, a battle of wills and wits, but most of all lyrical writing that may be the best ever from even such a master as Burke. From the opening sentence – “On the burnt-out end of a July day in Southwest Texas, in a crossroads community whose only economic importance has depended upon its relationship to a roach paste factory the EPA had shut down twenty years before, a young man driving a car without window glass stopped by an abandoned blue-and-white stucco filling station that has once sold Pure gas during the Depression and was now home to bats and clusters of tumbleweed.” – to further observations like describing the actions of a local bootlegger – “Ouzel tries to keep it simple. No tax stamps or labels to create undue paperwork.” – this is writing that transcends any genre pre-conceptions. 08/09 Jack Quick

RAINSHADOW ROAD by Lisa Kleypas: This was my first Kleypas book and now I’m a fan. This is the first book of a new trilogy with a touch of magic. Not the clichéd magic of getting lost in a good book or the magic of love, but rather the two main characters each have a magical gift. The logical part of my brain usually says no no no you’re not going to like that, but I my emotional side says that if it’s done well, that I really do enjoy it. I loved the magic in Gabaldon’s Outlander series and Morgenstern’s Night Circus and in Ivey’s The Snow Child and now here in Rainshadow Road. I haven’t read enough romance to know a whole lot about the genre, but one of my co-workers is a huge romance reader and we have talked at length about the genre. I am used to series books in mystery and thrillers where the same characters appear in each book and carry a different crime story. But in romance, that doesn’t usually happen. Romance, by definition, has to have a happy ending, usually culminating in the marriage of the main protagonists, so unless they repeatedly break up and get back together, I couldn’t understand how a romance series would work. My co-worker explained, and Kleypas illustrates here, exactly how it works. There is a minor character in this book that will be the main character in the next. The first chapter of the next book is in the back of this one so once I read that, I understood immediately. This book is about a woman who is dumped by the boyfriend that she’s been living with for 2 years because he has fallen in love with her sister. Heartbreak ensues until she meets the local vineyard owner. She knows she is not ready for another relationship and he insists that makes him perfect because he is a total commitment-phobe. The characters are likeable, the story is compelling, and I really enjoyed this contemporary romance. In fact I can’t wait for the next book in the “Friday Harbor” trilogy. 4/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

RAISING ATLANTIS by Thomas Greanias: Archaeologist Dr. Conrad Yeats, the son of a US astronaut, is apprehended by U.S. Special Forces in Peru and sent to Antarctica, where a glacial earthquake has exposed a mysterious monument older than the Earth itself. In Rome, the Pope summons environmental activist Dr. Serena Serghetti to the Vatican…and reveals a terrifying vision of apocalyptic disaster. She too, is dispatched to Antarctica. In space, a weather satellite reveals four massive storms forming around the South Pole…and three U.S. spy satellites disappear from orbit. Are these the end times, when the legends of a lost civilization and the prophecies of the world’s great religions come together to lead one man and one woman on the ultimate voyage, a journey to the center of time, as awe-inspiring as the dawn of man–and as inevitable as doomsday. Nicely done thriller obviously over the top but with solid roots. I am looking forward to the second and third volumes in this series. 03/10 Jack Quick

THE RANGER by Ace Atkins: Quinn Colson is no Jack Reacher, but he is a Ranger “You a Ranger?” Keith asked. Quinn nodded. “Goddam”, Keith said, “I saw two Rangers get into a bar fight one time in Memphis, and they done beat up the bouncer and two cops. Took about a dozen men to control them, and they was still fighting. Y’all are crazy as shit.” Northeast Mississippi retains its reputation for wildness dating all the way back to the War between the States, but its different when Quinn returns from his latest tour in Afghanistan. He comes home for the funeral of his uncle, the county sheriff. He is told that his uncle’s death was suicide but Quinn quickly learns it wasn’t necessarily the old man’s gun that killed him, but rather his poking around into the local meth and marijuana manufacturing and selling that ultimately ended up in the shot into his face. Nicely done and will be pleasing to all those who enjoy Lee Childs and James Lee Burke. Atkins grows stronger with each outing. 06/11 Jack Quick

THE RAPTURE by Liz Jensen: Gabrielle Fox is an art therapist who has survived a terrible accident. But it’s come at a cost: the accident claimed the life of her lover, and Gabrielle herself has been left paralyzed from the waist down. Wheelchair-bound and determined to return to work in spite of her superiors’ recommendations otherwise, she takes a post at an asylum for adolescents. Here she meets Bethany Krall, a 16-year-old who stabbed her mother to death with a screwdriver. Bethany’s treatment involves electrotherapy—the only thing that seems to bring her back to reality—but one side effect of the therapy is the delusion that she can see terrible events around the globe before they occur. Gabrielle’s whole world is turned upside down when she comes to believe that Bethany does in fact have the ability to predict these events. But who will believe Gabrielle and is there anything that can be done to prepare people for what is to come? The Rapture is a dark thriller with an apocalyptic view of our effects on the world. It’s also a very smart read with a well-thought-out plot. Definitely a book that stands out amongst the crowd. 08/09 Becky Lejeune

THE RASNER EFFECT by Mark Rosendorf: Ever ask a Mainer for directions and he says “Ya can’t get there from here.” That phrase would seem to define Rick Rasner. Rasner is a therapist at the Brookhill Children’s Psychiatric Residence, a retro type facility for troubled urban teens run by an oppressive director named Katherine Miller who bullies staff and patients on an equal opportunity basis. Rasner’s path to this position was set years ago when he barely survived a terrorist attack on a New York City bridge which left his car destroyed, his family killed, and his own near death experience (he flat-lined multiple times enroute to treatment). The trauma left him with virtually no memory although his communications skills were not affected. The attack also derailed the career of mercenary Jake Scarberry who was deemed responsible for not stopping the attack. Now the Duke Organization which caused the initial explosion has resurfaced, putting Rick Rasner and Jake in mortal danger. Also at risk is Clara Blue, one of Rick’s patients with whom he has developed a close relationship. Complex but exciting, this is a thriller that will leave you wondering who is good and who is evil, and who should win. 12/09 Jack Quick

RATLINES by Stuart Neville: World War II has been over for 17 years but Irishman Lieutenant Albert Ryan of the Directorate of Intelligence, who fought for Britain in the War is pulled back into the fray. Ireland is preparing for a visit from President John F. Kennedy to the land of his ancestors and three foreigners have been murdered. It turns out all three of the dead men were Nazis granted asylum by the Irish government in the years following World War II. Minister for Justice Charles Haughey wants the killing to end to maintain this shameful secret. When Ryan closes in on the killers, his loyalty is torn between country and conscience. Why must he protect the very people he fought against twenty years before? Interesting and authentic. 1/13 Jack Quick

THE RATS by James Herbert: The war has long since ended but London still bears the scars of the battle. The East End is by no means the posh urban setting that London is famous for. No, the East End is where the downtrodden and poor live. The East End is where the rats first appear, swarming up from the underground and attacking people in the subway, hiding in the trash heaps and killing innocent bystanders, plaguing the poorest part of the city – the part no one cares about. Harris cares, though. He grew up in the East End and when the rats attack one of his students, and later the school where he teaches, he knows he must step in and help. Originally published in 1974, The Rats marked the beginning of James Herbert’s career as a published author. For over three decades the “British Stephen King” has been scaring the pants off readers with his gory and violent tales. This is the book that started it all. Herbert should be on every horror fan’s reading list if he isn’t already. The Rats is still in print and available in the US and is the first in a trilogy, followed by Lair and Domain. The Rats is essentially a creature feature with a social message that is still very relevant today. 11/08 Becky Lejeune

RAVENOUS by Ray Garton: The town of Big Rock has some big problems. A serial rapist has been stalking women in town, and now it looks as though Emily Crane, the receptionist at the local sheriff’s office, has become the latest victim. The thing about it is Emily’s description of her attacker is vastly different from the other rape reports. Emily did manage to stab her attacker before she passed out, but Sheriff Farrell Hurley has just witnessed the body walking out of the coroner’s office. Minutes later, one of his deputies is ripped apart in what seems to be an animal attack. Two more bodies are discovered, torn to pieces like the deputy, when a stranger appears and tells Hurley that he has a werewolf infestation on his hands. Of course the sheriff doesn’t believe it, and things are made worse when the stranger tells him that it spreads like a virus and is transmitted through sex. Hurley and his men must get the outbreak under control before it spreads too far. It’s an interesting twist on the classic werewolf mythology. Garton’s style is reminiscent of the campy horror films we all love – lots of gratuitous gore and violence, and a killer ending. Werewolves haven’t seen this much action since the 80s. 04/08 Becky Lejeune

RAVENS by George Dawes Green: Childhood friends Romeo and Shaw have a plan that is finally going to get them to the big times. While passing through Georgia on their way to Florida, Shaw overhears news of a recent big-ticket lottery win. He is able to find out who the winning family is and hatches a scheme that will make both he and Romeo rich beyond their wildest dreams. There’s just one catch: the winning family has to be completely compliant in the plan. To do this, Shaw puts his friend in the role of enforcer and hit man, something the somewhat sweet-tempered Romeo is having a little trouble swallowing. But Romeo is willing to do anything for his friend. Soon, Shaw has a slew of people under his spell, and even the family themselves have started to fall for it. But in this kind of story, things can’t possibly end well. Or could they? George Dawes Green throws readers a curveball that they may or may not see coming. Either way, this is the kind of story that drags you along for the ride—before you know it you’re totally sucked in. 07/09 Becky Lejeune

RAZOR GIRL by Marianne Mancusi: Molly Anderson wanted nothing more than to be a normal teen with normal parents. Unfortunately, her father had other plans. A brilliant scientist who was once contracted by the US government to create an army of super-soldiers, Molly’s father knows all too well that the end is near. Molly is to be his most perfect creation – cybernetically enhanced and trained to survive the coming apocalypse. Six years have passed since Molly and her mother entered the underground bunker that her father had prepared for them. Six years without contact with anyone other than each other. Six years with no news from the outside. Molly emerges, alone, to discover that although the scenery has changed little, the people are all gone, turned into zombies or killed by the virus that had just started to break out when she went into hiding. She joins a small band of survivors and sets off to find her father, sure that he has survived and that he can help them to start anew. A post-apocalyptic/futuristic romance with zombies. It just doesn’t get much better. Light-cyberpunk with inspiration drawn from William Gibson, Razor Girl is great for readers who are looking for something a little different in the romance world. 08/08 Becky Lejeune

THE REACH by Nate Kenyon: Psychology major Jess Chambers is top her class and has been pegged for a special project by her professor and mentor, Dr. Shelley. It seems Shelley is guardian of a very special little girl, a girl who until now has been diagnosed as a schizophrenic. Strange considering the girl was diagnosed such at just six years of age and schizophrenia usually begins to show around puberty. The girl has become unresponsive, almost catatonic even, and the doctors think that a new face may be just the thing to bring her back to reality. Jess agrees and instantly can see that there is something much more going on with this case than her superiors are willing to share. As Jess grows to know the girl, she can tell that there is something terribly wrong with what she’s been told. Meanwhile, scientists have also come to notice the young girl and hope to cash in on a new drug designed to enhance powers that have manifested in the child. These powers are beyond Jess’s belief, but she will have to open herself to their possibility in order to help the girl as best she can. Kenyon’s second release is an extremely satisfying horror read that’s already earning him comparison to Stephen King himself. The story is certainly reminiscent of classics like Carrie and Firestarter, but I believe Kenyon has a voice and style that are all his own, both of which will place him firmly at the top of any horror fan’s must read. 12/08 Becky Lejeune

READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline: In 2040, James Halliday, creator of OASIS—a hugely successful, multi-player, online game environment—passed away, leaving no heirs. Instead, his last will and testament stated that he’d hidden three keys and three gates within OASIS that would lead to the ultimate Easter egg. The first player to find the egg would inherit all of Halliday’s wealth and control over OASIS. For five years, gamers searched the online world high and low for clues, trying to unlock the hints left hidden inside the games, videos, music, and tv shows of Halliday’s youth. Five years and not one name appeared on the scoreboard. Until eighteen-year-old Wade Watts finds the first key and unlocks the first gate. The race is on and some of the players are willing to use any means necessary to win. Ready Player One is a futuristic video game quest in the spirit of all past video game quests, with references to most of them as well. But you don’t have to be a gamer to appreciate it. Cline’s debut is excellent fun and an ‘80s child like me truly appreciated all the pop culture references of the era. 08/11 Becky Lejeune

REAPERS by Frederick Ramsey: The World Cup competition in South Africa earlier this year is the background for this somewhat rambling effort, in which Sanderson, the Game Ranger in the Chobe National Park, finds a body. She and Inspector Kgabo Modise find evidence of local bribery, then smuggling, and finally what could well provoke an international incident. With Americans, North Koreans, Arabs, French, Chinese, and Russians all scattered among the various lodges and hotels in the country before, during and after the games, the potential for disaster is enormous. Included at no extra charge are various side excursions into the lives of silverback mountain gorillas, peace organizations that believe they will purify the continent, rid it of drought, poverty, and HIV/AIDs, as well as bloody war lords fighting the seemingly endless civil wars that plague the region. Can someone use their vuvuzela to summon an editor? 09/10 Jack Quick

REBEL ISLAND by Rick Riordan: Tres Navarre and his new bride are honeymooning on Re bel Island, a place Tres and his family visited when he was growing up. Newly married but with a baby on the way very soon, Tres is dismayed to find himself in the middle of a hurricane, stranded on the island, with the possibility of a serial killer on the loose. A reminder of the past shows up in the form of a corpse shot dead in room 12. As more guests die, it is up to Tres to sort out the reasons and relate them to the summer that changed everything in his life. A summer he could never forget but never entirely remember either. This series just keeps getting better and better. 12/08 Jack Quick

RECKLESS by Andrew Gross: A family is brutally murdered in Greenwich, Connecticut which starts off a chain of events that sometimes mirror the headlines. Money managers gone off the deep end, old banking companies collapsing and international terrorists take center stage in this fast paced financial thriller, the latest from James Patterson’s protégé. Ty Hauck returns as his former lover is one of the family members murdered in Greenwich. The local cops think it’s a robbery gone bad, but Hauck has his own suspicions. Gross gives just enough finance information to make the story plausible but not enough to slow down the action. Interesting characters and a tight, twisty plot make this a gripping read – the protégé has surpassed his master. 05/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
RECKLESS by Andrew Gross: Ty Hauck started with NYPD and then became chief of detectives at Greenwich, Connecticut, before leaving to become an investigator for a world-wide security firm. He is stunned to learn that a former lover, who still lives in Greenwich has been murdered, along with Mark Glassman, the chief equities trader at a top investment bank. On the surface it looks like a burglary gone bad. Hauck has the motivation and the expertise to connect the dots on the case which is the tip of a global terrorist conspiracy, with global financial implications. Do the phrases “too big to fail” and “collapse of the US banking system” sound familiar? Once again the ex James Patterson co-author scores with a book that no less an authority than Lee Child calls a automatic must read. The best one yet. 05/10 Jack Quick

RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA by Kimberly McCreight: Kate’s a high powered corporate lawyer in Manhattan, and a single mother to Amelia, her overachieving daughter. During an important meeting, Kate is summoned to Grace Hall, the prestigious private school Amelia attends near their home in Brooklyn. Kate runs to her daughter, but arrives too late; accused on cheating on her English paper, it seems that Amelia has leapt to her death, scrawling “sorry” on the rooftop wall. Kate is devastated and confused, but she accepts the detective’s word and tries to move on with her life, until she receives a text message that says “she didn’t jump.” Kate demands answers from the police, but the detective assigned to the case has suddenly resigned, but fortunately the new detective isn’t happy with the case file and agrees to investigate further. Kate delves into her teenage daughter’s life, her computer, cell phone texts, and her friends, only to learn that she didn’t know Amelia as well as she thought she did. This is a heartbreaking story but it is told well, with lots of curveballs thrown in. McCreight’s first novel is as polished as a pro’s – this is an author to watch. 8/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA by Kimberly McCreight: Shock cannot begin to describe how Kate Baron feels when she learns that her teenage daughter has died in an apparent suicide. Just a short time before it happened, Kate received a call asking her to pick up her daughter from school. Amelia had been caught cheating and was to be suspended. Cheating—and suicide—were so against everything she knew about her daughter. In the weeks after the funeral, Kate forces herself to face facts. But when she receives a text simply stating, “She didn’t jump,” Kate knows there has to be more to the story. She quickly learns that Amelia was hiding things, but was it enough to push her to kill herself? Reconstructing Amelia is a tense and suspenseful read, a thriller of the highest order. Chapters alternate between Kate present day and Amelia in the months leading up to her death, with texts, Facebook updates, and posts from the unofficial Grace Hall gossip blog, gRaCeFULLY. Don’t plan to start this one late in the evening unless you’re prepared to read through to the very end. You won’t be able to put it down. 5/13 Becky Lejeune

RED CAT by Peter Spiegelman: I was sucked in by the cover; it’s dark and sexy, and fortunately, so is the novel behind the cover. John March is a private investigator, former cop, and a work-driven loner in New York City. His über-successful brother David comes to him for help because an affair with a woman he met on the Internet has turned from torrid to terrible – he’s tried to end it and she’s threatening to tell his wife and his boss. Problem is, all David knows about her is her screenname; Wren. John starts investigating when an unidentified woman’s body with a tattoo of a red cat on her leg is found in the river, and David looks good as the prime suspect in her murder. Turns out Wren isn’t really a blackmailer; she’s making performance art videos, secretly filming men she has affairs with – or is it porn? Either way there are lots of suspects and more twists than kinks in this provocative noir thriller. 03/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

RED CHAMELEON by Stuart Kaminsky: Chief Inspector Rostnikov has offended the powers that be by applying for an exit visa. Now he is reduced to investigating “minor” crimes like the shooting death of an old Jew and theft of a brass candlestick. Rostnikov, along with Emil Karpo and Sacha Tkach could be the heart of the 87th precinct – in Moscow. At night Rostnikov reads a chapter of an 87th Precinct novel because of his admiration of Carella and the other guys. During the daytime he proves their equal in solving crimes, no matter who wants them solved or left unsolved. Another excellent police procedural. 12/05 Jack Quick.

RED FLAGS by Juris Jurjevics: Red Flags is one of the better books about the war in Vietnam, and in my humble opinion ranks up there with Nelson De Mille’s Up Country as novels of that war. Red Flags is not strictly speaking a book about battle but carries an accurate picture of a war since it was written by a veteran and participant in the combat. Mr Jurjevics indicates in a postscript that the book basically tells the truth about conditions and probably is so since he served in the area and during the time described. The principal character, Erik Rider, is an officer in the US army tasked with interdicting an out of control marijuana trade which is supplying funds to the Viet Cong and hence buying arms to use against the Americans. Rider discovers that an officer in the Vietnamese army is actually protecting the marijuana crops while he is supposed to act as liaison with the Americans. The officer both siphons off money for himself as well as getting weapons for the Viet Cong. Said officer is, of course, becoming a millionaire and due to this is preventing any action against the people that control the crops. The same officer is also preventing aid from reaching the Montagnard tribes who are allies to the Americans due to centuries of their own conflicts with the North Vietnamese.
Erik meets with corruption everywhere in attempting to carry out his mission and the destroy the marijuana crops. The ending is realistic, not particularly satisfying, but does supply a bit of justice for the reader, and probably did happen. War is never just two sides fighting each other, but always carries unintended consequences such as enrichment for individuals via consorting with the enemy. Jurjevics seems to tell it like it was with our soldiers fighting the enemy as well as the corruption rampant with those ostensibly on our side. 11/11 Paul Lane

RED FLASH by Kiva Wolfe: Diamonds and gemstones, the Russian Mafia, Brazilian criminals, murder, obsession, betrayal, exotic locations, sex, mayhem and double crosses. It all starts when a former triathlete finds out that the Russian Mafia caused his nephew’s death and that his older brother is involved with that same group in a gem smuggling scheme. Then it gets interesting. Everyone wants the gems, some badly enough to kill for them. Who will succeed and who will merely survive? When the stakes are this high the rules are merely an inconvenience. Interesting first effort. 02/06 Jack Quick

RED-HEADED STEPCHILD by Jaye Wells: This first in a new urban fantasy series featuring a half mage, half vampire assassin is great fun. Sabina Kane would have been a high-born vamp if her bloodline had been pure. As such, she is relegated to wet work on behalf of her grandmother, the Alpha and leader of the Domina, those who rule the vampire race. Sabine would like nothing more than to prove her loyalty and capability to her grandmother and finally earn the respect she deserves. This is why she accepts a job that sends her straight into an enemy’s camp, posing as a disgruntled vamp with vengeance on her mind. This group, led by the charismatic Clovis Trakiya, a half vamp himself, says that their goal is to unite the supernatural races, but Clovis’s own personal vendetta is against the Domina itself. This assignment will truly test Sabina in ways that she could never prepare for and will force her to face the truth about her birth for the very first time. I am very much looking forward to continuing this series. Wells’s unique spin on her subject and the questions left open about Sabina’s heritage are going to make this a stand-out series in the genre. 04/09 Becky Lejeune

RED HILL by Jamie McGuire: It’s Scarlet’s ex’s weekend with the kids when the world comes to an end. Sure, Scarlet and everyone else heard the news reports that morning but none of them really expected a world wide zombie epidemic was heading their way. When the patients at work begin attacking Scarlet knows it’s time to get the heck out of dodge. She’s headed for a secluded ranch owned by one of her colleagues. She and her friends always joked it would be the perfect place to survive the apocalypse, but first she has to get her kids. Problem is, the town is cut off and armed guards are patrolling every way in. Scarlet’s only hope is that her daughters will remember how to get to the ranch and that her ex can protect them long enough to get them there. Jamie McGuire’s zompiepocalypse survival horror is super fantastic. Scarlet shares center stage with two other characters: Nathan, a newly single (as of the morning of the zombie outbreak) dad trying to protect his eight-year-old daughter, and Miranda, a college girl traveling with her sister and their two boyfriends. The stories intersect at various points and eventually connect. This interplay between the characters and their struggles is really interesting and makes what would otherwise be a typical zombie outbreak book a bit of a stand out for me. 10/13 Becky Lejeune

RED HOOK by Gabriel Cohen: I think a good author is one who can take a fairly ordinary plot and bring it to life such that you feel you are part of the story. Detective Jack Leightner is investigating the murder of a young Dominican, Tomas Berrios, found stabbed to death with concrete blocks tied to his legs. His killers were apparently interrupted as they were planning to drop him into the river. Leightner becomes obsessed with the case, which happened in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn where he was born. Leightner has to deal with memories of his father, his dead brother, his failed marriage, and the son from whom he is estranged. Not that much of a mystery, but a good police procedural with characterizations that are uncanny. A first effort, and definitely recommended. 01/08 Jack Quick

RED SEA by Emily Benedek: Three international flights, each from different airlines and leaving from different countries, have been brought down over water in one afternoon. Although none of the flights were leaving from or headed to Israel, it is decided that a threat to the country’s security is an undeniable possibility that warrants their participation in the investigation. Julian Granot, a former commander in the Israeli Special Forces, is brought in as part of the investigating team. Granot’s inquiries soon lead him to a promising American journalist with some interesting theories concerning airline security. Marie Petersen’s curiosity is piqued when Granot suggests that they team up on the search and trade information. He leads her to a shop in England that repairs video machines on planes. Then, an innocuous observation on Marie’s part leads Granot to a possible lead. It appears that a man Granot has come up against in the past paid a visit to the shop just days before the crashes occurred. He visited again on the evening that Marie interviewed the owners of the shop. Then another plane goes down and Granot is convinced that this man could be the mastermind behind the terrorist plot. Shockingly enough, this story’s inspiration lies in actual interviews conducted by Benedek who easily transitions from journalist to novelist with Red Sea. Benedek’s superb debut promises to place her at the top of the thriller genre as firm competition for the likes of Stephen Coonts and Nelson DeMille. 09/07 Becky Lejeune

RED RAIN by Michael Crow: Luther Ewing’s genes, from his African-American Marine Sergeant father and French-Vietnamese mother, give him the appearance of an American Indian. In the Army, they called him “Cheyenne.” Now an Army Special Forces veteran with a steel plate in his head, he is a detective with the Baltimore County Police Department, with a reputation as a quiet competent narcotics cop. Here he is called “5-0” after the popular television show. Then his past comes back to haunt him when he hears about a Russian named “Vaseline.” Could this be Vassily, his mentor and nemesis whose wartime skills and abilities match those of Ewing? Now Ewing must revert to being “Shooter,” Vassily’s name for him when the CIA recruited them both to fight against the Serbs in Sarajevo. It was there that Ewing perfected his skills as a sniper before being shot in the head and almost killed. An edgier Jack Reacher type in his first outing. Recommended. 07/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

RED SEA by Emily Benedek: This underwhelming fiction debut from journalist Benedek. opens with the downing of three commercial jets, which results in the deaths of 723 people and plunges the world into a 9/11-like panic. Recently retired Israeli secret agent and aviation expert Julian Granot is tapped by his government to investigate. The stakes get higher when the terrorist group launches a massive container ship carrying a hellish mix of explosives toward New York City. Benedek offers lots of hot operational material and an exciting denouement, but thriller fans will find little that’s really new. 12/11 Jack Quick

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant: This is a book people feel passionately about; they either love it or hate it, and it seems to fall along lines of gender; women love it, men not so much.

I had a lot of baggage along with this book. It has been a huge seller in my store; the author, an intelligent and gracious woman, did a signing last year to the biggest crowd we’ve ever had (over 250 people!) and you could not, for the past two years, work a day in my store without having to straighten a stack of it, refill a display of it, or walk through the store without tripping over this book. It was, for a bookseller, a book to be avoided on principle! But I also had a lot of respect for it.

It grew, not from the publisher spending megabucks or winning the Oprah lottery, but strictly from word of mouth. Originally published in 1997, it finally hit the NY Times bestseller list in December, 2000 where it still lingers six months later. Once read, it is easy to see why. The story is based on Genesis, primarily verse 34, the story of Dinah’s rape. Short story indeed, until Diamant gets a hold of it. Some call it midrash, she calls it a novel, I call it a great read!

RED TIDE by Peg Brantley: I wanted to read this book so badly that I bought it. How about that for commitment, and I must say it was well worth it. Let me add my humble but favorable review to the many others who have previously congratulated Ms. Brantley. It is a whale of a tale. Multiple serial killers, cadaver dogs, exotic poisons, and professional FBI Special Agents and dedicated amateurs working together in digging up both old and new secrets at a burial site which is the clandestine playground of a madman. Just enough technical stuff to show Ms. Brantley has done her homework but not enough to take you out of the story. IMHO, much better than Cathy Reichs or Patricia Cornwell. Definitely “unputdownable.” Hopefully there will be additional material to follow, but not until I have caught my breath. Recommended for sure. 8/12 Jack Quick

Red Water by Judith Freeman: It could be called historical fiction or cultural fiction or religious fiction or all of the above, yet somehow this book defies labeling. It is an intimate look at polygamy, at the beginnings of the Mormon faith, and at the second worst civil crime ever committed in this country, after the Oklahoma City bombing. It was called the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and pardon my ignorance, but I had never even heard of it prior to reading this book. In 1857, 120 California-bound pioneers were massacred by a Mormon militia, who blamed it on their American Indian allies. The well written, fascinating novelization of these events is told from the perspective of three of the wives of John D. Lee, the man who was eventually convicted of the crime. I was so intrigued by this book that I started poking around the web, looking for more info and found tons available. The Massacre is still being debated and studied. Some recent articles are in the Salt Lake Tribune.

THE REDBREAST by Jo Nesbø: Bestselling Norwegian author, Jo Nesbø, known for his acclaimed Harry Hole series, made his US debut a few years back with The Redbreast. The third book to feature Hole, Redbreast was the first to be translated into English and released in the States. The book finds Hole in a tough spot—promoted after a shooting incident that could reflect badly on his country, Hole is proclaimed a hero and given a job intended to keep him out of the way. But when Hole finds evidence of weapons smuggling, he tracks the case to a possible assassination plot that has ties to WWII. Flashbacks to the frontline and a group of Norwegian soldiers in 1944 ultimately tie into Hole’s investigation, but make Redbreast something of a dense read with portions that are difficult to follow. It’s not until about halfway through that the book gains speed and the plot becomes clearer. Altogether a satisfying read, but one that requires a little more time and concentration. Books four and five, Nemesis and Devil’s Star are currently available. 12/10 Becky Lejeune

REDEMPTION by Lee Jackson: Benjamin Xavier Trinity is on his way to a government mandated job when he is waylaid by a snowstorm. He lands in Redemption, Montana, population 200. Carlene Ryton offers Ben a position as an all around handyman and café worker at the Grinnin’ Bear Café. Here, Ben endears himself to the townsfolk, doing favors and helping out wherever needed. The folks know he’s an ex-con, they just don’t know the whole truth behind his record. Ben is a convicted terrorist, a man whose past will forever hover around him like a black cloud. He was never given a chance to defend himself and never given a fair trial, but he will be forever marked by the most hate inducing crime known to man in this day and age. In this future America, gas and supply shortages are a regular occurrence as a result of the war, and Homeland Security has become the most powerful law-enforcing agency in the country. Ben defends his innocence, but is there anyone left who will listen in this bleak future? This harsh incarnation of America is not too far off the mark. Jackson’s tale reveals a slew of truly scary prospects that will burrow into readers’ consciences. 10/07 Becky Lejeune

REIGN OF THE RAT by Gil Smolin: For centuries leprosy created the same mind numbing fear that AIDS has caused in modern times. A disease without a cure, its victims sentenced to a long period of suffering. Now a new drug-resistant strain of leprosy appears and it looks like the only hope for a cure is to unearth the frozen remains of a medieval corpse destroyed by the Black Plague. Why? Because the symptoms not only mimic leprosy but also the deadly ones of the Black Plague. Firmly grounded in the reality of what is happening in medicine today as the result of over use of antibiotics, this one will keep you up at night. Smolin is an ophthalmologist and experienced writer. This is his first novel. Recommended. 06/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

THE REINCARNATIONIST by M. J. Rose: Josh Ryder has been experiencing memories that are not his own. It began after a bombing in Rome where Josh, a photojournalist, was working a story. He was left comatose and awoke weeks later with vivid recollections of life in ancient Rome. In an attempt to learn more, Josh becomes involved with an organization known as the Phoenix Foundation – a group that investigates past life regression in children. When a discovery at a dig in Rome interests the group, Josh is sent as one of the foundation’s representatives to the site. The find could finally provide solid proof of reincarnation and also allow others to experience exactly what Josh does – memories of past lives. The foundation is not the only group interested in this item, though. While Josh is on the site, the lead archaeologist is attacked and the artifact is stolen. Josh vows to recover the item and, in doing so hopes, to unlock the truth behind his strange visions. In The Reincarnationist, Rose combines historical elements with the theory of reincarnation to create a truly amazing thriller. The characters are believable, the settings are magnificent, and in most cases real. Rose masterfully transitions readers from one century to the next making this a smooth read that is easy to get lost in for hours. M.J. Rose is no newcomer to the literary field, but this is her first mainstream suspense novel, one that should finally earn her the recognition she deserves and introduce new readers to her fantastic talent. 09/07 Becky Lejeune

THE RELIABLE WIFE by Robert Goolrick: Catherine Land has packed up her simple wardrobe for her train ride to meet her new husband, Ralph Truitt. Truitt placed a personal ad for a “reliable wife” and waits at the train station for her in freezing 1907 Wisconsin, the richest man in a town where the cold drives people to occasional heinous acts of insanity. Truitt has been a widower for many years, and is eagerly awaiting his new bride. But this is no great romantic love story, and neither Ralph nor Catherine are exactly what they seem to be. For one thing, Catherine has also brought along a bottle of arsenic for her new husband. Every assumption is turned on its head in this hot, hot story and Goolrick pulls off one of the great reads of the year. 8/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

RENEGADE by J.A. Souders: Evelyn has it all. In fact, some would say her life is just about perfect. Evelyn is a Daughter of the People, handpicked by Mother to be the future leader of Elysium, the underwater utopia Mother created to save them from the Surface Dwellers and the war. The people who live here have everything they could ever need and want. And, most importantly, they’re safe from the evil Surface Dwellers. But one day, the unimaginable happens: a Surface Dweller has found his way into Elysium. In spite of everything, Evelyn is fascinated by the boy and after speaking with him she begins to doubt some of Mother’s warnings about Surface Dwellers. Evelyn wants to save the boy and this triggers a series of events that will set them both in very grave danger. No one questions Mother and lives to talk about it. Souders’s debut is fast-paced and fun. It’s also pretty dark and bloody. The world-building is excellent and Souders does a great job setting it up for the reader while still keeping an urgent pacing throughout the story. And as that story progresses, things become even more intense. There are a few pieces of the story that can be said to be overly exaggerated but only if you’re really looking for something to complain about. For me, it was fantastic and I didn’t want to put it down. 11/12 Becky Lejeune

THE RENEGADES by T. Jefferson Parker: This is the highly anticipated sequel to one of my favorite books from 2008, L.A. Outlaws. Renegades is set in the modern day Wild West of Los Angeles – yes, there is such a place. Our hero from L.A. Outlaws, Charlie Hood, is grieving for his lost love and trying to get on with his life and his career. He’s paired up with Terry Laws, a community legend who unfortunately gets gunned down in front of Charlie and the chase for the killer is on. But it’s not that simple or straightforward, there are a lot of twists and turns here amid a couple of strong sub-plots, but Parker manages to draw it all together in the brilliant conclusion. Another excellent thriller from the under-the-radar Parker, although not quite at the same level as its predecessor. 02/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE RENEGADES by T. Jefferson Parker: This book features Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Charlie Hood first introduced in L.A. Outlaws. Hood isn’t completely over the death of Suzanne Jones aka Allison Murrieta when he is drawn into this tale of bad cops, betrayal, drugs, murder and blackmail. It’s the wild, wild west all over with most everyone carrying guns, but no white hats and black hats to tell the good guys from the bad, just shades of gray. Parker continues to deliver the goods, getting better with each outing. Hopefully he can keep this series going for a long time. I am a fan. 02/09 Jack Quick

THE REPLACEMENT by Brenna Yovanoff: The town of Gentry is hiding a dark secret. For years, the townspeople have lived in fear of their own superstitions. Horseshoes hang above their doors and iron over their babies’ beds. But the tokens and wards are not always enough. Every once in a while, a child disappears and another is left in its place. The creatures can pass as human and may be mistaken for the child itself by most, but many of them never survive. Mackie was one of those other children. One of those left to take the place of a baby boy taken away in the night. But Mackie lived. He’s always known that he’s different and he’s always done his best to fit in, but the older he gets, the harder it becomes. And in Gentry, no one wants to stand out, especially when the townsfolk need someone to blame for their misfortunes. Brenna Yovanoff’s dark and creepy debut is the perfect blend of horror meets teenage angst. Her twists on folklore and legend are surely influenced by some of the greatest in horror, but the world she creates is all her own. The Replacement is smart and captivating in a way that will appeal to both YA readers and adults. 09/10 Becky Lejeune

THE REPLACEMENT CHILD by Christine Barber: The Santa Fe Capital Tribune has often received tips from a woman they call the Scanner Lady. Her regular phone calls regarding reports she’s overheard on her police scanner have become an almost weekly occurrence at the paper. Night editor Lucy Newroe happens to be on duty when the latest call comes in: Scanner Lady has overheard news of a dead body in a call made by two men she believes are city cops. Lucy follows up the next day but is told that no such report came in. The closest case is that of a woman who drove off a bridge. Just days later, Lucy, a sometime volunteer medic, answers a call involving an older woman who’s found dead after an apparent home invasion – she had a police scanner sitting on her kitchen table. Lucy has to wonder if this is her Scanner Lady and if the death is more than just a coincidence. As she digs deeper she meets Detective Gil Montoya. Montoya has been assigned as family liaison on the bridge case. The state officers are in charge but the victim is the sister of a city cop from Montoya’s unit. Montoya thinks there’s more to his case than meets the eye, but is not sure where or if Scanner Lady fits in at all. Lucy and Montoya’s reluctant semi-partnership and their interplay is fascinating. I can only hope that this is going to be a series. Barber’s debut is a truly great mystery and can be a great foundation for what I think would be a wonderful series. 10/08 Becky Lejeune

THE REPLACEMENT CHILD by Christine Barber: If you are a fan of Tony Hillerman, then don’t pass this one up. Winner of the Tony Hillerman prize, this is a well written debut mystery featuring Capital Tribune editor Lucy Newroe and Police Detective Gil Montoya who are looking for the killer of seventh-grade teacher, Melissa Baca, whose body is found at the bottom of a local bridge. Although I have never spent much time in New Mexico (I can spell Albuquerque) the descriptions throughout ring true with all I have heard of the “Land of Enchantment.” 2/12 Jack Quick

Replay by Ken Grimwood: I loved the movie “Groundhog Day” and this book goes there and beyond. Our hero has a heart attack and dies when he’s 43 years old, then wakes up in his 18 year old body…all memories of the past 25 years intact. Then it happens again, and again, and again…leading to the question if you could do it all over again, knowing what you know now, would you? It makes for a very interesting premise that draws to a very satisfying conclusion. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

REQUIEM FOR AN ASSASSIN by Barry Eisler: The assassin is the hero of this book, John Rain, who wants nothing more than to retire and spend time with his Mossad-agent girlfriend. But duty calls when he’s contacted by former CIA-agent-turned-rogue Jim Hilger and he learns that Hilger is holding his only friend, Dox, hostage until Rain completes three assassinations. Rain knows that the probability of he or Dox surviving the third is not too good, and with a little help from a business associate at the CIA and the Mossad, Rain gets to work on saving his friend. Lots of action, exotic locales, and edge-of-your-seat suspense make this a really fun read. Fans of Lee Child should enjoy the larger-than-life, half Japanese-half American hero, John Rain. 06/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

REQUIEM MASS by Elizabeth Corley: A Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Fenwick Mystery Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Fenwick is just returning to work after burying his wife. His family is tenuously hanging on and Fenwick gets desk duty to ease him back into things. What starts out as a suburban London housewife gone missing turns into ruthless retaliation for a twenty-year-old mystery. Five schoolgirls went off for a walk but only four returned; one of the girls accidentally fell to her death, or at least that is their story. Now they are all grown up and dealing with the past by ignoring it as best as they can. One of the women is the missing housewife, two more are her neighbors, and the fourth is a world famous soprano, due to come home for a fundraiser for the school they all attended. When one of the women is murdered, Fenwick finds the connection between the two cases and sets out to stop the killer from exacting his revenge. He also has to deal with a very troubled son, office politics, and an affair that may be clouding his judgment. Fortunately, he has some good help, including Cooper, who has lots of experience, and a young woman rookie who is sharp as a tack. These characters are well drawn, especially Fenwick, but even the killer avoids cliché. This is a complex case, solved by meticulous police work and culminating in a very tense, superb ending. First of a gritty new series with strong promise, sure to appeal to Tana French, Benjamin Black and Tess Gerritsen fans. 5/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.

RESOLUTION by Robert B. Parker: The man is a genius, an absolute genius. In this follow up to 2005’s Appaloosa, Everett Hitch and Virgil Cole are teamed up in the town of Resolution. Hitch is hired initially as the bouncer for the local real-estate magnate (saloon, house of ill repute, hotel, restaurant and general store), and quickly dispatches one Koy Wickman the local “hardass.” Things are beginning to be more civilized afterwards until Cole shows up along with the infamous Cato and Rose, a “matched pair” of gunmen hired to replace Wickman. The action is electric, the dialogue is sparse, and you can “see” John Wayne or Clint Eastwood on every page. I love Spencer but if Parker wants to do westerns, I welcome his next one. 09/08 Jack Quick

RESONANCE by A.J. Scudiere: Approximately 200 million years ago, map north was magnetic south. Ten million years later, the poles switched places and have continued to do so about every sixty million years. The last polar shift sixty five million years ago caused the deaths of entire species, species we call dinosaurs. Right now Dr. Becky Sorenson has some seriously mutated frogs in her lab. In Los Angeles bees are making abnormal columns on the side of the freeways. In Georgia, birds are migrating out of season. People are dying now from what might be SuperAIDS. Is this the beginning of the next polar shift? We are five million years overdue. How much time do we have left? Just when you thought we were safe from a swine flu pandemic, this comes along. Depending on your own orientation, this one is either: interesting, intriguing, or don’t-turn-out-the-lights-I-am-scared-witless reading. You decide for yourself. 06/09 Jack Quick

RESTITUTION by Lee Vance: If Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma as postulated by Sir Winston Churchill, then Restitution is a great way to attempt to unravel it. Peter Tyler, a Wall Street hotshot, is the prime suspect when his wife Jenna is murdered. Although they had been having some marital problems, Peter loved her passionately and misses her greatly. As he attempts to find out who did, in fact, kill her, Peter finds himself involved with money scams, stolen art, a pharmaceutical giant and a brilliant, ruthless and tortured act of vengeance. Peter’s best friend, Russian business tycoon Andrei Zhilina, may hold the key, so it’s off to Moscow to seek answers. Pretty near “unputdownable.” 10/07 Jack Quick

THE RESTORER by Amanda Stevens: Ever since she was a child, Amelia Gray has had a fondness for cemeteries. She learned restoration from her father. She also learned the rules for living with the ghosts that surround her. “…never acknowledge the dead. Don’t look at them, don’t speak to them, don’t let them sense your fear,” her father told her. But when a body is discovered in the old Oak Grove Cemetery where Amelia has been working on a very important restoration project, she is thrown headfirst into a mystery and will find that keeping to her father’s rules isn’t as easy as it once seemed. This first in the Graveyard Queen series is a chilling blend of paranormal elements and tightly plotted mystery. Stevens keeps readers guessing to the very end and sets up the series nicely for book two, The Kingdom, due out this fall. 04/11 Becky Lejeune

Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin: Resurrection Men is Ian Rankin’s latest Inspector John Rebus outing. It is a solid effort and shows why the popularity of this series is growing. The setting, in Edinburgh, is interesting, the police work is sound and the hero is the Scot’s version of the tough cop whose life is going to pieces while he soldiers on.
John Rebus is no upperclass Lord Peter Wimsey, although I would like to think that the name is an acknowledgement of a worthy predecessor. Like Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, Inspector Rebus’ success in solving complicated and politically sensitive murders is second only to his indifference to and annoyance with authority.
At the outset of this novel, this characteristic has landed Rebus in a special class at the Scottish Police College where characters of that ilk are given one last chance to redeem themselves. His class of 6 christens themselves “The Wild Bunch.” Rankin explains “…these were lifers, men who’d been on the force an average of twenty years. Most were nearing the point where they could leave on full pension. Tullianllan was their last-chance saloon. They were here to atone, to be resurrected.”
As an exercise in re-learning how to investigate as part of a team, within proper police protocols, the class is assigned a project from the unsolved case files. Their case involves a brutal murder. Meanwhile, back at Rebus’ old station, his protege Siobhan Clarke, is continuing Rebus’ investigation into the murder of an art dealer.
Not surprisingly, the two investigations intertwine with the common links being possibly some members of the class and Rebus’ longtime adversary, Morris Gerald Cafferty (Big Ger). Rebus is called upon to perform a delicate balancing act to survive. As always, this is accomplished at considerable cost to himself and those around him.
This is a gripping, hard-nosed detective story. A gritty guy in a gritty town. What more could you ask for. This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.

Retribution by Jilliane P. Hoffman: Wow. This is dark – very dark – and disturbing and really well done. Chloe Larson is a beautiful young law student who suffers a brutal rape at the hands of a sadist who leaves her for dead. She survives, but is left scarred, both physically and emotionally. Twelve years later she’s evolved into C. J. Townsend, crackerjack prosecutor in Miami who lands the biggest case of her career when a serial killer known as Cupid is caught in her jurisdiction. Cupid’s calling card is that after torturing his victims – all young, beautiful blondes – he claims his trophy, their hearts. Townsend is determined to get this monster the death penalty and everything seems to be working in her favor, until she meets the defendant and her nightmares become real again. The court process is fascinating in Hoffman’s hands; she is a former Florida assistant state attorney and it shows. The book could have used better editing; there are some minor errors and some repetitiveness, but nothing major enough to pull me out of the story. The violence is graphic without being gratuitous with details of some really heinous crimes, and the ending is superb. This is one very powerful debut novel. 12/03

THE RETURN MAN by V.M. Zito: Four years ago, The Resurrection hit the United States. The living were evacuated to the Safe States and everything west of the Mississippi was left to the infected—the walking dead. Henry Marco stayed behind. Now, he makes a living finding dead loved ones and laying them to rest, or “returning” them. When the government contracts Marco to track down a scientist last seen in California, he’s leery of the job. Before The Resurrection, Marco was a neurologist and the scientist in question was one of his former colleagues. The consensus is that with his developed skills in tracking and his personal connection to the man, Marco is the person with the best chance of finding him. But what interest does the government have in this man in particular? Marco is joined by Wu, a soldier with his own agenda, but is he someone Marco can trust? The Return Man is an action-packed, post-apocalyptic thriller with a slightly different spin sure to will satisfy the most rabid zombie fans. 4/12 Becky Lejeune

REVENGE OF THE KUDZU DEBUTANTES by Cathy Holton: Friends Nita Broadwell, Eadie Booth, and Lavonne Zibolsky have been trying to coast by and endure their thankless marriages for some time now. Lavonne, a northern transplant to Ithaca, Georgia, has become addicted to food as a way to fill the unexplained void in her life. Nita on the other hand, is addicted to trashy romance novels since her husband seems to be showing less and less interest in her every day. And Eadie is working on getting her husband back as he once again steps out with a mistress. All this changes when the wives discover that their husbands have been cheating on them at their annual hunting trips. Nita, Eadie, and Lavonne devise a hilarious scheme of revenge against their philandering spouses that will ensure that the women come out on top. Oh, if Desperate Housewives took place in Georgia. This is a great book for summer – Holton will have you laughing out loud. 08/07 Becky Lejeune

REVENGE OF THE ROSE by Nicole Galland: The focus of Nicole Galland’s follow up to last year’s The Fool’s Tale is courtly love as well as courtly gossip. Famous court minstrel Jouglet is Lord Konrad’s right hand man. He is the lord’s confidant and is one of his most trusted advisors. Jouglet is also close friends with Willem and his sister Lienor. It is no secret that Jouglet wishes to be more than just friends with the lovely Lienor when he cunningly manipulates Willem into the court. Willem impresses Lord Konrad with his chivalry, honor and talents. However, Jouglet and Willem will soon discover just how sharp gossip can be and all of his clever maneuverings may backfire on Jouglet. Galland’s enormous talent is evident in this multi-layered and witty historical novel. The scheming and plotting of the numerous characters makes for a hilarious read with a fabulous twist in the end. 09/06 Becky LeJeune

REVENGE OF THE SPELLMANS by Lisa Lutz: In the third Spellman story, Izzy Spellman is still suffering fallout from her actions in Curse of the Spellmans (now out in paperback). Her court-ordered therapy sessions are not going well ever since her first therapist ratted her out to the court and had her entire sentence reinstated, and now her new therapist has figured out all of her time-wasting tricks. Plus, Izzy’s parents are none to pleased that she’s left the family business to be a bartender. Their pleas are ignored and so they convince Izzy’s boss to fire her. Izzy’s solution, move into her brother’s secret basement apartment without him knowing. Now, broke and suffering from no sleep, a result of the paranoid nightmares she’s been having about her brother busting in on her new digs, Izzy finds that she’s being blackmailed and tailed on a regular basis. Could it be the case she’s taken practically pro bono to help a friend, or has someone discovered her new living situation? As usually, Izzy’s antics and her wacky family make for hilarious reading. I dare you not to laugh out loud while reading any of Lutz’s titles; I love them. 03/09 Becky Lejeune

THE REVERSAL by Michael Connelly: This is a combined series book featuring Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller, and the first one that really seemed like it worked the way it should. These characters are already so well defined that there was no stumbling here, the book really flowed, moving back and forth between the cop and the lawyer.
The title refers to the case that Mickey has taken. A man convicted of murdering a child has his sentence remanded after 24 years in prison because of new DNA evidence. The D.A., however, still believes in his guilt and is determined to try him again. The defendant has hired a top defense attorney who eagerly agrees to work pro bono, figuring the civil lawsuit he’ll be able to file against the city of Los Angeles for false imprisonment after the conviction is overturned will more than cover his fees.
To avoid any accusation of prejudice, the D.A. persuades Mickey Haller, defense attorney, to cross the aisle and work for the state as an independent prosecutor. Very much out of his element, Mickey agrees but with the proviso that his ex-wife, Maggie “McFierce”, be his second chair. Then he asks that Bosch be his lead investigator on the basically cold case. They have to start over, and Bosch is in his element. Combining a police procedural and a legal thriller works just brilliantly in Connelly’s gifted hands. I couldn’t put down this totally absorbing novel with a shocking ending. Note: The movie of The Lincoln Lawyer, the first Mickey Haller book, is currently in post-production with Matthew McConaughey and Marisa Tomei with a release date of sometime in 2011. 10/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE REVERSAL by Michael Connelly: Mickey Haller, “the Lincoln Lawyer,” is back in an awesome case. Because of political ramifications the District Attorney wants Mickey to “come over from the dark side” for a one-time gig as a prosecutor, retrying a case in which a killer’s 24-year-old conviction has been overturned on the basis of DNA. Actually Mickey is quick to see the upside of accepting the appointment so its not as hard a sale for the District Attorney as he thinks. But Mickey, being Mickey, he has to get his pound of flesh. Taking second chair will be Haller’s ex-wife, the formidable Maggie, with Connelly’s classic hard-boiled cop Harry Bosch (identified in The Brass Verdict, 2008, as Haller’s half brother) serving as special investigator. It has to be the dream team, but…there are enormous egos involved and as the District Attorney learns in the first press conference, he may have hired Haller, but make no mistake, Haller has the reins and will be driving this Lincoln all the way to the finish. To borrow from another reviewer. “Reading this book is like watching a master craftsman, slowly and carefully, brick by brick, build something that holds together exquisitely, form and function in perfect alignment” (Bill Ott, Book List) Take time to savor this one as crime fiction doesn’t get any better. Connelly is now firmly up there at the top with James Lee Burke, IMHO. 12/10 Jack Quick

RHETT BUTLER’S PEOPLE by Donald McCaig: I have read Gone with the Wind at least a dozen times, and seen the movie a number of times as well. I discovered it when I was in high school. My stepmother had a first edition that an old boyfriend had inscribed and given to her, and even though she married and divorced that man, the book remained in her possession. I stayed up through the night reading, and didn’t put it down until I’d read those immortal last words, “After all … tomorrow is another day.” And so it is, and this new sequel, after the awful Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley and the ridiculous The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall, makes it a day worth spending with it.
McCaig has filled in the gaps and completely laid open that iconic man of mystery, Rhett Butler. We knew that Rhett had had a falling out with his family; now we know why. We get to know Rosemary, Rhett’s beloved sister, and learn how the relationship between Rhett and Belle Watling came to be. There is additional background on many of the secondary characters like Aunt Pittpat and Archie Flytte.
There has been some criticism that readers didn’t really want to know that Rhett was repeatedly wounded by Scarlett, but you didn’t have to read too deeply between the lines of GWTW to know that; McCaig just spelled it out in case you missed it. My only criticism of the book was in the writing. I found it choppy and somewhat repetitive (of itself, not GWTW), but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. Fans of the movie will enjoy it as well, but prepare to be surprised by the additional characters that were left out of the film but are here in the book. Obviously, it’s no Gone with the Wind, nor did I expect it to be, but for fans there is definite pleasure to be found here. 11/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE RICHEST SEASON by Maryann McFadden: Joanna Harrison has had enough. Her children are grown and the demands of her husband’s job have left her feeling neglected and alone. Upon learning that her husband’s latest promotion will require them to pick up and move, yet again, Joanna decides she’s not going to take it anymore. Instead, after shipping husband Paul off on his latest business trip, she packs her things and leaves her home in New Jersey to start a new life on Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. Upon arrival, however, Joanna realizes just how hard it’s going to be. Alone, with no one to turn to for help, or even a shoulder to cry on, Joanna becomes determined to make things work. She finds employment with Grace Finelli, an elderly woman seeking a companion. What Joanna doesn’t know is that Grace has only six months to live. Then Paul shows up demanding that Joanna return home. Her refusal only angers him more, but he doesn’t tell her that in addition to losing her, he has also lost his job. As each of the three deals with their own issues, they find that they are each facing the possibility of dramatic changes in their lives. This wonderful debut is a rich, character driven story that will appeal to any reader looking for a heartfelt summer read. 06/08 Becky Lejeune

THE RICHEST SEASON by Maryann McFadden: Joanna has been married to Paul for 25 years. In those two and a half decades, they have moved dozens of times, following Paul’s successful career. Each time, Joanna is expected to be the dutiful corporate wife by packing up and following Paul around without any complaints. But when Joanna learns that another move is eminent, she packs her bags and heads down to Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, an area she had fallen in love with years ago. She moves in with Grace, an older woman who retreated to Pawley’s Island to live out her last few months of life. Joanna’s impromptu “holiday” extends to several months, during which she finds a bit of happiness that she’s been missing for so long. McFadden wrote a wonderful account of a woman’s struggle for independence. The reader experiences the story from three viewpoints: Joanna, her husband Paul, and Grace. The lessons learned by each character during their journey of self discovery are very valuable, and for this reason I envision this book generating a lot of discussion in book clubs nationwide. 08/08 Jennifer Lawrence

RIDE WITH ME, MARIAH MONTANA by Ivan Doig: Since reading Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men last year, I have been revisiting authors who write about the American West – McCarthy’s older works, Wallace Stegner, the poet Richard Hugo and Ivan Doig, who was suggested to me by my sister who lives in Billings, Montana. She sent me a copy of Ride With Me before I was about to visit her for a family reunion in Yellowstone.
In the tradition of many books about the West, it is a road trip story. Not quite Kesey’s bus, but close. In this case, the vehicle is a battered old RV driven by an old Montanan former rodeo champion turned sheepherder, Jick McCaskill. The other occupants are his redheaded daughter Mariah, a photographer and her ex-husband Riley Wright, a newspaper columnist. Mariah and Riley have been assigned by their newspaper to do a series celebrating Montana’s centennial by traveling across the state to see what they can see.
Riley is doing it because he still has the hots for Mariah. Jicks is along to see if he can keep her from making the same mistake all over again. And therein is the tale.
It is fine adventure and the people are drawn with honesty and affection, warts, oddities and all. I believe that I enjoyed this book more than anything else that I have read this year. 11/06 Geoffrey R. Hamlin

Right as Rain by George Pelecanos: As I started reading this mystery, it felt preachy to me in a racial sort of way. But the story sucked me in and either the preaching stopped or I stopped noticing. A good, gritty mystery involving a white cop killing a black cop, set in the inner city of Washington D.C. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE RIGHT HAND by Derek Haas: Derek Haas has created a “different” CIA operative with The Right Hand. Austin Clay works for the CIA, but not with other agents. He is on his own, only with his handler to execute his assignments which include covert operations that are outside of normal CIA work. He operates as he sees fit to accomplish his work, and his reputation is that the left hand (remainder of the CIA) does not know what the right hand (Clay) is doing. Clay, as a young man, was subjected to virtual imprisonment for eight years on his uncle’s boat after becoming an orphan. His personality is formed within the framework of abusive treatment, and eventual escape from his uncle. Clay is handed the assignment of rescuing a captured CIA agent being held in Russia. Events quickly move to the emergence of a young woman who unwittingly was connected to the imprisoned agent and knows the reason for his capture. Clay finds the girl as a possible means of tracing the whereabouts of the agent. He begins to have protective feelings about the young lady, but realizes that he is too old for her and too involved in his work to consider romance. But he does dedicate himself to making sure she is removed from danger showing his compassionate side for inclusion in future books. Haas sketches Clay quite well, and the reader will understand a little of his conflicting feelings as he continues to complete his assignment. A book that is difficult to put down and a feeling that the ending is in keeping with the events depicted and satisfying for the reader. 11/12 Paul Lane

THE RIGHTEOUS MEN by Sam Bourne: Rookie reporter, Will Monroe, takes a novel approach to his first murder by deciding to write a “human interest” story about the victim. What he discovers is a surprise to everyone. Shortly thereafter, Will investigates another murder – this one in rural Washington. The murders seem unconnected but, upon returning home, he discovers that his wife has been kidnapped. What comes next is an edge of your seat roller coaster ride as Will fights against a deadline that could lead to the end of the world. Meticulous research into Kabbalic mysticism and Jewish prophecy, paired with vivid characters and insight into the ultra-orthodox community of Crown Heights, makes this and interesting and exciting read. While the surprise twist ending comes as not much of a surprise, overall I found this to be a very satisfying read and a thrilling debut. Sam Bourne is a pseudonym for British journalist Jonathan Freedland. 08/06 Becky LeJeune

RING by Koji Suzuki: Japanese author, Koji Suzuki, is probably the most well-known Asian horror author today. Ring, the book that inspired multiple horror film hits, is actually the first in a trilogy of tales. In this first installment, journalist Asakawa is inspired to write a piece on a series of mysterious deaths after drawing a connection between a taxi man’s story and the death of his own niece. Like the film, he discovers that a total of four teens all died under strange circumstances, all at the very same time on the very same day. Asakawa is joined in his search by his best friend Ryuji, a professor with an upsetting habit and an interest in the occult. While there are minute similarities between the ultimate revelation at the end of this tale and the film version, the book remains vastly different in its specifics. Ring is worth the read for any horror fan, but having seen the film it does lose a bit of its punch. Hopefully this is not the case with the follow-up titles, Spiral and Loop, as I am hoping to be as creeped out in reading them as I was in first seeing The Ring. 06/08 Becky Lejeune

THE RISE OF RANSOM CITY by Felix Gilman: Harry Ransom always wanted his name to be known. He set off with an invention he promised would change everything. He called it the Ransom Process. As the Line and the Gun waged war around him, Ransom traveled from town to town exhibiting his masterpiece in hopes of interesting investors and always dreaming of the day that he’d become famous for his creation. In his travels he made many enemies, but nothing prepared him for what would await him in Jasper City. This is his story, from childhood to Jasper City and beyond as told through his own writings. Gilman’s latest is brilliantly clever and imaginative—an excellent cross genre blend of fantasy, science fiction, and weird western set as an autobiography. The world he’s created does closely resemble our own in the late 1800s, but there’s a touch of magic and a hint of the supernatural. The Rise of Ransom City is the second story that takes place in this world, but serves as more of a companion rather than a true follow up to The Half-Made World. Ransom does cross paths with the characters of Half-Made World so there are parallels with that book, but this is all his story and is perfect for fans of the previous release and newbies alike. 12/12 Becky Lejeune

RITUAL by Mo Hayder: This latest release by Hayder marks the return of DI Jack Caffery. He’s transferred to Bristol where divers, led by Phoebe “Flea” Marley, have just discovered a severed hand in the harbor. Most of the bodies that wash up in the harbor turn out to be the result of suicide. Something about this particular case is different, though, and the second hand is soon discovered buried beneath a local restaurant. Marley’s and Caffrey’s research into the case leads them to the African practices and beliefs of Muti, where various parts of both animals and humans are used in ritualistic manners for everything from luck to protection. Given the way the hands were removed, they also come to believe that the victim in question may actually still be alive, but just how long he can last without medical attention is the question. Time is quickly running out as the team races to unravel this strange case. Another fantastic thriller from one of the best in the business. Although this is the third book to feature Caffery (following Birdman and The Treatment) it can be read as a stand-alone and is the first installment in what Hayder refers to as her Walking Man series. Ritual is available now in the UK and can be ordered through specialty stores stateside. Official US release date is this fall. 04/08 Becky Lejeune

RIVER OF HEAVEN by Lee Martin: Sam Brady is a solitary bachelor who has taken great pains to ensure that his homosexuality remains a secret to those around him. After his neighbor’s wife dies, it becomes harder for Sam to keep himself closed off. He and Arthur strike up a tenuous friendship at first, bonding over the building of a custom doghouse for Sam’s basset hound, Stump. The doghouse, a small ship with a deck and cannon ports, attracts the attention of a local column writer for the paper, a writer whose great uncle was once Sam’s best friend, Dewey. At the age of 15, Dewey committed suicide on the train tracks near his house. The reporter has some questions about the events, though, and it is soon revealed that Sam has some other secrets in his past that he would rather not come to light. Enter Cal, Sam’s long lost brother. Cal has just recently survived a nationally broadcasted hostage situation and shows up on Sam’s doorstep, bringing more than a little trouble along with him. Pulitzer Prize finalist, Martin returns with an amazing story of loneliness, secrets, and ultimately forgiveness. River of Heaven is a touching literary tale with just a tinge of mystery – highly recommended. 04/08 Becky Lejeune

The Ritual Bath by Faye Kellerman: The first in the Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series. He’s a cop, she’s an Orthodox Jew. They meet and chemistry is redefined. I ripped through this one in a few hours and within 2 weeks read the rest of the series. The early ones are best.

RITUALS OF THE SEASON by Margaret Maron: Its just ten days until the wedding and Judge Deborah Knott can hardly remember whether she is to stay the night with finance Deputy Dwight Bryant or go home to her place. It is that hectic with Christmas around the corner, the slaying of an Assistant District Attorney and her adopted daughter, a possible death sentence appeal, her house torn up by plumbers and carpenters and a very pregnant matron of honor. Somehow Knott keeps it all together as she is at the center of a whirlwind of pre-nuptial pre-holiday activity. Maron once again demonstrates she knows Eastern North Carolina and its characters – bless your heart, but sometimes she can be almost too southern, not unlike our beloved sweet tea, which, in a pinch, can always substitute for syrup. This twelfth Knott adventure is to be released 8/25/05. 08/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

THE RIVIERA CONTRACT by Arthur Kerns: Arthur Kerns spent a career working for the FBI in counterintelligence and counter terrorism. Upon retirement he became a consultant to the Director of the CIA and the Department of State and his travels for assignments took him to over 65 countries around the world. He has written short stories published in various anthologies and one non-fiction book. The Riviera Contract is his first novel and is based upon his own career. Kerns introduces Hayden Stone, a retired officer from the FBI now working as a consultant to the CIA. Stone’s first assignment in Afghanistan saw a colleague killed with Stone blaming himself for the death. The time is 2002, shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York, and the United States is actively engaged in counter terrorism against Al Quaeda wherever they appear. A friend with the CIA offers Stone an assignment in France on the Cote d’Azur and Hayden takes it thinking that it might help him to regain his equilibrium. Little does he know, as two terrorists acting separately attempt to kill him. on the distaff side, he meets an old love of his, now a countess, and a young beautiful employee of the organization he is using for his cover while on this assignment. The key to the assignment is to stop a middle eastern terrorist who is in France to set up a delivery of the Ebola virus to several U.S. cities. The action is fast and Kerns has the reader go through one crisis after another. Stone is really the only character that is fleshed out, obviously because he will be used in future adventures. Not memorable writing but an entertaining read and certainly a good prelude to getting future Kerns novels in which the author will potentially be more adept at setting up scenarios and fleshing out characters. Recommended for setting up a credible plot and the threats outlined in it. E-book only. 3/13 Paul Lane

RIZZO’S WAR by Lou Manfredo: “There’s no wrong, there’s no right, there just is.” That is the philosophy of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn detective Lou Rizzo. Rizzo has a new young partner, Mike McQueen, who got the promotion after a lucky break in a case. McQueen knows it was luck that got him his shield, but he’s determined to prove himself. Being partnered with Rizzo, who’s nearing retirement and under an Internal Affairs investigation, could be a mixed blessing. Politics rears its ugly head when they are assigned to find a missing girl, the teenage daughter of a powerful city councilman. This is a police procedural of the best kind – a terrific cop sharing his wisdom, a gritty city setting and dabs of organized crime, racism, and politics. Manfredo’s debut novel is a winner and sure to appeal to fans of Michael Connelly and Ed McBain. 09/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ROAD DOGS by Elmore Leonard: Its reunion time with three of Leonard’s most memorable characters. Jack Foley (Out of Sight) is back in prison in Florida, and hooks up with Cundo Rey, the pint-size Cuban (LaBrava), who soon engineers their early release–legally, this time. Jack’s happy to be out and enjoying the California hospitality of Cundo and his wife Dawn (LaBrava and Riding the Rap). There are just a few issues. Dawn is lovely but husband Cundo is a murderously jealous husband who may get tired of Jack being around. Dawn likes M-O-N-E-Y and thinks Jack may be the best meal ticket. Jack – well first he owes Cundo thirty big ones from getting him sprung. When you have robbed a hundred and twenty or banks, the solution to that problem would seem to be at hand? Nobody does it better than the senior Mr. Leonard, so kick back and enjoy this one like a fine Havana with a pitcher of fresh mojitos. 06/09 Jack Quick

THE ROAD TO BEDLAM by Mike Shevdon: Ever since Niall’s recent introduction to the Fey and his acceptance with the Warders, everyone’s been waiting to see if his daughter will manifest abilities as well. The courts are ready to welcome her into the fold if she does share her father’s powers but her death comes as a surprise to them all. When Niall becomes convinced that she may indeed still be alive, he and the very pregnant Blackbird find themselves on the run and hiding out under the courts’ orders. The arrival of the Untainted complicates things further and Niall is sent away on a mission in the coastal village of Ravensby where a recent spate of disappearances has the Warders suspecting there might be a rogue Fey at work. This second in the Courts of the Feyre series builds further upon the dark Fey-infused world Shevdon has created and combines mystery and fantasy elements with actual history. This is one of my favorite series and is a must for any urban fantasy fan. 6/12 Becky Lejeune

ROAD TO PARADISE by Max Allan Collins: Collins completes his trilogy beginning with a young boy’s travels with his gangster father in the “New York Times” bestseller “Road to Perdition,” then down the “Road to Purgatory”–a tale of this same boy, all grown up. Lake Tahoe, 1973: Michael Satariano–who as a young man fought the Capone mob in Chicago–has reached a comfortable middle age, with a loving wife at home, a talented teenage daughter in high school, and a son earning medals in Vietnam. Now running a casino for the mob, Michael thinks he’s put his killing days behind him–after all, he’s made a respectable life for himself and his family . . . and plenty of money for the boys back in Chicago. So when godfather Sam Giancana orders him to hit a notoriously violent and vulnerable gangster, Michael refuses. But when the hit goes down anyway, Michael is framed for murder; to save his family, he must turn state’s witness under the fledgling Witness Protection Program. Relocated to the supposed safety of Paradise, a tract-housing development in Arizona, Michael soon finds himself facing a wrath so cruel that even the boy raised by a hitman father is unprepared. And with his teenage daughter in tow, Michael must return to the road and a violent way of life he thought he had long left behind. A must read series. 1/12 Jack Quick

ROAD TO PERDITION by Max Allan Collins, illustrated by Richard Piers Rayner: Although an avid reader of ‘comic books” as a kid, this is, as best as I can recall, my first adult graphic novel. Michael O’Sullivan, a veteran of the Great War, is still soldiering, only this time as chief enforcer for John Looney, the Irish ganglord of Rock Island, Illinois. A good father and quiet family man, life changes drastically for the “Angel of Death” when his son (narrator of the story) witnesses his father at work. A failed attempt at killing O’Sullivan cause him to rush home – too late to save the lives of his wife and younger son, but leaves him determined to seek revenge. Depression era Illinois, ruled by gangsters, where the bullets and booze flow freely, come to think of it not unlike today. A good read. 1/12 Jack Quick

ROAD TO PURGATORY by Max Allan Collins: In this followup to Road to Perdition, Michael O’Sullivan Jr., is now in his early 20s. His father was the “Angel of Death” a mobster hit man, who turned on the mob after his wife and Michael’s younger brother were killed. When he himself is killed, none other than Eliot Ness, the leader of the “Untouchables” arranges for Michael to be placed in a catholic orphanage. He eventually becomes Michael Satariano, the adopted son of Sicilian restaurateurs in DeKalb, Illinois, a town not far from the Windy City. Michael has enlisted and wins the first Congressional Medal of Honor awarded during World war II while serving on Bataan. He loses his left eye and is returned to the states where he finds it hard to settle back into his previous life and settle down with high-school girlfriend Patty Ann O’Hara. So when Eliot Ness, now heading a federal office charged with “safeguarding the health and morale of the armed forces,” asks him to take on an undercover gig–infiltrating Capone’s syndicate in order to curb its criminal enterprises–Michael can’t agree fast enough. However, as Michael worms his way into the mob he discovers that ascribing blame and exacting justice aren’t the easy tasks he’d imagined. 1/12 Jack Quick

ROADSIDE CROSSES by Jeffery Deaver: Complex and timely story about cyber-bullying and its effects. Travis Brigham is the driver in a car crash in which two girls are killed. He then becomes the target of a cyber-world smear campaign. The near death of one of the accusing bloggers involves Kathryn Dance and the California Bureau of Investigation. Brigham disappears and additional attacks occur. Each is preceded with a crude roadside cross. Meanwhile, Dance also looks into a mercy killing at Monterey Bay Hospital of a young Monterrey County deputy badly burned by the escaping Daniel Pell in a previous case. At the same time, Robert Harper, a special prosecutor from the attorney general’s office in Sacramento, begins an investigation that will affect Dance. It would be much better without the frequent information dumps about kinesics (body language) and Internet history and customs, but without them, the pace might be just be too blistering. 07/09 Jack Quick

ROBBERS by Christopher Cook: Compared by some to the works of James Lee Burke, this debut novel follows two criminal drifters, Eddie and Ray Bob, across the hot dry dusty expanse of Texas, pursued by Rule Hooks, a crafty Texas Ranger who has been told he looks like country singer Porter Waggoner and could be played by Tommy Lee Jones without any problem. In the first chapter, a convenience store clerk is killed for a penny – he wants $4.01 for a pack of Camel cigarettes and the boys only have $4.00. Afterwards, they have the pack of Camels, a carton of Marlboros and all the money that was in the register. Their only regret? They forgot to pick up some cold beer. You know how it has to end, but the journey is worth the time and effort with striking imagery and vivid insights into rural Texas life, and its often mind numbing consequences. It’s the kind of life where the local scoutmaster is shot and killed by his wife when she catches him in bed with her sister: “Used a twelve gauge with buckshot. Fat jackoff died in the saddle. A real asshole, too, always yelling about our uniforms, how we looked. Shoulda give her a merit badge for civic duty.” “Or marksmanship,” sniggered Ray Bob. I love it. 12/07 Jack Quick

ROBERT B. PARKER’S FOOL ME TWICE by Michael Brandman: Michael Branman takes us back to Paradise, at least Robert B. Parker’s version. A Hollywood movie company has come to town, and brought with it a huge cast, crew, and a troubled star. Marisol Hinton is very beautiful, reasonably talented, and scared out of her wits that her estranged husband’s jealousy might take a dangerous turn. When she becomes the subject of a death threat, Jesse and the rest of the Paradise police department go on high alert. But then Jesse witnesses a horrifying collision caused by a distracted teenage driver, the political repercussions of her arrest bring him into conflict with all the local power structure As usual, life is on the line, just for doing the right thing. 10/12 Jack Quick

ROBERT B. PARKER’S KILLING THE BLUES by Michael Brandman: Not bad, although the style is more Spenser than Stone. A series of car thefts and a related murder bring tension to Paradise, Massachusetts as it is preparing for the summer tourist season. An ex-con that Jesse had arrested back in California shows up and starts a mini-wave of terror, killing pets and setting fires that lead to another death. Through it all, Jesse confronts a personal dilemma as well: a burgeoning relationship with a young PR executive, the niece of the chief selectman, whose plans to turn Paradise into a summertime concert destination may have her running afoul of the law. Overall, not too bad. Would be interesting if Brandman can do a Spenser. 11/11 Jack Quick NOTE FROM THE BOOKBITCH: Brandman won’t get the chance; Ace Atkins has been tapped by the Parker estate to write the Spenser books.

ROBERT B. PARKER’S LULLABY (Spenser) by Ace Atkins: First, let me say that Ace Atkins has written an excellent book which I recommend highly. However, he is not Robert B. Parker. The plot is good with Spenser being hired by a 14 year old girl (for a dozen doughnuts) to look for the murderer of her mother 4 years earlier. The police have arrested and convicted someone for the crime but Mattie – gruff, street-smart, and wise beyond her years – is certain the police got the wrong man. As normal, Spenser and Hawk proceed to unravel the crime, finding the real killer and a corrupt FBI agent. In the process Spenser, Hawk and Mattie all get shot but recover in time for opening day at Fenway. While all this sounds very Robert B. Parkerish, Atkins misses on two counts. First, he writes well but not in the spare style of Parker. He uses a paragraph where Parker would have used a sentence. Second, the dialogue is “off”. Fewer quips and more extended speech than we Parker fans are accustomed to. All in all, however its still a great read. 5/12 Jack Quick

ROBERT LUDLUM’S THE JANUS REPRISAL by Jamie Freveletti: Colonel Jon Smith is attending a WHO conference when the hotel he’s staying in is attacked. This event launches the doctor and Covert-One operative into a plot that could have catastrophic consequences. At the time of the attack, a highly publicized terrorist leader escapes from imprisonment. As the CIA and Covert-One learn more, they become convinced that the two incidents are connected. What’s more, a cooler of highly contagious and experimental viral samples has gone missing. Smith knows that he was a specific target in the attack. He also knows there are two others on the same list. One is a fellow spy the other an unidentified woman. Smith is certain that the woman is the key, but he has to find her first. This latest in the Covert-One series works as a complete stand alone… with a bit of suspension of disbelief. Actually, most of the book worked for me: it was exciting and suspenseful. My biggest complaints were the believability of Smith and Randi Russell, the CIA op who helps him, both of whom seemed to be a bit slow in figuring things out making it a bit difficult to imagine them as actual expert spies. 10/12 Becky Lejeune

ROBOPOCALYPSE by Daniel H. Wilson: As our reliance on technology grows, intelligent machines become more and more of a reality. Wilson, who studied robotics, brings to life the robot apocalypse in Robopocalypse. Rather than a traditional straight narrative, the story is presented as a series of events documented from the early days of the robot uprising and through the war itself. From the creation of Archos to household bots with seemingly simple malfunctions that soon turn deadly, humans find themselves up against their own creations. Before long, the same machines once designed to help with day to day life are turning on the people around them, taking over entire cities, and even enslaving the human population. Robopocalypse is being hailed as one of the best reads of the summer and, in my opinion, it definitely lives up to the buzz. Robopocalypse is a quick read that will appeal to even the most fringe Terminator fans. If you’ve ever seriously hated your computer, you’ll love it even more. 06/11 Becky Lejeune

A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE by Darryl Wimberley: This debut offers a recycled main plot but does offer potential if the writing is tightened in future outings and the author is able to stick to his main premise without too much wandering. Barrett Raines is the only black detective on an all-white police force in Deacon Beach, Florida (Can you say IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT ?) Barrett’s brother Delton has always been a thorn in his side and Delton’s reputation for womanizing and drinking has hindered Barrett’s career. When Delton is accused of murdering a beautiful, popular white restaurant owner in a fit of passion, the only person between him and a lynching is Barrett. The cop arrests his brother and soon discovers that the killing may be tied to arms dealers based in Deacon Beach. The result is an unpolished work that is choppy and meandering but still entertaining. I want to try the next one in the series to see if there is improvement. 03/11 Jack Quick

ROCOCO by Adriana Trigiani: Trigiani steps outside her realm of women protagonists to write a book starring a man: Bartolomeo di Crespi, the interior designer extraordinaire of Our Lady of Fatima, New Jersey and a charming, loving family man. “B” is 40, unmarried but the unofficial family patriarch and confidant to his sprawling, extended Italian family. He’s nominally engaged although neither B nor his fiancée are interested in marrying, but her mother is the wealthiest woman in NJ and she has her heart set on it. The small town revolves around the church, and when the priest decides it’s time to renovate, B assumes the job will be his, and it is – but only after a fight. Redoing the church has been his long held secret dream, and he desperately wants to make it come true. Infused with Trigiani’s characteristic humor and love, Rococo draws the reader into this lovely cocoon of a book where we learn about the miracles of Fatima, family, and love.

ROGUE by Mark T. Sullivan: Robin Monarch is the most hunted man in the world in this international spy thriller. His parents, an American cat burglar and a con man from Argentina, are killed when he is just thirteen, forcing him to live in the most dangerous slum in Buenos Aires. He joins the Brotherhood of Thieves, learns their eighteen rule code of conduct and survives due to the intervention of a nun. Eventually he becomes one of the CIA’s top operatives, sent on a mission to find an Al Qaeda plot called “Green Fields.” Monarch discovers that Green Fields is something else entirely, and that his superiors are corrupt. He goes rogue, and Middle East arms dealers, Russian mobsters and his own government are all after him and Green Fields. This lightning fast read brings to mind the Robert Ludlum Jason Bourne books, Hitchcock’s It Takes a Thief, as well as Mission Impossible, but doesn’t quite measure up. Sullivan undoubtedly learned breakneck pacing and the art of the short chapter as co-author of James Patterson’s Private Games, and this book will definitely appeal to adrenalin junkies. 10/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2012 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.

ROGUE by Mark T. Sullivan: Sullivan’s Triple Cross was published in April of 2009 and the author was unfortunately quiet until earlier this year when he collaborated with James Patterson on Private Games. Rogue Is his own work and shows the talent Sullivan has to capture and mesmerize his readers. Robin Monarch is introduced as a CIA operative that leaves the agency after discovering some very disturbing information about them while on a mission. He sets himself up as a security consultant to earn a living but has a very lucrative sideline which is not very savory to say the least. By chance Robin saves the life of a Russian mafioso, who than grabs the girl Robin is currently involved with. He tells Robin that he will pay him several million dollars if he will steal a weapon for for him, and will of course, also release the girl. The CIA in the personage of Robin’s ex boss also wants the weapon and contracts him to steal it with the carrot of being able to return to the agency in good standing. Sullivan sketches out Robin’s background in order to bring out his personality and motivations. Robin, the perfect name chosen for him, is shown as a 21st century Robin Hood, in effect robbing from the rich to help the poor. He begins life as an orphan on the streets of a Buenos Aires slum, and with the help of an angel of mercy taking him in picks himself up by his bootstraps and it is almost a certainty that Robin is destined for more adventures in future Sullivan books. Rogue is a fast and captivating read, with events rapidly coming one after the other keeping the reader going and not able to put the book down. Welcome back Mark, I trust that it won’t be another four years before your work appears again. 10/12 Paul Lane

ROGUE by Rachel Vincent: Stray – a human who becomes a werecat after being bitten rather than one who is born into the Pride Rogue – any werecat who commits a capital crime according to the laws of the Pride, includes disclosure, or the failure of a werecat to keep themselves hidden, and the creation of strays whether purposeful or accidental. Faythe Sanders has come to a reluctant agreement with her father. Unwilling to settle down and begin producing her own offspring, Faythe is training as an enforcer within the Pride. She and Marc have finally worked out their differences since Faythe was kidnapped and almost killed in Stray, and things are looking good. That is, until, the bodies of murdered toms (male werecats) begin to pop up in Pride territory. The deaths seem to coincide with a missing person’s case in each area – all strippers, and all resembling Faythe. In fact, the missing person’s reports bring to mind certain college campus murders that Faythe had heard about just before her own kidnapping. The truth behind the killings will bring Faythe face-to-face with a new enemy and will upset the balance of her own existence. Like Vicki Pettersson’s Zodiac series, Rachel Vincent’s werecats are unlike anything else out there. The continued development of the werecat mythology is incredibly fascinating and I can’t wait to see what she brings in next. Rogue has a total cliffhanger ending and I’m just dying to know what’s going to happen in Pride (due out next spring). 04/08 Becky Lejeune

ROGUE ISLAND by Bruce DeDilva: I don’t normally do mysteries that involve talking animals or media people police wannabes. In almost 50 years in the media I have never met a prescient panda or a budding young reporter I would be willing trade for a reasonably well trained law enforcement professional under any circumstances. I am glad, however, that I made an exception for DeSilva’s debut introducing Providence, RI newspaper reporter Liam Mulligan – a stubborn, street-smart hero with a snarky sense of humor. Someone is burning down the Mount Hope section of Providence where Liam was born and raised and he is determined to investigate who is killing lifelong friends and loved ones in his old neighborhood. This leads variously to his being threatened, beaten, arrested on suspicion of arson and murder, suspended from his newspaper, and targeted with a Mob contract on his life. In addition to the truly evil, Mulligan meets and must work with some real characters like his editor – “It’s hard to find good news. It’s not every day that a scientist finds a cure for cancer or a Good Samaritan opens fire at a Democratic fund raiser,” in his take on the state in which he describes graft as Rhode Island’s “leading service industry,” noting that “it comes in two varieties, good and bad, just like cholesterol.” This could be the start of something big. Let us hope so. 11/10 Jack Quick

ROGUE THREAT by A.J. Tata: Matt Garrett, a paramilitary operative with the CIA, is still recovering from his last mission when the U.S. government calls on his services once again. A number of uavs (unmanned aerial vehicles), called Predators, have gone missing and a terrorist plot is suspected. Everyone’s worst nightmares are realized when a group of public landmarks are destroyed by devastating attacks. And more targets will be hit way unless the plotters’ demands are met, or unless Garrett can stop them. The man behind the plot has a personal vendetta against Matt Garrett, though, and his mission in the Philippines is connected to the current threat in ways that Garrett could never imagine. Tata delivers an entertaining military thriller with intriguing technothriller aspects. The strength of this read lies in Tata’s evident military expertise and in the Garrett brothers themselves, heroes worthy indeed of Jack Ryan (Tom Clancy) comparison. Rogue Threat is second in Tata’s Threat series and can be read as a stand-alone, but I’d recommend tracking down Sudden Threat to get the whole story before Garrett’s return in the third title of the series. 01/10 Becky Lejeune

ROLLING THUNDER by Chris Grabenstein: I love this series, and it was in danger of going by the wayside. I was delighted that another house had the good sense to pick it up. John Ceepak has more on his plate than usual when his father gets out of jail on early release and shows up at the Jersey shore again. The pier has been revitalized with new rides and a new wooden rollercoaster, “Rolling Thunder”, but things don’t go well on opening day when the owner’s wife has a heart attack and dies on the first ride. Things go downhill from there when a young girl is murdered and the town’s leading citizens are implicated. I enjoy these characters and over the course of these books, watching Danny Boyle become a man. Can’t wait for the next installment. 07/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ROLLING THUNDER by Chris Grabenstein: I have a confession. My first Chris Grabenstein Danny and Ceepak novel was a flat out DNF. I kept hearing how good he was from friends and finally tried one of his non-series books which I thought was great. So I decided to tackle this series again. About fifteen pages after my first DNF, the darn thing took off, and I have read and enjoyed every page thereafter including this one (including the bright orange or is it electric tangerine cover). Rolling Thunder is the name of the old fashioned wooden roller coaster erected by entrepreneur Paddy O’Malley at the struggling resort town of Sea Haven, N.J… O’Malley’s wife suffers a fatal heart attack on the inaugural ride on the roller coaster. Shortly thereafter, the dismembered body of a party girl turns up in two suitcases. A check of her cell phone records indicates the last time she used it was to text O’Malley. Before the investigation is over Danny and John will face corrupt politicians, powerful business people, Ceepak’s father, and even enemies within the Sea Haven Police. Department. The corruption Ceepak sees drives him to be even more vigilantly upright. In the end Grabenstein pulls it all together nicely. Definitely recommended. 06/10 Jack Quick

THE ROMANOV CONSPIRACY by Glenn Meade: A well presented novel centered around the 1918 killing of the Russian royal family, the Romanovs, by revolutionaries fighting to gain power during the Russian revolution. Against the background of the revolution and the civil war between the Reds and the Whites each seeking power, Meade has written a book based on research centered around the events of the day. Dr. Laura Pavlov, an American forensic archaeologist working in the present day on a dig in Ekaterinburg, Russia around the site where the Romanov family was buried after being murdered discovers a body that has been perfectly preserved by the permafrost of an old mine. In attempts to identify the remains, Dr Pavlov travels to Ireland where a large group of Russian emigres fled to escape the horrors of the revolution. There she meets a man that introduces her to a plot to rescue the Russian royal family before they were executed. Meade has done a good deal of research to write this book and characters not generally known are introduced to the modern reader as forming a part of the team that is dispatched to effect the rescue in 1918. Anastasia, one of the Tzar’s daughters, did not die in the execution, and made a life for herself afterwards. Case in point that several years ago a woman claiming to be Anastasia appeared in Europe and caused a small furor when she apparently had details that were not generally known about the former princess. This passed without much investigation. Two love stories are set as integral parts of the plot and have bearings on the actions of the principal characters. Writing is swift and engrossing and the reader has no problem moving into 1918 Russia with it’s chaos, terror and the horrors that Lenin and his followers perpetrate. The feelings of people living in that era are described and allow the reader to be buoyed along with them into the events.
A well done, well researched book opening up events that transpired almost a century ago. 9/12 Paul Lane

THE ROMANOV CROSS by Robert Masello: Masello’s latest book is a very readable and engrossing novel incorporating various historical events coupled with a touch of the supernatural. Dr. Frank Slater, an army epidemiologist, is facing charges by the military of disobeying orders. He attempted to save the life of a young, very sick girl in Afghanistan by calling for a helicopter to airlift her to a hospital. This act was against direct orders by the army that only military wounded or sick could be transported this way. Facing court martial, Slater is advised that he can avoid that by leading an expedition to a remote island in Alaska to investigate a cemetery holding Russian dead. The permafrost covering the cemetery has melted enough due to global warming to expose coffins of those people that may have been exposed to the dreaded Spanish Flu that killed millions in 1918, for which a cure was never found. Dr Slater’s job would be to determine if the corpses still hold viable strains of the flu and decide on measures to prevent spread of the disease. Slater meets the mayor, an Intuit woman that figures as his romantic interest, who insinuates herself into the expedition with her knowledge of Intuit lore. The Russian town on the island was settled by followers of Rasputin, the mad monk that figured so strongly into the story of the Romanov family that ruled Russia up to the revolution and the ruins of the town show his influence. Masello has proven himself very adept at taking events happening in the distant past and tying them to the present via the supernatural. I found the book impossible to put down; this is a great story, and the work of a writer that is in complete command of plot and character building. The plot involves an acceptance of supernatural events, but once over that hump the read is fascinating. There is no doubt that I will grab Masello’s next book when available. 3/13 Paul Lane

THE ROOK by Daniel O’Malley: When Myfanwy Thomas opens her eyes she is surrounded by a ring of bodies sporting latex gloves. She is bruised and sore and discovers two envelopes stuffed in her pockets. In the first is a letter that begins, “Dear You, The body you are wearing used to be mine.” The letter leads her to a safe place and explains what the new Myfanwy Thomas must do next. She is given the choice to leave and begin a new life or take over the life Myfanwy Thomas has lived up to this point. After a surprise attack, she decides on the latter in hopes that she can discover who is after her—or the former her at least. As she reads through further notes from the old Myfanwy, she learns that Myfanwy Thomas is a Rook within the order of the Checquy, a secret government agency focused on investigating and covering up supernatural events. As a Rook, Myfanwy Thomas is rather high up in the food chain of the organization and the skills she possesses are the perfect tools for unraveling the mystery of her amnesia. The narrative alternates between the present Rook Thomas and the old Rook Thomas’s letters and notes to her new self, making the story an intriguing and amusingly quirky sci-fi thriller with two very different versions of a fantastic heroine. Without a doubt, The Rook is my first favorite of 2012. 1/12 Becky Lejeune

ROOM by Emma Donoghue: This was one of those books that I kept hearing about, but I’d pick it up, think “too creepy”, and put it back down. But once I actually read the first page, I was hooked and it turned out to be one of those books that I will be recommending for years to come. The premise, the creepy factor if you will, is that a young woman was kidnapped and kept locked up in a room for many years, during which time she had a son, Jack. The story is told from his point of view, and as we meet him, it is his fifth birthday. “Room” is his whole world, the only world he has ever known. They do have a TV, but his mother convinces him that everything he sees on TV is fantasy. This room is his only reality. He is a smart, very likeable little boy; heroic, in fact. His “ma” is fiercely protective of him, and he sleeps in the wardrobe, locked away from their captor, Old Nick. Old Nick visits in the nighttime, and disappears during the day. Once a week he brings them “Sunday treat”, and Jack has a few books, a TV and barely enough food to eat and clothes to wear. His ma has some terrible dental issues, which are not taken care of, but somehow Jack remains relatively healthy. It is a fake illness that finally brings about their deliverance. As they escape their bounds, life presents a whole new set of challenges for both of them. This is a remarkable story and one not to be missed. 1/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ROOM FOR LOVE by Andrea Meyer: Chick lit with an interesting premise based somewhat on reality; Meyer wrote an article for a NY newspaper about meeting men by looking in the classifieds – for apartments. She expands on that thesis in this cute but occasionally tedious debut novel. Jacquie is working at a film magazine and barely making ends meet. She has been drifting from one bad relationship to another when her sister moves in with her, creating havoc at home too. When her sister starts dating the men she’s meeting while looking for apartments, Jacquie pitches the idea as an article to a women’s magazine. They bite, with the proviso that she actually do it. The characters are somewhat underdeveloped, and starting each chapter with a classified ad for an apartment grows old, but despite these minor misgivings, it is still a fun read. 09/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ROOMS by James Rubart: The book has been out for about two years, and I confess that I just caught up with it fairly recently. It is James Rubart’s first book and a fascinating piece of writing. At first glance the book is seemingly a gothic novel in light of the happenings in the first few chapters. It is anything but. Micah Taylor is a young, highly successful half owner of an up and coming software company which seems to have nothing but a fabulous future in front of it. A letter is sent to him from a deceased uncle advising that a house has been built for him on the Oregon coast. Micah’s interest is piqued and he decides to visit the house to see what an uncle dead for many years has built for him. He travels to the area – Cannon Beach which brings back bad boyhood memories for him and almost immediately strange things happen in the house. Rooms appear and areas shapes become different. Instead of inspiring terror in Micah he begins to find peace within himself and with the help of a new friend and the meeting of the lovely Sarah begins to reshape his feelings. He begins to spend every weekend at Cannon Beach, only returning to his company in Seattle during the week. Eventually Micah finds reasons to spend more and more time at Cannon Beach, falling in love with Sarah and changing his entire outlook on life. Mr Rubart keeps the reader fascinated by the logical transformation of Micah from the businessman that he was into the spiritually guided human being more and more at peace with himself and his aims and direction. The changing of actual events in his life allows Micah to find happiness with his new self and allows a very satisfying end for quite a fascinating book. 3/12 Paul Lane

ROOTS OF EVIL by Sarah Rayne: Lucy Trent and her family have always lived in the shadow of her scandalous grandmother, Lucretia von Wolff, and the shocking events that led to the end of her life. Baroness Lucretia von Wolff was a silent screen actress who was later said to be a spy for the Nazis. In 1952, she killed two men and then committed suicide in the Ashwood film studio. The family secrets have surfaced again thanks to a woman who intends to write her thesis on the psychological aspects of the murders. The thesis also questions whether Lucretia actually committed the murders and has also resurrected a second mystery, that of the child Alraune. The researcher’s body is found only days later in the abandoned Ashwood studio. The murder bears a striking resemblance to the infamous last scene of Lucretia’s most famous film – Alraune. This is an intriguing multi-layered mystery that traces events as early as the 1920s, through Auschwitz, and into the present. Sarah Rayne is a pseudonym for a well-known British horror author (I have yet to figure out who) and was created when the author decided to break from her genre and begin writing psychological suspense. Though you probably will not be able to find Rayne’s titles shelved at most bookstores (I found mine in a specialty store), they are all available to order through most major chains as well as I highly recommend this book and believe that it is well worth it to wait a few days for shipping. As an interesting side note, for those that are curious, the story of Alraune can be traced back to Germanic folk legend. 11/06 Becky LeJeune

THE ROOTS OF THE OLIVE TREE by Courtney Miller Santo: In Kidron, California, there lives a family of women who seem to defy all logic in aging: Anna, the eldest at 112 years of age; her daughter, Bets, who is now well into her nineties; Callie, Bets’s daughter and owner of the Pit Stop is in her mid sixties; Deb, the most tragic of the bunch in her thirties; and Deb’s twenty-something daughter, Erin, recently returned from Italy after cutting short her contract with the opera. Their circumstances have caught the attention of a geneticist who wants to include them in a study on what he considers the disease of growing old. See, for most folks there is a certain deterioration that comes with aging. Certainly most people over the age of 100 who are included in the study are nowhere near as active and healthy as Anna. Some say it’s the olive oil their family produces. Whatever it is, Dr. Amrit Hashmi is set on uncovering their secret, but his arrival stirs up other secrets as well. Santo’s debut is a wonderful story of family and the bonds between mothers and daughters. Each character shines but each also shares the spotlight equally, their stories woven together in a way that gives them all a depth and complexity that are excellent examples of Santo’s talent. 8/12 Becky Lejeune

ROSES by Leila Meacham: This sprawling novel by a relatively unknown septuagenarian novelist is sure to please fans of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind and Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds. Set in Texas and spanning three generations, this is the story of two families, the cotton farming Tollivers and the lumber producing Warwicks. Percy Warwick falls in love with Mary Tolliver, his best friend’s younger sister, from the moment of her birth. But Mary’s true love is Somerset, the family’s cotton plantation. When 16 year old Mary’s father dies, he leaves Somerset to Mary, effectively disinheriting his wife and son and destroying his family in the process. Two generations later, it seems history is about to repeat itself when Mary disinherits her niece and heir, Rachel, freeing her from what she believes to be the Tolliver curse. Reading this is an emotional rollercoaster ride; fast and furious with lots of ups and downs, hairpin turns and most of all, fun. Don’t miss it. 02/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion: Don Tillman is a brilliant professor of genetics at an Australian university, whose personality and quirks seem to place him somewhere on the autism spectrum. Since he is socially awkward and lonely, he designs a long questionnaire in hopes of finding the perfect mate and dubs this the Wife Project. In the process, he meets Rosie, a part-time bartender who definitely does not pass the wife test. Nonetheless, he finds himself spending quite a bit of time with her after she confesses that she believes her long-dead mother had a one night stand in which she was conceived. Don launches the Father Project, in which he and Rosie track down all the possible men who could be her father and surreptitiously capture their DNA for testing. I struggled a bit with the idea that autism, even if not completely spelled out, could somehow be overcome by love but despite that, I just loved this charming story. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy this fast paced, laugh-out-loud, slightly skewed look at love and life. The Rosie Project is an award winning first novel that has also been selected for the October LibraryReads list. 10/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ROSTINKOV’S VACATION by Stuart Kaminsky: Rostnikov and his wife Sarah are on vacation at the Lermontov Hotel watching the bathers brave the cold polluted Black Sea waters when Georgi Vasilievich, an old colleague, shows up. Their renewed association comes to a quick end when Georgi is found dead on his deck chair facing the sea. The coroner says it was a heart attack, but Rostnikov knows better. Why was there dirt on Georgi’s hand and why was the knuckle of his middle finger broken? Someone had murdered his friend, and figured that because Vasilievich was a lonely old man no one would care. While Rostnikov is busy with this case in this 7th Kaminsky police procedural, his colleagues back in Moscow have their hands full with a string of computer thefts, all of them owned by Jews who have been bearing the brunt for the country’s economic troubles, and a psychotic killer bent on political assassination. All three men are led to a final confrontation in Soviet Square, game pieces in a country where everything and nothing has changed. Another excellent outing in the series. 02/07 Jack Quick

ROUGH COUNTRY by John Sanford: On the surface it seems almost routine. While Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers is competing in a fishing tournament in a remote area of Minnesota he gets a call from Lucas Davenport to go investigate a sniper shooting death at a nearby resort. Turns out the resort is for women only, mostly lesbians looking for a place to relax, get fit, recover from plastic surgery, commune with nature, etc. The victim is a woman and initial indications from forensics indicates a female perp. The more Virgil digs, the more complicated it gets, particularly after he finds out this isn’t the first murder – that one occurred the year before. And then there is a third murder…. Well, it is obvious Virgil has to shift into high gear to solve this one. I still like Lucas Davenport best but Virgil is coming into his own. Wonder if we will ever have one featuring Lucas’ favorite nun. 10/09 Jack Quick

ROUGH DRAFT by James W. Hall: It should have been Miami Police Detective Hannah Keller’s happiest day. Her first mystery novel had been purchased. But when she went home to tell her proud parents she found them dead, assassinated gang-style by killers leaving a sole witness, Keller’s then six-year-old son, Randall. The case has remained unsolved since. Now, Miami FBI agents Frank Sheffield and Helen Shane are out to capture the man who murdered a U.S. senator’s daughter. They’re sure that the killer is Hal Bonner, hired gun for the Cali cartel, and they decide to use Keller and her son as decoys to capture Bonner. In a creepy plot twist, Keller finds a copy of her first novel marked with scribblings that contain a secret code. As the good guys chase the bad guys in choppers, cars and UPS vans, you start casting the individual roles for the screen version. No Thorn, but still a first rate read. 04/07 Jack Quick

ROUGH JUSTICE by Jack Higgins: When you get to double digits in a series (this is the 15th Sean Dillon thriller), you have to expect an occasional downer. This outing introduces a new-comer to the team of Sean Dillon, Harry Salter, et al, in the form of one Major Harry Miller. Actually Dillon and Miller have some history as you learn as this one unfolds. Miller is a Clark Kent type, mild-mannered Member of Parliament, who is actually the British prime minister’s secret hit man. Blake Johnson brings in the American side as they all go after a combination of Al-Qaeda, Islamic Fundamentalists and modern day Russians. This reads more like a Bond movie script than some of Higgins previous work. Enjoyable, but not top shelf. 04/09 Jack Quick

ROUGH WEATHER by Robert B. Parker: For Spenser’s 36th adventure, Parker brings back an old nemesis, the Gray Man, who almost killed him in 1977’s SMALL VICES. This time around Spenser is hired by the wealthy Heidi Bradshaw to be at her daughter’s wedding on Tashtego Island in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. The ceremony is interrupted by an armed gang, headed by Ruger (the Gray Man), who kills the groom and abducts the bride. With the assistance of Spenser’s usual friends, he sets out to recover the missing bride. It’s another great Spenser and it possibly sets the stage for number 37. 12/08 Jack Quick

RUBICON by Lawrence Alexander: Right out of today’s headlines, an idealistic young senator from California named Bobby Hart discovers an assassination plot under the code name Rubicon that is to occur before the next Presidential election. He doesn’t know who is behind the plan, who is the target, when the event will occur or how, but he does come to realize this is, in fact, a plot to steal the country. It is up to Hart to solve the mystery and prevent the assassination. After stealing the election was just the beginning. How much truth is there in this book? Let’s hope that it is truly a work of fiction. 06/08 Jack Quick

THE RUINS by Scott Smith: Critics are buzzing about Scott Smith’s much-anticipated second novel. After twelve years, Smith has finally produced what is being described as a thriller/horror. A group of friends vacationing in Mexico plan to take a day trip into the jungle. Their destination – an archaeological dig at an old mine shaft. Upon arrival the group is greeted by some very unfriendly locals, two abandoned tents overgrown with vines, and the stripped remains of the archaeological team. What follows is the harrowing psychological deterioration as they realize that they may never make it off the hill. Readers should realize that certain aspects of this book are grossly misleading. Based on the title and the jacket description, I went into this expecting something completely different. I must admit, after all the buzz, I had high expectations and as a result I was a little disappointed. This was not a “horror” novel but rather a psychological suspense. However, once I was able to get past these initial expectations, I was intrigued by the shocking and gruesome story that followed. This is a very twisted vacation read. 09/06 Becky LeJeune

RULES OF CIVILITY by Amor Towles: New York City in the late 1930’s is one of the main characters in this ode to F. Scott Fitzgerald, along with Katey, Eve and Tinker. Tinker is a wealthy man, while Katey & Eve just get by. The three of them inadvertently celebrate New Year’s Eve together at a jazz club in Greenwich Village, with tragic results. The rest of the novel explores the difficult year that follows, with Katey shining as a beacon to her friends. An interesting story that often uses language as flowery as a bouquet of roses, yet somehow doesn’t have enough depth to reach all the senses. Fans of Fitzgerald will scoff, but this book is more accessible to the masses. After all the hype this book has received, personally I was disappointed, but nonetheless enjoyed the trip back to a different world. I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite quotes: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there,” (L.P. Hartley.) 8/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

RULES OF CRIME by by LJ Sellers: Another outstanding police procedural from Ms.Sellers featuring Detective Wade Jackson and his cohorts of the Eugene, Oregon Police Department. This time its personal as Jackson’s ex-wife, Renee, is missing, Jackson suspects alcoholic Renee has climbed back inside the bottle that destroyed their marriage. But the truth is far worse: kidnappers have snatched Renee and are demanding ransom from her wealthy fiancé. In the meantime, Jackson’s protégé, Detective Lara Evans, is working a seemingly unrelated case involving a battered coed and a whispered rumor of a secret sorority. Add in Eugene’s new FBI liaison, Agent Carla River, (formerly Carl) and you have all the main characters hard at work to save lives and bring the perps to justice. I still miss Ed McBain, but Ms. Sellers has become my go-to for solid police procedurals. 3/13 Jack Quick

RULES OF DECEPTION by Christopher Reich: Just how well do you know your spouse? Dr. Jonathan Ransom is about to face this very question, and the answer could be more than one man can handle. When Emma is killed in a climbing accident, Jonathan is devastated. A day later, a letter arrives addressed to Emma. In the envelope, Jonathan finds two baggage claim tickets. When Jonathan shows up to pick up the mysterious bags, he is accosted by two Swiss police officers. Instinct kicks in and Jonathan accidentally kills one of the officers while defending himself. Now he has become one of the most wanted men in Switzerland, and what he finds in the bags doesn’t help the situation one bit. Meanwhile, the assassination of a Dutch engineer living in Switzerland has raised some interesting questions. Just what this man’s death has to do with Jonathan and his quest to discover the truth about his wife is unclear, but the murder trail is leading investigators straight towards this unlikely fugitive. Reich’s latest is drawing worthy comparison to Robert Ludlum, admittedly one of espionage fiction’s greatest authors. The best thing about Rules is that it never becomes too bogged down in politics. As with all spy fiction, the political aspect is always present, but it’s not overwhelming to a layperson like me. Rules of Deception is an intense thriller that will definitely satisfy readers of the genre, whether they’re familiar with Reich’s work or not. 07/08 Becky Lejeune

RULES OF DECEPTION by Christopher Reich: Does anyone truly know another person? Emma, the wife of Dr. Jonathan Ransom of Doctors Without Borders, dies in a skiing accident in the Swiss Alps. Afterwards, the grieving Ransom receives a letter, posted to Emma, but delayed in delivery until after her death. The note leads to the discovery that Emma led a double life as a spy. Suddenly Ransom is in a frantic life and death chase across northern Europe. The plot is extremely complicated with a huge cast of characters, but the pace is breathtaking and in the end, you will see how it all fits together – albeit you may be totally exhausted by that point. One of my best reads of the year. 06/09 Jack Quick

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE by James Patterson: Second outing for NYC Detective Mike Bennett, caregiver for ten children, all of whom we met in STEP ON A CRACK. This time the Teacher is a calculating killer showing New York who is boss, killing the city’s most powerful and arrogant. Think Miss Manners with an Uzi who is determined to clean things up. Some of the citizenry seems to approve, but for the elite of New York it’s a call to terror. Enter superhero Mike Bennett (10 children?) to save the day. Its disaster time for the Big Apple and all ten kids are down with the flu. Not the worst of the Patterson collaborations, but not really first rank either. 04/09 Jack Quick

RUNEMARKS by Joanne Harris: According to Norse mythology, Ragnarok meant the end of the world. It was to be the penultimate battle between the gods and it would result in all of their deaths. Harris’s first young adult fantasy takes place 500 years after the end of the world. In this time, people have forgotten the old gods. They no longer have time for fancy, whimsy, or dreams. In fact, they fear these things above all else, as they bring about chaos. Their world is one of rules and order. Maddy Smith does not fit into this world. For one, she was born with a rune mark on her hand. The people of Malbry fear Maddy and her mark and talk among the village is that Maddy may be a witch. Maddy’s one friend is an outsider who calls himself One-Eye. At the age of seven, Maddy begs One-Eye to teach her about the runes, to tell her what the mark on her hand means, and most of all to teach her to use and harness the power that the runes hold. One-Eye has his own plans, though, and those plans involve keeping Maddy in the dark as long as possible in regards to what she really is. Maddy’s life as she knows it is about to be turned upside down as she embarks on the adventure of a lifetime. What began as a bedtime story for her nine year old daughter has become a fantasy novel four years in the making. Although technically a book for young adults, the story contains the same elements that can be found in any one of Harris’s novels. Runemarks is a great story steeped in Norse mythology and perfect for any reader who is young at heart. Fans should know that Harris has already confirmed there will be a follow-up somewhere down the road, her daughter has insisted upon it. 01/08 Becky Lejeune

RUNNER by Thomas Perry: After a ten year absence, Jane Whitefield returns. Whitefield, a Native American living a quiet life as the wife of a surgeon in upstate New York, had retired from her under-the-radar work as a “guide,” someone who helped people in peril vanish from their pursuers. A pregnant young woman shows up at the hospital during a fund-raiser. Her pursuers set off a bomb trying to capture her in the ensuing confusion. Instead, she is able to hook up with Jane, who reluctantly agrees to get back into the game. The game, however, has become more much complicated in the last decade with cell phones and databases and the proliferation of the Internet. Jane has to adapt to the new environment and in doing so, becomes the hunter. A ten year absence has only made Perry’s writing sharper. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another decade for the next one. 10/09 Jack Quick

THE RUNNER by Peter May: This is May’s fifth and my first thriller featuring Chinese detective Li Yan and American pathologist Margaret Campbell. Beijing is all buzz about hosting the upcoming Olympics, Ms. Campbell is pregnant with their child, and the couple is seeking to get married when the deaths of two potential Olympians take precedence. A top Chinese swimmer kills himself and an Olympic weightlifter dies in the arms of his Beijing mistress. Both are actually murders and connected to an inexplicable series of “accidents” which has taken the lives of some of China’s best athletes. All personal matters must be put on hold until Detective Li can get to the bottom of the matter. Very well done. I will definitely go back and read the previous outings. 02/10 Jack Quick

RUNNING FROM THE DEVIL by Jamie Freveletti: Emma Caldridge is one lucky woman. When her plan crashes in the jungles of Columbia, Emma finds herself thrown clear of the wreckage, hidden from the group of guerillas that arrives soon after to round up the remaining passengers. And Emma has some tricks up her sleeve as well: She’s a biochemist who runs ultramarathons. In other words, Emma has just the resources one would need to survive in such a situation. She tracks the guerillas and passengers as they trek into the woods, keeping far enough behind to remain undetected, hoping that she can last long enough to be saved. But Emma is hiding a secret as well. A secret that makes her a valuable commodity in the war that is taking place around her. Meanwhile, as American authorities begin looking for the persons responsible for the crash, their intel on Emma is beginning to make her look like a possible suspect. It will take everything Emma has to make it through this one, and the forces after her can’t imagine what they’re going to come up against. Running From the Devil is a page-turning adventure/political thriller and a fabulous read. Freveletti, already accomplished in so many ways, is sure to add best-selling author to the list after this one. 05/09 Becky Lejeune

RUNNING SCARED by Cheryl Norman: After enduring years of abuse at the hands of her husband, Ashley Adams finally got the nerve to leave, and it nearly cost her her life to do so. Her divorce has only just been finalized, but Ashley has already made great progress in putting her life back together. She’s even been training to run her very first marathon. This morning, though, Ashley and her running partner find themselves right in the middle of a drive-by shooting, not a common occurrence in their small Florida town by any means. Ashley is convinced that her ex is behind it all, but the police don’t have enough evidence to charge him. To make matters worse, the police aren’t even sure if Ashley was the intended target at all. Detective Rick Edwards knows that Ashley’s fear of her ex is not unfounded, though. In fact, he’s seen first-hand the results of the abuse and he’s taken a special interest in making sure that no harm comes to Ashley again. Running Scared is an easy and light romantic suspense/mystery bordering on cozy – not too heavy on the violence or the sex. My one complaint is that some of the dialogue is a bit dated for the fairly young heroine. She’s in the habit of saying “mercy,” and “oh, dear,” in response to being shot at. 09/08 Becky Lejeune

RUNNING WRECKED by Mark Combes: Phil Riley has come from Minnesota to the Caribbean’s Isla Tortuga for a fresh start. A job at the dive shop during the day, good friends and lots of cold beer afterwards, life is good. Then he discovers the beautiful sailboat Miss Princess abandoned and adrift. Why are the police lackadaisical about investigating? What happened to the family that was aboard? Riley’s fumbling attempts to play detective may foil a kidnap plot, or it may cost him his life. A bit uneven, like many first works, but shows promise. 06/07 Jack Quick

RUNOFF by Mark Coggins: Leonora Lee is the all-powerful “Dragon Lady” of San Francisco’s Chinatown. She is accustomed to getting her way in all things, so when her hand-picked mayoral candidate fails even to carry the predominantly Chinese precincts, see sends for August Riordan, rapidly becoming San Francisco’s go-to Private Investigator. Lee wants to know if the election was rigged, who did it, why they did it and how they did it. Once she has her answers, you sense she can handle the situation nicely. Coggins obviously knows what Herb Caen called Baghdad by the Bay, its people and its politics. Recommended. 12/07 Jack Quick

RUSH HOUR RULES by Huw Powell: It started out as an innocent bit of pub entertainment. At the insistence of his girlfriend, E. Z. Tyler reluctantly allows himself to be the subject of a hypnotist, as far as he is aware for the first time ever. The next thing he knows is he is in the middle of mayhem and murder. It seems that the trance triggers a lost memory which causes his best friend Jason (actually his minder) to kill several onlookers and attempt to kill E.Z., who fatally clobbers Jason with a chair. Tyler is arrested and the next day exposed to government officials who interrogate him and then plan to kill him. He escapes and the chase is on. What is it he knows but doesn’t know that he knows. Tyler exhibits remarkable ingenuity as he proceeds at a breakneck “rush hour” pace to save himself – and the world. Nicely done and recommended. 11/09 Jack Quick